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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,

foxnews.com, July 29, "Gates, Mullen blast WikiLeaks for disclosures"
: Top Pentagon officials assailed WikiLeaks on Thursday for its release of thousands of pages of leaked documents covering the war in Afghanistan at one point even accusing the man behind the whistle-blower website of having "blood ... on his hands." Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen issued some of their harshest criticisms yet of the leak, which appeared to include the names of Afghans enlisted as classified US military informants...

cnn.com, July 30, "WikiLeaks founder 'disappointed' by Gates' remarks" : WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday that he was disappointed by criticism from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates over the release of about 76,000 pages of US documents related to the war in Afghanistan. Gates said Thursday that the massive leak will have significant impact on troops and allies, revealing techniques and procedures. Assange rejected that assessment Friday, saying in a release that Gates "has overseen the killings of thousands of children and adults" in Afghanistan and Iraq...

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,

bbc.co.uk, July 29, "Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm"
: The amount of phytoplankton - tiny marine plants - in the top layers of the oceans has declined markedly over the last century, research suggests. Writing in the journal Nature, scientists say the decline appears to be linked to rising water temperatures. They made their finding by looking at records of the transparency of sea water, which is affected by the plants. The decline about 1% per year could be ecologically significant as plankton sit at the base of marine food chains. This is the first study to attempt a comprehensive global look at plankton changes over such a long time scale. "What we think is happening is that the oceans are becoming more stratified as the water warms," said research leader Daniel Boyce from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

"The plants need sunlight from above and nutrients from below; and as it becomes more stratified, that limits the availability of nutrients," he told BBC News. Phytoplankton are typically eaten by zooplankton
tiny marine animals which themselves are prey for small fish and other animals...The higher quality data available since 1950 has allowed the team to calculate that since that time, the world has seen a phytoplankton decline of about 40%...The higher quality data available since 1950 has allowed the team to calculate that since that time, the world has seen a phytoplankton decline of about 40%...

guardian.co.uk, July 29, "Farmland bird numbes in England fall to record low" :
Bird numbers plunge to 44-year low after dramatic habitat loss and harsh winter. Populations of breeding birds on farmland in England are at their lowest levels since formal attempts to monitor them began in 1966, the government said today. The figures suggest overall populations have fallen by more than half in the past 44 years. Although the most recent annual decline of 5% might be down to a cold winter and recent changes to farming practice, experts believe the long-term trends caused by continuing pressure on habitats mean most of the 19 species surveyed are in trouble. Figures for the last five years suggest a 10% decline and since the most recent ones are based on 2009 observations, the cold 2010 winter weather may bring further bad news next year...

aljazeera.net, July 29, "Scores dead in Pakistan floods" : Hundreds of people are feared dead and thousands more are stranded after monsoon rains caused widespread flooding in Pakistan. Rivers burst their banks and streets were washed away in the northwest of the country on Thursday. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest, storms and flash floods reportedly killed almost 80 people, with the Swat Valley area being worst hit. "The river wreaked havoc in Behrain, where rising water from the river washed away many houses and hotels around the river bank," Naeem Akhtar, a flood control official, told the Reuters news agency, referring to a town in the valley.

Most of the dead across the northwest were killed after houses collapsed on them or drowned in overflowing streams, Rahim Dad, the provincial planning minister, said. A newly constructed part of a dam in the Charsadda district collapsed and crops have been destroyed by the raging waters, according to officials. The UN said it had reports that 5,000 homes were underwater in that area. Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, said that an emergency situation was developing in the country. "The rain is not stopping, many bridges have been washed away and there are reports that 100-year records are being broken."...

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."

His remarks came just two days after Afghanistan's national security adviser Rangeen Dadfar Spanta called on the West to review policy towards Pakistan after leaked Pentagon documents appeared to suggest Pakistani double-dealing in relation to terrorism. Kabul has consistently accused Pakistan's intelligence agency of supporting Taliban insurgents — including masterminding attacks against Afghan and US-led targets on Afghan soil. Islamabad denies the claims. Asked Thursday about the comments from Kabul, Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said they were "incomprehensible."

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.

Also on Thursday, three soldiers were killed and 12 wounded when an insurgent detonated a car bomb near an army base in al-Sharqat, 300 kilometers (190 miles) north of Baghdad in Salaheddin province, a police officer said. In the western city of Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, two roadside bombs targeting Iraqi army patrols killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded eight others, police and hospital officials in the city said. In the northern city of Mosul, a bomb attached to a police vehicle killed one policeman and injured two others, a police official in the city said.
[More>>alarabiya.net; See related story,

independent.co.uk (AP) July 29, "Bomber kills four at Iraqi army base"
: A suicide attacker drove a bomb-laden minibus into the entrance of an Iraqi army base near Saddam Hussein's home town today, setting off an explosion that killed four soldiers and wounded 10 others, police said. Two of the soldiers died while they were being treated at a hospital just north of the city of Tikrit, a spokesman said. A police official and witnesses said the bomber drove the minibus into the main gate of the base at about 7am during a shift change for soldiers. Meanwhile, an al-Qaeda-linked group is claiming it carried out a bombing earlier this week targeting the Baghdad offices of the pan-Arab television station Al-Arabiya...

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.

The network put PCs into the control of criminals via the internet, often without the owner's knowledge. Five months ago Spanish police broke up the scam and arrested three of the so-called ringleaders. Iserdo's arrest takes the scam's alleged mastermind off the street, said Jeffrey Troy, the FBI's deputy assistant director for the cyber division. Mr. Troy said: "To use an analogy here, as opposed to arresting the guy who broke into your home, we've arrested the guy that gave him the crowbar, the map and the best houses in the neighborhood. And that is a huge break in the investigation of cyber crimes." More arrests are expected and are likely to extend beyond Spain and Slovenia and include operators who allegedly bought the malicious software.

07.28.10 Egypt denies Iranian MPs Gaza entry visas

TEHRAN (AFP) July 28 - Four Iranian MPs not allowed to cross to Gaza. Egypt has denied visas to four Iranian lawmakers who planned to travel to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, Iran's Press TV reported on Wednesday. "The Egyptian government has stonewalled the visa process... no visa has been issued for the MPs as of yet," Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash, one of the four lawmakers, was quoted as saying by the English-language television's website. The other three lawmakers were Evaz Heydarpour, Parviz Sarouri and Shobayb Jouyjari. They were due to leave for the densely populated, impoverished Palestinian enclave on Tuesday. On July 21, Mehr news agency reported that the four would enter Gaza through Egypt's Rafah crossing.

In June, the Iranian Red Crescent said it was planning to send an aid ship to Gaza but later cancelled the voyage, blaming restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt.
Iran announced it intended to send an aid ship after a May 31 Israeli commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla left nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists dead and sparked international outrage. The Islamic republic does not recognize Israel, and tensions have worsened between the two countries under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has repeatedly said the Jewish state is doomed to disappear.
[More>>alarabiya.net w/blog comments]

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.

Assange made the claim in a lengthy hour talk before London's Frontline Club late Tuesday, in which he outlined the workings of WikiLeaks and defended its mission. Meanwhile, a Pentagon investigation will determine whether criminal charges will be filed in the leaking of the Afghanistan war secrets, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday. Holder, speaking to reporters during a visit to Egypt, said the Justice Department is working with the Pentagon-led investigation to determine the source of the leak.

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..

"Given the continuing challenges posed by Pakistan's ambiguous policy toward terrorism in the region, the Obama administration must consider carefully whether its current Pakistan policy is providing sufficient dividends or whether it needs to be recalibrated in ways that convince the Pakistanis to shift their strategy toward the Taliban in more fundamental ways," Curtis said. "If all of the media stories to date have not been clear enough, the WikiLeaks documents describing in great detail how active Pakistan's ISI has been in supporting and even managing the Afghan Taliban leave little room for doubt the United States is basically at war in Afghanistan with elements of the Pakistan government," said Asia Society Executive Vice President Jamie Metzl.

"Unless this is changed and governance within Afghanistan improves significantly, there is no chance for anything resembling success in Afghanistan and American public support for the war will collapse," he said. "WikiLeaks may not be the Pentagon Papers, but the current situation of a military holding on in a far-away war and a disillusioned American public no longer willing to shoulder the burden is starting to look eerily familiar," Metzl said.

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.

He came near to endorsing India's view when he said: "We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world. That is why this relationship is important. It should be a relationship based on a very clear message: that it is not right to have any relationship with groups that are promoting terror. Democratic states that want to be part of the developed world cannot do that.

The message to Pakistan from the US and the UK is very clear on that point." Britain has spoken in the past of the terror threat that emerges from Pakistan. Gordon Brown said that a majority of terror threat to Britain emerged from the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. But the prime minister's language this morning suggested that he was coming close to endorsing the Indian view that the authorities in Pakistan have a hand in the terror.
[More>>guardian.co.uk; See also:

telegraph.co.uk, July 28, David Cameron accused of stoking anti-Western feeling on the streets of Pakistan"
: David Cameron was accused of stoking "anti-Western" feeling on the streets of Pakistan after accusing the Islamic nation of promoting the "export of terror" in Afghanistan and around the world. In words which were greeted with indignation in Islamabad, the Prime Minister also suggested that Pakistan had links with terrorist groups, and was guilty of double dealing by aligning itself with both the West and the forces it was opposing. Mr. Cameron's attack was even more unwelcome given that he was speaking during a visit to India, Pakistan's neighbor and great military rival. Further inflaming the situation, the Prime Minister announced that export controls on British companies selling nuclear technology and secrets would be lifted, and two UK firms signed a £700 million deal to supply Hawk fighter jets.

Mr. Cameron's remarks came during a question and answer session following a speech in Bangalore, after he was asked by a member of the audience why the UK was pouring money into Pakistan, given reports that it was linked to the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. A leak on the whistleblowing website Wikileaks of unverified US intelligence this week suggested that Pakistan had given support to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Mr. Cameron said: "We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world..."

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."

Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said government and independent scientists have been working hard to figure out where the oil might be, but don't yet have numbers. Some is still washing up on beaches and in coastal wetlands, but not in the quantities it was a few weeks ago. Scientists do know that more than 600 miles of coastline has been oiled in the nearly 100 days since the April 20 explosion of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. They estimate that between 107 million gallons and 184 million gallons spewed into the Gulf before the cap stopped the flow July 15. The permanent solution, using a relief well to shoot in mud and cement, is still several weeks away.

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.

Classified NATO military records recently released to the public by the whistleblower website Wikileaks document at least 7,202 IED explosions between 2004 and 2009, though the majority occurred in the south and east of the country. According to an analysis of the release by the Guardian newspaper, 2,187 civilians were killed and 4,811 wounded by IEDs in the five years covered by the data.

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.

There is a strong separatist movement in that area and they will use anything regarded as Spanish to attack Spain. Not by the whole population; mainly by local politicians. On the contrary, in French Catalonia bullfighting is on the rise. They love it. They've got very great plazas over there. The corrida is still supported by the majority of Spanish people, although gone are the days when it was bigger than football. The majority of the country
including Catalans are not concerned by the allegations of animal cruelty. Our bulls are brought up and live peacefully in the countryside before dying in the plaza with honour. The way bulls are killed for meat is crueller..." [More>>france24.com

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,

msnbc.msn.com, July 27, "Oil spewing from well near La. marsh"
: Adding insult to the Gulf's injury, an oil platform hit by a tugboat is now spewing oil and natural gas near a Louisiana marsh area, officials said Tuesday. The oil and gas is shooting up 20 feet into the air, the office of Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said. Crews don't expect to be able to cap the well before 6pm ET, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft told reporters...

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.

He has been engaged in US-mediated indirect talks with Israel since May but has repeatedly said he will not upgrade the negotiations without a freeze on Jewish settlements and a clear reference for the talks. Hamas, an Islamist movement committed to the destruction of Israel, has opposed peace talks since they began in the early 1990s and has long accused Abbas's secular Fatah movement of giving in to Israeli demands.

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:

Maravot News 6.25.10 articles : 06.18.10 'We will throw them into the sea' : IHH head calls for violence, "martyrdom" in new 'Marmara' footage. New footage from the Mavi Marmara was released by the Foreign Ministry on Friday afternoon, this time showing IHH head Bülent Yildirim inciting to violence against Israeli commandos hours before the encounter that claimed the lives of nine Turkish passengers...

Maravot News article and background links 06.11.10 'Marmara' captain: I opposed violence

Maravot News 06.09.10 Probe: Erdogan knew Gaza flotilla would be violent

Maravot News 06.08.10 Arabs urged to 'break' Israel borders. (article with background stories)

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.

Following terrorist attacks in Kampala two weeks ago claimed by al-Shebab, host President Yoweri Museveni set the tone, saying now is the time to take decisive measures against the Somali militant Islamists. "I recommend that African Union members do not accept this arrogance," he said. "Who are these people who dare to attack the African Union flag? Let us now accept in concert and shift them out of Africa. Let them go back to Asia and the Middle East, where I understand many of them come from. As for some of the local Somali people that allow themselves to be used in this way, our Somali brothers and sisters have the answer. They know how to deal with them. I personally reject this new form of colonialism through terrorism."
[More>>english.rfi.fr via france24.com]

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.

But as the US Army announced it had launched a criminal investigation into the affair Tuesday, Representative Buck McKeon, top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, invoked US forces on the frontlines. McKeon warned "cutting off their funding in the middle of that fight is tantamount to abandonment." He said he was "confident" US forces "will succeed in Afghanistan if given the time, space, and resources they need to complete their mission." US officials were grappling with the possible impact of the WikiLeaks disclosures, which appeared to pack no reliable blockbuster revelations but put fresh media focus on the unpopular conflict.
[More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories,

nytimes.com July 25, "Obama responds to Afghan document leak as democrats split on war spending bill"
: President Obama, in his first public statement on the leaked documents on Tuesday, sought to blunt any suggestion that the documents should force a rethinking of the nation's commitment to the war effort. He said, as his advisers have previously, that the problems in Afghanistan reflected by the documents have been long known and they are being addressed by the policy changes he has put in place. "While I’m concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is these documents don't reveal any issues that haven't already informed our public debate on Afghanistan," Mr. Obama said to reporters in the Rose Garden. "Indeed, they point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall."

The president's comments followed a meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress in which he urged quick passage of the war funding measure. But the debate in the House Appropriations Committee revealed a fractured resolve among Democrats on the supplemental spending bill. Representative David R. Obey, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, intends to vote against the war spending bill before the House on Tuesday, signaling a deepening split in the Democratic Party over the war in the wake of the disclosure of classified documents showing the conflict was not going as well as portrayed...

cbsnews.com, July 27, "Pentagon: 'Very robust' probe of WikiLeak source" : The Pentagon has launched a "very robust investigation" into the source of the leak of more than 90,000 classified documents on the war in Afghanistan, the release of which a spokesman said "could endanger the lives of our forces and imperil our nation's security." Appearing on CBS' "The Early Show" this morning, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said a probe into determining who leaked the documents to the website WikiLeaks, which published them on Sunday (in conjunction with The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel) is in its early stages. "Our focus really, frankly, is to try to determine if there is anything in these 90,000 pages of documents that could indeed endanger our forces; we've got a team doing that round the clock," Morrell told anchor Erica Hill. "This was dumped on us like it was dumped on you all Sunday night. It would have been nice had this organization had the decency to come to us and work with us to try to figure out if there's anything in here that could endanger our forces. We were not given that luxury," he said...

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.

"[Augusta State University] faculty have promised to expel Miss Keeton from the graduate Counselor Education Program not because of poor academic showing or demonstrated deficiencies in clinical performance, but simply because she has communicated both inside and outside the classroom that she holds to Christian ethical convictions on matters of human sexuality and gender identity," the 43-page lawsuit reads. Keeton, according to the lawsuit, was informed by school officials in late May that she would be asked to take part in a remediation plan due to faculty concerns regarding her beliefs pertaining to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. "The faculty identifies Miss Keeton's views as indicative of her improper professional disposition to persons of such populations," the lawsuit reads.

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.
The White House,

Britain and Pakistan have all condemned the release of the documents, one of the largest unauthorized disclosures in military history. Assange told reporters in London that "it is up to a court to decide really if something in the end is a crime. That said ... there does appear to be evidence of war crimes in this material." Wikileaks founder Julian Assange compared the impact of the released material to the opening of the East German secret police archives. "This is the equivalent of opening the Stasi archives," he said. The documents cover much of what the public already knows about the troubled nine-year conflict: US special operations forces have targeted militants without trial, Afghans have been killed by accident, and US officials have been infuriated by alleged Pakistani intelligence cooperation with the very insurgent groups bent on killing Americans.
[More>>jpost.com; See other details,

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, July 26, "Pakistan aids insurgency in Afghanistan, reports assert"
: NEW YORK: Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harboured strong suspicions that Pakistan's military spy service has guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants, according to a trove of secret military field reports made public on Sunday. The documents, made available by an organization called WikiLeaks, suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.

Taken together, the reports indicate that American soldiers on the ground are inundated with accounts of a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators that runs from the Pakistani tribal belt along the Afghan border, through southern Afghanistan, and all the way to the capital, Kabul. Much of the information — raw intelligence and threat assessments gathered from the field in Afghanistan — cannot be verified and likely comes from sources aligned with Afghan intelligence, which considers Pakistan an enemy, and paid informants. Some describe plots for attacks that do not appear to have taken place.

But many of the reports rely on sources that the military rated as reliable. While current and former American officials interviewed could not corroborate individual reports, they said that the portrait of the spy agency's collaboration with the Afghan insurgency was broadly consistent with other classified intelligence. Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside al-Qaeda to plan attacks. Experts cautioned that although Pakistan's militant groups and al-Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with al-Qaeda is difficult.

...Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul ran the ISI from 1987 to 1989, a time when Pakistani spies and the CIA joined forces to run guns and money to Afghan militias who were battling Soviet troops in Afghanistan. After the fighting stopped, he maintained his contacts with the former Mujahedeen, who would eventually transform themselves into the Taliban. And more than two decades later, it appears that General Gul is still at work. The documents indicate that he has worked tirelessly to reactivate his old networks, employing familiar allies like Jaluluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose networks of thousands of fighters are responsible for waves of violence in Afghanistan.

General Gul is mentioned so many times in the reports, if they are to be believed, that it seems unlikely that Pakistan's current military and intelligence officials could not know of at least some of his wide-ranging activities. For example, one intelligence report describes him meeting with a group of militants in Wana, the capital of South Waziristan, in January 2009. There, he met with three senior Afghan insurgent commanders and three "older" Arab men, presumably representatives of al-Qaeda, who the report suggests were important "because they had a large security contingent with them."

The reports also chronicle efforts by ISI officers to run the networks of suicide bombers that emerged as a sudden, terrible force in Afghanistan in 2006. The detailed reports indicate that American officials had a relatively clear understanding of how the suicide networks presumably functioned, even if some of the threats did not materialize. It is impossible to know why the attacks never came off — either they were thwarted, the attackers shifted targets, or the reports were deliberately planted as Taliban disinformation...

guardian.co.uk, July 26, "Afghanistan war logs reveal hand of Osama bin Laden"
: The shadow of Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, hangs heavily over the US-led coalition's campaign in Afghanistan. Again and again, the secret watchers of American military intelligence, whose furtive and often confused attempts at information gathering are collated in the 2004-2009 war logs, glimpse the hidden hand of the al-Qaeda chief or catch a tantalizing whiff of his whereabouts, only for the trail to turn cold and peter out. Speaking last month, Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, said the last time US officials were in possession of precise information about Bin Laden's location was in the "early 2000s." Since then, there had been no firm leads. "He is, as is obvious, in very deep hiding," Panetta said. "He's in an area of the tribal areas of Pakistan that is very difficult … All I can tell you is it's in the tribal areas. We know that he's located in that vicinity." Yet despite the CIA's self-confessed cluelessness, raw intelligence reports contained in the leaked war logs show that, every now and then, US forces believe they can see the mist surrounding Bin Laden briefly lift.

One such moment came in August 2006, when a "threat report" generated by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) regional command (north) zeroed in on suicide bombers recruited by al-Qaeda. "Reportedly a high-level meeting was held in Quetta, Pakistan, where six suicide bombers were given orders for an operation in northern Afghanistan. Two persons have been given targets in Kunduz, two in Mazar-e-Sharif and the last two are said to come to Faryab," the report claimed. It went on: "These meetings take place once every month, and there are usually about 20 people present. The place for the meeting alternates between Quetta and villages (NFDG) [no further details given] on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The top four people in these meetings are Mullah Omar [the Taliban leader], Osama bin Laden, Mullah Dadullah and Mullah [Baradar]." "The six foreigners who have been given the assignment have each been given $50,000 [£32,000] to conduct the attacks, and they have been promised that their families will be taken care of."

The report went on to detail the insurgents' discussions about where and how the suicide attacks would be carried out, and whether vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) or suicide vests would be used. Pakistan-based Ahmad Murghabi, described as a close associate of Baradar and a former provincial military commander in Ghor province, is alleged to be the lead instructor in a self-governing al-Qaeda/Taliban academy for murder. "Murghabi is the one who is responsible for the teaching of suicide bombers and also IEDs and guerrilla warfare. He has 12 students now." This intelligence report may have had significant practical impact down the line. Dadullah, a former mujahideen leader and close associate of Omar, was cornered and killed the following May in a raid by US and British special operations forces. Baradar was captured by Pakistani security forces in Karachi earlier this year. The war logs make clear that suicide bombing, normally carried out by non-Afghan, foreign fighters, is a growth business in this period — and claim that they are being carefully nurtured by Bin Laden.

...Some raw intelligence pertaining to Bin Laden is downright sensational — and largely impossible to verify. In December 2005, under the banal title Threat to Aircraft in Helmand Province, ISAF headquarters in Kabul generated the following startling report based on information received from regional command (south): "On 19 November 2005, Hezb-e-Islami party leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Dr. Amin (NLN) [no last name], Osama bin Laden's financial adviser, both flew to North Korea, departing from an [sic] Iran. They returned to Helmand on approximately 3 December 2005. While in North Korea, the two confirmed a deal with the North Korean government for remote controlled rockets for use against American and coalition aircraft.

"The deal was closed for an undetermined amount of money. The shipment of said weapons is expected shortly after the new year. Upon return from North Korea, Dr. Amin stayed in Helmand and Hekmatyar went to Konar, Nuristan province." Direct cooperation including weapons sales between al-Qaeda, North Korea's regime, and the Afghan insurgents, apparently with a helping hand from Iran, could amount to Washington's worst security nightmare.

nytimes.com, July 26, "View is bleaker than official portrayal of war in Afghanistan" : ...General Jones also decried the decision by WikiLeaks to make the documents public, saying that the United States "strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security." WikiLeaks made no effort to contact us about these documents — the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted," General Jones said.

The archive is clearly an incomplete record of the war. It is missing many references to seminal events and does not include more highly classified information. The documents also do not cover events in 2010, when the influx of more troops into Afghanistan began and a new counterinsurgency strategy took hold. They suggest that the military's internal assessments of the prospects for winning over the Afghan public, especially in the early days, were often optimistic, even naïve...

cnn.com, July 26, "What leaked documents are telling us about Afghan war" : ...WikiLeaks released the documents to The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel before any other media outlets, and they had a chance to look ahead of time. Each news organization concentrated on different angles, but here are some highlights:...

dailymail.co.uk, July 26, "Is this fresh-faced US soldier behind the biggest leak of military secrets of all time that puts our Afghan troops at risk?"
: This fresh-faced analyst could be responsible for leaking a massive file of secret military documents revealing chilling details of the Afghanistan war and civilian deaths. Army intelligence expert Bradley Manning, 22, boasted he had downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents, according to computer hacker Adrian Lamo. He is said to have contacted Lamo out of the blue and then claimed he had saved high-security files onto CDs, ready to hand to Wikileaks, while pretending to listen to Lady Gaga.

'Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,' he apparently told Lamo. The hacker got in touch with the US military and later met with them in Starbucks to hand over a printout of his conversations with Manning. The analyst has already been charged over a separate leak of a classified helicopter cockpit video earlier this month
..Lamo believes Manning did not work alone, saying he did not have ‘the technological expertise’ to carry out the gathering and leaking of the documents...

spiegel.de, July 26, "The Afghanistan protocol: Explosive leaks provide image of war from those fighting it"
: ..Britain's Guardian newspaper, the New York Times and SPIEGEL have all vetted the material and compared the data with independent reports. All three media sources have concluded that the documents are authentic and provide an unvarnished image of the war in Afghanistan — from the perspective of the soldiers who are fighting it. The reports, from troops engaged in the ongoing combat, were tersely summarized and quickly dispatched. For the most part, they originate from sergeants — but some have been penned by the occasional lieutenant at a command post or ranking analysts with the military intelligence service...And they show that the war in northern Afghanistan, where German troops are stationed, is becoming increasingly perilous. The number of warnings about possible Taliban attacks in the region — fuelled by support from Pakistan — has increased dramatically in the past year.

The documents offer a window into the war in the Hindu Kush — one which promises to change the way we think about the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. They will also be indispensible for anyone seeking to inform themselves about the war in the future. The editors in chief of SPIEGEL, the New York Times and the Guardian have agreed that they would not publish especially sensitive information in the classified material — like the names of the US military's Afghan informants or information that could create additional security risks for soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. The publishers were unanimous in their belief that there is a justified public interest in the material because it provides a more thorough understanding of a war that continues today after almost nine years. SPIEGEL ONLINE has summarized a selection of the most important findings in the data.

The Secret Enemy in Pakistan

he Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's secret service, originally helped to build up and deploy the Taliban after Afghanistan descended into a bitter and fratricidal civil war between the mujahedeen who had prevailed over the Soviets and forced their withdrawal. Despite all of the reassurances from Pakistani politicians that the old ties are cut, the country is still pursuing an ambiguous policy in the region — at once serving as both an ally to the US and as a helper to its enemy. There is plenty of new evidence to support this thesis. The documents clearly show that the Pakistani intelligence agency is the most important accomplice the Taliban has outside of Afghanistan. The war against the Afghan security forces, the Americans and their ISAF allies is still being conducted from Pakistan. The country is an important safe haven for enemy forces — and serves as a base for issuing their deployment. New recruits to the Taliban stream across the Pakistan-Afghan border, including feared foreign fighters — among them Arabs, Chechnyans, Uzbekis, Uighurs and even European Islamists...

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

foxnews.com, July 26, "US denies claim that NATO rocket killed 52 Afghan civilians"
: US and allied forces denied Monday a claim from Hamid Karzai's Afghanistan government that 45 civilians were killed by a rocket attack last week. The speculation is "completely unfounded," NATO International Security Assistance Force Rear Admiral Greg Smith said in a statement..."I don't have any operation reporting to corroborate the reports of civilian casualties," said Col. Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for NATO and US forces...

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,

bbc.co.uk, July 26, "Twin car bombs in Iraq kills 19" :
Two car bombs have exploded near the southern Iraqi city of Karbala, killing at least 19 people, officials say. The bombs went off on the road to the city of Najaf, which is often used by Shia pilgrims travelling to shrines. Dozens of people were wounded in the blast, hospital officials told reporters. Iraq has been without a government since elections in March and it is feared that insurgents are exploiting the power vacuum. Hundreds have been killed in attacks by insurgents since the election. The blasts come as Shia pilgrims from around the country gather in Karbala to celebrate the birthday of the 9th century Imam Muhammad al-Mehdi. Elsewhere in Iraq, four people were killed when a suicide bomber attacked the headquarters of Arabic TV station al-Arabiya in Baghdad. [end]

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.

An email being circulated by pro-Palestinian activists in the US said the goal of the fundraising campaign is to raise at least $370,000 next month to obtain possession of a ship that could accommodate between 40 and 60 people and for operational expenses. The e-mail said the ship will join a flotilla of other vessels from Europe, Canada, India, South Africa and the Middle East in an additional attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade. Right-wing Internet-based blog columnists immediately seized on the involvement of Khalidi, whom they portrayed as a friend of Obama who was supporting Hamas.

..Khalidi, who was born in the US and the son of a Palestinian refugee, told Haaretz that although he will participate in the fundraising event for the ship, he will not be sailing in it himself...Israel's blockade of Gaza was punishing civilians while having little effect on the Hamas administration, Khalidi said. Nor does Khalidi have any faith in current peace talks between the Netanyahu administration and the Palestinians. "Negotiations between the most extreme Israeli government in decades and a Palestinian authority operating without a national consensus are unlikely to resolve the outstanding issues," he said.
[Full story>>haaretz.com]

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.

Mr. Heffermehl's verdict, which caused controversy when it was set out in his book Nobels Vilje (Nobel's Will) published in Norwegian in 2008, is likely to stir up passionate discussion next month when Greenwood Press publishes Picking Up the Peaces: Why the Nobel Peace Prize Violates Alfred Nobel's Will and How to Fix It. Mr. Heffermehl's book emphasizes that Nobel's will concentrated on rewarding the struggle to end wars through an international order based on law and abolition of military forces. Few of the recent winners can be seen to have engaged in that struggle. Among those awards he names as illegitimate are: Mother Teresa (1979); Lech Walesa (1983); Yasser Arafat.

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,

bbc.co.uk, July 25, "tory MP warned over requests to remove face veils"
: Conservative MP has been warned he could face legal action if he refuses to meet constituents who wear burkas or niqabs, which hide their faces. Lawyers for pressure group Liberty have written to Philip Hollobone stating the Equality Act obliges him to avoid discrimination. The Kettering MP said he needed to meet voters face-to-face. He added he would invite those who did not remove their veil to communicate in a different way, such as by letter. Mr. Hollobone was unavailable for comment when the BBC attempted to contact him. He is trying to bring in a Private Member's Bill to ban women wearing the burka or niqab in public...

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.

Askari also said that two brothers
Jaabar and Qadoori Radhi Khamis al-Zaidi believed to have been responsible for operations in Diyala, were arrested in the northern city of Tikrit, where they were based. The two were ISI "emirs," according to Askari. Zawbayi is suspected of organizing a July 18 suicide bombing in the town of Radwaniyah, west of Baghdad, targeting anti-Qaeda militiamen being paid their wages. Forty-five people were killed and 46 wounded. Al-Qaeda also took responsibility for a the second attack in the same day where a suicide bomber killed four and wounded six at a meeting of local Sunni militia leaders in western Iraq, near the Syrian border. [More>>alarabiya.net]

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

washingtonpost.com, July 25, "US drones kill12 militants in northwest Pakistan"
: DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan - Unmanned US aircraft fired missiles at houses in two different parts of northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 12 militants in attacks that occurred hours apart, intelligence officials said. The US has launched more than 100 missile strikes in Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal area along the Afghan border over the past several years. Most of them have targeted militants in North and South Waziristan, important sanctuaries for Afghan and Pakistani Taliban fighters. The first strike Sunday took place around midday when aircraft fired four missiles at a house in Shaktoi, a village along the border of North and South Waziristan, killing five suspected militants, intelligence officials said.

The attack, which actually occurred in South Waziristan, also wounded four suspected militants, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Later Sunday, two missiles hit a house in Taipi village near Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, killing seven suspected militants, said the officials. The strikes came a day after US missiles targeting a compound in the Nazai Narai area of South Waziristan killed 16 suspected militants. The hide-out was known to be frequented by foreign fighters who were among the dead, intelligence officials said...

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.

Afghan police forces withdrew from Barg-e-Matal to avoid high casualties and in the face of sustained Taliban pressure after days of skirmishes, interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told reporters. "Right now the police forces in Nuristan are working to recapture it," he said. The Taliban have yet to comment about the fall of the district and the reported losses in their ranks. In Helmand province, where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, Bashary said provincial authorities were checking reports by residents that dozens of civilians were killed in a raid by foreign forces on Friday. Further details were not immediately available.

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]


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