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9.27.11 Gaddafi loyalists 'ask for truce' in besieged city
SIRTE, Libya (Reuters) September 27 - An elder from Muammar Gaddafi's tribe inside the besieged city of Sirte has asked government forces for a truce, a local commander said on Tuesday, but there was no let-up in fighting in one of its districts. Gaddafi's hometown and one of the last bastions of support for the deposed Libyan leader, Sirte is encircled by forces with the interim government and under bombardment from NATO warplanes. Touhami Zayani, commander of the El-Farouk brigade outside Sirte, told Reuters the elder, whom he did not identify, had contacted him on his satellite phone. "He called me and said we are looking for a safe passage for the families and for the militia to leave the city," he said.
Zayani said he had given his agreement for families from Gaddafi's tribe, who make up the majority of Sirte's population, to be allowed to leave but was negotiating terms for armed Gaddafi loyalists to surrender. "We didn't really get into details and we didn't talk much about how they will leave but I think the scenario will be that they have to give up their weapons," Zayani said. With negotiations underway, there was a lull in fighting on the western side of Sirte, where Zayani's brigade is positioned, but there was no sign of any truce in prospect to the east of the city center. Anti-Gaddafi units who had approached the city from the east were, for a second day, pinned down by intense sniper and artillery fire at a roundabout approximately 2 km (1.5 miles) from the center of Sirte. [More>>thestar.com]
9.27.11 After snubbing US on haqqanis, Pakistan vows to act against anti-China militants
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, September 27 - Ruling out any possibility to act against the Haqqani network which Washington blames for attack on its embassy in Kabul, Pakistan on Tuesday vowed to eliminate Chinese militants hiding in the country's volatile tribal regions. The strong show of support was made by interior minister Rehman Malik after his meeting with visiting Chinese vice premier Meng Jianzhu. "We will strike very hard against them," Malik said. "Anybody who is the enemy of China is the enemy of Pakistan." Leading a Chinese delegation, Jianzhu, who is also China's top security official, landed in the capital on Sunday and held talks with Pakistani civilian and military leaders. Malik had earlier claimed that Pakistan had killed and extradited several Chinese militants. However, he did not specify when or from where those militants were arrested. However, militants of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) who carried out terrorist attack in China's western Xinjiang province were known to be training in Pakistan's tribal areas along with al-Qaeda and other international extremist networks. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See also,
indianespress.com, September 27, "China vows 'fullsupport' to Pakistan's sovereignty" : ISLAMABAD - China today pledged its “full support” to Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity and vowed to work with it for peace in the region, amid a US-Pak row over ISI's links with the Haqqani network responsible for attacks on American forces in Afghanistan. China's Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu, who arrived here yesterday, conveyed Beijing's support during a meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani this afternoon. Meng "categorically extended" China's full support to "Pakistan's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and vowed to work with it for progress and peace in the region and the world," state-run APP news agency reported...
thenews.com.pk, September 27, "US raid on Haqqanis violation of sovereignty: Gilani" : ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani warned Washington on Tuesday that continued accusations of playing a double game in the war on militancy only risked fanning anti-Americanism in Pakistan. Gilani, speaking in an interview, also said any unilateral military action by the United States to hunt down Haqqani network inside Pakistan would be a violation of his country's sovereignty. "The negative messaging, naturally that is disturbing my people," Gilani said. "If there is messaging that is not appropriate to our friendship, then naturally it is extremely difficult to convince my public. Therefore they should be sending positive messages." Asked how Islamabad would respond if there was a unilateral military operation by the United States inside Pakistan to go after the Haqqanis, Gilani responded: "We are a sovereign country. How can they come and raid in our country?" [end]
thenews.com.pk (AFP) September 27, "Haqqani network controlled by Taliban, not Pakistan" : KABUL, Afghanistan - The Taliban took the unusual step Tuesday of insisting that it, not Pakistan, controls the Haqqani network, with Islamabad under growing US pressure to cut alleged ties with the group. The militia advised Pakistan, historically perhaps its closest foreign ally, to priorities "Islamic and national" interests and stand firm in the face of "America's two-faced and implacable politics." "Neither are our bases in Pakistan nor do we need residence outside of our country," said the English-language statement in the name of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — the Taliban's name for itself — on its Voice of Jihad website. "All the military and civilian activities in the country are our own initiatives and our own actions. The respected Maulawi Jalaluddin Haqqani (the group's founder) is (one of the) Islamic Emirate's honorable and dignified personalities and receives all guidance for operations from the leader of the Islamic Emirate." Most analysts consider the Haqqani network a powerful Taliban faction loyal to Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar, with strong ties to al-Qaeda.
A spokesman for the US State Department says it is considering placing the Haqqani network on its list of terror groups. The United States has blamed the Haqqanis, with the involvement of Pakistani spies, over the September 13 attack on its embassy in Kabul in a 19-hour siege, in which 14 people died, and a September 11 attack on a NATO base in Afghanistan. The top US military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, also accused Pakistan's intelligence service of supporting the Haqqani network in attacking Kabul's Intercontinental hotel last June. "Our advice to the people of Pakistan and its government is that it should deliberate on America's two-faced and implacable politics," said the Taliban. "It should always give precedence to its Islamic and national interests and they should have a firm belief that America will never be happy with them until they loot all their material and moral assets." [end]
9.27.11 India asks Pakistan to destroy 42 operational terror camps
NEW DELHI, India, September 27 - India today asked Pakistan to destroy 42 terror camps operational there, saying a resurgent Taliban could be a “security threat” to the country after US forces pull out from Afghanistan. "There are 42 terror camps which are still operational. We want all of them to be destroyed," Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters on the sidelines of the Coast Guard Commanders' Conference here when asked about India's concerns over the existing terror camps in Pakistan. In the recent past, reports have suggested that a large number of terrorists are waiting on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir. To a query on the impact of the pullout by the US forces from Afghanistan in the next couple of years, he said, a resurgent Taliban can be a "security concern for us" after western forces leave the war-torn country. [More>>indianexpress.com]
9.27.11 Syria forces storm refuge for army defectors
AMMAN, Jordan (Reuters) September 27 - Syrian forces backed by tanks and helicopters stormed into the central town of Rastan on Tuesday to crush army deserters who are fighting back after months of mostly peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad, residents said. Dozens of armored vehicles entered the town of 40,000, which lies on the highway to Turkey near the city of Homs, after tanks and helicopters pounded it with heavy machineguns through the hours of darkness. "Tanks closed in on Rastan overnight and the sound of machineguns and explosions has been non-stop. They finally entered this morning," said a resident named Abu Qassem. Hundreds of soldiers who have refused orders to fire on protesters have formed the Khaled Bin al-Walid battalion, named after the Arab conqueror of Syria, in Rastan.
The force, led by Captain Abdelrahman Shaikh, has some tanks. Colonel Riad al-Assad, the most senior military defector, is active in the area. The rebel soldiers have attacked army buses and roadblocks manned by troops and pro-Assad militiamen, known "shabbiha." These have multiplied in recent days as security forces try to disrupt protests and hunt down activists in the Rastan area. The region around Homs and the adjoining province of Idlib on the border with Turkey have emerged as hotspots of armed resistance, although the bulk of the armed forces, commanded by officers from Assad’s Alawite minority, has remained loyal. The United Nations says more than 2,700 Syrians, including 100 children, have been killed in a six-month-old revolt against 41 years of Assad family rule in a mostly Sunni nation of 20 million. The government blames the violence on armed gangs, who it says have killed 700 members of the security forces. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
9.27.11 Yemeni defense minister survives attack
September 27 - Mohammed Nasser Ali escapes second bid on his life in a month after suspected suicide bomber targets his convoy. Yemen's defense minister has survived an attack on his convoy in the southern city of Aden, officials said. One official said that a suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ali's convoy and other attackers on motorbikes threw hand grenades. Tuesday's blast in Aden wounded seven soldiers traveling in the lead vehicle of the ministerial motorcade, but Ali, who was riding in the second car, was unharmed, a local official said. It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack. Investigators found the body of a 19-year-old inside the car which exploded and concluded he was the bomber. A security official said the attack was consistent with AL-Qaeda's tactics. It was the second time in a month that the defense minister narrowly escaped a bid on his life. In August, his convoy hit a landmine in the flashpoint province of Abyan, where al-Qaeda-linked fighters have seized several cities in the coastal province. Since popular protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh broke out in this impoverished Arabian Peninsula state earlier this year, fighters suspected of links to al-Qaeda have tightened their grip on the south and have repeatedly targeted troops and security officials. International powers fear growing lawlessness in Yemen could embolden al-Qaeda's local wing and imperil strategic shipping routes. Aden lies close to the Bab al-Mandab strait, through which some three million barrels of oil pass daily. [>aljazeera.net]
9.27.11 Israel approves 1,100 new settler homes in new snub to mediators
September 27 - Israel approved the building of 1,100 new settler homes in east Jerusalem on Tuesday in what the Palestinians described as a snub to a peace proposal by the Middle East Quartet of International Mediators. "With this, Israel is responding to the Quartet’s statement with 1,100 'no’s,'" Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP, shortly after the Israeli interior ministry said it had approved the new construction. Israel’s prime minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, had previously ruled out a freeze on settlement construction — a stance that is expected to further stall the resumption of peace talks the with Palestinians. [More>>alarabiya.net]
9.24.11 Human glider flies through hole in the side of a mountain
September 24 - American wingsuit flier Jeb Corliss soared through a hole in Tianmen mountain near Zhangjiajie, Hunan province central China. The 35-year-old Corliss jumped from a helicopter 6,000 feet above the Tianmen mountain, flying towards it and sailed right through it. "That was one of the greatest wingsuit flights of my entire life. Thank you China, that was amazing," said Corliss after he landed safely on a bridge. The wingsuit flier failed at his first attempt, due to smoke brackets on his feet that did not work properly and forced him to take a detour. He has become the first wingsuit stuntman to fly in China. The thrill seeking Californian had previously jumped from 5,000 foot mountain wearing wings in China, flown through a waterfall in the Swiss Alps and jumped from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. [See video>>telegraph.co.uk]
9.24.11 Libya fighters push into Gaddafi bastion
September 24 - Supported by tanks, heavy artillery and NATO bombing runs, NTC forces have reached the center of Sirte. Fighters aligned with Libya's National Transitional Council have launched a fierce two-pronged assault on Sirte with the support of heavy artillery, tanks and NATO warplanes. Al Jazeera correspondents said NTC fighters on Saturday had pushed into the center of the city, overrunning positions that forces loyal to deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi had held for months. Gaddafi's forces battled the attackers with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades and snipers as explosions rocked Sirte and its outlying areas and plumes of smoke rose into the sky Ambulances have been carrying casualties from the fighting, with one medic estimating that one NTC fighter had been killed and 25 wounded. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from the battle in Sirte, said the momentum in the fighting has so far been behind the onrushing NTC troops. [More>>aljazeera.net]
9.24.11 Syrian forces kill 11, protesters plead for help
AMMAN, Jordan (Reuters) September 24 - Syrian forces shot dead 11 protesters when they fired live ammunition to disperse pro-democracy demonstrations after Friday prayers, activists said. Across Syria, crowds of protesters shouted slogans and carried placards pleading for the world to help them against a bloody crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. "Help Syria. It is bleeding," read placards carried by protesters in the southern Damascus suburb of Hajar al-Aswad, home to tens of thousands of refugees from the Israeli-occupied Golan heights, about 30 km (20 miles) away. The slogans and placards were on video footage aired by Syrian residents on the Internet. Syrian authorities expelled most independent media when the uprising began in March...Human rights organizations and Western diplomats have reported assassinations of protest leaders, torture of civilians and killings of political prisoners in the last two weeks that have sparked international outrage. Syria’s ruling elite have fallen under Western sanctions that include the small but important oil sector on their target list. China and Russia have shielded Assad from Western proposals for UN Security Council sanctions. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]
9.24.11 Turkey seizes Syrian ship, announces arms embargo
(Reuters) September 24 - Prime Minister Erdogan says Turkey will intercept any arms shipments headed to Syria, as Ankara mulls imposing sanctions on Bashar Assad's regime. Turkey has seized a Syrian-flagged ship and will intercept any arms shipments headed to Syria, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said late on Friday, a response to Damascus' bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters. Speaking to reporters in New York late on Friday where he attended the UN General Assembly, Erdogan said Turkey had stopped a Syrian-flagged ship in Marmara, according to state-run Anatolia News Agency. It did not indicate whether the ship was stopped in the Sea of Marmara or the port of Marmara. Erdogan did not say when the ship was seized or whether any weapons were found aboard. "We have already made a decision to stop and prevent any vehicle carrying any type of weapon to Syria. We told them our decision as well as shared it with neighboring countries," Anatolia quoted Erdogan as saying. "As you recall, we had previously made an interception to a ship in Marmara. If there are planes carrying weapons, or such shipments by land, then we would stop and confiscate them as in the past." Turkish authorities in August intercepted an arms shipment from Iran to Syria. In March, Turkey told a UN Security Council panel it seized a cache of weapons Iran was attempting to export in breach of a UN arms embargo. [More>>haaretz.com]
9.24.11 Cell phones link Pakistan to US embassy attack
September 24 - The insurgents who attacked the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last week were killed but their cell phones left a trail. The phones had been used to call Pakistani intelligence operatives before and during the assault. This evidence lies behind the charge made by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the Haqqani network is a "veritable arm" of Pakistani intelligence, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. The attack on the US Embassy and NATO's Afghan headquarters resulted in a 22-hour firefight — with American troops pinned down on roof tops. Sixteen people were killed — no Americans — but the buildings in the embassy compound were damaged. According to US officials, the Haqqani network consists of several thousand fighters and operates with impunity from safe havens inside Pakistan, conducting cross-border raids into Afghanistan and up into Kabul. [More>>cbsnews.com]
9.24.11 Police seize loads of arms in Peshawar
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, September 24 - Police have recovered a large cache of arms from a warehouse here in Peshawar, Geo News reported. Three people were also arrested during the raid. Speaking to media about the raid, DSP Rahim Shah Khan said that after receiving a tip the police conducted the raid at a warehouse in the market. The arms recovered were bound for Punjab and Sindh, he said, adding most probably to be used in terrorism. According to the DSP two of the three individuals arrested were from Afghanistan. [>thenews.com.pk]
9.24.11 At least 40 killed in Yemen unrest today: protesters
SANAA, Yemen, September 24 - At least 40 people, among them dissident soldiers, were killed in violence that rocked Yemen's capital today, an activist from the protest organizing committee said. "More than 40 people were killed on Saturday" in battles that hit several neighborhoods across Sanaa, including Change Square, epicenter of anti-regime protests since February, the activist said. As gun battles raged across the capital, hundreds of thousands set out in a massive demonstration from Change Square, which itself came under security force gunfire from several directions, witnesses said. A dissident military spokesman said 11 of his regiment's troops were killed today and 112 wounded when elite Republican Guard troops, commanded by President Ali Abdullah Saleh's son Ahmed, attacked a camp of the First Armored Brigade north of Change Square. "The camp was targeted by 60 shells," said the spokesman. Fierce fighting between Yemeni security forces and dissident troops has rocked Sanaa since last week, killing 173 people. Seventy-eight people have been killed since Saleh returned yesterday after three months in Saudi Arabia, despite his call for peace in the restive country. [>indianexpress.com]
9.23.11 Sparks fly as US, Pakistan spar over Afghan bloodshed
WASHINGTON / ISLAMABAD (Reuters) September 23 - US issues strongest indictment of ISI role, Pakistan rejects US accusation. The United States and Pakistan inched closer to open confrontation on Thursday, with top US military officer accusing Pakistan's intelligence agency in the strongest terms yet of involvement in violence against US targets in Afghanistan. Admiral Mike Mullen called the Haqqani militant network a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's powerful ISI intelligence service, which he said supported the group's attack last week on the US Embassy in Kabul, a blow to US efforts to bring the Afghan war to a peaceful end. Pakistan's interior minister swiftly rejected the US accusations of Islamabad's links to the Haqqanis, one of the most feared insurgent groups operating in Afghanistan. The minister, Rehman Malek, also warned against a unilateral US ground attack on the Haqqanis, who are based in Pakistan's ungoverned tribal territories. "The Pakistan nation will not allow the boots on our ground, never. Our government is already cooperating with the US."
... but they also must respect our sovereignty," Malek said in an interview with Reuters. The harsh words appear to represent a new low in US-Pakistani relations, which had barely begun to recover from the unannounced US Special Forces raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in May. The tensions could have repercussions across Asia, from India, Pakistan's economically booming arch-rival, to China, which has edged closer to Pakistan in recent years. A complete break between the United States and Pakistan — sometimes friends, sometimes adversaries — seems unlikely, if only because the United States depends on Pakistan as a route to supply US troops in Afghanistan, and as a base for unmanned US drones. Washington does not want to see further instability in the nuclear-armed country. But support in the US Congress for curbing or conditioning aid to Pakistan is rising rapidly. And Mullen, CIA Director David Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have all met their Pakistani counterparts in recent days to demand Islamabad rein in militants.
...Mullen, who is about to step down as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been a defender of US engagement with Pakistan and has met more than two dozen times with his Pakistani counterpart, General Ashfaq Kayani. The Haqqani network is one of three allied insurgent factions fighting US-led NATO and Afghan troops under the Taliban banner in Afghanistan. In earlier testimony, Mullen said "the Haqqani network ... acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency". "With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted (a September 11) truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy," Mullen said. [Full story>>gulfnews.com; See also,
indianexpress.com, September 23, "US linking ISI with Haqqani network 'very unfortunate': Kayani" : The war of words between Pakistan and the US on the ISI's alleged links with the Haqqani terror network escalated today with Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani describing US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen's accusations as "not based on facts." In a statement issued by the military this evening, the powerful army chief described Mullen's remarks as "as very unfortunate and not based on facts." He said, "This is especially disturbing in view of a rather constructive meeting with Admiral Mullen in Spain." The Pakistani military had maintained a studied silence as several US officials linked the Inter-Services Intelligence agency to the Haqqani terror network and called on Islamabad to take action against the Taliban faction based in the North Waziristan tribal region...The Pakistani military statement said, "On the specific question of contacts with the Haqqanis, (Kayani) said that Admiral Mullen knows fully well which all countries are in contact with the Haqqanis. Singling out Pakistan is neither fair nor productive."...
9.23.11 More deaths as sanctions on Syria widened
(AFP) September 23 - Another three deaths in Syria were reported on Friday as the EU and Switzerland both said they were widening sanctions against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Security forces shot dead two civilians in separate incidents near the central city of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement, also reporting the death of a man wounded the day before. "One demonstrator was killed when security forces opened fire on a march in Talbisseh, while another was shot dead and three more were wounded when they gathered after Friday prayers in the village of Al-Zaafarana," the group said. "The sound of heavy machinegun fire was heard in Talbisseh." [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
9.23.11 Abbas tells Israel to 'come in peace' in his bid for Palestinian UN statehood at General Assembly
DUBAI / UNITED NATIONS - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Friday said Israel has “smashed against the rocks” all efforts to reach a peace deal explaining why he had pressed his bid for UN membership of his state. He told the UN General Assembly that Palestinians are ready to return to the negotiating table. "All of these sincere efforts and endeavors undertaken by international parties were repeatedly smashed against the rocks of the positions of the Israeli government, which quickly dashed the hopes raised by the launch of negotiations last September," he told the UN General Assembly. "I say to the Israelis, come in peace," Mahmud said, adding "our people will continue peaceful, popular resistance." Abbas also said that the Jewish settlements threaten a two-state solution and survival of the Palestinian authority.
The Palestinian president won huge applause and a standing ovation from some of the UN General Assembly as he entered the hall shortly after asking the UN to admit the state of Palestine. He handed over the request in a folder with the Palestinian logo on the front in Ban’s meeting room. The UN secretary general opened the folder briefly to study it. Huge crowds began gathering into the main towns and cities of the West Bank on Friday as people turned out to support the Palestinian bid, AFP reported. Meanwhile, Israel said that it “regrets” the Palestinian request for statehood at UN.
"We regret the step," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman Gidi Shmerling told AFP. "We believe that the only path to true peace is through negotiations and not unilateral steps." Palestinians have to win nine of the 15 votes on the UN Security Council for their bid to go ahead, but the United States has already said it would veto any bid. However, the Palestinians could then apply to the General Assembly to grant them status as a non-member observer state — also accorded to the Vatican. Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that a UN Security Council vote was still "several weeks" away, allowing time to avoid a confrontation. "There will probably be several weeks and these weeks can be used to develop the strategy," Juppe told reporters. [>alarabiya.net; See also,
haaretz.com, September 23, "Hamas: Abbas relinquishing Palestinian rights with UN bid" : Ismail Haniyeh says Palestinian people do not beg the world for a state, and the state can't be created through decisions and initiatives; states liberate their land first and then the political body can be established. Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday of relinquishing Palestinian rights by seeking recognition for a state in the pre-1967 borders. Hamas' founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel and a state in all of the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, though some Hamas officials have suggested they would support a peace deal based on the 1967 lines. "The Palestinian people do not beg the world for a state, and the state can't be created through decisions and initiatives," Haniyeh said. "States liberate their land first and then the political body can be established." Earlier this week, Haniyeh reiterated his movement's opposition to the Palestinian Authority move at the UN, adding however that Hamas would support an independent Palestine on only part of what it considered to be "historic Palestine" if that state would adhere to core Hamas principles, according to an AFP report...
Editorial note: "Palestinians, Syria's President Assad, et al. require that Israel withdraw back to the 1967 border. What is the true border of Palestine?" - We can find in Herodotus (484-425 B.C.) "The Persian Wars" two references defining what was then considered to be Palestine:
("The Persian Wars" - Referring to the practice of circumcision)The Phoenicians and the Syrians of Palestine themselves confess that they learnt the custom of the Egyptians; and the Syrians...say that they have recently adopted it from the Colchians. Now these are the only nations who use circumcision, and it is plain that they all imitate herein the Egyptians. (Euterpe II.104)
("The Persian Wars" - Referring to the composition of the Persian fleet) The Phoenicians, with the Syrians of Palestine, furnished 300 vessels, the crews of which were thus accoutred: upon their heads they wore helmets made nearly in the Grecian manner...This nation, according to their own account, dwelt anciently upon the Red Sea, but crossing thence, they fixed themselves on the sea-coast of Syria, where they still inhabit. This part of Syria, and all the region extending from hence to Egypt, is known by the name of Palestine. (Polymnia VII.89)
Other views and maps of the region, as well as the UN requirements placed on Israel and Palestine in UN Resolution 181 November 29, 1947, "Partition of Palestine," are listed in "The Allah Controversy." and "Philistia triumph thou because of me." The first requirement in the partition agreement was for Israel and Palestine to submiit their Declarations of Independence (the basic law for their lands) to the UN for approval. Israel submitted its declaration (May 14, 1948) which was approved by the UN. Palestine refused the agreement and did not submit its declaration, while the states of Transjordan, Syria and Egypt launched a war (1948 Palestine War) to drive the Israelis out of the region. Today's appeal by Palestine may be viewed as a first step in complying with the UN Resolution.
9.23.11 Stock markets end flat after volatile trading
September 23 - European share indexes have ended flat after a week of volatile trading. The main indexes in the UK, France and Germany rose slightly on Friday, but over the week the FTSE fell 3.6%, the Cac 40 shed 4.4% and the Dax lost 4%. The volatility prompted the G20 to put out a statement late on Thursday reassuring that it was ready to take action to stabilize markets. IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the challenge the world faced "could not be more urgent." "There are dark clouds over Europe and there is huge uncertainty in the US," she said in an address to the annual meeting of the World Bank and the IMF in Washington. "And with that we could risk a collapse in global demand. We are all in it together and nobody should be under any illusion that there could be a de-coupling.".
...On Thursday, IMF head Christine Lagarde said the global economic situation was entering a "dangerous place", while World Bank president Robert Zoellick said he thought the world was in a "danger zone." Doubts about the strength of European banks also resurfaced on Friday, after the head of France's markets regulator, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, said "there is indeed a problem with the capitalization of banks." He said 15 to 20 banks needed additional funds, none of which were based in France. Meanwhile, Greece has denied media reports it was contemplating defaulting on its debts, with creditors taking a 50% hit on Greek government bonds. [More>>bbc.co.uk; See also,
abc.go.com, September 23, "Wobbly Wall St.: Recession fears persist" : Fear of a global economic slowdown continued to buffet wobbly Wall St today but shares recovered from the near free-fall of the last two days. By early afternoon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by .6 percent; while the Standard & Poors’ 500 Index was up by .3 percent. The rebound follows yesterday’s 391-point plunge in the Dow. The declines earlier this week are the worst weekly drop drop in the S&P 500 since 2008. The story was the same for other stock markets around the world. Despite a pledge by G-20 finance ministers that they stand ready to mount "a strong and coordinated" response to challenges facing the global economy, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index earlier today dropped 2.6 percent before recovering .6 percent...
9.23.11 Walkouts and fury: A look at Ahmadinejad's UN speeches
September 22 - Whether he is predicting the demise of the US "empire," questioning US accounts of the 9/11 attacks or accusing Europe of using the Holocaust as an excuse for supporting Israel, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad knows how to push the West's buttons at the UN General Assembly. For the third straight year, US diplomats on Thursday joined envoys from several other nations in walking out during the Iranian president's address at the annual United Nations gathering in New York. That doesn't even count instances before that, when American diplomats conspicuously skipped his speech altogether. This year, Ahmadinejad said European countries "still use the Holocaust after six decades as the excuse to pay (a) fine or ransom to the Zionists," and that the United States killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden instead of investigating" hidden elements involved in September 11."
Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations, wasn't impressed. "We find what Ahmadinejad does and says when he comes to the United Nations absolutely odious, hateful, anti-Semitic, unacceptable, which is why the United States for three consecutive years — including today — have led a walkout of his speech," Rice told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. "Inevitably he says something outrageous, dishonest and offensive, and that leads to a walkout."
Here is a look back at Ahmadinejad's other UN speeches, and reactions to them:
Representatives from the
United States, Britain, Spain and other nations
walked out while Ahmadinejad asserted that the US
government either participated in the 9/11 attacks
or let them happen as an excuse to wage war in Iraq
and Afghanistan.... [More>>cnn.com]
9.23.11 7 more
bodies found in Mexican port city
CITY, September 23 - The bodies of six men and a
woman were found in two neighborhoods of the
eastern Mexican port city of Veracruz, where 35
corpses had been dumped earlier this week on a
busy avenue. Witnesses told Efe that four of the
bodies discovered Thursday — three men and a
woman, all of whom bore signs of torture
and were semi-nude — were abandoned in downtown
Veracruz's Zaragoza neighborhood. The other three
bodies were found that same day in the Veracruz
suburb of Boca del Rio. Officials, meanwhile, said
they had received reports of seven victims, but
did not provide further details. These latest
bodies were found two days after an armed commando
dumped the corpses of 35 people — 23 men and 12
women — on an avenue in Boca del Rio in broad
daylight, with the majority of the victims having
been asphyxiated or strangled to death. The
preliminary investigation showed that most of
those victims had criminal records "linked to
organized crime, such as kidnapping, extortion,
homicide, drug dealing, auto theft and
home-invasion robberies," Veracruz state Attorney
General Reynaldo Escobar said Wednesday.
9.23.11 Tiny Neutrinos may have broken cosmic speed limit
September 22 - Roll over, Einstein? The physics world is abuzz with news that a group of European physicists plans to announce Friday that it has clocked a burst of subatomic particles known as neutrinos breaking the cosmic speed limit — the speed of light — that was set by Albert Einstein in 1905. If true, it is a result that would change the world. But that "if" is enormous. Even before the European physicists had presented their results — in a paper that appeared on the physics Web site arXiv.org on Thursday night and in a seminar at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, on Friday — a chorus of physicists had risen up on blogs and elsewhere arguing that it was way too soon to give up on Einstein and that there was probably some experimental error. Incredible claims require incredible evidence. [More>>nytimmes.com]
9.23.11 FBI arrests suspected LulzSec and Anonymous hackers
September 22 - The FBI arrested two alleged members of the hacking collectives LulzSec and Anonymous on Thursday morning in San Francisco and Phoenix and secured charges against a third suspect from Ohio, the Justice Department confirmed Thursday. Search warrants were also being executed in New Jersey, Minnesota and Montana, an FBI official told FoxNews.com, which first reported the arrests. One individual was described as part of the LulzSec group, the other part of the group that calls itself Anonymous, the official said. Cody Kretsinger, a 23-year-old from Phoenix, was charged with conspiracy and the unauthorized impairment of a protected computer, according to the federal indictment unsealed Thursday morning.
In another indictment, Christopher Doyon, 47, of Mountain View, Calif., and Joshua Covelli, 26, of Fairborn, Ohio, were charged with conspiracy to cause intentional damage to a protected computer, causing intentional damage to a protected computer and aiding and abetting. The indictment says both men participated in a "distributed denial of service" attack on Santa Cruz County, Calif.'s computer servers in 2010, causing them to go offline. It alleges that the attack was carried out by the People's Liberation Front, which is associated with hacking groups such as Anonymous. Kretsinger, who goes by the online name "recursion," is believed to be a current or former member of LulzSec and is accused of being involved in the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Kretsinger and other co-conspirators are accused of using a hacking technique called a SQL injection to obtain confidential information from Sony's computer systems. [More>>foxnews.com]
9.20.11 How did the US debt get so bad?
September 19 - See bbc.co.uk for a flip chart presentation on the subject that is well worth the look. The last chart shows a chart on the US budget, spending and borrowing, pointing out that there is no way for the US to cut its deficit without an increase in taxes. It shows total spending at $3.456 trillion: Items with * really cannot be reduced, according to the bbc.co.uk presentation.
*Interest: $196 bn
*Mandatory spending: $.954tn
Interest on the debt for 2010 was actually $413.9bn. What is not mentioned in the BBC article is the impact of borrowing on the debt from the time of the Reagan administration which began the practice as "Reaganomics." Reagan tripled the debt left by Carter which was $907.7bn to $2.602tn. Bush I nearly doubled that debt to $4.064tn. Clinton paid down the debt, retarding its exponential rise, leaving Bush II with a $5.65tn debt and an annual surplus of $236.2bn. Bush II doubled the debt again, leaving the Obama administration with a $10.124tn debt and an annual deficit of -$435bn. Note that the deficit of Bush II was about the same as interest on the debt: $438bn. Reaganomics initiated a culture of borrowing essentially the equivalent of interest on the debt. Reagan's first year (1981) in office had a deficit of -$78bn, with an interest payment of $95.bn. Reagan's last year in office (1988) left a deficit of -$155bn, with an interest payment of $214bn. This is essentially the pattern of the Bush I and Bush II administrations as well.
This borrowing compounded the debt, and as the debt increased so increased the size of the interest payments. For instance, of the $5 trillion increase of the debt promulgated by the Bush I administration, $2.9779tn of it was owing to interest.
Reaganomics was based upon passing today's debt on to the American children. What the theory did not address was the affect (unpaid) interest on the debt would have on the debt and the fact that eventually the unpaid debt would reach a "point-of-no-return," where the debt obligation would exceed the nation's ability to service its debt. From 1992-1995, I discussed in a monthly conversation with Wm F. Buckley Jr. the affects of the debt, and it appeared then that the "point-of-no-return" would be in 1995, with the debt then having a profile of a hockey stick, heading strait up. Fortunately Congress and President Clinton changed course, realizing that without paying down principal and interest on the debt a complete economic collapse would take place.
While Buckley and I agreed on the consequence of the debt, he expressed concern that he could not do what we agreed should be done because "Prudential calls"; that is to say, he had too much money at stake himself in the stock market and preferred to maintain his silence so to not upset the market. Whether he had anything to do with the administration's switch to stop borrowing on the debt, I have no knowledge.
What the country has learned from this is how easily the positive economic policies of the Clinton administration could be squandered by Bush II, leaving the US without the savings Clinton had made which could have been used for a rainy day. Ironically, one of the things that led to the crash of 2008/9 was a bill Clinton signed into law November 13, 1999 that is a:
"sweeping overhaul of Depression-era banking laws. The measure lifts barriers in the industry and allows banks, securities firms and insurance companies to merge and to sell each other's products. ''This legislation is truly historic,'' President Clinton told a packed audience of lawmakers and top financial regulators. ''We have done right by the American people.''
The bill repeals parts of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act and the 1956 Bank Holding Company Act to level the domestic playing field for United States financial companies and allow them to compete better in the evolving global financial marketplace. Analysts and industry leaders say the measure will probably fuel a wave of mergers as companies compete to build financial supermarkets offering all the services customers need under one roof. (nytimes.com, November14, 1999)
Abuses in Wall Street and the banking sector led to a collapse of the banking, insurance, stock and real-estate markets, requiring a $700bn bailout of those sectors in 2008/2009. In actuality, we can see that the deficit Bush II left the Obama administration was -$435bn + -$700bn = $1.135tn. This moved the annual "deficit" of ~$400bn to ~1tn.
The bailout seems to have only benefited the moneyed interests, leaving no relief for the American taxpayers who lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of the collapse (and continue to do so). For a chart on the US debt, deficits and interest payments by the administrations since Carter (1976), see Maravot News/National_Debt.html.
9.20.11 Chevron loses latest stage of Amazon pollution battle
September 20 - New York appeals judge unfreezes $18bn damages award over contamination of indigenous tribe's land in Ecuador. A US court has dealt oil giant Chevron a severe blow after lifting a ban on an $18bn judgment against the firm for contaminating the Amazon. A New York appeals court has reversed an earlier order freezing enforcement of the record damages award. It is the latest reversal in a nearly two decade-long legal battle over pollution in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. In February, a judge in Ecuador ordered Chevron to pay damages to the plaintiffs, but both Chevron and the residents appealed, and the case has yet to make its way to Ecuador's highest court. [More>>guardian.co.uk]
9.20.11 US President Obama hails 'new chapter' for Libya as rebels' flag is hoisted at UN
September 20 - US President Barack Obama hailed a “new chapter” for Libya Tuesday as the victorious rebels’ red, black and green flag was hoisted at the United Nations ahead of its annual General Assembly. Fugitive strongman Muammar Gaddafi issued an audio message dismissing the new government as a "charade" that would not outlive the NATO air and naval support that brought it to power. But Obama warned Gaddafi loyalists still putting up resistance in their remaining bastions to lay down their arms and join the new Libya, promising that NATO-led air strikes would continue as long as they remained a threat. [More>>alarabiya.net]
9.20.11 Senior Gaddafi general captured in south: Official
BENGHAZI, Libya (AFP) September 20 - A senior general loyal to Muammar Gaddafi has been captured in southern Libya, an official from the country's new regime told AFP Tuesday, as the hunt for the toppled dictator intensified. "General Belgacem Al-Abaaj, Gaddafi's intelligence chief in the Al Khofra region, was captured" on Monday some 100 kilometers (60 miles) from [the] southern Libyan town of Sebha, said Mohamed Wardugu, spokesman for the "Desert Shield Brigade" in Benghazi. Al-Abaaj, who had been sought by the forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC), was seized with members of his family who were traveling in five four-wheel drive vehicles, added Wardugu. Wardugu said that the NTC forces had entered Sabha and taken control of the airport but that fighting was continuing in some quarters. [>thenews.com.pk]
9.20.11 Former Aghan president assassinated
September 20 - Burhanuddin Rabbani, president during Mujahiddeen rule, was leading country's peace efforts to reach out to Taliban. A former Afghan president along with four other people has been killed in a suicide attack in Kabul, according to Afghan officials. Burhanuddin Rabbani, who served as president during the 1990s, was recently the head of High Peace Council, tasked by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, to reach out to the Taliban for talks. Ismail Qasimyar, one of his deputies at the peace council, confirmed to Al Jazeera that Rabbani and four others, including the chairman of the secretariat for the commission, Masoom Stanekzai, were killed. But reports about the fate of Stanekzai, a long time advisor to Karzai, remained conflicting. Al Jazeera's Abdullah Shahood, reporting from Kabul, said Rabbani was meeting with a Taliban delegation at his home when the attack happened. "I just spoke to one of the High Peace Council members near Rabbani's home. He said at the meeting with a Taliban delegation, one of the members approached him to try to shake hands and detonated his explosives that he had hidden in his turban." [More>>aljazeera.net]
9.20.11 28 Shia Muslims shot dead by LeJ militants in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, September 20 - On Tuesday, banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militants shot dead 28 Shia Muslims in two back-to-back attacks that also left several injured in the restive Balochistan province of southwest Pakistan. In the first incident, gunmen forced the pilgrims going to Iran out of a bus, lined them up and sprayed bullets killing 26 of them on the spot and leaving six more seriously injured. This is was one of the most brutal attacks on the minority community in the recent past. The bus was going from provincial capital Quetta to the border town of Taftan. The injured were taken to hospitals in Quetta, located about 40 km from Mastung. Shortly after the attack on the bus, militants ambushed a vehicle carrying Shias at Akhtarabad on the outskirts of Quetta, killing two men. Several others were injured. The Shias were on their way to Mastung to collect the bodies of their kin. The militants who carried out both attacks escaped. The banned LeJ claimed responsibility for the attack on the bus in calls made to newspapers in Quetta. [More>>indianexpress.com]
9.20.11 Blast kills 3, wounds 15 in Turkish capital
(AP) September 20 - A suspected car bomb went off near a high school in the Turkish capital on Tuesday, igniting other vehicles and killing three people in a nearby building. The blast also wounded 15 people. The explosion was "highly likely to be a terrorist attack," said Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin. "The explosion occurred in a place where car and people traffic is intense. It looks like the intension was to inflict as much harm to people as possible." The parked car was purchased a week ago but it was not yet registered. Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey have recently escalated their attacks on Turkish targets, but Islamist and leftist militants have also carried out some bombings in this NATO member and US ally. Kurdish rebels were blamed for a small bomb attack in the Mediterranean resort town of Kemer that wounded 10 people, including four Swedes on Aug. 28. Turkish warplanes bombed suspected rebel hideouts in northern Iraq last month in response to the escalation of attacks by the guerrillas. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
9.20.11 Four killed when Iraqi insurgents attack police, government compound
RAMADI, Iraq, September 20 - Insurgents dressed in military uniforms launched a coordinated attack on a government compound in the city of Ramadi Tuesday afternoon. The attack was partly foiled by local police, who took over security of the compound from the Iraqi national army four months ago. Two police officers, one civilian and a leader of the Sons of Iraq were killed by twin suicide bombs, said Ramadi's police commander, Brig. Mohammud Rashid. Fifteen policemen were injured in an ensuing firefight with five gunmen who breached the perimeter of the compound after the explosions. Police shot and killed the gunmen, and also fatally shot a third would-be suicide bomber before he could trigger his device. One suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the eastern gate of the compound around 12:45pm, and another exploded his car at the western gate. Police then cordoned off the compound and gunfire was heard inside. The compound, 90 miles west of Baghdad, houses the headquarters of Anbar province’s police department, government and counter-terrorism bureau. It has endured seven insurgent assaults in the past two years. The attack bears the fingerprints of al-Qaeda in Iraq, said Sa'adoun al-Sha'alan, deputy chairman of the provincial council of Anbar, a majority-Sunni province that was once a stronghold of the terror group. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
9.19.11 Obama vows veto if deficit plan has no tax increases
WASHINGTON, September 19 - President Obama called on Monday for Congress to adopt his "balanced" plan combining entitlement cuts, tax increases and war savings to reduce the federal deficit by more than $3 trillion over the next 10 years, and said he would veto any approach that relied solely on spending reductions to address the fiscal shortfall. "I will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans," he said. "And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share. We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable,” he continued. His plan, presented in a speech in the Rose Garden of the White House, is the administration’s latest move in the long-running power struggle over deficit reduction.
It comes as a joint House-Senate committee begins work in earnest to spell out, at the least, a more modest savings plan that Congress could approve by the end of the year in keeping with the debt deal reached this summer. If the committee’s proposal is not enacted by Dec. 23, draconian automatic cuts across government agencies could take effect a year later. Mr. Obama is seeking $1.5 trillion in tax increases, primarily on the wealthy and corporations, through a combination of letting Bush-era income tax cuts expire, closing loopholes and limiting the amount that high earners can deduct. The proposal also includes $580 billion in adjustments to health and entitlement programs, including $248 billion to Medicare and $72 billion to Medicaid. In a briefing previewing the plan, administration officials said on Sunday that the Medicare cuts would not come from an increase in the Medicare eligibility age. [More>>nytimes.com]
9.19.11 Over 500 villagers protest pollution from China factory
SHANGHAI, China (AP) December 19 - Police detained at least 20 people after hundreds of villagers in eastern China demonstrated against pollution they blame on a solar panel factory, with some protesters storming the compound and overturning vehicles, local authorities said Monday. The government in Haining city, west of Shanghai, said police imposed traffic controls Sunday to keep order following three nights of gatherings by hundreds of residents — the latest among increasingly bold public protests driven by environmental concerns. The factory, Zhejiang Jinko Solar Co. Ltd., was ordered to halt production lines emitting toxic gases or waste pending an investigation, the Haining government said in a statement. It ordered strict enforcement of environmental protection measures, but also "absolute efforts to ensure stability." Zhejiang Jinko Solar Co. is a subsidiary of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, JinkoSolar Holding Co. Calls to both companies rang unanswered. The company has not issued any public response to the protests. [More>>koreaherald.com]
9.19.11 Stocks sink 2% on European debt fears
NEW YORK, September 19 - US stocks dropped sharply Monday, following a global sell-off, as investors fret over the possibility of a Greek default. "We are drawing closer to the date at which the Greek government is going to run out of money," said Mark Luschini, the chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. "And yet you still have some lack of commitment on the part of the institutions involved in shoring up that financing." The Dow Jones industrial average ( ) plunged 218 points, or 1.9%, the S&P 500 ( ) fell 23 points, or 1.9%, and the Nasdaq composite ( ) lost 34 points, or 1.3%. The selling was widespread, with all 30 Dow components in the red, and all but a handful of companies in the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq trading lower. The steep declines were sparked by growing jitters over Europe's debt crisis. [More>>cnn.com; See also,
france24.com (AP) September 19, "Concerns over Greece drive Eutopean stocks down" : European markets began the week in retreat, with France’s CAC-40 falling 3 percent and Germany’s Dax closing down 2.8 percent, as international investors worried Greece would fail to take the steps necessary to secure more bailout cash...
9.19.11 Seven held in Birmingham anti-terror operation
September 19 - Six men and a woman have been arrested in Birmingham in a large anti-terrorism operation, West Midlands Police say. The men, aged between 25 and 32, are being held on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism in the UK. The woman, 22, is held on suspicion of failing to disclose information contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000. The arrests are thought to be the most significant this year, BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said. It is understood the investigation, which has involved security service MI5, relates to suspected Islamist extremism. But the arrests are not thought to be related to the Liberal Democrats' conference which is taking place at the city's International Convention Center. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
9.19.11 Sirte residents flee as NTC prepares assault
September 19 - Families flee Sirte as NTC artillery gathers on the edge of coastal town, as fierce fighting continues in Bani Walid. Hundreds of Libyan families have fled Sirte and heavy fighting has continued in Bani Walid as the two strongholds of Muammar Gaddafi continue to hold out against the encroaching forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC). NTC fighters prepared for another battle to wrest Gaddafi's birthplace of Sirte from his loyalists on Monday as humanitarian groups voiced alarm at the reported conditions within the besieged city. Residents flooded out of the coastal city as fighters sent by Libya's new rulers amassed a number of huge rocket launchers and artillery guns to pound the area. Escaping locals told the Reuters news agency that hundreds were still trapped in Sirte. "There's no electricity, no phone coverage, nothing," resident Ibrahim Ramadan told the Reuters news agency, standing by a car packed with his family as he fled the fighting. Ramadan, who acts as a community leader, estimated that about one-third of Sirte's roughly 70,000 residents had left. [More>>aljazeera.net]
9.19.11 Deadly car bomb targets Karachi's anti-terror chief
(AFP) September 19 - At least eight people were killed Monday when a car bomb targeted Aslam Khan, a senior policeman in charge of counter-terrorism in Pakistan's financial capital. Unhurt in the attack, he said he had been threatened by the Pakistani Taliban. Eight people including six police officers were killed and several more wounded Monday in a car bomb attack targeting a senior policeman in Pakistan's financial capital Karachi, officials said. Senior Superintendent Aslam Khan, who was unhurt but whose home was destroyed, told AFP he had been threatened by the Pakistani Taliban — which is allied to al-Qaeda — and that he was the target of the attack. "It was a car bomb attack on my house," he said. "I was receiving threats from Tehrik-i-Taliban. Taliban are involved in this attack." Khan heads the counter-terrorism unit of the Police Crime Investigation Department in Karachi, investigating Islamist militant cells in the city. Several neighboring houses were also wrecked in the attack, private Pakistan TV channels showed, with four cars being badly damaged and a two-meter (six feet) deep crater left in front of Khan's home. [More>>france24.com]
9.19.11 Death toll soars in Yemen violence
September 19 - More than 50 people killed in two days as security forces fire upon anti-government protesters. Yemeni security forces have killed at least 26 people and wounded more than 100 on a second day of violence across the country. Gunmen loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh were continuing to fire upon anti-government demonstrators in Sanaa, with hospital sources saying the total death toll since Monday was now more than 50. Government troops and snipers in nearby buildings opened fire on Monday at peaceful demonstrators and passers-by in the capital's Change Square, where they have camped since February demanding regime change, witnesses said. Protesters were sprayed by water cannons and tear gas, and also baton charged, before the security forces opened fire with machine guns, they said. Additional deaths were reported in the southwestern city of Taiz, where two people were killed and 10 were injured by gunfire from Saleh loyalists, Al Jazeera journalists stationed in Yemen said. Despite the casualties, mass demonstrations continued on Monday in towns near Taiz - in Ibb, Dhamar and Shabwa — and in the northwestern province of Saada. [More>>aljazeera.net]
9.19.11 Iran detains film-makers accused of secretly working for BBC Persian TV
September 19 - At least six 'collaborators' held by authorities but broadcasting chief says they have no connection with London-based channel. Iran has arrested at least six people who it claims were working clandestinely inside the country for the London-based BBC Persian television. "A number of people collaborating with BBC Persian have been arrested in various places on Saturday night and have been handed over to the responsible authorities," the state-run Young Journalists Club (YJC) quoted an unnamed source as saying. The Farsi-language service of the BBC is blocked inside Iran but many people watch it through illegal rooftop satellite dishes. Iran occasionally disrupts its programs by jamming satellite signals. The YJC said the detainees have been supplying BBC Persian with information, footage, news and reports misrepresenting Iran. Opposition websites identified them as independent documentary film-makers Naser Saffarian, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Hadi Afarideh, Mohsen Shahrnazdar, Katayoun Shahabi and Mehrdad Zahedian. [More>>guardian.co.uk]
9.19.11 More deaths reported as Syrian forces mount crackdown against protesters nationwide
DUBAI, September 19 - Security forces massed in the flashpoint province of Deraa, where demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime first erupted six months ago, activists said on Monday. "More than 30 buses carrying members of the security forces on Sunday night entered Dael (village), where they have since arrested 45 people," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The massive deployment came after protests were held across Syria on Sunday, said the Britain-based Observatory. A 26-year-old man died of his wounds on Monday after being among a group of people whom security forces shot at the night before in the town of Irbin, near Damascus. Elsewhere, security forces also fired at hundreds of demonstrators in the towns of Qusayr and Talbisseh, in central Homs province, said the activist group. [More>>alarabiya.net]
9.16.11 Dinosaur feathers found in amber
September 16 - In science fiction, amber preserved the DNA that allowed rebirth of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. In real life, amber preserved feathers that provide a new image of what dinosaurs looked like. "Now, instead of scaly animals portrayed as usually drab creatures, we have solid evidence for a fluffy colored past," reports Mark A. Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Examples of ancient feathers ranging from the simple to the complex are now being studied. They were preserved in amber found in western Canada, researchers led by Ryan C. McKellar of the University of Alberta report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
Amber, hardened tree resin, preserved a mixture of feathers from 70 million years ago. Other feathers contained in amber dating to 90 million years ago are less diverse. Specimens include simple filament structures similar to the earliest feathers of non-flying dinosaurs — a form unknown in modern birds — and more complicated bird feathers "displaying pigmentation and adaptations for flight and diving," the researchers reported. Indications of feathers have been found on much older fossils, and the new discoveries indicate feathers continued to develop into modern form before the extinction of dinosaurs, explained Norell, who was not part of the research team. A separate report by Roy A. Wogelius of the University of Manchester, England, published online June 30 by Science, reports the finding of trace metals in feather fossils, suggesting their colors included black, brown and a reddish-brown. "Despite many reports over the past decade of feathered dinosaurs and new birds from China, only now are we beginning to understand just how diverse feather types were" millions of years ago, Norell said. [>telegraph.co.uk; See also American Museum of Natural History video.]
9.16.11 Libya fighting rages in Bani Walid and Sirte
September 16 - Casualties reported as NTC fighters push towards inland city and Gaddafi's hometown amid heavy fire from loyalists. In an assault on Muammar Gaddafi's Mediterranean hometown, fighters loyal to the Libyan National Transitional Council are trying to fight their way into the city centre of Sirte from three fronts. And fighters surged into into Bani Walid, another remaining Gaddafi bastion, in a campaign to break the back of regime holdouts. NTC leaders described the offensive as a co-ordinated push to take Sirte — a city of about 100,000 people — from the south, east and west. But their advance has been hindered by snipers among the loyalists of the toppled Libyan leader, as NATO warplanes flew overhead and smoke was seen rising from parts of the coastal city.
Meanwhile, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, is visiting Libya on Friday as part of his North African tour. At least 11 NTC fighters have been killed and 34 wounded in the assualt on Sirte, according to a statement by the Misrata Military Council. Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from Om Gandi, 90km from Sirte, said Gaddafi forces are reinforcing west of Harrawa towards Sirte. "The latest information we have is that at the moment both sides are digging their heals around a town called Harrawa." One fighter who claims he came out of Sirte last night says revolutionary forces are controlling some areas inside Sirte. But the situation is quite dire for civilians there, he says. They are missing absolutely everything. "He says they have been under siege by Gaddafi forces for at least three months." A convoy of fighters had set out from Misrata, a port city, early on Thursday before splitting at the crossroads town of Abu Qurin, and a commander said they would approach Sirte in a pincer movement. [More>>aljazeera.net]
9.16.11 Turkey says may act with Iran against PKK in Iraq
ISTANBUL (Reuters) September 16 - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has signaled Turkey could launch a joint operation with Iran against Kurdish militants’ main base in northern Iraq, according to reports in Turkish newspapers on Friday. In August, Turkey carried out a series of air and artillery strikes against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels in northern Iraq and the interior minister said this week a ground operation could be launched any time against the guerrillas there, depending on the result of talks with Iraq. The military action was triggered by an increase in PKK attacks in southeast Turkey in which dozens of security personnel were killed. Speaking to reporters while traveling to Tunisia on a north African tour, Erdogan said the minister’s comment had been a slip of the tongue that had been corrected, and that there would be no forewarning of any such operation. "Things like this are not said, they are done," the Hurriyet daily quoted the prime minister as saying.
The same comments were reported by other newspapers...When asked in Tunisia about relations with Iran and cooperation against the PKK, Erdogan said: "It’s going well. We may act together at Qandil." The Qandil mountains are on the Iraq-Iran border and the main PKK bases are located in those mountains, a part of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region around 80-100 km (50-62 miles) south of the Turkish border. Kawa Mahmoud, a spokesman for the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq, told Reuters it did not give Turkey approval for any military operations in its territory against the PKK....Iran, Turkey’s southeastern neighbor, said this month its troops had killed or wounded 30 members of the PJAK (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan), an offshoot of the PKK that is reported to have launched ambushes and sabotaged pipelines on the Iranian side of the border. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]
9.16.11 While ending North African tour in Libya, Erdogan says Syrian oppressors won't survive
TRIPOLI, Libya (Reuters) September 16 - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan stepped up his rhetoric against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday, saying those in Syria who inflict repression on the people will not survive. Erdogan, who is visiting Libya, told a cheering crowd in Tripoli that by ousting Muammar Gaddafi the Libyan people had set an example to others seeking to throw off oppression. "You are the ones who showed the whole world that no administration can stand in the way of the might and will of the people," Erdogan said, as many chanted "Turkey, Turkey." "Do not forget this: those in Syria who inflict repression on the people will not be able to stand on their feet because oppression and prosperity cannot exist together." Erdogan was ending a North African tour in Libya, where he hopes to reap political and economic dividends from its new rulers for Turkey’s help in their struggle against Gaddafi. His visit came a day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron were received as heroes in the Libyan capital. French and British air power had helped rebels overrun Tripoli and put Gaddafi to flight. Erdogan said the age of autocracies and totalitarian regimes was over, adding: "Now, the power of the people is coming and I congratulate you on your struggle." [More>>alarabiya.net]
9.16.11 Syrian forces kill 20 in anti-Assad protests
AMMAM, Jordan (Reuters) September 16 - Syrian forces shot dead 20 people on Friday and flooded rural areas around Damascus with troops to try to end six months of demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad, activists said. Despite the heavy deployment, activists reported protests on the edges of the capital, the northern province of Idlib bordering Turkey and other parts of Syria. Banners proclaimed protesters were "on course to bring down the regime." After storming several cities in August to crush protest centers, the Syrian army has swept through rural districts in recent weeks, hunting down activists and army defectors, carrying out widespread arrests and killing dozens of people. State television broadcast an interview on Thursday night with one of the most prominent military deserters, appearing to recant claims made when he defected and saying he had never been ordered to fire on protesters.
It was not clear how Lieutenant-Colonel Hussein Harmoush, who announced his desertion in June, ended up back in Damascus. Turkey's foreign ministry denied reports it had handed him over to Syrian authorities, saying it would be out of the question to return anyone against their will. The operations in the north have led to renewed refugee flows into Turkey, Turkish officials say, and on Thursday night Syrian forces crossed 200 meters (yards) into Lebanese territory in pursuit of fugitives, according to the Lebanese army. Lebanese sources said a Lebanese man was wounded in gunfire. [More>>thestar.com.my]
9.16.11 France herds Muslim faithful off streets after prayer ban
PARIS, September 16 - A ban on praying in French streets came into effect on Friday, with thousands of the nation's Muslim faithful being moved to temporary alternative spaces for their day of prayer. From Paris to Marseille, Friday's midday prayers will be led from disused barracks or other temporary buildings, after the question of Islam's visibility became a political issue under right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy. France, home to Europe's largest Muslim population, this year banned the face-covering burqa and earlier this week Interior Minister Claude Gueant warned that "from September 16 there will be no more prayers in the street." "If anyone happens to be recalcitrant we will put an end to it," Gueant said, suggesting police could be brought in. "Prayers in the street are unacceptable, a direct attack on the principle of secularism," Gueant said last month, citing the government's defense of the republic's secular values as reason for the new policies. [More>>indianexpress.com]
9.15.11 Cartel kills two people who used social media to write about gang violence
September 15 - Gang violence in Mexico has bolted into Cyberspace with the torture and killing of two people who reportedly used social media to write about drug cartels. The bodies of a man and a woman, evidently in their twenties, were hung from a Nuevo Laredo pedestrian bridge on Tuesday, according to press reports. Near the bodies were placards that warned those who write on social media sites that the same thing could happen to them if they broach the subject of drug cartels. "This is going to happen to all the Internet busybodies," one of signs said, according to the Houston Chronicle." Listen up, I'm on to you." The newspaper said that one of the placards was signed "Z," believed to mean Zetas, which the governor of one state in Mexico described to Fox News as "Mexico's most violent drug cartel." The Houston Chronicle story on the two killings noted that many Mexican news organizations measure what they report about gangs and drug cartels because of fears over possible retaliation. The killings were brutal, which is characteristic for the Zetas. The woman was hogtied, disemboweled and hung by her feet and han[d]s; the man was hung by his hands, according to published reports. [More>>foxnews.com]
9.15.11 Israel evacuates embassy in Jordan
September 15 - Ambassador temporarily withdrawn in view of planned "million-man march" against diplomatic mission in Amman. Israel has temporarily withdrawn its ambassador to Jordan over fears of violent demonstrations against its embassy in Amman, Israeli diplomatic sources say. Israeli diplomats in Jordan customarily return home at weekends, but Daniel Nevo and some other staff were brought back early on Thursday after being warned of imminent pro-Palestinian protests. Activists have called for a "million-man march" on Thursday evening against the Israeli mission in the Jordanian capital. Reports say there are fears the embassy could be assaulted, as the embassy in Egypt was last week. The Israeli embassy in Cairo was stormed by demonstrators on Saturday, forcing its evacuation. The countries are in talks on re-activating the Cairo mission.
Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab states to sign peace treaties with Israel. Al Jazeera's Omar al Saleh in Amman said Jordanian security forces had beefed up their presence and would probably attempt to block roads leading to the embassy. Israel's deputy ambassador remained at the embassy with a skeleton staff, our correspondent reported. Diplomatic sources said Israel would decide on Saturday whether its diplomats would return to Amman on Sunday, as usual. Activists have staged regular sit-ins in recent weeks outside the Israeli embassy. But our correspondent said Thursday's demonstrations could be different because of last week's events in Cairo and because a number of political parties and Islamic movements had called on their supporters to protest. "They include the biggest, which is the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, and this group is the one that is capable of bringing significant numbers." [More>>aljazeera.net]
9.15.11 Central banks act in concert to ease fears on Europe debt
FRANKFURT, Germany, September 15 - Central banks moved Thursday to assuage fears that European banks could be threatened by a shortage of dollars, as they were at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, and opened new lines of credit to institutions in the first such show of force in more than a year. Stock markets rallied after the European Central Bank said it would allow banks to borrow dollars for up to three months, instead of just for one week as before. The E.C.B. said it was acting jointly with the Federal Reserve of the United States, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank. It was the first coordinated effort to provide dollars since May 2010, and seemed to go beyond just providing reassurance that European banks would not be cut off by American lenders wary of their financial state. The central banks seemed determined to demonstrate that they would not hesitate to deploy their combined weight to keep the European sovereign debt crisis from becoming a bigger threat to the global economy. [More>>nytimes.com]
9.15.11 European parliament calls for Assad to go as Syrian activists form 'national' council
September 15 - Members of the European Parliament called Thursday for the immediate departure of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad who, by choosing repression instead of reforms, they said had lost all legitimacy, as opposition figures announced a list of people forming a "National Council." In a resolution adopted in Strasbourg, the parliament called on Assad and his regime to "relinquish power immediately," according to AFP. "The Syrian regime is calling its legitimacy into question by choosing a path of repression instead of fulfilling its own promises on broad reforms," the resolution said. Members condemned the use of force against protesters and the persecution of activists and journalists while calling for "an independent, transparent and effective investigation into the killings, arrests, arbitrary detention and alleged forced disappearances and instances of torture by the Syrian security forces." The European Union has along with the United States been calling for Assad to go since mid-August. The resolution comes as member countries move to adopt a raft of economic sanctions against the Syrian regime which could include, in addition to a ban on oil investments, a ban on funding the Syrian central bank with notes printed in Europe. [More>>alarabiya.net]
9.15.11 Man held in UK over £1.3bn 'Rogue Trade'
September 15 - A 31-year-old man has been arrested in London in connection with allegations of rogue trading worth an estimated £1.3bn at Swiss banking giant UBS. The man, named by Sky sources as Kweku Adoboli, was arrested at 3:30am on suspicion of fraud by abuse of position and remains in police custody, sources said. The bank, which has 6,000 staff in the UK and an office in the heart of London, revealed earlier that a trader had lost an estimated two billion US dollars on unauthorized trades. A memo issued to UBS staff by chief executive Oswald Gruebel said the alleged rogue trading, which he called "distressing," was discovered in the past 24 hours. Adoboli, whose parents are from Ghana, worked in the European equity trading division of the group and was based in London. He has worked at UBS for at least five years...The bank, which has offices in the heart of the City of London, has not revealed details about the activities but they are said to involve a Swiss franc transaction that went wrong after the Swiss National Bank intervened to lower the value of its currency. [Full story>>news.sky.com]
9.15.11 Islamabad fends off US warning on "Pakistan-based" militants
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) September 15 - Pakistani officials on Thursday fended off a warning that the United States would do whatever it takes to defend US forces from Pakistan-based militants staging attacks in Afghanistan, saying there was no proof of such cross-border operations. US officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, suspect militants from the Haqqani network were behind Tuesday's rocket attack on the US Embassy compound in Kabul, as well as a truck bomb last Saturday that wounded 77 American forces. "Time and again we've urged the Pakistanis to exercise their influence over these kinds of attacks from the Haqqanis. And we have made very little progress in that area," Panetta told reporters flying with him to San Francisco on Wednesday. "I think the message they need to know is: we're going to do everything we can to defend our forces."
The comments could fuel tensions between uneasy allies the United States and Pakistan. Relations dropped to a low point after a unilateral US special forces raid killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town in May. Pakistani officials said it was the responsibility of US-led forces to crack down on militants when they enter Afghanistan. "We are using all our resources to fight terrorism. As far as these issues like Haqqani network launching attacks from Pakistani territory is concerned, has any proof ever been given?" said a senior Pakistani military official who asked not to be named.
"I think the message they need to know is: we're going to do everything we can to defend our forces." The comments could fuel tensions between uneasy allies the United States and Pakistan. Relations dropped to a low point after a unilateral US special forces raid killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town in May. Pakistani officials said it was the responsibility of US-led forces to crack down on militants when they enter Afghanistan. "We are using all our resources to fight terrorism. As far as these issues like Haqqani network launching attacks from Pakistani territory is concerned, has any proof ever been given?" said a senior Pakistani military official who asked not to be named.
Panetta, who was CIA director until July, has long pressed Islamabad to go after the Haqqanis, perhaps the most feared of the Taliban-allied insurgent factions fighting US-led NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence has long been suspected of maintaining ties with the Haqqani network, cultivated during the 1980s when Jalaluddin Haqqani was a feared battlefield commander against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Pakistan says it has no links to the group. Panetta said he was concerned about the Haqqanis' ability to attack American troops and then "escape back into what is a safe haven in Pakistan." [More>>thestar.com.my ; Re: Pakistan blog, click http://blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/]
9.15.11 Al-Qaeda's chief of operations in Pakistan killed: US
WASHINGTON (AFP) September 15 - Al-Qaeda's chief of operations in Pakistan Abu Hafs al-Shahri has been killed, a senior US official revealed Thursday, saying his death would hurt the group's efforts to rebuild its leadership. "It has been confirmed that al-Qaeda's chief of Pakistan operations, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, was killed earlier this week in Waziristan," the official said on condition of anonymity. [>thenews.com.pk; see other details,
bbc.co.uk, September 15, "Al-Qaeda leader in Pakistan Abu Hafs al-Shahri killed" : ...The US said Mr. Shahri has been killed earlier this week and that his death "removes a key threat inside Pakistan." He had played a "key operational and administrative role" in al-Qaeda and had worked closely with the Taliban to carry out attacks in Pakistan, said officials. The death would "further degrade al-Qaeda's ability to recover" from the death of Abd al-Rahman, they said, as Mr. Shahri had been considered a contender to take on some of the dead leader's duties...The BBC's Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says a drone strike near Mir Ali in Waziristan last Sunday is known to have killed a key leader of the Haqqani network. Reports since have suggested that an Arab man whose identify was not clear was also killed, says our correspondent. The Haqqani network has been blamed for several large attacks in Afghanistan, including a 20-hour gunfight in central Kabul earlier this week...
9.15.11 Afghanistan-Pakistan is epicenter of terror: Chidambaram
September 15 - Without mincing words, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said the epicenter of terror is the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. "Four out of five major terrorist groups are based in Pakistan and three of them — LeT, JeM and HM — continue to target India," Chidambaram said in his statement. Terming the two recent blasts in Mumbai and Delhi as a "blot" on the government's record, Home Minister P Chidambaram said many homegrown modules are active across the country and several of them have acquired the capacity to make bombs. "There are Indian modules too. They seem to have the capacity to attract radicalized youth to their fold... Many of these modules have acquired the capacity to make bombs," Chidambaram said addressing country's top police brass during the internal security meet. The Home Minister stated some of these modules are loosely knit under an organization called Indian Mujahideen (IM) and many old cadres of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) have transformed themselves into IM cadres. "There are other Indian modules that espouse the cause of right-wing religious fundamentalism or separatism," he said while inaugurating the three-day annual conference of DGPs and IGPs organized by Intelligence Bureau. [More>>indianexpress.com]
9.15.11 US places Indian Mujahideen group on terror list
WASHINGTON (AFP) September 15 - The United States on Thursday said it has placed the Indian Mujahideen, an extremist group known for bombings in India, on its list of terrorist organizations. "An India-based terrorist group with significant links to Pakistan, IM is responsible for dozens of bomb attacks throughout India since 2005, and has caused the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians," the State Department said. It said the group maintained close ties to Pakistani-based groups on the terrorism list, and had as its goal attacks against non-Muslims with the ultimate aim of creating an Islamic caliphate across South Asia. India has accused the group of carrying out an attack in town of Pune February 13, 2010 that claimed the lives of 16 people. IM has also claimed responsibility for a series of bombings in New Delhi in September 2008, as well as 16 coordinated explosions in July 2008 in Ahmedabad and bombings the same year in Jaipur. Placing the group on the terrorism list means that any assets they may have can be frozen and Americans are barred from assisting the group. [>khaleejtimes.com]
9.15.11 Suicide attack at funeral of tribal elder
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, September 15 - At least 30 people were killed and more than 60 injured when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the funeral of a pro-government tribal elder in a volatile village of north-west Pakistan on Thursday. The blast took place in Samarbagh village close to the Afghan border in Lower Dir district, an area which has witnessed considerable militant activity in the past. Following military operations against Taliban insurgents in Dir district, the locals had raised tribal volunteer militias, known as aman (peace) committees, to defend themselves against Taliban attacks. Some locals said that this latest bombing may be a reprisal for the tribal militia. "It was a suicide attack and 30 people were killed and 60 wounded. The explosion took place when people were offering funeral prayers," senior police official Saleem Marwat said.
Marwat added that the death toll could further rise as many of the injured were in critical condition. Pakistani Taliban have stepped up attacks on pro-government tribes recently. They ambushed a school bus on Tuesday near the north-western city of Peshawar killing five children. Taliban said that the children on the bus were from pro-government tribe which raised a "lashkar"(volunteer force) against them. Pakistan's US-supported government has persuaded some Pashtun tribes in the north-west to take up arms against militant groups in their areas. The Pakistani Taliban abducted more than 30 young men into Afghanistan from another pro-government Pashtun tribe in restive Bajaur tribal region on August 31. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
9.14.11 EU Commission to put eurobonds on the table
(Reuters) September 14 - European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has said he will propose options for the introduction of joint bonds for the 17-nation eurozone, saying that tighter fiscal integration is the only way to overcome the current debt crisis.European shares and the euro rose on Wednesday after the head of the European Commission said it would soon present options for the introduction of euro area bonds, a development investors saw as a positive despite German opposition to the idea. The comments from Jose Manuel Barroso helped reverse earlier losses for the single currency and European stocks triggered by the downgrade of two big French banks’ credit ratings. US stock index futures pointed to a firm start on Wall Street. Common euro zone sovereign bonds are perceived to be part of a solution as they would give weak euro zone states renewed access to funding in commercial markets. Barroso's words repeat an earlier pledge from EU officials to make such proposals in October, while Germany, without whose approval the scheme cannot be introduced, remains strongly opposed to the issuance of common bonds. [More>>france24.com; See related story,
xinhuanet.com, September 14, "Premier Wen says China willing to help debt-ridden Europe" : DALIAN - Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that China is willing to help debt-laden Europe by increasing its investment. "We have been concerned about the difficulties faced by the European economy for a long time, and we have repeated our willingness to extend a helping hand and increase our investment," Wen said at the opening of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting of "New Champions 2001," a three-day event held in the city of Dalian in northeast Liaoning Province. Wen also urged the European Union (EU) to acknowledge China's status as a market economy, and hoped EU leaders can look at Sino-EU relations from a bold and strategic view. "Based on the WTO rules, China's full market economy status will be recognized by 2016. If EU nations can demonstrate their sincerity several years earlier, it would reflect our friendship," he said.
9.14.11 Palestinian ambassador to US wants Jew-free state
September 14 - The Palestinian Ambassador to the United States Maen Rashid Areikat said on Tuesday in Washington that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)opposes the immediate presence of Jews and gays in an independent Palestinian state, according to reports in The Daily Caller and The Weekly Standard. When asked by Jamie Weinstein, senior editor and columnist for The Daily Caller, whether a Jew could be elected Mayor of Ramallah in an independent Palestinian state, Areikat said: “But after the experience of 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it will be in the best interests of the two peoples to be separated first.” Areikat added that "Well, I personally still believe that as a first step we need to be totally separated, and we can contemplate these issues in the future." In an e-mail to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Weinstein wrote that, "Similar comments coming from an Israeli official would merit worldwide condemnation. But we hear nothing from the world community when the Palestinian ambassador to the US calls for a Jew-free state. Pushing for a state for the Palestinian Arabs is well and good, but it seems like the world should spend a little bit of time pondering what sort of state it will be." Areikat's controversial comments took place at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor to discuss an independent Palestinian state. [More>>jpost.com]
9.14.11 Hamas opposes 'tactical' Palestinian statehod bid at UN
September 14 - Senior leader of the Islamist movement says his group rejects Abbas' UN bid since it would create a state only in West Bank and Gaza and not in all of historic Palestine. The Islamist Hamas movement said Wednesday that President Mahmoud Abbas' plan to approach the United Nations for recognition of Palestinian statehood was a "tactical" move, part of a negotiations process, and therefore could not be backed. The move was not based on principles and "Hamas and other factions are not part of this step and do not support it," Salah al-Bardaweel, a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, told a workshop in Gaza City. Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, opposes the general line adopted by Abbas, and in particular peace negotiations with Israel. The movement is under a Western diplomatic boycott for refusing demands to renounce violence, honor past Israeli-Palestinian agreements and recognize Israel's right to exist. [More>>haaretz.com]
9.14.11 Libyans flee pro-Gaddafi town ahead of assault; new leaders seek UN representation
September 14 - Libyan fighters handed out free petrol to help hundreds of civilians flee a desert town held by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces ahead of an onslaught aimed at capturing one of the ousted ruler’s last bastions, as the National Transitional Council demanded to represent the country at the United Nations. Complaining of hardship and intimidation, residents of Bani Walid headed to nearby towns or started the 180 km (112-mile) journey north towards Tripoli on Tuesday in cars packed with children and possessions. Forces of the new ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) that overran Tripoli on Aug. 23 have met unexpectedly stout resistance in five days of fighting for Bani Walid, a sun-baked town set in rocky hills and valleys, according to Reuters.
Along with Gaddafi’s hometown Sirte on the Mediterranean coast and Sabha in the southern desert, Bani Walid is one of the last strongholds of old regime fighters. Their dogged resistance has complicated NTC efforts to normalize life in the oil-rich North African state and the United Nations has voiced fears about the plight of civilians marooned inside besieged pro-Gaddafi towns, particularly Sirte. Gaddafi’s whereabouts are unknown. NTC officials have said he could be hiding in one of the outposts like Bani Walid, helping to rally a last stand against NATO-backed forces. Residents escaping Bani Walid on Monday and Tuesday reported days of intense street-to-street fighting. They began to slip out after Gaddafi forces abandoned some checkpoints on the outskirts. "It’s too dangerous to go outside. Militia men are hiding around the city and (pro-Gaddafi) green flags are everywhere," 25-year-old resident Abdulbaset Mohammed said, driving towards Tripoli. [More>>alarabiya.net]
9.14.11 NATO-led forces secure Kabul after attacks
September 14 - Operation ends with killing of Taliban fighters, but questions over Afghans' ability to keep control post NATO arise. Afghan and NATO forces have ended their assault on Taliban fighters, 20 hours after the group launched co-ordinated attacks in Kabul, targeting NATO's headquarters, the US embassy and the Afghan intelligence agency. At least three policemen, four civilians and six Taliban fighters were killed and many others injured in the attack and the ensuring security operation, Afghan police and hospital sources said Wednesday. Fighters were holed up in a highrise building near Kabul's diplomatic district throughout the night, as NATO helicopters circled overhead trying to flush them out. The attackers were using the building as a base from which to fire rockets at the US embassy and NATO headquarters. By Wednesday morning, all the fighters had been killed, the sources said. "The last attackers are dead and the fighting all over. There were six terrorists in the building and all are dead," Siddiq Siddiqi, an interior ministry spokesman, told AFP news agency.
...Only an hour after an attack near the US embassy on Tuesday, heavy explosions were heard in other parts of the city. Just a few miles away in the west of Kabul, a suicide bomber detonated himself near a police building, killing one policeman. A second suicide bomber wounded two people when he detonated himself near Habibia high school, also in the west of the city. "The primary targets of the attackers are the intelligence agency building and a ministry," Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesperson for the Taliban, told Reuters on Tuesday from an undisclosed location. The US embassy in Kabul said no personnel had been reported injured. [Full story>>aljazeera.net; See related story,
indianexpress.com, September 14, "US ambassador: haqqani group behind Kabul attack" : The US ambassador to Afghanistan on Wednesday blamed the Pakistani-based Haqqani network for the coordinated attack against the American Embassy and NATO headquarters in the heart of Kabul. Ryan Crocker said the attack, which ended just at dawn after a 20-hour gunbattle, would not affect the transfer of security responsibilities from the US-led military coalition to the Afghan security forces. Foreign forces are to completely withdraw their combat troops, that is a troop drawdown, by the end of 2014. "Transition will proceed on pace," Crocker said. The Haqqani network is a Pakistan-based group affiliated with both the Taliban and al-Qaeda and has emerged as one of the biggest threats to stability in Afghanistan. The group retains bases in the lawless tribal areas of western Pakistan, including North Waziristan, using those safe havens to launch attacks against US and Afghan forces across the border...
9.14.11 US officials doubt al-Qaeda chief fled Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, September 14 - Intelligence community skeptical of Pakistani source's claim. US intelligence officials are highly skeptical of reports that al-Qaeda's new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has fled Pakistan and gone to either Yemen or Somalia. The officials told NBC News they have no intelligence that al-Zawahiri has left Pakistan. The officials said it would be extremely risky for al-Zawahiri to try to move "outside his circle of protection" at this point, and that ever since former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's death, al-Zawahiri spends most of his time "trying to stay alive." One senior official, noting the claim that al-Zawahiri fled Pakistan came from a Pakistani intelligence official, said, "These are the same people who insisted all along that bin Laden was in Afghanistan." Earlier Wednesday, a Pakistani intelligence official told NBC News that al-Zawahiri is likely hiding in either Yemen or Somalia. He and his key commanders are believed to have "migrated" from South Asia, the source said. Al-Zawahiri was bin Laden's deputy and became head of al-Qaeda after bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs in Pakistan. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]
9.14.11 Fresh clashes kill 12 in southern Yemeni city
ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) September 14 - Fighting between the Yemeni army and militants in and around a southern provincial capital of Zinjibar killed 12 people on Wednesday, just days after the government declared it had "liberated" the city from Islamist fighters. An army official said seven militants and one soldier were killed in a suburb of the coastal city of Zinjibar, which the army last week recaptured from Islamist fighters suspected of links to al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based branch. Four more militants were killed in another part of Zinjibar. "The militants sneaked into the area to try to carry out a suicide attack, but the snipers from the army prevented them and killed seven extremists," said the military official. Residents said the army launched Katyusha rockets against pockets of insurgents in the city. Zinjibar, capital of the volatile Abyan province, was seized in May by militants calling themselves Ansar al-Sharia (partisans of Islamic law). The United States and Saudi Arabia fear lawlessness in Yemen’s south will embolden militants to launch strikes on the region and beyond. Opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, recovering in the Saudi capital Riyadh from a June assassination attempt, have accused him of exaggerating the al-Qaeda threat or even manipulating militants as a ruse to scare Washington and Riyadh into backing him. Saleh is holding onto power despite international pressure to quit and months of protests against his 33-year rule. [>khaleejtimes.com]
9.14.11 Police-militants shootout in Peshawar
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, September 14 - A shootout is in full swing between police and militants in the Mattani area of Peshawar, Geo News reported Wednesday. According to initial reports it all started after militants attacked police to which the latter retaliated. There were no immediate reports of any casualties or arrests. On Tuesday, militants attacked a school van in which five including four children were killed while several others were injured. [>thenews.com.pk]
9.14.11 Deadly attacks hit security forces and civilians across Iraq
BAGHDAD, September 14 - Multiple attacks killed more than 20 people across Iraq on Wednesday, including in Anbar Province, where violence has emphasized the country’s sectarian fault lines. In the Anbar attack, a bomb exploded inside a bus carrying soldiers to a restaurant at Camp Habbaniya, a military base west of Ramadi, police officials said. Six soldiers were killed and 10 were injured in the explosion, the Anbar military operations command said in a statement. Military officials said an investigation was under way at the camp, where security is tight. The bombing at Habbaniya was one of four attacks that shook Iraq on Wednesday. In Babil Province, south of Baghdad, a parked car packed with explosives was detonated in front of a busy restaurant on the highway between the capital and Basra. The restaurant was crowded with travelers who had stopped for breakfast. The police said the blast killed 13 people and wounded 46 others, including women and children. [More>>nytimes.com]
9.14.11 Toyota's US production returns to normal after quake
CHICAGO, September 14 - Toyota said Tuesday it had fully restored its US production following parts shortages caused by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan six months ago. Toyota has initially forecast that it would not be able to return to normal production levels until November or December. Its sales have been hit hard by long waiting lists for popular models. With Japanese production also now restored to normal levels, Toyota said it is focused on replenishing dealer stocks. It plans to add overtime and Saturday shifts at some US plants in order to boost production 15% higher than forecast prior to the quake. [More>>japantoday.com]
9.14.11 Iran court says it is considering bail for American hikers
TEHRAN, Iran, September 14 - The Iranian Judiciary said it is considering a request for setting bail in the case of two American hikers accused of spying. The report, posted on Iran's Judiciary website, seemed to contradict a statement by the hikers' lawyer that bail was already set in the case. Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer will be released from Tehran's Evin prison after a $500,000 bail is paid for each of them, their attorney, Masoud Shafiee, said Tuesday. The judiciary report puts into question whether or when the hikers will be released from prison. "The two US nationals accused of spying have not been released and their attorneys' requests for setting bail is being considered," the court statement said. "The case is currently being considered by the presiding judge and any related news will be given by the judiciary. No other source is entitled to provide news about this case." [More>>cnn.com]
9.13.11 US poverty rate, 1 in 6, at highest level in years
September 13 - The portion of Americans living in poverty last year rose to the highest level since 1993, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, fresh evidence that the sluggish economic recovery has done nothing for the country’s poorest citizens. An additional 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line in 2010, census officials said, making 46.2 million people in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch at the Census Bureau. That figure represented 15.1 percent of the country. The poverty line in 2010 was at $22,113 for a family of four. "It was a surprising large increase in the overall poverty rate," said Arloc Sherman, senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "We see record numbers and percentages of Americans in deep poverty." And in new evidence of economic distress among the middle class, real median household incomes declined by 2.3 percent in 2010 from the previous year, to $49,400. That was 7 percent less than the peak in 1999 of $53,252. [More>>nytimes.com]
9.13.11 TSA agents, cops arrested for drug trafficking
September 13 - Officers transported tens of thousands of oxycodone pills from Florida to New York and Connecticut, feds say. Three TSA agents and at least two police officers have been arrested, accused of being involved in a massive oxycodone trafficking operation between Connecticut, New York and Florida, according to the US Department of Justice. The arrests come after a five-month joint law enforcement investigation, and the arrested officers include three Transportation Security Administration officers based at airports in Florida and New York, a Westchester County police officer and a Florida State Trooper, whose names have not been released. Officials said the suspects are accused of receiving cash to assist in moving tens of thousands of oxycodone pills from Florida to New York and Connecticut as well as transporting cash proceeds from the sale of the drugs back to Florida. U.S. Attorney David B. Fein, the US Drug Enforcement Agency and Stamford Police Chief Robert Nivakoff will hold a news conference on Tuesday afternoon in Stamford to discuss the arrests. [>msnbc.msn.com]
9.13.11 Gunmen attack Shiite pilgrims in western Iraq, kill 22
BAGHDAD, September 13 - Gunman hijacked a bus of Shiite religious pilgrims traveling through a Sunni area in western Iraq late Monday night, killing 22, officials said. A government spokesman said the bus had just entered a desolate valley west of Ramadi when gunmen set up a fake checkpoint, then hijacked the tour bus of pilgrims from Karbala on their way to a holy shrine in Damascus. As the Iraqi military launched a helicopter search, the tour group was taken out into the desert and 22 men aboard were shot to death, a military spokesman said. Security forces found eight women and six children alive at the scene and took them to a nearby hospital for medical treatment, according to Gen. Abdul Aziz al-Ubaidi, the commander of the Iraqi military in Anbar province. Religious leaders on Tuesday blamed the attacks on Sunni insurgents hoping to revive sectarian violence as US troops prepare to leave the country at the end of the year. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
9.13.11 Gunmen attack school bus in Pakistan, 5 dead
PESAWAR, Pakistan (AP) September 13 - Police say gunmen have attacked a school bus in northwestern Pakistan, killing three children, a teacher and the driver. The attack on Tuesday took place in Matani, close to the main city of Peshawar. Police officer Qayum Khan says the bus was taking students home when the gunmen struck. Matani has been the scene of a vicious struggle between Islamist militants with bases in the nearby Afghan border region and government-backed tribal armies. The militants have attacked civilian targets in the area to punish its residents for not supporting them. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
9.13.11 Kabul in chaos after Taliban attacks
September 13 - Battle continues as Taliban claim series of deadly blasts targeting intelligence agency and state ministries. Taliban gunmen armed with suicide vests and heavy weaponry have launched coordinated attacks in Kabul, targeting NATO's headquarters, the US embassy, and the Afghan intelligence agency. Heavy gunfire continued to be heard on Tuesday as Afghan forces battled to clear a building in the city's diplomatic quarter which had been taken over by heavily armed fighters. Rockets have reportedly been fired at the US and other embassies in the area. At least four policemen and two civilians have been killed and 18 others injured, according to police and hospital sources. Police have surrounded the occupied building, calling in air support to end a siege carried out by gunmen resisting inside the building. NATO has confirmed that they are providing Afghan forces ground and air support in the operation. Sediq Seddiqi, spokesman to the Afghan Ministry of Interior, said three of the Taliban fighters in the building had been killed and two were continuing to resist. [More>>aljazeera.net]
9.13.11 Syrians protest over Russian support for Assad
(AFP) September 13 - Syrian activists held "day of anger" protests against Russia on Tuesday as the UN sanctions over the regime’s crackdown ran into new opposition from Moscow and Beijing. Demonstrators burned Russian flags in the flashpoint protest hubs of Homs in the center and Daraa in the south in protest at Moscow’s support for President Bashar al-Assad, activists said. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Syria could plunge into "civil war," as he began in Egypt a tour of Arab countries where uprisings have ousted autocratic leaders. He expressed frustration with Assad’s regime, with which he had built up close ties, for failing to "listen to the voice of the people," who have been demanding democracy in almost daily protests for six months. "Do not support the killers," activists urged Russia in a message announcing Tuesday’s action posted on The Syrian Revolution 2011, a Facebook page that has been a driving force behind the protest movement." We express our anger towards Russia and the Russian government. The regime will disappear but the people will live," the activists added. Moscow has blocked Western-led efforts at the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against the Syrian regime and is promoting a rival draft resolution that simply calls on the government and the opposition to open direct talks. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See also,
thenews.com.pk, September 13, "20 dead in Syria as Russia defends Assad" : DAMASCUS - Security forces in Syria shot dead at least 17 people around the central city of Hama on Monday, a rights group said, as activists called for a day of protest against Russia for backing the regime. "The toll of victims from the operation mounted by security forces and the army in the Hama area has risen to 17 dead," the Britain-based group told AFP in Cyprus. More than 60 people were arrested, it said. The Observatory also reported a 12-year-old boy killed in Douma, near Damascus, by gunfire from security forces who fired on a funeral, and a man and his son killed in the central province of Homs in the town of Al-Rastan. The Local Coordination Committees group, which organizes anti-regime protests on the ground, put the day's death toll at 19...
9.13.11 Erdogan: Israel's mentality is a barrier to Mideast peace
September 13 - Turkish PM, speaking before Arab League meeting in Cairo, attacks Israeli government's policies, says recognition of Palestinian state is' an obligation.' Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo on Tuesday that the mentality of the Israeli government serves as an obstacle to peace in the Middle East, and stressed the need for recognition of a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a tour on the Egyptian border that "eventually common sense and logic prevail, both on our side and on the other side." "The barrier to peace in the region is the mentality of the Israeli government," Erdogan said. "The people in Israel are under a blockade (by its government)."
He insisted that Turkey will not return to normal relations with Israel until it apologizes for the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, compensates the families of the victims, and lifts the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Without directly mentioning Israel, Erdogan added that "every country must pay for the terror acts it carries out." Erdogan also stressed that Turkey believes no country is above international law. "Turkey will take every possible step to ensure the freedom of movement in the eastern Mediterranean." Moreover, the Turkish premier emphasized that the recognition of a Palestinian state was "not an option but an obligation." The Turkish prime minister was visiting Egypt at the start of a North African tour aimed at cementing Turkey's standing in the region following the "Arab Spring" uprisings. [>haaretz.com]
9.13.11 Hamas weighing resumption of suicide bombings
September 13 - is weighing a resumption of suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians, a senior counter-terrorism expert warned in Herzliya on Tuesday. Col. (Ret.) Jonathan Fighel, a researcher with the Interdisciplinary Center's Institute for Counter-Terrorism, spoke at the Institute's eleventh annual terrorism conference. "We're seeing more and more Hamas flags in Hebron. The public atmosphere to Hamas is much more lenient. This allows the creation of operational terror cells. Hamas is taking into consideration the renewal of suicide bomb attacks," Fighel said. Fighel, who served in various operational and field posts of intelligence and research at the IDF Intelligence Corps, and who has held several command positions in the West Bank, added that Hamas is "gaining influence in the West Bank and acting more freely." Hamas was using the so-called Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement as a vehicle to raise its profile in the West Bank, he added. "Hamas's strategy is to replace the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people," Fighel said. [More>>jpost.com]
9.13.11 Libyan woman guided NATO bombs to Gaddafi targets
TRIPOLI, Libya (Reuters) September 13 - The NATO bombing campaign which fatally weakened Muammar Gaddafi's rule had a secret asset: a 24-year-old Libyan woman who spent months spying on military facilities and passing on the details to the alliance. The woman, operating under the codename Nomidia, used elaborate methods to evade capture — constantly changing her location, using multiple mobile telephone SIM cards and hiding her activities from all but the closest members of her family. Her biggest protection against arrest by Gaddafi's security forces though was her gender: as a young woman in Libya's conservative Muslim society, they did not suspect her. "I was not on the radar," the woman, an engineer, told Reuters in an interview in the lobby of a Tripoli hotel, two weeks on from a rebellion that broke Gaddafi's control over the Libyan capital after 42 years in power. "They were concentrating more on the guys and it was almost impossible to think that a girl was doing all of this." Nomidia spoke to Reuters on condition that her real identity not be revealed: she said that while Tripoli was now under control of a new interim government, there was still a "fifth column" of Gaddafi loyalists who might target her or her family. The account she gave of her activities was corroborated by two other people who were part of an underground anti-Gaddafi network and helped her send details about his security forces. [More>>koreaherald.com]
9.13.11 Britain to accuse Iran of 'hypocrisy' over Arab Spring
LONDON (AFP) September 13 - British Foreign Secretary William Hague will accuse Iran of "breathtaking hypocrisy" for supporting revolutions in the Arab world while crushing domestic dissent in a speech Tuesday, The Times said. Hague would condemn Tehran for "suppressing protest at home while claiming to support revolutions elsewhere in the region — except Syria" in a speech to a seminar organized by the newspaper. Hague's speech would turn the focus on Iran, which has been overshadowed in news coverage by the uprisings in Arab states, the paper reported. "The lessons of the Arab revolutions hold true for Iran just as they apply to repressive governments across the world," he will say, the paper reported. [More>>iranfocus.com; For background stories on Iran's suppression of protests, see maravot.com 2.17.11 article: 2.11.11 US slams Iranian 'hypocrisy' for arrests, blocking media and other linked articles, including discussion on Iran's Supreme Leader's (Khamenies) clerical dictatorship.
9.13.11 Iran's Judiciary agrees to release two US citizens on bail
TEHRAN, September 13 - Iran’s Judiciary has agreed to release two US citizens, who were arrested in Iran in 2009, on bail of $500,000 each, their lawyer said on Tuesday. They can leave the country after payment of the bail, lawyer Masoud Shafiee told the Fars News Agency. He also said that he has informed the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which hosts the US Interests Section in Iran, of the decision. US citizens Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Joshua Fattal were arrested by border guards on July 31, 2009 after illegally entering Iran’s territory from Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The three were charged with illegal entry and espionage. Shourd was released from prison on bail of $500,000 on September 14, 2010 and never returned to Iran. Her case is still open. On August 22, Bauer and Fattal were sentenced to three years in prison for illegal entry into Iran. They were also sentenced to five years in prison on charges of espionage for a US intelligence agency. The ruling was subject to appeal for 20 days. According to the Fars News Agency, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in an interview with NBC on Tuesday, announced that the two US citizens would be released in the next few days. [>mehrnews.com]
9.11.11 A day that stands alone in history
September 11 - Just as Sept. 11 was unthinkable, Sunday was inevitable: the 10th anniversary of a day that stands alone. In history. In memory. Three-thousand six-hundred fifty-two days have now passed. At 8:46am — the time when the first plane slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center — 87,648 hours will have gone by. Another 5,258,880 minutes. Another 315,532,800 seconds. Once more, the families gathered at ground zero, where 2,749 died, and in Washington and in Pennsylvania, paying tribute to the 224 who died there. Once more, there was an outpouring of grief. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the attacks had turned "a perfect blue-sky morning" into "the blackest of nights." He added, "We can never unsee what happened here."
President Obama read Psalm 46, which talks about God as "our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble," and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York read from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address, the famous "four freedoms" speech — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear “anywhere in the world.” Former President George W. Bush quoted Abraham Lincoln on the casualties in the Civil War as Mr. Bush commemorated the casualties of Sept. 11. "I pray that our heavenly father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement," Mr. Bush read, quoting from a letter Lincoln had written in 1864 to a mother whose five sons had died in the war. "President Lincoln not only understood the heartbreak of his country, he also understood the cost to sacrifice and reached out to console those in sorrow," Mr. Bush said. There were also long moments of silence, first at 8:46am, the time American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower, and again at 9:03am, when United Airlines Flight 175 smashed into the other tower.
Another silence — at ground zero and at the Pentagon — came at 9:37am when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into what had been considered the unshakable nerve center of the world’s most powerful military. "There are no words to ease the pain that you still feel," Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta told relatives of the 184 people who died there. Another moment of silence, at 10:03am, marked the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. — the plane on which passengers tried to fight back, storming the cockpit and attempting to take control of the plane from the terrorists who had hijacked it. "There is nothing with which to compare the passenger uprising of 10 years ago," said Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania. "It has no companion in history in my mind."
He added: "Their uprising marks the moment in history when Americans showed what makes us different. We refuse to be victims. We refuse to settle for the term 'survivor.' Captivity will not suit us." The silver bell at ground zero was rung to remember those passengers, as it had been rung through the morning to remember the passengers on the other hijacked airliners and the people inside the twin towers — office workers, custodians, people having at breakfast in the restaurant a quarter-mile above the street. The bell tolled again at 10:28am "North Tower falls," read the large letters on the video monitors — three short words for the destruction of one of the world’s largest buildings, one that had taken some six years to complete. [More>>nytimes.com; See also,
cbsnews.com, September 11, Paying tribute to the victims of 9/11" : ...As the anniversary arrived around the world, people paid tribute in formal ceremonies and quiet moments. In Japan, they gathered Sunday to lay flowers before a glass case containing a small section of trade center steel, and remembered 23 employees of Fuji Bank who never made it out of the towers. A village in the Philippines offered roses, balloons and prayers for an American victim whose widower built 50 brightly colored homes there, fulfilling his late wife's wish to help the Filipino poor. In Malaysia, Pathmawathy Navaratnam woke up and, as she has done every morning for 10 years, wished "good morning" to her son, a 23-year-old financial analyst who was killed in New York.
...The New York ceremony begins at 8:30am, with a moment of silence 16 minutes later — coinciding with the exact time when the first tower of the trade center was struck by a hijacked jet. And then, one by one, the reading of the names of the 2,977 killed on Sept. 11 — in New York, at the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania. They include the names of 37 of Lt. Patrick Lim's fellow officers from the police department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Lim, assigned to patrol the trade center with an explosives detection dog, rushed in to the north tower after it was hit to help evacuate workers. He and a few others survived despite still being inside a fifth-floor stairwell when the building fell. In the years since, Lim said he has wrestled with survivor's guilt. He took shelter in selective memory, visualizing the ground covered with women's shoes amid the destruction. "That's how I got through that because what was attached to the shoes was a lot worse," Lim said.
The 10th anniversary has forced Lim to revisit an experience he's worried too many people have pushed from their minds. But the approach of Sunday's ceremonies has convinced him of the value of revisiting Sept. 11, both for himself and others. When it happened, talking about the events of that day "wasn't easy for me. This was very difficult. But it became ... a catharsis," he said. "What I want is for people to remember what happened." And so arrives a Sunday dedicated to remembrance, with hundreds of ceremonies across the country and around the globe — from a memorial Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York to a ceremony featuring nine-stories-tall replicas of the twin towers on a plaza in Paris. But some of the most powerful ceremonies will likely be the smallest and most personal...
cnn.com, September 11, "After a decade of grief and recovery, nation remembers 9/11" : ..."It's extremely emotional," said Felicia Cappo of Jackson, New Jersey, who was among those gathered at the World Trade Center site. She was holding a laminated photo of her brother, Gary Frank, who died in the attacks. "It's hard to believe 10 years have gone by ... it will always feel like yesterday." She said she makes an annual visit to Ground Zero. "No remains were ever found, so this is where we come to pay tribute to my brother." Patric Tengelin, 37, came from Mamlo, Sweden, to New York with his mother and sister to honor his brother David Tengelin, 25, who died in the World Trade Center. "I can mourn him anywhere," Tengelin said, "but it's important to come here too." "I remember his kindness," he said of his brother. "He treated everyone with respect and he had a heart of gold ... I loved how too [he] came here to pursue the American dream. He showed us you have to go after your dreams no matter what. He's a big inspiration for all of us." Tengelin was carrying a placard with his brother's name and picture on it.
Rosaria Reneo of Staten Island remembered she had just dropped her children off at school that day when she got a phone call that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, where her sister, Daniela Notaro, was working on the 92nd floor of the North Tower. She never heard from Notaro again, despite making frantic calls to her sister's cell phone. "We come here every year," Reneo said, clutching a picture of her sister. She said in spite of the increased security, she felt compelled to come Sunday. "My kids didn't want me to come," she said. "And I did worry a bit."
Firefighter Richard Batista, 38, was in the North Tower when the South Tower collapsed. His unit worked its way down a smoke-filled staircase and outside the building before the second collapse. "My captain, in his infinite wisdom, decided that there were too many crews up there and told us to meet outside and wait for further instructions," he said. Moments later, the North Tower fell in a dark plume of smoke, ash, dust and debris. "We took shelter in a parking garage, and that's what saved us," Batista said. "With a rescue rope, we were able to slowly pull and guide ourselves out of the rubble." ...
9.11.11 Rembembering the Muslims who were killed in the 9/11 attacks
September 11 - Some families of the Muslim victims who were killed during the 9/11 attacks in Washington and New York followed the policy of the Ostrich, hiding when facing trouble. When they found out about their relatives' deaths, they maintained silence for fear of being accused of terrorism, especially during the first three months after the biggest terrorist attack Americans have ever witnessed in their history. With their silence, it was hard to determine the correct number of Muslims who died in the attacks. Some people alleged an exaggerated number that reached hundreds of deaths, most notably the Jordanian imam and professor Omar Shahine, who has been residing in the United States for 16 years.
...It took three years to determine the exact number of Muslim victims, through a list prepared by the Council on American-Islamic Relations...The victims were 28 Muslims who died in the twin towers of the World Trade Center, in addition to three Muslims who were among the passengers on two hijacked planes; one of them crashed on a Pennsylvania field before it reached its target, and the second one hit the Pentagon. The Muslims victims in the 9/11 attacks were as follows: six from Pakistan, six from Bangladesh, four from Guiana, two from Sri Lanka, two from Gambia, two from Ivory Coast, and 1 from Yemen, one from Iran, one from Ethiopia, one from Turkey, one from Trinidad and Tobago, one from Burma, one from Albania, one from Greece and one from India, representing 1.07 percent of the total number of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, which is the same percentage of Muslims in the United States. The most famous Muslim victim is the only Arab among all 9/11 victims, the Yemeni Abdul Salam Mallahi, who worked at the Marriott Hotel in World Trade Center. He was very brave and helped people escape the building. His body has never been found. The oldest victim was an Iranian woman who was 69 years old, and the youngest were two 25-year-old men, Zohoto Ibis, from Tukey, and a Pakistani, Khaled Shahid. [More>>alarabiya.net; See more details on these individuals,
alarabiya.net, September 11, "Ten years later: Paying tribute to the forgotten Arab victims" : ...Joud Moussa worked as a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, which had its offices on floors 101-105 of One World Trade Center. The company’s headquarters were very close to the impact point of one of the suicide planes, and all of the Cantor Fitzgerald employees are work that morning died, including Moussa, who was 35. Moussa immigrated to the United States in 1984, and his family immigrated years later to the island of Guadalupe in the Caribbean. He used to call his mother every morning, and did the same on the day of the attacks, 15 minutes before his death. His mother and father went back to live in their village in Lebanon in 2008.
No pictures are available for the fourth Lebanese who died in the attacks and whose name was mentioned by the former American ambassador in Lebanon. His name was Robert Dirani and the information available about him does not exceed the fact that he was a 34-year-old lawyer and that he headed to the World Trade Center at 8 a.m. for an appointment in one of the companies in the building. His body has never been found. Albert al-Alfi is the only Egyptian among the Arab victims. He was a Canadian citizen and lived in Toronto. After marrying an Egyptian he met in Cairo, he received an offer from Cantor Fitzgerald and the couple moved to New York. Alfi, who was 30 years old at the time, died before his daughter was born.
Robert Elias Talhami, a Jordanian, was also killed in Cantor Fitzgerald, where he worked as a broker on the 104th floor. Talhami was born in Pakistan, and his family immigrated to the United States when he was seven years old. They later moved to Venezuela, where his dad worked in an engineering projects company. In Caracas, Robert finished his post-graduate studies then went returned to the United States. He worked in Tokyo from 1994 until 2001, then returned to work and live in New York, where he died, leaving a widow and two boys.
Another Jordanian was Ramzi Dowani, who was 35 years old when he died in his office at Marsh & McLennan on the 100th floor. When Dowani, who worked as a financial auditor, arrived at his office on the morning of September 11, he wrote an email to his parents and some of his friends to tell them he was back to New York from a business trip. Dowani was born in Amman to Palestinian parents. He finished boarding school in London, then immigrated to the United States, where he majored in business administration and graduated in 1992. He worked in several companies before ending up in the company where he met his death. Dowani was known for his benevolence. He took care of a sick woman for a long time and hosted a family friend who was going through financial troubles in his apartment for two years. Dozens traveled to Amman to take part in his funeral in a church in Amman, but there was no burial ceremony, because his body was never found.
Four Americans of Lebanese origin died in the attacks and their names were released by the Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church in Brooklyn. Joudi Safi was a 24-year-old broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, and his paternal grandfather immigrated to the United States from the district of Keserwan in the Mount Lebanon Governorate...
9.11.11 Protest at US embassy in London over 9/11
September 11 - A small group of Islamist demonstrators has staged a protest outside the US embassy in London during a ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. About 50 people brandished anti-US banners, chanted slogans and burnt a small piece of paper with a picture of the US flag on it. The protesters were understood to be from a group called Muslims Against Crusades. They were seeking to disrupt a moment's silence to mark the moment when the first hijacked airliner hit the World Trade Center in New York 10 years ago, starting the attacks. When they began burning the paper outside the embassy in central London, police formed a line near them but there was no violence. The small blaze went out in about a minute, he said. [>news.com.au]
9.11.11 Decade after 9/11 Afghans languish in Pakistan
HARIPUR / ISLAMABAD, September 11 - When Ghulum Nabi's father heard US-backed troops toppled Afghanistan's Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he rushed to their family home in an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan to spread the news. Perhaps, one day they could all return to a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan supported by a Western superpower. After 10 years of US-led efforts to pacify one of the world's most turbulent countries, Afghan refugees in Pakistan have little hope for stability in their homeland. "I grew up here and Pakistan is my country. When my father pushes me to go back to visit, I end up having a fight with him. I'm never going to live there. I want to get Pakistani nationality. This is my home," said Nabi, 22, who runs a crockery shop.
...Most of the refugees in Pakistan arrived after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The conflict that followed consumed their homeland. After the mujahideen warriors defeated the Russians, warlords turned on each other and tore Afghanistan apart. Many refugees fear a repeat of that chaos as a US troop withdrawal looms. Some would like to go home but feel they can't. Others regard Pakistan as home despite its many disadvantages. Without proper Pakistani identification cards, Afghans can't open bank accounts or buy or lease property. Many are openly mistreated by Pakistanis who have little fear of being held to account.
On Aug. 14, the anniversary of Pakistan's independence, Saeed Anwar's landlord showed up with three men armed with AK-47 assault rifles at his clothing shop at a busy bazaar in the city of Haripur, home to 80,000 Afghan refugees who live in camps. "They threw around my merchandise and said I need to pay them a 300,000 Pakistani rupees ($3,450) advance on the rent. I had already paid the rent," said Anwar, wearing traditional, loose Pakistani trousers. "I went to the police to register a case. But when they see a dispute between a Pakistani and an Afghan, they automatically assume the Afghan has done something wrong."
Still, many Afghans believe it's wiser, and safer, to just accept the frequent humiliation than return to a homeland still shattered, despite a long US-led military campaign against militancy and billions of dollars in Western aid..."There are many people living here that can afford to build a proper house but don't want to. They think 'what if next year we are told to leave?' So they continue to live in mud houses." Aside from 1.7 million officially registered Afghans in Pakistan, there are an additional 800,000 with no documentation. According to the United Nations, Pakistan is home to the world's largest refugee population, mostly Afghans, who strain the country's troubled economy. [Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
9.11.11 9/11 attacks make Pakistan insecure
ISLAMABAD (Xinhua) September 11 - The 11/9 deadliest attacks in New York and Washington have made Pakistan insecure as bomb blasts and suicide attacks by Taliban militants have claimed lives of nearly 35,000 people over the past 10 years. On top of that, thousands more have been injured and many disabled, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Taliban, who routinely and immediately claimed responsibility for attacks, said they are showing [a] reaction to the military operations in the militants-infested tribal regions and to what they call pro-US policies of the Pakistani government. Taliban insist that they are targeting security forces, police, political leaders and pro-government personalities but their attacks have resulted in the deaths of mostly civilians including women and children.
When former President Pervez Musharraf joined the US-led international coalition against al-Qaeda and Taliban in late 2001, he had promised that his U-Turn on Afghan Taliban would secure Pakistan, improve economy and protect the country's nuclear program. But developments following the 2001 attacks proved disastrous for Pakistan as the country lost 35,000 people and suffered about 65-70 billion US dollars in losses. Meanwhile, insecurity has gripped the whole country as people now fear attacks any time and anywhere. Mosques and other places of worship, which are the safest and sacred places for Muslims and followers of other religions, are also targeted at a time when they are packed with worshipers. Taliban said they are punishing whole communities even in mosques and playgrounds because of their support for the government.
Many Muslim leaders do not accept Taliban's notion to hit mosques and condemn killings in places of worship but Taliban had their own interpretation of Islam. Sense of insecurity is now keeping the panicky people away from mosques, according to those who regularly go to mosques. Taliban threats of more attacks have also badly affected business across Pakistan, especially in main cities. People are reluctant to go to the markets and shopkeepers in the insurgency-hit northwestern part of the country complained that sense of fear badly affected their business even days ahead of the Muslim festival of "Eid" last week.
Taliban attacks have scared foreign investors away from Pakistan, which needs more investment now. Almost all Western and European airlines have stopped flights to Pakistan and international teams are not coming to Pakistan and the scheduled matches of Pakistan with other teams are played on grounds of other countries. When militants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in March 2009, they dealt a devastating blow to the future of cricket on the subcontinent, where the 2011 World Cup was to take place. But Pakistan was excluded from matches and all were played in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. Pakistan, which has never seen suicide attacks until 2003, now faces ferocious Taliban's suicide bombings routinely in cities as the militants have now focused on urban areas to hit security forces. The latest raid, twin suicide bombings in the southwestern city of Quetta, killed 28 people and injured over 60 more. [Full story>>xinhuanet.com]
9.11.11 Swedish police arrest four on suspicion of plotting terrorist attack
September 11 - Arts center in Gothenburg evacuated after police received threat which they felt posed a serious danger. Swedish police have arrested four people on suspicion of preparing a terror attack and have evacuated an arts center in the country's second largest city. The four were arrested in Gothenburg and were suspected of plotting terrorism, security police spokesman Stefan Johansson said. It was not immediately clear whether the arrests were linked to the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. [More>>guardian.co.uk]
9.11.11 Hacker group draws increased scrutiny from feds
SAN FRANCISCO, September 11 - Anonymous has become a potential national security threat, federal officials say. Anonymous is not so anonymous anymore. The computer hackers, chat room denizens and young people who comprise the loosely affiliated Internet collective have increasingly turned to questionable tactics, drawing the attention of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal investigators. What was once a small group of pranksters has become a potential national security threat, federal officials say. The FBI has carried out more than 75 raids and arrested 16 people this year in connection with illegal hacking jobs claimed by Anonymous. Since June, the Department of Homeland Security has issued three "bulletins" warning cyber-security professionals of hacking successes and future threats by Anonymous and related groups, including a call to physically occupy Manhattan's Wall Street on Sept. 17 in protest of various US government policies. San Francisco police arrested more than 40 protesters last month during a rowdy demonstration organized by Anonymous that disrupted the evening commute. The group called for the demonstration after the Bay Area Rapid Transit system shut off it cell service in San Francisco stations to quell a planned protest over police shooting on a subway platform. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]
9.11.11 Five arrests in 'slavery' raid at Greenacre travelers' site
September 11 - Twenty-four men suspected of being held against their will have been found during a raid at a travelers' site. Four men and a woman were arrested on suspicion of committing slavery offenses in the raid at Greenacre travelers' site, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, on Sunday. The men, who are English, Polish and Romanian, were found in "filthy and cramped" conditions, police said. Detectives believe some may have been there for up to 15 years. Those arrested are being held on suspicion of committing offenses under the Slavery and Servitude Act 2010. They are being held at police stations across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Weapons, drugs and money were also found at the site, police said. More than 200 officers were involved in the raids...Det Ch Insp Sean O'Neil said: "The men we found at the site were in a poor state of physical health and the conditions they were living in were shockingly filthy and cramped. We believe that some of them had been living and working there in a state of virtual slavery, some for just a few weeks and others for up to 15 years." He added that the men appeared to have been "recruited" from soup kitchens and benefits offices and included people with problems such as alcoholism. He said: "They're recruited and told if you come here we'll pay you £80 a day, we'll look after you give you board and lodgings. But when they get here, their hair is cut off them, they're kept in in some cases [in] horseboxes, dog kennels and old caravans, made to work for no money, given very, very small amounts of food..." [More>>bbc.co.uk]
9.11.11 Gaddafi defenders stall advance on Libyan town
(Reuters) September 11 - Battle-hardened Libyan combatants joined the fight to capture a desert town from well-armed loyalists of Muammar Gaddafi on Sunday after the head of Libya’s interim council warned that the ousted leader still posed a threat. Gaddafi troops firing rockets and mortars held up local fighters trying to push into the northern outskirts of Bani Walid, which lies 150 km (95 miles) southeast of Tripoli. Scores of uniformed soldiers and experienced fighters of the ruling Transitional National Council (NTC) reinforced their comrades who have met fierce resistance from Gaddafi forces since Friday, saying they would attack within hours. "I’ve been a soldier in the Libyan army in the 1980s. I have a little bit more experience than these local boys," said one new arrival, Omar Swaid, a truck driver from Kansas."They are great — very enthusiastic but they don’t know how to fight. We’re going help them. The Gaddafi forces, some want to surrender. I hope this is the last fight. I don’t want to see any more blood," he said in a broad American accent. NATO warplanes again patrolled the skies after launching several air strikes the day before. "In the vicinity of Bani Walid there was one rocket launcher we destroyed," a NATO official in Brussels told Reuters on Sunday. In a statement, NATO said its planes also hit a tank and two armored vehicles in the area. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,
gulfnews.com, September 11, "Gaddafi spy chief Dorda arrested" : TRIPOLI - Bouzaid Dorda, the head of Muammar Gaddafi's external security organization, has been arrested by anti-Gaddafi fighters, Reuters witnesses said on Sunday. Dorda, Gaddafi's foreign intelligence service chief, will be handed over to Libya's interim governing council later on Sunday, an anti-Gaddafi fighter said. A team of Reuters journalists visited a house in the capital's Zenata district where Dorda, a former prime minister, was held by members of a unit of anti-Gaddafi fighters who call themselves Brigades of the Martyr Abdelati Ghaddour. Dorda was kept in the downstairs living room of a private house, which was guarded by about 20 fighters clad in battle fatigues and armed with assault rifles. [end]
9.11.11 Truck bomb kills 4 Afghans, wounds 77 US troops
KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) September 11 - A suicide bomber driving a truck of firewood attacked a NATO base in central Afghanistan, killing four civilians and injuring 77 US troops on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks, NATO and Afghan officials said on Sunday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing, which created one of the highest injury tolls of the decade-long war and came just hours after the insurgent group slammed the United States for dragging Afghanistan into war. An 8-year-old boy was among those killed in the bombing at a combat outpost in Wardak province, about 50 km (30 miles) south of the capital Kabul, the governor's office said in a statement. Fourteen civilians were also wounded. None of the injuries to the US troops was life-threatening, and the base remained operational although its perimeter fence was damaged, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said. [More>>thestar.com.my]
9.09.11 Stocks sink as Europe nears 'tipping point'
NEW York, September 9 - A sell-off in US stocks accelerated Friday afternoon, as fresh worries about Europe surfaced. Just before the opening bell, the European Central Bank announced that executive board member Juergen Stark was stepping down. Analysts say Stark is leaving amid disagreements over the ECB's bond buying program. "Stark has been a fairly vocal critic over the ECB's bond purchasing program," said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets in London. "His resignation highlights the political paralysis at the heart of Europe, and the debt crisis is approaching a tipping point." Selling gained momentum midday as investors also grew increasingly concerned about a possible Greek default. The Dow Jones industrial average ( ) dropped 300 points, or 2.6%. The S&P 500 ( ) slipped 29 points, or 2.4%, and the Nasdaq composite ( ) lost 54 points, or 2.1%. Stark's departure along with Bank of Italy Gov. Mario Draghi taking over from ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet in November (Trichet is retiring) raises questions about how the region will handle its ongoing sovereign debt problems. [More>>cnn.com]
9.09.11 Security increased as Biden describes 9/11 bomb threat
September 9 - New York faced the latest report of a possible terror threat with police officers searching cars and trucks on the street and backpacks and briefcases in the subways and officials keeping a closer eye on the city’s bridges and tunnels. The stepped-up security came as Vice President Joseph R. Biden said that counterterrorism officials were investigating a "credible" but uncorroborated threat of a car-bomb attack in New York City or Washington, timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — who on Thursday night appeared with the city’s police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, to announce that vehicle checkpoints would be set up in time for the morning rush — went to the office by subway on Friday.
"We don’t want al-Qaeda or any other organization to take away the freedoms without firing a shot," the mayor said after arriving at the City Hall stop in Lower Manhattan, according to The Associated Press. The mayor urged New Yorkers to “go back to work,” according to The A.P., "and leave it to the professionals." Above ground, the police presence forced drivers heading toward Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge to squeeze through a single-lane gantlet as police officers walked between the cars, singling out some for a closer look. In Lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from ground zero, police vehicles with flashing lights stood in front of the American Stock Exchange. [More>>nytimes.com]
9.09.11 Jihad recruiters jailed after anti-terror trial
Septermber 9 - Munir Farooqi, Israr Malik and Matthew Newton exposed by undercover police who infiltrated faith stalls in Manchester. Three men who recruited vulnerable men to fight British soldiers in Afghanistan to fight a holy war have been jailed after they were convicted of offenses following an anti-terror trial. Munir Farooqi, 54, Israr Malik, 23, and Matthew Newton, 29, were exposed after undercover police officers infiltrated faith stalls in Manchester and found they were trying to groom vulnerable men to travel to training camps and battlefields abroad, where they would "fight, kill and die" in a jihad against coalition forces. They were convicted following a trial at Manchester crown court. On Friday, Farooqi was given four life sentences and told he must serve a minimum of nine years before he can be considered for parole.
He had been convicted of preparing for acts of terrorism, three counts of soliciting to murder and one count of dissemination of terrorist publications, after a four-month trial. Passing sentence, Mr. Justice Richard Henriques said: "You are in my judgment a very dangerous man, an extremist, a fundamentalist with a determination to fight abroad." Farooqi had used his experiences fighting with the Taliban as a "tool of recruitment" to run the "Manchester recruitment center" from Islamic bookstalls in the city. His operation was "sophisticated, ruthless and well honed," the judge said. "You found the images of coffins draped in American flags as a source of great amusement. As residents of this country you owe allegiance to the crown, that appears to have escaped your attention."
The group used stalls in Longsight and Manchester city center to target vulnerable men and, after converting them to the faith, radicalized them using terrorist literature, CDs and DVDs. Two undercover officers spent more than a year infiltrating the group and gaining the trust of Farooqi, who had been previously jailed in Afghanistan after fighting alongside the Taliban in 2001. One of the detectives taped him boasting: "If we die, we win. You have Allah on your side, how can we lose? You know jihad is not about you giving your life away. If we're going to go there you make sure you take at least 40 or 50 people with us so we've done something." [More>>guardian.co.uk]
9.09.11 American city is 'breeding terrorists'
September 9 - The White House believes home-grown terrorism is one of the greatest threats the US faces, ten years after the 9/11 attacks. The biggest domestic terrorism investigation since 2001 has focused on the northern city of Minneapolis. It is estimated up to 40 young men from the Somali community in Minneapolis have been radicalized and recruited to join the al-Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab in Somalia. There are also growing fears that the US faces the threat of an attack within its borders from young radicals carrying American passports. Seventeen-year-old Burhan Hassan was one of those young men recruited by al Shabaab. His death in Somalia prompted his family to break the silence they say was enabling the recruiting. His uncle Abdirizak Bihi now runs a campaign to highlight the risks of young men being recruited and encourage Somali families to speak out.
He told Sky News: "Al-Qaeda is always very creative. They were creative on 9/11 and they are creative in going into our community. "By recruiting young refugees and taking them back to Somalia and training them with that mindset and sending them back here without anyone knowing it, it's feasible they can attack Alaska, Washington, New York and London anywhere they want." His warning was repeated by Omar Jamal, a senior official at the Somali mission to the United Nations. He told Sky News: "If a young man with an American passport is able to go to Somalia and blow himself up, we haven't seen anything that would prevent that person coming back and blowing himself up here." Congressional hearings into Muslim radicalization and a new White House strategy have done little to calm fears. Minneapolis shopkeeper Mohamed Amin Ahmed is trying to play al Shabaab at its own game with leaflets and propaganda videos urging moderation. He says the Somali community has to take responsibility. [More>>news.sky.com]
9.09.11 Poll: 1 in 3 think Muslim Americans more sympathetic to terrorists than other Americans
September 9 - CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto. Ten years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, one in three Americans think Muslim Americans are more sympathetic to terrorists than other Americans, a new CBS News/ New York Times poll shows. Nearly 60 percent of Americans do not think Muslim Americans are more sympathetic to terrorists, according to the poll, conducted in late August. Residents of New York City polled have similar opinions. A quarter of Americans, as well as 20 percent of New Yorkers, admit they hold negative opinions of Muslims because of 9/11. Among adults who say a close friend or family member was killed on 9/11, 25 percent also say they have negative feelings toward Muslims. As many as 55 percent of Americans say they know people who have negative feelings toward Muslims because of 9/11. New Yorkers and close family and friends of 9/11 victims gave similar answers. More than three in four Americans say it is likely that Muslims, Arab Americans and immigrants from the Middle East get unfairly singled out in the United States. [More>>cbsnews.com]
9.09.11 Turkey threat of warships to Gaza 'grave': Israel
(AFP) September 9 - A top Israeli minister on Friday described as “grave and serious” a threat by Ankara to send warships to escort any aid vessels trying to reach the Gaza Strip. Israel and Turkey have been locked in a bitter dispute since May 2010 when Israeli naval forces stormed the Freedom Flotilla, a convoy of six international aid ships trying to reach Gaza, killing nine Turkish nationals. The crisis deepened over the past week, with Turkey expelling the Israeli ambassador and axing military ties and defense trade. On Thursday night, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that Turkish warships would escort any aid ships trying to reach the Palestinian enclave. "These remarks are grave and serious," senior cabinet minister Dan Meridor told army radio, while indicating that Israel had "no wish to add to the polemic." "It is better to stay quiet and wait — we have no interest in aggravating the situation by replying to such (verbal) attacks," said Meridor, who is also minister of intelligence and atomic affairs. Speaking to Al Jazeera television in Turkish, Erdogan said Ankara would dispatch warships to protect any Turkish aid ships seeking to reach Gaza in defiance of the Israeli blockade. "Turkish warships will be tasked with protecting the Turkish boats bringing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip," he said in remarks which were translated into Arabic. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
9.09.11 Captain Jihad: Ex-terrorist a comic book hero
JAKARTA, Indonesia, September 9 - The real life adventures of former al-Qaeda-linked terrorist Nasir Abas have become a new comic book in Indonesia, chronicling his transformation from militant to invaluable ally in the fight against terrorism. The story of the soft-spoken, seemingly mild-mannered 42-year-old — recognized by strangers on the streets and even asked for the occasional autograph — is well-known in the world's most populous Muslim country. He went from helping train Muslim militants who carried out some of Southeast Asia's deadliest attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings, to informing police about the inner-workings of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network. He's also joined a government program to convince convicted terrorists that killing unarmed civilians in the name of their faith is wrong. "I want children to learn from my experience," Abas said of the colorful 137-page comic, called "I Found the Meaning of Jihad," which appears in bookstores Friday and will be handed out at some schools and libraries. "I don't want them to make the same mistakes," he added. Indonesia, hit by a string of suicide bombings that has killed more than 260 people since Sept. 11, 2001, has been widely praised for its anti-terror fight. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]
9.09.11 Murder of popular radio host and writer has Iraqis fearing a new dictatorship
September 9 - Death threats did not stop Hadi al-Mahdi, a popular radio talk show host in Baghdad, from criticizing and mocking the Iraqi government’s waste and inefficiency. What silenced him was his actual death. Mahdi, 45, who was also a playwright, filmmaker, columnist and an important organizer of the protests that have been taking place in the capital since February 25 of this year, was found dead on Thursday, one day before he and his activists colleagues planned to stage a protest. According to DPA, a source in the country’s ministry interior said on Thursday that security forces found Mahdi’s corpse in his house, which is located in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Karada. Other reports indicate that Mahdi was killed by gunshot, perhaps from a silenced weapon. Prior to Friday’s protest, and according to its organizers' official website, www.altahreernews.com, which is named after Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Mahdi wrote that "tomorrow 9.9 is a true democratic wedding/celebration for our new Iraq. The sons and daughters of Iraq will come without sectarianism and hatred, with hearts filled with love and forgiveness, to say no to quotas, no to corruption, pillaging, failure, treason, and to demand a better Iraq, a better government, better political parties and better leadership." Altahreernews also reported that Mahdi had written on Facebook that he lived in fear. "In the last three days I lived in horror, there are those who are warning that protesters will be raided and arrested, and there are those who say that the government will do this and that, and there are those who create phony Facebook accounts to threaten me." [More>>alarabiya.net]
9.09.11 Syria activists call for 'foreign protection' from Assad crackdowns
September 9 - Syrian opposition urges international community to send in human rights groups to monitor and help deter military attacks on civilians. Activists called Friday for protests across Syria to ask "for foreign protection," a move aimed at putting pressure on President Bashar Assad and his regime which has pressed on with a violent crackdown on dissent. The call for mass demonstrations was made in a statement on the Facebook page of Syrian Revolution 2011, a motor of the protests which started against the regime in mid-March. "To the youths of the revolution, Friday we will be in all the places after the [Muslim] prayer, in all the streets," it said. "We will gather at the besieged towns, and call for international protection to protect our civilians." The looming showdown comes after the Syrian opposition issued for the first time a direct call for foreign intervention. The Syrian opposition appealed late Thursday to the international community to send in human rights groups to monitor and help deter military attacks on civilians in the increasingly bloody crackdown. The Activists' Bloc, which groups Syrian opposition forces, updated in a statement the number of civilians killed by government forces and said it had reached more than 3,000 civilians. [More>>haaretz.com]
9.09.11 New group of Muammar Gaddafi officials arrive in Niger
AGADEZ, Niger (Reuters) September 9 - A new group of 14 Muammar Gaddafi officials including General Ali Kana, a Tuareg who was in charge of Gaddafi’s southern troops, are in Niger’s northern city of Agadez, Niger security sources told Reuters on Friday. Two sources said the group included four top officials, amongst them two generals. A local administrator said the other general was Ali Sharif al-Rifi, Gaddafi’s commanding officer of the Libyan air force. A Reuters reporter in Agadez said the four top officials were staying at the Etoile du Tenere hotel, a luxurious hotel in the outskirt of the town, said to be owned by Gaddafi, where the Libyan leader stayed during a Muslim holiday in 2007. "The group arrived in four four-wheel-drive vehicles on Thursday afternoon," one of the sources said, adding that they had been accompanied by Nigerien security forces.
A Reuters cameraman said local officials of the Agadez region including the chief of police, the chief of the gendarme and the head of intelligence were seen entering the hotel to meet the four senior officials from Libya. Five plain clothes police officers and three uniformed gendarmes are stationed inside the walls of the hotel while two armed gendarmes are stationed at the gate, the cameraman said. No official Nigerien comment was immediately available. The arrival of the group follows that of the head of Gaddafi’s security brigades, Mansour Dhao, who crossed into Niger in a convoy on or around Sept. 4. Niger has said it had allowed the Libyans into its territory on humanitarian grounds. It has come under international pressure to hand over former Gaddafi officials suspected of human rights abuses. [>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories,
independent.co.uk, September 9, "Special Libyan unit hunting Gaddafi" : Libya's new rulers have dedicated a special unit of fighters to track down former leader Muammar Gaddafi, listening in on his aides' phone calls, poring over satellite images and interviewing witnesses. Although leads come mostly from on-the-ground tips, help is also coming from France and other Western countries, according to a French intelligence official. Satellite-based transmission intercepts of suspicious phone calls try to pinpoint where Gaddafi might be. Small CIA teams are also assisting in the manhunt, according to former US officials. Gaddafi, who hasn't been seen in public for months, went underground after anti-regime fighters swept into Tripoli on August 21. Capturing him would allow the former rebels to seal their grip on the country and shut the door on the possibility of Gaddafi inspiring an insurgency against the new leaders...."We are tracking his movements," Sharif said. "He's moving in a small convoy of cars trying to avoid any attention from NATO or the rebels, but successfully we have located a 40 square mile area where he's moving. He's trying not to stay in the same place for more than two or three hours."...
news.sky.com, September 9, "Libya: Interpol issues Red Alert arrest warrant for Colonel Gaddafi and his son Saif Al-Islam" : Interpol has issued arrest warrants for Libya's Colonel Gaddafi, his son Saif al Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al Senussi. The International Criminal Court (ICC) made the request to the international police organization, which is based in Lyon, France. "As far as Interpol's general secretariat headquarters is concerned, Muammar Gaddafi is a fugitive whose country of nationality and the ICC want arrested and held accountable for the serious criminal charges that have been brought against him," Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble said...
9.09.11 6.5-ton defunct satellite to plunge to earth soon, NASA warns
September 9 - Heads up! That's the word from NASA given the impending re-entry of a 6.5-ton satellite through Earth's atmosphere. The huge Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere in an uncontrolled fall in late September or early October. Much of the spacecraft is expected to burn up during re-entry, but some pieces are expected to make it intact to the ground, NASA officials said. The US space agency will be taking measures to inform the public about the pieces of the spacecraft that are expected to survive re-entry. [More>>foxnews.com]
9.08.11 France accuses Syria of crimes against humanity as regime forces kill 23 people
DAMASCUS (AFP) September 8 - France accused Syria of “crimes against humanity,” as activists said regime forces killed at least 23 people, 21 of them in a tank-backed raid on the flashpoint central city of Homs. "The Syrian regime has committed crimes against humanity," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said during talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. "The way it suppressed the popular protests is unacceptable," he said on Wednesday, expressing hope that Russia would change its stance and back UN condemnation of the crackdown. The Syrian authorities, he said, should be sent "a powerful signal that such actions cannot continue." But Lavrov gave no signs of being ready to ease a Russian position that last week saw Moscow lash the European Union for imposing a crippling oil embargo on Syria. "We are convinced that the essential thing is to start dialog at the talks table," Lavrov said. "We consider that inciting certain forces within the opposition to boycott the invitation to dialog is a dangerous path and risks a repetition of the Libyan scenario, which neither Russia nor France wants." Russia has staunchly opposed attempts by Western governments to push through a UN Security Council resolution targeting President Bashar al-Assad and has circulated an alternative draft calling for him to implement reforms. [More>>alarabiya.net; See related story,
haaretz.com (AP) September 8, "Iran urges Assad to cease violent crackdown of Syria protest" : Iranian president, longtime ally of the besieged Syrian leader, says Assad should negotiate with opposition, saying: "A military solution is never the right solution." Syrian President Bashar Assad should back away from his violent crackdown on protesters and enter talks with the opposition, Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday. "There should be talks" between the Syrian government and its opponents, Ahmadinejad said in a live interview in Tehran with Portuguese broadcaster Radiotelevisao Portuguesa. "A military solution is never the right solution," Ahmadinejad said, according to a simultaneous Portuguese translation of his comments. "We believe that freedom and justice and respect for others are the rights of all nations. All governments have to recognize these rights," he said. "Problems have to be dealt with through dialog." Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said last month that Assad should answer the legitimate demands of his people...
9.08.11 Gaddafi denies rumor he fled Libya, vows to keep fighting
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) September 8 - From hiding, Muammar Gaddafi denied rumors he fled Libya, vowed never to leave the land of his ancestors and exhorted followers to keep fighting, according to an audio message broadcast Thursday on a loyalist TV channel. Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for nearly 42 years before opposition forces forced him to flee Tripoli late last month, hasn't been seen in public for months. A military official in Libya's new leadership had said a day earlier Gaddafi was cornered and would soon be captured or killed, but another senior defense official contended his whereabouts are unknown. In Thursday's five-minute-long audio, aired on Syrian-based Al-Rai TV, a man who sounded like Gaddafi denounced reports that he had fled to neighboring Niger and claimed he is still in Libya. He called those who ousted him "a bunch of mercenaries, thugs and traitors." "We are ready to start the fight in Tripoli and everywhere else, and rise up against them," Gaddafi said. "All of these germs, rats and scumbags, they are not Libyans, ask anyone. They have cooperated with NATO." Niger officials have said senior members of Gaddafi's regime led by his own security chief crossed from Libya on Tuesday. Niger said the group of 13 did not include Gaddafi, and US officials have said they have no reason to believe Gaddafi is not in Libya. But reports of the apparent defection of some of his top aides — and rumors that it involved a large number of senior soldiers who left with money and gold — were believed to have undermined morale among Gaddafi loyalists. [>indianexpress.com; See related stories,
thenews.com.pk (AP) September 8, "Gaddafi 'sold 20% of Libya's gold' in regime's final days" : TRIPOLI, Libya - Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi sold more than 20 percent of Libya's gold reserves, worth more than $1 billion, in the final days of his regime, the country's central bank governor said on Thursday. Qassem Azzoz said 1.7 billion dinars worth of gold, or around 29 tones, were sold to local merchants as the regime ran short of cash. "The gold was liquidated in order to pay salaries and to have liquidity, in Tripoli in particular," Azzoz said. According to central bank officials the gold likely made its way out of the country to neighboring Tunisia and beyond. Azzoz added that the bank's total assets now stand at around $115 billion, of which $90 billion is abroad. [end]
timesofindia.indiatimes.com, September 8, "Gaddafi's wife in talks to buy Croatian resort" : ZAGREB, Croatia - The wife of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is negotiating to buy a tourist resort in Croatia, a media report said. Croatian daily Makarska Chronicle said Gaddafi's wife Safia — of Bosnian-Croatian origin — was planning to buy a resort in Igrani town, which before the division of the former Yugoslavia belonged to a Serbian utility company. Safia was born Sofia Farkas in Yugoslavia in the city of Mostar. The city in present day is in Bosnia-Herzegovina. She is Gaddafi's second and present wife. The newspaper said the negotiations started when rebel operations to depose Gaddafi intensified in Libya and were in an "advanced phase." Safia and her three children fled to Algeria after rebels took over Tripoli. Rebel troops have said they have located Gaddafi, believed to be still hiding in Libya, and that it was just a matter of time before he was arrested or killed. Gaddafi had attended the Yugoslav Air Force Academy. He also had close ties with late Yugoslav ruler Josip Broz Tito. [end]
aljazeera.net, September 8, "Gaddafi forces fire rockets from Bani Walid" : Grad missiles fired from besieged town, hours after audio message in which ex-Libyan leader denied he had fled to Chad. Muammar Gaddafi's loyalists have fired a number of rockets from inside one of his last strongholds, hours after a TV station aired an audio message reportedly from the deposed Libyan leader urging his fighters on. At least 10 loud explosions could be heard on Thursday along the desert front line at Bani Walid, a town of 100,000 people about 140km southeast of Tripoli, following early morning skirmishes in the same area. Smoke billowed from the projectiles, said to be Grad rockets, after they landed in Wadi Dinar, about 20km outside the town. Thousands of fighters for Libya's new leadership have converged on Bani Walid. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has requested that Interpol issue a "red notice" to arrest Muammar Gaddafi for the alleged crimes against humanity of murder and persecution. "Arresting Gaddafi is a matter of time," said Moreno-Ocampo, who is also requesting red notices for the arrest of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi. Officials have said a number of prominent regime loyalists, including Gaddafi's son and one-time heir apparent, are believed to be inside Bani Walid...
9.08.11 Police arrest two on suspicion of plotting bomb attack
(Reuters) September 8 - German police arrested two men suspected of planning a bomb attack after they purchased chemical ingredients that could be used as ingredients in an explosive device, a Berlin police spokesman said Thursday. German police have arrested two men of Middle Eastern origin suspected of buying material for a bomb attack, a police spokesman in Berlin said on Thursday. The two, identified as a 24-year-old German-Lebanese man and a 28-year-old from the Palestinian Gaza Strip, are suspected of buying chemicals to make an explosive device, police said. The police operation comes two weeks before Pope Benedict is due to visit Germany and days before commemorations to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on US targets. "We are investigating the suspected preparation of a serious act of violence," said the police spokesman, adding that the investigations had been going on for several months. "We are looking for chemical substances suitable for making explosives." Police, who arrested the pair in Berlin, had searched two apartments and an Islamic cultural center in the German capital, the spokesman said. He did not say when the arrests were made. Security sources said the men had acquired cooling elements and acid to make a bomb. [More>>france24.com]
9.08.11 Suicide main cause of death for those under 40 in South Korea
September 8 - Suicide was the No. 1 cause of death among people under 40 years of age in South Korea last year, with the nation‘s overall suicide rate also marking the highest among the world’s major countries, a report showed Thursday. According to the report by Statistics Korea, suicide was the leading cause of death among those in their teens, 20s and 30s in 2010. Of those aged 10-19, 5.2 out of every 100,000 people committed suicide last year, while the rates for those in their 20s and 30s came to 24.4 and 29.6, respectively. For all age groups, the nation‘s suicide rate stood at 31.2, the highest among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the report said. The OECD average rate was 11.3. Men’s suicide rate was 41.4, much higher than 21.0 for females. More than 20 percent of the people that committed suicide last year took their lives in May and July, the report showed. [More>>koreaherald.com]
9.08.11 Two million Chinese attempt suicide every year: Report
BEIJING - China has one of the highest suicide rates in the world with a person trying to kill himself every two minutes, even as the country propels itself to emerge as one of the richest nations. Two million Chinese attempt suicide every year constituting 3.6 per cent of the total deaths annually, according to an official study. Though most of them are saved, still nearly 300,000 people kill themselves every year in a population of 1.3 billion, a survey by Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. As China marked world suicide prevention day on Saturday, the centre said the highest rate of suicide was among the age group 15-34. Seventy-five per cent of the suicides were reportedly committed in rural areas and the number of suicides by women is 25 per cent higher than males, which is contrary to the trend seen in developed countries where the suicide rate among males is three times more, CDC said. The survey ranked suicide as the fifth leading cause of death and a primary reason for death of people aged between 15 to 34 years in China, Xinhua reported. The study was released ahead of the World Suicide Prevention Day on 9 September. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
9.08.11 Sinking Pacific island Kiribati considers moving to a man-made alternative
September 8 - The future for Kiribati, one of the low-lying Pacific nations threatened by rising seas, is so dire that the government is contemplating relocating the entire population to man-made islands resembling giant oil rigs. "We're considering everything... because we are running out of options," the President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, said yesterday in Auckland, where he is attending the Pacific Islands Forum. He said that his small, impoverished country — where the highest land is no more than two meters above sea level — urgently needed the world to take action on climate change. Vulnerable Pacific nations have acquired a powerful new ally, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who visited Kiribati on his way to the Auckland conference. In a speech on Tuesday, Mr. Ban warned: "For those who believe climate change is about some distant future, I invite them to Kiribati. Climate change is not about tomorrow. It is lapping at our feet — quite literally in Kiribati and elsewhere."
Beachside villages in Kiribati — which consists of 33 coral atolls sprinkled across two million square miles of ocean — have already had to move to escape the encroaching waves. Water supplies have been contaminated by salt water, and crops destroyed. Erosion, caused partly by storms and flooding, is increasingly serious...A former British colony called the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati is home to 103,000 people, most of them crammed into the main atoll, Tarawa, a horseshoe-shaped chain of islets surrounding a central lagoon. Like other pancake-flat Pacific nations such as Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, and Indian Ocean nations such as the Maldives, it faces oblivion as a result of global warming-induced rising sea levels. [Full story>>independent.co.uk]
9.07.11 Black Wednesday: Blast at Delhi high court kills 11, injures 76
NEW DELHI, India, September 7 - Eleven people were killed and at least 76 others were injured in a powerful blast outside Delhi high court gate number 5 on Wednesday morning. The blast took place at around 10:15am. Home secretary RK Singh told reporters the explosives were placed in a briefcase at the high court reception where hundreds of people come through every day to attend court cases. At the time of explosion around 200 people, mostly litigants were present at the gate in a queue to get their passes made to enter the court. There were several lawyers also present at the site. Later, a mail purportedly written by Bangladesh-based terror outfit Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami(HuJI) was sent to some media houses claiming responsibility. The mail claimed the explosion was carried out to demand repeal of death sentence of Afzal Guru, a condemned prisoner in Parliament attack. The government is investigating the email. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
9.07.11 Libyan rebels, trying to block escape routes, say they believe Gaddafi is surrounded
TRIPOLI, Libya, September 7 - Rebel forces say they are closing in on fugitive leader Muammar Gaddafi and trying to block a border crossing into Niger to prevent his escape. Anis Sharif, a spokesman for the nascent government’s Tripoli military command, says rebel leaders believe Gaddafi is trapped within an area in Libya that has a radius of about 40 miles and is largely surrounded by rebel forces. But these leaders also believe Gaddafi has been plotting an escape route out of the country over the past few days, Sharif said. Rebel forces are working to take control of villages and checkpoints along Libya’s vast border to stop any attempt he might make to flee the country. "We know his place, and he is moving from place to place within that area, and he cannot leave," Sharif said, without pinpointing the location. "A few hours ago he had a chance to get to the border. But we are working to block his way." On Tuesday, a convoy of armed vehicles carrying about 250 people, including at least a dozen senior Libyan military officials, arrived in neighboring Niger after traveling across Libya’s vast southern desert.[More>>washingtonpost.com; See also,
aljazeera.net, September 7, "Libyan fighters say Gaddafi 'surrounded'": Military council official says toppled leader trapped within 60km radius and will be captured or killed soon. Libyan fighters are claiming to have surrounded Muammar Gaddafi within a 60km radius and insist it is matter of time before the toppled leader is captured or killed. Anis Sharif, a spokesman for Tripoli's new military council, however would not say where exactly Gaddafi had been found. But amid the continuing hunt for the fugitive leader and his sons, he said Gaddafi had been tracked using high technology and human intelligence. "He can't get out," he said on Wednesday. Gaddafi, who was removed from power in August after an uprising against his rule, is believed to be traveling in a convoy of about 10 cars and may be using a tent as shelter, Hisham Buhagiar, who is co-ordinating the National Transitional Council's [NTC] efforts to find the former Libyan leader, said...
9.07.11 Twin suicide blasts kill 23 people in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD (AP) September 7 - A pair of suicide bombers attacked a top army officer in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta on Wednesday, missing him but killing his wife. At least 22 others died, including several guards, a senior officer and two children, officials said. Police said they were investigating whether the strike was in revenge for the recent arrests in Quetta of three top al-Qaeda suspects, an operation that was assisted by the CIA. But within hours, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and a spokesman for the group said Brig. Khurram Shahzad, the deputy head of the region's Frontier Corps, was targeted because of an incident several months ago that left five people dead at a checkpoint in the city. In Wednesday's blasts, the first attacker detonated his vehicle next to a group of Frontier Corps officers close to Shahzad's house. Hurling grenades, the second attacker than stormed the house and blew himself up inside it, police officer Naseer Ahmed Kurd said. [More>>indianexpresss.com]
9.07.11 Karachi violence: Wasan says 42 target killers arrested
KARACHI, Pakistan, September 7 - Sindh Home Minister, Manzoor Wasan said Wednesday that 42 target killers have been arrested during the surgical operations carried out by the law enforcement agencies in the city, Geo News reported. He added that after the orders from the Supreme Court, six judges had been appointed to special courts. Speaking to the media, he said the SC's suo moto notice of the Karachi situation was a good thing but similar action could have also been taken in different provinces. Without mentioning Zulfiqar Mirza's name, Wasan said why was the release of target killers over the past three years not mentioned earlier. He added that Mirza's resignations from two posts had been accepted and the party would make the rest of the decisions. [>thenews.com.pk]
9.07.11 Heavy gunfire in central, north Syria; 11 killed
(AP) September 7 - Syrian security forces unleashed a barrage of gunfire on Wednesday, killing at least 11 people and leaving thousands cowering in their homes. President Bashar Assad’s troops kept up the government’s assault on a 6-month-old uprising, activists and witnesses said. Nine of the dead were in Homs, a hotbed of opposition to Assad’s autocratic regime. Two others were shot dead during raids in Sarameen, in northern Syria. In a step the opposition says shows the regime is intractable, a planned visit by the Arab League secretary general Wednesday to push Assad to make major concessions to defuse the crisis was called off at the last minute at the government’s request. Arab League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Heli told reporters in Egypt that Elaraby will now visit Damascus on Saturday. He said the decision was made in a phone call between Elaraby and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. For days, security forces have been pursuing activists and anti-government protesters in Homs, part of a ferocious crackdown on the most serious challenge to the 40-year Assad dynasty. The UN says more than 2,200 people have died in nearly six months of protests. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
9.07.11 Israel security forces foil multiple terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, arrest dozens of Hamas militants
September 7 - Shin Bet security service intercepts explosive after it was smuggled to Jerusalem, it emerges Wednesday; dozens of Hamas militants operating in 13 separate cells arrested by security forces. The Israeli Shin Bet security service foiled a suicide terrorist attack last month in Jerusalem, it emerged Wednesday. An explosive belt was seized only 24 hours before the planned attack, after it was already smuggled into Jerusalem. The interception of the planned attack was part of a large-scale operation by the Shin Bet, the IDF and the police against the Hamas military infrastructure in the West Bank and Jerusalem. During the operation, dozens of Hamas militants — operating in alleged 13 separate cells — were arrested. The main cell charged with carrying out the attack was based in Hebron. The cell was in touch with the Hamas headquarters in Syria, and the date of the attack was set for August 21. The planned attack involved a fire extinguisher which contained six kilograms of explosives. The device was supposed to be carried by a suicide bomber in a bus or a mall in the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood in Jerusalem.
The same cell was responsible for the March 23 attack in the central bus station in Jerusalem, where Mary Jean Gardner, a British tourist, was killed, and 47 other people were injured. The Shin Bet has recently noted significant attempts to restore Hamas' military infrastructure in the West Bank and execute terrorist attacks. The main goal, according to estimates, is kidnapping a soldier in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners. Another terrorist cell exposed by the Shin Bet was operated from within Ketziot prison. The group included about twenty militants, whose prime objective was to kidnap an IDF soldier for bargaining purposes. Yet another cell that has been arrested recently operated from Hebron under directions from Hamas leadership in Gaza. The cell's objective was also to kidnap an IDF soldier, smuggle him into the Sinai and then back through the tunnels to the Gaza Strip. The head of the cell, Ahmad Madhoun, aged 44 from Hebron, received 10,000 dollars on a visit to Saudi Arabia to purchase weapons for the operation. [>haaretz.com]
9.07.11 Japan firm creates radiation-detecting plastic
(AFP) September 7 - Japan's Teijin Chemicals Limited said Wednesday it had created a plastic that emits a blue light when exposed to radioactivity, which it says will lead to cheaper radiation detectors. It said it will soon produce a commercial version of the polyester resin — named Scintirex and developed in collaboration with two universities — enabling researchers and firms to create cheap detectors and medical devices. Scintirex "will help to reduce the total cost of radiation detectors by slashing the production cost of scintillators to one tenth or less of current levels," the company said in a statement. A scintillator is the core of a radiation detector. A 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami in Japan in March triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago, with radiation leaking into the air, soil and sea from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes and exports of certain foods halted amid radiation fears. [>france24.com]
9.07.11 Web security certificates stopped over Iranian hacking fears
September 7 - A major provider of website authentication has stopped issuing new security certificates on fears it may have been hacked as part of a mass spying operation in Iran. GlobalSign, based in Belgium, took the action after a pseudonymous hacker said he had breached its security. "ComodoHacker" made the claim in a web posting that also claimed responsibility for a verified attack on DigiNotar, a smaller SSL certificate authority. According to a report prepared for the Dutch government, that security breach exposed the private emails, Facebook messages and more than 300,000 Iranians to spying. In a statement on Wednesday, GlobalSign said it had stopped issuing new certificates as a precaution. "GlobalSign takes this claim very seriously and is currently investigating," it said. "As a responsible [certificate authority], we have decided to temporarily cease issuance of all certificates until the investigation is complete."
SSL certificates are used by websites to validate that the traffic they exchange with users is properly encrypted. In their attack on DigiNotar, hackers issued themselves with more than 500 forgeries for websites including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, potentially allowing them to read all incoming and outgoing messages. Analysis of who used the forged certificates strongly indicated the attack targeted Iranian internet users. During the month they were in circulation, DigiNotar, a small certificate authority which mainly authenticates Dutch websites, saw a spike in traffic from Iran. In a sinister twist, the list of websites for which the hackers issued forged certificates also include those of the CIA, Mossad, and MI6, as well as that of the Tor Project, an organization that makes software often used by political dissidents. To exploit the forgeries most effectively, the hackers would also have needed control of Iranian telecoms, which has prompted speculation the spying operation was ordered by the government in Tehran. [More>>telegraph.co.uk]
9.07.11 Cuba launches world's first vaccine against lung cancer
HAVANA, Cuba (Xinhua) September 7 - Cuban medical authorities have launched the sales of the world's first therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer, local officials said on Tuesday. The CimaVax-EGF vaccine, as a result of a 25-year research into diseases related to tobacco smoking, has been developed by researchers and scientists at the Center of Molecular Immunology (CIM) in Havana. The active drug ingredient in the vaccine is based on "a protein we all have when cancer is uncontrolled." "The epidermal growth factor is related to all cell proliferation," said Gisela Gonzalez, head researcher of the project. "The drug could turn the cancer into a manageable, chronic disease by generating antibodies against the proteins which triggered the uncontrolled cell proliferation," she said. The immunogenic vaccine is appropriate to patients with advanced lung cancer in stages of three and four, showing no positive response to other kinds of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the expert said. "It is not possible to prevent the disease but this vaccine improves significantly the status of the critically ill patients," she added. She said the CimaVax-EGF has gone through clinical studies and trials in over 1,000 patients across the island and is currently distributed free of charge in all hospitals of the Caribbean island nation. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
9.06.11 US markets drop sharply after big global sell-off
September 6 - Concerns about the debt crisis in Europe and global economic growth propelled financial markets downward on Tuesday as investors in the United States returned from a three-day weekend. Wall Street took a tumble at the opening of trading Tuesday, taking cues from markets in Europe and Asia. Analysts said that the drop, which hit financial stocks particularly hard, was a carry-over from last week’s disappointing unemployment report in the United States and from news that major American banks were facing a federal lawsuit related to their handling of mortgage securities. In the United States, economic data was scrutinized for any signs of strength in the country’s recovery. The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that the services sector of the nation’s economy expanded in August, the 21st consecutive month it has done so, as reflected in the 53.3 reading on the I.S.M. index, although the expansion in some sectors like business activity were slowing down. The survey exceeded forecasts assembled by Bloomberg News that pointed to a 51 reading. A reading of 50 is meant to be the dividing line between an expanding and a contracting economy. Just past noon, the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 stocks was down 1.9 percent, or 214.56 points, to 11,025.70. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index lost 1.9 percent, and the Nasdaq composite fell 1.7 percent. The losses were reminiscent of those on Friday, when the Labor Department reported zero job growth in the United States economy in August. [More>>nytimes.com; See also,
bbc.co.uk, September 6, "Shares fall on eurozone debt and world economy fears" : US and European shares have both fallen as concerns continue about the high level of eurozone debt, as well as the risk of a return to recession on both sides of the Atlantic. Wall Street's main Dow Jones index was down 1.9%, while France's Cac fell 1.1% and Germany's Dax closed 1% lower. In London, the FTSE 100 index bucked the trend, rising 1.1%. Banking stocks again notched up the biggest declines amid fears over their exposure to eurozone national debt. Meanwhile the troubled euro, which has been falling in recent days, received a temporary boost after Switzerland announced it was pegging the Swiss franc to the euro in an attempt to weaken its currency. The franc has been strengthening in response to the recent financial turmoil in the eurozone, as some investors consider it a relatively safe currency. The euro rose 2 cents against the dollar to $1.4286 after the announcement, and from 87.5p to 88.2p against sterling, although it later fell back against both currencies.
9.06.11 Libyan convoys in Niger, may be Gaddafi deal
BEBNGHAZI, Libya / AGADEZ, Niger (Reuters) September 6 - Scores of Libyan army vehicles have crossed the desert frontier into Niger in what may be a dramatic, secretly negotiated bid by Muammar Gaddafi to seek refuge in a friendly African state, military sources from France and Niger told Reuters on Tuesday. The Libyan rebels who overthrew Gaddafi two weeks ago said they also thought about a dozen other vehicles that crossed the remote border were carrying gold and cash apparently looted from a branch of Libya's central bank in Gaddafi's home town. The military sources said a convoy of between 200 and 250 vehicles was escorted to the northern city of Agadez by the army of Niger, a poor and landlocked former French colony. It might, according to a French military source, be joined by Gaddafi en route for adjacent Burkina Faso, which has offered him asylum. France, Niger and Burkina Faso, as well as Libya's new rulers and NATO, all denied knowing where Gaddafi was or of any deal to let him go abroad or find refuge from Libyans and the International Criminal Court who want to put him on trial...Niger's foreign minister, Bazoum Mohamed, was quoted by Al Arabiya television saying that Gaddafi was not in the convoy, which arrived late on Monday. An aide to French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: :"We have no specific information that would indicate that Gaddafi is there." But those comments did not contradict a French military source who said the 69-year-old fugitive and his son and heir Saif al-Islam might join the convoy later to head for Burkina. [Full story>>thestar.com.my; See also,
khaleejtimes.com (AFP) September 6, "Niger denies Gaddafi asylum" : WISHTATA, Libya - Libya’s new authorities launched a fresh bid Tuesday to stave off a battle in Bani Walid, one of Muammar Gaddafi’s last bastions, as Niger denied the toppled strongman fled across its border...“We can confirm that around 200 cars crossed from Libya to Niger, but we can’t confirm who was in this convoy,” Jalal al-Gallal, the NTC spokesman in the Libyan capital, told AFP. But Niger’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum was adamant the ousted Libyan leader was not in the convoy. "It is not true, it is not Gaddafi and I do not think the convoy was of the size attributed to it," he told AFP by phone from Algiers. "The truth is that several people, of varying importance, arrived in Niger. That’s it, there are no high-profile figures, certainly not Gaddafi himself nor any of his sons," Bazoum said. He said the only officials in the convoy were Libyan TV executives. When asked whether Gaddafi was welcome in Niger, the minister said that decision was the presidency’s but added: "Gaddafi in Niger could cause some problems." Neighboring Burkina Faso, another regime with close ties to Gaddafi which has not ruled out offering him shelter, was elusive when addressing reports the convoy was heading to Ouagadougou...
abcnews.go.com (AP) September 6, "Niger: Gaddafi security chief enters capital" : Senior members of Muammar Gaddafi's regime crossed in convoys from Libya into neighboring Niger on Tuesday, with the toppled Libyan leader's own security chief at the head of one of the columns as it rolled into the capital, officials said. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said some senior members of the Gaddafi regime were in the convoy that reached Niger. "But we do not believe that Gaddafi was among them," she told reporters. "We don't have any evidence that Gaddafi is anywhere but in Libya at the moment." The US had no evidence to suggest that Gaddafi family members were in the group, either, she said. Nuland said the US has urged Niger authorities to detain any individuals who may be subject to prosecution in Libya; confiscate their weapons; and impound any state property — such as money or jewels — that were illegally taken out of the country. Customs official Harouna Ide told the AP that Mansour Dao, Gaddafi's security chief, was at the head of the first convoy. He said other Libyan convoys were south of Agadez in central Niger, a desert country bordering Libya and where Gaddafi has the support of many Tuareg tribal fighters...
9.06.11 Thousands evacuated as wilfire destroys more than 1,000 homes in Texas
September 6 - More than 1,000 homes have burned in at least 57 wildfires across rain-starved Texas, most of them in one devastating blaze close to Austin that's still raging out of control, officials said Tuesday. The Texas Forest Service said nearly 600 of the torched homes were in Bastrop County, some 25 miles from Austin. The agency said that blaze was still uncontained Tuesday. Fanned in part by howling winds from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, the blaze rapidly grew Tuesday to at least 30,000 acres. [More>>foxnews.com]
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