10.20.05 Romanian prisoner sues God
ATHENS (RIA Novosti) October 18 A prisoner in a Romanian jail is suing God, Greek state television reported from Bucharest Tuesday. "God received different material valuables from me, as well as prayers in exchange for promises of a better life. In reality, this did not happen - I found myself in the devil's hands," the plaintiff said. The convict is serving 20 years in the west Romanian city of Timisoara. He apparently blames God for the troubles in his life and wants God brought to account for failing to fulfill the commitments He undertook and for taking bribes.
The plaintiff said that when he had been baptized in childhood, he concluded a contract with God that had legal effect - God was supposed to protect him from evil.
The plaintiff said the Romanian Orthodox Church, which, according to him, directly represents God, should compensate him for the alleged God-inflicted damage. In line with the law, the lawsuit was submitted to court. However, as the defendant is neither an individual nor a company, and is not subject to a civil court of law's jurisdiction, the case is unlikely to be heard regardless of how justified the plaintiff's demands may be, court officials said. [rian.ru ; See another story (reported by many newspapers), expressindia.com and theaustralian.news.com.au, "Astrologer survives 'death.'". God seems to have been receiving bad press recently. See an earlier story recorded by Maravot News, "Some Christians say Katrina was God's handiwork."]
10.20.05 Booking Day for Tom Delay
RICHMOND, Texas (CBS/AP) October 20 Rep. Tom DeLay was ordered to appear at the sheriff's office in his home county of Fort Bend for booking on state conspiracy and money laundering charges. A state court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for DeLay and set an initial $10,000 bail, a routine step before the Texas Republican's first court appearance Friday in Austin. Fort Bend County Chief Deputy Craig Brady said arrangements were being made to bring DeLay to the sheriff's office sometime Thursday, though no time has been set for him to report. [More>>cbsnews.com; See updated story, Associated Press, ap.org, "Delay appears in Houston for Booking."]
10.20.05 Rice refuses to rule out attack on Syria
October 20 The United States on Wednesday refused to rule out possible military action against Syria but said it had not exhausted diplomatic moves to get Damascus to change its ways over Iraq and Lebanon. The remarks made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came as Egypt's foreign minister warned against turning Syria or Lebanon into a new focus of tension in the Middle East.
Addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rice said both Syria and Iran were allowing fighters and military assistance to reach insurgents in Iraq. "Syria and Iran must decide whether they wish to side with the cause of war or with the cause of peace," Rice told a hearing called to discuss U.S. strategy in Iraq. Pressed by senators over whether the Bush administration was planning military action against Syria in particular, Rice said the United States was still on a "diplomatic course" with Damascus but the military option remained open. "The president never takes any option off the table and he shouldn't," said Rice when asked about a military option. [More>>dailystar.com.lb]
10.20.05 Saddam nephew arrested in Baghdad
October 20 Yasir Sabhawi Ibrahim, son of Saddam's half brother Sabhawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, was arrested on Wednesday in a Baghdad apartment by Iraqi police after Syrian authorities forced him to return to Iraq several days earlier, the officials said on condition of anonymity as they were unauthorised to speak to the media. Ibrahim allegedly funded the insurgency against US-led forces in Iraq. "He is the most dangerous man in the insurgency," said one of the officials who works as a coordinator between Iraqi authorities and the US military intelligence in the war-ravaged country. [More>>aljazeera.net]
10.20.05 US investigates 'Taleban burnings' in Afghanistan
KABUL (AP) October 20 The US military said on Wednesday it found ³repugnant² and would investigate a television report that claimed US soldiers in Afghanistan burned the bodies of two Taleban fighters and then used the action to taunt other militants. Afghanistanıs government demanded that those responsible be punished and top Islamic clerics warned that anti-American demonstrations may break out.
Australiaıs SBS television network broadcast video footage that purportedly showed US soldiers burning the bodies of the suspected Taleban fighters in the hills outside the southern village of Gonbaz, near the former Taleban stronghold of Kandahar. The network said the footage was taken by a freelance journalist, Stephen Dupont, who told The Associated Press he was embedded with the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the US Army earlier this month. Dupont said the burnings happened on Oct. 1. In the footage, which was seen by the AP, two soldiers who spoke with American accents later read taunting messages that the SBS said were broadcast to the village, which was believed to be harboring Taleban soldiers. Dupont said the soldiers responsible for the taunting messages were part of a US Army psychological operations unit. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story, independent.co.uk, "Afghanistan launches own investigation into 'Taleban burnings.'"]
10.20.05 Top al-Qaeda leader killed
BAGHDAD, October 20 US forces killed 12 militants in western Iraq including an al-Qaeda leader responsible for attacks around Ramadi, a focus of the Sunni Arab insurgency, the US military said overnight. A statement said Sa'ad Ali Firas Muntar al-Dulaimi, also known as Abu Abdullah, was among 12 people killed in a series of October 15 raids on suspected insurgents in Ramadi, about 110km west of Baghdad.
The statement said Dulaimi was "highly regarded" by top al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq including the group's chief, Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. "(Dulaimi) was chiefly responsible for planning and executing all terrorist attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces in the Ramadi and Falluja areas," the statement said. Ramadi and Falluja in western Anbar province are both bastions of Sunni Arab insurgents who have waged a bloody campaign of bombings, murders and kidnappings against the US-backed Baghdad government. [More>>theaustralian.news.com]
10.20.05 Pakistan quake relief situation worse than tsunami: UN
GENEVA (AFP) October 20 The UNıs top relief official warned on Thursday that the shortfall in aid for victims of the earthquake in Pakistan made the situation worse than after the Indian Ocean tsunami last year. ³This is not enough. We have never had this kind of logistical nightmare ever. We thought the tsunami was the worst we could get. This is worse,² Jan Egeland, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator told journalists.
Egeland said at least half a million people in Pakistani Kashmir were still out of reach in the mountainous region following the 7.6 magnitude earthquake some two weeks ago. The international community needed to set up a ³second Berlin airlift², he added, referring to a western air shuttle that overcame the blockade of the German city in the late 1940s. An estimated three million people were without useable homes and in need of shelter, while about 67,000 people were seriously injured, according to the UN official. The UN says there have been 48,000 confirmed deaths. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories, jang.com.pk, "Bagh, Pakistan facing epidemic scare." and independent.co.uk, "India and Pakistan unite as death toll approaches 80,000."]
10.20.05 Press freedom: European nations lead, US slips
PARIS (Agencies) October 20 European countries lead the world in providing press freedoms to media, while the United States has lost ground due mainly to the jailing earlier this year of a New York Times reporter, an international media advocacy group said in an annual report. India is ranked at 106, up from last yearıs 120. North Korea retained the last spot on the 167-country World Press Freedom Index for 2005 to be published today by Reporters Without Borders. Among the other black holesı for media are Eritrea (166th) and Turkmenistan (165th), the group said in an advance statement.
Iraq was 157th on the list, which said the safety of journalists became even more precarious in 2005 than the year before. A total of 72 media workers have been killed since the US-led fighting began in March 2003, with at least 24 journalists and their assistants killed this year. The United States dropped more than 20 spots to 44th place, mainly due to the imprisonment of New York Times reporter Judith Miller and judicial action that was "undermining the privacy of journalistic sources," the statement said. [More>>expressindia.com]
10.20.05 China Premier: GDP to exceed $1.85 trillion in 2005
October 20 China's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to exceed 15 trillion yuan (US$1.85 trillion) in 2005, said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Records show China's 2004 GDP stood at 13.65 trillion yuan (US$1.69 trillion). Wen was citing a figure from the National Bureau of Statistics as he addressed the Chinese Communist Party's annual plenary session last week in Beijing, which adopted the 11th five-year program for economic and social development for the coming five years. China's economy expanded at 9.5 per cent in the first half of this year and is widely expected to see only a slight slowdown in 2006. [More>>chinadaily.com.cn]
Editorial note: According to the 2004 World Almanac China's GDP in 2003 was $6.45 trillion. See "Gross Domestic Products" in the sidebar.
10.20.05 Threat to rare birds as avian flu spreads
PARIS (Reuters) October 20 Avian flu, believed to be carried south from China and Siberia by migrating wildfowl, threatens to push some of the world's rarest birds towards extinction, conservation groups said on Thursday. Experts also voiced concern that any attempts to cull wildfowl suspected of carrying the disease could simply scatter the virus more widely by driving flocks away from their normal routes, doing more harm than good. [More>>thestar.com.my; See also Maravot News, "Poultry production in the US the domestic birds that could be struck with bird flu." and aljazeera.net, "Sudan bans poultry imports."]
10.19.05 Defiant Saddam pleads not guilty, trial adjourned
BAGHDAD (Reuters) October 19 A defiant, hectoring Saddam Hussain at first refused to give his name, but then calmed down and pleaded ³not guilty² on Wednesday as his long-anticipated, televised trial for crimes against humanity began in Baghdad. After three hours of hearings in which Saddam and his seven codefendants were told of the charges against them, including murder and torture in the deaths of 148 Shia men two decades ago, the trial was quickly adjourned until Nov. 28.
Iraqıs government, struggling for popularity ahead of elections in December, had promised to meet popular demands for a trial of Saddam, and several leaders were in court to watch the proceedings as they unfolded amid intense security.
International observers, including several human rights groups, were also in the court inside Baghdadıs fortress-like Green Zone to monitor a trial some warned beforehand might end up creating the impression of ³victorıs justice." The event, broadcast around the world with a 30-minute delay, was tightly choreographed and Iraqi lawyers said it bore little similarity to usual Iraqi criminal proceedings. The court and its chief judge appeared intent on showing fairness. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories, thestar.com.my, " Judge says witnesses too scared for Saddam trial." and aljazeera.net, "Soldiers killed in Iraq attacks; al-Mansur monument toppled." and guardian.co.uk, "Alleged crimes of Saddam Hussein reports recorded by the Guardian."]
10.19.05 Declassified US documents portray Saddam as brutal survivor
WASHINGTON (AFP) October 19 Secret US documents declassified on the eve of Saddam Hussein's trial in Baghdad paint him as a cunning survivor who depended on guile and brutality to overcome challenges to his rule. But the documents, which cover a period from 1975 to 2003 while Saddam held power in Iraq, also reveal US intelligence anticipated that the dictator's overthrow could trigger sectarian divisions and leave the country vulnerable to Islamic militancy and Iranian influence.
..."Saddam possesses a strong drive for power and an exaggerated view of his own capabilities which disposes him to assess optimistically his chances of success in any venture," said a CIA document from June 1982. "Failure is a major blow to his self esteem, which places Saddam under substantial emotional stress," the CIA said. Still, the analysis concluded that "Saddam is a fundamentally pragmatic man in touch with political reality" and would likely rebound by blaming others for setbacks in Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s. Eleven years later, another CIA report echoed that sentiment in a description of a micromanager who misses little.
...However, US intelligence was unsparing in its assessment that brutal repression, often meted out through his family, was the underpinning of Saddam's long dictatorship...While carrying no dramatic revelations, the documents convey how Washington harbored fears that Iran and the Soviet Union might gain control over Iraq and its valuable oil resources.
...While always hopeful of Saddam's overthrow US agencies gave him an even chance of being toppled within three years the intelligence community nevertheless understood they would probably not know of a coup against Saddam before it happened. [Full story>>turkishpress.com]
10.18.05 Ringside with Dione
October 17 Sitting in the tranquility of space is the pale moon Dione, looking as if it's posing for a painter. The moon is set against the stunning backdrop of Saturn, adorned in gold and draped with hues of blue. The horizontal stripes near the bottom of the image are Saturn's rings. The spacecraft was nearly in the plane of the rings when the images were taken, thinning them by perspective and masking their awesome scale.
The thin, curving shadows of the C ring and part of the B ring adorn the northern latitudes visible here, a reminder of the rings' grandeur.
Speeding toward pale, icy Dione, Cassini's view is enriched by the tranquil gold and blue hues of Saturn in the distance. From jpl.nasa.gov.
It is notable that Dione, like most of the other icy Saturnian satellites, looks no different in natural color than in monochrome images.
Breathtaking views and a movie of the icy world are now available at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini .
During the Cassini spacecraft's only close flyby of the grayish moon, on Oct. 11, 2005, the spacecraft came within 500 kilometers (310 miles) of the surface.
Like most of its counterparts in the Saturnian system, Dione shows a heavily cratered surface. It has a signature style all its own that includes streaky terrains dominating one whole side of the moon. The fine latitudinal streaks appear to crosscut everything and appear to be the youngest feature type in this region of Dione. These striking cracks and fractures are caused by tectonic activity.
"Dione seems to be an older sibling of Enceladus," said Dr. Bonnie Buratti, scientist on the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We think that the cracked features of Dione may be the older version of the tiger stripes on Enceladus. Enceladus is the up-and-coming moon, complete with a recently active history, while Dione is the older, more mature moon." [More>>jpl.nasa.gov]
10.18.05 Poultry production in the US the domestic birds that could be struck with bird flu
October 18 (Maravot News) According to ers.usda.gov, updated August 10, 2005, the US poultry industry is the world's largest producer and exporter of poultry meat. US consumption of poultry meat (broilers, other chicken, and turkey) is considerably higher than either beef or pork, but less than total red meat consumption. The United States is also a major egg producer.
The poultry and egg industry is a major feed grain user, accounting for approximately 80 billion pounds of feed yearly. With about 14 percent of total poultry production being exported, the US poultry industry is heavily influenced by currency fluctuations, trade negotiations, and economic growth in its major importing markets.
Value of US Poultry and Poultry Producers from ers.usda.gov; Click on map for larger image.
Total poultry value in California from cpif.org. Click on chart for larger image.
Poultry and egg production is expected to expand in the coming years to meet higher domestic and foreign demand. The growing demand for relatively low-cost, healthy, and convenient meat products is expected to support higher domestic poultry consumption. The opening of trade due to bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations is also expected to boost demand for US poultry products.
... ERS provides information on issues affecting domestic and international broiler markets and has collected background data for researching or examining the recent incidence of avian influenza in a few domestic broiler flocks.
California's poultry industry, according to the California Poultry Federation, cpif.org, is as follows: In a state known for its huge agricultural economy, the California poultry industry has an enormous impact producing sales in excess of $2.5 billion annually, making it one of the state's agricultural leaders.
The California poultry industry provides jobs for over 25,000 people throughout the state and indirectly to tens of thousands more in affiliated industries including trucking and feed suppliers. California poultry industry employees earn more than $250 million annually, working in a variety of jobs from farm managers to processing plant workers, researchers, accountants and poultry executives.
Turkeys: California produced approximately 17.3 million turkeys in 2003, with a farm-gate value of $158 million. California ranks sixth in the nation in turkey production. About 274 million turkeys were raised in the US in 2003.*
The top five producing California counties, as a percentage of state production, are:
· Fresno, 25.2%
· Merced, 24.2%
· Kings, 18.7%
· Stanislaus, 16.1%
· Tulare, 14.9%
* (Source: USDA, Agricultural Statistics Board)
Chickens: Chicken ranks 12th among California's top 20 commodities, with a farm-gate value of $532 million in 2001, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The top producing California counties (2003, for $856,355.722, from cpif.org) are:
· Merced, 32%
· Fresno, 28%
· Stanislaus, 20%
· Sonoma, 5%
· Kings, 4%
· Tulare, 3%
· Madera, 3%
· San Joaquin, 2%
· San Bernardino, 1%
· Other, 2%
Part of the devastation experienced so far among those nations where bird flu has been confirmed involves disruption / quarantine of a region's poultry products, with the destruction of farms in the immediate vicinity of bird flu discoveries. Another effect of the bird flu would be on egg production, and eggs are used in many food products as well as by drug companies in the production of vaccines. For more on the bird flu see Maravot News: Thinking about the bird flu flyways with refueling stops in wetlands.
10.18.05 Drug company could relax its patent to help the world to cope
October 18 Roche, the worldıs only manufacturer of Tamiflu, said yesterday that it was considering granting licences to other companies to produce its antiviral drug after the emergence of avian flu in Europe. Demand for Tamiflu, the most effective antiviral drug available for bird flu, has soared as countries have hurried preparations against a possible pandemic. The British Government has ordered 14.6 million courses of Tamiflu, enough for a quarter of the population, and several countries have said that they will bypass Rocheıs patent to make their own versions of the drug.
Individuals have also started trying to stockpile the drug, prompting eBay, the internet auction site, to remove all listings for Tamiflu from its British site yesterday after bids reached more than £100 for a single dose.
Tamiflu, known generically as oseltamivir, is one of a class of treatments recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for use in the event of a flu pandemic. Roche has come under pressure from the United Nations in recent weeks to loosen its grasp on the treatmentıs patents. Companies in India and the Thai Government have already indicated that they will press ahead with Tamiflu production because they fear that Roche will not have enough left for them. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]
10.18.05 Miller, The Fourth Estate and the Warfare State
October 17 Norman Solomon is the author of the new book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. For information, go to: www.WarMadeEasy.com
More than any other New York Times reporter, Judith Miller took the lead with stories claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Now, a few years later, sheıs facing heightened scrutiny in the aftermath of a pair of articles that appeared in the Times on Sunday a lengthy investigative piece about Miller plus her own first-person account of how she got entangled in the case of the Bush administrationıs "outing" of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent.
It now seems that Miller functioned with more accountability to US military intelligence officials than to New York Times editors. Most of the way through her article , Miller slipped in this sentence, "During the Iraq war, the Pentagon had given me clearance to see secret information as part of my assignment 'embedded' with a special military unit hunting for unconventional weapons." And, according to the same article, she ultimately told the grand jury that during a July 8, 2003, meeting with the vice presidentıs chief of staff, Lewis Libby, "I might have expressed frustration to Mr. Libby that I was not permitted to discuss with editors some of the more sensitive information about Iraq."
Letıs replay that one again in slow motion:
Judith Miller is a reporter for The New York Times. After the invasion, on assignment to cover a US military unit as it searches for WMDs in Iraq, sheıs given "clearance" by the Pentagon "to see secret information" which she "was not permitted to discuss" with Times editors.
Thereıs nothing wrong with this picture if Judith Miller is an intelligence operative for the US government. But if sheıs supposed to be a journalist, this is a preposterous situation and the fact that The New York Times has tolerated it tells us a lot about that newspaper.
Notably, the front-page story about Miller in the Times on Sunday bypassed Millerıs "clearance" status and merely reported:
In the spring of 2003, Ms. Miller returned from covering the war in Iraq, where she had been embedded with an American military team searching unsuccessfully for evidence of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
In effect, during the propaganda buildup for the invasion of Iraq, while Miller was the paperıs lead reporter on weapons of mass destruction, The New York Times news department served as a key asset of the warfare state.
"WMD I got it totally wrong," the Times quoted Miller as saying in a Friday interview. "The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are wrong."
But analysts, experts and journalists were not "all wrong." Some very experienced weapons inspectors including Mohamed ElBaradei, Hans Blix and Scott Ritter challenged key assertions from the White House. Well before the invasion, many other analysts also disputed various aspects of the US governmentıs claims about WMDs in Iraq. (For examples, see archived news releases put out by my colleagues at the Institute for Public Accuracy in 2002 and early 2003.) Meanwhile, journalists at some British newspapers, including The Independent and the Guardian, raised tough questions that were virtually ignored by mainstream US reporters in the Washington press corps. [More>>tompaine.com via
Editorial note: The story was provided to Maravot News via afterdowningstreet.org along with another story, posted at afterdowningstreet.org, "Conyers and Skelton write to Rumsfeld." The letter from Senators Conyers and Skelton investigate the interesting comment by Miller of being imbedded with a clearance from the Pentagon "to see secret information." That part of the requirement for being "embedded" involved a Secret Clearance, according to Miller, posing many other questions from the Senators on the embedding of journalists in Iraq. How many other journalists were embedded with the same restrictions? Anyone possessing a DoD Classified Clearance is compelled to accept DoD censorship of what is reported. Miller, according to recent reports about her confession in the Times, was one of the Bush administration's most important journalist supporters for the invasion of Iraq. Her conversations particularly those with Libby in Cheney's hometown, when Cheney was in town curiously suggest a reporter with close ties to Cheney, at the least via Libby. These connections suggest that Miller's 85-day tour in jail to protect her sources of information may have involved her Classified Clearance. There is something seriously wrong with our government embedding reporters with a requirement to sign a clearance to maintain secrecy. The details of the Times involvement in this adventure are also curious.
10.16.05 My four hours testifying in the Federal Grand Jury room
October 16 Judith Miller posted this article in the New York Times: In July 2003, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, created a firestorm by publishing an essay in The New York Times that accused the Bush administration of using faulty intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. The administration, he charged, ignored findings of a secret mission he had undertaken for the Central Intelligence Agency - findings, he said, that undermined claims that Iraq was seeking uranium for a nuclear bomb. It was the first time Mr. Wilson had gone public with his criticisms of the White House. Yet he had already become a focus of significant scrutiny at the highest levels of the Bush administration.
Almost two weeks earlier, in an interview with me on June 23, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, discussed Mr. Wilson's activities and placed blame for intelligence failures on the C.I.A. In later conversations with me, on July 8 and July 12, Mr. Libby, who is Mr. Cheney's top aide, played down the importance of Mr. Wilson's mission and questioned his performance.
My notes indicate that well before Mr. Wilson published his critique, Mr. Libby told me that Mr. Wilson's wife may have worked on unconventional weapons at the C.I.A.
My notes do not show that Mr. Libby identified Mr. Wilson's wife by name. Nor do they show that he described Valerie Wilson as a covert agent or "operative," as the conservative columnist Robert D. Novak first described her in a syndicated column published on July 14, 2003. (Mr. Novak used her maiden name, Valerie Plame.)
This is what I told a federal grand jury and the special counsel investigating whether administration officials committed a crime by leaking Ms. Plame's identity and the nature of her job to reporters...As I told the grand jury, I recalled Mr. Libby's frustration and anger about what he called "selective leaking" by the C.I.A. and other agencies to distance themselves from what he recalled as their unequivocal prewar intelligence assessments. The selective leaks trying to shift blame to the White House, he told me, were part of a "perverted war" over the war in Iraq. [Full story>>nytimes.com; See also the washingtonpost.com article, "Miller gives her side of the story."]
10.18.05 Text of the draft Iraqi Constitution
October 18 update The following is the introduction to the Iraqi Constitution which appears to have been approved by a large majority of Iraqis. The Constitution has some controversial clauses, such as the clauses invoking democratic rule and Islamic Law (The Koran) as being a foundation of the nation's law. The Bill of Rights contained within the Constitution some of which would be great add-ons to the American Bill of Rights are also in large part in conflict with the Koran. Another concern in the Constitution involving the Bill of Rights is the ban against torturing prisoners which terms would expressly exclude US conventions in the treatment of prisoners.
(Translated from the Arabic by The Associated Press)
We the sons of Mesopotamia, land of the prophets, resting place of the holy imams, the leaders of civilization and the creators of the alphabet, the cradle of arithmetic: on our land, the first law put in place by mankind was written; in our nation, the most noble era of justice in the politics of nations was laid down; on our soil, the followers of the prophet and the saints prayed, the philosophers and the scientists theorized and the writers and poets created.
Recognizing God's right upon us; obeying the call of our nation and our citizens; responding to the call of our religious and national leaders and the insistence of our great religious authorities and our leaders and our reformers, we went by the millions for the first time in our history to the ballot box, men and women, young and old, on January 30 2005, remembering the pains of the despotic band's sectarian oppression of the majority; inspired by the suffering of Iraqıs martyrs - Sunni and Shiite, Arab, Kurd and Turkomen, and the remaining brethren in all communities - inspired by the injustice against the holy cities in the popular uprising and against the marshes and other places; recalling the agonies of the national oppression in the massacres of Halabja, Barzan, Anfal and against the Faili Kurds; inspired by the tragedies of the Turkomen in Bashir and the suffering of the people of the western region, whom the terrorists and their allies sought to take hostage and prevent from participating in the elections and the establishment of a society of peace and brotherhood and cooperation so we can create a new Iraq, Iraq of the future, without sectarianism, racial strife, regionalism, discrimination or isolation. [More>>iraqigovernment.org via defenselink.mil]
10.18.05 Iran braces for bird flu
October 19 Iran has banned bird hunting and is stocking up on flu vaccines as it braces for what officials acknowledge is a highly likely outbreak of bird flu which has already arrived at its borders. "We haven't seen a case yet, but we are extremely concerned because Iran is surrounded by the virus," Behrouz Yasemi, head of Iran's Bird Flu Committee, said.
Another 'wing' of the bird flu was just discovered in Western Siberia (See Maravot News10.17.05). Birds turning east coursing through Eastern Siberia could follow the flyways to Japan and / or Alaska. According to yesterday's news report from a local San Francisco TV station, birds from Alaska will soon be flying south where the main stops on their flyway are the wetlands of the Sacramento River in Northern California; and their next stop would be the San Francisco Bay area, a major wetlands area and refueling stop for migrating birds.
Turkish veterinary teams have killed more than 8000 turkeys, chickens and geese after an outbreak of the virulent H5N1 strain that has killed more than 60 people in Asia since 2003. "The danger is truly serious, because we are located on the flight path of the migrating wild birds that landed in Turkey," Mr Yasemi said.
Iran has already experienced one bird flu scare this month when almost 4000 wild ducks died in a marshland area of northwestern Iran. Tests were carried out which ruled out bird flu as the cause although the birds' deaths remain a mystery. [More>>theaustralian.news.com.au]
Editorial note (Thinking about the bird flu flyways with refueling stops in wetlands) : The bird flu has spread west from China and South East Asia into Siberia, east of the Urals in Russia, where it then jumped to Turkey, Romania, possibly Bulgaria (re: bbc.co.uk, with map), and now Greece and Iran. The Caspian Sea is a major fueling stop for migratory birds on their way to Iraq; from Iraq some flocks head to Africa.
Birds from Alaska also follow flyways across Canada and down into the US to take advantage of the rich wetlands and grains in America's breadbasket and another flyway on the East Coast. Many of the migrations continue to Central and South America.
Other migratory routes lead through Iran to the wetlands of Southern Iraq; others from Northern Europe to Israel, the bridge to Africa. In a matter of weeks, as the snow begins to fall in the Northern Latitudes, birds possibly carrying bird flu will be arriving in the Middle East, Africa and North America.
This appears to be what those on the frontline of the bird flu migration are facing, though I am no expert on bird migrations and the experts should be consulted on the matter. While there is a threat of a human pandemic from the bird flu, we do face the reality that both domestic and wild fowl are deeply involved in a pandemic, resulting in culling of hundreds of thousands of birds. Where the bird flu is detected the infected areas are quarantined and the birds are culled, destroying the livelihoods of many farmers.
See related article, thestar.com.my, "Scientists say bird flu cases back migration theory."
10.18.05 Iran sends Saddam charges to Iraq
October 18 Iran has sent a list of charges against the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to the Iraqi government, a day before his trial is to begin in Baghdad.
Iran says its indictment includes charges of genocide and the use of chemical weapons.
Saddam Hussein is to appear in court on charges related to the deaths of 143 people in the town of Dujail in 1982.
The former dictator and his seven codefendants could face the death penalty if convicted.
A spokesman for the Iranian judiciary, Jamal Karimirad, said the petition of charges was filed through diplomatic channels to the Baghdad court where Saddam goes on trial on Wednesday.
The charges have not been fully revealed, but he said they were connected to the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, which left more than one million dead.
"The invasion of Iran in 1980 was definitely one of the crimes committed by Saddam. We want the court to investigate the charges brought by Iranian people," Mr. Karimirad told a press conference. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
10.18.05 Saddam Hussein's family sits in exile, scattered across the Arab world
AMMAN, Jordan (AFP) October 18 When Saddam Hussein's "throne" crumbled after the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003, two of his sons were killed in the conflict and the rest of his closely-knit family was scattered across the Arab world. Throughout his rule, Saddam made it a point of honor to underscore the importance of family life in his public speeches, but he also fiercely protected his privacy from the public eye.
Even after he married three other women, Saddam never divorced his first wife, Sajida. Sajida was his cousin and the daughter of his uncle, Khairallah Tulfah, who took young Saddam under his wing along with his widowed mother. Saddam and Sajida had five children- sons Odai and Qusai who were killed by US troops in July 2003 and three daughters, Raghad, Rana and Hala. The five are the only offsprings who officially carry Saddam's name.
Another son, Ali, born of his marriage with Samira Shahbandar in 1982, had always been considered a taboo topic and journalists who dared mention his name faced death threats. Saddam had fallen madly in love with Samira and forced her to divorce her husband, the then director of Iraqi Airways, Noureddine Safi. Ali, now 22, fled Iraq with his mother following the 2003 invasion. They went first to Lebanon before settling in Canada. As the US-led attack grew imminent, Saddam ordered his family members to safe havens outside Iraq and gave them money to help them start a new life. [More>>dailystar.com.lb]