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10.26.10 Afghanistan, Iraq among world's most corrupt nations, says NGO
October 26 - Iraq and Afghanistan came near the top of a global list of perceived corruption published by watchdog Transparency International (TI), despite efforts to stamp out graft in the war-torn nations. Nearly three-quarters of the 178 countries in TI's annual survey scored worse than average on the scale, which ranges from zero (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption). "The results indicate a serious corruption problem," the Berlin-based anti-sleaze body said. "Allowing corruption to continue is unacceptable. Too many poor and vulnerable people continue to suffer its consequences around the world," said TI's president Huguette Labelle. "There should be nowhere to hide for the corrupt or their money."
10.26.10 China unveils Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed railway; eyes network extension
SHANGHAI/HANGZHOU, October 26 - High-speed trains began traveling between the eastern Chinese cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou Tuesday morning, the latest milestone in China's effort to build the world's fastest rail network. Two bullet trains equipped with China's CRH380A system simultaneously took off at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday from Shanghai's Hongqiao Station and from Hangzhou Station. Trains on the line will travel at an average speed of 350 kilometers per hour, shortening the trip between to 45 minutes from 78 minutes. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
10.26.10 Indonesia tsunami deaths increase after Sumatra quake
October 26 - More than 100 people have been killed and many are missing after a tsunami triggered by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Scores of houses were destroyed by waves after the 7.7 magnitude quake, which struck 20km (13 miles) under the ocean floor near the Mentawai islands. Ten villages on the islands were swept away by the tsunami, a disaster official told the AFP news agency. Damage and rough weather are delaying efforts to reach the affected area. Hendri Dori Satoko, a lawmaker in the Mentawai islands, told Metro TV: "Our latest data from crisis centre showed that 108 people have been killed and 502 are still missing." [More>>bbc.co.uk; See also guardian.co.uk, October 26, "Indonesia tsunami death toll rises."]
10.26.10 More than 1,200 new species found in Amazon
October 26 - More than 1,200 new species of plants and animals have been discovered in the Amazon over the last decade, including bald parrots and tiger-striped tarantulas. The South American rainforest has secured its reputation as one of the most diverse places on Earth thanks to the discovery of 637 new plants, 257 fish, 216 amphibians, 55 reptiles, 16 birds and 39 mammals since 1999. The World Wildlife Fund's Amazon Alive! report details bright red species of catfish that are totally blind, a frog with markings that look like a burst of flames and a colorful parrot with a completely bald head. A new species of pink river dolphin has been identified in Bolivia, and a tarantula with five "tiger stripes" on its back was found in Brazil. [More>>news.sky.com]
10.26.10 Chavez orders expropriation of Owens-Illinois
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) October 26 - Venezuela's president did not detail his complaints about the company but said it is "Taking away the money of Venezuelans." Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Monday ordered the expropriation of US-based glass maker Owens-Illinois Inc.'s unit in the South American country. Chavez announced plans to expropriate the company in a televised speech, saying it operates in western Trujillo state. The leftist leader criticized the company's practices in the country, saying it had been "taking away the money of Venezuelans" and exploiting local people. Chavez did not detail his complaints about the company. There was no immediate reaction from the company, based in Perrysburg, Ohio. Owens-Illinois also has operations throughout Latin America in Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and the Caribbean, focusing on the manufacture of glass containers. [More>>cbsnews.com]
10.26.10 Yemen recruits tribesmen to hunt al-Qaeda
SANAA, Yemen (AP) October 25 - The Yemeni government has begun a new experiment in fighting al-Qaeda, paying off tribes and providing them with weapons to hunt down militants, officials said Monday. The tactic resembles the US military's policy of persuading Sunni tribes in Iraq to turn against al-Qaeda and form armed "Awakening Councils" to fight the insurgents, an effort that had major success in tamping down the terror group's offshoot there. But it is far more tenuous in Yemen, where powerful tribes frequently shift loyalties and often have branches that support al-Qaeda militants. Yemeni opponents of the policy cast doubt on whether it will be effective and warn that it could further destabilize the situation by fueling infighting among tribes. [More>>alarabiya.net; See related story,
10.26.10 Iraq sentences Tariq Aziz to death
BAGHDAD, October 26 - Tariq Aziz, a former top aide to Saddam Hussein, was sentenced to death by an Iraqi court on Tuesday for crimes against members of rival Shiite political parties. The ruling was the latest in a series of criminal cases against Mr. Aziz, 74, whose frequent media appearances and travels abroad made him the bespectacled face of Mr. Hussein's regime. For years, Mr. Aziz served as a staunch and public defender of Mr. Hussein before the American-led invasion of 2003. [More>>nytimes.com]
10.26.10 'Syria helped Hezbollah amass some 40,000 missiles'
October 26 - Le Figaro details guerilla group's military structure, and describes how weapons are transferred from Damascus into Lebanon. Hezbollah, Lebanon's Iran- and Syria-backed guerilla organization that became a key player in the Beirut government, has amassed some 40,000 missiles, the French daily Le Figaro reported Monday, saying that Damascus had a major role in replenishing the group's arsenal after its 2006 war with Israel. The report also shed new light on the structure of Hezbollah's military wing. Le Figaro cited the United States as having observed that alliance in January, when its radar spotted 26 missiles M-6002 in the area between Damascus and Syria's border with Lebanon. According to Le Figaro, Hezbollah has to date more than 10,000 fighters, and that its weapons transport system is divided into three units: Unit 108 is responsible for transferring weapons and ammunition from Damascus to Hezbollah bases on the Lebanon border and near the Syrian airport; next comes Unit 112, which transports the weapons from those bases into Lebanon; third is Unit 100, which deals with deployment and training. [More>>haaretz.com]
10.25.10 Largest-ever solar project ok'd in California
WASHINGTON (AP) October 25 - Project developers say at peak output the solar farm could generate enough electricity to power more than 300,000 homes. The Obama administration is set to announce approval of a thousand-megawatt solar project on federal land in southern California, the largest in a series of solar projects given the go-ahead in recent weeks. The Interior Department has approved a permit for what will be the world's biggest solar power plant, on federal land in the desert near Blythe, California, 225 miles east of Los Angeles, according to Obama administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made. The $6 billion project is being developed by Solar Millennium, a German solar developer. At peak output, the solar farm could generate enough clean electricity to power more than 300,000 homes, according to project developers. [>cbsnews.com]
10.25.10 Mexican officials ID 13 people killed in Tijuana drug rehab center
MEXICO CITY, Mexico, October 25 - Mexican officials have identified 13 people killed Sunday night in a Tijuana drug rehabilitation center, the state-run news agency said Monday. Four heavily armed men stormed into the Centro de Rehabilitacion El Camino and opened fire, the Notimex news agency said. The reported ages of those killed ranged from 19 to 56 years old. The assailants escaped in a vehicle, the news agency said. The dead were identified as: Irineo Godinez Garcia, 47; Antonio Mesa Contreras, 56; Bernabe Alvarez Piceno, 35; Jose Lopez Sauceda, 28; Fabian Gonzalez Zea, 19; Juan Daniel Casi Esquer, 32; Wilson Ramírez Pena, 42; Joaquin García Hernandez, 39; Jorge Palacio Goya, 37; Pedro Villegas, 30; Juan Roberto Sanchez Ortega, 30; Edwin Vargas Avila, 33; and Salvador Bustos, 30.
10.25.10 Bomb blast at Sufi shrine in Pakistan kills 6, injures 16
ISLAMABAD, October 23 - In the ongoing series of attacks against the followers of Sufi tradition, the suspected hardline extremists exploded a bomb at the gate of a revered Islamic shrine in Pakpattan, 190 kilometers south of Lahore, killing six people, three of them women, and injuring 16 others. The explosion took place at the shrine of the twelfth century Sufi saint of the Chishti order of South Asia, Baba Farid Ganjshakar, shortly after the morning prayers, when worshipers were leaving the site, police said. Recognized as a great poet of the Punjabi language, Baba Farid is revered by Muslims Sikhs and Hindus. He is also considered to be one of the fifteen Sikh Bhagats within Sikhism and his selected works form part of the Guru Granth Sahib.
10.25.10 NATO raids kill at least 25 people in Helmand
KANDAHAR, Pakistan, October 23 - NATO warplanes bombed a village in Helmand on Monday, destroying a mosque, damaging homes and killing at least 25 people. Helmand provincial council chief Fazal Bari said that the toll in Maigan village would rise because many bodies were still buried in the rubble. NATO officials confirmed the air strike on the small settlement in Baghran district, asserting that it had targeted "a senior Taliban facilitator." Distraught residents said that scores of civilians had died in the attack, including a 10-year-old child. Eyewitness Salah Ayap said: "People are very angry." Mr. Ayap reported that Western troops raided the village at around 2am, sparking a fierce gunfight that was brought to an abrupt end by the NATO blitz. Only two walls and one small room of the large mosque were left standing and nearby homes had been damaged, Mr. Ayap said...Mr. Karzai raised eyebrows on Monday when he revealed that he receives $700,000 to $975,000 (£450,000-£620,000) "once or twice a year" from Iran for "official presidential expenses." He said the US has known about the Iranian assistance for years and that Washington also gives the palace "bags of money." [Full story>>thenews.com.pk; See related stories,
10.25.10 Files show al-Qaeda's grip on Iraq
October 25 - Leaked documents show how al-Qaeda arrived in Iraq after the US military overthrew Saddam's government. "If you're asking, are there al-Qaeda in Iraq, the answer is yes, there are. It's a fact, yes." Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defence, August 2002. It was one of the key American justifications for the Iraq war. But the theory that al-Qaeda was present in Saddam-era Iraq, much cited by the Bush administration in the run-up to the invasion, has been undermined by the content of secret US military documents. The files contain only half a dozen references to the group for the whole of 2004, the year records begin. But under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian who had met Osama bin Laden while fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the classified reports show that al-Qaeda established itself as major player in the carnage as the conflict wore on.
10.25.10 Pakistani clerics issue death decree against Musharraf
ISLAMABAD, October 24 - A grand assembly of Islamic scholars in Pakistan has issued a death decree against former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf, requiring him to be killed under Islamic laws for his crimes against humanity and Islam. The decree holds Musharraf, who is currently living in self-exile in London, as a “criminal of Islam and Pakistan” liable to be killed by any Muslim whosoever finds him. In addition to that, a reward money of $1.3 million was also announced by Nawab Talal Akbar Bugti, the chief of the Bugti tribe in Pakistan's eastern province of Balochistan, whose father Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed in a 2006 military operation launched by Gen. Musharraf to crush his political opponents. The religious decree (fatwa) was issued by around 50 noted scholars from all schools of thought who converged on the invitation of Bugti in his hometown in Balochistan.
10.25.10 US to build £8 billion super base on Pacific island of Guam
October 25 - The US is building an £8 billion super military base on the Pacific island of Guam in an attempt to contain China's military build-up. The expansion will include a dock for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a missile defence system, live-fire training sites and the expansion of the island's airbase. It will be the largest investment in a military base in the western Pacific since the Second World War, and the biggest spend on naval infrastructure in decades. However, Guam residents fear the build-up could hurt their ecosystem and tourism-dependent economy. Estimates suggest that the island's population will rise by almost 50 per cent from its current 173,000 at the peak of construction. It will eventually house 19,000 Marines who will be relocated from the Japanese island of Okinawa, where the US force has become unpopular. The US's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that this could trigger serious water shortages. The EPA said that dredging the harbour to allow an aircraft carrier to berth would damage 71 acres of pristine coral reefs. [More>>telegraph.co.uk]
10.22.10 Turkish police arrest 5 suspected of al-Qaeda ties
October 22 - Group leader was part of anti-US insurgency in Afghanistan; another designed a computer program to jam flight controls of unmanned aircraft. Turkish police arrested five students who allegedly aided al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Reuters reported on Friday. The five men were reportedly taken to court on Friday after being arrested two days earlier. The group's leader had been arrested before, and was part of the insurgency against US troops in Afghanistan. Another suspect, Reuters reported, is a 23-year-old mathematics student who reportedly made bombs and designed computer programs that jam flight controls of unmanned aircraft.
10.22.10 Death toll in Peshawar blast climbs to five
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, October 22 - The death toll from a blast at a mosque in Chatto Laar, Pishtakhara has risen to five as two critical injured succumbed to their wounds in the evening at hospital, police informed. Initially three persons had lost their lives when a remote control bomb, planted besides one of the mosque's pillar exploded soon after the Juma prayers. Police present at the hospital informed that two more persons have died of their injuries taking the death toll to five with 22 others injured, some critically. [>thenews.com.pk]
10.22.10 NOAA: Arctic changes are affecting climate elsewhere
October 22 - The Arctic's warming trend is beginning to affect the climate farther south, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said this week in its annual Arctic Report Card. "There is evidence that the effect of higher air temperatures in the lower Arctic atmosphere in fall is contributing to changes in the atmospheric circulation in both the Arctic and northern mid-latitudes," wrote the report's authors, a team of 69 international scientists. Extreme cold and big snowfalls can be blamed on the Arctic changes, according to NOAA. "Beyond affecting the humans and wildlife that call the area home, the Arctic's warmer temperatures and decreases in permafrost, snow cover, glaciers and sea ice also have wide-ranging consequences for the physical and biological systems in other parts of the world," NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said. Sea ice reaches its minimum in September every year. This year's September ice cover was the third-smallest recorded since microwave satellites started taking measurements in 1979, the authors wrote. [More>>cnn.com; See related story,
10.22.10 Horror disease hits Uganda
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) October 22 - A disease whose progression and symptoms seem straight out of a horror movie but which can be treated has killed at least 20 Ugandans and sickened more than 20,000 in just two months. Jiggers, small insects which look like fleas, are the culprits in the epidemic which causes parts of the body to rot. They often enter through the feet. Once inside a person's body, they suck the blood, grow and breed, multiplying by the hundreds. Affected body parts - buttocks, lips, even eyelids - rot away. James Kakooza, Uganda's minister of state for primary health care, said jiggers can easily kill young children by sucking their blood and can cause early deaths in grown-ups who have other diseases. Most of hose infected, especially the elderly, cannot walk or work. "It is an epidemic which we are fighting against and I am sure over time we will eradicate the jiggers," Kakooza said. The insects breed in dirty, dusty places. The medical name for the parasitic disease is tungiasis, which is caused by the female sand fly burrowing into the skin. It exists in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, besides sub-Saharan Africa. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
10.22.10 Malaria fears escalate as most dangerous mosquito mutates into two species
October 22 - Most dangerous mosquito is evolving to create a new problem for Africa, and for scientists fighting disease. The most dangerous type of malaria-carrying mosquito, which kills up to a million people each year, is evolving into two different species, posing grave problems for controlling the transmission of the blood parasite. Scientists have found that Anopheles gambiae, which is widespread across Africa and is responsible for about half of the 500 million new cases of malaria each year, has split into two genetically different strains that are well on their way to becoming distinct species. The revelation could present real difficulties in controlling malaria because eradication strategies directed against one mosquito species may not be effective against another, according to the scientists who discovered the genetic differences between the two strains. "From our new studies, we can see that mosquitoes are evolving more quickly than we thought and that unfortunately strategies that might work against one strain of mosquito might not be effective against another," said Mara Lawniczak of Imperial College London. [More>>independent.co.uk; See related story,
10.22.10 Sick desperate to get help as Haiti cholera outbreak kills 138
October 22 - Chaos reigned north of Haiti's capital Friday as hospitals overflowed with people rushing to get help from a fast-moving cholera outbreak that has killed at least 138 people. Eric Lotz, Haiti's national director for the nonprofit Operation Blessing, described a "horrific" scene outside St. Nicolas hospital, the main medical facility in the city of St. Marc, as patients and their family members fought to get care. "There was bedlam outside the gate," said Lotz. "Inside (the hospital), every square inch is covered with people." Some people waited 24 hours or more to get help outside the hospital, many of them on stretchers, said Terry Snow, Haiti director for the nonprofit Youth With a Mission...In addition to at least 138 people who have died, 1,526 people have been sickened in the outbreak, said Imogen Wall, the U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman in Haiti. [Full story w/video>>cnn.com]
10.21.10 Drone attacks 'taking serious toll' on al-Qaeda in Pakistan
October 21 - American drone attacks are "taking a serious toll" on al-Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan's tribal areas close to the Afghan border, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. Leon Panetta, the CIA director, said the organization had been able to intensify its operations in the terrorist group's Pakistan 'safe-haven' through the personal support of Barack Obama, the US president, increased intelligence cooperation from Pakistan, and through "additional capabilities." Although he did not specifically mention the increased deployment of drones, the 'additional capabilities' is a direct reference to them.
10.21.10 Britons fund the Taliban claims regional Afghan commander in exclusive interview
October 21 - A Taliban commander has told Sky News the bulk of its funding comes from the UK, where dedicated fighters are ready to launch terrorist attacks upon his order. The regional leader made the claims at a secret meeting after we travelled deep into bandit country under the cover of darkness. Far beyond the reach of any government or military authority, we drove through river beds and over passes into the mountains that divide Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is Kunar province where the Taliban reign supreme and where, after months of negotiation, we were told we would meet the commander and his commando platoon. Unsure what to expect, we were kept in a compound until late at night. Through the gloom the first shadowy figures appeared. Thirty men in total, dressed in ordinary Afghan clothes but with their faces masked by their scarves, filed into a room that had been set aside for our meeting, their weapons and gun belts strapped over their shoulders.
10.21.10 Radical cleric al-Awlaki invited to private lunch at Pentagon in effort to reach out to Muslims after 9/11
October 21 - Days before Pentagon luncheon, al-Awlaki had been interviewed by the FBI about 9/11 hijackers. Anwar Al-Awlaki is an American-born radical cleric linked to the 9/11 hijackers, the failed Christmas Day airline bombing and the Fort Hood shootings. President Obama himself has authorized the targeted killing of Awlaki in Yemen, where he is believed to be hiding. He is of Yemeni descent but was born in New Mexico, serving as an imam in both Virginia and San Diego where he met several of the 9/11 hijackers who flew a plane into the Pentagon.
10.21.10 Texas National Guardsman shot dead in Mexico
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico, October 21 - A Texas National Guardsman and another man were shot dead in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, according to local officials and reports. The body of Jose Gil Hernandez Ramirez, 21, of El Paso, was identified by members of his family, Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general's office, said. A spokesman for the Texas National
10.21.10 'Iran is secretly setting up banks in Muslim countries'
October 21 - Report: Teheran attempting to avoid banking sanctions by using fake names; two such banks already open in Iraq. Iran is secretly setting up banks in Muslim countries around the world under fake names in order avoid sanctions, US officials told The Washington Post on Thursday. The Treasury Department banned 16 Iranian banks that allegedly supported the Iranian nuclear program and other terrorist activities, and many other countries have passed similar measures. Iran's new banks show that sanctions have been effective, US officials reportedly said...Teheran has established at least two banks in Baghdad, Iraqi officials said, and has tried, unsuccessfully to establish more, in the Kurdistan area. Treasury officials have reportedly crossed the globe recently, in order to convince countries like Azerbaijan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Lebanon to cooperate with sanctions. Last month, Iran offered Azerbaijan to create a joint bank for the two countries, according to Azeri news reports. The country has a branch of Iran's largest commercial bank, Bank Melli. [Full story>>jpost.com]
10.21.10 42 terror camps active in PoK, new ones added: Army Chief
NEW DELHI, October 21 - Anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan is intact and currently 42 terror camps, including new ones in Pak-occupied Kashmir, are being run, Army Chief Gen. V K Singh disclosed on Thursday. Now even women are being trained to wage Pakistan's proxy war against India, he said in an interview. Gen. Singh said infiltration has gone up recently and around 600 terrorists are waiting at "launch pads" in PoK along the Line of Control and international border to sneak into India. Pakistan has "invested heavily in the proxy war against India" and there has been "no substantial effort" by it to act against terror groups which operate from its soil and are used as a "strategic tool" by that country. "Currently, 42 terrorist training camps are located in Pakistan/PoK. Inputs reveal that some new camps have also been established in PoK for undertaking terrorist training," he said. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
10.21.10 'Rivlin accuses Carter of supporting Hamas, spurring terror
October 21 - Knesset speaker slams former US president for meeting with Hamas official, Khaled Mashal; Carter defends decision saying purpose was to bring peace to region. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Thursday told former US president Jimmy Carter that after his visits to Hamas senior official Khaled Mashal and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Israelis see him as "supporting Hamas and encouraging terror." Rivlin met with Carter and others on the Elders mission as part of an international group of veteran statesmen that sets out to offer "collective influence and experience to support peace building." Carter responded that the purpose of his visit is to bring peace to the region, and meet with all sides involved in the conflict. He said his role is to listen, and not support.
10.21.10 Deadly bomb blast hits Philippines bus
October 21 - At least eight people are dead and ten injured in attack blamed on extortion gang with links to Muslim militants. A bomb ripped through a passenger bus today in the southern Philippines, killing at least eight people and wounding 10. Authorities blamed the attack on an extortion gang with links to Muslim militants. The bus was travelling with more than 50 passengers when the powerful blast from an overhead compartment shook the back of the vehicle, the police chief superintendent Gil Meneses said. Two of the victims were decapitated, he said. The wounded were brought to hospitals near Matalam township in North Cotabato province. Police and army units interviewed survivors and combed through the twisted metal trying to extract the injured, Meneses said. No one one has claimed responsibility for the bomb. A military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, said authorities suspected the al-Khobar extortion gang as the bus company had been targeted for extortion in the past. [More>>guardian.co.uk]
10.20.10 Britain unveils brutal spending cuts, raises retirement age
(Reuters) October 20 - The British government unveiled billions of pounds in public spending cuts and tax increases. Finance minister George Osborne (pictured) says the measures are needed to address Britain’s 156-billion-pound deficit. Britain said on Wednesday it would cut half a million public sector jobs, raise the retirement age and slash the welfare state as part of the biggest spending cuts in a generation. After months of bitternegotiations,Conservative finance minister George Osborne confirmed he would press ahead with almost all the spending cuts he had outlined in a June budget.
10.20.10 French police frustrated by new strike blockades
October 20 - The BBC's Christian Fraser says the French government has authorised the use of a special intervention force to deal with protesters blocking fuel depots. French strikers have tightened fuel blockades, hours after security forces began clearing protesters from depots. Police reopened three sites in western France overnight, after ministers ordered that all of them be lifted. But protesters against the government's pension reforms later returned to one of the fuel depots and imposed a new blockade in the south. In Paris, masked youths clashed with police in the suburb of Nanterre and students gathered outside the Senate. The upper house of the French legislature is due to vote on raising the retirement age later this week. Transport workers are continuing their protests and the national rail operator, the SNCF, said one in three high-speed TGV trains had been cancelled. President Nicolas Sarkozy has insisted he will press ahead with plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the full state pension age from 65 to 67. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
10.20.10 Taliban-style bomb kills 10 Afghan wedding guests
HEART, Afghanistan, October 20 - A Taliban-style roadside bomb tore through a vehicle taking a family to a wedding party in Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing 10 people, mostly women and children, police said. "The mine was planted by the enemies of Afghanistan to target military forces. It hit a civilian bus, 10 people most of them women and children were killed," said Abdul Jabar Purdili, police chief in western Herat province. The bomb, similar to those used by Taliban and other insurgents in the long war in Afghanistan, was planted on a road between Herat and Nimroz provinces, both bordering Iran, he said. [More>>thenews.com.pk]
10.20.10 NATO soldier killed in Afghan explosion
KABUL, Afghanistan, October 20 - A soldier with NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed in an explosion caused by a homemade bomb in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, the alliance said. The soldier — whose nationality was not released, following ISAF policy — took to 597 the number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year. This year's toll is the worst on record and compares to 521 in 2009. [More>>thenews.com.pk]
10.19.10 Indian report links Pakistan spies to 2008 Mumbai siege
NEW DELHI (AP) October 19 - US citizen convicted in attack tells interrogators officers from Pakistani intelligence agency were intertwined with terrorist group. Pakistan's intelligence agency was deeply involved in planning the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai, going so far as to fund reconnaissance missions to the Indian city, according to a report on the interrogation of a US citizen convicted in the attack. The attack, blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group, killed 166 people, paralyzed India's business capital and froze peace efforts between Pakistan and India. David Headley, who pleaded guilty in US federal court to laying the groundwork for the attack, told Indian interrogators in June that officers from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency were deeply intertwined with Lashkar-e-Taiba.
10.19.10 Taliban's influence expands into northern Afghanistan
October 19 - The Taliban's influence in northern Afghanistan has expanded in recent months from a few hotspots to much of the region, as insurgents respond to the US-led coalition's surge in the south by seizing new ground in areas once considered secure. Taliban militants stop traffic nightly at checkpoints on the road from Kabul to Uzbekistan, just outside Baghlan province's capital city of Pul-e-Khumri, frequently blowing up fuel convoys and seizing travelers who work with the government or the international community. In many areas here and the rest of the north, the Taliban have effectively supplanted the official authorities, running local administrations and courts, and conscripting recruits. "Day by day, the Taliban are advancing into new districts," said provincial council chief Mohammad Rasoul Mohseni of Baghlan. Such advances challenge the coalition strategy that assumes Taliban losses in its southern heartland would undermine the entire insurgency, driving the militants to pursue peace on terms acceptable to the West. [More>>foxnews.com]
10.19.10 More than a million join protests in latest pension reform push
October 19 - French protesters engaged in a sixth day of nationwide demonstrations and continued strikes against President Nicolas Sarkozy's unpopular pension reform as the government tapped on emergency reserves to offset a growing fuel shortage. French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed action against strike-induced fuel shortages threatening the economy on Tuesday as workers and students rallied en masse to defend their right to retire at 60. More than a million people joined the protest marches, the government said, while unions put the figure at 3.5 million. Unions oppose the retirement reform which they say places an unfair burden on workers and have offered alternative proposals to lower France's public deficit. Union estimates for turnout, frequently three times higher than those of police, were not immediately available. Meanwhile, with all 12 French oil refineries shut down by strikes, Sarkozy said the cabinet would draw up a plan to stop France grinding to a standstill. [More>>france24.com]
10.19.10 Six dead as Chechen parliament is stormed
October 19 - At least six people have been killed after a suicide bomber and gunmen attacked two government buildings in Russia's volatile Chechnya region. Striking as people made their way to work, one insurgent apparently detonated explosives outside the main parliament before two armed militants ran inside, sparking a gun battle with guards. In a separate attack, the agriculture ministry — part of the parliament complex in Grozny — has also been stormed. At least two police officers and one parliament employee have died, while 17 people have been injured. There had been reports of hostages being seized but, according to the government, all the militants involved — at least three men — are now dead. "The operation is over and all the terrorists were liquidated," said a parliament spokesman. According to Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov, all members of the parliament are alive and safe. [More>>news.sky.com; See also,
10.19.10 Shots fired at Pentagon
WASHINGTON (AP) October 19 - Someone fired shots at the Pentagon early Tuesday, hitting the building and causing minor damage, defense officials said. Police who protect the massive Defense Department headquarters temporarily locked down some road and pedestrian entrances to the building after a civilian reported he may have heard shots at about 5am on the south side of the facility. A sweep of the area and facility found that some shots had hit the building, Marine Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman said. He didn't know how many or from what kind of weapon. Roads and pedestrian entrances leading to the Pentagon were reopened a little after 5:30am but part of nearby highway 395 was later temporarily closed for part of the investigation.
10.19.10 Violence continues in Pakistan's Karachi; 16 killed
KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) October 19 - Violence continued in Pakistan's troubled southern city of Karachi on Tuesday, with at least 16 people killed in different attacks, including eight in one incident, police and officials said. At least 49 people have been killed in Karachi since Saturday when violence erupted ahead of a by-election to replace a provincial lawmaker murdered in August, raising fears of instability in the country's commercial capital. Senior police official Naveed Khawaja said unknown gunmen riding on motorcycles opened fire in the Sher Shah area, known locally for used cars and machine parts. Eight people were killed and 10 injured in the incident, said Hashim Raza, health secretary of Sindh province of which Karachi is the capital. Another eight were killed in other incidents in the city on Tuesday, police said, though it was not clear if all the attacks were related to the ongoing violence. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the dominant political force in Karachi, has already stepped up pressure on the government to stem the violence. The MQM says its workers were among those killed. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
10.18.10 Osama in northwest Pakistan under IS I protection: Report
WASHINGTON, October 18 - World's most wanted terrorists Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri may be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan, protected by some members of ISI, a media report said on Monday. The two top al-Qaeda commanders may not be together and are not living in caves as foreseen by American experts to evade detection, CNN reported quoting a top NATO officer based in Afghanistan. "Nobody in al-Qaeda is living in a cave," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the intelligence matters involved, CNN said. Rather, al-Qaeda's top leadership is believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services ISI, the official said. Pakistan has repeatedly denied protecting members of the al-Qaeda leadership.
10.18.10 Al-Qaeda plotter sent Headley to Britain for weapons: Report
LONDON, October 18 - An al-Qaeda commander, who triggered the recent terrorism alert over Mumbai-style attacks on London and cities in Europe, sent 26/11 mastermind David Headley to Britain last year to seek money, weapons and manpower, the media reported today. One-eyed Ilyas Kashmiri sent Pakistani-American Headley to meet two men from Derby in August last year, The Daily Telegraph reported today quoting security sources. The British contacts were supposed to assist Kashmiri's associate with plans for a truck bomb attack on a Danish newspaper behind cartoons of Mohammed.
10.18.10 France warned of new al-Qaeda terror threat
October 18 - France has been warned by Saudi Arabia of a genuine threat to Europe from al-Qaeda, the country's interior minister has said. Brice Hortefeux told French radio a message had been sent from Saudi intelligence officials that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was "without a doubt active, or aimed to be active." Mr. Hortefeux said the threat was real and directed at "the European continent and notably France." He added: "This is not about overestimating the threat or underestimating it. I am indicating, based on all these elements, that the threat is real." AQAP, an off-shoot of al-Qaeda believed to include Saudis and Yemenis, has stepped up attacks on Western targets in the past 12 months. The group, which has been based in Yemen since 2006, said it was behind a failed bombing attempt on a US plane in December. [More>>news.sky.com]
10.18.10 Terrorism and cyber attacks main threats to Britain
October 18 - Terrorism and cyber attacks are currently the main security threats facing Britain, the Government said today. The new National Security Strategy identifies four ''tier one'' risks which, it says, must be the Government's highest priority. The other major threats are a large scale accident or natural hazard such as pandemic flu and an international military crisis which could draw in the UK and its allies. A second series of "tier two" priorities include an attack by another state or its proxy using weapons of mass destruction, a civil war or other instability which terrorists could exploit to threaten the UK, and a significant increase in the level of organized crime. Also listed as a "tier two" priority is the threat of severe disruption to information received or transmitted by satellites, possibly as the result of a deliberate attack by another state. A large-scale conventional military attack on the UK is rated only as a "tier three" priority alongside disruption to oil and gas supplies and a large-scale radioactive release from a civil nuclear site. [More>>telegraph.co.uk]
10.18.10 Report: US presses China to stop Iran deals
WASHINGTON (AP) October 18 - The United States has asked Beijing to do more to stop Chinese companies from providing assistance and expertise to Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons and more powerful missiles, The Washington Post reported late Sunday. According to the newspaper, the Obama administration believes several Chinese companies are violating United Nations sanctions against Iran. An anonymous US official told the paper that Robert Einhorn, the State Department official who oversees the enforcement of sanctions against Iran, gave a "significant list" of such companies and banks to Chinese officials last month. A Chinese Embassy spokesman said his country would investigate the US charges. The US official did not name any of the Chinese companies or say how many were on the list. But he told the Post that US intelligence believes several Chinese companies and banks were involved in providing restricted technology to Iran, mostly for its missile program. [More>>foxnews.com]
10.18.10 The dangers of being a journalist in Iran
October 18 - Dozens of Iranian journalists are languishing in prison with scores more having recently fled the country. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime has been aggressive in its pursuit of critics — and increasingly, foreign journalists are being rounded up as well. Mohammad Ghouchani, 34, is still a free man. But he may not be for much longer. The Iranian regime's security forces have been following the journalist's every move for weeks now. According to Ghouchani's colleagues in Tehran, it was only a week ago that Iranian agents called him on the phone. Their message? Drop the project or we'll arrest you. Few would be surprised were Ghouchani soon to be served a subpoena from the state prosecutor and forced to answer charges before the Islamic Revolutionary Court. Jail time, experience shows, could also be in his future — all because he has taken on a tempting and delicate mission: He plans to resume publishing Ham-Mihan, a newspaper that was banned three years ago.
10.18.10 Extreme weather forces Indonesia to import rice
(AFP) October 18 - Indonesia will be forced to import rice in bulk and reduce exports of other commodities after extreme weather harmed agriculture over the past few months, officials said Friday. Crop yields — especially rice — were harmed when the La Nina phenomenon significantly reduced the dry season period between April and September, said Indonesian Farmers Association secretary general Benny Pasaribu. "La Nina played a big role in decreasing agricultural output. It has caused flooding across Indonesia that also reduced production of some crops," he said. "If this condition persists, then crop output could sink further," he added. La Nina is a weather pattern that leads to stronger monsoons, greater rainfall and hurricanes in the Pacific basin.
10.18.10 Egypt allows 'Viva Palestina' to leave Syria for al-Arish
October 18 - Aid convoy set to arrive in Egypt then continue journey by land to Gaza; organizer George Galloway still won't be allowed entry into country. Egypt on Monday approved the Viva Palestina flotilla to leave Syria and sail by Gaza en-route to al-Arish. The convoy is set to dock in the Egyptian port of al-Arish then continue its journey by land to Gaza. Egypt, however, was still expected not to allow convoy organizer George Galloway to enter the country. Hussam Zaki of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry confirmed last week that the convoy will be allowed access to Gaza however he insisted George Galloway, the British ex-parliamentarian leading the convoy, will not be allowed in the country and will remain as persona non grata. The main ship, carrying 380 activists from 42 countries, 147 vehicles and $5 million in medical aid departed from London September 18 and has been held at the Syrian port of Latakia for just over two weeks. Some of the passengers on board the flotilla include 40 people that were also onboard the Mavi Mamara aid ship which was involved in an IDF interception on May 31. [More>>jpost.com]
10.18.10 Somali pirates hold 26 foreign vessels: group
NAIROBI, Kenya (Xinhua) October 18 - Somali pirates are holding at least 26 foreign vessels plus one barge with at least 474 seafarers, an international maritime body Ecoterra International said on Monday. In a statement, the maritime body said among the 474 seafarers are an elderly British yachting couple and five new hostages from Somaliland who are languishing in the pirates' hands. "At least 26 foreign vessels plus one barge are kept in Somali (pirates) hands against the will of their owners as one Oct. 17, 16h00 UTC, while at least 474 hostages or captives — including an elderly British yachting couple and the 5 new hostages from Somaliland — suffer to be released," Ecoterra International said. However, the European Union Naval Force Somalia says the Somali pirates are currently holding 19 vessels, including the latest South Korean vessel. The figure, according to Ecoterra International, does not account for the smaller sea-jacked vessels from Yemen or Iran and those from countries considered perhaps less important countries.
10.18.10 Afghan gunmen kill 9 guards protecting NATO convoy
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) October 18 - Gunmen killed nine Afghan workers who were guarding a NATO supply convoy in the south of the country, police said Monday. The attack in Gereshk district happened on Sunday night, said the deputy police chief for Helmand province, Kamaluddin Khan. Military supply convoys are regularly attacked in Afghanistan, where they are seen as an easier target for insurgents than NATO bases. The shootings come about a week after trucks bearing NATO supplies for troops began flowing again through the important Khyber Pass crossing from Pakistan into Afghanistan. Pakistan had closed the Torkham crossing in protest at a NATO helicopter strike that killed two Pakistani border guards. During the 11-day blockade, about 150 trucks were destroyed and some drivers and police were injured in near-daily attacks in Pakistan. NATO, however, said its supplies were not interrupted as it simply sent supplies through other routes — such as crossings in the west or further south. Separately, an airstrike by international coalition forces killed four suspected Taliban fighters who were planting a bomb, said Abdul Jabar Pardeli, the police chief in neighboring Nimroz province. A Taliban commander was among those killed by Sunday night's strike, he said. [More>>indianexpress.com]
10.18.10 Rush hour bomb kills three in Afghan city
HERAT, Aftghanistan (AFP) October 18 - A bomb attack at rush hour on Monday killed at least three civilians and wounded eight other people in Afghanistan's western city of Herat, an official said. An improvised explosive device (IED), the weapon of choice for Taliban militants fighting against the government and foreign troops, detonated close to a police checkpost, provincial spokesman Naqeebullah Arween told AFP. "Three civilians were killed and another eight civilians, including one policeman, were wounded in the blast today," Arween told AFP. Herat is one of the most prosperous cities in Afghanistan and the west is relatively peaceful compared to the south, where the Taliban are in control of several districts and where there has been heavy fighting. [More>>arabtimesonline.com]
10.18.10 UAE high court: Beat your wife, just don't bruise her
October 18 - The highest court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ruled that a man is allowed to beat his wife and children as long as he does not leave bruises or other marks, local newspaper The National reported Monday. "Although the [law] permits the husband to use his right [to discipline], he has to abide by the limits of this right," wrote Chief Justice Falah al Hajeri in a ruling issued this month and released in a court document Sunday. The limit, as the court defines it, is physical evidence of a beating that takes the accepted punishment to a more severe level. According to Islamic law, the man of the house is permitted to use physical discipline against his family if admonishing them and abstaining from sex with his wife do not work. Judges were forced to clarify the legal boundaries of beating after a UAE man slapped and kicked his daughter and wife, leaving bruises and facial injuries on them. [More>>foxnews.com]
10.17.10 Multicultural society has failed, says Chancellor Merkel
(Reuters) Germany's attempts to create a multicultural society have "utterly failed," Chancellor Angela Merkel has said, urging immigrants to do more to integrate, including learning to speak German. Germany's attempt to create a multicultural society has "utterly failed," Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, adding fuel to a debate over immigration and Islam polarizing her conservative camp. Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel said allowing people of different cultural backgrounds to live side by side without integrating had not worked in a country that is home to some four million Muslims.
10.17.10 Defiant millions take to the streets in battle over Nicolas Sarkozy's cuts
October 17 -The return of students and workers in mass protests made the right shiver. But there was no battle of the barricades. The clouds hung heavily over the Place de la République and the statue of Marianne, France's heroine, was draped with demonstrators' balloons. As protesters marched on the historic Parisian site of proletarian revolt, 17-year-old Romane scowled at the rain-filled sky. "At least this is proof we're not just here for the good weather," she said. On her jacket was pinned a placard scrawled with marker pen. "Carla, we're like you," it read. "We've been screwed by Sarko too." Nicolas Sarkozy had feared that the rentrée — the time after the holidays when France returns to normal — would be warm, encouraging protesting masses on to the wide, Haussmann-designed boulevards, and he was right to be worried.
10.17.10 Mine blast kills 26 in China
October 17 - Rescuers are desperately trying to reach 11 miners still trapped underground after a gas explosion killed 26 at a coal mine in Henan province, China. Family members of 11 trapped Chinese miners have gathered outside the Pingyu Coal and Electric Co pit compound in Yuzhou City hoping for news of their loved ones. Earlier today, officials said that 239 workers had managed to escape, but that the death toll had risen to 26. As a result of the explosion the pit is smothered in more than 2,500 tones of coal dust, making trips down the shaft to reach those still trapped alive difficult for rescuers. Authorities on site said an over-concentration of underground gas caused the deadly explosion on Saturday. The underground gas concentration in the mine reached 40 percent, over 40 times the normal concentration level of 0.8 to 1 percent, according to state media. Police and security guards have prohibited worker's family members or media from entering the pit compound. [More w/video>>telegraph.co.uk]
10.17.10 US officials told me to 'get lost' : Headley's wife
NEW YORK, October 17 - "Get lost" was what the US officials in Islamabad told the young Moroccan wife of 26/11 accused David Headley when she informed them that her husband was planning a terror attack in India with the help of LeT. Less than a year before 26/11 attack, one of Headley's three wives, Faiza Outalha, had two meetings with American officials in Islamabad in which she told them that her husband had friends in the Lashkar-e-Toiba and his business trips to India never amounted to much, according to The New York Times. "I told them, he's either a terrorist, or he's working for you," she recalled saying to American officials at the US Embassy in Islamabad.
10.17.10 Pakistan Taliban eye toxic gas for attacks: Intel
LAHORE, October 17 - The Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is planning to carry out terrorist attacks using poisonous gases, Pakistani intelligence agencies have warned. According to intelligence reports, terrorists may target sensitive installations, important buildings, busy shopping malls, markets, public places, mosques and other places of worship. Sources said that the warnings came after the intelligence agencies collected information from intercepts of conversations among the TTP militants. After receiving the reports , the interior ministry has directed police to make all necessary and foolproof security arrangements to avert any untoward incident, Daily Times reports. ANI
10.17.10 Karachi violence kills 15; hurts dozens
KARACHI, Pakistan, October 17 - In a fresh spate of violence that erupted in the metropolis city one day ahead of by-polls has left at least 15 people killed and dozens others injured while unknown armed men forced shops in different areas to close, Geo News reported Saturday. Meanwhile, five vehicles including an OB van of a private television channel have been reportedly torched in different areas during the violence-ravaged incidents. The violence spread in several parts of the city after unidentified attackers opened fire and injured a man named Zafar in PS-94 constituency of Orangi Town where by-election is due to be held today. In another firing incident at Katti Pahari area where armed men opened indiscriminate firing on a passenger bus, killing a youth identified as Tausif and injuring two others. [More>>thenews.com.pk; See also foxnews.com, October 17, "Suspected political violence kills 25 in Pakistan."]
10.17.10 Iran arrests six Afghan military officers, soldier
TEHRAN (AFP) October 17 - Iran has arrested six Afghan military officers and a soldier who said they were hunting for Taleban militants in the border province of Sistan-Baluchestan, ISNA news agency reported on Sunday. Border police arrested the seven Afghan military personnel 50 metres (yards) inside Iranian territory, police commander Hossein Zolfaghari said, quoted by ISNA, without giving a date. Zolfaghari said the arrested group said they were "patrolling the area and hunting for Taleban (militants), and that they had no intention to enter Iranian soil." Sistan-Baluchestan in southeast Iran bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan is an area rife with a Sunni Baluchi insurgency against Teheran, tribal unrest and drug smuggling. [>khaleejtimes.com]
10.17.10 Ahmadinejad backs new nuclear talks with West
TEHRAN (AP) October 17 - Move is the latest in Tehran's intensified push to get negotiations going again. Iran's president on Sunday endorsed the resumption of talks with the international community about his country's nuclear program, the latest in Tehran's recently intensified push to get those negotiations going again. The talks foundered a year ago and months later, a fourth round of UN sanctions was imposed on Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment — a program the West is concerned masks Iranian ambitions for making nuclear weapons...At the rally in Ardebil, Ahmadinejad warned the West the talks with Iran would not make progress unless the West clarifies its stance over Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal — an apparent attempt to deflect attention from Iran's nuclear program. [Full story>>msnbc.msn.com; See also
10.17.10 Two coalition soldiers killed in Afghanistan: ISAF
KABUL, Afghanistan, October 17 - Two coalition soldiers died in separate attacks in Afghanistan on Saturday, the International Security Assistance Force said, deepening NATO losses in a critical year of the campaign against the Taliban. The first solider died following an improvised explosive device in the south of the country, while the second was killed in an "insurgent attack" in the north, ISAF said without releasing any further details. It is ISAF policy not to identify the nationalities of dead soldiers. [More>>thenews.com.pk; See more details, en.rian.ru (RIA Novosti) October 17, "One Swedish soldier killed, two injured in Afghanistan."]
10.17.10 Three militants, four soldiers killed in Yemen clashes
ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) October 17 - Yemeni aircraft bombed al-Qaeda positions in southern Yemen on Sunday, a government official said, after militants ambushed a tank column, killing four soldiers. Yemeni aircraft bombed al-Qaeda positions in southern Yemen on Sunday, a government official said, after militants ambushed a tank column, killing four soldiers. Three suspected members of al-Qaeda's regional wing were also killed in the clashes on Sunday in the Mudiyah district in Abyan province on the Arabian Sea coast, where the army has battled militants in recent months, the official told Reuters. One man was killed and two women and a child were injured in the air raid, a local official and residents told Reuters. On Saturday, a car bomb wounded a senior intelligence officer and his assistant in Abyan, a security source said, and a government website said two militants died in a botched suicide attack with a car on a security patrol in Mudiyah. [More>>gulfnews.com; See related story,