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Chart showing National Debt & Annual Deficits with Presidents. Democrat administrations are blue, Republican in Red. Green reflects projected Bush debt. Click chart for larger image.

2008 update (10.14.08)

The Chart Showing the National Debt above is far more than projected, of about $11.3 trillion. See "The debt to the penny," publicdebt.treas.gov.
The Deficit for 2006 was $423 Billion; 2007 was $354 billion; 2008 is $451 billion
OMB Budget FY2005>>
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Fed. Budget Summary 2003-2009, as estimated

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News Headlines & Trends

10.31.08 Murdoch voices concerns about Obama

October 31 - News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch has warned that Barack Obama could worsen the world financial crisis if he is elected US president next week and implements protectionist policies. In an interview with The Weekend Australian, Mr. Murdoch said the Democrats' policies would result in "a real setback for globalization" if implemented. Mr. Murdoch said he did not know whether Senator Obama would implement all of the protectionist measures espoused by the party.

"Presidents don't often behave exactly as the campaign might have suggested because they become prisoners of all sort of things — mainly circumstances and events," Mr. Murdoch said. He warned that any rise in protectionism in the US, including introducing trade measures against China as espoused by some Democratic members in Congress, would risk retaliation and could threaten the world trading and financial systems. "For the past three or four years, some Democrats have been threatening to do things like put on extra tariffs (against Chinese imports) if they don't change their currency," Mr. Murdoch said. "If it happened, it could set off retaliatory action which would certainly damage the world economy seriously."

Mr. Murdoch said Kevin Rudd had been "very sure-footed" in his handling of the financial crisis, and defended the Prime Minister against criticism that he acted too quickly in his blanket guarantee of the deposits of the Australian banking system. But he warned that politicians should be careful not to make the situation worse by "alarming people more than they should be alarmed, regardless of party."

10.31.08 India has 174 terror groups, Manipur alone has 40

NEW DELHI, October 31 - A staggering 174 terrorist insurgent and extremist groups, many of them little known, are operating across India, figures compiled by a terror watch portal show. The maximum number — 40 — operate in Manipur, followed by 36 in Assam, 32 in Jammu and Kashmir, and 30 in Tripura, figures compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal say. Punjab is home to 12 terror groups, Meghalaya houses four, Nagaland three, Mizoram two and Arunachal Pradesh one. The list also includes pan-India Left-wing groups like the People's War Group and the Communist Party of India-Maoist, as also other extremist groups like the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Deendar Anjuman. The following is a thumbnail sketch of the terror groups operating in India:

Assam: 36 groups. Prominent among them are United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO), Karbi National Volunteers (KNV), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jehad.
[More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related story, aljazeera.net, October 31, "India makes Assam blast arrests."]

10.31.08 Libya leader to discuss hosting Russian base - report

MOSCOW (Reuters) October 31 - Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi arrived in Russia on Friday for talks expected to focus on purchases of Russian arms and the possible opening of a Russian naval base in Libya to counterbalance US interests in Africa. It is Qaddafi's first visit to Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union and coincides with an improvement in Libya's relations with the United States after years of enmity.

"During these talks the colonel intends to raise the issue of opening a base for Russia's navy in the Libyan port of Benghazi," reported Russian business daily Kommersant, quoting a source involved in preparing Qaddafi's visit. The Kremlin and Russian naval officials could not be reached for comment on the report. [More>>thestar.com.my ; See also:

en.rian.ru, October 31, "Libyan leader Qaddafi arrives in Moscow on official visit"
: ...Earlier in the day Mikhail Dmitriyev, head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said that deliveries of Russian air defense systems, combat aircraft and warships would be among the key issues to be discussed during Qaddafi's visit to Moscow. Libya was one of the key buyers of Soviet arms with estimated deliveries worth $20 billion. Moscow supplied Tripoli with about 300 combat aircraft, up to 4,000 tanks and dozens of air defense missile systems, as well as warships and small arms. Now the outdated equipment desperately needs modernizing...

alarabiya.net, October 31, "US receives $1.5 billion in compensation from Libya." :...The sum is to compensate US and other families for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, and for US families of a Berlin disco bombing that killed two Americans and hurt 50 others...

10.31.08 US says 39 Iranian-funded 'criminals' arrested in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AFP) October 31 - The US military said on Friday it had arrested 39 Iranian-sponsored ‘criminals’ in Iraq this month and had seized some 500,000 dollars meant to fund militancy in the war-wracked country. "This month alone, coalition forces apprehended 39 Iranian-sponsored criminals and seized nearly 500,000 US dollars in funding, supporting terrorism in Iraq," the military said in a statement.

"Iraqi and coalition forces are working together to prevent Iranian lethal aid from endangering Iraqi people." It said one of those arrested was a key member of the Iranian-sponsored Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq criminal network, who was captured on Friday in Baghdad. The detainee is an alleged financier responsible for funding militant operations against Iraqi and US forces, the statement added. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

10.31.08 Suspected US strike kills 21 in Mir Ali

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, October 31 - A suspected missile strike by US spy drones destroyed a vehicle and a house in tribal area bordering Afghanistan Friday, killing at least 21 people, security officials said. Two missiles were involved in the strike west of Mir Ali, a town in the troubled North Waziristan tribal region that is a known hub of al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, they said. The attack came just two days after Pakistan, a key ally in the US-led "war on terror", summoned Washington's ambassador to Islamabad to receive a strong protest over a number of similar strikes.

The latest targeted an al-Qaeda operative, possibly an Iraqi, but officials citing local intelligence reports said he was not believed to be among the dead. Officials gave the targeted militant's name as Abu Akasa Al-Iraqi. Local residents said the strike hit the house of a Pakistani tribesman named Amanullah Dawar. It was the 17th such strike in the past 10 weeks, according to sources. A strike on Sunday killed senior Taliban commander Haji Omar Khan, a lieutenant of veteran Afghan Taliban chieftain and former anti-Soviet fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani.
[>thenews.com.pk; See related story:

thenews.com.pk, October 31, "Ten killed in Mardan suicide attack"
: MARDAN -Ten people including five police personnel were killed and 25 others injured in a suicide attack on a police convoy here on Friday. The suicide bomber blew himself up when he was stopped by the policemen at the entrance of the office of DIG Mardan Akhtar Ali...

10.31.08 DR Congo refugee camps 'burned'

October 31 - The UN says it has credible reports that camps sheltering 50,000 displaced people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been destroyed. Reports suggest the camps were forcibly emptied and looted before being burned, the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, said. Aid groups say they are struggling to reach an estimated 250,000 people in the region fleeing fierce fighting between government and rebel forces. Intense diplomatic efforts are under way to end the crisis. A ceasefire is holding in and around Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, but aid agency chiefs say the situation remains highly volatile. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

10.31.08 Stocks higher on last day of tumultuous month

October 31 - October is on track to go down in history as the worst month in the American stock market since 1987. But on Friday, investors were trying to end things on a positive note. The major indexes were all slightly higher in early afternoon trading, with the Dow Jones industrials average up about 120 points and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index 1. 6 percent higher. The technology heavy Nasdaq lost about 1.3 percent.

Investors managed to record a positive session on Thursday despite a G.D.P. report showing the first contraction in the economy in seven years. But concerns about corporate earnings and the holiday shopping season appeared to get the better of investors on Friday morning. The stock market has not had two positive sessions in a row in more than a month. Crude oil for December delivery fell $1.65, to $64.31 a barrel in New York trading. [More>>nytimes.com; See Dow +126 at 3:27pm EST Friday, cnn.com and related story, Japantoday.com, October 31, "Nikkei stock index down 5% at close."]

10.31.08 A last push to deregulate

October 31 - The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January. The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining. Once such rules take effect, they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.

10.30.08 NASA probe shows Mercury more dynamic than thought

WASHINGTON (AP) October 29 - Earth's first nearly full look at Mercury reveals that the tiny lifeless planet took a far greater role in shaping itself than was thought, with volcanoes spewing "mysterious dark blue material."

Image and more details: nasa.gov; click on image for movie of surface.

New images from NASA's Messenger space probe should help settle a decades-old debate about what caused parts of Mercury to be somewhat smoother than it should be. NASA released photos Wednesday, from Messenger's fly-by earlier this month, that gave the answer: Lots of volcanic activity, far more than signs from an earlier probe.

Astronomers used to dismiss Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, as mere "dead rock," little more than a target for cosmic collisions that shaped it, said MIT planetary scientist Maria Zuber. "Now, it's looking a lot more interesting," said Zuber, who has experiments on the Messenger probe. "It's an awful lot of volcanic material."...But it isn't just filled-in craters. Using special cameras, the probe showed what one scientist called "the mysterious dark blue material." It was all over the planet. That led Arizona State University geologist Mark Robinson to speculate that the mineral is important but still unknown stuff ejected from Mercury's large core in the volcanic eruptions. [Full story>>abcnews.go.com]

10.30.08 Economy shrinks as consumers cut back

October 30 - The longest American shopping spree on record is over. The Commerce Department reported this morning that consumers sharply cut their spending this summer, causing the United States economy to shrink at an annual rate of 0.3 percent. By almost all accounts, the economy is now in recession. The last quarter in which consumers reduced their spending came in 1991. Since then, neither the recession of 2001 nor the slow income growth of the past seven years has kept households from increasing their consumption. They often relied on debt — in the form of home-equity loans, mortgage refinancings and credit-card loans — to continue spending.

But the housing bust, the resulting credit crunch and the deteriorating job market have forced many people to cut back. Personal consumption fell at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the third quarter of this year, its biggest drop since 1980, when the economy was in a deep recession. The economy's contraction was slightly smaller than forecasters had predicted, and stocks rose when the markets opened. At 11:30 a.m., the Standard & Poor's 500-Stock index was up more than 1 percent.

But the report nonetheless pointed to the serious problems facing the United States economy: consumer spending is falling, and no engine of growth seems likely to replace it the near future. Many economists expect consumer spending to continue falling in 2009 — although probably not at such a steep rate — and the current downturn to continue for months. Employers are now cutting jobs, and the pay of most workers is lagging well behind inflation. [More>>economix.blogs.nytimes.com]

10.30.08 Exxon Mobil profits set a record in third quarter

October 30 - Exxon Mobil Corp. smashed its own record for quarterly profits today, ringing up $14.8 billion in net income in the third quarter powered by soaring summertime crude oil prices. Exxon Mobil's earnings, at $2.86 a share, are up 58 percent from the same period in 2007 and higher than what analysts expected, capping a week of strong profit numbers from the world's biggest oil companies, all of whom benefited from the spike in oil prices in July. Royal Dutch Shell also posted higher earnings today, beating analysts' estimates with $8.54 billion of profits for the third quarter.

The recent drop in oil prices to less than half the July peak will likely lower oil company profits in the current quarter and the year ahead; today UBS AG, citing the lower demand for oil as a result of the worldwide economic slowdown, cut its forecast for oil prices for next year by 36 percent to $75 a barrel. Firms such as Exxon Mobil are still barreling toward full-year earnings that will easily set new marks in the history of US corporate profits. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

10.30.08 Mummy's not our daddy, says 'Iceman' study

PARIS (AFP) October 30 - Gene scientists delving into the 5,300-year-old remains of Oetzi the Iceman, the mysterious mummified man found high in the Alps, say he most likely has no modern-day relatives. Italian and British experts looked into the mitochondrial DNA — genetic material handed on down the maternal line — teased from Oetzi's body at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is very stable, changing only gradually as it is handed down the generations, which means it is an excellent yardstick for genealogy.

Oetzi's mtDNA belonged to a broad genetic category called K1, which is still common in Europe today, the investigators reported on Thursday. However, modern Europeans today belong to three sub-lineages of K1, whereas Oetzi's sub-lineage has most probably petered out.

...His body was found to be in an astonishing state of conservation, along with clothes and weapons that have given many clues into how people lived in the Late Neolithic age. Scientists believe Oetzi was around 46 when he died. He had been severely wounded by an arrow and possibly dispatched with a blow to the head by a cudgel. In 1994, a probe into his mtDNA suggested that descendants of Oetzi may be alive today in Europe, but Richards said that this was based only on a small section of the telltale gene sequence...The latest investigation, led by Franco Rollo and Luca Ermini of the University of Camerino in Italy, was published in a British journal, Current Biology. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

10.30.08 66 dead, 470 injured as 13 blasts rock Assam

GUWAHATI, India, October 30 - In the deadliest terror attacks in Assam, 66 people were killed and about 470 injured in 13 near-simultaneous blasts in Guwahati and three other towns on Thursday by suspected Bangladesh-based HuJi militants. ( Watch ) The first of the explosions went off at around 11.30 am near the Ganeshguri flyover near the high-security capital complex housing the assembly building, followed by explosions at Paltan Bazar and Fancy Bazar here--all within five minutes. ( Watch ) Around the same time, bombs also went off in crowded market places of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Barpeta in lower Assam. Official sources put the toll at 66 dead and 470 injured. ( Watch )

Of the six blasts in Guwahati, RDX was used in two of the explosions, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said adding a special task force has been set up to unearth the conspiracy behind the blasts. Black smoke billowed from the deputy commissioner's office housing the district courts, which bore the brunt of the attacks in Guwahati, as vehicles, including a number of cars, turned into mangled heaps of metal. Police suspected that the bomb was planted in the court complex on a two-wheeler.

At least 33 people were killed in the blasts in Guwahati where an indefinite curfew was clamped following protests by residents, who accused the police of delayed action, official sources said. ( Watch ) Assam has witnessed massive ethnic violence since early 1980s and ULFA-sponsored insurgency but this is the first time that a terror attack in the form of serial blasts rocked the state in such a magnitude.

10.30.08 Syrians march in protest at US raid

October 30 - Thousands of Syrians have taken to the streets of the capital Damascus to protest against a US raid which killed eight people near the border with Iraq. Riot police were deployed outside the US embassy as the demonstrators, mostly civil servants and students, gathered for the government-backed protest a few kilometres away. The embassy, which was pelted with stones during a protest against US-led air raids on Iraq in 1998, was closed on Thursday due to security concerns.

But the situation remained peaceful as the protesters filled the Youssef al-Azmi square and surrounding streets in the al-Maliki neighbourhood, with some Syrians forming circles and performing traditional dances. Some demonstrators carried banners denouncing the United States, as well as national flags and pictures of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president. "America the sponsor of destruction and wars," one of the banners read. [More>>aljazeera.net; See also alarabiya.net, October 30, "Syria suspends security talks with Iraq."]

10.30.08 Iran threatens US with suicide bombers

October 30 - Only a few days ahead of the American presidential election, Iranian parliamentary speaker 'Ali Larijani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah 'Ali Khamanai have launched harsh verbal attacks against the United States. Referring to the US army's attacks in Pakistan and Syria, Larijani said they would not be answered with diplomatic protests.

"The US method and conduct, expressed by this aggression, will only be stopped by a clear-cut and unexpected response, whose grounds were set by the martyr Hussein Fahmida," Larijani said during a parliamentary session on Wednesday. Fahmida was 13 when he detonated an explosive device he carried on him, destroying an Iraqi tank during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. "America should be aware not to put its huge body on top of the suicide bombers' explosive devices," Larijani said. [More>>jpost.com]

10.30.08 5 killed in suicide attack at Afghan ministry

KABUL, October 30 - Taliban militants stormed an Afghan ministry in Kabul on Thursday, and one of them blew himself up inside, killing five people and badly damaging the building, officials and witnesses said. The assailants first opened fire on the police guards outside the Ministry of Information and Culture, before entering its cavernous hall where the explosion occurred, said Amir Mohammad, a police guard who was wounded in the blast.

"There were three people. They were running. They opened fire on our guard first and then they entered (the building),'' Mohammad told The Associated Press from his hospital bed in Kabul...A man named Naqibullah from the eastern Khost province carried out the suicide attack, Mujahid told the AP. The other two men fled, he said.
[Full story>>thenews.com.pk]

10.30.08 Car bomb hurts several at Spanish university

(Reuters) October 30 - A car bomb exploded in a car park near the University of Navarre in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona today, slightly injuring several people, officials said. No telephone warning was received before the bomb exploded at about 11am local time, smashing windows in a university building and damaging nearby cars, officials and witnesses said. "There were students taking their classes, academic staff in their offices, and they got a fright," university spokesman Jesus Diaz told Spanish radio. The blast came just two days after Spanish police arrested four suspected ETA guerrillas they said had been planning attacks in the Navarre region. ETA has killed more than 800 people in four decades of armed struggle for independence of ancient Basque territories in Spain and France, including Navarre. [More>>independent.co.uk]

10.30.08 Ban Muslims from yoga: Malaysian cleric

KUALA LAMPUR (AFP) October 30 - Says it involves Hindu "religious elements." Muslims in Malaysia may be barred from the ancient practice of yoga if they engage in Hindu "religious elements" during the exercise, a top Islamic cleric said Wednesday. Harussani Zakaria, a controversial cleric from the northern Perak state, said the government-backed National Fatwa Council would soon release a decree, or "fatwa," which would decide if Muslims were allowed to practice yoga. "If it involves any faith or religious elements it is definitely not permissible but if it is just a form of exercise that is all right," Harussani told AFP. "Muslims cannot practice yoga in its original form because it involves another religion," he said in response to a call to ban Muslims from engaging in yoga. [More>>alarabiya.net]

10.29.08 One-third of world fish catch used for animal food

WASHINGTON (Reuters) October 29 - One-third of the world's ocean fish catch is ground up for animal feed, a potential problem for marine ecosystems and a waste of a resource that could directly nourish humans, scientists said on Wednesday. The fish being used to feed pigs, chickens and farm-raised fish are often thought of as bait, including anchovies, sardines, menhaden and other small- to medium-sized species, researchers wrote in a study to be published in November in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources.

These so-called forage fish account for 37 percent, or 31.5 million tons, of all fish taken from the world's oceans each year, the study said. Ninety percent of that catch is turned into fish meal or fish oil, most of which is used as agricultural and aquacultural feed. Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and a professor at Stony Brook University in New York, called these numbers "staggering."...Unlike such dinner-plate fish as tuna, swordfish and cod, the extraction of forage fish is largely unregulated, Pikitch said. Excessive removal of these small fish from the ocean environment could hurt the species that feed on them. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

10.29.08 Iran sets up new naval base in Arabian Gulf

TEHRAN (AFP) October 29 - Iran has opened a new naval base east of the Strait of Hormuz in a bid to boost its military control over the strategic Gulf waters, the country's navy chief was quoted as saying on Tuesday. "With the opening of this naval base a new line of defense has been created east of the Strait of Hormuz," Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency." We can prevent the entry of any enemy naval units into the strategic Persian Gulf area if need be," he said, adding that the base was located in the port town of Jask on the Sea of Oman. [More>>alarabiya.net]

10.29.08 Panic as Congo rebels advance

October 29 - Government forces are fleeing from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma as rebels advance, according to reports. Residents of the provincial capital are also leaving in panic, governor Julien Paluki added. "People are stampeding and the city is panicking," he said. The rebels have already overrun Kibtai, a village seven miles north of Goma that was housing at least 30,000 displaced people

Fighting between government forces and rebels loyal to General Laurent Nkunda has escalated in the past few days. The rebels expect to be able to take Goma later today or early on Thursday, a spokesman said. The Congo government claims Nkunda's fighters are backed by Rwandan troops. Rwanda denies the claims. The UN's top envoy to Congo warned that its peacekeeping force in the country is stretched to the limit and needs more troops quickly. And the UN secretary general appealed for an end to the violence.[More>>news.sky.com]

10.29.08 5 suicide bomb attacks hit Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia, October 29 - Five suicide car bomb attacks rocked a presidential palace, government security posts, United Nations offices and an Ethiopian consular unit in two regions of northern Somalia on Wednesday, killing or wounding dozens of people, according to officials and witnesses. Five suicide car bomb attackers struck within half an hour in the two regions, in Hargeisa, the capital of breakaway Somaliland, and in Bosasso, in Puntland, said Faisal Hayle, a security official in Mogadishu for the transitional government of Somalia.

Several buildings were leveled by the attacks. According to officials, the bombers struck between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., the first attacking in Hargeisa where they struck the presidential palace of Somaliland, an Ethiopian consulate office and a United Nations office in Hargeisa. In the port of Bosasso, two huge blasts rocked the city as suicide bombers attacked two offices of the Puntland security forces, killing a woman cleaner and injuring six soldiers, residents and officials said. [More>>nytimes.com; See also washingtonpost.com, October 29, "21 victims dead in Somalia suicide attacks."]

10.29.08 More tainted eggs from China found

SHANGHAI, China, October 29 - Hong Kong officials said that for the second time in a week they have found a batch of eggs imported from China that contain high levels of melamine, the same industrial chemical that has been blamed for contaminating China's milk supplies. The announcement, which came late Tuesday from the territory's food safety agency, is adding to growing concerns that melamine contamination may be more widespread in China's food supplies than previously thought.

While Hong Kong officials cautioned that children and adults would have to consume a large number of tainted eggs in a single day to fall ill, the report is still another blow to China's agriculture industry. China is already struggling to cope with a milk scandal that has sickened over 50,000 children and caused the deaths of at least four infants this year after they consumed melamine-tainted baby milk formula. The victims suffered from kidney stones and other ailments. That case triggered a global recall of foods made with Chinese dairy products. [More>>nytimes.com; See related story, khaleejtimes.com, October 29, "Thailand finds Chinese chocolate with melamine."]

10.29.08 New minerals point to wetter Mars

October 29 - A Nasa space probe has discovered a new category of minerals spread across large regions of Mars. The find suggests liquid water remained on Mars' surface a billion years later than scientists had previously thought. The US Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft found evidence of hydrated silica, better known as opal. The discovery adds to the growing body of evidence that water played a crucial role in shaping the Martian landscape and — possibly — in sustaining life. Hydrated, or water-containing, minerals are telltale signs of when and where water was present on ancient Mars.

Researchers made the discovery using the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer (CRISM) instrument on MRO. The $720m (£449m; 565m euro) MRO robotic probe reached the Red Planet in 2006; its objectives are to study Mars' geology, climate and atmosphere from orbit, as well as to search for signs of water. Details of the latest findings appear in the November issue of the academic journal Geology. The minerals were recently found at Gusev Crater on Mars by the Spirit rover. This study reveals that they are widespread and occur in relatively young terrains. [More>>bbc.co.uk; See also jpl.nasa.gov and related story, hirise.jpl.arizona.edu, October 28, "Fan in Holden Crater."]

10.29.08 New York attorney general hits banks on executive pay

October 29 - New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says nine financial services firms must provide "detailed accounting" of expected bonus payments to top management. In a letter sent today to the banks' boards of directors, Cuomo requested "any and all information" concerning the firm's expected 2008 bonus pool both before and after they learned that they would be receiving taxpayer funds. The banks, including Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Merrill Lynch & Co., Morgan Stanley, State Street Corporation, Wells Fargo & Company, and Goldman Sachs, have reportedly set aside $108 billion for employee compensation this year, despite being beneficiaries of a $250 billion federal bailout program. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

10.29.08 Most Asian markets extend gains after US rally

HONG KONG (AP) October 29 - Most Asian stock markets rose Wednesday after a stunning rally on Wall Street as investors awaited possible interest rate cuts from central banks in the U.S. and Japan. European markets opened mixed. Japan's market was by far the best performer: the Nikkei 225 index jumped 589.98 points, or 7.7 percent, to 8,211.90 after the dollar rebounded against the yen overnight, easing pressure on exporters. But elsewhere, the regional rally fizzled by the afternoon as traders cashed in profits amid fresh worries about company earnings.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, up nearly 5 percent in early trading, trimmed its gain to just under 0.9 percent in volatile trade after a spectacular 14.4 percent rise the day before. Australia's S&P/ASX200 climbed 1.3 percent. South Korea's index pared its morning gains and dropped 3 percent as bank stocks pulled back on fears they may cut dividends after the government guaranteed their foreign currency loans. The region's broader move higher came after a massive overnight advance on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrial average soared nearly 11 percent to 9,065.12 following rises in Asian and European markets earlier in the day. Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index rose 2.23 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 1,113.62. The measure plunged 23 percent in the previous five sessions.
[More>>thejakartapost.com; See also

cnn.com, October 29, "Fed cuts rates again"
: NEW YORK - The Federal Reserve cut a key short-term interest rate by a half-percentage point Wednesday and issued a gloomy outlook for the economy due to continued worries about the ongoing crisis in the financial and credit markets. The rate cut put the central bank's federal funds rate at 1%. That matched the lowest level for this overnight bank lending rate ever -- the last time it was at 1% was from June 2003 to June 2004.

Investors had been expecting a half-point cut and some were betting that the Fed would even cut rates by three-quarters of a point to 0.75%. Major US stock indexes, which had been higher ahead of the Fed's decision, fell after the announcement and finished mostly lower following a wild afternoon of trading..

cbsnews.com, October 29, "Markets seesaw on interest rate cut news" : .Wall Street has the interest rate cut it wanted, but still turned in a baffling late-day performance, shooting higher and then skidding lower in the very last minutes of trading as some investors rushed to cash in profits after the market's big advance. The Dow Jones industrials were up nearly 280 points in the last quarter hour of the session, giving them a two-day gain of more than 1,160 points, when another bout of last-hour volatility wiped out the advance. Some analysts said hedge funds were cashing in their gains, while others said some investors were giving a bleak interpretation to the Federal Reserve's statement on the economy that accompanied its half-point rate cut. The Dow ended down 74 points at the 8,890 level. The broader market indexes have ended the day mixed...

10.28.08 Asian markets soared in early trade after Wall Street gained 11 percent overnight

(AFP) October 29 - Asian stocks soared for a second straight day today after a powerful rally on Wall Street as hopes mounted for further interest rate cuts to shore up the global economy. Japan's Nikkei jumped more than 7 per cent in early trade after the Dow Jones had soared almost 11 per cent in New York overnight. In Seoul, shares jumped almost  8 per cent, while Singapore and Taipei saw a of 3.8 per cent gain.

Investors were cheered by the prospect of further interest rate cuts as central banks try to ward off a global recession. The US Federal Reserve is expected to reduce its key lending rate overnight, and speculation is growing that the Bank of Japan will lower its already super-low rates on Friday...

Other world markets were able to shake off a weak US report on consumer confidence overnight. Canada's Toronto Stock Exchange rebounded 7.2 per cent, nearly erasing yesterday's 8.14 per cent plunge, which was the worst single-session drop in 21 years. European exchanges rebounded, with London's FTSE 100 index  up 1.92 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 up 1.55 per cent. The Frankfurt DAX, again powered by big gains for Volkswagen, soared 11.28 per cent to 4,823.45. In Latin America's biggest stock market, Brazil's Ivobespa index soared 13.42 per cent, while Argentina's Merval jumped 6.58 per cent. [Full story>.news.com.au; See related story:

cnn.com, October 28, "Dow's 2nd best day ever" :
NEW YORK - The Dow rallied as much as 906 points during Tuesday's session, as investors dove back into stocks near the end of one of the worst months in Wall Street history. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) added 889 points after having risen as much as 906 points earlier in the session. It was the Dow's second-biggest one-day point gain ever, following a 936-point rally two weeks ago. The advance of 10.9% was the sixth-biggest ever.

The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index gained 91.6 points or 10.8%, its second-biggest one-day point gain ever and its fifth-best one-day percentage gain. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) rose 143.6 points or 9.5%. On a percentage basis, it was the fourth-best one-day gain ever for the tech-fueled Nasdaq. But on a point basis, it didn't crack the top 10. The broad advance occurred as the two-day Federal Reserve meeting got underway, with a decision on interest rates expected Wednesday afternoon...

10.28.08 OPEC members say low oil prices risk investment

LONDON (AP) October 28 - OPEC oil producers warned Tuesday that low oil prices have created a crisis situation that threatens key investment in production, pushing them to seek moderate price increases by cutting output. Qatar's energy minister, Abdulla bin Hamad Al Attiyah, defended OPEC's decision last week to cut production by 1.5 million barrels a day, saying it was necessary amid falling demand due to the global economic turmoil. He added that demand could be frozen for several years.

Fears of a sustained economic downturn have driven the price of oil down from a record $147.27 a barrel on July 11 to $64 a barrel Tuesday. "You can't say to me 'Don't do it, you're the bad boy,' with no solution, no alternative," Al Attiyah said at an annual oil conference in London. "Who will give me guarantees that they will buy?" British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was among world leaders who have urged OPEC not to cut its output, declaring shortly before the cut announced Friday that such a move would be "scandalous."

The two-day gathering of oil producing countries, companies, banks and others in London began as BP PLC, Europe's second-biggest oil producer behind Royal Dutch Shell PLC, reported a massive 83 percent rise in third-quarter net profit. BP earned $8.05 billion for the July-to-September quarter on the back of surging energy prices and said it was well placed to continue to reap profits despite the fall in the oil price. But United Arab Emirates energy minister Mohammed Bin Dhaen al-Hamli said that the current low prices were "very dangerous for the world's economy."
[More>>thejakartapost.com; See also:

timesonline.co.uk, October 28, "BP profits soar 148% on record oil prices" :
BP reported third-quarter profits up 148 per cent to $10 billion (£6.4 billion) amid growing concern that oil companies are not passing on the benefits of lower oil prices to consumers. The oil giant said this morning that it had benefited from crude prices hitting a record of $147 a barrel in mid-July, although the company had lost some production due to hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and Russia's invasion of Georgia.

BP's better-than-expected figures are likely to prompt controversy over whether the world's major oil companies are passing on lower costs to consumers quickly enough. The price of oil has fallen rapidly from its peak in July to $63.41 today and Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave warning last week that he would call in the Office of Fair Trading if producers did not pass the benefits of lower prices on to consumers...

independent.co.uk, October 28, "UK: 71% rise in home repossessions.' :The number of homes that were repossessed during the three months to the end of June soared by 71 per cent compared with a year earlier, figures showed today. The Financial Services Authority said 11,054 homes were repossessed in the three months to the end of June, compared with just 6,476 during the same three months of 2007...Meanwhile, the annual rate at which house prices in England and Wales are falling nearly doubled during September to hit a record of 8 per cent, figures showed today. The average value of a home dropped by a further 2.2 per cent during the month to £168,814, according to the Land Registry...

khaleejtimes.com, October 28, "Sarkozy unveils plan to protect jobs from crisis" : RETHEL, France - French President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled measures on Tuesday to protect jobs and warned companies against unjustified layoffs as evidence mounted that many workers would fall victim to the financial crisis. News of mass layoffs at household-name French companies from carmaker Renault to mail order retailer La Redoute has put pressure on Sarkozy to match his 360 billion euro ($450 billion) rescue package for banks with a plan to help ordinary people.

Sarkozy promised to ease restrictions on the use of short-term job contracts by small and medium businesses, fund an additional 100,000 subsidized work contracts in next year's budget, extend the use of subsidized training programmes and make it easier for people to work on Sundays. This is the third stage in our global plan to respond to the crisis that France, along with the rest of the world, is facing,’ Sarkozy said during a speech at a job centre in the northern town of Rethel, which has a very high jobless rate...

10.28.08 Stocks open higher on expected rate cut

October 28 - Stocks gave up some of their earlier gains by midday today, after disappointing reports on consumer confidence and housing prices suppressed some of the enthusiasm felt by investors over an anticipated rate cut by the Federal Reserve. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 148 points, or 1.8 percent, to 8,324 after gaining more than 300 points after the opening bell. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index was up 1.4 percent and tech-heavy Nasdaq was up one percent.

An index of consumer confidence plummeted to an all-time low of 38 in October, compared to 61.4 in September, according to private research group, the Conference Board. The report showed that consumers may be clamping shut their pocket books ahead of the holiday season, which could drive prolonged recessionary pressures, analysts said. [More>>washingtonpost.com; See also;

cbsnews.com (AP) October 28, "Asian markets bounce back, European stock exchanges also make gains after days of sharp losses" :
Most Asian stock markets rebounded Tuesday after several days of steep declines as investors snapped up beaten down shares like Honda, Samsung and HSBC. Shares in Europe also opened higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose a whopping 14.4 percent - its biggest gain in 11 years - to 12,596.29, a day after plunging more than 12 percent.

South Korea's Kospi jumped 5.6 percent to 999.16. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index surged 459.02 points, or 6.4 percent, to 7,621.92 after early falling to fresh 26-year lows. A weaker yen against the dollar encouraged traders to buy exporters like Toyota and Sony, whose overseas earnings are eroded by a strong yen. The dollar, which had fallen to a 13-year low against the yen on Friday, rose to 94.72 yen from 93.01 yen in late New York trading...In Europe, stocks rose in early trading. London's FTSE 100 index gained almost 3 percent, Germany's DAX jumped 4.4 percent and France's CAC-40 rose nearly 3 percent...

10.28.08 Syria 'Gave green light for raid'

October 28 - Why did America launch a daylight helicopter attack on Syria provoking worldwide outrage? The plot thickens. Publicly America is still saying nothing but US officials are making intriguing claims off the record. Now, a respected Israeli intelligence expert says he has been told the operation was carried out with the knowledge and cooperation of Syrian intelligence.

Ronen Bergman, author of The Secret War with Iran, makes the claim in the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper, based on briefings with two senior American officials, one of whom he says until recently "held a very high ranking in the Pentagon." Mr. Bergman told Sky News the raid happened after America had lobbied Syria intensely to deal with an al-Qaeda group conducting activity on the border. The Syrians were unwilling to be seen publicly bowing to US pressure to tackle the group, he says, but in the end gave the Americans the green light to do so themselves. [More>>news.sky.com]

10.28.08 North Korea threatens to reduce South to debris

SEOUL (Reuters) October 28 - North Korea's military threatened on Tuesday to use everything in its arsenal to reduce South Korea to rubble unless Seoul stops civic groups from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the communist state. The North has lashed out at the South's president who took office in February for his pledges to get tough with his neighbor and has been enraged by a fresh wave of propaganda leaflets sent by balloons launched in the South in recent months.

"We clarify our stand that should the South Korean puppet authorities continue scattering leaflets and conducting a smear campaign with sheer fabrications, our army will take a resolute practical action as we have already warned," the official KCNA news agency quoted the military spokesman as saying. At a rare round of military talks on Monday, North Korea complained about the leaflets while South Korean activists sent a new batch of 100,000, despite warnings from Seoul not to do so. [More>>thestar.com.my; See also koreaherald.co.kr, October 28, "N.K. tense over 'paper bombs'. "]

10.28.08 Pakistan-Afghan mini Jirga agrees to form contact group

ISLAMABAD, October 28 - Pakistani and Afghan officials and tribal leaders agreed Tuesday to make contact with Taliban militants in an attempt to end the raging insurgent violence along their porous border. The declaration came after two days of talks in Islamabad aimed at finding a lasting solution to the unrest which has wracked the region since the US-led toppling of Afghanistan's Taliban regime in 2001. "We agreed that contacts should be established with the opposition in both countries, joint contacts through the Jirgagai (mini-tribal council)," said former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, the leader of the Afghan side.

Asked whether that included the Taliban and other militants, Owais Ahmed Ghani, Governor NWFP and leader of the Pakistani delegation, said, "Yes, it includes all those who are involved in this conflict situation." The meeting of 50 officials and tribal elders from both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border was a follow-up to a larger "peace Jirga" held in Kabul in August 2007. Abdullah said that the mini-Jirga had advised both governments "to deny sanctuary for the terrorists and militant elements which are a threat to all of us for both countries."
[More>>thenews.com.pk; See related story, thenews.com.pk, October 28, "Security forces strike at militants' hideouts in Swat."]

10.28.08 Police officers die in Mosul attack

October 28 - Fighters have killed at least nine people in Iraq, including four policemen, in the northern city of Mosul, security officials say. Armed men fired on a group of eight policemen as they were on their way to work in the city's western Al-Amil neighbourhood on Tuesday, a local police officer who declined to give his name said. Four of them were killed and the others were wounded, he said.

Iraqi and US commanders say Mosul, where security forces are carrying out a series of military assaults targeting anti-government fighters, is the last urban bastion of al-Qaeda in Iraq. In Baghdad, five people were killed and 15 wounded in a car-bomb attack in the capital's al-Jihad neighbourhood, a security official with the defence ministry said. In another development on Tuesday, an Iraqi court sentenced to death by hanging a suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq fighter for the 2006 killing of three US soldiers south of Baghdad. [More>>aljazeera.net; See related story:

nytimes.com, October 28, "Fractures in Iraq city as Kurds and Baghdad vie":
MOSUL — A new Iraqi military offensive is under way in this still violent northern city, but the worry is not only the insurgents who remain strong here. American commanders are increasingly concerned that Mosul could degenerate into a larger battleground over the fragile Iraqi state itself. The problems are old but risk spilling out violently here and now. The central government in Baghdad has sent troops to quell the insurgency here, while also aiming at what it sees as a central obstacle to both nationhood and its own power: the semiautonomous Kurdish region in the north and the Kurds’ larger ambitions to expand areas under their control.

The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is squeezing out Kurdish units of the Iraqi Army from Mosul, sending the national police and army from Baghdad and trying to forge alliances with Sunni Arab hard-liners in the province, who have deep-seated feuds with the Kurdistan Regional Government led by Massoud Barzani...

10.28.08 5 Chinese workers killed by kidnappers in Sudan

KHARTOUM, October 27 - Five Chinese workers abducted in southwest Sudan by local militants this month have been killed by the kidnappers, officials of the Chinese embassy in Sudan said on Monday. The Chinese embassy has learnt from the Sudanese authorities on Monday that among the nine Chinese workers abducted on Oct. 19, five had been killed, two had gone missing and the two others had escaped the danger. The Chinese embassy strongly condemned the killing, and was keeping contacts with the Sudanese authorities for more information about the incident, according to the Chinese officials. The embassy also asked Sudan to continue the operation of searching the two missing Chinese workers, urging Sudan government to take all the necessary measures to safeguard the Chinese citizens in Sudan. [>xinhuanet.com]

10.28.08 Captured in a hail of bullets, drug lord who left trail of severed heads

October 28 - He didn't look much like a doctor, the scruffy, grey-haired man bundled by armed police off a flight to Mexico City, but then he didn't really resemble one of central America's most powerful criminal masterminds, either. Eduardo Arellano Felix, one of seven brothers who founded the notorious Arellano Felix drug cartel in the 1980s, was arrested in his unwashed jeans and tracksuit after a weekend gunfight in Fraccionamiento Pedregal, a hillside suburb of Tijuana, the Mexican border city where his empire was built. It marked a suitably dramatic end to the career of a man known locally as El Doctor, thanks both to his previous life as a medical student and the famously clinical manner in which he despatched anyone unfortunate enough to land on the wrong side of his massive cocaine smuggling network.

The arrest of Felix, 52, is a fresh setback for the Arellano Felix organization, which, for more than two decades, has controlled the cross-border flow of narcotics into the southern US states. Five of its seven founding brothers have been killed or jailed in recent years. Shortly after 5pm on Saturday, more than 100 armed police stormed the gated luxury home where Felix was living under an alias. Although dozens of shots were fired, he surrendered prematurely to protect his 11-year-old daughter, who was in danger of being caught in the crossfire.

"This is a significant blow to what is left of the organization," said a police spokesman. Felix faces extradition to the US, where he was accused in 2003 of being responsible for racketeering, drug trafficking, money laundering and several killings. His arrest comes against the backdrop of a bloody power struggle within the fracturing Arellano Felix empire, which has brought fear to Tijuana and been blamed for 150 deaths in the city in the past month alone. Most killings are attributed to a dispute between Felix's nephew Fernando Sanchez Arellano — now the cartel's unofficial leader — and Eduardo Garcia Simental, a gangster known as El Teo. The bodies of some of their victims were dissolved in acid. Others were left with their tongues cut out, and warnings to the rival faction carved in their flesh. In one incident, several severed heads were placed on top of torsos. [More>>independent.co.uk]

10.28.08 Muslim cleric faces possible criminal charges for marrying 12-year-old contest winner

October 27 - A wealthy Indonesian Muslim cleric faces accusations of having illegal sex with a minor after marrying a 12-year-old girl selected for him through a contest. Pujiono Cahyo Widianto, a 43-year-old owner of an Islamic boarding school, wed and likely slept with Lutfiana Ulfa in August after she won a contest to become Pujiono's second wife judged by his first wife, 26, and followers, the Jakarta Post reported.

The girl's parents admitted that financial difficulties led them to marry their daughter to Pujiono and said the marriage is valid in the eyes of their religion (kawin siri), though not registered with the state, Indonesian Child Protection Commission secretary Hadi Supeno told the Post. The commission planned to immediately report Pujiono, his first wife and Lutfiana's parents to the police for a criminal investigation, Hadi told the Post. All could face a maximum of 15 years in jail and a $30,000 fine, for forcing, swindling and/or trading a minor into sex. [More>>foxnews.com]

10.28.08 Feds disrupt skinhead plot to assasinate Obama

WASHINGtoN, October 27 - Law enforcement agents have broken up a plot by two neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 88 black people, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives said Monday. In court records unsealed Monday in US District Court in Jackson, Tenn, federal agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target a predominantly African-American high school in a murder spree that was to begin in Tennessee. Agents said the skinheads did not identify the school by name.

Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of ATF's Nashville field office, said the two men planned to kill 88 people, including 14 African-Americans by beheading. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community. The men also sought to go on a national killing spree after the Tennessee murders, with Obama as its final target, Cavanaugh told The Associated Press. [More>>japantoday.com]

10.27.08 World markets slump; Nikkei at 26-year low

LONDON (AP) October 27 - World stock markets slumped again Monday with the Nikkei index in Japan closing at its lowest in 26 years as the financial crisis drove up the yen, piling the pressure on the country's exporters. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index closed down 6.4 percent to 7,162.90 - the lowest since October 1982. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled 12.7 percent to 11,015.84, its lowest close in more than four years and biggest daily decline since 1991.

European markets followed Asia lower, with benchmarks in Britain, Germany and France trading down more than 4 percent in early trading. The FTSE 100 index was 190.31 points, or 4.9 percent, lower at 3,693.05, while Germany's DAX was down 182.81 points, or 4.3 percent, at 4,112.86. France's CAC-40 was the worst performing European index, down 184.65 points, or 5.8 percent, at 3,009.14. "Worries about the impact of the surging yen on Japanese export earnings have hit the Nikkei hard," said Julian Jessop, chief international economist at Capital Economics.
[More>>thejakartapost.com; See related stories:

thestar.com.my (AP) October 27, "G-7 countries worried about Japan's yen"
: WASHINGTON - The world's leading industrial countries are worried about the recent sharp rise in the value of the Japanese currency. The financial ministers and central bank presidents of the Group of Seven major industrial countries issued a joint statement late Sunday in which they expressed their concern about the recent volatility of the yen. The yen rose to a 13-year high against the dollar in trading Friday, raising concerns in Japan that it could harm its exports of cars and other products because they will now cost more in US markets...

timesonline.co.uk, October 27, "Pound buckles but shares are off the worst"
: Shares in New York opened in positive territory today after a US government report showed a surprising increase in September new home sales, tempering worries about the prospects of a deep recession. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 134.05 points to 8,513.00 by 1pm in New York. Jean Claude Trichet, chairman of the European Central Bank (ECB), also provided traders with encouragement when he appeared to open the door to another ECB rate cut when he said one was a possibility, but not a certainty.

The improvement in sentiment carried across the Atlantic and the FTSE 100 index of leading shares, which had been down by 5 per cent in morning trade, recovered to down 30.77 points at 3,852.59 by close. But sterling plunged against the dollar today, having fallen through $1.60 for the first time in five years on Friday. The pound lost a further 3 cents to $1.542 amid mounting fears of a prolonged UK recession.

European stock markets were also down around 5 per cent in afternoon trade, following big falls in Asia with Hong Kong's Hang Seng down more than 10 per cent and the Nikkei in Tokyo losing 6 per cent. France's CAC 40 closed down 4 percent, but Germany's DAX ended the day up 0.9 per cent, powered by a jump of more than 150 per cent in Volkswagen shares that came after Porsche said it had increased its stake in the biggest European car maker. The oil price dipped below $60 a barrel, hitting its lowest level since February 2007. Brent futures fell to a 20-month low of $59.02 before recovering slightly to around $60 a barrel...

cbsnews.com, October 27, "Wall Street limps into new week": NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks fluctuated Monday as investors tried to determine how the government's efforts to prop up the banking sector and aid the economy might help stave off a protracted global recession. Investors around the world are nervous that the evaporation in available credit in the past month has hurt lending to the point where it will be difficult to avoid recession. But the U.S. government is implementing some of its measures this week to help the banking sector, including a plan to purchase stakes in banks. Beyond that, investors were cheered after sales of new homes last showed an unexpected increase in September. While median home prices have dropped to the lowest level in four years, investors appeared pleased that the market was beginning to chip away at an inventory glut...

10.27.08 Suspected US strike kills up to 20 in Pakistan

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan, October 27 - A suspected U.S. missile strike on the house of a Taliban commander near the Afghan border killed up to 20 people Monday, Pakistani intelligence officials said. The reported strike occurred in the South Waziristan region, part of Pakistan's wild border zone that is considered a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri.

Two intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to media on the record, said the targeted house in Mandata Raghzai village belonged to a lieutenant of local Taliban chief Maulvi Nazir. The officials, citing reports from agents and informers in the area, said militants cordoned off the scene and the identity of the 20 bodies pulled from the rubble was not immediately clear.
[More>>japantoday.com; See related stories:

thenews.com.pk, October 27, "Pakistan Senate passes resolution against US strikes"
: ISLAMABAD: The upper house Monday unanimously passed a resolution protesting the unilateral strikes carried out by the US in tribal areas of Pakistan. Leader of the house, Mian Raza Rabbani assured the house that the US ambassador will be summoned for registering Pakistan’s protest against the US drones strikes in the bordering area of the country...

aljazeera.net, October 27, "Pakistan Taliban 'commander killed' : A Pakistani Taliban commander accused of launching cross-border attacks in Afghanistan was among 16 people killed in a suspected US missile strike, according to a senior Pakistani official. The commander, Haji Omar Khan, died when at least two missiles struck a training camp in the South Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border on Sunday night, Mawaz Khan, a local administration official, told the AFP news agency. "The death toll has gone up to 16 as six more bodies have been recovered from the site. Senior Taliban commander Haji Omar died in the strike," Khan said...

alarabiya.net, October 27, "US missile strike kills Pakistani Taliban leader": ...Khan was active in attacks against the border, local residents said. The slain commander was a senior member of the group of veteran Taliban chieftain Jalaluddin Haqqani, residents added. Many of the recent U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan have targeted Haqqani and his followers...

10.27.08 Arab world reacts with shock, rage at US attack in Syria

DAMASCUS (DPA) October 27 - Officials across the Arab World reacted with shock and outrage Monday at a US military raid that reportedly killed eight people — allegedly including children — in a small Syrian town Sunday. The United States made no immediate official comment. A helicopter-borne commando raid was reported to have attacked the Syrian town of Abu Kamal, eight kilometres from the Iraqi border. The US silence was met with increasing outrage from regional leaders, with the strongest statements coming from Syria.

"We consider this an act of criminal and terrorist aggression," said Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem. The fact that the attack occurred in broad daylight showed that it was deliberate, he added. It was unclear Monday whether US forces had knowingly crossed over into Syria. The Syrian state-run SANA news agency reported that the victims included a married couple and their four children. Al-Muallem called for the United States and Iraq to investigate the incident and report back to Syria. He also reminded the United States of the Syrian government's opposition to al-Qaeda. The Iraqi government on Monday said it was talking to US officials about the raid and expressed hope that the attack would not hurt Iraqi ties to Syria. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See also:

alarabiya.net, October 27, "Iraq says raid on Syria targeted rebel area"
: Iraq said on Monday a deadly raid on Syria was targeting an area used by insurgents plotting attacks on its soil, as Damascus protested about what it branded a cold-blooded war crime by US forces. "Iraq is in contact with the American side about reports regarding the attack along the frontier with Syria. This region is a theatre of insurgent activities against Iraq using Syria as a launch pad," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement...

foxnews.com, October 27, "US official: Syrian strike killed al-Qaeda target": US strike on a network of foreign fighters in Syria killed its main target — an al-Qaeda coordinator who was wanted for sending foreign fighters, weapons and cash into Iraq, a US official told FOX News.
Killed in Sunday's attack by Special Operations Forces was Abu Ghadiyain, al-Qaeda's senior coordinator operating in Syria who was closely associated with the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The assault, which took place about 4-5 miles inside Syria, came just days after the commander of US forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the border, which he called an "uncontrolled" gateway for fighters entering Iraq. Ninety percent of foreign fighters enter Iraq through Syria, according to US intelligence estimates, bringing cash to al-Qaeda in Iraq's chief. They also are deadly — trained in bomb-making and willing to sacrifice themselves in suicide attacks...

10.27.08 US chopper down, 3 US-led soldiers killed in Afghanistan

KABUL (DPA) October 27 - US military spokesmen confirmed that Taliban rebels shot down a US helicopter in central Afghanistan Monday, while three US-led soldiers died in suicide and roadside attacks elsewhere in the country, officials said. The helicopter crew engaged with Taliban fighters on the ground in Wardak province, about 50 kilometres west of Kabul city, US military spokesman Major Johan Redfield told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. He said the chopper was hit by "enemy fire" but none of the 10-member crew was killed.

...A Taliban spokesman in the area, Ahmad Baheer, said their forces shot down the helicopter with rocket-propelled grenades, killing all aboard. He said their fighters had surrounded Afghan and international forces in the area. Wardak province has been the scene for heavily Taliban activities since the beginning this year. Afghan officials have admitted that the militants had consolidated their positions in the province and were edging closer toward the capital city.

In another incident, a US-led soldier was killed when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in western Afghanistan on Monday afternoon..Meanwhile, a suicide bomber in police uniform blew himself up inside a police headquarters in northern Afghanistan, killing two soldiers serving with the US-led coalition and an Afghan child. Eight people, including police officers, were wounded.

...In another incident, Taliban kidnapped 17 Afghans working with a road construction company in eastern Kunar province, the interior ministry said in a statement. The militants, who were commanded by local Taliban commander Mullah Nasrullah, released three hostages, but the fate of the remaining workers was unclear, the statement said. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

10.27.08 Monthly injection can halt arthritis

LONDON, October 27 - There is new hope for the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, with drug authorities in Europe in the final stages of approving a monthly injection that would halt the crippling effects of the condition. A research, presented at the annual conference of the American College of Rheumatology in San Francisco, suggested that a simple monthly injection could now halt the debilitating effects of the disorder.

"Results of this pivotal study convincingly demonstrate that tocilizumab can effectively and rapidly diminish the painful and debilitating effects of rheumatoid arthritis," said Professor Paul Emery, from the University of Leeds, who led the trial of the drug, described as "exciting" and "dramatic" by the medical profession. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints and can also damage some organs, such as the lungs and skin. It can be a disabling and painful condition, which can lead to substantial loss of functioning and mobility.
[More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See also sfgate.com (SF Chronicle), October 27, "Conference: Arthritis strikes young and old."

10.26.08 UK banks exploit legal loophole to seize homes

LONDON, October 26 - Banks and credit card companies are exploiting obscure legal powers to seize the homes of thousands of people who cannot pay their credit card bills. In some cases, people owing as little as £1,000 have been served with charging orders – the legal instrument enabling a creditor to order the sale of a property.

The practice has emerged days after Yvette Cooper, chief secretary to the Treasury, called on banks to do more to allow people to keep their homes. According to the Ministry of Justice, 97,026 charging orders were granted by courts in England and Wales last year, a tenfold increase since 2000. They allow financial institutions to order the sale of a property to pay off unsecured debts on credit cards, personal loans, store cards and car finance. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

10.26.08 Spending stalls and businesses slash US jobs

October 26 - As the financial crisis crimps demand for American goods and services, the workers who produce them are losing their jobs by the tens of thousands. Layoffs have arrived in force, like a wrenching second act in the unfolding crisis. In just the last two weeks, the list of companies announcing their intention to cut workers has read like a Who's Who of corporate America: Merck, Yahoo, General Electric, Xerox, Pratt & Whitney, Goldman Sachs, Whirlpool, Bank of America, Alcoa, Coca-Cola, the Detroit automakers and nearly all the airlines. When October's job losses are announced on Nov. 7, three days after the presidential election, many economists expect the number to exceed 200,000. The current unemployment rate of 6.1 percent is likely to rise, perhaps significantly. [More>>nytimes.com]

10.26.08 Gulf stocks plunge, DFM index drops below the 3,100-point at opening

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) October 26 - Stock markets in the Gulf states opened the week's trading Sunday sharply down with the bourse in the booming city of Dubai shedding five percent. The Dubai Financial Market Index dropped below the 3,100-point mark in the first few minutes after the opening. The Kuwait Stock Exchange, the second largest in the Arab world, shed 2.4 percent to below 10,300 points led by the banks which dropped 2.4 percent and investments 2.3 percent. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See also:

alarabiya.net, October 26, "Saudi king allocates $2.7 billion for social loans"
: DUBAI - Saudi Arabia plans to extend 10 billion riyals ($2.7 billion) in credit to low-income citizens as the oil-producer giant steps up efforts to contain the fallout from the global financial crisis. Saudi King Abdullah ordered that the additional funds be deposited in the Saudi Credit Bank, which was established to extend interest-free loans to Saudi citizens with limited resources to help them overcome financial difficulties...

10.26.08 Pakistan fighting leaves 41 dead

ISLAMABAD (AP) October 26 - Tribesmen assailed Taliban militants who beheaded a local militiaman in public and tried to abduct their chief, as clashes across northwest Pakistan left 41 people dead on Sunday, officials said. The government has hailed the emergence of anti-Taliban tribal militias as evidence that it can root out militants waging an insurgency in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The militias, known as lashkars, have been compared to the so-called awakening councils that have helped US forces turn the tables against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

"Our tribal brothers, those who are patriots, have broken with them (the militants), and lashkars are fighting against those involved in terrorism," Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Sunday. However, there are doubts that the ramshackle militias can face down heavily armed insurgents who have seized swaths of Pakistan's border belt, forged ties with al-Qaeda, and targeted pro-government elders with suicide bombings and kidnappings.

...Police said a group of assailants were trying to hustle militia chief Pir Samiullah from his home in the Mandaldag area to a getaway car when dozens of local tribesmen confronted them and snatched him back. Dilawar Bangash, the Swat police chief, said hundreds of Taliban later returned, seized three members of the militia and beheaded one of them on a road before a large crowd. A Taliban commander called Mullah Shamsher told onlookers that "this was a lesson for anyone who tried to oppose them," Bangash said, citing accounts gathered later by police. Meanwhile, the militia was gathering men from the surrounding area who engaged the Taliban in an hours-long gunbattle. Bangash said 20 militants, six militiamen and four bystanders were killed in the shooting and another police official said several tribesmen were reported missing. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com; See also:

thenews.com.pk, October 26, "Sixteen killed in Swat clash"
: SWAT, Pakistan - A clash between members of a Jirga and militants has claimed 16 lives in Matta Tehsil of Swat. Three important commanders including Mulla Shamsheer are among the killed while the militants have taken 60 people hostage...

10.26.08 US military: Dozens of militants killed in central eastern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, October 26 - The US-led Coalition forces on Saturday eliminated dozens of militants during patrolling in central eastern Afghan province of Ghazni, said a Coalition statement issued here on Sunday. Coalition forces while conducting a patrol in Qara Bagh district of Ghazni came into contact with dozens of armed militants firing from fortified fighting positions, the statement said. "Coalition forces defended themselves by engaging the militants with small-arms fire and close-air, precision munitions until insurgent threat was eliminated," it said.

"All Coalition forces survived the engagement, it is estimated multiple militants were killed during the fighting," it further added. Spiraling conflicts and Taliban-linked insurgency have left more than 4,700 people dead so far this year in Afghanistan while Taliban insurgents recently vowed to intensified assaults against interests of Afghan government and international troops before the coming winter.

10.25.08 Asia, Europe reach consensus on financial crisis

October 25 - Asian and European leaders said Saturday they have reached a broad consensus on ways to deal with the global financial meltdown and will present their views at a crisis summit next month in Washington. Speaking at the close of a two-day Asia-Europe Meeting in China's capital, the leaders called for new rules for guiding the global economy and a leading role for the International Monetary Fund in aiding crisis-stricken countries.

The biennial forum, known as ASEM, generally does not make decisions, and a statement issued by the leaders indicated how much the crisis in global markets has driven world opinion and institutions. "I'm pleased to confirm a shared determination and commitment of Europe and Asia to work together," EU Commission President Jose Barroso said at a closing news conference. He said participants would use the statement as the basis of their approach at the Nov. 15 Washington summit of the 20 largest economies.
[More>>thejakartapost.com; See also:

washingtonpost.com, October 25, "Asian and European leaders urge new financial rules"
: SHANGHAI - Leaders from Asia and Europe on Sunday called for new rules and stronger regulation of the global monetary and financial system at the close of a two-day summit in Beijing as China assumed a new leadership role in the crisis. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said the world's economic problems had become so massive that measures beyond the many billion-dollar bailout packages already announced might be necessary to avert further damage...

dw-world.de, October 25, "German finance minister warns crisis to last until end 2009" : Germany's Finance Minister has grimly predicted the global financial crisis will last at least until late 2009 and said it will take years for Germany to assess the real costs of its 480-billion-euro bank rescue package. In an interview with German weekly Bild am Sonntag, to be published Sunday, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck offered a bleak assessment of Germany's financial health amid growing concerns of a global recession. "The risk of collapse is far from over. Any all-clear would be wrong,"  Steinbrueck said. "We're still dealing with a dangerous situation." The German government's 480-billion-euro ($610 billion) rescue package for troubled banks, approved last week, is to last through 2009.

German banks have been slow to line up for state aid under the rescue plan, with some suggesting the banks feared strict caps on salaries for executives and other restrictions being imposed on them as well as being stigmatized by peers. Publicly owned regional bank BayernLB this week became the first bank to say it would tap the new fund, while WestLB and HSH Nordbank said on Saturday they would probably follow its lead...

10.25.08 Saudi bourse plunges as Gulf ministers meet

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) October 25 - The Saudi stock market, the largest in the Arab world, began its trading week on Saturday with a nine percent plunge to sink to its lowest point in four years. The renewed nosedive came as policymakers from Gulf states met in Riyadh to seek a common response to the global economic crisis.

The Tawadul All-Shares Index (TASI) was down 8.94 percent in early afternoon trade at 5,610.33 after dropping as low as 5,572 points, a level last seen in May 2004. The fresh selling means the index has lost around 20 percent in the past eight days as the Riyadh market continues to reel from the global financial crisis. The fall on one of the few markets open on a Saturday suggested no end is in sight for the rout which caused heavy losses on Friday on most stock exchanges worldwide. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

10.25.08 Maulvi Ulmer reported killed in Bajaur operation

BAJAUR AGENCY, Pakistan, October 25 - Maulvi Umer, an important leader of banned outfit Tehreek-i-Taliban is reported to have been killed as a result of air strikes carried out by the security forces in Bajaur Agency, FATA on Saturday. According to sources, the Tehreek-i-Taliban leader killed in Bajaur Action could be Maulvi Umer. The Tehreek’s key leader was killed in an air strike in Badano area, sources added. The air strikes launched by the security forces destroyed a cave, where Maulvi Umer might have been present. The sources further say that Tehreek-i-Taliban leader Maulvi Umer went missing after the air strikes. [>thenews.com.pk]

10.25.08 Al-Qaeda appears to claim Glasgow attack

CAIRO (AP) October 25 - The leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq has said his group is focused on attacks outside the country in a new audiotape in which he seemed to claim responsibility for the June 2007 attack on Glasgow International Airport. Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, did not specifically mention the Scottish airport in the nearly 45-minute interview posted on the Internet on Thursday. But he said his group carried out its "last operation in Britain, a good part of which was launched on the airport and the rest was not carried out due to a mistake made by one of the brothers."

Two men were arrested and charged with conspiring to murder after a burning Jeep loaded with gas cylinders was driven into Glasgow airport in June 2007. A day earlier, police discovered two cars packed with explosives in central London. British authorities indicated at the time that they thought the plotters may have had links with al-Qaeda. Masri said that a few days before the airport attack, one of the plotters "got in touch and informed [al-Qaeda in Iraq] that the operation is about to happen." [More>>jpost.com; See related story:

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, October 24, "Bin Laden writing his memoirs"
:ISLAMABAD: World's most wanted fugitive, al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is reportedly writing a book on the struggle of his terrorist network that dispenses money, logistical support and training to radical groups in over 50 countries. The book, being written in Arabic, will later be translated into English. Bin Laden decided to write the book to counter "propaganda" against al-Qaeda, Geo News channel reported. Bin Laden is writing the book with the assistance of a "young man with a Middle Eastern background who will later translate the text into English", the channel reported...


09.11.05 When a nation lacks a competent leader it invites disaster – the legacy of Bush
"Using force the George W. Bush way – Bush's crusade"
11.25.04 Why the Crusade & Jihad?


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