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11.06.09 Sudan leader's due visit sparks Turkey-EU row

ANKARA, Turkey (Reuters) Bashir's planned visit could be diplomatic crisis for Turkey. Turkey's President Abdullah Gul accused the European Union on Friday of "interfering" after the bloc asked Ankara to reconsider a decision to invite indicted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to an Islamic summit in Istanbul. The exchange underscores the risk for EU candidate Turkey that Bashir's plans to attend Monday's summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), in defiance of a warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC), could escalate into a diplomatic crisis with Brussels.

Muslim Turkey has not ratified the 2002 Rome Statute that established the ICC, but it is under pressure to do so to bring it closer to EU standards. Turkey, which has deepened commercial and energy ties with Sudan, has announced it has no plans to arrest Bashir, who was indicted by the ICC in March for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region...Meanwhile, opposition to Turkey's EU bid is growing in some member states who say the country does not fit in Europe.
[Full story>>alarabiya.net]

11.06.09 Foreign journalists arrested in Tehran crackdown

November 6 - Media outlets around the world published pictures and stories from violent demonstrations in Tehran this week. The Iranian regime has responded to mass protests in Tehran this week by implementing a crackdown on foreign journalists. Two Canadian, one Japanese and one Danish journalist are thought to have been arrested for "unauthorized reporting" on demonstrations involving tens of thousands of opposition supporters on Wednesday. The 30th anniversary of the storming of the US Embassy was supposed to be marked with an official rally but it was hijacked by opponents to the Tehran regime. Opposition videos were published showing riot police and the Basij militia clubbing men and women and charging into crowds.

The state-run Fars news agency said today that the Canadian and Japanese reporters had been seized and a Danish journalism student was held two days ago. The Danish union of journalists said that Niels Krosgaard, 31, was working as a freelance journalist in Iran for a project related to a course when he was arrested. "The Danish journalist who had disappeared has been located in an Iranian jail," a spokesman said. "He was arrested at an anti-government protest in Tehran." The Danish foreign ministry said that it had been informed of the case by the union. Farhad Pouladi, an Iranian reporter for Agence France-Presse (AFP), was detained in Tehran on Wednesday.

11.06.09 US unemployment rate hits 10.2%, highest in 26 years

November 6 - The American unemployment rate surged to 10.2 percent in October, its highest level in 26 years, as the economy lost another 190,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday. The jump into the realm of double-digit joblessness — from 9.8 percent in September — provided a sobering reminder that, despite the apparent end of the Great Recession, economic expansion has yet to translate into jobs, leaving tens of millions of people still struggling...Republicans point to elevated joblessness as proof that the Obama administration's $787 billion spending package aimed at stimulating the economy had failed. Labor unions and some Democrats are calling for another round of spending to create more jobs. And all of this comes against a backdrop of continued worries about swelling federal budget deficits. [Full story>>nytimes.com; See related story,

news.sky.com, November 6, "UK : Insolvencies hit new half-century high" : The number of people declared insolvent in England and Wales hit a new record high in the third quarter as more indebted Britons were worn down by the UK's longest recession. A total of 35,242 people became insolvent in the three months to the end of September — the highest number since records began in 1960 - figures from the Insolvency Service show. The tally is 7% higher than the previous quarter and up 28% on a year ago...

11.05.09 33 militants killed in Waziristan by army and US drones

ISLAMABAD, November 5 - Renewed pitched battles erupted around the Taliban stronghold of Sararogha with 28 militants and five soldiers killed in fresh clashes, as drones, after a brief lull, fired missiles targeting a hideout in north Waziristan, killing five other insurgents. Pakistani forces advancing along three fronts on Taliban hubs also faced heavy fire fight as Taliban fighters held them back from overunning their other key stronghold of Ladha in South Waziristan. Heavy street fighting is reported going on in the town over the past 24 hours.

Pakistani forces claimed they had captured the Ladha fort. Fresh fighting was again reported from Sararogha which the Army claimed to have captured on Tuesday and the five Army soldiers, including an officer were killed in a blast in the town, which was a former operational base of slain Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud. "In [the] last 24 hours, 28 terrorists have been killed while five were apprehended. Security forces losses are five soldiers," the military said in a statement. Heavy fighting was also reported in villages between Shakai and Kaniourram, also in South Waziristan where security forces killed seven militants as retaliation for a heavy rocket attack. As heavy fighting continued in South Waziristan. US drones after a brief lull began targeting militants hitting their hideouts in Naurak village killing five militants.
[>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related story,

geo.tv November 5, "75 held following treachers' killing in Bajaur" : KHAR - The police held 75 suspects during a search operation launched in the wake of the killing of 2 female teachers in Bajaur Agency on Thursday. The police has deported 21 Afghanis from Bajaur Agency and handed them over to the Afghanistani officials at Torkham border. The security men have destroyed several militants’ dens with explosives in Malasid locality of Tehsil Salarzai. Security forces have distributed rations among the affectees in Mohmand, Salarzai and Chahar Mung. Meanwhile, unidentified men have blown up Government Girls Higher Secondary School using explosives in Khyber Agency. [end]

11.05.09 IAEA: We found 'nothing to worry about' at secret Iran nuke site

(Reuters) November 5 - United Nations inspectors found "nothing to be worried about" in a first look at a previously secret uranium enrichment site in Iran last month, the International Atomic Energy chief said in remarks released Thursday. Mohammed ElBaradei also told the New York Times that he was examining possible compromises to unblock a draft nuclear cooperation deal between Iran and three major powers that has floundered over Iranian objections..."The idea was to use it as a bunker under the mountain to protect things," ElBaradei, alluding to Tehran's references to the site as a fallback for its nuclear program in case its larger Natanz enrichment plant were bombed by a foe like Israel. [More>>haaretz.com]

11.05.09 Al-Qaeda says behind ambush on Yemen officers

DUBAI (Reuters) November 5 - An al-Qaeda group claimed responsibility on Thursday for the killing of seven Yemeni security officials in an ambush near the Saudi border this week. The attack on Tuesday was on the same day Yemeni rebels killed a Saudi security officer in a cross-border raid, underlining the growing security threat from Yemen to US ally Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter. The attack on the Yemeni officers was carried out in the Hadramout valley region as they were returning from a visit to a Yemeni post on the Saudi border. "This operation was in support of our brothers imprisoned in the jails of Hadramout, Sanaa and elsewhere, and ... against all those who seek to bring harm to the mujahideen," al-Qaeda's Arabian Peninsula wing said in a statement posted on an Islamist website. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

alarabiya.net, November 5, "Yemen denies Saudi air strike targeted its soil" : SANAA / RIYADH - Saudi air force hits Yemen rebels after border raid. A Yemeni Defense Ministry official denied on Thursday that Saudi forces had struck targets inside Yemen, after Shiite rebels launched a cross-border attack into Saudi Arabia earlier this week. "Saudi Arabia did not hit targets in Yemen," the official told Reuters, but declined to give further comment on reports that the kingdom's air force had attacked rebel positions. A Saudi government adviser said earlier on Thursday that the kingdom had launched heavy air strikes on rebel camps on the border region of Jabal al-Dukhan and moved ground troops nearer the border against them after they killed a Saudi border guard and wounded 11 others on Tuesday...

11.04.09 US backtracks & labels settlements illegitimate

CAIRO, November 4 - Clinton says peace talks must include Jerusalem. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that Washington does not accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlement activity but believes that getting to talks is the quickest way to achieve a freeze. "We do not accept the legitimacy of settlement activity and we have a very firm belief that ending all settlement activity, current and future, would be preferable," Clinton said after meeting President Hosni Mubarak. "Getting into final status negotiations will allow us to bring an end to settlement activity," she added.

Cairo is Clinton's last stop on a tour of the region during which Arab anger has flared over signs the Obama administration no longer backs Palestinian demands that Israel immediately stop building settlements on occupied territory in the West Bank. Clinton also said Middle East peace talks must include the disputed city of Jerusalem and said "there is no doubt in anyone's mind that moving toward a state... must include all the issues... and that includes Jerusalem," she said at a press conference. "We want to assure you that our goal is a real state, with a real sovereignty," she said
[More>>alarabiya.net; See related stories,

haaretz.com, November 4, "Erekat: Palestinians may have to abandon goal of independent state" : Palestinians may have to abandon the goal of an independent state if Israel continues to expand settlements and the United States does not stop it, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Wednesday. It may be time for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to "tell his people the truth, that with the continuation of settlement activities, the two-state solution is no longer an option," Erekat told a news conference. Citing the 2003 peace Road Map, Abbas has made a cessation of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank a precondition for resuming statehood talks with Israel.

The road map also required that Palestinians dismantle armed groups like Islamist Hamas, which opposes peace talks. That did not happen, and Hamas now controls the Gaza Strip — half the Palestinian polity — in a running challenge to Abbas' mandate. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who met Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Saturday, unsuccessfully urged Abbas to negotiate with Israel and resolve the settlement issue within the framework of the talks...

nytimes.com, November 4, "Clinton backs peace talks before Israeli settlement freeze" :
CAIRO - Winding up a Middle East tour, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton repeated on Wednesday that while the Obama administration rejects the legitimacy of Israeli settlement expansion, it nonetheless believes that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should precede a permanent freeze on such construction. Her arguments conflicted with Arab and Palestinian demands that all settlement activity be frozen as a precondition for resuming talks with Israel.

11.04.09 Defense officials say weapons were bound for Syria, Hizbullah

November 4 - Hundreds of tons of weaponry, ten times the size of the Karine A shipment of 2002, were seized in an overnight raid Tuesday by the Israeli navy, some 100 nautical miles west of Israel, officials said. The ship seized was sailing under an Antiguan flag. The transfer of such large amounts of weapons, "is done in order to create a balance of terror with Israel," said Brigadier General Rani Ben-Yehuda, deputy commander of the Israeli navy, at a press conference. Defense officials said the 140-meter long Francop, captured near Cyprus, was carrying arms sent by Iran and destined for Syria and Hizbullah. After several days of the Israeli military monitoring the ship, Navy Seals boarded it in the middle of the night. Suspicions were raised after the Seals uncovered certificates within containers that documented Iran as the point of origin for some containers, with Syria as the intended destination.

...After leaving the Bandar-Abbas Port in Iran, the cargo was shipped through the Suez Canal, unloaded at the Mediterranean Port of Damietta in Egypt and then loaded onto the ship that was captured by the navy. The intended destination was the port Latakia in Syria, with the contents of the shipment to be sent to Hizbullah, they said...The ships' crew was unaware of the weapons on board, as the armaments were disguised as humanitarian aid...Israel Radio reported that advanced anti-aircraft platforms never before found in the region were also on board.

...The weapons included 107-millimeter rockets, 60-millimeter mortars, 7.62-rifle Kalashnikov-ammunition, F-1 grenades and 122-millimeter Katyusha rockets. On the side of some of the cases inside the containers the words "parts of bulldozers" was written...A month ago, Der Spiegel reported that the US Navy had boarded a German cargo ship near the Suez Canal that was carrying ammunition from Iran to Syria or Hizbullah. In the past year, the Navy intercepted several vessels suspected of illicitly carrying munitions intended for Israel's enemies.
[Full story>>jpost.com]

11.04.09 Iran opposition protesters return to streets

TEHRAN (AP) November 4 - Opposition protesters returned to the streets of Tehran Wednesday for the first time in nearly two months, clashing with security forces just blocks from a government rally to mark the 30th anniversary of the US Embassy takeover. The scenes of defiant chants, tear gas and baton-wielding police recalled the unrest that followed the disputed presidential elections in June. But the latest marches drew far fewer demonstrators and suggested the relentless pressure by authorities could be taking a toll on the opposition.

It also displayed the pinpoint counter strategy of opposition groups: staging rival marches during key state-backed events to gain maximum exposure as they try to reassert their voice. The contrasts were vivid on a day of major symbolic importance to the Iran's leadership. People chanted "Death to America" and walked over US flags outside Washington's former embassy. Meanwhile, hundreds of opposition marchers in nearby Haft-e-Tir Square denounced President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with cries of "Death to the Dictator" and trampled a poster of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, witnesses said.
[More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

foxnews.com, November 4, "30 years later: Iran hostage crisis" (Story with slides) Nov. 4, 2009, marks the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran, when militant Iranian students took 66 Americans hostage and began a 444-day standoff with the West. Fifty-two Americans were kept in captivity for nearly 15 months by forces loyal to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who established an Islamic theocracy in 1979, months before the storming of the embassy. President Jimmy Carter ordered an ill-fated rescue attempt in April 1980 in which eight US servicemen died in a mid-air collision between two aircraft flying over the Iranian desert on their way back from the aborted maneuver. The failure left a lasting mark on the Carter administration and helped sink his presidency...

11.04.09 Security forces capture Fazlullah's close aide in Swat

MINGORA, Pakistan, November 4 - The security forces have apprehended commander Saifullah, a close aide of Fazlullah during search operation in Koza Bandia area of Tehsil Kabal, Swat. Saifullah, who had been involved in several militant attacks on the security men, is said to be a close aide of Fazlullah, the chief of banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, sources said. Sources said that Saifullah has been shifted to an unknown place for interrogation. Meanwhile, security forces have nabbed 2 persons accused of involvement in the killing of inspector Zota Khan, who was gunned down two days back in Kalakot area of Tehsil Matta. [>thenews.com.pk]

11.04.09 Five British soldiers shot dead by rogue Afghan policeman

November 4 - Five British soldiers have been shot dead after a rogue Afghan policeman turned a heavy machine-gun against a British training team inside a checkpoint in Helmand Province. The soldiers, three from the Grenadier Guards and two from the Royal Military Police, died in the village of Shin Kalay in Nad-e’Ali district of Helmand Province yesterday afternoon. Six British soldiers were injured in the same incident, several of them seriously. Two Afghan policemen, including the commander of the checkpost, were also injured before their assailant managed to escape. [More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related stories,

independent.co.uk, November 4, "Slaughter raises Afghan fears of the enemy within" : ...The Afghan security forces are the key in the West's exit strategy from this bloody and increasingly unpopular war. The police, in particular, are supposed to be the lynchpin of a safe civic society. As part of his grand strategy to turn the tide of this war, the US general commanding NATO forces, Stanley McChrystal, has called for the size of the force to be increased from the current 82,000 to 160,000. But the police are poorly equipped and paid, badly trained with many members steeped in corruption using their uniforms and guns for extortion of the local population. Many deal in drugs or are themselves addicts.

Now it is the rising prevalence of police officers taking part in attacks against Western troops and officials which has raised deep worries about just how much the force has been infiltrated by the Taliban. Four weeks ago a policeman in Wardak province opened fire on American soldiers out on patrol, killing two of them before fleeing. Last year, over a period of less than a month, Afghan police twice attacked US forces, killing two soldiers and wounding three others. Last week men in police uniforms forced their way into a guest house in Kabul and murdered five UN election workers. They were not members of the force, but had police issue radio transmitters and detailed information on the target of their attack, which, say investigators, could only have come from official sources...

indianexpress.com, November 4, "Karzai refuses to sack corrupt Afghan ministers, officials" : LONDON - Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who started his new term with a pledge to check corruption and reach out to opponents, has ruled out sacking corrupt minister and officials, and has neither outlined how he would tackle the systemic malpractice and criminality in the country which has attracted international criticism. The US and other Western countries are demanding root and branch reforms and a major drive against corruption in return for additional troops and vast amounts of money to Afghanistan, 'The Independent' reports. Karzai during his victory speech was flanked by his two running mates, Marshal Muhammed Qasim, accused of drug trafficking by US officials, and Karim Khalili, who was accused in a recent human rights report of war crimes...

news.sky.com, November 4, "Taliban: We were behind UK soldier deaths" : The Taliban have said they were behind the killing of five British soldiers shot dead by an Afghan policeman they were training in Helmand province. A spokesman said the officer was a member of their rebel organization. "It's a new Taliban tactic," he said. "We have more Taliban who have infiltrated into the police and army."...

11.03.09 China's economic growth to exceed 10% in Q4: China Construction Bank

BEIJING, November 3 - China's economic growth would exceed 10 percent in the fourth quarter due to climbing export orders and increasing domestic consumption, according to a report issued by China Construction Bank (CCB) Tuesday. The report said China's full year economic growth would reach 8.3 percent, compared with Asian Bank's forecast of 8.2 percent in September and HSBC's 8.1 percent this week. As the economy rebounded, both investor and consumer confidence would rise in the fourth quarter, which would further strengthen the economic recovery...As developed countries showed more signs of economic recovery, China's exports would pick up with trade surplus expected to reach 250 billion US dollars this year, said the report. [More>>xinhuanet.com]

11.03.09 British break up several bailed-out banks

LONDON, November 3 - Some want US to follow suit to increase financial competition. The British government announced Tuesday that it will break up parts of major financial institutions bailed out by taxpayers, highlighting a growing divide across the Atlantic over how to deal with the massive banks that were partially nationalized during the height of the financial crisis. The British government spurred on by European regulators is forcing the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and Northern Rock to sell off parts of their operations. The Europeans are calling for more and smaller banks to increase competition and eliminate the threat posed by banks so large that they must be rescued by taxpayers, no matter how they conducted their business, in order to avoid damaging the global financial system.

The move to downsize some of Britain's largest banks comes as US politicians are debating whether American banks should also be required to shrink. The Obama administration has maintained that large banks should be preserved because they play an important role in the economy and that taxpayers instead should be protected by creating a new system for liquidating large banks that run into problems. But Britain's decision already is being cited by a growing chorus of experts, including prominent bankers and economists, who want the United States to pursue a similar approach.

11.03.09 N. Korea threatens to expand nuclear arsenal

SEOUL, S. Korea (AP) November 3 - North Korea issued a veiled threat to increase its nuclear arsenal if US officials do not quickly agree to the one-on-one talks that the communist regime is demanding. The regime's impatience came days after its No 2 nuclear negotiator Ri Gun came away from meetings with Washington envoy Sung Kim without an agreement to hold bilateral talks. "If the US is not ready to sit at a negotiating table with the (North), it will go its own way," the North's Foreign Ministry said Monday in a statement carried by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency. The statement did not elaborate, but it was widely seen as a warning that the North will bolster its nuclear stockpile a brinksmanship tactic that the communist nation has often employed. [More>>indianexpress.com]

11.03.09 Pakistan army storms Taliban stronghold: military

ISLAMABAD, November 3 - Pakistan said Tuesday troops had stormed into another important Taliban stronghold, killing 16 militants and seeking to expand their control in a blistering air and ground offensive..."Security forces have commenced sanitization of Sararogha," the military announced in a statement. No official was immediately reachable for comment...Sararogha is one of the most strategic towns where ground and air forces are fighting in the forbidding mountains on the Afghan border. US officials say al-Qaeda is plotting attacks on the West from the lawless tribal belt. Sixteen militants and one soldier were killed in fighting so far in the town, the military said. Overall, 21 militants were killed in the last 24 hours, pushing the total number to 364 since the operation started, according to information provided by the army. The army has reported the deaths of 37 soldiers. [Full story>>thenews.com.pk]

11.03.09 Karzai vows 'inclusive' government

November 3 - Hamid Karzai, who won re-election as Afghan president after his rival withdrew from a runoff vote, has vowed that his government will represent all his countrymen. His comments on Tuesday follow stern warnings from his Western backers that he should work harder to tackle corruption. "Today I would like to say that no one will see themselves distant in this process and all of us will be a part of the Afghanistan government," he said in a low-key victory speech. [More>>aljazeera.net; See also,

abcnews.go.com, November 3, "Karzai talks tough on corruption with alleged druglord by his side" : KABUL - In his first speech since being declared the winner of a second presidential term, Afghan President Hamid Karzai promised to tackle the corruption that has come to define his government in the eyes of many Afghans...Karzai did not offer specific measures to fight corruption and while he spoke, running mate Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim was at his side. Fahim, a former defense minister, is accused of trafficking drugs. Asked if he would fire ministers suspected of crimes, Karzai said the problems can't be solved solely by changing personnel...

11.03.09 Clinton offers US aid to help boost Muslim ties

MARRAKESH, Morocco, November 3 - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered aid on Tuesday to boost ties with the Muslim world and urged Israel, the Palestinians and Arab countries to move beyond recrimination in the search for peace. "We are determined and persistent in the pursuit of that goal," she said in a speech at a development forum in Morocco attended by Arab ministers. After a weekend of heated words about the perceived US tilt toward Israel on the issue of settlements on the occupied West Bank, Clinton said it was important for all sides to "be careful about what we say" and avoid angry rhetoric.

"We need to work together in a constructive spirit toward this shared goal of a comprehensive peace. I believe very strongly that it is attainable ... (and) that with your support we can find a way through." Clinton's speech unveiled a modest new set of aid proposals aimed at building on President Barack Obama's promise in a June address in Cairo to make a "new beginning" on Washington's strained ties with the Islamic world.

11.03.09 Khamenei: US offers smile, hides dagger

TEHRAN (AP) November 3 - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's on Tuesday warned against the US imposing its will on negotiations with Teheran. Khamenei's statements come as Iran is asking to modify a UN-brokered proposal for Russia and France to turn the Islamic republic's uranium stockpile into nuclear fuel and allay Western fears over a possible weapons program. "Whenever the US offers a smile, it hides a dagger in his back," said Khamenei according to the state news agency. He rejected "talks in which the US decides about its results in advance." [More>>jpost.com]

11.02.09 Ford posts an unexpected profit of $997 million

DETROIT, November 2 - The Ford Motor Company on Monday posted a surprise third-quarter profit of $997 million and said it had had its first profitable quarter in North America in more than four years. The carmaker also said that, at least temporarily, it had stopped rapidly burning through its much-needed cash reserves. It reported positive cash flow of $2.8 billion during the quarter, ending September with $23.8 billion. Through the first nine months of 2009, Ford, the only Detroit automaker to avoid bankruptcy this year, has had a profit of more than $1.8 billion. Still, it has lost about $1.3 billion when one-time items, like a major debt restructuring, are excluded. Until now, its goal had been to break even or earn a full-year profit by 2011. On Monday the company said in a statement that it "now expects to be solidly profitable in 2011, excluding special items, with positive operating-related cash flow." It did not indicate whether a fourth-quarter or full-year profit is expected this year, nor did it provide an outlook for 2010, citing continued economic uncertainty. [More>>nytimes.com]

11.02.09 Timor rig at risk of collapse

November 2 - A portion of the oil rig ablaze in the Timor Sea has collapsed  and there is a "large risk" the whole structure could collapse, a company official has said. Specialist teams have been brought in to fight the fire on the leaking West Atlas rig operated by PTTEP off the northwest Australian coast. Jose Martins, the financial officer of PTTEP Australasia, said on Monday: "The fire is out of control." He added that the collapse had been on to the wellhead platform. Nobody has been hurt in the fire and all staff had been evacuated. Environmentalists say the fire could worsen the impact of an already devastating oil spill. The blaze broke out on Sunday as workers tried to plug the leak that has been spewing oil into the sea for more than two months...Oil workers had made several attempts to plug a leak more than 2.5km under the sea bed when the fire broke out. ..Environmentalists estimate that about 10 million liters of oil have emptied into the sea so far, saying the leak had seriously harmed wildlife and that its effects could be felt for 20 years. [Full story>>aljazeera.net]

11.02.09 Iran wants new nuclear fuel talks, deepening doubts

VIENNA (Reuters) November 2 - Iran wants more talks on a UN-drafted nuclear deal because it needs guarantees it will receive reactor fuel, a senior official said on Monday, adding to doubts that a standoff with big powers can be ended soon. Western powers have urged Iran to accept a draft deal in which it would send most of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad by the end of the year for further enrichment to turn it into fuel for a medical reactor in Tehran. Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told Reuters more talks were needed "in order to ensure that our technical concerns, and especially the issue of the guarantee of the fuel supply, are taken into consideration." Tehran appears to be stalling after seeming ready to make concessions to an international community that is threatening to impose more sanctions over fears that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. [More>>thestar.com.my]

11.02.09 Iran bans critical business newspaper

TEHRAN (AP) November 2 - Iranian authorities have closed down a business newspaper known for being critical of the government. The Iranian state news agency on Monday said the Culture Ministry ordered the newspaper closed because its content strayed from the business field. The Sarmayeh newspaper was known for articles critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic policies, which they say have impoverished the country.

A number of reformist newspapers and magazines have been closed down following the June's disputed presidential elections in which Ahmadinejad was reelected. Many journalists were also sent to jail on the charge of fomenting post-election unrests. Since 2000 more than 100 newspapers and periodicals were banned in Iran, mostly on security charges.

11.02.09 UK woman jailed for hiding bomb files in burka

LONDON (Reuters) November 2 - Woman accidentally dropped memory stick while interviewed. A Moroccan woman who hid a computer memory stick in her burka containing thousands of files on making explosives, was sentenced to two years in jail on Monday after pleading guilty to possessing material likely to be useful to terrorists. Houria Chentouf, 41, from Manchester, admitted two offences of owning an article "connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism." But the mother-of-six walked free from Manchester Crown Court after having served time on remand following her arrest, the Press Association reported. The court heard how the memory stick contained more than 7,000 files, including an explosives manual for the "Brothers of the Mujahideen." I

It was described by police as "a mini encyclopedia of weapons making." Prosecutors said the Moroccan accidentally dropped the computer stick while she was being interviewed by officers at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport in October of last year. It had been tied to the inner sleeve of her burka, but fell out as she reached down to scratch her leg, prosecutor Simon Denison told the court. Another document contained information about the military use of electronics. Police said the files, some of which ran to 900 pages, would have been enough to fill two floors of the Marks & Spencer store in Manchester. Evidence was also uncovered from internet chatroom sites which indicated her support for those seeking martyrdom.

11.02.09 Pakistan offers $5 million bounty for Taliban leaders

ISlAMABAD (AFP) November 2 - Pakistan on Monday offered rewards worth five million dollars for information leading to the capture, dead or alive, of the country's Taliban warlord Hakimullah Mehsud and 18 lieutenants. The rewards for top-ranking Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants were offered in a black-and-white government advertisement on the front page of The News daily and flashed on Pakistani television channels on Sunday night. Mehsud, who took on the leadership mantle after a US drone attack killed his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud in August, headed the list with 50 million Pakistan rupees (600,240 dollars) slapped on his head..."Anyone who captures these people dead or alive or provides concrete information, the government will award them a cash reward," the advert said.

"The activities of these brutal people, who have no fear of God, are bringing a bad name
not only to the Mehsud tribe but all tribesmen...and also give a bad name to Pakistan in the whole world," it said. "These people certainly need just punishment. They are the killers of humanity. Help the government of Pakistan to annihilate them." Wali-ur Rehman Mehsud, head of the Baitullah Mehsud faction in South Waziristan and considered a contender for the TTP succession, and Qari Hussain Mehsud, commander for his hometown, Kotkai, were also the subjects of 50-million-rupee awards. [Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related story,

indianexpress.com, November 2, "Blast near Pakistan army HQ in Rawalpindi, 34 killed" : ISLAMABAD - A suicide bomber blew himself up in a busy commercial area near the Army's General Headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Monday, killing at least 34 people, including military personnel, in the latest in a series of deadly terrorist attacks that have rocked Pakistan. The motorcycle-borne bomber detonated his explosives outside a state-run bank, causing considerable damage to the facade of Shalimar Hotel on Mall Road, less than a kilometer from the army's fortified General Headquarters that was besieged by a group of terrorists nearly a month ago.

bbc.co.uk, November 2, "Pakistan takes Taliban stronghold" :
Pakistani forces say they have seized control of the town of Kaniguram in South Waziristan, one of the Taliban's key regional strongholds. The army said it had full control of the town, the latest capture in an offensive against militants that began in South Waziristan on 17 October. The offensive has sparked a string of suicide bomb attacks. About 35 people were killed in an attack in Rawalpindi and seven were injured on the outskirts of Lahore....

thenews.com.pk, November 2, "Five policemen injured in Lahore check post blast" : LAHORE - Five policemen have been injured in a bomb blast at police check post near Babu Sabu Motorway Interchange, Geo News reported Monday. The blast took place when a white Suzuki Mehran rammed into the police check post, sources said. Rescue teams have reached the blast site. The injured police personnel have been rushed to nearby hospital. [end]

11.01.09 PA: Clinton hurting peace talks

(AP) November 1 - Palestinians on Sunday accused US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of undermining progress toward Mideast peace talks after she praised Israel for offering to curb some Jewish settlement construction. After meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders during a visit Saturday, Clinton called for an unconditional resumption of peace talks and welcomed Israel's offer for a slowdown in settlement activity. But Palestinians rejected the idea of resuming talks, reiterating their demand that Israel must first freeze all construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem - lands they claim for a future state.

"I believe that the US condones continued settlement expansion," Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib said in a rare public chiding of Washington. "Calling for a resumption of negotiations despite continued settlement construction doesn't help because we have tried this way many times," Khatib added. "Negotiations are about ending the occupation and settlement expansion is about entrenching the occupation."

11.01.09 Saudi police discover al-Qaeda weapons cache

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) November 1 - Saudi Arabia - Saudi authorities have announced the discovery of large quantities of weapons in the capital Riyadh belonging to al-Qaeda terror network. The official Saudi Press Agency quoted an Interior Ministry spokesman Sunday as saying the discovery included 281 assault rifles and 51 ammunition boxes. Gen. Mansour al-Turki says the weapons were found buried in an empty rest house in the capital. He says police are searching for the owners of the house whom they suspects of having links with al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda terror group, whose leader Osama bin Laden is a Saudi, has called for attacks on the kingdom's oil facilities as a means of crippling both the kingdom's economy and the hurting the West. [>khaleejtimes.com]

11.01.09 Security forces take control of Kotkai

WANA, Pakistan, November 1 - Security forces, during the ongoing operation Rah-e-Nizat in South Waziristan, have taken control of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud's village Kotkai and unearthed a hidden tunnel where suicide bombers were trained. The security forces have claimed to have cleared Kotkai of militants, where they have also found a 500 metre long tunnel. The tunnel had a facility for preparation of suicide jackets which has been destroyed by the security forces. Suicide bombers were trained in this tunnel which connects different areas of South Waziristan. Kotkai is the area of Pakistani Taliban Chief Hakimullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain. [>thenews.com.pk]

11.01.09 Up to 6 killed, 37 wounded in south Baghdad bike bombing

BAGHDAD, November 1 - The death toll from a bike bomb explosion at a marketplace in south Baghdad on Sunday rose to six and 37 people were injured, a local police source said. "Our latest report said that six were killed and 37 injured by the bike bombing in the town of Mussayab," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity...Mussayab, some 60 km south of Baghdad, is part of the once restive area, dubbed Triangle of Death, which is a cluster of towns scattered north of Hilla City, the capital of Babel province, some 100 km south of Baghdad. [Full story>>xinhuanet.com]

11.01.09 Regulators close 9 banks, mostly in West

November 1 - FDIC shuts branches in Ariz., Calif., Ill., and Texas; No. of failed US banks this year now 115. Regulators on Friday shut California National Bank of Los Angeles and eight smaller related banks as the weak economy continues to produce a stream of loan defaults. The banks closed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation were in California, Illinois, Texas and Arizona. They were divisions of privately-held FBOP Corp., a bank holding company based in Oak Park., Ill. US Bank in Minneapolis, a division of US Bancorp, agreed to assume the deposits and most of the assets of the banks. The banks had combined assets of $19.4 billion and deposits of $15.4 billion at the end of September, the FDIC said. The nine banks had 153 offices, which will reopen as US Bank branches Saturday. [More>>cbsnews.com]

11.01.09 Italy raid nets two mafia bosses

November 1 - Italian police say they have arrested two more suspected mafia bosses, a day after seizing their brother in a raid near the southern city of Naples. They say Pasquale and Carmine Russo were detained in Sperone, some 30km (20 miles) east of Naples. Salvatore Russo, the head of a Camorra clan that bears his name, was held in a raid on a chicken farm on Saturday. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni described his arrest as "a heavy blow for the Camorra." Salvatore Russo, 51, is one of Italy's most wanted mafia fugitives, officials say. He had been on the run since being sentenced in 1995 to life in jail for murder and links to organized crime. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

10.31.09 Giving 'tough love' to Pakistan, Hillary rejects mediation in Kashmir

WASHINGTON, October 31 - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concluded a turbulent visit in Pakistan on Friday by rejecting Islamabad's persistent thesis that terrorism could not be contained unless the Kashmir issue was resolved. She basically advised Pakistan to abandon the path of extremism and normalize relations with India using the trade route, without obsessing on disputes. While promising to support resumption of dialogue with India on all issues, Clinton repeatedly spurned Pakistani efforts to draw Washington into the process, suggesting such an effort may be counterproductive. "It is clearly in Pakistan's and India's interest to resolve [their dispute]. But it isn't to us to dictate a solution. That wouldn't last a minute," Clinton said on the show "Our Voice," one of several media engagements she had in Pakistan on an extra-ordinarily public and combative three-day visit.

Pakistan's argument, which New Delhi finds insidious, is that terrorism flourishes in the region because of unresolved issues with India, including the Kashmir problem. In not so many words, Washington is now saying Pakistan's problems go far deeper than that, and Clinton sought to drive home the message at several engagements. Quoting d’Toqueville at one point, Clinton advised Pakistanis to develop "habits of the heart" that respected other people, tolerated other view points, and developed minority rights. In several nuances remarks, she suggested Pakistan had allowed extremists have a run of the country and that was the root cause of the problems the country is facing.

10.31.09 Bomb kills soldiers in Pakistan

October 31 - At least seven Pakistani soldiers have been killed in a roadside bomb blast in a tribal region of northwest Pakistan, officials say. The vehicle was travelling in Pakistan's Khyber region on Saturday when it was struck about 15km west of the city of Peshawar. "Seven paramilitary soldiers were killed and 11 were wounded in the remote-control bomb attack," Shafirullah Khan, the chief administrative official of Khyber tribal district, told the AFP news agency.

Khyber is on the main supply route through Pakistan to Afghanistan, where international military forces are fighting the Taliban. The bomb blast came as Pakistan's military continued its offensive against Taliban fighters in South Waziristan, in the country's northwest. Pakistani fighter jets bombed three suspected Taliban positions in the Orkazai tribal region on Saturday, the Associated Press news agency reported. At least eight fighters were killed and several others wounded, the news agency cited intelligence officials as saying. [More>>aljazeera.net; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, October 31, "4 members of banned outfits among 7 suspects held in Sargodha" : SARGODHA, Pakistan - The police have apprehended 7 seven suspects including 4 members of banned religious outfits from the city. District police officer Sargodha, Dr.Usman Anwar told Geo News the police sprung to action and made the arrests on intelligence agencies’ information that about 37 suspects were present in Sargodha. Three of the detained suspects belong to Afghanistan, however 4 suspects are the members of banned religious outfits. DPO Sargodha has stated that vacations of police staff have been cancelled, due to possible terrorist attacks while close circuit cameras are being installed in the city. [end]

thenews.com.pk, October 31, "33 militants killed, 4 security men martyred in Operation Rah-e-Nijat : ISPR report" : RAWALPINDI - Thirty-three militants have been killed while 4 security personnel have embraced Shahadat during the last 24 hours in South Waziristan Agency where operation Rah-e-Nijat continues. According to ISPR, the important phase of operations has commenced on all three axes. On Jandola-Sararogha axis the important stronghold of Sararogha has been surrounded from three sides. On Shakai-Kaniguram axis, Karama has been encircled and clearance of Kaniguram has commenced. On Razmak-Makeen axis security forces have reached the outskirts of Makeen.

Security forces moving forward have reached the outskirts of terrorists stronghold of Sararogha. The town has been surrounded from three directions. All the important features and ridges around Sararogha have been taken over by security forces. During the process of closing forward intense fire exchange took place. 13 terrorists have been killed while there is no loss of security forces. Clearance of the Sararogha town will commence in next 24 hours. There is [a] substantial presence of terrorists in the town.

During search at Kotkai the security forces recovered 1200 Rounds of 12.7 mm, 12 Grenades, 1x 75 mm RR, 1 x RPG-7, 3 x 12.7 mm guns, 2 x AK 47, 1 x SBRL and 25 Kgs Potassium. During search operation at Shishamwam forces recovered 1 x 12.7 mm gun with 2 spare barrels and 1 Automatic weapon (type unknown). Security forces moving from two directions surrounded the town of Karama, a stronghold and training centre of Uzbek militants. Fierce fighting is going on between security forces and foreign terrorists present in the area. 17 terrorists have been killed. 2 soldiers got injured...

10.31.09 Afghans had advance intel on UN attack

KABUL (AP) October 31 - Afghan intelligence had advance information that a Taliban attack was in the works in Kabul before a deadly assault on a UN guest house and ramped up security, but not during the pre-dawn hours when the militants struck, a top official said Saturday. Gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed the guest house before 6 a.m. on Wednesday, killing eight people - five of them United Nations foreign staffers. The gunmen also died.

The comments by Afghan intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, are likely to intensify criticism of the security provided to employees of the world body working in Afghanistan. The United Nations has already said that it took too long for Afghan police and NATO troops to respond to the attack. Saleh said eight men have been arrested who were involved in planning the attack, including an imam who housed the assailants and was captured as he landed by plane in Saudi Arabia. The others were arrested in Afghanistan. "We were aware of the attack in Kabul city one week before," Saleh said. "Based on our information were able to prevent a part of the attack, by arresting of some of their men and disrupting their plans."

10.31.09 History made as Chirac is told to stand trial

October 31 - Former head of state accused of embezzling taxpayers' money to put political allies in non-existent posts. Jacques Chirac, the former French president, was ordered to stand trial for alleged corruption while he was mayor of Paris. He is accused of embezzling taxpayers' money to pay more than 20 political cronies for posts that turned out to be non-existent. Mr. Chirac now becomes the first former head of state in French history to be put on trial. In an unprecedented move, an investigating magistrate ruled he should answer charges in court of using the city payroll to fund "ghost workers" who were, in reality working to promote his right-wing political party or in some cases doing nothing at all.

Mr. Chirac, who has been under investigation for the past decade for allegedly abusing his position as mayor, enjoyed immunity from prosecution from 1995 to 2007 in his role as head of state. The left-wing daily newspaper Libération accused Mr. Chirac, who was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995, of distributing fictitious jobs "like baguettes at the bakery." A spokesperson for Mr. Chirac said yesterday that he was "calm" and "determined to prove" his innocence. Investigating magistrate Judge Xavière Simeoni threw out charges of forgery of government documents but Mr. Chirac, along with nine former aides, still faces charges relating to the alleged fake jobs.

10.31.09 FDA smackdown pits bacteria against bacteria

October 31 - The 10 tomatoes sitting in a Tupperware tub at the Food and Drug Administration seem to be doing nothing more than rotting, slowly. But an invisible battle is raging on the surface of the fruit, with provocative implications for food safety and the war that humans have been waging against bacteria for a century. "This is the wrestling ring," said Eric Brown, a microbiologist at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, as he clicked open the lid to the tub. "This is the smack-down." Brown and a team of FDA scientists trying to prevent salmonella contamination in tomatoes have stumbled upon what they believe are powerful, naturally occurring "good" bacteria that can slaughter the "bad" bacteria that have become a persistent problem in fresh fruits and vegetables because they harm humans.

"This is highly efficient weaponry, right here," said Brown, pointing to pipettes filled with the "good" bacteria suspended in a saline solution that will be dripped onto the contaminated tomatoes. He presented the initial findings of his research at an international salmonella conference this month in France. "The beauty is that we take something alive and organic and put it back into the field, and by itself, it will kill other bacteria. We're right on the edge of this." It's a variation on the "enemy of my enemy" philosophy, with scientists like Brown cultivating hostile relatives of harmful bacteria to perform a sort of microscopic fratricide before the bugs can harm humans.

10.30.09 Pakistan strikes deep into al-Qaeda territory

SHERWANGAI, Pakistan, October 30 - In the mountains of Waziristan, the army claims to have recovered passports of extremists with links to the September 11 and Madrid attackers. Does this mean they are finally closing in on Osama bin Laden himself? After a sweep of a militant stronghold in the lawless tribal region of South Waziristan, the Pakistani army has recovered passports purportedly belonging to two leading al-Qaeda figures, including a member of the notorious Hamburg cell that orchestrated September 11. Among a pile of documents, photographs, weapons and computers seen by The Independent yesterday in Waziristan, is a German passport belonging to Said Bahaji, the logistical expert of the notorious German terror cell that orchestrated the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Bahaji, 34, who is of Moroccan descent, obtained the passport just days before September 11 and used it to travel to Pakistan according to the information stamped in the document. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the passports, nor to establish the fate of their apparent holders. If they are authentic, the documents would prove that South Waziristan, a bastion of the Pakistani Taliban, has also been a sanctuary for foreign Jihadists and key al-Qaeda figures in Pakistan. Major General Athar Abbas, the military's chief spokesman said the documents were being made public to demonstrate the presence of foreign militants in South Waziristan which borders Afghanistan. A Spanish passport, also recovered, purportedly belonged to Raquel Burgos Garcia. According to a student card, she is the wife of Amir Azizi, a Moroccan terrorist suspect who has been linked to both the September 11 attacks and the Madrid bombings.
[More>>independent.co.uk; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, October 30, "70 more suspects held in search operation" :
RAWALPINDI - Police apprehended 70 more suspects, including some Afghans, during the ongoing search operation in Islamabad and its sister city Rawalpindi on Friday. The police sources told Geo News that Faizabad, Pirodhai, railway stations and localities adjacent to these areas were searched during this morning. Majority of the suspects have been arrested for not possessing the required documents for traveling. These suspects have been locked up in various police stations. The twin city search operation has been underway since October 20 following the two explosions that rocked International Islamic University and killing of a brigadier by terrorists’ firing in Islamabad's sector G-11. [end]

10.30.09 'Waqf quietly pleased at Salah's arrest

October 30 - Heads of the Waqf Department have quietly expressed their satisfaction with the Israeli authorities' recent measures against Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and top Fatah operative Hatem Abdel Qader, a senior official with the Ministry for Internal Security said on Thursday. Salah and Abdel Qader have each been arrested by the Jerusalem Police for their role in instigating the latest wave of violent protests at the Temple Mount. The two have also been banned by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court from entering the Old City of Jerusalem for different periods of time.

The official praised the heads of the Waqf Department for their role in "calming the situation" and preventing a further deterioration. Noting that the Waqf Department, which reports to the Jordanian Government, had refrained from joining the "wild campaign of incitement" against Israel in recent weeks, the official told The Jerusalem Post that the heads of the department were "very pleased" that Salah and Abdel Qader have been banned from entering the Temple Mount.
[More>>jpost.com; See related story,

jpost.com, October 30, "Gaza: Thousands rally for Islamic Jihad" :
Tens of thousands of Islamic Jihad loyalists held a rally in Gaza on Friday to commemorate the group's slain founder. Holding plastic models of rockets and wearing masks and mock suicide bomber's vests, the members chanted "death to Israel" and "Muhammad's army will be back to wipe off the Hebrew state." An Islamic Jihad leader, Nafez Azzam, called on the crowd Friday to reject negotiations with Israel and support violent resistance. The group was founded in 1979 by Fathi Shikaki as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Shikaki was gunned down in Malta in October 1995 by a man on a motorcycle in attack widely attributed to Israel. Islamic Jihad, a smaller organization than Hamas, has carried out dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli civilians. [end]

Editorial note: Control of the Temple Mount is vested in the government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, via the Waqf Department.

10.30.09 Facebook awarded $711m in spam lawsuit

October 30 - Judge Fines "Spam King" for False and Misleading Marketing E-Mails; May Face Criminal Contempt Charges. Facebook was awarded $711 million in damages in a judgment Thursday against self-described "spam king" Sanford Wallace. Judge Jeremy Fogel of the US District Court of the Northern District of California granted Facebook's application for a default judgment against Wallace for violations of the Can-Spam Act, which bans "false and misleading" marketing e-mails.... "The record demonstrates that Wallace willfully violated the statutes in question with blatant disregard for the rights of Facebook and the thousands of Facebook users whose accounts were compromised by his conduct," Fogel wrote in his judgment order, which also permanently prohibits Wallace from accessing the Facebook Web site or creating a Facebook account, among other restrictions. Facebook said the order should serve as a strong deterrent against spammers.

"While we don't expect to receive the vast majority of the award, we hope that this will act as a continued deterrent against these criminals," Sam O'Rourke, Facebook's lead counsel for litigation and intellectual property, wrote in a Facebook blog post. "...We will continue to pursue damages against other spammers." ...A year ago, Wallace and another defendant were ordered to pay MySpace.com $234 million following a trial at which Wallace repeatedly failed to turn over documents or even show up in court. Wallace has previously been sued by the Federal Trade Commission and companies such as AOL and Concentric Network. In May 2006, Wallace and his company Smartbot.net were ordered by a federal court to turn over $4.1 million.... In the largest judgment in history for a case brought under the Can-Spam Act, the federal court in San Jose awarded Facebook $873 million in damages late last year against a Canadian man accused of spamming users of the site.
[Full story>>cbsnews.com]

10.29.09 Economy finally back in gear

NEW YORK, October 29 - Government says GDP grew 3.5% in third quarter, ending a year-long string of declines and coming in better than forecasts. The US economy grew at a 3.5% annual rate in the third quarter, ending a string of declines over four quarters that resulted in the most severe slide since the Great Depression. But some economists raised doubts about how long such strong growth can last. The increase in GDP, reported by the government Thursday morning, was slightly better than expectations. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast 3.2% growth in gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic activity. The economy shrank at a 0.7% rate in the second quarter.

The positive GDP report is one more sign that the economy has likely pulled out of the deep recession that started in December 2007. The reading by itself doesn't mark an end to the recession; the economy actually grew in the second quarter of 2008. (The National Bureau of Economic Research, which officially dates the beginning and end of recessions, is not expected to declare that the current recession has ended until sometime in 2010.)

10.29.09 Clinton: Pakistan blew it on al-Qaeda

October 29 - Says It's Hard to Believe Pakistani Government Doesn't Know Where Terrorists are Hiding. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that Pakistan squandered opportunities over the years to kill or capture leaders of the al-Qaeda terrorist network responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. While US officials have said they believe Osama bin Laden and senior lieutenants have been hiding in the rugged terrain along the border with Afghanistan, Clinton's unusually blunt comments went further as she suggested that Pakistan's government has done too little to act against al-Qaeda's top echelon.

"I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to," Clinton told the Pakistani journalists in Lahore. "Maybe that's the case. Maybe they're not gettable. I don't know." With the country reeling from Wednesday's devastating bombing that killed at least 105 people in Peshawar, Clinton also engaged in an intense give-and-take with students at the Government College of Lahore. She insisted that inaction by the government would have ceded ground to terrorists. "If you want to see your territory shrink, that's your choice," she said, adding that she believed it would be a bad choice.
[More>>cbsnews.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, October 29, "Terrorist chief, 5 insurgents held in Swat" : SWAT: The security forces, during the continuing search operation in Swat, captured a terrorist leader and 5 other militants from Mingora. The detained commander is said to be a key member of Ghulshan Char Bagh. Meanwhile, security men recovered dozens of CDs with Jihadi content and arrested 5 suspects from Khawaza Khela and Balogram areas. [end]

10.29.09 Iraq makes sweeping arrests over Baghdad blasts

BAGHDAD (AP) October 29 - Iraq announced the arrests of dozens of military and security personnel over the attacks on government buildings in Baghdad that killed 155 people, the Iraqi capital's military spokesman said Thursday. Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi told The Associated Press that 11 army officers and 50 security officials have been taken into custody over Sunday's bombings — the worst attacks in Iraq in over two years. The massive blasts at the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad Provincial Administration caused outrage among many Iraqis, who question the ability of the government to protect its people ahead of parliamentary January's elections and the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

The arrests were the first reported by officials. Al-Moussawi did not say if those detained were suspected of involvement in the blasts or negligence in carrying out their duties in protecting Baghdad. On Wednesday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is sending a senior UN official to Baghdad in response to a request from Iraq's prime minister for a UN Security Council investigation of two previous bombing of two ministries in August. Those attacks killed more than 100 people.

10.28.09 Tricks, not treats - Pew study finds 'deceptive credit card practices rising

October 28 - Alison Howard, a single mom from Atlanta, sent her only son Bryan off to college last year for what she hoped would be a lifelong education. One lasting lesson is now burned into his brain: Beware of banks bearing special credit card offers. The University of Albany, Ga., student, failing to fully familiarize himself with all the many lines of fine print in the terms of the arrangement, unwittingly racked up hundreds of dollars in penalty fees in just a few months. In an effort to protect consumers like Bryan Howard from what the Federal Reserve called "unfair or deceptive" practices by banks issuing credit cards, Congress earlier this year passed the Credit CARD Act of 2009.

But such unfair or deceptive practices haven't abated in the lag time between when the law was passed and when it goes into full effect in February — they are actually on the rise, according to a report released today by the Pew Charitable Trusts. A full 100 percent of the credit cards offered online by the 12 leading bank card issuers continue to include practices that will be soon be outlawed, once the legislation passed in May takes effect next year, according to a new report by the Pew Health Group's Safe Credit Cards Project. A full 100 percent of the credit cards offered online by the 12 leading bank card issuers continue to include practices that will be soon be outlawed, once the legislation passed in May takes effect next year, according to a new report by the Pew Health Group's Safe Credit Cards Project.
[More>>abcnews.go.com; See more details,

pewtrusts.org, October 28, "Pew report finds deceptive credit card practices remain widespread.":
...The report also found that advertised credit card interest rates rose an average of 20 percent in the first two quarters of 2009, even as banks’ cost of lending declined...

10.28.09 95 killed, over 200 injured in blast in Pakistan's Peshawar city

October 28 - A car bomb packed with 150 kg of explosives ripped through a bustling commercial hub, including a market meant exclusively for women, in Pakistan's Peshawar city killing at least 95 people and injuring 213 others, hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Islamabad to discuss fight against terror. Officials feared the toll could rise as many people were still believed to be trapped in the rubble of six buildings that collapsed due to the powerful blast. Many of the dead and injured in the explosion were women and children. The blast, which occurred in the congested "Peepal Mandi" area of NWFP capital Peshawar shortly after 1pm local time, left 95 people dead and 213 injured, Dawn News channel reported. Shafqat Malik, chief of the city's bomb disposal squad, said the blast, the 13th terror attack in Peshawar in recent weeks, was caused by a car bomb packed with 150 kg of explosives. [More>>indianexpress.com; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, October 28, "3 insurgents killed, 4 hurt in fresh fights in Mohamand" : GHALANAI - Security men have killed 3 insurgents and injured 4 during fresh clashes Mohmand Agency. Meanwhile, unidentified men blew up Government Girls Model School with explosives in Aranda locality of Tehsil Shab Qadr, whereas, curfew has been declared in Sadda Bazar of Kuram Agency...

thenews.com.pk, October 28, "25 more extremists killed: ISPR report" : ISLAMABAD - Pakistani troops massed outside a key Taliban base and killed 25 militants, fighting back in a major tribal belt offensive after a devastating market bomb attack, the military said Wednesday. The latest death toll brings to 264 the total number of insurgents reported to have been killed since the operation was launched in the rugged tribal terrain of South Waziristan on October 17.

..."Security forces have surrounded Kanigurram from three sides," military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told a news conference. The town was considered the "operational center" of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), he said. It was a major terror stronghold and an important base for Uzbek fighters in the area, he added. Abbas also said troops were within four kilometers (2.5 miles) of another major Taliban hub, Sararogha, which lies to the east...

10.28.09 Gunmen storm UN guest house in Kabul, 12 dead

(AP) October 28 - Taleban militants wearing suicide vests and police uniforms stormed a guest house used by UN staff in the Afghan capital, killing 12 people — including six UN staff. It was the biggest in a series of attacks intended to undermine next month's presidential runoff election. A Taleban spokesman claimed responsibility for the early morning assaults, which also included rocket attacks at the presidential palace and the city's main luxury hotel. The chief of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, said the attack "will not deter the UN from continuing all its work" in the country. One of the six UN dead was an American, the US Embassy said.

The two-hour attack on the guest house where some 20 UN election workers were staying sent people running and screaming outside, with some jumping out upper-story windows to escape a fire that broke out. One American man said he held off the assailants with a Kalashnikov rifle until guests were able to escape. One rocket struck the ‘outer limit’ of the presidential palace but caused no casualties, presidential spokesman Humayun Hamidzada said. Two more rockets slammed into the grounds of the Serena Hotel, which is favored by many foreigners.

10.28.09 Somali pirates: 'We'll burn Brits' bones'

October 28 - Pirates have threatened to "burn the bones" of a British couple whose yacht they allegedly hijacked off the Somali coast. Talking exclusively to Sky News, pirate Mohamed Hussein warned any attack on his colleagues would endanger the lives of the two alleged captives. Paul Chandler, 58, and his wife Rachel, 55, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, went missing after they set sail from the Seychelles towards Tanzania. [More>>news.sky.com]

10.28.09 Lebanon army dismantles 4 rockets aimed at Israel

October 28 - Lebanese troops found and dismantled four rockets ready for launching near the border with Israel on Wednesday, said a senior Lebanese army official. The discovery comes one day after a Katyusha rocket fired from Lebanon exploded in the Upper Galilee, marking the first such incident since last month. The attack on Tuesday drew a rapid response from Israeli artillery in a brief flare-up across the border that caused no casualties. [More>>haaretz.com]

10.28.09 Kuwait rules that women MPs can shun hijab

KUWAIT CITY, October 28 - Two of the four women elected refuse to wear hijab. Kuwait's constitutional court on Wednesday rejected a petition brought by four voters to declare invalid the election of two women MPs because they refuse to wear the hijab headscarf. The decision of the court, whose rulings are final, was announced to reporters by the chairman of the court, Yussef Ghanam al-Rashid...It also pointed out that the Kuwaiti constitution, which is higher than any law, guarantees personal freedom and freedom of faith and does not discriminate between people over their religion or sex. The emirate's fatwa department, which issues religious edicts, ruled in early October that Muslim women must wear the hijab in line with Islamic sharia law. [Full story>>alarabiya.net]

10.27.09 Karadzic heard discussing mass slaughter of Muslims in phonetap evidence

October 27 - Wiretap evidence of Radovan Karadzic allegedly discussing the mass slaughter of 300,000 Muslims was unveiled today at the genocide trial of the former Bosnian Serb leader. To an array of empty desks reserved for Mr. Karadzic and his defence team who has boycotted his trial in The Hague - the prosecution began its opening statement by quoting the words uttered by Mr. Karadzic on the eve of the Bosnian conflict the bloodiest seen in Europe since the Second World War.

"The time has come," Alan Tieger, the prosecutor, quoted Mr. Karadzic as telling the Bosnian Serb Parliament, as he signed the order to recapture Zepa and Srebrenica, the United Nations safe haven where Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys. Mr. Tieger then revealed evidence from a series of recorded phone calls from 1991 in which Mr. Karadzic chillingly considered the fate of Sarajevo, the multi-ethnic Bosnian capital which Serb forces besieged for 44 months. The phone taps record Mr. Karadzic saying: "They have to know that there are 20,000 armed Serbs around Sarajevo.... it will be a black cauldron where 300,000 Muslims will die. They will disappear. That people will disappear from the face of the earth."

10.27.09 Iran: World can't block our atomic program while Israel has nukes

October 27 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that as long as Israel was in possession of atomic weapons, Iran would not halt its nuclear program. "When an illegal regime possesses nuclear weapons, the other countries' rights for peaceful nuclear energy can not be denied," the semi-official Iranian news agency ISNR quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. Israel has never confirmed or denied foreign reports that it has a nuclear arsenal. [More>>haaretz.com; See also

jpost.com, October 27, "Iranian president: 'The Zionist regime is a threat to all nations' " :
"The Zionist regime is a threat to all nations ... it cannot tolerate the existence of any strong country in the region," said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday, according to Teheran news agency Press TV. Ahmadinejad spoke after welcoming Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who arrived in Teheran Tuesday for a two-day visit...

alarabiya.net, October 27, "Iran refuses to send all uranium abroad" : TEHRAN - Iran said it would not send all its uranium abroad but accepted the broad framework of a United Nations-brokered deal but wants "very important changes" in the plan, a state TV channel reported on Tuesday...

10.27.09 China executes Tibetan protesters

October 27 - Two people have been executed in China for their involvement in deadly riots in Tibet last year, the Chinese foreign ministry said. The deaths on Tuesday are the first officially confirmed to have been carried out. Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak were executed for arson-related crimes committed in Lhasa, the regional capital, in March last year, the International Campaign for Tibet, which campaigns for self-rule for the mountain region in far-west China, said on Monday. Protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule on March 14 last year gave way to violence. Rioters torched shops and turned on residents, especially Han Chinese, who many Tibetans see as intruders threatening their culture. At least 19 people died in the unrest, which sparked waves of protests across Tibetan areas. Tibetan exile groups say more than 200 people died in the subsequent crackdown. [More>>aljazeera.net]

10.27.09 Two Chicago men accused of plotting terror attacks in Denmark

October 27 - Federal authorities have arrested and charged two Chicago-area men in connection with an alleged terrorist plot focused on targets in Denmark after a newspaper there published cartoons that enraged the Muslim community. Prosecutors in Chicago and the District said that the men posed "no imminent danger" and noted that David Coleman Headley and Tahawwar Hussein Rana have been in US custody for several days while they conducted further "investigative activity." Headley, 49, allegedly identified targets in Denmark for a possible terror strike and traveled there twice this year to conduct surveillance and to report to overseers in Pakistan with ties to al-Qaeda, according to court papers.

He was arrested earlier this month at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in a flight that was to culminate in Pakistan, authorities said. He faces charges including conspiracy to murder people abroad and providing material support to terrorist groups. A US citizen who changed his name three years ago, Headley allegedly conspired with high-ranking operatives overseas, using code words to conceal the plot called the "Mickey Mouse Project." Among Headley's correspondents, prosecutors say, were two unnamed people with ties to the al-Qaeda affiliated group Lashkar-e-Taiba and with Ilyas Kashmiri, the operational chief of another Pakistani organization connected to al-Qaeda.

Rana, a Pakistani native who resides in Chicago where he owns a halal meat business and an immigration operation, has been charged with conspiring to provide support to terrorists by allegedly helping to arrange Headley's travels. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

10.27.09 8 US troops reported dead in Afghan attacks

KABUL (AP) October 27 - Eight American troops were killed in two separate insurgent attacks Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, making October the deadliest month of the war for US forces since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban. In one of the insurgent assaults, seven Americans were killed while patrolling in armored vehicles, US forces spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Vician said. He said an Afghan civilian died in the same attack. The eighth American was killed in a separate attack elsewhere in the south, also while patrolling in a military vehicle, he said.

The military issued a statement saying the deaths occurred during "'multiple, complex" bomb strikes. It said several troops were wounded and evacuated to a nearby medical facility, but gave no other details. Capt. Adam Weece, a spokesman for American forces in the south, said both attacks occurred in Kandahar province. In Washington, a US defense official said at least one was followed by an intense firefight with insurgents who attacked after an initial bomb went off.

10.27.09 42 more extremists killed in SWA

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, October 27 - Pakistan's military said Tuesday 42 militants were killed during some of the heaviest fighting reported from the frontlines of its offensive against the Taliban in their tribal sanctuaries. The latest death toll brings to 239 the total number of insurgents killed during the operation, but no information provided by the army can be verified with communication lines down and access banned to journalists and aid workers. An army statement said troops fought at multiple locations in the far north of South Waziristan, where ground forces thrust towards die hard Taliban positions from their rear base at Razmak, killing 30 militants. Security forces have surrounded Nawazkot, one of the Taliban's main regional strongholds and another 12 militants were killed in fighting on the approach to Taliban bastion Sararogha to the east and Kanigurram further south. [More>>thenews.com.pk]

10.27.09 Scientologists convicted of fraud

October 27 - A French court has convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud, but stopped short of banning the group from operating in France. Two branches of the group's operations and several of its leaders in France have been fined. The case came after complaints from two women, one of whom said she was manipulated into paying more than 20,000 euros (£18,100) in the 1990s. A Scientology spokesman told the BBC the verdict was "all bark and no bite." France regards Scientology as a sect, not a religion. Prosecutors had asked for the group's French operations to be dissolved and more heavily fined, but a legal loophole prevented any ban.

Instead, a Paris judge ordered the Church's Celebrity Centre and a bookshop to pay a 600,000-euro fine. Alain Rosenberg, the group's head in France, was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined 30,000 euros. Three other leading members of the group were also fined. Unlike the US, France has always refused to recognise Scientology as a religion, arguing that it is a purely commercial operation designed to make as much money as it can at the expense of often vulnerable victims, the BBC's Emma Jane Kirby reports from Paris.

10.26.09 Rainforest treaty 'fatally flawed'

October 26 - Climate summit loophole lets palm oil producers cull vital wilderness. A vital safeguard to protect the world's rainforests from being cut down has been dropped from a global deforestation treaty due to be signed at the climate summit in Copenhagen in December. Under proposals due to be ratified at the summit, countries which cut down rainforests and convert them to plantations of trees such as oil palms would still be able to classify the result as forest and could receive millions of dollars meant for preserving them. An earlier version of the text ruled out such a conversion but has been deleted, and the EU delegation — headed by Britain — has blocked its reinsertion.

Environmentalists say plantations are in no way a substitute for the lost natural forest in terms of wildlife, water production or, crucially, as a store of the carbon dioxide which is emitted into the atmosphere when forests are destroyed and intensifies climate change. Now they are calling on Britain to take a lead in restoring the anti-plantations safeguard at the final negotiating session in a week's time, saying that otherwise the agreement — which seeks to halve global deforestation rates by 2020 — will be fatally flawed. "It is a priority for the safeguard to be reinserted, or otherwise we will have a situation where countries are paid for converting their natural forests into palm plantations," said Emily Brickell, the climate and forests officer for the Worldwide Find for Nature (WWF-UK).

10.26.09 14 Americans die in Afghan helicopter crashes

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) October 26 - Fourteen Americans were killed in Afghanistan on Monday in two helicopter crashes whose causes were under investigation. Seven soldiers and three agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration — all Americans — were killed in a helicopter crash in western Afghanistan. And in the south, the midair collision of two coalition helicopters resulted in the deaths of four American soldiers. A spokeswoman for the American military, Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, would not specify an exact location for the crash in the west, although she said the craft was a large Chinook helicopter and the military was "98 percent sure that insurgent activity was not involved. The crash reportedly injured 26 people: 14 Afghan Army soldiers, 11 American troops and an American civilian.

Before the crash, a team from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force was searching a compound suspected of harboring insurgents involved in the narcotics trade, according to a statement from the force. A firefight then broke out, it said, and “more than a dozen enemy fighters” were killed...The international force also said it conducted four operations in eastern and southern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing several insurgents and detaining six suspected militants...In a news conference on Monday, Mr. Abdullah called for the chairman of Afghanistan's election commission, Azizullah Lodin, to be removed. Mr. Abdullah said that Mr. Lodin had “no credibility” and was biased in favor of Mr. Karzai, Reuters reported.
[Full story>>nytimes.com]

10.26.09 Iran says two nuclear fuel options on table

TEHRAN, October 26 - Iran said on Monday it could deliver abroad some of its low-enriched uranium to be upgraded or buy the fuel directly as Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki blasted Israel as too "weak" to carry out any attack on Tehran's nuclear sites. Mottaki said Iran was mulling the UN-brokered deal which envisages shipping out Tehran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad to be converted into nuclear fuel and would announce a decision within days. "For the supply of (nuclear) fuel, we may buy it like in the past or we may deliver a part of our (low-enriched uranium) fuel that we don't need now," Mottaki told the official IRNA news agency. "Both options are on the table."

Mottaki is the most senior official to talk about buying the fuel directly since the UN atomic watchdog brokered a deal in Vienna which suggests shipping out Tehran's LEU abroad to be converted into fuel...Mottaki also raised the possibility that Iran could actually ask to buy the fuel directly, when he told IRNA that even close ally China was welcome to provide the Islamic republic with the fuel.
[Full story>>alarabiya.net]

10.26.09 Pakistan detains 11 Iranian Guards on the border

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) October 26 - Pakistani forces detained 11 Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Monday for crossing into Pakistan days after an Iranian commander was reported saying his men should be allowed to confront terrorists in Pakistan. The Guards were arrested in the Mashkhel area on the border with Iran eight days after a suicide bomber killed 42 people, including six Revolutionary Guard commanders, in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province.

A Sunni Muslim group Jundollah (God's soldiers), claimed responsibility for the blast...Iran says the Jundollah group has bases in Pakistan and it has urged Pakistan to hand over its leader, Abdolmalik Rigi. Pakistan condemned the Oct. 18 bombing and denied suggestions from the Iranian president that "some security agents" in Pakistan were cooperating with the bombers. Pakistan also denied that Rigi was in Pakistan.
[Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

10.26.09 Iran's Khamenei charges foreign agents of plotting attacks in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan

TEHRAN, October 26 - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday that terrorist attacks in Muslim countries like Iran, Iraq and Pakistan were carried out by foreign agents, the Press TV reported. "Perpetrators of terrorist and bloody moves are directly or indirectly linked to foreign agents," Khamenei was quoted as saying. "Bloody acts in some Muslim countries such as Iraq and Pakistan and certain parts of Iran are aimed at creating discord and difference among Shiite and Sunni Muslims," said Khamenei in a meeting with Iranian officials in charge of organizing Hajj ceremonies. "This is why Muslims should pay great attention to the issue of their unity," he said, adding that "During Hajj ceremonies (the pilgrims) should be sensitive about moves against the Islamic unity." [More>>xinhuanet.com]

10.26.09 Iraq renews call for UN probe after Baghdad bombings

BAGHDAD (Reuters) October 27 - Iraq renewed calls on Monday for a UN inquiry into the support given by foreign countries to insurgents after twin suicide blasts against government buildings in Baghdad killed more than 150 people. Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said Sunday's bloodshed reinforced the need for the international community to help Iraq defend itself against bomb attacks as it emerges from years of sectarian conflict unleashed by the 2003 US invasion. "The bloody Sunday explosions strengthen Iraq's demand to the UN and the Security Council to nominate a senior international envoy to come to Iraq and evaluate the degree of interference targeting stability in Iraq," Zebari told al-Arabiya television.

...Iraq has blamed Sunday's attack against the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad provincial governorate, and bombings on Aug. 19 that devastated the Foreign and Finance Ministries, on al-Qaeda and supporters of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party. The government has accused neighboring Syria of providing a safe haven for Baathists plotting attacks. Syria has denounced the accusations as immoral and bilateral relations have soured despite attempts at mediation by Turkey. Iraqi officials have also accused some in Saudi Arabia of financing insurgents in Iraq, and neighboring power Iran has long been accused of arming and training Shi'ite militias.
[Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

10.26.09 Six terrorists killed in Oakzai Agency

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, October 26 - Security forces pounded militants positions in Orakzai Agency with the help of fighter jets, killing at least 6 terrorists and destroying two of their hideouts. According to sources, the security forces carried out the above action in Mamozai area of Upper Orakzai and Shakar Tangi area of Central Orakzai. Meanwhile, security forces have also eliminated twenty extremists in the past 24 hours within Orakzai Agency and Hingu. [>thenews.com.pk; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, October 26, "19 more militants killed in Operation Rah-e-Nijat - ISPR report" :
WANA, Pakistan - Security forces have killed 19 terrorists while 6 soldiers embraced Shahadat and 20 others injured during operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan Agency in [the] last 24 hours. According to ISPR, security forces moved forward of Kotkai and secured [an] important Road Y junction at Kazhakas leading to Inzar Kalle and Sararogha. The dominating ridges east and west of this Road Y junction have been secured. Security forces also secured Gharlai village on [the] main road Kotkai-Sararogha and the adjoining ridges. During [an] engagement, 10 terrorists were killed while 6 soldiers embraced shahadat and 14 were injured.

After securing of Chalwastai the village has been completely cleared and forces moved forward. Forces have surrounded village Sarwek 1 km north of Chalwastai and taken control of surrounding ridges. The complete area has been cleared of terrorists and clearance operation to remove mines, IEDs and booby traps is under way. During engagements, north of Sarwek village 7 terrorists have been killed while 5 soldiers were injured...

10.26.09 Net set for 'language shake-up'

October 26 - The internet is on the brink of the "biggest change" to its working "since it was invented 40 years ago", the net regulator Icann has said. The body said it that it was finalising plans to introduce web addresses using non-Latin characters. The proposal — initially approved in 2008 — would allow domain names written in Asian, Arabic or other scripts. [More>>bbc.co.uk]


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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