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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.
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11.09.08 US, EU officials meet with Arab representatives on Iran

November 9 - US and European representatives on Sunday met with representatives from Arab countries worried about Iran's influence in the Mideast, a senior US official said. The official said foreign ministers from several Arab countries met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner at the Red Sea resort of Sharm e-Sheikh.

A participant in Sunday's meeting said Arabs are worried about any potential deal on Iran's nuclear program that would give the country more power in the Middle East. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were confidential. It marks the first time EU and US officials have met publicly with representatives from Arab countries to discuss the Iranian threat. {More>>jpost.com]

11.09.08 Banks defy Gordon Brown over new interest rate cut

LONDON, November 9 - High Street banks have told Alistair Darling they will not pass on any further interest rate cuts to consumers and businesses. The banks have warned the chancellor they are “not charities”. They said they could not afford further to reduce mortgage payments and interest rates to businesses if, as expected, the Bank of England continued to cut rates as the economy fell deeper into recession.

The tough line from the banks will anger taxpayers, coming just a month after the government injected £37 billion into Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), HBOS and Lloyds TSB to protect them from the credit crunch. Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley have already been rescued by the taxpayer. Most main banks have responded to the 1.5 percentage point cut made by the Bank of England on Thursday. The only two big lenders not to have trimmed their rates are HSBC and Barclays, which both avoided the Treasury-backed bailout. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

11.09.08 OPEC says further oil output cut likely

ALGIERS, November 8 - The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said Saturday that it could further cut oil output if international oil prices remain under 70 US dollars per barrel. OPEC's objective is to keep the oil prices between 70 dollars to 90 dollars per barrel, said Algerian Minister of Energy and Mines Chakib Khelil, who is also OPEC's current rotating president. In the week ending on Nov. 7, OPEC's basket oil price stood below 60 dollars per barrel, at 57.66 dollars.

Khelil told a press conference that further output decisions would likely depend on how markets react to its current output cut. In an attempt to stabilize the falling oil prices, OPEC decided on Oct. 24 to slash its daily oil output by 1.5 million barrels. OPEC oil prices have continued to drop since July this year. The organization is scheduled to hold a special minister-level meeting in the western Algerian town of Oran on Dec. 17 to discuss the prospects of international oil markets in the first half of 2009, said Khelil.

11.09.08 Study: Blood test can spot risks for heart attack, stroke

November 9 - A highly anticipated study has produced powerful evidence that a simple blood test can spot seemingly healthy people who are at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke and that giving them a widely used drug offers potent protection against the nation's leading killers. In findings that could transform efforts to prevent cardiovascular disease, the study of nearly 18,000 volunteers in 26 countries found that a cholesterol-lowering statin slashed the risk of those flagged by the test by about half — even if their cholesterol was normal.

"The potential public health benefits are huge," said Paul M. Ridker of the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who presented the findings today at a meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans. "It really changes the way we have to think about prevention of heart attack and stroke." The test measures a bodily reaction known as inflammation...Several leading authorities predicted the findings would prompt many doctors to start routinely screening middle-aged patients for inflammation with the $20 test and begin prescribing the statin used in the study, or one of the less expensive generic versions, to those who get worrisome results. All such drugs reduce inflammation. [Full story>>washingtonpost.com]

11.09.08 Seven dead and scores injured in Iraq attacks

BAGHDAD (DPA) November 9 - At least seven people were killed in various attacks throughout Iraq on Sunday, with three people killed and seven injured by a female suicide bomber at a hospital west of Iraq's capital Baghdad. A doctor and his wife were among the injured in the suicide attack that took place in Amiriyat al-Fallujah near the city of Fallujah, 50 kilometres west of Baghdad, the Iraqi al-Buratha news agency reported.

Earlier in the day, extremists killed four civilians, a policeman and a US soldier in various locations, US military said. The soldier died in northern Baghdad when a bomb exploded by his car on Saturday. Two other soldiers suffered injuries in the attack, the military said. The civilians and the policeman died in attacks in the city of Mosul in the restive province of Diyala and in Madain to the south of Baghdad. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.09.08 Taliban attack kills Spanish troops

November 9 - At least two Spanish soldiers have been killed and three others injured after a suicide attacker crashed an explosive-laden vehicle into their convoy, an ISAF spokesperson said. The Taliban claimed it carried out the attack on Sunday in the town of Azizabad in northwestern Herat province. "Two Spanish soldiers were killed and another was critically wounded in an attack south of Herat," a Spanish defence ministry spokesman said.

General Ikramudin Yawar, an Afghan police commander, said the troops were attacked in the Shindand district as they were travelling in a convoy with Afghan soldiers. Earlier reports had said the dead and injured were Italian soldiers in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. "This is usually a non-combat zone but this time according to the Afghan national police, there were RPGs, rocket fire and a suicide bomber. Isaf police have told us that things are very sketchy," Al Jazeera's David Chater, reporting from the capital Kabul, said. "Earlier this month, we do know that a suicide bomber was picked up in this area ... so things are developing in the Herat area." [More>>aljazeera.net]

11.09.08 NATO air strikes kill 7 in Khyber Agency

BARA, Pakistan, November 9 - Seven persons died and 3 others injured when NATO led fighter jets bombed Teerah valley along [the] Pak-Afghan border in Khyber Agency on Sunday. The NATO led fighter jets targeting a group of 40 pedestrians on Morga mountains in Teerah valley pounded them with a number of bombs, killing seven of them on the spot and injuring three others. The dead and injured were taken to Tehsil Bara. [>thenews.com.pk; See also:

khaleejtimes.com, November 9, "Pakistan violence leaves 54 dead"
: ISLAMABAD - At least 54 people, including three soldiers, were killed in a suspected US airstrike and clashes between Islamist militants and government forces in north-west Pakistan, officials and media reports said on Sunday. Jets from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombed hills in Pakistan's Khyber tribal district, killing at least five people...

thejakartapost.com (AP) November 9, "Pakistan: 12 alleged militants killed in northwest"
: Air strikes pounded suspected insurgent hide-outs in a northwestern Pakistan tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Sunday, killing 13 alleged militants in the latest round of a bloody army offensive, officials said. Meanwhile, a remote-controlled bomb planted on a motorcycle killed a passer-by and wounded five others in a market in the southwest Baluchistan province. An ethnic Baluch nationalist group claimed responsibility.
US-allied Pakistan faces a high level of militant violence, especially in the northwest, where al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked militants involved in fighting against American forces in Afghanistan have found sanctuaries. The Pakistani army, using helicopter gunships, fighter jets and ground troops, has pursued an offensive against militants in Bajur, a tribal region considered a militant stronghold, since early August. The army says it has killed 1,500 insurgents in Bajur...

11.09.08 Bali bomber and smiling assassin Amrozi died a coward

November 9 - Amrozi, the smiling assassin, was not so brave when faced with his own death. His older brother Mukhlas was more defiant and praised God to the end. And when the time came — about 11pm on Saturday, local Indonesian time — to be shackled hand and foot and led from their jail cells to the execution ground, the three Bali bombers accepted their fate without struggle.

Sources inside Batu prison and involved in the execution of Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, Mukhlas, aka Ali Ghufron, and Imam Samudra, aka Abdul Aziz, yesterday revealed to The Courier-Mail details of how the trio were put to death six years after their crimes. One source said that of the three, Amrozi was the least brave and that as his end neared he looked "pale" and afraid. [More>>news.com.au]

11.09.08 Too many Christian-Muslim dialogues, Vatican says

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) November 9 - There are now so many efforts to improve relations between Christians and Muslims that they risk overlapping and creating confusion, the Vatican's top official for interfaith contacts says. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said a conference between Catholics and Muslims last week was a fresh bid for mutual understanding that could become a "favoured channel" for the Vatican.

But there is now so much interest in Christian-Muslim dialogue that it is getting hard to see where it is going, said Tauran, who was preparing to fly to New York for United Nations talks linked to another drive led by Saudi King Abdullah. "In my opinion, there are too many Christian-Muslim initiatives. Everybody's doing it," he told Reuters in an interview. "One doesn't know where this will go. That proves there is a great interest, but it sows a bit of confusion.

...King Abdullah's campaign has taken a different direction, with a broad interfaith conference in Madrid last July and a United Nations meeting on "the culture of peace" in New York on Wednesday and Thursday. "You have to differentiate between these meetings," Tauran said. Madrid assembled faith leaders to talk about religion while the United Nations can only focus on member states' respect for their commitment to protect freedom of religion.
[Full story>>thestar.com.my ; See related religious stories:

jpost.com, November 9, "Monks arrested in Jerusalem church brawl" : Police rushed into one of Christianity's holiest churches Sunday and arrested two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus' tomb. The clash broke out between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection. It began as Armenian clergymen marched in an annual procession commemorating the 4th-century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus. It ended with the arrival of dozens of riot policemen who separated the sides, seizing a bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead. Both men were taken away in handcuffs...

The clash broke out between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection. It began as Armenian clergymen marched in an annual procession commemorating the 4th-century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus. It ended with the arrival of dozens of riot policemen who separated the sides, seizing a bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead. Both men were taken away in handcuffs... [See earlier story, Maravot News 12.30.07: 12.27.07 Dozens of priests in wild Bethlehem brawl: and:

( Maravot News 12.30.07)
12.28.07 Malaysian Christians object to ban on word "Allah": A Malaysian Catholic newspaper and church groups cried foul on Friday over a government move to forbid non-Muslims from using the word Allah. The row could further strain race and religious relations in the country, where many non-Muslims believe their rights are being trampled by the Muslim majority. The dispute came out in the open after Malaysia's internal security ministry ruled recently the term Allah long used by Christians in Malaysia to refer to God could no longer be used by non-Muslims. "Malaysia is probably the only nation where the term Allah by Christians to refer to God is prohibited,"...[See updated story, Maravot News 8.13.08, 8.11.08 Malaysia warns Christian paper to avoid politics: Muslim-majority Malaysia's government has accused a Christian newspaper of breaking publication rules by running articles deemed political and insulting to Islam, and warned it of stern action, officials said Monday. The reprimand underscores the tenuous position of minority religions in multi ethnic Malaysia amid a growing number of interfaith disputes. Christians, Buddhists and Hindus complain that their rights are being undermined by government efforts to bolster the status of Islam, the country's official religion...

Maravot News 12.30.07)12.27.07 Hindus, Christians clash in India: Hindu extremists torched nearly a dozen churches and the home of a Christian leader Thursday, defying a curfew imposed to quell three days of religious violence in eastern India. Christians retaliated by setting fire to several homes belonging to Hindus. Local police have been unsuccessful in halting the attacks and the federal government announced it was sending in a paramilitary force...

Maravot News 7.08.08, article
7.04.08 Sikh group joins protest against ban on use of word "Allah" in Malaysia : A Sikh group in Muslim-majority Malaysia is demanding the right to use the world "Allah" as a synonym for God and has joined a legal battle by Christians against a government order banning non-Muslims from using it, an official said Friday. The Malaysian Gurdwaras Council filed an application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Tuesday seeking to join a suit by The Herald, a Roman Catholic newspaper, against the government over use of the word "Allah," said council President Sardar Jagir Singh...Jagir said his council, representing more than 100,000 Sikhs, wanted to join the suit because the ruling would affect them. The word Allah appears on "numerous occasions" in the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, he told The Associated Press. "Not a word can be altered. It's our holiest book ... it will mean we can't practice our own religion."

Maravot News 9.13.08 article
9.11.08 Nasrallah: No peace in Middle East as long as Israel exists: Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said in a recent interview that as long as Israel exists, there will be no peace in the Middle East. "The region will not see the light of peace or any stability because of Israel's aggressiveness and militant nature," Nasrallah said. Despite hiding out in a bunker since 2006's Second Lebanon War, Nasrallah recently spoke to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting radio station, Army Radio reported...

Maravot News 9.13.08 article
9.13.08 Palestinian victory is God's promise: Ahmadinejad: Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Palestinian resistance has shaken Israel and that Palestinian victory is God's promise. According to state TV, Ahmadinejad told Hamas' prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, in a phone conversation Friday that Iran will stand beside the Palestinian people until "final victory" against Israel..

Maravot News 12.02.07, story,
12.01.07 Abbas repeats rejection of 'Jewish state' demand: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday reiterated his rejection of Israel's demand to recognize it as a Jewish state. "From a historical perspective, there are two states: Israel and Palestine. In Israel, there are Jews and others living there. This we are willing to recognize, nothing else," Abbas told reporters in Saudi Arabia..

[Article with Maravot News editorial note:] ..The documents behind the formation of the state of Israel provided for a "Jewish" homeland. They provided for the separation of Palestine into two states and the Corpus Separatum of Jerusalem. Jerusalem would be sovereign to, and administered by, the United Nations. People in the two states (i.e., Palestinian and Jewish) would apply for citizenship in one of the two states. The terms of these agreements perhaps need to renegotiated in the United Nations....The Partition of Palestine: Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly,Part III, City of Jerusalem A. Special Regime the City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separtum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations. The Trusteeship Council shall be designated to discharge the responsibilities of the Administering Authority on behalf of the United Nations.

Maravot News 11.25.04, Why the Crusade & Jihad?...Good news! The Koran says that everything in the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) and Gospel (New Testament) are true! As I pointed out many years ago in a conversation with Wm. F. Buckley Jr. in a series of books, including Philistia triumph thou because of me, there are points in the Koran upon which the Jews, Christians and Moslems can reconcile their disagreements, such as:

Koran, AL-AHQAF 46.12 Yet, before it the Book of Moses (Torah) was revealed, a guide and a blessing to all men. This Book confirms it.
Koran, Women 4.47 You, to whom the Scriptures were given! Believe in that which we have revealed, confirming your own scriptures..
Koran, The Creator 35:24 Your only duty is to give warning..What we have revealed to you in the book is the truth confirming previous scriptures..

Behold, the gem in the Koran of Jesus the Messiah, beyond the other verses endorsing the teachings of Jesus, which is a good foundation for some kind of reconciliation:

The Imrans, 3.45, 47 The angels said to Mary: 'Allah bids you rejoice in a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary. He shall be noble in this world and in the next, and shall be favoured by Allah. He shall preach to men in his cradle and in the prime of manhood, and shall lead a righteous life."

The term Messiah first appeared in the Bible. It means Anointed One and in Greek the term is Christ. Knowing this, then, we should endeavor to find a place of agreement and learn to walk together...

11.08.08 Obama vows to go ahead with missile shield

WARSAW (AFP) November 8 - US president-elect Barack Obama has told Polish President Lech Kaczynski he will go ahead with plans to build a missile defence shield in eastern Europe despite threats from Russia, Warsaw said Saturday. "Barack Obama has underlined the importance of the strategic partnership between Poland and the United States, he expressed his hope of continuing the political and military cooperation between our two countries. He also said the anti-missile shield project would go ahead,"  said a statement issued by Kaczynski after the two men spoke by telephone.

Warsaw and Washington signed a deal on August 14 to base part of a US missile shield in Poland, amid Moscow's vehement opposition and mounting East-West tensions over Georgia. The US wants to base 10 interceptor missiles in Poland plus a radar facility in the neighboring Czech Republic by 2011-2013 to complete a system already in place in the United States, Greenland and Britain. [More.>khaleejtimes.com]

11.08.08 2 more banks go belly-up

NEW YORK, November 8 - Regulators close down Franklin Bank, a Houston bank with $5.1 billion in assets, and Security Pacific Bank of California, with assets of $561 million, raising the tally of failed banks this year to 19. The tally of failed banks in 2008 rose to 19 as the government announced that a Texas and a California bank had been shuttered Friday night.

Franklin Bank, a Houston, Texas-based bank and Security Pacific Bank, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based bank were shut down by state regulators Friday, marking the 18th and 19th bank failures this year. Franklin Bank (FBTX) had total assets of $5.1 billion and total deposits of $3.7 billion as of Sept. 30, 2008, according to a statement on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s Web site.

Security Pacific Bank had total assets of $561.1 million and total deposits of $450.1 million as of October 17, 2008, according to the FDIC. Prosperity Bank (PRSP), based in El Campo, Texas, will assume all of the deposits of the failed Texas bank, including those that exceed the insurance limit and brokered accounts. Depositors of the failed bank will automatically become depositors of Prosperity. [More>>cnn.com]

11.08.08 Fight for Islam, urges Abu Bakar Bashir as Bali bomber executions loom

November 9 - Radical Muslim cleric and terrorist leader Abu Bakar Bashir urged his flock to follow the lead of the Bali bombers and fight for Islam. His comments came as families of Bali bombing victims told of their relief as final preparations were taking place last night for the terrorists' executions. They spoke out as speculation mounted the three killers — Mukhlas, Amrozi and Imam Samudra — could be executed early today. [More>>news.com.au; See related story,

elpasotimes.com, November 8, "Report: Bali bombers executed in Indonesia"
: CILACAP, Indonesia—A local television station says three Indonesian militants have been executed for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people. There was no official confirmation. TVOne quoted unnamed officials as saying Imam Samudra, Amrozi Nurhasyim, and Ali Ghufron went before a firing squad on the prison island of Nusakambangan...

11.08.08 Air strikes kill 14 militants in Bajaur

KHAR, Pakistan, November 8 - Security forces launched air strikes on militants’ hideouts in Tehsil Khar, killing 14 militants on Saturday. Bombing by military fighter jets in Dreen Mamond and Charmang areas could also result in casualties. Militants’ positions in Chaharmang, Chinar and Banda in Tehsil Nawagai of Bajaur Agency were also pounded with heavy artillery while air raids hit Dama Dola, Sewai, Kharkay and Supri. As many as 20 militants have been killed in the above actions. [>thenews.com.pk]

11.08.08 Air strike kills 20 Taliban militants in E. Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, November 8 - [An] airstrike carried out by international troops on Friday killed 20 Taliban militants including two commanders in eastern Afghan province of Ghazni, an official said on Saturday. Sayed Ismayel Jahangir, spokesman of [the] provincial government, told Xinhua that it occurred on Friday afternoon when international troops targeted Taliban militants hiding in villages of Ababand district. "International troops engaged insurgents in a village with both ground fire and air raid, killing at least 20 insurgents including two senior commanders," Jahagir added. [More>>xinhuanet.com; See related story:

arabtimesonline.com, November 8, "Taliban militants kill two 'spies' in Pakistan"
: MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) - Taliban militants killed two Afghan men Saturday in Pakistan's restive tribal belt after accusing them of spying for US-led forces deployed across the border, local officials said. The bullet-riddled bodies of the victims were thrown on a road which connects the troubled North Waziristan tribal district to the Afghan province of Khost, both strongholds of al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. The executions were the latest in a string of similar killings...

11.08.08 Largest cartel weapons cache found in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) November 8 - The Mexican army on Friday announced that it has made the largest seizure of drug-cartel weapons in Mexico's history. The cache of 540 rifles, 165 grenades, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and 14 sticks of TNT were seized on Thursday at a house in the city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, Mexican Assistant Attorney General Marisela Morales said. "The seizure ... is the largest in the history of Mexico involving organized crime," Morales told reporters at Defense Department headquarters, where the army displayed hundreds of rifles, pistols, and shotguns, and laid out rows of grenades and crates of ammunition. [More>>washingtonpost.com; See related story:

bandrasnews.com (Reuters) November 8, "Mexico captures Gulf drug cartel member"
: MEXICO CITY – Mexican federal police on Friday captured Gulf drug cartel member Jaime Gonzalez, one of the country's most-wanted men, after a shoot out near the U.S.-Mexico border, police said. Gonzalez, known as "The Hummer," and indicted in the United States last year for cocaine smuggling, was caught in the city of Reynosa close to McAllen, Texas. Gunmen tried to rescue him as troops drove to Reynosa airport to fly him to Mexico City, setting off a fierce gun battle. Police fought off the escape attempt and transferred Gonzalez to the capital under heavily-armed guard.

11.08.08 Iran economists slam president in open letter

TEHRAN (AFP) November 8 - Iran's confrontational attitude toward the rest of the world is costing the country dearly in lost trade and investment, according to a letter signed by 60 economists published on Saturday. The open letter, the latest addressed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and published by the semi-official Ilna news agency, denounced the "heavy price paid by the country over the negative consequences of government policy." [More>>alarabiya.net; See related story, iranfocus.com, November 7, "US Treasury tightens banking sanctions on Iran."]

11.08.08 DPRK to expand relations with Iran

PYONGYANG, North Korea, November 7 - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will further develop friendly and cooperative relations with Iran, the official KCNA news agency reported Friday, citing a senior official. Bilateral ties "forged in the struggle for independence against imperialism and the United States" should be strengthened, said Yang Hyong Sop, vice-president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK, at a reception Thursday for visiting Iranian Vice President Mohammad Javad Haji Ali Akbari.

In his speech, Akbari said friendly and cooperative relations between Iran and the DPRK, forged by the leaders of the two countries, are developing steadily in the political, economic, cultural and other fields. Akbari arrived in Pyongyang Thursday, at the head of a delegation of the National Youth Organization of Iran. A memorandum of understanding on friendly exchange and cooperation between the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League of the DPRK and the National Youth Organization of Iran was signed Friday, the KCNA reported.

11.07.08 Georgia claims on Russia war called into question

TBILISI, Georgia, November 6 - Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the long-standing Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression. Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia's inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.

The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West. But they raise questions about the accuracy and honesty of Georgia's insistence that its shelling of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, was a precise operation. Georgia has variously defended the shelling as necessary to stop heavy Ossetian shelling of Georgian villages, bring order to the region or counter a Russian invasion. [More>>nytimes.com; See related story:

bbc.co.uk, "Georgians rally against president"
Thousands of opposition activists have demonstrated in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi - their first major protest since the conflict with Russia. Critics have accused President Mikhail Saakashvili of starting a war with Russia that Georgia could not win.

11.07.08 Pakistani jets kill 16 Taliban militants: official

KHAR, Pakistan (AFP) November 7 - At least 16 militants were killed Friday as Pakistani forces bombarded several suspected Taliban hideouts in a restive northwest tribal region known as a safe haven for militants, officials said. Jets pounded the towns of Damadola, Sewai and Sipra in Bajaur district where Pakistani forces have clashed with Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants for the past three months, local administration official Jamil Khan told AFP. "Details of the casualties are coming in," he said.

Another security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 16 Taliban militants were killed. The toll may rise as the jets repeatedly bombed the suspected bases, he added. At least 14 people were killed in Pakistani air strikes in Bajaur on Thursday and 15 extremists died in similar raids on Wednesday, according to local officials. Security officials said the bombing campaign has been stepped up as land forces were planning a ground offensive in these towns where militants are said to have underground bunkers. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.07.08 Jobless rate at 14-year high after big October losses

November 7 - The American economy lost another 240,000 jobs in October, the government reported Friday, as cash-strapped consumers pulled back sharply and businesses hunkered down, intensifying the distress gripping much of the country. The unemployment rate spiked to 6.5 percent from 6.1 percent, the highest level since 1994. Many analysts now expect unemployment will reach 8 percent by the middle of the year.

Coupled with revisions to September’s data — which now show a loss of 284,000 jobs, down from an initial estimate of 159,000 — the economy has shed 1.2 million jobs since the beginning of the year. More than half the job losses have been in the last three months alone. "The economy is slipping deeper into a recessionary sinkhole that is getting broader," said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. “The layoffs are getting larger, and coming faster. We’re likely to see at least another six months of more jobs reports like this.” [More>>nytimes.com]

11.07.08 Egypt seizes explosives 'destined for Gaza'

AL-ARISH, Egypt (AFP) November 7 - Egypt seized a ton of TNT in the Sinai Peninsula that officials believe was probably destined for the Gaza Strip, a security source said on Friday. Boxes of the powerful explosive were found in an underground hideout after police were tipped off by local residents, the official said. The TNT "was probably destined for Gaza," he said, adding that no arrests have yet been made in the case. Israel and the United States often accuse Egypt of not doing more to halt the flow of illegal weapons into the Islamist Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Cairo disputes this, saying security forces often uncover tunnels under the border with Gaza that are used by smugglers of weapons and contraband. [>alarabiya.net ; See related story"

jpost.com, November 7, "5 Kassam rockets slam into W. Negev" : Southerners woke up to another day of rocket attacks Friday as Palestinian terrorists fired five Kassams at western Negev neighborhoods. The rockets landed in the Sderot, Eshkol and Sha'ar Hanegev regions. No one was wounded and no damage was reported...

11.07.08 US scientists create tiny 'backpacks' for cells

WASHINGToN, November 7 - A team of US scientists have outfitted cells with tiny "backpacks" that could allow them to deliver chemotherapy agents, diagnose tumors or become building blocks for tissue engineering. Michael Rubner from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the senior author of a paper on the work that appeared online in Nano Letters on Thursday, said he believes this is the first time anyone has attached such a synthetic patch to a cell. The polymer backpacks allow researchers to use cells to ferry tiny cargoes and manipulate their movements using magnetic fields.

Since each patch covers only a small portion of the cell surface, it does not interfere with the cell's normal functions or prevent it from interacting with the external environment...Cellular backpacks carrying chemotherapy agents could target tumor cells, while cells equipped with patches carrying imaging agents could help identify tumors by binding to protein markers expressed by cancer cells. Another possible application is in tissue engineering.
[Full story>>xinhuanet.com]

11.07.08 Asian stock markets rebound from early lows

HONG KONG (AP) November 8 - Asian stock markets turned in a mixed performance Friday, but most recoiled from their lows despite a grim profit forecast from Toyota and sluggish US economic data. European markets opened higher. Many of Asia's bourses showed surprising resilience - notably in Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore - given the overnight drop on Wall Street, as lower-priced shares attracted buyers and lending markets showed more signs of mending. [More>>thejakartapost.com]

11.06.08 Mortgage lenders refuse to pass on base rate cut

November 6 - Britain's biggest mortgage lenders have ignored calls from the Government to pass on today's cut in interest rates to struggling homeowners. Only Lloyds TSB, the bank which is accepting around £5.5 billion in taxpayers cash to shore up its balance sheet, and Abbey, the UK's second biggest lender, have promised to pass on the historic 1.5 percentage point reduction to borrowers on variable rate deals.

At midday, the Bank of England announced that the cost of borrowing would fall by 1.5 points to 3 per cent in an effort to shore up the economy and stave off a deep recession. The surprise cut took the base rate to its lowest level in more than half a century. In a statement accompanying the announcement, the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee said: "There has been a very marked deterioration in the outlook for economic activity at home and abroad."
[More>>timesonline.co.uk; See also:

independent.co.uk, November 6, "Interest rates slashed to 53-year low"
: Interest rates were today slashed to a 53-year low to fight off recession — but fears were growing that hard-pressed homeowners would fail to reap the benefit...

11.06.08 Stocks fall after troubling economic data

November 6 - Stocks slumped on Thursday, extending their losses to a second day, amid a poor outlook for the retail and automobile industries and worries about the state of the labor market. At about 1 p.m. the Dow Jones industrial average was down about 400 points or 4.4 percent, and the broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock index had declined 4.6 percent. The Dow fell 486 points on Wednesday. Before the markets opened, retailers reported that their October sales slowed as Americans pulled back on spending. The holiday shopping season could be the worst in years, analysts said, as consumers buckle down to ride out a looming recession. [More>>nytimes.com]

11.06.08 Bali bombers' execution crosses erected on Nusakambangan island

November 6 - Wooden posts that will be used to secure the three Bali bombers for execution were erected on their prison island yesterday, an official source said. The source said the three posts had been erected 5m apart, 6km south of the high-security prison on Nusakambangan island, in southern Java, where the bombers are being held. In another sign that their deaths are imminent, senior Islamic clerics say they have been asked to counsel the three killers.

"We have received a letter from the Cilacap Prosecutor's Office to send nine clerics to the prison to provide counsel for the trio," cleric Sahlan Natsir said. The letter did not say when they would be asked to visit bombers Imam Samudra, 38, Amrozi, 47, and brother Mukhlas, 48. The three have been in isolation awaiting execution since Friday for their roles in the 2002 terror attacks that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians. Prosecutors have said that the executions would be by firing squad in "early November."

The comments came as The Courier-Mail obtained an extraordinary series of photographs that chronicle the countdown to the execution in June of two Nigerian drug traffickers at the same isolated spot the Bali trio will die. In one frightening picture a wooden cross, with two crossbars and a chair sitting on top of boxes stands starkly in the night. The photograph was taken two days before the executions as officials constructed the death zone.
[More>>news.com.au; For photos of the crosses used in the Nigerian drug traffickers go to the Daily Telegraph link]

11.06.08 Christian, Muslim leaders vow to combat terror

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) November 6 - Catholic and Muslim leaders at unprecedented Vatican meetings vowed on Thursday to work together to combat violence and terrorism, especially when carried out in God's name. At the end of three days of meetings, the 58 scholars and leaders — 29 from each side — issued a 15-point final joint declaration which also included an appeal for the defence of minority religions.

The meetings came two years after the pope gave a speech hinting Islam was violent and irrational, sparking angry protests in the Middle East. The Muslims formed their group to refute that speech and seek better mutual understanding. "We profess that Catholics and Muslims are called to be instruments of love and harmony among believers, and for humanity as a whole, renouncing any oppression, aggressive violence and terrorism, especially that committed in the name of religion, and upholding the principle of justice for all," the declaration said. [More>>thestar.com.my]

11.06.08 Pakistan sets death for 'cyber-terrorism'

ISLAMABAD, November 6 - Causing death through "cyber-terrorism" will be punishable by death in Pakistan, according to a decree issued by President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday. The Prevention of Electronic Crimes law will be applicable to anyone who commits a crime detrimental to national security through the use of a computer or any other electronic device, the government said in the ordinance. "Whoever commits the offence of cyber terrorism and causes death of any person shall be punishable with death or imprisonment for life," according to a copy of the ordinance, published by the state-run APP news agency.

The law will apply to Pakistanis and foreigners whether living in Pakistan or abroad. The ordinance described cyber terrorism as accessing of a computer network or electronic system by someone who then "knowingly engages in or attempts to engage in a terrorist act." The ordinance listed several definitions of a "terrorist act" including stealing or copying, or attempting to steal or copy, classified information necessary to manufacture any form of chemical, biological or nuclear weapon.

11.06.08 Suicide bomber video game tasteless

DUBAI, November 6 - A computer game in which players control a suicide bomber trying to kill as many civilians as possible has been condemned by victims of terrorism, the London-based Telegraph reported on Thursday. The free game, which is available for download from the internet, features an Arab-looking cartoon man who players direct along a busy street and targets civilians for bombing. Points are awarded for every man, woman and child who dies when the bomber detonates hidden grenades strapped to his body.

Members of the Bali Bombing Victims Group described Kaboom The Suicide Bombing game as "completely sick," and senior MPs have called for it to be taken down from websites, the newspaper reported...John Whitting¬dale, the Tory chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee said the families of suicide bombing victims would be upset by the "tasteless" game, reported the Telegraph. The game's creator, an anonymous man from Houston, Texas, insisted his intention was to satirize rather than celebrate terrorism, reported the paper. [Full story>>alarabiya.net]

11.06.08 At least 40 killed in Bajaur suicide attack, military operation

KHAR, Pakistan, November 6 - At least 23 people including a head of national Lashkr were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up during an ongoing jirga here in Tehsil Salarzai on Thursday. Meanwhile, security forces killed 17 militants in an action in Tehsils Mamond and Nawagai. A grand jirga was underway in Baat area of Tehsil Salarzai to hammer out a counterinsurgency strategy when a man aged about 30 years blew himself up there. About 150 to 200 tribal elders were present on the occasion.

The injured were rushed to Khar hospital and Headquarter hospital while those with serious wounds were taken to Peshawar in helicopter. The political administration has announced Rs50,000 each for the injured. An outfit named Karvan Naimatullah has claimed responsibility of the attack. Spokesman of the organization, Abdul Rehman told Geo News on phone and claimed the responsibility of the attack.

Meanwhile, the security forces continued offensive against militants at Tehsil Mamond and Nawagai in volatile Bajaur Agency, killing 17 militants and wounded several others. According to security officials and eyewitnesses based in Bajaur Agency's headquarter Khar, the security forces backed by gunship helicopters, fighter jets and artillery fire bombed the suspected hideouts of militants at Damadola, Erab, Sewai of Tehsil Mamond and inflicted heavy losses to them.

11.06.08 US blames Taliban for Afghan deaths

November 6 - The US military says that Taliban fighters prevented civilians from fleeing clashes in southern Afghanistan, leading to the death of about 40 people who were believed to have been attending a wedding ceremony. US and Afghan forces killed several Taliban fighters in the battle, which took place in Kandahar, the US military said on Thursday.

The military did not specify how many civilians were killed in the fighting, but villagers say that about 37 civilians died in a US air raid on Monday. The bombing run was called in as part of the fighting between US forces and Taliban fighters in the area. The military's statement said that fighters attacked a US-led patrol that was moving through the Shah Wali Kot region of Kandahar. "Civilians reportedly attempted to leave the area, but the insurgents forced them to remain," the US military said, but did not specify where the report was from. [More>>aljazeera.net]

11.06.08 Twin blasts in Baghdad kill 4, wound 7

BAGHDAD (AP) November 6 - Police say four people were killed and seven others wounded when two roadside bombs exploded during the morning rush hour near a checkpoint in central Baghdad. A security official says Thursday's attack in the capital's Sunni enclave of Sheik Omar occurred at a checkpoint manned by members of an Awakening Council. Awakening Council is the term for mostly Sunni groups that have joined forces with the Americans against al-Qaeda in Iraq. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information to the media. [>khaleejtimes.com]

11.06.08 Iran's Ahmadinejad offers congratulations to Obama

November 6 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday congratulated Barack Obama on his election win - the first time an Iranian leader has offered such wishes to a US president-elect since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Ahmadinejad sent a message to Obama in which he congratulated the Democrat on attracting the majority of voters in the election. The text of the note was carried by the official IRNA news agency. [More>>haaretz.com; See related story:

khaleejtimes.com (AFP) November 6, "Hamas says ready for dialogue with Obama."
: GAZA CITY - Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, expressed willingness on Thursday to hold talks with US president-elect Barack Obama even though Washington considers the Islamist movement a terror group. "We are ready to hold a serious dialogue with the new US president," said Ismail Haniya, who heads the Hamas government in the Palestinian territory. "We hope the new US president will learn from the mistakes of the previous administration and give up the policy of bias towards Israel," he told journalists during a visit to a Gaza hospital...

11.06.08 Obama pickes ex-Israeli soldier as chief of staff

DUBAI, November 6 - Described in Israeli media as "Our man in the White House." US President-elect Barack Obama has asked Illinois congressman and former soldier in the Israeli army, Rahm Emanuel to head his White House staff as he moves quickly to fill government jobs in his incoming administration. Party sources said the job was offered to fellow Chicagoan Emanuel on Wednesday, just hours after Obama was elected, and he was expected to quickly accept the post -- making him one of the most important people of Obama's new inside circle.

Emanuel volunteered to serve in the Israeli army and did a two-month stint at a base in northern Israel during the 1991 Gulf War, Israeli public radio reported.
Israel radio stations and newspapers pointed out Emanuel's Occupied Jerusalem-born father was once a member of Irgun, an underground, ultra-nationalist Jewish movement that fought British troops before the 1948 creation of the state of Israel. A former Clinton adviser, Emanuel has a reputation of being a master strategist. But he has also been viewed as a highly partisan fighter in the rough world of Washington politics.
[More>>alarabiya.net; See also washingtonpost.com, November 6, "Emanuel accepts job of Obama's Chief of Staff."]

11.05.08 Barak Obama wins presidency

November 5 - John McCain Concedes As Democrat Earns Historic Victory; "A New Dawn Of American Leadership Is At Hand," Says President Elect. In an extraordinary moment in America's history, Democr atic presidential nominee Barack Obama has won the 2008 presidential election and will become the 44th president of the United States and the country's first African-American leader. "Because of what we did on this day, in this election, in this defining moment, change has come to America," Obama told 125,000 supporters gathered in Chicago's Grant Park to celebrate his victory.

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer," he added. "A new dawn of American leadership is at hand," Obama said. Obama's victory comes on the strength of projected wins in battleground states that went to President George W. Bush four years ago — Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Indiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa — as well as a victory in Pennsylvania, a state that John McCain had hoped to turn blue to buoy his bid for an upset victory.
[More>>cbsnews.com; See related stories:

nytimes.com, November 5, "No time for laurels; now the hard part" : WASHINGTON -
(Peter Baker) No president since before Barack Obama was born has ascended to the Oval Office confronted by the accumulation of seismic challenges awaiting him. Historians grasping for parallels point to Abraham Lincoln taking office as the nation was collapsing into Civil War, or Franklin D. Roosevelt arriving in Washington in the throes of the Great Depression.

The task facing Mr. Obama does not rise to those levels, but that these are the comparisons most often cited sobers even Democrats rejoicing at their return to power. On the shoulders of a 47-year-old first-term senator, with the power of inspiration yet no real executive experience, now falls the responsibility of prosecuting two wars, protecting the nation from terrorist threat and stitching back together a shredded economy. Given the depth of these issues, Mr. Obama has little choice but to “put your arm around chaos,” in the words of Leon E. Panetta, the former White House chief of staff who has been advising his transition team...

washingtonpost.com, November 5, "Hard choices and challenges follow triumph" :
(Dan Balz) After a victory of historic significance, Barack Obama will inherit problems of historic proportions. Not since Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated at the depths of the Great Depression in 1933 has a new president been confronted with the challenges Obama will face as he starts his presidency. At home, Obama must revive an economy experiencing some of the worst shocks in more than half a century. Abroad, he has pledged to end the war in Iraq and defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. He ran on a platform to change the country and its politics. Now he must begin to spell out exactly how.

Obama's winning percentage appears likely to be the largest of any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson's 1964 landslide and makes him the first since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to garner more than 50.1 percent. Like Johnson, he will govern with sizable congressional majorities. Democrats gained at least five seats in the Senate and looked to add significantly to their strength in the House...

thejakartapost.com, November 5, "Menteng students overjoyed with Obama's win" : "Obama... Obama... Obama... We love you!" yelled hundreds of students from all grades in a Menteng elementary school in Central Jakarta on Wednesday, as they watched results come in for the US presidential election. Students and teachers were overjoyed to suspend classes, gather in a 1,500 square meter ballroom and witness how a former student of the school became elected the next president of the United States.

Headmaster Kuswadiyanto said the teachers and students had been starting their school day differently during the past few days. "Every morning before lessons start, we've been praying for Barry[Barak?], hoping for him to win the election," Kuswadiyanto said, as quoted by kompas.com. As tallies on the television screen grew and confirmed Obama's win, all the students expressed their happiness by running around, scattering all over the place, dashing out of the ballroom and roaming the schoolyard even though rain was pouring down...

japantoday.com, November 5, "Around the world, Obama victory sparks cheers" : TOKYO - Across the globe, in concert halls and ballrooms, in plazas and beach parties and busy streets, the citizens of the world hailed the election of Barack Obama as a stroke for racial equality and voiced hopes his presidency would herald a more balanced, less confrontational America. People crowded before TVs or listened to blaring radios for the latest updates. In Sydney, Australians filled a hotel ballroom. In Rio, Brazilians partied on the beach. In the town of Obama, in Japan, dancers cheered in delight when their namesake's victory was declared. Watchers — many of them in countries where the idea of a minority being elected leader is unthinkable — expressed amazement and satisfaction that the United States could overcome centuries of racial strife an[d] elect an African-American as president.

"It shows that America truly is a diverse, multicultural society where the color of your skin really does not matter," said Jason Ge, an international relations student at Peking University in China. In an interconnected world where people in its farthest reaches could monitor the presidential race blow-by-blow, many observers echoed Obama's own mantra as they struggled to put into words their sense that his election marked an important turning point.

koreaherald.co.kr, November 5, "Koreans welcome new US leader" : Koreans hailed America for making history by choosing Barack Obama as its first black president. But expectations were mixed over the changes that the next US leader would bring to the peninsula. Liberal-minded Koreans were highly hopeful that he will put an end to unilateralism in US foreign policy and deliver sweeping reforms to unbridled Wall Street capitalism.

They had more hope for peninsular peace from the Democratic administration, which prioritizes dialogue in dealing with North Korea. Government and ruling party officials are bracing for a likely shift in U.S. policies on Pyongyang and trade ties with Seoul. Conservative commentators expressed concern about progressive values that are being newly inspired by the liberal president-elect.

thestar.com.my, November 5, "Russia sets tough tone with new White House": MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev voiced hope on Wednesday for better relations with the new US president, but also presented him with a headache by vowing retaliation for a US missile defence plan. Washington's relations with Moscow plunged to a post-Cold War low during George W. Bush's presidency, and many in Russia have been cautiously hopeful for an improvement under Barack Obama, who they believe will take a fresh approach.

"I would like to stress: we have no problems with the American people. We have no innate anti-Americanism," Medvedev said in his annual address to parliament. "We hope that our partners — the new US administration — will make a choice in favour of fully-fledged relations with Russia," Medvedev said. Medvedev attacked the US plan to station parts of its missile defence system in Europe, and said Moscow would respond by deploying missile systems in its Western outpost of Kaliningrad...

[See also] en.rian.ru, November 5, "Russia's Iskander best answer to US missiles in Europe" : MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) November 5 - The placement of short-range tactical missiles near Poland would be the best response to US missile plans for Europe, a Russian military analyst said on Wednesday...

khaleejtimes.com (AP) November 5, "French blacks fired up by Obama wind of change" : PARIS - Black voters in France vowed on Wednesday "nothing will be the same" after Barack Obama's historic White House victory, fired up by demands for a racial shake-up of French politics. France is home to one of Europe's largest black communities as as well as a five-million strong Arab-Muslim minority, but the US presidential race has held up an unforgiving mirror to its overwhelmingly-white ruling elite. "Nothing will be the same after this," said Herve Moussakanda, a French businessman of Congolese descent and one of dozens of black supporters who packed a Paris club overnight to watch history being made across the Atlantic.

"The bar will have been raised and all those excuses about how you can't do this or don't have the right skills just won't hold,"  he said, surrounded by cheers of "O"-"BA"-"MA" and a French version of his "yes we can" slogan. President Nicolas Sarkozy made waves last year by appointing three ministers from ethnic minorities to his cabinet, but France's main political parties, the right-wing UMP and the Socialists, are accused of blocking the rise of powerful black and Arab figures...

khaleejtimes.com (DPA) November 5, Iran welcomes Obama victory, warns US forces" : TEHRAN - Iranian officials on Wednesday welcomed Barack Obama's victory in US presidential elections, calling it a sign of failure of President George W. Bush's policies and Americans' demand for essential changes. "Obama's election as the US president shows the American people's demand for essential changes in the country's domestic and foreign policies," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA, while urging the new administration "to distance itself from the wrong approaches of current politicians." As the first reaction by an Iranian official earlier on Wednesday, Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel — senior advisor to Iran's supreme leader — said the victory of the slogan of "change" is the admission of the American people to the failure of Bush's policies..

The reactions to the US elections came after a harshly worded statement issued earlier this morning by Iran's military, warning American forces in Iraq that it would strongly respond to any violation of Iranian airspace. "American military helicopters were recently flying in short distances from Iraq's joint borders with Iran and while the borders are not straight there would be the possibility of violating Iran's airspace," Iran's army headquarters said in a statement carried by IRNA..

aljazeera.net, November 5, "World reacts to Obama victory".
[statements from various world leaders] Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, congratulated Obama on his US election victory, saying it took the world into a "new era." Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, said Washington would not adopt a "quick disengagement" policy with Baghdad under the presidency of Barack Obama as a "great deal is at stake here."..

bbc.co.uk, November 5, "BBC correspondents: What the world expects" : Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States. BBC correspondents report on the mixed expectations from around the world. .

South Korea, John Sudworth They may be a long way from the celebrations and razzmatazz in Washington, but Korean farmers will be cheering America's choice for its new president just as loudl. Last year the US and South Korea signed a free trade deal, the second biggest in US history. If it is ratified by both parliaments, farmers here believe their livelihoods will be swamped by cheaper food from across the Pacific...

nytimes.com, November 5, "Reactions from around the world" : New York Times correspondents are sharing reactions from around the world to the election of Barack Obama.

Berlin | By Nicholas Kulish Barack Obama may have been the toast of Europe since his visit this past summer, but a stop at the John F. Kennedy School here showed he might not want to take that popularity for granted. Not if the students have anything to say. A YouTube clip of the president-elect's acceptance speech kicked off the post-election discussion at the public bilingual school Tuesday, but the effort his American supporters found so inspired did not seem to sway the jaded teenagers, raised on American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and distrustful of his intense popularity here.

"This," announced the first student to step up to the microphone stand, his adolescent slouch exaggerated by the low microphone, "is going to be the great disillusionment of our generation." Another student compared Mr. Obama to the school's namesake, but was talking about the Bay of Pigs rather than the famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech...

independent.co.uk, November 5, "What the world wants from its president" : After eight years of a Bush administration which divided, ignored or patronized Europe, EU leaders are bubbling with excitement at the prospect of a more creative, transatlantic partnership with President-elect Barack Obama. The European Commission president, Jose-Manuel Barroso spoke of a "new deal" between the US and the EU, to shape the global agenda from trade to human rights to climate change. The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, said: "At a time when we all face immense challenges, your election will inspire immense new hope in France, in Europe and in the entire world."

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said, pointedly, that she that she looked forward to a "closer and more trusting cooperation between the United States and Europe." Others warned, however, that, once the gloss wore off, an Obama presidency was likely to bump against fundamental differences of interest between Europe and the US on issues ranging from trade, to climate change and how to handle a more assertive or belligerent Russia...

alarabiiya.net, November 5, "Arabs see Obama's 'change' as more of the same" : ...Thirty-two percent of Arabs polled by Zogby earlier this year believed that American policy towards advancing peace in the Middle East will remain the same, with only 18 percent believing that Obama and 4 percent McCain had the best chance of advancing peace. According to an AlArabiya.net poll, 62 percent of readers said that the elections do not matter to them because either way the new president will be an avid supporter of Israel...

alarabiya.net, November 5, "Shiite scholar denies Obama link to Muslim savior" : DUBAI - 17th century prophecy said a tall black man would rule the West. A prominent Shiite scholar denied recent reports circulated on an Iranian website and in an American magazine that Barrack Obama's victory in the American election foretold the appearance of the Islamic redeemer, al-Mahdi. According to the text that is the foundation of modern Shiite Islam, a prophecy that a tall black man would rule the West portends the coming of the Islamic redeemer.

Ali Ibn Abi-Talib — the prophet's cousin and son-in-law and the most revered figure in Shiite Islam — prophesied that before the return of the Mahdi, the ultimate redeemer in Islam, a tall black man will rule the West and will carry a "clear sign" from the Third Imam,Hussein Ibn Ali, according to the report by Iranian-born, London-based journalist Amir Taheri. Forbes magazine published a story about the Iranian pro-government website that published a hadith (saying or tradition) from the 17th century Shiite text Bahar al-Anvar (Sea of Light) setting off a string of rumors about the prophecy's connection to Obama.

The link between this black man and the American presidential candidate started with his name. In Arabic and Persian, "Barrack Obama" means "the blessing of al-Hussein." When written in [the] Persian alphabet, the word "O Ba Ma" means "he is with us." Other coincidences contributed to establishing the theological link, including the view of the Iranian government that an Obama victory would signify the decline of the West and the triumph of Islam. Obama's relative lenience in pledging unconditional talks with Iran is also seen as a sign of American weakness. The Mahdi (Arabic for "the guided one"), is supposed to return before Judgment Day to eliminate injustice and tyranny. The appearance of the Mahdi is not mentioned in the Quran or the Sunnah (Prophet's teachings), and many Sunni scholars view it as a Shiite invention...
[See also} Maravot News 5.10.08, article 5.08.08 Ahmadinejad criticized for saying long-ago Imam Mahdi leads Iran. ..."We see his [the Mahdi] hand directing all the affairs of the country," Ahmadinejad told theological students in the city of Mashad during a speech that appears to have been given last month but was not broadcast until Tuesday. "A movement has started for us to occupy ourselves with our global responsibilities. God willing, Iran will be the axis of the leadership of this movement," Ahmadinejad said...

11.05.08 Asian stock markets rise as US elects new leader

HONG KONG (AP) November 5 - Asian markets rose Wednesday, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street, amid hopes for a year-end rally and that a new US president would act to boost the sluggish American economy. With Barack Obama's victory in the US presidential race, investors were hopeful he could focus renewed energy on tackling deteriorating conditions in the world's largest economy — a vital export market — that have dragged on growth around the world, analysts said.

"We are definitely upbeat now about the market direction. I think investors and funds will be coming in and buying aggressively until the end of year," said Alex Tang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi in Hong Kong. "Investors also are hoping that Obama can make a number of changes to help the economy," he said...Across Asia markets rose. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average advanced 2.7 percent to 9,341.41, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged 5.7 percent to 15,196.87. Australia's index rose 2.8 percent, and Singapore's key stock measure rising 4.1 percent. The upswing followed Wall Street, where many investors looked past more signs of a slumping U.S. economy and piled into stocks in anticipation of a year-end rally. The Dow Jones index staged its biggest Election Day rally ever, rising 305.45 points, or 3.3 percent, to close at 9,625.28. The broader indices also rose, with the Standard & Poor's 500 index up 39.45, or 4.1 percent, to 1,005.75, its first close over the 1,000 mark since Oct. 13...
[Full story>>thejakartapost.com; See also

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, November 5, "Sensex closes 511 points down." and

turkishpress.com (AFP) November 5, "Dollar climbs against euro after Obama victory" and

nytimes.com, November 5, "Markets fall sharply, erasing election day gains"
: So much for the Election Day bounce. Stocks erased all of their gains from Tuesday's rally — the biggest on a presidential election day in 24 years — as investors banked profits and dealt with another round of bleak economic news, this time about businesses that comprise nearly 90 percent of the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 5 percent or 486.01 points after a daylong sell-off accelerated in the final hour, sending the index back to 9,139.27, its lowest level in a week. The broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 5.3 percent or 52.98 points, and the technology heavy Nasdaq lost 5.5 percent, or 98.48 points. Crude oil closed down $5.08 a barrel to $65.45...and

news.com.au, November 6, "Australian shares fall 4pc at open, on fears of US recession."

11.05.08 Aid workers kidnapped in Somalia

November 5 - At least six foreign aid workers have been kidnapped at gunpoint in Somalia. Two French, two Kenyans, a Belgian and a Bulgarian were abducted by assailants who stormed an airstrip on Wednesday morning, a European Commission spokesman said. The group — at least four of whom are employees of the Paris-based aid group Action Contre la Faim [ACF - Action Against Hunger] — were seized near the town of Dusamareb, 580km from Mogadishu, the capital.

"Heavily armed men with three battle-wagons and three small cars kidnapped the foreigners who landed a plane, and also some people waiting for them at the airstrip," Farah Osman, a local resident, said. Action Against hunger have said that four of their staff were taken, without giving their nationalities. [More>>aljazeera.net]

11.05.08 Air strikes killed about 40 civilians: Karzai

KABUL, November 5 - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Wednesday around 40 civilians, including women and children, were killed in international air strikes that hit a village in southern Afghanistan. Villagers had earlier said around 36 civilians were killed in Monday's strike, which hit a wedding party, but Afghan authorities were unable to give a number of casualties. The president "condemned the air strike which killed around 40 and wounded another 28 civilians in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province," a statement from his office said. [More>>thenews.com.pk; See also thenews.com.pk, November 5, "15 militants die in Bajaur offensive."]

11.03.08 Obama or McCain must leap into action on financial crisis, says Gordon Brown

November 3 - The next President of the United States must step up immediately after the election to help guide the world through the financial crisis, Gordon Brown said today. The Prime Minister was speaking at an oil conference in Abu Dhabi on the third day of his Gulf trip, which has seen him encouraging greater investment and closer cooperation from the oil-rich emirates. He is in Abu Dhabi today after visiting Saudi Arabia on Saturday and Qatar yesterday, and he arrives home tomorrow night in time for the close of polls and start of the television coverage of the US election.

Speaking hours before the polls were due to open across the United States, Mr. Brown urged both Presidential contenders not to allow a political vacuum between the election and the inauguration of the next President in January. Saying that America's leadership over the financial crisis has so far been "vital," Mr. Brown said: “I think that leadership will and must continue.”

The two-month gap before the next President is sworn in usually marks an interregnum in US politics. Traditionally the incumbent draws back as he prepares to leave office while the President Elect uses the period to chose his new team and agree an agenda for his first hundred days. However, Mr. Brown is urging the next President to show leadership much sooner, suggesting he thinks they should play a role at the Washington meeting of world leaders on November 15. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

11.03.08 Bombings kill 10, wound at least 33 in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) November 3 - A string of bombings killed 10 people and wounded at least 33 others in Iraq on Monday, including a senior Oil Ministry official, authorities said. Six people died when two bombs — one of them hidden in a trash can — exploded in Tahariyat square in central Baghdad during the morning rush hour. Police said 21 people were wounded, including 10 policemen and two women. The explosions caused extensive damage to shops lining the square in the predominantly Shiite eastern side of Baghdad.

Another bomb exploded around noon near a police patrol in west Baghdad, injuring one policeman and a civilian, while another officer died and six others were wounded when their patrol hit a roadside bomb in east Baghdad, police said. Security has improved in Baghdad since the Sunni revolt against al-Qaeda and the routing of Shiite militias in Baghdad and southern Iraq last spring, but scattered bombings still occur almost daily.
[>thejakartapost.com; See also nytimes.com, November 3, "At least 9 dead in attacks in Iraq."]

11.03.08 Iraq wants Iran to help recover looted treasures

BAGHDAD (Reuters) November 3 - Iraq has asked again for Tehran's help to return any of the thousands of treasured antiquities smuggled out of Iraq since 2003 which may have ended up in neighboring Iran, an official said on Monday. Abdul Zahra, a spokesman for the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry, said that Minister Qahtan Abbas al-Jibouri had met last week in Baghdad with an Iranian tourism official and the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi.

Iraq wants any information Iran may have on the whereabouts of any antiquities smuggled across Iraq's eastern border, including pieces looted from Iraq's national museum and those dug up from archaeological sites across Iraq, some of which date back as far as ancient Mesopotamian civilization. Zahra said the Jordanian and Syrian government had returned thousands of pieces smuggled out of Iraq, but past requests have not yielded the same results from either Iran or Turkey.

"We are waiting for Iran and Turkey to prove their good intentions and lift the doubts," Zahra said. He said Iraq was not accusing Iran of knowingly harbouring stolen antiquities. US forces were widely criticized following the US-led invasion of 2003 for failing to prevent the looting of priceless relics from Iraq's national museum. More than 15,000 artefacts went missing from the museum during the looting, about 6,000 of which have been returned. Thousands of other artefacts have been plundered from archaeological sites, Zahra said. [>khaleejtimes.com]

11.03.08 No US bases in North Iraq without government nod: Talabani

BAGHDAD, November 3 - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said that American troops can set up bases in northern Iraq's Kurdish region only if the Shiite-led government in Baghdad gives its approval. "It is not possible for US troops to stay in Kurdistan without the approval of the central government," Talabani said in an interview with state television Al-Iraqiya late on Sunday. "Kurdistan is part of Iraq, and all of the country's constitutional laws apply to it." His remarks came after Massud Barzani, the president of the northern Kurdish administration of Iraq, said on a visit to Washington that the U.S. military could have bases in the north if Washington and Baghdad failed to sign a controversial security deal. [More>>alarabiya.net]

11.03.08 Pakistan tells Petraeus to stop missile strikes

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) November 3 - The US commander running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, held talks on Monday with Pakistani leaders who told him to stop US strikes on militants in Pakistani territory. Petraeus arrived in Pakistan on Sunday, at the beginning of his first foreign tour since taking charge of US Central Command, highlighting US concern about a country seen as crucial to stability in Afghanistan and to defeating al-Qaeda. US analysts say Pakistan is facing a major threat from Islamist militants at a time when the nuclear-armed nation and its new civilian government are engulfed in extraordinarily difficult economic problems. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.03.08 Migrant bodies wash up in Yemen

November 3 - Sixty corpses of migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia have been found on a beach in Yemen after smugglers forced many of them overboard on the weekend, an international aid agency said. Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said the latest victims on the perilous smuggling route had came across the Gulf of Aden from the Somali port city of Bosasso, fleeing war and poverty in their homelands. In one of two incidents that caused the deaths, smugglers tipped the refugees into the sea at night after noticing lights on land and fearing they would be spotted by the coastguard, MSF quoted survivors as saying. "They forced us into the sea, even if the water was too deep. Several people did not know how to swim and they drowned," one survivor said. A woman eight months pregnant was injured by the boat's propeller after being forced overboard. [More>>aljazeera.net]

11.03.08 Report: DPRK to strengthen war deterrent against US nuclear threat

PYONGYANG, November 3 - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will further strengthen [its] war deterrent against the nuclear threat from the United States, said a commentary published by the official Rodong Sinmun daily on Monday. The US Air Force announced it would create a nuclear command on October 24, which was an "extremely dangerous" move, said the commentary, adding that it revealed the US's true purpose of deterring other countries by nuclear weapons and controlling the whole world. The US new approach will render to a new cold war and tense the situation on the Korean peninsula, it said.

The US claimed to solve the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula, but in reality it was scheming to launch a nuclear war against the DPRK, it said. The DPRK has no choice but to strengthen war deterrent against the US threat, it added. The DPRK media have intensified a rhetoric war against the U.S. while the six-party talks on DPRK's nuclear programs were being deadlocked. A new round six-party talks was expected to be opened in November.

11.02.08 Rating agency report: China's GDP to slow to 9.4% in 2008

BEIJING, November 2 - China's gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to slow to 9.4 percent in 2008 from last year's 11.4 percent as the shrinking exports will cool the world's fourth largest economy, according to a Chinese credit rating agency report on Sunday. The fundamentals of the economy are sound, but falling export orders would take a toll on the national economy in the short term, and domestic consumption needed time to play a bigger role, said the report released by the China Chengxin International Credit Rating Co. (CCXI), a joint venture of China's first rating agency China Chengxin Credit Management Co. Ltd. and US-based Moody's Corporation.

The changing external economic environment and the burst of domestic asset bubbles would exacerbate the slowing economy, said the report. The proactive fiscal policy was key to preventing the economy from falling and there was room for further cuts in bank reserve requirement ratios and interest rates. It predicted the economy would gain 8.6 percent in 2009, but it gave no explanation of its forecast.

11.02.08 Opec head urges production cuts

October 2 - Opec countries must implement agreed production cuts if they want stable oil prices, the cartel's head has warned. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, would be key to the success of any cutbacks, said Chakib Khelil. Mr. Khelil said markets were waiting for Opec countries to cut output, as agreed in Vienna last month. Meanwhile Russia has said it will cut its oil export duties, in order to help the country's oil producers cope with declining prices. Mr. Khelil, who is also Algeria's energy and mines minister, told Algerian radio that if Saudi Arabia took its time in cutting production, oil prices could be affected...

Mr. Khelil made his remarks as UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown was on a tour of the Gulf, to ask states to do more to help tackle the global economic crisis. Mr. Brown had criticized Opec's decision to cut production. The prime minister repeated his calls for a "stable" crude oil price on Sunday, citing the need for "a sustainable transition to a more low carbon emissions economy." [More>>bbc.co.uk]

11.02.08 Suicide car bomb kills 8 troops near Afghan border

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) November 2 - A suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into a checkpoint near the Afghan border Sunday, causing an explosion that killed eight Pakistani paramilitary troops in a militant-infested region recently hammered by suspected US missiles. The deadly blast occurred near the main gate of the Zalai Fort as Frontier Corps troops gathered nearby, said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the Pakistan army's top spokesman. Four people were wounded, he said.

The fort is 12 miles (20 kilometers) outside Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, a tribal region considered a hub for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters involved in attacks on US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. South Waziristan was the site of one of two alleged US missile attacks Friday that killed 29 people, including several suspected foreign militants, intelligence officials said. It was not immediately clear if Sunday's suicide attack was linked to the missile strikes. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See also aljazeera.net]

11.02.08 Four killed and six injured in attacks in Iraq

BAGHDAD (DPA) November 2 - Four Iraqis were killed on Sunday, including three children, in attacks in Diyala and Kirkuk. The three children were killed when a bomb went off in the al- Khadraa neighborhood in south-west Kirkuk, Iraqi police told Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency. No more details were reported. Also in south-west Kirkuk, three people were injured in a detonation in the al-Howega district.

The multi-ethnic oil-rich city of Kirkuk lies 250 kilometres north- east of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. In Diyala province, gunmen disguised in police uniforms broke into a house, killed a woman and wounded three others from the same family, police told VOI. The suspected al-Qaeda militants kidnapped a fourth woman in the house raid, the police source added. The Diyala province lies to the north-east of Baghdad. [>Khaleejtimes.com]

11.01.08 US says troops kill 25 militants in Afghanistan

ASADABAD, Afghanistan (Reuters) November 1 - US-led coalition forces killed 25 militants, including a woman fighter, in separate raids aimed at a suspected al-Qaeda commander and Taliban in Afghanistan, the US military said on Saturday. One operation targeted a "known al-Qaeda leader." believed to have facilitated the movement of foreign troops into eastern Kunar province, it said without naming the suspect.

"The al-Qaeda leader is also believed to be in contact with other militants in the region ..."....Other raids targeted the network of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a top military commander for the Taliban-led insurgents in southeastern Khost, the military said. At least 18 militants were killed in those attacks in a compound, it said...[Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.01.08 2nd egg emerges from giant chicken egg found at Shiga high school

OTSU, Japan, November 1 - A second, normal-sized egg popped out of a giant egg laid by a chicken raised at a high school in Shiga Prefecture, a school official said Saturday after breaking open the shell. The huge egg, which was 8.1 centimeters high and weighed 158 grams, was laid at the Yokaichi Minami High School in the city of Higashiomi in late October. The egg was scheduled to be displayed after grabbing headlines in local and national newspapers.

But school teachers decided on Friday to remove the shell by using a scalpel and tweezers after finding a crack. They later discovered another medium-sized egg inside the giant egg as the yolk and the white portion spurted out. Word of the second egg spread quickly after assistant principal Toshitaka Minami made a school announcement on making the surprising discovery. The hot topic at the high school now is whether another egg is hidden inside the second, medium-sized egg. To find out, Minami said the school plans to break open the second egg next week.

11.01.08 Iraq sends more police to Syrian border

BAGHDAD, November 1 - Iraq sent police reinforcements Saturday to the Syrian border after last weekend's US raid against an alleged al-Qaeda hideout in Syria raised tension between the two countries, officials said. Police Col. Jubair Rashid Naief said a police quick reaction force for Anbar province moved to the border town of Qaim, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, to prevent al-Qaeda from moving into the area from Syria.

Al-Arabiya television quoted witnesses as saying scores of armored vehicles were seen moving from the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi to Qaim, which had been a major al-Qaeda stronghold until Anbar's Sunni tribes turned against al-Qaeda. The police moves follow last Sunday's bold U.S. raid on the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal, during which US officials say they killed a top al-Qaeda militant who operated a network of smuggling fighters into Iraq. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.01.08 Al-Qaeda propaganda chief killed in Pakistan strike

ISLAMABAD November 1 - An Egyptian al-Qaeda operative described by the United States as the terror network's propaganda chief was killed in a missile strike in Pakistan, security officials said Saturday. Abu Jihad al-Masri was among several rebels killed when two missiles fired by a suspected US spy drone hit a truck in the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Friday night, they said. The United States has offered a one-million-dollar bounty for the death or capture of al-Masri, who has appeared in an anti-Western video introduced by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's number two.

"The strike was aimed at a vehicle carrying Abu Jihad and two others. The target was successfully hit and all three people were killed," a senior Pakistani security official told a foreign news agency on condition of anonymity. His death came in one of two separate missile attacks in Pakistan's troubled tribal belt on Friday, the latest in a series of 18 strikes in the past three months that have raised tensions between Washington and Islamabad. The attacks also come just days before the US presidential election, in which the "war on terror" in Afghanistan and, increasingly, Pakistan has been a key foreign policy issue.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Pakistani military or from US forces deployed in Afghanistan about al-Masri's death. The US State Department's Rewards for Justice website said that the balding al-Masri "is in charge of al-Qaeda media and propaganda. He may also be the chief of external operations for al-Qaeda". It said he was believed to operate out of Iran, but Pakistani officials said he was known to have moved to the Pakistani tribal belt in 2005 or 2006. It said he also went by the alias Mohammad Hasan Khalil al-Hakim.
[More>>thenews.com.pk; See also aljazeera.net, November 1, " 'Al-Qaeda targets' hit in Pakistan."]


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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