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11.10.10 Israel malaria-fighters exploit mosquito's sweet tooth
JERUSALEM (Xinhua) November 10 - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) researchers have come up with a way to eliminate malaria-bearing mosquitoes by exploiting the bloodthirsty insect's own insatiable sweet tooth, according to a press release sent to Xinhua on Tuesday. Malaria, a common disease caused by parasites and transferred via mosquito bite, is responsible for nearly two million deaths worldwide every year, many of them Africans living south of the Sahara Desert. The Attractive Toxic Sugar Bait Method (ATSB), developed at HU's Kuvin Center for the Study of Tropical and Infectious Diseases, was tested in the semi-arid Bandiagara District of Mali, West Africa, according the press release. Detailed in a recent issue of the Malaria Journal, ATSB integrates attractants of plant origin (fruit or flowers) with toxic sugar bait to reduce the populations of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in infested areas.
11.10.10 Disappointed Pakistan slams US over UNSC backing for India
ISLAMABAD, November 10 - Peeved over US' strong backing for India's quest for a permanent UNSC berth, the Pakistan government on Wednesday slammed Washington over the move, claiming it would have "implications" for peace and stability in South Asia. The government expressed its opposition to US President Barack Obama's endorsement for India's efforts to gain a seat at the high table during a meeting of the cabinet chaired this afternoon by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. The cabinet said "politics of expediency" should not be allowed to decide the future of the international order. "The Cabinet expressed its serious concern and strong disappointment on the decision of the United States to support a permanent seat for India on the UN Security Council," said a statement issued by the Foreign Office following the meeting. "This decision has grave ramifications for the direction and prospects of the system of multilateral cooperation as envisaged by the founding father of UN Charter..." [More>>indianexpress.com]
11.10.10 Christians targeted in Iraq attacks
November 10 - A string of roadside bombs in Baghdad kills at least three people and leaves another 24 injured. A series of bomb and mortar attacks targeting Christians have killed three people and injured 24 others in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, according to police sources. Attackers detonated at least 14 roadside bombs in predominantly Christians areas within a two-hour period on Wednesday morning and a mortar round struck in the southern Doura district. "These operations, which targeted Christians, came as a continuation of the [October 31] attack that targeted the Salvation church," an Iraqi interior ministry source said. The official referred to the October 31 attack that killed more than 50 people at a Catholic cathedral in the capital. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for that attack and has threatened more violence against the Christian community. [More>>aljazeera.net]
11.10.10 Rise in number of sunburnt whales
November 10 - An increase in the number of whales with sunburnt skin has been documented by scientists after they took photographs and tissue samples of the animals. In the worst-hit species – the blue whale – researchers found that the numbers affected rose by 56 per cent between 2007 and 2009, which they said has "worrying" implications for their health. "Whales need to come to the surface to breathe, to socialize and to feed their young, meaning that they are frequently exposed to the sun," said Laura Martinez of the Institute of Zoology in London. "It is not clear what is causing this increase. A likely candidate is rising ultraviolet radiation as a result of either ozone depletion or a change in the level of cloud cover." [>independent.co.uk ; For more details see, via foxnews.com, aolnews.com, November 10, "Study: Whales get sunburned as Ozone layer thins."]
11.09.10 Leading Chinese credit rating agency downgrades USA government bonds
November 9 - One of China's leading credit rating agencies has downgraded United States of America government debt in response to what it sees as deliberate devaluation of the dollar by quantitative easing and other means. If China, now the second biggest economy in the world, stops buying US government bonds this could have a very negative effect on the global recovery. The Dagong Global Credit Rating Company analysis is highly critical of American attempts to borrow their way out of debt. It criticizes competitive currency devaluation and predicts a "long-term recession." Dagong Global Credit says: "In order to rescue the national crisis, the US government resorted to the extreme economic policy of depreciating the US dollar at all costs and this fully exposes the deep-rooted problem in the development and the management model of national economy.
11.09.10 Obama urges progress on Muslim ties
November 9 - US president says more must be done to end mistrust between Muslim countries and America during trip to Indonesia. Barack Obama, the US president, has said he is making progress towards ending the mistrust between Muslim countries and the United States, but that the effort is incomplete. Obama flew from India to Indonesia, his former boyhood home, on Tuesday for the second leg of his 10-day Asia trip. At a joint news conference with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, Obama said his efforts to improve the relationship between Muslims and the West had been "earnest" and "sustained." However, he said the progress was "incomplete" and there was more work to do. Obama also said he did not think "we're going to completely eliminate some of the misunderstandings and mistrust." The president said he wanted to make sure the US is "building bridges and expanding our interactions with Muslim countries." During their meeting in Jakarata, the Indonesian capital, Obama and Yudhoyono signed a "comprehensive partnership" that they had agreed to a year ago, including cooperation on economic and security issues. Though religious extremism often dominates the tensions between the Muslim world and the West, Obama said the relationship must expand beyond security issues. [More>>aljazeera.net]
11.09.10 Afghans arrest suspected insurgents on board plane
KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) November 9 - Afghan and international forces detained four suspected insurgents at Kabul airport after ordering the commercial aircraft on which they were flying to return to Afghanistan, the NATO-led force said on Tuesday. The plane, which had taken off for Saudi Arabia, was called back to Kabul airport on Monday after several intelligence tip-offs that a senior member of an insurgent group was on board, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said. An ISAF spokesman said foreign troops were involved in the operation, but only Afghan security forces had boarded the plane to arrest the men, who were unarmed and identified themselves to officials. One of the men was part of the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, one of the three main insurgent groups fighting Afghan and foreign forces, ISAF said, and was wanted in conjunction with attacks against government and international troops. All four men had been travelling together, ISAF said. The other three — also described as suspected insurgents — were also detained. One was the subject of an Afghan arrest warrant. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
11.09.10 Netanyahu on building plans: 'Jerusalem isn't a settlement'
November 9 - PMO responds to int'l criticism to advance plans for 1,345 homes in Jewish areas of east Jerusalem by saying gov't never agreed to place any restrictions on construction in capital, which has 800,000 residents. "Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is the capitol of Israel," the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday in a sharp response to international criticism to advance plans for 1,345 homes in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. The government never agreed to place any restrictions on construction in Jerusalem, which has 800,000 residents, the prime minister's office said in a statement it issued while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in New York. Although much of the international community equates construction in east Jerusalem with that of West Bank settlements, Israel makes a sharp distinction between the two.
11.09.10 Palestinians demand immediate statehood to counter Israeli 'unilateralism'
November 9 - Raising the stakes in the deadlock over stalled peace talks, Saeb Erekat said it was clear from the latest announcement of building plans in East Jerusalem and Ariel that Israel wants settlements, not peace. Israel's plan to build new homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank should be countered by international recognition of a Palestinian state, the chief Palestinian negotiator said on Tuesday. Raising the stakes in the deadlock over stalled peace talks, Saeb Erekat said it was clear from the latest announcement of building plans that Israel wants settlements, not peace. "Israeli unilateralism is a call for immediate international recognition of the Palestinian state," he said in a statement. The world paid little attention when the late Yasser Arafat declared a Palestinian state in 1988. But political winds have shifted and Israel today is seriously concerned that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas might win recognition. Abbas has floated the idea of "going to the United Nations" to declare statehood as one option if peace talks collapse, but only after first seeking support from Washington. [More>>haaretz.com]
11.09.10 Iran Guards destroy last Arab prince palace
DUBAI, November 9 - Regime wants to erase Arab identity: activist. A long dispute between Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and the Heritage Authority at the predominantly Arab province of Khuzestan ended with the demolition of the palace of Feilieh, one of the landmarks of Ahwazi culture in Iran. A military force destroyed the palace of Sheikh Khazaal al-Kaabi, the ruler of the then semi-autonomous Sheikhdom of Muhammarah, now called Khorramshahr, and the last Arab prince in Iran, local press reported. The mansion, which overlooks the Shatt al-Arab waterway, is commonly known as the Feilieh Palace and is considered an integral part of the Ahwaz heritage. After failing to stop the demolition of the palace, Hassan Mohseni, spokesman of the Heritage Authority, said the authority will file a complaint against the Revolutionary Guards, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
11.09.10 Pirates use hijacked vessel to attack Spanish warship
November 9 - Somali pirates have used a Japanese-owned freighter they seized in October to stage an attack on a Spanish warship, the European Union's anti-piracy task force reports. On Saturday night, pirates aboard the MV Izumi, a Panamanian-flagged vessel they captured on October 10, attacked the SPS Infanta Cristina, a Spanish corvette, as it escorted a ship chartered by the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia, according to a statement from the European Union Naval Force public affairs office. As the pirates attacked, the Infanta Cristina placed itself between the Izumi and the AU ship, the MV Petra 1, which was carrying peacekeepers, the statement said. "The attack was disrupted, and the pirates fled the scene," the statement said. [More>>cnn.com]
11.08.10 Violence breaks out in Myanmar after election
YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) November 8 - Deadly clashes erupted Monday between Myanmar government troops and ethnic minority rebels, prompting an exodus across the border as the junta's proxies prepared to claim victory in a widely criticized election. At least three civilians were killed when heavy weapons fire hit the town of Myawaddy in Karen State, an official in the military-ruled country said. There was no information on any troop casualties on either side. About 10,000 people fled across the frontier to neighboring Thailand, including many women and children, said Samart Loyfah, the governor of Thailand's Tak province on the border. Sporadic fighting continued to be heard in Myanmar, he said. Zipporah Sein, the Thailand-based general secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), said skirmishes broke out between up to 300 Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) soldiers and the government army. "We don't know definitely but I think last night the army sent over more troops, they negotiated and the DKBA retreated but this morning they were blocked by army trucks and then it started," she said. A simmering civil war has wracked parts of the country, including Karen State, since independence in 1948 and observers say the junta's determination to crush ethnic minority rebels appears to have strengthened. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
11.08.10 Large Hadron Collider (LHC) generates a 'mini-Bib Bang'
November 8 - The Large Hadron Collider has successfully created a "mini-Big Bang" by smashing together lead ions instead of protons. The scientists working at the enormous machine on Franco-Swiss border achieved the unique conditions on 7 November. The experiment created temperatures a million times hotter than the centre of the Sun. The LHC is housed in a 27km-long circular tunnel under the French-Swiss border near Geneva. Up until now, the world's highest-energy particle accelerator — which is run by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) — has been colliding protons, in a bid to uncover mysteries of the Universe's formation. Proton collisions could help spot the elusive Higgs boson particle and signs of new physical laws, such as a framework called supersymmetry. But for the next four weeks, scientists at the LHC will concentrate on analysing the data obtained from the lead ion collisions. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
11.08.10 48 killed in Iraq car bombing
KARBALA, Iraq, November 8 - At least 48 people were killed and 16 injured in a car bombing on a crowded street near a mosque in the central Iraqi city of Karbala, police said. The bomb exploded on Bab-Toueiraj street near the Imam Abbas mosque in Karbala, about 118 km south of Baghdad, police sources said. Police imposed a curfew across the Shiite holy city. Tightened security measures are taken throughout the year in the same area of Karbala to prevent attacks near the Imam Hussein shrine, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam and a key pilgrimage site. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
11.08.10 Radical Yemeni cleric Awlaki calls for killing of Americans
November 9 - US-born radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al Awlaki has called for the killing of Americans in a new video message posted yesterday on Islamist websites. Awlaki said Americans are from the "party of devils" and that no special religious permissions are needed to kill them, the Associated Press reported. In the 23-minute, Arabic-language message, Awlaki said it was "either them or us." Speaking in Arabic, Awlaki appears sitting behind a desk with a sheathed dagger in his belt. The cleric, who was charged last Tuesday in Yemen over alleged ties to al-Qaeda and incitement to kill foreigners, is also wanted in the US on terrorism charges. Washington linked the young imam and son of a former Yemeni government minister to a shooting rampage last November at a US army base and to the botched Christmas Day 2009 attack on a US airliner. [More>>news.com.au]
11.07.10 Nazareth imam charged with incitement and supporting terror
November 7 - Sheikh Nazem Abu Salim has allegedly used his web site and Friday sermons to back global jihad and declare solidarity with al-Qaeda. The imam from a controversial mosque in the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth was charged Sunday with incitement and links to a terrorist organization. Sheikh Nazem Abu Salim, who heads the Shihab A-Din Mosque, has delivered regular Friday sermons since 1997 at his own institution as well as in a number of other houses of prayer, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem. He also founded and runs a website called Muslim 48. The indictment presented to the Nazareth Magistrate's Court states that Abu Salim has used his sermons, books and web site to disseminate the views of global jihad and to show solidarity with al-Qaeda. According to the charges, Abu Salim has on a number of occasions urged his followers to commit acts of violence according to this worldview. Abu-Salim took the helm of a movement which he called "supporters of Allah-Jerusalem in Nazareth" in 1997. The movement used as its crest a globe within which the Dome of the Rock could be seen covered in a black flag, an image showing solidarity with the Taliban in Afghanistan. [More>>haaretz.com]
11.07.10 Volcano hinders rescue efforts, threatens flights
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) November 7 - Indonesia's most volatile volcano sparked transportation chaos Sunday, with several international airlines canceling flights to the capital and neighboring Malaysia airlifting out hundreds of its citizens. Panicked residents who live near the base of Mount Merapi — which has claimed 138 lives in two weeks — crammed into trains and buses to seek temporary refuge with family and friends elsewhere. The notoriously unpredictable volcano unleashed its most powerful eruption in a century Friday, sending hot clouds of gas, rocks and debris avalanching down its slopes at highway speeds, torching houses and trees and leaving a trail of charred corpses in its path. A mass burial for some of the 90 who died in that blast was planned for later Sunday. Merapi, meanwhile, showed no signs of tiring, sending out thunderous claps as it shot ash up to four miles (six kilometers) into the air, dusting windshields and rooftops hundreds of miles away. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]
11.07.10 Four dead in NWA drone attack
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, November 7 - At least four people were killed [by] a US surveillance plane in North Waziristan Agency near Miranshah, Geo News reported Sunday. According to the sources, the US drone plane fired at least four missiles at a vehicle in Miranshah, killing at least four people. [>thenews.com.pk; See also
11.07.10 Militants execute three 'US spies' in Pakistan
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) November 7 - Militants publicly executed three tribesmen in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt on Sunday after accusing them of spying for the United States, officials said. The men, blindfolded with hands tied behind their backs, were lined up near a gas station in the lawless tribal area near the Afghan border, local police official Nasir Khan said. "A man wearing a black mask then shot them dead one by one," he said — adding that the militants, before killing the trio, asked local people to "come and witness the fate of US spies." He said that about 100 people watched the executions at an open area on a road near Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan and a bastion of Taleban and al-Qaeda linked militants. The alleged spies were local tribesmen aged 25, 28 and 32, Khan said. The militants left in two cars after the killings. A local intelligence official also confirmed the executions, which came amid a surge in US drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal belt. Militants frequently kidnap and kill tribesmen in the troubled region, accusing them of spying for the Pakistani government or US forces in Afghanistan, where Taleban fighters have been waging a vicious insurgency for nine years. [>khaleejtimes.com; See also thenews.com.pk]
11.07.10 Bodies of five Afghan policemen recovered, seven still missing
November 7 - Afghan authorities have recovered the bodies of five of the 16 policemen who went missing a week ago after an apparent Taliban attack on their remote base in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said on Sunday. The discovery of the bodies is the latest suggestion that the policemen did not defect willingly, as some Afghan officials initially suspected, but in fact were captured by Taliban fighters. Their bodies were found in Wardak, a province in eastern Afghanistan that borders Ghazni, where they disappeared on Nov. 1. A spokesman for Wardak's provincial governor, Shahidullah Shahid, said the policemen, still in uniform, were shot to death, and would be returned home for a funeral. The corpses of four other of the missing policemen were found earlier, leaving seven still unaccounted for. The confusing incident, which led to the disappearance of an entire district's police force, underscores the challenge facing US and Afghan officials as they try to extend the reach of the Afghan government and security forces to some of the most remote and inaccessible districts of the country. In such areas, cell phone service is sporadic or non-existent. Bad roads prevent Afghan government officials from visiting. Even determining the fate of 16 policemen can be difficult. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
11.07.10 Mexico mass grave: 18 kidnapped tourists found
November 7 - A mass grave discovered in Mexico contained the bodies of 18 kidnapped tourists, it has been confirmed. Relatives of the Mexican holiday-makers identified the remains at a morgue in the resort city of Acapulco. They disappeared on 30 September after they left their home town of Morelia. Witnesses last saw them looking for their hotel in Acapulco. They are believed to have been kidnapped by a drugs gang, but it is not clear why. The region is the scene of a violent turf war between rival drug cartels. The families of the men, many of whom were related, have said most of them were mechanics who saved up money to take a vacation together each year. Police officers and troops examined the site of the mass grave just outside Acapulco on Wednesday, after a video was posted on the internet detailing its whereabouts. Two men featured in that video - who identified themselves as repentant gang members - are also believed to have been killed. In the video, the men, with their hands apparently tied behind their backs, said they had killed what they called the "20 michoacanos" — a reference to the tourists' home state. [More>>bbc.co.uk; See related story,
11.07.10 Yemen orders US-born cleric found 'dead or alive'
SANAA, Yemen, November 6 - After court hearing, Qaeda attacks oil pipeline. A Yemeni judge ordered police Saturday to find a radical US-born cleric "dead or alive" after the al-Qaeda-linked preacher failed to appear at his trial for his role in the killing of foreigners. US-born Awlaki and Othman al- Awlaki, a relative, were both charged in absentia by a Sanaa court with "incitement to kill foreigners and members of security services." Judge Mohsen Alwan ordered the representative of the public prosecutor to inform the concerned authorities "to forcibly arrest ... Anwar al-Awlaki and ... Othman al- Awlaki." Yemen, under pressure to crack down on militants after a foiled plot involving air freight parcels bound for Chicago, began on Tuesday the trial of Awlaki, who is thought to be hiding in southern Yemen. Under Yemeni law, people are given some time to appear for trial before an order is issued that they be captured by force. The charges arose during the trial of Yemeni Hisham Mohammed Assem, who was in court to face charges of killing French energy contractor Jacques Spagnolo near Sanaa last month. Prosecutors told the court, which specializes in terrorism cases, that Awlaki had corresponded with Assem for months, encouraging him to kill foreigners. [More>>alarabiya.net]
11.07.10 Mosque blasts in Pakistan's NW kill at least 71
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, November 5 - Two explosions killed at least 71 people in mosques in Pakistan's northwest on Friday, officials said, after a relative lull in militant violence. In one attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up as Friday prayers were ending, killing at least 66 people, provincial government officials said. The attack occurred in Darra Adam Khel, a suburb of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province capital Peshawar. "Now the death toll is 66. It may rise further because several injured are in critical condition," Shahid Ullah, a senior provincial government official, told Reuters. He said 80 people were wounded. Some 300 people had gathered just after prayers when the bomber walked into the Waali Mosque's main hall and detonated himself, witnesses said. [More>>alarabiya.net]
11.04.10 Stock markets surge on Fed's $600B plan
November 4 - Will the Federal Reserve Help Unemployment, Housing Market? Here's What the Fed's Move Means to You. Stocks surged today after Wednesday's announcement that the Federal Reserve will purchase $600 billion worth of Treasury securities to boost the stagnant economy. The S&P 500 stock index rose nearly 2 percent by midday, its highest since the start of the financial crisis in September 2008. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 200 points. Markets around the world rallied on hope that the Federal Reserve can somehow return jobs and investment to pre-crisis levels. The most direct effect of the Fed's move will be on interest rates and consumers' investments.
11.04.10 Probe sweeps past 'space peanut'
November 4 - NASA's Deep Impact probe has flown by Comet Hartley 2. The first pictures revealed a roughly 1.5km-long, peanut-shaped object with jets of gas streaming from its surface. The pass, which occurred about 23 million km from Earth, was only the fifth time a spacecraft had made a close approach to a comet. NASA said it would take many hours to retrieve all of the data recorded by Deep Impact's two visible-light imagers and one infrared sensor. But the initial pictures to get to ground gave a fascinating view of the comet's icy body, or nucleus. "Scientists often think of celestial bodies as roundish, and this obviously is not — it's peanut-like," commented Dr Don Yoemans, who manages NASA's Near-Earth Object programme. "Mother Nature has once again pulled the rug out from under scientific ideas." The information from the flyby should give scientists further insight into the diverse properties and behaviours of what are some of the Solar System's most remarkable objects. "Every time we go to comets, they're full of surprises," said principal investigator Mike A'Hearn from the University of Maryland, College Park. "None of them look the same, which means there must be some fundamental differences in how they all work; and that's what we're trying to figure out with the Expoxi mission." [More>>bbc.co.uk]
11.04.10 Greek police defuse another bomb
November 4 - Greek police have carried out another controlled explosion on a parcel bomb addressed to the French embassy, the latest in a string of such packages received throughout the capital this week. Officials at the consulate building in Athens refused to accept the parcel, reportedly concealed in a large book, on Thursday and it was returned to the courier company where it was then detonated. Since Monday 14 packages have been sent to targets in Greece and other parts of Europe, leading Athens to impose a 48-hour suspension on air freight on Wednesday. Police told the Reuters news agency that they were also investigating suspicious parcels at a courier company in the Athens suburb of Markopoulo. [More>>aljazeera.net]
11.04.10 US names supporters of Pakistani terrorist groups
WASHINGTON (Reuters) November 4 - The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Thursday against individuals and groups that it said support two Pakistan-based terrorist organizations. Treasury said it intended to target the financial and support networks of Lashkar-e Tayyiba, or LET, and Jaish-e Mohammed, known as JEM, and will prohibit American citizens from dealing with the named persons and groups. It cited Azam Cheema for helping train operatives for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks and for organizing July 2006 Mumbai train bombings carried out by LET. Treasury also identified Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, whom it described as head of LET's political affairs department.
11.04.10 Air strikes kill 8 militants in Pakistan's Orakzai region
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, November 4 - Gunship helicopters bombed several Taliban hideouts in the restive Orakzai tribal region of northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing eight militants, security officials said. The helicopters bombed rebel hideouts in Madori area of Orakzai Agency. Six militants were injured and two hideouts got destroyed in the air strikes, officials said. Madori is considered a stronghold of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. [>indianexpress.com]
11.03.10 Restive voters divide power in Congress as G.O.P. surges to control of House
November 3 - Republicans captured control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday and expanded their voice in the Senate, as discontented voters, frustrated about the nation's continuing economic woes, turned sharply against President Obama just two years after catapulting him into the White House. Mr. Obama now faces the prospect of shared government in Washington for the balance of his term, and the unusual balancing act that comes with a divided Congress. While leaders of both parties are promising to cooperate, the prospects of bipartisanship are dicey — especially with the 2012 presidential election on the immediate horizon.
11.03.10 Fearful Iraqi Christians face fresh Qaeda threat
BAGHDAD (AFP) November 3 - Iraqi Christians on Wednesday faced fresh violent attacks after al-Qaeda listed them as "legitimate targets," two days after a church bloodbath and as Baghdad was battered by a wave of bombings. "All Christian centres, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them," said a statement by the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the local branch of Osama bin Laden's jihadist network. The group had earlier claimed responsibility for a hostage drama by gunmen at a cathedral in the Iraqi capital on Sunday night which ended in the deaths of 46 worshippers, including two priests.
11.03.10 Implanted chip 'allows blind people to detect objects'
November 3 - A man with an inherited form of blindness has been able to identify letters and a clock face using a pioneering implant, researchers say. Miikka Terho, 46, from Finland, was fitted with an experimental chip behind his retina in Germany. Success was also reported in other patients. The chip allows a patient to detect objects with their eyes, unlike a rival approach that uses an external camera. Details of the work are in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Professor Eberhart Zrenner, of Germany's University of Tuebingen, and colleagues at private company Retina Implant AG initially tested their sub-retinal chip on 11 people. Some noticed no improvement as their condition was too advanced to benefit from the implant, but a majority were able to pick out bright objects, Prof Zrenner told the BBC. However, it was only when the chip was placed further behind the retina, in the central macular area in three people, that they achieved the best results. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
11.03.10 Suspect linked to cargo bomb plot arrested
November 3 - The Government will invest further in stopping terrorists overseas before they can target Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May said today. Mrs. May said it was highly likely British extremists "trained and hardened on the streets of Mogadishu" may try to return to commit mass murder in London. She revealed an alleged member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap) was arrested in Britain earlier this year and is accused of planning a terrorist attack in this country. The Islamic terrorist group has been widely blamed for the printer bombs found on United States-bound cargo aircraft at East Midlands Airport and in Dubai last Friday.
11.03.10 Top Taliban commander held in Karachi: Official
KARACHI, November 3 - Pakistani authorities on Wednesday claimed to have arrested a top commander of the banned terrorist outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in an early morning raid in the country's financial capital. A senior official of the crime investigation department (CID) said commander Qari Yousuf was arrested from Karachi's Mominabad area of Orangi Town, which is believed to be the largest concentration of slum dwelling in South Asia. The official said that the arrest of Yousuf was a big breakthrough in the drive against terrorism as he was involved and named as an accused in the bombing of a police training centre in Mingora, Swat last year. The suicide bomb attack carried out by a 14-year-old boy trained and masterminded by Qari and two others saw 17 police trainees killed. Security had been on high-alert in Karachi since bouts of violence and target killings in the city last month. The official said two other members of the TTP were also arrested from Sohrab Goth area with explosives and arms. On October 25, the CID had also raided a house in Sohrab Goth where they arrested Sher Rehman and Zain Ullah alias Bilal two activists of the TTP who were involved in training suicide bombers. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
11.03.10 US drone attack kills four
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, November 3 - A US drone attack targeted fighters in northwestern tribal belt on Wednesday, killing four suspected militants and blowing their vehicle into a fireball, security officials said. Two missiles were fired at the vehicle in a suburb of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan district. "The drone strike killed four militants," a security official in Miranshah said on condition of anonymity. [>geo.tv; See also
11.03.10 Hamas: Palestinian killed in Gaza car explosion
GAZA, November 3 - Group says blast caused by Israeli air strike; man killed reportedly belonged to al-Qaeda-linked Army of Islam terror group. A car exploded outside Hamas police headquarters on Wednesday, killing a 27-year-old Palestinian and wounding a second man, Hamas officials said. Ihab Ghussein, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, said the explosion was caused by an Israeli airstrike, but the claim could not be verified. Some residents in the area reportedly said the explosion occurred from within the vehicle. Ghussein said the man killed in the blast had been armed, though it was unclear to which group he belonged. According to some reports, the man was a senior commander in the Army of Islam, an al-Qaeda-linked group based in Gaza. A spokesman for Gaza medical services said the man who was killed was identified as Muhamad Jamal Nimnim from the Shati refugee camp, Ma'an News Agency reported. The IDF had no immediate comment. [>jpost.com]
11.02.10 Iraq probes church raid; says attackers disguised
BAGHDAD (Reuters) November 2 - Iraq launched an investigation on Tuesday into a church raid in which 52 hostages and police were killed, trying to find out how al-Qaeda-linked gunmen managed to storm the building despite checkpoints, an official said. Sunday's attack was the bloodiest against Iraqi's Christian minority since the 2003 US-led invasion, and drove fear deep into the hearts of many Iraqi Christians who had so far resisted the urge to flee their war-torn country. Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said the assailants were disguised as guards working for a private security firm and carried fake ids. "We have formed an investigation to uncover details of the attack and if we discover anyone has been negligent or complicit, he will be held strictly accountable," Moussawi said. "We have many question marks about how such a large number of terrorists managed to reach the church in the heart of Baghdad," he said.
11.02.10 Embassies targeted in wave of Athens parcel bombs
ATHENS (Reuters) November 2 - Bombs exploded at the Swiss and Russian embassies in Athens on Tuesday and police found suspect packages at two other embassies in a wave of parcel bomb attacks in the Greek capital. Police linked the attacks to Greek leftist guerrillas. Small bomb and gas canister attacks have been frequent in Greece since 2008 when the police killing of a teenager sparked the country's worst riots in decades. "A package was handed in at the entrance of the Swiss embassy in Athens today. Checks by our local employees revealed traces of metal," said Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman Georg Farago. "When the external packaging was removed, the contents burst into flames," he said, adding that there were no injuries.
11.02.10 Yemen hunts bomb suspect, oil pipe attacked
(Reuters) November 2 - Yemen launched a major operation on Tuesday to arrest a Saudi bomb maker accused of being behind a foiled bomb plot involving US-bound parcels. With the military deploying, suspected al-Qaeda militants blew up an oil pipeline in southern Yemen operated by a South Korean firm on Tuesday, a local official said. It was not immediately clear if exports from the small oil producer would be affected. The aim of the military operation in the provinces of Maarib and Shabwa was to capture suspected bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri, and the US-born radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who is wanted by Washington for his links to al-Qaeda, a Yemeni security official said. Yemeni authorities also began the trial in absentia of al-Awlaki, who has been linked to the failed bombing of a US-bound plane in December 2009 that was claimed by Yemen's al-Qaeda wing and who is thought to be in southern Yemen. "Asiri is believed to be hiding and moving with senior al-Qaeda elements such as (Yemen al-Qaeda leader) Nasser al-Wahayshi. Security intelligence are still tracking them down to exactly identify their whereabouts," the official said. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,
11.02.10 CCTV shows moment Muslim woman stabs MP
November 2 - This is the moment caught on CCTV when Roshonara Choudhry stabbed former Labour minister Stephen Timms in the stomach. Armed with a three-inch kitchen knife, the 21-year-old student smiled before plunging the knife twice into the MP. Grainy images filmed in the local community centre and released on Tuesday show Choudhry walking up to Mr. Timms' desk...Instead of sitting in front of the MP, she moved round to the side of the desk as if to shake hands, but was in fact holding a knife in her left hand. As he offered his hand, she decided to strike. In one image, the blade can be clearly seen as she moved towards Mr. Timms. The footage was edited so that actual impact of the stabbing was not shown in court, but the jury was given stills from the CCTV. From these pictures, the MP could be seen to recoil from the attack and fall away from Choudhry.
11.02.10 US intercepted dry run of parcel bomb plot in September
(AFP) November 2 - The US has said they caught parcels on route to Chicago from Yemen in September, in what is thought to have been a dry run for Thursday's thwarted package bomb plot. The US had linked the incident to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula "weeks ago." The United States intercepted parcels from Yemen in September thought to be a dry run for the package bomb plot, a US official said, as Western governments tightened freight and passenger security. Two parcels addressed to Jewish institutions in Chicago and containing the lethal explosive PETN hidden in ink toner cartridges were uncovered Thursday in Britain and Dubai on cargo planes en route to the United States. But now it has emerged that US agents first found suspicious packages from Yemen back in September and linked them "several weeks ago" to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to a US official. "The boxes were stopped in transit and searched," the official told AFP late Monday, confirming that the packages contained no explosives. "At the time, people obviously took notice and — knowing of the terrorist group's interest in aviation — considered the possibility that AQAP might be exploring the logistics of the cargo system," the official added. [More>>france24.com]
11.02.10 Four Americans killed in separate attacks in border city, Mexican authorities say
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) November 2 - Four US citizens were shot to death in separate attacks in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexican authorities said Monday. Chihuahua state prosecutors' spokesman Arturo Sandoval said Edgar Lopez, 35, of El Paso, Texas, was killed Sunday along with two Mexican men when gunmen opened fire on a group standing outside a house. On Saturday, a 26-year-old US woman and an American boy were slain shortly after crossing an international bridge from El Paso. Giovanna Herrera and Luis Araiza, 15, were shot to death along with a Mexican man traveling with them just after 11am, Sandoval said. Sandoval said authorities also identified a 24-year-old woman killed Friday inside a tortilla shop as Lorena Izaguirre, a US citizen and El Paso resident. A Mexican man was also found dead in the store. Sandoval did not provide any information about possible motive in any of the slayings. [More>>foxnews.com]
11.02.10 Saudi fatwa against women cahsiers sparks outrage
RIYADH (AFP) November 2 - Saudi women activists expressed outrage and confusion on Tuesday at a new fatwa challenging a government initiative to allow women to work as cashiers in supermarkets and department stores. The fatwa, or Islamic religious ruling, issued on Sunday by the kingdom's governing body of clerics, said the cashier jobs were not permissible because they resulted in the women mixing with unrelated men, which is prohibited under Saudi Arabia's ultra-strict form of Islam. Signed by the country's grand mufti and six other top clerics, it contradicted a push by the government to create new jobs for women, who face high unemployment in the kingdom. "The progressive women are all outraged," said Fawzia al-Bakr, a professor at Riyadh's King Saud University. "It is not just about a woman working as a cashier... There are more than 60,000 women university graduates looking for jobs, so this is a big thing." Reem Asaad, a Jeddah economics professor, called the fatwa an attack on efforts like her campaign to create more jobs for women. "Its an organized war to stop what we are trying to do," she said, adding that "we don't know what will happen now." [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
10.29.10 Islamic Jihad leader: Israel must be wiped out of existence
Octover 29 - Organizers say up to 100,000 people attend largest Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza in several years; Hamas leader calls for unity against Israel. Tens of thousands of supporters of the militant Islamic Jihad movement rallied in the streets of Gaza on Friday, chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." Young men and boys wearing white T-shirts with a slogan in the shape of a rifle carried portraits of militants killed in combat, under the black flags of Islamic Jihad. Ramadan Shallah, the group's exiled chief, currently residing in Damascus, sent a recorded message marking the anniversary of the assassination of the group's leader Fathi Shiqaqi in Malta in 1995, by presumed Israeli secret agents. "Israel will not bring peace to the region, it will only bring war and destruction and therefore, the slogan of all should be that Israel must be wiped out of existence," said Shallah, who is on a United States wanted list. Senior leaders of the ruling Islamist group, Hamas, joined the open-air gathering, the largest for years in honor of Islamic Jihad with up to 100,000 attending according to its organizers. [More>>haaretz.com]
10.29.10 PM slams UNESCO's classifying Rachel's Tomb as a mosque
October 29 - Government responds sharply to cultural body's request that Israel remove Rachel's Tomb and Cave of the Patriarchs from list of national heritage sites; Netanyahu calls decision "absurd." Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday slammed world culture organization UNESCO's decision to characterize the site of Rachel's Tomb as a Muslim mosque. "The attempt to separate the nation of Israel from its cultural heritage is absurd," said the prime minister. A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office read, "It is unfortunate that an organization that was established with the goal of promoting the cultural preservation of historical sites around the world, is attempting due to political reasons to uproot the connection between the nation of Israel and its cultural heritage.
10.29.10 Russia and US collaborate in Aghanistan drug raid
October 29 - Russian and US agents have taken part in a joint operation to destroy drug laboratories in Afghanistan, the head of Russia's drug control agency says. More than a tonne of heroin and opium was seized during the raids, which took place on Thursday close to the border with Pakistan, Viktor Ivanov announced. Mr. Ivanov said the haul had a street value of $250m (£157m) and was believed to have been destined for Central Asia. Correspondents say it is the first time there has been such a joint operation. Russian officials have in the past accused coalition forces in Afghanistan of doing "next to nothing" to tackle drug production, and thereby helping to sustain the estimated 2.5 million heroin addicts in Russia alone. Much of the heroin enters the territory of the former Soviet Union through Afghanistan's northern borders with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. It then travels westwards across Kazakhstan, before entering the central and Ural regions of Russia, where there are large numbers of addicts. Mr. Ivanov said the operation involved about 70 personnel from both countries — including four Russian counter-narcotics agents — backed up by attack helicopters. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
10.29.10 Al-Qaeda plans to take hostage in 26/11 style on Britain
October 29 - Al-Qaeda planned to take hostages in Mumbai-style attacks on Britain, France and Germany to demand the release of the mastermind of the 9/11 strikes and has "reactivated" the plan now, a former associate of Osama bin Laden has claimed. Noman Benotman, a Libyan and former Afghanistan terrorist camp trainer, told German magazine Speigel in an interview that bin Laden wanted to force the US to release Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is awaiting trial for his role in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre. Bentoman claimed that he was present at several discussions about the plot and believed it has now been reactivated. "I have information that I consider to be reliable, according to which al-Qaeda in North Waziristan is training how to carry out multiple parallel hostage taking in order to enforce the release of a prisoner," he added.
10.29.10 US probing possible mail bomb terror plot
WASHINGTON, October 29 - Doctored ink cartridges on planes in UK, Dubai prompt searches of UPS planes, trucks in US; Suspicious items sent from Yemen. Authorities on three continents were investigating on Friday whether suspicious packages shipped from Yemen to the United States aboard cargo planes could be part of a terrorist plot. Suspicious packages containing toner cartridges with wires, powder and syringes were found during routine screening of cargo in the United Kingdom and Dubai, prompting authorities to scour three planes and two trucks in the United States on Friday. A source told CBS News that the two cartridges found in Dubai and the U.K. contained a syringe, powder and cell phone components. Yemen is home to the al-Qaeda branch that tried to bomb a US-bound airliner on Christmas. No explosives have been found but authorities are investigating whether the string of suspicious packages was a dry run for a plot to send bombs through the mail. Intelligence and law enforcement officials discovered suspicious packages in the United Kingdom and Dubai late Thursday night, prompting national security officials to alert President Barack Obama to a "potential terrorist threat," the White House said. Cargo planes in the UK and Dubai were searched in response to a specific warning that they were carrying suspicious packages originating in Yemen with addresses to synagogues and Jewish centers in Chicago, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.
10.29.10 Suicide bomber kills 11 north of Baghdad
BAGHDAD (AP) October 29 - Iraqi police and hospital officials say a suicide bomber killed at least 11 people in a town north of Baghdad. A police official said the suicide bomber detonated an explosives vest while inside a popular cafe in the town of Balad Ruz, 45 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad. The death toll was confirmed by a hospital official. The area where the explosion occurred is home to many members of a Shiite sect and many of the dead and wounded were Shiites. The bombing broke what has been a period of relative calm across Iraq. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. [>msnbc.msn.com]
10.29.10 Muslim man told Skype divorce joke stands
NEW DELHI, India, October 29 - A Muslim man who told his wife "I divorce thee" three times in an online Skype messenger conversation has been told the separation stands. The ruling, made in an online fatwa by the Darul Uloom Deobandi seminary in northern India, regarded as one of Islam's leading authorities on religious law said that the woman would have to first marry another man before she could remarry her first husband. The man, from Qatar, wrote to the seminary following his Skype joke to seek clarification. "Jokingly typed 'talak, talak, talak'(I divorce thee, I divorce thee, I divorce thee) to my wife on Skype chat. I don't understand Islam very much and did not know about how talaq works. We love each other very much and want to be together but right now [we are] caught in this thing. Want to know a way out," he wrote.
10.29.10 Protect yourself against Medicare fraud
October 29 - This month, more than 40 members of what is said to be an Armenian-American crime syndicate were arrested and charged in an extensive Medicare fraud. Prosecutors say the suspects stole the identities of doctors and thousands of patients, using them at more than 100 bogus health clinics in 25 states to bill Medicare for more than $100 million. On Oct. 21, officials at a chain of mental health clinics in Miami were charged with making $200 million in fraudulent claims for group therapy sessions that authorities said were unnecessary or never provided. Medicare scams like these are rampant, costing taxpayers billions of dollars every year.
...GUARD YOUR CARD Protect your Medicare card as carefully as you would a credit card or Social Security card. Never give your number over the phone to a stranger — for instance, to someone who claims to be conducting a health care survey for the government. And never allow a friend or relative to use your card. Report a lost or stolen card immediately.
10.28.10 US man arrested for plotting to attack DC metro
WASHINGTON, October 28 - Naturalized US citizen was born in Pakistan. A Virginia man who allegedly believed he was helping al-Qaeda plan bombings at Washington area Metrorail stations was arrested on Wednesday, the Justice Department said. Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, was taken into custody early in the morning after a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment on Tuesday against the naturalized US citizen who was born in Pakistan. Federal officials said that the public was never in any danger during the investigation and that federal authorities had closely monitored Ahmed's activities until his arrest.
10.28.10 Saudi prince backs moving planned NYC mosque
DUBAI, United Emirates (AP) October 28 - A Saudi prince who has aided the imam spearheading a proposed Islamic center near New York's ground zero is appealing for another site not associated with the "wound" of the Sept. 11 attacks, a report said Thursday. In interview excerpts published by the Dubai-based Arabian Business magazine, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was quoted as saying that moving the planned mosque and other facilities would respect the memory of those killed in the 2001 attacks and allow American Muslims to choose a more suitable location. The comments are reportedly the prince's first public views on the dispute, which has stirred street protests and fiery debates between religious and political leaders over America's freedom of worship versus the lingering anger over the 9/11 attacks.
10.28.10 17 Taliban fighters killed in Pak's tribal areas
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, October 28 - Seventeen Taliban fighters were killed and 16 more injured in air strikes by helicopter gunships and a clash between militants and security forces in Pakistan's restive tribal belt near the Afghan border on Thursday, officials said. Helicopters gunships struck militant hideouts in Khadezai, Mashatri Kandao and Mamozai towns of Orakzai Agency. Twelve militants were killed and six more injured. Three hideouts were destroyed in the air strikes, security officials said. Security forces have stepped up operations against the Taliban in Orakzai Agency in the wake of a recent bomb attack that killed six soldiers, including an officer. Mamozai is considered the hub of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan fighters. Five militants were killed and 10 more injured in a clash between security forces and militants at Bakhmal Shah in Mohmand Agency. The clash began after the Taliban attacked a check post of the local — peace committee — or anti-militant militia. [More>>indianexpress.com]
10.28.10 15 killed in Mexican car wash massacre
MEXICO CITY, October 27 - Gunmen open fire at car wash in area where drug-gang violence has spiked; some victims apparently were washing stolen car. Gunmen killed 15 people at a car wash Wednesday in a Mexican Pacific coast state where drug-gang violence has risen this year. It was the third massacre in Mexico in less than a week. The gunmen in three vehicles drove up to the car wash in the city of Tepic and opened fire without provocation, said Fernando Carvajal, public safety secretary of Nayarit state, where the city is located. Fifteen men were killed and three people were injured. The motive was not immediately clear but investigators suspect it was the work of organized crime, Carvajal told reporters. He said most of the victims were recovering drug addicts and worked at the car wash. One victim, however, had just driven up to the business in a motorcycle and appeared not to have worked there, and another body was found at a nearby fruit stand. [More>>cbsnews.com]
10.27.10 PA against attempts to persuade Hamas to join peace process
October 27 - West Bank leadership concerned that US, EU may be reaching out to rival party: "Hamas has no vision or political program. They are using various methods to undermine the Palestinian Authority," spokesman says. The Palestinian Authority said on Wednesday that it was worried about “attempts” by the US and EU to persuade Hamas to join the Middle East peace process. The PA's announcement came as Fatah and Hamas prepare to resume “reconciliation” talks next week. In another development, a PA official said that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Geith and General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman may visit Ramallah on Thursday for talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas on the future of the peace talks with Israel and efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah rift.
10.27.10 Man kills his raped niece, gets a lighter sentence
AMMAN, Jordan, October 27 - Jordanian court reduces his sentence to 10 years. A Jordanian man was condemned to death on Wednesday for killing his raped teenage niece to "cleanse" the family's honor, but the sentence was later commuted to 10 years in jail. "The victim's family has urged the court to reduce the sentence, and it was commuted to 10 years in prison," a criminal court official told AFP. Murder is punishable by the death penalty in Jordan, but in the case of so-called "honor killings," a court usually commutes or reduces sentences, particularly if the victim's family urges leniency. Last year, Jamil, 41, shot his 16-year-old niece Abir eight times in different parts of her body after she was raped in 2008. The court did not provide the surnames of the victim or her uncle. "In his confession, he claimed that he killed the girl to cleanse his family's honor," the official said, citing court papers. Abir gave birth to a baby boy two months before her murder, and her family kept the child, he added. Between 15 and 20 women are murdered each year in Jordan in the name of honor, despite government efforts to fight such crimes. Parliament has refused to reform the penal code to ensure harsher penalties. [More w/blog comments>>alarabiya.net]
10.27.10 Bin Laden in warning to France
October 27 - Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, has justified the kidnapping of five French citizens in Niger last month, calling the abductions the result of French injustices against Muslims and warning they will continue. In a new audio recording attributed to bin Laden and released to Al Jazeera on Wednesday, he called on the people of France to stop "interven[ing] in the affairs of Muslims in North and West Africa." "The subject of my speech is the reason why your security is being threatened and your sons are being taken hostage," he said....Bin Laden also used the latest recording to criticise France's plan to ban the wearing of full face veils in public — a law due to be implemented next year.[Full story>>aljazeera.net]
10.27.10 Indonesia struggles as tsunami, volcano tolls rise
MENTAWAI, Indonesia (AP) October 27 - Helicopters with emergency supplies finally landed Wednesday on remote Indonesian islands slammed by a tsunami that killed more than 300 people, while elsewhere in the archipelago the toll from a volcanic eruption rose to 30, including the mountain's spiritual caretaker. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cut short a state visit to Vietnam to deal with the dual disasters that struck Indonesia in one 24-hour period, straining the country's ability to respond. The first aerial surveys of the region hit by the 10-foot (three-meter) tsunami revealed huge swaths of land underwater and the crumbled rubble of homes torn apart by the wave.
10.27.10 NWA drone attacks kill 8
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, October 27 - At least eight people [were] killed and scores [of] others [were] injured in a US surveillance plane missile attack in North Waziristan Agency, Geo News reported Wednesday. According to the security sources, [a] US spy plane fired at least two missiles in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan Agency, killing four people and completely destroying the vehicle. Earlier, as many as two missiles were fired at a house in Shinbaand area of Mir Ali. The local people kick-started the relief activities after the attack and recovered bodies of four people from under the rubble of the house. According to the sources, the spy planes are still making low flights in Dattakhel and other adjoining areas after the attacks, triggering panic among the people. [>thenews.com.pk; See also,
10.27.10 Parliament adopts pension bill, paving the way for reform
(AP) October 27 - France's lower house of parliament approved a pension reform bill on Wednesday, removing the last legislative hurdle to the proposal becoming law. The draft's proposal to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 has triggered weeks of protest. France's parliament granted final approval Wednesday to a bill raising the retirement age from 60 to 62, a reform that has infuriated the country's powerful unions and touched off weeks of protests and strikes. The National Assembly approved the final text of the bill in a 336-233 vote Wednesday, marking its final hurdle in parliament. It was a victory for conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has stood firm despite the protests — an unpopular stance that has resulted in his lowest approval ratings since he took office in 2007. Protesters aren't yet giving up the fight, since Sarkozy hasn't yet signed the bill. In an attempt to revive a protest movement that has lost momentum lately, unions plan a new nationwide day of street protests and strikes Thursday that are expected to cause travel problems. France's civil aviation authority says Thursday's strikes mean airlines must cancel a third of their flights at Charles de Gaulle, Paris’ main airport, and half their flights at the smaller Orly airport south of the capital. Airlines generally try to spare long-haul flights in such cancellations. [More>>france24.com]