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

2006 update (2.25.06)

The Chart Showing the National Debt above is still valid: "The debt to the penny," publicdebt.treas.gov.
The debt projection for 2009 is now $10.3 Trillion. Deficit for 2006 is $435 Billion.
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News Headlines & Trends

11.10.07 Clash in Iraq kills 18 al-Qaeda members

BAGHDAD (AP) November 10 - Former insurgents who turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq launched an attack against the terror group and killed 18 of its members, asking the US military to stay away while the battle raged, an ex-insurgent leader and Iraqi police said Saturday.

Most members of the Islamic Army, a major Sunni Arab insurgent group that includes former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, joined US forces battling al-Qaeda in Iraq earlier this year, though some of the group's leaders deny any contact with American troops. A top Islamic Army leader, known as Abu Ibrahim, told The Associated Press that his fighters ambushed al-Qaeda members near Samarra on Friday, killing 18 people and seizing 16 prisoners. [More>>expressindia.com: hosted.ap.org; See related stories:
alarabiya.net, November 10, "Blasts kill 6 Iraqi leaders fighting al-Qaeda"
metimes.com (UPI), November 10, Al-Qaeda forced out of Iraqi town."
nytimes.com, November 10, "Roadside bombs across Iraq kill seven."]

11.10.07 Oil price rise causes global shift in wealth

November 10 - High oil prices are fueling one of the biggest transfers of wealth in history. Oil consumers are paying $4 billion to $5 billion more for crude oil every day than they did just five years ago, pumping more than $2 trillion into the coffers of oil companies and oil-producing nations this year alone.

The consequences are evident in minds and mortar: anger at Chinese motor-fuel pumps and inflated confidence in the Kremlin; new weapons in Chad and new petrochemical plants in Saudi Arabia; no-driving campaigns in South Korea and bigger sales for Toyota hybrid cars; a fiscal burden in Senegal and a bonanza in Brazil. In Burma, recent demonstrations were triggered by a government decision to raise fuel prices.

In the United States, the rising bill for imported petroleum lowers already anemic consumer savings rates, adds to inflation, worsens the trade deficit, undermines the dollar and makes it more difficult for the Federal Reserve to balance its competing goals of fighting inflation and sustaining growth.

High prices have given a boost to oil-rich Alaska, which in September raised the annual oil dividend paid to every man, woman and child living there for a year to $1,654, an increase of $547 from last year. In other states, high prices create greater incentives for pursuing non-oil energy projects that once might have looked too expensive and hurt earnings at energy-intensive companies like airlines and chemical makers. Even Kellogg's cited higher energy costs as a drag on its third-quarter earnings. {More>>washingtonpost.com]

11.08.07 UK woman found guilty of terror offences

November 8 - Heathrow Airport worker Samina Malik, 23, who called herself the " lyrical terrorist", became the first woman to be convicted under the Terrorism Act 2000 today following an Old Bailey trial. Malik gave a gasp as the guilty verdict was delivered. She bowed her head and sobbed.

...Malik was arrested in October last year. When her bedroom was searched police found a ring binder full of documents as well as a bracelet bearing the word "jihad"...In one handwritten document found by police, she wrote: "Many opportunities have been given to me but something always holds me back...I wonder what it will be like to be with the Muslims when a mischief kaffir [
infidel, unbeliever, ed. note] is shot dead ... how it will be when we see our Muslim brothers and sisters go forth with swords in their hands, running towards blessed death with the look of 'I love death more than life' on their shining faces..."

Also found were publications from an Islamic extremist group called "Followers of Ahl us-Sunnah Wal-Jammaa'ah" (ASWJ) linked to another group, The Saved Sect, and extremist cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri. In a box file in the family lounge was a printed-out version of the "declaration of war" by Osama bin Laden, the court heard.

One poem, called The Living Martyrs, said: "For the living martyrs are awakening/ And kuffars world soon to be shaking." Another line ran: "Let us make Jihad/ Move to the front line/ To chop chop head of kuffar swine." [Full story>>independent.co.uk]

11.10.07 Nine troops dead in Afghan ambush

November 10 - Six US soldiers and three Afghan troops have been killed in fighting in eastern Afghanistan, NATO officials have said. Militants ambushed a patrol of Afghan soldiers and US troops from NATO's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Nuristan province. The ambush is one of the costliest for US forces this year, already the deadliest for the US since it helped overthrow the Taleban in 2001. Eight US troops and 11 Afghans were also wounded, Isaf officials said. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

11.08.07 Syrian Grand Mufti says he is "Sunni and Shiite"

November 8 - During a visit to Germany, Syria's Grand Mufti made "controversial" statements – saying he follows all sects of Islam, and adding that there is no such thing as "holy war." Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun – the highest Islamic jurist in Syria confirmed German media reports about his multiple affiliations to different denominations in Islam, saying: "I am Sunni in practice, Shiite in allegiance.

My roots are Salafi, and my purity is Sufi
." This, he said, is the type of international Muslim he is trying to mold: "There is no contradiction in being both Sunni and Shiite. That's how one's Islam becomes complete." Hassoun's speech to the German Parliament, in which he tackled Islamic conquests, also drew much criticism. For him, there is no such thing as 'holy war' in holy books:

11.08.07 Morgan Stanley loses $3.7b in two months

NEW YORK, November 8 - The second largest company in the Securities market, Morgan Stanley, said it has suffered a $3.7 billion loss stemming from its US subprime mortgage exposure during the last two months, which it expects will reduce fourth-quarter earnings by about $2.5 billion. The Wall Street investment bank said the loss occurred in September and October, and might change before its fiscal quarter ends this month. Meantime, two other large securities companies including Merrill Lynch have suffered more than a 40 percent loss. [>thenews.com.pk ; See related story,

washingtonpost.com, Novemer 8, "Cuomo's loan probe turns to Fannie, Freddie"
: The New York attorney general subpoenaed mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac yesterday as he sought to expand his housing industry investigation by focusing on companies that package house loans and sell them to investors. It was the second public step in Andrew M. Cuomo's probe of fraudulent house appraisals, which he says rippled across the market as overvalued mortgage loans were bundled together and sold as debt...

Editorial note, "Passing our debt on to our children - a tax on our economy that has been ruining us" : One of the trends Maravot News has followed since the beginning of the Reagan Administration is the practice of funding the US government without having to pay for it. US government officials and pundits of the press and academia pass this practice off as "passing the debt on to our children." In actual fact borrowing is accompanied by debt service. Reagan introduced the concept of running a government using a credit card mentality but forgot to mention that like credit card financing there would be an annual interest payment due on the debt, which, in terms of US government financing, would be paid directly from tax revenues or borrowed through the process of printing and selling bonds. The borrowing to serve the interest payment added to the national debt and resulted in an exponential increase in the debt. The extraordinary amounts being borrowed and funded by bonds exerted a natural pressure on other financial markets, including mortgage markets. In simple terms, to finance the growing US debt interest rates had to be managed by the Federal government through increasing or decreasing the prime rate given to banks and lending institutions. When a buyer of US bonds such as China balks at buying more US bonds, rates have to be increased to make the bonds attractive. Supply and Demand dynamics apply to the US bond market as well as any other markets.

When the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to make bonds more attractive, other financial markets have to raise their rates. We have noted that the direct affects of interest rate increases are on the home mortgage market. If you have lost your home because of a rise in interest rates you can thank the administrations of Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, who each doubled the US National Debt during their terms of office (i.e., Bush II inherited a $5 trillion debt and is leaving us with a $10 trillion debt). We have maintained for years a chart in the sidebar of this page that shows the trend and how only the Clinton era attempted to reverse the borrowing initiated by President Ronald Reagan. Reagan's "Deficit Spending" program (also known as Reaganomics) set the stage for an economic disaster. Irresponsible lending practices may have caused you to lose your home, but the fact remains that the reason for the hike in interest rates that caused you to lose your home is attributable to the need to finance the excessive US debt. Those of you who just lost your job in the financial industry owing to the interest rate problem can thank the Bush administration's excessive borrowing.

In truth, Reagan's pernicious policy of passing his debt onto our children is coming home to roost. But we're not paying for the debt exactly the way it was advertized. Interest on the US debt exceeds $1 billion per day. As a long-term debt of $10 trillion by 2009, interest on the US debt at 7% interest would be about $2 billion per day. It's a long-term tax on our economy that has been ruining us

Mel Copeland

11.08.07 Surge seen in number of homeless veterans

WASHINGTON, November 8 - More than 400 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have turned up homeless, and the Veterans Affairs Department and aid groups say they are bracing for a new surge in homeless veterans in the years ahead. Experts who work with veterans say it often takes several years after leaving military service for veterans’ accumulating problems to push them into the streets. But some aid workers say the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans appear to be turning up sooner than the Vietnam veterans did.

"We’re beginning to see, across the country, the first trickle of this generation of warriors in homeless shelters," said Phil Landis, chairman of Veterans Village of San Diego, a residence and counseling center. "But we anticipate that it's going to be a tsunami."

With more women serving in combat zones, the current wars are already resulting in a higher share of homeless women as well. They have an added risk factor: roughly 40 percent of the hundreds of homeless female veterans of recent wars have said they were sexually assaulted by American soldiers while in the military, officials said. [More>>nytimes.com]

11.08.07 Musharraf says he'll give up uniform and hold elections

ISLAMABAD, November 8 - Gen. Pervez Musharraf told his national security council today that parliamentary elections would be held before Feb. 15 and that he would give up his military uniform before taking the oath of office for his new term as president of Pakistan.

As he made the statement, his security forces clamped down hard on the main opposition party of Benazir Bhutto, arresting as many as 500 party members last night and today, party workers and diplomats said. The arrests appeared to be an attempt to thwart a protest rally planned by Ms. Bhutto for Friday, the party workers and diplomats said.

General Musharraf, the president, did not set a specific date for parliamentary elections, and it was unclear whether the new timetable would satisfy opposition parties and Western governments, which have been demanding bluntly that he end emergency rule, step down from his post as head of the army and allow elections to go ahead as planned. The elections had been scheduled for Jan. 15. [More>>nytimes.com]

11.08.07 China urges Iran to "positively respond" to international concerns

BEIJING (Xinhua) November 8 - China Thursday called on Iran to "positively respond" to international concerns about its nuclear program, a day after Iran announced it had installed 3,000 centrifuges for uranium enrichment. "We have taken note of the developments and we request Iran to positively respond and attach importance to the concerns and voice of the international community," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. He said Iran should show restraint and adopt a flexible attitude in relevant dialogue and contact. [More>>xinhuanet.com ; See related story, khaleejtimes.com, November 8, "Saudi king calls on Iran to avoid escalation."]

11.07.07 Militants make fresh gains in northwest Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) November 7 - Islamic militants have seized more than two-thirds of a key tourist valley in northwest Pakistan, despite a state of emergency imposed to tackle extremism, police and residents said Wednesday. Dozens of paramilitary troops and police surrendered their weapons to militants and retreated from the mountain town of Kalam in the Swat Valley - dubbed Pakistan's Switzerland - early Wednesday, a police official said.

Announcements about the advance were made on a pirate FM radio station run by cleric Mullah Fazlullah, as militants hoisted their party flag on police stations and government buildings, and distributed sweets. President Pervez Musharraf declared an emergency Saturday, saying it was necessary to tackle al-Qaeda and pro-Taliban rebels. He also cited repeated interference in government by a hostile judiciary.

The militants' advance into Swat was one of the key factors, indicating that rebels are branching out into new areas from their traditional base in the troubled tribal belt that borders Afghanistan. The government moved 2,500 troops into Swat last week to counter Fazlullah, who is also known as "Mullah Radio" for his speeches on his private radio station, in which he calls for a holy war on authorities.

11.07.07 Council declares 'deviant' sect criteria

JAKARTA, Indonesia, November 7 - Following the controversy over the al-Qiyadah al-Islamiyah sect, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) announced Tuesday 10 criteria that indicated an Islamic sect was "misguided." During the MUI's national working meeting, the council said that among the criteria for "misguided" sects were defying one of the Islamic six pillars of faith and believing in or following teachings that are not in line with the Koran and Sunnah as the source of Islamic teachings.

Other criteria included believe in God's revelation after the Koran, denying the authenticity of the Koran, and contradicting prevailing interpretations...Denying Muhammad's position as the last prophet, as well as insulting him were also regarded as signs, as well as ignoring the Hadiths, the Prophet's sayings and deeds, as the source of Islamic teachings. [Full story>>thejakartapost.com]

11.07.07 A financial crisis that began in the US is coming to a home near you

November 7 - No one knows where the bodies are buried. Indeed, no one is quite sure exactly how many bodies there are. But they are out there, and there are plenty of them: underperforming loans, worthless securities and overvalued assets, all safely buried well away from the banks' balance sheets. Buried – but not quite dead.

Increasingly they are surfacing, and these financial zombies are every bit as frightening as any you'll encounter in a horror flick. No less terrifying are the other ghouls haunting the global economy: oil at $97 (£46)a barrel; the price of commodities from copper to wheat at historic highs and a White House seemingly intent on scaring everyone witless with the prospect of a fresh conflagration in the Middle East.

The Governor of the Bank of England has been spooked already, telling us yesterday that: "I think most people expect that we have several more months to get through before the banks reveal all the losses that have occurred... There is always, in a period like this, the possibility that a shock from outside the UK, one from the world economy, might create further fragilities". The "fragilities" have been exposed in some of the world's biggest banks. Their bosses have been the biggest casualties, comforted only by compensation packages running into hundreds of millions of dollars – remarkable even by the standards of Wall Street. [More>>independent.co.uk]

11.07.07 Fatal shooting at Finnish school

November 7 - Eight people have been killed and at least 10 others injured in a shooting at a school in southern Finland, police have said. The incident took place in Tuusula, some 50km (30 miles) north of the capital Helsinki. Finnish police said an 18-year-old man killed five boys, two girls and the female principal of Jokela High School. The gunman shot himself in the head and is in hospital in a critical condition, police said. About a dozen other people are being treated for injuries. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

11.07.07 Turkey arrests suspect in German bombing plot

ANKARA, November 7 - Turkish authorities confirmed on Wednesday they had arrested a German citizen wanted for belonging to an Islamist cell suspected of planning a bombing campaign targeting Americans in Germany. The 22-year-old man, identified only as Atilla S., was arrested in a police operation in the central Turkish city of Konya, police said in a statement.

..German prosecutors have been searching for Atilla S. since September 4, when anti-terrorist police arrested three Islamic extremists at a house in western Germany where they were allegedly stockpiling chemicals which can be used to make bombs. Germany's chief prosecutor Monika Harms said the men were preparing "massive" attacks.
[Full story>>thenews.com.pk]

11.07.07 17 booby-trapped bodies found in Iraq

BAQUBA, Iraq (AFP) November 7 - Iraqi troops have discovered 17 decomposed corpses north of Baghdad but were unable to recover them Wednesday as they bodies were surrounded by booby-trapped bombs, an officer said...In the past few weeks, dozens of corpses have been found across Diyala which has witnessed brutal Shia and Sunni sectarian conflict as well as insurgent attacks led by al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.07.07 More Jerusalem Arabs seek Israeli ID

(AP) November 7 - The number of east Jerusalem Palestinians seeking Israeli citizenship has risen sharply in recent months, an official said Wednesday, as talk of a possible re-division of the city gains momentum. The Interior Ministry has received hundreds of applications for citizenship from Arab residents of east Jerusalem over the past few months, instead of the average of several dozen, said ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad.

Hadad was unable to provide specific figures but said there has been "an increase of hundreds." The trend appears to stem from Palestinian fears that they could lose Israeli social benefits, such as health care or welfare payments, if their neighborhoods are shifted to Palestinian control in the future. [More>>jpost.com]

11.06.07 Pope meets Saudi king

ROME, November 6 - In a historic gesture, Pope Benedict XVI clasped the hands of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at the Vatican today, in the first official meeting between the Pope and so prominent a Muslim leader from the Middle East. King Abdullah is the official guardian of the two holy cities Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia and the Vatican do not have diplomatic relations.

The pair met for half an hour, speaking through interpreters, in a conversation that a Vatican news release later said was "cordial," covering themes from the "value of collaboration between Christians, Muslims, and Jews for promoting peace" and "the necessity of finding a just solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

...The Vatican newspaper article also acknowledged that some weeks ago Pope Benedict had received a letter from 138 Islamic religious leaders from 43 nations, appealing for more dialogue between Christians and Muslims. As the weeks went by with no response, some scholars here had complained that the Pope seemed slow to respond to an important appeal.
[Full story>>nytimes.com]

11.06.07 Lawyers vs the General

November 6 - As lawyers in Pakistan take to the streets in fierce defiance of martial law, Iftikhar Chaudhry - the Chief Justice who sparked the crisis - issues a warning to Musharraf in an exclusive statement smuggled out from under house arrest. Pakistan's ousted Chief Justice has issued a message of defiance from house arrest, accusing General Pervez Musharraf of acting illegally, and demanding the restoration of the rule of law. In a statement passed to The Independent, Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry, whose home has been surrounded by dozens of armed police and his phone lines cut, warned General Musharraf that he would not be deterred from launching a fresh struggle to restore the constitution and the rule of law. He also dismissed the general's claims that the judiciary was interfering with the government's efforts to combat terrorism.

Mr. Chaudhry, who is now at the centre of the crisis in Pakistan after refusing to ratify General Musharraf's order suspending the country's constitution, said: “I and all the honourable judges of the Supreme Court were exercising our jurisdiction in accordance with the law and constitution and are determined to do so in the future. The judge, who has been a thorn in General Musharraf's side for months and has become a rallying figure for opponents of the military regime, was sacked on Saturday after leading seven Supreme Court justices in refusing to ratify the decree that ushered in emergency rule.

In his statement he said: “The whole of the judiciary is struggling for the supremacy of the constitution.” Any actions taken by the government under the emergency provisions were illegal, he added, as was the detention of lawyers, human rights activists and members of civil society. “Their only sin is that they opposed the emergency.”

General Musharraf appeared ready to bend to international pressure yesterday when he told foreign diplomats he still intended to stand down as head of the army, and his Attorney General announced that parliamentary elections would be held within two months. With the US and UK warning that billions of pounds of aid to Pakistan could be at stake, the Attorney General, Malik Abdul Qayyum, said elections would be held before 15 January next year. [More>>independent.co.uk ; See also metimes.com, November 6, "Ousted Pakistan judge urges uprising."]

11.06.07 Worst suicide bomb since 2001 hits Afghanis

November 6 - Forty people including six lawmakers were killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan on Tuesday in the deadliest attack since the 2001 fall of the Taliban, a health official said. Government officials said the bomber blew himself up outside a sugar factory in the northern province of Baghlan as dozens of people, including children, welcomed a delegation of senior members of parliament and other dignitaries. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but there have been around 120 suicide attacks in Afghanistan this year, most of them blamed on the extremist Taliban movement, which is waging an intensifying insurgency.

The burnt and mangled bodies of adults and children littered the site, which was drenched with blood, said Aziz Ahmad Nadem, an MP who survived the bombing in the town of Pul-i-Khumri, 150km north of Kabul. "In four hospitals we have registered 120 injured and 40 dead," said Yousuf Faiz, the head of hospitals in Baghlan. Most of the dead were children while six others were members of the national parliament, he said. [More>>news.com.au]

11.06.07 'Terrorism' arrests across Europe

November 6 - At least 17 people in three European countries have been arrested in an anti-terrorism operation led by Italian authorities. Eleven people were arrested in Italy on Tuesday, including 10 in various parts of northern Italy and one in southern Calabria, according to Spain's ANSA news agency. Giuliano Amato, the Italian interior minister, said in Rome that the "very important operation" had "decapitated a jihadist network that operates across Europe." He said the group was primarily comprised of Tunisians and was "preparing men to send to the Iraqi and Afghan theatres." [More>>aljazeera.net ; See related story, khaleejtimes.com, November 6, "EU to crack down on internet terror sites." : ...The measures would also outlaw "public provocation to commit a terrorist offence," including when violent propaganda, training tips on "terrorism tactics" and "bomb-making recipes" are posted on the Internet.

"The Internet serves ... as one of the principal boosters of the processes of radicalisation and recruitment and also serves as a source of information on terrorist means and methods, thus functioning as a 'virtual training camp," the Commission said in a "communication on terrorism" also released Tuesday. EU legislation dating from June 2002 would be modified to state that, in such cases:"It shall not be necessary that a terrorist offence actually be committed."

11.06.07 6 policemen, 6 US soldiers killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD, November 6 - Militants shot dead six policemen and buried their bodies in Nineveh province, while six US soldiers were reportedly killed in separate acts of violence in the conflict-torn Iraq, sources said Tuesday. Unknown gunmen ambushed and shot on the spot six Iraqi policemen who where on their way to work on a road in west Mosul city, the independent Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency reported citing a police source. The armed men then set the car carrying the policemen on fire, the source added.

In another incident, armed men opened fire on the car of Aref Youssif, a Mosul provisional council member for the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, killing him and wounding another passenger in Muthana district in the city's north-east, Iraqi security sources said Tuesday. [More>>khaleejtimes.com ; See also cnn.com, November 6, "2007 now the deadliest year for US troops in Iraq."]

11.06.07 Slab of cold lava puts off Kelud's explosion

November 6 - A huge slab of cold lava resembling an island appeared inside Mt. Kelud's rumbling crater on Monday, but experts said the island-like creation had a positive side. They said it was probably responsible for preventing an all-out and enormous eruption of the mountain. "Our visual monitoring equipment captured today an image of a huge black speck in the middle of the billowing sulfuric smoke that came out of the Mt. Kelud," head of Mt. Kelud's observation team Umar Rosadi said during a press conference at Sugihwaras village, Ngancar district.

Rosadi said he believed the slab was an enormous, heavy mass of cold lava from the mountain's 1990 explosion. "The block now appears on the surface of the crater and (it) resembles an island," he said. Rosadi said he thought the slab had blocked the exit route of the boiling lava and had prevented the crater from producing a powerful explosion...Tempointeraktif.com reported the slab was 100 meters in diameter. [Full story>>thejakartapost.com]

11.06.07 Bhutto suspects child bomber used for Karachi attack

NEW YORK (PTI) November 6 - In A new twist to last month's Karachi bombings, which claimed nearly 140 lives, former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto has said that a "child suicide bomber" followed by a car bomb might have been used in an attempt to assassinate her. “Although it remains difficult to know for certain, I doubt that a suicide bomber was involved in the attack on me. I suspect, after talking to some of the injured, that the terrorists used a 'small child' as a ploy to get to me," Bhutto wrote in a commentary for CNN. “They were trying to hoist the child — dressed in the colours of my party's flag — onto my truck,” Bhutto said, adding failing to do so they dropped the child near her vehicle. [More>>indianexpress.com]

11.05.07 MI5 chief: 'al-Qaeda is recruiting teen terrorists from the UK'

November 5 - Al-Qaeda is increasingly recruiting teenagers in the United Kingdom as young as 15 and grooming them to carry out attacks in this country, the head of MI5 revealed today. In his first public speech since taking over as Director-General of MI5 in April, Jonathan Evans painted an alarming picture of youngsters being radicalized by al-Qaeda's recruiters. He said that the teenage recruits were among up to 4,000 people now suspected by MI5 of being involved in terrorist activities.

"As I speak, terrorists are methodically and intentionally targeting young people and children in this country. They are radicalizing, indoctrinating and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism," he said in an address to the Society of Editors in Manchester. He added: "This year, we have seen individuals as young as 15 and 16 implicated in terrorist-related activity."

Mr. Evans, 49, has taken up where Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, his predecessor, left off during her time as head of MI5. She, too, warned of the intensive efforts made by al-Qaeda to recruit support for its cause in the UK, and disclosed that her service was aware of and watching 1,600 terrorist suspects. Mr. Evans who has spent much of his career in MI5 in counter-terrorism, revealed that that figure had now jumped to "at least 2,000." However, adding that the figure was more likely to be double that, he said: "We suspect that there are as many again that we don't yet know of." [More>>timesonline.co.uk ; See also independent.co.uk]

11.05.07 Oil's recent rise not as familiar as it looks

November 5 - After a week of new records for crude oil prices, the question is: How high can they go?In the past 10 weeks, the price of crude oil has shot up $25 a barrel, closing at $95.93 in New York on Friday, near an all-time inflation-adjusted peak. Unlike earlier spikes in oil prices, which came on the heels of war in the Middle East, this latest ascent does not appear to be linked to any one conflict or to any physical shortage. Instead, traders who treat oil like any other commodity are widely thought to be driving prices upward, bolstered by a weak dollar and money flowing out of stock markets and other investment vehicles. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

11.05.07 Caliphate not part of Koran: NU

November 6 - The idea of the Caliphate, or Islamic state, has no basis in the Koran or the Hadiths, the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad, a major Indonesian Muslim association announced over the weekend. The influential Bathsul Masail (problem deliberation) commission issued the statement on the last day of the conference of the East Java chapter of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

The commission made the statement after thoroughly reviewing the Koran and Hadith, along with other texts, including Attasyri' al-Jina'i Al Islami, al-Qoish al-Hami' al-Asyarqi Jam'il Jawami', Ad Din Watdaulah watadbikis Syari'ah, and al-fiqkul Islami.

It said that while the discourse on an Islamic state become increasingly popular among the nation's intellectuals and the general public, it found no nash (argument and reasoning) in the books that provided the idea of an Islamic state with a textual ground. It said the books also said nothing about an Islamic state being a necessity.

"The Khilafah state therefore is a form of ijtihadiyyah (interpretation)," the head of the commission's formulating team, Murtadho Ghoni, said Sunday. Consequently, any effort to replace the country's Unitary State system with an Islamic one was prohibited, particularly when such efforts would bring more problems to the nation, the commission said. [More>>thejakartapost.com ; See related story>>alarabiya.net, November 5, "Afghan publisher arrested for changing the Quran."]

11.05.07 Former leader of Kurd rebels reveals retreat into Iran

November 5 - Turkish Kurd guerrillas are leaving Iraqi Kurdistan for Iran in order to avoid an attack by the Turkish army according to a former leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK. Osman Ocalan, brother of the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, said: "the PKK has decreased its forces in Iraqi Kurdistan and they are moving to Iran. It is part of PKK tactics that when they feel pressure in one country they move to another."

President George Bush and the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are to meet today in Washington to discuss what can be done about the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan, from which it has been staging attacks on Turkish army units. The news that the PKK is moving its mobile fighters into Iranian Kurdistan – where they have escalated attacks on Iranian government forces – further complicates any action against the guerrillas. [More>>independent.co.uk]

11.05.07 Police rescue Indian "goddess" after live burial

SHIMLA, India (AFP) November 5 - A woman revered as a snake goddess who could cure the ill was rescued by police after villagers agreed to her request to be buried alive in a north Indian village, police said on Monday. Sapna Kumari, 18, was buried in a deep pit in Himachal Pradesh state's Chamba Valley after she insisted on being placed in a tomb. Hundreds of people including reporters watched the burial, said local police chief S.R. Rana.

But he said police dug her out several hours later and were surprised to find her alive and healthy—although Ashish Sharma, the doctor who examined her, said she was showing "signs of hysteria." The police chief said Kumari had been drawing large crowds, including many sick people, after claiming to be a snake goddess. [>khaleejtimes.com]

11.05.07 Google makes its entry into the wireless world

SAN FRANCISCO, November 5 - Google took its long-awaited plunge into the wireless world today, announcing that it is leading a broad industry alliance to transform mobile phones into powerful mobile computers that could accelerate the convergence of computing and communications.

Mobile phones based on Google's software are not expected to be available until the second half of next year. They will be manufactured by a variety of handset companies, including HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung and be available in the United States through T-Mobile and Sprint.

The phones will also be available through the world's largest mobile operator, China Telecom, with 332 million subscribers in China, and the leading carriers in Japan, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, as well as T-Mobile in Germany, Telecom Italia in Italy and Telefónica in Spain.

The 34-member Open Handset Alliance, as the group is called, also includes many of the leading makers of mobile phone chips, like Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, as well as SiRF Technology Holdings, Marvell Technology Group, Nvidia and Synaptics. EBay (which owns the Internet calling service Skype), Nuance Communications, NMS Communications and Wind River Systems are also members of the group.

The technology is expected to provide cellular handset manufacturers and wireless operators with capabilities that match and potentially surpass those using smartphone software made by Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Palm, Research in Motion and others. In contrast to the existing competitors, Google's software will be offered freely under "open source" licensing terms, meaning that handset manufacturers will be able to use it at no cost and be free to add new features to differentiate their products. [More>>nytimes.com; See also sfgate.com (S.F. Chronicle)]

11.05.07 Countrywide arrests continue on second day of emergency

ISLAMABAD, November 5 - Hundreds of persons were arrested all over the country on the second day after the imposition of emergency and the raids are still being conducted for arrests. The arrested persons include lawyers and politicians. Protesting against the imposition of emergency, lawyers boycotted the courts all over the country and held demonstrations while police arrested lawyers and political leaders and workers in a large number.

The lawyers of the Karachi Bar Association also held demonstration against the judges taking oath under PCO. Police arrested 25 lawyers including president Karachi Bar Association Iftikhar Javed Qazi. After the emergency meeting of the general body of the Karachi Bar Association, police broke the lock of the main gate and entered the building. It arrested more lawyers including two female lawyers. Later, police made arrests on regular intervals. According to the police sources, 25 lawyers of the Karachi City Court have so far been arrested.

Courts were completely boycotted and protest demonstrations were convened by the Sindh High Court Bar Association against the judges who took oath under PCO. According to lawyer leaders, police during the demonstration arrested over 150 lawyers. NGOs and journalist organizations held demos outside the Karachi Press Club in protest against the imposition of emergency in the country. Many people were injured in police baton-charge on the protesters and various persons were arrested.
[More>>thenews.com.pk ; See related story, indianexpress.com, November 5, "Meanwhile, Pakistan army morale hits new low after desertions at Frontier."]

11.04.07 Two ministry officials killed, bodies found in Iraq

BAGHDAD, November 4 - Two officials from Iraq's finance ministry were shot dead in a restive area in west Baghdad on Sunday while at another flashpoint the police discovered nine bodies, according to the Voices of Iraq news agency VOI. "The bodies of Qutayba Badr Al Din Mahmud, who is a consultant at the finance ministry, and Osama Kazem Muhammad, an employee at the ministry, were found Sunday morning in a car in Jamya district in west Baghdad," security sources were quoted by VOI as saying. Jamya district is a hotbed of violence in west Baghdad...A US military statement issued on Saturday said a joint US-Iraqi force entered the Abu-Hanifa mosque in Azamya district in an early morning operation and detained 12 people, two of them terrorists. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.04.07 Hundreds rounded up in Pakistan, elections under threat

ISLAMABAD (AFP) November 4 - President Pervez Musharraf tightened a state of emergency in Pakistan Sunday, as police rounded up hundreds of opponents and the government warned it could delay key elections for a year. Defying international condemnation, military ruler Musharraf Saturday suspended the constitution, sacked the chief justice, and imposed strict media curbs in the nuclear-armed nation of 160 million people. Musharraf accused the judiciary and Islamic militants of destabilizing the country, saying he had acted to stop Pakistan from committing "suicide" and appealing for understanding from his Western allies.

Troops and police poured into Islamabad and surrounded the Supreme Court, which had been due within days to rule on the legality of Musharraf's victory in an October 6 presidential election. The government said Sunday that parliamentary polls scheduled for January could be put back, amid fears that Islamic militants may retaliate with further attacks and that tensions between Musharraf and the army could escalate.

"We are still deliberating. The parliament could give itself more time - up to a year - in terms of holding the next election," Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told reporters. Aziz said up to 500 people had been detained across Pakistan in the past 24 hours. Officials said they included opposition leaders, rights activists, and lawyers.
[More>>metimes.com; See also a list of names rounded up at thenews.com.pk, November 4, "Variousarrested; raids underway to arrest lawyers, political leaders."]

11.04.07 Record floods leave a million Mexicans homeless

November 4 - One million people made homeless by the worst floods in Mexico's history are bracing themselves for an even greater disaster today. Rivers are continuing to rise in the low-lying state of Tabasco and more heavy rains are forecast. Four-fifths of the state, on the Gulf of Mexico, are already under up to 20 feet of water after a week of torrential rains. The largely abandoned capital, Villahermosa, resembles New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, with only a few rooftops poking out of the muddy waters.

"The level of disaster just keeps growing," said Edgar Rosas, who works for the Red Cross in the capital. Supplies of food, fuel, medicine and drinking water are running low, and the country's Deputy Health Secretary, Mauricio Hernandez, has warned of the spread of cholera and other diseases. But the escalating Mexican crisis is only the worst of a series of inundations around the world this weekend in what has been a particularly bad year, as global warming takes hold.

At least 122 people are dead in Haiti and the Dominican Republic after flooding caused by Hurricane Noel, the deadliest Atlantic storm of the year. At least 18 more have been killed in Vietnam in the third serious inundation within a month. UN officials say that this year has seen a record number of disasters so far, with scores of millions of people affected in the Indian subcontinent and more than 20 African countries. [More>>independent.co.uk]

11.03.07 Musharraf declares state of emergency

ISLAMABAD, November 3 - The Pakistani leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declared a state of emergency tonight, blacking out all independent news media and confronting Supreme Court justices who are deliberating on the recent vote to re-elect him. Witnesses said that police forces had surrounded the Supreme Court building, with justices still inside. Earlier, the justices were ordered to sign a provisional constitutional order enabling the emergency decree, with the government leaving implicit that any failing to do so would be dismissed. Still, a panel of 6 of the court's 11 justices rejected the order, according to Pakistani news reports before the blackout.

The six, including the chief justice, gathered at the Supreme Court building. Cellphone transmissions were blocked around the building. The police also blocked access to the Parliament and to the homes of Supreme Court justices. Cellphone transmissions were also blocked at the justices’ homes. General Musharraf was expected to make a statement on state-run television this evening.

The declaration came in direct defiance of warnings by top American officials. The senior American military commander in the Middle East, Admiral William J. Fallon, told General Musharraf and his top generals in a meeting here on Friday that emergency rule would jeopardize the extensive American financial support for the Pakistani military. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has personally intervened twice in the past four months to try to keep General Musharraf from imposing emergency rule, including telephoning him at 2 a.m. Pakistani time in August. Today, while traveling to Turkey for an Iraq security conference, she reinforced the message, saying, “I think it would be quite obvious that the United States wouldn't be supportive of extra-constitutional means." [More>>nytimes.com]

11.03.07 Musharraf declares state of emergency

November 3 - The United States judge presiding over the trial of two former staffers of a pro-Israel lobby who are accused of giving Israel classified information approved Friday subpoenas for top US officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, former senior staffers at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are accused of conspiring with a former Pentagon analyst to communicate national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it, including foreign government officials, policy analysts and the media. US District Judge T.S. Ellis in Alexandria, Virginia has approved 16 of the 20 subpoenas of current and former officials requested by the defense. More on this ruling on Rosner's Domain. [More>>haaretz.com]

11.03.07 US forces find bomb factory near Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AFP) November 3 - US troops found a large bomb-making factory just north of Baghdad following a tip-off from a local resident, the military said on Saturday. The factory was being used to assemble explosively-formed penetrators, the fist-sized bombs that can cut through heavy armor, a statement said. US commanders say that members of the covert operations arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards have been supplying the explosives and training Shiite militiamen in their use, a charge Tehran strongly denies.

The US military said the bomb-making factory was found in the town of Husseiniyah and contained 10 fully assembled EFPs of various sizes. Troops also found around 90 copper plates and more than 90 kilograms (200 pounds) of C-4 explosive, enough material to make at least 150 EFPs, the statement said. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.03.07 Zawahri says Libyan group joins al-Qaeda - Web

DUBAI (Reuters) November 3 - Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri said a Libyan Islamist group had joined the militant organization and he urged mujahideen in North Africa to topple the leaders of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. "Today, with grace from God, the Muslim nation witnesses a blessed step ... Honourable members of the Fighting Islamic Group in Libya announce that they are joining the al-Qaeda group to continue the march of their brothers," Zawahri said in a recording posted on Saturday. 

The Libyan group would be the second militant organization to join al-Qaeda this year after Algeria's armed GSPC said in January it had won approval from Osama bin Laden to rename itself Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb. The Algerian-based network has claimed responsibility for a series of recent suicide bombs. Bombings in Morocco and gunfights in Tunisia have also raised fears that al-Qaeda could be expanding in the north African Maghreb states. [More>>thestar.com.my]


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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