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11.25.09 Iraq invasion discussed in 2001 - but was dismissed as illegal
November 25 - Long-awaited inquiry into toppling of Saddam begins with first witnesses recalling 'drum beat' of war even before 9/11 attacks. Toppling Saddam Hussein from power was being discussed by British and US officials two years before the invasion of Iraq, senior Whitehall figures admitted yesterday. Foreign Office mandarins even drew up a secret document discussing the idea of removing the dictator as attempts to restrain him with sanctions began to fail. But any suggestions of supporting "regime change" were dismissed repeatedly as having no legal backing. On its opening day of public hearings, Sir John Chilcot's inquiry into the Iraq war heard that elements of President Bush's administration, which came to power at the start of 2001, were already making noises in support of regime change in Iraq even before the 9/11 terror attacks in the US...Sir Peter Ricketts, who was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), said that in those early days, it was Britain and the US which were most worried about the threat posed by Saddam. "I think the sense of the threat was probably sharpest in London and Washington," he said. But he made clear that in 2001, regime change "was something that we thought there could be no legal basis for."
11.25.09 Iran arrests seven alleged Jundallah members
TEHRAN /LONDON, November 25 - Rights group says Tehran detains scores of students. Iranian authorities arrested seven alleged members of the Sunni militant group Jundallah and will put them on trial, a judiciary official said on Wednesday, as a human rights group said that scores of Iranian students have been detained to avoid new protests during the annual Student Day. "The charges against these seven people are that they are mohareb (fighters against God) and belong to the terrorist group of Abdulmalek Rigi," Ibrahim Hamidi, head of the Sistan-Baluchestan province judiciary, told Fars news agency. Rigi heads the Jundallah (Soldiers of God) group which is engaged in an insurgency against Tehran's Shiite rule in southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan.
11.25.09 Bombings in Iraq leave at least 10 dead
BAGHDAD, November 25 - At least 10 people were reported killed Wednesday in Iraq, including four who perished in twin bombings near a revered Shiite shrine in Karbala. The other six were members of a family whose home north of Baghdad was raided overnight by suspected insurgents, according to Iraqi authorities. The attacks unfolded amid growing political uncertainty over the fate of an election law that parliament approved earlier this week over strong objections from some Sunnis.
11.25.09 Netanyahu declares 10-month settlement freeze 'to restrart peace talks'
November 25 - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday evening that Israel would impose a 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements, saying the move was a bid to restart stalled peace talks with the Palestinians. "I hope that this decision will help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," Netanyahu said at a special press conference he held shortly after the security cabinet approved the moratorium. He added: "We have been told by many of our friends that once Israel takes the first meaningful steps toward peace, the Palestinians and Arab states would respond." [More>>haaretz.com]
11.25.09 UN report: Congo rebel network spans 25 countries
CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) November 25 - One of Africa's most brutal rebel movements relies on a vast, international network of supporters in at least 25 countries including in the United States and Europe, a United Nations report said. The UN findings will be discussed by the Security Council Wednesday. They are a scathing indictment of how little has been done by the international community to cut off logistical support to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR, an ethnic Hutu militia which has wreaked havoc in Congo. The report, which has not been made public but was made available to The Associated Press, reveals that the overseas supporters in North America, Europe and Africa have become the backbone of the group's day-to-day operation, including in formulating its military strategy. The Congolese army has also been funneling weapons and ammunition to the rebel militia in violation of UN sanctions, and its own interests of eradicating the group, according to the report. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
11.25.09 Pakistan indicts Mumbai suspects
November 25 - A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has indicted seven suspects over last year's attacks in Mumbai, India, which killed 166 people. The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday, a defence lawyer said, on the eve of the anniversary of the attacks. Malik Rab Nawaz, a prosecutor in the case, said the men are accused of helping to plan and execute the Mumbai attacks. The detained include Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the November 26 - 29 siege in India's financial capital, and Zarar Shah, an alleged key Lashkar-e-Taiba operative. Lashkar-e-Taiba is an armed group based in Pakistan, founded to confront India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. It has also been accused of carrying out a spate of deadly attacks on Indian soil over the past decade. [More>>aljazeera.net; See other details, indianexpress.com; related story:
11.24.09 1 in 4 mortgage borrowers is under water
November 24 - Nearly a quarter of U.S. mortgage holders owe more on their loans than their houses are worth, according to a report today in the Wall Street Journal. Data from First American CoreLogic, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based real-estate information company, shows that in the third quarter of 2009 almost 10.7 million households had negative equity in their homes. Despite good news on the house resales front — it was reported Monday that home sales surged for the second month in a row in October, climbing to the highest level in 2½ years, due in part to a first-time buyers' tax credit — the Journal's Ruth Simon and James R. Hagerty write that this swelling of "underwater mortgages" threatens the prospects of a sustained housing recovery. These properties are more likely to fall into foreclosure, ultimately being dumped by banks and mortgage holders onto an already-saturated market, depressing falling house prices even further. [More>>cbsnews.com]
11.24.09 Two executed in China over tainted milk scandal
SHIJIAZHUANG, China (Xinhua), November 24 - Two people were executed in China Tuesday for their involvement in the country's contaminated milk scandal, during which at least six infants died and more than 300,000 became ill. Zhang Yujun was executed for the crime of endangering public safety by dangerous means, and Geng Jinping was put to death after being convicted of producing and selling toxic food, the Shijiazhuang Municipal Intermediate People's Court said in a statement. Zhang was found guilty of producing more than 770 tones and selling more than 600 tones of melamine-laced protein powder from July 2007 to August 2008.
11.24.09 Pakistan launches Khyber offensive
November 24 - Pakistan's military has launched a major offensive in the northwest Khyber agency, imposing a 24-hour curfew and a shoot-to-kill policy. The operation, called "You will like us," is taking place in the Barra Area, where security forces say 18 Taliban fighters have been killed in fighting so far. Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, said security officials had arrested six people and at least two hideouts and three Taliban strongholds had been destroyed in the operation. Authorities have claimed that Taliban fighters who escaped from an army operation in South Waziristan may have sought sanctuary in Barra. Pakistani officials say the spate of recent bloody attacks in Peshawar and surrounding areas, which have killed more than 150 people, were likely to have been coordinated from Barra. [More>>aljazeera.net; See related story,
11.24.09 Iran shuts paper over Bahai picture
TEHRAN, November 24 - A popular conservative newspaper critical of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been closed down for carrying a photograph of a temple of the banned Bahai faith, media reported on Tuesday. At the same time, the publishers of another daily, Khabar, linked to a conservative rival of Ahmadinejad, have decided to stop publication due to unspecified pressure, the Etemad newspaper said. Etemad quoted deputy culture minister Mohammad Ali Ramin as saying both newspapers had violated media laws and had received warnings from the Islamic Republic’s press supervisory board...Iran’s Shia Muslim religious establishment considers Bahai an heretical offshoot of Islam. [Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; For more information on the Bahai faith see bahai.org]
Editorial note: "How Iran's persecutions relate to its Constitution." One of the problems with Iran's constitution is that it vests all power in the Supreme Leader who in effect speaks and decides for God and the nation on all issues. This is what Article 2 (Foundational Princples) says (our bold text, except headings):
Here is what Iran's Constitution says about the official religion and others:
Here is what Iran's Constitution says about its Islamic mission (From the Preamble):
Government by the righteous is ultimately vested in the Supreme Leader:
The Supreme Leader's duties and powers — which amount to a full dictatorship — are listed in Article 110, (See Maravot News Editorial note "Article 110," to article 11.21.09 Cleric wields religion to challenge Iran's theocracy.
11.23.09 Mom: Son conscious during 23-year coma
(AP) November 23 - Belgian man in 1983 car crash was fully alert, but doctors thought he was in vegetative state. A man who emerged from what doctors thought was a vegetative state says he was fully conscious for 23 years but could not respond because he was paralyzed, his mother said Monday. Rom Houben, 46, had a car crash in 1983 and doctors thought he had sunk into a coma. His family continued to believe their son was conscious and sought further medical advice. Professor Steven Laureys of Belgium's Coma Science Group realized that the diagnosis was wrong and taught Houben how to communicate through a special keyboard, said Dr. Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse, who is on Laureys' team.
11.23.09 Iran's leader wants debate on 'global justice' with Obama
November 23 -Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proposed launching a debate with U.S. leader Barack Obama on global issues, but does not seek direct negotiations with Washington, an Iranian official said on Monday. "Iran's president wants to open a debate with Obama not on insignificant issues but on justice of the world and public diplomacy," Iranian Foreign Minister's advisor Manouchehr Mohammadi was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying. However, Mohammadi said direct negotiations between the countries, which have not had diplomatic relations since 1980, would be impossible without the approval of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. [More>>en.rian.ru]
Editorial note: "Iran's denial of human rights." Perhaps the most controversial issue on the world stage besides Iran's intentions to develop nuclear weapons is the issue of the lack of human rights in Iran. After protests against Ahmadinejad's election, scores of street demonstrators have been arrested, imprisoned and put to death, a Kurd being the most recent killing. The other part of this issue involves the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran is not democratic, having through its Constitution vested all religious and political power in the Supreme Leader, Khamenei. Like Hitler who oppressed millions through his murderous rampage, Khamenei is caught in the foil of murder to maintain his authority. Recent Twitter postings from Iran, as well as the CBS 60 Minutes interview of Canadian journalist Mazier Bahari, suggest that Iran's Revolutionary Guard is the real power in the government. The ultimate power is vested in Khamenei, however, as can be seen in Maravot News Editorial note and link to Iran's Constitution under story 11.21.09 Cleric wields religion to challenge Iran's theocracy.
11.23.09 US and Afghan soldiers killed in Afghanistan
November 23 - Seven soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in the past 24 hours - four of them American and three Afghan. NATO said three of the US soldiers died in southern Afghanistan on Sunday and the other in a bomb explosion on Monday in the east of the country. This has been the deadliest year for foreign troops since the 2001 invasion. President Barack Obama is set to hold his ninth and "possibly" final meeting with his war advisers later on Monday as he decides on US troop levels. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
11.23.09 9 terrorists killed, 3 soldiers martyred in SWA: ISPR report
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, November 23 - Nine terrorists have been killed while 3 soldiers were injured during operation Rah-e-Nijat in [the] last 24 hours. According to ISPR, on Jandola - Sararogha Axis security forces secured Zinda Narai 1 Km west of Janata and also cleared Borora Narai near Janata; during [the] encounter 1 soldier was injured and huge cache of arms and ammunition recovered from Janata...On Razmak- Makeen Axis, Security forces cleared Golden Top west of Pash Ziarat, Tabai Sar and consolidated their positions around Lakhi Ghund and Bunker ridge. During encounter 8 terrorists have been killed...[Full story>>thenews.com.pk; See related stories,
11.23.09 45 bodies of hostages killed by gunmen in s. Philippines recovered
COTABATO, Philippines, November 23 - Philippine security forces have recovered 45 bodies of people that include politicians and journalists abducted Monday in a pre-election related incidence in restive southern Philippine province of Maguindanao, a local official said. Ibrahim Mangudadatu, mayor of Buluan Township in Maguindanao whose love[d] ones were among the fatalities, told reporters after he personally went to the site along with police and military that there were no survivors in the stunning pre-election-violence in the south. He said there he did not see any of the victims beheaded by their captors. Earlier, reports said Jenalyn, the wife of Buluan town vice mayor Esmail Mangudadatu; Esmail's sisters Eden, Rowena and Farida; his lawyers Cynthia Oquendo and Connie Brizuela; and Mr. Oquendo, the father of Cynthia, were among those who were abducted and killed. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
11.23.09 Saudis pound Yemen rebels; arrest scores
RIYAD / SANAA (Reuters) November 23 - Saudi air force and artillery pounded Yemeni rebel hideouts to push the rebels away from its southwestern border and stop the war spilling into its territory. The source said Saudi forces also detained scores of rebels during the military operation in the strategic Jabal Dukhan border area on Sunday. The rebels said on their website on Monday that the Saudi military had widened the scope of its air offensive, carrying out repeated air strikes as well as artillery attacks on the outskirts of Saada city, the capital of their mountainous stronghold Saada province. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See also
11.23.09 Gaza rocket hits Israel, despite Hamas declaration
November 23 - Militants in the Gaza Strip fired a Qassam rocket into southern Israel on Monday, despite a recent declaration by Hamas that militant groups in the coastal territory had reached an agreement to halt cross-border rocket fire. The rocket exploded close to a community in the Sha'ar Hanegev region, causing neither causalities nor property damage. On Saturday evening, Hamas' interior minister said the militant groups in Gaza had agreed to cease firing rockets into Israel so as to prevent retaliatory attacks. [More>>haaretz.com]
11.23.09 Asylum seekers riot in Australia
November 23 - Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers at an Australian detention centre on Christmas Island have been separated after riots broke out over the weekend. The clashes come amid a surge in the number of asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia. Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen, who gained rare access to a network of smugglers taking asylum seekers from Indonesia to Australia, says the people smuggling trade is flourishing, despite Jakarta's pledges to combat the trade. Revealing some of their closely-guarded methods, the smugglers said they used secret compartments such as ice boxes to take asylum seekers to Australian waters and then issue distress calls in the hope that rescue boats pick them up and take them to Australian detention centers. [More>>aljazeera.net]
11.23.09 Rebels kill 5 soldiers in northeast India
GAUHATI, India (AP) November 23 - Separatist rebels ambushed a paramilitary vehicle Monday killing five soldiers in India's insurgency-wracked northeastern state of Manipur, an army official said. The soldiers were on a routine patrol of the densely forested Samtol area near the Indian border with Myanmar when the rebels opened fire on the vehicle, Col. R. Kalia said. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
11.22.09 Gaza armed groups agree to halt rockets: Hamas
GAZA CITY, November 22 - Seven Palestinians injured as Israeli warplanes bomb strip. Hamas's armed wing on Sunday announced that armed groups in its Gaza Strip stronghold had finalized a deal to stop firing rockets into Israel, but said they would respond to Israeli raids, one of which coincidentally happened also on Sunday, injuring seven Palestinians. "The agreement between (Ezzedine) Al-Qassam (Brigades) and other factions to stop rocket (fire) is not a sign of weakness," the group said in a statement. The agreement is "aimed at keeping together the internal front and the supreme national interest of the Palestinian people."...The statement was released a day after a rocket was fired into Israel from Gaza, landing without causing injuries or damage, and hours after the army responded with three air raids that wounded eight Palestinians. [Full story>>alarabiya.net; See also,
11.22.09 Egypt's president warns Israel over Jerusalem
(AP) November 22 - Israel will anger all Muslims if it does not resolve Jerusalem's disputed status, Egypt's president warned his Israeli counterpart on Sunday. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak emphasized to Israeli President Shimon Peres that the future of Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital, is an issue for the entire Islamic world. Mubarak also said that the time had passed for talk on temporary solutions and borders — which had been floated as a step to solving the crisis — and instead a final solution should be concluded swiftly. "I expressed my concern to President Peres that peace talks have not progressed since our last meeting in July and that Egypt is looking forward to an Israeli response, such as halting the building of settlements in east Jerusalem," he said. The Palestinians have refused to restart peace talks if there isn't a total halt in Israeli settlement building, something the Israel has not agreed to. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
11.22.09 Top Iran reformer sentenced to 6 years in jail
TEHRAN (AP) November 22 - A top reformer has been sentenced to six years in jail after he stood trial on charges of fomenting unrest to topple the Iranian regime, his lawyer said Sunday. Saleh Nikbakht said he planned to appeal the verdict against former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi. He has 20 days to submit his appeal. Abtahi made televised confessions after his arrest in which he admitted provoking people to riot. His family and fellow reformers said the confessions were obtained under duress. Abtahi is one of more than 100 leading moderates detained after Iran's disputed June 12 presidential election. He was accused of fomenting street protests aimed at overthrowing Iran's clergy-led regime. Abtahi served as vice president under reformist president Mohammad Khatami. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
11.22.09 Deadly blasts hit India's northeast
November 22 - Two bombs have exploded in India's northeastern Assam state, killing six people and wounding dozens more, police say. Six people died after two blasts went off within minutes of each other on Sunday outside a police station in Nalbari, a town near the state capital, Gauhati, a local police official said. Up to 25 people have been wounded in the blasts. Bhaskar Mahanta, Assam's police chief, said authorities suspect the separatist group United Liberation Front of Asom, or Ulfa, is behind the blasts. No group has claimed responsibility. A senior Ulfa leader, however, telephoned local newspaper offices and television stations to deny its involvement.
11.22.09 19 extremeists dead in Orakzai, Bajaur agencies
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, November 22 - At least 19 extremists were killed and 14 others arrested in a security forces crackdown in Orakzai and Bajaur agencies, Geo News reported Sunday. According to sources, the security forces continued the search operation against extremists in Orakzai Agency's adjoining area of Shahukhel. At least 12 extremists were killed in clashes with the security personnel in the area. Later on in the same incident, 14 extremists were arrested. The jet aircraft of the security forces pounded the suspected hideouts of the extremists in Bajaur Agency's tehsil Mamond, killing four extremists and injuring five others. Also, five extremists’ dens were destroyed. Also, the security forces shelled the house of a significant extremist commander Hajran. Meanwhile, at least three extremists were killed in a clash with the security forces in tehsil Khar area of Rashakai. [>thenews.com.pk]
11.22.09 Car bomb left outside Belfast police HQ
November 22 - A car bomb has been left outside the Policing Board headquarters in Belfast, though it has done no serious damage. The 400lb car bomb partially exploded and the back of the vehicle caught fire, with two men seen escaping. Chief Constable Matt Baggott said: "It does appear to be a device that has partially exploded, around 400lb. "It is a reckless act not just in doing damage but also the potential loss of life." A car was found burned out nearby in the staunchly Republican New Lodge area of the city and police are investigating whether there was any link... Meanwhile, four people have been arrested after police exchanged gunfire with suspected dissident Republicans in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The incident took place close to the border with the Irish Republic in Garrison. It is understood that the incident was an attempt to kill a police officer who lives in the village. [Full story>>news.sky.com; See more details,
11.22.09 More than 30 top militants killed, detained, NATO force says
KABUL, Afghanistan, November 21 - Security forces in Afghanistan have killed or captured more than 30 high-level militants, including many accused of participating in roadside bomb attacks, military officials said. Twenty-six militants have been captured, and eight have been killed, with most of them senior leaders in the Taliban and the Haqqani network, according to a news release issued by NATO's International Security Assistance Force. The militants — "known for leading the planning and undertaking of deadly attacks" against civilians, government officials and soldiers — were captured or killed between August 20 and October 17, the force reported.
11.21.09 Cleric wields religion to challenge Iran's theocracy
CAIRO, November 21 - For years, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri criticized Iran's supreme leader and argued that the country was not the Islamic democracy it claimed to be, but his words seemed to fall on deaf ears. Now many Iranians, including some former government leaders, are listening. Ayatollah Montazeri has emerged as the spiritual leader of the opposition, an adversary the state has been unable to silence or jail because of his religious credentials and seminal role in the founding of the republic. He is widely regarded as the most knowledgeable religious scholar in Iran and once expected to become the country's supreme leader until a falling-out with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 revolution and Iran's supreme leader until his death in 1989. Now, as the Iranian government has cracked down to suppress the protests that erupted after the presidential election in June and devastated the reform movement, Ayatollah Montazeri uses religion to attack the government's legitimacy.
11.21.09 David Headley: quiet American with alleged links to Mumbai massacre
November 21 - In almost every way, David Headley was the perfect neighbor. When the 49-year-old American citizen began renting an apartment in Mumbai last year he charmed his landlord, treated his laundry boy with respect, and befriended Bollywood figures at a local gym. He told them that he was Jewish, and running an immigration agency from a respectable part of town. "Sweet and charming," said his landlady. "Down to earth," said his personal trainer. Not until the past few days did they learn of his alleged other identity — and of quite how close security figures claim India may have come to a repeat of the militant attacks on Mumbai a year ago next week. Apparently, Mr. Headley's original name was Daood Gilani. He was born in Pakistan, and is suspected of helping the terrorists who carried out last year's Mumbai attack, and of planning another atrocity this year.
11.21.09 Taliban blow up school in Pakistan: officials
PESHAWAR (AFP) November 21 - Taliban militants blew up an empty school in a tribal town in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, severely damaging the building, officials say...Taliban militants blew up a government-run girls' school in the same area on Monday night. That school was also badly damaged. [Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories,
11.21.09 Pakistan father-son duo held in Italy over Mumbai attacks
LONDON, November 21 - Tracing new links to the Mumbai carnage, a Pakistani father-son duo were arrested on Saturday from Italy for allegedly managing money transfer to finance phone communications of the attackers following leads from Indian and US investigators. The two men, who ran a money transfer agency, were arrested in an early morning raid from the northern Italian city of Brescia, police said. The duo have been identified by the police as Mohammad Yaqub Janjua, 60, and Aamer Yaqub Janjua, 31. They have been accused of aiding and abetting international terrorism as well as illegal financial activity.
11.21.09 Hasan had intensified contact with cleric
November 21 - Fort Hood suspect raised prospect of financial transfers. In the months before the deadly shootings at Fort Hood, Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan intensified his communications with a radical Yemeni American cleric and began to discuss surreptitious financial transfers and other steps that could translate his thoughts into action, according to two sources briefed on a collection of secret e-mails between the two. The e-mails were obtained by an FBI-led task force in San Diego between late last year and June but were not forwarded to the military, according to government and congressional sources. Some were sent to the FBI's Washington field office, triggering an assessment into whether they raised national security concerns, but those intercepted later were not, the sources said.
11.21.09 Japan hostage in Yemen seized by al-Qaeda
SANAA, Yemen, November 21 - Engineer had been kidnapped by Yemeni tribesmen. A Japanese engineer kidnapped by Yemeni tribesmen has been seized by al-Qaeda gunmen, a tribal source who has been seeking to negotiate his release said on Saturday. "The hostage was seized by elements of al-Qaeda, who took him to an unknown destination in the Maarib region," east of the capital, Sanaa, one of two tribal mediators told AFP on condition of anonymity. The man, identified by Japanese media as 63-year-old Takeo Mashimo, was kidnapped on Sunday in Arhab, northeast of Sanaa, by tribesmen seeking to exchange him for one of their relatives being held by police.
11.20.09 Ohio sues credit rating agencies
(Reuters) November 20 - Ohio’s attorney general sued Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings on Friday, asserting that they provided misleading credit ratings that led to hundreds of millions of losses for state funds. The official, Richard Cordray, filed the lawsuit in United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on behalf of five Ohio funds that assert they lost more than $457 million because of "false and misleading ratings" of mortgage-backed securities by the ratings agencies. Officials at Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, which is owned by McGraw-Hill, could not be immediately reached for comment. A spokesman for Fitch Ratings, which is owned by Fimalac S.A., had no immediate comment. Ohio’s lawsuit is the latest in a string of actions against the ratings agencies, which have been criticized for feeding the housing slump and credit market turmoil by assigning high ratings to risky securities that later tumbled in value. [More>>nytimes.com]
11.20.09 Unemployment rates rise in 29 states
NEW YORK, November 20 - More states report rising unemployment rates, though fewer report joblessness above the national average in October. A growing number of states reported rising jobless rates in October, and thirteen states reported unemployment rates above the national average of 10.2%, according to a government report released on Friday. Overall, jobless rates increased in 29 states and the District of Columbia last month, while they fell in 13 states, according to a monthly Labor Department survey on state unemployment. In September, 23 states and Washington D.C. reported that their unemployment rates increased, and 14 states had jobless rates above the national average. [More>>cnn.com]
11.20.09 Tamiflu-resistant swine flu spreads 'between patients'
November 20 - Health officials say a Tamiflu-resistant strain of swine flu has spread between hospital patients. Five patients on a unit treating people with severe underlying health conditions at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff were infected. Three appear to have acquired the infection in hospital. They are thought to be the first confirmed cases of person-to-person transmission of a Tamiflu-resistant strain in the world. There have been several dozen reports around the world of people developing resistance to Tamiflu while taking the drug — but they have not passed on the strain to others. Just one possible case of person-to-person transmission of a resistant strain has been recorded — between two people at a US summer camp — and this has never been confirmed. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
11.20.09 PC killed as record-breaking deluge wrecks bridge
November 20 - The heaviest rainfall Britain has ever seen killed a police officer today as it unleashed a torrential deluge, caused rivers to burst their banks, left towns underwater and washed away bridges. The extreme downpour, which swamped Cumbria with devastating floods, was the heaviest ever recorded in Britain in a 24-hour period, the Environment Agency said. More than a foot of rain — 12.3 inches — poured on to the Lake District fells between the early hours of Thursday and the early hours of yesterday.
11.20.09 200 web sites spread al-Qaeda's message in English
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, November 20 - Increasing numbers of English-language web sites are spreading al-Qaeda's message to Muslims in the West. They translate writings and sermons once largely out of reach of English readers and often feature charismatic clerics like Anwar al-Awlaki, who exchanged dozens of e-mails with the Army psychiatrist accused of the Fort Hood shootings. The US-born al-Awlaki has been an inspiration to several militants arrested in the United States and Canada in recent years, with his web-based sermons often turning up on their computers. "The point is you don't have to be an official part of al-Qaeda to spread hatred and sectarian views," said Evan Kohlmann, a senior investigator for the New York-based NEFA Foundation, which researches Islamic militants.
"If you look at the most influential documents in terms of homegrown terrorism cases, it's not training manuals on building bombs," Kohlmann said. “The most influential documents are the ones that are written by theological advisers, some of whom are not even official al-Qaeda members.” Most of the radical Islamic sites are not run or directed by al-Qaeda, but they provide a powerful tool for recruiting sympathizers to its cause of jihad, or holy war, against the United States, experts who track the activity said. The number of English-language sites sympathetic to al-Qaeda has risen from about 30 seven years ago to more than 200 recently, said Abdulmanam Almushawah, head of a Saudi government program called Assakeena, which works to combat militant Islamic web sites. In contrast, Arabic-language radical sites have dropped to around 50, down from 1,000 seven years ago, because of efforts by governments around the world to shut them down, he said. [More>>japantoday.com; See related story,
11.20.09 'US drone' targets Pakistan hideout
November 20 - At least eight people have been killed in a suspected US missile attack targeting al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Pakistan's mountains on the Afghan border. The strike on Friday came as Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, held talks with officials in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. The attack was the second in two days in North Waziristan, considered by US officials to be the most dangerous place in the world where al-Qaeda fighters are plotting attacks on the West. The missile slammed into a compound used by anti-government fighters in Palooseen, a village located in the district of Mir Ali, Pakistani officials said.
11.20.09 More than 20 killed in separate Afghan blasts
HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) November 20 - A suicide bomber in southwestern Afghanistan killed 17 people on Friday, and an Afghan lawmaker escaped a separate blast on the outskirts of Kabul but five of his bodyguards were killed, officials said. The provincial governor of southwestern Farah province, Rohul Amin, said a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives in a crowded area of Farah City, killing 17 people and wounding 29. Farah Province Police Chief Faqir Mohammad Askar said the target of the attack was a senior police official, who was killed along with two of his bodyguards. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf telephoned Reuters from an undisclosed location and denied his group had carried out the Farah raid. "Whenever there are civilian casualties, the Taliban deny responsibility," said Amin. “This attack was definitely carried out by the Taliban.”
11.20.09 Lashkar-e-Taiba threat revived after Chicago arrest
LONDON (Reuters) November 20 - The arrest of two men in Chicago on terrorism charges linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba has revived fears about the Pakistani militant group's global reach and its ability to plot attacks in India and around the world. A major attack in India — still angry over an assault on Mumbai one year ago — could trigger Indian retaliation in Pakistan and draw the nuclear-armed neighbors into a conflict that would also torpedo US hopes of stabilizing Afghanistan. David Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana were arrested last month and accused of plotting an attack on Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which ran cartoons of the prophet Mohammad in 2005, US authorities said in court documents. According to the court documents, they discussed their plans with members of Lashkar-e-Taiba and al-Qaeda linked Pakistan-based militant Ilyas Kashmiri. Lashkar also talked to them about possible attacks in India and suggested these should be given priority over the alleged plot in Denmark. [More>>indianexpress.com]
11.19.09 14 percent of US homeowners in peril
November 19 - Record-High Number Behind on Mortgage Payments or Facing Foreclosure, September Figures Show. More than 14 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage were either behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of September, a record-high for the ninth straight quarter and a problem that could threaten the economic recovery. The Mortgage Bankers Association's report Thursday adds to fears that the housing market and broader recovery could be thwarted by the continuing surge in home loan defaults, especially as the unemployment rate keeps rising. Lost jobs, rather than the shady loans made during the housing boom, are now the main reason homeowners fall behind on their mortgages. After three years of plunging prices, the housing market started to rebound this summer. While optimists hope the worst is over, pessimists say there are simply too many foreclosed properties that have yet to be dumped on the market and expect further price declines. [More>>cbsnew.com]
11.19.09 Echoing Democrat's comments, two Republicans call for Geithner to go
November 19 - Geithner Pushes Back, Blames Bush Administration for Problems. Echoing comments made by a Democratic lawmaker Wednesday night, two Republican members of the Joint Economic Committee today called for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to resign. "It's been a year since the president was elected," the panel's ranking Republican, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, said at a hearing this morning featuring Geithner. "It's appropriate for the American people to assess how well the administration's economic policies are working. They are not. They have failed."
"Unemployment has skyrocketed far past the White House's projections and promises. America continues to shed jobs: More than 2.8 million since the stimulus was enacted," Brady said. "We've had a series of embarrassing investigations about all the wild stimulus claims, the latest fake jobs from fake congressional districts. …"
"You are the point man on the economy," Brady said to Geithner. "The buck, in effect, stops with you." Brady cited comments made Wednesday night by a Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, to MSNBC's Ed Schultz that Geithner and National Economic Council director Larry Summers should resign. DeFazio told Schultz that President Obama is "being failed by his economic team. We may have to sacrifice just two more jobs to get millions back for Americans." [More>>abcnews.go.com]
11.19.09 $4.8 trillion - Interest on US debt
NEW YORK, November 19 - Here's a new way to think about the US government's epic borrowing: More than half of the $9 trillion in debt that Uncle Sam is expected to build up over the next decade will be interest. More than half. In fact, $4.8 trillion. If that's hard to grasp, here's another way to look at why that's a problem. In 2015 alone, the estimated interest due — $533 billion — is equal to a third of the federal income taxes expected to be paid that year, said Charles Konigsberg, chief budget counsel of the Concord Coalition, a deficit watchdog group. On the bright side — such as it is — the record levels of debt issued lately have paid for stimulus and other rescue programs that prevented the economy from falling off a cliff. And the money was borrowed at very low rates. But accumulating any more interest on what the United States owes at this point is like extreme sport: dangerous. [More>>cnn.com]
Editorial note: Interest on the Public Debt has been a concern of Maravot News. President Reagan initiated the problem by doubling the Public Debt, Bush I and Bush II continued the practice of borrowing to pay for their tax breaks to the rich and huge bureaucracies. It is surprising that since Reagan's time the popular media have not noticed the immediate affects of the Public Debt, such as driving up interest rates and being the cause of cutting programs to offset the burden of interest on the debt. During the Bush I and II years interest on the Public Debt began to be the dominant outlay in the US budget, exceeding Defense. See Maravot News/National-Debt.html for history on the debt and interest outlays versus deficits. Interest paid out on the ~$12 trillion Public Debt for 2009 was $383.36 billion. When interest rates return to 5% — as historically experienced on the Public Debt — interest outlays will double the 2009 amount. If the Public Debt for 2010 is $14 trillion, as projected, and if interest rates were to increase to 5%, interest outlays will be $700 billion for that year.
11.19.09 Belgian PM named as EU president
November 19 - EU leaders have chosen the Belgian Prime Minister, Herman van Rompuy, to be the first permanent European Council President. The other top job created by the Lisbon Treaty — foreign affairs supremo — has gone to the EU Trade Commissioner, Baroness Catherine Ashton from the UK. Both are seen as consensual politicians with little foreign policy experience. Both had unanimous backing from the 27 EU leaders at the summit in Brussels, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
11.19.09 Group bids to return to Joseph's Tomb
JERUSALEM, November 19 - Nine years after the IDF withdrew from Nablus, a new group was launched on Thursday morning which aims to restore Jewish presence to the Joseph's Tomb compound, in the heart of the West Bank city. The initiative follows improved security which has led to the army's removal of roadblocks at the entrance to several Palestinian towns, including the Hawara checkpoint at the southern entrance to Nablus. The group, named Gar'in Shchem, is made up of Judea and Samaria residents, including rabbis and veteran settler leaders.
11.19.09 19 dead in blast outside Pakistan court
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) November 19 - A suicide bomber struck a court in Peshawar on Thursday killing 19 people, the sixth attack on the northwestern city in 11 days as Pakistan presses a major offensive against the Taliban. ( Watch Video ) The bomber hit at the main gate of the building, near the five-star Pearl Continental Hotel, where at least nine people were killed when attackers shot their way through a security checkpost and blew up a truck bomb in June...Thursday's attack showed the militants' ability to strike in the city of 2.5 million people, which lies on the edge of Pakistan's lawless tribal belt, where US officials say al-Qaeda militants are plotting attacks on the West.
11.19.09 Suicide attack kills 10
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) November 19 - A suicide bomber killed 10 civilians in southern Afghanistan overnight, the second attack on the same day that President Hamid Karzai was sworn into office, police said. The bombing in Oruzgan province followed an apparent suicide attack in the neighboring province of Zabul which killed two US soldiers and took place about the same time Mr. Karzai was being inaugurated. "Ten civilians were killed and 13 others were injured," Oruzgan deputy police chief Mohammad Gulab Wardak said. The bomber was wearing an explosive-packed vest which he detonated near a convoy of Afghan security forces, he said. [>news.com.au]
11.19.09 Yemen aborts Houthi attack on Saada palace
SANAA, November 19 - The Yemeni army succeeded in aborting an attack on the northern governorate of Saada, killing and injuring dozens of insurgents, according to media reports Thursday. As the conflict escalated between Houthi rebels on one hand and the Saudi and Yemeni armies on the other, the insurgent group launched a massive attack on the northern and southern suburbs of the city of Saada, the capital of the northern governorate that bears the same name, in an attempt to seize the presidential palace, an Al Arabiya correspondent in Sanaa reported.
11.19.09 Prehistoric masterpieces: The Swimmers and the Beast
November 19 - The inhospitable plateau of Gilf Kebir in the far south-west Egyptian desert was once home to an early Egyptian civilization, who left behind spectacular cave art. It is hard to imagine that anyone could have once lived on the Gilf Kebir, an arid, remote, desolate sandstone plateau the size of Switzerland, located in the far southwest of Egypt. Yet, as we discover in this video report by Nico Piazza, around 10,000 years ago water, and with it vegetation and animal and human life, once ran through the barren land Egyptians today call "the Great Barrier." This long-forgotten prehistoric civilization that once called Gilf Kebir home left their mark in the form of cave paintings and other forms of rock art, in locations such as the spectacular Cave of Swimmers. Located in the 1930s by Hungarian Count and explorer László Almásy (who was later fictionalized as the core character in Michael Ondaatje's book The English Patient, which was adapted into a multi-Academy Award-winning film) it features images of scores of tiny people swimming elegantly across the walls.