Search Engines & Filters
Trends, Iraq Casualties
International Agencies – News
Maps of interest
Russia & Ukraine Watch
from this site.
News Headlines & Trends
12.02.09 Officials press Obama's Afghan strategy
WASHINGTON, December 2 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the nation's top military officer laid out a muscular defense of President Obama's decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning, but senators of both parties objected to major parts of the new strategy. At a crowded hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who last year ran against Mr. Obama for president, sharply questioned Mr. Obama's plan to begin withdrawing the additional American forces by July 2011, only a year after they are due to arrive. Mr. McCain called the quick build-up and draw-down “logically incoherent” and pressed both Mr. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about whether the president would withdraw them unconditionally. [More>>nytimes.com; See Obama speech Afghanistan, youtube.com and related story,
"Pakistan looks forward to engaging closely with [the] US in understanding the full importance of the new strategy and to ensure that there would be no adverse fallout on Pakistan," the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. "Pakistan and the US need to closely coordinate their efforts to achieve shared objectives. There is certainly the need for clarity and coordination on all aspects of the implementation of the strategy."...
12.02.09 Militants target Pakistan's Naval headquarters; one killed
ISLAMABAD, December 2 - Militants on Wednesday struck Pakistan's Naval Headquarters with a teenage suicide bomber blowing himself up at the gate of the complex here, killing a naval official and injuring three others, including a young boy. In the brazen attack, the bomber approached the naval headquarters complex on Margalla Road, a key thoroughfare in the federal capital, on foot at 1.30pm (local time) and blew himself up on being challenged by the guards, police said. The attack on the Naval headquarters comes nearly two months after Taliban militants targeted the Army General Headquarters in the garrison town of Rawalpindi leaving 22 people, including 11 security personnel, dead. [More>>indianexpress.com; See related stories,
12.02.09 Ahmadinejad: Israel can't do 'damn thing' to stop Iran nuclear program
December 2 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday Israel could not do a "damn thing" to stop the Islamic state's nuclear program, which the West suspects is a front to build bombs. "The Zionist regime (Israel) and its (western) backers cannot do a damn thing to stop Iran's nuclear work," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech in the central city of Isfahan. Ahmadinejad rejected on Wednesday as "illegal" a UN nuclear watchdog resolution over the country's disputed nuclear activities, state television reported. [More>>haaretz.com]
12.02.09 Iran releases five Britons detained from yacht
TEHRAN (Reuters) December 2 - Iran released five Britons detained in the Gulf after their yacht apparently strayed into Iranian waters, Britain said on Wednesday, averting a diplomatic row on top of Iran's disputes with the West over its nuclear programme. One of the five yachtsmen, David Bloomer, said afterwards they had been treated well after straying into Iranian waters unawares because of a breakdown. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
12.02.09 California insurers say US $12 billion invested in Iran
SACRAMENTO, CA, December 2 - California's insurance commissioner said Tuesday he will push insurance companies doing business in the state to divest up to US$12 billion in indirect investments in Iran's defense, nuclear, energy and banking industries. Commissioner Steve Poizner said he will urge the companies to voluntarily sell the investments they reported to his office. If they refuse to sell within 120 days, he plans to try to force the divestment so money paid by California policyholders is not flowing to a US-listed state sponsor of terrorism. He also intends to subpoena executives from other companies that didn't provide the Iranian investment information to his office...Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, secretary-treasurer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, said he is consulting other states' commissioners to see if it is practical to develop a national effort similar to California's. [Full story>>thestar.com]
12.02.09 Iran whistleblower silenced by deadly salad
CAIRO (AP) December 2 - A doctor who blew the whistle on the torture of jailed protesters in Iran died of poisoning from an overdose of an anti-hypertension drug in his salad, prosecutors say, fueling opposition fears that he was killed because of what he knew about the abuse. Investigators are still trying to determine whether his death was a suicide or murder, Tehran's public prosecutor Abbas Dowlatabadi said, according to the state news agency IRNA. The 26-year-old doctor, Ramin Pourandarjani, died on Nov. 10 in mysterious circumstances — with authorities initially saying he was in a car accident, had a heart attack or committed suicide.
12.02.09 Israel strips more Palestinians of Jerusalem status
JERUSALEM (Reuters) December 2 - Israel stripped Palestinians of Jerusalem residency status last year at a faster rate than at any time in the history of the Jewish state, an Israeli rights group said on Wedenesday, citing official Israeli statistics. "Revocation of residence has reached frightening proportions," said Dalia Kerstein, executive director of Israel's HaMoked Center for the Defence of the Individual. Statistics HaMoked obtained from the Ministry of Interior under a Freedom of Information Act request show 4,577 residents of East Jerusalem had their residence revoked in 2008, which was greater than half the total revoked in the past 40 years.
12.02.09 US: Poor, minorities struggle to access banks
WASHINGTON (AP) December 2 - More than a million American households lost access to basic banking services like savings accounts last year, bank regulators say. Those families are among 30 million households that have little or no access to such services, according to a survey released Wednesday from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Poor and minority families are especially hard-hit. In all, 25.6 percent of US households either lack bank accounts or use payday loans, check-cashing services and other costly alternatives to traditional banks, according to the survey.
12.02.09 Chechens claim Russian train bombing
(AP) December 2 - Chechen rebels claimed responsibility Wednesday for last week's Russian train bombing, which killed at least 26 people and injured scores of others, a Web site sympathetic to the militants said. The claim, posted on the Kavkazcenter.com site, could buttress the suspicions of officials who are tracing the attack to Islamist separatists in Russia's North Caucasus region. It also raises fears of a fresh wave of attacks outside the region after a five-year break — a renewal of violence that would mirror the growing unrest inside the region. [More>>jpost.com]
12.02.09 Google Gears to be allowed to die
BEIJING, December 2 - Google is to allow its Gears offline utility to languish as it attempts to move the Web forward into HTML 5.0, Google executives said Monday. According to Linus Upson, the engineering director at Google, Gears' time has come and gone. The technology will be supported for compatibility's sake, but not improved upon...Google Gears was originally launched in 2007 as a tool for allowing Web-based Google applications to work offline, like rivals Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. But in May of 2008, Google used its I/O Conference to make a push for HTML 5.0 and capabilities that include the ability to cache apps and databases, and apply canvas, video, and geolocation tags. [Full story>>xinhuanet.com]
12.02.09 Male gene may hold key to limited lifespan
December 2 - Men may carry the reason for their limited lifespan in their sperm, a study suggests. Scientists believe a particular male gene may explain why men do not live as long as women. The gene is passed on to offspring by sperm but is only active in men, allowing them to grow bigger bodies at the expense of longevity, according to the theory. Although the study was conducted on mice, scientists think the findings could apply to all mammals including humans. The Japanese researchers looked at mice created with genetic material from two mothers but no father.
12.02.09 New stem cell lines open to research
December 2 - The National Institutes of Health said Wednesday that it had approved 13 new human embryonic stem cell lines for use by federally financed researchers, with another 96 lines under review. The National Institutes of Health said Wednesday that it had approved 13 new human embryonic stem cell lines for use by federally financed researchers, with another 96 lines under review. [More>>nytimes.com]
12.01.09 Haaretz Exclusive: EU draft document on division of Jerusalem
December 1 - Current EU president Sweden has proposed that the body recognize East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital. The current holder of the rotating European Union presidency, Sweden, has put together a draft document calling for the division of Jerusalem between Israel and a future Palestinian state and implying that the EU would recognize a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood. Haaretz has obtained a copy of the document (below) that has sparked criticism by Israel, which claims that such a move would further harm the chances of renewing the Mideast peace process. [More>>haaretz.com; See related story,
12.01.09 Russia to back Iran sanctions if international consensus reached
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) December 1 - Russia will back sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program if an international consensus is reached, a diplomatic source said on Tuesday. "If there is a consensus on sanctions, Russia will not remain in isolation," the source said, commenting on Tehran's plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities. [More>>en.rian.ru]
12.01.09 Suicide bomber kills politician in Pakistan
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) December 1 - A suicide bomber killed a provincial lawmaker and his brother on Tuesday in Pakistan's northwest Swat valley, where the military claims to have quashed a Taliban uprising. A man with explosives strapped to his body walked apparently unchallenged into the grounds of a property owned by provincial assembly member Shamsher Ali Khan and blew himself up, killing the two men and wounding several others, officials said.
12.01.09 Pakistan PM asks for US, UK support on Osama
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, December 1 - Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has rejected reports that al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan, saying the country will act if Britain and the US share actionable intelligence about his whereabouts. "So far, the US and the UK have not shared any actionable intelligence regarding the top al-Qaeda leadership," Gilani told a group of reporters accompanying him on an official visit to Germany and Britain, while dismissing reports that bin Laden was in Pakistan. [More>>indianexpress.com]
12.01.09 Kidnapping proves lucrative for N. Aftican al-Qaeda
DAKAR, December 1 - AQIM targeting tourists and aid workers. Kidnapping has become a lucrative business for al-Qaeda's north African branch, experts said Tuesday after a French national and three Spaniards were abducted in the Sahel within days of each other. The kidnapping of Frenchman Pierre Camatte in northern Mali last week and the abduction of the Spanish aid workers on Sunday in Mauritania have both been attributed to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), even though it has not yet claimed responsibility.
12.01.09 'Global surge' in rhino poaching
December 1 - Rhino poaching around the world is on the rise despite efforts to protect the animals, a report warns. The global surge in the illegal trade has been driven by demands from Asian medicinal markets, the study by conservationists concluded. It suggests that a decline in law enforcement is the main reason for the rise in poaching in Africa. The report found that 95% of rhino poaching in Africa since 2006 had occurred in Zimbabwe and South Africa. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
11.30.09 Investors face huge losses as debt-ridden Dubai World is abandoned by government
November 30 - The Government of Dubai said today that it will not stand behind its wholly-owned subsidiary Dubai World, prompting fears that the company's creditors could lose billions of dollars. Today's comment, from Abdulrahman al-Saleh, the director general of Dubai's Department of Finance, effectively confirms that country does not have enough money to repay Dubai World's $60 billion of liabilities. Deloitte, the accountancy firm, has been called in to restructure the giant business. Last week, the state-owned conglomerate sought a six-month standstill on repaying its debts.
11.30.09 Barack Obama orders Afghanistan troop build-up
November 30 - US President Barack Obama has issued new orders for the US military in Afghanistan after deciding how many more troops to send, officials say. Mr. Obama told senior military leaders about his long-awaited decision on troop numbers on Sunday night, a White House spokesman said. The president is now briefing the UK, French and Russian leaders on the plan. The moves come as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would send 500 more soldiers to the country. According to US media reports, Mr. Obama is set to formally announce that a further 30,000 troops are to be sent to Afghanistan in a televised address on Tuesday. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
11.30.09 Stop using insurgents as strategic tool, Obama warns Pakistan
WASHINGTON, November 30 - In a stern message to Pakistan, the United States has asked it to shed its policy of "using insurgents" like LeT as a strategic tool and warned that if it cannot deliver against terrorists, the US may be impelled to use "any means" at its disposal. The message, which has been conveyed in a letter from US President Barack Obama to his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari, also includes an offer by him to try to "reduce tensions" between India and Pakistan, media reported here. The two-page letter, hand-delivered by National Security Adviser General (retd) James Jones when he visited Islamabad early this month, offers Pakistan enhancement of strategic partnership if they act as wished by the US, besides additional military and economic aid.
11.30.09 Pakistan Tehsil Bara cleared of extremists: Brig. Fayyaz
BARA, Pakistan, November 30 - Frontier Corps Commandant Brig Fayyaz Monday said Khyber Agency's Tehsil Bara has been cleared of extremists and evidences regarding the involvement of foreign hand there, were also found. Addressing a news briefing over the operation, "Khwakh Ba De Sham," Brig Fayyaz said the forces are attaining extraordinary successes in the operation with Gargari completely under forces control. At least 61 extremists have hitherto been killed and 87 others arrested and 27 vehicles were destroyed, he informed adding the extremists are [also] being defeated in .. Ferozkhel and Orakzai Agencies.
11.30.09 Iran expands naval clout in strategic Gulf: study
WASHINGTON (Reuters) Revolutionary Guards in charge of operations in case of conflict. Iran has restructured its naval forces to give an arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards full responsibility for operations in the strategic Gulf in the event of a conflict, according to a new U.S. intelligence study. The concentration of fast attack boats and cruise missiles in and along the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, known as the IRGCN, "better allow Iranian naval assets to contribute to and extend Iran's layered defense strategy," the US Office of Naval Intelligence said in the study, dated fall 2009.
11.30.09 British sailors in Iran custody
November 30 - Five Britons are being held in Iran after the Iranian navy seized their racing yacht, which may have strayed into Iranian waters in the Gulf en route from Bahrain to Dubai, Britain's foreign ministry has said. The yacht, owned by Sail Bahrain, was seized on November 25, a day before it was to take part in the Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race. The foreign ministry in London said all the sailors were understood to be safe and well and their families have been informed. The Dubai-Muscat 360-nautical mile race, which first took place in 1992, passes through the Gulf into the Indian Ocean and via the Straits of Hormuz, before arriving in Muscat, the capital of Oman. [More>>aljazeera.net]
11.30.09 Hezbollah cuts Islamist rhetoric in new manifesto
BEIRUT (Reuters) November 30 - Lebanon's Hezbollah group announced a new political strategy on Monday that tones down Islamist rhetoric but maintains a tough line against Israel and the United States. The new manifesto drops reference to an Islamic republic in Lebanon, which has a substantial Christian population, confirming changes to Hezbollah thinking about the need to respect Lebanon's diversity. Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who read the new "political document" at a news conference, said it was time the group introduced pragmatic changes without dropping its commitment to an Islamist ideology tied to the clerical establishment in Iran. "People evolve. The whole world changed over the past 24 years. Lebanon changed. The world order changed," he said via a video link. Stressing a history of struggle against Israel, the 32-page document said Hezbollah had to remain alert and wary of Israel: "Israel represents a constant threat and an impending danger to Lebanon." [More>>thestar.com.my]
11.30.09 Somali pirates seize US-bound tanker
NAIROBI, Kenya, November 30 - Somali pirates have struck again, seizing an oil tanker loaded with $20 million in crude that was headed from Saudi Arabia to the United States, naval authorities said Monday. According to European naval reports, nine pirates hijacked the tanker and its crew of about about 800 miles offshore and headed back toward pirate havens along the coast of central Somalia. The Somali pirate business appears to be back in full swing after a brief lull this summer that some attributed to increased naval patrols but which may have had more to do with the monsoon season. Now that the seas are calm, the pirates have resumed operations, acting with even greater sophistication.
11.30.09 Scores arrested in wildlife poaching raid
November 30 - More than 2 tons of ivory has been seized and more than 100 people arrested in an international operation targeting wildlife crime in eastern Africa, Interpol announced Monday. In a news release, the international police organization called it the "biggest ever transnational wildlife crime operation in Africa." Working under the code name Operation Costa, officers from police, national wildlife, customs and national intelligence agencies collaborated across six countries -- Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, Interpol said. Shops and markets in the six countries were inspected and raided, resulting in the seizure of ivory, weapons and ammunition and the confiscation of vehicles...The Kenya operation alone resulted in the seizure of more than a ton of illegal ivory...[Full story>>cnn.com]
11.30.09 Is your chicken dinner safe?
November 30 - Consumer Reports Study Reveals Two-Thirds of Tested Chickens Contaminated with Pathogens....Consumer Reports purchased 382 raw whole broiler chickens from more than 100 stores in 22 states and tested for salmonella and a dangerous bacteria called campylobacter. And in Consumer Reports' findings, nearly two-thirds of the chickens tested had either one or both pathogens, Rangan said. Koeppen said 62 percent of the birds had some level of campylobacter, 14 percent had salmonella, and nine percent had both. Only 34 percent of the chickens were completely clean of both pathogens. Rangan said, "You can't see these pathogens, so you must assume that any piece of raw meat that you're handling has some level of pathogen on it." ...[Full story>>cbsnews.com; See full report, consumerreports.org]
11.30.09 How many criminals has Huckabee helped free?
November 30 - Former Arkansas Governor, Under Fire for Springing Alleged Lakewood Shooter Maurice Clemmons, Also Pushed for Release of Wayne Dumond. Any political ambitions of former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee could be hurt by his role in freeing Maurice Clemmons, the gunman suspected in the execution murders of four police officers in Washington State -- especially since Clemmons would not be the first criminal Huckabee helped to free who later committed murder. Clemmons was serving 95 years when Huckabee, then governor of Arkansas, commuted his sentence in 2000.
11.29.09 Iran defies world with plan for ten new nuclear sites
November 29 - Each of the 10 new sites will be the same size as Iran's Natanz plant. Iran's Government today announced plans to build ten new uranium enrichment plants and said work would start within two months. Each site will be the size of the existing Natanz plant with the aim of producing between 250-300 tones of uranium a year. IRNA, Iran's state news agency, says the Government ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to begin construction of five uranium enrichment sites that have already been studied and propose five other sites for future construction. The decision was made during a Cabinet meeting headed by President Ahmadinejad on Sunday evening, IRNA said. The move comes just two days after world powers united in condemnation of Iran's nuclear activities in a rare show of international consensus on the threat posed by Tehran's continued nuclear defiance. [More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related story,
11.29.09 Iran grants $20m to terrorist groups
(AP) November 29 - Iran's parliament passed a law on Sunday earmarking $20 million to support terrorist groups opposing the West and investigate alleged US and British plots against the Islamic Republic. The legislation is widely seen as a response to Western criticism of Iran's violent crackdown against protesters following the disputed June presidential election. Lawmakers started debating the outline of the bill in August when Iran's hardline leaders were fending off allegations that security forces had tortured opposition activists detained during the demonstrations. The text of the legislation says the money is to "support progressive currents that resist illegal activities by the governments of the US and Britain."
11.29.09 UK says none could spot Osama in 8 years
LONDON, November 29 - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged Pakistan on Sunday to step up its action against Al-Qaeda and hunt down leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. "We have got to ask the Pakistani security forces, army and politicians to join us in the major effort that the world is committing resources to, not only to isolate Al-Qaeda but to break them in Pakistan," Brown told BBC television. He added: "The Pakistan government has started to take on the Taliban and to take on al-Qaeda in South Waziristan. But we have got to ask ourselves why, eight years after September 11, nobody has been able to spot or detain or get close to Osama bin Laden, nobody has been able to get close to Zawahiri, the number two of al-Qaeda."
11.29.09 Pakistan security forces action in tribal areas; 14 killed
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, November 29 - At least 14 extremists were killed and a security man was injured in action in Kurram Agency, Khyber Agency and South Waziristan Agency, Geo News reported Sunday. According to sources, the security forces pounded the suspected hideouts of the extremists from gunship helicopters in Kurram Agency's Central Kurram area of Spairkat. In this military action, six extremists were killed and their three hideouts were destroyed. According to FC Media Cell, the security forces gained control over various hideouts in Khyber Agency Tehsil Bara areas of Garh Sara Gari. At least four extremists were killed in the action. Meantime, at least 67 suspected extremists were nabbed during the search operation in Tehsil Bara area of Sipah. A security man was injured in the extremists’ rocket attack at FC Camp in the SWA area of Ladha. In the retaliatory action, at least four extremists were killed. The extremists destroyed a girls primary school in Bajaur Agency area of Mamond. [>thenews.com.pk]
11.29.09 Dubai Babylon: The glitz, the glamor - and now the gloom
November 29 - The Gulf state's dash for intense economic growth at breakneck speed was a project that was bound to fail. Karen Attwood and Mark Leftly report on an extraordinary tale of success leading to excess. Dubai, the Arabian city state that tried to turn itself into Manhattan-on-the-Gulf inside a decade, looks this weekend as if it may end up more like an expensive imitation of Sodom and Gomorrah. No brimstone, no vengeful God, but still an awful lot of wreckage after an orgy of hedonistic excess.
11.29.09 Switzerland votes to ban minarets
GENEVA (AFP) November 29 - Switzerland on Sunday voted to impose a blanket ban on the building of minarets across the country, backing an initiative by far-right politicians. A clear majority of 57.5% of the population and 22 out of 26 cantons voted to ban the towers or turrets attached on mosques from where Muslims are called to prayer. Far-right politicians celebrated the results, while the government sought to assure the Muslim minority that a ban on minarets was "not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture." [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
11.29.09 Air strike kills 30 Taliban in Afghanistan
KHOST, Afghanistan (Reuters) November 29 - About 30 Taliban insurgents were killed in a NATO-led air strike in eastern Afghanistan after they attacked an Afghan police post, a police official and the alliance said on Sunday. Afghan border police commander Sayed Nabi Mullahkhil said a police checkpoint in eastern Khost province, which shares a border with Pakistan, was attacked by militants overnight. The privately owned Tolo TV station said 26 insurgents were killed, including one fighter from Chechnya. [More>>alarabiya.net; See also aljazeera.net]
11.29.09 Dogs diagnosed with swine flu in China
BEIJING (AFP) November 30 - Two dogs in Beijing have tested positive for swine flu in the second case of animals catching the disease in China along with pigs in the northeast. The A(H1N1) virus detected in the dogs is 99 per cent identical to the one circulating in humans, the state-run Beijing Times reported today, quoting China's agriculture ministry. The news comes 10 days after four pigs in China's Heilongjiang province were diagnosed with the virus, which specialists said might have been caught from humans, the report said. Countries including the US, Canada and Chile have already reported cases of animals being infected with the A(H1N1) virus. [More>>news.com.au]
11.28.09 US to pressure mortgage firms for loan relief
November 28 - The Obama administration on Monday plans to announce a campaign to pressure mortgage companies to reduce payments for many more troubled homeowners, as evidence mounts that a $75 billion taxpayer-financed effort aimed at stemming foreclosures is foundering. "The banks are not doing a good enough job," Michael S. Barr, Treasury's assistant secretary for financial institutions, said in an interview Friday. "Some of the firms ought to be embarrassed, and they will be." Even as lenders have in recent months accelerated the pace at which they are reducing mortgage payments for borrowers, a vast majority of loans modified through the program remain in a trial stage lasting up to five months, and only a tiny fraction have been made permanent. Mr. Barr said the government would try to use shame as a corrective, publicly naming those institutions that move too slowly to permanently lower mortgage payments. The Treasury Department also will wait until reductions are permanent before paying cash incentives that it promised to mortgage companies that lower loan payments. [More>>nytimes.com]
11.28.09 Russia train crash 'caused by bomb'
November 28 - A bomb blast caused the Russian train crash in which at least 26 people were killed, intelligence officials say. The Nevsky Express derailed with nearly 700 on board as it ran through remote countryside between the capital Moscow and the second city, St. Petersburg. Investigators found "elements of an explosive device" at the scene of Friday's attack, a statement said. Officials said a second, less powerful device went off on Saturday near the site of the first, but no-one was hurt. There was no immediate confirmed claim of responsibility for the blast on Friday evening, which hit a train popular with government officials and business executives at peak travel time. "Criminology experts say, on the basis of preliminary information, that an improvised explosive device, equivalent to 7kg (15 lb) of TNT, had gone off," said Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia's domestic intelligence service. At least three of the 14 carriages left the tracks as the train reportedly approached speeds up 200 km/h (130mph). [More>>bbc.co.uk; See related story,
11.28.09 Yemeni troops, rebels in battle near northern city
(Reuters) November 28 - Yemeni forces and Shia rebels waged pitched battles on the outskirts of Saada on Saturday after regular troops thwarted an attempt by the insurgents to enter the city. The army stopped the rebel advance on Friday and fighting was still taking place in the suburbs of the capital of the rebels’ mountainous stronghold province, a Yemeni military official told Reuters. A Saudi official said Saudi planes carried out renewed strikes in the Jabal Dukhan area on Friday, where rebels carried out a cross-border incursion earlier this month in which two Saudi border guards were killed. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, fears growing instability in Yemen could turn into a major security threat for the kingdom by allowing al-Qaeda to gain a stronger foothold in the poverty-stricken country. The rebels said on their website Saudi air raids in an area outside Saada killed an unspecified number of civilians. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,
11.27.09 Stocks slip on Dubai debt woes
NEW YORK, November 27 - Worries about Dubai World's reluctance to pay off its debt rattle markets worldwide. Stocks tumbled Friday afternoon as fears about the fallout from Dubai's debt problems rattled Wall Street in a thinly-traded half-day session following Thanksgiving. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) fell 155 points, or 1.5%, after closing Wednesday at a 13-month high. The Dow had lost as much as 233 points in the morning. The S&P 500 (SPX) lost 19 points or 1.7% after closing Wednesday at a 13-month high. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 37 points, or 1.7% after ending Wednesday just short of a 13-month high. All financial markets were closed Thursday for Thanksgiving, and the stock market closed at 1 p.m. Friday. Trading volume was very light with many Wall Street pros taking a five-day weekend. [More>>cnn.com]
11.27.09 Iran denies seizing Nobel medal
November 27 - Iran has denied an accusation by Norway that Tehran has confiscated the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights campaigner, in 2003. Norway's foreign ministry said on Thursday that Ebadi's gold Nobel medal and her award diploma had been removed from her bank box and that her bank account, where the prize money was deposited, had been frozen. Ramin Mehmanparast, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, said: "We are surprised to see Norwegian authorities taking a tendentious stance and in a hasty attitude ignoring laws and rules which are respected by everyone." However, Mehmanparast appeared to implicitly confirm that Ebadi's assets had been frozen for "refusal to pay tax.".
11.27.09 Russia and China demand Iran halt secret nuclear site
November 27 - World powers united in condemnation of Iran's nuclear activities today in a rare show of international consensus on the threat posed by Tehran's continued nuclear defiance. China and Russia joined the United States, Britain, France and Germany in backing an International Atomic Energy Agency resolution censuring Iran and ordering it to halt construction of a secret uranium enrichment plant. The resolution, the first since February 2006, passed with 25 votes and six abstentions. Only Malaysia, Venezuela and Cuba supported Iran.
11.27.09 Russia has assured Iran on missile delivery
MOSCOW (AFP) November 27 - Russia has assured Iran it will honour a deal to supply the Islamic Republic with advanced S-300 air-defence missiles, Tehran's ambassador to Moscow said Friday. "We had heard reports that Russia would not deliver these systems to Iran, but we asked the Russian side and they denied it," Seyed Mahmoud Reza Sajadi told reporters in Moscow. "The delivery deadline has already passed, but the Russian side has cited technical problems which it is working to fix," he added. "We feel that this question will be resolved in the space of one to two months."
11.27.09 Bush, Blair 'signed a deal to topple Saddam a year before War"
LONDON, November 27 - Tony Blair and George W. Bush had signed a "secret deal" to topple Saddam Hussein a year before the US and Britain invaded Iraq, a former high-ranking British diplomat has revealed. According to Sir Christopher Meyer, UK's Ambassador to the US in the run-up to the Iraq War, an agreement to aim for "regime change" was reached between the then British Premier and President Bush during a private meeting at the latter's Crawford ranch in April 2002 in the absence of their advisers. "To this day I am not entirely clear what degree of convergence was, if you like, signed in blood at the Crawford ranch.
11.27.09 IAF kills terrorist in northern Gaza
November 27 - A Palestinian terrorist was killed on Friday morning when the IAF struck a Gaza terror cell preparing to fire rockets into Israel, according to the IDF. In a statement, the army said that the terrorist belonged to the Jaljalatt terror organization, a Salafist movement operating in the Gaza Strip and influenced by al-Qaeda. The IDF said that the rocket launching pad was also hit in the air raid near northern Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp. Gaza emergency services said three others were wounded, one of them seriously. In a statement, the IDF said that it viewed Hamas as being fully responsible for maintaining quiet in the South and that the army would continue to respond severely to any attempt to shatter the calm.
11.27.09 15 terrorists killed in Shakai sector: ISPR report
ISLAMABAD, November 27 - Security forces Friday killed 15 terrorists in operation Rah-e-Nijat in Shakai sector and cleared Narakai after stiff resistance. One soldier was injured in the operation. According to ISPR, in Jandola sector, the security forces cleared village Bangi Wal near Ahmed Wam and village Kuni Mela, Raghazai. The forces also cleared 30 houses in village Haidri Kuch and 50 houses at Kot Raghazai. The security forces recovered [a] huge cache of arms and ammunition during [the] sanitization of Zhawar Killi while [a] clearance operation in Chagh Malai and Tor Mandao is under process. In Shakai sector, the security forces cleared road Sarwekai-Siplatoi and defused 10 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) planted astride the road. In Razmak sector, the security forces conducted [a] clearance operation around Pash, Ziarat, Wachuba and Kot Band Khel and defused nine IEDs.
11.27.09 Governor survives roadside bomb in S. Afghanistan, guard wounded
KABUL, November 27 - The governor of Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar, Toryali Weesa, survived an attempt on his life but one of his body guards sustained injuries as a roadside bomb struck his vehicle Friday, his spokesman Zalmai Ayubi said. "The governor was going towards a mosque to offer Eidul Adha prayer but the mine planted by rebels targeted his motorcade, wounding a bodyguard," Ayubi told newsmen. Taliban elusive leader Mullah Mohammad [Omar] in his message on the eve of Eidul Adha, the Muslims' biggest religious annual festival, rejected any talks with the Afghan government and called on his fighters to intensify attacks against the Afghan and NATO-led troops based in Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghans offered their Eidul Adha prayers amid tight security across the country Friday morning. The militants on Thursday attacked government interest[s] in the northern Baghlan province, claiming [the] killing of four policemen; while officials rejected the claim, saying six militants were killed and eight others sustained injuries in [the] Baghlan-e-Markazi district. [>xinhuanet.com; See related story,
11.27.09 Russia destroys 45% of its chemical weapons
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) November 27 - Russia has destroyed 45% of its chemical weapon stockpiles one month ahead of a deadline under an international pact, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday. The ministry said in a statement: "As of November 26, the Russian Federation has completed the destruction of 17,998.205 [metric] tons, or 45.03% of its chemical weapon stockpiles," in line with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. The ministry said Russia is committed to destroying its entire declared arsenal (39,966 tons) "within a time frame established by the Convention." Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention banning the development, production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of chemical arms in 1993, and ratified it in 1997. The country is set to destroy its entire arsenal by 2012. Russia destroyed 1% of its chemical weapon stockpiles in 2003 and 20% by 2007. [More>>en.rian.ru]
11.27.09 Jump in number of global swine flu deaths
November 27 - The global number of swine flu deaths has jumped by more than 1,000 in a week, latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show. At least 7,826 people are now known to have died following infection with the H1N1 virus since it first emerged in Mexico in April. Europe saw an 85% increase in the week, with the total number of deaths rising from at least 350 to at least 650. However, in most cases the virus continues to produce mild symptoms. An overwhelming majority of patients usually recover, even without medical treatment, within a week.
11.26.09 Dubai debt drags down markets
(AP) November 26 - Stock markets in Europe and Asia tumbled Thursday as investors fretted over the debt problems at Dubai World, a government investment company, and the continuing slide in the dollar, which earlier fell to a 14-year low against the yen. Markets are usually relatively quiet when Wall Street is closed for a holiday, as it is for Thanksgiving Day. Not so Thursday, as the rest of the world digested the stunning news from Dubai that the government's flagship investment company was in financial trouble. European markets followed Asia lower with the FTSE 100 index in London closing down 170.68 points, or 3.2 percent, at 5,194.13, having been out of action earlier for over three hours because of technical problems. Germany's DAX fell 188.85 points, or 3.2 percent, to 5,614.17 while the CAC-40 in France was 129.93 points, or 3.4 percent, lower at 3,679.23.
11.26.09 Pakistan pays reward for Taliban henchman
ISLAMABAD (AFP) November 27 - Pakistan has paid an informer the equivalent of nearly $US120,000 ($128,770) after arresting a lieutenant of the country's Taliban warlord before a major Muslim festival, the military says. It is the first time Pakistan has announced paying a reward since it offered $US5 million ($5.37 million) for information leading to the capture, dead or alive, of Hakimullah Mehsud and 18 lieutenants.
11.26.09 IAEA chief: Iran probe at 'dead end'
VIENNA (AP) November 26 - International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Thursday that his probe of allegations that Iran was trying to produce nuclear arms is at "a dead end" because Teheran is not cooperating. ElBaradei criticized Teheran for not accepting an internationally endorsed plan meant to delay its ability to make such weapons. Confidence in Iran's leaders, he warned, had shrunk in the wake of its belated revelation of a previously secret nuclear facility. The unusually blunt comments appeared to be a reflection of ElBaradei's frustration four days before he ends his tenure leading an agency that has proven unable to overcome Iran's defiance. It has also failed to alleviate international concerns that Teheran may be using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for plans to make weapons. [More>>jpost.com; See related stories (via twitter),
telegraph.co.uk, November 26, "Iran 'tested advanced nuclear warhead design' " : The United Nations nuclear watchdog has demanded that Iran explain evidence indicating that its scientists have experimented with the design of an advanced nuclear warhead, it emerged last night. According to leaked documentation from a dossier compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian scientists may have tested high-explosive components of the design of a secret technology known as a "two-point implosion" device. The technology can enable the building of warheads that are simpler and smaller than older ones.
11.26.09 New spy charge against jailed Iranian-American
CAIRO (AP) November 26 - Iran brought new espionage charges against an Iranian-American scholar who was already convicted of spying and sentenced to 15 years in prison in the country's crackdown following June's disputed presidential election, a human rights group said Thursday. The new charges raise the possibility of a harsher penalty against Kian Tajbakhsh, a 47-year-old scholar who was in Iran working on a book when he was arrested at his home nearly five months ago amid security forces’ postelection sweep against the opposition. Tajbakhsh was among more than 100 people — most of them opposition activists and protesters — brought before a court in a mass trial criticized by the opposition and rights groups as a show trial. He was sentenced last month to 15 years in prison after being convicted of espionage and endangering state security. It is the harshest prison term handed down so far by the court. His family has denied the charges against Tajbakhsh.
11.26.09 Twitter post by Iran Government threatens injury to people in US
November 26 - A post by the government of Iran appears to threaten bodily injury, etc. to people in the US and Europe who sympathize with Iranian election protesters. [See http://iran115.org/blacklist. (link posted to twitter #IranElection); See related stories
The 11.25.09 issue of Maravot News also lists clauses of the Iran Constitution that convey dictatorial power — religious and political — to the Supreme Leader, Khamenei. While Khamenei persecutes Iran's citizens within Iran (in violation of international human rights laws) the new practice of persecuting people beyond Iran's borders, such as currently affecting the US, would seem to involve a graver violation of international laws and in particular US law.
11.26.09 Report: Lebanon says Hezbollah has right to fight Israel
November 26 - Lebanon's newly formed cabinet has agreed on a policy statement that acknowledges Hezbollah's right to use its weapons against Israel, French news agency AFP reported on Thursday. According to the report, Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri said late Wednesday that an agreement had been reached after a cabinet committee set up to draft the statement met for the ninth time. Mitri said the new statement will retain the same clause regarding Hezbollah's arsenal that was approved by the previous cabinet. The clause states the right of "Lebanon, its government, its people, its army and its resistance" to liberate all Lebanese territory. Hezbollah, which fought against Israel in 2006, is considered a terrorist organization by Washington. [More>>haaretz.com]
11.26.09 Indonesian government plans to rehabilitate 2.5 million hectares of forest
JAKARTA, November 26 - Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan says the government will rehabilitate 2.5 million hectares of critical forest area over the next five years through a program that involves local residents. Under the community forest program, a family will be granted the right to manage up to 15 hectares of forest area for a maximum 35 years. The family will be allowed to cultivate plants of their choice, including rubber trees.“In the past a resident could control millions of hectare of forest, which certainly defies the sense of justice,” Zulkilfi said as quoted by Antara. The government will also provide [a] forest rehabilitation fund to help the residents manage the forest, Zulkifli said "Through the program we aim to rehabilitate forest and improve the welfare of people living near the forest," he added. The government estimates about 16,000 families live near forest areas across the country. [>thejakartapost.com]
11.26.09 Blair took UK into war knowing Iraq had no WMD: Report
LONDON, November 26 - Former Prime Minister Tony Blair led Britain into the Iraq war even as he was told that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, an inquiry into the 2003 conflict was informed. Blair received intelligence that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction had been "dismantled" 10 days before Britain invaded Iraq, the inquiry into the controversial war has been told. The British Foreign Office did not believe Iraq had nuclear missiles, but Blair told parliament that Saddam was a threat to security in the Middle East because he still had chemical and biological weapons which could be launched at 45 minutes' notice. The staff warned that the Iraqi dictator's nuclear programme had been dismantled and there was no evidence he had chemical or biological weapons. However, despite the briefings, the then Prime Minister ordered the troops to join the American-led offensive six years ago, the Daily Express reported. [More.>indianexpress.com]
11.26.09 Bomb blasts in Iraq claim lives
November 26 - At least five people have been killed in a series of bomb attacks near the Iraqi capital as the country prepares to celebrate the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha. Two homemade bombs exploded in a crowded market in Mussayib, 60km south of Baghdad, at 11am local time (08:00 GMT) on Thursday, killing two people and wounding 28 others, including women and children. In a separate incident, a car bomb went off at a taxi and a bus station in Yusufiya, also south of Baghdad, killing one man and injuring 10 others, police said. Elsewhere, a magnetic bomb attached to a car exploded as the vehicle was moving on a highway towards the east of Baghdad, killing two people and injuring six others.
11.26.09 Fighting Afghan Taliban by Islamic credit union
LASHKARGAH, Afghanistan (Reuters) November 26 - After the Taliban made nine threatening phone calls and fired a Kalashnikov outside his house, Shah Mohammad Mir left his hometown for months before returning with a new car and a new telephone number. His crime was lending tiny amounts of money to farmers with as few as five sheep or to women who embroider traditional fabric for a few dollars a month. Mir is director of the Helmand Islamic Investment and Finance Corporation, an Islamic credit union funded by Britain which is part of a larger civilian effort to turn the population in Helmand away from the Taliban and into work.