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

2008 update (10.14.08)

The Chart Showing the National Debt above is far more than projected, of about $11.3 trillion. See "The debt to the penny," publicdebt.treas.gov.
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12.04.08 India has proof of ISI role in Mumbai attacks: Sources

NEW DELHI, December 4 - India has proof that the inter Services Intelligence was involved in planning the Mumbai terror attacks and training the terrorists who killed more than 180 people during a 60-hour siege of the country's financial capital, sources said in New Delhi on Thursday. ( Watch ) The names of trainers and the places where meticulous training took place are also known to the government, the sources said. The United States is believed to have even more evidence, some of which it has shared with India, they said...During a telephone conversation Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the Mumbai attack, President Asif Zardari had referred to an earlier Pakistani proposal for a meeting between the ISI chief and the head of India's external intelligence agency, RAW.

Singh told Zardari that this was acceptable to India, after which Pakistan government had announced that the ISI head would travel to India. After a post-midnight call on Zardari by Army chief Gen. Ashfaque Kayani this decision was reversed with the President taking cover under a "miscommunication" with the Indian prime minister. Instead it was decided to depute a Director-level officer to India. When the terror attack took place Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in India and had consciously decided not to cut short his visit. However, the Indian government was told at 2.30 am that a special aircraft was being sent less than 4 hours later to take him back to Pakistan.
[Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories:

indianexpress.com, December 4, "SIM cards used in Mumbai attack bought from Kolkata" : MUMBAI - Ten SIM cards were bought a month back from three different locations in Kolkata and sent to Pakistan via Bangladesh out of which three were used by Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists in the audacious Mumbai attack, investigations have revealed. The SIM cards were purchased from Park Street and 24 Parganas (South) including Maheshtala in the name of Hossain-ur-Rahman and smuggled out of the country through Indo-Bangladesh border and then to Pakistan, official sources said. The buyer of the pre-paid SIM cards had submitted forged election identity card as proof of residence bearing [an] address as Bashirhat, near the Indo-Bangla border, they said, adding the agencies were trying to locate [the] remaining seven SIM cards.

The Mumbai police and security agencies had recovered five SIM cards from the 10 terrorists involved in the November 26 attack at various places in Mumbai that left over 180 people dead and over 300 injured. The pre-paid SIM cards
two from Delhi and three from West Bengal were purchased only a month back and credited with Rs 5,000 each, the sources said. Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman, the lone arrested terrorist, has told interrogators that right through the strikes, the LeT headquarters in Pakistan, remained very much in touch with them, frequently calling their mobile phones via a Voice-Over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), the codes of which were being deciphered by the FBI and Scotland Yard teams, camping in Mumbai. [end]

independent.co.uk, December 4, "Mumbai gunman tells of 'martyrdom' deal" : The sole surviving gunman from Mumbai's terror attacks has told interrogators that the militants who recruited him promised to pay his family £850 in compensation for his "martyrdom." He has also reportedly revealed that the attacks that resulted in the deaths of at least 170 people were masterminded by two known militant leaders based in Pakistan. The 21-year-old gunman, identified as either Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab or Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman, was apparently told that his family in Pakistan would receive the cash after his death. If true, it confirms that the 10 militants involved in the operation knew it was a suicide mission.

The latest revelations, made by Indian police to the Associated Press, came as airports in India were put on high alert after the authorities said they had received new warnings of fresh possible attacks from the air. The alert warned of possible airborne strikes on three major airports
Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai but security was stepped up across the country. No details about the threat were released. "This is a warning which we have received. We are prepared as usual," said the country's air force chief, Fali Homi Major...

nytimes.com, December 4, "More Mumbai links to Pakistan and signs of hostage abuse" : ...In Mumbai, Rakesh Maria, India's joint commissioner of police, said that the second Lashkar-e-Taiba military commander who helped engineer the attacks was Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Mr. Maria said that the surviving attacker, 21-year-old Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, identified Mr. Lakhvi and said he helped indoctrinate all the attackers...Mr. Maria also said that it was believed that the attackers were in contact with Mr. Lakhvi on their journey from Karachi to Mumbai by sea and may have been during the attacks as well. Indian and American intelligence officials have already identified another Lashkar-e-Taiba operative, Yusuf Muzammil, as a mastermind of the attacks, and said he was in contact by satellite phone with the attackers during their journey.

...The suspected collaborator, Faheem Ahmed Ansari, was arrested on Feb. 10 in Rampur in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh a in connection with gun and grenade attack on New Year's Eve on a police camp. He was arrested with two others; all three are suspected members of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Mr. Ansari told police interrogators in Uttar Pradesh that from fall 2007 to February 2008, he had been in Mumbai scoping out possible targets for the guerrilla group, including the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the old Victoria rail station. The Uttar Pradesh police said that Mr. Ansari was arrested after he returned to Rampur to pick up weapons left behind from the New Year's Eve attack and take them to Mumbai for use in a later operation...

12.04.08 Putin rules out Russian military bases in Cuba, Venezuela

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) December 4 - Russia sees no need to set up permanent military bases in Venezuela or Cuba, but could use their military infrastructure, the prime minister said on Thursday. (Why has Russia sent warships to Venezuela? - poll) "There is no need to build permanent bases, although we have such agreements with the Venezuelan leadership. I do not think the Cuban leadership would object either. If necessary, we will be able to use these countries' ports to refuel and replenish supplies for our warships," Vladimir Putin said during a televised question-and-answer session. He said Russia also has several such agreements with other countries. [More>>en.rian.ru]

12.04.08 Two suicide bombers strike Fallujah

BAGHDAD (AP) December 4 - Two suicide bombers in explosives-laden trucks took aim at police stations in the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah on Thursday, killing at least 10 people and wounding more than 100, Iraqi officials said. The apparently coordinated blasts struck within minutes of each other outside the concrete barriers surrounding two police stations in different sections of Fallujah. A senior Iraqi police officer in Fallujah says a police station in the northern part of the city was leveled and several nearby houses were heavily damaged. A police station in central Fallujah was also struck, he said. [More>>gulfnews.com; See also:

khaleejtimes.com (AFP) December 4, "Two US soldiers killed by car bomb in Iraq" : MOSUL, Iraq - Two US soldiers were killed and nine Iraqis wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded in the northern city of Mosul on Thursday, the US military said. Iraqi police Lieutenant Colonel Zakariah al-Juburi said two Iraqi policemen were wounded in the blast, which targeted an American patrol. The US military considers the volatile city to be the last urban stronghold of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has been driven out of vast swathes of the country by US and Iraq forces, including allied local Sunni militias. At least 4,209 US soldiers have died in Iraq since the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, according to an AFP count based on the independent website www.icasualties.org...

12.04.08 Two Danish soldiers killed in Afghanistan

COPENHAGEN, December 4 - Two Danish soldiers serving with NATO's force in Afghanistan were killed Thursday in the southern part of the country, the Danish military said in a statement. The soldiers were killed when clashes erupted with enemy forces while they were on patrol about eight kilometers (five miles) south of the town of Gereshk in the Helmand province, the statement said. The deaths bring to 18 the number of Danish troops killed in the country since Copenhagen deployed soldiers there as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in 2001 -- one of the highest per-capita death tolls among coalition forces. Denmark currently has some 700 troops in Afghanistan, most of whom are stationed in the Helmand province under British command. [>thenews.com.pk; See related story:

khaleejtimes.com (AFP) December 4, "Double suicide attacks kill five in Afghanistan" : KABUL - Two suicide attacks against a counter narcotics office and the intelligence agency Thursday killed at least five people and wounded ten others in eastern Afghanistan, an official said. A suicide attacker rammed his explosives-laden Toyota pick up truck into the entrance of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Khost city, the capital of Khost province, killing two agency employees...Separately, another suicide bomber wearing an Afghan army uniform and carrying an AK-47 machine gun tried to get into the adjacent counter narcotics building but was stopped by police guards who shot at him, he said...

12.04.08 Italy's Northern League seeks a ban on mosques

CAIRO, December 4 - Fears mosques because they're "springing up like mushrooms." Fears mosques because they're "springing up like mushrooms." The demand for blocking mosque building comes as a reaction to the recent arrest of two men suspected for planning attacks in Milan, Italy's northern financial hub. La Stampa, a local Italian newspaper quoted Maroni on Thursday stating that "Islamist terrorism" runs deep in Italy and must be stamped out. "These arrests show that Islamist terrorism is entrenched in Italy, and that we must be vigilant," Maroni told the paper. "Unfortunately it is not easy to distinguish between places of worship and those that recruit terrorists and finance the planning of attacks," he added...Italy has a growing Muslim population of 1.2 million including immigrants and converts. There are 258 mosques in Italy and 628 Islamic associations according to Imam Muhammed Abdel Fatah from Milan. {Full story>>alarabiya.net]

12.04.08 UK: House prices fall at fastest pace in 25 years

December 4 - British house prices tumbled at a record 16.1 per cent in November, marking the sharpest drop in property values for a quarter of a century. Figures released this morning by Halifax revealed that prices fell 2.6 per cent in November compared with October, and are 16.1 per cent lower than in November 2007. The year-on-year decline is deeper than falls recorded during the last recession in the early 1990s, and is the biggest drop since 1983.

The shock fall emerged just hours before the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) cut the interest rate again by 1 per cent to 2 per cent, after last month reducing borrowing costs by 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent. The reduction is likely to be accompanied by a rate cut by the European Central Bank, which is predicted to fall by 50 basis points in the 15-nation eurozone. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

12.04.08 49 arrested for 'satanic' clothes

TEHRAN (Reuters) December 4 - Police have arrested 49 people this week in a northern Iranian city during a crackdown on "satanic" clothes, according to an IRNA news agency report. The measures are the latest in a country-wide campaign against Western cultural influence in the Islamic Republic, where strict dress codes are enforced...It includes measures against men sporting spiky "Western" hairstyles or women wearing tight trousers and high boots. Women are supposed to wear clothing that covers their hair and disguises the shape of their bodies [Full story>>news.com.au]

12.04.08 Treasury weighs action on mortgage rates

December 4 - Intervention would aim to buoy the housing market by forcing down the cost of loans. The Treasury Department is strongly considering a plan to intervene directly in the mortgage industry to dramatically force down rates and stimulate the moribund housing market, according to sources familiar with the proposal. Under the initiative, the Treasury would offer to buy securities that finance newly issued loans for home purchases, according to the sources. But to participate in the government's program, mortgage lenders would have to set exceptionally low interest rates, for instance, no more than 4.5 percent for traditional, 30-year fixed-rate loans.

These securities would be purchased primarily from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the financing giants that buy most mortgages from US lenders, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been finalized. The cost of the plan and source of funding remain unclear. One possibility is for the Treasury to raise money by issuing bonds to the public at 3 percent interest. This could allow the government to turn a profit because it would be buying securities that pay 4.5 percent.

12.04.08 Stocks tumble ahead of jobs report

NEW YORK, December 4 - Stocks tumbled Thursday as a rash of job cuts at major companies added to jitters ahead of the November jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) ended down 215 points, recovering from a decline of as much as 332 points earlier in the afternoon. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index fell 2.9% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) retreated 3.1%. Stocks seesawed through the morning, but turned lower in the last hour of the session. Wall Street has been reversing direction fairly regularly in the last hour of trading each day. "It's the 3 o'clock shuffle," said Joseph Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading. He said that with the uncertainty about the automakers and the worry about the November jobs report due Friday, investors would rather back out of stocks. [More>>cnn.com]

12.03.08 Rice in India to ease tension as police find 2 Mumbai bombs

MUMBAI, India, December 3 - As the United States tried to calm tensions between India and Pakistan on Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressured Pakistan to cooperate fully in the effort to track down those responsible for the bloody attacks in Mumbai last week. Also on Wednesday, two “fully functional” bombs were found and defused at a major Mumbai train station that had reopened days earlier, a Mumbai police official announced. The discovery raised terrifying questions about why the authorities had failed to find it all this time. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people marched through Mumbai, both mourning the at least 173 dead and protesting the failures of Indian politicians and security services to protect citizens.

Ms. Rice's visit to New Delhi to meet Indian leaders on Wednesday was part of a two-pronged American diplomatic effort, with Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, flying to Islamabad to talk to Pakistani officials. Ms. Rice strove to balance demands on both countries. She said that Pakistan had a “special responsibility” to cooperate with India and help prevent attacks in the future, here and elsewhere. At the same time, she warned India against hasty reaction that would yield what she called “unintended consequences.”
[More>>nytimes.com; See related stories:

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, December 3, "US sets stage for strikes if Pakistan does not act" : WASHINGTON: The United States has set the stage for punitive internationally-backed strikes by India against terrorist camps in Pakistan if Islamabad does not act first to dismantle them by rejecting President Zardari's alibi that non-state actors were responsible for the last week's carnage in Mumbai. The game-changer, outlined by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others, robs Islamabad of the fig leaf that Zardari used in his interview on Larry King Live that "stateless actors" are holding the whole world hostage and Pakistan was not to blame. Rice said in effect that the excuse does not absolve Pakistan responsibility for terrorist acts that originate from its territory,“ Rice said...

indianexpress.com, December 3, "WMD attack on US may originate in Pakistan: Report" : WASHINGTON - Pakistan is the weakest link in world security and the next Terror attack in the US will originate in that country, said a high-powered bipartisan US Congressional commission, adding it is the 'intersection of nuclear weapons and terrorism.'

"Were one to map terrorism and weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan," the report 'World at Risk' said while devoting a whole chapter on the Islamic country. "Although Pakistan is an ally of [the] US there is a grave danger it could also be an unwitting source of a terrorist attack on the United States, possibly with weapons of mass destruction," the report said. The Commission was chaired by former US Senator Bob Graham and included Wendy Sherman, a former senior Clinton Administation official, who is now the chair of the foreign policy transition team of the incoming Obama Administration...

12.03.08 Five killed in Pakistan suicide bombing

ISLAMABAD, December 3 - At least five people were killed and four others injured on Wednesday when a suicide bomber targeted a truck carrying paramilitary personnel in Pakistan's troubled northwestern region, hours after the arrest of four Taliban militants in the region during a search operation. The suicide attacker blew himself up near a truck of the Frontier Corps in Charsadda district of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), TV channels reported. Most of the five dead were security personnel while all the injured belonged to the Frontier Corps, which is battling Taliban militants in the region.

Troops blocked traffic on roads and a curfew was imposed in the area after the attack, the latest in a wave of suicide bombings witnessed across Pakistan since last year. The suicide bombing came hours after troops arrested four Taliban militants, including two commanders, during a search operation in Charsadda district. In the restive Swat valley of NWFP, security forces arrested 15 militants and demolished the homes of two rebel commanders in Kabal sub-district after the Taliban ambushed an army convoy in the area. A military spokesman said troops launched an operation after the ambush, in which a security personnel was killed and two others were injured.

12.03.08 Nations sign cluster-bomb ban; US, Russia refuse

OSLO, Norway, December 3 - Afghanistan unexpectedly joined dozens of nations signing a treaty banning cluster bombs in an effort that supporters hope will shame the US, Russia and China and other non-signers into abandoning weapons blamed for maiming and killing civilians. Activists welcomed the change in policy from the war-torn nation, which appeared to have been swayed by a teenager who lost his legs to a cluster bomb and lobbied the Afghan delegation to sign the treaty. "It is just so huge to get this turnaround. Afghanistan was under a lot of pressure from the United States," said Thomas Nash, coordinator of The Cluster Bomb Coalition. "If Afghanistan can withstand the pressure, so can others." [More>>washingtonpost.com]

12.03.08 Bomb blast outside Iraqi school kills 4, wounds 12

BAGHDAD, December 2 - A bomb planted in a marketplace next to a primary school killed four people and wounded 12 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday, police said, adding that some school children were among the wounded. Militants loaded a wooden cart with explosives and placed it in the market in the north of the city. It was detonated as some children were leaving school and walking past the market on their way home, police said. Four adults in the market were killed. [More>>gulfnews.com]

12.03.08 Oil may fall to single digit, warns economist

MANAMA, December 3 - The steep fall in oil prices due to the ongoing economic crisis could result in drastically low oil prices ranging between $15-$20 per barrel or even a single-digit per barrel. The worst-case scenario will remind us of the situation of the 1990s Asian crisis, a senior economist warned yesterday. Simon Williams, chief economist, Gulf markets at HSBC, in a briefing titled "Shelter from the Storm," held yesterday at the Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain, said oil was the bedrock of the regional economies.

"The Gulf is still digesting the oil price shock as the shift to a new oil price equilibrium has fundamentally changed the Gulf as an economic story. Here everything is directly or indirectly linked to the hydrocarbon industry, and if falling oil prices touched its lowest then everything will be at a grinding halt..."[More>>arabnews.com]

12.03.08 Ahmadinejad: Iranian economy in danger

TEHRAN (AP) December 3 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted Wednesday as saying that Iran will be forced to trim spending and generous subsidies and raise taxes. It's a sensitive admission for the Iranian president, who is seeking re-election in June. Oil prices have plunged from $147 a barrel in July to under $50, adding to the pain of Iran's rising inflation and unemployment. Wednesday's IRNA report quoted Ahmadinejad as saying the government budget would have to be readjusted to base it on an oil price of around $30 a barrel.

Last month, Ahmadinejad defended his unpopular economic policies, rejecting a letter signed by 60 Iranian economists that blamed him for skyrocketing inflation, state-run media reported. Several newspapers had published the letter from the independent economists that said Ahmadinejad's "tension-making interaction with the outside world" has deprived the country of foreign investments and his policies have caused Iran's inflation rate to reach 30 percent. In response, Ahmadinejad had criticized those in Iran who he said are trying to push for American economic polices in the Islamic republic. He was not specific.

12.03.08 Protesters abandon airports

December 3 - The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) officially returned Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports to authorities on Wednesday morning, after its supporters occupied the compounds and halted their operations for a week. The PAD officially ended its anti-government protests at 10am Wednesday while many supporters were starting to pack up and leave both airports. The group previously arranged activities to celebrate the Constitution Court's verdict to dissolve the People Power party (PPP) together with its two coalition partners, Chart Thai and Matchimathipataya, for election fraud. The movement's cofounder, Chamlong Srimuang, hugged and shook hands with the chief of the airport authority at Suvarnabhumi before bowing down in front of a portrait of Thailand's much-revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej. More than 350,000 travellers have been left stranded by the chaos. [More>>bangkokpost.net]

12.03.08 Oman issues law to fight human trafficking

MUSCAT (Reuters) December 3 - Oman's sultan has created a law against human trafficking, an official at the royal court said on Wednesday, five months after a US report said the Gulf Arab state was failing to stop "modern day slavery." Under Sultan Qaboos bin Said's new law, people convicted of human trafficking can now face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 rials ($260,000), the official told Reuters. There was previously no law against human trafficking.

Earlier this year, Oman formally protested against a US State Department report that ranked the sultanate, along with fellow Gulf states Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, among the worst in failing to combat human trafficking. Human rights groups say migrant labourers going to work in Gulf Arab states face serious abuses, such as having their passports confiscated by employers, or being recruited under false pretences.

Since the 1970s expatriate workers have formed the backbone of the economies of US-allied Gulf Arab states such as Oman. Foreigners comprise about a quarter of Oman's 2.8 million population. They make up about a third of Saudi Arabia's population, about two-thirds of that of Kuwait and more than 80 percent in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Last month, the United Arab Emirates uncovered a people smuggling ring involved in transporting people from Asia to Europe. In 2007, Dubai police cracked a prostitution network involving 170 women from East Asia. In 2006, the UAE passed the Arab world's first law aimed at combating trade in people, with penalties ranging from five years to life in jail. In January, Bahrain, which has a free trade pact with Washington, issued its own law.

12.03.08 New species of giant pterosaur discovered

December 3 - A new species of pterosaurs which had a wingspan the size of a family car has been uncovered by scientists. A researcher at the University of Portsmouth has identified the new species, the largest of its kind, which would have flown in the skies above Brazil 115 million years ago. Mark Witton was able to estimate from a partial skull fossil that the pterosaur would have had a wingspan of five metres (16.4ft) and would have been more than one metre (39 inches) tall at the shoulder. The fossil is the first example of a chaoyangopteridae, a group of toothless pterosaurs, to be found outside China and is the largest one ever discovered. Mr. Witton said: "Some of the previous examples we have from this family in China are just 60 centimetres (2ft) long as big as the skull of the new species..." [More>>independent.co.uk]

12.03.08 It took 90 minutes for Daily News to 'steal' the Empire State Building

December 2 - In one of the biggest heists in American history, the Daily News "stole" the $2 billion Empire State Building. And it wasn't that hard. The News swiped the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper by drawing up a batch of bogus documents, making a fake notary stamp and filing paperwork with the city to transfer the deed to the property. Some of the information was laughable: Original "King Kong" star Fay Wray is listed as a witness and the notary shared a name with bank robber Willie Sutton.

The massive ripoff illustrates a gaping loophole in the city's system for recording deeds, mortgages and other transactions. The loophole: The system
run by the office of the city register doesn't require clerks to verify the information. Less than 90 minutes after the bogus documents were submitted on Monday, the agency rubber-stamped the transfer from Empire State Land Associates to Nelots Properties LLC. Nelots is "stolen" spelled backward. (The News returned the property Tuesday.)

"Crooks go where the money is. That's why Willie Sutton robbed banks, and this is the new bank robbery," said Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, who is prosecuting several deed fraud cases. Of course, stealing the Empire State Building wouldn't go unnoticed for long, but it shows how easy it is for con artists to swipe more modest buildings right out from under their owners. Armed with a fraudulent deed, they can take out big mortgages and disappear, leaving a mess for property owners, banks and bureaucrats. [More>>nydailynews.com; See also:

Independent.co.uk, December 3, "Newspaper steals Empire State Building"
: ...Unlike the thieves, the News did not obtain a mortgage on the Empire State Building and simply returned the property to its rightful owners yesterday, less than 24 hours after the fake deed was filed. In October, a forensic accountant with Navigant Consulting claimed mortgage lenders could have up to £17 billion of fraudulent loans on their books in the UK. Paul Doxey and other experts told Channel 4 News there had been a boom in fake applications over recent years, involving the purchase of as many as 60,000 properties...

12.02.08 India demands Pakistan hand over terror suspects

MUMBAI, India (AP) December 2 - India demanded that Pakistan hand over suspected terrorists believed living in the country including its most-wanted man as diplomatic wrangling between the nuclear rivals intensified Tuesday following the deadly Mumbai attacks. A list of about 20 names was given to Pakistan's high commissioner to India during a meeting Monday night, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters...India's foreign intelligence agency received information as recently as September that Pakistan-based terrorists were plotting attacks against Mumbai targets, according to a government intelligence official familiar with the matter. [Full story>>thejakartapost.com]

12.02.08 More deaths in Karachi violence

December 2 - At least four people have been killed in renewed clashes in Karachi between Urdu-speakers and Pashtuns from northwest Pakistan. Waseem Ahmed, the city police chief, said the four were killed in different incidents in the early hours of Tuesday but the city had been mostly calm since then. "There has been no major incident since the morning," Ahmed told Reuters news agency. The clashes broke out on Saturday, leaving at least 40 people killed and dozens more injured, according to police and hospitals. Rivals fought gun battles and burned shops and cars in several parts of the city over the weekend.

...Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister, has raised the possibility of Indian instigation of the violence in Karachi as a response to last week's assault in Mumbai, which New Delhi has linked to Islamabad, although the government has not suggested any link. Sharif said he was surprised by the timing of the Karachi violence. "The killings in Karachi erupted suddenly after the Mumbai incident," Sharif told reporters. "I'm surprised how it erupted all of a sudden ... I think this needs to be looked in to thoroughly, which forces are involved in it." [Full story>>aljazeera.net]

12.02.08 Six militants killed in Swat skirmishes

SWAT, Pakistan, December 2 - At least six militants were killed and another two injured while a security personnel [was] martyred in sporadic clashes between law enforcers and miscreants in Kabal area of restive Swat district on Tuesday. The security sources told media that the security forces engaged militants at restive Cham Dewali area of Kabal Tehsil that left six militants dead and two injured.

The clashes started when militants ambushed a convoy of security forces at Cham in Deoloai area as a result of which one security man embraced Shahadat while in retaliation fire a militant was killed and two injured. The injured were immediately rushed to hospitals. Soon after the ambush, the security officials cordoned off the entire areas and started search operation.

12.02.08 Somali leaders accuse Islamists of piracy

December 2 - Somali president Abdullah Yusuf said he is willing to open territorial waters to Saudi and Yemeni forces to help release captured ships and accused Somali Islamist militants of carrying out piracy operations in an interview with AlArabiya.net. Yusuf expressed his sorrow for the capture of the Saudi and Yemeni ships and vowed to exert the utmost effort to secure their release. He accompanied the Yemeni ambassador, Ahmed Omar, to Puntland's capital Garowe to demand the release of the Yemeni ship anchored in Eyl.

The president accused the Shabab movement, an offshoot of the Council of Islamic Courts, and other Islamist militants of carrying out piracy operations in order to buy more weapons and "spread chaos and kill innocents." The groups—funded by al-Qaeda and other groups in Arab and foreign countries—are terrorizing people in the southern areas under their control and imposing compulsory taxes, said Yusuf, adding that they also have connections with international pirates. He urged countries whose vessels were hijacked not to give in to pressure from pirates and called upon countries bordering the Red Sea to take steps to stop piracy since they are the most affected.

12.02.08 Islamic cleric jailed again in Britain

LONDON, December 2 - A panel of immigration judges ordered the immediate return to prison on Tuesday of a radical Islamic preacher known as Abu Qatada, dubbed by Britain's tabloid newspapers as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe." The judges accepted warnings from the Home Office, Britain's Interior Ministry, that the cleric, a 47-year-old Jordanian of Palestinian origin, might attempt to flee if he were allowed to remain on the bail granted to him five months ago.

The ruling by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission was the latest development in a legal battle that goes back to 1993, when the preacher, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, arrived in Britain on a forged United Arab Emirates passport. He won asylum for himself and his family nine months later, but attracted the attention of the counterterrorism police about seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by al-Qaeda in New York and Washington. In February 2001, Mr. Othman was questioned by the police on suspicion of links to radical Islamist cells in Germany. The courts have been told that tapes of his sermons in British mosques were found in a Hamburg apartment used by some of the Sept. 11 hijackers. [More>>nytimes.com]

12.02.08 World stocks tumble as economic fears deepen

LONDON, December 2 - World stock markets tumbled Tuesday, dragged down by heavy losses the previous day on Wall Street after the United States confirmed it was in recession and a raft of grim data suggested worse lay around the corner. A steep interest rate cut by Australia's central bank and fresh steps by Japan to tackle the credit crunch failed to soothe investor fears. Stocks slumped in Asia, with Tokyo closing down 6.35 percent, Hong Kong sliding 5.0 percent, Seoul shedding 3.3 percent and Sydney sliding 4.2. In early European trade, London was down 1.43 percent, Frankfurt lost 1.60 percent and Paris fell 1.41. "We believe that last week's stock rally went too far and markets were ripe for a correction," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, chief investment strategist at CFC Seymour in Hong Kong. [More>>turkishpress.com; See update,

cnn.com, December 2, "Stocks rally after retreat"
: NEW YORK - Wall Street recharged the rally Tuesday afternoon at the end of a volatile session as investors welcomed signs that the automakers might get a bailout after all. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) gained 3.3%. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index added 4% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) climbed 3.7%. Stocks rallied sharply through the early afternoon, cut gains, and then recharged the advance through the close. The automakers were in focus throughout the session, releasing monthly sales results and also submitting their bailout plans to Congress. After having been rebuffed last month, the automakers are again seeking access to billions in taxpayer money...

12.02.08 Britain's most pathetic Christmas tree in County Durham

December 2 - Britain's most pathetic Christmas tree has been unveiled at a shopping centre in County Durham. The forlorn and threadbare tree at the Castle Dene Shopping Centre in Peterlee is decorated with just a dozen multicolored lights. Shopping centre bosses were dismayed when the tree arrived just hours before pop star Natasha Hamilton, a singer with girl band Atomic Kitten and now a solo artist, switched on the Christmas lights. Since it was too late to send it back, they could only look on with gritted teeth as Miss Hamilton wowed the crowds with a string of hits in front of the tree.

The tree was then exiled to the town centre's Yoden Way where its appearance was further diminished by the cold and wet weather. One shopper said: "It's the worst Christmas tree in the county. I feel like going to Wilkinson's and buying some tinsel and decorating the tree myself." Local councillor Joan Maslin said she had been inundated with complaints from residents of the town about the state of the tree. "I would describe this tree as just like a twig. To be honest, it looks like something that people would throw in a skip after Christmas," she said.

12.02.08 Iraq's 'Chemical Ali' gets second death sentence

BAGHDAD (Reuters) December 2 - An Iraqi court sentenced Saddam Hussein's cousin ‘Chemical Ali’ to death on Tuesday for crushing a Shi'ite revolt after the 1991 Gulf War. It was the second death sentence to be handed down against Ali Hassan al-Majeed, who earned his nickname for his role in using poison gas against Kurdish villages. He was first condemned to be hanged last year for the killing of tens of thousands of Kurds in the 1980s, but that sentence was held up by political wrangling. Judge Mohammad al-Uraibi also sentenced a former top Baath party official, Abdul Ghani Abdul Ghafour, to hang for his involvement in the crackdown on Shi'ites in the south, and 10 others to sentences ranging from 15 years to life in prison. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

12.02.08 Two terror suspects arrested in Milan

ROME, December 2 - Italian police on Tuesday arrested two men in Milan suspected of preparing attacks on civilian and military targets in and around the northern city, according to a spokesman for the prosecutors. The pair "took part in planning attacks against civilian and military targets," the spokesman told AFP, adding that their arrest warrant had been issued by anti-terrorist investigators. The ANSA news agency said the two men were from Morocco, naming them as Rachid Ilhami, 31, and Gafir Abdelkader, 42...ANSA said the two were planning attacks on a supermarket in Seregno, north of Milan, and a police barracks and an immigration office in Milan.

About 10 people implicated in the investigation whose telephones were tapped revealed al-Qaeda sympathies during their conversations, the news agency said. Others have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to a logistical cell or having recruited suicide bombers to carry out attacks in the Middle East...
[Full story>>turkishpress.com]

12.01.08 Asian markets fall on outlook for China, US

(AP) December 1 - Most Asian stock markets fell Monday on signs that the US holiday shopping season got off to a tepid start over the key Thanksgiving weekend. Major European markets opened lower. Investors seemed to want a breather to reassess after rallies in global markets last week, including the first five-day advance for Wall Street since July 2007. Some traders wanted to hold back ahead of the Institute for Supply Management's November manufacturing survey due later Monday for further clues about the strength of the US economy, a vital export market. Investors are bracing for more bad news about the US economy, said Tsuyoshi Nomaguchi, a strategist for Daiwa Securities in Tokyo. "They aren't sure what they're supposed to do at this point," he said.

India's benchmark Sensex index reversed early gains, falling 2.9 percent to 8,829.76 in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that left 172 people dead. In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average lost 115.05 points, or 1.4 percent, to close at 8,397.22 after advancing 7.6 percent last week. Investors sold exporters as the yen strengthened, which erodes their overseas earnings. Markets in South Korea, Australia and Singapore also fell. Bucking the trend were Hong Kong and mainland China...
[More>>thejakartapost.com; See related stories:

timesonline.co.uk, December 1, "London Scottish Bank collapses" : London Scottish Bank, the lender which specialises in customers with poor credit histories, plunged into administration this morning after regulators stopped the group from accepting customer deposits. In a statement, LSB said it had sought an administration order yesterday and that Ernst & Young had been appointed as administrator. London Scottish specialises in offering fixed-rate savings accounts and loans to customers with poor credit histories. With around 10,000 savers, the bank has some £250 million in customer deposits and employs around 700 people...

nytimes.com, December 1, "It's official: Recession started one year ago" : It's official: for the last year, the United States economy has been in recession. The evidence of a downturn has been widespread for months: slower production, stagnant wages and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs. But the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research, charged with making the call for the history books, waited until now to weigh in. In a statement released Monday, the members of the group's Business Cycle Dating Committee — made up of seven prominent economists, most from the academic sector — said that the economy entered a recession in December 2007.

"A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in production, employment, real income, and other indicators," the members said in a statement. "A recession begins when the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends when the economy reaches its trough." The committee noted that the contraction in the labor market began in the first month of 2008 and said that the declines in most major indicators, like personal income, manufacturing activity, retail sales, and industrial production, "met the standard for a recession."

"Many of these indicators, including monthly data on the largest component of G.D.P., consumption, have declined sharply in recent months," they wrote. The announcement came as the stock market fell sharply, its first decline in five sessions. The Dow Jones industrial average was off more than 500 points or 5.8 percent in the last hour. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index was down 6.9 percent...

12.01.08 Muslims condemn Mumbai attacks, worry about image

MUMBAI, India, December 1 - Muslims around the world, from the Middle East to communities in Britain and Austria, on Sunday condemned the Mumbai shooting rampage by suspected Islamic militants as senseless terrorism, but also found themselves on the defensive once again about bloodshed linked to their religion. Intellectuals and community leaders called for greater efforts to combat religious fanaticism. The gunmen's motives were still unknown Sunday, four days after they unleashed their grisly attacks on 10 targets, including a Jewish community center and luxury hotels in Mumbai, India's commercial hub. More than 170 people were killed in the three-day assault. But regardless of whether assailants were part of al-Qaeda's global jihad or of the India-Pakistan dispute over the Kashmir region, many Muslims said they are worried such carnage is besmirching their religion.

"The occupation of the synagogue and killing people in hotels tarnishes the Muslim faith," said Kazim al-Muqdadi, a political science lecturer at Baghdad University. “Anyone who slaughters people and screams 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Great) is sick and ignorant." In Britain, home to nearly two million Muslims, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, Inayat Bunglawala, said that "a handful of terrorists like this bring the entire faith into disrepute."

...Indian police said Sunday that the only surviving gunman told them he belongs to the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. The group is seen as a creation of Pakistani intelligence to help fight India in the disputed Kashmir region. Another group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, has also operated in Kashmir. Both are reported to be linked to al-Qaeda...In Islamic extremist Web forums, some praised the Mumbai attacks, including the targeting of Jews..A man identified as Sheik Youssef al-Ayeri said the killings are in line with Islam. “It's all right for Muslims to set the infidels’ castles on fire, drown them with water .... and take some of them as prisoners, whether young or old, women or men, because it is one of many ways to beat them,” he wrote in the al-Fallujah forum. In the Gaza Strip, the territory's Islamic militant Hamas rulers declined comment.
[Full story>>japantoday.com; See related stories:

xinhuanet.com, December 1, "News Analysis: Mumbai attacks reveal deep-rooted conflicts in India" :NEW DELHI - The latest attacks in Mumbai were more serious in terms of their magnitude. Experts note that foreigners were targeted for the first time in terrorist attacks in India. Sectarian conflicts, cross-border terrorism and separatism are causes behind the attacks. The terrorist attacks in India's financial capital Mumbai starting Wednesday night have shocked the world with their brazenness and brutality. The attacks have added to a mounting sense of insecurity in the city and people are still struggling to come to terms with the fallout from the three-day rampage.


India has witnessed deadly terrorist attacks almost every year in recent years, with casualties running into thousands. Since a wave of bombings hit Jaipur in May, several large Indian cities, including New Delhi and Bangalore, all became targets of terrorist attacks, which resulted in heavy casualties and losses. As India's financial capital and the most populous city, Mumbai has come under terrorist attacks three times in recent years, the previous two being in 1993 and 2006. The latest attacks were more serious in terms of their magnitude. The attacks were well-planned and the gunmen were cold-blooded. They were well-equipped and trained. They hurled grenades, fired indiscriminately, took people hostage and attacked hotels and hospitals. Experts point to the level of sophistication of the attacks and also note that foreigners were targeted for the first time in terrorist attacks in India.

...Against a backdrop of intensified anti-terror efforts globally, there are deep-rooted causes behind the rampant terrorist activities in India. Firstly, sectarian conflicts are serious in India. With many sects in the country, mostly belonging to Hindus and Muslims, many conflicts erupt between the two communities, fighting for different religious beliefs and their own interests...Secondly, cross-border terrorism has become a major threat to the country's security. Bordering on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh where some terrorist groups are operating, India is vulnerable to these attacks. The Kashmir separatists have grown more worried because of the improved ties between India and Pakistan.

...The attacks, involving multiple targets and hostage-taking, bears "the hallmarks of al-Qaeda attacks in the Middle East and North Africa", said former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra. Thirdly, separatism is flourishing in India which has a vast territory, a large population and unbalanced economic development. The widening gap between rich and poor has triggered discontent among minorities and social conflicts are becoming more serious. According to statistics from the Indian Interior Ministry, there are 275 terrorist groups in the country...

cnn.com, December 1, "Commentary: How US should respond to Mumbai attacks" : Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst and a fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington and at New York University's Center on Law and Security. His most recent book is "The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al-Qaeda's Leader." A captured suspect in the Mumbai attacks has told police that he is Pakistani, Indian officials say. CNN's sister station, CNN-IBN, reports that the alleged terrorist said he was trained by Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a Pakistan-based terror group that opposes India over the disputed Kashmir region.

Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, known by its initials LeT in the counter-terrorism community, should be the leading suspect in the attacks, according to a US counterterrorism official who closely follows South Asia....Lashkar-e-Tayyiba derives strength from the fact that, like the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, it draws on a much wider base of support than many terrorist organizations. Until January of 2002, when it was officially banned following the attack on the Indian Parliament, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba maintained 2,200 offices around the country and attracted hundreds of thousands of followers to its annual gatherings. Its charitable arm also runs schools and medical clinics and played an important role in earthquake relief efforts in Kashmir in 2005.

Technically Lashkar no longer exists, but it has continued to operate under different names and its leader, Hafiz Saeed, has continued to address rallies in Pakistan. A spokesman for the group has denied any role in the Mumbai attacks...Besides conducting numerous terrorist operations in India, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba has international reach. Two American Muslims who traveled to Lashkar training camps in Pakistan have been convicted of terrorism-related charges in the past several years. According to the US National Counterterrorism Center, Lashkar members have been arrested in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

And the terror group has ties to al-Qaeda. al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, for instance, was arrested at the home of a Lashkar-e-Tayyiba leader in Pakistan in 2002. According to the US counterterrorism official, the total Mumbai attack force likely involved at least 40 "operatives" and "facilitators" and showed an "impressive" level of internal security given "robust" Indian counterterrorism efforts...

jpost.com (AP) December 1, " 'Mumbai attackers non-state actors' " ISLAMABAD - The terrorists who attacked India's financial capital had no links to any government, Pakistan's president said Monday amid claims that at least one of the gunmen belonged to a banned Pakistani terrorist group. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari called the attackers "non-state actors," and warned against letting their actions lead to greater enmity in the region. Tensions between Muslim Pakistan and Hindu-majority India flared after the attacks last week in Mumbai that killed at least 172 people and wounded 239 others. "Such a tragic incident must bring opportunity rather than the defeat of a nation," Zardari said in an interview with Aaj television. "We don't think the world's great nations and countries can be held hostage by non-state actors."...

news.com.au (AFP) December 2, "India demands action on attacks" : India as formally accused "elements" in Pakistan of being behind the devastating Islamic militant attacks in Mumbai and demanded that Islamabad take "strong action." The move came after Indian officials said investigations had shown that all the attackers involved in the 60-hour-long assault, which left at least 172 dead and close to 300 wounded, were Pakistani nationals. The attacks were also described as a "major setback" for the peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

"The High Commissioner of Pakistan was called to the Ministry of External Affairs this evening. He was informed that the recent terrorist attack on Mumbai was carried out by elements from Pakistan,"
a statement said. In New Delhi's first formal complaint to Islamabad, India said it "expects that strong action would be taken against those elements, whosoever they may be, responsible for this outrage." ...

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, December 1, "India has right to protect itself: Obama" : WASHINGTON - Sovereign nations have the right to protect themselves, US President-elect Barack Obama said on Monday, when asked if India could follow the same policy he advocated during his election campaign — of bombing terrorist camps in Pakistan if there was actionable evidence and Islamabad refused to act on it. Although Obama said he did not want to comment on the specific situation involving India and Pakistan, his tacit endorsement of New Delhi adopting the same policy was circumscribed by two caveats: first, let the investigators reach definite conclusions about the Mumbai carnage, and second, see if Pakistan will follow through with its commitment to eliminate terrorism.

'"My administration will remain steadfast in support of India's effort to catch perpetrators and bring them to justice. I expect the world community will feel the same way," Obama said, in one of several references to the events in Mumbai that underscored the roll-out of his national security team in Chicago on Monday.

As expected, Obama named Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and retired marine General James Jones as National Security Advisor, in addition to retaining Robert Gates as Defense Secretary, among the three principals of his administration. The second tier of the national security team he introduced included Eric Holder as Attorney-General, Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security, and Susan Rice as the US ambassador to United Nations...

Editorial note: "Confusion over the teachings of the Koran." Islamic teachers around the world are faced with a dilemna of reconciling the teachings of the Koran and Mohammed and denouncing terrorism. There have been many Islamic conferences, mainly conducted under the auspices of the Saudis, that have sought a reconciliation of the faiths and ways in dealing with terrorism. The problem with the conferences is the fact that Islamic leaders have not been able to define the word "terrorist." They have not been able to separate an action of a freedom fighter — or a defender of Islam — from the acts of terrorism. The problem appears to begin with the Koran itself whose verses advocate the following:

Koran's Confirmation of the Bible
(The Torah, Prophets and Gospel; Jesus as the Messiah):

The Book of Jonah: This Koran could not have been composed by any but Allah. It confirms what was revealed before it and fully explains the scriptures. It is beyond doubt from the Lord of the Creation.
This is no invented tale, but a confirmation of precious scriptures...

The Cow: And now that a book confirming their own [the Jewish scriptures] has come to them from Allah, they deny it, although they know it to be the truth and have long prayed for help against the unbelievers. May Allah's curse be on the infidels! ..When it is said to them: "Believe in what Allah has revealed," they reply, "We believe in what was revealed to us.' But they deny what has since been revealed, although it is the truth, corroborating their own scriptures.

Adoration 13.21 We gave the scriptures to Moses (Never doubt that you will meet him!) and made it a guide for the Israelites...We appointed leaders from among them who gave guidance at our bidding...

The Creator 35:25...What we have revealed to you in the Book is the truth confirming previous scriptures..

Counsel 42.13 He has ordained for men the faith He has revealed to you and formerly enjoined on Noah and Abraham, on Moses and Jesus, saying: "Observe this faith and be united in it."

Kneeling 45: 16 We have the Scriptures to the Israelites and bestowed on them wisdom and prophethood.

AL-AHQAF 46:12 Yet, before it the Book of Moses was revealed, a guide and a blessing to all men. This book confirms it.

Women 4:47 You to whom the Scriptures were given! Believe in that which we have revealed, confirming your own scriptures, before we obliterate your faces and turn them backward, or lay our curse on you as we laid it on the Sabbath-breakers.

The Cow 2:81 The Apostle [Mohammed] believes in what has been revealed to him by his Lord, and so do the faithful. They all believe in Allah and His angels, His scriptures, and His apostles: We discriminate against none of His apostles.

The Table 5:44 There is guidance, and there is light, in the Torah which we have revealed...After these prophets we sent forth Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the Torah already revealed, and gave him the Gospel, in which there is guidance and light, corroborating that which was revealed before it in the Torah...And to you we have revealed the Book with the truth. It confirms the Scriptures which came before it and stands as a guardian over them.

The Table 5:64 If the People of the Book [Jews} accept the true faith and keep from evil, we will pardon them their sins and admit them to the gardens of delight. If they observe the Torah and the Gospel and what is revealed to them from Allah, they shall be given abundance from above and from beneath.

The IMRANS 3:45
The angels said to Mary: "Allah bids you rejoice in a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary

Koran advocates violence against unbelievers (kuffar) / enemies:

Repentance 9.20 Those that have embraced the faith and fled their homeland and fought for Allah's cause with their wealth and their persons are held in higher regard by Allah. It is they who shall triumph. Their Lord has promised them joy and mercy, and gardens of eternal bliss where they shall dwell forever. Allah's reward is great indeed.
9.116 ...Allah has purchased of the faithful their lives and worldly goods and in return has promised them the Garden. They will fight for His cause, slay, and be slain. Such is the true pledge which he has made them in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Koran. And who is more true to his promise than Allah? Rejoice then in the bargain you have made. That is the supreme triumph.

Women 4.91 Others you will find who seek security from you as well as from their own people. Whenever they are called back to idol-worship they plunge into it headlong. If these do not keep their distance from you, if they neither offer you peace nor cease their hostilities against you, lay hold of them and kill them wherever you find them. Over such men We give you absolute authority.
4.92 It is unlawful for a believer to kill another believer except by accident.
4.98 He that flies his homeland for the cause of Allah shall find numerous places of refuge in the land and great abundance. He that leaves his dwelling to fight for Allah and His apostle and is then overtaken by death, shall be rewarded by Allah.
4.104 Seek out your enemies relentlessly.

Islamic scholars teachings against unbelievers - "kuffars": In an editorial note of Maravot News 8.08.05, article 8.07.05 Inside the sect that loves terror (a short article on the London Tube bombing worth reading) we referred to an Islamic scholar's website, as follows:

An interesting site by an Islamic scholar defines what "kuffar" (disbelievers) means. His site, renaissance.com.pk – Arguments and Rational – details the Koran's verses and traditional and modern applications of the verses dealing with disbelievers: identifying them, punishing them, preaching to them and "'displaced directives." His argument refers heavily to Old Testament verses that set the foundation for verses of the Koran involving the punishment of disbelievers. The site (Punishing the Disbelievers) says, "In other words, what authorizes a Messenger to punish the Kuffar is that it can be ascertained in this very world that they are guilty of denying the basic truths in spite of being convinced about them. Good and evil are elucidated with ultimate clarity and people who accept evil do so not because of any confusion but because of their own stubbornness.

So it can be concluded that since a Messenger reveals the basic truths in their ultimate form and those who deny it do so because of their stubbornness and even confess their sins, a Messenger has the perfect justification to punish his people after they have denied him." But in other places says, (Misplaced Directives) "In other words, what is construed from this Hadith is that a Muslim will be rewarded with Paradise if he kills a non-Muslim. Consequently, Imam Abu Da¹ud, the celebrated Muslim scholar and compiler of Hadith has placed this Hadith in a chapter entitled: (bab fi fadli man qatala kafiran: Chapter on the Reward of a Muslim who Kills a Kafir). Again, it needs to be appreciated that these words relate to the Idolaters of the Prophet¹s times who had lost their right to live after they had deliberately rejected the truth. These words are not related to later Muslims."

We find it appropriate here to repeat our comment in August 2005: "It is worthwhile for those who are trying to defeat Muslim terrorists to read the arguments listed in renaissance.com.pk." The Koran and the scholastic teachings of Islamic leaders must account to much of the acts of Islamic terrorism. For Islamic leaders to denounce acts of Islamic terrorism a bridge has to be crossed in their understanding of the Koran. An easy bridge that will enable peace is one that has to do with acknowledging these two points: 1) that the Koran claims to confirm the Bible and Jesus as the Messiah and 2) that the Koran, therefore, cannot contradict that which it confirms as its source.

When these two points are admitted by Islamic scholars and leaders worldwide — and acknowledged by Jews and Christian scholars and leaders — then there will be a chance for peace in the world. For then we can all agree that the foundations of Jesus' teachings and Gospel do not support murder and mayhem for any reason. Jesus taught peace and turning the other cheek, forgiveness of your enemies and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you (the Golden Rule). The Koran's verses, such as Women 4.91 and Repentance 9:20, need to be reexamined in this light.

Much of the violent direction in Islam appears to stem from a sect spawned from Saudi Arabia called "Wahhabi Sect." We discussed this, with links to many discussions that relate the sect to terrorism, at Maravot News 11.30.08 "Confusion on Islam." The Wahhabi faith leads us more deeply into the problem of combatting terrorism, since it is the official faith of Saudi Arabia and involves asking the kings who control the world's oil to reexamine the intentions of their faith.

Mel Copeland

12.01.08 Australian imams condemn prejudiced study

DUBAI, December 1 - The Australian National Imams Council condemned a recent study that accused Muslim preachers of sanctioning domestic violence and polygamy and stressed its support of women rights. The study accused Muslim imams, or preachers, of promoting domestic violence and spousal rape as well as sanctioning polygamy, which is illegal under Australian law. The study found that preachers applied Islamic law only when it served men and hindered police investigations in cases of domestic violence.

It also found that imams gave men the green light to rape their ex-wives under the pretext that they are still religiously married even if legally divorced. The study by the Islamic Women's Welfare Council in Australia's southeastern state of Victoria was based on a series of interviews with lawyers and police officers, though the researchers noted that the ANIC had declined to be involved with the study. They presented their findings at an Islamic studies conference earlier this month at the University of Melbourne. An ANIC statement Friday condemned the study's findings and said it was based on the individual mistakes of a few preachers.
[More>>alarabiya.net; See related story:

news.com.au (AFP) December 1, "Girl strangled slowly for family's honor" : A Jordanian man slowly strangled his 16-year-old married sister, using wire and the girl's scarf, after she visited a female friend because he had to "cleanse family honour." After jailing the unidentified 20-year-old man for seven years, Judge Hassan Amayreh said: "It took him 30 minutes to strangle his sister to death with a metal wire and her own scarf." The girl, who had been married for six months, died in January in the Gaze refugee camp in the town of Jerash, north of the capital. "I handed down the defendant a 15-year sentence on Sunday, but his family gave up their legal rights and the sentence was reduced," Hassan Amayreh said.

In such cases in Jordan, if family members drop charges against those who carry out the crime, a court usually commutes or reduces sentences. Amayreh said the brother "has confessed, and claimed that he killed his sister to cleanse his family's honour after her husband complained that she regularly disappeared from home without a reason."

Girls under 18 can legally get married in Jordan. "She was killed six months after her marriage, and investigations proved that she was visiting her female friend, and not somebody else," the judge said. In Jordan, between 15 and 20 women are murdered annually in the name of "honour." Last year around 17 such killings were recorded. Perpetrators get reduced sentences as parliament has refused to reform the penal code to ensure harsher sentences, despite campaigns by local and international human rights activists. [end]

12.01.08 Iran to hold large-scale naval drills in Gulf of Oman

TEHRAN (RIA Novosti) December 1 - Iran is to hold on December 2-7 a large-scale naval exercise involving over 60 warships in the Gulf of Oman, Iranian television reported on Monday, citing the navy commander. "Over 60 combat vessels will take part in the exercise, codenamed Ettehad-87, in the Gulf of Oman," Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said. The four-stage exercise will involve destroyers, missile boats, submarines, helicopters, fighters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

"The goal of the exercise is to improve the combat readiness of the Iranian navy to counter potential external threats and to test modern weaponry developed by the Iranian defense industry," the admiral said. Sayyari confirmed last week the delivery of two new domestically-built missile boats, Kalat (Fortress) and Derafsh (Flag), as well as a Ghadir-class light submarine to the Iranian navy. [More>>en.rian.ru]

12.01.08 Iran-backed insurgents captured in Iraq- US

BAGHDAD (Reuters) December 1 - The US military in Iraq captured four suspected members of an Iranian-backed insurgent network on Monday, it said. The four detained belong to an insurgent group called Katai'b Hezbollah, the US military said in a statement.

"Katai'b Hezbollah is assessed to be a surrogate of Iran. Its members are believed to be responsible for recent attacks against Iraqi citizens and coalition forces," the US military said. US troops have caught 33 Iranian-sponsored criminals in the last month, the military said. It was not clear whether Monday's detentions were included in that figure. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

12.01.08 Blasts target Iraqi police recruits

December 1 - At least 16 people have been killed and another 45 wounded in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, in a double bomb attack. Iraqi officials said a teenage suicide bomber blew himself up as police rushed to respond to a prior car bomb blast on Monday. The two blasts occurred within minutes of each other on Palestine Street outside the heavily fortified police academy in eastern Baghdad, where recruits had gathered, according to police and witnesses. Those killed included five policemen and 11 recruits, while the 46 wounded included 11 policemen and 35 recruits, according to police and hospital officials.

...Elsewhere in the country on Monday, 15 people were killed and about 30 wounded in a suicide car bombing against a joint US-Iraqi patrol in the centre of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, police said. "A suicide bomber blew his car up in the path of a joint patrol between Iraqi police and the American military in Mosul al-Jadida," a police officer at the scene was reported by the AFP news agency as saying. The interior minister said the majority of the victims were policemen. [Full story>>aljazeera.net]

12.01.08 Car bomb kills several in Pakistan

December 1 - A suicide car-bomber has killed at least eight people in an attack aimed at a military checkpost in northwest Pakistan's Swat Valley, officials have said. Monday's attack follows a surge in violence in Pakistan's north west, where al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters are stepping up attacks on security forces. "The attacker was riding in a car packed with explosives. He blew up the car a few hundreds metres before the checkpost," said one of the military officials in the valley, who declined to be identified. Seven civilians who happened to be passing by at the time were killed, as well as one soldier, the official said.. At least 49 people were injured in the attack, the AFP news agency reported. Earlier on Monday, two drivers of lorries transporting supplies to Western forces in Afghanistan were killed in a grenade and gun attack near the Pakistani city of Peshawar, a transport company official said. [More>>aljazeera.net; See related story:

thenews.com.pk, December 1, "Death toll mounts to 43 in Karachi violence" : KARACHI: At least 43 people were killed and over 125 wounded as firing and violent incidents continued to affect the country's financial capital on Monday. According to reports, unidentified miscreants torched dozens of vehicles, timber market, marriage hall, godown and a garbage house in separate violent incidents in the metropolis. While law enforcement agencies failed to bring the situation under control as 14 more people were killed in different areas today. Five out of 14 bodies could not be shifted to hospitals. In another incident, unknown gunmen shot dead five people in Raees Amrohi Colony of Orangi Town, increasing the death toll in three days’ violence to 43...The series of violent acts, started from Banaras Chowk on Saturday evening, continues even after 50 hours and people are living under fear and panic...

12.01.08 Suicide bomber kills 7 in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, December 1 - A man wrapped in explosives approached a police car passing through a crowded marketplace in the southern province of Helmand on Monday and detonated himself, killing at least seven people and wounding at least 27, the local authorities said. The attack, coming on the busiest shopping day of the week in the town of Musa Qala, seemed intended to inflict the highest number of casualties possible. Five of the dead were civilians and two were police officers, while all but five of the wounded were civilians, said Asadullah Sherzad, the police chief of Helmand Province. Helmand, with a vast opium poppy crop and an entrenched Taliban insurgency, has been one of the most violent provinces in Afghanistan. While the suicide bombing on Monday had the hallmarks of the Taliban, the group did not immediately claim responsibility. [More>>nytimes.com]

12.01.08 Israel turns back Libyan ship bound for Gaza with aid

(Reuters) December 1 - The Israel Navy on Monday turned away a Libyan ship heading to Gaza with 3,000 tons of humanitarian aid, ending the most high-profile effort yet to break a blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory. The Al Marwa was approaching the Gaza coast when it was stopped by an Israel Navy vessel. The navy vessel ordered the Libyan ship via radio contact to turn back, said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, adding that no force was used. In Gaza's small port, spectators, journalists and dozens of porters had assembled to await the arrival of the Libyan ship.

...Gaza's borders have been largely sealed by Israel and Egypt since the Islamic militant Hamas group seized control by force in June 2007. At times, restrictions were eased to allow the movement of medical patients, Muslim pilgrims, humanitarian supplies and a trickle of commercial goods. However, Israel re-imposed a tight closure November 5 to force Hamas to halt rocket fire on Israeli border communities.
[Full story>>haaretz.com]

12.01.08 Blast at Turkey's AKP office wounds 6

December 1 - A bomb blast at the headquarters of Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul has left at least 6 people wounded. The attack, which came on the European side of the city on Monday afternoon, smashed a number of windows at the entrance of the office building in the central Istanbul suburb of Beyoglu, Turkey's private television NTV reported. No group or organization has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which left four policemen and two party officials wounded. Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said an investigation was launched into the incident. He added the explosion was probably caused by a homemade bomb hidden in a package. Guler said the police were examining footage from security cameras for clues on who planted the bomb. [>turkishpress.com]

12.01.08 From the high street to high winds: Zara boss bids to power the world

MADRID, December 1 - The self-effacing billionaire boss of Spain's Intidex textile empire, Amancio Ortega, who founded the Zara fashion chain, is taking a dramatic change of direction by creating a global alternative energy network. As he did when he founded Zara over 30 years ago from his sister's kitchen table in La Coruna, Mr. Ortega, Spain's richest man is launching his new venture modestly in his home region of Galicia, north-west Spain. But his ambitions are boundless and he has already established energy bridgeheads in three continents.

As chairman and chief shareholder of his company Capital Energy, Mr. Ortega has produced a clutch of projects prompted by a tender offered by Galicia's regional ministry for innovation and industry, to provide up to 2,323 megawatts of energy from alternative sources, and set up some 20 energy parks. Mr. Ortega reportedly intends to invest more than €2bn (£1.65bn) in his new venture over the next 18 months, with plans that extend far beyond Spain...One of the keys to Zara's success was the company's control of every step of production, from design, manufacture and distribution, to sales. It is a pattern set to repeat itself.

Next year, he plans to start building eolic parks, or wind farms, including those at sea, plants for the production of biofuels, and solar and photovoltaic energy plants. "Our plans cover development of projects from the outset. We will not be buying companies in operation, as often happens in the sector," says Jose Espinosa, Capital Energy's director of Strategy and Corporate Development.

As a country without coal, oil or gas, Spain has been keen to develop alternative energy sources, and solar panels and wind farms are a common sight. But such projects are mostly small-scale sidelines operated by Spain's huge energy conglomerates whose main interest is distributing imported fuels. Recent interest shown in the Spanish energy company Repsol by the Russian energy giants Gazprom and Lukoil has brought home to Spaniards how politically vulnerable they may become to possible political pressure through their energy dependency. [Full story>>independent.co.uk]

12.01.08 70% deforestation cuts for Brazil

December 1 - Brazil has announced a plan to reduce deforestation rates in the Amazon region by 70% over the next ten years. The plan follows a call for international funding to prevent further loss of the Amazon rainforest. This year, the rate of Amazon deforestation increased after falling for the past four years. The announcement comes as the UN's latest round of climate talks begin. Tasso Azevedo, head of the Brazilian government's forestry service said "We can now adopt targets because we now have the instruments to implement them." He was referring to a new Amazon fund, where foreign nations are being encouraged by Brazil to contribute financially to the conservation of the vast Amazon region.

Last month, Norway announced its intention to support the fund, saying it will give $130m (euros 103m; £88m) next year, the first installment of a $1bn, (euros 700m; £670m) to be given over the next seven years, however Norway will only make each year's donation on the condition that there has been a reduction in deforestation during the previous year. The 70% figure comes from averaging levels of deforestation in the 10 years up to 2005, the plan aims to see a reduction in deforestation of nearly 6,000 sq. km per year or about half the current annual rate of deforestation. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

12.01.08 Saudi girl born 'pregnant' : report

DUBAI, December 1 - Rare case sees fetus' twin grow inside it. Doctors in Saudi Arabia witnessed a rare phenomenon after a baby girl was born pregnant, press reports said. The baby girl's mother was initially pregnant with twins, but doctors said the fetuses developed abnormally causing a rare condition known as fetus in fetu, Britain's Metro newspaper reported. Under normal circumstances the babies would be born twins; however, in this case the fetus grew inside its sister creating what has been described as a 'unique case in the world.' the paper said. A fetus in fetu occurs in 1 in 500,000 births and is technically considered alive and has sparked debates about whether or not removing the baby can be considered murder. But doctors say the fetus is only alive in the sense that its component tissues have not yet died or been eliminated.

In January, a two month old Indonesian baby was diagnosed with a tumor after her stomach began swelling, but doctors later discovered she was carrying a five month old fetus. In 2006, a 36-year-old Indian farmer had his twin brother removed after the man sought medical assistance for a swollen stomach that hampered his breathing. Doctors initially diagnosed the man with a stomach tumor but after surgery they found human genitalia, hairs, limbs and a jaw.

12.01.08 Bird flu outbreak in India's Assam state

NEW DELHI (AFP) December 1 - Authorities in India's north-eastern Assam state culled 40,000 poultry of some 60,000 infected birds ordered to be killed after an outbreak of bird flu in the state, a news report said Monday. Culling operations have been mounted in nearly 50 villages of central Kamrup district since Friday and 40,000 chickens and ducks have been killed, Manoranjan Choudhury, an official of the state veterinary department, told the IANS news agency. The culling operations are expected to be completed by 22 teams in the next three days. India's Health Ministry last week confirmed the outbreak of bird flu after laboratory tests found strains of the deadly H5N1 avian influenza.

Meanwhile, the government in the eastern state of Orissa sounded an alert and asked agencies to take measures to prevent a similar outbreak after bird flu hit Assam. India has so far seen four major outbreaks of bird flu, but has not yet reported any cases of human infection. An earlier outbreak in eastern India in January was described as the worst outbreak in the country so far by the World Health Organization. H5N1 mainly affects poultry and wild birds, but can infect humans who have close contact with sick fowl. Scientists fear that if it spreads unchecked, the disease could mutate into a form which could be transmitted between humans, leading to a worldwide pandemic.


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