A resource for historians and journalists, since 2004

Maravot News of the World
11:32 AM – San Francisco
Monday, May 07, 2007
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Faces of the Fallen – Iraq

US & Coalition
Casualties, War in Iraq

Trends, Iraq Casualties

Metric Conversion

kilometer: 0.6214 mile
meter: 39.37 inches
centimetre: 0.3937 inch
millimetre: 0.03937 inch
foot: 30.48 cm
Br. stone: 14 pounds
kilogram: 2.2046 pounds
litre: 1.0567 US quarts
hectare: 2.471 acres
– 1 djerib (Turkey)
– 1 jerib (Iran)
– 1 gong qing (China)
0° Celcius: = 32° F

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

2006 update (2.25.06)

The Chart Showing the National Debt above is still valid: "The debt to the penny," publicdebt.treas.gov.
The debt projection for 2009 is now $10.3 Trillion. Deficit for 2006 is $435 Billion.
OMB Budget FY2007
Interest on Debt 2006
Federal Debt 2006
Fed. Budget Summary 2006

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International Agencies – News

Osama bin Laden fatwas.
This monster's own words will
lead to his destruction
Definition of fatwa (fatwah)
Maravot News Comment




August 1996

Maps of interest
Click on maps for larger image
Russia, Belarus & neighbors
Israel-Iraq & neighbors
Iran-Afghanistan-Pak.-India; Gulf of Hormuz oil lane Iran threatens to block
Kazakhstan & neighbors

Historical map of Israel. Figure 2 shows the area allocated to
Israel by the UN in 1948. Compare to Israel' s map below of its security wall.

Israel's Security Fence. Click on image for larger view or here for interactive link.

Middle East Watch

Russia & Ukraine Watch

East Asia Watch

More newspapers

Click on image for org. to impeach Bush & Cheney.

Halliburton watch.org

Relevant Works by Mel

The Romance of Anais, an Arthurian-style tale written 1996 describing how Bush got us in the mess in Iraq with a short commentary on the
Chang-an cheat
Tapestry of One – on the creed of Buddha,
Duty & Profit, Nov. 1994
Against Leviathan, Jan. 1993
Immoral Coercion, Dec. 1994
Philistia Triumph thou
because of me
, Dec. 1993
Quest for Human Dignity, July 1994
What Price Justice? Sept. 1992

Maravot News is not responsible for the content of any links
from this site.

News Headlines & Trends

05.04.07 US forces capture 16 smugglers of Iran-made weapons

BAGHDAD (Xinhua) May 4 - US forces raided a Shiite bastion in eastern Baghdad on Friday morning and captured 16 Iraqis suspected of smuggling sophisticated roadside bombs from Iran, the U.S. military said in a statement. "The individuals targeted during the raid are suspected members of a secret cell terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrates, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training," the military said in a statement.

Based on intelligence reports, the military said the individuals have "ties to a kidnapping network that conducts attacks within Iraq as well as interactions with rogue elements throughout Iraq and into Iran." Previously, the US military had accused Iran of providing Iraqi Shiite militia with weapons and parts for sophisticated armored-piercing bombs. But Iran denied the accusations. According to the US military, the EFPs are responsible for the deaths of more than 170 US and coalition soldiers since mid-2004. [>xinhuanet.com]

05.04.07 The Afghan village that uses opium as its currency

May 4 - Paper money has all but disappeared from the village of Shahran-e-Khash. Instead the common currency is the one resource Afghanistan has no shortage of – opium. At the market in this remote north-eastern corner of Afghanistan, five litres of engine oil – worth around £5 – can be bought for 100g of opium. Two bottles of Coca-Cola will set you back 18g. Even the children use opium to buy goods. "All the children put a little bit of opium on a leaf as payment. They ask the shopkeeper, 'Please give me a pen, give me two notebooks, give me two biscuits and three pieces of chewing gum,' " explained Shahran Pur, a tribal elder.

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium and the drugs trade has become a major headache for President Hamid Karzai and his NATO allies. While poppy farming often helps fund the Taliban-led insurgency, officials are acutely aware of how important it also is to the general population. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Shahran-e-Khash, a remote village two hours from Faizabad, the capital of the relatively peaceful province of Badakhshan.

Its entire economy is built around opium, with everyone from children to the local hardware store owner dealing in the drug. People here are so poor they frequently don't have the money to buy basic household goods. Instead, they use the poppies they grow in the surrounding fields to purchase what they need. If the poppy is not in season the shopkeeper will keep a record in a ledger of the items people have taken and the debts are paid off after the harvest. When he finally has the drug, he sells it to a third party who comes from outside the area. The money he makes from this transaction is then used to replenish his stock.

05.04.07 The colorful case of a well-named lawyer

May 4 - Montgomery Blair Sibley, attorney for the morally impugned and legally challenged, is first and foremost Montgomery Blair Sibley, which is to say a descendant of some of the most powerful families in Washington history. Various relatives served as Lincoln's postmaster, or established Blair House, or governed Maryland or founded the Western Union Telegraph Co., or, before we forget, pretty much created Montgomery County's suburbs (yes, a Silver Spring high school bears his first two names).

Now, because his most prominent client of the moment is an alleged madam who is said to possess the names of 10,000 Washington clients, some of whom are alleged to be high-profile, he is also a busy, busy lawyer...While this 50-year-old scion of the highborn has recently been suggesting that he could make public the names of the 10,000 in order to protect his client Deborah Jeane Palfrey, he had to pay less attention to urgent business in two other places.

One was Florida, where the state bar was seeking to yank his license for at least two years. He was found guilty in absentia (in part for being a "vexatious litigant") and now faces suspension if not disbarment. "He is someone who abuses the legal process," says Barnaby Min, counsel for the Florida Bar...Something is amiss here, and we haven't even gotten to the part where he sued the US Supreme Court for treason (twice!), asking for $1 million in damages. Or that he spent 77 days in a Miami jail for refusing to pay child support. Or that Maryland has stopped him from running a law office in the state. Or that federal prosecutors in Palfrey's case say Sibley's filings are so ignorant of basic legal tenets that they are "almost incoherent."

All of this is bad, because it also means we haven't even mentioned "Big Pimping Pappy" yet.

05.04.07 Oil company accused of dumping waste in Amazon

MAY 4 - A US oil company has been accused of contaminating an area of the Peruvian Amazon where it and its successor company have drilled for oil for the past 32 years, creating misery for the local Achuar people and widespread lead and cadmium poisoning. A report issued by a coalition of protest groups including Amazon Watch and EarthRights International yesterday accused the company, Occidental Petroleum, of violating Peruvian and international law by dumping an estimated 9 billion barrels of toxic waste in the area since it started prospecting in the early 1970s.

The "produced waters," as the waste is technically known, were allegedly dumped directly into rivers and streams used by the Achuar for drinking, bathing, washing and fishing. Medical research documented in the report showed dangerously elevated levels of lead and cadmium in the Achuar population. "Oxy's activities fell far short of the accepted industry standards throughout the course of their operations, as the company discharged massive quantities of contaminated waters into local streams, stored wastes improperly, and caused periodic oil spills," the report alleges. Occidental turned over the oilfield in the Corrientes river basin to the Argentinian oil company Pluspetrol in 2000, and has since divested itself of all its Peruvian petroleum interests, but the report said the pattern of spillage and poisoning continued unabated. "Oxy's destructive patterns, and the resulting human rights and environmental harms, have continued on Pluspetrol's watch," the report alleges.

05.04.07 Six killed in Abra ambush

MANILA, Philippines, May 4 - Six persons were killed and three others wounded in an ambush on the vehicle of Lagayen, Abra Mayor Cecille Luna early Friday afternoon but the local executive escaped harm when she decided to take another route home, police said. Senior Superintendent Alexander Punecha, Abra provincial director, said the ambush happened as LunaÕs Pajero was traveling between the villages of Banggot and Bayi around 1 p.m.

Senior Superintendent Eugene Martin, former Task Force Abra chief identified the fatalities as Romeo Guyang, a barangay (village) captain and supporter to whom Luna had lent her vehicle, Eduardo Guyang, Felima Caleflores, Jerson Battalan, Bali Rubio and Darwen Sitnagen. Wounded were Lorenzo and Roderick Guyang and Armenio Ayab. The victims were relatives of Luna...In a phone interview, Luna said she believed she was the target of the ambush and tagged Abra Governor Vicente Valera as the alleged mastermind.

05.04.07 Analysis: Free press falters in Arab world

WASHINGTON (UPI) May 4 - Egyptian bloggers are beginning to feel the sting of media suppression as government officials crack down on the primary forum for free speech and open political coverage in the country. The arrests began last fall, and in March, 22-year-old Abdel Karim Suleiman became the first blogger to be tried for his online comments, receiving a four-year sentence for insulting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Islam on his blog. The government action comes at a time when 65 cyber-journalists are behind bars worldwide, according to a recent Reporters Without Borders report. Bloggers attracted government attention in Egypt after they began actively covering political demonstrations that were widely ignored by the mainstream media.

"In the years 2005 and 2006, we thought we were doing something - we were really gaining ground," said Wael Abbas, whose blog is considered the most popular in Egypt, receiving more than 1 million hits per month. "We were gaining the trust of the Egyptian people. But now we are losing what we gained in the past two years." The Egyptian blogging community includes group sites, such as Egyptian Blog Ring, which lists 1,481 blogs, and Egypt Blog Review, which heralds its bloggers as "watchdogs." The online commentators provide an independent media voice in the country's opinion-stifling environment.

05.04.07 Senior Qaeda figure killed not Iraq insurgent chief: US

BAGHDAD (AFP) May 3 - The US military killed a senior Al-Qaeda figure this week in Iraq but the dead man was not the group's chief as was claimed by Iraqi officials, spokesman Major General William Caldwell said on Thursday. Caldwell told reporters that US forces killed Al-Qaeda in Iraq's "senior information minister," whom he identified as Muharib Abdul Latif al-Juburi, early on Tuesday just north of Baghdad. The militant played key roles in the kidnapping and murder of US peace activist Tom Fox in 2005 and the nearly three-month abduction of US journalist Jill Carroll in 2006 among other high profile actions, Caldwell said.

Previously, Iraqi officials had reported that the dead militant was Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. But Caldwell said that US officials would have immediately been able to identify Masri's corpse, and that they were positive they had in fact killed Abdul Latif, a lesser but still senior figure. "We killed him on a target objective at 1:42 am west of Taji on May 1," Caldwell said. "This is the individual that has caused some confusion and was the senior Al-Qaeda person killed." "His was the only body we took at the site," he added. "DNA testing and photo identification confirmed this yesterday (Wednesday)."

05.04.07 Taliban blow up Afghan army bus

May 3 - A bus taking Afghan soldiers to work has been blown up by members of the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital. The driver of the bus was killed and at least 22 soldiers were reportedly injured when a bomb concealed in a cart exploded near the vehicle on Thursday morning. [More>>aljazeera.net]

05.02.07 US ranks Russia among seven least free countries for press

WASHINGTON (RIA Novosti) May 2 - The US State Department said Wednesday Russia is among the seven worst offenders in terms of press freedom, along with Afghanistan, Venezuela, Pakistan, the Philippines, Egypt and Lebanon. The State Department circulated the assessment after the US human rights watchdog Freedom House released its annual report on press freedom, made public in Congress Tuesday.

The Freedom House report, entitled Freedom of the Press 2007: A Global Survey of Media Independence, said that more than 110 journalists have been killed in 2006 worldwide, "making it the bloodiest year on record for journalism." The document also mentioned "aggressive efforts by the Russian government to further marginalize independent media voices, punctuated by plans to regulate the Internet. The tragic murder of crusading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya is but one of the latest examples of what has become a disturbing global trend," the report said.
[More>>rian.ru ; See related story, aljazeera.net, May 2, "Al Jazeera journalist sentenced."]

05.02.07 China's muckrakers for hire deliver exposés with impact

QUINGLONG, China, May 2 - Xu Xiang, a 37-year-old reporter, showed up in this Sichuan province town in December, tasked with investigating allegations that officials had forced residents off their farmland. Over two days, he interviewed farmers and local authorities, taking time to view the gleaming white chemical factory and the long rows of unoccupied stores that have replaced many of Qinglong's rich green rice paddies.

In January, Xu posted an article on his Web site, China's Famous Reporter Online Investigations, alleging corruption. By March, according to delighted farmers and less delighted local officials, the former Communist Party secretary for the surrounding county, the local land administration chief and several other Qinglong officials had been arrested in an investigation by the party's Discipline Inspection Commission that is still underway. "Of course, we were very happy to hear the news," said Shuai Changqing, one of the farmers who led the fight against local officials. The farmers, it turned out, had more than a small role in making the news. One of their own had hired Xu as a reporter, for a negotiated fee of $265.

05.02.07 Bomb kills up to 11 south of Baghdad – police

BAGHDAD (Reuters) May 2 - A bomb planted inside a mini bus killed up to 11 people in a volatile rural area south of Baghdad on Wednesday, police said. The blast occurred in Mahmudiya, a town 30 km south of Baghdad, in the so-called Sunni Triangle of Death because of the large number of attacks by insurgents. One police source said the bomb killed eight people, but another source in the nearby city of Hilla said the blast was caused by a roadside bomb and that all 11 passengers were killed. [More>>thestar.com.my]

05.02.07 Five Afghan soldiers killed rescuing Czech diplomat

KABUL, May 2 - Five soldiers and seven militants were killed in fighting that erupted when security forces went to rescue a Czech diplomat who came under fire in eastern Afghanistan, an official said Wednesday. The Afghan military forces responded to a call for help after the charge d'affaires of the Czech embassy in Kabul was fired on by gunmen while he was traveling through eastern Paktia province, a provincial spokesman said. The diplomat, Filip Velach, was unhurt but two of his bodyguards were injured in the attack in Zurmat district, Din Mohammad Darwish said. "Fighting erupted after the soldiers arrived in the area. Five soldiers and seven Taliban were killed in the fighting," Darwish said, adding that the battle lasted more than one hour. [More>>metimes.com]

05.02.07 ICC issues first Darfur arrest warrants

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (AFP) May 2 - The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued its first arrest warrants over the Darfur conflict for a Sudanese minister and a Janjaweed militia leader accused of murder, torture, and rape. In documents released Wednesday the judges said that there were "reasonable grounds" to conclude that Ahmed Haroun, Sudan's secretary of state for humanitarian affairs and a former minister in charge of Darfur, and Ali Kosheib, a principal leader of the Khartoum-backed Janjaweed, were "criminally responsible" for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. The arrest warrants, dated April 27, charge the pair with a long list of 51 counts including murder, torture, mass rape, and the forced displacement of entire villages during a series of attacks in western Darfur in 2003 and 2004. [More>>metimes.com]

05.02.07 Bush vetoes bill tying Iraq funds to exit

WASHINGTON, May 2 - President Bush vetoed a $124 billion war spending bill on Tuesday, setting up a second round in his long battle with Congressional Democrats who are determined to use the financing measure to force the White House to shift course in Iraq. The veto was only the second of Mr. Bush's presidency. In a six-minute televised speech from the White House, the president called the measure a 'prescription for chaos and confusion' and said, as he has for weeks, that he could not sign it because it contained timetables for troop withdrawal. "Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure, and that would be irresponsible," Mr. Bush said. He said the measure would "impose impossible conditions on our commanders in combat" by forcing them to "take fighting directions from politicians 6,000 miles away in Washington, D.C."

The veto added new punctuation to a major war powers clash between Democrats in Congress - buoyed what they regard as a mandate in last NovemberÕs elections and seeking to force an end to the fighting in Iraq - and a president working to defy what he regards as an incursion on his authority as commander in chief. Democrats concede they do not have enough votes to override the veto. But, speaking in the Capitol shortly after Mr. Bush's remarks, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, and the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said they would not be deterred from pushing the president as hard as they could to bring the troops home.
[More>>nytimes.com ; See also independent.co.uk, May 2, "Four years after declaring victory, Bush vetos Iraq withdrawal plan."]

05.01.07 Calls grow for public inquiry into 7/ 7 bombs

May 1 - Victims of the London bombings have handed in a letter to the Home Secretary demanding a public inquiry after learning that MI5 had been aware of at least two of the 7/7 London attackers. It emerged yesterday that Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the 7/7 bombers, had come under surveillance because of his closeness to the gang of young British Muslims convicted yesterday of plotting to explode a massive fertilizer bomb at a nightclub or shopping centre.

In 2003, Khan attended a terror training camp in Pakistan with some of the fertilizer plotters. Back in Britain, agents of MI5, the Security Service, had seen Khan meeting the fertilizer bomb plotters on five occasions in 2004, and had gone so far as following his car, it was revealed. Surveillance tapes included recordings of Khan talking about terrorism with Omar Khyam, the leader of the fertilizer bomb plot. Shehzad Tanweer, the deputy leader of the London bombers, and Khan had both been photographed with Khyam. In addition The Times has learnt that an alleged al-Qaeda financier was known to have rung a mobile phone owned by a "Sidique Khan." [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

05.01.07 Al Qaeda in Iraq leader killed: Interior Ministry

BAGHDAD (Reuters) May 1 - The leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq was killed on Tuesday in a fight between insurgents north of Baghdad, the Interior Ministry spokesman said, but the US military said it could not confirm the report. There has been growing friction between Sunni Islamist Al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups over Al QaedaÕs indiscriminate killing of civilians and its imposition of an austere brand of Islam in the areas where it holds sway.

If true, the death of Abu Ayyub al-Masri would signal a deepening split at a time when the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki is trying to woo some insurgent groups into the political process. Interior Ministry spokesman, Brigadier-General Abdul Kareem Khalaf, said Masri was killed in a battle near a bridge in the small town of Al Nibayi, north of Baghdad. "We have definite intelligence reports that al Masri was killed today," he said. Both Khalaf and another Interior Ministry source said the Iraqi authorities did not have MasriÕs body, but the source added that "our people had seen the body."

05.01.07 Fresh attacks claim lives in Iraq

May 1 - Mortar rounds have landed inside Baghdad's well-guarded "Green Zone," with one striking within 100 metres of the Iraqi prime minister's offices, a government official said. No casualties were reported in Tuesday's attack, which was the second against the Green Zone in 12 hours. [More>>aljazeera.net]

05.01.07 Afghans protest against eviction of refugees by Iran

KABUL, May 1 - Hundreds of people rallied in Afghanistan's capital Kabul Tuesday to protest against Iran's expulsion of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees, witnesses said. Some 500 people marched from western Kabul to the Iranian embassy carrying banners condemning Tehran's action. One of the banners described Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his forces as "devils."

"Islam has no borders, we condemn Iran's brutal act," the banner said.

Iran launched a drive to expel the refugees April 21 and sent back some 25,000 within the space of a few days, prompting strong protests by the Afghan government. Iran's interior minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi has said that the government planned to send back around 500,000 refugees in the first phase. Afghan interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said that Tuesday's protest was peaceful.

05.01.07 75 suspected insurgents killed in Afghan offensive: British officer

KABUL, May 1 - NATO-led troops killed 75suspected insurgents on the first day of an offensive against Taliban militants in a valley in southern Afghanistan, a British military officer said Tuesday. The militants died Monday, when British, Danish and Afghan troops fought their way up the Sangin Valley in Helmand province, Maj. Dominic Biddick, who commanded a company of British troops in the operation, was quoted as saying. Biddick said the troops detained several more suspected militants and discovered an arms cache during "a full day of fighting." [More>>thenews.com.pk ; See also independent.co.uk, May 1, "Allies 'kill 145 Taliban' in Operation Achilles."]

05.01.07 Rulings weaken patent's power

May 1 - The Supreme Court concluded a series of cases yesterday that weaken the protection given to patent holders, making it more difficult to get a patent and easier to challenge existing ones. Patent experts said one of two cases decided yesterday – KSR International v. Teleflex – is the court's furthest-reaching ruling in the field for decades. The decision sends a clear message that the US Patent and Trademark Office and lower courts must be more open in considering whether inventions are "obvious," a common ground for denying an application.

"Granting patent protection to advances that would occur in the ordinary course without real innovation retards progress and may, in the case of patents combining previously known elements, deprive prior inventions of their value or utility," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for a unanimous court. In a separate case, the court ruled yesterday that Microsoft did not violate an AT&T patent when its Windows software was installed on computers manufactured overseas.

04.30.07 California Democrat Party demands impeachment of Bush-Cheney

April 30 - Sparked by an insurgency among delegates, the California Democrat Party has taken an historic step forward on the issue of impeachment. In a resolution affirmed by the full state party convention Sunday, the Democrats called on the US Congress to use its subpoena power to investigate misdeeds of President Bush and Vice President Cheney – and to hold the Administration accountable "with appropriate remedies and punishment, including impeachment." The delegate insurgency was coordinated by Progressive Democrats of America and its allies.

While Speaker Pelosi had declared impeachment "off the table," the Democratic Party rank-and-file has demonstrated its commitment to putting the issue "on" the table. And it's no longer just the rank-and-file: Even among the members of the convention's Resolutions Committee (appointed by the California Party chair), the impeachment resolution was the top vote-getter (tied with one other resolution).

Coming on the heels of mass actions and resolutions across the country in support of impeachment, and Congressman Dennis Kucinich's introduction of Articles of Impeachment against Cheney, this action by the powerful California Democratic Party builds on the pro-impeachment momentum. The resolution refers to Bush and Cheney having acted in a manner "subversive of the Constitution" by...

1) using false information to justify the invasion of Iraq
2) authorizing "the torture of prisoners of war"
3) "authorizing wiretaps on US citizens without obtaining a warrant"
4) "disclosing the name of an undercover CIA operative"
5) suspending "the historic Writ of Habeas Corpus by ordering the indefinite detention of so-called enemy combatants"
6) "signing statements used to ignore or circumvent portions of over 750 Congressional statutes"

The resolution ends by calling for "vigorous investigation" and "appropriate remedies and punishment, including impeachment."

04.30.07 Iraq rebuilding 'is failing'

April 30 - A US audit has found many of Iraq's reconstruction projects are falling apart and oil production is still below pre-war levels. However, Washington said it was Iraq's responsibility to maintain its infrastructure. The report describes widespread waste, decay and deterioration. Inspectors said measures to keep rebuilt infrastructure operating were not carried out by the Iraqis. Problems were found complying with international standards and construction sites did not meet safety objectives.

The report also said that electricity supply in Baghdad was down to less than seven hours a day on average, and only 15 out of 142 planned health care centres had been completed. [More>>aljazeera.net]

04.30.07 Tourists not exempt in Iran dress crackdown

TEHERAN (AFP) April 30 - Iran on Monday warned tourists and other foreigners visiting the country to obey its Islamic dress code in line with a nationwide crackdown against slack dressing, the ISNA news agency reported. "We have asked travel agencies to warn tourists and to explain the laws of this country," said TehranÕs deputy chief of police, Hossein Sajedi-Nia. Iran has handed out more than 10,000 warnings over the past 10 days to women deemed to have infringed the dress code in the Islamic republic, and dozens of others have been briefly detained at police stations.

Sajedi-Nia indicated there was no chance of a let-up in the crackdown, a regular pre-summer measure being pursued with extra vigour this year, saying that from next week "plain clothes police will go into action." Women must cover their heads and conceal their curves in public in Iran. The law also applies to members of non-Muslim minorities and all visiting foreigners.

04.30.07 One million Turks protest over 'plans for Islamic state'

April 30 - The possibility of an observant Muslim president is pitting Turkey's deeply secular military and civilian establishment against its religiously oriented ruling party in a fundamental struggle over national identity. At least 700,000 people marched against Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's candidacy in Istanbul yesterday, waving the red national flag and invoking Turkey's long secular tradition. Powerful generals are hinting they may step in. Many Turks are calling for early elections in the hope of replacing the parliament, which elects the president and is dominated by Gul's pro-Islamic party.

The protesters fear that Gul would use the presidency - a post with veto power over legislation - to assist his ally, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in chipping away at the separation of state and religion. For example, secularists want to preserve a ban on Islamic headscarves in government offices and other public places; Gul's wife, Hayrunisa, once appealed to the European Court of Human Rights for the right to wear the scarf to a university.
[More>>independent.co.uk ; See also nytimes.com, April 30, "In Turkey, fear about religious lifestyle."]

04.30.07 Death toll up to 68 after blast in Shia holy city

April 30 - US forces fired an artillery barrage in southern Baghdad yesterday morning, rocking the capital with loud explosions. In the Shia holy city of Karbala, the death toll from a suicide car bomb attack rose to 68. The blasts in Baghdad came a day after America announced the deaths of nine US troops, including four killed in separate roadside bombings south of Baghdad and five in fighting in Anbar province, a Sunni insurgent stronghold west of the capital. US troops also detained 72 suspected insurgents and seized nitric acid and other bomb-making materials during raids yesterday, targeting al-Qaeda in Anbar, and Salahuddin province.

Authorities in northern Iraq imposed an indefinite curfew in the Sunni stronghold of Samarra after leaflets signed by rival insurgent groups threatened policemen, telling them to quit their jobs and promised to target any oil company that wanted to explore in the area. Iran, meanwhile, has agreed to attend a US-backed regional conference on Iraq set for this week in Egypt. Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will lead the delegation to the meetings on 3 May. The blast in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, took place about 7pm on Saturday in a crowded area close to the shrines of Imam Abbas and Imam Hussein. The shrines were not damaged, police said.

04.30.07 Five given life for fertilizer bomb terror plot

April 30 - Five members of a British al-Qaeda cell were jailed for life today for plotting to use fertilizer bombs to blow up the Bluewater shopping centre, the Ministry of Sound nightclub and other targets across the UK including gas and electricity supplies. The ringleader of a plot that would have claimed hundreds of lives, Omar Khyam, was told that he would have to spend at least 20 years in jail - but all five men were warned that they may never be released.

"You have betrayed this country that has given you every opportunity," said Sir Michael Astill, QC, the judge at the Old Bailey. "All of you may never be released: it is not a foregone conclusion." With the verdict, however, comes fresh revelations about the full extent of MI5's knowledge about the July 7 suicide bombers. It can now be disclosed that Khyam met Mohammed Siddique Khan, the leader of the 7/7 plotters, at least four times in England while under MI5 surveillance but the link between them was never properly followed up.

04.30.07 Iran steps up drive to expel Afghan refugees

TEHRAN, April 30 - Iran has expelled tens of thousands of Afghan refugees within the space of a few days in a new drive aimed at returning 1 million of them home by March next year, media said Monday. The expulsions are a sign that Iran is prepared to wait no longer in executing its stated aim of returning all the estimated 2 million Afghan refugees living in Iran, despite protests from Kabul. "More than 30,000 people have been collected and the majority of them sent back to their country via the borders," since the drive began April 21, interior minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi was quoted as saying in the daily Tehran Emrouz. "In the first phase of our plan, we hope to expel 500,000 people and when this is successful we shall fulfill the plan of repatriating 1 million resident aliens by the end of the year [March 2008]," the minister added. [More>>metimes.com]

04.30.07 Shfaram man sentenced to life in prison for 'honor killing' of niece

April 30 - Haifa District Court sentenced Shfaram resident Hani Hasson to life in prison on Monday for abducting and murdering his 23-year-old niece in a family "honor killing." In October 2005, Samar Hasson's body was found hanging in a tree in an olive grove close to the village of Kafr Aablin. Other members of the family, including her father and her uncle, are standing trial separately for their alleged role in the murder. During the trial, it emerged that Samar was in love with a young Muslim man from the village of Tamra in the Galilee. Her family, however, objected to the relationship, as they are Druze and he a Muslim. [More>>haaretz.com]

04.30.07 Al Qaeda may be involved in Charsaddah suicide attack, says Sherpao

ISLAMABAD, April 30 - Federal Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao did not rule out the involvement of Al Qaeda I Charsaddah suicide attack. He reiterated the government's determination to rid the society of terrorism and extremism and incidents like Charsadda blast cannot deter us from achieving this objective...He said parts of a Russian made suicide jacket have been found from the site of the incident...the Interior Minister said the Charsadda incident has linkages with Al-Qaeda. [Full story>>thenews.com.pk]

04.30.07 Caourt favors Microsoft in Patent fight

WASHINGTON, April 30 - The Supreme Court sided with Microsoft Corp. on Monday in a case that restricts the reach of U.S. patents overseas. In a 7-1 decision, the court found that Microsoft is not liable in a patent dispute with AT&T. The decision could impact other lawsuits against Microsoft and save the company billions because of the global scope of its operations.

AT&T had sued Microsoft, alleging computers running the Windows operating system infringe on an AT&T technology that compresses speech into computer code. AT&T said it is entitled to damages for every Windows-based computer manufactured outside the United States, which uses the digital speech coder system. Microsoft acknowledged violations in the United States regarding the AT&T patent, while insisting the infringement should not be extended internationally. "The presumption that United States law governs domestically but does not rule the world applies with particular force in patent law," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the majority opinion.

04.28.07 NATO air strike kills 13 Taliban in Afghanistan

KHOST, Afghanistan (Reuters) April 28 - A NATO air strike has killed 13 Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan's southeastern province of Khost after the insurgents tried to attack a district government headquarters, provincial officials said on Saturday. It was the second attack on a district headquarters in 24 hours by the Taliban, who are stepping up their insurgency against the Western-backed government and foreign troops supporting it. The air strike was called in after the Taliban attacked government headquarters in Ali Sher district, near the border with Pakistan, late on Friday, said Khost Governor Arsala Jamal. [More>>thestar.com.my ; See related story, metimes, April 27, "Afghan district chiefs killed in new Taliban attacks."]

04.28.07 US targets Al-Qaeda in Iraq after key capture

BAGHDAD (AP) April 28 - US forces detained 17 suspected insurgents in raids targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq on Saturday, the military said, a day after the Pentagon announced the capture of one of the terror networks most senior and experienced operatives. Elsewhere, US forces used fighter jets to destroy a truck bomb discovered in Anbar province, and conducted a raid south of Baghdad that netted weapons that insurgents apparently had imported from neighboring Iran, the military said Saturday. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]

04.28.07 Earthquake hits Kent

April 28 - Parts of Kent were hit by an earthquake this morning. The British Geological Survey (BGS) said that the earthquake registered at 4.3 on the Richter Scale with its epicentre around 12 km off the coast of Dover. Instruments across the country recorded the tremors, which lasted for around two minutes from 8.18am. Roger Musson, a seismologist at the BGS, said: "There was no short term warning of this earthquake, but we have been expecting one in the straits of Dover for the last 25 years.

"This area is prone to substantial earthquakes at irregular intervals. Since 1382, there have been four significant earthquakes there, the most recent of which have been around four on the Richter scale while the earlier two were around magnitude six. There is a point of weakness in the rocks around there as it is an old faultline which is being squeezed as the Atlantic gets wider. Every so often the stress builds up and the rocks shift a bit at that point of weakness. It is not a major fault though." At 4.3 on the Richter scale, the earthquake was relatively minor. The scale increases exponentially, so for every full number up the scale the earthquake gets 30 times larger in terms of force.

04.28.07 Federal official resigns in inquiry of escort service

April 28 - The head of the Agency for International Development, Randall L. Tobias, resigned abruptly on Friday for what he said were Òpersonal reasons,Ó but an administration official said Mr. TobiasÕs name had come up in an investigation of a suspected Washington prostitution ring. On Friday night, ABC News said Mr. Tobias had confirmed on Thursday that he was a customer of an escort service.

A woman from Vallejo, Calif., Deborah J. Palfrey, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she operated a call-girl service in Washington, and has threatened on her Web site to sell her client list to raise money for her defense. ABC News reported that Ms. Palfrey had given the network thousands of phone numbers of clients.

In court papers filed on April 11 in Federal District Court here, she identified an adviser to the Pentagon as "one of the regular customers" of her service. She posted the manÕs photo from his own Web site and tax records on a house he owns in Washington. On her Web site, Ms. Palfrey asserted that her service, doing business as Pamela Martin and Associates, "functioned as a high-end adult fantasy firm which offered legal sexual and erotic services across the spectrum of adult sexual behavior."
[More>>nytimes.com ; See also abcnews.com, April 28, "Senior official linked to escort service resigns."]

04.28.07 Forty tons of illegal ivory seized worldwide in two years

TOKYO, April 28 - Some 40 tons of illegally traded ivory was seized around the world in the two-year period through the end of 2006, research by the governments of Kenya and Mali showed Saturday. The seized ivory includes some 3 tons confiscated at an Osaka port last year. The illegally traded ivory is believed to have been consumed mainly in Japan and China, where there is much demand for ivory for use in seals and craft products, respectively. The trade imposes a great threat on the continued existence of Africa's elephant population of some 600,000, experts point out. [>japantoday.com]

04.28.07 Tenet detail efforts to justify invading Iraq

April 28 - White House and Pentagon officials, and particularly Vice President Cheney, were determined to attack Iraq from the first days of the Bush administration, long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and repeatedly stretched available intelligence to build support for the war, according to a new book by former CIA director George J. Tenet. Although Tenet does not question the threat Saddam Hussein posed or the sincerity of administration beliefs, he recounts numerous efforts by aides to Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to insert "crap" into public justifications for the war. Tenet also describes an ongoing fear within the intelligence community of the administration's willingness to "mischaracterize complex intelligence information."

"There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraq threat," Tenet writes in "At the Center of the Storm," to be released Monday by HarperCollins. The debate "was not about imminence but about acting before Saddam did." White House counselor Dan Bartlett yesterday called Tenet a "true patriot" but disputed his conclusions, saying "the president did wrestle with those very serious questions." Responding to reports from the book in yesterday's New York Times, Bartlett suggested that the former CIA director might have been unaware of all the discussions. President Bush, Bartlett said on NBC's Today Show, "weighed all the various consequences before he did make a decision."

...A speech by Cheney in August 2002 "went well beyond what our analysis could support," Tenet writes. The speech charged, among other things, that Hussein had restarted his nuclear program and would "acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon . . . perhaps within a year." Caught off-guard by the remarks, which had not been cleared by the CIA, Tenet says he considered confronting the vice president on the subject but did not. "Would that have changed his future approach?" he asks. "I doubt it but I should not have let silence imply an agreement." Policymakers, he writes, "have a right to their own opinions, but not their own set of facts."
[Full story>>washingtonpost.com]

04.28.07 Cornwall's surfers up in arms at plans to harvest wave energy

April 28 - Construction of the world's biggest wave energy farm is to go ahead off the coast of Cornwall - after worries by local surfers who fear it may rob their waves of surfing power. More than £21m of funding has just been agreed for Wave Hub, a giant electrical terminal on the seabed 10 miles off the coast of Hayle, near St. Ives, through which wave energy devices can transmit the energy they generate along a high-voltage undersea cable back to the National Grid on shore.

When it is operating next year it is likely to support the largest array of wave energy machines in the world, and mark an enormous step forward in the development of wave power, which has long been the Cinderella in the family of renewable energy technologies - far less advanced than wind and solar power. Renewables will be increasingly necessary in the fight against climate change, as they do not produce the greenhouse gases causing global warming.

04.28.07 US beef clears inspection for sale in local market

April 28 - Korea has approved the shipment of US beef that arrived on Monday, officials said yesterday, allowing American beef to be sold in the country for the first time since December 2003. The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service said that the 6.4 metric tons of American beef from the U.S. state of Kansas were safe and free of bone chips. Authorities x-rayed 449 boxes of meat for bone fragments. [More>>koreaherald.co.kr ; See related story, japantoday.com, April 28, "Beef discovered in pork shipments from US."]

04.28.07 EU warns Turkey's army on democracy

April 28 - The European Union has warned Turkey's military to stay out of politics after the General Staff said it was watching the parliamentary election of a new president with concern. Olli Rehn, EU Enlargement Commissioner, on Saturday, said: "It is important that the military leaves the remit of democracy to the democratically elected government...this is a test case if the Turkish armed forces respect democratic secularism and the democratic arrangement of civil-military relations." [More>>aljazeera.net ; See also khaleejtimes.com (Reuters) April 28, "Politicians, EU condemn Turkish army threat." and turkishpress.com, April 28, "Turkish army issues harsh warning over secularism."]

04.28.07 Thirteen killed in south Baghdad attacks

BAGHDAD (AFP) April 28 - Insurgents killed four employees from the Iraqi Red Crescent and nine others in three separate attacks in BaghdadÕs southern districts on Saturday, a security official said. At least two more people were shot dead outside the capital. Four Iraqi humanitarian workers were killed and three others wounded when gunmen ambushed their minibus in the capitalÕs mixed Sunni-Shiite Baghdad district of Zafaraniyah, the official said.

No other details were immediately available on the attack, he said. Also in Zafaraniyah, a group of rubbish collectors was hit by a roadside bomb, which killed one and wounded eight others, the official said. In nearby Saydiyah, another mixed district, unidentified gunmen shot dead five civilians and wounded one more, he added. In Al-Risala district, also located in southern Baghdad, a series of mortar rounds slammed into a residential area killing three people and wounding 10 others, including women and children, the official said.

04.27.07 Downpours raise farmers' hopes

April 28 - It may not be the end of the worst drought on record but, for wide tracts of inland Australia, it was a start. A large weather system in the Indian Ocean has produced substantial rain in four southern mainland states in the past week, raising the spirits of embattled farming communities. Although significantly short of the deluge needed to declare the drought over, areas of southern and western NSW received up to 25mm of rain in 24 hours yesterday, with similar falls in northwestern Victoria.

South Australia recorded falls of up to 60mm in some areas, while a light sprinkling of moisture across southern Queensland failed to ease the escalating water crisis. The West Australian wheatbelt remained largely dry, as did the Northern Territory as it entered normal winter conditions. The latest rain – coming just days after John Howard threatened to turn off irrigators' taps in the Murray-Darling Basin if decent falls were not recorded in the next two months – is expected to ease today.

But more is predicted over southern Australia next week as a second frontal system moves over Western Australia and on into Victoria. National climate forecasters say the rain could mark the start of a predicted return to average weather conditions over southern Australia in the next three months and beyond. This could herald a $6 billion recovery in the agricultural industry, which has suffered five years of poor rainfall.

04.27.07 Saudis arrest 172 militants, seize large caches of arms

CAIRO (AP) April 27 - Police have arrested 172 militants who were plotting to attack Saudi Arabia's oil fields, the Saudi state TV channel Al-Ekhbariah reported Friday. The channel broadcast footage of the large quantity of weapons of all kinds that were discovered buried in the desert. The arms included brickettes of plastic explosives, ammunition cartridges, handguns and rifles wrapped in plastic sheeting. Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Mansour al-Turki told the rival Al-Arabiya channel that the militants included non-Saudis and that one cell planned to storm a prison and release the inmates.

The Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that more than 120 million riyals (US$32.4 million) had been seized in the operation, one of the largest sweeps against terror cells in the kingdoms. Al-Ekhbariah showed investigators breaking tiled floors with hammers to uncover pipes that contained weapons. In one scene, an official upends a plastic pipe and bullets and little packets of plastic explosives spill out. The ministry statement said that one cell had planned to carry out suicide attacks against "public figures, oil facilities, refineries ... and military zones." [>thestar.com.my; See also thenews.com.pk, April 27, "Top Al-Qaeda suspect involved in attack on Musharraf arrested: US."]

04.27.07 Japan: Government aims to cut suicide rate by 20% in 10 years

TOKYO, April 27 - The government approved Friday a draft proposal for a policy outline aiming to cut suicide rate by 20% in 10 years. If the government achieves the target, Japan's suicide rate will be reduced to 19.4 persons per 100,000 people in 2016 from 24.2 in 2005, which translates to about 5,000 lives saved. In 2005, a total of 32,552 Japanese took their own lives, exceeding the 30,000 mark for the eighth consecutive year.

The draft proposal stresses the need to establish a support and counseling system for those burdened by multiple debts or those who have lost their jobs. It also calls for detecting and treating people with clinical depression early. The draft also mentions the need to provide mental support for bereaved relatives as well as for those who have attempted suicides. The sharpest increase in the number of suicides was among students, rising 9.8% in 2005 to 861 people.

04.27.07 'No hysteria' as Putin compares US shield to Pershing missiles-1

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) April 27 - Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared US plans to deploy its missile defenses in Europe to the deployment of Pershing cruise missiles in the 1980s, but said there will be "no hysteria" about it. In January, the US announced plans to deploy elements of its missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland to counter possible attacks from Iran or North Korea, whose nuclear programs have provoked serious international concerns.

Russia, which has been anxious about NATO bases that have appeared in former Communist-bloc countries and ex-Soviet republics, considers the plans to deploy anti-missile systems in Central Europe a national security threat and a destabilizing factor for Europe. Speaking at a Friday news conference with Czech President Vaclav Klaus in Moscow, Putin highlighted the importance of the missile shield as part of the US strategic nuclear deterrent.

...On February 10, 2007, Putin declared that the INF Treaty no longer served Russia's interests. On February 14, Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of the Russian General Staff, said Russia could pull out of the INF unilaterally, which sounded a strong warning to the US regarding its plans to deploy elements of its anti-missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who met with President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov during his recent visit to Moscow, apparently failed to convince the Russian leadership that the US missile shield does not pose any threat to Russia.
[More>>rian.ru ; See also independent.co.uk, April 27, "Hawkish Putin condemns 'meddling' West."]

04.27.07 Helicopter shot down in Chechnya, 17 dead

MOSCOW (Reuters) April 27 - At least seventeen people died when a military helicopter with troops on board was shot down in RussiaÕs volatile province of Chechnya on Friday, Russian news agencies and the military said. A spokesman for the military prosecutorÕs office told Reuters: "According to our information, a helicopter came down as a result of which all those on board were killed, that was four crew and 13 passengers." The Mi-8 transport helicopter was shot down by Chechen rebels when Russian troops were carrying out an operation near the town of Shatoi in southern Chechnya, RIA quoted a source in Russian troops in the Caucasus. RIA said the downed helicopter was one of three taking part in the operation. It said a gunfight was raging at the scene of the crash between insurgents and Russian forces. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

04.27.07 Turkish parliament fails to elect a president

ANKARA (AFP) April 27 - Turkey's parliament failed Friday to elect a president, after the opposition boycotted the first round of voting to protest against the ruling party candidate's Islamist roots. The divisive election has widened the rift between Turkey's secularists and the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose closest aide, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is the sole candidate. Gul garnered 357 votes from the 550-seat assembly, where the boycott of opposition legislators left the AKP almost on its own. He needed a two-thirds majority of 367 to win. A second round, in which the winner still needs 367 votes, is scheduled for Wednesday. [More>>turkishpress.com]

04.27.07 Economic growth slows to weakest pace in 4 years

April 27 - Economic growth during the first three months of the year was the slowest since early 2003 when the country was still emerging from a recession, the government said today. In its preliminary report on economic growth, the Commerce Department said the nationÕs gross domestic product had expanded 1.3 percent in the first three months of the year, the slowest pace since the first quarter of 2003, and barely more than half the 2.5 percent rate recorded in the final quarter of 2006.

The housing slump was the single biggest drag on growth, as it has been for the last year. Home construction fell by 17 percent at an annual rate, the sixth consecutive quarter of decline. But businesses also slimmed their inventories, exports declined and military spending by the government slowed.

04.27.07 Senate sends war timetable to Bush's desk

April 27 - The Senate approved a $124 billion Iraq war spending bill yesterday that would force troop withdrawals to begin as early as July 1, inviting President Bush's veto even as party leaders and the White House launch talks to resolve their differences. The 51 to 46 vote was a triumph for Democrats, who just weeks ago worried about the political wisdom of a veto showdown with the commander in chief as troops fight on the battlefield. But Democrats are hesitant no more. And now that withdrawal language has passed both houses of Congress, even Republicans acknowledge that Bush won't get the spending bill that he has demanded, one with no strings attached. Bush is expected to veto the bill early next week. But bipartisan negotiations have already started on a compromise to cool the red-hot war debate, at least on the funding front.. [More>>washingtonpost.com]


09.11.05 When a nation lacks a competent leader it invites disaster – the legacy of Bush
08.13.05 "Using force the George W. Bush way – Bush's crusade"
11.25.04 Why the Crusade & Jihad?


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