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8.09.08 Gold medalists on Day 1 of Beijing Olympics
BEIJING, August 9 - Czech markswoman Katerina Emmons led all the way to snatch the gold medal in women's 10-meter air rifle, the first gold of the Beijing Olympics.
8.09.08 Chinese man kills relative of US Olympic coach
BEIJING, August 9 - A Chinese man wielding a knife attacked two American tourists related to an American Olympic coach on Saturday, killing one of the tourists and wounding the other and their Chinese tour guide while the three were visiting an ancient tower in central Beijing. The attacker then killed himself by leaping from the tower, Chinese officials said. The attack came on the first day of the Olympic Games in Beijing, after a dazzling opening ceremony the previous night in which China sought to project an image of power and strength while welcoming thousands of foreign visitors. As news of the killing spread, it cast an instant pall over the city, from the warrens of old alleyways where Chinese are eager to open their arms to foreigners, to the stadiums where visitors waited in line for events like swimming and gymnastics.
The dead American was a man, and the injured American tourist and Chinese guide are both women, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. The United State Olympic Committee issued a statement giving broad details of the attack, but did not release the names of the victims. A spokesman for the committee, Darryl Seibel, said the surviving American's injuries were "serious." A spokesman for the American Embassy also declined to give any names on Saturday afternoon, saying the embassy was working with the victims’ families...
...Chinese generally do not exhibit violent hostilities toward Americans or the United States. During the opening ceremony on Friday night, the American delegation drew thunderous applause when it marched into the Bird's Nest, from Chinese watching inside and outside the stadium. American sports stars in particular are admired by many Chinese. The victims were not wearing any clothes that would identify them as American or visitors who had a connection to a US team, Mr. Seibel said. [Full story>>nytimes.com; (Side note: Although medal winners were reported on China's xinhaunet.com, no report of this tragedy was made; and this may illustrate the conflict China has in fully reporting relevant news. This story has been carried around the world's news media, except China's)]
8.09.08 'We'll neutralize S-300 if sold to Iran'
JERUSALEM, August 9 - If Russia goes through with the sale of its most advanced anti-aircraft missile system to Iran, Israel will use an electronic warfare device now under development to neutralize it and as a result present Russia as vulnerable to air infiltrations, a top defense official has told The Jerusalem Post. The Russian system, called the S-300, is one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems in the world today and has a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12 at the same time. It has a range of about 200 kilometers and can hit targets at altitudes of 27,000 meters. While Russia has denied that it sold the system to Iran, Teheran claimed last year that Moscow was preparing to equip the Islamic Republic with S-300 systems. Iran already has TOR-M1 surface-to-air missiles from Russia.
Mixed media reports have emerged recently regarding the possible delivery of the system to Iran. Two weeks ago Reuters quoted a senior Israeli official who said the system would be delivered to Iran by the end of the year. In response, the Pentagon released a statement rejecting the assessment and saying that the US did not believe Iran would get it in 2008. According to the Israeli defense official who spoke to the Post, "No one really knows yet if and when Iran will get the system."
A top IAF officer also said this week that Israel needed to do "everything possible" to prevent the S-300 from reaching the region. "Russia will have to think real hard before delivering this system to Iran, which is possibly on the brink of conflict with either Israel or the US, since if the system is delivered, an EW [electronic warfare] system will likely be developed to neutralize it, and if that happens it would be catastrophic not only for Iran but also for Russia," the defense official said. [More>>jpost.com]
8.09.08 Russian President Dmitry Mdevedev says Georgia must pull out of South Ossetia
August 9 - A pullout of Georgian troops from the conflict zone is the only solution to the South Ossetian crisis, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has told US President George W. Bush. Bush earlier today had urged Moscow to halt the bombing immediately saying attacks by Russia outside the war zone of South Ossetia marked a "dangerous escalation" of the crisis. "I'm deeply concerned about the situation in Georgia," Bush said from the Beijing Olympics. "The attacks are occurring in regions of Georgia far from the zone of conflict in South Ossetia. They mark a dangerous escalation in the crisis."
He said Georgia's territorial integrity must be respected and "we call for an end to the Russian bombings." Meanwhile, Georgia's president Mikail Saakashvili has called for an immediate cease-fire claiming that Russia had launched a full-scale military invasion on his country, widening its offensive to force back Georgian troops seeking control over South Ossetia. [More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related stories: khaleejtimes.com, August 9, "Abkhaz separatists say attack Georgian gorge" and en.rian.ru, August 9, "Russia says Georgian forces expelled from S. Ossetian capital; 1,500 dead."]
8.09.08 Italy holds five on terror charge
ROME, August 9 - Five North Africans have been arrested in Italy on charges of conspiring to commit acts of international terrorism. Police in Bologna say they arrested four Tunisians and a Moroccan and are seeking a sixth man. They are investigating an alleged international terrorist ring, which they say recruited suicide bombers for Iraq and Afghanistan. Police raided houses and apartments in Bologna, Ravenna on Italy's Adriatic coast, and Como near Milan.
The North Africans are also charged with fraud. They are alleged to have collected money from phoney car accident insurance claims to finance their operations. They recruited and trained people willing to sacrifice their lives in terrorist attacks in war zones, the police said. The alleged leader of the terrorist ring was a former mujahideen colonel, of unknown nationality, who had fought in Bosnia during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Investigators had gathered information on the activities of the terrorist group through phone taps. [>bbc.co.uk]
8.09.08 Afghan official says 20 militants killed in west
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) August 9 - About 20 Taliban fighters were killed in a battle with Afghan and U.S.-led forces near a key military supply route in western Afghanistan, a provincial official said Saturday. Younus Rasouli, deputy governor of Farah province, said police attacked a village in Bala Buluk district Friday after being informed that Taliban militants had ordered residents out and taken it over to use as a base. The police called in air support from the U.S.-led coalition during the battle, Rasouli said. Coalition spokesman 1st Lt. Nathan Perry confirmed that fighter aircraft engaged in combat in Bala Buluk on Friday for about an hour. He said there were no coalition casualties but did not provide further details. Bala Buluk includes sections of the highway between the cities of Kandahar and Herat and the main road to Farah city. Rasouli said the militants were suspected of planning attacks on convoys supplying American and NATO bases in the region. [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org]
8.09.08 ICRC raises alarm over displaced Yemenis
SANAA, Yemen (AFP) August 9 - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Saturday expressed grave concern over the living conditions of 15,50O Yemenis displaced by fighting in the restive northwestern region of Saada. The displaced people have been forced from their homes by fierce fighting between dissident Shia rebels and government forces over the past four years in the mountainous province of Saada. "Over 15,500 displaced people in the province of Saada currently live in hard conditions in camps near the town (of Saada), as well as in thousands of camps spread around other provinces," it said in a statement. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
8.09.08 Cloud computing trend heightens privacy risks
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AFP) August 9 - A US military computer science professor on Friday warned that a trend to push software into the clouds exacerbates privacy risks as people trust information to the Internet. Websites routinely capture data that can reveal pictures of users' lives, US military academy professor Greg Conti told an audience at the annual DefCon hackers gathering in Las Vegas. The danger is being heightened by a growing Internet trend toward "cloud computing," software being offered online with applications hosted on outside computers instead of programs being installed on people's machines.
A common example of the practice is Web-based email services such as those offered by Google and Yahoo. The world of cloud computing is expanding to include software for documents, accounting, spread sheets, photo editing and more. "With cloud computer looming on the horizon it is important for us all to think of the privacy threats there as well," Conti said. "The tool resides with someone else and the data is stored somewhere else. Generally, that is a bad idea." Internet users are already giving away copious amounts of information using online search and mapping software. Prime examples are social networking websites where people post personal videos, pictures, and thoughts that supposedly can only be viewed by selected friends...even if Internet firms champion privacy for users, there is no guarantee they won't be forced to yield to courts or get new owners with different ideas. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]
8.09.08 Taliban claim responsibility for attack on Bunir police checkpost
BUNIR, Pakistan, August 9 - Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat has claimed responsibility for attack on a police checkpost in Bunir; meanwhile, 8 dead bodies of policemen have been handed over to their relatives. Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat spokesman, Muslim Khan told Geo News that an attack was carried out by Taliban militants on Bunir police checkpost last night. "Taliban attacked Kangar Gali police checkpost in Bunir and shot dead eight police officials deployed there," Muslim Khan told Geo News. He said that Taliban militants were accompanied by a suicide bomber in the attack. Those policemen who were killed in the attack include head constable Payo Khan, constables Laiq Khan, Mushtaq Ali, Abdul Wahab Shah, Noor Wali Khan, Syed Feroz, Sarzameen and Sajid. [>thenews.com.pk]
8.09.08 Sandwich chain supplier linked to outbreak of salmonella in Britain
August 9 - A fatal salmonella outbreak across the British Isles that has infected 90 people may be linked to sandwiches sold by Subway. Laboratory tests have shown a link between cases of illness and one of the US sandwich chain's ingredient suppliers. Cooked beef, chicken and bacon have been impounded at Dawn Farm Foods in Co Kildare, Ireland. As a precaution, Subway has removed batches of its Philly Style Steak and Chicken Fajita sandwiches from its 1,250 shops in the UK and Ireland. Other sandwich shops may also have bought the potentially contaminated meat.
The discovery could end the mystery of what had caused the outbreak of a new strain of Salmonella agona. The average age of victims has been 29 but a one-year-old baby has also fallen victim to the bug. Salmonella poisoning was a contributory factor in the death of a woman in her seventies at Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Salmonella is usually contracted from contaminated meat which has not been cooked at a sufficiently high temperature. Inquiries by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) centre on the heat treatment applied at the Irish plant. [More>>independent.co.uk]
8.08.08 China welcomes world to 2008 Olympics
BEIJING, August 8 - Once-reclusive China commandeered the world stage Friday, celebrating its first-time role as Olympic host with a stunning display of pyrotechnics and pageantry — topped by the unworldly sight of a flying gymnast, traversing the heights of the stadium to light the flame and begin the Summer Games. Now ascendant as a global power, China welcomed scores of world leaders to an opening ceremony watched by 91,000 people at the eye-catching National Stadium and a potential audience of 4 billion worldwide. It was depicted as the largest, costliest extravaganza in Olympic history, bookended by barrages of some 30,000 fireworks.
.08.08 South Ossetia conflict escalates
MEGVREKISI, Georgia - Tensions over Georgia's rebel territory of South Ossetia exploded on Friday when Georgia tried to assert control over the region with tanks and rockets, and Russia sent forces to repel the assault. Fighting between Georgian forces and Russian-backed separatists raged in and around Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, after Tbilisi sent troops to take back the territory, which broke away in the 1990s. A senior Georgian security official said Russian jets had bombed the Vaziani military airbase outside the Georgian capital Tbilisi, and President Mikheil Saakashvili said 150 Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles had entered South Ossetia from Russia. He also said Georgian forces had downed two Russian jets.
RIA-Novosti quoted a source in the regional Russian military headquarters as saying Russian armor had rolled into Tskhinvali, which Georgia had earlier claimed to have "freed." There was no immediate confirmation from Russia that it had sent bombers. The crisis, the first to confront President Dmitry Medvedev since he took office in May, looked close to spiraling into full-blown war in a region emerging as a key energy transit route, and where Russia and the West are vying for influence. [More>>themoscowtimes.com]
8.08.08 Kurdish rebels claim pipeline blast: report
ANKARA, Turkey (AFP) August 8 - Separatist Kurdish rebels claimed responsibility Friday for a blast that cut a strategic oil pipeline in Turkey and sent international prices higher. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline at Refahiye in eastern Turkey has been on fire since the blast on Tuesday night and is expected to be closed for 15 days. The separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) said the explosion was "an act of sabotage" by its militants and more details would be revealed later, according to a report on the website of the Firat news agency which is close to the rebels.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, has sabotaged gas and oil pipelines in the past as part of its armed campaign for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast. The blast occurred Tuesday night in a pump at a section of the pipeline near Refahiye, in Erzincan province. [More>>turkishpress.com]
Editorial note: "Islamist threats to the supply of oil." Sensitive Asian regions that are transited by oil pipelines can be seen in the maps in the Maravot News sidebar. Oil pipeline transit countries that have been in the news begin with Ukraine (a transit country serving Europe, on the western part of the Black Sea), Georgia and its break-away republic of South Ossetia (northeast part of the Black Sea), Azerbaizan (an oil producer on the Caspian Sea, south of Georgia), Turkey (on the south side of the Black Sea and a major transit country for many pipelines serving the world). These oil transit countries transfer oil from Russia, Iran and Iraq to the world.
8.08.08 Al-Sadr orders militia to disarm
BAGHDAD, August 8 - Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered most of his militiamen to disarm but said Friday he will maintain elite fighting units to resist the Americans if a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops is not established. Also Friday, Iraqi police say at least 16 people have been killed and 20 wounded when a car bomb struck a market in the northern city of Tal Afar. A senior police official in the nearby city of Mosul says the car was parked when it exploded by the market, crowded with shoppers. [More>>cbsnews.com]
8.08.08 70 militants killed, 60 injured in clashes
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, August 8 - At least 70 militants have been killed and 60 others injured as clashes between security forces and militants continued here in Bajaur Agency Thursday. Security forces targeted militants’ hideouts by using gunship helicopters and automated weapons. Around 70 militants were killed and 60 others injured in clashes, firing and shelling, an eyewitness said. Meanwhile, Tehrik-e-Taliban spokesperson Maulvi Umer claimed that Taliban have killed 10 security men and arrested 10 others. [>thenews.com.pk]
8.08.08 Backlash over Chinese handling of Muslim minority
August 8 - Experts Wonder if China's Crackdown on Muslim Minority is Fueling Violent Sentiment. In the lead up to the Olympic Games in Beijing, China has claimed that "terrorist" groups among its Muslim minority are linked to al-Qaeda. While intelligence experts say China is exaggerating the connection, many analysts wonder whether China's heavy handedness toward the Uighurs is creating a new recruiting ground for global terror. Already, political sentiment is changing. After years of harsh treatment at the hands of Chinese rulers, some members of the mainly Muslim Uighur minority in western China are turning to the global Islamist movement.
Among the recent developments is the presence of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which means the Party of Liberation, a group that advocates for a single Islamic state and preaches non-violent methods. Abdul Wahid, a leading member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir in London, told ABC News that his group has active members in western China's Xinjiang region. The adherence of some of China's Muslims to a global Islamist philosophy represents a departure for a population that has traditionally subscribed to a moderate form of Islam, and whose protests have been mainly directed against Chinese rule, said Nicholas Bequelin, a Human Rights Watch researcher.
"The religious environment is so restricted, so tightly controlled that people feel persecuted," said Bequelin. "[In such circumstances] some people tend to take the risk to join underground religious organizations that are independent from state control." The changing sentiment, however, does not mean that al-Qaeda has gone into China, US officials say. Former Central Intelligence Agency officer John Kiriakou, who served in Pakistan from 1998 to 2004, said the only link goes back to before the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 when a group of Uighurs was found at an al-Qaeda training camp. The US military eventually took nearly two dozen Uighurs to Guantanamo — some of whom have been released. [More>>abcnews.go.com]
8.08.08 Book on Prophet Muhammad's wife dropped
NEW YORK, August 8 - Publisher Random House has pulled a novel about Aisha, the wife of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), saying it could "incite acts of violence." "The Jewel of Medina," a debut novel by journalist Sherry Jones, 46, was due to be published on Aug. 12, as part of a $100,000, two-book deal. An eight-city publicity tour had been scheduled, Jones told Reuters on Thursday.
8.08.08 British house repossessions soar by 48% since January
August 8 - House repossessions soared by 48 per cent to 18,900 in the first six months of 2008 as the credit crunch and stricter lending regimes forced more people into default, particularly at the riskier end of the market. Figures released today by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showed that lenders took back 6,100 more houses in the first half of the year compared with 2007.
The numbers tally with Financial Services Authority data released this week that revealed 9,152 repossessions in the first quarter, up from 6,471 last year. CML said it is maintaining its forecast of a total of 45,000 repossessions and 170,000 mortgages in arrears of more than three months by the end of 2008. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]
8.08.08 Fears of European slowdown weaken the Euro
FRANKFURT, August 8 - The euro tumbled Friday to near the $1.50 mark — its lowest level against the dollar since February — amid new signs that the European economy was slowing. The decline in the euro helped to send oil prices to a three-month low on Friday in New York trading. At midday, oil was down $3.93, to $116.09 a barrel. In Europe, the latest indication of a slowdown came with a report that the Italian economy had unexpectedly shrank in the second quarter, adding to the sentiment that the European Central Bank was now more likely to cut, rather than raise, interest rates at its next meeting.
The euro fell to $1.5004 Friday before rallying slightly, atop a similar slide Thursday. The euro hit a record high of slightly more than $1.60 on July 15, a week after the European Central Bank bucked the trend of the world's major central banks and raised its benchmark interest rate. "There’s a real capitulation under way," David Gilmore, partner at Foreign Exchange Analytics in Essex, Conn., told The Associated Press on Friday. "In 24 hours it’s gone from $1.55 to $1.50, which is highly unusual. That changes your game plan for the marketplace." [More>>nytimes.com]
8.08.08 Fannie Mae posts quarterly loss of $2.3B, cuts dividend
August 8 - Fannie Mae, a key source of support for the nation's struggling housing market, today reported that its expenses from foreclosures and bad loans rose 64.9 percent during the second quarter and predicted deepening trouble ahead. The company said it is taking a variety of steps to avoid becoming undercapitalized as a result of further deterioration in the housing market -- including cutting its third quarter dividend to 5 cents per share, from 35 cents per share.
Overall, Fannie Mae lost $2.3 billion ($2.54 per share) in the quarter ending June 30, compared with a loss of $2.2 billion ($2.57) in the first quarter. Losses directly related to problems in the housing market grew faster. The losses from foreclosures and other problem loans rose to $5.3 billion in the second quarter, from $3.2 billion in the first quarter. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
8.08.08 Conditions in Myanmar starker than portrayed
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) August 7 - A rare bird's-eye look at Myanmar's Irrawaddy delta shows the devastation still left from Cyclone Nargis — broken levies, flooded farm roads, the shattered remains of bamboo huts and trees strewn like matchsticks along the coast. Conditions are far starker than reflected in the assessments from Myanmar's government and even in the recent optimism of some U.N. officials, The Associated Press has concluded from a review of data, a private flight over the delta and interviews with victims and aid workers. Three months after a disaster that claimed nearly 140,000 lives, thousands of villagers are still getting little or nothing from their government or foreign aid groups. "We lost everything - our house, our rice, our clothes. We were given just a little rice by a private aid group from Yangon. I don't know where the government or foreign organizations are helping people, but not here," said Khin Maung Kyi, a 60-year-old farmer who lost six children to the killer storm.
Some areas have received help in the delta, Myanmar's rice bowl set amid a lacework of waterways. During a fly-over, brand-new metal roofs atop reconstructed homes glittered in the tropical sunlight, farmers in cone-shaped hats worked in green rice paddies, and gangs of workers struggled to remove debris from canals and repair broken embankments. But progress is slow and behind where it should be. "The situation in Myanmar remains dire," said Chris Kaye, who heads relief operations for the U.N. World Food Program. "The vast majority of families simply don't have enough to eat." [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org]
8.08.08 Explosives found on high-speed rail line
BAYONNE, France, August 8 - Police have defused three explosive devices in busy tourist resorts in the French Basque country and on a high-speed rail line on the Atlantic coast. More than 1000 tourists were evacuated from their holiday homes after firefighters received an anonymous telephone tip-off early Friday alerting them to a total of five explosive devices in and around the Basque country region.
8.08.08 Light sentence for bin Laden's driver in Guantanamo trial
US NAVAL BASE AT GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (AFP) - August 8 - A US military jury on Thursday rejected government prosecutors' demands for a stiff sentence for Osama bin Laden's ex-driver, Salim Hamdan, saying he should only spend another five months in prison for supporting terrorism. The jury delivered a sentence of 66 months, and taking into account the time Hamdan has already served, the decision added an additional five months of prison time — though the Pentagon said it has no immediate plans to release him. The outcome was a defeat for prosecutors who had portrayed Hamdan as a dangerous "al-Qaeda warrior" who should be put away for at least 30 years for his work for the terrorist chief bin Laden, who remains at large seven years after the September 11 attacks.
The decision marked the end of a four-year legal battle over whether the US administration could prosecute Hamdan in controversial "war on terror" tribunals that operate under different rules than regular courts. Shortly before the sentence, Hamdan expressed sorrow and apologized over innocents killed — an apparent reference to the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes by bin Laden's al-Qaeda network — and appealed for leniency. "It was a sorry or sad thing to see innocent people killed," Hamdan said in Arabic, translated by an interpreter. "I personally present my apologies to them if anything what I did have caused them pain."
After hearing the decision, Hamdan thanked the jury, then smiled and cried as he embraced his longtime defense lawyer, Charles Swift. The sentence was a "stunning rebuke" to the government's case and a tribute to the integrity of the six military officers who served as jurors, Swift told reporters afterward. "What ultimately happened — in spite of the system -- was justice," he said. Swift said the test now would be if the US administration released Hamdan when his sentence was over in December, or invoked its disputed authority to hold him indefinitely without charges as a terror suspect or "unlawful enemy combatant." Defense lawyers said they hoped the government would respect the findings of the jurors after a two-week trial and release their client. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
8.08.08 EU tightens sanctions against Teheran
BRUSSELS, Belgium, August 8 - The European Union tightened trade sanctions against Iran on Friday to punish Teheran for not committing to a long-standing demand of the international community that it freeze its nuclear enrichment program. The new EU restrictions go slightly beyond existing UN trade sanctions and are designed to deny public loans or export credits to companies trading with Iran. France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said European governments would also carefully watch financial groups doing business with Iranian banks and step up checks on ships and airplanes traveling to Iran. "This resolution expands the range of restrictive measures adopted by the UN Security Council," in December 2006 and March 2007, an EU statement said. [More>>jpost.com]
8.08.08 1,900-year-old Thracian chariot unearthed
August 8 - The 1,900-year-old remains of a well-preserved chariot were unearthed in an ancient Thracian tomb in southeastern Bulgaria, according to media reports quoting the head of the excavation Friday. Daniela Agre said her team of archaeologists found the four-wheel chariot during excavations near the village of Borisovo, around 280 km east of the capital, Sofia...The Thracians were an ancient people that inhabited the lands of present day Bulgaria and parts of modern Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Romania between 4000 B.C. and the 6th century, when they were assimilated by the invading Slavs. Some 10,000 Thracian mounds — some of them covering monumental stone tombs — are scattered across Bulgaria. [Full story>>xinhuanet.com]
8.07.08 '2 US aircraft carriers headed for Gulf'
August 7 - Two additional United States naval aircraft carriers are heading to the Gulf and the Red Sea, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper Kuwait Times. Kuwait began finalizing its "emergency war plan" on being told the vessels were bound for the region. The US Navy would neither confirm nor deny that carriers were en route. US Fifth Fleet Combined Maritime Command located in Bahrain said it could not comment due to what a spokesman termed "force-protection policy. While the Kuwaiti daily did not name the ships it believed were heading for the Middle East, The Media Line's defense analyst said they could be the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Ronald Reagan.
8.07.08 Israel considers military option for Iran nukes
JERUSALEM (AP) August 7 - Israel is building up its strike capabilities amid growing anxiety over Iran's nuclear ambitions and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Teheran's atomic program, even if it can't destroy it. Such talk could be more threat than reality. However, Iran's refusal to accept Western conditions is worrying Israel as is the perception that Washington now prefers diplomacy over confrontation with Teheran.
The Jewish state has purchased 90 F-16I fighter planes that can carry enough fuel to reach Iran, and will receive 11 more by the end of next year. It has bought two new Dolphin submarines from Germany reportedly capable of firing nuclear-armed warheads — in addition to the three it already has. And this summer it carried out air maneuvers in the Mediterranean that touched off an international debate over whether they were a "dress rehearsal" for an imminent attack, a stern warning to Iran or a just a way to get allies to step up the pressure on Teheran to stop building nukes.
According to foreign media reports, Israeli intelligence is active inside Iranian territory. Israel's military censor, who can impose a range of legal sanctions against journalists operating in the country, does not permit publication of details of such information in news reports written from Israel. The issue of Iran's nuclear program took on new urgency this week after US officials rejected Teheran's response to an incentives package aimed at getting it to stop sensitive nuclear activity - setting the stage for a fourth round of international sanctions against the country. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story, haaretz.com, August 7, "Rice on IDF Iran strike: US has no veto over Israeli military ops."]
8.07.08 Saudi official slams 'racist' Israeli Nissan ad
DUBAI, August 7 - A Saudi official has demanded an apology from auto-maker Nissan after Arab sheikhs were portrayed in a "racist" manner in an Israeli-made TV ad for a new fuel-efficient car. The ad — produced by Israeli advertizing house Inbar Merhav Shaked — shows a group of irate and violent Arab oil barons attacking Nissan's Tiida electric car — the new centerpiece of the car-makers green lineup.
8.07.08 'Why don't you talk about the true impact of our deficit?"
August 7 (from an email, August 6, to George Miller, D. CA, House of Representatives, by Mel Copeland) Why don't you get a conversation going on the true impact of our deficit? The deficit is an annual shortfall that since Reagan introduced the irresponsible practice of Deficit Spending the deficit’s piled up (called the National Debt) since 1981 have grown exponentially from about $750 billion to a projected $10 trillion. No one has explained to the people that the National Debt accrues interest and the annual interest expense is about $400 billion and perhaps the largest single expense in the US Budget. It amounts to $1 billion per day. It may be compared to the childcare bill of $11 billion that Bush vetoed. He balked at spending $11 billion on children's health but has had no qualms about paying $400 billion to the central banks of China and the G-8 and extraordinarily rich traders in US bonds.
To sell the bonds that are used to pay off the US creditors, the government must recognize regular supply and demand effects. When demand is low in bonds the government must increase the interest rate offered on the bonds. When they increase rates to sell bonds, they cause all interest rates to go up, affecting home mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, etc. In truth, we have been paying through the nose to service the US National Debt. But it goes much further, since the US debt and economic solvency also affects the value of the dollar, which has been halved since the EU was introduced. Supply and Demand rules suggest that when the dollar falls bonds are less attractive, giving another reason for raising interest rates on bonds. [See chart on the Affects of the National Debt in sidebar]
But this is not the end of it, since the price of oil is linked to the dollar, and when the dollar falls oil producers raise the price of oil to account for the expected fall in the value of the dollar.
But this is not the end of the issue, since food producers rely on oil and biofuel technology is now forcing the price of food up. We have entered an era of high inflation. And to stop inflationary trends the Federal Reserve normally raises interest rates, making, of course, US bonds more attractive.
But this is not the end of it. Congress and other politicians have touted the Deficit as a "debt passed on to our children." It is really, when you think of it, very pernicious. But the truth is we have been paying through the nose to fund Reagan's false economics and irresponsible government practices. We saw how Deficit Spending worked under the Hoover administration, and it seems to be a specter that has again raised its head.
Government officials reap their day in office, with all of its benefits, not being particularly pressed to tell the people what they have a right to know. Cicero said in his book "The Offices" that leaders have a responsibility to tell the people what they have a right to know." In a monthly correspondence with Wm. F. Buckley Jr. between 1912-1995 we agreed that the affects of the National Debt then of $5 trillion was about to sink our economy, unless the borrowing on the debt ceased. Fortunately, Clinton became enamored with the idea and at least retarded the growth of the debt, with the support of Congress.
The next president probably hopes that he can continue borrowing, not paying down the debt. Somehow, however, the conversation has to change, and when the term "deficit" is used it should be common knowledge that the reference is to "adding on to the 10 trillion debt which causes over $1 billion per day to be exacted from our tax base to pay the rich.
I tried to get Buckley to explore the affects of the National Debt in his Firing Line debates, but he deferred doing that because "Prudential calls." He owned a lot of Prudential, which would be affected by a sudden realization that the economy was in jeopardy. At the end of our conversation, however, Gingrich announced the new plan of no more borrowing on the debt. [See Contract with America]
We suspect from the historic record [Newt] Gingrich did this as a ploy to get to Clinton who would have the dilemma of running a responsible government. During the Bush II administration, however, Gingrich has been amazingly silent on the National Debt; yet, Bush II doubled the debt from $5 trillion to a projected $10 trillion during his term in office.
I suggest you make this a strong topic of the presidential election. Not to discuss a deficit that is being passed on to our children, but to discuss the extraordinary cost to service the National Debt.
..If it [the cost to service the US National Debt] is described as an affect on the value of the dollar and thus the price of oil and thus the price of food and also as an affect on mortgage and auto loan rates, then people will be able to relate to a solution, to stop the borrowing, bringing back the responsible economic practices proven in the Clinton administration. While Gingrich and his cronies may have believed that a “no more borrowing” scenario would put the screws to Clinton, the fact is that the idea proved to produce economic growth and confidence in our economy. After all, we could see light at the end of the tunnel then. Right now there is doom and gloom, no light. If Obama explains the affects of the National Debt in simple terms, as it affects us here and now, and declares a “no more borrowing” plan, then believe you me the entire world economy will get new life
Editorial note: Of course this simple discussion is not the end of the affects. I didn't mention in the E-mail to Miller the rising unemployment and collapsing auto market and other companies affected by the declining US economy, or the economic downturn in Europe and Asia owing to a decline in US retail activity and imports. (This has been a continuing discussion at Maravot News since 2004, reflecting my conversations with Buckley in 1992-1995)
8.07.08 President Pervez Musharraf will be impeached: ruling coalition
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, August 7 - President Pervez Musharraf will have to face impeachment under Article 47 of the Constitution if he fails to take [a] vote of confidence from the assemblies immediately. This was announced by Co-chairman Pakistan People's Party, Asif Ali Zardari at a joint press conference with Pakistan Muslim League-N Chief, Nawaz Sharif, here at Zardari House on Thursday. The announcement came after two-days of marathon meetings held by the ruling coalition.
8.07.08 Pakistani troops kill 25 Taliban in clashes
KHAR, Pakistan, August 7 - Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships have killed 25 Taliban militants and a soldier died in a bomb blast as forces moved into a troubled tribal area, security officials said today. Clashes erupted when paramilitary troops reoccupied a checkpost they had abandoned several months earlier in the Bajaur tribal zone bordering Afghanistan, a haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda militants, they said. The operation comes amid mounting US pressure for Pakistan's fledgling democratic government to crack down on Islamist fighters in the rugged frontier region. "At least 25 militants have died in the clashes in the Loisam area of Bajaur over the past 24 hours," a senior security official said. [More>>news.com.au]
8.07.08 Istanbul hit by explosions
August 7 - Three people have been injured in three explosions outside a municipal building in Istanbul, officials and media have said. Witnesses said unidentified assailants hurled explosives at the building in Uskudar, on the city's Asian side. One blast occurred in a rubbish-collecting truck in the car park of the building, while two others ripped through a neighboring cemetery, Mehmet Cakir, the mayor of Uskudar, said...CNN-Turk and NTV, two private television stations, said the explosions were caused by mortars that were fired from the cemetery and that had fallen short of their intended target, a nearby military barracks. [Full story>>aljazeera.net; See also turkishpress.com (AFP)]
8.07.08 Hamdan guilty of terror support
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, August 6 - Former Bin Laden Driver Acquitted Of Aiding Attacks. A military jury on Wednesday found a former driver for Osama bin Laden guilty of supporting terrorism but not of conspiring in terrorist attacks, handing the Bush administration a partial victory in the first US war crimes trial in a half a century. The verdict, reached after about eight hours of deliberations over three days, only intensified the debate over whether Salim Ahmed Hamdan's conviction was preordained in an unfair system — or whether military trials are appropriate for people accused of committing heinous acts against the United States. The administration seized on the acquittal to defend its military justice system against accusations that it was politicized and drawn up to ensure convictions. Pentagon and White House officials said they are satisfied with the result.
"We're pleased that Salim Hamdan received a fair trial," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. "The military commission system is a fair and appropriate legal process for prosecuting detainees." Despite the partial acquittal, Hamdan still faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Jurors are to reconvene Thursday to determine his sentence. With the conclusion of the trial — the first by military commission since the end of World War II — US prosecutors can move ahead with military trials for up to 80 Guantanamo Bay detainees, including those accused of planning the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. One reason Hamdan, who even the military judge labeled "a small player," was tried first is so the system could be tested on him. [More>>washingtonpost.com'
8.07.08 Siddiqui arrest shifts focus to cases of 'disappeared' in Pakistan
KABUL, August 6 - Case will put pressure on government for hundreds reported missing by families. The high-profile arrest of a Pakistani woman suspected of al-Qaeda links casts a spotlight on an issue her nation's fledgling civilian Government has been slow to confront: years of official secrecy surrounding the fate of hundreds of people rounded up as terrorism suspects. Some human rights activists believe that Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani-born neuroscientist, who appeared on Tuesday in federal district court in New York, was originally "disappeared" by Pakistani authorities five years ago, possibly at US behest. American officials said that Siddiqui had been arrested in Afghanistan last month and flown to the US on Monday after recuperating from a gunshot that authorities said she suffered in a shootout after her capture.
Siddiqui, who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, initially dropped out of sight in 2003 in Karachi, at a time when US authorities wanted to question her about her suspected ties to the al-Qaeda. Human rights activists were divided over whether the Siddiqui case would ratchet up pressure on the 5-month-old Pakistani Government to account for the whereabouts of hundreds of people who have been reported missing by their families. Many presumed detainees are believed to be languishing incommunicado, denied access to counsel, but not charged with any crime. "One hopes that this case is going to bring more attention to the issue of the 'disappeared,' " said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan researcher for Human Rights Watch. His organization and other rights groups had raised suspicion that Siddiqui was secretly held at some point by US or Pakistani authorities, or both. [More>>indianexpress.com; See related story, metimes.com, August 7, "Probing why women kill in Iraq."],,
8.07.08 Cutting-edge camera may become first 'bionic eye'
August 7 - A digital camera closely modelled on the human eye has been invented in what scientists are calling a revolutionary step towards the creation of computerised bionic sensors that can be attached to the body. The camera's unique technology is its curved light-sensitive surface that was inspired by the human eye's hemispherical retina that collects light at the back of the eyeball and transmits electrical signals to the brain. Scientists said yesterday that it was the first time anyone has built a curved light-sensitive surface for a digital device of this sort and the breakthrough opens up the possibility of attaching similar sensors to the curved surfaces of the body. Conventional cameras use flat surfaces to detect light but for them to work properly it is necessary to use complex lenses to ensure that light falling at the edges of the surface is not distorted due to it falling outside the focal plane of the lens.
Professor John Rogers at the University of Illinois in Champaign said that being able to build a light detector on the curved surface of an artificial eyeball provides a much broader field of view, a more uniform illumination and fewer aberrations than a flat digital camera with similar lenses. "Hemispherical detector arrays are also much better suited for use as retinal implants than flat detectors. The ability to wrap high-quality silicon devices onto complex surfaces and biological tissues adds very interesting and powerful capabilities to electronic and optoelectronic device design, with many new application possibilities," Professor Rogers said. [More>>independent.co.uk]
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