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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.
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News Headlines & Trends

8.22.08 Russia quickens departure from Georgia

August 22 - Russian forces today accelerated a promised pullout from Georgian territory, but it was unclear how long it would take and what presence they would retain in a so-called “buffer zone” around the conflict areas of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian armored vehicles completed their departure from the key city of Gori, which was deserted by the Georgian Army and most of its population in the early days of the conflict and has been under Russian control since. Checkpoints were also scaled down on Georgia's main east-west highway, on which Gori lies, and where Georgian drivers over the past week have been subjected to document checks and car searches by heavily armed Russian soldiers at multiple points, and at times simply denied passage. [More>>independent.co.uk]

8.22.08 China 'blocks' iTunes music store

August 22 - Apple iTunes customers in China fear the online store has been blocked after a pro-Tibet album featured on the site became a hit. The site has been unavailable inside China for the past week. An Apple spokeswoman said the firm was currently investigating what lay behind the problem. The Beijing authorities have not commented on the issue, but activists claim it is connected to the recent release of "Songs for Tibet." Millions of Chinese citizens use the internet for education and business, but the government sometimes tries to block access to sites run by dissidents and human rights and Tibet activists. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

8.22.08 Bernanke: Financial storm not yet over

NEW YORK, August 22 - Fed chief suggests problems in credit markets not yet over and are a threat to economy; encouraged by lower oil prices. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday that the problems in the nation's financial markets persist and still threaten the economy. Bernanke said that the financial woes, coupled with record oil prices and the weakening economy, had created "one of the most challenging economic and policy environments in memory." In prepared remarks at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Bernanke also said he is encouraged by the recent oil price decline, which may signal that inflationary pressures are on the wane. [More>>cnn.com; See related stories:

timesonline.co.uk, August 22, "Buffet predicts game over for Fannie and Freddie"
: Warren Buffett predicted that "the game is over" for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, America's two biggest mortgage financiers, as independent companies, as the world's richest man gave warning that the US economy would remain in the doldrums for at least five months. Mr. Buffett, who runs the Berkshire Hathaway investment group, told CNBC today that Fannie and Freddie, which underpin America's mortgage market by buying home loans and packaging them into bonds, "don'thave any net worth." This is because the two mortgage giants face huge losses on the mortgage bonds, meaning that they will probably need a cash injection from the US Government to keep them afloat...

independent.co.uk, August 22, "16-year low as British economy grinds to a halt" : The economy ground to a halt between April and June, official figures showed today. The flat second-quarter performance is the worst for 16 years and worse than the modest 0.2 per cent growth initially estimated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It ends a run of 63 consecutive quarters of growth since April-June 1992, when the UK's gross domestic product shrank.

The gloomy figures will increase fears of recession - defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth - and shatter Government boasts of continuous economic growth since it came to power in 1997. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King last week said there was "bound to be a quarter or two" of negative growth as rate-setters battle the twin threats of an economic slowdown and rampant inflation...

koreaherald.co.kr, Augst 22, "Korea: Stocks fall, won hits four-year low" :The stock market yesterday extended its loss to breach the 1,500 level as renewed global credit woes further dampened fragile investor sentiment. Foreign investors' selling spree yesterday led the won to hit its weakest level in almost four years against the dollar in late trading, reversing earlier gains. In a 14-month period, the benchmark index fell below the 1,500 level, which many view as psychologically important.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index lost as much as 2.3 percent, recouping part of its loss to close at 1,496.91 yesterday. Analysts have said that the stock market would undergo further fluctuations, citing both the global financial market and local market-specific issues. A surge in interest rates and the won's persistent decline against the greenback has caused concerns Korea may face its own credit crunch. Investors are also quickly losing their confidence in the outlook of local exporters that heavily rest on the Chinese market...

8.22.08 Over 40 Taliban killed in Afghan clashes

KABUL, August 22 - US-led troops attacked a compound where Taliban leaders were meeting in western Afghanistan, killing 30 militants, American and Afghan officials said Friday. Another 11militants reportedly died in a separate clash in the south. [More>>thenews.com.pk; See also:

indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org
: ....The operation was launched after an intelligence report that a Taliban commander, Mullah Siddiq, was inside the compound presiding over a meeting of militants, Azimi said. Siddiq was one of those killed during the raid, Azimi said...A roadside bomb in the country's east, meanwhile, killed a US coalition service member on Friday, the US military said in a statement...Another roadside blast Friday hit an Italian army's armored vehicle some 12 miles north of Kabul, wounding three Italian soldiers Friday, the Italian Defense Ministry said. Separately, Afghan and international troops clashed Thursday with militants in Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province, killing 11 militants, said provincial police Chief Juma Gul Himat...

8.22.08 Fighting rocks northwest Pakistan

August 22 - Pakistan's military says it has killed up to 16 armed men in the country's northwest, including a would-be suicide bomber. A military statement said fighting broke out on Friday when security forces stopped a vehicle at a checkpoint near the town of Hangu in the North West Frontier Province. One person who got out of the vehicle and moved towards the checkpoint was shot by troops, the statement said, subsequently detonating explosives he was carrying. In the ensuing gunbattle, 15 militants were killed and one was arrested alive," AFP news agency quoted Sher Bahadur, a local police officer, as saying. [More>>aljazeera.net]

8.22.08 Activists in Ukraine's Crimea ask Russia to reclaim territory

SIMFEROPOL (RIA Novosti) August 22 - About 50 protesters gathered in the Crimean capital of Simferopol on Friday, urging Russia to pull out of a friendship agreement with Ukraine and to make a territorial claim on the peninsula. The organizer of the rally, Valery Podyachy, told the gathering: "We ask Russia to tear up the agreement [on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership with Ukraine] and to file territorial claims to Ukraine." The Crimea, which has a predominantly Russian-speaking population, has been the focus of frequent disputes between the Russian and Ukrainian leaderships, over the Russian Black Sea Fleet's lease of the soviet-era Sevastopol naval base.

During the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia that followed Tbilisi's August 8 offensive in breakaway South Ossetia, Ukraine threatened to bar entry to Russian Black Sea fleet vessels that had been deployed near Georgia's coast. Ukraine's Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov signed instructions on Thursday to implement an earlier presidential decree complicating the rules of deployment for the Black Sea Fleet. Podyachy, who heads the Sevastopol-Crimea-Russia Popular Front, said: "While Russia sent aid to flood-hit Ukrainian regions, Ukraine failed to help Russia to force Georgia to peace, and took an openly hostile stance." Ukraine supplied weaponry to President Mikheil Saakashvili's regime that was used to kill Russian peacekeepers, he said. [More>>en.rian.ru]

8.22.08 Tens of thousands march in Kashmir for independence

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) August 22 - Waving green Islamic flags and shouting ‘we want freedom’, tens of thousands of Muslims marched in Indian Kashmir's main city on Friday, resuming some of the biggest protests in two decades against Indian rule. Hundreds of trucks and buses brought the protesters, many of them sitting on roofs and hanging out of windows, for an independence rally to be addressed by separatist leaders. "There is no God but Allah" and "Indian forces go back," the protesters shouted. Policemen and soldiers dressed in battle gear patrolled the streets as protesters arrived from nearby towns and villages.

What began as a dispute over land for Hindu pilgrims visiting a shrine in Kashmir snowballed into full-scale anti-India protests this month, boosting separatists who want India's only Muslim-majority region to secede. Police have killed at least 23 Muslim protesters and over 500 have been injured in clashes in two weeks of demonstrations in Kashmir valley. Protests were halted for three days, until Friday, to allow Kashmiris to stock up on rations. The Kashmir demonstrations are some of the biggest since a separatist revolt against Indian rule broke out in the region in 1989. Tens of thousands of people were killed in that revolt. The crisis has worsened relations between India and Pakistan, who both claim the region in full but rule it in parts. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See also:

kashmirtimes.com, August 21, "Students take to streets, demand 'azadi' "
: "...The Hurriyat leaders are now united and are fighting against the common enemy," said Altaf Ahmad a final year student of Amar Singh College. The students said that Monday's massive public participation was a referendum of people that Kashmiris want independence. "Now the United Nations Security Council must take action after eight lakh people handed over a handed a memorandum to its military observer in Kashmir. The Indian leaders cannot ignore the basic fact when [the] first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, promised [the] people at Lal Chowk that Kashmiris would be given a chance to decide their future through plebiscite under the supervision of [the] United Nation[s]. But [the] Indian government had ignored around 18 resolutions passed by the United Nations to give a people of the state a chance to decide their fate," Altaf said...

8.22.08 Israeli Arab charged with planning attacks with Al-Qaeda

JERUSALEM, August 22 - An Israeli Arab from Tel Sheva has been indicted on suspicion of conspiring with an al-Qaeda agent to carry out terror attacks in Israel, security services announced Friday. According to the charges, 23-year-old Khaled Abu Rakayek, a former student of the Technological College in Beersheba, allegedly tried to set up a terror cell to perpetrate a suicide bombing. According to the allegations, Abu Rakayek allegedly began becoming closer to Islam in 2002, and during his college studies, he started to surf Internet sites affiliated with terror organizations.

During his Web surfing, Abu Rakayek allegedly made contact with an al-Qaeda operative in Gaza, named on the charge sheet as Abu Balal, and the two discussed carrying out terror attacks. Abu Rakayek also allegedly downloaded films documenting attacks perpetrated by global jihad elements. According to the suspicions, in 2004, he decided to set up a terror cell in order to plan and carry out suicide attacks inside Israel and downloaded instruction videos on preparing bomb belts. [More>>jpost.com]

8.22.08 Gold medalists on day 14 of Beijing Olympics

August 22 - Two sprint gold medals winner Usain Bolt led Jamaica to the men's 4x100 meters win with a new world record at the Beijing Olympic Games here on Friday. Steve Hooker from Australia claimed the men's pole vault title with the result of 5.96 meters at the Beijing Olympics on Friday night. Bryan Clay of the United States won the men's decathlon gold at the Olympic Games here on Friday. The Netherlands claimed the women's field hockey title at the Beijing Olympics on Friday night, beating China 2-0 in the final. Russia scored a surprise win in the women's 4x100 meters relay at the Beijing Olympic Games here on Friday. World number one Zhang Yining won her fourth Olympic gold, beating teammate Wang Nan 4-1 in an all-Chinese women's singles table tennis Olympic final here Friday evening...Lena Schoneborn of Germany won the Olympic women's modern pentathlon gold medal here on Friday...Maris Strombergs, reigning world champion from Latvia, clinched the first-ever Olympic men's bicycle moto cross (BMX) gold here Friday. [Full story>>xinhuanet.com]

8.22.08 Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for Algeria attacks

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) August 22 - The North African branch of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility Friday for devastating bombings in Algeria that killed up to 60 people this week, in a statement carried by an Arab TV news station. The group described the attacks on a police academy, a military barracks and a Canadian engineering firm as retaliation against security forces for their crackdown on militants, described as "Mujahedeen," or holy warriors.

The attacks "follow the perfidious operation, where a number of young Mujahedeen have been killed," said a man identified as Salah Abu Mohammed, an al-Qaeda spokesman, in a tape delivered to the Al-Jazeera news channel. There was no way to authenticate Friday's message but in the past militant groups have often delivered responsibility claims via Al-Jazeera. [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org]

8.21.08 Abkhazia, S. Ossetia send sovereignty appeals to Russia

SUKHUMI (RIA Novosti) August 21 - Georgia's breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia sent official appeals Thursday to Russia's president and parliament to recognize their independence. The relevant resolutions were announced during rallies in the two separatist republics' capitals earlier Thursday. In Sukhumi, around 50,000 people gathered on the central square to show support for the appeal to recognize Abkhazia "as a sovereign and independent state, and sign a treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance," "It has become clear that Abkhazia will not live in the same state with Georgia," Abkhazian parliament speaker Nugzar Ashuba told the rally.

Addressing a similar gathering in Tskhinvali, South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity said: "Those who armed Georgia are also responsible for what happened in South Ossetia, and do not have the moral right to claim the role of peacekeepers." "We appeal to Russia to be the first country from the international community to recognize the independence of the republic of South Ossetia," reads Tskhinvali's request. Both chambers of Russia's parliament are expected to consider the appeals by the republics on Monday. [More>>en.rian.ru]

8.21.08 Turkey allows US ships to take aid to Georgia

ANKARA, Turkey (Reuters) August 21 - NATO-member Turkey has authorised three US ships to sail through the Turkish straits into the Black Sea to carry humanitarian aid to Georgia, US and Turkish officials said on Thursday. The two Navy ships and a US Coast Guard cutter carrying blankets, hygiene kits, baby food and infant care supplies are expected to arrive in war-damaged Georgia in one week, a US diplomat based in Ankara said. The Caucasus state has been the scene of violent clashes between Russian and Georgian forces after moves by Tbilisi to re-establish control over its breakaway province of South Ossetia and thousands of people have been uprooted.

Turkey governs international traffic through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits under the 1936 Montreux Convention, which sets weight limits on ships belonging to countries that do not have a border with the Black Sea. Turkey, which has close ties with neighboring Georgia and is a key strategic ally of Washington, has been walking a delicate diplomatic line during the Caucasus conflict in order not to antagonize Russia. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories:

indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org, August 21, "Russia blocks Georgia's main port city" :
POTI, Georgia (AP) -- Russian forces blocked the only land entrance to Georgia's main port city on Thursday, a day before Russia promised to complete a troop pullout from its ex-Soviet neighbor. Armored personnel carriers and troop trucks blocked the bridge to the Black Sea port city of Poti, and Russian forces excavated trenches and set up mortars facing the city. Another group of APCs and trucks were positioned in a nearby wooded area.

Although Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has promised that his forces would pull back by Friday, Russian troops appear to be digging in, raising concern about whether Moscow is aiming for a lengthy occupation of its small, pro-Western neighbor. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told The Associated Press that Russia was thinning out its presence in some occupied towns but was seizing other strategic spots. He called the Russian moves "some kind of deception game." ...

xinhuanet.com, August 21, "Russia warns NATO against re-equipping Georgia's military" :
Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin warned Wednesday NATO against filling the gap of losses of the Georgian military incurred in its conflict with Russia. "Any attempt of NATO to fill the gap of losses of the Georgian army contradicts the conventions of the OSCE (Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe)," Rogozin told reporters. All NATO countries, Russia and Georgia are members of the OSCE. He said the provision of strategic armament to Georgia and the flight of NATO reconnaissance planes along Russia's borders as requested by Georgia are regarded as hostile actions to Russia. [More>>xinhuanet.com]

Editorial note: I think the game that Saakashvili complained about is called chess, but this chess board involves real living people and nations. Saakashvili apparently is not aware that he is the pawn that was first moved. The Bush administration may not have been aware of the gravity and deadly consequences of that move.

Mel Copeland

8.21.08 Russia to consider Syrian weapons sales

MOSCOW (AP) August 21 - Moscow will consider an appeal by Syria's president to sell it new weapons, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday. He did not say which weapons Syria seeks. Russia's arms trade with Syria has provoked tension with Israel and the United States. Past deals have included the sale of Russia's technologically advanced Strelets system. The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Lavrov as saying Russia was prepared to sell Syria weapons that "have a defensive character and that do not in any way interfere with the strategic balance in the region." [More>>jpost.com]

8.21.08 Death toll in Wah blasts climbs to 70

WAH, Pakistan, August 21 - At least 70 people were killed and about 80 others injured in two suicide bomb blasts outside Pakistan's main military arms factory in Wah Cantt. on Thursday. According to hospital sources, at least 70 persons were killed in the twin blasts at the gates of Pakistan Ordnance Factory...The Pakistani Ordnance Factories at Wah is a cluster of about 20 industrial units producing artillery, tank, and anti-aircraft ammunition for the Pakistan armed forces. It employs around 25,000 to 30,000 workers. [Full story>>thenews.com.pk; See details, independent.co.uk, August 21, "Dozens killed in Pakistan suicide blasts."]

8.21.08 View from Dubai: Musharraf and Bush's War

DUBAI, UAE, August 21 - (Opinion by Zaka Syed, opinion editor of Khaleej Times. An editorial that reviews some positive and negative aspects of Musharraf's reign in Pakistan.) What luck for rulers that men do not think, said Adolf Hitler. The Fuhrer should know. After all, he proved himself a successful, if rather reviled, leader of men and went on to conquer half of the world. Successive rulers of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan seem to have been driven by this cynical piece of wisdom. They come to power with the noblest of intentions and promises, but always end up as the prisoners of their own delusions of grandeur.

...In the case of Pakistan, and many other Muslim countries, this has been the norm, rather than the exception. Almost everyone who has been chosen for the onerous responsibility of leading the first country that was created in the name of Islam has done everything to discredit Jinnah's Utopia as well as the noble name of the great faith. Whether men in khaki or feudal politicos in civvies, they have all ended up mistaking this country for their fiefdom and their own selves as God's gift to humanity...

Most Pakistanis, and rest of the world, celebrated when Musharraf came to power. Unlike the tyrants in the past, this mustachioed guy born in Delhi and brought up in Ankara did not usurp power. Rather it was thrust on him, thanks to the high-handedness of the democratically elected leaders of the time. And the general indeed offered a refreshing contrast with the corrupt political lot with the two elitist leading parties taking turns to loot the country...But the one single contribution for which Musharraf would be and should be long remembered is what he did for peace and reconciliation between India and Pakistan...Even if Musharraf had accidentally come to power, thanks to the abuse of power by his former boss Nawaz Sharif, and even though he had steered Pakistan out of troubled waters, he had long overstayed his welcome. According to his own promises, his sell-by date should have been Dec. 31, 2005.

...And the whole country, coupled with Afghanistan, has been transformed into a vast battlefield; the main front of the war that, we are reassured, is being fought for the promotion of democracy and human freedom, whatever that means. I don't know if all this happened with the explicit knowledge and blessings of Musharraf. But like Faust, he did sell his soul in return for power. As in Greek tragedies, this proved to be the fatal flaw in our hero.
[Full story>>metimes.com]

Editorial note: The following stories provide more insight into Musharraf's legacy.

In a cbc.ca interview, September 26, 2006, "Q&A with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf," Musharraf pointed out that he joined the US in the war on terrorism because he was told by Secretary of State Colin Powell: "...you are either with us or against us..." The interview provides details on Musharraf's relationship with the Taliban.

guardian.co.uk interview, April 26, 2006, "Musharraff instists, 'I am not George Bush's poodle.' " General Pervez Musharraf, facing a surge of anti-American sentiment, yesterday warned that covert US air strikes against al-Qaeda inside Pakistan were an infringement of national sovereignty. Admitting that his popularity was waning, the Pakistani president insisted he was "not a poodle" of George Bush and rejected accusations he was running a military dictatorship...Gen. Musharraf, who faces revolts in Baluchistan and along the Afghan border, admitted to feeling embattled. He added that there was a growing problem of "Talibanisation" in Waziristan, a troubled tribal area where several hundred al-Qaeda suspects have been killed...But a new form of local fundamentalism was taking its place in Waziristan, which is ruled directly from Islamabad under colonial-era laws. "Extremism in a Talibanised form is what people are now going for. Mullah Omar and the Taliban have influence in Waziristan and it's spilling over into our settled areas."...

Spiegel.de provides a great insight into the beginnings of the war on terror. Musharraf has expressed the opinion that the Kashmir and Palestinian conflicts are similar and a resolution of the one will bring a resolution to the other. In the Spiegel interview he points out that the pacification of Palestine is the key to the war on terrorism.

spiegel.de, May 28, 2005, "Spiegel interview with Pakistani President Pervez Musharrraf: 'Who is fighting al-Qaeda other than Pakistan?' " : Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf rules a country on the front lines in the war against terror. For years he has walked the difficult tight-rope of pacifying a Muslim population and maintaining a close alliance with the US. SPIEGEL spoke with him about anti-Americanism, the hunt for Osama bin Laden and whether Iran should be allowed to go nuclear...

SPIEGEL: Are you suggesting that up to that moment no Pakistani soldier had ever set foot on the soil of that part of your country? [Northwest Territories]

Musharraf: Yes, it was the first time in history. Even the British had left it alone.

SPIEGEL: Did you get support from the tribes?

Musharraf: Yes. We contacted them and we were welcomed in all tribal agencies. We launched operations in about four valleys. These were their bases, their sanctuaries in South Waziristan, the southernmost of the seven agencies. We started operations in Wana valley and then we went on, and we have dislodged them.

...SPIEGEL: Has Iraq got to be pacified in order to win the war on terrorism, as President Bush is calling for?

Musharraf: I would say that you need to pacify Palestine. This is the route. Any indirect strategy for Iraq or Afghanistan is through Palestine..

The real story of Musharraf and his role during the first decade of the 21st century has yet to be written. As I have revisited the positive and negative issues in which he was involved I had a feeling that was akin to what I felt when I read the inscription on Napoleon's tomb. In spite of Napoleon's reputation among his enemies his legacy remains strong in France. The trees along the roads of France were planted by Napoleon, the roads crossing the Alps were built by Napoleon. Napoleon is remembered for the prosperity, culture, glory and ruin he brought to France and Europe. George W. Bush seems to have sought the same legacy from the world, without the prosperity, culture or glory — just ruin. Musharraf is one who was caught up in this.

Mel Copeland.

8.21.08 E.ON and Scottish & Southern rise power prices by 30%

August 21 - Two of Britain's energy providers have dramatically raised gas and electricity prices today, adding to the misery facing hard-pressed UK consumers and putting more people into fuel poverty. Scottish & Southern Energy is putting an extra 29.2 per cent on gas customers' bills and 19.2 per cent on electricity bills, while more than four million customers of E.ON have been hit with energy price prices of up to 26 per cent. Scottish & Southern, which will increase prices from next Monday, said the spike in the wholesale gas market yesterday demonstrated "the dramatic increase in wholesale energy prices we have experienced in the UK." [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

8.21.08 And finally, 100 million-year-old galactic mystery solved by Hubble

August 21 - Images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of the Perseus cluster of stars have helped scientists to solve a 100 million-year-old mystery of how giant structures in deep space are prevented from disintegrating. The spectacular pictures show vast, thread-like "filaments" of gas which emerge from the centre of a galaxy known as NGC 1275, situated some 235 million light years away from Earth. Astronomers have tried to explain how these beautiful structures can have survived for so long, given that the filaments reach out from their home galaxy into the Perseus cluster, which is a hostile, high-energy environment with a strong, tidal pull of gravity.

These combined forces should have ripped apart the filaments in a very short time, causing them to collapse into stars. Instead, they have withstood this immense destructive force for more than 100 million years, scientists said. Now, for the first time, images from Hubble have allowed researchers to observe the filamentary structure in detail. Using such data, they were able to demonstrate that the strong magnetic fields in the region give the filaments a skeletal structure which is enough to enable them to resist gravitational collapse. [More>>independent.co.uk]

8.21.08 US military frees Reuters cameraman in Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) August 21 - The US military freed a Reuters television cameraman on Thursday after holding him for three weeks in Iraq without charges. Ali al-Mashhadani, who also works freelance for the BBC and Washington-based National Public Radio, was detained in Baghdad on July 30 while he was in the Green Zone government compound for routine checks for a US military press card.

US forces have detained Mashhadani twice before, at one point holding him for five months, but no charge has ever been filed against the cameraman, who is based in Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province. The US military said at the time of his latest arrest that he was held "because he has been assessed to be a threat to the security of Iraq and coalition forces," but did not elaborate...US forces have held other Iraqi reporters working for Reuters and journalists from different media groups for long periods without charging them. In April, the US military freed a Pulitzer Prize-winning Iraqi photographer working for the Associated Press after holding him without charge for two years. [Full story>>thestar.com.my]

8.21.08 Gold medalists on day 13 of Beijing Olympics

August 21 - The United States struggled to beat hottest favorite Brazil 1-0 in the extra time to claim the women's soccer title at the Beijing Olympics on Thursday. Canadian Eric Lamaze won the jumping individual gold medal at the Olympic equestrian competition here on Thursday. Nelson Evora from Portugal won the first gold medal for the country by edging his opponents in men's triple jump at the Beijing Olympic Games on Thursday. Cuba's world record holder Dayron Robles won the men's 110 meters hurdles gold medal at the Beijing Olympic Games here on Thursday. The United States started on Thursday evening to show its muscles seven days into the track and field competition at the Beijing Olympic Games, sweeping the medals in the men's 400m race...Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown won the gold medal of the women's 200 meters at the Beijing Olympic Games on Thursday. {Full story>>xinhuanet.com]

8.20.08 Algeria: Car bomb attacks leave 11 dead, 31 injured

ALGIERS, Algeria (AFP) August 20 - Eleven people people have been killed and 31 wounded in two car bomb attacks in the eastern Algerian town of Bouira, Algerian radio has reported. The early morning blasts came a day after a massive attack on a police academy claimed 43 lives. One of the attacks targeted a passenger bus parked near the Sophie hotel, in the city centre. The second bomb went off near the military headquarters in Bouira, which is 120 kilometers southeast of the capital Algiers. A security cordon was immediately thrown around the scene of the blasts, witnesses said.

The hotel's night watchman was in a "state of shock," the radio said, as he was at his post when a powerful explosion rocked the building, blowing out the windows. The blasts could be heard in a radius of several hundred metres, residents told AFP by telephone. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The radio did not say whether the blasts were the work of suicide bombers. The attacks came only a day after a suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into the entrance of a police school killing 43 people and injuring 45 in Issers, 60 kilometers east of Algiers.

8.20.08 Abkhazia parliament approves call to Russia for recognition

SUKHUMI (RIA Novosti) August 20 - Abkhazia's parliament has approved an appeal by the president of the separatist republic for Russia to recognize its independence from Georgia. The proclamation was backed by all 26 MPs attending the extraordinary session. The MPs also adopted an appeal to the parliaments and governments of other countries. The recognition request was prepared shortly after Georgia launched an offensive on South Ossetia, another secessionist republic in Georgia, on August 8. [en.rian.ru; See related stories

khaleejtimes.com, August 20, "G7 says stands ready to support Georgian economy"

On the other breakaway province, S. Ossetia:

kommersant.com, August 20, "We'd better burn it down so that they would never return" : Kommersant special correspondent Olga Allenova, who was at the war, believes that the South Ossetia of these days resembles the Chechnya of 1999. I thought we wouldn’t even need guns here” It was Russia’s wounded soldiers that first reminded me of Chechnya. They told us about the way military operations are carried out today and I realized that nothing had changed since 1999...

nytimes.com, August 20, Survivors in Georgia tell of ethnic killings" : TKVIAVI, Georgia — The men who came to Gulnara Militaura's house seemed to know what they were looking for. They entered her kitchen and shot her husband and his brother in the head. For the next five days, as attacks and looting raged outside, she cowered at home, sprinkling vinegar on the bodies to try to keep them from rotting. Now that the fighting between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia has subsided, killings like those will be grist for competing claims of ethnic cleansing.

...Georgia's military campaign ripped through a city just north of here last week, prompting Russia to strike back and opening a way for South Ossetians to sweep into Georgian villages for revenge. Still, the victims seemed marked by their ethnicity in a vicious, if short, war — itself fought over competing claims to the same patches of ground by different groups...

aljazeera.net, August 20, "Russia builds Ossetia 'buffer zone" : Russian troops are fortifying a "buffer zone" around the disputed South Ossetia region with eight military posts and a ban on Georgian aircraft, a senior Russian commander has said. Russia will also maintain a military presence around Abkhazia, another separatist region in the west of Georgia, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy head of Russia's general staff said in a televised news conference in Moscow on Wednesday. He said: "We are establishing two lines of posts for the peacekeeping contingent" in South Ossetia...

alarabiya.net, August 20, "West is distorting facts in Georgia: Syria's Assad" : Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday backed Russia's pursuit of its "legal interests" in its conflict with Georgia and accused the West of using "total disinformation" to isolate Moscow. "On this issue we fully support Russia... Georgia started this crisis, but the West is blaming Russia," Assad said in an interview with the Kommersant daily ahead of his scheduled arrival Wednesday in Russia for two days of talks...

independent.co.uk, August 20, "Miliband visit puts pressure on Georgian leader" : The first British government minister to visit Georgia since the Russian invasion made a point of meeting opposition leaders as public discontent over Mikheil Saakashvili's role in the disaster that has befallen the country began to grow. Foreign Secretary David Miliband held breakfast with the main opposition leaders lasting more than an hour during a flying visit to Tbilisi over the crisis in a move which is bound to add pressure on the beleaguered Georgian leader.

..Although the governments in the US and Western Europe have made a public showing of backing Mr. Saakashvili, there has been increasing questioning of his tactics which had allowed the Russians to score a major strategic victory over NATO. There is also unease at the Georgian leader's increasingly erratic behavior in public at press conferences alongside, among others, Condoleezza Rice and Angela Merkel."

...Saakashvili bears part of the responsibility for this war. Russia was trying to provoke us but we should have avoided direct military confrontation." He says he explained to Mr. Miliband the issues the opposition had with the Saakashvili government prior to the conflict - lack of media freedom, independent courts, and a reality that does not fit with the Georgian president's democratic rhetoric. "Mr. Miliband didn't seem surprised to hear these things," said Mr. Usupashvili...

washingtonpost.com, August 20, "Bush pledges support for Georgia's territorial integrity" : President Bush today affirmed support for the territorial integrity of Georgia, declaring that the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia "are part of" the Eastern European country and again condemning Russia's two-week-old invasion in support of separatists there. In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Orlando, Bush pledged that the United States and its allies "will support young democracies" of the former Soviet Union. He praised Georgia for holding free elections after its 2003 Rose Revolution and for sending its troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. "Georgia stood for freedom around the world," Bush said. "And now the world must stand for freedom in Georgia."...

cbsnews.com, August 20, "Bush: Breakaway regions belong to Georgia.." : President Bush, pushing back against claims by Russia, said Wednesday the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are part of pro-Western Georgia and that Washington will work with allies to insure Georgia's independence and territorial integrity.

metimes.com, August 20 (Editorial) "How far can power stretch?" The United States is the world's hyper-power — since the collapse of communism, there has been no debate about that: Serbia, Iraq— twice, and Afghanistan have all proven no match for the awesome high tech power of the US armed forces: But as President George W. Bush concentrates US naval forces ominously close to the shores of Iran, we feel we have to ask: How far can that power stretch?

...Britain's position as the world's hyper-power in the 1920s and 1930s could not be sustained, because she took on far too many security burdens scattered around the world when she no longer had the financial, industrial and military resources to carry all of them...in Georgia, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dimitry Medvedev called the bluff of US global power...

Editorial note: The blunders that the Bush administration have made in US domestic and international affairs are too many to list and certainly put him in the record books as the leader of the Western World that left his nation and the world in the greatest economic and political mess of all time. Only the Roman emperor Domitian could compete for this ignominious record, for his misdirected persecutions and policies encouraged the breaking away of Roman territories.

The messy story involving Georgia connects with the messy story of Bush's pulling out of the ABM treaty with Russia, then his move to install a missile shield in Europe, (the first place for the shield he looked into was Georgia), then his move to place the shield in Poland and Czechoslovakia. At the same time he launched a war of aggression against Saddam Hussein (Iraq) under false pretenses — which world records say was really for oil — and having redirected US forces from Afghanistan to Iraq Bush facilitated the growth of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan which, in turn, relocated its "home offices" on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, bringing Pakistan into the new front on the war on terrorism. At the same time, parallel to this Europe sought new and more direct sources of oil (Most of the messy story of the Bush administration is about oil), and as the Caspian Sea opened up as a resource for oil Europe was there negotiating for contracts and pipelines. In the early meetings in Kazakhstan US companies engaged in oil development were not even present! (They were apparently not invited.)

As things developed Russia became a new source for oil and gas to Europe and produced pipelines to Europe, the first being through Ukraine. Then Russia began hiking up the price on the oil through the pipeline and even cut off the oil over a disagreement with Ukraine over transit fees, etc. Europe realized that Russia could not be trusted so they encouraged the development of the oil pipeline from Baku, Azerbaijan (on the Caspian Sea) through Georgia (including S. Ossetia) and to Turkey's Mediterranean port. A matching pipeline was being planned at the time of the conflict in Ossetia that since has been tabled, according to the Moscow Times (See Maravot News for the report). Europe is in a dilemma. It needs the oil, can't trust Russia, and now the Georgian pipeline has been threatened. If Russia gains possession of a piece of the land through which the pipeline runs, then Europe is left with the problem of finding another way to pipe oil into its borders without going through Russia.

The EU (represented by its president, Sarkozy) concluded what it believed would be a 6-point agreement that would solve the dilemma. The agreement addressed Russia's appeal "that South Ossetians should make the choice, whether to remain as part of Georgia." (The breakaway regions have a majority population that has a Russian identity, so Russia's appeal that the breakaway territories ought to choose their own destiny is a mute point.) Russia also opined the argument that the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and S. Ossetia were in the same situation as the breakaway region of Bosnia from Serbia. If Bosnia could be recognized by the UN as a nation separate from Serbia, so too should the UN recognize the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and S. Ossetia.

If the Bush administration had addressed the Russian argument for a democratic solution, the crisis might have been contained and not flowed into the Middle East conflict. Looking back we can ask how it came to be that President George Bush I and President William Jefferson Clinton left President George Bush II an Iraq under control, with no fly zones and UN sanctions constraining Saddam Hussein, with the supply of Middle Eastern oil somewhat stable and the US / world economy — under Clinton's leadership — flourishing. George Bush II inherited a relatively stable and prosperous world and look at what he did to it!

We always like to ask who is to blame for this sorry state of affairs. As we ask the question we will need to ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi why she allowed this incompetent leader of the Western World to continue in his incompetence when there were calls for his impeachment. The impeachment of Bush and Cheney could have prevented the conflict involving Bush's missile shield and chess game with Russia, and subsequent order of a Cold War renewed. Of, course, had Bush and Cheney been removed from office Nancy Pelosi would have become our new president pro tempore, according to the Constitution of the United States. Her judgment not to allow impeachment proceedings "because it would distract Congress from doing its scheduled business" seems to have led us all to a greater distraction and calamity.

Mel Copeland

8.20.08 Syria to expand military ties with Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) August 20 - Syrian President Bashar Al Assad said on Wednesday he would use this week's visit to Russia to expand military ties with Moscow whose arms sales to the Middle Eastern state have angered the West. Israel and the United States have long urged Russia not to sell weapons to Syria -- a key Moscow ally during the Cold War now at the centre of Kremlin ambitions of reviving Russia's Soviet-era role in the Middle East.

Assad told Kommersant newspaper that Russia's conflict with Georgia, in which Moscow says Georgia used Israeli-supplied equipment, underlined the need for Russia and Syria to tighten their defence cooperation. "Of course military and technical cooperation is the main issue. Weapons purchases are very important," he said. "I think we should speed it up. Moreover, the West and Israel continue to put pressure on Russia." Assad is expected to met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See also: jpost.com, August 20, "Syria may host Russian missiles."

timesonline.co.uk, August 20, "Fear of new Mid East 'Cold War' as Syria strengthens military alliance with Russia." : Syria sought to revive its security alliance with Russia today, when President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Moscow to clinch a series of military agreements, raising fears that the new Cold War that has erupted in the Caucasus will spill over into the Middle East...

8.20.08 Rice signs missile deal with Poland

WARSAW, Poland, August 20 - Despite fierce opposition from Moscow, the United States and Poland signed a long-stalled agreement on Wednesday to place an American missile defense base on Polish territory. The Kremlin has leveled sustained criticism against the American plan, characterizing it as a hostile act near the Russian border. But American officials insist that the system will defend against threats from countries like Iran and would not target Russia. "Missile defense, of course, is aimed at no one," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who signed the agreement in Warsaw with her Polish counterpart, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski. "It is in our defense that we do this." [More>>nytimes.com]

8.20.08 Grenade blast wounds four in southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, August 20 - Attackers on a motorcycle hurled a grenade that wounded four people outside a hotel in the revolt-hit southern Philippines late Wednesday, a military official said. The blast hit a small group of people at the front of the Marcian Business Hotel in Zamboanga City on Mindanao island, said Colonel Santiago Baluyot, head of a military anti-terror task force. "We do not know the motive of the attack," he said. Asked whether the blast was thought to be part of a spate of deadly attacks by Muslim rebels, he said "we are not discounting that possibility."

Security had been tightened in Zamboanga City in the wake of worsening clashes in recent weeks with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) elsewhere in the southern Philippines. Two bombs wounded four people Sunday in hotels in Iligan city. Local officials have blamed the MILF, which has stepped up its attacks in the south, leaving 38 dead in their latest offensive Monday. The attacks have threatened the stalled peace talks between the government of the mainly Christian nation and the Muslim rebels.
[>thenews.com.pk; See related stories:

newsinfo.inquirer.net, August 20 (Update), "6 hurt in Zamboanga City grenade blast."

newsinfo.inquirer.net, August 20, "31 MLF rebels surrender.."
: MANILA, Philippines—(Update) Thirty-one Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels who admitted being involved in the Lanao del Norte murderous rampage surrendered to the military Wednesday, saying they could not stand the killing of civilians, an Army official said. The rebels, who served as the "blocking force," claimed to have seen how MILF Commander Abdullah Macapar, alias Bravo, and his men shoot dead civilians and burn houses in Lapayan village, Kauswagan town, said Brigadier General Mark Antonio Supnet, chief of the 104th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army. "They could no longer stomach how the civilians were killed so they surrendered," Supnet said in a phone interview.

"They made it appear that the MILF's programs are good, but they're not, because they kill people," said the group's leader, Alvin Conto, in footage aired in QTV-11 television. "This is not peace, they mercilessly kill civilians." ...

8.20.08 28 countries meet for turtle conservation in Bali

JAKARTA, Indonesia, August 20 - Representatives from 28 countries held a meeting in Denpasar, Bali, to discuss action plans to save marine turtle habitats. The countries previously signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the conservation and management of marine turtles and their habitats in the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia (IOSEA) region. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi said Indonesia was committed to obeying the MOU. "The turtles' existence relates strongly to the quality of marine resources," he said, as quoted by Tempointeraktif.com.

Freddy said Indonesia could realistically protect beaches where turtles laid their eggs and could supervise fisherman, demanding they free turtles caught in their nets. The two major threats to the marine turtle was over-exploitation and environmental damage to beaches, the minister said. "Approximately two baby turtles, out of a thousand eggs, survive," said Freddy, adding that egg stealing by humans and other predators decreased the ratio.

8.20.08 New population of rare leopards found in Indonesian national park

JAKARTA, August 20 - British and Indonesian researchers said Tuesday they have discovered a new population of Bornean clouded leopard in a national park on the Indonesian part of Borneo. The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, which is a part of Oxford University’s Zoology Department, said the leopards were found in Sebangau National Park in Central Kalimantan Province. [>japantoday.com; for the real story see wildlifeextra.com]

8.19.08 Chain wrapped around 'old man's body' found in mosque

BAGHDAD, August 19 - "There are the bloodstains on the wall, and here it is dried on the floor," Abu Muhanad said as he walked through a torture chamber in a Baghdad mosque where more than two dozen bodies have been found. "And here, a woman's shoes. She was a victim of the militia. We found her corpse in the grave."

Chunks of hair waft lazily across the floor in the hot Baghdad breeze. "This was the torture room," said Muhanad, the leader of a US-backed armed group that now controls the mosque. "This is what they used for hanging," he said, pointing to a cord dangling from the ceiling. "Here is a chain we found tied to an old man's body." The horrific scene at this southwestern Baghdad mosque is what officials say was the work of a Shiite militia known as the Mehdi Army. Residents who live near the mosque say they could hear the victims' screams.

The militia had been in control of the mosque, called Adib al-Jumaili, from at least January 2007 until May of this year. Residents say coalition forces weren't in the region and the torture and killings went unchecked.

8.19.08 Russia seizes US vehicles

POTI, Georgia, August 19 - Russian soldiers today held blindfolded Georgian servicemen at gunpoint and commandeered US Humvees in a dramatic sequence of events in Poti, a key Black Sea port. Elsewhere, they exchanged POWs with Georgia and pulled back some troops from the strategic city of Gori. It was a day of deeply mixed messages that left the small, war-battered country full of anxiety about whether Russia was aiming for a long-term military presence in Georgia or whether it was just trying to inflict maximum damage before adhering to a EU-brokered cease-fire and troop pullout.

In Poti, on the Black Sea, Russian forces blocked access to the naval and commercial ports this morning and towed the missile boat Dioskuria, one of the navy's most sophisticated vessels, out of sight of observers. A loud explosion was heard minutes later. Several hours later, an Associated Press photographer saw Russian trucks and armored personnel carriers leaving the port with about 20 blindfolded and handcuffed men riding on them. Port spokesman Eduard Mashevoriani said the men were Georgian soldiers. The Russians also took with them four Humvees that were at the port awaiting shipment back to the United States after taking part in earlier US-Georgian military exercises.
[More>>independent.co.uk; See also nytimes.com, August 19, "Russian forces detain Georgian soldiers at port."]

8.19.08 Was Bush involved in US attorney scandal? Depends on whom you ask

August 19 - Was he or wasn't he? It may be the Bush-era version of "What did he know, and when did he know it?", the famous question that dogged Nixon through the Watergate break-in scandal. Before the court of public opinion, White House spokespeople have long maintained President Bush had no involvement in the firing of nine US Attorneys, the central decision that mushroomed into one of the biggest scandals in eight years of the Bush administration.

"[T]here is no indication that the President knew about any of the ongoing discussions [about firing U.S. attorneys] over the two years, nor did he see a list or a plan before it was carried out," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters in March 2007. In federal court, however, the administration's lawyers have been more ambiguous. "The record does reflect at this stage that the president was not involved in decisions about who would be asked to resign from the department," Justice Department lawyer Carl Nichols carefully argued before a federal judge in June. But "the record does not reflect that the President had no future involvement" in the scandal, he noted. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

8.19.08 Bomb attack on police school leaves 43 dead

ALGIERS (AFP) August 19 - A suicide attack on an Algerian police school at Issers, 60km east of Algiers, killed 43 people and injured 38, the interior ministry said today. The attacker drove a car packed with explosives at the main entrance to the school as candidates for an entry exam were waiting outside, witnesses said. Civilians as well as police officers were among the victims and a major security operation was under way there, they added. The casualty figures were still provisional, the ministry said in a statement.

But it is already the deadliest attack in the country in several months, worse than the December 2007 attack in Algiers against government and United Nations buildings, which killed 41 people and injured many others. The attack comes as Algeria's newspapers reported an attack on Sunday in which Islamist extremists killed 11 members of the security forces and a civilian in an ambush in the east of the country. [More>>news.com.au]

8.19.08 Russia, Belarus to sign unified air defense pact this fall

SOCHI, Russia (RIA Novosti) August 19 - Russia and Belarus will sign an agreement this fall on creating a unified air defense system, a Russian presidential aide said Tuesday. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hosted his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday...The countries are developing a unified air defense system in line with plans to create a Union State, which they have been working on since 1997, envisioning a common economic, customs, and political space. [Full story>>en.rian.ru]

8.19.08 Gold medalists on day 11 of Beijing Olympics

August 19 - Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain won the Olympic men's 1,500m gold medal in a time of 3:32.94 here on Tuesday. Estonia's Gerd Kanter won the men'sdiscus throw gold at the Beijing Olympic Games here on Tuesday. American Dawn Happer clocked 12.54 seconds to win the women's 100m hurdles gold medal at the Olympic Games here on Tuesday. Britain's Christine Ohuruogu captured the gold medal of the women's 400 meters in 49.62 seconds at the Beijing Olympic Games here on Tuesday. Russian Silnov claimed the men's high jump title with the final result 2.36 meters of at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday...Shawn Johnson of the United States won beam title at Olympic gymnastics tourney here on Tuesday...Chinese ace gymnast Li Xiaopeng won the parallel bars gold medal on Tuesday at the Beijing Olympics, proving his strong comeback to the podium at the highest level. [Full story>>xinhuanet.com]

8.19.08 1 dead in Baquba raids

BAGHDAD, August 19 - Dozens of Iraqi troops raided government offices on Tuesday, killing the governor's secretary during a gunfight and arresting a college dean and a local politician, a local official told CNN. Iraqi troops raided the offices of the Diyala provincial council, the governor's office, the deputy governor's office and the office of dean of Diyala University, said the official, a member of Diyala's provincial council. The raids occurred in Baquba — the capital of Diyala province, the ethnically mixed region that stretches north and west of Baghdad and borders Iran. [>cnnwire.blogs.cnn.com]

8.19.08 Ambush of French paratroopers near Kabul kills 10

SUROBI, Afghanistan (AP) August 19 - About 100 insurgents ambushed a group of French paratroopers, killing 10 soldiers in an area outside the capital known as a militant stronghold. In a separate coordinated attack Tuesday, a team of suicide bombers tried unsuccessfully to storm a US base near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The death of the French soldiers marked the biggest single combat loss for international forces in Afghanistan in more than three years. The soldiers were on a reconnaissance mission in the Surobi district, about 30 miles east of the Afghan capital, when they were ambushed Monday afternoon. NATO sent backup and said a "large number" of the attackers were killed in the three-hour gun battle. An Afghan official said insurgents kidnapped four of the soldiers and later killed them. [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org; See related story, turkishpress.com (AFP), August 19, "Suicide bombers try to storm US base in Afghanistan."]

8.19.08 Suicide bomber kills 30 in D I Khan, Taliban claim responsibility

D I KHAN, Pakistan, August 19 - A powerful suicide blast ripped through the crowded emergency ward of district Headquarters Hospital here Tuesday, killing at least 30 people and wounding many others. IGP NWFP Malik Naveed told reporters that the blast took place when activists of a religious sect and relatives of victim, Basit Shah who was shot dead by unknown gunmen near Faqiri gate here, were gathered at gate of emergency ward of the hospital to protest the cold blooded murder. DSP Malik Mustaq is among the four other policemen who sustained critical injuries. There are reports that at least five policemen were killed in the incident. [More>>thenews.com.pk; See related story, thenews.com.pk, August 19, "16 more die in fresh clashes at Kurram Agency, Pakistan."]

8.19.08 Stem cell test to help treat bowel cancer

LONDON (Reuters) August 19 - Stem cell scientists have developed a new and more accurate way of spotting aggressive forms of bowel cancer, allowing for tailored treatment that should improve patients' chances of survival. British researchers said on Wednesday those with the most aggressive kind of cancer could be identified early by testing for a stem cell marker protein called Lamin A. The team concluded that patients testing positive for Lamin A should be given chemotherapy, in addition to surgery, to increase their chances of survival.

The discovery is the latest example of new tests being developed that can help doctors decide how and when to treat different manifestations of cancer. In the two earliest of the four key stages of bowel cancer, patients normally have an operation to remove their tumour but are rarely given chemotherapy, since the toxic treatment can cause more harm than good. The new research, however, suggests that around one third of these early-stage patients will have the Lamin A stem cell marker, indicating a more serious form of disease, and they are likely to benefit from chemotherapy. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

8.19.08 Eat rats to battle food crisis: Indian official

PATNA, India (Reuters) August 19 - A state government in eastern India is encouraging people to eat rats in an effort to battle soaring food prices and save grain stocks. Authorities in Bihar, one of India's poorest states, are asking rich and poor alike to switch to eating rats in a bid to reduce the dependence on rice. They even plan to offer rats on restaurant menus. "Eating of rats will serve twin purposes -- it will save grains from being eaten away by rats and will simultaneously increase our grain stock," Vijay Prakash, an official from the state's welfare department, told Reuters. [More>>alarabiya.net]

8.19.08 Wholesale prices jumped in July

August 19 - Prices paid by American businesses moved higher in July despite a drop in crude oil, an indication that inflation was starting to spread beyond the energy market and into the broader economy. The 1.2 percent rise in wholesale prices, reported on Tuesday by the Labor Department, was well above economists’ expectations and could cause Federal Reserve policy makers to consider raising interest rates by the end of the year. The index climbed 1.8 percent in June. Fed officials chose to hold interest rates steady at their last two policy-setting meetings. The bankers have said they are still concerned about risks to economic growth — like the housing slump and tight credit market — and that raising rates could further slow activity. [More>>nytimes.com]

8.19.08 Special Report: Hezbollah signs pact with Salafis

August 19 - (By Walid Phares, special to the Middle East Times) Amidst a growing world crisis, new developments in Lebanon may signal what lies ahead in the sphere of global jihadist forces in the near future. A memorandum of understanding has been signed by Hezbollah, the main pro-Iranian organization in the region, and a number of Salafist groups outlining efforts to "confront America." Innocent minds may question how that impacts our lives. However, events that unfold in Beirut have a direct effect on the war on terror, or to be more precise, on the jihadist war on democracies. Here is why:

The Two Trees

In my last three books (the "Future Jihad Trilogy") I depicted the world web of jihadism as two large trees. The Salafist tree, emanating from radical Sunni circles and encompassing mainly the Wahhabis, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Deobandis is the largest. But it has been evolving and some of its branches have mutated into layers of radicalism. al-Qaeda is one of the latest mutations, for now the most radical

The Khomeinist tree, centered on the Iranian regime, has a single branch. It is centralized and has disciplined extensions in the region, mostly Hezbollah out of Lebanon. Each "tree" has a worldview and a future jihad to accomplish. In many realms they oppose each other and they compete for the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide. But despite their "brotherly enmity" their respective agendas have two goals in common: one is to oppose the rise of democracy in the region, and the second is to defeat US support for that democracy.
[More>>metimes.com; See pbs.org article on the Wahhabis, Frontline: "Saudi time bomb?" and:jpost.com, August 19, "PM: IDF's gloves to come off it Lebanon turns into Hezbollahland."]

8.19.08 Four Indonesians deported from Malaysia for alleged terrorism

JAKARTA, Indonesia, August 19 - Four Indonesian citizens were deported from Malaysia last Friday for their alleged involvement with Jamaah Islamiyah, an organization with close links to terrorism. They are now under the detention of the National Police's Special Detachment 88 anti-terror unit, after being arrested by Malaysian police and detained at the Kemunting Taiping prison in Perak,
Malaysia, Antara reported Tuesday.

The detainees are Abdullah Minyak bin Silam, Shahrial bin Sirin, Zainudin bin Suharno, and Jaki bin Hamid. Antara sources said that Zainudin once joined the Ambon Mujahidin group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) separatist group. Zainudin and Jaki were reportedly carrying M16 guns when captured in Malaysia's Sandakan waters. The four men were among 13 other Indonesian detained at the Kemunting Taiping prison. All of them were detained under Malaysia's internal security act. Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda on Monday said Jamaah Islamiyah was known for steering terrorism acts in the region, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. [More>>thejakartapost.com]

8.19.08 65 percent Pakistanis want trial of Pervez Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, August 19 - The Gallup survey (Pakistan) Tuesday revealed that 63 percent people rejoice over President Musharraf's resignation, while only 15 per cent regret it. "20 percent were ambivalent about saying they were neither happy or unhappy," the survey added. The majority of Pakistanis, 64 percent, also reject his claims of economic accomplishments and good government during his last nine-year tenure. Surveys have shown that, rightly or wrongly, majority of Pakistanis attribute current economic crisis and inflation to bad policies of Musharraf regime. [More>>thenews.com.pk; See related article, khaleejtimes.com, August 19, "Cracks in Pakistan coalition day after Musharraf quits."]


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


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