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JERUSALEM, January 16 - Efforts to end the three-week-old Gaza war made progress on Friday with Washington pledging to help stop arms smuggling to Hamas and Israeli officials returning from a second trip to Cairo after cease-fire talks. An Israeli government spokesman said, "I think we are heading to the endgame." But problems persisted, especially as portions of the Arab and Muslim worlds took a harder line. At a meeting organized by Qatar, a top exiled Hamas leader rejected Israeli terms for a cease-fire and called for increased resistance.
haaretz.com, January 16, "US, Israel agree on deal to battle Iran arms smuggling to Gaza" : The United States and Israel signed an agreement on Friday aimed at stopping the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. The deal includes measures to fight arms smuggling from Iran to Gaza, with the policing to take place throughout the route by which the arms reach Gaza, including patrols of the Persian Gulf, Sudan, and neighboring states.
01.16.09 Bank of America, Citigroup post major losses
January 16 - Two of the country's largest banks posted major fourth-quarter losses today, pushed deep into the red by a weakened economy despite massive infusions of government capital to ensure their stability. The dismal results from Bank of America and Citigroup showed the depth of the recession during the last three months of 2008, and suggested that the economic situation is getting worse. Both companies reported that losses on products such as credit card loans were not just growing but accelerating. Bank of America and Citigroup together have now received $90 billion in taxpayer investments, plus federal guarantees limiting their losses on assets of $424 billion. The federal government now is the largest single shareholder in both institutions.
abcnews.go.com, January 16, "Circuit City to liquidate remaining US stores" : Bankrupt Circuit City Stores Inc., unable to work out a sale of the company, said Friday it will go out of business — closing its 567 US stores and cutting 30,000 jobs. The nation's second-biggest consumer electronics retailer is the latest casualty of an unprecedented pullback in consumer spending that has driven other brands such as KB Toys, Mervyns LLC and Linens 'N Things into bankruptcy. Experts believe there will be more to come...
01.16.09 Russia hopes US will review missile defense plans - Lavrov
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) January 16 - Moscow is hoping that US President-elect Barack Obama will review Russia's proposal for a collective Russian-American-European missile defense network, the Russian foreign minister said on Friday. "We have noticed that President-elect Obama is willing to take a break on the issue of missile defense...and to evaluate its effectiveness and cost efficiency," Sergei Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow. Moscow has strongly opposed the possible deployment by the US of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a threat to its security and nuclear deterrence.
01.16.09 12 militants killed in Swat: ISPR
ISLAMABAD, January 16 - Twelve militants have been killed in Swat, said Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Friday. [>thenews.com.pk]
01.15.09 Banks reel after alerts at HSBC and Deutsche
LONDON, January 15 - Fresh turmoil hit the banking sector as Deutsche Bank issued a profits warning and analysts suggested that HSBC could need a massive injection of fresh capital. Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest lender, said it would post a net loss of about €3.9bn (£3.5bn) for 2008, compared with net profit of €6.5bn a year earlier – its first annual loss for five decades. The bank suffered a record €4.8bn loss in the fourth quarter as the financial crisis battered its debt and equity trading operations. The news alarmed the market about the prospects for other big banks as Deutsche had been relatively unscathed by the credit crunch. Josef Ackermann, the chief executive, said he was "very disappointed" by the loss, adding that the bank had "scaled back or exited trading strategies most affected by market turbulence."
thestar.com.my, January 15, "World stocks drop amid mounting economic gloom" : LONDON - World stock markets dived Thursday, particularly in Asia where investors played catch-up with previous losses in Europe and the US, after dismal US retail sales data and fresh worries about the global banking system. Every market in Asia suffered steep declines, with broad selling seen across industries from energy to financials to exporters. A record 16.2 percent fall in Japanese machinery orders in November from the previous month further hurt sentiment in Asia. The Nikkei 225 plunged 415.14 points, or 4.9%, to 8,023.31, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 461.65 points, or 3.4%, to 13,242.96 after earlier sinking about 5%. South Korea's Kospi dropped 6% to 1,111.34, while markets in Australia and Taiwan fell 4% or more. Singapore's benchmark was down 3.4% but Shanghai stocks were only slightly lower...
01.15.09 Hamas interior minister Said Siam dies in IAF air strike
JERUSA:LEM, January 15 - Hamas's interior minister, Said Siam, was killed along with his brother Iad and his son, as well as another senior Hamas man in an IAF strike on a house in the Jabaliya neighborhood in Gaza City, Israeli defense officials told The Jerusalem Post. Siam was the Hamas political echelon's liaison with the group's military wing, and was responsible for the various security apparatuses in the Strip, including the police and the naval force. Siam was considered a radical and was in contact with Hamas's political leadership in Damascus.
01.15.09 Israelis shell hospitals and UN HQ
January 15 - Three hospitals and a UN compound have been bombed by Israel as troops continue to advance into the densely-populated Gaza City. Around 500 people were sheltering in the Al-Quds hospital in the city's southwestern Tal Al-Hawa district when it was bombed by Israeli jets and set ablaze on Thursday morning. Hospital officials said the fire was sparked by a "phosphorus shell."
"We have been able to control the fire in the hospital but not in the administrative building," one hospital official said. "We hope that the flames don't spread again to the wings of the hospital." Two hospitals east of Gaza City were also hit by Israeli shells as Gazans fled tanks advancing into the city. It was no immediately clear if any casualties following the raids. The Israelis also bombed a UN compound in Gaza City, setting fire to warehouses of badly-needed food and medical aid and prompting international outrage. Around 700 Palestinians were sheltering in the UN complex at the time of the strikes which left two civilians and three staff members injured. [More>>aljazeera.net; See also:
abcnews.go.com, January 15, "Olmert defends attack on UN Gaza compound" : UN Secretary-General Outraged by Israel's Bombardment of Gaza Headquarters. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says the Israeli army shelled the UN complex in Gaza City today because, he told reporters, soldiers "were attacked from there and the response was harsh." The shelling set a UN warehouse full of food and supplies intended for Palestinians on fire. Olmert's office confirmed to ABC News that Olmert talked with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and told him, "This was a sad incident for which I am sorry but our troops were attacked from there and the reaction was forceful." The United Nations had already dismissed the self-defense charge. "There were no militants in UNRWA [UN Relief and Works Agency] compound at the time," Johan Eriksson, a UN spokesman, told ABC News earlier today...
01.15.09 Pakistan arrests a dozen militants in Karachi
ISLAMABAD, January 15 - Says 124 arrested so far in Mumbai crackdown. Pakistani police arrested more than a dozen Islamist militants in the southern city of Karachi on Thursday after a fierce gun battle following a pre-dawn raid on their hideout, officials said. Two policemen were killed and nine wounded before the militants' resistance was broken after several hours of shooting. The raid came at a time when tensions were running high between Pakistan and India in the wake of a militant attack on the Indian city of Mumbai in November, and there is pressure from the international community for Pakistan to crack down harder on jihad groups.
01.15.09 Three international aid workers kidnapped in S. Philippines
MANILA, January 15 - Three international aid workers, including two foreigners, were kidnapped Thursday morning by unidentified gunmen in the restive southern Philippines, officials said. The team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), led by Swiss Andreas Notter, were kidnapped in a car on their way to the Jolo airport in Sulu Province, said Estefani Cacho, a spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Notter is the head of ICRC office in Zamboanga City...No organization has claimed responsibility for the incident. But the Jolo Island is known as a stronghold of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, a 380-member group blamed for a series of kidnappings and terror attacks in the Southeast Asian country, including the bombing of a ferry near Manila Bay in 2004 that killed more than 100 people. [Full story>>xinhuanet.com]
01.14.09 Judge orders search of administration appointees' e-mails
WASHINGTON, January 14 - With Bush administration White House aides on their way out the door in coming days, a federal judge this morning ordered the president's executive office to undertake a comprehensive search for millions of senior appointees' e-mails that have been inaccessible and possibly missing since 2005.
01.14.09 Markets plunge on record fall in US retail sales
LONDON, January 14 - Markets in London and New York plunged today after American retail sales fell twice as much in December as forecast. Trade over the Christmas and sales season fell 2.7 per cent, far above the 1.2 per cent expected by analysts and, excluding car purchases, dived 3.1 per cent, the worst fall since records began in 1992. In London, the FTSE 100 index of leading UK companies fell 256.93 points to 4,142.22 and, in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 263.87 points to 8,184.69. Tightening credit conditions and rising unemployment contributed to a slowdown in spending by US consumers last month. [More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related story,
01.14.09 Hamas responds 'positively' to Gaza cease-fire proposal
January 14 - Hamas announced on Wednesday that it had responded "positively" to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal, but said there were still some differences between the two parties that needed to be addressed. The Egyptian news agency MENA reported earlier that Hamas had accepted the cease-fire proposal. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit confirmed that Hamas had given a "positive response" regarding the initiative. He said he would relay the Hamas position to Israel on Thursday. Salah Bardaweel, member of the Hamas delegation to the talks in Cairo, hinted that his movement has accepted the Egyptian initiative. "The Egyptian initiative is the only one that was presented to Hamas," he told reporters in Cairo.
alarabiya.net, January 14, "Gaza humanitarian state 'shocking' : Red Cross" : The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is "shocking", the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said as Human Rights Watch slammed the Israeli blockade of the Strip as well as the Palestinian rockets fired into Israel in a new report...
01.14.09 HIzb co-founder Mohammad Ahsan Dar arrested in J-K (Jammu & Kashmir)
BARAMULLA, Jammu & Kashmir, January 14 - In a major success, a top militant and one of the founders of Hizbul Mujahideen Mohammad Ahsan Dar was on Wednesday arrested by police in Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir. Dar, a close associate of Syed Sallahuddin — chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, was coordinating activities of Lashker-e-Toiba, Hizbul, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Deputy Inspector General of Police, North Kashmir, Abdul Gani Mir said in Baramulla. Acting on specific information that Dar had returned from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and was coordinating the activities of different militant outfits, Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested him in the wee hours while he was trying to sneak into Sumbal area from his home town Pattan, he said
01.14.09 Cardinal 'warns Roman Catholic women against marrying Muslim men'
LISBON (AFP) January 14 - A Portuguese cardinal has warned Roman Catholic women against marrying Muslim men. "Be careful with love. Think twice before marrying a Muslim, think seriously because it brings loads of hassle - and even Allah can't say where all that will end," Jose Policarpo, the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, said during a public debate. "When you recognise what a young European of Christian upbringing is subjected to, given Muslim attitudes to women, the first time she goes to their countries, we can imagine what that entails. You can only dialogue with someone who is willing to dialogue. With our Muslim brothers, for example, dialogue is very difficult," he said. [More>>news.com.au; See related story,
timesofindia.indiatimes.com (AFP) January 14, " 'Girls over 10 or 12 years are eligible for marriage' " : RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's senior-most cleric said girls as young as 10 years old can be married, local media reported on Wednesday. The powerful Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said in a speech late on Monday that Islamic Sharia law allows the practice of pre-teen girls getting married, and that critics of the practice were doing the girls "an injustice," reports said. "We hear often in the media about the marriage of minors. We must know that Sharia law is not unjust for women," the cleric is quoted as saying....Saudi human rights groups are fighting the old practice of children being married off to much older men by their parents and seek to establish a legal minimum age for women to be married.
01.14.09 Iran, China sign oilfield development contract
TEHRAN, January 14 - Iran and China on Wednesday signed a 1.76 billion dollar contract for the initial development of the North Azadegan oil field in western Iran, an Iranian oil ministry official said. The agreement between China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) foresees production from the field reaching 75,000 barrels a day in four years' time, the official said. If that timetable is maintained, Iran may award CNPC the contract for the second phase, when production is scheduled to double.
01.14.09 US seeks Afghan supply route via Kazakhstan
ALMATY, Kazakhstan (Reuters) January 14 - The United States is talking to Kazakhstan about using the former Soviet republic as a transit point for supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan, US Central Command chief General David Petraeus said on Wednesday. NATO officials have already said the alliance wants to divert some supplies from the traditional route through Pakistan where insurgent attacks have become more intense. Petraeus met Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev on a visit to the Central Asian country. "We have discussed Kazakhstan's contribution to the so-called Northern transit network which would enable us to supply the Afghanistan troops," he told reporters after the meeting. Kazakhstan, a country roughly the size of Western Europe, does not border Afghanistan, but could serve as a transit hub for the supply route, analysts say. But that would not require the establishment of a military base in the former Soviet republic and the United States has no such plans, Petraeus said. [>khaleejtimes.com; See also en.rian.ru, January 14, "US military denies plans to set up bases in Kazakhstan."
01.13.09 North Korea says it won't give up nuclear weapons
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) January 13 - North Korea said Tuesday it will hold onto its nuclear arsenal until it is satisfied the US is not hiding atomic weapons in South Korea and Washington establishes diplomatic relations with the regime. The North has long accused Washington of stationing nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula for a possible attack on the communist nation. Both the South and the US deny having nuclear weapons in South Korea. Regional powers have been trying for years to rid North Korea of its nuclear program, but negotiations have recently stalled. The foreign ministry indicated it would consider giving up its nuclear weapons if the US threat is removed and diplomatic relations between the two nations are established. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
01.13.09 Egypt wants Hamas to sign up to truce deal 'now'
CAIRO (AFP) January 13 - Egypt was on Tuesday holding talks with Hamas on Cairo's Gaza truce proposal, with an official calling for the Islamists to sign up "now" in the hope of announcing a ceasefire "before the end of the week." A delegation from Hamas was to hold yet another round of "crucial" talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman on Tuesday, as Israel's offensive ploughed on for an 18th day and diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed plodded forward. "We're working seriously with Hamas, we need to end the vagueness and they need to say yes, now, to our plan," a senior Egyptian diplomat told AFP, requesting anonymity. [More.>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories:
timesonline.co.uk, January 13, "War in Gaza: Abbas accuses Israel of trying to 'wipe out' Palestinians": Israeli troops and Hamas fighters fought fierce battles on the streets of Gaza City today as Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, accused Israel of trying to "wipe out" his people. The most relentless clashes of the 18-day conflict erupted when Israeli special forces, backed by tanks and air strikes, pushed into several neighborhoods in the south of Gaza's main city early this morning. Palestinian fighters fired back with roadside bombs, mortars and anti-tank rockets. Explosions, tank shell thuds and the rattle of gunfire kept terrified residents who had not yet fled the area awake all through the night...
01.13.09 Russian gas to Europe 'blocked'
January 13 - Russian gas giant Gazprom says Ukraine has blocked gas deliveries to Europe, dashing hopes of ending a row which has hit several countries' supplies. Gazprom deputy head Alexander Medvedev said Ukraine had failed to carry the gas onwards to Europe after it resumed pumping it across their border. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko called on Russia to "stop the blackmail" and work out an agreement. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans have been without gas for nearly a week. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
01.13.09 Ethiopian troops 'quit Mogadishu'
January 13 - Ethiopian troops supporting Somalia's Western-backed government have vacated their main bases in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, witnesses say. The soldiers began to pull out of the bases on Tuesday as local residents cheered and celebrated the withdrawal. Ethiopia had announced plans to withdraw its estimated 3,000 troops from Somalia last November. [More>>aljazeera.net]
01.13.09 Mideast political freedom on the decline: report
DIBAI, January 13 - Iraq only country to move up the freedom scale. Political freedoms declined around the world for a third straight year in 2008, with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) reversing years of modest gain according to an annual survey of political rights and civil liberties by a US rights organization. The survey by Freedom House found Iraq was the only country in the region to register even a small gain in political freedom. Only Israel was defined as "free" although the report noted that since the Jewish state is an occupying force in the Palestinian territories it is therefore responsible for its "not free" status. [More>>alarabiya.net]
01.12.09 Inexplicable wealth of Afghan elite sows bitterness
KABUL, January 12 - Across the street from the Evening in Paris wedding hall, a monument to opulence surrounded by neon-lighted fountains and a five-story replica of the Eiffel Tower, is a little colony of tents where 65 families, mostly returnees from Pakistan, huddle against the winter cold and wish they had never come home. Similar startling contrasts abound across the Afghan capital. Children with pinched faces beg near the mansions of a tiny elite enriched by foreign aid and official corruption. Hundreds of tattered men gather at dawn outside a glittering new office building to compete for 50-cent jobs hauling construction debris.
01.12.09 Taxpayer to own 43% in Lloyds and HBOS merger
LONDON, January 12 - Lloyds TSB marked its transformation into Britain's new "super bank" today by revealing that investors had shunned its merger with HBOS and admitting it has paid £180 million to US regulators after allowing clients to sidestep US sanctions. The UK taxpayer will now own 43.4 per cent of the merged business, which will be known as the Lloyds Banking Group, after investors bought only 0.5 per cent of shares on offer from Lloyds TSB and 0.24 per cent of stock offered by HBOS.
01.12.09 Price of oil drops below $40 a barrel, investor fears over US unemployment, economy...
SINGAPORE, January 12 - Oil prices fell below $40 a barrel Monday in Asia as investors looked to key U.S. corporate results this week for indications of the health of the world's largest economy and demand for crude. Light, sweet crude for February delivery was down 98 cents to $39.85 a barrel by midafternoon in Singapore in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract on Friday fell 87 cents to settle at $40.83.
01.12.09 IDF finds Hamas arms stockpile in raid on Gaza mosque
January 12 - The Israel Air Force on Monday bombed a mosque in southern Gaza City, on day 17 of its offensive against Hamas' infrastructure in the coastal territory. Israeli ground forces who entered the premises following the attack found a mass stockpile of weapons, including Qassam and Katyusha rockets. The Israel Defense Forces continued its offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip before dawn on Monday, attacking dozens of targets across the territory. IDF ground forces — comprising infantry, tanks, combat engineers, artillery and intelligence — were assisted by aerial attacks during the overnight operations. The IAF reported attacking 10 Hamas targets, including five armed operatives, four weapons storehouses, two smuggling tunnels dug under the house of militants, one tunnel dug under Gaza's border with Egypt and one rocket launching position. [More>>haaretz.com; See related stories:
01.12.09 Bombs target Iraqi forces across Baghdad
BAGHDAD, January 12 - At least nine killed, over 30 wounded. A series of bombings targeting Iraqi security forces ripped through busy areas in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Monday, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 30 others, according to police sources. A bomb attached to a car, followed quickly by another blast, killed three people and wounded 10 in the New Baghdad district in the east of the capital, police said. A roadside bomb in the Yarmouk neighborhood struck an Iraqi army lorry carrying ammunition. Three soldiers were burned to death inside the truck and four civilians were wounded. Near Sha'ab stadium in eastern Baghdad a bomb struck a police patrol, wounding seven people, including three policemen. In Ghazaliya district in western Baghdad a roadside bomb struck a police patrol wounding three policemen and a civilian. A roadside bomb struck near a police patrol in the central Karrada district killing one civilian and wounding four policemen, and another roadside bomb in central Baghdad wounded four people. Two other roadside bombs apparently aimed at Iraqi army and police patrols elsewhere in the capital killed two civilians and wounded seven other people, police officials said. Iraq has become far less violent over the past 18 months...[Full story>>alarabiya.net]
01.12.09 Fresh sectarian clashes in northwest Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, January 12 - Fresh clashes broke out between rival Shia and Sunni groups in northwest Pakistan as a truce brokered by tribal elders collapsed due to new attacks by Taliban fighters, with the toll reaching 47 in four days. Taliban cadres from the nearby Aurakzai Agency, who are backing the Sunni tribesmen, refused to accept the terms of a ceasefire brokered yesterday by a peace committee in Hangu district comprising local officials and tribal elders. The Taliban then launched attacks, targeting positions of Shia tribesmen with mortars and rockets, and the fresh fighting claimed seven more lives. Forty people died earlier in the clashes that began on Friday. More than 60 people have also been injured.
01.11.09 IDF confirms: Reservists now participating in Gaza operation
January 11 - For the first time since Operation Cast Lead began over two weeks ago, the IDF released for publication on Sunday that reservists have been sent into the Gaza Strip to participate in the military effort. The army refused to say whether the announcement was an indication that the third phase of the operation had begun. Phase One was the massive aerial assault on Hamas targets throughout Gaza, Phase Two was the entrance of Israeli ground troops, and Phase Three is believed to be an expansion of ground operations, possibly into the densely populated area of Gaza City.
01.11.09 In US, LeT chief's kin raised funds for jihad
NEW DELHI, January 12 - For all the protestations that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a charitable organization and Hafiz Mohammed Saeed is an injured innocent, it's clear that the organization and Saeed's family, in particular, have been in the crosshairs of [the] US government for several years and a couple of Saeed's family members are already in US custody. As the Lashkar-e-Taiba grew in stature, profile and links to violent terrorism in Pakistan, curiously, its amir Saeed's family kept making tracks to the US to live and work there over the past decade. Over the years, LeT aka Jamaat-ud-Dawa has morphed from an ISI-sponsored terror outfit against India to become a global jihadist organization with increasing ties to al-Qaeda.
01.11.09 Pakistan NW Frontier Corps attacked
January 11 - At least 40 fighters have been killed in an attack on an army base in northwestern Pakistan. Hundreds of fighters stormed the Mohammad Ghat military camp in the Mohmand agency north of Peshawar, close to the Afghanistan border, before dawn on Sunday. A military official says the attack on the Frontier Corps began at 2am local time (2100 GMT), and that at least 10 security personnel had been killed, six more injured. More than 25 remain missing. The official said most of the force of about 600 came from Afghanistan and were joined by local Taliban fighters.
The initial attack involved mortars and rocket fire which sparked fierce gun battles at the fort at Mamad Gate, where members of Pakistan's elite Quick Reaction Force are stationed. The security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that most of the attackers eventually fled the scene, but at least 40 were killed and many more surrendered or were arrested. The border region is a key battleground in the so-called "war on terror", with Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked fighters said to be operating bases in northwestern Pakistan's tribal areas from which they send fighters to attack NATO and US forces in Afghanistan. [More>>aljazeera.net; See more details, nytimes.com, January 11, "Clashes as Afghan militants pour over border into Pakistan."]
01.11.09 Three policemen killed, four wounded in attacks in Mosul
BAGHDAD (DPA) January 11 - Three policemen were killed and four wounded Sunday in two separate attacks in Mosul. Gunmen fatally shot three policemen in the city centre, a police source said. The policemen were shot in a popular restaurant near their patrol vehicle, the source told Voices Of Iraq (VOI) news agency. A car bomb wounded another four policemen on patrol in southern Mosul, the Iraqi news agency reported.
01.11.09 Clashes between Somali Islamists kill 29
MOGADISHU (AP) January 11 - Witnesses say clashes between Somali Islamist militias have killed at least 29 people and wounded more than 50 in a central town. The fighting in Guriel between the hardline al-Shabab militia and a local Islamist militia coincides with the gradual evacuation of Ethiopian forces loyal to the shaky government. Somali officials have warned a power vacuum would spark intensified fighting. Witnesses say most of the victims killed Sunday were fighters, but that a mortar shell explosion killed a family of six. Somalia has been beset by two decades of anarchy, violence and an insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing for their lives. [>thejakartapost.com]
01.10.09 IDF says at least 300 Hamas operatives killed in ground op
January 10 - IDF troops in the Gaza Strip on Saturday targeted Hamas operative Amir Mansi, a senior member of Izzadin Kassam, the group's military wing. A senior commander of IDF operations in the Strip said that Mansi was the head of the Gaza Strip rocket division, and was Mansi was previously involved in dozens of rocket attacks against Israel in recent weeks. He was also said to be a close associate of Hizbullah, and was known to receive information from the group on a regular basis, including learning how to fire rockets.
01.10.09 Bomb kills 3 US soldiers in Afghanistan
KABUL, January 9 - Attack Comes on Heels of Another and as U.S. Vice President-Elect Arrives in Region. A homemade bomb killed three US soldiers in the southeastern province of Zabol on Friday, less than 24 hours after two American soldiers died in a suicide bombing at a busy produce market in neighboring Kandahar province, officials said. The five deaths brought to 637 the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion that toppled the extremist Taliban government in late 2001, according to various monitoring groups. More than 400 soldiers from other coalition forces have also been killed. The attacks coincided with the arrival in the region of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), 11 days before he is scheduled to be sworn in as the US vice president[-elect]. Biden, who landed in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, late Friday, told President Asif Ali Zardari that the United States regards Pakistan as an "important ally and partner" in fighting terrorism. [More>>washingtonpost.com; See related story, news.com.au, January 11, "Diggers kill Taliban leader."]
01.10.09 Mumbai attacks an 'internal matter' of India: Gilani
KARACHI, Pakistan, January 10 - Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday accused the world of ‘double standards’ in dealing with the Mumbai attacks and terrorist incidents in Pakistan, saying there was no need for the international community to make ‘so much noise’ about the strike in India's financial hub. Gilani sought to compare the terrorist attacks in Mumbai to the Israeli strikes in Gaza and what he termed ‘atrocities’ being committed on innocent people in Jammu and Kashmir and questioned why the world community was silent on such issues. [More>>indianexpress.com]
01.10.09 Russia, EU sign gas transit control protocol-2
MOSCOW REGION (RIA Novosti) January 10 - Russia and the European Union have signed a protocol to set up an international commission to control the transit of Russian natural gas through Ukraine. The document was signed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, energy giant Gazprom's CEO Alexei Miller as well as Martin Riman, the industry and trade minister of the Czech Republic, which is holding the rotating presidency in the EU. [More>>en.rian.ru]
01.10.09 5 Somalis drown with pirate booty
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) January 10 - Escape Craft Capsizes In Storm After Ransom Paid; Freed Saudi Tanker En Route Home, Crew Safe. Five of the Somali pirates who released a hijacked oil-laden Saudi supertanker drowned with their share of a reported $3 million ransom after their small boat capsized, a pirate and port town resident said Saturday. Pirate Daud Nure says the boat with eight people on board overturned in a storm after dozens of pirates left the Sirius Star following a two-month standoff in the Gulf of Aden that ended Friday. He said five people died and three people reached shore after swimming for several hours. Daud Nure was not part of the pirate operation but knew those involved. [More>>cbsnews.com]
01.09.09 Unemployment hits 7.2%, a 16-year high
January 9 - With the recession in full swing, the nation's employers shed 524,000 jobs in December, the government reported Friday, and a rapidly deteriorating economy promised more big losses in the months ahead. December's job losses brought the total for 2008 to 2.6 million, spanning a recession that started 12 months ago. The unemployment rate jumped to 7.2 percent in December from 6.8 percent in November and 5 percent last April, when the recession was four months old and just beginning to bite. More than 11 million Americans are now unemployed.
01.09.09 Olmert: Gaza op to continue, UNSC resolution not practical
January 9 - Despite the UN Security Council resolution calling for a Gaza cease-fire, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday afternoon that the IDF operation in the Strip would continue. "Israel has never agreed to external forces determining its right to defend its citizens," Olmert said in a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office following the Security Cabinet discussion on the UNSC resolution. "The IDF will continue to work to defend Israeli citizens and will carry out all the objectives it was given in the operation," he continued. Olmert said that the rocket fire from Gaza Friday morning "only proves that the UN resolution is not practical and will not be honored by the murderous Palestinian organizations." [More>>jpost.com; See related stories by some Arab media:
middle-east-online.com, January 9 articles:
arabnews.com, January 9 articles:
01.09.09 Head of al-Qaeda in Pakistan killed, says US counterterrorism official
WASHINGTON (AFP) January 9 - The head of al-Qaeda in Pakistan and his lieutenant are dead, a US counterterrorism official says. The men are believed to be Kenyan national Usama al-Kini, described as al-Qaeda's chief of operations in Pakistan, and his lieutenant Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There is every reason to believe that these two top terrorist figures are dead," said the source, adding that the pair was killed "within the last week." Officials believe al-Kini was behind the September 2008 truck bombing of Islamabad's Marriott Hotel that killed 60 people, and is linked to a failed assassination attempt on late Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The counterintelligence source did not say how the men died, but according to the Washington Post, which first broke the story, the al-Qaeda operatives were killed in a January 1 missile attack in northern Pakistan. [More>>news.com.au; See more details,
washingtonpost.com, January 9, "Attack by CIA kllled two leaders of al-Qaeda" : ...The strike took place at a site variously described as a safe house or former girls' school near the town of Karikot in South Waziristan, a region in the rugged autonomous tribal areas of northern Pakistan that has long been a haven for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. South Waziristan has been targeted frequently by Predator drones in recent months as part of a controversial and increasingly lethal campaign to destabilize the terrorist group and kill key operatives. The attacks, occurring about once every three days, have drawn protests from Pakistan's government but praise from top intelligence officials who say the strategy is forcing al-Qaeda into the open. CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, alluding to the strategy in a November speech, said the United States had "taken the fight to the enemy."...
01.09.09 'Suicide bomber' caught after Lahore blasts
LAHORE, Pakistan, January 9 - Police have told CNN that there has been a fifth blast in Lahore after four earlier explosions rocked Pakistan's second biggest city. Police and rescue workers rushed to the Tamaseel Theater on Ferozpur Road, where the latest explosion occurred. Police say the blast happened beneath a gas pipeline. No injuries have been reported. The initial four explosions were triggered in rapid succession near Lahore's Al-Falah theater around 8:45 p.m. local time (10:45 a.m. ET) in the busy Mall Road district of the city, the officer said. Police said they injured six people but killed no one. Investigators say they are trying to determine the type of the bombs used in the attack. [More>>cnn.com]
01.09.09 Gunmen kill government official in Pakistan's tribal region
ISLAMABAD, January 8 - Unidentified gunmen Thursday shot dead a government official and his guard in Pakistan's tribal region, the News Network International news agency reported. The car which seated the administrative officer named Amanullahin North Waziristan tribal region came under attack while heading to the town of Razmak in the area, said the report. Amanullah and his guard died on the spot while another official was injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. The attackers fled after the incident. No group claimed responsibility of the attack. [>xinhuanet.com]
01.09.09 Kasab's parents missing from their home: Burney
ISLAMABAD, January 9 - Leading Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney on Thursday claimed that the parents of Ajmal Amir Kasab, lone terrorist arrested by Indian authorities for the Mumbai attacks, were missing from their home in Faridkot village in Punjab province. The former human rights minister said a team from the Ansar Burney Trust recently visited Faridkot and found that Kasab's parents were missing from the village.
01.09.09 Gazprom wants Ukraine to pay $470 per 1,000 cu m of Russian gas
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) January 9 - Ukraine should pay a market price for Russian gas, and in the first quarter of 2009 the price for Eastern Europe is about $470 per 1,000 cu m, the Russian energy giant Gazprom said Friday. "If the price for gas Gazprom supplies to Eastern European states neighboring Ukraine is around $470 per 1,000 cu m in the first quarter of 2009, then Ukraine should also pay the market price for gas," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told journalists...Russia and Ukraine failed to agree on New Year's Eve on how to settle Kiev's gas debts or on a contract for 2009 deliveries. As a result, gas supplies from Russia to European consumers through Ukraine were reduced and then halted. Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Bosnia, Italy, Poland, France, Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia were affected by the gas dispute. [Full story>>en.rian.ru]
01.08.09 IDF unveils Hamas map seized in Gaza
January 8 - Soldiers from the Paratrooper's Brigade operating in the northern Gaza Strip uncovered a map prepared by Hamas that shows how the terror group prepared for the IDF's incursion by deploying different types of bombs as well as snipers throughout the town of al-Atatra...Halamish said that the map showed how Hamas does not hesitate to use civilian infrastructure for its terrorist activity. On the map, a brown dot is marked next to a mosque representing a nearby sniper position. "This is a civilian area and you can see on the map how Hamas booby-trapped the entrance to homes in order to hit the IDF," Halamish said. In another case, a large explosive device was marked on the map next to a gas station. Had it been detonated it would have likely destroyed the gas station as well, killing and wounding civilians who live in the area. [Full story>>jpost.com]
01.08.09 UN aid agency suspends work after Gaza strike
January 8 - The main UN aid agency in the Gaza Strip said today that it was suspending operations after an Israeli tank shell hit one of its convoys during the ceasefire period, killing two drivers. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) made the announcement as the death toll from Israel's war on Hamas shot up to 763 after new raids and dozens of bodies were found during a suspension in Israel's bombing. "UNRWA decided to suspend all its operations in the Gaza Strip because of the increasing hostile actions against its premises and personnel,"
jpost.com, January 8, "Uncertainty shrouds UN driver's death" : Who killed a Palestinian humanitarian aid truck driver and wounded two others as their convoy made its way into the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing during Thursday's "humanitarian ceasefire?" According to the foreign media, who based their information on UN sources, IDF tank shells blasted the truck. According to the Magen David Adom medic who said he evacuated the Palestinians to an Israeli hospital, the truck came under Hamas sniper fire. The medic, who asked not to be named, said he got his information from soldiers in the field. The IDF Spokesperson's Office has not been able to provide a response or establish contact with the relevant sources in the field.
01.08.09 Iran bans volunteers from fighting Israel
January 8 - Iran's top leader has banned hard-line Iranian volunteers from leaving the country to carry out suicide bombings against Israel. Iran's state television is quoting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying that Iran can't allow volunteers to cross its border and take military action against Israel. But he says Iran won't spare any efforts to assist Hamas in other ways. Hard-line Iranian student groups have asked the government to authorize volunteers to go carry out suicide bombings in Israel in response to the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. Iran is Hamas' main backer, though the country denies sending weapons to the Islamic militant movement. Iran considers Israel its archenemy. [>thejakartapost.com]
01.08.09 Afghans sign up to fight Israeli troops in Gaza
KABUL (Reuters) January 8 - More than a thousand Afghans signed up on Thursday to say they wanted to go and fight Israel in the Gaza Strip, many of them blaming the United States which has some 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, for supporting the Jewish state. Accusations by Taliban militants and some Muslim clerics that Israel and its main ally, the United States, aim to destroy Islam have a strong impact on public opinion in Afghanistan, where Washington plans to almost double its troop numbers this year. Scores of young men crowded into the library of Kabul's Milad ul-Nabi mosque, lined with banners reading "Death to Israel" and "Death to America," to sign up to fight Israel. "More than a thousand brave Afghans registered their names here to fight Israeli troops in Gaza," said Habibullah Assam, the imam of the mosque and organiser of the campaign. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
01.08.09 At least two Lebanon rockets hit north Israel; Hezbollah denies involvement
January 8 - At least two Katyusha rockets fired from south Lebanon exploded in northern Israel on Thursday morning, leaving two people lightly wounded and a number of others suffering from shock. The rockets struck the Nahariya area at around 8 A.M., one of them scoring a direct hit on the roof a nursing home in the city. A Hezbollah minister in Lebanon's Cabinet has denied any involvement by the militant group in the firing of the rockets. In 2006, Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon fired almost 4000 rockets at Israel during the Second Lebanon War. Labor Minister Mohammed Fneish told The Associated Press that Hezbollah was not aware of the rockets targeting Israel Thursday. Israel Defense Forces troops immediately fired five artillery shells at Lebanon in response to the rockets, an Israeli security source said. A military spokesman said Israel aimed "a pinpoint response at the source of fire." [More>>haaretz.com; See also haharnt.com, January 8, "Rockets fired from Lebanon hit Northern Israel, Israel fires back."]
01.08.09 US to lead new anti-pirate force
January 8 - A new international force to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia is being formed and will be headed by an American admiral, the US navy says. More than 20 nations are expected to contribute to the force, due to be fully operational later in January. After more than 100 attacks last year, the International Maritime Bureau said increased naval patrols had reduced hijackings in December last year. The EU formed an anti-piracy task force in December. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
01.08.09 'Indian Enron' rocks business world
January 8 - The Indian government has vowed to strengthen anti-fraud legislation after the chairman of the country's fourth biggest software firm said he had falsified company accounts. Ramalinga Raju, chairman of Satyam Computer Services, resigned on Wednesday after admitting he had "inflated profits over a period of the last several years." Archana Uttapa, a spokeswoman for Satyam, said the company's balance sheets were riddled with "fictitious" assets and "non-existent" cash. She also said that Raju's current whereabouts was currently unclear. News of the accounting scandal sent Satyam's stocks plummeting by nearly 80 percent and also dragged down the benchmark Sensex stock index by 7.3 percent on Wednesday. [More>>aljazeera.net; See also timesofindia.indiatimes.com, January 8, "Satyam may axe 10,000 employees.']
01.08.09 So cold the sea around Britain freezes
January 9 - It is an event as rare as it is spectacular - but yesterday, after a week of sub-zero conditions, the sea around Britain began to freeze. Instead of waves gently lapping the shore, walkers in Sandbanks, Dorset, found swathes of ice stretching up to 20m along the shore. It is highly unusual for Britain's coastline to freeze, but the combination of a sustained cold snap and the protected location of the Dorset peninsula made it possible. At Padstow, in Cornwall, in another sheltered harbour, seagulls skimmed across a layer of ice. And in South Wales, boats were frozen in their moorings on the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal in Pontypool. Because of its salt content, sea water freezes solid at about minus 2C....It is feared the number of deaths caused by the winter chill could exceed last year's figure of 25,000. [Full story>>news.com.au]
01.08.09 Roadside bombs kill 6 Iraqi soldiers: Police
BAGHDAD (AP) January 8 - Six Iraqi soldiers were killed Thursday when an Iraqi army patrol was ambushed by two roadside bombs as they were responding to a mortar attack at a police station north of Baghdad, Iraqi police said. The attack comes as Iraqi security forces and the US military said during a joint press conference that there was strong concern of a possible outbreak of violence before and after the Jan. 31 Iraq-wide provincial elections. US troops have been providing security during the transportation of balloting materials and will help provide security during the election but remain most concerned about the postelection violence. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
01.08.09 Congress urged to postpone nation's switch to digital TV
January 8 - Consumers Union is urging Congress to delay the nation's transition to digital television, saying the program to help TV viewers prepare for the switch next month has been underfunded and poorly implemented. In a letter sent last night to President Bush, President-elect Barack Obama, House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the consumer advocacy group said Congress should push back the transition "until a plan is in place to minimize the number of consumers who will lose TV signals." The request comes two days after the federal government said it has run out of money to provide coupons to help offset the cost of converter boxes. Analog television sets that rely on "rabbit ear" or rooftop antennas to receive broadcasts will need a converter box to get a picture after Feb. 17, when all full-powered television stations will stop airing analog signals and move to digital-only broadcasts. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
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