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The Romance of Anais, an Arthurian-style tale written 1996 describing how Bush got us in the mess in Iraq with a short commentary on the
Chang-an cheat

Duty & Profit, Nov. 1994
Against Leviathan, Jan. 1993
Immoral Coercion, Dec. 1994
Philistia Triumph thou
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1.24.04 - 1.25.05 TSUNAMI NEWS

1.25.05 UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) releases new atlas on tsunami damaged areas

Jan. 24 – A new Tsunami Atlas using satellite images, topographic maps and geo-statistics has been developed by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. The atlas shows tsunami affected areas before and after the disaster. It helps experts to evaluate the damage and estimate rehabilitation needs of agricultural land, mangrove areas and coastal infrastructure. The current version covers Indonesia and Sri Lanka, other countries will be included soon. The atlas will be distributed to ministries, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations...FAO has prepared a CD-ROM containing tsunami related images collected from major spatial data sources on the web. These include raw satellite images, interpreted satellite images, topographic maps, thematic maps and statistics. The actual content of the CD varies by region.

The interpreted satellite images are showing areas affected by the tsunami on 26 December 2004. They have been interpreted by GIS experts with a legend, date, scale, orientation, data source, etc. The raw satellite images are offering a view from space. The topographic maps are displayed at 1:250000 scale, and a 1:50000 scale version is available on demand. The thematic maps and statistics show a variety of indicators and useful statistics. [More>> from]

1.25.05 After tsunami: tidal wave turns statue into divinity

Jan. 25 – The statue of an ancient princess who was sacrificed to the ocean to calm a tidal wave has become an object of veneration by Sri Lankašs tsunami-stricken population. The local newspaper 'The Island' carries a photograph taken in 'Kelani Raja Maha' temple, approximately ten kilometers from the capital Colombo, depicting pilgrims in prayer before a glass case displaying the image of Princess Vihara Maha Devi, the daughter of King Kavanissa. Legend has it that the sovereign – who reigned during the second century BC – placed his daughter in a golden canoe and abandoned her to the waters in order to appease the sea gods, who were threatening to flood coastal areas and destroy villages. Believed to have drowned, the young princess instead survived, ending up on the coast in Kirinda, which by a strange coincidence also happens to be one of the places hit by the tsunami on 26 December 2004. Now the statue, a highly precious work of art but which was never intended as a religious object, has drawn the interest of Buddhists who are asking it to protect them from further disaster or praying to it for their dead. Experts claim this legend contains an echo of a historic event: a tidal wave that hit the country over 2.000 years ago. []

1.25.05 Tsunami death toll approaches 300,000

Jan. 25 – Indonesia has increased its number of dead and missing by 55,000 to more than 228,000 people from December's tsunami. That brings the total death toll across the 11 affected nations to more than 281,000, up from 225,000 last week, The Times of London said Tuesday. In Sri Lanka, the second worst-hit country, the death toll stands at 30,957 and the number of missing set at 5,637. Thailand also increased its confirmed death toll to 5,384, and was preparing for an international meeting aimed at installing a warning system. In India, the official death toll has reached 10,744 with 5,669 still missing and feared dead. [More>>]

1.25.05 Anglican Church opposes presence of US troops

COLOMBO, Jan. 25 – The Anglican Church of Sri Lanka has expressed concern over the "alarming" long-term consequences of foreign military personnel in Sri Lanka..."While we appreciate their present humanitarian assistance, it would be a serious mistake with alarming consequences if those who arrive for humanitarian purposes become entrenched into a politico-military agenda..." [More>]

1.24.05 India to set up tsunami warning system

NEW DELHI, Jan. 24 (PTI) – India will set up a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean, which will become operational by 2007, and provide relevant information to other Indian Ocean rim countries, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said here today. "The entire system will be operational by September 2007 while the key elements will be in place by March 2006," Sibal told reporters briefing them on the two-day brain storming session on tsunami which concluded last Saturday. The work on the system would start next month, he said. [More>>Press Trust of India]

1.24.05 Quake aftershocks jolt Andamans

CHENNAI, Jan. 24 (IANS) An earthquake jolted the Andaman and Nicobar islands and Chennai Monday causing panic but officials said these were part of the aftershocks continuing since the tsunami disaster. The earthquake in the Andamans, with its epicenter west of Great Nicobar, measured 6.5 on the Richter Scale. Parts of Chennai suffered mild tremors that scared residents, particularly those in high-rise buildings. Many fled to the streets.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) director A. K. Shukla said in New Delhi that the quake was "not unusual" because it was in the series of 140 aftershocks of over 5.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale registered from Sumatra to the Andamans since the Dec. 26 quake that had triggered tsunamis. [More>>Indo-Asian News Service via]

1.24.05 - 1.25.05 OTHER NEWS

1.25.05 Stampede death toll may top 300

BOMBAY, Jan. 26 – As many as 300 Hindu pilgrims, including several women and children, may have been crushed or burned to death in a stampede and fire near a temple in western India today, the top district official said. "We cannot confirm it but it appears that 250 to 300 people are dead," Subrao Patil, the top official in Satara district, where the temple is located, told a local television reporter. "This does not include the people who may have been charred to death in the shops that have been gutted nearby in the fire." Another local official said at least 150 bodies had already been recovered. Authorities said more than 150,000 people were on a pilgrimage to the popular Mandher Devi temple, situated on a hill near Wai, about 260km south-east of Bombay. [; see also Press Trust of India]

1.25.05 Indian film actress dies

Jan. 25 – Saturday, Jan. 22, Parveen Babi was found in her flat, having been dead two days. After acquiring stardom and living abroad for ten years, she returned to India and became a recluse, suffering from mental disease. Diptosh Majumdar provides an interesting perspective on her funeral: " Art cannot graduate if it is not allowed to reveal weaknesses, vulnerability. Parveen Babi was buried without a murmur and without co-stars paying their last respects because she was too fragile, too frail. Not her death but her co-actors and directors staying away from her last rites tells us that Bollywood still lives by cliches. In the 21st century, the Hindi film world does not know how to deal with vulnerability..." [More>>]

1.25.05 Kennedy, Dems assail Iraq policy, Rice

WASHINGTON (AP) Jan. 25 – Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and other Democrats assailed President Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq Tuesday and declared they would oppose Condoleezza Rice's nomination as secretary of state as a principal architect of a failed policy. Kennedy, of Massachusetts, keyed the Democratic attack with charges that Rice, as Bush's national security adviser, provided Congress with "false reasons" for going to war. Had she not, he said in a speech, "it might have changed the course of history." Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., following up, accused the Bush administration of lying and said he was voting against Rice's confirmation as a way of trying to stop mistruths. [More>>The Associated Press; see also article, "Kennedy: Rice helped develop 'catastrophic' Iraq policy.']

1.25.05 Britian arrests freed Gitmo detainees

LONDON (AP) , Jan. 25 – Four Britons who were freed after being detained for up to three years at the U.S. military camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, returned to Britain on Tuesday and were immediately arrested. "Police arrested the men under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which refers to the alleged involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism," Metropolitan Police said. [More>>The Associated Press; see also and The four men - Moazzam Begg, from Birmingham; Feroz Abbasi, from Croydon; and Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar from north-west London - arrived at dusk at RAF Northolt, Middlesex, aboard a US military transport plane. As expected, the men were arrested on their arrival and taken to the high-security Paddington Green police station, in London, for questioning. Senior police sources say the men are unlikely to be charged, because any evidence obtained from Guantánamo would be inadmissible in court. It is expected that police will release all four men within days of their arrival..." and article for more information.

1.25.05 Pakistan gives US 'key militant'

Jan. 25 – Pakistan has handed over to the United States a key suspect in the bombings of two US embassies in East Africa in 1998, Pakistani officials say. Tanzanian Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, an alleged al-Qaeda militant who had a $5m American bounty on his head, was arrested last July. It is not clear when he was handed over to the US or where he is now held. Pakistan has arrested hundreds of al-Qaeda suspects since joining the US-led war on terror. [More>>]

1.25.05 Militants show video of US hostage; judge killed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) Jan. 25 – Insurgents released a video on Tuesday showing a U.S. hostage pleading for his life, and militants assassinated a senior judge in Baghdad, intensifying a campaign of violence ahead of Sunday's watershed election. [More>>]

1.25.05 Kirkuk under curfew as poll centers hit

Jan. 25 – The interim Iraqi authorities have announced a curfew in the northern city of Kirkuk as 10 polling centres in areas north of Baghdad came under overnight attack. Kirkuk on Tuesday was set to impose the curfew and tough security in a bid to ward off attacks during the country's election scheduled for 30 January. From Tuesday, Kirkuk authorities ordered an 8pm to 5am curfew which will be extended by two hours on the eve of the election, in which Iraqis will vote for a national assembly to draw up a new constitution. A senior police official said his forces were ready to give their lives for Sunday's vote, while the governor of Kirkuk province has been holding daily meetings with community leaders to secure their help to counter fighters opposed to the presence of foreign troops in Iraq. [More>>Al-Jezeera]

1.25.05 Russian inflation will leap over 11% this year

LONDON, Jan. 25 (RIA Novosti's Alexander Smotrov) – Inflation will leap over an 11 per cent barrier this year-as against an 8.5 per cent forecast, made by experts of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. The pessimistic prognosis comes from Ruben Vardanyan, Troika Dialogue president. He was referring to Troika experts for his figures in a Novosti interview. [More>>]

1.25.05 Syria looks to Moscow for stronger regional role

MOSCOW: Syrian President Bashar Assad arrived here Monday on a historic four-day state visit saying he was seeking a new path for peace in the Middle East rather than high-tech arms for use against arch rival Israel. "Russia is a great power, and it carries great responsibilities for world affairs," he told the Izvestia daily in an interview that was also scheduled to be aired on Channel One state television Tuesday night. "Thus Russia has to help stabilize the situation in the Middle East," Assad said. [More>>; See a separate articles, "Russia will write off 73% of Syria's debt." and "Syria, Russia to restore Soviet-era ties."]

1.25.05 Assad: Russian missiles would not pose threat to Israel

Syrian President Bashar Assad insisted Tuesday that the shoulder-launched Igla SA-18 missiles Damascus wishes to buy from Russia would not pose a threat to Israel. "This is a defensive, air defense, weapon," Assad told students during a visit to the Moscow State Institute for International Relations, the Interfax news agency reported. "If Israel is against us buying it, it means it wants to invade our airspace. The Israeli stance is illogical." [More>>; see also (AP) Jerusalem Post]

1.25.05 German regulators seek criminal investigation into Citigroup bond case

FRANKFURT (AFP) Jan. 25 – BaFin, the German financial market regulator, has asked prosecutors to probe US banking giant Citigroup over possible market manipulation in the eurozone government bond futures market, BaFin chief said in a newspaper interview...At the centre of the probe are some controversial bond trades by Citigroup in August. At the time, the US giant flooded the cash market with 11 billion euros (14.3 billion dollars) in sell orders, causing rivals to rush to hedge their exposure in the Eurex market for German government bonds by selling the futures. About half an hour later, Citigroup allegedly bought back four billion euros of the bonds at a lower price, raising suspicions of market manipulation. Citigroup allegedly made a profit of around 17 million euros on the deal. [More>>]

1.25.05 US budget deficit pegged at $368 billion in fiscal 2005

WASHINGTON (AFP) Jan. 25 – The US government deficit would ease to 368 billion dollars in the current fiscal year under existing laws, but the real gap may be higher when costs for Iraq are added, the Congressional Budget Office said. The deficit would be slightly lower than the record 412 billion dollar shortfall in the 2004 fiscal year that ended last September 30. But the estimate is up 20 billion dollars from the CBO's September forecast of a 348 billion dollar deficit. Moreover, the nonpartisan CBO said that its estimates "omit a significant amount of spending that will occur this year -- and conceivably for some time in the future -- for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other efforts in the war on terrorism."..."Additional appropriations (for Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror) are expected to add about 30 billion dollars to the deficit this year and possibly more next year," CBO said in its report. [More>>; see separate article, "$1.3 trillion in deficits forecast over decade."]

1.25.05 Korea investments in China rise sharply

Jan. 25 – Korea's investment in China has more than doubled over the past two years, driven by local companies' rush to take advantage of cheap labor and huge consumer base in the world's fastest growing economy. Korean direct investment in China amounted to $6.25 billion in 2004, up from $2.72 billion two years earlier, the Korea International Trade Association said yesterday. [More>>]

1.25.05 China and Mexico sign cooperation accords

Jan. 25 – China and Mexico have signed seven cooperation accords to facilitate trade, tourism and judiciary exchanges. Mexican President Vicente Fox and visiting Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong attended the signing ceremony of the accords, which are expected to give a new impetus to cooperation between the two nations. The accords include a treaty on criminal judicial assistance, an agreement on maritime transportation, and a memorandum of understanding on Chinese tour groups traveling to Mexico. Zeng Qinghong arrived in Mexico City Sunday for a three-day official visit to Mexico, the first leg of his five-nation tour of Latin America and the Caribbean. [More>>CRIonline; see also]

1.25.05 China's economy soars

China's gross domestic product totaled 13.65 trillion yuan, or 1.65 trillion US dollars in 2004, a jump of 9.5 percent year-on-year. [More>>CRIonline]

1.24.05 Central Sulawesi quakes: 1 killed 4 injured

PALU, Central Sulawesi (Antara): One person has been killed and four others were injured on Monday after an earthquake jolted Central Sulawesi. Ambo Tuwo, 75, of Karawana village, Donggala, died from injuries after his house collapsed.

The Makassar Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) office said the earthquake occurred about 4:11 a.m. local time (3:11 a.m. Jakarta time) and measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. The epicenter of the quake lay some 16 kilometers southeast of Palu and was about 30 kilometers deep. Palu is an earthquake-prone city as it lies on the Palugoro fault line. [More>>]

1.24.05 Muslim organization advocates electoral process to end violence in Iraq

Jan. 24 – Kamal Nawash, President of,, urges that the new Iraqi government be "representative of all its citizens." He argues: "...the despair and apprehension felt by the Sunni Arab Muslims is due to the fact that Sunni Arab Muslims have ruled Iraq for most of its history. The shift from Sunni Muslim to Shiite control is unprecedented in the Arab world and the significance of this transition cannot be exaggerated. As a consequence of this unavoidable transition, the leaders of the Arab Sunni Muslim population have called for a boycott of the elections..Recent reports have indicated that many Sunni Muslims Arabs are leaving Iraq for neighboring countries due to the current and foreseeable violence associated with the elections. Consequently, there is likelihood that Sunni Arab Muslims may be severely underrepresented in the new Iraqi government. This will be bad for Iraq and the Middle East. A new Iraqi government whose job is to write a draft constitution cannot be and should not be overwhelmingly Shiite. Such a government may be seen as illegitimate which will guarantee continued violence for the foreseeable future.

"The United States must do all it can to make certain that Arab Sunni Muslims are fully represented in the new Iraqi government even if they are not elected. An Iraq in which the Arab Sunni Muslim population feels left out will not have the best of relations with its Arab neighbors who are predominantly Sunni Muslims. For Iraq to succeed all Iraqis must be fully represented and no Iraqi should feel disadvantaged because of their religion or ethnicity. Iraq must be a shining example of tolerance, pluralism and diversity."

1.24.05 Nixon feared strike like 9/11

WASHINGTON (AP) Jan. 24 – Almost three decades before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, a high-level government panel urged measures to protect the nation against terrorist acts ranging from radiological "dirty bombs" to airline missile attacks, according to declassified documents. "Unless governments take basic precautions, we will continue to stand at the edge of an awful abyss," Arms Control and Disarmament Agency scientist Robert Kupperman wrote in a 1977 report. That report, and other documents and memos obtained from government archives under the Freedom of Information Act, were the result of five years of work by the Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism. The group was formed in September 1972 by then president Richard Nixon after Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. [More>>]

1.24.05 China, India complete strategic talks

NEW DELHI, Jan. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- China and India held their firststrategic dialogue here on Monday and exchanged views on both international and regional issues of mutual concern. A press release issued by the Chinese delegation to the dialogue said Wu Dawei, Chinese vice-minister of foreign affairs, and Shhyam Saran, Indian foreign secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs, held talks and reached a broad consensus on various issues. Both sides also exchanged views on Sino-Indian relations and agreed to make efforts to "raise bilateral ties to a new level." [More>>]

1.24.05 Bomber of Chinese bus identified

URUMQI, Jan. 24 (Xinhuanet) – The bus blast case that occurred at noon of Jan. 20 in Kuytun City, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has been solved, the regional public security bureau told Xinhua on Monday morning.. The blast, which reportedly occurred at the rear part of the bus, killed 11 people and injured 7 others...(the blast was caused by a disgruntled coal-mine worker who had been injured and was not satisfied with the compensation; he left a suicide note – ed.) [More>>]

1.24.05 Annan tells world to face up to evil

Jan. 25 – Herve Couturier at the United Nations reports: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan today said the world body would fight vigorously against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, in remarks observing the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camps. "The United Nations must never forget that it was created as a response to the evil of Nazism, or that the horror of the Holocaust helped to shape its mission," the UN leader said.

He was speaking at a historic special session of the UN General Assembly attended by Holocaust survivors and the foreign ministers of Israel, Germany and several other countries. "We must be vigilant against all ideologies based on hatred and exclusion, whenever and wherever they may appear," said Mr. Annan, who made his remarks shortly after the start of the first ever UN session commemorating the Holocaust.

Speakers at the event were to include Nobel Peace Prize laureate and author Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Auschwitz, Buna and Buchenwald concentration camps. [More>>; see also article, "UN marks liberation of Nazi death camps,"]

1.24.05 Blizzard slams Northeast

BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) Jan. 24 – Boston's airport partially reopened Monday, but schools and courthouses were closed in many areas as the Northeast struggled to recover from the weekend's blizzard. The storm dumped more than 3 feet of snow on Massachusetts, and drifts were piled up to the eaves of some one-story buildings. Frustrated travelers waited for transportation after a weekend in which hundreds of airline flights were canceled.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney asked nonessential state workers in the eastern part of the state not to come to work, and Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri closed all state and municipal offices Monday. School closings were reported from Maine to parts of Virginia. [More>>; see also articles, East Canada and US reel from snow," and "Atlantic Canada triple storm a rarity,"]

1.24.05 Iran replies to Bush: If Bush really wants to end tyranny, he should help liberate the Palestinians

TEHRAN, Jan.24 (MNA) – "If Mr. Bush is really a proponent of world liberation, it would be better for him to visit Israel and do something for the liberation of the Palestinians," Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh said here on Monday in response to the U.S. presidentšs recent pledge to spread freedom across the globe. Ramazanzadeh also stated that the United States is in no position to launch a military attack against Iran. [More>>]

1.24.05 Germany says force should not be used to resolve nuclear issue with Iran

Jan. 24 – German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said on Monday military force should not be used to resolve the issue of Iran's controversial nuclear programme. He said efforts to find a political solution must continue. Meanwhile, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres has called for the world to take action against Iran, saying the country's nuclear ambitions threatened the stability of the whole Middle East. [More>>]

1.24.05 Palestinian land in Jerusalem seized

Jan. 24 – Israel has seized large tracts of Jerusalem owned by West Bank Palestinian residents, lawyers say. The land was taken after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government decided several months ago to enforce a long-dormant law that allows Israel to seize property belonging to Palestinians who fled or were driven out during the 1948-49 war that followed the state's creation. The new policy, first reported in the Israeli daily Haaretz on Sunday, could affect hundreds of Palestinians who own property in Jerusalem and is sure to raise the stakes in the stormy battle over the city, which Israel and the Palestinians both claim as their capital.

The landowners affected so far live in the West Bank towns of Bethlehem and Bait Jalla, just south of Jerusalem. Their land was taken in August, after Israel's West Bank separation barrier cut them off from their property in the city. [More> Al-Jezeera; see also, "'Land grab' fears for Jerusalem,"]

1.24.05 Iraqi voters in Iran lead the pack

Jan. 24 – Iran is accounting for the largest percentage of Iraqi expatriates to register for the country's elections next week, far outnumbering registered figures from the United States. Around the world, only about 16% of eligible Iraqi expatriates have signed up to vote, registration organizers said on Sunday. Only 9% of the Iraqis who have registered so far are from the US, but 22% are from Iran.

Registration organizers have extended the deadline until Tuesday for Iraqis to sign up to participate in the forthcoming election, which has been touted by US leaders as a means to install a recognized and legitimate Iraqi government. At the same time, the US remains concerned about Iraqi Shia candidates aligning themselves with Iran, the home of influential Shia clerics. [More>>Al-Jezeera]

1.24.05 Officials: Pentagon moves into overseas spy operations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) Jan. 24 – The Pentagon, edging into foreign spy operations traditionally handled by the CIA, is now using its own intelligence support group to work directly with U.S. special forces troops in world trouble spots, defense officials said on Monday. But the White House and Pentagon suggested that the group was a part of military changes sparked by the 2001 attacks on America and was not an attempt by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to grab authority over intelligence operations.

One veteran private analyst told Reuters the Pentagon unit, which has been operating for nearly two years in Iraq and Afghanistan, made sense and apparently did not violate U.S. law. "This is just a common sense way of getting more tactical intelligence value out of military deployments," said Loren Thompson of the private Lexington Institute. "I don't see where they are breaking any rules. Rumsfeld's initiative is understandable, given the cautious and unreliable performance of the Central Intelligence Agency in similar operations," Thompson said.

Defense officials, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters that the support unit in question -- including linguists, interrogators and case officers -- was for "tactical analysis" and had been operating with elite military units for nearly two years in both Iraq and Afghanistan. [More>>; see also Agence France Press article,]

1.24.05 Saudi clerics point militants toward Iraq

LONDON (AP) Jan. 24 – Fundamentalist Islamic leaders in Saudi Arabia are telling militants intent on fighting "infidels" to join the insurgency in Iraq instead of taking up Osama bin Laden's call to oust the Saudi royal family at home, say Saudi dissidents who monitor theological edicts coming out of the kingdom.

Iraq as a battleground offers the solution to a quandary facing the Saudi clerics who have to both placate the kingdom's rulers and keep their radical base happy. "If they preach that there ought to be absolutely no jihad, they would lose credibility and support among their followers. So what they do is preach jihad - not in Saudi Arabia, but in Iraq," said Abdul-Aziz Khamis, a Saudi human rights activist in London. [More>> via]

1.24.05 Israel resumes work on illegal wall

Israeli bulldozers have resumed work on one of the most controversial sections of the illegal separation wall deep in the northern West Bank. The work began on Monday after an eight-month pause when the construction was halted by a court order. Palestinian security sources in Salfit town, which lies just to the south of the Jewish settlement of Ariel, said three bulldozers began work in the late morning, clearing land belonging to Salfit and to the neighbouring village of Iskaka...Although the Hague-based World Court ruled in July that parts of the barrier built on Palestinian land are illegal, Israel has insisted it will complete the project, which is eventually expected to stretch some 700km. [More>>Al-Jezeera]

1.24.05 Arab candidates pull out of Iraq vote in multi-ethnic Kirkuk

KIRKUK, Iraq, Jan. 24 (AFP) – Arab candidates running in Kirkuk`s provincial election have pulled out of the race in protest at the government`s decision to grant displaced Kurds the right to vote, the head of the Arab electoral list told AFP Monday. "The decision to withdraw came after the Iraq Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) allowed the displaced Kurds to register to vote. That was coupled with the security tensions in Diyala, Tikrit, Mosul and some parts of the Kirkuk," the head of the Arab list, Wasify al-Assy, said.

Assy said his Arab Unifying Front coalition had already decided to skip the national elections. The boycott by oil-rich Kirkuk`s Arab population was the long-awaited fallout from the January 16th decision by the Iraqi government and IEC to permit Kurds expelled from the city under Saddam Hussein to take part in the national and provincial vote. The move effectively tipped the balance of power in the coveted city in favour of the Kurds...[More>>]

1.24.05 Top Zarqawi lieutenants netted in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Jan 24 (AFP) - Iraq announced Monday the arrest of two lieutenants of Islamic extremist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of whom was said to be plotting election day attacks and was implicated in the 2003 bombing of the UN Baghdad headquarters. "Security forces in Iraq captured the most lethal of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's lieutenants, Sami Mohammed Ali Said al-Jaaf, also known as Abu Omar al-Kurdi, in a raid in Baghdad January 15," the government said in a statement.

"Abu Omar al-Kurdi has claimed responsibility for about 32 vehicle-born improvised explosive device attacks that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis," it said. The statement from Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's office said Kurdi was responsible for the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad that killed 22 people including UN representative in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. "Abu Omar al-Kurdi confessed to building approximately 75 percent of the car bombs used in attacks in Baghdad since March 2003," the statement said, quoting government spokesman Thaer al-Naqib. [More>>; see also article, "Iraqis arrest man they say is Zarqawi's top bomb maker,"]

1.24.05 Car bomb explodes near Iraqi Party Headquarters

BAGHDAD, Jan. 24 – At least 10 people were injured when a car bomb exploded outside the party headquarters of the prime minister this morning, as Iraq prepared for a dangerous week before the elections. The suicide bomber struck at a police checkpoint near the National Accord offices in the center of the capital. The party is led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. [More>>]

1.24.05 Putin notes sincerity of talks with Yushchenko

MOSCOW, Jan. 24 (RIA Novosti) – Vladimir Putin notes the sincerity of his talks with Viktor Yushchenko. Speaking to journalists on the results of their meeting, the Russian head of state added: "We have discussed problems of energy and political interaction, military-technical and military-political cooperation". They also focused on economic problems, integration processes in the Common Economic Space (formed by Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan). "The new Ukrainian leadership needs time to grasp the gist of the on-going processes", Mr. Putin said.

Russia is the lasting strategic partner of Ukraine, Mr. Yushchenko said. "My first visit stresses respect for such relations. I would not like the myths and legends of the 1930s-40s to be a reflection of my political position," he said. [More>>; see also article, "Yushchenko woos sceptical Russia,"]

In a separate article Putin looks forward to closer gas contacts with the Ukraine:
MOSCOW, Jan. 24 (RIA Novosti) – Ever closer contacts will link Russia to Ukraine in the gas sphere, expects Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Last year's Russian gas exports to Western Europe via Ukraine exceeded 100 billion cubic meters. "This year, we are planning to export 112 billion. Ukraine earned $1.5 billion on gas transits. Not bad, wasn't it? We hope to extend this partnership in the future. "As we heard from our Ukrainian partners, they mean to preserve succession in their policies toward Russia - prospects for a gas-piping consortium included," President Putin said to newsmen following the negotiations with President Victor Yushchenko of Ukraine.

The new Ukrainian President, in his turn, thinks his country and Russia ought to join hands for political efforts as a European energy market is emerging. "Russia is unique due to its unique energy potential. Ukraine is unique with unprecedented transport possibilities. [More>>]

1.24.05 North Korea cuts food rations

PYONG YANG, Jan. 24 – North Korea has cut food rations to just half the amount recommended by the World Food Programme, the UN food agency says. WFP monitors say government handouts have been cut from 300g (10.5oz) of cereals a day to 250g.

The UN says 16 million North Koreans rely on the rations. A WFP spokesman told British TV that many people would be unable to supplement their allocation of maize, rice and potatoes with any meat or vegetables. "Prices of basic foods in private markets have increased substantially, they're beyond the means of many people. Supplementing the ration has been increasingly difficult," said Gerald Bourke, the WFP's public affairs officer for Asia. []

1.24.05 Software identifies cancer-causing genes; facilitates stem-cell research

1.24 – A team of Korean researchers have developed software capable of identifying cancerous and other illness-causing genes from a DNA chip, a government-run IT research institute said yesterday. The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute hailed the development of the software as a case that has maximized synergy effects between the fields of information technology and biology. The software, the institute said, marks the highest level of IT technology applied to research of serious diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Along with the software, ETRI researchers also developed a system that forecasts changes in gene evolution. The development is expected to speed up stem cell research in particular, as the system can predict with great precision what kind of tissue or organ certain parts of a stem cell will transform into, researchers said. [More>>]

1.24.05 Israel says Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia have nuclear programs

The head of the Mossad intelligence service, Meir Dagan, warned Monday that there are signs that several Middle East states other than Iran - including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria - are at varying stages of development of nuclear programs.
Dagan, reviewing the security situation for the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also warned that the atomic threat posed by Iran will soon reach the point of no return in a nuclear arms race.

The Mossad chief told committee members that Iran is attempting to lead the International Atomic Energy Agency astray. According to Dagan, Russia is still helping Iran build its nuclear reactor in Bushehr. In addition, Dagan said Iran is encouraging Hezbollah to carry out terror attacks in Israeli territory, and giving assistance to Palestinian terror organizations. [More>> via]

1.24.05 Iran rules out possibility of talks with US

TEHRAN, Jan. 24 (IANS) Iran Monday said it saw no possibility of opening talks with Washington during US President George W. Bush's second term as there would be no major change in American policy toward Tehran, reports Xinhua. "Given that the US government has started its new term with threats, it is clear that no major change has occurred in the US policy," government spokesperson Abdollah Ramezanzadeh was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency. [More>>Indo-Asian News Service]


1.07.05 Sinclair Broadcasting to sue webloggers

The following was posted on a Americablog Jan. 7:

"The evil Sinclair broadcasting group, the group that planned to run the entire anti-Kerry attack film on their TV stations around the country right before the election, has threatened to sue David Brock's MediaMatters AND they've threatened to sue ANYONE who JOINS MEDIA MATTERS EMAIL LIST!

Here's my favorite quote from Sinclair's release:

Although Sinclair respects the rights of these organizations to voice their opinions, we find inappropriate that their tactics include advocating their constituency to contact our advertisers in a blatant attempt to use economic pressure to censor the speech of Sinclair. Moreover, the continued misrepresentation of the facts surrounding any company's advertising practices regarding Sinclair stations constitutes "trade defamation" which would entitle Sinclair to seek damages in a court of law. Sinclair will aggressively pursue any organization or any individual which engages in such defamation, including individuals who lend their names to mass e-mail campaigns spreading such misinformation.

Oh man. Make. My. Day."

The Sinclair Press Release is at: See also and others.


12.23.04 US is losing war of ideas
12.21.04 United States attacking itself from behind

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