An aid and quick archive to help you track the news as it impacts your life;
a tool for historians & reporters

Maravot News of the World
4:47 PM – San Francisco
Mon, Feb 7, 2005
(last post)

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Faces of the Fallen – Iraq
(photos and names of the fallen)

Metric Conversion

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

Federal Debt vs GDP– Click image for larger view. (OMB)

Chart showing National Debt & Annual Deficits w/ Presidents. Click chart for larger image.

Interest exceeds Group A outlays. Click chart for larger image.

Gross Domestic Products. Click chart for larger image.

Blogs, news & stuff
Worth frequent visits

Village Voice
kippy the Kangeroo

Democratic Underground
American Politics Journal
American Progress Report
The Raw Story
Aral Sea Disaster
First- draft
Media Matters
Take Back the Media
Greg Palast
information Please
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Talkingpointsmemo GLOBEANDMAII.COM (en français)

Archeology & Prehistory news
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Washington Post
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IRIN News, Africa & Asia
Power & Interest News Report

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


August 1996

Maps of interest

Click on maps for larger image
Iraq and neighbors
Afghanistan & neighbors
Kazakhstan & neighbors

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

Israel's Security Fence. Click on image for larger view.

(AP photo) Click photo for story

Middle East Watch

Middle East Times



Kurdo's World (Blog)
Iraq the Model (Blog) (Iraq)
Iran Focus (Iran)

Middle East Newsline
Jerusalem Post

Haaretz Daily
Palestine Chronicle
Daily Star (Lebanon) (Qatar)

Russia Watch


East Asia Watch


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
because of me
, Dec. 1993

I am not responsible for the
content of any links
from this site.

Classics on-line

Juvenal, Sixteen Satires
Joinville & Villechardouin,
Chronicles of the Crusades
The Gallic Wars
Memorabilia (Xenophon)
The Offices (Cicero)
The Secret History

links & works

01.28.05 - 02.03.05
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11.02.04 - 11.06.04
10.25.04 -10.31.04

12:45pm San Francisco
Thursday 2.03.05
(last post)

News Headlines & Trends


1.31.05 - 2.03.05 TSUNAMI NEWS

2.03.05 Nine tsunami survivors found on India's Andamans archipelago

PORT BLAIR, India, Feb. 3 – Indian rescuers on Wednesday found nine survivors of December's tsunami disaster in the tropical Andamans archipelago near Thailand, police told... He said five men, three children and one woman, all of them emaciated, were picked up by a police party on a random search 38 days after towering waves devastated the Indian Ocean archipelago on December 26... The survivors took shelter on a hilltop when the waves slammed into the island, a statement from the Andamans' federally ruled administration said. "Four or five days later they came down to the forest and they were completely disoriented in the heavy rain that lashed the area," it said. "They came across a child belonging to the (Stone Age) Shompen tribe who taught them how to light a fire in the wilderness," the statement said. [More>>]

2.03.05 Sri Lanka says 995 children lost both parents in the tsunami

COLOMBO, Feb. 03 – The Sri Lankan government yesterday announced that 995 children lost both parents in last year's tsunami. It is seeking public assistance to track down any other orphans. Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Sarath Abeygunawardena told reporters yesterday that an initial survey found 995 children who lost both parents and another 3,409 who lost one parent in the disaster. [More>>]

2.03.05 President Clinton will not be involved in peace processes in tsunami area

COLOMBO, Feb. 03 – The United Nations has announced that former US President Bill Clinton's role as its special envoy for tsunami relief will not include the peace processes of Indonesia or Sri Lanka. UN spokesperson Fred Eckhard on Tuesday said, "The United Nations wanted to capitalize on the openings that it has afforded both Indonesia and Sri Lanka to make political advances with the rebel movements in those two countries."However, correcting that statement, the UN spokesperson yesterday said,"Clinton's mandate will not include the peace processes in those countries." [More>>]

2.03.05 Sri Lanka needs $1.5 billion for rebuilding

Sri Lanka will need approximately $1.5 billion to effectively implement a recovery and reconstruction strategy according to a preliminary damage and needs assessment released yesterday by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the World Bank. The assessment, prepared in close cooperation with the Government of Sri Lanka, sets out clear guiding principles for the reconstruction strategy, with an emphasis on the inclusion of affected communities in the planning and process of rebuilding.

It estimates the overall damage to Sri Lanka at US$1 billion with a large proportion of losses concentrated in housing, tourism, fisheries and transport. Total losses are estimated to equal 4.4 percent of GDP with about US$ 500 million in external financing required in the short term for 2005.

2.03.05 New aftershock rattles tsunami-ravaged Aceh province

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (DPA), Feb. 3 – A fresh aftershock rattled tsunami-ravaged province of Aceh before mid-day Thursday as relief workers said they had already buried more than 111,000 victims from the Dec. 26 disaster. An official at Banda Aceh's meteorology and geophysics office said the new trembler, measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, jolted Aceh at about 11:52 a.m. (0452 GMT). The official, who identified himself as Syahnan, said the latest quake was centered in the Indian Ocean, about 202 kilometers northwest of Banda Aceh, the devastated capital of Aceh. There were no immediate reports of damage. [More>>the]

2.03.05 Key US navy warship ends Indonesian tsunami aid mission

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (AFP), Feb. 3 – The US navy aircraft carrier at the center of American military aid efforts in Indonesia's tsunami-hit Aceh is ending its mission and will leave within 48 hours, U.S. officials said on Thursday. The USS Abraham Lincoln, whose helicopters were the first to reach many desperate survivors, would be leaving Indonesian waters either on Friday or Saturday, said Tim Gerhardson, a representative with the US embassy in Jakarta. [More>>]

2.01.05 UN says interim early warning system can be ready immediately

JAKARTA (AP) Feb. 01 – The United Nations said on Tuesday it is developing an interim early warning system for tsunami in the Indian Ocean that could go into operation almost immediately until a full-fledged network is put in place. The details of the system proposed by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission were worked out last week at a regional meeting in Phuket, Thailand, a UN statement said. Under the interim system, the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the IOC Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii would provide national authorities in the Indian Ocean region within formation and warnings. [More>>]

2.01.05 Fresh aftershocks felt in Car Nicobar – an active day for quakes from Nicobar to East Java and Taiwan

NEW DELHI, Feb. 01 – Two strong earthquakes within a span of nine hours since late Monday night jolted Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where the December 26 tsunami waves had caused widespread devastation. The first quake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale was recorded at 2200 IST on Monday, while the second quake of 5.3 intensity shook the region at 0638 IST on Tuesday, the Met office said. Both were epicentred off the east coast of Car Nicobar Island. It was not immediately known whether any fresh damage had been caused by the quakes. [More>>]

In a separate story an earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale jolted the area of Lumajang regency in East Java on Tuesday morning. The quake was also felt in the neighboring regencies of Blitar and Malang. The earthquake occurred at about 3:21 a.m. (8:21 p.m. GMT) with the epicenter 119 kilometers south of Lumajang, about 33 kilometers under the Indian Ocean. "We haven't had any reports of fatalities or damage caused by the quake," Arief of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency's Tretes station told Antara news agency.

A similar magnitude quake jolted Lumajang and Bondowoso about two weeks ago. On Jan. 24, an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale jolted Palu in Central Sulawesi, damaging dozens of buildings and killing at last one person.

TAIPEI, Feb. 1 – Two moderate earthquakes shook northeastern Taiwan in less than 3 hours on Tuesday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, officials
said. The first quake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale struck at 0159 GMT, and a 5.3-magnitude tremor hit at 0456 GMT, the Central Weather Bureau said.

2.01.05 Annan selects Clinton as point man for tsunami effort

UNITED NATIONS (AP) Feb. 1 – Secretary-General Kofi Annan has selected former President Clinton to be the UN point man for tsunami reconstruction and ensure that the world doesn't forget the immense needs of the countries devastated by the Dec. 26 disaster, a U.N. diplomat said Tuesday. UN spokesman Fred Eckhard refused to confirm the appointment, but said his office would release a statement later Tuesday. Clinton's office had no immediate comment. Annan wants to appoint a special envoy not only to focus on the cleanup and reconstruction but to try to make progress on resolving conflicts with rebels in the two worst-hit countries - Indonesia and Sri Lanka, Eckhard said. [More>>Associated Press]

1.31.05 Indonesian death toll from Asian tsunami raised to 236,012

JAKARTA, Feb. 01 – Indonesia's health ministry said on Tuesday the number of people dead and missing after December's earthquake and tsunami had risen to 236,012. []

1.31.05 Aceh needs medicines, not foreign doctors: Aid official

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (AFP) Feb. 01 – Indonesia needs more medical supplies from international donors rather than foreign doctors as sickness remains a concern five weeks after the tsunami struck, a senior aid official said on Monday. Gunawan, the deputy director of the Indonesian Red Crescent said the number of foreign medical staff now in the country were becoming "counter-productive". "We're going to need more medical assistance, but more in terms of the medical equipment as well as supplies because the types of diseases that we are facing at the moment are getting more (to be) common illnesses rather than those specifically related to the tsunami," he told reporters. [More>>]

1.31.05 Presumed death toll in Asian tsunamis passes 286,000

JAKARTA (AFP), Feb. 01 – The number of people presumed dead in last month's Asian tsunamis rose to more than 286,000 Monday, with Indonesian authorities announcing a further increase in the number of dead and missing. Indonesia was hardest-hit by the Dec. 26 quake and tsunamis, with a total 232,945 people listed as dead or missing, the Ministry of Health said on Monday.

Thailand's toll edged up slightly to 5,393 confirmed dead. A further 3,071 people were listed as missing, more than 1,000 of them foreigners. The toll in Sri Lanka, which was second hardest hit by the catastrophe, stood at 30,957, according to the Centre for National Operations. The number of people listed as missing was 5,637, but many were expected to be among those never formally identified, hurriedly buried and included in the confirmed death toll. In neighboring India, the official death toll has reached 10,744 with 5,669 still reported missing and feared dead.

1.31.05 - 2.03.05 OTHER NEWS

2.03.05 EU commissioner: suicide bombing is crime against humanity

BRUSSELS (Reuters) Feb. 3 – Suicide bombing should be considered a crime against humanity, European Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said on Thursday...That could give the families of victims of suicide attacks the possibility of taking legal action against political or religious leaders who blessed or incited such bombings...[More>>]

2.03.05 Bush outlines vision of Mideast freedom

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 – Roy Eccleston reports a view from abroad on the President's State of the Union address: George W. Bush has laid out plans to spread freedom in the Middle East, saying a Palestinian state was "within reach," vowing to stand by Iranians demanding liberty and calling on repressive allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt to embrace democracy. In the first State of the Union address of his second term, the President declared the US was entering a "new phase" in Iraq as his troops handed security to local forces.

Mr. Bush proposed $350 million in fresh financial aid in support of the new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying the goal of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace was within reach and the US would help them achieve that goal.

Iraq was the foreign policy anchor of the speech, and Mr. Bush praised the courage of Iraqi voters – some of whom displayed their ink-stained fingers in the audience in the US Congress as he spoke – and rejected Democrat calls for a clear exit plan. "The victory of freedom in Iraq will strengthen a new ally in the war on terror, inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran, bring more hope and progress to a troubled region," he told a packed joint session of the Congress.

The "new political situation" in Iraq after Sunday's election meant that the US, after consulting Iraqi leaders, would increasingly help prepare Iraqi troops to take on terrorists and insurgents, while coalition troops "will increasingly be in a supporting role." But he rejected calls for a timetable for the US to pull out its 150,000 troops, saying that would "embolden terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out."

The American view of the speech can be represented by Richard W. Stevenson's and David E. Sanger's take: WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 – President Bush challenged a wary Congress on Wednesday night to join him in reinventing Social Security for the 21st century, saying his generation had a duty to preserve the retirement system for those who follow and for the first time setting out details of the individual investment accounts at the heart of his proposal. "Social Security was a great moral success of the 20th century, and we must honor its great purposes in this new century," he said. "The system, however, on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy. And so we must join together to strengthen and save Social Security."

Delivering his State of the Union address three days after Iraqis went to the polls in their first free election in half a century, Mr. Bush promised not to end the American mission there before the Iraqis are capable of providing their own security against the bloody insurgency. "We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out," he said.

Turning to the Middle East, where Israelis and Palestinians are embarking on a new effort at peace, he asked Congress for $350 million to support the Palestinians under their new president, Mahmoud Abbas. He also expanded on the promise in his Inaugural Address to fight tyranny, saying to the Iranian people, "As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you," and urging Saudi Arabia and Egypt to "show the way toward democracy in the Middle East."
[More>>; the speech can be read at

2.03.05 Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid provides rebuttal to President's address

Referring to his boyhood in Nevada Senator Reid spoke about the American dream, stating that it is something every American child knows but other children have yet to see. He commented on the National Debt, saying that it needed to be brought under control, being $4 trillion dollars and noted that the President's plan for changing Social Security would add another $2 trillion to the $4 trillion debt. When I heard this I sent an e-mail to my California senator, Senator Feinstein, asking her to inform Mr. Reid and others in Congress of his gross mistake. The actual National Debt is $8.2 trillion or more, as can be seen from the National Debt Charts in our CONCERNS section. It is no wonder that George W. Bush has the Democratic Party in so much confusion, with so many Congress persons who have no idea how much money the American Government owes to the world and how much of their budget allocations each year are committed to service the US National Debt (which is in 2004 $321 billion, interest - See Office of Management and Budget data below). I explained to Senator Feinstein that such an error is embarrassing and would be remembered as such by historians.
Mel Copeland

2.03.05 China responds to Bush address on Iran Issue

Feb. 3 – China says Iran's nuclear issue should be solved within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan made this comment in response to US President George W. Bush's annual State of the Union address in which Iran was called "the world's primary state sponsor of terror." Kong Quan stated that the Chinese government always upholds that disputes between countries should be solved through dialogue, in accordance with the United Nations charter and principles on international relations.
[More>>CRI online; see also CRI online for China's general response to the President's address.

2.03.05 Greenspan to testify to panel

Feb. 03 – US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will testify before the House of Representatives Budget Committee on March 2, a committee spokesman said today. The committee would ask him about the budget and the economic outlook, the spokesman said. []

Feb. 2 the Federal Reserve increased interest rates again (for the sixth time notes I noted in the CONCERNS section that continuing increases in interest rates would be required in order to make US bonds more attractive to foreigners who have been financing George W. Bush's excessive debt. As the National Debt increases the risk in buying bonds increases. This is a situation where the cost of servicing the debt is dragging down the US economy, and as the US economy sinks, being a world market, other economies suffer.
Mel Copeland

2.03.05 Insurgents kill 12 Iraqi army recruits

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) Feb. 3 – Insurgents killed 12 Iraqi army recruits and critically wounded two others in an ambush on their bus southwest of the northern city of Kirkuk, an Iraqi army spokesman said. The insurgents stopped the bus, made the recruits disembark and then shot them one by one Wednesday in the village of Zab, said Maj. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin. Amin said that most of the recruits were under 25 and that they were unarmed and headed for home. Zab is about 45 miles (70 kilometers) southwest of Kirkuk.

Meanwhile, gunmen attacked a vehicle Thursday in Baquba, killing four Iraqis and wounding two others. All six were employees of Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, an American contractor in Iraq, the U.S. military said. Baquba is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

2.03.05 Ukraine's President Yushchenko invited to NATO summit

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) Feb. 3 – NATO confirmed Thursday that it had invited Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko to attend an alliance summit in Brussels this month. Officials said Yushchenko will be the only non-NATO leader asked to the Feb. 22 summit, where US President George W. Bush's will meet alliance leaders for the first time in his second term. [More>>]

2.03.05 Georgian PM Zhvania found dead

Feb. 3 – Although the world press is reporting that Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and his friend were found dead in the friend's apartment, from gas poisoning, reports that the deaths may not have been from gas. [Story>>]

2.03.05 From Nepal with fear: an e-mail from Hindustani Times correspondent

Feb. 3 – "I am using email after three days, currently under cover in Nepal. As all the telephone lines, Internet and other communication facilities have been cut off, we are experiencing the Stone Age in the 21st century.

This has been a complete hell for journalists. We are not allowed to talk to anyone. Political leaders are either under house arrest or have been detained. There are Armymen patrolling the streets. Even if there is emergency situation in a house, there is no way of communicating with others..."

2.03.05 Lost city believed found in Johor, Malaysia

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia, Feb. 3 – A 1,000-year-old lost city, possibly older than Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Borobudur in Indonesia, is believed to have been located in the dense jungles of Johor. The discovery of what is thought to be the site of Kota Gelanggi or Perbendaharaan Permata (Treasury of Jewels) by an independent Malaysian researcher has prompted museum officials to plan an expedition to confirm the finding. If indeed the site is that of the lost city , it is set to transform the historical landscape of the region, said Raimy Che-Ross, who spent 12 years researching Malay manuscripts all over the world and conducting aerial searches of the area before locating the site. [More>>] It was an old Malay manuscript once owned by Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, in a London library that led Raimy Che-Ross to the existence of the lost city in Johor. [More>>]

2.03.05 Tuna to be traced by DNA in Japan to ensure catches are legal

TOKYO, Feb. 3 – The Fisheries Agency will begin DNA checks to trace the origin of imported tuna to crack down on illegal imports by suppliers that falsify fishing data, according to agency officials. The DNA checks, along with other measures, are intended to stem tuna fishing in restricted areas and false reports that catches were hauled in elsewhere. The agency has started collecting DNA samples of tuna from various parts of the world, including the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and will use the data for the DNA method it developed to verify the origin of fish off loaded at ports in Japan.

According to the agency, importers are required to obtain certificates proving their tuna was caught in line with international marine resource management rules. They need to present documentation on which ship was used to catch the tuna and where and when. However, Taiwanese fishing boats were found engaging in a major scam last year in which they faked documents to label tuna caught in the Atlantic as having been caught in the Indian Ocean. Catching tuna in the Atlantic Ocean is much more restricted than in the Indian Ocean.

2.01.05 US guards shoot dead 4 inmates in Iraq prison riot

Feb. 01 – US troops in Iraq shot dead four inmates during a prison riot on Monday, the military said. Six prisoners were wounded in the violence, which affected hundreds of detainees at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq on the day after Iraqis voted in their first free election in decades. There were no serious injuries among the Americans during 45 minutes of rioting, Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson told Reuters. Troops shot the four dead with rifles after failing to quell the riot with plastic pellets fired from shotguns. [More>>; see also:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) Feb. 01 – US guards should be put on trial if found to have used excessive force to quell a riot at a military camp in which four detainees were shot dead, Iraq's human rights minister said on Tuesday. Bakhtiar Amin said he believed two U.S. troops had opened fire on rioters but he did not know why. His ministry had sent a delegation to the camp in southern Iraq to investigate. "If there is a mistake, then those in charge should be brought to account," Amin told Reuters.

2.01.05 Iraq group says holds US soldier – web

DUBAI (Reuters) Feb. 1 – A little-known Iraqi insurgent group said on Tuesday it was holding a U.S. soldier and threatened to kill him within 72 hours if Iraqi prisoners were not released, according to an Internet statement. "Our mujahideen ... have managed to capture the American soldier John Adam after killing a number of his colleagues," said the Mujahideen Squadrons in the undated statement. It carried a picture appearing to show a U.S. soldier sitting in front of a black banner with a rifle pointed at his head. The authenticity of the claim, which did not say where the man was seized, could not be verified. [More>>]

2.01.05 Turkey slams US failure to halt Kurds' designs on Kirkuk

Feb. 1 – Turkey criticized the United States for failing to halt Kurdish efforts to dominate the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, and warned it could take action if attempts to take control plunges the city into ethnic turmoil. "Some people are looking the other way while mass migration (of Kurds to Kirkuk) takes place," the Wall Street Journal quoted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan as saying in an interview given on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

"This is going to create major difficulties in the future."

Turkey believes Iraqi Kurds, who voted in large numbers in Sunday's election, are trying to take control of Kirkuk at the expense of local Arabs and Turkish-speaking Turkmens. Ankara fears this could herald a concerted drive to build an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq which might in turn reignite separatism among the Kurds of southeastern Turkey.
[More>>; see also and the Kurdish point of view, Turkey Warns Of Action Over Kirkuk As US Seeks To Allay Concerns," [; the also carried this comment: Barzani: We Do Not Care about Turkey's Comments

Speaking to journalists Massoud Barzani said "Kirkuk is a Kurdish province with a Kurdish identity. Neither Turkey nor another country has no right to make any comment about Kirkuk or any other Iraqi province. We do not care about their comments. We are not bound by those words. These things do not work by threats. An independent Kurdish state will be formed, but I do not know the exact time. The preference of the Kirkuk public will be shown after the polls. A referendum will be conducted to show the public demand."

2.01.05 Tens of thousands of Iraqis may have missed vote

BAGHDAD (Reuters) Feb. 1 – Tens of thousands of Iraqis, notably in restive Sunni Arab areas, may have been denied their right to vote on Sunday because of insufficient ballots and polling centers, officials said. Iraq began compiling election results from around the country on Tuesday after a barrage of election day attacks by Sunni militants failed to deter millions from voting. But officials said many Iraqis arrived late to find ballot sheets had run out, possibly skewing results for the already disgruntled minority.

Iraq's interim president Ghazi al-Yawar said extra ballots had to be supplied to Iraq's third city of Mosul, which is mainly Sunni Arab, after twice running out on election day.

2.01.05 Nepal king dismisses government, declares emergency

Feb. 01 – KATHMANDU (PTI) Feb. 1 – Nepal plunged into a political crisis today after King Gyanendra sacked the eight month-old Sher Bahadur Deuba government, assumed all executive powers for the next three years and declared a state of emergency in the country battling Maoist insurgency. Armored vehicles with mounted machine guns patrolled the capital amidst reports that several politicans have been put under house arrest. All telephone lines, including mobile phone services, have been disconnected soon after the royal announcement. [More>>Press Trust of India; see also and]

2.01.05 Pentagon to propose bigger military death benefits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) Feb. 01 – Under pressure from lawmakers for better treatment for US forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon plans to increase survivor benefits for families of service members killed in war, a Pentagon official said on Monday. The proposed increase would effectively double to $500,000 the amount that survivors receive in government payments and life insurance benefits, The Washington Post reported. Defense officials will ask that the higher payments be retroactive to October 2001, when the war in Afghanistan started. About 1,500 U.S. forces have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. [More>>]

2.01.05 Libya disappoints European firms as US wins most oil exploration permits

Feb. 1 – European oil companies, left out in the cold by Libya's handout of oil-exploration permits mainly to U.S. firms at the weekend, said they hoped this would change this year. "It was a bad start," one European oil executive said after Tripoli allocated 11 of 15 exploration licenses, the first granted to foreigners for 40 years, to U.S. companies. Indian, Canadian, Algerian, Indonesian and Australian companies took the others - despite a recent trail of European leaders to the North African country, including France's President Jacques Chirac and the British and Italian prime ministers Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi.

European countries which tendered for the permits included the French firms Total and Gaz de France, Spain's Repsol, Italy's Agip and Britain's BP. None succeeded. "The European offers were much meaner than the American offers," one Libyan source said. "The main criterion for success is the amount of production that the company pledges to give up to the national company," he said, adding that the Europeans set their figure "too low" compared to the Americans. He gave no details.
[More>>] See previous story 1.30.05 Lybia auctions off oil fields.

2.01.05 Israel ordered to rescind land grab law

Feb. 1 – Israel's attorney-general has ordered the government to rescind a decision to enforce a decades-old law under which large tracts of Palestinian land in Arab East Jerusalem could be confiscated, officials said. The government invoked the 1950 Absentee Property Law last July and word leaked out this month, alarming Palestinians who feared an attempt to usurp their claims to East Jerusalem, which they want as the capital of a future state. Israeli media said the move had angered the US administration, which regarded it as an obstacle to new peace prospects raised by the election of moderate Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on 9 January to replace Yasir Arafat. [More>>Al-Jezeera]

2.01.05 Breakthrough could kill pacemakers

Feb. 02 – Pacemakers could soon become a thing of the past, after an Australian researcher found he could manipulate scarred heart tissue into working again by injecting genetic material into damaged cells.
Children's Medical Research Institute (CMRI) cardiologist Dr. Eddy Kizana discovered electrical activity could be kick-started in scar cells in the heart with the addition of two genes.

"For people whose heart is damaged for any reason, whether it's through disease or congenital abnormality, this sort of technology in the future may have the capacity to genetically repair defects," CMRI's head of gene therapy Dr. Ian Alexander told AAP. "We can take scar tissue cells and we can, using gene transfer, make them behave as though they were a heart cell."

"... Conventionally the way to treat that has been through devices like pacemakers...we're repairing damaged heart cells that have become scar tissue by putting in two extra genes. "One is a master switch that reprograms the cell and tells it to behave like a muscle cell, allowing the cell to be electrically active, and the second gene allows the cells to transfer that electrical signal between cells."

2.01.05 China: US irrational on arms embargo

Feb. 01 – Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan says the US opposition to the European Union's lifting the arms embargo on China is irrational. Kong Quan says the arms embargo is political discrimination against China and blocks the development of the Sino-EU relationship. He says he hopes the US won't interfere in the issue.

The US warned earlier it would halt military technology exchanges and cooperation in the defence industry with Europe if the European Union lifts its 15-year-old arms embargo against China.
[More>>CRI online]

2.01.05 China, US discuss setting up defense hotline

BEIJING (Xinhuanet) Feb. 1 – Chinese Defense Ministry and its US counterpart rounded off their first special policy dialogue here Tuesday with both voicing their satisfactions, a sign of warming ties between two militaries of the two countries. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will likely visit China at an "appropriate" time this year, a senior Chinese military official said yesterday.

Richard Lawless, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence, gestures during the meeting in Beijing, January 31, 2005. [news photo] The two-day closed-door talk covered a wide range of issues, including the Taiwan issue, maritime military security and exchange programs in 2005, said a Chinese military spokesman Tu Qiming, who is in charge of the American and Oceanian affairs in the Foreign Affairs Office (FAO) under the Chinese Defense Ministry.

2.01.05 India keen on energy alliance with China

NEW DELHI (India News) Feb. 1 – India will strive to forge a mechanism of consultation and cooperation with China in their joint quest for energy security, Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said Tuesday. "We are working toward an Asian energy commitment on the lines of the European alliance on coal and steel," he said in a teleconference from Houston in the US, where he has gone for promotion of 20 exploration blocks being offered by India in the fifth round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). The minister is planning a visit to China later this year at an invitation extended by Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, last month. [More>>; see also Indo-Asian News Service]

2.01.05 Law barring junk e-mail allows a flood instead

Feb. 1 – A year after a sweeping federal antispam law went into effect, there is more junk e-mail on the Internet than ever, and Levon Gillespie, according to Microsoft, is one reason. Lawyers for the company seemed well on the way to shutting down Mr. Gillespie last September after he agreed to meet them at a Starbucks in Los Angeles near the University of Southern California. There they served him a court summons and a lawsuit accusing him, his Web site and 50 unnamed customers of violating state and federal law - including the year-old federal Can Spam Act – by flooding Microsoft's internal and customer e-mail networks with illegal spam, among other charges...Since the Can Spam Act went into effect in January 2004, unsolicited junk e-mail on the Internet has come to total perhaps 80 percent or more of all e-mail sent, according to most measures. That is up from 50 percent to 60 percent of all e-mail before the law went into effect. [More>>]

1.31.05 Mainly Kurds voted in Mosul

Jan. 31 – Kurds and Turkmen flocked to polling stations in Mosul, the country╝s third largest city but the majority Arabs stayed away. Mosul is the capital of Nineveh Province which includes several towns and villages inhabited mainly by Kurds, Christians and Turkmen. The province╝s population is estimated at about three million people, with approximately two million living in Mosul. Kurds are concentrated on the eastern flank of the Tigris River and queues formed at the polling stations in their districts early morning Sunday. But only a trickle of voters headed to the polls in the western flank of the river mainly inhabited by Arabs. [More>>]

1.31.05 The purple finger revolution

Mohammed writes in "Iraq the Model blog" his reflection of what happened yesterday (we quote in part):

What happened yesterday was an extremely significant turning point that will leave its marks on the future of the region. The world stood astounded at the sight of the masses that challenged death yesterday to plant the seed of hope in those boxes and now the enemies of the change cannot deny all that; the people have said their word clear and loud in their purple finger revolution.

Why was the world surprised? And what were the motivations of the people who have never experienced democracy before?

There were so many misconceptions about Iraq and these were the reasons why viewers from outside as well as many Iraqis were surprised. In the past few months, the media have played a big role in reflecting a blurred image about the will and preparations of Iraqis to hold the elections, not to mention exaggerating the size of the "militant groups" and their capabilities.

The world has discovered yesterday – Iraqis are included here – many facts that correct those misconceptions; now the weakness of the terror groups has become clear, and their limited geographical distribution, and I think that the low number of attacks we witnessed yesterday wasn't the result of the security measures alone but largely because of the limited areas these groups exist in; and this rendered them capable only of launching attacks within their strongholds, as the roads between provinces were blocked. Thus I believe that yesterday's attacks have identified the places where the terrorists mainly reside.

The over exaggerated estimations for the strength of terrorists have also contributed to intimidating the people but even with that, the silent majority moved forward led by the natural human desire for freedom and by the belief that elections can make their lives better. The people think of elections as a one day struggle that can prevent suffering on the long term.

The silent majority has realized that elections are good and serve the people's interests; they don't know much about practicing democracy as they never lived under one, but it's the common sense of the people who see how democratic nations enjoy stability and prosperity that led them to this conclusion.

Maybe the "fatwas" from the religious leaderships contributed to this too but I don't think "fatwas" were the main reasons behind the excellent turnout. I expect the results to reveal that many Shea't voters didn't vote for the lists favored by the clergy. Even the list of the "united national alliance," which is expected to be among the big winners, wouldn't have gotten all this popularity among voters if it had included too many clerics; as less than 10% of the candidates in this list are clerics while the rest are technocrats, Sunni, Kurds, Turkmen and people from other religious minorities; without this variety in the list, it would've been resting now at the tail of the choices list.

What happened yesterday reminds me of the fall of Saddam and they way Iraqis expressed their delight on the 9th of April, only that yesterday's carnival was greater, louder and more specific. Are we going to learn the lesson from yesterday?

I am afraid of being trapped in an ecstasy that directs our attention away from making use of the achieved victory; this victory is represented now by the feeling of Iraqis that freedom lovers and democracy supporters are the majority and they're everywhere and that there exists a strong unity among Iraqis against terror threats.

Every person has realized that he's not fighting alone in this battle and that all Iraq, from the very north to the very south, is sharing this view even in the cities where security is a big concern, like Diyala, Mosul, and Tikrit; even in Fallujah, the boxes weren't empty.
The majority wasn't silent yesterday and the people's confidence now is at its peak and we should encourage and invest this feeling now and rebuild the bridges between us...

1.31.05 Post-polls attacks kill three US marines

Jan. 31 – Three US marines were killed in combat south of Baghdad, the US military said in a statement on Monday. "Three US marines were killed in action and two others wounded on 31 January while conducting security and stability operations in northern Babil Province," the statement said. The latest deaths marked the first fatalities reported by the US military since polls closed in Iraq's elections on Sunday. The deaths raised the overall toll for US soldiers killed in Iraq to 1435 since the US-led invasion of March 2003, according to Pentagon figures. [More>>Al-Jezeera]

1.31.05 Russia to support Abbas

Jan. 31 – Russia has pledged its support for the Palestinian leadership under Mahmud Abbas amid growing signs of movement in the long-dormant Middle East peace process. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Moscow would actively support the Palestinian president and develop Russian-Palestinian relations. Abbas said the Palestinians had "high hopes" of diplomatic support from Moscow as efforts to restart top-level peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis continue. [More>>Al-Jezeera]

1.31.05 Turkey welcomes Iraq vote, renews concerns over Kirkuk

Jan. 31 – Ayad Allawi, Iraq's interim prime minister, today urged unity after Iraqis cast ballots in the nation's first multiparty elections in half a century. In making his first remarks since the polls closed Sunday, Allawi encouraged Iraqis to shed their differences, whether political, ethnic or religious, and rally for peace. "We are entering a new era of our history and all Iraqis — whether they voted or not — should stand side by side to build their future," he said.

At least 44 people were killed in nine suicide blasts and insurgent's mortar attacks. The U.S. military also announced that three Marines were killed while working to secure the northern Babil province, and one while performing similar duties in the Al Anbar province. But the violence failed to prevent millions of people from voting.

1.31.05 SBC closes deal with AT&T

Jan. 31 – SBC Communications concluded a $16 billion deal this morning for its former parent, AT&T, that would lead to the virtual disappearance of one of America's best known corporate icons and set off what promises to be a new round of competition between the Baby Bells. In buying AT&T, its national network and three million corporate customers, SBC can aggressively expand into the turf of its regional Bell siblings, who themselves are grappling for ways to move beyond their borders.

AT&T, the former monopoly, has been undone by cheaper Internet technology, growth in a cellphone industry where it has no role, and regulatory changes that squeezed it out of the local phone market.

1.31.05 Tough visa rules hurting US: Bill Gates

New Delhi, Jan. 31 – According to a Financial Times report, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates says tough US visa regime has caused a decline in foreign computer science students and it is threatening to undermine America's position in the global software industry. The Microsoft Chairman was speaking at World Economic Forum in Davos.

The US╝ status as "the IQ magnet of the world" was in jeopardy as a result of the tougher immigration rules that were introduced in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, he suggested, reports the British daily. "There has been a 35 per cent drop in Asians coming to our computer science departments,"Mr. Gates said. "It really is a very bad thing for a very key area."

1.31.05 Fourteen Maoists killed by security forces in Nepal

KATHMANDU (PTI) Jan. 31 At least 14 Maoists were killed in a massive operation launched by a joint team of security forces in the rebel shelters of Nepal's Dhanusha district, an official report today said. A self-styled section commander and a company commander of the CPN (Maoist) were among those killed in the gunbattle yesterday which also left a security personnel dead, state-run Nepal Television reported. Security forces have recovered 14 bodies of the Maoists from Chispani area in Churedanda of Dhanusha district. [More>>Press Trust of India]

1.31.05 Judge declares military tribunals inGuantanamo 'unconstitutional'

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 – Military tribunals of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base are "unconstitutional" a US federal judge ruled Monday, said sources. [; see also]

1.31.05 World tourism records best performance in 2004: WTO

PHUKET, Thailand (Xinhuanet) , Jan. 31 – The world tourism industry reached an all-time record of 760 million international tourist arrivals in 2004. The figure represented an increase of 10 percent in comparison with the previous year, the best results in two decades, according to a report of World Tourism Barometer released at a WTO's task force meeting here Monday. A comparable percentage having been recorded was in 1984 when international tourism just recovered from the weak economy caused by the second oil crisis. Asia and the Pacific spearheaded the climb, contributing 34 million new international arrivals, or almost half of the total. Europe came second with an increase of 16 million arrivals. The remaining gains were divided among the United States, the Middle East and Africa. [More>>]

1.31.05 'Time ripe for India-Russia-China cooperation'

NEW DELHI (India News) Jan. 31 – External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh Monday renewed his suggestion for "trilateral economic cooperation" between India, Russia and China, saying the industry could give a direction to the concept. "The time has come to consider economic cooperation at a trilateral level, instead of the traditional bilateral level between these countries," he said, inaugurating a seminar here.

Noting that he had mooted the concept in October last year, Singh said an upcoming meeting of businessmen from the three countries could provide a "practical dimension to our intentions". He felt such trilateral cooperation could ensure economic development and promote peace in the region.
[More>>; see also Indo-Asian News Service]

1.31.05 South Korea to contribute to construction of oil pipeline in Siberia

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) Jan. 31 - South Korea is willing to contribute, financially and otherwise, to an oil pipeline project in eastern Siberia, in Russia. Speaking at a Russo-Korean economic forum currently underway in Moscow, a senior official at the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) said South Korea's participation in the construction of the Taishet-Nakhodka pipeline would help the country ensure its oil security by increasing imports of Russian crude... The Taishet-Nakhodka pipeline's annual capacity is projected at 80 million tons. The construction costs are estimated within a range of $11 to $14.5 billion. [More>>]

1.31.05 Hillary Clinton collapses during appearance in Buffalo

BUFFALO (AP) Jan. 31 – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton collapsed Monday during a speech on Social Security, the result of a 24-hour flu bug, an aide told The Associated Press. An aide to Hillary Clinton says the senator is expected to continue with her schedule after collapsing during a speech in Buffalo...Clinton, 57, walked out of the private club where she was to speak under her own power, smiling, the club's general manager said. [More>> via]

1.31.05 Israeli government to bring all Falashmura from Ethiopia by 2007

Jan. 31 – All members of Ethiopia's Falashmura community who are entitled to immigrate to Israel will be brought to Israel by the end of 2007, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided Monday. The decision was made during a special meeting attended by Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz, Immigrant Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni and Jewish Agency Chairman Sallai Meridor. It was also decided that the responsibility for the transit camps in Ethiopia, where some 15,000 people are waiting to immigrate to Israel, will be handed over to the Jewish Agency within several weeks. [More>>]


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


(2) The name, Allah, in Arabic is an expression of surprise. It is not unusual for the God of the Bible to be known by many names . Jewish Midrash quotes passages in the Old Testament (Torah) that cite as many as seventy names of God (and more). But they can all be reduced down to one name.

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