11.17.05 The man who sold the war
November 17 James Bamford writes: Meet John Rendon, Bush's general in the propaganda war. The road to war in Iraq led through many unlikely places. One of them was a chic hotel nestled among the strip bars and brothels that cater to foreigners in the town of Pattaya, on the Gulf of Thailand. On December 17th, 2001, in a small room within the sound of the crashing tide, a CIA officer attached metal electrodes to the ring and index fingers of a man sitting pensively in a padded chair. The officer then stretched a black rubber tube, pleated like an accordion, around the man's chest and another across his abdomen. Finally, he slipped a thick cuff over the man's brachial artery, on the inside of his upper arm.
Strapped to the polygraph machine was Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a forty-three-year-old Iraqi who had fled his homeland in Kurdistan and was now determined to bring down Saddam Hussein. [More>>rollingstone.com via
11.17.05 Bush approval falls to fresh low
NEW YORK, November 18 US President George W. Bush's job approval rating has touched a new low of 34 per cent, according to a US survey published today by Harris Interactive. While one in three Americans rated Bush's performance in the White house as "positive", 65 per cent said it was "only fair" or "poor", the poll shows. Mr. Bush's approval rating has been slipping from 50 per cent when he was re-elected in November 2004, to 45 per cent in June to 40 per cent in August of this year, according to the New York-based pollster. [More>>theaustralian.news.com.au]
11.17.05 House Democrat wants immediate Iraq pullout
WASHINGTON (AP) November 17 n influential House Democrat who voted for the Iraq war called Thursday for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, another sign of growing unease in Congress about the conflict. "This is the immediate redeployment of American forces because they have become the target," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats. At times during his remarks to reporters, the decorated Vietnam War veteran was choking back tears.
"It is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region," Murtha said....Murtha voted to give the president authority to use force against Saddam Hussein in 2002. In recent months, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee defense panel has grown increasingly troubled with the direction of the war and with the Bush administration's handling of it, particularly following reports of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe.
"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion," Murtha said. [Full story>>sfgate.com ; See alsoabcnews.go.com, "Cheney latest to lash out at critics." : Vice President Dick Cheney is joining President Bush and other Republicans in accusing Democrats of foul play for asserting that the administration misrepresented intelligence to build support for taking the nation to war in Iraq. Cheney said Wednesday the accusation is "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."
"Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein," Cheney told the Frontiers of Freedom Institute, a conservative policy group...]
Editorial note: Rather than trying the case in the media, wouldn't it be more appropriate to conduct a Congressional Inquiry? An appropriate venue would seem to be an impeachment of George W. Bush and Cheney. Impeachment is a trial. Clinton was impeached, we recall, over a sex scandal and "obstructing justice." He was found innocent of the charges against him. The case of misleading Congress on the issues of the Iraq War would appear to warrant a higher concern, in view of the consequences of Bush's rush to war. He went to war without UN support, both Northern Iraq and Southern Iraq were under US control as "no fly zones," Saddam Hussein was under control, with UN inspectors being redeployed, etc. Rather than concentrating in Afghanistan, in our response to al-Qaeda's terror, the Bush administration diverted its effort to Iraq. The consequence was an invasion that was poorly equipped with no plan to secure captured territory. Al-Qaeda continues as a threat to US security and Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. The Bush administration, under the circumstances and based upon the complaint, should be given its day in court to resolve the dispute.
11.17.05 Torture photos fuel scandal of secret Iraqi jail
November 17 Graphic photographs of injuries allegedly suffered by detainees in Iraqi custody surfaced today as the government attempted to dismiss international criticism over a secret torture prison. The images, released by the Sunni Committee of Muslim Scholars (SCMS), show men - alleged to be former police officers taken captive by Shia commandos - with bruises and welts covering their bodies. The skin on one man's arm is seared to the flesh.
The publication of the disturbing photographs follows the discovery on Sunday of 173 men and teenage boys in a secret prison beneath a government building in Baghdad. Some of the inmates were reportedly tortured, beaten and starved. John Reid, the Defence Secretary, described the abuse as "totally unacceptable", Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, said that he was "deeply concerned", and the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said it would "not help" stabilize the country. [More>>timesonline.co.uk ; See also bbc.co.uk, "Iraq plays down claims of abuse."]
11.17.05 Construction of North European Gas Pipeline to begin in 2005
SAMSUN, Turkey (RIA Novosti) November 17 The construction of the North European Gas Pipeline, which will stretch 1,200 kilometers from Russia to Germany and will cost at least 4 billion euros, will begin this year, the Russian industry and energy minister said Thursday. "We will witness the beginning of serious construction work in the near future that will drive toward a common factor - to increase the energy security of the European market," Viktor Khristenko said.
The minister also said the $3.4-billion 757-mile Blue Stream pipeline, with a maximum capacity of 16 billion cu m, would not have only one branch but that there were proposals to supply natural gas to southern Europe, the Balkans, Greece, and via the Mediterranean to Israel. "We consider these projects to be interesting to Russia," Khristenko said, adding that they created possibilities for gas supplies to traditional and new markets. He also said Russia and Turkey were discussing the construction of natural gas storage facilities and LNG plans since Turkey could become a terminal for gas transportation routes. [rian.ru]
11.17.05 Ten US soldiers killed in Iraq
November 17 Ten US servicemen have been killed over the past two days in Iraq, including five marines killed in a gun battle in the country's western Anbar province. The marines "were killed in action during a fire fight" on Wednesday in the town of New Ubaydi, near the border with Syria, a US military statement said. "During the engagement, 16 enemy fighters were confirmed killed," it added.
Earlier the US military announced that three US soldiers "were killed when their patrol struck an improvised explosive device northwest of Baghdad" on Tuesday. Another Marine was killed on Tuesday "by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack (car bomb) while conducting combat operations against the enemy", the military said. [More>>aljazeera.net]
11.17.05 update,11.16.05 UN, UK launch big quake airlift
MUZZAFFARABAD, November 16 The United Nations and the British military launched an airlift on Wednesday to move hundreds of tonnes of food and shelter to earthquake survivors high in mountains to ensure they survive the winter. Two Royal Air Force Chinook transport helicopters hovered low over an airstrip on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad, while a British military team on the ground hooked up nets filled with supplies.
The aircraft soon clattered into a sunny sky, headed for a remote valley to the northeast, their loads swinging below them. Three British Chinooks are involved in the six-day drive to haul nearly 1,000 tonnes of supplies into the mountains for communities still cut off by road, nearly six weeks after the quake.
"This is a really quick push to get big targeted tonnages out," said Natasha Hryckow, head of logistics for the UN aid operation. "To be able to do that size push in just six days is what¹s pretty cool from our end-it¹s just magnitudes above what we¹ve been doing," she added. The United Nations and other relief agencies say communities have to be supplied with shelter and enough food to get them through the winter by the beginning of December when the weather is expected to close in. The most pressing problem area is the Neelum Valley, to the northeast of Muzaffarabad, where the sole road up the steep-sided valley was swept away by landslides triggered by the quake. It is not expected to be rebuilt before the winter. The valley, with a population of about 150,000 people, is the main focus of the airlift though some supplies will also be dropped in the Leepa Valley, to the east of Muzaffarabad. [More>>jang.com.pk]
Editorial note: Why George W. Bush is not visiting Pakistan is curious. Update, article 11.17.05, jang.com.pk, "Bush promises Musharraf help to rally more aid." : US President George W. Bush promised Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf Thursday that he would work to rally international aid following last month's earthquake, the White House said. Musharraf telephoned Bush, who was here for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, to ask for help in building "international momentum" ahead of a November 19 donors conference, said Mike Green, the senior director for Asia on the US National Security Council.
Musharraf gave the US president a summary of the situation in Pakistan following the October 8 quake, which killed more than 73,000 people in Pakistan and made some three million people homeless. Musharraf has said Pakistan needs 5.2 billion dollars to recover. Bush "promised he would look at ways to help" and would instruct US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to come up with detailed plans to do so, Green told reporters.]
11.16.05 Woodward apologizes to Post for withholding knowledge of Plame
November 16 Bob Woodward apologized today to The Washington Post's executive editor for failing to tell him for more than two years that a senior Bush administration official had told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame, even as an investigation of those leaks mushroomed into a national scandal.
Woodward, an assistant managing editor and best-selling author, said he told Leonard Downie Jr. that he held back the information because he was worried about being subpoenaed by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case. "I apologized because I should have told him about this much sooner," Woodward said in an interview. "I explained in detail that I was trying to protect my sources. That's Job No. 1 in a case like this. . . .
"I hunkered down. I'm in the habit of keeping secrets. I didn't want anything out there that was going to get me subpoenaed."
Downie, who was informed by Woodward late last month, said in a separate interview that his most famous employee had "made a mistake." Despite Woodward's concerns about his confidential sources, Downie said, "he still should have come forward, which he now admits. [More>>washingtonpost.com ; Woodward's testimony in the CIA case.
11.16.05 Snow on Saturn moon Pandora
November 16 Cassini's best close-up view of Saturn's F ring shepherd moon, Pandora, shows that this small ring-moon is coated in fine dust-sized icy material. Craters formed on this object by impacts appear to be covered by debris, a process that probably happens rapidly in a geologic sense. The grooves and small ridges on Pandora (84 kilometers, or 52 miles across) suggest that fractures affect the overlying smooth material. The crisp craters on another Saturn moon, Hyperion, provide a contrasting example of craters on a small object (see Odd World).
Cassini acquired infrared, green and ultraviolet images on Sept. 5, 2005, which were combined to create this false-color view. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera at a distance of approximately 52,000 kilometers (32,000 miles) from Pandora and at a Sun-Pandora-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 54 degrees. Resolution in the original image was about 300 meters (1,000 feet) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of two to aid visibility. [More>>saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]
11.16.05 Clinton says Iraq invasion was a big mistake
DUBAI (AP) November 16 The United States made a "big mistake" when it invaded Iraq, former President Bill Clinton said on Wednesday, citing the lack of planning for what would happen after dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown. "Saddam is gone. It¹s a good thing, but I don¹t agree with what was done," Clinton told students at the American University of Dubai. "It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country."
Clinton was taking questions from Arab students on the US invasion of Iraq, which began in March 2003. His response drew cheers, and a standing ovation at the end of the hour-long session. Clinton said the United States had done some good things in Iraq: the removal of Saddam, the ratification of a new constitution, and the holding of parliamentary elections. "The mistake that they made is that when they kicked out Saddam, they decided to dismantle the whole authority structure of Iraq ... We never sent enough troops and didn¹t have enough troops to control or seal the borders," said Clinton. As the borders were unsealed, "the terrorists came in."
Clinton said it would have been better if the United States had left Iraq¹s "fundamental military and social and police structure intact." [khaleejtimes.com]
11.16.05 US to cut Katrina hotel payments
November 16 Many US families forced to leave their homes by devastating storms have been told that funding for accommodation in hotels will be cut by 1 December. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), in charge of the relief effort, has paid evacuees some $274m (£159m) since hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Almost 54,000 families are still living in hotels and motels in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. Fema wants people to move to temporary accommodation before finding new homes.
"There are still too many people living in hotel rooms, and we want to help them get into longer-term homes before the holidays," said David Paulson, acting director of Fema. "Those affected by the storms should have the opportunity to become self-reliant again and reclaim some normalcy in their lives." [More>>bbc.co.uk]
11.16.05 Bush prods China, cites Taiwan as democratic model
KYOTO, Japan (Reuters) November 16 US President George W. Bush on Wednesday urged China to move further to allow political and religious freedoms, and he held up Taiwan as a model for Asia of a free and democratic society. In remarks sure to annoy Beijing ahead of his visit there on Saturday, Bush said communist-run China had taken steps toward more openness but had "not yet completed the journey."
US President George W. Bush speaks during joint remarks with Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the Kyoto State Guest House November 16, 2005. Bush is on a week-long, four-nation Asian tour that will also take him to South Korea, China and Mongolia. He painted a different picture of Taiwan, the self-ruled island over which China claims sovereignty. "Modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels, Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society," Bush said in prepared remarks for a speech in Kyoto.
Asked at a news conference if he was suggesting that China emulate Taiwan, Bush said his message was "universal" and that he was "not necessarily trying to compare one system to another."
"What I say to the Chinese, as well as others, is that a free society is in your interests," Bush said. "To allow people to worship freely, for example, in your society is part of a stable mature society and that leadership should not fear freedoms within their society," Bush said at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. He reiterated support for the one-China policy. [More>>thestar.com.my]; See also chinadaily.com.cn story, "Bush: US supports 'one-China' policy."]
11.16.05 Human bird flu deaths rise in Indonesia
JAKARTA, November 17 City officials culled scores of birds, including 35 pigeons, in Sunter Jaya, North Jakarta, on Tuesday, as confirmed human bird flu cases rose to 10. Sulianti Saroso Hospital spokesman Ilham Patu said on Tuesday that the World Health Organization-sanctioned laboratory in Hong Kong had confirmed that Siti Sarah, 16, had died of bird flu. "We have a confirmation from Hong Kong that she was infected with bird flu," he told The Jakarta Post. Siti died last Sunday days after she was admitted to the Agung Hospital in Manggarai, South Jakarta.
The announcement brought the number of confirmed human bird flu cases to 10, including six deaths, since July, when the first human case was found in Tangerang, Banten. The number of bird flu cases may go up to 11 as the Ministry of Health announced on Monday that Dian Rahmaningrum had died of bird flu last Sunday. Further tests by the WHO-sanctioned laboratory in Hong Kong were underway. [More>>thejakartapost.com ; See also chinadaily.com.cn report, " China reports its first three human bird flu cases." and thestar.com.my, "Vietnam finds new strains of bird flu viruses." : HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnamese scientists have found more variations of bird flu viruses in poultry, adding to the health risk to people if these strains keep circulating, a health official said on Wednesday. Dong Manh Ha, director of Ho Chi Minh City Regional Animal Health Centre, told Reuters a study conducted by the centre found new avian influenza strains of the H3 and H4 subtypes in poultry. A farmer gathers ducks for burning at a farm in Vinh Hung commune, Hanoi, November 15, 2005. Scientists say strains of the H3 and H4 subtypes are capable of causing death in birds but are generally less virulent and spread more slowly than the H5 subtype they fear could trigger a human pandemic...;
See another article, independent.co.uk, "Bird flu confusion as parrot is cleared and finches are blamed." : The South American parrot believed to have died of avian flu in a quarantine facility in Essex in October did not have the disease, a government report has concluded. But Mesia finches imported from Taiwan and held with the parrot did have the deadly infection, which has killed at least 64 people in the Far East, the report says. The death of the parrot and more than 50 mesia finches and other birds held in the same area of the quarantine facility run by Pegasus Birds created a major scare that avian flu had arrived in the UK and could potentially infect other species. But an investigation into the outbreak by the National Emergency Epidemiology Group has concluded that the disease did not spread from the finches to the other birds held in the same area, which included four chickens...]
11.16.05 Zealots fan tensions between Christians, Muslims
VIENNA (Reuters) November 16 Overzealous missionaries are fanning tensions between Christians and Muslims and within their faiths, creating potential conflicts that religious leaders must defuse urgently, a leading Catholic cardinal said on Wednesday. Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said the world's two largest religions were missionary faiths that have in the past been intolerant in spreading their beliefs around the globe. But in today's pluralist world, many people reject religion because they see this mission work as potentially divisive and intolerant, he told a conference on Islam. Religious leaders must find a way to spread their beliefs more peacefully.
"Missionary work is a sign of the vitality of these religions, but it contains a large potential for conflict," said Schoenborn, a close associate of Pope Benedict who often speaks out on major issues facing the Roman Catholic Church. "The mission issue plays an unspoken but decisive role" in relations between Christianity and Islam, he said.
"Will we be able to combine the dynamics of mission, a fundamental part of our religions, with respect for others' beliefs, for religious freedom and for tolerance?"
Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmad Bader Hassoun also called for a better understanding between Muslims and Christians, arguing they needed to unite to fight violent religious extremists. "We have 10 years ahead of us to achieve spiritual peace," he said. "If we don't, I fear we will experience Marx and Lenin again. They would close our churches, mosques and synagogues and say they created peace, not us." [More>>thestar.com.my]
11.16.05 Aussie in US spy scandal
November 17 An Australian Defence employee has become embroiled in an international espionage scandal involving the alleged sale of top-secret US B-2 Stealth bomber technology to foreign powers. Defence Materiel Organisation officer Arthur Lazarou, a retired Royal Australian Navy lieutenant-commander, is the subject of an internal Defence investigation over his links to US engineer Noshir Gowadia, who was charged last month with disclosing military secrets - which could be "used to cause injury" to the US - to representatives of eight foreign governments and corporations. Although prosecutors have not disclosed the identity of foreign interests involved, US press reports named China as among countries that acquired the Stealth secrets.
Indian-born Mr. Gowadia, 61, is described as having played a crucial role in developing the B-2 Stealth bomber while a design engineer at Northrop Corporation, where he worked for 18 years. He was instrumental in creating a secret defence system that makes aircraft "virtually invulnerable to attack" by making them invisible to infra-red heat-seeking missiles.
The B-2 Stealth bomber is one of the most potent weapons in the arsenal of the US military. The long-range strategic bomber is designed to avoid detection and elude heat-seeking missiles as it delivers a 18,000kg payload of conventional or nuclear weapons. The US's 21 aircraft, which each cost $US2.2 billion, can fly more than 9600km without refuelling. If they refuel just once they can fly further than 16,000km, giving them the capacity to strike almost anywhere in the world within 24 hours.
How the B-2 achieves "stealth" is a closely guarded secret, but its component materials, special coating and wing design all contribute to its "low observability."
...Mr. Lazarou, 44, was hired a fortnight ago by the DMO to work as a project management coach at Defence Department headquarters - just days after Mr. Gowadia was arrested by FBI agents at his Hawaiian mansion. Company records show Mr. Gowadia and Mr. Lazarou are listed as joint directors and shareholders in the Canberra-based company, NTech Australia Pty Ltd.
The company, registered to Mr. Lazarou's home address and set up in mid-2001, is one of two companies US prosecutors allege were used to launder the proceeds of the sale of the military secrets that funded Mr. Gowadia's lavish lifestyle. US Assistant Attorney Ken Sorenson told The Australian yesterday the Canberra shelf company and another related entity in the tax haven of Liechtenstein were central to the espionage case. [Full story>>theaustralian.news.com.au]
11.15.05 Ministry official: Saudi Arabia to lift economic embargo on Israel
November 15 Saudi Arabia has agreed to lift its economic embargo on Israel so that it can join the World Trade Organization, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Tuesday. The decision makes Saudi Arabia the first Arab country to agree to lift the embargo. There was no official confirmation of Saudi Arabia's reported agreement to cancel the embargo from either Riyadh or the WTO. The Saudi commitment was an "image achievement that will make it easier for countries around the world to invest in Israel and purchase goods from Israeli companies," the ministry said Tuesday. [More>>haaretzdaily.com]
11.15.05 Senate votes to demand regular Iraq updates from White House
WASHINGTON, November 15 The Senate signaled its growing unease with the war in Iraq today, voting overwhelmingly to demand regular reports from the White House on the course of the conflict and on the progress that Iraqi forces are making in securing their own country. The vote, 79 to 19, came on an amendment to a spending bill that ultimately passed without opposition. The bipartisan support for the amendment sponsored by Senator John W. Warner, the Virginia Republican who heads the Armed Services Committee, reflected anxiety among Republicans as well as Democrats.
Mr. Warner said afterward that he was "very grateful" for the wide backing of his amendment, which he called "forward looking" and distinctly different from a Democratic alternative that many Republicans said would signal that the United States was ready to "cut and run" from the battlefield. The message that Iraqis should take from the Senate action, Mr. Warner said, is that "we have stood with you, we have done our part," and now it is time for them to do theirs. He said 2006 would be a pivotal year for the campaign in Iraq. [More>>nytimes.com]
11.15.05 US uncovers secret prison in Iraq
November 15 Up to 200 malnourished Iraqi detainees bearing signs of torture have been found in a secret prison in the basement of a Government building in Baghdad. The discovery of the prisoners came after American troops surrounded and took control of an Interior Ministry building in the Jadriya neighborhood of the capital on Sunday night. When American forces arrived at the facility, officials there told them there were 40 detainees being held. As they moved through the building they discovered at least 200 prisoners, mostly Sunni Arabs and many in very poor health. The Americans had apparently been tipped off to the prison¹s existence by relatives of those being detained.
Official announcement of the discovery came just a day after damning United Nations report into the brutal conditions and lack of access to legal counsel in Iraq¹s overcrowded jails. The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq expressed concerns about the large number of detainees and suggested that Iraqi police and special forces had abused the human rights of suspects during security sweeps. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]
11.15.05 Rice cements deal on Gaza borders
JERUSALEM, November -15 After marathon all-night negotiations, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a comprehensive agreement between the Israeli and the Palestinian governments Tuesday designed to ease the Gaza Strip's isolation by allowing more reliable access for its goods and people to Israel and the outside world.
The deal sets out the terms of operation for Gaza border crossings used to move cargo and people, resolving a deadlock that has frustrated a team of international negotiators for weeks. It also establishes a system of bus convoys to shuttle Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank, the two territorial components of what is envisioned as a future Palestinian state. The agreement allows the Palestinians to begin work on Gaza's seaport, and assures donors that Israel will not interfere with its operation. It leaves unclear when the port would open and under what guidelines, but work to get it up and running will take at least three years, Palestinian officials said. The deal says discussions on renovating and reopening Gaza's international airport will continue. [More>>washingtonpost.com; See also Jerusalem Post, "Gazans: Seaport vital for economic recovery."]
11.15.05 Jordan king sacks court chief, advisers
November 15 Jordan's King Abdullah II has dismissed the chief of his royal court and 10 advisers in a long-expected move brought forward by last week's bombing in Amman, a senior official says. Palace aides on Tuesday said Salem Turk, former deputy chief of staff in charge of army investments, would replace tribal leader and former prime minister Faisal Fayez as chief of the royal court. The move had been expected for several months as part of a drive to improve the efficiency of the court.
"The moves may have been speeded up by the tragic events but the decision itself has nothing to do with it. It's related to moves to restructure the royal court," one senior official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Adnan Bakhi, a former ambassador to Israel who had been appointed last September as acting head of national security and chief of staff of the king's private office, was officially confirmed in that post. Also among the 10 advisers who were dismissed is Saad Kheir, a former head of intelligence. Kheir was removed from that post last May as part of a drive to curb corruption and reduce the role of the intelligence services in political life, and given a largely nominal post as national security adviser. [More>>aljazeera.net]
11.15.05 China to vaccinate entire poultry stock
(AP) November 16 Two of the countries hardest hit by bird flu announced extreme measures to fight the disease Tuesday, with China promising to vaccinate its entire poultry stock of 14 billion birds and Vietnam launching a campaign to purge its two largest cities of poultry.
Jia Youling, chief veterinary officer in China's Agriculture Ministry, said China is in the process of vaccinating all poultry in the country. He said the government will pay all fees involved, but he did not provide any details of how officials would carry out the vaccinations. It was unclear if the birds were being vaccinated against the virulent H5N1 bird flu strain that has ravaged poultry stocks across Asia and killed at least 64 people since 2003. China has more than 14 billion farm poultry, accounting for nearly 21 percent of the world's total. Millions of birds have already been vaccinated in the country because of previous outbreaks.
The announcement came as China confirmed two new outbreaks of the bird flu. More than 6,500 chickens were found infected in Urumqi and Zepu counties in the northwest Xinjiang region on Nov. 9, and more than 2,700 died, said Roy Wadia, a World Health Organization spokesman in Beijing, citing the Agriculture Ministry. While China has not reported a human case of the disease, experts warn that it is inevitable if the government cannot stop repeated outbreaks in poultry. Eleven poultry outbreaks have been reported in the country in the past month. [More>>chinadaily.com.cn]
11.15.05 Study shows tamoxifen can prevent cancer for years
WASHINGTON (Reuters) November 16 Women at high risk for breast cancer who take the well-known drug tamoxifen can reduce their long-term risk of developing the disease, according to a new study released on Tuesday. Researchers found that women who took tamoxifen, sold as a generic and by AstraZeneca Plc under the brand Nolvadex, for up to five years were about 43 percent less likely to get breast cancer than those who took a placebo.
Out of 6,681 women taking the drug, 145 have developed cancer since the study began in 1992, compared with 250 cases in 6,707 women assigned to placebo, according to scientists at the Pittsburgh-based research network that conducted the trial with funding from the National Cancer Institute. [More>>thestar.com.my]
11.14.05 Six bomb blasts rock Iraq killing at least 17, injuring 42
BAGHDAD, November 14 Iraq witnessed six bombings on Monday that killed at least 17 people and injured 42 as operations by US and Iraqi forces near the Syrian border continued. Baghdad bore the brunt of the explosions, with reports of four having occurred on Monday. A homemade device exploded near the Iranian embassy in the centre of the capital, killing at least one policeman and injuring four others, national broadcaster Al-Iraqiya reported, citing police sources and witnesses. A car bomb exploded at one of the entrances to the Green Zone in Baghdad killing three foreigners, witnesses said. The witnesses said the explosion occurred just outside the zone, where the US embassy and Iraqi government offices are located, killing the foreigners who were driving past at the time and wounding another two.
In the eastern Camp Sara neighborhood of the capital, three civilians were killed and four others injured in the explosion of a roadside bomb, according to Al-Iraqiya. Another roadside bomb in Saydiya, in the south of the capital, took its toll on a police patrol, killing one policeman and injuring another two. Beyond the capital two other blasts claimed victims. Three armed men were killed by their own bomb which detonated as they tried to plant it by the roadside 65 kilometres south of Baghdad. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
11.14.05 Man 'cured' of HIV agrees to undergo further clinical tests
November 14 A young British man thought to be the first person to have shaken off HIV, the virus that causes Aids, is to undergo further clinical tests in the hope of a breakthrough in treating the condition. Andrew Stimpson, 25, said yesterday that he was willing to do all he could to help to tackle the condition, after it emerged that his body had apparently rid itself of the human immunodeficiency virus. Mr. Stimpson, a Scot living in London, was found to be HIV-positive in August 2002, but 14 months later a blood test suggested that he no longer carried the virus. A further three tests confirmed the finding. Doctors believe that this first confirmed case of ³spontaneous clearance² of HIV could offer important insights into the behavior of the virus, and possible means of defeating it. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]
11.14.05 Living bomber key to Zarqawi
November 15 The are prize of a captured suicide bomber could give intelligence officials a priceless insight into the whereabouts and workings of the Middle East's most-wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Jordanian and CIA officials were yesterday intensively questioning the Iraqi mother, Sajidi Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, captured in Amman on Saturday after failing to detonate her explosives belt at a hotel wedding reception on November 9. They have already established that the bombings, claimed by Al-Qa'ida in Iraq, were deeply personal for the group's leader, Zarqawi. Al-Rishawi, 35, is the sister of Zarqawi's former closest aide Samir Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, who was killed by coalition bombs in Iraq in August.
Al-Rishawi has said she and her husband were personally dispatched to Jordan by Zarqawi's inner circle. Officials in Jordan believe the order may have come directly from Zarqawi, who remains on the run while directing a raging insurgency against the US-led occupation.
...Jordanian police say they have arrested 12 men in addition to al-Rishawi. All are believed to be Iraqi nationals. Most of the group are believed to have crossed the Iraqi border on November 4 in a 10-car convoy. "There is a very real possibility that there are other people among them who were either prepared to die, or to help others die," the Israeli official said. "We would be very keen to know who they had dealt with in Jordan and whether their capabilities had been passed on. The type of expertise they possess is not easy to learn without an instructor and there is no evidence yet that the skillset was in Jordan before last week. Time will tell whether others have since learned..."
...If she was sent by Zarqawi's inner circle she could have crucial insights to offer about his recent whereabouts and appearance -- two factors that have eluded the massive US military in Iraq, where he is their number one target. Only three known photos or video images exist of Zarqawi. His appearance looks markedly different in each of them.
Al-Rishawi fled from Amman's Radisson hotel after the detonator chord on her bomb did not work. She said she was ordered by her husband to stand in one corner of the banquet hall on the hotel's ground floor, while her husband took a position in a far corner. She said she heard her husband's bomb explode as she ran from the hotel with other guests. This explanation has led investigators to believe she may have decided to abandon her mission. [Full story>>theaustralian.news.com.au ; See more details, haaretzdaily.com (Reuters), "Iraqi woman admits on Jordanian TV her role in hotel bombing." ; washingtonpost.com, "The Amman bomber who failed," adds details : ...Jordanian intelligence had been tracking Rishawi since the night of the bombing, officials said, when an alert was issued that a potential suspect wearing a black dress was seen running from the scene of the Radisson bombing, where 200 people had gathered for a wedding...Jordanian intelligence police arrested Rishawi on Sunday morning after raiding the apartment in the Tela Ali neighborhood in Amman that her husband and the two other bombers had rented on Nov. 7, intelligence sources said. The bombers entered Jordan five days earlier from Iraq with false passports, Jordan's deputy prime minister, Marwan Muasher, said at a news conference Sunday.
Muasher said the husband and wife specifically targeted the wedding party ahead of time, pointing out that they were wearing festive clothes...In Fallujah, relatives of the alleged bombers quietly celebrated the Amman blasts, calling the attackers "martyrs."
Abdullah Yousif Omar, 53, who described himself as a relative of one of the bombers, said they were "pioneer leaders in al Qaeda in Fallujah before the occupiers controlled it." In November 2004, U.S.-led forces launched an assault on the city to retake it from insurgents. Some of the fiercest fighting took place in southern Fallujah, where relatives said the bombers had lived.
The US military in Baghdad said Monday that American troops briefly detained a man with the same name as one of the bombers in November 2004 and let him go after two weeks. The military identified the individual as Safaa Mohammed Ali. The military said it could not confirm that the man in its custody then was the bomber of the same name that Jordanian officials identified. But relatives in Fallujah said he was, according to the Knight-Ridder news service, which first reported it...]
11.14.05 High-tech screening for suicide bombers on rail and Tube
November 14 Several new high-tech systems which could help identify potential suicide bombers are being tested on the rail and Underground networks, Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, said today. But Mr. Darling told a security conference in Central London that it would not be practical to introduce airport-style passenger-scanning across the whole rail network, despite the July 7 suicide attacks which killed 52 London commuters. "Our aim is to reduce the risk from international terrorism so that people can go about their business freely and with confidence," Mr. Darling said.
A "millimeter wave" scanner which can screen for concealed weapons and traces of explosives will be trialled on the Heathrow Express from Paddington station in West London in the New Year. Mr Darling said that tests of sophisticated CCTV technology, including a so-called intelligent vision system which can automatically spot suspicious behaviour, are already under way. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]
11.14.05 Nuclear attack in jihad plot
November 14 The order from radical Islamic cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika was to inflict "maximum damage" as the Sydney terror cell planned a violent jihad in Australia. The Melbourne preacher met members of his alleged Sydney bomb-making cell in February and then again in July to offer guidance on how to wage a holy war, court documents say.
The Sydney cell used coded text messages to organize early morning meetings to plan their conspiracy, which had as its potential target Australia's only nuclear reactor, at Lucas Heights in Sydney, a police statement of facts released yesterday by Sydney's Central Local Court reveals.
"If we want to die for jihad we have to have maximum damage. Maximum damage. Damage their buildings, everything. Damage their lives to show them. In this we will have to be careful," Mr Benbrika is alleged to have said at a meeting with members of the Sydney group in Melbourne in February. [More>>theaustralian.news.com.au]
11.14.05 More bombmakers are still on the loose: Police chief
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) November 14 National Police chief Gen. Sutanto warned Monday that master bombmaker Azahari Husin, who was killed in a raid last week, had trained several followers in bombmaking and they are still on the loose. "There are several individuals who have not yet been caught and they have already learned to make bombs, although not at a level as sophisticated as Azahari's," Sutanto told journalists. He said video compact disks obtained from Azahari's raided hideout at Batu in East Java show that the Malaysian expert taught several of his followers his skills. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
11.14.05 Anhul reports newest outbreak of bird flu
(AP) November 14 China on Monday reported a new case of bird flu in poultry in the country's east its ninth outbreak since Oct. 19. The news, announced on government television, came as experts from the World Health Organization were in central China to help determine whether bird flu killed a 12-year-old girl and sickened two other people in a village that suffered an outbreak in poultry last month. China has not confirmed any human cases of bird flu, but authorities have warned that it is inevitable if they cannot control outbreaks among the country's vast poultry flocks. The newest outbreak in poultry was in Huainan, a city in Anhui province, China Central Television said. The case was first reported on Nov. 6, when 800 domestic poultry died, it said. It was confirmed Monday to be the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu, CCTV said. Some 126,000 poultry within three kilometers (two miles) of the affected area were slaughtered as a precaution, it said. [More>>chinadaily.com.cn]
11.14.05 We were wrong about Iraq: US security advisor
WASHINGTON (PTI) November 14 The US was wrong¹ about presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a top White House aide has admitted while maintaining that President George W. Bush did not manipulate intelligence and mislead the American people to justify the invasion of Baghdad. "Turns out we were wrong," said Stephen Hadley, Bush's National Security Advisor.
"But I think the point that needs to be emphasised...Allegations now that the President somehow manipulated intelligence, somehow misled the American people, are flat wrong," Hadley said yesterday at a television talk show.
But Democrats remained unimpressed by the tough talk of both the President on Veterans Day and now his senior aide. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, rejected what Hadley had to say stressing "the truth is, the President misled America when he sent us to war." [More>>expressindia.com]
11.14.05 US envoy warns Gaza Strip in danger of becoming giant prison
November 14 International Mideast envoy James Wolfensohn warned on Sunday that the Gaza Strip was in danger of becoming a giant prison if Israel and the Palestinians didn't conclude an elusive deal on Gaza's border crossings, officials close to him said. On the Israeli domestic front, Israel's march toward what appears to be an inevitable early election picked up speed on Sunday after new Labor Party leader Amir Peretz threatened to act quickly to bring down Ariel Sharon's government.
Both Wolfensohn and Palestinian Cabinet Minister Mohammad Dahlan, in remarks to reporters, appeared to pin their hopes on momentum coming from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. [More>>dailystar.com.lb; See also haaretzdaily.com, " Rice delays departure to resolve Gaza border row." and independent.co.uk, Gaza in danger of turning into a "giant prison," says Mideast envoy."]
11.14.05 Knight Ridder to explore selling newspapers
November 14 Under pressure from at least two of its largest shareholders to sell itself, Knight Ridder, the publisher of 32 newspapers including The Miami Herald and The Philadelphia Inquirer, said today it was considering "strategic alternatives." The company, which like the rest of the newspaper industry is grappling with falling circulation and tepid revenue growth, has hired Goldman Sachs to advise it and said there was no guarantee it would reach a deal.
Earlier this month, Private Capital Management, a Naples, Fla., money management firm that owns 19 percent of Knight Ridder, threatened to replace the company's board or take it over if it did not "aggressively pursue the competitive sale of the company." Private Capital, a subsidiary of Legg Mason, cited Knight Ridder's flagging stock price, noting that shares were trading at about 14 percent less than they were in July when the company's management held a meeting with some investors. [More>>nytimes.com]