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re: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad runs his mouth against the Annapolis meet 'tweeen Israel and Arabs/Muslims

as they continue the 67 war

~Iranian President: Annapolis a Failure

Published: 11/28/07, 11:05 AM EDT


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday the U.S.-hosted Mideast peace conference was a "failure" and that Israel is doomed to "collapse." He also suggested it was a mistake for his closest Arab ally, Syria, to participate.

The comments were the first time in months that the hard-line Ahmadinejad has used such strong anti-Israeli rhetoric, highlighting Tehran's bitterness toward the Annapolis conference, which is widely seen as isolating Iran.

"It is impossible that the Zionist regime will survive. Collapse is in the nature of this regime because it has been created on aggression, lying, oppression and crime," Ahmadinejad said after a Cabinet meeting, according to state-run television.

"Soon, even the most politically doltish individuals will understand that this conference was a failure from the beginning," he said in comments reported by the official IRNA news agency.

In a reference to Arab countries attending the conference, he said, "We are disappointed that some individuals fell victim to the sinister Zionist regime. They are mistaken if they thought that this summit will bring any achievements for them."

Iran has repeatedly condemned the conference, saying it would fail to bring any peace for the Palestinians and warning that it will discredit Arab countries who participated. Iran on Tuesday expressed surprise that Damascus participated in the gathering, although it has stopped short of directly criticizing its ally.

Ahmadinejad said the Palestinian "resistance" - such as Hamas, which is backed by Tehran - must have a say in any settlement.

"Many such meetings have been held but have failed," he said. "If decision is made about Palestine, representatives of the elected Palestinian government and resistance should be there and the rights of the Palestinian people - self-determination, the right of voting and return of refugees - must be recognized," he said.

Ahmadinejad has raised controversy in the West with past predictions of Israel's eventual destruction, including a comment saying it should be "wiped off" or "disappear" from the map - and even critics at home said his inflammatory speeches were needlessly provoking the West against Iran.

Syria has defended its attendance, saying it is open to any serious attempt to reach a peace deal with Israel that brings the return of the Golan Heights. Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faysal Mekdad, told the conference Tuesday his country was "sincere in our pursuit of a just and comprehensive peace."

Mekdad said his country was ready to normalize relations with Israel, but only "after the full Israeli withdrawal from the Arab lands occupied in 1967," according to a copy of the speech he gave to the closed-door session, obtained by The Associated Press.



re:elements involved in the Israeli-Arab war

~Jerusalem, Refugees Hinder Mideast Peace

Published: 11/28/07, 1:26 PM EDT


JERUSALEM (AP) - If Israelis and Palestinians have any hope of achieving their stated goal of signing a final peace treaty within a year, they may have to slice Jerusalem in half with a wall, come up with $85 billion for Palestinian refugees and figure out how to wrest control of the Gaza Strip from Hamas.

They'll also have to agree on which territory Israel should give to a future Palestine in exchange for being allowed to keep major settlement blocs in the West Bank. And if they decide not to divide Jerusalem, they'll have to determine how to share it while avoiding the potential security nightmare of an open border.

These are just some of the excruciating challenges faced by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators as they begin discussions Dec. 12 on how to end their century-old conflict - as agreed upon Tuesday at a U.S.-hosted Mideast peace summit in Annapolis, Md.

The Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem - areas that Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Of all the obstacles to a peace deal, none looms larger than Jerusalem - the city at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with its holy sites of such enormous importance to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Past peace negotiations have made it clear that the city will have to serve as the capital of both Israel and a future Palestine.

But that raises more questions than it answers. How can you transfer east Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty without stripping its residents of Israeli social security benefits, for instance, or how can Israelis and Palestinians each have access to the city but not the other's country?

"The Palestinian vision of Jerusalem is what they call an 'open city,' with access to all parts," said Yitzhak Reiter, head of the Truman Institute think tank in Jerusalem. "From an Israeli perspective, this is a problem, because there would be no 'hard borders' between Palestine and Israel."

Most Israelis and Palestinians do not want to divide the city, like the way it was before Israel captured its eastern sector in 1967. However, security concerns may require just that - unless the sides can come up with an alternative such as erecting checkpoints at all roads leading out of Jerusalem to keep Palestinian militants from entering Israeli cities.

But there's an even thornier issue - how to share the emotionally charged Jerusalem holy site known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount. As the site contains a Muslim shrine built on the remains of a Jewish one, a solution will almost certainly require an international presence to administer jurisdiction.

Another major hurdle facing the negotiators is the issue of refugees.

The Palestinians want refugees and their descendants to be able to return to homes they left, or were forced out of, in the 1948 war that accompanied Israel's creation. The demand is a deal breaker for Israelis, who sees it as a threat to their country's Jewish character.

In the end, it seems the Palestinians will have little choice but to give up their dream of returning home. But that still leaves open the question of whether Israel will meet Palestinian demands that it acknowledge responsibility for the refugees' plight.

A recent report by the Aix Group, a gathering of Israeli, Palestinian and international economists, estimated the total cost of resettling and compensating Palestinian refugees and their descendants - a necessary element of any peace deal - would be between $55 billion and $85 billion over 10 years. It's far from clear where such an enormous sum would come from.

Israelis and Palestinians will also need to draw their future border. The formula worked out in previous negotiations called for a Palestinian state in the lines that existed before the 1967 war, with some modifications. Israel would be allowed to maintain most of its so-called settlement blocs - where most of its West Bank settlers reside - in exchange for giving the Palestinians territory inside Israel.

It won't be an easy swap. The Palestinians will surely demand Israeli territory of equal size and value to the land they're giving up for the settlements.

From the Israeli perspective, security is the biggest obstacle to peace - especially considering Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' poor track record in establishing law and order.

Israel may eventually sign a treaty. But it will not uproot tens of thousands of settlers and hand over territory to the Palestinians unless it can be assured that the evacuated land won't be used as launching grounds for attacks - as happened after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Israel will also likely insist on continued control of the airspace above a Palestinian state, that such a state not have an army and that Israel maintain a military presence in strategically sensitive areas of the West Bank. The Palestinians will not easily accept any of these demands.

The two sides agreed at Annapolis to use the so-called road map peace plan as a guide for negotiations, with its key requirements that Israel stop expanding West Bank settlements and that the Palestinians rein in militants.

Israel insists that stopping violence from Gaza must be part of the Palestinians' obligations. It's not clear how Abbas could accomplish this, with Hamas in control of the coastal territory after having routed Abbas' forces there in June.

Israel and the West are hoping to weaken Hamas' hold on Gaza by propping up Abbas in the West Bank. They may also seek to co-opt Syria, a key backer of Hamas, in an effort to neutralize the Islamic militants. Syria was among the 16 Arab countries participating in this week's summit.

Hamas already appears to be running into trouble in Gaza amid a devastating international boycott, and on Wednesday a senior Hamas official said his group might be willing to cooperate with Abbas.

Still, it will be extremely difficult for Abbas to make peace with Israel as long as he controls only part of his territory.

"He can negotiate. He cannot deliver," said Israeli political analyst Yossi Alpher.


Steven Gutkin is the AP's bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian territories.


Associated Press writer Regan E. Doherty contributed to this report from Jerusalem.~

(hey,,you have to end the war before you can have peace)


re:though mushareff conceded to 'demands',,opponents say 'not enough',,lawyer group says hang him.

~Musharraf Retires As Pakistan Army Chief

Published: 11/28/07, 12:46 PM EDT


RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) - Blinking back tears, Pervez Musharraf stepped down as Pakistan's military commander Wednesday, fulfilling a key opposition demand a day before he was to be sworn in as civilian president.

Key opposition leader Benazir Bhutto welcomed the belated move, but she said her party had yet to accept him as head of state. The White House also called it a "good step."

Britain, which shares the United States' deep concern about Islamic terrorism emanating from Pakistan, said Musharraf's move was "an important part" of his plan to restore constitutional order.

"We understand the threat to Pakistan's peace and security, but I have urged President Musharraf to use the normal democratic process to respond," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.

An emotional Musharraf relinquished his post by handing over his ceremonial baton Wednesday to his successor, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who is widely expected to maintain the army's pro-Western policies.

"(You) are the saviors of Pakistan," Musharraf said in a final speech to the troops, sniffing repeatedly and struggling to maintain his composure.

Hundreds of senior officers, politicians and other civilians watched from the stands as an unsmiling Musharraf - wearing a phalanx of medals and a green sash across his uniform - reviewed the ranks to the strains of "Auld Lang Syne."

"I'm proud of this army and I was lucky to have commanded the world's best army," Musharraf said. "I will no longer command ... but my heart and my mind will always be with you."

Since seizing power in a 1999 coup, Musharraf has served as president while retaining his post as head of the armed forces. Musharraf insists that his continued rule as president is vital if Pakistan is to remain stable as it returns to democracy.

But he will have to jostle for power with Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif - two former prime ministers just returned from exile and itching to return to office.

Both are threatening to boycott January parliamentary elections, though they also have registered as candidates and say they only will shun the elections if the entire opposition unites behind that drastic step.

"We welcome Musharraf's decision to shed the uniform. ... Now the Pakistani army has got a full-fledged chief and they can better perform their duties," she told reporters in Karachi.

However, she said her party will think over whether to accept Musharraf's new status as civilian president.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said that President Bush "certainly considers that to be a good step."

But Perino reiterated that Bush wants Musharraf to lift the emergency order, and do so before elections in that country are held.

A senior leader of Bhutto's party said Musharraf's quitting the army was "too little, too late."

"Now the political forces and civil society are moving in a different direction, to change the country along purely democratic lines," Mian Raza Rabbani said. "Doffing his uniform will in no way help him to consolidate his rule."

Sharif spokesman Pervez Rasheed said: "Musharraf hasn't taken off his uniform under his own will, rather under pressure from the powers who installed him and kept him in power eight long years," an apparent reference to the United States.

Musharraf had promised to give up his army role at the end of 2004. But he reneged on that pledge, saying the country still needed strong leadership in the face of Islamic extremism.

He has given it up now, in line with the constitution, only after securing a fresh term as president.

He paid tribute to Kayani, a former chief of Pakistan's feared ISI intelligence agency, saying he had known him since he was a colonel and knew his qualities.

Kayani, 55, is widely expected to set forth the army's pursuit of Islamic militants.

Analysts expect him to focus on improving the ability of the army - set up for large-scale battles with India on the plains of Punjab - to carry out counterinsurgency operations.

Kayani also is well-placed to heal the rift that has opened between Musharraf and Pakistan's civilian politicians.

He served as Bhutto's military secretary in the late 1980s, and is said to have a good working relationship with other leading political figures.

Musharraf was re-elected by Parliament in October, but the Supreme Court held up his confirmation following complaints that a military man could not constitutionally serve as an elected head of state.

He reacted by proclaiming a state of emergency on Nov. 3, firing the chief justice and other independent judges and replacing them with his appointees. The reconstituted top court then approved his election.

Officials have indicated that the emergency could be lifted soon after Musharraf takes the presidential oath, but have not set a firm date.

Sharif, who arrived from Saudi Arabia on Sunday, has taken a hard line against Musharraf, who ousted Sharif's second government in the 1999 coup.

A conservative with good relations with Pakistan's religious parties, Sharif is reaching out to the many Pakistanis who oppose Musharraf's close alliance with the United States.

Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule also has strained relations with Bhutto, who shares his secularist, pro-Western views. Bhutto, who has twice been put under house arrest to stop her from leading protests, has joined Sharif in denouncing Musharraf's backsliding on democracy.

Musharraf has relaxed some aspects of the crackdown on dissent launched with emergency rule. Thousands of opponents have been released and all but one independent news channel is back on the air.

However, he has refused to reverse his purge of the judiciary, an act that deepened the animosity toward him from Pakistan's legal fraternity. The justices swept from the Supreme Court remain under house arrest.

On Wednesday, about 400 lawyers staged a protest about two miles from the army headquarters, shouting slogans including "We want freedom!" and "Hang Musharraf!"

"He should be thrown out," said Sardar Asmatullah, a leader of the city's lawyers' association. "He has been a dictator for the last eight years and he has delivered nothing good for this country."


Associated Press writers Sadaqat Jan and Slobodan Lekic in Islamabad and Zarar Khan in Lahore contributed to this report.~


re:al q apparently attacks saudi arabia,,,,proving it IS politically moticated,,not religiously

Saudis: 208 Arrested in Different Plots

Published: 11/28/07, 11:46 AM EDT


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - More than 200 al-Qaida-linked suspects involved in different plots against the kingdom have been arrested in recent months in Saudi Arabia's largest anti-terrorism sweep to date, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry first reported the arrest of eight men, said to be linked to al-Qaida and allegedly planning to attack oil installations in the kingdom.

An Interior Ministry statement, carried by the Saudi Press Agency, said the eight were part of a terrorist cell led by a non-Saudi man, who was one of those arrested. The planned attacks were to take place in the eastern region of the country, which is home to Saudi's main oil resources.

The arrest of the eight "pre-empted an imminent attack on an oil installation," the statement said without naming the target or providing more details.

The ministry also said 22 other suspects were arrested for allegedly supporting the al-Qaida terror network. This group plotted to assassinate the country's religious leaders and security officials, it said.

The ministry also gave the following breakdown of other arrests:

_ 18 suspects, led by an alleged expert in launching missiles, were arrested separately. "They were planning to smuggle eight missiles into the kingdom to carry out terrorist operations," the ministry's said.

_ 112 Saudis were arrested for links and "coordination with outside circles" to assist in smuggling men to troubled areas - shorthand for Iraq and Afghanistan - for training, after which they would be brought back for attacks in the kingdom.

_ 32 men - both Saudis and non-Saudis - were arrested for providing financial aid to al-Qaida operations in the kingdom.

_ 16 men were arrested in the holy city of Medina for colluding to issue a publication propagating "misleading ideology" and criminal acts. The group also worked on helping volunteers go fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The ministry said a total of 208 were arrested.

The statement gave no timeline on the arrests of the separate groups.

Saudi Arabia, which has a quarter of the world's proven oil reserves, has seen a rise in attacks by Islamist extremists over the last few years.

The kingdom, which is the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, has been waging a crackdown on al-Qaida militants since a wave of attacks on foreigners in the kingdom in 2003.

In February 2006, two suicide bombers attacked the oil facility at Abqaiq on the east coast, killing two security guards and wounding eight foreign workers in an incident later claimed by the Saudi branch of al-Qaida.

The previous large sweep by the Saudi authorities was announced in April, netting 172 militants, including pilots they say were trained for oil refinery attacks using civilian planes.

In August, Saudi Arabia said it was setting up a 35,000-strong special force to protect its oil facilities due to the increasing threats against al-Qaida.


Associated Press Writer Maamoun Youssef contributed to this report from Cairo, Egypt.~


re:african apologizes for terror involvement

~Somali Gets 10 Years in Ohio Bomb Plot

Published: 11/27/07, 8:45 PM EDT


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A Somali immigrant was sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday for plotting to blow up an Ohio shopping mall with a man later convicted of being an al-Qaida terrorist.

Nuradin Abdi, a cell phone salesman before his arrest, pleaded guilty in July to conspiring to provide material support for terrorists. He will be deported to Somalia after serving the federal sentence.

In a 20-minute statement to the court, Abdi's attorney Mahir Sherif said his client apologized to the people of the United States, the people of Ohio and the Muslim community. He said Abdi regretted that his conviction might lead to problems for other Muslims.

"He apologizes for the things he thought about and the things he talked about and the crimes he pleaded guilty to," Sherif said. "He wants to make it very, very clear that he does not hate America."

Prosecutors said Abdi made threatening comments about the unspecified shopping mall during a meeting with two other suspected terrorists on Aug. 8, 2002, at a coffee shop in suburban Columbus.

Abdi and the two "could attack the mall with a bomb," Abdi told his friends as they sipped refreshments at the coffee shop, according to court documents.

One of the men with Abdi that day was Iyman Faris, who pleaded guilty in May 2003 to providing material support for terrorism. A Pakistani immigrant, Faris was convicted of plotting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The third man alleged to be at the meeting is Christopher Paul, a U.S. citizen who grew up in suburban Columbus. He was charged in April with plotting to bomb European tourist resorts frequented by Americans as well as overseas U.S. military bases, and his trial is scheduled for January 2009.

The suspected plot was never carried out, and Sherif has maintained that Abdi was guilty at most of ranting about the United States' handling of the war in Afghanistan.

Prosecutor Robyn Jones Hahnert, however, told the judge that the case against Abdi went far beyond one angry comment. She said Abdi illegally traveled out of the U.S. to search for holy war training and provided stolen credit card numbers to buy equipment like laptop computers for use in terrorism.

"The United States is a country that welcomes people to question - that's what we're all about," Hahnert said. "But that questioning should not lead to criminal activity that can harm people."

Abdi's attorneys have said that the stolen credit card numbers were never used and that the Justice Department never alleged what organization they believed was running the training camp Abdi was accused of visiting, what Abdi intended to do with the training or whether he ever actually went.

A family spokesman said after the sentencing that the government exaggerated the facts against Abdi, knowing they would be hard to disprove.

"Since this was not a session where everybody has to bring their proof, they could have made any kind of statement," said Yusuf Abucar, a Columbus architect originally from Somalia.

Fred Alverson, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said Abdi agreed to a long statement of facts outlining the allegations as part of his plea deal.

Three charges were dropped as part of the agreement; Abdi could have received 80 years in prison had he been convicted of all the counts he had faced.

Faris told authorities about the mall plot conversation after he was taken into custody, and Abdi was arrested in November 2003. Abdi probably will receive credit for the four years he's spent in custody since then, Alverson said.~


re:sarkozy returns from China,,gets into 'islamic riot fray' saying,,Those who shot at officers "will find themselves in a criminal court," Sarkozy vowed. "That has a name, it is an assassination attempt."

~Sarkozy Calls French Riots Unacceptable

Published: 11/28/07, 10:25 AM EDT


PARIS (AP) - President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that rioters who shot at police would be brought to justice as the new wave of violence that rocked Paris suburbs appeared to ebb.

It was the first time Sarkozy, who had just returned from China, entered the fray since the rioting broke out Sunday night. The violence eased Tuesday night after police were deployed in force and quickly rounded up youths lobbing Molotov cocktails and setting cars ablaze.

"What has happened is absolutely unacceptable," Sarkozy said after meeting with a wounded police captain hospitalized in Eaubonne north of Paris. Sarkozy arrived straight from the airport after returning from China.

Those who shot at officers "will find themselves in a criminal court," Sarkozy vowed. "That has a name, it is an assassination attempt."

Rioting erupted after the deaths of two minority teens whose motor scooter collided with a police car in Villiers-le-Bel, a blue-collar town on Paris' northern edge. Residents claimed the officers left without helping the teens. But Prosecutor Marie-Therese de Givry denied that, saying police stayed on the scene until firefighters arrived.

The violence has drawn comparisons with riots that raged through suburbs nationwide in 2005, and has shown that anger still smolders in poor housing projects where many Arabs, blacks and other minorities live largely isolated from the rest of society. The 2005 riots also started in the suburbs of northern Paris, when two teens were electrocuted in a power substation while hiding from police.

Sarkozy is unwelcome in the projects where his hard line on crime and immigration has riled many. He was interior minister in charge of police during the 2005 riots and took a tough stance on the violence.

But even before those riots, he angered many in the projects when he called delinquents there "scum." During his election campaign this spring, Sarkozy deftly avoided such neighborhoods, except for one carefully orchestrated blitz visit.

Sarkozy described the teens' deaths as "distressing," but said it was no excuse for shooting police.

He met with families of the two teens and told them that a judicial inquiry had been opened into their deaths, said their lawyer, Jean-Pierre Mignard. Such an inquiry would allow the parents to "participate actively in finding out the truth. Nothing will be hidden," Mignard said.

Sarkozy also had a security meeting with his top ministers.

Didier Vaillant, mayor of the working class town of Villiers-le-Bel, asked Sarkozy to arrange meetings to address the "difficulties facing the suburbs."

Among them are the long-held tensions between France's largely white police force and ethnic minorities in poor neighborhoods. Heavy state investments have done little to improve housing and create jobs in the depressed projects that ring Paris, which feel a world apart from the glamorous tourist attractions a few miles away.

While cars were set ablaze for a third night Tuesday, officials said the violence was less intense than the two previous nights.

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said the overall situation was "calm" but police presence would remain reinforced "as long as necessary."

About 20 police officers were slightly injured Tuesday night, down from more than 80 the night before, said Patrice Ribeiro of the Synergie police union.

Some 138 cars were burned around France overnight Tuesday, which Ribeiro called almost "normal." Police say as many as 100 cars are burned every night in scattered incidents around the country.

Youths lobbed Molotov cocktails and stones at police in Villiers-le-Bel but no firearms were used, Ribeiro said. On Monday night, rioters used shotguns raising fears the clashes could turn deadly.

The interior minister said 39 people were arrested in the Paris region Tuesday night. In the town of Verneil-sur-Seine west of Paris, eight people were arrested after trying to set fire to a bus, Ribeiro said.

In the southern city of Toulouse, 20 cars were set ablaze, and fires at two libraries were quickly brought under control, police said. In the town of Verneil-sur-Seine west of Paris, eight people were arrested after trying to set fire to a bus, Ribeiro said.

Four young people were convicted in fast-track trials Tuesday to several months in prison for participating in the violence.~


re:islamic terrorists captured on their 'similisexual' wedding day

(this is sort of 'under reported')

~BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Soldiers manning a checkpoint near Baghdad stopped a wedding convoy to find that the purported bride and groom were wanted terror suspects, an Iraqi Defense Ministry official said Monday.

Abbas al-Dobbi, left, and al-Bahadli were reportedly part of a wedding convoy that drew soldiers' suspicion.

1 of 2 The army set up the checkpoint last week in the Taji area, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

The soldiers became suspicious of the convoy because its members -- save the "bride" -- were all male and because one of the cars in the convoy did not heed orders to stop, the official said.

Also, soldiers said, the people in the car seemed nervous and the groom refused to lift his bride's veil when soldiers asked him to, according to the official.

Soldiers ordered everyone out of the car, the official said.

Upon inspecting the convoy, soldiers found a stubbly-faced man, Haider al-Bahadli, decked out in a white bride's dress and veil.

Bahadli was wanted on terror-related charges, as was his groom, Abbas al-Dobbi, the official said.

Two other terror-related suspects were detained as well.



re:a 'real woman' shows the cross dresser how they 'are taught to' do it

~Female Bomber Wounds US Troops, Iraqis

Published: 11/28/07, 7:46 AM EDT


BAGHDAD (AP) - A woman wearing an explosives belt blew herself up near an American patrol northeast of Baghdad - a rare female suicide bombing that wounded seven U.S. troops and five Iraqis, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

More Iraqi refugees, heartened by reports of the lull in violence in Baghdad, were beginning to return and on Wednesday a convoy of more than 800 people was expected in the Iraqi capital after an overnight bus ride from Damascus, Syria. A government spokesman said that 60,000 Iraqis had returned in the past month and the country was expecting a similar number in coming weeks.

"The Iraqi government will do its best to protect these families," the spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said at a news conference Wednesday.

Khaled Ibrahim, 45, from central Baghdad, said Tuesday he was so homesick after having been away for a year that he wanted to give it a try after hearing things in Iraq have improved.

"If I go and discover that the situation is not stable I will come back" to Syria, said Ibrahim, with his wife, three sons and two daughters in tow.

But tensions - and security concerns - remained in Baghdad. American troops fired on a minibus carrying bank employees on their way to work Tuesday after the vehicle tried to go through a roadblock, killing at least two people on board.

And on Wednesday, Iraqi lawmakers briefly boycotted the start of a legislative session, demanding that U.S. forces ease checkpoint searches as they try to enter the fortified Green Zone, where the parliament building is located.

Firyad Rawndouzi, spokesman for the Kurdish bloc, said the boycott came in response to "the insulting behavior of the American soldiers toward parliament members" as they tried to reach the building.

The U.S. military says attacks across Iraq have fallen to their lowest level since February 2006, attributing this partly to a buildup of nearly 30,000 troops earlier this year.

A statement said the Diyala suicide attack happened Tuesday near the provincial capital Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, when the woman detonated her explosives belt.

Attacks by women in Iraq are believed to be rare but not unprecedented.

In April 2006, one of four suicide bombers who attacked a Shiite mosque in Baghdad was wearing a woman's abaya veil, U.S. officials said. And in November 2005, a 38-year-old Belgian convert to Islam blew herself up trying to attack U.S. troops, but she was the only one killed, U.S. officials said.

With the lull in violence in Baghdad, American and Iraqi forces conducted sweeps against al-Qaida outside the capital, the U.S. military said Wednesday, detaining suspects in Tikrit and Kirkuk as well as the Iraqi capital.~


re:tracking school kids,,and locking their exits,,in uk

~School to track pupils with radio chips sewn into their uniforms

Last updated at 15:06pm on 23rd November 2007

Children are to be tracked in school via radio chips sewn into their uniforms.

The manufacturer is marketing the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) surveillance system nationwide, following a trial with 19 pupils at Hungerhill School in Doncaster this year.

The chip is embroidered into school uniforms using conductive 'smart threads'. A teacher can then scan these to view the pupil's identity, photo, whether they misbehaved in lessons and their school attendence record.

Hungerhill headteacher Graham Wakeling said the pilot was "not intrusive to the pupil in the slightest" because tracking would not go beyond the school's gates.

However, the chip has drawn criticism from civil liberties groups. David Clouter, from LeaveThemKidsAlone, a campaign group, was appalled by the idea.

"To put this in a school badge is complete and utter surveillance of the children. Tagging is what we do to criminals we let out of prison early," he said.

The chips were developed by Danrbro Ltd, which was set up by Andy Stewart, an ICT teacher at Hungerhill School, and a school uniform company.

Schools could fit scanners to doors or give teachers hand-held scanners to identify pupils entering or exiting rooms.

Darnbro siad their product can "trace a pupil's every step during the school day" and that the system can be set up to limit access to doors, such as shutting the main doors of a school to pupils during classtime.

Mr Stewart, 36, said the system would cost about £2000 for a small primary school and up to £14,000 for an average-sized secondary, according to the Times Educational Supplement.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families supports the use of electronic registration to improve safety and security and reduce truancy. ~


re:article brings up question of 'planted intelligence' in afghanistan

~Nuristan Gov. Tamim Nuristani said the attacks followed reports that "the enemy" was in the area, but they instead hit the road construction workers as they were sleeping.

"All of our poor workers have been killed," said Sayed Noorullah Jalili, director of Amerifa, a Kabul-based road construction company. "I don't think the Americans were targeting our people. I'm sure it's the enemy of the Afghans who gave the Americans this wrong information."~


re:hamas funeral protesters bait pal lawmen,,then complain they were accosted

~The procession turned violent when marchers refused to keep to a route agreed in advance with police, who then opened fire over their heads. Protesters hurled rocks at police, who clubbed demonstrators.~

~The Liberation Party, a small, unarmed Islamic group, organized Tuesday's protests. But Hamas activists joined the funeral procession on Wednesday in Hebron, waving their green Islamic flags and hurling stones at police.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the police action as part of a "conspiracy in Annapolis." Hamas itself has shown little tolerance for dissent in Gaza, killing eight unarmed protesters at a Nov. 12 rally organized by Abbas' Fatah movement.

The protest ban and heavy-handed police tactics could undermine Abbas as he tries to rally support for peacemaking with Israel. Human rights groups have accused him of suppressing legitimate dissent.

Palestinian Cabinet minister Ashraf Ajrami, an Abbas ally, said Hamas provoked the violence, but that did not justify the use of lethal means by police.

"As long as security forces are not facing real danger, it should have been dispersed with the minimum amount of force, " he said, adding that a committee of inquiry has been set up.

Diab al-Ali, commander of the Palestinian security forces involved in the clashes, said he did not have a policy of using extreme force, but his men were provoked by protesters seeking to make political capital out of confrontation.

"We are not butchers," he told The Associated Press. "Somebody got a rock thrown at his head, and so a bullet flew."



re:they blame the No Child Left Behind Act???

(yet the teachers are less experienced)

4th-Graders Losing Ground on Literacy

Published: 11/28/07, 1:45 PM EDT


WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. fourth-graders have lost ground in reading ability compared with kids around the world, according to results of a global reading test.

Test results released Wednesday showed U.S. students, who took the test last year, scored about the same as they did in 2001, the last time the test was given - despite an increased emphasis on reading under the No Child Left Behind law.

Still, the U.S. average score on the Progress in International Reading Literacy test remained above the international average. Ten countries or jurisdictions, including Hong Kong and three Canadian provinces, were ahead of the United States this time. In 2001, only three countries were ahead of the United States.

The 2002 No Child Left Behind law requires schools to test students annually in reading and math, and imposes sanctions on schools that miss testing goals.

The U.S. performance on the international test of 45 nations or jurisdictions differed somewhat from results of a U.S. national reading test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation's report card. Fourth-grade reading scores rose modestly on the most recent version of that test, taken earlier this year and measuring growth since 2005. During the previous two-year period, scores were flat.

On the latest international exam, U.S. students posted a lower average score than students in Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Hungary, Italy and Sweden, along with the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

Last time, Russia, Hong Kong and Singapore were behind the United States.

Hong Kong and Singapore have taken steps since then, such as increasing teacher preparation, providing more tutoring and raising public awareness about the importance of reading, said Ina Mullis, co-director of the International Study Center at Boston College, which conducts the international reading literacy study.

The results also showed:

_Among jurisdictions that took the test in 2001 and 2006, scores improved in Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Singapore, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.

_Average test scores declined in England, Lithuania, Morocco, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden. England, the Netherlands and Sweden were the top three performers in 2001. Sweden still outperformed the United States this time, but average scores in England and the Netherlands were not measurably different from the U.S. average.

_Girls scored higher than boys in the United States and all other countries except for Luxembourg and Spain, where the boy-girl scores were the same.

_The average U.S. score was above the average score in 22 countries or jurisdictions and about the same as the score in 12 others. The U.S. average fell toward the high end of a level called "intermediate." At that level, a student can identify central events, plot sequences and relevant story details in texts. The student also can make straightforward inferences from what is read and begin to make connections across parts of the text.

Background questionnaires administered to students, teachers and school administrators showed that the average years of experience for fourth-grade teachers in the United States decreased from 15 years to 12 years between 2001 and 2006. The international average was 17 years.

U.S. kids seem to get more reading instruction than others. U.S. teachers were more likely to report teaching reading for more than six hours per week than those elsewhere.


On the Net:

Information about the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study:

Nation's Report Card:



re:american citizens arrested for 'victimless','non violent' crimes with the assist of FEDS/ATF,,after being pulled over for traffic violation,,while the crime of 'illegal entry' is 'advocated as ignorable' if found during same

Rapper 'Birdman' Arrested in Tenn.

Published: 11/28/07, 1:45 AM EDT

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) - Rapper Bryan "Birdman" Williams was among 16 people charged with possession of marijuana Tuesday after the RV they were riding in was pulled over by police for making an improper lane change.

Kingsport Police Cpl. Tim Horne said he stopped the vehicle after seeing it force a tractor trailer into the emergency lane on Interstate 81.

Horne said he could smell marijuana from inside the rented RV and located about a pound of marijuana in a trash can in the kitchenette after obtaining consent to search the vehicle.

Williams, 38, his wife Brittany, 18, and his brother, Ronald Williams, 43, were each charged with possession of more than 1/2 ounce of marijuana as were 13 others, several of whom are also affiliated with the rap industry and Cash Money Records, which was founded by Bryan and Ronald Williams.

Among those arrested were road manager Shahid Muhammad, 40, Cash Money Records promoter Casey Collins, 42, and music promoter Ovide Antoine, 32, of Miami, Fla.

All 16 remained jailed late Tuesday night. It was not known if any of them had an attorney.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is assisting in the investigation because an assault rifle, a handgun and a magazine for a .45-caliber handgun were found on the RV, Horne said. No weapons charges have been filed.

The group said they were traveling from New Orleans to New York for a BET network shoot, Horne said.

Hits featuring Birdman include "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" and "Army Gunz."



re:what 'color' is 'Hmong'?

Hunter Gets 69 Years in Hmong Death

Published: 11/28/07, 1:08 PM EDT


MARINETTE, Wis. (AP) - A white hunter convicted of killing a Hmong man as they both stalked squirrels in the woods was sentenced Wednesday to 69 years in prison.

James Nichols, 28, of Peshtigo, was convicted last month in the death of Cha Vang, a 30-year-old father of five. The slaying rekindled racial tensions in northern Wisconsin, where a Hmong deer hunter fatally shot six white hunters three years ago.

Nichols, a former sawmill worker, claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot and stabbed Vang Jan. 6. Prosecutors argued he took advantage of the isolation in the woods to act on his prejudice against the Hmong.

Nichols spoke briefly to Vang's widow, Pang Vue. Vue bent over, put her face in hands and began to weep as he spoke.

"I am very sorry for what happened," he said.

Nichols was arrested after he sought treatment at a hospital for gunshot wounds to both of his hands, about the same time Vang's hunting companions reported him missing. Nichols initially said an unknown gunman shot him miles from the wildlife area.

But he changed his story after a deputy asked why he did not call police, and he helped with the search for the body, leading investigators to the area where a search dog found it the next day under a log. An autopsy indicated Vang was hit by a shotgun blast and stabbed five times.

Vang was born in Laos, fled to a refugee camp in Thailand and immigrated to the U.S. with his family in 2004. Several hundred thousand Hmong fled Laos for the United States after the communists seized control in 1975 following the Vietnam War. Many settled in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Nichols' conviction came nearly three years after a Hmong hunter in northwest Wisconsin killed six white deer hunters following a racially charged confrontation about trespassing. Chai Soua Vang of St. Paul, Minn. - no relation to Cha Vang - is serving multiple life prison sentences.

After Cha Vang's death, members of the Hmong community said they feared it was retaliation for the earlier killings.

Vang's uncle Kou Vang, of St. Paul, Minn., said the family was "very, very pleased" that the judge gave Nichols the maximum prison term, but the sentence didn't ease their grief.

"It is of little consolation to us. Mr. Nichols can go outside. He can feel the wind blow," Vang said and broke into tears. "He can see his family. He can talk to his family. But ours is gone forever."

Nichols' father and his girlfriend left the courthouse without commenting on his sentence.

Nichols was convicted by a jury of second-degree intentional homicide instead of the first-degree charge he orginally faced, which could have gotten him life in prison. He also was convicted of hiding a corpse and being a felon in possession of a firearm.~


re:why worry about gov tracking folks,,they will let Google do it to have the latest gadget

~Google Rolls Out Mobile Phone Locator

Nov 28, 3:10 PM (ET)


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Internet search leader Google Inc. (GOOG) is testing technology that will find the location of people using its mobile mapping service, even if the phone making the connection isn't equipped with a GPS receiver.

The new tracking feature introduced Wednesday is being touted as an added convenience because it will enable people on the go to skip the task of typing a starting address on a mobile handset's small keys when they turn to Google's maps for guidance.

Using the technology, dubbed "My Location," simply requires pressing zero on a mobile handset equipped with the new software. The sender's location shows up as a blue dot on Google's mobile maps.

The tracking system isn't set up to collect a user's phone number or any other personal information that would reveal a person's identity, said Steve Lee, product manager for Google's mobile maps. As a safeguard, the feature can be turned off at any time by simply clicking on a link in the help menu.

Those assurances probably will alleviate privacy concerns raised about the new service, said analyst Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence.

After trying out "My Location" on a Blackberry device, Sterling predicted people will embrace it. He called it "an incremental improvement but still meaningful."

Unlike GPS, Google's tracking feature works while handsets are indoors. "My Location" also drains less power from a phone's battery than a GPS receiver does.

On the downside, Google's service isn't as precise as GPS. In most instances, Google hopes to get within one-quarter to three miles of a user's location - close enough to provide helpful "neighborhood-level" information, Lee said.

The database that identifies the location of a mobile phone is still under construction, so the service still sometimes draw a blank. The company expects to fill in the holes as more people use the service, Lee said.

The tracking system's database currently spans more than 20 countries, including United States, much of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and Taiwan. It doesn't yet work in China or Japan.

By knowing more about a mobile phone's location, Google conceivably could make more money displaying ads from nearby businesses hoping to lure in more customers. The Mountain View-based company currently doesn't plan to show ads on mobile maps but may in the future, Lee said.

Already the owner of the most lucrative advertising network on the Internet, Google eventually hopes to do a better job of mining profits from the mobile Web.

To help realize that goal, Google plans to introduce a new mobile software package called Android next year in an attempt to make its online services more accessible to people while they're away from computers at home or the office.

Although a growing number of so-called smart phones come with GPS receivers, Google estimates that about 85 percent of mobile handsets now in use don't have the satellite-powered technology.

Google's alternative will work on most smart phones, including the Blackberry and the latest generation of Nokia handsets. But it's still not compatible with the iPhone, Motorola Q, Samsung Blackjack and Palm Treo 700w and other models.~


re:talking about cell phones,,be careful of who made yours

~Cell Phone May Have Killed SKorean Man

Nov 28, 10:20 AM (ET)


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - An exploding cell phone battery is suspected by police in the death of a South Korean worker Wednesday, though the phone's manufacturer said it was highly unlikely.

The man, identified only by his family name Suh, was found dead at his workplace in a quarry Wednesday morning and his mobile phone battery was melted in his shirt pocket, a police official in Cheongwon told The Associated Press.

"We presume that the cell phone battery exploded," the police official said on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way.

Kim Hoon, a doctor who examined the body, agreed.

"He sustained an injury that is similar to a burn in the left chest and his ribs and spine were broken," Yonhap news agency quoted Kim as saying. "It is presumed that pressure caused by the explosion damaged his heart and lungs, leading to his death."

Kim was not immediately available for comment.

Police said the phone was made by South Korea's LG Electronics Inc., the world's fifth-biggest handset maker.

An LG official confirmed its product was involved in the accident but said the company would not comment directly on the incident because the cause was not confirmed. However, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to company policy, said such a fatal explosion would be virtually impossible.~


re:Chavez accused the CNN news network of "inciting" an assassination attempt against him.

~Venezuela Threatens to Expel US Official

Published: 11/28/07, 10:47 PM EDT


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela threatened Wednesday to expel a U.S. Embassy official for allegedly conspiring to defeat a referendum championed by President Hugo Chavez, accusing the diplomat of plotting to sway public opinion.

The allegation comes ahead of a fiercely contested referendum on reforms that would allow Chavez indefinite re-election and help him establish a socialist state in Venezuela. Sunday's vote has generated large pro- and anti-Chavez rallies and Chavez kept the rhetoric high on Wednesday by repeating his charge that Washington is plotting to kill him.

In Caracas, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro showed state television a document that he claimed was written by the unnamed embassy official and was to have been sent to the CIA as part of a plan to help ensure that Venezuelans vote against the proposed constitutional overhaul.

"It's a script from the CIA to try to generate a block of opinion among Venezuelans that would give a sure victory to the 'No' vote," said Maduro. "We will investigate and if it's that way, we'll remove this person from here as a persona non grata."

He did not provide more details of the alleged plot.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, said he was unaware of the document.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Rob McInturff said officials there were looking into the reports.

Chavez, an ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, has had a friction-filled relationship with Washington. The Venezuelan leader accuses the U.S. of supporting a 2002 coup that ousted him from office for two days, while U.S. officials call Chavez threat to the region's stability.

In February 2006, Venezuela expelled naval attache John Correa for allegedly passing secret information from Venezuelan military officers to the Pentagon.

On Tuesday, Chavez accused the CNN news network of "inciting" an assassination attempt against him. On Wednesday, Chavez said Washington is also seeking to kill him - a claim he has made in the past.

"Before the world, I accuse the imperialist government of the United States of promoting my assassination," Chavez told supporters in the southwestern city of Merida. "If anything should happen to me, the president of the United States will be responsible for my death."

U.S. officials have in the past denied they are plotting to assassinate Chavez.

In Sunday's referendum, Venezuelans will vote on proposed changes to 69 amendments of the nation's 1999 constitution. If approved, the revisions would allow Chavez indefinite re-election, create forms of communal property and further his plans to establish socialism in Venezuela.

On Wednesday, hundreds of stone-throwing students clashed with police and the Venezuelan National Guard in a protest against the constitutional overhaul. Security forces responded with water cannons and tear gas.

At least 600 students from the private Metropolitan University took part in disturbances that lasted more than four hours.

"We're doing this because we're sick of Chavez, sick of his government, sick of the way he governs," said Roberto, who covered his face, leaving only his eyes visible. He gave only his first name because he feared reprisals from the security forces.

On Monday, a man was shot to death after he tried to cross a protest, near the city of Valencia. Chavez blamed violent elements within the opposition for the killing.~


re:how important a 'happy america' is to the world economy

~UN: World Economic Growth Rate Slowing

Published: 11/28/07, 9:45 PM EDT


UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The world economy has been growing more slowly after global unemployment jumped to 6.3 percent last year, the highest in a decade, the United Nations reported Wednesday.

Because it is the world's largest economy, the United States and its weakening housing market are "the major drag for this global slowdown," said the U.N. report,

It puts the expected growth of 2007 world gross product at 3.2 percent, down from an average 3.8 percent a year during the previous decade.

"We see a number of worrisome trends," said Sha Zukang, the U.N.'s undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs. "Globally, despite robust rates of economic growth, employment creation is lagging behind growth of the working-age population."

Some 195 million people were unemployed in 2006, an increase that despite continued growth in global economic output is "giving rise to the phenomenon of jobless growth," the report said.

The global labor pool comprises about two-thirds of the 4.6 billion people of working age, which the U.N. puts at 15 and older.

In the decade ending in 2006, the global unemployment rate rose to 6.3 percent, up from about 6 percent, according to the U.N.'s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Conference on Trade and Development and five regional commissions.

Zukang said these were the latest available U.N. statistics.

The U.N. economists said that for the first time in history, the service industry, accounting for 40 percent of all jobs, overtook agriculture as the biggest employer.

"The world is rapidly becoming an economic system with employment dominated by the service sector, in which many jobs are low-paying and precarious and are not covered by formal mechanisms of social protection," the report said.

It said the unemployment rate was highest, at 12.2 percent, in the Middle East and North Africa, followed by 9.8 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, 8 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 6.6 percent in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and 6.2 percent among developed nations' economies.


On the Net:

U.N. employment report: ~


re:how things break down these days

~Intel Centers Losing Anti-Terror Focus

Published: 11/28/07, 9:26 PM EDT


WASHINGTON (AP) - Local intelligence-sharing centers set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have had their anti-terrorism mission diluted by a focus on run-of-the-mill street crime and hazards such as hurricanes, a government report concludes.

Of the 43 "fusion centers" already established, only two focus exclusively on preventing terrorism, the Government Accountability Office found in a national survey obtained by The Associated Press. Center directors complain they were hampered by lack of guidance from Washington and were flooded by often redundant information from multiple computer systems.

Administration officials defended the centers and said encompassing all sorts of crimes in the intelligence dragnet is the best way to catch terrorists.

The original idea was to coordinate resources, expertise and information of intelligence agencies so the country could detect and prevent terrorist acts. The concept has been widely embraced, particularly by the Sept. 11 commission, and the federal government has provided $130 million to help get them off the ground. But until recently, there were no guidelines for setting up the centers and as a result, the information shared and how it is used vary.

Centers in Kansas and Rhode Island are the only two focused solely on counterterrorism. Other centers concentrate on all crimes, including drugs and gangs, according to Congress' investigative and auditing arm. Washington state's center, for instance, has an all-hazards mission so it can focus on natural disasters and public health epidemics in addition to terrorism.

"States are at different levels because there wasn't the preconceived game-plan on how to do this," said George Foresman, a former undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department who oversaw the awarding of startup money for many of the centers.

The GAO findings backed up results from a congressional report this year.

"Although many of the centers initially had purely counterterrorism goals, for numerous reasons they have increasingly gravitated toward an all-crimes and even broader all-hazards approach," according to a Congressional Research Service report from June.

To Jack Tomarchio, a senior intelligence official at the Homeland Security Department, that is not a bad thing. "In many cases, there's also a nexus between criminality and terrorism," Tomarchio said. "Terrorists, like anybody else, need money to do their deeds." Often, he said, that means terrorists will be involved in narcotics trafficking and similar crimes.

Most centers are run by state police or other law enforcement agencies. Many also have representatives from a range of other agencies, including fire and public works departments and state gambling regulators. This has raised concerns about privacy as those agencies become linked to a broader intelligence-sharing network. Most of the centers also include federal officials such as analysts from the FBI and Homeland Security.

Some centers are even housed with federal agencies, which can be a benefit. Minnesota's center is in the same building as the FBI, which makes it easier for local officials to access the FBI's networks.

The centers potentially can tap into five separate federal databases containing case files on investigations, reports on suspicious incidents and research material on terrorist weapons and tactics. But not all the facilities are in buildings that have adequate security to access those databases, GAO found.

Each center is independent and not controlled by the federal government. It was only last month that the Bush administration offered guidelines for the centers' missions and operations. The White House published a strategy paper advising centers to share information about all criminal activity, saying that could help uncovered potential terrorist plots.

The federal government, however, still needs to do a better job of explaining what information it can share and how much money it will provide, according to the congressional investigators.

At the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, watch commander Lori Norris said more federal money and guidelines could solve many of the center's frustrations. Arizona's center has representatives from the state's public safety, motor vehicles and liquor control departments, as well as its National Guard and city and county fire departments and federal agencies.

The Arizona center cannot access some of the federal information systems because its building does not meet security requirements. "We would be able to, but again, we don't have the funding for that," Norris said.

In addition, Norris said she would like the government to pick one or two systems for sharing information - not the three or four currently used. "I have to log on with four different passwords into these systems every single day and look at all this stuff," Norris said.

Many centers do not know what information to expect from Washington or how quickly they can expect to receive it.

"There's got to be a clearer definition as to when that information goes out and who it goes out to," Norris said. It's not uncommon, she said, for law enforcement officers to learn of important developments first from the news media.

But when information is sent to the states, it often comes more than once, said Richard Kelly, who heads New Jersey's fusion center.

"If DHS and FBI put out a joint bulletin, we get it twice," Kelly said. "If we ever did get to one standard policy in how to communicate down to the states and locals, that would be a good thing."

The GAO also found that some fusion centers have had a hard time hiring and training analysts, and many say they need federal guidance on what skills the analysts should have. Fusion centers have found it hard to get security clearances for their personnel, and find that even with appropriate clearances, information continues to be withheld. Nineteen centers told GAO that federal agencies, most often the FBI and the Homeland Security Department, wouldn't accept each others' clearances even though the law says they're supposed to.


On the Net:

White House background: ~



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