Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Monday, 7th July 2008

Huge blast at Indian Embassy in Kabul kills 41

KABUL: A huge blast at the gates of the Indian Embassy in Kabul killed 41 people Monday in the deadliest suicide car bombing since the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 ousted the Taliban.
Among the victims of the attack, the first in seven years on a regional diplomatic mission in Afghanistan, were at least four Indian citizens: the defense attaché, a political counselor and two other officials. Six Afghan police officers were also killed. Many of the rest of the victims appeared to be civilians. More than 100 people were wounded.
The fact that the Indian Embassy was attacked raised suspicions among Afghan officials that Pakistani operatives allied with the Taliban had used the bombing to pursue Pakistan's decades-long power struggle with India.
India said it would send a delegation to investigate what the Indian Foreign Ministry called "this cowardly terrorist attack."
A number of attacks in Afghanistan in recent months have been notable for their increased sophistication and deadliness. Afghan and Western officials have said that such attacks are signs of the growing strength of militants in the Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and the influence of Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists and even elements of Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence.
Suicide bombers attacked the five-star Serena Hotel in January and mounted a sophisticated assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai during a military parade in April, an attack that Afghan intelligence directly linked to the Inter-Services Intelligence.
Pakistani intelligence has had a long involvement in supporting militant groups fighting in Kashmir and Afghanistan as a means to influence regions on its borders and, according to some Western diplomats and military officials, it maintains those links today, including with some elements of the Taliban.
In a statement Monday, Karzai said the "enemies of peace in Afghanistan" wanted to hurt Kabul's international relationships, "particularly with India."
"Such attacks will not hamper Afghanistan's relations with other nations," he said.
The attack comes amid the worst summer fighting Afghanistan has seen since the fall of the Taliban and as concerns mount about the weakness of the Karzai government.
Taliban insurgents have proved resilient, NATO and military officials said, and killed 46 members of the international force serving here in June. That was the highest toll since the invasion in 2001.
The Indian Embassy is situated on a leafy thoroughfare close to the Afghan Interior Ministry in what is supposed to be one of the best-guarded neighborhoods of the city, protected by police roadblocks. But the bomber managed to get through and rammed a car laden with explosives into the embassy gates.
Witnesses said the bomber struck as two diplomatic vehicles were approaching the gates. Nearby, people were standing in line for visas and were shopping in a market.
The explosion left body parts and bloodstained clothing strewn in the wreckage. Ambulance sirens wailed as residents peered at the wreckage of a dozen vehicles.
A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahed, denied responsibility.
"The suicide bomb attack was not carried out by Taliban, we strongly reject that accusation," he said by phone. "We don't know who carried it out."
The Taliban frequently disavow knowledge of attacks that cause heavy civilian casualties.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said it believed the attack was carried out in collaboration with "an active intelligence service in the region." The ministry did not elaborate on the identity of that service.
But relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have become so strained after a series of attacks that Karzai has threatened to send troops across the border to attack militants operating from bases in Pakistan.
Pakistani intelligence, which officials here said has regarded Afghanistan as its backyard, fiercely resents the growing influence of India in the country.
India is a close ally of Afghanistan. It is spending $750 million on building roads and power lines here in what has become India's biggest bilateral aid program ever.
It has opened consulates in several parts of the country and promoted initiatives to offer scholarships for Afghan students.
But there have been some challenges to its influence.
Several Indian workers have been killed in recent months and Indian television shows have been restricted because of objections on religious grounds. Senior Indian Foreign Ministry officials have said for months that they were worried about the safety of Indian personnel in Afghanistan.
Alan Cowell reported from Paris. Sangar Rahimi contributed reporting from Kabul, Somini Sengupta from New Delhi and Carlotta Gall from Islamabad.


25 years later, toxic sludge torments Bhopal


Trump's plans for a golf empire meet resistance in Scotland


G8 wrangles over climate change and Africa aid

EU moves to cut back target on biofuel use


Bicycles a mainstay in China

SHANGHAI: For a vivid insight into the clash of old and new in China, follow the bicycle.
Morning rush hour in Beijing and Shanghai used to be rivers of cyclists flowing in a majestic hush down broad bike lanes. Today, many of those lanes have been taken over by cars and buses, their roar and honk drowning out the tinkle of bicycle bells.
Yet despite China's leap into modernity, the bicycle is far from dead - its numbers are growing. For many Chinese, pedal power remains a mainstay - for commuting, sending children to school or making a living.
And getting around the traffic jams.
As the Chinese fall in love with cars, and Westerners fall out of love with them, China is once again a winner. According to the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based environmental think tank, of the 130 million bikes manufactured worldwide last year, China made 90 million and exported two-thirds of them. About 9 in 10 bikes bought by Americans are made in China.


China Oilfield Services to purchase Awilco Offshore of Norway for $2.5 billion


Iraq forms battalion to fix damaged pipelines


Female suicide bomber kills 9 north of Baghdad


Vueling and Iberia airlines said to be merging


Toyota to put solar panels on Prius hybrids


Russian partners fail in bid to oust chief of TNK-BP


Iran holds war games
TEHRAN: Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards began military manoeuvres on Monday, news agencies said, the same day the U.S. Navy said it was carrying out an exercise in the Gulf. The war games were conducted by missile units of the Guards' naval and air forces, the Fars and Mehr news agencies said. They said the exercises, which began a few hours ago, were aimed at improving combat readiness and capability. The reports did not give details of where the exercise was taking place. The Guards often conduct manoeuvres in the Gulf. Speculation about a possible attack on Iran because of its disputed nuclear programme has risen since the New York Times newspaper reported last month that Israel's armed forces had practised such a strike. Fear of an escalation in the standoff between the West and Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, has helped propel oil prices over $140 a barrel.
The head of the Revolutionary Guards said in remarks published in late June that Tehran would impose controls on shipping in the Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz if it was attacked. The U.S. Navy last week vowed Iran would not be allowed to block the Gulf waterway, which carries crude from the world's largest oil exporting region. The U.S. Navy said on Monday that two U.S. vessels were taking part in its exercise alongside a British warship and one from Bahrain, a Gulf Arab ally which hosts the Fifth Fleet.

"The aim of Exercise Stake Net is to practice the tactics and procedures of protecting maritime infrastructure such as gas and oil installations," Commodore Peter Hudson said in a U.S. Fifth Fleet statement.


Indian leader reaffirms U.S. nuclear deal
NEW DELHI: The prime minister of India went to the Group of 8 summit meeting in Japan on Monday with his government intact and enough political strength to complete a landmark nuclear agreement with the United States, ending months of speculation that either his government or the agreement, on which he has staked his reputation, would collapse.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters traveling with him to the summit meeting that his administration would "soon" finalize an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, though he did not offer a date, his spokesman, Sanjaya Baru, said in New Delhi.Baru added that the text of an agreement was near completion, and that India could swiftly finalize it and go on to secure approval from the 45 member nations of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Only after those two steps have been completed can the U.S. Congress vote on the final agreement.A congressional delegation came to India last week to urge the government to hurry the deal along, so that it could go to Congress for a vote in early September.The nuclear agreement would allow India access to nuclear fuel and technology on the world market.


Iran stages war games and rejects nuclear demand



An artificial deadline

Three years ago, President George W. Bush offered India a far-too-generous nuclear deal. India's illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons would effectively be forgiven. And for the first time in 30 years, it would be allowed to buy nuclear fuel and equipment for its civilian energy program from the United States and other nations.
The deal quickly turned into a political nightmare for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, nearly toppling his government. India's Communist Party, his junior coalition partner, is dead set against the pact and any broader strategic relationship with the United States.
Bush, who is eager for any foreign policy win before he goes back to Crawford, Texas, is pressing Singh hard to finally work this out.
As far as we're concerned, there is no reason at all to rush. Bush gave away far too much and got far too little. No promise from India to stop producing bomb-making material. No promise not to expand its arsenal. And no promise not to resume nuclear testing.
Bush may be running out of time, but Congress, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (the 45 nations that set the rules for nuclear trade) will need plenty of it to review the agreement before deciding whether to grant their respective approvals. At a minimum, they must insist that international suppliers halt nuclear trade if India tests another nuclear weapon, as it last did in 1998. And they must insist that India accept the fullest possible monitoring of its civilian nuclear facilities by IAEA inspectors.



Nearer to the Bomb

Peter D. Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist, is emeritus professor of science and security at King's College London and the former chief scientist of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency said last month that there was no danger that we would wake up one morning to find Iran the next nuclear power. He said that Iran would first have to leave the Nonproliferation Treaty, evict the IAEA's inspectors, "and then it would need at least ... six months to one year." That puts an Iranian nuclear capability well into the future, next year.
Mohammed ElBaradei's comments came after Israel conducted a military exercise in which its warplanes flew the equivalent of a one-way mission to Iran, an effort possibly intended to remind Iranian hard-liners that Israel has the capability to strike at their "peaceful" uranium enrichment facilities.
Iran is testing an improved third generation of indigenously co-developed enrichment centrifuges, the IR-3 series, demonstrating its technical mastery of the technology. It has 320 tons of uranium hexafluoride gas to feed its centrifuges, enough for almost 100 bombs, but not for even a fraction of one reactor refueling operation.
The IAEA has also recently reported that it has questions that Iran refuses to answer:
Why is Iran using high explosives to implode a hemispherical shell of heavy metal? The only known use for such tests is to perfect a lightweight nuclear bomb.

Why is Iran developing the kinds of detonators needed in an atomic weapon?
Why is Iran designing, or redesigning, a ballistic missile warhead so that it can contain a nuclear weapon?
Iran announced months ago that it is installing 6,000 centrifuges in its uranium enrichment plant, in addition to the 3,000 in operation. These activities increase Iran's near-term ability to make nuclear weapons, especially since the new ones have twice the capacity of the originals. The production of plutonium or highly enriched uranium is the major industrial challenge facing Iran's effort to build nuclear weapons. Uranium enrichment was a problem never quite mastered by the Iraqis, but Iran is well on the way.
Incentives - even the sweetened package recently offered to Iran by the world's six major powers - have not been enough to persuade Iran to cease or suspend enrichment.
The sanctions previously in force clearly caused far too little pain in the Islamic Republic. The new European initiative to freeze the assets of Bank Melli, the largest Iranian bank, applies significant new pressure on Iran, but Iran might have smelled something coming: Just before the freeze was announced, it moved $75 billion in assets out of reach of European authorities.
The size of its centrifuge program increases suspicion that Iran is not interested in producing enriched uranium to fuel nuclear power plants. The program is too small - even with the planned 50,000 improved centrifuges - to provide fuel for a nuclear power program of any consequence. The centrifuges could barely keep up with the demands of the power reactors Iran is building with Russian help.
But the advanced centrifuges will enable the Iranians to build about twice as many nuclear weapons a year with the current infrastructure than they otherwise could have done. If they add 6,000 machines to today's 3,000, the bomb-building potential is more than doubled again, but the peaceful utility of the plant is zero.
The danger from the Iranian nuclear program could extend further. If Iran begins enriching uranium to weapons grade on an assembly-line basis, it could transfer this material to groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which might fabricate low-technology nuclear explosives. These would probably have yields nearly as high as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
The incremental cost to Iran for such generosity is $2 million to $5 million per bomb - not very high. This is not to say that Iran would support nuclear terrorists, only that it could at an affordable price.
It is time to apply sanctions to persuade Iran to stop uranium enrichment, and to provide some modest low-calorie sweetener to make the deal palatable. Iran's right to nuclear fuel cycle technology ended when it began violating its safeguards agreement almost 20 years ago.
And it is apparent that the real purpose of Iranian enrichment is to provide fuel for weapons, not reactors.



Iraq and Afghanistan: Where do we go from here?

What help does Iraq's government need to resettle some 2 million internally displaced Iraqis and another 2 million who have fled to Syria and Jordan?
What can be done to promote long stalemated political reforms and encourage reconciliation? Should there be an internationally sponsored conference?
What can the United States do to try to persuade Iraq's neighbors in Iran and Syria to promote rather than undermine Iraq's stability?
Should the United States seek to keep a limited force behind for targeted counterterrorism operations or to deter outside meddling?
Would Washington have more influence - and a greater chance of enlisting help - if it completely withdrew or negotiated a slower drawdown with the Iraqis?

EU pact on immigration emphasizes enforcement

Former hostage asks for end to 'language of hate'

"Uribe, and not only Uribe but all of Colombia, should also correct some things," she said. "We have reached the point where we must change the radical, extremist vocabulary of hate, of very strong words that intimately wound the human being."

Samuel Dumoulin stays on course in 3rd stage of Tour de France

NANTES, France: After two days of uphill finishes at the Tour de France, the sprinters got their chance to shine on Monday with a mostly flat stage from Saint-Malo to Nantes. And they promptly blew it.
A breakaway of four riders, which escaped only 3 kilometers into the 208-kilometer, or 130-mile, stage, withstood a fierce headwind and intermittent, slashing rain to finish more than 2 minutes ahead of a charging peloton.
Both the victory and the yellow jersey went to French riders for French teams, just one day after a separate group of four French riders tried but failed to take a long breakaway to the finish.
Samuel Dumoulin, 27, of the Confidis team, took the stage victory, while Romain Feillu, 24, of the Agritubel team, became the first rider from the Tour's home country to wear the yellow jersey in two years, since Cyril Dessel in 2006.

At least 25 are wounded in Karachi as more blasts hit Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan: A string of explosions wounded at least 25 people Monday in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, the police said.
The five blasts came within about an hour of each other, a day after a suicide bombing in the capital, Islamabad, killed 18 people, most of them police officers.
Both residential and commercial areas were struck in Karachi, but it was unclear if any security officials were among the wounded.
The Karachi police chief, Wasim Ahmad, confirmed the five blasts.
Babar Khattak, the Sindh Province police chief, said that at least two of the blasts involved "low-intensity explosive material." He said at least 25 people were wounded.



Radical Islam stirs in China's remote west


G-8 leaders struggle to reach deal on Africa

TOYAKO, Japan: The leaders of the Group of 8 industrial powers hit an impasse Monday over how to punish Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, after he was re-elected last month in a vote that was sharply criticized around the world as illegitimate and that was preceded by a campaign of sometimes lethal violence against the opposition.
After a more than three hour session at the Group of 8 summit meeting here, leaders of African countries and industrialized nations could not reach a consensus on how to move forward. President George W. Bush and other Western leaders urged the international community to condemn Mugabe and back strong sanctions against Zimbabwe, but the leaders of the seven African nations who were also in attendance resisted growing pressure to adopt a tougher stance.
President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, who is the head of the African Union, told Bush at a news conference after the session: "Of course we have discussed the issue of Zimbabwe, where we understand your concerns, but I want to assure you that the concerns you have expressed are, indeed, the concerns of many of us on the African continent.
"The only area that we may differ on is the way forward."
Bush has proposed an international arms embargo and other measures against the government of Mugabe, but the African Union has repeatedly declined to endorse sanctions, including at its meeting last week in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt.



Gunmen kill UN official in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia: Gunmen opened fire on people leaving a mosque in Mogadishu on Sunday night, killing one of the country's senior United Nations officials and wounding his son and another man, a witness and a family member said.
Attacks on officials, including those working for the United Nations and international aid agencies, are common in Somalia, where Islamic militants have vowed to fight an insurgency against the country's weak government, which is supported by the United Nations.
Osman Ali Ahmed, the head of the United Nations Development Program for Somalia, was covered in blood and unconscious as he was rushed to a hospital after Sunday's shooting, said Hassan Ali, a witness and a neighbor of Ahmed's. Ali said it was not clear how seriously Ahmed's son and the other man had been wounded.
Ahmed's wife, Masteho Abubakr Yusus, later said in an interview that her husband had died at the African Union hospital.
The shooting occurred a day after an explosion killed a Somali official, his wife and four other people in Mogadishu.

On June 21, Hassan Muhammad Ali, head of the office of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, was abducted from his home on the outskirts of Mogadishu.


Somalia calls for U.N. troops without delay


Nazi hunters in Chile seeking "Dr Death"
SANTIAGO: Nazi hunters arrived in Chile on Monday on the trail of Aribert Heim, nicknamed Dr. Death for killing hundreds of inmates at an Austrian concentration camp during World War Two, who they believe may be lurking in picturesque Patagonia.
Heim, who kept the skull of a man he decapitated as a paperweight, is the most wanted Nazi war criminal still thought to be alive. He would be 94 and his family says he died in 1993.
"We are not here thinking that his capture is imminent, but we have to bolster a campaign that we launched a few months ago," Sergio Widder, of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Buenos Aires, told Reuters on his arrival in Santiago.
Widder was accompanying Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff, who head's the Wiesenthal Centre's Jerusalem office. The centre is offering a bounty of around $450,000 (228,000 pounds) for Heim as part of a new drive to catch aged Nazi fugitives before they die unpunished.
Heim, an Austrian who killed hundreds of inmates at the Mauthausen concentration camp by injecting gasoline or poison in their hearts, has been on the run for 46 years since evading police in Germany in 1962 prior to a planned prosecution.
A doctor with Adolf Hitler's SS, Heim removed organs from victims without anaesthetic.
Holocaust survivors remember him relishing the fear of death in his victims' eyes. After administering lethal injections, he timed death with a stopwatch.
The centre believes Heim is likely in Chilean or Argentine Patagonia, the region between the Andes and south Atlantic. Heim's daughter lives in the scenic southern Chilean town of Puerto Montt 657 miles (1,058 km) south of the capital Santiago.
Hundreds of Nazis sought refuge in Latin America after World War Two, many lured to Argentina thanks to the open-door policies of Gen. Juan Domingo Peron, as well as to Chile and Brazil.
Josef Mengele, the "Angel of Death" at Auschwitz, escaped to Argentina and also lived in Paraguay before he died in Brazil in 1979.

City workers keep Blackberrys close on holiday
LONDON: Many City workers are unlikely to have a relaxing summer holiday this year, with 83 percent admitting they will take their mobile phone or Blackberry with them, a report said on Monday.
Of 300 City professionals interviewed by data protection agency Credant Technologies, 65 percent confessed they would contact the office either by phone, text or email while on holiday, the report said.
Over a quarter said they would check their email during their vacation, and one third would take their laptops, the study said.
"Whether it's paranoia on the part of employees, or unrealistic demands from employers, the fact is that this summer numerous workers will be accessing the corporate network from all over the globe," Michael Callahan, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Credant Technologies, said.
Thousands of City jobs are expected to be slashed over the next few months as the credit crunch eats into banks' profits.

Challenges of $600-a-session patients
Not long ago, a young titan of New York real estate sat in his psychotherapist's office. An art collector, he was thinking of bidding about $8 million for a painting, and something about the deal made him uneasy.
The therapist thought the patient was merely trying to impress him. This happened whenever the man felt unsure of himself, which was most of the time.
But instead of trying to explore the patient's anxiety, the therapist encouraged him to buy the artwork: "This is what you want; you should go get it."
T. Byram Karasu, a Manhattan psychiatrist whom the therapist consulted about the patient, was appalled. "That was precisely the wrong treatment," he said. "The doctor forgot that addiction cannot be satisfied by its object. The therapist's job is not to comfort and validate the patient's excesses and consumption. Those are neuroses."
Dr. Karasu, known as an expert in treating the wealthy and powerful, recognized a common pitfall among his peers: Rich people can be seductive. "The therapist wants to identify with the patients and comes to see it as his role to help them get more wealthy," he said. In the process, the doctor risks becoming the patient's "alter-id."

Mosley denies Nazi overtones in sex video
LONDON: Max Mosley, the FIA president, went to court Monday to deny a newspaper's claim that he took part in a Nazi-themed orgy with prostitutes, saying there are "few things more un-erotic" than Nazi role-playing.
Mosley, who acknowledges having a sadomasochistic encounter, is suing the tabloid News of the World for invasion of privacy.
His lawyer said the tabloid had breached the privacy of the president of racing's governing body "for the amusement of its readers."
"Every ordinary human being expects the privacy of their sexual life to be respected and would be outraged if it was not," Mosley's attorney, James Price, said in court.
The newspaper, however, says readers have a right to know about Mosley, the son of the best-known British fascist politician, because he is a public figure.


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