Reuters – At least 10 people, including an Islamist militant commander, were killed on Thursday in a bomb blast in a remote village market in Pakistan’s Khyber region on the Afghan border, officials said. The attack apparently targeted a commander of Lashkar-e-Islam militant group based in the region. The group is not part of Pakistan’s main Taliban alliance but espouses the same hard-line interpretation of Islam. Read article
Times Online – Russia raised Western hopes that it will support tougher international sanctions against Iran’s nuclear programme by announcing a delay in delivery of S-300 advanced air defence missiles. The postponement for unspecified “technical problems” was made public a day after Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, urged Russia to support “crippling” sanctions against Tehran during a visit to Moscow. Read article
Press TV = A Palestinian Authority court has sentenced a Palestinian journalist with the official Hamas-run television channel to 18 months in prison over affiliation to the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). The court on Tuesday ruled that the 37-year-old reporter, Tariq Abu Zaid, who works for the official Hamas-run television network Al-Aqsa TV, must serve the term since acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas has forbidden Hamas and affiliated organizations from conducting any activities in the occupied West Bank. Read Article
BBC – An international aid agency has accused Bangladesh of launching a violent crackdown against unregistered Rohingya refugees from Burma.Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) also warned of a humanitarian crisis unfolding in a squatter camp where a growing number of them now live. Thousands of refugees have moved to the camp in fear of persecution, MSF says. Read Article
Daily Telegraph – Coco Rocha, a former Vogue cover girl, has reignited the debate over skinny models by claiming she has been rejected for work being too fat. The Canadian supermodel said despite being a rail-thin 7st 7lbs she is considered overweight for many of the world’s top fashion designers. The 21-year-old, who is a UK dress size six, said she had lost out on catwalk work because she refused to lose any more weight. Read article
Al Jazeera – TheÂ breakaway Georgian regionÂ of AbkhaziaÂ has concluded a deal with Russia to build a military base on its soil for land troops.Â The move will strength Abkhazia’s dependence on Moscow and will provoke ire from Tbilisi.Â Read article
Reuters – Iran’s supreme leader accused the United States on Wednesday of war-mongering and of turning the Gulf into an “arms depot,” hitting back at U.S. accusations that the Islamic state was moving toward a military dictatorship. The comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were the latest sign of growing tensions between Tehran and Washington, which are embroiled in a long-running and escalating row over Iranian nuclear work the West suspects is aimed at making bombs. Read article
Daily Mail – Frying meat on a gas hob may increase your risk of cancer, researchers claim. They found fumes from steak pan-fried on a gas flame contained more cancer-causing particles than those from an electric hob. Scientists believe hotter gas flames release more harmful chemicals from oil in the cooking process and warn that chefs may be particularly at risk. Read article
CNN — To the list of instructions you hear at airport checkpoints, add this: “Put your palms forward, please.” The Transportation Security Administration soon will begin randomly swabbing passengers’ hands at checkpoints and airport gates to test them for traces of explosives. Previously, screeners swabbed some carry-on luggage and other objects as they searched for the needle in the security haystack — components of terrorist bombs in an endless stream of luggage. Read Article
ED – This is obviously after you have just walked through the de-humanising full body “naked” scanner
UPI – A controversial order of Israeli-made Heron unmanned aerial vehicles passed critical performance tests in Israel and will soon be delivered, Turkey’s top procurement official says. “Six of the aircraft have successfully passed the tests inspected by a delegation of Turkish officials,” Murad Bayar, head of the government’s defense procurement agency, the Under Secretariat for Defense Industries was quoted telling local media. “We are expecting their deliveries in the weeks ahead. And this closes the deal from our point of view.” Read article
Reuters – President Barack Obama took a major step toward improving strained ties with Syria on Tuesday, announcing his intention to reappoint a U.S. ambassador to Damascus after a five-year absence. The White House said Obama had nominated career diplomat Robert Ford to the post. The nomination must still be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Read article
Times Online – Argentina has declared that it is taking control over all shipping between its coast and the Falklands, in effect awarding itself the power to blockade the disputed islands. According to a decree issued by President Kirchner last night, all ships sailing through the waters claimed by Argentina must hold a permit. The measure seems likely to deepen a row over conflicting claims to oil beds lying inside the Falkland Islands’ territorial waters. Read article
AP — Several prominent business groups have joined a growing list of organizations and states challenging the federal government’s finding that climate-changing pollution from cars, power plants and factories is dangerous to people.The Environmental Protection Agency said in December that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases endanger human health, setting the stage for future rules restricting such emissions. Read Article
Ed – What is dangerous to humans is not the CO2 from burning fossil fuels, but the Carbon Monoxide, the Nitrous Oxide and worst of all the soot particulates emitted. From a corporate point of view however the longer we squabble over CO2, the better it is for them in not having to address the real problems.
BBC- Three Malaysian women have been caned by the authorities for having extra-marital sex, say officials. They are the first women to receive such a sentence under Islamic law in the country. Read Article
BBC – The final mystery of 9/11 will soon be solved, according to US experts investigating the collapse of the third tower at the World Trade Center. The 47-storey third tower, known as Tower Seven, collapsed seven hours after the twin towers. Investigators are expected to say ordinary fires on several different floors caused the collapse. Read article
Wall Street Journal – Fallout from the attempted bombing of a passenger jet on Christmas Day has meant more hassles for travelers, but for companies selling high-tech screening equipment it’s been a chance to hawk their products more aggressively. Makers of scanners and other devices that aren’t yet used at airports have cranked up their marketing and publicity efforts in recent weeks looking to capitalize on the near-disaster, as well as on privacy concerns raised by existing screening devices that see through clothing. Read Article
Ed – As is their psychology, and that of all corporations, and this is to be expected. Also to be expected is your civil liberties to be reduced. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Times Online – The attack on Poona will again raise questions over the role of David Coleman Headley, an American who went from being a American government informer to an alleged reconnaissance agent for the group that carried out the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Mr Headley, 49, had visited the area of Poona devastated by Saturday’s blast at least twice while checking out potential terrorist targets ““ most recently in March 2009 ““ Indian officials allege. Read article
Guardian – The troubled American private security company Blackwater faced fresh controversy today when two former employees accused it of defrauding the US government for years, including billing for a Filipina prostitute on its payroll in Afghanistan. According to Melan Davis, a former employee, Blackwater listed the woman for payment under the “morale welfare recreation” category. Read article
The Guardian – EU biofuels 10% targets cause millions of peope to go hungry and increase food prices and landlessness, says report. EU companies have taken millions of acres of land out of food production in Africa, central America and Asia to grow biofuels for transport, according to development campaigners. The consequences of European biofuel targets, said the report by ActionAid, could be up to 100 million more hungry people, increased food prices and landlessness. The report says the 2008 decision by EU countries to obtain 10% of all transport fuels from biofuels by 2020 is proving disastrous for poor countries. Developing countries are expected to grow nearly two-thirds of the jatropha, sugar cane and palm oil crops that are mostly used for biofuels. Read Article
Ed – Since when hasÂ blatantÂ immoralityÂ towards one’s fellow man ever come between corporations and profit, especially when there is “a planet to save from global warming”?
Telegraph – The European Union has renewed sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and key regime figures in Zimbabwe for another year. The move was a clear sign of the West’s disappointment in the coalition with the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The unity government was formed a year ago, but its workings have been stymied by disputes between the two parties, with the MDC accusing Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party of obstructionism and bad faith. Read article
AFP – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that Iran’s arch-foe Israel was mulling starting a war “next spring or summer” but has yet to make a final decision. Without specifying whom would be targeted, Ahmadinejad said: “According to information we have they (Israel) are seeking to start a war next spring or summer, although their decision is not final yet.” Read article
The Register – More trouble looms for the IPCC. The body may need to revise statements made in its Fourth Assessment Report on hurricanes and global warming. A statistical analysis of the raw data shows that the claims that global hurricane activity has increased cannot be supported. Les Hatton once fixed weather models at the Met Office. Having studied Maths at Cambridge, he completed his PhD as meteorologist: his PhD was the study of tornadoes and waterspouts. He’s a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, currently teaches at the University of Kingston, and is well known in the software engineering community – his studies include critical systems analysis. Read Article
Bloomberg — Argentina’s peso fell to a record low as investors bought dollars amid speculation the government will push the currency weaker to bolster tax revenue from commodity exports and ease the country’s financing needs. The peso dropped 0.1 percent to 3.8571 per dollar at 3:36 p.m. New York time, from 3.8540 yesterday. Earlier today, the currency touched a record low of 3.8648. The previous low, since the currency’s inception in 1992, was 3.86 reached in June 2002. Read Article
Discovery – Chronic lack of sleep could end up costing you more than the price of that extra cup of coffee you need to stay awake.
THE GIST: “¢Losing sleep may actually shrink some areas of your brain.”¢Researchers are unsure which comes first: gray matter loss or sleeplessness.”¢The findings could lead to new treatment plans for insomnia. Read Article
Reuters – NATO forces in Afghanistan have resumed using a type of rocket that killed 12 civilians after concluding that the missile hit its intended target and did not veer off course, a NATO commander said on Tuesday. The civilians died on Sunday, the second day of an offensive designed to impose Afghan government authority on one of the last big Taliban strongholds in Helmand, the country’s most violent province. Read article