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Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Leah Sears Posted by Hello

CBS 46 Atlanta - Sears Takes Oath, Makes History

CBS 46 Atlanta - Sears Takes Oath, Makes HistorySears Takes Oath, Makes History
Jun 28, 2005, 5:50 PM

ATLANTA (AP) -- Leah Sears, who survived an attempt by conservatives last year to block her re-election to the state Supreme Court, took the oath of office Tuesday as the court's chief justice, becoming the first woman to hold that position.

With U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a longtime friend, looking on, Sears vowed to "strive mightily to uphold the independence and integrity" of the judiciary.

According to the National Center for State Courts based in Williamsburg, Va., Sears is the first black woman ever to head the highest appeals court in any of the 50 states, although there have been women chief judges in the nonfederal appeals courts for the District of Columbia, and a Hispanic woman has been chief justice in New Mexico.

Sears will take office Friday.

She is the second black to head the Georgia Supreme Court.

Absent from the ceremonies, held in the chambers of the state House of Representatives, was Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, who joined in the GOP effort last year to dump Sears from the court, arguing she did not represent the state's core values. She won the nonpartisan race for a six-year term with 62 percent of the vote.

Perdue's schedule showed he was in north Georgia for an open house at a new GBI crime lab, a visit to a Chamber of Commerce and a visit to a local industry.

Thomas, like Sears a native of the Savannah, Ga., area, called the event "a day when my pride runs deep as a human being, as a member of the judiciary and as a Georgian" and added, "I never thought that in my lifetime I would be able to witness a black woman as the chief justice of the state of Georgia's Supreme Court."

Thomas paid tribute to former ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who delivered the oath of office to Sears, as a man whose work in the civil rights movement made it "possible for us to be here today in our various capacities and positions to witness this historic event."

He made only a passing reference to the political waiting game over whether there soon will be a vacancy on the nation's highest court.

"As we ended our term at our Supreme Court -- at your Supreme Court -- the winds of controversy swirled about the court's decisions and, unfortunately, about the imagined resignations. As I considered what was happening around our building, I thought about the calm civility of today's events. I thought of the wonderful times that we would have here today," he said.

Thomas also said he was confident Sears will "call them as you see them" and told her, "Those of us who are judges know that it is easy to judge when you already have your mind made up. It is hard to judge when you have to make your mind up."

In her acceptance speech, Sears pledged to continue her the strong push by her predecessor, Norman Fletcher, to implement a statewide indigent defense system to provide lawyers for poor people accused of crimes. She also said she hopes to focus on the plight of the family, noting that two-thirds of court filings now deal with domestic relations issues.

She ended with a call for Georgians to remember their civics lessons about why the judiciary is independent of the executive and legislative branches.

"We must resist all temptations to intimidate judges or to otherwise ask them to answer for the hard decisions that they are being required to make," she said.

"The founders of this great nation of ours intended the judicial branch of government to be a separate, independent, coequal branch of government that answers not to public opinion, polls or politicians, but only to the laws and the Constitutions of the state of Georgia and of the United States of America."

BBC NEWS | Africa | Two Rwandans guilty over genocide

BBC NEWS | Africa | Two Rwandans guilty over genocide Two Rwandans guilty over genocide
A Belgian court has found two Rwandans guilty of war crimes and murder linked to the 1994 genocide in their country.

Half-brothers Etienne Nzabonimana, 53, and Samuel Ndashyikirwa, 43, were convicted by the court in Brussels.

The pair, who will be sentenced after a further hearing, denied charges of helping extremist Hutu militia massacre some 50,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

They were tried under a Belgian law allowing trials for war crimes, even when committed by foreigners elsewhere.

Prosecutors said the two businessmen provided weapons, vehicles and beer for militias in Rwanda's south-eastern Kibungo region during the April killings.

Dozens of Rwandans testified against the two men.

After two Rwandan nuns were convicted of taking part in the genocide in a landmark 2001 trial, Belgium was inundated with lawsuits for war crimes against world leaders, such as Israel's Ariel Sharon and former US President George Bush.

The law was changed so that those charged had to live in Belgium - which was the case with the two Rwandan half-brothers.

Some 800,000 people were slaughtered in the 1994 genocide.

Is Malaysian ringgit due to fall from its peg? - Business - International Herald Tribune

Is Malaysian ringgit due to fall from its peg? - Business - International Herald Tribune Is Malaysian ringgit due to fall from its peg?
By Wayne Arnold International Herald Tribune

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2005
KUALA LUMPUR If gambling were not against his religion, Nor Mohamed Yakcop could probably make a decent living playing high-stakes Texas hold'em in Las Vegas.

As special economic adviser to the prime minister at the time, Mahathir bin Mohamad, during the Asian financial crisis in 1998, Nor was the architect of Malaysia's ringgit peg, the policy of fixing the value of the currency against the dollar, in the same manner as China fixes its yuan exchange rate.

Ever since, the ringgit has remained at 3.8 to the dollar despite an export-led economic recovery that has even the government conceding that the ringgit is undervalued. So when Mahathir's successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, appointed Nor last year to run the Ministry of Finance, many economists and investors suspected that Nor was being brought in to revise the peg, or even abandon it.

But Nor has kept them guessing, offering only a policy-making poker face. He will say only that revaluation is not out of the question.

"It is not something that is cast in stone," he said.

"At this point in time it seems it is still serving a useful purpose. But that doesn't mean we should take it for granted."

Apart from the yuan and the Hong Kong dollar, the ringgit is the only Asian currency whose value is pegged to the dollar. Central banks in other Asian countries, from Japan to Singapore, seek to minimize drastic changes in the value of their currencies, and in recent years they have tried to keep currencies from appreciating in order to maintain their export competitiveness, but the marketplace ultimately decides their value.

Few economists doubt that Nor will have to move.

While the peg keeps Malaysia's exports from losing competitiveness as the dollar declines, keeping the currency artificially undervalued is inflating the costs of imports, jeopardizing growth.

Yet after a surge of speculation at the beginning of the year, investors have lately begun to have doubts, pulling more than $200 million out of Malaysia's stock market in March and April.

"They've lost hope that there will be a ringgit revaluation," said Gan Kim Khoon, executive director at AmResearch in Kuala Lumpur.

What may force Nor's hand, economists say, is a move by China to revalue the yuan. That would allow Malaysia and other Asian exporters to let their currencies rise without making their exports more expensive relative to China's. The trick for Nor, they say, will be anticipating China by revaluing the ringgit just before it revalues the yuan. Too soon and Malaysian exports will suffer; too late and a flood of speculative funds will rush into Malaysia, risking higher inflation.

Fixing the ringgit's value was just part of a controversial package of controls on the flow of money into and out of Malaysia designed to insulate the country from the financial crisis, controversial because it flouted the advice being given at the time by the International Monetary Fund.

Malaysia has since lifted most of its capital controls. Only the peg remains, having gained in the interim a measure of respectability. "On balance, it's been beneficial," said Arjuna Mahendran, chief economist and strategist at Credit Suisse Research in Singapore. In addition to keeping Malaysia's exports price competitive, the peg has provided stability for businesses.

"The downside is that they frightened a lot of portfolio investors," Mahendran said. Economists say that despite the stability the peg offered to exporters, it discouraged investment in Malaysia's capital markets, leaving them stunted compared to others in the region.

Still, there are those who contend that the peg remains essential to Malaysia's financial and economic health. Exporters and Malaysia's trade minister, Rafidah Aziz, are the most outspoken supporters of the peg.

With the global economic outlook dimming, many say now is not a good time to tinker with the peg. Electronics exporters are likely to be the worst affected if the ringgit were to rise, as are agricultural producers such as Malaysia's influential palm oil producers. Revaluing the ringgit could also hurt farmers, which would run counter to the prime minister's stated policy of improving the lot of the rural sector.

But the case for revaluing the ringgit is growing by the month in the form of rising foreign currency reserves. Since 1997, Malaysia's foreign reserves have more than tripled, to $75.2 billion. Keeping the ringgit fixed when so much money is flooding into the country requires expensive foreign exchange operations by the central bank. To help ease the pressure upward on the ringgit, Malaysia has also lifted requirements that exporters convert their earnings abroad into ringgit and now allows Malaysian residents to hold deposits in foreign currencies.

Despite these efforts, the undervalued ringgit is accelerating inflation, now at its highest level since 1999.

Inflation is raising the cost of imported machinery and other equipment, to the point that many manufacturers are calling for a change in the ringgit's value. "Nine months ago they were happy about the peg," said Chua Hak Bin, an economist at DBS Bank in Singapore. "But now they'd prefer to see the peg go. They need to expand capacity."

Once China revalues its yuan, supporters of revaluation say, Malaysia will have no choice but to revalue. If Malaysia waits until after China to revalue its currency, currency speculators will pour money into Malaysia to cash in on the inevitable rise in its currency, a flood of funds that will create even more inflationary pressure.


KUALA LUMPUR If gambling were not against his religion, Nor Mohamed Yakcop could probably make a decent living playing high-stakes Texas hold'em in Las Vegas.

As special economic adviser to the prime minister at the time, Mahathir bin Mohamad, during the Asian financial crisis in 1998, Nor was the architect of Malaysia's ringgit peg, the policy of fixing the value of the currency against the dollar, in the same manner as China fixes its yuan exchange rate.

Ever since, the ringgit has remained at 3.8 to the dollar despite an export-led economic recovery that has even the government conceding that the ringgit is undervalued. So when Mahathir's successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, appointed Nor last year to run the Ministry of Finance, many economists and investors suspected that Nor was being brought in to revise the peg, or even abandon it.

But Nor has kept them guessing, offering only a policy-making poker face. He will say only that revaluation is not out of the question.

"It is not something that is cast in stone," he said.

"At this point in time it seems it is still serving a useful purpose. But that doesn't mean we should take it for granted."

Apart from the yuan and the Hong Kong dollar, the ringgit is the only Asian currency whose value is pegged to the dollar. Central banks in other Asian countries, from Japan to Singapore, seek to minimize drastic changes in the value of their currencies, and in recent years they have tried to keep currencies from appreciating in order to maintain their export competitiveness, but the marketplace ultimately decides their value.

Few economists doubt that Nor will have to move.

While the peg keeps Malaysia's exports from losing competitiveness as the dollar declines, keeping the currency artificially undervalued is inflating the costs of imports, jeopardizing growth.

Yet after a surge of speculation at the beginning of the year, investors have lately begun to have doubts, pulling more than $200 million out of Malaysia's stock market in March and April.

"They've lost hope that there will be a ringgit revaluation," said Gan Kim Khoon, executive director at AmResearch in Kuala Lumpur.

What may force Nor's hand, economists say, is a move by China to revalue the yuan. That would allow Malaysia and other Asian exporters to let their currencies rise without making their exports more expensive relative to China's. The trick for Nor, they say, will be anticipating China by revaluing the ringgit just before it revalues the yuan. Too soon and Malaysian exports will suffer; too late and a flood of speculative funds will rush into Malaysia, risking higher inflation.

Fixing the ringgit's value was just part of a controversial package of controls on the flow of money into and out of Malaysia designed to insulate the country from the financial crisis, controversial because it flouted the advice being given at the time by the International Monetary Fund.

Malaysia has since lifted most of its capital controls. Only the peg remains, having gained in the interim a measure of respectability. "On balance, it's been beneficial," said Arjuna Mahendran, chief economist and strategist at Credit Suisse Research in Singapore. In addition to keeping Malaysia's exports price competitive, the peg has provided stability for businesses.

"The downside is that they frightened a lot of portfolio investors," Mahendran said. Economists say that despite the stability the peg offered to exporters, it discouraged investment in Malaysia's capital markets, leaving them stunted compared to others in the region.

Still, there are those who contend that the peg remains essential to Malaysia's financial and economic health. Exporters and Malaysia's trade minister, Rafidah Aziz, are the most outspoken supporters of the peg.

With the global economic outlook dimming, many say now is not a good time to tinker with the peg. Electronics exporters are likely to be the worst affected if the ringgit were to rise, as are agricultural producers such as Malaysia's influential palm oil producers. Revaluing the ringgit could also hurt farmers, which would run counter to the prime minister's stated policy of improving the lot of the rural sector.

But the case for revaluing the ringgit is growing by the month in the form of rising foreign currency reserves. Since 1997, Malaysia's foreign reserves have more than tripled, to $75.2 billion. Keeping the ringgit fixed when so much money is flooding into the country requires expensive foreign exchange operations by the central bank. To help ease the pressure upward on the ringgit, Malaysia has also lifted requirements that exporters convert their earnings abroad into ringgit and now allows Malaysian residents to hold deposits in foreign currencies.

Despite these efforts, the undervalued ringgit is accelerating inflation, now at its highest level since 1999.

Inflation is raising the cost of imported machinery and other equipment, to the point that many manufacturers are calling for a change in the ringgit's value. "Nine months ago they were happy about the peg," said Chua Hak Bin, an economist at DBS Bank in Singapore. "But now they'd prefer to see the peg go. They need to expand capacity."

Once China revalues its yuan, supporters of revaluation say, Malaysia will have no choice but to revalue. If Malaysia waits until after China to revalue its currency, currency speculators will pour money into Malaysia to cash in on the inevitable rise in its currency, a flood of funds that will create even more inflationary pressure.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | India and US sign defence accord

BBC NEWS | South Asia | India and US sign defence accord India and US sign defence accord
India and US have signed a 10-year agreement to strengthen defence ties between the two countries.

The landmark agreement will help facilitate joint weapons production, co-operation on missile defence and the transfer of technology.

Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed the agreement.

There has been a significant transformation in relations between the two countries in recent years.

The agreement was signed during Mr Mukherjee's visit to the US - his first since assuming his post last year.

The United States and India have entered a new era
Statement on the agreement
"The United States and India have entered a new era," a statement issued after the signing of the agreement in Washington said.

"We are transforming our relationship to reflect our common principles and shared national interests."

According to AFP news agency, the statement said the ministers agreed to set up a "defence procurement and production 'group' to oversee defence trade, as well as prospects for co-production and technology collaboration".

Biggest partner

"Today, we agree on a new framework that builds on past successes, seizes new opportunities and charts a course for the US-India defence relationship for the next 10 years," the statement said.

The statement said that the two nations had advanced to "unprecedented levels of cooperation".

The defence pact came ahead of a three-day visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US in July.

In a speech in Washington on Tuesday, Mr Mukherjee urged the US to lift curbs on nuclear technology transfers to India.

The US imposed the restrictions in the wake of India's nuclear tests in 1998.

Economic ties have grown between the two countries, once on opposite sides of the Cold War fence, and the US is now India's biggest trading partner.

The two countries have also overseen increased military ties, holding joint exercises and expanded civilian, space and hi-tech contacts.
Story from BBC NEWS:

KRT Wire | 06/28/2005 | On Taiwanese island, residents chafe at being trapped in cold war with China

KRT Wire | 06/28/2005 | On Taiwanese island, residents chafe at being trapped in cold war with China: Posted on Tue, Jun. 28, 2005

On Taiwanese island, residents chafe at being trapped in cold war with China

BY TIM JOHNSON
Knight Ridder Newspapers

KINMEN ISLAND, Taiwan - (KRT) - An unusual change of sentiment has occurred on this small island nestled against the belly of mainland China.

For decades, the island served as Taiwan's frontline bulwark against possible invasion from China's Red Army. Huge anti-tank barricades still line the beaches, and Taiwanese soldiers monitor movements on the nearby mainland using binoculars.

But fear of colossal China, barely a few miles away, has given way to envy and frustration. Residents gaze across the water and see high-rises and late-model cars. They hear tales of new wealth and economic boom in China. Most can't travel there, though, and few free-spending Chinese tourists are permitted on the 45-minute boat ride to Kinmen Island. Tensions along the Taiwan Strait keep trade and travel to a minimum.

"We think it's nonsense," said Lee Juh-feng, a commissioner for Kinmen (pronounced "GIN mun") and a proponent on the 58-square-mile island for more open trade and freedom of movement.

"Taiwan is holding Kinmen as a pawn," Lee said.

Just as China has a problem with Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province, so Taiwan has a problem with the restive little Kinmen archipelago it governs.

Some in Kinmen want to chart a different course. They envision their island as a potential resort and gambling center to attract their onetime foes. But it remains a distant dream. The 66,000 residents of Kinmen, Little Kinmen and half a dozen smaller islands are caught in a cross-strait tug-of-war. They resent both sides and cling to their own identities.

"We are Kinmen people. We are not Taiwanese. But we also aren't Chinese. We are kind of isolated and lonely," said Lee Chi-liang, 46, an engineer.

Kinmen, with its rolling hills and red clay soil, was once a flashpoint. When Nationalist forces retreated from China to Taiwan, routed by the Communists in 1949, they dug in at small islands along the coast of the mainland. For three decades, about 100,000 Taiwanese troops hunkered down on Kinmen. The island was subject to fierce bombardment from the mainland in 1954 and 1958, and even into the 1970s. Both sides set up huge loudspeakers on their shores and blared propaganda at each other.

"The Chinese side would urge us to defect to the mainland," recalled Cheng Shunu, a newspaper clerk. Locals would chuckle at the broadcasts. "We always considered China less developed than us."

The missile bombardments made life on the island tense.

"Every house has a bomb shelter. When the attacks came, we'd go down there," said Wong Ming-chih, a provincial official.

Slowly, China gained short-range missiles and sophisticated jetfighters, making Kinmen a less likely stepping-stone in a possible blitz of Taiwan.

"China can attack Taiwan directly now. They wouldn't come through here," said Liao Jinming, an 18-year-old student.

Troop deployment has fallen to about 10,000 soldiers on Kinmen today, and residents breathe easier. But they feel a sharp economic pinch from the drawdown, with fewer soldiers taking taxis and swilling beer. Kinmen has only one major industry, a distillery that keeps 1,000 families afloat.

Kinmen, an hour-long plane ride from Taipei, hasn't significantly felt the economic miracle in Taiwan, which is now the world's seventh largest economy.

Meanwhile, just across the water in China, the booming port of Xiamen (pronounced SHAH-men) is home to a new Dell computer factory and to Japanese and Taiwanese electronic plants. The waterfront glistens with new shopping centers and flashy restaurants.

The two sides are so close that smugglers deliver fresh produce. The ocean tides bring other deliveries. "A lot of garbage flows over here," said Wong, the provincial official.

Some residents hold out hope for an open border as a panacea to economic woes.

"Xiamen is ahead of us by 50 years," muttered a taxi driver at the port who would only give his last name, Tsai. "Kinmen Island will only develop if the central government allows us to set up casinos and gives us tax-free status."

Some 1 million Taiwanese now live on the mainland, operating factories and doing business. Most of them must travel via Hong Kong or Macao, far to the south.

Under a policy begun last year, a trickle of Taiwanese business owners and their immediate family members can fly to Kinmen Island and take a boat to the mainland, or vice versa. Some 1,000 people a day make the voyage. But they usually go straight to the airport or wharf, bypassing the town.

Lee, the local official, notes what a huge market Kinmen misses out on. Xiamen received 10 million visitors last year, he said, 700,000 of them foreigners. Because of cross-strait red tape, virtually none could come to Kinmen, oh-so-close yet oh-so-far.

"We want to take advantage of Taiwan's legal and democratic system but also of China's economic development," he said.

"You asked if China would ever attack Kinmen," Lee said abruptly. "It would be easier for them just to buy the island."

He said the fair value is about $1 billion, looking as if he were ready to bargain.

Japan Today - News - 2,300 Chinese journalists urge release of colleagues - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - 2,300 Chinese journalists urge release of colleagues - Japan's Leading International News Network2,300 Chinese journalists urge release of colleagues

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 05:30 JST
BEIJING — More than 2,300 Chinese journalists from seven national print and Internet media have written a letter to the Supreme People's Court in Guangdong Province demanding the release of two former colleagues sent to prison last year for corruption and embezzlement, sources said Tuesday.

The 2,356 journalists from Shanghai Youth Daily, Southern Metropolis News and other publications sent a letter Monday to the court, appealing for the release of Yu Huafeng and Li Minying, both formerly with the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis News. (Kyodo News)

Japan Today - News - Japanese ships take part in Battle of Trafalgar bicentennial - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Japanese ships take part in Battle of Trafalgar bicentennial - Japan's Leading International News NetworkJapanese ships take part in Battle of Trafalgar bicentennial

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 03:38 JST
LONDON — Three Japanese ships took part in the historic international fleet review in Portsmouth on the south British coast Tuesday to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

One of the three Japanese ships to participate was the JDS Yuugiri, a multi purpose destroyer of the Asagiri class, which set sail for British waters at the beginning of May. (Kyodo News)

Freedom Tower

Sky News : New Ground Zero Skyscraper Design

Sky News : New Ground Zero Skyscraper DesignNEW GROUND ZERO DESIGN
The design for the building on the site where New York's twin towers once stood is about to be unveiled.

The Freedom Tower will be 1,776 feet high - the world's tallest building.

It will have 69 office floors topped by a restaurant - indoor and outdoor observation decks and an antenna within a trellis-like sculpture.

The launch comes after years of wrangling between developers, architects and families of the vicitms of 9/11 about the future use of the ground zero site.

The Freedom Tower has been redesigned after initial concerns about security and safety.

In an effort to make it more resistant to truck bombs, the building has been moved farther from West Street, a major North-South throughway along the West side of Manhattan.

The plans also call for reinforcing the middle of the tower and having it capped with a mast which looks like the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

"The redesign of the Freedom Tower shows how our city is able to respond to the opportunities and challenges of our time," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

New York Governor George Pataki laid the tower's cornerstone last July, but the last year has seen more fighting than progress by the agencies and individuals responsible for rebuilding.

The security concerns have delayed the tower's proposed 2009 opening by at least a year.

VOA News - Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System Taking Shape

VOA News - Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System Taking ShapeIndian Ocean Tsunami Warning System Taking Shape
By Ron Corben
Bangkok
29 June 2005

A Thai official is silhouetted by a map showing an earthquake site during the demonstration of the quake system at the disaster warning center on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand
A Thai official is silhouetted by a map showing an earthquake site during the demonstration of the quake system at the disaster warning center on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand
Countries around the Indian Ocean are setting up tsunami warning systems to try to avoid a repeat of the massive loss of life last December 26. The United Nations is coordinating efforts to establish a regional network over the next year.

Loudspeakers and shrieks of horror were often the only warnings people had last December when the tsunami engulfed communities and lives along the shores of the Indian Ocean.

A magnitude nine earthquake off Indonesia's Aceh Province triggered the massive waves, which took just 30 minutes to make landfall in Aceh. Two hours later, it had raced across the Indian Ocean to devastate communities in Sri Lanka.

In all, more than 200,000 people died or disappeared in the tsunami, across 12 countries.

Almost immediately, coastal residents along the Indian Ocean questioned why they had not received adequate warning. In Thailand, the chief of the bureau of meteorology was fired and the government quickly joined regional commitments to establish a tsunami warning system.

UNESCO officials recently discussed details of such a system in Paris, with representatives of all the Indian Ocean nations.

Salvano Briceno, who heads up the United Nations disaster reduction unit, says "It has been agreed so far that it would not be a single center but rather a network of centers - given the complexity of early warning systems."

Officials hope the network will include centers in all 27 Indian Ocean countries.

Mr. Briceno says good progress has already been made on the technical infrastructure for early detection of tsunamis, but he says there is more to the job. "Early warning systems cannot just stop at the technical part… but rather they should also help in mobilizing the populations and in triggering all the disaster management capacities in each country," he says.

Thailand is working hard to do its part.

In May, the Thai government opened a $2.5 million national disaster warning center north of Bangkok, with links to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, Japan's Meteorological Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey.

It is one of several such centers in the region acting together as an interim Indian Ocean network, until the planned one is in place.

Within minutes of an alert from Hawaii's facility, officials in Thailand can warn the public through messages to mobile phones, telephones, faxes, and the news media.

The center is also linked directly to sirens on Phuket Island, which was badly hit in December. There police and navy personnel stand ready to evacuate residents and tourists.

Samith Dharmasaroja, a meteorologist and a government adviser, says the Thai center hopes to sharpen its capabilities. "We are satisfied with our performance right now but we have to improve our center. We have to upgrade our center to become a regional warning center - this is our goal in the future. Right now we can give an early warning 20 minutes after the tsunami occurs, but we will improve our warning to less than 10 minutes, so people have enough time to escape," he says.

The Thai government says upgrading the national disaster center will take six months to a year.

The United Nations says it aims to have all the national warning systems operating as a network by July 2006 at cost of up to $50 million.

But UNESCO's regional representative in Jakarta, Stephen Hill, says that is a bit optimistic. "This is a longer-term project - there are some estimates a basic system may be in place by perhaps the middle of next year, but it is really going to take a bit longer to really put into place and train the people beyond that," he says.

There also has been some division among governments over which country should host the main warning center and how it should be set up. That debate has slowed the project.

Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the tsunami. More than 160,000 people were lost there - most of them in Aceh Province.

Mr. Hill says an effective warning system will go a long way toward easing the public's concerns. "In Aceh, people need to be prepared or feel that they're prepared, to give them confidence. I mean, people are really scared and you can see this - they're really afraid and so it's very easy to generate panic from almost nothing," he says.

Indonesia, he says, remains vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis because it sits near major fault lines in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Those fault lines ensure that it is not a question of "if" another earthquake or tsunami will strike the region - only a matter of "when".

The warning systems now being developed will provide a vital grid of communication that was absent when the tsunami struck six months ago.

All Headline News - U.S. Military Can Defeat North Korea; Will Continue Peace Talks - June 29, 2005

All Headline News - U.S. Military Can Defeat North Korea; Will Continue Peace Talks - June 29, 2005U.S. Military Can Defeat North Korea; Will Continue Peace Talks

June 29, 2005 8:20 a.m. EST

Danielle George - All Headline News Staff Reporter

Seoul, South Korea (AHN) - A senior U.S. military officer says U.S. and South Korean forces would have no problem defeating North Korea regardless of their nuclear weapons.

However, he adds the United States is fully committed to six-country talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons programs and will look to a diplomatic solution to end the crisis.

General Leon LaPorte, commander of the U.S. forces in South Korea, tells South Korea's PBC radio, "Whether North Korea has one or several nuclear weapons does not change the balance on the peninsula. The U.S. and the Republic of Korea retain our ability to deter North Korean aggression and, if required, to decisively defeat the North Korean threat if they were to threaten South Korea."

Monday, June 27, 2005

ESPN.com - GOLF - Birdie's birdie on 18 wins U.S. Women's Open

ESPN.com - GOLF - Birdie's birdie on 18 wins U.S. Women's OpenPressel, Lang runners-up; Wie, Annika finish 12-over
Associated Press

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. -- She changed her name to Birdie so everyone would know who she was, and even that wasn't enough at a U.S. Women's Open where historical moments belonged to everyone else.

It started with Annika Sorenstam and her quest for the Grand Slam.

Then came 17-year-old Morgan Pressel playing the lead role in a parade of teen contenders, poised to become the youngest major champion in golf history.

Ultimately, the most compelling moment of a riveting week at Cherry Hills belonged to Birdie Kim.

With a spectacular shot that allowed her to live up to her nickname, the 23-year-old from South Korea holed a 30-yard bunker shot for the only birdie on the 18th hole Sunday to win the U.S. Women's Open.

"I never think about to win," she said. "I was never a good bunker player. Finally, I make it."

Equally shocked was Pressel, the fiery teen from south Florida who marched confidently up the 18th fairway, believing she was about to make history at Cherry Hills. Instead, she watched in disbelief from 200 yards away as Kim's bunker shot rolled across the green and disappeared into the cup.

"It was like, 'I can't believe that actually just happened,'" Pressel said.

Sorenstam wondered what hit her, too.

She looked so unstoppable winning the first two majors of the year but was never a factor at Cherry Hills. Sorenstam even tried to emulate Arnold Palmer's final-round charge in 1960 to win the U.S. Open by trying to drive the first green. Instead, she clipped a tree and went into a creek, making bogey on her way to a 77.

Sorenstam finished over par in a 72-hole event for the first time in four years, ending up at 12-over 296.

"Just didn't happen," she said.

Still, the biggest surprise was Kim.

In two years on the LPGA Tour, she had made only 10 cuts in 34 starts and only once had finished in the top 10. Her career earnings were a meager $79,832.

One shot that ranks among the most dramatic finishes in a major changed everything. Kim, who closed with a 1-over 72, finished at 287 and earned $560,000, the biggest payoff in women's golf.

It was reminiscent of Bob Tway sinking a bunker shot on the 72nd hole to win the 1986 PGA Championship.

"I heard about the name," Kim said. "He's an old guy, right?"

Pressel went for broke on her birdie chip to force a playoff, sent it 20 feet by and made bogey for a 75 to tie for second with 19-year-old amateur Brittany Lang, who missed an eight-foot par putt on the 18th hole for a 71.

The other teens melted on a difficult day at Cherry Hills, where Lorie Kane (69) was the only player to break par and the average score was 76.1.

Michelle Wie, the 15-year-old from Hawaii coming off a runner-up finish in the last major, double-bogeyed the first hole on her way to an 82. Eighteen-year-old Paula Creamer had two double bogeys and a triple bogey for a 79.

Wie was still a factor.

She, too, hit into the bunker on the final hole, and her shot gave Kim a good idea what to expect. She needed all the help she could get, coming into the tournament ranked 141st in sand saves on the LPGA Tour.

"I saw her landing and her roll, so the green is not that fast, not that hard," Kim said. "I have confidence to make close to the pin. Maybe get close, maybe really close. It goes in!"

The U.S. Women's Open champion went by her given name, Ju-Yun Kim, as a rookie last year, but decided to use Birdie this season to stand out from the other five players with Kim as a surname on the LPGA Tour.

"I wanted something different, something simple and easy," she said at the start of the season. "Birdie is good in golf, and it's good for me."

It was better than she ever imagined on a sun-baked afternoon at Cherry Hills, which ultimately came down to a battle for survival. This was the first time the Women's Open champion was over par since 1998 at Blackwolf Run, when Se Ri Pak won in a playoff after finishing at 6-over.

Palmer made Cherry Hills famous in the 1960 U.S. Open for his charge from seven shots behind. This was more of a retreat, a battle to see who could survive.

Lorena Ochoa of Mexico had cause to feel even worse than Pressel.

She was 3-under for the round and 3-over for the tournament -- a likely winning score -- until the pressure got the best of her and she chunked her tee shot into the water on the 18th, making a quadruple-bogey 8 to finish four shots behind.

"I fought so hard for 71 holes and just the last one, you know," Ochoa said as tears welled in her eyes. "I feel really sad. That's the way golf is."

Sorenstam had played conservatively all week but drew cheers when she pulled driver from the bag on the 346-yard opening hole, the same one Palmer drove in the 1960 U.S. Open when he charged from seven shots behind.

Palmer hit the green and made birdie. Sorenstam clipped a tree and went into a hazard for a bogey.

"My game plan today was to be a little bit more aggressive," she said. "It totally backfired."

It was a major bummer for Wie, who was coming off a runner-up finish in the LPGA Championship and was tied for lead going into the final round. The gallery lined both sides of the first fairway, eager to see if the 15-year-old could make headlines around the world.

What they saw was someone who played every bit her age.

She took double bogey on the opening hole, hitting into the rough and laying up in more rough. She missed putts inside three feet on consecutive holes. And trying to hammer a shot out of the thick grass, the ball dribbled only 25 feet. Wie went out in 42 and was never a factor the rest of the day.

"I have to give my ball a GPS because it was lost," she said.

The victory gives Kim a five-year exemption on the LPGA Tour and three of the majors; she gets to return to the U.S. Women's Open for the next 10 years.

Kim let out a "Whoop!" when told of her prize money, but all she cared about was a big silver trophy she never thought she could win.

BostonHerald.com - International News: Taiwanese stock up on American beef as ``Mad Cow'' ban takes effect

BostonHerald.com - International News: Taiwanese stock up on American beef as ``Mad Cow'' ban takes effect

Home > News & Opinion > International News

Taiwanese stock up on American beef as ``Mad Cow'' ban takes effect
By Associated Press
Sunday, June 26, 2005 - Updated: 11:30 AM EST

TAIPEI, Taiwan - After the U.S. confirmed its second mad cow case, Taiwan's authorities swiftly banned beef imports. But consumers didn't seem as worried: Scores flocked to supermarkets, wholesale outlets and butcher shops Sunday, stocking up on sale-priced cuts before they disappear.
On Saturday Premier Frank Hsieh ordered an immediate ban on all U.S. beef imports after tests confirmed that an American animal was infected with mad cow disease.
The Taiwanese action came two months after the island of 23 million people removed an earlier ban imposed in February 2004, following the discovery of the disease in a Washington state heifer - and stores here had just started carrying and advertising American beef.


On Sunday many Taiwanese supermarkets and other food outlets had already removed U.S. beef from their shelves, though Hsieh's action did not compel them to do so.
In one downtown Taipei store, American supplies had been replaced by meat from Australia - bearing special labels attesting to their authenticity - even though promotional signs touting the virtues of the U.S. beef had not yet been taken down.
In other stores, remaining supplies of American meat were being offered at reduced prices, drawing scores of enthusiastic shoppers.
One woman, who did not identify herself, said she was not put off by the government ban on importing beef from the U.S. ``I see lots of other people buying it so I think there's no reason I shouldn't buy it myself,'' she said.
Another man said it would be difficult to break the habit of buying American beef.
``We really like to eat it, and buy quite a bit,'' he said.
In the year before the February 2004 ban on American beef, Taiwan imported more than $76 million worth of beef, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
That amounts to about 5 percent of the biggest foreign market for U.S. beef, Japan, which still has not resumed beef imports. Japan imported more than $1.5 billion in U.S. beef in 2003, according to the department.

Rumsfeld: Iraq effort may take 12 years - 06/27/05

Rumsfeld: Iraq effort may take 12 years - 06/27/05Rumsfeld: Iraq effort may take 12 years

Insurgents may not be defeated quickly, he warns, as 47 people are killed in rebel attacks, suicide bombing.

By Sindbad Ahmed / Associated Press

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MOSUL, Iraq -- Police guarding a hospital were taking an afternoon nap, and many had stripped down to their underwear. A man strapped with explosives sneaked in and blew himself up -- one of three suicide bombings Sunday in Mosul as militants targeted this Tigris River city.

In all, 47 people died across Iraq, including a U.S. soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, six Iraqi soldiers gunned down north of the capital, and the five policemen killed at the Mosul hospital.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned that defeating the insurgents may take as long as 12 years and Iraq's own security forces will have to finish the job. He also acknowledged American officials have met with insurgents.

The blast at Mosul's Jumhouri Teaching Hospital blew a hole in the building and smoke began pouring out, followed by flames. An Associated Press reporter was outside when the explosion occurred.

Inside, the five dead officers were sprawled out, their bodies and the walls peppered with ball bearings. Eight more officers and four civilians were wounded

"I thought it was a mortar attack. I rushed to help and evacuate the dead. I picked up two legs and two hands. It seems they belonged to the bomber because we did not find a head or the rest of his body," Ahmed Mohammed al-Hadidi, a medic, said a few minutes after the explosion.

Sunday's attacks in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, began when a suicide bomber with explosives hidden beneath watermelons in a pickup truck slammed into a two-story police station near a market. U.S. Army Capt. Mark Walter said 10 policemen and two civilians were killed, while eight others were wounded.

Less than two hours later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the parking lot of an Iraqi army base on Mosul's outskirts, killing 16 people and wounding seven, Walter said. Most victims were civilian workers. Of the wounded, one lost a leg and another was paralyzed from the waist down, the military said.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attacks in Mosul -- the country's third-largest city. The claim, made on an Internet site used by militants, could not be verified.

The relentless violence has killed at least 1,323 people since April 28, when Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his Shiite-dominated government.

Mosul is a religious and ethnic mosaic that some see as a microcosm of Iraq. It has a diverse population, including significant Kurdish and Christian minorities who live in mixed neighborhoods.

Some of Iraq's most feared terror groups -- including the Ansar al-Sunnah Army and al-Qaida in Iraq -- operate in the city.

Last November, gunmen stormed police stations, bridges and political offices, overwhelming police forces who, in many places, failed to even put up a fight. Some officers also allegedly cooperated with insurgents. Only about 1,000 of the city's 5,000 policemen returned to work, forcing the government to recruit new officers.

The U.S. military praised the Iraqi forces for their efforts in the face of Sunday's attacks.

"This was the third suicide attack of the day, two of which have targeted Iraqi police," the military said of the hospital attack. "However, policemen in Mosul have continued to man their posts."

Rumsfeld said he is bracing for even more violence.

"We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years," Rumsfeld told "Fox News Sunday."

The defense secretary also acknowledged meetings between U.S. officials and insurgents in Iraq after a British newspaper reported that two such meetings took place recently at a villa north of Baghdad.

Insurgent commanders "apparently came face to face" with four American officials during meetings on June 3 and June 13 at a villa near Balad, about 25 miles north of Baghdad, The Sunday Times reported.

When asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" about the report of the two meetings, Rumsfeld said, "Oh, I would doubt it. I think there have probably been many more than that."

He insisted the talks did not involve negotiations with Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but were rather facilitating efforts by the Shiite-led government to reach out to minority Sunni Arabs, who are believed to be the driving force behind the insurgency.

The soldier was killed when a roadside bomb struck a U.S. convoy Sunday in the capital, said Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams, a spokesman for Task Force Baghdad.

The U.S. military on Sunday also confirmed the deaths of two more Marines in Thursday's ambush on a convoy carrying female U.S. troops in Fallujah, bringing the number killed to at least four Marines. A Marine and a sailor were still missing and presumed dead, the military said. At least two of the dead were women, and 11 of the 13 wounded troops were female.

Also Sunday, six Iraqi soldiers were gunned down outside their base in Sadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad.

In other developments:

--A mortar round exploded at a house in Baghdad, killing a woman and two children. One child was wounded.

--Gunmen killed police Col. Riyad Abdul Karim, an assistant district police director of emergency services, in Baghdad. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility.

--A female journalist working for Iraqiyah TV was shot to death in Baghdad.

--Four mortar rounds hit a neighborhood in Ramadi, killing one civilian and wounding two others.

--Gunmen killed the owner of a pharmacy in western Iraq, hospital officials said.

BBC NEWS | Africa | South Africa braced for strikes

BBC NEWS | Africa | South Africa braced for strikes South Africa braced for strikes
By Nick Miles
BBC News, Johannesburg

South Africa's largest trade union group says it expects hundreds of thousands of people to strike on Monday in protest at job losses.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, or Cosatu, has called the nationwide strike because it says unemployment is unacceptably high.

It is set to be the most concerted union action for more than 15 years, involving up to 500,000 members.

Unions say it is just the first in a series that will last until February.

They say they do not want a strike, but the government has ignored them and left them no other option.

Official figures suggest a quarter of all South Africans are unemployed.

Some analysts put the figure at up to 40%.

The unions blame that on the government's policy of reducing tariffs on foreign goods, particularly on clothes from China.

The African National Congress (ANC) is still in a formal alliance with the unions and the Communist Party, but rifts have been appearing for several years.

Monday's strike could force them further apart.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

BBC NEWS | Europe | Socialists win Bulgaria election

BBC NEWS | Europe | Socialists win Bulgaria election BBC NEWS
Socialists win Bulgaria election
The opposition Socialist Party has won most votes in Bulgaria's elections - but not enough to form a government.

The governing Liberal Party of former King Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha came second - followed by a party mainly representing the Turkish minority.

The Socialists need both runners-up to form a stable cabinet, says the BBC's Nick Thorpe in the capital, Sofia.

All the main parties have distanced themselves from the radical nationalist grouping - Attack - that came fourth.

Any new government faces negotiations over hopes for EU membership in 2007.

Unity government?

With almost all of the vote counted, the Socialists polled 31% of the vote, with the Liberals trailing on 20%.

The Movement for Freedom and Rights - largely representing ethnic Turks - took more than 11%, followed by the new radical Attack with 8%.

I am a candidate for prime minister and I am ready to take that responsibility
Sergei Stanishev
Socialist Party leader

The negotiations which begin now will test relations within the parties as much as they test relations between them, our correspondent in Sofia says.

"We stand here as the winners of the most votes. I have long said that I am a candidate for prime minister and I am ready to take that responsibility," said the Socialist leader, Sergei Stanishev, after the party's win became clear.

If the Socialists fail to get both the outgoing Movement for Simeon II and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, an alternative might be a centre-right government, says our correspondent.

This would include those two as well as three smaller centre-right formations.

In policy terms, whoever forms the next government will have little room for manoeuvre, our correspondent says.

Bulgaria has to meet strict criteria to be able to join the European Union in 18 months' time.

All the parties in the new parliament, with the exception of Attack, support those endeavours, says our correspondent.

Prizes

Turnout was reportedly low, despite attempts to encourage people to vote - including a lottery.

Open to those casting ballots, this offered prizes include a car, TVs, DVD players and mobile phones.

The elections were the sixth since the fall of communism and return of democracy in 1990.

The Liberal government campaigned on Bulgaria's strong economy, while the Socialists promised to improve social welfare.

Ex-F.B.I. Chief Says He Felt Betrayal at Deep Throat's Unmasking - New York Times

Ex-F.B.I. Chief Says He Felt Betrayal at Deep Throat's Unmasking - New York TimesJune 26, 2005
Ex-F.B.I. Chief Says He Felt Betrayal at Deep Throat's Unmasking
By DAVID JOHNSTON

WASHINGTON, June 26 - L. Patrick Gray, the acting director of the F.B.I. at the time of the Watergate break-in, ended more than three decades of silence about his role in the scandal, saying in a television interview broadcast Sunday that he felt shock and betrayal by the disclosure that his former deputy, W. Mark Felt, was Deep Throat.

In an interview on the ABC News program "This Week," Mr. Gray said that he felt "like I was hit with a tremendous sledgehammer" by Mr. Felt's recent disclosure that he was the secret source for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters who broke important Watergate news relying on Mr. Felt's information.

Mr. Gray, 88, resigned from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in disgrace in 1973. In the ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos, he spoke bitterly of Mr. Felt, saying that "he told me time and again he was not Deep Throat."

If he could, Mr. Gray said, he would say to Mr. Felt: "Mark, why? Why didn't you come to me? Why didn't we work it out together?" Mr. Gray said he now realized that he failed to halt news leaks from the bureau during Watergate because Mr. Felt was in charge of stopping them.

"I think he fooled me, if you want to put it that way, Mr. Stephanopoulos, by being the perfect example of the F.B.I. agent that he was," Mr. Gray said, according to a transcript of the interview. "He did his job well, he did it thoroughly, and I trusted him all along, and I was, I can't begin to tell you how deep was my shock and my grief when I found that it was Mark Felt."

Mr. Gray's memories of events seemed sharp and his words were punctuated by flashes of anger as he defended his actions and insisted that he had been badly misled not only by Mr. Felt but also by President Nixon and his aides.

In his 1979 book, "The F.B.I. Pyramid From the Inside," Mr. Felt wrote contemptuously of Mr. Gray as an absentee director who compromised the bureau's independence by mishandling the break-in inquiry. Of his former subordinate, Mr. Gray said in the ABC interview, "He was a smooth operator, and I can't understand how Mark could have let himself do to me what he did when I trusted him so implicitly."

Mr. Gray has most often been depicted in accounts of the Watergate period as a naïve and politically pliant lawyer from Connecticut who was appointed by Nixon to head the F.B.I. on a temporary basis after the death of J. Edgar Hoover in May 1972. The president and his aides had long feared and mistrusted the bureau.

After the bureau began investigating the break-in, Mr. Gray turned over raw F.B.I. interview reports and lead sheets to John W. Dean, Nixon's counsel, who ran the effort to conceal White House ties to the Watergate burglars. Later, in the fireplace of his Connecticut home, Mr. Gray burned files that he had been given from the White House safe of E. Howard Hunt, whose phone number was found in address books of the Watergate burglars.

In the interview, Mr. Gray defended his actions, although he admitted that he erred during Watergate in temporarily holding up an investigation following the money trail to a Mexican bank when White House aides falsely told him that it might interfere with a continuing C.I.A. operation.

Mr. Gray said he provided internal F.B.I. investigative files to the White House only after he had been cleared to do so by the bureau's general counsel. He said he had been justified in burning the files because their contents were unrelated to Watergate.

One file contained top-secret cables apparently forged by Mr. Hunt that made it appear the administration of President Kennedy had been implicated in the assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam in 1963. A second file contained false letters apparently intended to embarrass Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, if he ran for president.

Mr. Gray said he burned the papers because he was following the instructions of Mr. Dean and John D. Ehrlichman, Nixon's top domestic affairs adviser, never to reveal their contents. "I had an order, direct order from the president's principal adviser, to whom he had previously ordered me to report," Mr. Gray said, saying that he trusted Nixon and his aides.

Mr. Gray recalled his ill-fated confirmation hearings in early 1973, when he was asked how one White House operative had obtained access to information apparently taken directly from F.B.I. files. "And I thought for a long time — I could have perjured myself — and said, 'I don't know,'." Mr. Gray said in the interview.

He remembered telling the committee what until then had been a closely held secret, that he himself had supplied the information to the White House. "Everything went up in the air when everybody found out that Gray was sending F.B.I. files, reports on the investigation to John Dean at the White House, and it was at that point that John Dean exploded over there," Mr. Gray said.

Mr. Gray's disclosure prompted the White House to turn against him and provoked Mr. Ehrlichman to utter his famous phrase that Mr. Gray would be left to "twist slowly in the wind." Mr. Gray's nomination to be made permanent F.B.I. director was withdrawn and in April 1973 he resigned from the bureau.

When Mr. Gray first heard Mr. Ehrlichman's remark on a White House tape, he reacted with anger. "Well, what I thought cannot be repeated on television," he told Mr. Stephanopoulos. "But anger, anger of the fiercest sort, and I could not believe that those guys were as rotten as they were turning out to be."

Victory by Hard-Liner in Iran Could Widen Rift With U.S. - New York Times

Victory by Hard-Liner in Iran Could Widen Rift With U.S. - New York TimesJune 26, 2005
Victory by Hard-Liner in Iran Could Widen Rift With U.S.
By DAVID E. SANGER

WASHINGTON, June 25 - Even before Iranians went to the polls in their presidential election, the Bush administration declared the process rigged, saying that no matter what the outcome, Iran would be truly ruled by men who "spread terror across the world."

Yet almost no one in Washington expected the landslide victory of the conservative mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as Iran's next president. And now, facing a populist who came to age in the student union that took over the American Embassy in 1979, the administration is bracing for a long, hot summer of confrontation with Iran, first over its nuclear programs, then over terrorism, and perhaps over the fueling of the insurgency in Iraq.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has made little secret of his determination that one way or another, Iran is going to become a nuclear nation, though he has been careful to deny that Iran's ultimate goal is to build a weapon, as Washington has charged.

"Nuclear energy is a result of Iranian people's scientific development, and no one can block the way of a nation's scientific development," he said as he emerged from the polls on Friday. "This right of the Iranian people will soon be recognized by those who have so far denied it."

Mr. Bush and his aides have insisted that Iran cannot be trusted with the ingredients for a nuclear weapon, even if they are legally entitled to them as Iran claims under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The United States argues that Iran gave up that right by hiding 17 years of nuclear work from international inspectors. Now, there is an undercurrent among administration officials and outside experts that the outcome of the election might actually make it easier for the administration to press that case.

Earlier in the week, one of Mr. Bush's closest aides said that no matter who won, "we may be looking at a summer of simultaneous crises on opposite sides of the world," one in Iran and one in North Korea.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's win may well bolster the skepticism within the administration that the Europeans can persuade Iran to trade away its ability to produce its own nuclear fuel.

"It will feed the arguments of those in the Bush administration who think the only option is to come down hard because they can expect the Iranians will take a harder line, too," said Kenneth Pollack, a Brookings Institution scholar and author of "The Persian Puzzle" (Random House, 2004). "That may not be a valid argument because it is not clear that the decisions about the nuclear issue are going to be made by Ahmadinejad, any more than they were made by his predecessor," President Mohammad Khatami, he said.

Washington has assumed that the nuclear decisions have been made by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been viewed as unwilling to give up his country's nuclear card, but careful not to drive the Europeans, with whom Iran has growing diplomatic and trade relations, onto the side of Americans arguing for sanctions. Last week, officials at the White House, the State Department and the Treasury said work was under way on new programs to intercept suspected shipments of weapons technology programs clearly aimed at Tehran and Pyongyang.

Whether the election results turns out to be the result of manipulation or a true measure of the Iranian mood, Mr. Ahmadinejad's victory consolidates the power of Tehran's most conservative members, closing the gap between the mullahs and a government that had tried to encourage dialogue with Washington's European allies, and, at least in its early years, to engineer greater social freedom.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's government will very shortly face difficult choices. The three European powers that have taken over the nuclear negotiations - Britain, France and Germany - have set a deadline for next month to make a full offer of financial incentives to Iran. Already the Iranian Foreign Ministry has said it will end its self-imposed moratorium on enriching uranium - one way to produce nuclear fuel for reactors or weapons - but it has made those threats before.

A senior European diplomat involved in the issue said this week that if the moratorium ends, "we have no choice but to end the negotiations." He had hoped to be negotiating with Mr. Ahmadinejad's more moderate opponent, the former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, who said, at least publicly, that he was willing to talk.

Before the election, some European officials thought that they might have ended up with a better than even chance at a compromise, one that might have allowed Iran to keep much of its nuclear infrastructure, but under conditions that made it difficult to impossible to enrich enough fuel to make a weapon.

Apart from the nuclear issue, Iran is a challenge to other parts of Mr. Bush's agenda for the Middle East. American military officials say there is still a flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, some of them from the Iranian border. President Bush's national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, recently argued that "Iran is the No. 1 state sponsor of terror," noting in an interview that "Iran's policy is to get rid of Israel."

Such statements have been part of the administration's gradual hardening on Iran in the past two years. But some who witnessed the election say it may be premature to conclude that Iran, fresh from the election, will revel in taking on its longtime rival.

Ayatollah Khamenei, said Mark J. Gasiorowski, an Iran expert at Louisiana State University, may "want to avoid provoking the U.S."

In an e-mail message from Tehran, he speculated that Iranian hard-liners, having achieved their victory, may want to keep their talks going, though they maybe "less likely than before to reach an agreement on U.S. terms."

The unanswered question is whether Mr. Bush, already tied up in Iraq, and unlikely to get many of his allies to go along with harsh sanctions, will have any choice but to deal with the new, hard-line Iranian government - even if it is one he has already rejected it as illegitimate.

Japan Today - News - Democrats want Bush to fire Rove over 9-11 remarks - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Democrats want Bush to fire Rove over 9-11 remarks - Japan's Leading International News NetworkDemocrats want Bush to fire Rove over 9-11 remarks

Saturday, June 25, 2005 at 07:44 JST
WASHINGTON — Democrats on Friday launched a petition urging President George W Bush to fire his key adviser Karl Rove, whom they accused of politicizing the Sept 11 attacks to divide Americans.

"Karl Rove is abusing the memory of 9-11 in order to score cheap political points and is spreading lies to impugn the values of Democrats who love their country, so it's time for him to go," a Democratic Party official, Anne Lewis, wrote in an email asking supporters to sign the petition.

Rove, a deputy White House chief of staff who crafted President George W Bush's two successful presidential races, drew the ire of Democrats after he accused the left of backing a softer response to the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9-11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9-11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," he told fellow Republicans at a fundraising dinner in New York on Wednesday.

The White House defended Rove, saying he was "talking about different philosophies and different approaches to the war on terrorism."

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry also called for Rove's resignation, accusing him of distorting the truth.

"In the days after 9-11, there were no Democrats, no Republicans. We were all Americans, standing together," the senator said. "President Bush acknowledged that unity in a clear and compelling way at the time." (Wire reports)

US echoes Australian warning against travel to Malaysia. 25/06/2005. ABC News Online

US echoes Australian warning against travel to Malaysia. 25/06/2005. ABC News OnlineUS echoes Australian warning against travel to Malaysia

The United States backed a warning from Australia advising against travelling to Malaysia's Borneo coast, saying it was also concerned that terrorists planned to kidnap foreigners there.

The Malaysian Government criticised Wednesday's Australian travel warning on the east coast of Sabah state, saying that tourist destinations there are safe and that Canberra had failed to consult Malaysia over the announcement.

But the US embassy here noted that several kidnappings and piracy incidents had already occurred in the area this year, perpetrated by criminals and the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf group.

"There are indications of continued planning of kidnappings, including of foreigners, in eastern Sabah's coastal areas and offshore islands," it said in a statement which reiterated an ongoing US State Department warning.

"Emergency assistance in the area may not always be available. For this reason, American citizens should defer all non-essential travel," it said.

Australia said in its travel warning dated June 22 that its citizens should avoid all travel to coastal resorts, islands and dive sites off the east coast of Sabah on Borneo island.

"We have received credible reports that terrorists are planning kidnapping attacks targeting resorts frequented by foreigners," it said.

The alert also urged Australians to exercise a high degree of caution throughout Malaysia as "the risk of terrorist attack against Western interests in Malaysia remains".

In response, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Malaysia viewed any information on possible terrorist attacks seriously but that the Australian authorities failed to consult with Malaysia over the latest warning.

Deputy Defence Minister Zainal Abidin Zin also played down the advisory, saying the Borneo coast was safe for tourists to visit.

Sabah's Sipadan island came under the international news spotlight in 2000 when 21 people including 12 foreigners were abducted by Abu Sayyaf rebels.

The Abu Sayyaf, which is believed to have ties to the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah terrorist group responsible for deadly bombings in Indonesia, released the captives after large ransoms were reportedly paid.

- AFP

BBC NEWS | Business | China says no to yuan revaluation

BBC NEWS | Business | China says no to yuan revaluation China says no to yuan revaluation
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC News, Beijing

China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has said there is no hurry to revalue the country's currency, the yuan.

Speaking to a meeting of European and Asian finance ministers in China on Sunday, Mr Wen said a stable yuan is in the interests of China and the world.

He told European finance chiefs a stable yuan helps world financial stability and the growth of trade.

But the US thinks otherwise, and for months Washington has pressed China to increase the value of its currency.

Once again, China's government is making it clear it will not be pushed into revaluing its currency.

The US says the current value of about 8.3 to the US dollar is artificially low.

That in turn makes Chinese goods artificially cheap and distorts world trade patterns, Washington says.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this argument, China appears to be sticking to its position.

Any revaluation of the yuan will be done gradually and when China decides, not when Washington or anyone else demands it.
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