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Saturday, July 09, 2005

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | N Korea to rejoin nuclear talks

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | N Korea to rejoin nuclear talks N Korea to rejoin nuclear talks
North Korea says it has agreed to return to talks about its nuclear weapons programme later this month.

The secretive communist state's announcement came as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in the Chinese capital, Beijing, for talks.

She has been looking to revive the six-nation talks - involving the US, the two Koreas, Russia, China and Japan - which broke down last year.

China is one of North Korea's few allies in the region.

The BBC's Brenda Marshall says North Korea's decision is not entirely unexpected.

It has consistently blamed what it calls the US hostile attitude towards it for the talks impasse but what seems to have happened now is that North Korea's sensitivities have been mollified, our correspondent says.

In the view of Pyongyang, Washington has clarified that it recognises the North as a sovereign state, will not invade it and will hold bilateral talks within the framework of the six-party talks.

Joint decision

North Korean state news agency KCNA said Pyongyang had decided to reopen the talks after its Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kim Kye Gwan, had talks with US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill in Beijing on Saturday.

"Both sides agreed to open the fourth round of the six-party talks in the week which begins on 25 July 2005," KCNA reported.

A US official accompanying Ms Rice confirmed for reporters that the talks would resume in "the week of 25 July".

North Korea pulled out of the talks 13 months ago, and has said it is stockpiling atomic weapons to defend itself from the US.

Ms Rice is due to visit Thailand, Japan and South Korea after leaving China.

Her trip comes just three months after a similar mission to the region.

Sanctions threat

The six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear capability were held in 2003 and 2004, but were broken off amid North Korean complaints about "aggressive" US policy.

The US wants North Korea to dismantle nuclear reactors and stop producing atomic weapons - as well as providing verifiable proof of doing so.

South Korea, which has a continuing dialogue with Pyongyang, had also been seeking to coax its neighbour back to the negotiating table.

On her previous visit to the region, in March, Ms Rice hinted that North Korea could face sanctions if it failed to compromise on the nuclear issue.

But that threat has not been repeated, and the US has moderated its tone towards the communist state, stressing it does not intend to attack.


China CRIENGLISH China to Continue Family Planning Policy
2005-7-9 21:40:46
China will keep implementing its Family Planning Policy and control the birth rate. Rural families who abide to the policy will get cash rewards.

Chinese State Councillor Hua Jianmin says China will keep implementing its Family Planning Policy and control the birth rate.

Hua Jianmin made the remarks at a conference Friday in Beijing. He stressed the Chinese government will attach more financial aid for the implementation of family planning policy. The new policy will provide cash rewards to rural families who abide to the policy, adding a "reward" element to the purely "punitive" system. He said China will also keep a keen eye on the population structure and people’s education.

Under the new family planning policy, rural couples with only one child or two daughters will be eligible for a cash reward of about 600 yuan or 72 US dollars each year when they turn 60 years old. This payment will continue for the rest of their lives.

China's family planning policy, which was launched in the late 1970s, used to impose heavy fines on those who violated it. It is credited with reducing the country's population by an estimated 300 million.

Japan Today - News - Insurgents attack oil refinery in Iraq - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Insurgents attack oil refinery in Iraq - Japan's Leading International News Networkjapantoday > world
Insurgents attack oil refinery in Iraq

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Sunday, July 10, 2005 at 06:52 JST
BAGHDAD — Insurgents on Saturday fired mortars at Baghdad's main oil refinery in a renewed assault on key infrastructure as Egyptian diplomats prepared to leave following the murder of Cairo's kidnapped top envoy.

A huge fire broke out at the Dura oil refinery on the outskirts of the capital after it was hit by two mortar rounds, oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said.

Japan Today - News - Rice arrives in China - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Rice arrives in China - Japan's Leading International News Networkjapantoday > asia
Rice arrives in China

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Sunday, July 10, 2005 at 06:37 JST
BEIJING — U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Beijing on Saturday evening on the first leg of her Asia tour that will also take her to Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

Rice is to meet with Chinese leaders Sunday for talks that are expected to cover ways to bring North Korea back to the stalled six-way talks on its nuclear weapons. (Kyodo News)

BBC NEWS | UK | Tube bombs 'almost simultaneous'

BBC NEWS | UK | Tube bombs 'almost simultaneous' Tube bombs 'almost simultaneous'
The three bombs on London underground trains "exploded almost simultaneously", say police.

At a press conference, Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick said the attacks took place within 50 seconds of each other.

Technical data from London Underground disproved the earlier wider range of timings between explosions.

The police also warned that the recovery of victims could continue through the night.

There is still no certainty about the number of people whose bodies remain trapped in wrecked train carriages below King's Cross, say the police.

This would be a "slow, methodical, meticulous process" in very difficult circumstances, said Deputy Chief Constable Andy Trotter.


There have been 49 confirmed fatalities in the bomb attacks on tube trains and a bus - and concerns remain for a further 25 missing people.

So far no victims have been formally identified - and police warn that the process, due to begin on Saturday, could take weeks to complete.

The police say that timings show that the explosions took place at 8.50am - and that the synchronisation could suggest that bombs used in the attack were triggered using timing devices.

High-explosives were used in the attacks and were not home-made, say the police.

Mr Paddick denied reports that investigators were looking "for any specific individual".

Prime Minister Tony Blair warned that security and surveillance will not be enough to stop such attacks - and that there has to be an ideological struggle in which terrorism is "pulled up by the roots".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Blair commended the "inner resilience" of Londoners - as the capital's transport system began to return to a close-to-normal service. There are now services running on sections of all lines on the London Underground.

A book of condolence has been opened - which was signed by Prince William in Auckland, New Zealand.

Terrorism experts have been arriving from Spain to support the inquiry in London, bringing expertise from the investigation into the train bomb attacks on Madrid.

Forensic search

A claim for the attacks has been made in the name of al-Qaeda - by a group calling itself the Abu Hafs al-Masri brigade.

I saw three bodies on the track - I couldn't look, it was so horrific
Scott Wenbourne

But the BBC's security correspondent Gordon Corera has urged caution over the credibility of the claim.

Forensic teams working in Tube tunnels and at the other scenes of the blasts are taking swabs to try to determine the type of explosives used.

The roof of the number 30 bus, which was ripped off in the blast at Tavistock Square, has been removed from the scene for forensic examination.

Police are also involved in one of the UK's biggest searches of CCTV footage to see if there are any clues as to the identity of the bombers.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said there were a number of key questions which investigators were analysing.

"One of the most important is were the bombers home-grown British terrorists or was this a hit team that came in from abroad?" he said.

One possibility being investigated was that the bomb maker was an expert who came and instructed the bombers.

Another area was to see if they were "linked directly" to what was left of the core of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan or acting alone.

Search for missing

Anxious family and friends are continuing their search for loved ones who have not been heard from since the bombings.

Anti-terrorist hotline: 0800 789 321
Missing relatives: 0870 156 6344

The emergency call centre in London has taken more than 120,000 calls from the public.

And the police say they are to open a reception centre in central London for people looking for friends and family not seen since the explosions.

Those looking for missing people have been contacting hospitals, as well as taking photos and posters to the four blast sites.

Scotland Yard confirmed seven people died in the Liverpool Street explosion, another seven at Edgware Road, a further 13 in the Tavistock Square bus blast and at least 21 at the King's Cross blast. A 49th person died in hospital later.

Some 700 people were hurt, about 69 are being treated in hospital and 15 remain in a critical condition.

Blasts occurred:
Between Aldgate and Liverpool Street tube stations
Between King's Cross and Russell Square tube stations
At Edgware Road tube station
On bus at Tavistock Square

Friday, July 08, 2005

BBC NEWS | UK | London bombs killed 'at least 50'

BBC NEWS | UK | London bombs killed 'at least 50' London bombs killed 'at least 50'
The final death toll for the London bombs will be at least 50, the head of the Metropolitan Police says.

Sir Ian Blair said there were a number of bodies still in the Tube train at Russell Square but that the final figure was unlikely to top 100.

Sir Ian said the police had an "implacable resolve" to track down those responsible for the blasts.

The blasts on three Tubes and a bus left 700 hurt, with 100 held overnight in hospital and 22 serious or critical.

A massive intelligence investigation is under way to find those responsible, with Sir Ian saying it was "blindingly obvious" that a terrorist cell was operating in Britain.

Anti-terrorist branch head Andy Hayman said each device had less than 10 lbs (4.5kg) of high explosive in it and could be carried in a rucksack.

I saw three bodies on the track - I couldn't look, it was so horrific
Scott Wenbourne

In the Tube trains these devices were on the floor. In the bus, the device may have been on the seat or the floor.

There has been much media speculation that the attack on a bus in Woburn Place - that claimed at least two lives - had been the work of a suicide bomber.

Newspapers quoted an eyewitness who got off the bus moments before the blast who saw an agitated man in his mid-20s fiddling with his bag.

Richard Jones, 61, an IT consultant, told the Daily Mail: "This chap started dipping down into his bag and getting back up. He did it about a dozen times in two or three minutes and looked extremely agitated."

Mobile plan

Sir Ian said there was "absolutely nothing to suggest this was a suicide bomb".

"There is nothing to rule it out. It may have been that or it may have been a bomb left on a seat."

The police commissioner said officers had considered the suspension of London's mobile network, which is within their power, but had ruled it out.

Emergency services are encountering difficulties recovering bodies from the site of the bus blast and also in the Tube train between King's Cross and Russell Square.

Assistant Commissioner Hayman said: "It's yet to be the case for us to get near the carriage. There is a risk of the tunnel being unsafe. I ask everyone's patience as we progress this matter.

"It would be wholly unwise and could inhibit a successful prosecution if we rushed this stage."

Royal visits

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said looking for potential bombers was like searching for "needles in haystacks".

The Queen and Prince Charles are visiting casualties while Tony Blair prepares for the G8 summit's last day.

There is no such thing as Global Security
Patricia Vanderveer (Robinson), Liverpool, UK

Transport operators ran a near-normal service on the Tube on most lines, but there were fewer commuters than usual.

Mr Clarke said a claim on the website of a previously unknown group, the Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe, saying it was behind the blast, was being taken seriously.

Scotland Yard have confirmed seven people died in the Liverpool Street explosion and another seven were killed at Edgware Road. At least 21 lost their lives at the King's Cross blast.

Police have indicated there will be a more visible presence of officers in the capital on Friday.

The home secretary said the failure to predict Thursday's bombs should not obscure past successes.

But he admitted: "It certainly was a failure of intelligence in the sense that we didn't know this was coming.

"But by definition when you're looking for needles in haystacks you can miss the needles and the tragedy of yesterday is that we did miss the needles."

And the home secretary defended the recent downgrading of the terrorism threat from severe general to substantial.

Anyone worried about relatives or friends they have not heard from is advised to contact a special police hotline on 0870 156 6344 .

Blasts occurred:
Between Aldgate and Liverpool Street tube stations
Between King's Cross and Russell Square tube stations
At Edgware Road tube station
On bus at Tavistock Square

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Daily Kos: Rehnquist tomorrow?

Daily Kos: Rehnquist tomorrow?Rehnquist tomorrow?
by kos
Thu Jul 7th, 2005 at 14:59:24 PDT

The big DC rumor is that Rehnquist will announce his retirement tomorrow between 10-11 a.m. ET.

If that happens, would Bush split the difference -- Gonzales and some winger to pacify the Dobson brigades?

After Coordinated Bombs, London Is Stunned, Bloodied and Stoic - New York Times

After Coordinated Bombs, London Is Stunned, Bloodied and Stoic - New York TimesJuly 7, 2005
After Coordinated Bombs, London Is Stunned, Bloodied and Stoic

LONDON, July 7 - Bomb explosions tore through three London subway trains and a red double-decker bus in a deadly terror attack today, killing at least 37 people in coordinated rush hour carnage that left the city stunned, bloodied but stoic.

Only one day after the British capital erupted in joy at winning the 2012 Olympic competition over such cities as Paris and New York, commuters packed in the city's subways - the Tube - were plunged into the city's perennial nightmare of a subterranean bloodbath. The city center was paralyzed. Police in yellow slickers sealed off streets. Bus services halted and the entire subway network closed down as rescue workers and paramedics went deep below ground to look for the dead and wounded.

Above ground, an explosion tore open the roof of a No. 30 double-decker bus with such force that it threw debris 10 feet into the air. The blast was so powerful that, hours later, the police could not estimate the number of dead. Neither, said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick, was it clear whether the explosions were suicide bombings.

The attack - deadlier than the 1998 Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland that claimed 29 lives - coincided with the first full day of deliberations among the leaders of the world's most industrialized countries far to the north at the Gleneagles golf estate in Scotland. The tactics in the bombings - a coordinated strike against rush-hour transport systems - bore a close resemblance to the attack last year in Madrid that claimed 191 lives.

A group describing itself as affiliated with Al Qaeda took responsibility for the attack on an Arabic-language Web site but British police said they were unable to confirm the authenticity of the claim. The group called itself the Secret Al Qaeda Jihad Organization in Europe and said the attacks were to avenge British involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had been playing host to the summit and seemed high on a wave of successes capped by the Olympic decision, cut short his stay in Scotland, leaving the seven other Group of 8 leaders - including President Bush - as he flew back to head emergency ministerial meetings here.

"It is reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London," a shaken Mr. Blair told reporters before he left Gleneagles, speaking after several hours in which the authorities had spoken only of a power-surge on the subway lines and shied from blaming the attacks on terrorism.

"Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack or a series of terrorist attacks, it is clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G-8," he said. He added that it was "particularly barbaric" that the attacks coincided with a gathering designed to combat African poverty and global warming.

"The terrorists will not succeed," he said. "Today's bombings will not weaken in any way our resolve to uphold the most deeply held principles of our societies and to defeat those who would impose their fanaticism and extremism on all of us. We shall prevail and they shall not."

In a recorded message later from his office at 10 Downing Street to the nation broadcast after he returned to London, a somber Mr. Blair declared: "This is a very sad day for the British people. But we will hold true to the British way of life.

"The purpose of terrorism is just that - to terrorize people and we will not be terrorized."

He promised "the most intense police and security service action to make sure that we bring those responsible to justice." He praised "the stoicism and resilience of the people of London."

British officials have been forecasting a major terror strike on London since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York and Washington. Since Britain sided with the United States in the war in Iraq, this land has seen itself as a potential target.

Immediately after the attacks, authorities in the United States and Europe increased security precautions on mass transit systems. In Gleneagles, President Bush drew the comparison between the aims of the G-8 summit and the bombers.

"On the one hand you have people working to alleviate poverty and rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS and ways to have a clean environment and, on the other hand, you have people working to kill people," he said.

"The contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill, those who've got such evil in their hearts that they will take the lives of innocent folks," Mr. Bush said. "The war on terror goes on."

In Singapore, Giselle Davies, a spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee said in an interview that London 2012 officials had told the I.O.C. that authorities were not making any link between the bombings and the awarding of the 2012 Games to London. She also said that the I.O.C. president, Dr. Jacques Rogge, had spoken to Mr. Blair.

"From what we understand and everything that we know about it, this is not at all a bit related," Ms. Davies said. "There is no link and it is not for us to speculate further."

She added that the I.O.C. "has the full confidence in London and a secure Games in seven years time."

The bombings began on what seemed a normal, busy day in the rush-hour.

According to a police chronology, the first came at Liverpool Street Station at 8:51 a.m. (3:51 Eastern time) when an explosion tore through a subway train 100 yards into the tunnel. Seven people died.

The second was at 8:56 a.m. at King's Cross station, a hub that, like Liverpool Street, links the subway to overland trains bound for the north-east. The death toll was 21 people, the police said.

Twenty-one minutes later, at 9:17 a.m., a third blast ripped through a train coming into the Edgware Road underground station, again 100 yards away from the platform inside the tunnel. Five died there.

And 30 minutes later, at 9:47 a.m., the upper deck of a bus was bombed at the junction of Upper Woburn Place and Tavistock Square. "We estimate many casualties," the police said.

Tony Tindall, an Australian steel erector who has lived and worked in London for five years, heard the explosion on the bus and said: "The scene was just carnage. There was blood and guts everywhere."

In a remarkable escape, Jasmine Gardner, 22 from Kent who works in television distribution, was about to board the No. 30 bus in Tavistock Square, having been forced off the subway by the earlier explosions.

"I was trying to get on the bus," she said. "It was moving slowly though heavy traffic. The bus had stopped and let off most of its passengers. There were 15 to 20 people on board the number 30 bus.

"One minute the bus was there, the next minute it seemed to dissolve into millions of pieces. I was showered with bits of metal and bits of the bus. I was shielding myself with my umbrella and it all landed on my umbrella. I completely broke down. I was stuck to the spot. I turned away because I couldn't face to look at it. Someone had to tell me to run away as fast as I could. It was horrific."

In total, the police said, more than 300 people were wounded, ferried to hospitals swathed in silvery space blankets, their faces blackened with soot. The police said seriously injured people had lost limbs and were badly burned.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks police have been rehearsing emergency procedures and seemed to be following pre-arranged measures, urging people to stay where they were, tune into the television, radio or Web site and avoid central London.

By evening some parts of the city were eerily calm, the usually thronged streets around some railroad stations cordoned off and empty, while thousands of people packed the sidewalks, seeking ways home.

Some Londoners took the bombings in stride, citing their long experience of attacks by the Irish Republican Army - but with the key distinction that the I.R.A. had often issued warnings of when it would strike, and has observed a form of truce for more than eight years.

"We've seen all this before in a way," said Sgt. John Burnett, a police officer patrolling under the tall chestnut trees near the site of the bus attack. "We've been fighting the I.R.A. for years in London. So bombs are nothing new. But the difference is that I.R.A. provided some warning for their attacks. It seems the hallmark of these attacks is we get no warning, whatsoever. It was a matter of when, not if."

London's subway system, the world's oldest, transports three million people each day. Officials estimated that about 500 trains were in use at the time of the explosions, with some trains carrying as many as 900 people.

The blast spread chaos with police cars, ambulances and fire engines speeding across the city.

Tourists lined the gates of Hyde Park, queuing to ask police officers how to reach the airport or other popular sites. Ten-minute tube rides became 45-minute walks. A woman eight months pregnant was told her trip home would take two hours.

Around 11 a.m. along Edgware Road, pedestrians lined the police barriers, each seeking directions on how to get around the cordoned off areas.

Yusuf Pandor, 40, of North West London, was looking to return to his car on the other side of the barriers. A little more than an hour earlier, Mr. Pandor was one of many Samaritans helping pull bombing victims into the nearby Hilton Metropol.

"They were shaken, bleeding," Mr. Pandor said. "One woman was badly injured burned on her face. She had it covered. People were just shocked."

Loyita Worley, who works for a city law firm, told the BBC that she was in the subway when an explosion took place in the next carriage, while it was in a tunnel.

Ms. Worley, 49, said: "All the lights went out and the train came to an immediate halt. There was smoke everywhere and everyone was coughing and choking, but remained calm. We couldn't open the doors."

In his broadcast, Mr. Blair sought to prevent any backlash against British or foreign Muslims, noting that while terrorists said they had acted in the name of Islam, most Muslims in Britain and around the world were "decent law-abiding people who deplore these acts of terrorism as much as we do."

The blast spread worries across Europe, particularly in those lands that are seen as allies of the United States - Spain until last year, Italy and others.

"This should be a wake up call for us all, since England has the best anti-terrorism tradition in Europe," said Frencesco Sidoti, an expert in security at the University of L'Aquila.

"We are unprepared, This has nothing to do with the old-style domestic terrorism that Europe is used to," he said referring to scattered acts of violence committed by groups like the Red Brigades in Italy, or the Irish Republican Army in Britain.

Italy's prime minister and president expressed their outrage at the attacks, as did Pope Benedict XVI, who called the bombings "barbaric acts against humanity."

Sarah Lyall, Don Van Natta Jr., Stephen Gray and Wendy Ginsberg contributed reporting from London for this article, and Richard W. Stevenson from Auchterarder, Scotland, and Elisabeth Rosenthal from Rome.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iranians to train Iraq's military

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iranians to train Iraq's military: "P"

Iranians to train Iraq's military
Former enemies Iran and Iraq say they will launch broad military co-operation including training Iraqi armed forces.

"It's a new chapter in our relations with Iraq," said Iranian Defence Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani.

He was speaking at a joint news conference in Tehran with his Iraqi counterpart Saadoun al-Dulaimi.

Relations between the neighbours - who fought a bitter war from 1980 to 1988 - have improved greatly since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

This is the first visit to Iran by an Iraqi military delegation since the war, in which a million people died, started.

We have come to our Iranian brothers to ask them for help
Saadoun al-Dulaimi
The promise of co-operation comes despite repeated accusations by the US - which has about 140,000 troops in Iraq - that Iran has been undermining security there.

"No one can prevent us from reaching an agreement," Mr Shamkhani said when asked about possible US opposition.


Mr Dulaimi echoed his Iranian counterpart's view about a new era of Iranian-Iraqi ties.

"I have come to Iran to ask forgiveness for what Saddam Hussein has done. The same has to be done with Kuwait and all Saddam Hussein's victims," he told the news conference.

Tehran has asked Baghdad not to allow the US to establish long-term military bases on its soil, fearing that it would consolidate what Iranians see as the American and Israeli military domination of the region.

But Mr Dulaimi insisted that foreign troops were needed to ensure Iraqi security.

He added: "Iraq will not be a source of insecurity and instability for any of its neighbours. Nobody can use [Iraqi territory] to attack its neighbours."

Sensitive issues

Among other areas of co-operation, Mr Shamkhani listed mine clearance, anti-terrorism, identifying those still missing from the Iran-Iraq war and training and re-equipping the Iraqi army.

The two ministers said more sensitive issues such as a full peace treaty and war reparations were still a long way from being resolved.

"We have come to our Iranian brothers to ask them for help and we have not yet started on the more sensitive issues," Mr Dulaimi said.

In May Iran's foreign minister promised to tighten security on the two countries' border on his first visit to Baghdad.

An Iraqi government delegation headed by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari is expected to visit Tehran next week.

BBC NEWS | Business | G8 leaders condemn London blasts

BBC NEWS | Business | G8 leaders condemn London blasts G8 leaders condemn London blasts

World leaders at the G8 summit have issued a united condemnation of the attacks on London that injured many people, and killed at least two.

They said violence would not halt the summit, where talks would continue "in the interests of a better world".

It was read by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair who is travelling to London for police briefings before returning to Gleneagles this evening.

It called the blasts "an attack on civilised peoples everywhere".


Earlier, Mr Blair said it was the will of all the G8 leaders that the summit should continue in his absence.

It was "particularly barbaric" that this should occur when people are meeting to tackle poverty, he said.

Mr Blair said it was "reasonably clear" the explosions were designed to coincide with the opening of the G8.

The joint condemnation came from all the countries represented - including China, India and African states - and international agencies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

It has now been announced that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will chair the G8 summit while Mr Blair is in London.

Global warming

Earlier, the US and UK leaders called for a new consensus on how to tackle climate change as the opening session of talks got underway.

G8 nations agreed to full debt cancellation for 18 countries, while African countries call for debt relief for all Africa
EU members have pledged to reach a collective aid target of 0.56% of GDP by 2010, and 0.7% by 2015
President Bush proposed doubling US aid to Africa over the next five years to $8.6bn (£4.8bn)
No deal yet made on lifting trade barriers
No progress made on climate change yet - the US has said it won't cut emissions but will look at clean technologies

They said it was time to replace a focus on Kyoto-style curbs on greenhouse gas emissions with research into clean technology.

President Bush said fast-developing nations must take a role, and welcomed India and China's attendance at the G8.

Along with climate issues, G8 leaders are due to discuss global trade.

With more than 10,000 police deployed, the summit is at the centre of one of the biggest security operations in UK history.

Developing nations

"Now is the time to get beyond the Kyoto period and develop a strategy forward that is inclusive of the developing nations," said US President George W Bush.

Group of eight major industrialised states, inc Russia
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK, US
Originally set up to discuss trade and economic issues
Now leaders discuss global issues of the day
2005 Summit agenda
Climate change

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said there was "no point in going back over the Kyoto debate" and it was preferable to "bring people back into consensus together" on global warming.

For many protesters and observers, the G8 summit is a defining moment in current world politics, amid increased calls for the world's richest countries to act now to help the world's poorest.

Demonstrations and Live8 concerts over the last four days sought to highlight the need for action on the issues of African aid, trade and climate change.

In other developments:

* Police encircle an eco-camp housing 1,000 protesters in Stirling.
* 160 arrests as police and protesters clashed on Wednesday.
* Financier George Soros says the US is in "total denial" over climate change.
* UK Chancellor Gordon Brown hails US acceptance that "human activity" is causing global warming
* Mr Blair says there is "no point going back over the Kyoto debate.

After the climate change talks, the G8 leaders are timetabled to discuss Middle East tensions, and hear from James Wolfensohn, the international envoy on Israel's pull out from Gaza.

African aid and trade will dominate the talks on Friday.

Some countries, notably Germany, have pressed for high oil prices and global economic imbalances to have a bigger place in the talks.

Frictions on climate change have emerged as high-level officials from the G8 nations have battled to hammer out an agreement ahead of the talks.

France is pushing for an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whereas Mr Blair has called for "sensible compromise" and backed the US focus on fuel-efficient technology.

Some critics think the UK is too willing to seek a compromise. International financier George Soros said "looking for common ground" would "merely...water down the seriousness of the situation".

Rice to skip key ASEAN talks, may be viewed as snub by region - Yahoo! News

Rice to skip key ASEAN talks, may be viewed as snub by region - Yahoo! News Rice to skip key ASEAN talks, may be viewed as snub by region

Thu Jul 7, 4:58 AM ET

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not attend a key Southeast Asian meeting this month, officials said amid warnings that the move could be viewed as a slight by the region's leaders.

Rice had told Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers that she could not make it to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in the Laotian capital Vientiane in late July due to a clash of schedules, regional diplomats said.

But some officials had linked her skipping of the trip to concerns in Washington that the region was not pushing enough for democratic reforms in military-ruled Myanmar.

As this would be the first time in about two decades that a US Secretary of State is not participating in the annual ASEAN talks, some ASEAN leaders may perceive it as downgrading of US participation in the region's most important diplomatic event.

The meeting includes a July 28-29 post-ministerial dialogue between ASEAN and its key trading partners, notably the United States, European Union, China, Japan and Russia, as well as an ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the only official security meeting in the Asia-Pacific region.

Rice, who is expected to visit Africa during that period, would be represented by her deputy Robert Zoellick, the former US Trade Representative and an old ASEAN hand, to the meetings.

Unlike her predecessor Colin Powell, who maintained a personal touch in relations with his ASEAN counterparts, Rice has delegated much of the work in the region to Zoellick.

Her top priority in Asia is the Korean nuclear crisis.

She leaves this Friday for a six-day trip to China, South Korea and Japan and will likely discuss possible options if North Korea fails to return to multilateral talks aimed to end its nuclear weapons program.

The July 8-13 trip would be the second to northeast Asia in some three months.

"The fact that she will go to Asia and talk about North Korea demonstrates that this is the key number one priority in the region for the administration," said Derek Mitchell of the US Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Because you would think that Rice would go to ARF, symbol of our engagement in Asia, but she is going over there this month really to talk about North Korea," said the former Pentagon official responsible for Asian affairs.

The six-party talks among the United States, the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and China aimed at wooing Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid have been stalled since June 2004.

Karen Brooks, a leading architect of US policy toward Asia during both the Bush and Clinton administrations, warned there could be "unintended consequences" of Rice's decision, including a belief that the United States was ignoring the region, where it has vast investment, trade and security interests.

"Such a decision would not be intended as a signal that 'We don't care.' But, be that as it may, that's the way it is going to be interpreted," Brooks said.

In an apparent bid to assuage regional concerns, Rice will break up her upcoming north Asian trip with a visit to Thailand to gauge tsunami reconstruction progress there. She would fly from China to Thailand on Monday before proceeding to Japan and South Korea.

Earlier, both the United States and the European Union indicated that they might boycott ASEAN meetings if Myanmar is allowed to chair the grouping, which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Some ASEAN members, as well as the grouping's western partners are opposed to the outcast regime taking on such a role, with Myanmar scheduled to take over the ASEAN helm from Malaysia at the end of 2006.

ASEAN Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong shrugged off concerns last week when there were intense speculations that Rice would skip the ASEAN meeting.

"ASEAN is a very deeply secure portfolio. There is no big controversy there except Myanmar, which has to be played out in its own way," he told AFP in Washington.

"So if you are a portfolio manager and have multiple portfolios, you go to the area that really give you sleepless nites, not areas which do not disturb your sleep."

More Feared Dead as Toll Is Compiled; Blair Sees G-8 Link - New York Times

More Feared Dead as Toll Is Compiled; Blair Sees G-8 Link - New York TimesJuly 7, 2005
More Feared Dead as Toll Is Compiled; Blair Sees G-8 Link

LONDON, July 7 - London was struck by a series of four apparently coordinated terrorist explosions in subways and buses during the morning rush hour today. The explosions ripped apart at least one double-decker bus and caused officials to close and evacuate the entire subway system.

At least 33 have been killed, but officials said that there were other fatalities that have yet to be included in the count. Witnesses reported seeing dozens of people stumbling out of subway stations, coughing, and black with soot. Dozens more were being loaded into ambulances on stretchers and taken to hospitals around the city.

In a televised statement from the Group of 8 summit meeting of world leaders, Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was "reasonably clear" that the explosions had been an act of terrorism.

"It is reasonably clear that there has been a series of terrorist attacks in London," Mr. Blair said. "There are obviously casualties - with people that have died and people are seriously injured."

He added, "Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack or a series of terrorist attacks, it is also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G-8."

Mr. Blair said he planned to travel to London from Gleneagles, Scotland, within the next few hours, and then return to Scotland for the summit this evening. In his absence, he said, the summit would continue.

"It is the will of all of the leaders of the G-8, however, that the meeting should continue in my absence, that we should continue to discuss the issues we were going to discuss - and reach the conclusions which we were going to reach," Mr. Blair said.

He added that it was "particularly barbaric" that the attacks had occurred during a summit intended to aid people in developing nations.

Later, speaking with President Bush and other leaders behind him, Mr. Blair said the summit participants would not "allow violence to change our societies or our values."

"The perpetrators of today's attacks are intent on destroying human life," he said. "The terrorists will not succeed. Today's bombings will not weaken in any way our resolve to uphold the most deeply held principles of our societies and to defeat those who would impose their fanaticism and extremism on all of us. We shall prevail and they shall not."

Also speaking from Scotland, President Bush said the contrast between the work of the G-8 summit and the actions of the apparent terrorists was "incredibly vivid."

"On the one hand, you have people working to alleviate poverty and rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS and ways to have clean a environment, and on the other hand, you have people working to kill other people," the president said. "The contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill, those who've got such evil in their hearts that they will take the lives of innocent folks. The war on terror goes on."

Spiegel Online posted a statement it attributed to an Arabic Web site. The statement, in Arabic, said that it was from a group called the Secret Al Qaeda Jihad Organization in Europe and that the group had carried out the attack in retaliation of Britain's involvement in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In response to the massacre that Britain has carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan: The heroic mujahedeen has undertaken a blessed attack in London," the statement said. "Now Britain is burning with fear, dread and dismay from north, south, east and west."

It continued: "We have warned the British government and the British people again and again. We have carried out our promise and undertaken a blessed military attack in Britain after great efforts by the heroic mujahedeen over a long period of time to ensure the success of the attack."

The statement also warned "Denmark, Italy and all of the Crusader governments" that they will be attacked if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The veracity of the claim could not be verified and various groups often claim responsibility after terror attacks. An Al Qaeda group based in Europe also claimed responsibility for the train bombings on March 11, 2004, in Madrid, which killed 191 and injured 1,900.

Traces of explosives were found at one of the blast sites, said the chief commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, Ian Blair, according to Reuters.

The police official said explosions had taken place at or around the subway stations at Edgware Road, King's Cross, Liverpool Street, Russell Square, Aldgate East and Moorgate. He declined to speculate on the cause, but added, "We are concerned that this is a coordinated attack."

Television pictures showed people with bloody faces and bandages on their faces and heads.

The explosions came a day after London celebrated winning the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Roger Clark, who was riding on a bus to work in central London, said he had seen a double-decker bus on the street ahead of him suddenly explode.

"The top rear section of the bus exploded, ripping apart the whole of the bus," he told CNN. "It lifted about 10 meters above the bus."

The bus, he said, had been "packed" with people.

Other witnesses reported seeing "multiple casualties, multiple bodies."

Mobile phones and land lines were not working because the systems had been overloaded. Large sections of central London had been cordoned off.

At Tavistock Square, a parking attendant, Ade Soji, said the driver of the bus that exploded had stopped him just before it took place. "I was helping a member of the public with directions when the bus stopped and the driver asked me the name of the street," Mr. Soji told the Press Association. "I told him Tavistock Square and he called me over. Just as I was about to go, I heard the bus explode. In another second I would have been dead. I had to run for my life."

Witnesses reported that the top of the bus was sheared off, like a sardine can.

Mr. Blair, London's police commissioner, said that since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States, London's emergency services had been preparing for such an incident and that "the situation is being controlled." He warned people to "stay where you are," to avoid traveling around London, and not to call the police or ambulance services unless there was a life-threatening emergency.

At St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, officials reported that they had admitted four people with critical injuries, like loss of arms and legs; eight with serious injuries, including head wounds, smoke inhalation and lacerations; and four with more minor injuries, including temporary hearing loss.

Three million people ride London's subway system each day.

Loyita Worley, who works for a city law firm, told the BBC that she was in the subway when an explosion took place in the next carriage, while it was in a tunnel.

Ms. Worley, 49, said: "All the lights went out and the train came to an immediate halt. There was smoke everywhere and everyone was coughing and choking, but remained calm. We couldn't open the doors."

After the doors were opened they were taken to Liverpool Street station, Ms. Worley said. She said that the carriage where the explosion took place was "black on the inside" and that she had seen people who appeared to have their clothes blown off, as well as bodies lying inside the carriage.

London's airports have remained opened and subway stations could be reopened soon, though buses will continue to be out of service for now, said Charles Clarke, the home secretary of Britain.

"People are strongly advised not to travel into central London as the emergency services must be allowed to do their work in the most effective way that they can," Mr. Clarke said.

European stock exchanges, which continued to trade after the explosions, were down on average 2 percent. The London FTSE 100 index was down about 2 percent, or 109.50 points, to 5,120.10, in early morning trading New York time.

Crude oil prices took their biggest spill in months, dropping 1.9 percent, to $58.71 per barrel, in London trading on concerns about a slowing global economy. The British pound fell to $1.74 from $1.75.

In the United States, Amtrak said it had deployed extra officers and K-9 teams to stations, aboard trains and along the railroad, although there had been "no specific or credible threat made against Amtrak," according to an Amtrak statement. "The railroad will continue at this heightened security threat level until we have a better understanding of the events in London," the statement said.

Richard W. Stevenson contributed reporting from Auchterarder, Scotland, for this article, and Timothy Williams, Christine Hauser, Vikas Bijaj and Shadi Rahimi contributed from New York.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Missing college student found in jail |

Missing college student found in jail | ajc.comMissing college student found in jail

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
> Published on: 07/06/05

A Clark Atlanta University student was located Tuesday in the city jail, where she had been held since June 26 when she was picked up for disturbing the peace.

Theresa Lewis received a call from a police missing persons detective with the news that Chasity Lewis had been located. He did not tell her, however, that her daughter had been jailed for disturbing the peace.

The missing young woman was being held under the name "Jane Doe," because she refused to tell police her name.

Shortly after learning that her daughter was safe, Theresa Lewis learned from a reporter that she was being held at the city jail. "I am so angry," Lewis said Tuesday night from her home outside San Francisco.

During the 10 days she searched for her only child, Lewis said she had called the city jail, Atlanta Police headquarters and the police zone office near her daughter's home two times each. She was told that police had no one fitting her daughter's description.

Lewis said she is relieved that Chasity was found unharmed but is confused about what prompted her "bizarre" behavior. She said she will fly back to Atlanta to see about her daughter.

"What's happened to her?" Lewis asked. "Did she have a nervous breakdown? Is she sick? I don't know what I'm going to see when I get there [Atlanta]. What happened to her since the last time I saw her?"

A detective put Chasity on the telephone with Lewis on Tuesday, but he didn't explain how she was located. Lewis said the detective promised to "keep her with him" until Lewis can return to Atlanta. The mother was working on travel plans Tuesday evening.

"I almost had a heart attack when I heard her voice," Lewis said just minutes after talking with her daughter. "He put her on the phone and asked me to identify her. It was her. She said, 'Hey, Mom.' She didn't tell me where she had been."

Police spokesman Sgt. John Quigley said "someone recognized" Chasity's picture that was printed in the AJC on Tuesday. She had been arrested for "breach of the peace" on the morning of June 26 on Hopkins Street, about six miles from her home in southwest Atlanta.

According to the police report, neighbors had complained to police that Chasity was walking back and forth along the street, "screaming and yelling out loud in the neighborhood."

Theresa Lewis filed a missing persons report early Saturday — six days after Chasity had been arrested — because she had lost contact with her daughter.

They ordinarily talked on the telephone at least once a day, but the last time they spoke before the disappearance was June 22. Chasity was scheduled to fly to San Francisco to visit her mother on June 28 but never boarded the plane.

Lewis' follow-up calls to check on her daughter were not answered. On June 26, Lewis asked an Atlanta relative to go by Chasity's duplex in southwest Atlanta to check on her. She wasn't there.

Raising the family's concern, the relative found that she had left in the house "all of her things. Her ATM card. Her keys. Her passport. Her cellphone. Her purse," Lewis said. There was an open bottle of wine spritzer, and it looked as if she had taken only one sip from it.

All that was out of character, Theresa Lewis had said, which prompted her to board a flight to Atlanta Friday night.

But the mother had to fly back to California on Monday evening because she was a juror on an ongoing trial. She said Tuesday evening that she would take the next flight to Atlanta she could get.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Chastity Lewis and her mother Posted by Picasa

CBS 46 Atlanta - CAU Student Disappears Before Trip Home

CBS 46 Atlanta - CAU Student Disappears Before Trip Home: CAU Student Disappears Before Trip Home
Jul 5, 2005, 5:05 PM

ATLANTA (AP) -- Police are looking into the disappearance of a Clark Atlanta University student who has been missing for about a week.

Chasity Nicole Lewis, 22, was supposed to have flown home to San Francisco for the summer last Tuesday. But she didn't make the flight that day, said her mother, Theresa Lewis.

Theresa Lewis called a friend who lives in the area to go to her daughter's rented house near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and then to police, who found the house locked. With the landlord out of town, a cousin, David Whatley, was persuaded to climb through a window into the house last Tuesday.

Theresa Lewis said all of Chasity Lewis' things were found inside, including her ATM card, keys, cell phone and her purse. The bed was unmade, the air conditioner was on and a fan was running. Also, her dog was outside the fence.

"It looked like she just vanished," said Whatley, who had had lunch with Chasity Lewis the day before. "I looked the whole house over and nobody was there."

A missing persons report was filed Saturday. Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. John Quigley said that what got their attention is that Chasity Lewis bought a ticket to fly home.

"That's a reason to be concerned," Quigley said.

Theresa Lewis said she last spoke to her daughter June 22 but that she sounded "down, not her bubbly self." After that, calls to her daughter were not answered.

Theresa Lewis said she has also called nearly every number in her daughter's cell phone directory but no one has seen her.

"I don't know if she snapped or lost her mind or where she is," Theresa Lewis said. "Something has happened. It was unlike her not to communicate. We talk every day."

Steve, a regular at Cigar Emporium in East Cobb Posted by Picasa

Mike, a regular at Cigar Emporium now serving in Afghanistan.

The Best Cigar Shop In Metro Atlanta

I highly recommend Cigar Emporium on Lower Roswell Road just west of Johnson Ferry road next to the Longhorn Steakhouse in East Cobb County. It has a very welcoming and knowledgable staff. A great group of very diverse guys hang out there on a daily basis. The owner, Ed Head, has a second store location on Highway 78 and East Park Place (north side of 78) in Stone Mountain (just on the Gwinnett side of the mountain). It is also a great place to hang out. This is the best way I know to unwind after work and really feel part of the Atlanta community, male bonding I guess.

Both Cigar Emporium stores have a large collection of cigars in all price ranges. You will find me discussing the issues of the day in the Cobb County store most afternoons. Come and hang out.

Metro cigar shops meccas for male bonding |

Metro cigar shops meccas for male bonding | ajc.comMetro cigar shops meccas for male bonding

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
> Published on: 07/05/05

Men know where to go to find women. They go where women go: health clubs, coffee shops, art shows, bars, you name it.

But where can a guy go to get away from women? Where can he go for an hour or two that's just him and the boys?

That's getting tougher as the rules of engagement change. Go to a Braves game, for example, and there are women everywhere. An action flick? Forget about it. Women flock to those films. Same for the neighborhood pub, and even the local pool hall.

No, if a guy wants to hang with guys, try the neighborhood cigar shop.

"It's the last bastion," said Kenny Kraus, a police detective who moonlights behind the counter at Cigar Merchant in Roswell.

Each day at lunchtime, and again after work, men all around town head to their local cigar shop for a smoke and a little friendly conversation.

Some shops have back rooms with couches, big chairs, televisions, men's magazines — whatever you like. And somebody's sure to have a little whiskey in his rented cigar locker. The guys sit around, fire up their "sticks," as they call them, and shoot the breeze.

That means there's a lot of cutting up. It can get a little raunchy, so bring your thick skin. This is not a stamp club.

"Long time no see, Mikey. Thought you died."

"Wishful thinking."

Women come in to buy cigars, and some venture into the back room, but that's rare. All they would find anyway are a bunch of guys pontificating about women, golf and why the Braves won't win the World Series.

It's very smoky in the back room, and that's a perfectly good reason to avoid these places, which are exempt from the new statewide smoking ban. Cigars are bad for your health, stain your teeth and make you smell like day-old roadkill.

Cigar buffs don't care. They love their bad habit, and only half-jokingly follow the doctrine of tobacco baron Zino Davidoff: "If your wife doesn't like the aroma of your cigar, change your wife."

A lot of the guys are married, and they come in for a little break.

Allan Buelvas, a supervisor at an auto parts plant in Alpharetta, was run over by a forklift at work and injured his ankle. He's in a cast and can't work. When he needs to get out of the house, he goes to the cigar shop, plops down in a leather chair, picks out a movie on cable and lights up a fat stogie.

Does the wife know where he is?

"Oh, yeah," Buelvas said with a laugh, "about half the time. The other half I'm supposedly at Home Depot, buying stuff I've already got."

The regulars have a friendly poker game Thursday nights at Cigar Merchant. The only rule: If you have a thought that is politically correct, keep it to yourself.

Steve Treloar, a risk management specialist, brings his laptop computer to "settle issues," as he put it. Disagreements break out all the time — How old is Bobby Cox? Who's the hottest babe? — and Treloar arbitrates. He stands over his laptop like a rock 'n' roll keyboardist, banging around the Internet until he has his evidence.

"OK," he said, stepping back from a steamy movie still. "Mimi Rogers."

Little is resolved, because no one agrees about anything and the subject keeps changing.

That's fine with the guys, who have the attention span of a newborn during these gatherings.

Bob Wachtel, who owns Tobacco World in Marietta, drives over to Roswell on Thursday nights to hang with his buddies and play cards. In the middle of a hand, he had an epiphany.

A cigar shop for women only — except for him.

The guys nodded and grunted approval. Definitely an idea worth exploring.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Huffington Post | The Blog

The Huffington Post | The BlogJuly 02, 2005
Lawrence O'Donnell

07.02.2005 Lawrence O'Donnell
Rove Blew CIA Agent's Cover

I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's emails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.

McLaughlin is seen in some markets on Friday night, so some websites have picked it up, including Drudge, but I don't expect it to have much impact because McLaughlin is not considered a news show and it will be pre-empted in the big markets on Sunday because of tennis.

Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorr

BBC NEWS | Business | Trade 'vital' to African progress

BBC NEWS | Business | Trade 'vital' to African progress Trade 'vital' to African progress
Paul Wolfowitz has said action is urgently needed on boosting trade and cutting subsidies if Africa is to meet the UN's Millennium Development Goals.

The World Bank director told a conference in London that the achievement of key targets on poverty reduction required action on trade in addition to increased aid and reduced debt.

He pointed out that Africa's share of global trade has dropped from 3.5% in 1970 to around 1.4% in 2005.

"We need more action on trade," he said.

"Trade is absolutely vital to the increased growth that Africa needs to reach the MDGs. So further action in opening markets and reducing subsidies is an essential part of the equation."

Enterprise vital

The issue of trade and subsidies has been placed to the fore ahead of the G8 summit in Gleneagles, following the Live8 concerts.

Both the US and the EU subsidise their agricultural sectors.

Critics argue that subsidies distort prices and African countries are unable to compete as a result.

However, Mr Wolfowitz also stressed that the potential role of the private sector in stimulating trade was "not getting nearly enough attention".

Small enterprise and business "might be the most important component of all," he added.

He said he had been particularly inspired by a young flower seller in the Rwandan capital Kigali, who he met while visiting the continent last month.

The woman had been living in the US, but had returned to her home country and was now doing "brisk business," growing roses and exporting them to Europe.

"She is struggling with inadequate electricity and difficult transportation problems, but these are early days for her and she is building her business," he said.

"When I asked her why she had come back to start this business she told me, 'I came here to grow beautiful flowers on the ashes of genocide.'

"We must do more to help create the right opportunities for inspirational people like that woman," Wolfowitz added.

Not a panacea

Dr Kipkorir Aly Azad Rana, deputy director of the World Trade Organization, told the conference that while agriculture subsidies should be looked at "very critically," simply removing all subsidies would not automatically be the answer.

"There is not an even playing field... you cannot expect that removing subsidies will solve Africa's problems," he stressed.

Should the US scrap cotton subsidies, he said, Africa would not benefit as much as countries like Australia whose crop yields were significantly higher.

"It is not automatically Africa which will benefit - it will be countries like Brazil and Australia," he added.

For the First Time a Spacecraft Impacts With Comet - New York Times

For the First Time a Spacecraft Impacts With Comet - New York Times The New York Times
July 4, 2005
For the First Time a Spacecraft Impacts With Comet

WASHINGTON, July 4 -- NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft lived up to its name early Monday when it slammed into a comet with such force that the resulting blast of icy debris stunned scientists with its size and brightness.

With the flyby stage of the two-part spacecraft watching from a safe distance, an 820-pound, copper-core "impactor" craft smashed into the nucleus of comet Tempel 1 at 23,000 miles per hour, sending a huge, bright spray of debris into space.

"The impact was spectacular," said Dr. Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, the projects principal scientist. "It was much brighter than I expected."

Culminating a six-month journey to a point 83 million miles from Earth, the impactor guided itself to a sunlit point near the bottom of the elongated comet where they collided with a force equal to 4.5 tons of dynamite at 1:52 a.m. Eastern time.

"We've had a far bigger explosion than we anticipated," said Dr. Donald Yeomans, a mission scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which controlled the flight. "It was considerably brighter and there was considerably more matter coming off than I had thought."

The purpose of the $333 million mission was to make the most detailed study of a comet to date, striking the mountain-sized hunk of ice and rock, and creating a crater from which would spew some of the primal material that makes up its core. Depending upon the composition of the comet, scientists speculated that the impact could excavate a crater as large as a sports stadium or as small as a house.

Dr. A'Hearn told an early morning news conference that the blast was so bright that initial images did not reveal the size and depth of the impact crater. This hopefully will be revealed in later images recorded by the flyby spacecraft when they are received and processed on Earth, he said.

"Obviously, it was a very big impact," he said. "Presumably, we have a large crater in one of those images that hasn't played back yet."

A quick look at data streaming down to Earth indicates the best is yet to come, said Dr. A'Hearn. "There are many more spectacular images yet to be revealed," he said.

The impact was observed by scores of telescopes at ground observatories, as well as NASA's Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra observatories in Earth orbit, and other spacecraft.

Rick Grammier, the mission's project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the encounter came off without a hitch. The flyby craft, with high and medium-resolution telescopic cameras and an infrared spectrometer for identifying materials ejected from the comet, successfully monitored the impact from 5,300 miles away. The craft also emerged undamaged after passing within 310 miles of the comet while ducking behind a set of shields designed to protect it from dust and other particles streaming from the comet.

"We have a healthy flyby spacecraft," Mr. Grammier said at the news conference. It is particularly gratifying, he added, to have such success on July 4th, the nation's birthday. "I actually hope it's made America proud," he said.

After its close approach, the flyby craft pivoted around and took more pictures of the receding comet. It then continued its playback of data it and the impactor collected during the encounter.

The battery-powered impactor separated from the flyby craft 24 hours before colliding with Tempel 1. During the last two hours, the impactor used an autonomous navigation system to pick a target point on the sun side of the comet and made three course corrections to reach it. The craft also took increasingly detailed pictures with its telescopic camera as impact closed in, shooting its last image just 3.7 seconds before the collision.

Late images from the impactor, the best ever taken of a comet, showed a moon-like surface with flat plains, circular craters and a long, irregular ridge. Some of the last pictures appeared to show the impactor coming in between two mile-wide craters.

Scientists are interested in comets because they are believed to be remnants of the materials that formed the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago. Astronomers believe the interiors of comets have undergone little change since then and contain the pristine ice, gases, dust and other materials from which the rest of the solar system formed.

An added reason to probe comets is that they, along with rocky asteroids, pose the threat of hitting the Earth and causing cataclysmic damage. Potential planetary defense requires knowing more about these objects in hopes of deflecting or destroying dangerous ones, experts say.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Big Bang - New York Times

The Big Bang - New York TimesJuly 3, 2005
The Big Bang

Boulder, Colo.

THE future wasn't supposed to be like this. Not for space-age kids like me, growing up enchanted by the Apollo Moon landings and Arthur C. Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey." By now we should be living on the Moon and departing in marvelous ships for the outer solar system, while new technologies gradually make life back on Earth more bountiful and harmonious. Instead 2001 and the years since have been marked by terrorism and conflict. Starvation and environmental destruction have not been eradicated or even stemmed. We have, for now, lost the ability to send people to the Moon, let alone Jupiter and beyond, and, for many of us, the future is not as hopeful a place as it once seemed.

Yet tomorrow, we should see one tiny part of Mr. Clarke's grand vision realized - through NASA's Deep Impact mission (an unfortunate echo of a less visionary film). The part of Mr. Clarke's vision I refer to is a small scene in "2001," halfway through the book, that didn't even make the movie. The Saturn-bound scientists, having rounded Mars and now approaching Jupiter, pass close by a small asteroid. They greet this rocky celestial nomad by shooting it with a slug of metal that explodes into the asteroid, leaving a new crater and a brief puff of vapor that soon vanishes into the void.

This Sunday night, if all goes as planned, NASA will finally pull off this same stunt, firing a three-foot-wide 820-pound copper barrel directly into the path of a nine-mile-long, potato-shaped comet by the name of Tempel 1. The two will collide at 23,000 miles an hour while a mother craft photographs the action from what one hopes will be a safe distance, and sends the pictures home to us at the speed of light.

Why? So we can watch what happens. We stand to learn a lot about impact cratering - one of the major forces that has shaped all the worlds of our solar system. We will also have the chance to peer into the newly formed crater and observe the ice and vapor blasted back into space, thereby learning what lies within this frigid little world. When I describe this mission to people outside the community of space scientists and enthusiasts, it receives mixed reactions. Some feel that this is a fine hello to a new world, blasting away at it just to see what happens, like greeting a stranger by shooting first and asking questions later. A lawsuit has even been filed in a Russian court by a 45-year-old mother of two in Moscow, demanding that the mission be called off on the basis of its environmental and spiritual, well, impact.

This legal action seems even more certainly doomed than the spacecraft itself (which may miss its target). Yet perhaps it does epitomize the concerns of many who wonder why we would do such a thing. Aren't we going too far to satisfy our curiosity here, acting like cruel, senseless boys blowing up frogs for the fun of it?

Um, no. This explosion is not going to hurt anyone or anything.

Here's an analogy. You would be justifiably concerned if, in order to learn about shorelines, some scientist decided to dig up your favorite beach. But you wouldn't object if she took a few grains of sand to study. There are something like one trillion comets larger than one mile in diameter, several hundred for each human on Earth, in this solar system alone, and countless more in the wider universe. So even if we destroyed Tempel 1 entirely, we would not be making a dent in the cometary sandbox.

What's more, this mission will not demolish the comet, alter its course, or otherwise affect the cosmic scheme. Comets collide with other celestial objects all the time. The only thing extraordinary about this particular impact is that we engineered it. Deep Impact will simply make one more small hole in an object that, like all planets large and small, has been repeatedly dinged by colliding space debris since our solar system's origin 4.6 billion years ago.

It is those dusky beginnings that this experiment can illuminate. Beneath the dirty ice crust of a comet like Tempel 1 is material that has been in deep freeze since the birth of our solar system. Mixed into this timeless frozen treat are organic molecules like those that seeded the young Earth with raw materials for making life. This ice may hold some buried chapters of the story of our origin.

As H. G. Wells, the Arthur C. Clarke of the paleoindustrial age, once wrote: "There is no way back into the past. The choice is the Universe - or nothing." It has been said that the dinosaurs ultimately got snuffed because they lacked a space program. Sooner or later a killer comet will again cross Earth's path, threatening all life. Only next time, armed with knowledge about comets and space engineering, life on Earth will have a fighting chance.

Someday, some of our descendants may decide to declare independence from this planet, seeking a more perfect union with the cosmos from which we spring. If so, then our current, tentative efforts in space may carry evolutionary significance equal to life's first forays from the oceans onto land.

Given the recent reckless talk from the Department of Defense about introducing offensive weapons into space, Deep Impact will probably be seen in some quarters as more evidence of American aggression.

In reality, it is the opposite - a peaceful gift from our nation to the world. Deep Impact is pure exploration. In this sense, we have evolved. Unlike Apollo, which was meant in part as a cold war threat to the Russians, Deep Impact really is for all humankind: it could further our understanding of where we all came from.

Of course, explosions are cool (when they aren't hurting anyone). They're also often quite beautiful. Why, after all, do we love to watch fireworks? The flash of Deep Impact exploding into Tempel 1 may be visible from Earth through telescopes (and even, just possibly, to the naked eye, but not from the Eastern United States) at 1:52 a.m. Eastern time on July 4, above the bright star Spica, and to the left of Jupiter. Public events, showing live images from the world's best telescopes and, 10 minutes later, the first pictures from Deep Impact itself, are planned at many science museums. If successful, first-ever images of the approaching comet, the brilliant impact, the new crater and the receding icy nucleus will be seen soon thereafter. The scientific analysis that reveals the true meaning will be slower in coming, but once it arrives, the knowledge will be here as long as we are.

David Grinspoon, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, is the author of "Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life."