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Friday, August 24, 2012

US State Department Misquoted on Risks of KRG Oil Contracts

US State Department Misquoted on Risks of KRG Oil Contracts Posted on 21 August 2012. Tags: KRG, Kurdistan, oil contracts, State Department By John Lee. At the US State Department’s Daily Press Briefing on Monday, Spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked to clarify the US Government’s official position on oil contracts in Iraqi Kurdistan. “Our position on this has not changed“, she said. “We’ve spoken about it many times here. We speak about it in Iraq. With regard to our own companies, we continue to tell them that signing contracts for oil exploration or production with any region of Iraq without approval from the federal Iraqi authorities exposes them to potential legal risk, and we continue to tell them – obviously, they’ll make their own business decisions, but unless and until we have federal legislation in Iraq governing these things, something that we’ve been urging, that there are risks for them. So that’s our message to our companies.” When asked if the US State Department raises this issue with the companies directly, she replied, “we do. When they come to us and ask what we think, then we raise this issue with them, yes.” These comments have been misquoted in some media. The National Iraqi News Agency (NINA), for example, attributes the following comment to Ms Nuland: “So it is desirable that US companies get the approval of Baghdad fore before till activating the Federal legislation” (sic), but this comment does not appear in the State Department transcript.

Ten shot, 2 dead near New York's Empire State Building

Fri, Aug 24 10:55 AM EDT By Lily Kuo NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two people were killed and at least eight wounded in a shooting outside the Empire State Building on Friday, a New York police source said, creating chaos and shocking tourists and commuters who witnessed the bloody scene outside the landmark tourist attraction. One of the dead was the shooter, the source said, adding there was no apparent link to terrorism. A white tarp covered what was believed to be a body in front of the entrance to the office building but police declined to confirm if it was the shooter. A police source said the assailant, who worked nearby, was believed to be a disgruntled employee who fired at a person against whom he had a grievance. The nature of the grievance was not known. "I heard the gunshots. It was like pop, pop, pop. It was definitely in a bunch," said Dahlia Anister, 33, who works at an office near the 102-story Empire State Building. The shooting started shortly after 9 a.m. on the busy sidewalk on Fifth Avenue outside the Midtown Manhattan building. It came at the height of the tourist season outside one of New York City's most popular attractions. Police cordoned off the area around the building, one of the most recognizable in the world. The Empire State Building is two blocks from Pennsylvania Station and eight blocks from Grand Central Terminal, two of New York City's main transportation hubs. Mail courier James Bolden, 31, said he saw a "guy laying on the (sidewalk), bleeding from the neck and barely breathing." "Everybody was crowded around him taking pictures and video, and security guys were yelling everybody to get back, and give him space. He was barely breathing," Bolden said. One witness said she saw a woman who was shot in the foot and another woman being taken away in an ambulance. "I was walking down 33rd (Street) and there's a dead guy. I just saw pools of blood. He was laying down and the was blood pooling (around him)," Justin Kellis, 35, who works nearby. The United States has had two other mass shooting cases this summer. On July 20, a gunman opened fire at a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding 58. On August 5, a gunman killed six people and critically wounded three at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee before police shot him dead in an attack authorities treated as an act of domestic terrorism. This was the second high-profile shooting incident in two weeks in New York's tourist-heavy midtown Manhattan. On August 12 New York City police shot and killed a knife-wielding suspect as he sought to evade them through Saturday afternoon traffic and pedestrians in Times Square. The Empire State Building was the world's tallest building for 40 years from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center. Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, it was again the tallest building in the city, though was recently surpassed by a new tower under construction at the World Trade Center. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly planned a news conference for 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) near the scene. (Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Chris Francescani.; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Vicki Allen)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top U.S. general's aircraft damaged by rockets in Afghanistan

Tue, Aug 21 06:26 AM EDT image By Rob Taylor KABUL (Reuters) - Insurgents fired two rockets at the main NATO airbase in Afghanistan, damaging an aircraft used by U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey, a NATO spokesman said on Tuesday. The general was not on board at the time. Dempsey arrived in the country on Monday in a C-17 transport aircraft which was parked at Bagram Airbase, north of Kabul, when two rockets landed near the apron late on Monday night, slightly wounding two ground staff. "He was nowhere near the aircraft. We think it was a lucky shot," NATO senior spokesman Colonel Thomas Collins said. The aircraft was only being used temporarily by Dempsey and his staff. Shrapnel from the rockets also damaged a nearby helicopter. Dempsey, who had been in the country for talks with NATO and Afghan commanders on a string of recent rogue shootings, was sleeping in his quarters when the rounds struck and left the country afterwards on another aircraft. "No one was seriously injured in the attack," a Pentagon spokeswoman said. Bagram, which is home to around 30,000 military and civilian personnel, is occasionally targeted with rockets and mortar shells fired by insurgents from surrounding hills and fields. In 2007, the heavily guarded base was targeted during a visit by former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney. Sporadic attacks also occur at NATO's other main airbase in Afghanistan, Kandahar Airfield, in the volatile south, although they rarely cause deaths or major damage. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message and denied it was indirect fire, saying it was based on "accurate information". But the insurgents are often quick to claim any incidents as successes. Before leaving Afghanistan, Dempsey met his Afghan counterpart, General Sher Mohammad Karimi, who raised the issue of insider attacks by rogue forces that have killed 10 American troops in the past two weeks. "In the past, it's been us pushing on them to make sure they do more," he said on Monday. "This time, without prompting, when I met General Karimi, he started with a conversation about insider attacks - and, importantly, insider attacks not just against us, but insider attacks against the Afghans, too." Officials in Kandahar on Tuesday sacked the police chief in Spin Boldak district over the weekend shooting of another NATO soldier by an Afghan police officer. "These actions will not be tolerated. We stand by our partners," the Kandahar governor's office said in a Twitter message announcing the sacking. Afghan authorities have promised to improve vetting of police and soldiers to curb insider attacks, while also increasing the number of intelligence officers within Afghan units to identify infiltrators and disgruntled personnel. There have been 32 insider attacks so far this year involving 36 shooters that have led to 40 coalition deaths, just over half of them Americans. Some 69 coalition troops have been wounded. That's a sharp increase from 2011, when 35 coalition troops were killed, 24 of whom were U.S. troops during the year. (Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in WASHINGTON; Editing by Nick Macfie and Jonathan Thatcher)

Friday, August 17, 2012

U.S. tweaks Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac bailout terms, requires all profits

Fri, Aug 17 10:31 AM EDT WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Treasury said on Friday it is changing the way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will repay taxpayers in a move the Obama administration said would accelerate the winding down of the government-owned mortgage financiers. The finance companies, which buy mortgages from lenders and repackage them as securities for investors, will now be required to hand over all their profits to the U.S. Treasury instead of the 10 percent dividend repayment required under the terms of their government bailout. The change comes as the Treasury's unlimited support for the companies gets set to expire at the end of the year. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have drawn down a total of $188 billion in taxpayer funds to stay afloat since they were taken over by the government in 2008. Over the past three years, the companies have had to repeatedly tap the Treasury lifeline in order to make the required quarterly repayments -- a situation that had Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac taking government funds to repay the government. "The market's worry is that Fannie and Freddie will exhaust this Treasury capital and default on bond payments," the Washington Research Group said in a note to clients. "Just the fear of this could drive up their borrowing costs, which would require them to seek government capital more quickly," it said. With the housing market showing signs of improvement and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reducing their portfolios of loans with poor credit quality, the government-owned companies posted strong profits in the second quarter of this year. The Treasury said this change would ensure that "every dollar of earnings that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac generate will be used to benefit taxpayers for their investment in those firms." The companies will also be required to reduce their investment portfolios at an annual rate of 15 percent instead of the previous 10 percent. That will put them on track to cut their portfolios to the $250 billion target in 2018, four years earlier than previously scheduled, the Treasury said. (Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama) =========== Frantastic Treasury's Frannie fix puts Congress on the spot 17 August 2012 | By Agnes T. Crane, Daniel Indiviglio Print Email Save . The U.S. Treasury has put Congress on the spot over the future of housing finance. On Friday Team Geithner unveiled some bold moves to speed up winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Now it’s up to the nation’s lawmakers to figure out what will replace the troublesome twins. Treasury is ending the onerous 10 percent annual dividend the two mortgage agencies have to pay on the $188 billion they borrowed from taxpayers. That payout had created a bizarre feedback loop which forced them, until recently, to borrow even more money from the Treasury to pay their annual tithe. Instead, the companies will hand over all their profit to Uncle Sam. At present, that means extra cash for the nation’s coffers: both earned more than what they owed for the dividend in the second quarter but kept the extra. The new agreement also removes the temptation for the two lenders to use any unreturned profit to grow their business or overpay their staff. Treasury has also ordered the agencies to shrink their $1.3 trillion investment portfolios by 15 percent annually, up from 10 percent. That means they should hit the $250 billion target by 2018, four years early. Freddie already slimmed its portfolio at the new rate over the past year. This still leaves the dilemma of how to reform the dysfunctional U.S. housing finance system. The Obama administration put forth some suggestions over a year ago, but lawmakers have done little since. Even the most crucial of questions remains unanswered: should the government guarantee home loans at all? It must be tempting to do nothing: Fannie’s and Freddie’s earnings go straight into the general fund for a cash-strapped Congress to spend. But just letting the agencies shrink is not an answer. They account for more than 60 percent of all home loans made in the past few years. Banks do not have the balance-sheet capacity to fill the gap and investors prefer buying federally guaranteed mortgages. Saying goodbye to potential revenue is never easy. It is especially difficult in the middle of a budget war. But keeping the Franken-Frannie monster alive is no solution. ================ U.S. sues Wells Fargo in mortgage fraud case Tue, Oct 09 19:31 PM EDT By Rick Rothacker and Aruna Viswanatha (Reuters) - The U.S. government filed a civil mortgage fraud lawsuit on Tuesday against Wells Fargo & Co, the latest legal volley against big banks for their lending during the housing boom. The complaint, brought by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, seeks damages and civil penalties from Wells Fargo for more than 10 years of alleged misconduct related to government-insured Federal Housing Administration loans. The lawsuit alleges the FHA paid hundreds of millions of dollars on insurance claims on thousands of defaulted mortgages as a result of false certifications by Wells Fargo, the fourth-biggest U.S. bank as measured by assets.
"As the complaint alleges, yet another major bank has engaged in a longstanding and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient backstop of government insurance," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Wells, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, denied the allegations and said in a statement it believes it acted in good faith and in compliance with FHA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rules. The bank said many of the allegations have been previously addressed with HUD and added that its FHA delinquency rates have been as low as half the industry average. In a regulatory filing in August, the bank said it was being investigated for possible violations of laws and regulations relating to mortgage origination practices, including FHA loans. Wells said it will vigorously defend itself against the suit. Bharara's office has brought similar cases in the past few years, including one against Citigroup Inc unit CitiMortgage Inc, which settled the case for $158.3 million in February, and against Deutsche Bank, which paid $202.3 million in May to resolve its case. The U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn brought the biggest such case, against Bank of America Corp's Countrywide unit, which agreed in February to pay $1 billion to resolve the allegations. The Wells Fargo case is brought under the False Claims Act, which provides penalties for fraud against the government, and under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act, or FIRREA for short, a little-used statute that has grown in popularity in the past year. The law requires a lower burden of proof than criminal charges, has a longer statute of limitations than other financial laws and potentially could bring big fines. A civil fraud unit that Bharara created in March 2010 filed its first lawsuit under FIRREA in December of that year. DAMAGES AND PENALTIES At issue In Tuesday's suit are loans Wells Fargo made through a program that allows banks to originate, underwrite and certify mortgages for FHA insurance, according to the complaint. Under the so-called Direct Endorsement Lender program, neither the FHA nor HUD reviews a loan before it is approved for FHA insurance, but lenders are supposed to follow program rules. Between May 2001 and October 2005, according to the complaint, Wells certified more than 100,000 loans for FHA insurance, even though the bank knew its underwriters had failed to verify information that was directly related to the borrower's ability to make payments. "The extreme poor quality of Wells Fargo's loans was a function of management's singular focus on increasing the volume of FHA originations (and the bank's profits), rather than the quality of the loans being originated," the complaint said. The bank also failed to properly train its staff, hired temporary workers and paid improper bonuses to its underwriters to encourage them to approve as many loans as possible, the complaint said. During a 7-month stretch in 2002, at least 42 percent of the bank's FHA loans failed to actual qualify for the insurance they were submitted for, even though the bank's internal benchmark for such violations was set at 5 percent. Wells also kept its defective loans secret from HUD, the complaint said. From January 2002 to December 2010, the bank internally identified more than 6,000 "materially deficient" loans, including 3,000 that had defaulted in the first six months, but did not comply with its self-reporting obligations, the complaint said. Prior to October 2005, the bank did not self-report a single bad loan, and the inadequate reporting continued even after a HUD inquiry that year, the suit states. All told, from 2002 through 2010 the bank self-reported only 238 loans, according to the complaint. Some of the mortgages Wells Fargo suspected of fraud but declined to report to HUD include loans it separately reported as suspicious activity to the U.S. Treasury Department, according to the suit. The complaint seeks treble damages and penalties for hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance claims already paid to Wells Fargo, as well as penalties on claims HUD may pay in the future. Citi, in its settlement, paid $158 million to resolve allegations that a "substantial percentage" of around $200 million in insurance claims failed to meet FHA requirements. The Wells Fargo complaint also includes specific allegations that the lender failed to report another $190 million in loans it should have flagged as potentially problematic to HUD, which potentially adds to any eventual payout from the bank. The lawsuit adds to the growing number of civil cases the government has filed targeting conduct that allegedly contributed to the financial crisis. The Justice Department has indicted few individuals and institutions on criminal charges for roles in the collapse, and officials have said prosecutors determined much of the conduct amounted to greed but not crimes. A joint federal-state task force set up earlier this year to continue to probe conduct tied to the 2007-2009 crisis has also acknowledged the bulk of its inquiries are under civil law. (Reporting by Rick Rothacker in Charlotte, N.C. and Aruna Viswanatha in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Tim Dobbyn) =============== Mortgage boom leads to profit surge for JPMorgan, Wells Fri, Oct 12 17:41 PM EDT 1 of 2 By David Henry and Rick Rothacker (Reuters) - Two of the nation's biggest banks, Wells Fargo & Co and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, made record profits over the last three months from a sharp rise in mortgage lending, though performance stumbles elsewhere left investors worried about how long those profits can last. Both banks reported double-digit increases in third-quarter earnings on Friday, as record-low interest rates and an uptick in the housing market drove a boom in mortgages. But analysts said those record earnings might not be sustainable, as each bank posted declining margins that suggest they may have a harder time earning as much in the future. J.P. Morgan shares closed the day down 1.1 percent at $41.62, while Wells Fargo declined 2.6 percent to $34.25. Both underperformed the broader market, which was essentially flat. The issue is the "net interest margin," or the spread between what the banks earn from loans and what they pay out on deposits. That margin contracted in both cases. "You have a battle between net interest margin and mortgage banking," said Marty Mosby, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities, referring to the tension between profit-drivers now and potential future results. Barclays Capital said it was the 17th time in the last 18 quarters that the bank beat Wall Street's forecasts. Net interest margin contracted to 2.43 percent in the quarter, 4 basis points less than the prior quarter and 23 basis points lower than a year earlier. Wells, Warren Buffett's favorite bank, stumbled on the net interest margin. It fell 25 basis points to 3.66 percent in the third quarter. That was a sharper drop than expected, though bank executives insisted they were unconcerned and that investors should focus on overall profitability. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Frederick Cannon, in a research report for clients, said the strength in mortgages was good but the weakness in the interest margin was more important. MORTGAGES ON THE MOVE The mortgage market dragged on banks during the worst of the financial crisis but has become a bright spot of late. After the Federal Reserve said in September it would buy huge quantities of mortgage bonds every month for the foreseeable future, rates fell sharply and loan applications soared. Wells Fargo, by far the largest mortgage lender in the country - three times the size of its closest peer - made $139 billion in mortgages in the three months ending in September, up $50 billion from a year earlier. There is a limit to that growth, though, warned J.P. Morgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon. "We don't expect to count on high margins and mortgage origination forever," Dimon said on Friday. The refinancing trend, he added, will continue "next quarter, maybe for a couple of quarters after that, but it won't last much longer." SMALLER WHALES Besides the good news about the housing market, J.P. Morgan also reported that losses are shrinking rapidly from the bad trades engineered by the so-called London Whale, which cost the bank almost $6 billion in the first half of the year. The losses cast a harsh light on Dimon, the chief executive viewed by some as a potential leading candidate for U.S. Treasury secretary in a second Obama administration. He has apologized repeatedly, and at length, for failing to catch the problem before it grew so big. The nation's largest bank by assets posted net income of $5.71 billion, or $1.40 a share, up 34 percent from a profit of $4.26 billion, or $1.02 a share, a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.24 a share, according to surveys by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Barclays Capital said it was the 17th time in the last 18 quarters that the bank beat Wall Street's forecasts. Net interest margin contracted to 2.43 percent in the quarter, 4 basis points less than the prior quarter and 23 basis points lower than a year earlier. Wells Fargo, the nation's fourth-largest bank by deposits, earned $4.9 billion in the quarter, 22 percent more than a year earlier. Per-share earnings of 88 cents just beat the average Wall Street forecast of 87 cents, although revenue missed estimates by some $270 million. Wells, Warren Buffett's favorite bank, stumbled on the net interest margin. It fell 25 basis points to 3.66 percent in the third quarter. That was a sharper drop than expected, though bank executives insisted they were unconcerned and that investors should focus on overall profitability. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Frederick Cannon, in a research report for clients, said the strength in mortgages was good but the weakness in the interest margin was more important. (Reporting by David Henry in New York and Rick Rothacker in Charlotte, N.C.; additional reporting by Dan Wilchins and Jed Horowitz in New York; writing by Ben Berkowitz; editing by Matthew Lewis) ===============

2 killed, 18 injured in Karachi blast

2 killed, 18 injured in Karachi blast Web Desk / AFP Blast occurr­ed when bus with Imamia Studen­ts Organi­sation (ISO) member­s on board was passin­g by. 2 killed, 18 injured in Karachi blast Blast occurr­ed when bus with Imamia Studen­ts Organi­sation (ISO) member­s on board was passin­g by. By Web Desk / AFP Published: August 17, 2012 Pakistani Shia Muslims shout slogans beside a damaged bus after a bomb explosion in Karachi on August 17, 2012. PHOTO: AFP Bystanders gather at the site of a bomb explosion in Karachi on August 17, 2012. PHOTO: AFP Pakistani Shia Muslims shout slogans beside a damaged bus after a bomb explosion in Karachi on August 17, 2012. PHOTO: AFP A Pakistani policeman and volunteers stand in front of a damaged bus after a bomb explosion in Karachi on August 17, 2012. PHOTO: AFP KARACHI: At least two people were killed and 18 people injured in a blast near the Safari Park in Karachi, Express News reported on Friday. The blast had occurred when a bus was passing by the area. Passengers on board were on their way to participate in a rally on MA Jinnah Road. “A low-intensity bomb planted near a bus stand in Gulistan-e-Jauhar neighbourhood exploded and hit a car and a bus,” senior police official Shahid Hayat told AFP. “The bomb killed a man in the car and injured 11 others, most of whom were bus passengers,” Hayat said. All of the injured were shifted to Jinnah hospital where doctors declared that most of them are in serious condition. Dr Seemin Jamali, the Director of Emergency Services at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) stated that two injured who were in critical condition have been shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). There is no confirmation on the nature of the blast as yet. The Express News correspondent has reported that ball bearings had pierced through the arms, legs and chests of the passengers. Initial reports stated that the passengers were students of Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) who were headed to the rally. More than 20 people were on board. The Youm-e-Quds rally was scheduled to begin from Numaish Chowrangi and conclude at Tibet Centre. The bus was partially destroyed as a result of the blast. A Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) sub-station located outside Safari Park was also damaged in the blast. Other participants of the rally at the blast site are being sent off in buses. “We can’t say it was aimed at the bus as the bomb mainly hit the car. But we are investigating,” said a police official on the condition of anonymity. Law enforcement agencies arrived and started conducting investigations. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah sought a report from the Inspector General (IG) of Police. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Javed Maher said that an additional contingent of police was deployed at the blast site. Participants at the rally site staged a protest and chanted slogans against the incident. The protesters said that proper security was not provided to the participants despite bus routes being known. A protester said that it was a “conspiracy of the United States and Israel” and declared that the rally will be carried out as scheduled. According to Express News, Youm-e-Quds is being observed and many rallies are being taken out in this regard. The rally is organised every year on the last Friday of Ramazan. Comments (28) .کراچی: بم دھماکے میں ایک ہلاک، بارہ زخمی آخری وقت اشاعت: جمعـء 17 اگست 2012 ,‭ 14:31 GMT 19:31 PST Facebook Twitter دوست کو بھیجیں پرنٹ کریں .کراچی کی معروف شاہراہ یونیورسٹی روڈ پر ہونے والے ایک بم دھماکے میں ایک شخص ہلاک اور بارہ زخمی ہوگئے جن میں سے آٹھ کی حالت نازک ہے۔ جناح ہسپتال کی ڈاکٹر سیمی جمالی کے مطابق زخمیوں میں سے چھ افراد کو نیورو سرجری کے لیے داخل کیا گیا ہے جبکہ دو زخمی انتہائی نگہداشت کے وارڈ میں داخل کیے گئے ہیں۔ اسی بارے میںکراچی: چین کے قونصل خانے کے قریب دھماکہبس پر ریموٹ کنٹرول بم حملہ، ایک شخص ہلاککراچی میں ہلاکتیں،ایم کیو ایم کا بائیکاٹ متعلقہ عنواناتپاکستان, کراچی, بم دھماکےانہوں نے بتایا زیادہ افراد کے جسم کے بالائی حصے خاص کر سر پر شدید چوٹیں آئی ہیں، جبکہ دو افراد کے جسموں سے بال بیرنگ اور دھات کے ٹکڑے بھی برآمد ہوئے ہیں جس سے اندازہ ہوتا ہے کہ یہ بم دھماکا ہی تھا۔ نامہ نگار حسن کاظمی کے مطابق کراچی پولیس کے سربراہ اقبال محمود نے بم دھماکے کی تصدیق کرتے ہوئے بتایا کہ کے ای ایس سی کے گرڈ اسٹیشن کے ساتھ ہی ایک دیوار اندر یہ دیسی ساخت کا دھماکہ خیز مواد چھپا کے رکھا گیا تھا جو اس وقت پھٹا جب وہاں سے القدس ریلی میں شرکت کے لیے ایک بس اور کچھ گاڑیوں اور موٹر سائیکلز پر مشتمل چھوٹا سا قافلہ وہاں سے گزر رہا تھا۔ دھماکے سے بس اور ایک گاڑی تباہ ہوگئی جبکہ چار موٹر سائیکلز کو بھی شدید نقصان پہنچا۔ بم ڈسپوزل اسکواڈ کے مطابق اس دھماکے میں دو کلو بارودی مواد استعمال کیا گیا تھا۔ کراچی پولیس چیف اقبال محمود کے مطابق ایم اے جناح روڈ پر ہر سال رمضان کے آخری جمعے کو القدس ریلی نکالی جاتی ہے اور ہماری پوری توجہ اس مرکزی ریلی کی حفاظت پر ہوتی ہے تاہم اس دھماکہ میں اس ریلی میں شرکت کی خاطر جانے والی ایک بس نشانہ بنایا گیا ہے ۔ ان کا کہنا تھا ایسی درجنوں بسیں شہر کے مختلف علاقوں سے القدس ریلی میں شرکت کے لیے روانہ ہوتی ہیں اور پولیس کو اس بارے میں کوئی اطلاع نہیں دی جاتی ۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ کراچی اتنا بڑا شہر ہے جس کے مختلف علاقوں میں پولیس حفاظت کے لیے تعینات رہتی ہے اور گشت بھی کرتی رہتی ہے۔ ان کا کہنا تھا کہ ’اس طرح کے معاملات میں حفاظت کرنا بہت مشکل ہوتا ہے۔‘ القدس ریلی ہرسال رمضان کے آخری جمعے کو نکالی جاتی ہے جس کا اہتمام اہلِ تشیع کرتے ہیں۔ یاد رہے کہ اس سے پہلے بھی کراچی میں شارع فیصل پر چہلم کے جلوس میں شرکت کے لیے جانے والی بس کو اسی انداز میں نشانہ بنایا جاچکا ہے۔

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Seven U.S. troops among Seven U.S. troops among 11 dead in Afghan helicopter crash11 dead in Afghan helicopter crash

Thu, Aug 16 08:52 AM EDT KABUL (Reuters) - Eleven people were killed on Thursday in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, including seven U.S. soldiers and three Afghan allies, the NATO-led force in the country said. The cause of the crash, which Afghan authorities said was in the Shah Wali Kot district of the southern province of Kandahar, was under investigation, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement. "The crash resulted in the deaths of four International Security Assistance Force service members, three United States Forces-Afghanistan service members, three members of the Afghan National Security Forces, and one Afghan civilian interpreter," ISAF said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for shooting down the helicopter, although the insurgents often exaggerate their victories and are quick to claim responsibility for any incident involving the death of foreign troops. The area where the helicopter went down is an insurgent hotbed and supply route, lying north of Kandahar city near Zabul and Uruzgan provinces. A spokesman for NATO said all the foreign troops on board the helicopter were American, adding to a grim week in the country which included multiple suicide bombings which killed 63 civilians in one day, most of them shoppers in markets. The Taliban shot down a CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter in August 2011, killing all 38 people on board, including 25 U.S. special operations soldiers. (Writing by Rob Taylor; Editing by Daniel Magnowski and Robert Birsel)

Iraq blasts, shootings kill 32, wound scores

Thu, Aug 16 17:22 PM EDT 1 of 3 By Kareem Raheem BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A dozen bombings and shooting attacks killed at least 32 people across Iraq on Thursday, underscoring the country's struggle to stamp out a stubborn insurgency more than seven months after the U.S. military withdrew. In the worst blast, at least 11 people were killed and more than 40 wounded when a car bomb exploded near an ice cream shop in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood as Iraqis ended daily fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. No group claimed responsibility for Thursday's bombings, but a local al Qaeda affiliate and other Sunni Islamist groups have carried out at least one major assault a month since the last American troops left in December. Al Qaeda's local wing, the Islamic State of Iraq, says it has begun a new offensive, and security experts say it has benefited from arms, cash and better morale thanks to the inflow of Islamist fighters into neighboring Syria. Security has been tightened in Baghdad ahead of the end of Ramadan next week, a period when analysts believe insurgents may attempt a major attack. Hours before the Sadr city blast, a car bomb killed six civilians and wounded 28 in the mainly Shi'ite Baghdad district of Husainiya, police and hospital sources said. Just north of the capital, in Taji, another car bomb killed one and wounded nine more people. Another six police and army soldiers were killed by gunmen who opened fire on their checkpoint from two speeding cars in the north of the capital, police said. Four car bombs exploded in the city of Kirkuk, 250 km (150 miles) north of Baghdad, killing two people and wounded 18, police and hospital sources said. Kirkuk, which sits on massive oil reserves, is at the heart of a dispute between Baghdad's central government and the country's autonomous Kurdistan region, both of which claim the city as part of their area of territorial control. Overnight attacks on police checkpoints in the cities of Baquba and Falluja killed six policemen and wounded 13, police and hospital sources said. More attacks and smaller bombings hit several other towns across Iraq. Sunni Muslim insurgents have launched a string of attacks on Shi'ite targets to try to reignite the sectarian violence that killed tens of thousands of people in 2006-2007 and to undermine the country's Shi'ite-led government. The Islamic State of Iraq insurgents have also said their suicide bombers attacked a counter-terrorism unit in Baghdad earlier in August to try to free prisoners held there. Police managed to fend off the attack and kill the attackers. Iraq's security forces are generally seen as capable of containing the insurgents, but a crisis among Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions is fueling sectarian tensions and paralyzing their power-sharing government. (Reporting by Kareem Raheem in Baghdad, Mustafa Mahmoud in Kirkuk, Jamal al-Badrani in Mosul, Fadhil al-Badrani in Falluja and Ali Mohammed in Baquba; Writing by Barry Malone and Patrick Markey; Editing by Alison Williams) ============= Car bombs, mortars kill nine in Baghdad Shi'ite districts Tue, Oct 23 11:01 AM EDT BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Bomb blasts and mortars killed at least nine people and wounded 28 more in Shi'ite districts in Baghdad on Tuesday, just days before Iraqis started celebrating the Islamic Eid al-Adha religious festival. Car bombs exploded and mortars landed around the Shi'ite neighborhood of Shula, northwestern Baghdad, killing 8 people and wounded 28, and another person was killed by a mortar round in Kadhimiya area, police and hospital sources said. "Three car bombs exploded one after the other, and we started to hear the screaming and shouting," said a policeman who was patrolling in Shula. "Some walls of houses collapsed, and glass was shattered everywhere." Violence in Iraq is well below the bloody peak of sectarian war in 2006-2007, but al Qaeda affiliates and other Sunni Islamist insurgents often target Shi'ites in an attempt to stoke tensions between Sunni and Shi'ite communities. The insurgents have launched one major assault a month since U.S. troops withdrew in December. Security officials say they believe insurgents may try to carry out a large attack during the religious holiday starting on Friday. The monthly death toll from militant attacks across Iraq doubled in September to 365, the highest figure for more than two years, with most of them killed in bomb attacks, according to government figures released this month. (Reporting by Baghdad newsroom; writing by Patrick Markey) =======================

22 people killed in sectarian attack in Northern Pakistan

By Agencies - Aug 16th, 2012 (4 Comments) 11Mansehra: At least 22 people have been killed as unknown armed men opened fire on three buses in Naran area of Mansehra district in North Western Pakistan on Thursday. According to initial reports, the attack was one of the latest episode of sectarian killings in the country. Eyewitnesses told police that three armed men separated 22 passengers from others after checking their identity cards. They said they had seen over dozen bodies on the sport. The bodies have been taken to Mansehra. Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah had ordered authorities to fly the bodies to their villages through helicopter. He chaired a meeting over law and order and directed police to make strict security arrangement on the sensitive points of roads. Hundreds of people have been killed in sectarian related terrorist attacks in the country during the last few years.

Militants attack major Pakistan air base; nine killed

Thu, Aug 16 15:54 PM EDT 1 of 9 By Qasim Nauman KAMRA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Islamist militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons fought their way into one of Pakistan's largest air bases on Thursday, the air force said, in a brazen challenge to the nuclear-armed country's powerful military. The attack was repelled and only one aircraft was damaged, said an air force spokesman, adding that the Minhas air base at Kamra, in central Punjab province, did not house nuclear weapons. "No air base is a nuclear air base in Pakistan," he said. The gun battle raged for hours, and eight militants and one soldier were killed, the spokesman said. Commandos were called in to reinforce base security forces and police armored personnel carriers could be seen heading into the base. Pakistan's Taliban movement, which is close to al Qaeda and seen as the biggest security threat to the South Asian nation, claimed responsibility for the assault. "We are proud of this operation. Our leadership had decided to attack Kamra base a long time ago," Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said by telephone from an undisclosed location. The militants moved through a nearby village under cover of darkness and climbed a nine-foot (2.7-meter) wall strung with barbed wire to break into the base, the air force spokesman said. Some were wearing military uniforms. The assault cast doubts over official assertions that military operations had severely weakened militants waging a violent campaign to topple the U.S.-backed government and impose strict Islamic rule. Security forces opened fire when militants strapped with suicide bombing vests approached aircraft hangars, prompting other militants to fire rocket-propelled grenades from outside the base's walls, said the air force spokesman. Base commander Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the operation against the attackers, was shot in the shoulder but is in stable condition, said spokesman Captain Tariq Mahmood. Search operations for any other militants who may have been hiding in the complex after the attack had ended, he said. About an hour later, a series of small explosions could be heard as homemade bombs planted on the base by the militants were detonated by the military. Minhas, 45 miles northwest of Islamabad, is adjacent to the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, a major air force research and development center. Pakistan manufactures JF-17 fighter planes, jointly developed with China, at the site. Suicide bombers launched attacks near the base and the aeronautical complex in 2007 and 2009, but news reports said defenses were not breached. In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said there had been an improvement recently in cooperation with Pakistan in trying to squeeze militant networks in the region. "And, you know, it's not -- it's not unusual that when they (the militants) feel squeezed, they lash out. But that just speaks to the necessity of continuing our efforts to end their ability to exact violence on Pakistani citizens, or any of us," she said. She said she had no information that would contradict Pakistani statements that there were no nuclear weapons at the site. HOLY MONTH It was not immediately clear how the attackers managed to enter the sprawling base. Although the attack took place at about 2 a.m. (5 p.m. EDT Wednesday), it is likely many of the soldiers on the base were awake for prayers or breakfast during the holy fasting month of Ramadan. Faheemullah Khan, a civilian who lives near the base, said he was at a mosque praying when he heard gunfire and explosions that he thought were military exercises. "Then we came to a restaurant, which is next to the main entrance to the base, and heard a louder explosion," he said. "We saw six police vans rush in, and realized something was wrong." Several squadrons of fighters and surveillance planes are believed to be based at Minhas. "One body of a suicide bomber strapped with explosives has been found close to the impact area," said an air force statement. Pakistan's Taliban has staged a number of high-profile attacks over the past few years, including one on army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009. Last year, six Taliban gunmen attacked a naval base in Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden. At least 10 military personnel were killed and 20 wounded in the 16-hour assault. Those attacks, and the latest one, are embarrassing for Pakistan's military, which has ruled the country for more than half of its 65-year history and is seen as the most efficient state institution. The Taliban is blamed for many of the suicide bombings across Pakistan, a strategic U.S. ally. Pakistan's military, one of the biggest in the world, has staged several offensives against Taliban strongholds in the unruly tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan. But the operations have failed to break the back of the Taliban. Major suicide bombings have eased considerably over the past year but that could be due to a tactical shift and not pressure from the military. (Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell in WASHINGTON, Sheree Sardar in ISLAMABAD and Jibran Ahmad in PESHAWAR; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Philip Barbara)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

US Navy ship collides with oil tanker in Gulf

Guided-missile destroyer suffers minor damage By Aghaddir Ali, Staff Reporter Published: 19:26 August 12, 2012 Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on emailShare on printMore Sharing Services6 . Image Credit: AFP/US Navy A handout picture released by the US navy shows the damaged US guided-missile destroyer USS Porter following a collision with the Japanese-owned bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan in the Strait of Hormuz on August 12, 2012. Fujairah: A US Navy guided-missile destroyer suffered minor damage when it collided with an oil tanker early on Sunday just outside the Strait of Hormuz. The collision left a gaping hole in the starboard side of the USS Porter. No one was injured on either vessel, the US Navy said in a statement. The collision with the Panamanian-flagged bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan occurred at approximately 1am local time., officials said. “Both vessels are okay and the Strait of Hormuz is not closed, and business is as usual there,” a Fujairah coast guard official who preferred not to be named told Gulf News . Article continues below The cause of the incident is under investigation, the official said, adding that there were no reports of spills or leakages from either the USS Porter or the Otowasan in the Gulf. The official said they had been alerted about the incident at about 1am. Tensions have risen in the Gulf this year as Iran has threatened to close the strait to international shipping if its dispute with the United States over its nuclear programme escalates. Washington says it maintains naval forces in the Gulf to ensure security in the region. The oil tanker, owned by Japan’s Mitsui OSK, was bound for Fujairah from Mesaieed in Qatar, according to ship tracking websites. — With inputs from agencies ===================

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tennessee mosque opens after fight, with message of forgiveness

Fri, Aug 10 22:46 PM EDT By Tim Ghianni MURFREESBORO, Tenn (Reuters) - The imam and worshipers at a new Tennessee mosque that hosted its first prayers on Friday after fighting for two years to open said they forgive those who have been enemies of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. "Love your neighbor is a concept in every religion," Imam Ossama Bahloul told more than 200 men and women in attendance during his sermon in the mosque that replaces one where the congregation worshiped for 30 years. To those who opposed the mosque, Bahloul said, "We forgive you all and we welcome you to our facility." Opponents of the mosque about 30 miles south of Nashville sued to stop it from opening, claiming that not enough notice had been given before a building permit was issued. Residents opposed to the mosque have made allegations that Islam was not a faith protected by the Constitution, and that the mosque sought to impose Islamic law, or Sharia, in the U.S. legal system. Opposition to the mosque also became an unlikely issue in a Tennessee Republican Congressional primary, with the challenger complaining that freshman Representative Diane Black, who later went on to win the primary, had not been forceful enough in her opposition to the mosque. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has characterized the campaign against the mosque as a "viciously anti-Muslim groundswell" that included accusations of treason and disloyalty along with insinuations that Muslims were predisposed to violence. Bahloul addressed opponents' allegations in his sermon, saying that the new facility was simply a place for people to pray and children to play. And he said his congregation does abide by the U.S. Constitution. "You can be a good Muslim and a good American," he said. Despite the opposition, the mosque was finally able to open this week, in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, and ahead of the Eid al-Fitr feasting holiday that marks Ramadan's end. The congregation had expected protesters on Friday, but only one showed up. Dan J. Qualls, a Murfreesboro resident who works at a nearby factory, said he felt compelled to carry a message to those at the gleaming new mosque. "Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven," he said. "I'm here to promise that." Essam Fathy, chairman of the mosque board, said that the center's opening is "a dream come true." "We hope the people will get to know the real us," Fathy said. (Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Lisa Shumaker)

Friday, August 10, 2012

U.S. sanctions Syrian oil firm, Hezbollah

Fri, Aug 10 18:11 PM EDT By Rachelle Younglai WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States imposed a new round of largely symbolic penalties against Syria on Friday that targeted state-run oil company Sytrol and said it was exposing Hezbollah for providing support to President Bashar al-Assad's government. The Lebanese Shi'ite group, which is allied with Iran and was designated by the United States as a terrorist organization in 1990s, has been providing training and extensive logistical support to Syria's government, the U.S. Treasury said. Assad is seeking to crush a 17-month rebellion in Syria, a strategic country that borders Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. U.S. officials said they did not know if the sanctions would have any financial effect on Hezbollah or whether other nations would impose economic penalties against the group, suggesting that they were mostly symbolic. Any Hezbollah assets under U.S. jurisdiction have been frozen for years under previous orders. "We believe that if they (other nations) are presented with this information ... they may want to take additional measures and over the long term that will limit the amount of space that Hezbollah has to operate," said Daniel Benjamin, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism. "We do see very concrete benefits coming from this designation, whether they will be in the area of financial sanctions or not remains to be seen. But in terms of casting a bright light on what the group is doing, I think that is vitally important," Benjamin said on call with reporters. The United States has accused Hezbollah of directly training Syrian government officials within the country and of facilitating the training of Syrian forces by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Americans have been banned from doing business with Hezbollah since the foreign terrorist designation and Syria's central bank and top Syrian government officials are already blocked from U.S. markets. The announcement came as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to Turkey as both countries grapple with the uprising in Syria, where Assad's forces were seeking to re-establish control over Aleppo, Syria's largest city. SYTROL Washington also imposed additional sanctions on Syria's state-run oil company, Sytrol, for having provided gasoline to Iran. The new penalties block Sytrol's U.S. banking and property transactions, though U.S. entities are already prohibited from dealing with the company. Last year, the United States took steps to freeze Syrian assets held under U.S. jurisdiction, barred Americans from exporting services to Syria, banned U.S. imports of Syrian petroleum products and added Sytrol to its blacklist of companies hit with asset freezes. Sytrol was penalized on Friday under the Iran Sanctions Act, which has been strengthened in recent years to make it more difficult for companies to trade with the energy sector in Iran. The West suspects Iran of seeking nuclear arms, which the country denies. Iran saying its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes such as generating electricity. An Obama administration official said the sanctions were designed to further deter the international business community from working with Syria's and Iran's energy sector. The State Department said that in April, Syria and Iran engaged in two-way trade in the energy sector in which Syria sent 33,000 metric tons of gasoline to Iran. It said the United States put the value of the gasoline delivered by Sytrol to Iran in April at more than $36 million, well above the thresholds for triggering sanctions under the Iran sanctions act. (Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

German intelligence fears Salafists re-base in Egypt

Fri, Aug 10 12:42 PM EDT BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's intelligence service fears that members of a radical Salafist group, banned in the country since June, could establish a new, dangerous German Salafist colony in Egypt, the German daily Die Welt cited security experts as saying. In Germany, radical Islamist groups are kept under surveillance relatively easily, but the situation abroad is far more complex, a member of the intelligence service told the daily in an article to be published in its Saturday edition. Germany banned the Millatu Ibrahim Salafist group in June in a crackdown on radical Islamists suspected of plotting against the state. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said they worked against the constitutional order. The intelligence service agent told Die Welt the Islamists might use Egypt only as a transit point, and from there join training camps and take part in armed conflicts elsewhere - or even return to Germany. A spokesman for the intelligence agency declined to comment on the report. More than a dozen Salafists have already left Germany for Egypt, Die Welt wrote. Among them were the former rapper Denis Cuspert, known as "Deso Dog" who calls for 'holy war' and praises the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. German authorities have recently stepped up their monitoring of Salafist groups following a series of violent clashes with police earlier this year. The roughly 4,000 Salafists in Germany, whose religious roots are in Saudi Arabia, are only a tiny proportion of the total Muslim population of about four million. Die Welt quoted security sources as saying Salafists were attracted by the favorable conditions enjoyed by ultra-conservative Islamists in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011. Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, recently freed a group of Islamists jailed for militancy during Mubarak's era, a step many see as a gesture to hardliners who supported his presidential bid. (Reporting By Elisa Oddone, editing by Tim Pearce)

Consumer agency proposes rules for mortgage servicers

Fri, Aug 10 00:20 AM EDT By Emily Stephenson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The new consumer oversight agency proposed rules on Friday to make the practices of companies that service mortgages more transparent for borrowers. The rules, which could be modified after a comment period, are designed to protect borrowers from being forced to buy expensive homeowners insurance, for example. They are also aimed at helping delinquent borrowers stay out of the foreclosure process. Among the rules announced on Friday are protections to help borrowers avoid so-called force-placed insurance, or insurance purchased on homeowners' behalf by mortgage servicers. Homeowners insurance is required for many mortgages, but force-placed insurance is often more expensive than what borrowers might find on their own. The consumer bureau's rules would require servicers to give advance notice and pricing information to borrowers before they can charge for insurance. Servicers would have 15 days to cancel the insurance if borrowers can prove they already have the necessary homeowners insurance. Under the new rules, mortgage servicers also would be required to tell delinquent borrowers about options for avoiding foreclosure, such as loan modification, and to promptly consider applications for these alternatives. Critics say the new requirements could restrict borrowers' access to lending and slow the housing market recovery. They say the added costs of complying with new rules could drive smaller operators out of business. "It is important that consumers receive clear and accurate information about their mortgage loan," Bob Davis, executive vice president of the American Bankers Association, said in a statement. "Yet, we want to make sure servicing doesn't get tangled in so much red tape that high-quality, responsive servicing is no longer viable, particularly at small banks." The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said its new rules would ensure that the mortgage servicers responsible for collecting payments from borrowers and handling issues such as foreclosures are more transparent and accessible to borrowers. "From processing payments to evaluating struggling homeowners and helping them avoid foreclosures, the bottom line is to treat consumers fairly by preventing surprises and run-arounds," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. Some of the CFPB's rules are designed to help implement the changes established in the mortgage settlement, while others are new. The consumer watchdog was created by the Dodd-Frank financial oversight law and tasked with policing markets for mortgages and other products. The agency said in April it would tackle new regulations for mortgage servicers. Among the industry practices that gained notoriety in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis were poor record-keeping, limited customer service and the use of "robo-signers" to sign unread foreclosure documents. The rules address some of those practices. Five large U.S. banks entered into a $25 billion settlement earlier this year with state and federal authorities over abusive servicing and foreclosure actions. Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co and Ally Financial Inc agreed to clean up many of their practices. (Editing by Fred Barbash and Matthew Lewis) ===========

Thursday, August 09, 2012

زيارة الخضر عليه السلام لأمير المؤمنين عليه السلام ليلة شهادته :

زيارة الخضر عليه السلام لأمير المؤمنين عليه السلام ليلة شهادته : بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم ... "رحمك الله يا أبا الحسن كنت أول القوم إســــــــــــلاما، وأخلصهم إيمانا ، وأشدهم يقينا ، وأخوفهم لله ، وأعظمهم عناء وأحوطهم على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله، وآمنهم على أصحابه ، وأفضلهم مناقب ، وأكرمهم سوابق ، وأرفعهم درجة ، وأقربهم من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ، وأشبههم به هديا وخلقا وسمتا وفعلا ، وأشــــــرفهم منزلة ، وأكرمهم عليه ، فجزاك الله عن الاسلام ، وعن رسوله وعن المسلمين خيرا . قويت حين ضعف أصحابه ، وبرزت حين استكانوا ، ونهضت حين وهنوا ، ولزمت منهـــــاج رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله إذ هم أصحابه ، [ و ] كنت خليفته حقا ، لــــم تنازع ، ولم تضرع برغم المنافقين ، وغيظ الكافرين ، وكره الحاسدين ، وصغر الفاسقين . فقمت بالامر حين فشلوا ، ونطقت حين تتعتعوا ، و مضيت بنور الله إذ وقفوا ، فاتبعوك فهدوا ، وكنت أخفضهم صوتا ، وأعلاهم قنوتا ، وأقلهم كلاما ، وأصوبهم نطقا ، وأكبرهم رأيا ، وأشجعهم قلبا ، وأشدهم يقينا ، وأحسنهم عملا ، وأعرفهم بالأمور . كنت والله يعسوبا للدين ، أولا وآخرا : الأول حين تفرق الناس ، والآخر حين فشلوا ، كنت للمؤمنين أبا رحيما ، إذ صاروا عليك عيالا ، فحملت أثقال ما عنه ضعفوا ، وحفظت ما أضاعوا ، ورعيت ما أهملوا ، وشمرت إذ اجتمعوا ، وعلوت إذ هلعوا ، وصبرت إذ أسرعوا ، وأدركت أوتار ما طلبوا ، ونالوا بك ما لم يحتسبوا . كنت على الكافرين عذابا صبا ونهبا ، وللمؤمنين عمدا وحصنا ، فطرت والله بنعمائها وفزت بحبائها ، وأحرزت سوابغها ، وذهبت بفضائلها ، لم تفلل حجتك ، ولم يزغ قلبك ، ولم تضعف بصيرتك ، ولم تجبن نفسك ولم تخر. كنت كالجبل لا تحركه العواصف ، وكنت كما قال : آمن الناس في صحبتك وذات يدك ، وكنت كما قال : ضعيفا في بدنك ، قوياً في أمر الله ، متواضعا في نفسك ، عظيما عند الله ، كبيرا في الأرض ، جليلا عند المؤمنين ، لم يكن لاحد فيك مهمز ، ولا لقائل فيك مغمز [ ولا لاحد فيك مطمع ] ولا لاحد عندك هوادة ، الضعيف الذليل عندك قوي عزيز حتى تأخذ له بحقه ، والقوي العزيز عندك ضعيف ذليل حتى تأخذ منه الحق ، والقريب والبعيد عندك في ذلك سواء ، شأنك الحق والصدق والرفق ، وقولك حكم وحتم وأمرك حلم وحزم ، ورأيك علم وعزم فيما فعلت ، وقد نهج السبيل ، وسهل العسير وأطفئت النيران ، واعتدل بك الدين ، وقوي بك الاسلام ، فظهر أمر الله ولو كره الكافرون ، وثبت بك الاسلام والمؤمنون ، وسبقت سبقا بعيدا ، وأتعبت من بعدك تعبا شديدا ، فجللت عن البكاء ، وعظمت رزيتك في السماء ، وهدت مصيبتك الأنام ، فإنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون ، رضينا عن الله قضاه ، وسلمنا لله أمره ، فوالله لم يصاب المسلمون بمثلك أبدا . كنت للمؤمنين كهفا وصحنا ، وقنة راسيا ، وعلى الكافرين غلظة وغيظا ، فألحقك الله بنبيه ، ولا أحرمنا أجرك ، ولا أضلنا بعدك" . اللهم صلِّ على محمد وآل محمد ولا تحرمنا في الدنيا ولايته وفي الآخرة شفاعته ، اللهم إنا نسألك بأمير المؤمنين وسيد الوصيين وإمام الموحدين ان تنعم بالأمن والأمان على بلاد المسلمين .. اللهم أنصر من نصر الدين وأخذل الكفر والمنافقين اللهم إنا نرغب إليك في دولة كريمة تُعزُّ بها الإسلام وأهله وتُذلُّ بها النفاق وأهله وتجعلنا فيها من الدعاة إلى طاعتك والقادة إلى سبيلك وترزقنا بها كرامة الدنيا والآخرة يا كريم يا كريم ياكريم . — with Mustafa Almaurayati and 49 others. Visit Green peace of faithful testimony: it peace night In the name of God the merciful. ... "Oh God your uterus eltaher you first folk as Lama, firmly stick to them, and most certainly, their horror to God, and their more the're the grandest bother the Prophet and God, and security on his companions, best qualities, has honoured them, precedents, the closest most of the Prophet and God, the gift and created their identical and features and really, his home, and their shelf snitch – hijaab, jazak Allah for Islam, and his Messenger and the good Muslims. Strengthened while weakening his companions while they give in and popped, and played while wehnwa, required platform for the Prophet and his companions, who are God, [and] you're really his successor, conflict, and did supplicate despite hypocrites, peeve, unbelievers, small disobey the grudgers. I order failed, while ttatawa, pronounced and I went to Noor Allah as they stood, they come after you, and you are guided, their lower votes, and their height obedience, and least spoken words, and their more relevant, the oldest Raya, and encourage heart, and most certainly, the brightest "pursuant to, I know things. You and Allah drone of religion, first and foremost: I divide people, while the other failed, while I was faithful, merciful father are you ayala, uploaded by the weights, they doubled and preserved what they lost, ignored two what, she lifted it and you go up as they gathered, halawa, I stayed patient as rushed, and I realized what they asked, Uttar attained unless they hold your. You are unbelievers and plunder, torture and Saba believers intentionally and a bastion, she made her gift and God I won bhabaeha and made swabghha, and virtues, not went to spit your argument, and not deviate your heart, and not impaired sight, not cower yourself and never graduated. You cannot move a mountain, you're as storms said: the security of people in your lap with your hand, and you also said: weak in body, strong in command of God, humble yourself, great God, great in the Earth, invaluable when believers, if not one of you mhemz, not to say bless you maghames [no one has attracted the interest of you], and not to one of your own, you have strong weak servile Aziz so take him to his right, and you have a weak forces Aziz servile status so take From the right, near and far have in both, and honesty right shank humane society, saying the rule and inevitably and hurry dream packages, your mind with knowledge and determination, did approach the way, easy to difficult and extinguished fire, and sat up your religion, and strong your Islam, God, if there is a ball, and your ' Islam believers, and preceded the scoop away, tired of the heavy, siggy mobilized about crying, she dressed and how great your disaster in the sky, has the face of your people, I am God and to him we return, I do about God judges, and recognized of God, by Allaah, not Muslims like you never become infected. I was faithful and Grotto, plate of vertex and vertically, the unbelievers and ruggedness, and the fury of God Nabih hurt you, and your reward is not aharmna, nor deceive us siggy ". O Allah, bless Muhammad and Muhammad and not deprive us in its mandate and in the hereafter, we ask his intercession with God I'm faithful and SID are the guardians of the Almohads to enjoy security and security of Muslim countries. O Holy of Nasreddin and I walk out on infidelity and I wish you God hypocrites in decent state of Islam and his Taiz and humiliates the hypocrisy and his family and make us their advocates obedience to leaders and bestow upon us your way of dignity and the hereafter Ya Ya cream yakrim cream. (Translated by Bing)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Mars rover landing "miracle of engineering," scientists say

Mon, Aug 06 21:55 PM EDT 1 of 14 By Irene Klotz and Steve Gorman PASADENA, California (Reuters) - NASA scientists hailed the Mars rover Curiosity's flawless descent and landing as a "miracle of engineering" on Monday as they scanned early images of an ancient crater that may hold clues about whether life took hold on Earth's planetary cousin. The one-ton, six-wheeled laboratory nailed an intricate and risky touchdown late on Sunday, much to the relief and joy of scientists and engineers eager to conduct NASA's first astrobiology mission since the 1970s Viking probes. "We trained ourselves for eight years to think the worst all the time," Curiosity lead engineer Miguel San Martin said. "You can never turn that off." Mission control engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles erupted in cheers and applause when confirmation was received that Curiosity, touted as the first full-fledged mobile science lab sent to a distant world, had landed on the Martian surface. NASA engineers said the feat stands as the most challenging and elaborate achievement in the history of robotic spaceflight, and opens the door to a new era in planetary exploration. President Barack Obama hailed the accomplishment as a historic "point of national pride." The landing also marked a much-welcome success and a major milestone for a U.S. space agency beset by budget cuts and the recent cancellation of its space shuttle program, NASA's centerpiece for 30 years. The landing was a major initial hurdle for a two-year, $2.5 billion project whose primary focus is chemistry and geology. The daredevil nature of getting the rover to Mars captured the public's imagination. DAREDEVIL DESCENT Encased in a capsule-like protective shell, the nuclear-powered rover capped an eight-month voyage as it streaked into the thin Martian atmosphere at 13,200 miles per hour (21,243 kilometers per hour), 17 times the speed of sound. Plunging through the top of the atmosphere at an angle producing aerodynamic lift, the capsule's "guided entry" system used jet thrusters to steer the craft as it fell, making small course corrections and burning off most of its downward speed. Closer to the ground, the vessel was slowed further by a giant, supersonic parachute before a jet backpack and flying "sky crane" took over to deliver Curiosity the last mile to the surface. The rover, about the size of a small sports car, came to rest as planned at the bottom of a vast impact bowl called Gale Crater, and near a towering mound of layered rock called Mount Sharp, which rises from the floor of the basin. A trio of orbiting satellites monitored what NASA had billed as the "seven minutes of terror," but the anxiety proved to be unfounded. From an orbital perch 211 miles away, NASA's sharp-eyed Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a stunning and serene picture of Curiosity gracefully riding beneath its massive parachute en route to Gale Crater, located near the planet's equator in its southern hemisphere. At 10:32 p.m. PDT on Sunday (1:32 a.m. EDT on Monday/0532 GMT on Monday) flight controllers at JPL received the equivalent of a text message from Curiosity that its journey of 352 million miles (566 million km) had ended safely. Seven minutes later, the rover transmitted a picture, relayed by another Mars orbiter called Odyssey, showing one of Curiosity's wheels on the planet's gravel-strewn surface. "When you see a picture of the surface of the planet with the spacecraft on it, that is the miracle of engineering," lead scientist John Grotzinger told reporters on Monday. With the late-afternoon sun slipping behind the crater's rim, Curiosity relayed six more sample pictures and the results of initial health checks of some of its 10 scientific instruments before shutting down for the Martian night. Additional photos taken by Curiosity were relayed hours later, including a batch of 200-plus images snapped at nearly four fames per second by the craft's bottom-mounted camera as it was lowered to the ground by parachute, rocket pack and sky crane. They were assembled by NASA into a rough-cut clip of moving footage showing the rover's descent from its own perspective, starting from the ejection of its heat shield. LANDING ZONE OF INTRIGUE Curiosity touched down about 6.2 miles from the foot of Mount Sharp, a monstrous formation of sedimentary rock that rises like a stack of cards three miles from the floor of Gale Crater. Higher from base to summit than California's Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental United States, Mount Sharp crests above the northern rim of the crater. An image of the mountain in the distance was captured by one of the rover's front-mounted hazard cameras, a flat, gravel-strewn plain in the foreground and the vehicle casting a silhouetted image on the ground. The picture reveals that Curiosity landed virtually face-to-face with the mountain, with no obstacles between the two. A separate photo shot in the opposite direction shows the northwestern rim of the crater. Scientists believe Mount Sharp may have formed from the remains of sediment that once completely filled the basin, offering a potentially valuable geologic record of the history of Mars, the planet most similar to Earth. For that reason, it is a key focus of interest for Curiosity scientists looking for evidence of Martian habitats that may have supported microbial life. It may be months, however, before Curiosity heads over to Mount Sharp. As project manager Pete Theisinger put it, "We have a priceless asset and we're not going to screw it up." After a flawless landing, the mission's surface phase was starting out as apparently trouble-free. Asked at an afternoon briefing if anything had yet gone wrong, mission manager Jennifer Trosper replied simply, "No." "There are an awful lot of things that have to continue to go right," she added. "There's a lot ahead of us, but so far we're just ecstatic about the performance of the vehicle." The rover comes equipped with an array of sophisticated instruments capable of analyzing samples of soil, rocks and atmosphere on the spot and beaming results back to Earth. One is a laser gun that can zap a rock from 23 feet away to create a spark whose spectral image is analyzed by a special telescope to discern the mineral's chemical composition. Among Curiosity's first tasks will be to chemically analyze the soil near its landing site. "We're on gravel plain of Mars, a somewhat familiar scene," Grotzinger said, noting that the gravel seemed to be quite uniform in size. "We're a complex spacecraft, and simple geology is a good thing to start off with." Scientists are also eager to explore rocks and pebbles that appear to have been transported by flowing water to a fan-shaped region near the landing site. On Monday, the rover was expected to unfurl its dish-shaped antenna so it could better communicate directly with Earth. (Editing by Eric Walsh and Stacey Joyce) ============ Curiosity Parachute Landing Spotted by NASA Orbiter [detail] NASA image captured Aug. 5, 2012 View the full high res file here: www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/7727084278 NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image of Curiosity while the orbiter was listening to transmissions from the rover. Curiosity and its parachute are in the center of the white box; the inset image is a cutout of the rover stretched to avoid saturation. The rover is descending toward the etched plains just north of the sand dunes that fringe "Mt. Sharp." From the perspective of the orbiter, the parachute and Curiosity are flying at an angle relative to the surface, so the landing site does not appear directly below the rover. The parachute appears fully inflated and performing perfectly. Details in the parachute, such as the band gap at the edges and the central hole, are clearly seen. The cords connecting the parachute to the back shell cannot be seen, although they were seen in the image of NASA's Phoenix lander descending, perhaps due to the difference in lighting angles. The bright spot on the back shell containing Curiosity might be a specular reflection off of a shiny area. Curiosity was released from the back shell sometime after this image was acquired. This view is one product from an observation made by HiRISE targeted to the expected location of Curiosity about one minute prior to landing. It was captured in HiRISE CCD RED1, near the eastern edge of the swath width (there is a RED0 at the very edge). This means that the rover was a bit further east or downrange than predicted. The image scale is 13.2 inches (33.6 centimeters) per pixel . HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the orbiter's HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona NASA image use policy. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram === The mountains of Mars: NASA Rover makes incredible discovery as spacecraft beams back images 352million miles from the Red Planet - and it looks just like Earth!The clearest image ever taken of the surface of Mars reveals an Earth-like desert-scape that has been compared to the Mojave in California By Daily Mail Reporter PUBLISHED: 01:50 GMT, 9 August 2012 | UPDATED: 02:27 GMT, 9 August 2012 Comments (0) Share The ancient Martian crater where the Curiosity rover landed looks strikingly similar to the Mojave Desert in California with its looming mountains and hanging haze, scientists said on Wednesday. 'The first impression that you get is how Earth-like this seems looking at that landscape,' said chief scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology. Overnight, the car-size rover poked its head out for the first time since settling in Gale Crater, peered around and returned a black-and-white self-portrait and panorama. This image released by NASA and taken by cameras aboard the Curiosity rover shows the Martian horizon It provided the best view so far of its destination since touching down Sunday night after nailing an intricate landing onto the surface of the Red Planet. During the last few seconds, a rocket-powered spacecraft hovered as cables lowered Curiosity to the ground. More...Curiosity sees an added dimension: First 3D images from the Martian surface beamed back to earth Life on Mars: Internet pranksters show how things could have been when Curiosity touched down (with a little help from Photoshop) Good morning, Mars: Curiosity sends back first colour picture from the red planet In the latest photos, Curiosity looked out toward the northern horizon. Nearby were scour marks in the surface blasted by thrusters, which kicked up a swirl of dust. There were concerns that Curiosity got dusty, but scientists said that was not the case. This NASA image shows a portion of the first 360-degree panoramic view from NASA's Curiosity rover, taken with the Navigation cameras 'We do see a thin coating of dust, but nothing too bad,' said Justin Maki, imaging scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $2.5 billion mission. Scientists were giddy about the scour marks because they exposed bedrock below - information that should help them better understand the landing site. Since landing, Curiosity has zipped home a stream of low-resolution pictures taken by tiny cameras under the chassis and a camera at the end of its robotic arm, which remained stowed. It also sent back a low-quality video showing the last 2 1/2 minutes of its descent. The rover successfully raised its mast packed with high-resolution and navigation cameras. The Mojave Desert which occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States This NASA image shows a Picasso-like self portrait of NASA's Curiosity rover taken by its Navigation cameras, located on the now-upright mast With the mast up, it can begin its photographic days in force, including taking a 360-degree color view of its surroundings as early as Thursday. Grotzinger said he was struck by the Martian landscape, which appeared diverse. There seemed to be harder material underneath the gravelly surface, he said. 'It kind of makes you feel at home,' he said. 'We're looking at a place that feels really comfortable.' Mars, of course, is very different from Earth. It's a frigid desert constantly bombarded by radiation. There are geological signs that it was a warmer and wetter place once upon a time. One of the mission's goals is to figure out how Mars transformed. Curiosity photographed by the Mars Descent Imager instrument known as MARDI, showing the 15-foot (4.5-meter) diameter heat shield when it was about 50 feet (16 meters) from the spacecraft A view through a Hazard-Avoidance camera on NASA's Curiosity rover before and after the clear dust cover was removed. Both images were taken by a camera at the front of the rover. After sailing 352 million miles and eight months, Curiosity parked its six wheels near the Martian equator, where it will spend the next two years poking into rocks and soil in search of the chemical ingredients of life. Nasa has also revealed amazing new images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which captured the Curiosity rover and the components that helped it survive its seven-minute ordeal from space to its present location in Mars' Gale Crater. 'This latest image is another demonstration of the invaluable assistance the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team, and its sister team with the Mars Odyssey orbiter, have provided the Curiosity rover during our early days on the Red Planet,' said Mike Watkins, mission manager for the Mars Science Laboratory mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. 'The image not only satisfies our curiosity, it can provide important information on how these vital components performed during entry, descent and landing, and exactly locate the rover's touchdown site within Gale Crater.' In the image (below) the Curiosity rover is in the center of the image. This amazing image from the HiRise camera shows the Curiosity lander on Mars along with the components of its landing system To the right, approximately 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) away, lies the heat shield, which protected the rover from 3,800-degree-Fahrenheit (about 2,100 degrees Celsius) temperatures encountered during its fiery descent. On the lower left, about 2,020 feet (615 meters) away, are the parachute and back shell. The parachute has a constructed diameter of 71 feet (almost 21.5 meters) and an inflated diameter of 51 feet (nearly 16 meters). The back shell remains connected to the chute via 80 suspension lines that are 165 feet (50 meters) long. To the upper-left, approximately 2,100 feet (650 meters) away from the rover, is a discoloration of the Mars surface consistent with what would have resulted when the rocket-powered Sky Crane impacted the surface. The parachute and back shell of NASA's Curiosity rover strewn across the surface of Mars. 'This is the first of what I imagine will be many portraits HiRISE will be taking of Curiosity on the surface of Mars," said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at JPL. 'The image was taken Monday at about 10:30 p.m. Pacific when MRO was at an altitude of about 186 miles (300 kilometers), and we are getting resolution on the surface down to 1.3 feet (39 centimeters) per pixel.' It is the most expensive and ambitious mission yet to Mars. Its ultimate destination is a mountain towering from the center of the crater floor. Preliminary estimates indicate Curiosity landed four miles away from the base of Mount Sharp, thought to contain intriguing signs of past water - a starting point to learning whether microbial life could exist. Before the one-ton, nuclear-powered Curiosity can start roving, it has to undergo several weeks of tedious but essential health checks. Since it was too heavy to land using traditional air bags, it used a heat shield, parachute, rockets and cables. An orbiting spacecraft spotted the discarded spacecraft hardware, including the ballast weights that were shed soon after entry into the atmosphere. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2185724/The-mountains-Mars-NASA-Rover-makes-incredible-discovery-spacecraft-beams-images-352million-miles-Red-Planet--looks-just-like-Earth.html#ixzz231m8gJ64 ==========

Monday, August 06, 2012

Fire blazes at California refinery; residents ordered indoors

Blaze, blasts hit California refinery Tue, 07 Aug 2012 05:41:22 GMT A series of explosions and fire at an oil refinery in Richmond, California, have sent columns of thick black smoke into the air and forced local residents to stay in their homes. The blaze, raging on for two and a half hours after breaking out, began at around 6:15 p.m. local time on Monday at No. 4 crude unit of Chevron Corp’s refinery. Chevron said in a statement that one person has sustained only minor injury at the refinery. According to authorities, the plant accounts for almost one-eighth of the state's refining capacity and therefore there are serious concerns that gasoline prices could go up in case of prolonged disruption in the facility’s production process. The nearby residents have also been provided shelter to avoid exposure to dangerous chemicals or smoke. California Emergency Management Agency has reported that sulfuric acid and nitrogen dioxide were released during the incident. We are “very disappointed that this happened, and apologize that we are inconveniencing our neighbors,” said Chevron spokesman Walt Gill. The refinery has often been censured for environmental issues. === Fire blazes at California refinery; residents ordered indoors Tue, Aug 07 00:56 AM EDT 1 of 2 By Braden Reddall and Erwin Seba RICHMOND/HOUSTON (Reuters) - A fire struck the core of Chevron Corp's large Richmond, California, refinery on Monday evening, sending flames and a column of smoke into the air and prompting authorities to order nearby residents indoors. The fire, which authorities said was still blazing more than two and a half hours after it erupted, hit the sole crude unit at the 245,000 barrel per day (bpd) plant, which accounts for one-eighth of the state's refining capacity. A lasting outage at the refinery could cause a swift rise in gasoline prices across the West Coast, a region that is isolated from other markets. Nearby residents were advised to shelter in place, an order often given during significant refinery accidents to shield against possible exposure to dangerous chemicals or smoke. Chevron said in a statement that there had been only one minor injury at the refinery, which is celebrating its 110th anniversary. At its peak 10 years ago, it employed over 1,300 people on a site over 2,900 acres, according to its website. Online photos showed the blaze sending a plume of black smoke into the air over the plant, which is located in a densely populated, industrial East Bay suburb of San Francisco. Four Bay Area Rapid Transit stations were shut. "I looked out the window and saw 40 foot flames and black smoke," said Marc Mowrey, a Point Richmond resident who lives about a mile from the plant. He said the smell was not exceptional or very different from other days, but a huge plume of smoke was sitting over Richmond and neighboring El Cerrito. Local residents have periodically criticized the refinery, concerned about environmental issues and the taxes that Chevron pays to the impoverished city of Richmond. NO SPECULATION ON CAUSE Chevron said the fire had started in the No. 4 crude unit at 6:15 p.m. local time, and it was not known when it might be extinguished. Sulfuric acid and nitrogen dioxide were released during the incident, according to a filing with the California Emergency Management Agency. The No. 4 CDU is the only one at the plant, according to documents filed with state regulators, and the status of other units was unknown, although it is common to shut down the entire plant in the event of a major blaze. We are "very disappointed that this happened, and apologize that we are inconveniencing our neighbors," Chevron spokesman Walt Gill told local television. A Reuters reporter who lives nearby said he heard some loud bangs and a siren as the fire erupted, but a Chevron spokesman denied reports of an explosion. Chevron said it would not speculate as to what caused the fire. Any prolonged disruption in production could have a significant impact on the regional fuel markets, particularly gasoline, due to the difficulty in making California's super-clean specifications and the fact that the West Coast region has few immediate alternative supply sources in case of an outage. The crude distillation unit (CDU) is at the heart of the refining process, converting the crude oil coming into a refinery into intermediate feedstock for all other units. It can take months to repair a CDU at a large plant, during which time operations are typically severely limited. A February 17 fire at the CDU of BP Plc's 225,000 bpd Cherry Point, Washington, refinery led to a three-month shutdown and sent the regional price premium to more than $1 a gallon in some places. (Editing by Richard Pullin and Miral Fahmy) ============ Worker killed, another injured after explosion at Oklahoma oil refineryBy NBC News staff Follow @NBCNewsUSOne worker was killed and another injured after an explosion and fire at an Oklahoma oil refinery on Friday night, the owner of the plant, CVR Energy, told NBC News. CVR Energy confirmed that a boiler at the Wynnewood Refinery exploded at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Friday. One worker was fatally injured, the company said. Another employee was taken to an area hospital. Identities of the two employees have not been released. All other employees have been accounted for, according to CVR. Watch US News videos on NBCNews.com Advertise | AdChoicesFire crews were battling a blaze at the refinery, the Oklahoman newspaper reported on its website. The American Red Cross sent volunteers to provide food and water for the firefighters, the paper reported. A stretch of state Highway 17A was shut down due to the explosion on Friday evening. CVR Wynnewood, Oklahoma refinery boiler blast kills worker Fri, Sep 28 23:26 PM EDT HOUSTON (Reuters) - One worker was killed in a boiler explosion on Friday at CVR Energy Inc.'s 70,000 barrel per day (bpd) Wynnewood, Oklahoma, refinery, a company spokeswoman said in a statement. Another refinery employee was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital, according to Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes. There was no fire following the blast, which occurred at about 6:20 p.m. local time (1120 GMT) because the refinery was shut down for a 40-day overhaul, Rhodes said. "There was no threat to Wynnewood or the surrounding communities," Rhodes said. Neither the company nor Rhodes gave details about the injuries employees sustained in the blast. Boilers are required at a refinery to generate steam for electrical power production, and for use in the crude oil refining process. "All other employees are accounted for at this time," said CVR spokeswoman Angie Dasbach. "Company officials are assessing the situation and will provide updates as information becomes available." CVR acquired the Wynnewood refinery when it purchased Gary-Williams Energy Corp for $525 million in December. Wynnewood is located 67 miles south of the state capital of Oklahoma City. (Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Daniel Magnowski) ======== UPDATE 1-CVR Energy plans September work at Oklahoma refinery Thu, Aug 02 15:12 PM EDT HOUSTON, Aug 2 (Reuters) - CVR Energy Inc finished major work that boosted capacity at its Kansas refinery in March, and may do the same for its Oklahoma refinery by 2014, CEO Jack Lipinski said on Thursday. He told analysts the company will launch a 45-day turnaround at its 70,000 barrels-per-day refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, in late September. An even bigger project under consideration is building a $42 million hydrogen plant at the refinery to upgrade its hydrocracker, which had been run as a hydrotreater by its previous owner, Gary-Williams Energy Corp, Lipinski said. Planning and permitting would make it "a 2014-type project," he said during the company's second-quarter earnings conference call. CVR finished a major turnaround at the Coffeyville plant in March, which increased its capacity to more than 120,000 bpd from 115,700 bpd. CVR said the refinery reached a record 125,900 bpd in June. With the Wynnewood turnaround, Lipinski said throughput at both plants in the third quarter would range between 179,000 bpd and 188,000 bpd. CVR released its second-quarter results late Wednesday. Net profit rose nearly 24 percent to $154.7 million, or $1.75 per share, from $124.9 million, or $1.42 per share, a year earlier. CVR shares were down 2.6 percent at $27.46 in Thursday afternoon trading. UPDATE 1-Oklahoma refineries, pipelines unaffected by quakes Sun, Nov 06 17:18 PM EST * 5.6 magnitude quake shook state Saturday night * Largest refinery says operations continue HOUSTON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Crude oil refineries and pipelines in Oklahoma were unaffected by earthquakes that shook the state over the weekend, operators said on Sunday. The strongest quake -- a 5.6 magnitude temblor -- rumbled the region on Saturday night, with aftershocks continuing Sunday in the central area of the state, about 40 miles (64 km) east of the capital Oklahoma City. A spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips' 198,400 barrel- per-day (bpd) refinery in Ponca City, the state's largest, said there was no "damage or operating issues" due to the quake. The refinery is 106 miles (171 km) north of Oklahoma City. Enterprise Products Partners crude oil pipeline connecting the oil transport hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, was not affected by the quake, said company spokesman Rick Rainey. State regulators said oil and natural gas production was unaffected by the earthquakes. Valero Energy Corp said its 85,000 bpd Ardmore, Oklahoma said production continue as normal. Gary-Williams 70,000 bpd refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, also continued operating normally, a spokeswoman said. UPDATE 2-CVR Energy says not looking for another US refinery Thu, Nov 03 15:35 PM EDT * CVR Energy buys coveted Midwest asset * Says will process shale, Canadian crude at plants * Planned turnaround in Q3 2012 at Oklahoma refinery By Selam Gebrekidan Nov 3 (Reuters) - After a six-year search, CVR Energy said on Thursday it has found the perfect asset in the Midwest and is not looking for more. The Texas-based company, which announced on Wednesday it will buy Gary-Williams Energy Corp's 70,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, for $525 million plus $100 million in working capital, said that it is not looking at other refineries in the United States. CVR told analysts on its third-quarter earnings call that the deal was in the making for six years. When completed at the end of the year, it will add to the company's 115,000 bpd refinery in Coffeyville, Kansas. "We want to absorb this first," a company executive said. "It took us six years to get the right one, and we believe we got the right one, so I wouldn't say that we're in the market for another refinery right now," he added. Previous-owner Gary-Williams spent over $100 million for capital improvements at the Wynnewood refinery prior to the deal, which improved the refinery's sour crude processing capacity. The plant can now run 25 to 30 percent sour crude. CVR said it plans to process both tight shale oil produced in the U.S. Midwest and increasing Canadian imports at both the Kansas and Oklahoma plants. The plants will especially benefit from growing production in the Bakken tight oil play in North Dakota, that raised the state's production to a record high above 444,000 bpd. THE MIDWEST EDGE CVR Energy has been among U.S. Midwest refiners to rake massive profits out of the record spread between London-based Brent and U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) over the last year created by a supply glut at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub. Third quarter refinery margins at CVR's Kansas plant alone jumped a whopping 154 percent from last year's levels. Nonetheless, a CVR executive said he expects the spread between Brent and WTI crudes will narrow to the cost of transporting the crude glut in the Midwest to the Gulf Coast refining hub, which will be priced around $3.50 to $4.00 a barrel. The company has its own crude-gathering system with some 36,000 bpd capacity in the Midwest and is currently building an additional 1 million barrel storage at the WTI crude delivery hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, which it expected to be completed in 2012. CVR will undertake planned turnaround at the Wynnewood refinery in the third quarter of 2012 that is expected to last a month. ==========

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Kuwait's Zain says no Q3 impairment on Sudan currency fall

Wed, Aug 01 08:25 AM EDT By Matt Smith DUBAI, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Zain will not book an impairment in the third quarter for its key Sudan unit after the Sudanese pound was devalued by 40 percent in a move that cuts the dollar value of the subsidiary's earnings, the Kuwaiti telecoms operator told Reuters. Khartoum devalued the pound against the dollar in early July, setting the exchange rate at between 4.30 and 4.70, from 2.70 previously. The pound's street value has dropped since South Sudan seceded a year ago, depriving Sudan of three quarters of its oil output as well as its main source of state revenue and foreign currency. "Q3 2012 will show the full impact of the currency devaluation," Zain said in an emailed response to questions. "However, we believe that we will not experience any impairment of the investment." Zain Sudan accounted for a third of the group's 40.3 million customers at March 31. It made a first-quarter net profit of $51.3 million, about a fifth of the group total. At group level, Zain lists earnings in dollars and the Kuwaiti dinar, which is pegged to a basket of currencies in which the dollar has a big weighting. That means Zain Sudan's operating profit in these currencies will be reduced by roughly 40 percent. A dollar shortage means that Zain has not repatriated any earnings to Kuwait from Sudan since the first quarter of 2011. "There are no specific regulations preventing operators from repatriating profits, but the lack of hard currency is making the process more difficult," said Nadine Ghobrial, an EFG Hermes telecoms analyst in Cairo. "Zain Sudan has retained its profits locally to make it a self-financing unit." The Sudanese currency is still significantly overvalued - a dollar bought between 6 pounds and 6.10 pounds on the black market on July 19, close to a historic low of 6.20 reached in May - and further devaluation could be on the cards. Zain and rival operator MTN Sudan - a unit of South Africa's MTN - are likely to avoid taking a writedown by revaluing their non-cash assets to offset foreign-exchange losses arising from the pound's devaluation, analysts said. Sudan's rampant annual inflation - 37 percent in June and expected to rise - has bolstered the value of non-cash items that include property and land. MTN declined to comment on any impairments on the pound's devaluation. Its 2011 annual report states that a 10 percent drop in the pound's value against the rand would have reduced MTN Sudan's pre-tax profit by 239.1 million rand ($28.94 million) last year. The devaluation will also hurt operators in other ways. "It will increase operators' costs because equipment is bought from foreign suppliers and priced in hard currencies," said Matthew Reed, a senior analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media in Dubai. ($1 = 8.2612 South African rand) ($1 = 0.2816 Kuwaiti dinars) (Editing by David Goodman)

Seven dead in shooting at Wisconsin Sikh temple

August 05, 2012 10:35 PM By Brendan O'Brien OAK CREEK, Wisc.: A shooting during Sunday services at a Sikh temple left at least seven people dead, including a gunman, and at least three critically wounded, police and hospital officials said. Four people were shot inside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee and three outside, including a gunman killed by a police officer, said Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt. "This is the best information we have, and this information may change," he told reporters outside the temple. Smiran Kaleka, the niece of one of the wounded men, said an unknown number of gunmen walked into the kitchen of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek about 10:30 a.m. CDT (1530 GMT) and started shooting. She said her mother had told her the shooters were white men. Nalissa Wienke, a spokeswoman for Froedtert & Medical College Hospital, said three men had been brought in wounded and were in critical condition. One was in the operating room, she said. The 20-year veteran officer who exchanged fire with the gunman was hit several times, Wentlandt said. He was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive. Witnesses said hostages were being held inside the temple but police did not confirm this. A man who said his father had been wounded in the incident reported that there had been multiple shooters of Caucasian descent, quoting people inside the temple. "It was a very coordinated thing," the man, identified as Amardeep Kaleka, told police. Police, ambulances and firefighters from Oak Creek and other localities were on the scene at the temple. "How sick do you have to be to walk into a church and shoot it up?" said Smiran Kaleka. Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/International/2012/Aug-05/183503-seven-dead-in-shooting-at-wisconsin-sikh-temple.ashx#ixzz22hn7wQoI (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb) === US army vet identified as temple shooter Tue, 07 Aug 2012 12:22:56 GMT The suspect in the Sikh temple shooting who killed six people in the US State of Wisconsin has been identified as a former US Army soldier with reported links to the white supremacist movement. Wade Michael Page, who was also killed in a shootout with cops, opened fire at a Sikh temple in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek in Wisconsin, where members were gathering for mediation on Sunday. Reportedly the 40-year-old was also the leader of a white supremacist band called End Apathy. In a 2010 interview, Page told a white supremacist website that he became active in white-power music in 2000. Michael Page, of South Milwaukee, was "a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band," the Southern Poverty Law Center said on Monday. The center, which has a database of more than 20,000 people it has identified as white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other members of hate groups, said Page has been on its radar since 2000. Page also posted frequent comments on Internet forums for skinheads, repeatedly exhorting members to act more decisively to support their cause. "Stop hiding behind the computer or making excuses," he wrote last year. The bald, heavily tattooed suspect served in the US Army from 1992 to 1998 as a repairman for the Hawk missile system before switching jobs to train as a psychological warfare specialist. He was demoted and discharged for misconduct. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as many as 30 people were shot by Page, including the president of the temple, Satwant Kaleka. Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Washington-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 incidents in the US since 9/11. On Monday, hundreds of angry Sikh protesters gathered in the Indian capital New Delhi as well as in the northern city of Jammu, shouting slogans and carrying placards that read, “Ban open sale of weapons in USA.” and “Shame, Shame, Shame.” There are approximately 500,000 Sikhs in the US. ============

Saturday, August 04, 2012

SEC seeks more investor protections for U.S. municipal bond market

Tue, Jul 31 13:54 PM EDT By Karen Pierog and Lisa Lambert (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in a report on Tuesday it would seek legislation to improve disclosure in the $3.7 trillion U.S. municipal bond market, which has largely escaped the same level of regulation as other U.S. capital markets. The SEC's report, which was two years in the making, focuses on improving disclosures by states, cities and other debt issuers and on increasing investor protection. The report was put together because of investor concerns about protection and access to timely information in the municipal market, said SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter. There are more than a million different bonds outstanding and individual investors held 75 percent of that debt at the start of 2012. Various laws have limited the SEC's ability to oversee states and local issuers, leading to a hodgepodge of accounting techniques and financial disclosures available to investors weighing whether to purchase their debt. The report is not an investigation of a particular market participant or product, Walter told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. It does, however, seek to address price discovery and price transparency in the marketplace, she said The muni market is largely illiquid, and most bonds do not trade on a daily basis, meaning the pricing of these bonds is largely determined by the banks and brokerages. "One of the big issues in this market is the relative opacity compared to other markets and how much work we have to do to bring true transparency to this marketplace," Walter said.. The SEC enforces rules for the market that are written by a self-regulatory organization made up of banks, issuers and advisers called the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. The MSRB is reviewing how several market indexes are prepared, including those published by Municipal Market Data, a Thomson Reuters company. The MMD benchmarks are used to set rates for the billions of dollars of bonds issued yearly by states, cities and other municipalities. Thomson Reuters has been holding discussions with the SEC and MSRB in the course of their reviews of the muni market. The SEC's report comes at a time when the board that writes the rules for the U.S. municipal bond market is looking at how several muni-market indexes are calculated, in the wake of the scandal involving the London Interbank Offering Rate, or LIBOR. James Smith, CEO of Thomson Reuters Corp, said Tuesday on a conference call following the release of the company's quarterly earnings that "we get lots of questions just across the board on these issues and we are always very forthcoming and cooperative with all regulatory agencies on all the matters that they are investigating. But at this point we do not believe we have any exposure at this point at all. How muni debt is priced in a largely illiquid market is being questioned in the wake of manipulation by a number of banks of the LIBOR rate, which is marginally used in the muni market. "We heard the concerns voiced by many ... that investors in the municipal securities market don't have all the protections and access to information that they need," Walter said on the conference call. The SEC said it is also looking to share information with the Internal Revenue Service on information from returns, audits and examinations of issuers. Because municipal bonds are largely tax-exempt, they are a key asset for wealthy investors seeking good returns from a relatively safe investment. (Reporting by Lisa Lambert in Washington and Karen Pierog in Chicago; editing by Padraic Cassidy and Matthew Lewis)