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Saturday, September 29, 2012

10 Amazing Google Earth and Maps Discoveries

.. 10 Amazing Google Earth and Maps Discoveries By Matt Petronzio | Mashable – 4 hrs ago.. . . Email 8 Print ... . . . Related Content. . .Enlarge Photo. 1. S.S. Jassim Shipwreck .. . . 1. S.S. Jassim Shipwreck In 2003, the S.S. Jassim, a Bolivian cargo ferry, hit shallow water on the Wingate Reef off the coast of Sudan. While the shipwreck itself wasn't discovered on Google Earth, the image of it was, and now it's one of the largest shipwrecks visible on the platform, as well as one of the most searched-for. Image via Google Maps. Click here to view this gallery. [More from Mashable: 6 Apps You Don’t Want to Miss] Today, it's easy to be an explorer -- all you need is a computer, access to satellite technology and a sense of adventure. Google makes it even simpler with Google Earth and Google Maps, letting you travel virtually to any place in the world with just a click of your mouse. Even though the average person can use these services to explore the planet, researchers and other scientific professionals use Google Earth and Google Maps as preliminary tools to analyze areas around the globe, uncovering some pretty amazing things we've never seen before. [More from Mashable: Which Are the Most Social Colleges? [INFOGRAPHIC]] SEE ALSO: Were Two Pyramids Just Discovered in Egypt Using Google Earth? Rebecca Moore, engineering manager of Google Earth Outreach, recently spoke at Mashable's 2012 Social Good Summit about the power of these tools, which include 80 million kilometers of road data, 3D terrains and 20 petabytes of satellite imagery. "There's a very interesting experiment going on right now," she said. "What happens when you put in the hands of the world, for free, the most accurate, comprehensive, detailed, realistic replica of the planet that has ever existed?" The answer is manyfold, but one thing's for sure -- the discoveries are limitless. Check out the gallery for some truly awe-inspiring discoveries that researchers, archaelogists and satellite explorers have made throughout the past decade. Thumbnail image courtesy of Google, YouTube video. This story originally published on Mashable here.

What's the Least Religious Place in the World and What's Its Secret?

The Guardian / By Peter Thompson 178 COMMENTS What's the Least Religious Place in the World and What's Its Secret? A survey taken in this country could not find a single religious person under 28. September 26, 2012 | Cubans walk next to Our Lady of Charity church, which was occupied by 13 Cuban dissidents on March 14, 2012 in Havana. Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. They are sending missionaries to eastern Germany. A recent study called Beliefs About God Across Time and Countries found that 52.1% of people asked whether they believed in God identified themselves as atheists. This compared with only 10.3% in western Germany. Indeed, the survey was unable to find a single person under the age of 28 in eastern Germany who believed in God. Obviously there are some – I think I may have even met some once – but the survey was unable to find them. On the face of it this is an extraordinary finding and it is something that needs some careful explanation. Different reasons are adduced for the absence of religion in the east. The first one that is usually brought out is the fact that that area was run by the Communist party from 1945 to 1990 and that its explicit hostility to religion meant that it was largely stamped out. However, this is not entirely the case. In fact, after initial hostilities in the first years of the GDR, the SED came to a relatively comfortable accommodation with what was called the Church in Socialism. The churches in the GDR were given a high degree of autonomy by SED standards and indeed became the organisational focus of the dissident movement of the 1990s, which was to some extent led by Protestant pastors. In addition to an accommodation with religion, the party also deliberately created alternative poles of integration for the population. Young people were brought up in a highly ideological atmosphere and were required to undergo a so-called Jugendweihe – a sort of atheist confirmation. Interestingly, this ceremony has survived the end of communism and many young people still voluntarily enter into it. Equally, especially under Eric Honecker in the 1970s and 80s, an attempt was made to create a sort of "GDR patriotism", in which figures from Prussian history such as Frederick the Great were put back on their plinths in East Berlin and integrated into the Communist narrative of the forward march of history. Martin Luther, Thomas Münzer and other figures from the Reformation were also recruited into the party. Another factor is that religion in eastern Germany is also overwhelmingly Protestant, both historically and in contemporary terms. Of the 25% who do identify themselves as religious, 21% of them are Protestants. The other 4% is made up of a small number of Catholics as well as Muslims and adherents of other new evangelical groups, new-age sects or alternative religions. The Protestant church is in steep decline with twice as many people leaving it every year as joining. If we were to follow the Weberian line on this, then a highly Protestant area undergoing rapid modernisation would almost automatically experience a process of radical secularisation going hand-in-hand with industrialisation, a process which was only speeded up by the communist obsession with heavy industry. When we look at western Germany however, we see that there Catholics are in a majority and indeed, political power in West Germany has traditionally been built on western-orientated Catholic support for the Christian Democratic Union in the south and west. Indeed, the first chancellor of postwar West Germany, Konrad Adenauer, had been mayor of Cologne in the 1930s and even then was in favour of the division of Germany and a "Rhineland Alliance" as a sort of precursor of the European Union. What all of this means is that rather than simply just being an area that was occupied by the Soviet Union and their satraps in the East German Communist party, the eastern part of Germany has an identity which – almost a quarter of a century on – continues to make unification more difficult than expected. Religious confession, or rather the lack of it, plays an important role in this. This has led some to talk of East German atheism as a form of continuing political and regional identification. For example, in 2000 the Catholic theologian Eberhard Tiefensee identified what he called an "East German folk atheism" which could be argued to constitute a substantial part of a regional identity against West German Catholic domination. Secularisation processes are under way throughout the continent and the role of religion and the church in modernity are being questioned everywhere, from gay marriage to women priests to abortion and on to whether the EU should identify itself as a Christian entity. The question should perhaps be whether it is actually folk atheism that represents the future of Europe

Ancient souk burns as fighting rages in Syria's Aleppo

Sat, Sep 29 11:55 AM EDT 1 of 12 By Erika Solomon BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hundreds of shops were burning in the ancient covered market of the Old City of Aleppo on Saturday as fighting between rebels and state forces in Syria's largest city threatened to destroy a UNESCO world heritage site. The uprising-turned-civil war that is now raging across Syria has killed more than 30,000 people, according to activist groups like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. But beyond the dramatic human cost, many of Syria's historic treasures have also fallen victim to an 18-month-old conflict that has reduced parts of some cities to ruins. Rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad announced a new offensive in Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub of 2.5 million people, on Thursday, but neither side has appeared to make significant gains. In Aleppo, activists speaking via Skype said army snipers were making it difficult to approach the Souk al-Madina, the medieval market of vaulted stone alleyways and carved wooden facades that was once a major tourist attraction. Videos uploaded to YouTube showed dark black clouds hanging over the city skyline. Activists said the fire might have been started by heavy shelling and gunfire on Friday and estimated that 700 to 1,000 shops had been destroyed so far. The accounts are difficult to verify because the government restricts access to foreign media. Aleppo's Old City is one of several locations in Syria declared world heritage sites by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, that are now at risk from the fighting. UNESCO believes five of Syria's six heritage sites - which also include the ancient desert city of Palmyra, the Crac des Chevaliers crusader fortress and parts of old Damascus - have been affected. The British-based Observatory, which has a network of activists across Syria, said Assad's forces and rebels were blaming each other for the blaze. NEITHER SIDE MAKES GAINS Activists also reported heavy clashes at Bab Antakya, a stone gateway to Aleppo's old city, which sits on ancient trade routes and has survived a parade of rulers throughout its construction between the 12th and 17th century. Rebels said they had taken control of the gate, but some activists said the fighting there was continuing and neither side was truly in control. "No one is actually making gains here, it is just fighting and more fighting, and terrified people are fleeing," said an activist contacted by telephone who declined to be named. He said bodies were lying in the streets and residents were not going out to collect them for fear of snipers. By noon on Saturday, 40 people had been killed in fighting across Syria, according to the Observatory. The bloodshed in Syria has escalated since rebels took their fight to the major cities. Activists reported fresh clashes in the capital Damascus and surrounding suburbs and said security forces were torching homes as helicopters buzzed overhead. The revolt, which began in March 2011 as peaceful protests, has become an armed insurgency that is now able to hold ground in Aleppo and rural towns of northern Syria, close to the Turkish border, but can do little to fend off Assad's air force and artillery. Assad has defended the fierce crackdown that spawned the armed rebellion, arguing that he has been fighting Islamist militants funded from abroad. One activist contacted by phone read out text messages that have been sent to all Syrian mobiles since rebels in Aleppo announced their new offensive. The text messages called on the rebels to surrender. "To those who have implicated themselves against the state: Those who have offered you money have left you with two options: You will be killed fighting the state or it will kill you to get rid of you," one message read. "The state is more merciful than you. Think and decide. The Syrian Army." (Editing by Kevin Liffey) ==================================================

Friday, September 28, 2012

Obama blocks Chinese wind farm in Oregon over national security

Fri, Sep 28 17:46 PM EDT 1 of 4 By Rachelle Younglai WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday blocked a privately owned Chinese company from building wind turbines close to a Navy military site in Oregon due to national security concerns. The rare presidential order to block the project comes as Obama campaigns for a second term against Republican Mitt Romney, who has accused him of being soft on China. Ralls Corp, which had been installing wind turbine generators made in China by Sany Group, will now be forced shelve its plans and divest its interest in the four wind farm projects it acquired earlier this year. The wind farm projects were all within or in the vicinity of restricted air space at a naval weapons systems training facility in Oregon, the administration said. "There is credible evidence that leads me to believe" that Ralls Corp and Sany Group "might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States," Obama said in the order issued by the White House. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) had ordered Ralls to stop all construction and operations at its wind farm projects while the government completed its investigation and provided its recommendation to Obama. Although CFIUS reviews dozens of foreign investment deals for potential national security concerns, the president is rarely called upon to issue a formal order as companies usually abandon their deals or divest assets when the panel takes issue with their transaction. The last time a president formally blocked a deal on national security grounds was in 1990 when then President George H.W. Bush stopped a Chinese aero-technology company from acquiring a U.S. manufacturing firm. Obama's decision comes as two other Chinese companies are vying for CFIUS approval. DIVEST Ralls Corp had hired the George W. Bush administration's top lawyer Paul Clement to help represent the company as well as a former U.S. assistant attorney general, Viet Dinh, who helped the Republican administration develop the Patriot Act. But that appeared to do little to convince the current administration to allow the company to resume operations. Ralls Corp, which is owned by two Sany Group executives who are Chinese citizens, now has 90 days to divest all its interests in the project companies. Ralls Corp had no immediate comment. The Treasury Department said Obama's decision was not a precedent for other investments from China or any other country. Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said the United States generally welcomed investment from China but not in every case. "Particularly when you're talking about China, but there's other countries where this is true too, one has to be worried about national security concerns," Blank said in remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations earlier on Friday. CFIUS is chaired by the treasury secretary and includes Blank and other Obama cabinet members, including his secretaries of state, defense and energy. (Additional reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Vicki Allen and Claudia Parsons) ==================== Chinese mogul sues Obama Get short URL email story to a friendprint version Published: 28 November, 2012, 21:58 TAGS: Conflict, China, USA, Globalization, Global economy, Security, Sanctions, Court US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad) President Obama this year ruled against allowing a Chinese man to build a wind farm in Oregon, calling him a ‘national security threat’. Convinced that the president was biased against the Chinese, the man is taking Obama to court. Wu Jialiang, CEO of Ralls Corp. and one of China’s richest men, is challenging Obama in a federal court today on his refusal to let him build a wind farm on US ground he had purchased – even though other foreigners had built businesses in the same area, the Christian Science Monitor reports. “We are suing the president because we do not accept his finding that we are a national security threat. It is not true,” Jialiang said. Ralls Corp. is affiliated with Sany Group Ltd., one of China’s largest and wealthiest private companies with its president ranking as the sixth richest man in China. The company bought four plots of land in Oregon on which it planned to build a wind farm in March. But the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews foreign purchases, blocked the deal, claiming the agency found “credible evidence” that this was a national security risk – especially with its close proximity to a military facility where unmanned drones are tested. After Ralls Corp. disputed the decision, President Obama issued an executive order enforcing the CFIUS ruling. This was the first time a US president used his power to block a business transaction on security grounds in 22 years. Angered by the decision, Sany Group Ltd. filed a complaint against Obama and the CFIUS at a District Court in Washington, claiming that the presidential order exceeded its constitutional rights, since it provided no detailed evidence as to why Ralls Corp. was a national security threat. The company has made numerous investments in Europe, and 15 percent of its total sales are made overseas. Jialiang also expressed frustration with the financial loss his company faced when the executive order was made. “This measure caused us more than $20 million in direct investment losses, excluding indirect losses,” Jialiang said in a press conference in Beijing. The district court judge is now reviewing the case to decide whether or not to accept it. Sany Group Ltd. has threatened to take the case to the US Supreme Court if its complaint is rejected, Forbes reported in mid-November. Although both Chinese and US lawyers find it unlikely that the Chinese company will win the lawsuit against Obama, the case represents China’s increasingly intrepid relationship as a challenger of the US. The case also displays US hesitation to allow Chinese competition on American soil. Chinese investors have frequently complained about US hostility towards them. “When you challenge the Titan, the US, you appear a hero,” Hao Junbo, an expert on transnational legal cases, told the Christian Science Monitor. As China becomes a greater competitor and world power, the US has felt weary about allowing big Chinese investors to bring their businesses to the US for many reasons similar to the country’s former relationship with Japan and Korea. In the 1980’s, Japan was a rising economic challenger. When the Japanese bought the Rockefeller Center, an enormous American symbol and huge investment, Americans worried that the Japanese were trying to undermine them in the business world. Many of Japan’s products were also superior to those produced by the US. But Japan was also a US ally and had no interest in dominating the world politically. The country’s main concern seemed to be selling its products and bringing in cash. Fears about Chinese dominance, on the other hand, are more than just economic. Americans are concerned that China may try to dominate with its political ideologies, which are radically different from Western beliefs. While Japan was not much of a military threat, China’s military power is rising and the country often intervenes in global affairs. Its neighbors have become fearful of the rising power. China has also supported countries that US considers threats or enemies, such as North Korea. China is not just an economic competitor, but a political and military one as well. US fears of Chinese investors are just one indicator of the perception of threat. Jialiang’s company was not the first whose investment was rejected without much of a valid reason: a congressional panel last month branded two Chinese telecommunications companies as potential threats to national security. Huawei and ZTE will now face immense difficulties conducting business in the US. “The US government and people do not think the Chinese government is 100 percent like other ones. They always have doubts; it is cultural and political discrimination,” said Hao Junbo, an expert on transnational legal cases. Jialiang’s fierce confrontation against President Obama is likely to shed light on the US perception of China. “This could well be an indication of things to come when Chinese investors will stand up if they feel they have been badly treated. One could argue that this is a straw in the wind,” Dr. Karl Sauvant, author of the book “Is the US Ready for FDI from China?” told the Christian Science Monitor. ============

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Karachi: 17 more killed during 24 hours

Alerts Intermediate commerce results: Institute of Business Education students make a clean sweep 11:45 AM PST Sectarian hit-men move from killing individuals to targeting families: Police By Faraz Khan Published: September 28, 2012 They suspect it has been going viral after the ISO blast. PHOTO: INP/ FILE KARACHI: It is difficult to decipher a trend if the victims are picked off one by one each day. Isolated reports fail to give the full picture. But now the police are fairly certain that the sectarian revenge killings have taken a new turn: groups and families are being targeted rather than the individual. In the last 30 days, six similar homicides suggest that the Deobandi and Shia militant wings are interlocked in a frightening new spiral. It started on August 18, when suspects from the banned Sipah-e-Mohammad Pakistan killed nine friends affiliated with the Deobandi school of thought in Gulberg and North Karachi within two hours. District West DIG Akram Bharoka believes that the Deobandis were targeted in North Karachi primarily because it was their home territory. The police suspect that the killings were an instant reaction to the bomb blast at the Imamia Student Organisation’s Youm-e-Quds rally which took place earlier that day. A few weeks later, on September 5, suspects from the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or the outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan gunned down an advertising icon and the chairperson of the Islamic Research Centre Trust, Mukhtar Aazmi, and his son Mohammad Baqir. The suspects opened fire on Aazmi’s car as the father and son were heading home from work. Aazmi’s grandson, who was also in the car with them, was injured. Around 19 days later, four brothers affiliated with the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat were shot dead by motorcyclists near Disco Morr, North Karachi. On September 26, 60-year-old Mohammad Raza and his two sons, Kumail and Abbas, were killed in Pan Mandi, Napier Road. As the killings continued, on Wednesday night, three more Shia men were shot dead in two separate murders. In Gulbahar, four men on two motorcycles opened fire at 42-year-old Zafar Ahmed Alvi, said the Rizvia police. According to DSP Rustam Khattak, the suspects started shooting at other people as they tried to escape and killed Zahid Ali Jaffery, 45, and injured three men identified as Altaf, Iqbal Ahmed and Jackson Pervez. The DSP believes that Zafar, who was associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was the prime target. Thirty-five-year-old Zaheer Abbasi was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle in Gulberg after he dropped his son off at school, said the Samanabad police. They believe that he was killed in a sectarian attack. Another Shia man identified as Nisar was shot dead while his brother and cousin were injured in a targeted attack in New Karachi by four men. However, the police suspect that Nisar was killed for personal reasons. Changing trends From an eye for an eye in the 1990s, sectarian attacks have grown to also target mosques, imambargahs and important party workers, religious leaders and scholars. Law enforcers claim that the militants who went to prison for sectarian killings in the 1990s are free now and might have helped train a new set of killers. According to Crime Investigation Department’s SSP Fayyaz Khan, one of the groups had the support of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. “There are several reasons behind the sectarian violence but the recent cases are coming up because of Eidul Azha,” he said. “In the weeks leading to Eid, these people like to flex their muscles to show their strength and collect donations. If you link the previous events together it sort of makes sense – Deobandi scholars were killed and then Shias were killed.” So far the only suspect the police have been able to arrest was an alleged hitman from the banned Sipah-e-Mohammad Pakistan. They claim he killed seven Deobandis near Disco Morr. DIG Bharoka said that the suspect had confessed to being from a militant group which was trying to increase sectarian violence. “We cannot fight this overnight,” he said. “We need to divide into teams and work on solving these cases. That is the only way to combat sectarian violence.” One of the big sectarian killing cases in 1994 was the attack on Major Alay Ali Jaffri’s house in PECHS Block 6. His house, which was also used as a small imambargah and ibadatgah, was attacked one morning by men allegedly from the SSP. CID’s SP Mazhar Mashwani, who at the time was an ASI and in charge of the case, says that the suspects had tied the men up with their cummerbunds and opened fire on them. Five people were injured and two, including Jaffri, were killed. “When we [the police] got there, we had an encounter with the suspects,” he said. “Two of them were killed and we arrested three others, including Shahid, Farhan and Imran.” Mashwani was promoted, became a sub-inspector and received a medal from the president. However, the suspects were later released on bail by the court. Another well known case in the 1990s was the murder of Deobandi scholar Maulana Habibullah Mukhtar near Guru Mandir in 1997. The police managed to arrest two suspects, Tanveer Abbas and Saleem Jaffer, who were later acquitted by the court. They believe that the main suspect, a man identified as Rana, was hiding in Iran. Around a year or so ago, Abbas was murdered in Rizvia. The police suspect that he might have been killed in a mugging. While talking to The Express Tribune, Mashwani said that these target killings are incomparable. “We suspect that these people are not acting alone. They have a strong back-up system,” he said. “In the 1990s, a target killer was hired with a clear-cut reason to kill someone. Like if someone wanted to kill me they would hold against me the fact that I am a policeman and have arrested a lot people. They would monitor my movements and strike within a few day. Now, they are just killing families – there is no clear direction just the motivation to kill.” DEOBANDI (Hardline Sunni) Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Established: 1996 Leadership: Mohammad Ajmal aka Akram Lahori, Malik Mohammad Ishaq, (late) Riaz Basra Headquarters: Jhang, Rahim Yar Khan, Lahore, Karachi Legal status: Banned Strongholds: Presence in southern Punjab and Karachi, as well as Balochistan, because of its close links with the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (see right) The LeJ is a breakaway group of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (dark orange) that has been implicated in and has taken responsibility for attacks on Shias as well as the attack on the CID headquarters in Karachi and the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan Established: 1985 Leadership: (Free) Ahmed Ludhianvi, Orangzaib Farooqui, (behind bars)Ghulam Raza Naqvi, Munawar Abbas Alvi Headquarters: Jhang Legal status: Banned Strongholds: Support in key urban areas of Pakistan as well as rural Sindh and southern and central Punjab The SSP was founded by Haq Nawaz Jhangvi and was reportedly propped up by the establishment as a counter to what it saw was increasing Iranian and Shia influence in the country. It has contested elections in the past and plans to do so in the future. It is a member of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, a coalition of religio-political parties. SHIA Sipah-e-Mohammad Established: 1993 Leadership: Unknown Headquarters: Lahore, Karachi Legal status: Banned Described as a Shia group responsible for executing revenge attacks for the murder of Shias, and opposes the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (see left). Earlier, members had broken away from the Tehrik-e-Jaffaria Pakistan. Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2012. ============ Karachi: 17 more killed during 24 hours September 27, 2012 - Updated 40 PKT From Web Edition 4 0 2 0 KARACHI: Seventeen people, including activists of political and religious parties, were killed in different parts of the metropolis during the last 24 hours on Wednesday. Late on Wednesday, firing incidents claimed three lives in Aisha Manzil, Buffer Zone and Defence phase 6. Earlier, Two people, Zafar Alvi and Zahid Hussain, were gunned down while two others were injured in Rizvia, Gulbahar police limits, near the Zamindaar Chowk. Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Rustam Khan Khattak of Nazimabad said that Alvi was shot outside his house when two armed men riding a motorcycle opened fire on him. He added that the accused were fleeing when they were hit by a motorcycle rider near the Liaquat Chowk, some distance away from the crime scene. Thinking that motorcyclist was a friend of Alvi, the fleeing assailants opened fire on him. Motorcyclist Zahid Hussain and two passersby, Iqbal and Jackson, were injured. The injured were taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where during treatment Alvi and Zahid Hussain succumbed to their injuries. Alvi was also an activist of the MQM of Nazimabad Sector. Later, tension developed in the area where armed men resorted to aerial firing and forced shopkeepers to close their businesses. A case was reported and investigation is underway. Sources said on Wednesday morning, after dropping children at school, Zahir Abbas was heading home when armed men on a motorcycle opened fire at him, killing him on the spot. Station House Officer (SHO) Rashid of the Samanabad Police Station said the police received information on Wednesday morning that a man was shot near the Water Pump Chowrangi. Acting on the tip off, a police van rushed to the spot and moved the injured to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Abbas was a resident of Ancholi. Following the incident, tension developed in Gulbahar, Rizvia, Nazimabad, Gulberg and Ancholi where armed men resorted to aerial firing and forced shopkeepers to close their shops. In a separate case, Naeem Baloch was shot dead in Mominabad police limits on Wednesday morning. Police said that the deceased was a resident of Faqeer Colony of Orangi and was present outside his house when two armed men riding a motorcycle opened fire at him and fled. The injured was moved to the Civil Hospital where he expired. Khalid, 25, was shot dead in the Garden police limits. Police said that the deceased was passing by the Fowara Chowk when two armed men on a motorcycle shot him, injured him and fled. The injured was moved to the Civil Hospital where he expired. The deceased was a resident of the same area. Babar Shahzad's tortured and bullet-riddled body was found from the Kalri police limits. The body of Babar was retrieved from the Mirza Adam Khan Road on Wednesday afternoon. Police said that they shifted the body to the Civil Hospital and also aired a message on the police control. Afterwards, a family approached the police and identified the deceased as a resident of the Old City area. In the Korangi Industrial Area police limits, armed men gunned down Mehar Ali Panhwar, 40. Superintendent of Police (SP) Irfan Bhutto of the Shah Faisal Division said that Mehar Ali, a resident of Mehran Town, Bilal Colony, Korangi, was present outside his house when two armed men on a motorcycle opened fire at him, killing him on the spot. The body was moved to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for post mortem. Investigators termed the murder of Mehar Ali a part of target killings and added that he was also a worker of MQM's Muzafati Committee. Jameel Ahmed Setho was shot dead in the Aziz Bhatti police limits on Wednesday evening within No-15 of Dalmia Society near Golden Kitchen. Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Nasir Lodhi of New Town Division said that Jameel was a reporter of a local newspaper and a resident of Shanti Nagar. On Wednesday evening, two armed men riding a motorcycle shot him and injured him. He was rushed to the JPMC where during treatment he expired. In Kharadar, armed men targeted Bilal Ali, 30. Police said that the deceased was a resident of Defence and came to Kharadar to attend the funeral prayers of some one. When he was returning after offering the prayers at the Napier Road, two armed men on a motorcycle opened fire at him. He was moved to the Civil Hospital where he expired. Investigators termed the murder of Bilal as part of target killings and added that he was a supporter of the MQM. In Surjani Town, two workers of the Pakistan People's Party, Umer Sheikh and Lala Fazal, were gunned down. SHO Irshad Gabol of Surjani Town police station said that the deceased were residents of Sector-7E and owners of a snack bar. On Wednesday night, they were present at their shop when two armed men riding a motorcycle came and injured them. They were moved to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where during treatment they expired. Investigators termed the murder of Umer and Lala Fazal target killings and added that they were active members of PPP of PS-97. Moreover, deceased Umer's relative Feroze was also gunned down in the same area two weeks back. In the Al-Falah area, armed men gunned down Nazeer Nawaz, 60, on Wednesday night. SHO Sarfraz Gondal of Al-Falah police said that the deceased was a resident of Gharib Nawaz Colony and was also the caretaker of Gharib Nawaz Mazar. On Wednesday night, after offering the Esha prayers, he was returning to his house when two armed men on a motorcycle shot him dead on the spot. The body was later moved to the JPMC for post mortem. Investigators termed the murder of Nazeer as target killing and added that his younger son was an active member of the MQM while he was a supporter of the party. Meanwhile, Nisaar Ali was shot dead while Waheed and Nadeem were injured in the New Karachi area. SDPO Chaudhry Mohammed Akhtar of the New Karachi Division said that deceased Nisaar and Waheed and Nadeem were relatives and belonged to Gambat. They used to visit Karachi to sell pampers at the Budh Bazaar in New Karachi. On Wednesday night, they were working at their stall, when two armed men came, opened fire on them, injuring Nisaar, Waheed and Nadeem. They were moved to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where Nisaar expired. Late on Wednesday night, in the Taimooria police limits, Siddique was injured when armed men fired at him from a pick-up van near the People's Chowrangi. He received two bullet wounds and was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he died. In a late night incident, Syed Qasim was shot dead near Dhatmal Bakery. He was the owner of a sweet shop and a resident of Liaquatabad. Empty bullet shells found from various crime scenes have been sent for investigation. Meanwhile, separate cases have been lodged and investigation is underway.

Syrian insurgent cmdr. quits fighting

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Anti-Islam ad appears in NY subway
Tue, 25 Sep 2012 04:48:54 GMT
An advertisement comparing Jihad, the duty of a Muslim to defend his religion, to ‘savagery’ has been posted in several New York City subway stations following a US court ruling allowing such hate ad campaign to be carried out in public.
Top Yemeni intel. officer shot dead
Tue, 25 Sep 2012 06:41:21 GMT
A senior Yemeni intelligence officer has been shot dead in the capital, Sana’a, in yet another assassination attempt targeting senior officials in the volatile country.
‘Dark days awaiting US aggressors'
Tue, 25 Sep 2012 06:44:51 GMT
A senior commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says dark days await US forces in case of an attack against Iran.
‘Overhaul the UN Security Council now’
Tue, 25 Sep 2012 00:10:07 GMT
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for a total structural overhaul of the United Nations Security Council in order to facilitate the observance of the rule of law in international interactions.
'US to soon dump Al Saud a la Mubarak'
Tue, 25 Sep 2012 06:29:03 GMT
Saudi Arabia will face a similar destiny of Washington’s “number one ally,” former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, after its intervention mission in Syria is carried out, an analyst says.
‘Muslims fed up with West’s attitude’
Tue, 25 Sep 2012 02:57:21 GMT
Swiss activist Manfred Petritsch says the West is waging a war against Islam and spirituality in general and Muslims are protesting against the attitude of the West toward Islam, Press TV reports.

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Marion Council calls for South, Marion and Lonsdale roads to be upgraded by State Government

On a small street in the south-west of Adelaide's CBD sits a blue stone building built in 1889. It's one of 340 mosques in Australia and is one of the oldest purpose-built mosques in the western world. But what do we actually know about the history of mosques in Australia? The first mosque in Australia was built in the South Australian town of Marree in 1861 by Muslim cameleers. "They built that mosque as a transit point really," says Professor Mohamad Abdulla from the University of South Australia. "But the interesting thing is that wherever they went they tried to build a mosque." The mosque fell out of use and was abandoned, but a replica was rebuilt in 2003. The Ahmadiyya community were among some of the earliest Islamic communities to arrive in Australia, and have recently established a new mosque in Adelaide's west. "We want to change the image that Islam has in Australia and around the world," says Waleed Shah from the Ahmadiyya community. "We want the mosque to be a symbol of peace rather than it being a place which people are afraid of." Australia Wide reporter Alina Eacott explores the history of mosques in Australia. Marion Council calls for South, Marion and Lonsdale roads to be upgraded by State Government Holly Petersen Guardian Messenger September 26, 201212:16PM •TELL US BELOW: How can Marion, South and Lonsdale roads be improved? Marion Council is seeking road maintenance on South, Lonsdale and Marion roads as the road is in terrible condition. Lots of potholes, manholes and uneven surfaces on Marion Rd. Picture: Roger Wyman Source: adelaidenow Road safety Does the State Government need to improve South, Marion and Lonsdale roads? Yes No Vote now .. End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar. MARION Council will lobby the State Government to improve South, Marion and Lonsdale roads. Cr Luke Hutchinson, who successfully moved the motion at last night's council meeting to approach the government, said years of neglect and a lack of maintenance had left the arterial roads with uneven and dangerous surfaces. "They have saved money by not raising the necks of manhole covers," he said. "They've left them where they are and when they have sealed the road it's been raised around that." The 2012 AAMI Crash Index Study showed an area of South Rd in front of Castle Plaza had the highest accident rate of any road in Adelaide. Cr Hutchinson told the meeting many residents had expressed concerns about the state of the roads. "The State Government has got its priorities wrong and wasted money on off peak roads," he said. "We need to make sure the right thing is done with the money." The council passed the motion unanimously. The Guardian Messenger is seeking a response from the State Government. A spokeswoman for Minister Conlon said upgrades to arterial roads were undertaken as necessary. "The Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure maintains all roads under its care and control in a safe condition," the spokeswoman said. "All road upgrades, including major resurfacing works, are planned and programmed to ensure the most efficient use of available funds across the state." =========== Calls for council mergers are 'short-sighted', says Local Government Association CEO Wendy Campana by: Alice Higgins From: City Messenger September 28, 2012 10:41AM Increase Text SizeDecrease Text SizePrintEmail Share Add to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to FacebookAdd to KwoffAdd to MyspaceAdd to NewsvineWhat are these? •TELL US BELOW: What could your council do better? Local Government Association CEO Wendy Campana. Picture: Helen Orr Source: adelaidenow Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar. Local Government Should more SA councils merge? Yes No Vote now End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar. COUNCILS are well positioned to take on a greater role in providing social welfare, battling climate change and promoting water security, Local Government Association CEO Wendy Campana says. But any moves to merge councils would be a "short-sighted" response to tackling service shortfalls, as there was no "fat" in municipal budgets, she said. And ultimately the community would decide what services councils did or did not provide, she said. Ms Campana made the comments during a wide-ranging interview to discuss a major review of all SA councils, announced last month. The LGA is calling for submissions from councils, residents, businesses and community groups to help shape the review in to the future of councils. Ms Campana urged people to start an "intelligent debate" about the best way councils could serve their communities. "I think the environmental management area, locally and regionally, is going to increase (for councils)," Ms Campana said. "Climate change impacts, water security, water provision ... they are some of the areas I think we're going to see an increase in activity (from councils). "There is also a growing expectation that we (councils) are providing a lot more social services." Speaking broadly on issues affecting local government, Ms Campana said: COUNCILS needed to work together to share more services; STATE and federal governments needed to increase funding to South Australian councils; COMPULSORY voting in council elections could lead to party-political dominance, and; RECENT rate rises in the order or 5-9 per cent were needed to pay for services. Ms Campana said the scale of reform needed would be determined by community feedback and she was confident councils would deliver on the need for change. She said councils could be more efficient by sharing services and slashing red tape, but there was no need to cut staff. "I haven't seen evidence of fat at all," Ms Campana said. "Communities want councils to do more, not less." She rejected the idea that creating a handful of "super councils" would reduce costs. "Amalgamations are not the panacea to some of those issues," she said. "The jump to amalgamations as the solution for whatever problems they have is short-sighted. "Amalgamations are there to achieve particular outcomes and no-one has told me the outcomes we're trying to achieve yet." She hoped the review would better define what services each tier of government was responsible for. Review submissions close on Wednesday, October 31. Details: www.lga.sa.gov.au ============

Monday, September 24, 2012

Exclusive: Iraq pipeline delays threaten Shell's Majnoon

EPCC OF Export Pipeline for Garraf Contract Area Client: Petronas Caligari Iraq Holding B.V. End User: Iraqi South Oil Company / Ministry of Oil. Project Descreption The project is EPCC of the export pipeline for Garraf Contract Area to export the crude oil from the FCP at Garraf to Ahdep Pipeline which exports the crude oil further to the government depot at Nasseryah city. The project consists of 8km of 18" pipeline with the related facilities such as fiberoptic, leak detection system, launching and recieving stations, 2 block valve stations and the required tie-ins. The project consists as well around 500m river crossing by HDD method. MEE has provided the HDD machine first time to the Iraq market and provided the experts required to perform the job and train the Iraqi experts on this technology. MEE has performed the engineering phase in its engineering offices in UAE and sourced reliable vendors worldwide through its office in UAE and USA to ensure an optimum performance for the project. Construction has started in Dec. 2011 and the project is in its final levels tostart the commissioning phase in July 2012. W91GY0-09-C-0219 - Contract was with USACE / GRC. - End User Iraqi Ministry of Defence. - Project Period was 120 days. MEE was awarded this project in 2009 as EPCC the project is for design and construct a Vynil structure maintenance facility with a total area of 372 sq.m and 7m peak height. MEE performed the structural, HVAC, Electrical and lighting design and provided Clamshell brand structure based on MEE design. the project included lighting, dors, windows, roll up doors, HVAC system, electrical distribution system and electrical connections to the sources. The project was completed at time and turned over to the client with high satisfaction. AMI-CON-2009-021 - Contract and owner was UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI). - Project cost with modifications: $848,705. - The project started in September 2009 and turned over to the client in March 2010. MEE was awarded this project as EPCC contract. the job included doing the static and dynamic analysis for 120mm mortar and design an overhead protection structure for the UNAMI HQ in Baghdad / International Zone. The job included a steel structure to bear the explosion affects including a pre-detonation layer. This project was awarded to a Qatari company and it couldn’t it failed to do the required design so it was terminated and then awarded to MEE. MEE has designed the required steel sections and did the procurements from a Turkish manufacturer. the project included as well the foundation earth works, side protection and OHP. MEE has completed the project successfully and turned over to the client with high satisfaction. ================= Sun, Aug 26 09:40 AM EDT By Ahmed Rasheed BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Delays in Iraq's pipeline construction threaten to stall production at Royal Dutch Shell's (RDSa.L) Majnoon oilfield for at least three months, forcing the field to miss a 2012 target of 175,000 barrels per day, oil ministry documents showed. Wary of losses, Shell has asked Iraq for a waiver to start recovering costs if Majnoon does not meet its first commercial production target by year-end - a contract requirement before costs can be retrieved, according to documents seen by Reuters. Shell's troubles illustrate infrastructure hurdles facing oil operators in the OPEC nation. Some oil majors have begun signing deals with Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, which they say offers more attractive conditions than the country's federal government in southern oilfields. Majnoon is shut for maintenance. But lagging development could put off completion of the new pipeline until the first quarter of next year, according to a Shell document filed with the oil ministry. "A key concern ... remains the uncertain delivery of the First Commercial Production (FCP) pipeline," said the official letter sent by Shell's managing director of Majnoon. Another oil ministry document showed Shell had requested the South Oil Company (SOC) chief review its proposal to start retrieving costs by the end of 2012 in case Iraq failed to provide an export route to handle Majnoon's output. "This principle will reduce significant investment risk," the document said. One senior Iraqi oil ministry official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the matter, acknowledged pipeline progress was slow. But he said Shell was also behind on development at Majnoon to boost output. The 12.6 billion barrel Majnoon oilfield is one of the major fields alongside Rumaila, West Qurna Phase One and Zubair that Iraq is developing with foreign companies in the south as it recovers from years of war and sanctions. In February, production at Majnoon was 54,000 bpd, Shell says, but on average for the first quarter of this year, output was 18,600 bpd, far below the planned year-end target. Production at the field was around 45,000 bpd when Shell took over in 2010. Shell has since spent around $1 billion, and planned to invest another $1 billion in 2012. OUTDATED PIPELINE The existing 28-inch Majnoon pipeline cannot cope with the projected increase in crude production. In May last year, Iraq and its partners Shell and Malaysia's Petronas awarded Dubai-based Dodsal Group a $106 million contract to build a 79-km (50-mile) pipeline from Majnoon to a crude storage depot near Zubair in southern Iraq. The oil ministry rejected the deal on costs and handed the project to an oil ministry affiliate. Oil officials say the pipeline is not expected to be finished until March 2013. Still, Iraq's contracts directorate has ruled "financial dues will be paid after the first commercial production," occurs, according to the oil ministry documents. The Iraqi oil official said state-run companies are already working to speed up pipeline construction, and China Petroleum Pipeline (CPP) was contracted recently to build part of the line. But drilling operations in Majnoon are moving at a slow pace, the official said, with only three wells completed since a contract for 15 wells was awarded in August 2010. Questioning Shell's ability to meet the 175,000 bpd 2012 target, he said two production facilities with a capacity for processing 100,000 bpd of crude, essential for increasing production, were still unfinished at Majnoon. Requests to Shell for comment on the documents were not answered. Majnoon oilfield shutdown for maintenance work on June 26 and a company spokesman said it was difficult to estimate how long the repair work would take. One ministry document said the shutdown could last at least four months starting from July 1, 2012. Majnoon is just one part of Shell's Iraq portfolio. Europe's largest oil company has a significant foothold in Iraq, with a stake in a $17 billion gas joint venture and a minority shares in the West Qurna-1 oilfield, led by Exxon Mobil (XOM.N). (Editing by Patrick Markey and Helen Massy-Beresford) ============== UPDATE 1-Shell says may miss 2012 Majnoon output target Tue, Sep 18 06:03 AM EDT DUBAI, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell's Majnoon oilfield in Iraq, hampered by pipeline construction delays, may miss a 2012 target of 175,000 barrels per day. "It would be fair to say the progress has been slower than we originally hoped," Mark Carne, executive vice president for Middle East and North Africa at Shell Upstream International, said on Tuesday. "But I am very pleased with how the project is developing." Asked if the 2012 target of 175,000 barrels per day could slide into next year, Carne said: "It is certainly plausible". Wary of losses, Shell has asked Iraq for a waiver to start recovering costs if Majnoon, which shut for maintenance on June 26, does not meet its first commercial production target by year-end - a contract requirement before costs can be retrieved, according to documents seen by Reuters. The 12.6 billion barrel Majnoon oilfield is one of the major fields alongside Rumaila, West Qurna Phase One and Zubair that Iraq is developing with foreign companies in the south as it recovers from years of war and sanctions. In February, production at Majnoon was 54,000 bpd, Shell says, but on average for the first quarter of this year, output was 18,600 bpd, far below the planned year-end target. "(Production) varied but 54,000 bpd was probably the highest or maybe 60,000 bpd," Carne told Reuters. "It was around that because the facilities couldn't handle any more and the pipeline couldn't any more. This is the reason we're making the investment." Production at the field was around 45,000 bpd when Shell took over in 2010. Shell has since spent around $1 billion, and planned to invest another $1 billion in 2012. "The new facilities will have a capacity of 100,000 bpd and then the refurbished brownfield facilities will also have a capacity of 100,000 bpd, so when it all comes onstream, we'll be easily able to meet the 175,000 bpd," Carne said. The existing 28-inch Majnoon pipeline cannot cope with the projected increase in crude production. In May last year, Iraq and its partners Shell and Malaysia's Petronas awarded Dubai-based Dodsal Group a $106 million contract to build a 79-km (50-mile) pipeline from Majnoon to a crude storage depot near Zubair in southern Iraq. The oil ministry rejected the deal on costs and handed the project to an oil ministry affiliate. Oil officials say the pipeline is not expected to be finished until March 2013. Majnoon is just one part of Shell's Iraq portfolio. Europe's largest oil company has a significant foothold in Iraq, with a stake in a $17 billion gas joint venture and minority shares in the West Qurna-1 oilfield, led by Exxon Mobil. =========== China's CNPC overseas equity oil output up 4.6 pct in H1 Wed, Jul 11 00:52 AM EDT BEIJING, July 11 (Reuters) - Overseas equity oil and gas production of China National Petroleum Corp., parent of PetroChina , rose 4.6 percent on year to 25.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent in the first half of this year, the company said. CNPC's crude oil output at Iraq's Rumaila oilfield was 12.06 million tonnes in the January-June period, 1.93 million tonnes more than its target, the company, known as CNPC, said in an in-house newsletter seen on Wednesday. Production at Iraq's Al-Ahdab oilfield and its projects in Venezuela, Singapore and Kazakhstan also exceeded their production plans, it added without giving further details. CNPC said last month that the first phase of Iraq's Halfaya oilfield had started operating and had a production capacity of 5 million tonnes per year, or 100,000 barrels per day. (Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Ed Lane) ========== Oil law committee members named Parliament Oil and Energy Committee Chairman Adnan Janabi gives a press conference in Baghdad. (BEN VAN HEUVELEN/Iraq Oil Report) By Ben Lando, Ben Van Heuvelen and Staff of Iraq Oil Report Published September 26, 2012 Safahuddin al-Safi will join Iraqiya's Adnan Janabi and the Kurdistan Alliance's Farhad al-Atrushi on a five-member special committee charged with drafting a new oil law, after six years of political deadlock on the issue. The committee will "negotiate the oil and gas draft law to be referred to the Cabinet, and come out with one formula, under the supervision of the Presidency (of Parliament)," according to a Sept. 17 order signed by Speaker of Parliament Usama Nujaifi, a copy of which was o... ============ Missan heralds oil boom with Halfaya opening Iraq Oil Minister Abdul Karim Luaibi (left), Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein al-Shahristani (center) and Missan Oil Company Director General Ali Maarij (right) at the official inauguration of the Halfaya oil field. (STAFF/Iraq Oil Report) By Jewdat al-Sai'di and Staff of Iraq Oil Report Published July 19, 2012 HALFAYA OIL FIELD - The Iraqi government officially opened the Halfaya oil field Wednesday, marking the emergence of Missan as a major new source of oil that is on track to become Iraq's second-largest producing province. "Today we celebrate the completion of an important national achievement, which we've always dreamed of – the opening of this important project," said Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani, speaking at a ceremony at Halfaya. The 4.1 billion barrel field is currently pumpin... ========= Basra farmers protest oil displacements Basra’s farmers say the oil industry is “occupying” their land – and that the one thing the Iraqi government is forgetting in its race to get oil firms in and farmers out, is the rising cost of the food Iraq can no longer grow itself. Just over a year ago, Saleh Mohammed was farming in [...] Published September 28, 2012 Waheed Ghanim reports for Niqash: Basra’s farmers say the oil industry is “occupying” their land – and that the one thing the Iraqi government is forgetting in its race to get oil firms in and farmers out, is the rising cost of the food Iraq can no longer grow itself. Just over a year ago, Saleh Mohammed was farming in the Qurna area, west of the southern Iraqi city of Basra. But then the oil companies came. And today the land that Mohammed once farmed belongs to international oil giant, Exxon Mobil. And Mohammed himself works as an employee on the periphery of one of the oil production facilities. =========== Maliki declines invitation from Erdogan Speaking during an interview with Iraq's semi-official al-Iraqiya television, Maliki cited another planned foreign visit in his rejection of the invitation, adding that he had penned "a letter of thanks" to the Turkish premier. Turkish diplomatic officials confirmed on Wednesday that Maliki had been invited to attend the upcoming party congress of the AK Party, [...] Published September 27, 2012 Trend reports: Speaking during an interview with Iraq's semi-official al-Iraqiya television, Maliki cited another planned foreign visit in his rejection of the invitation, adding that he had penned "a letter of thanks" to the Turkish premier. Turkish diplomatic officials confirmed on Wednesday that Maliki had been invited to attend the upcoming party congress of the AK Party, scheduled for Sept. 30. Click here for the full press release Related Stories •Maliki security consolidation prompts Kurdish outcry Maliki security consolidation prompts Kurdish outcry The prime minister is increasing his direct control over security forces in Iraq's most sensitive disputed areas – straining tensions and gaining key leverage over Kurdistan. An Iraqi Army soldier stands guard near a concrete blast wall in Kirkuk. (STAFF/Iraq Oil Report/Metrography) By Ben Van Heuvelen, Kamaran al-Najar, and Adam al-Atbi of Iraq Oil Report Published September 27, 2012 Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is drawing intense criticism for his attempts to consolidate control over security forces in Kirkuk, Salahuddin, and Diyala provinces – a show of strength that is straining tensions between Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. Maliki has ordered a reorganization of security forces in those three provinces – including areas claimed by both Iraqi Arabs and Kurds, which contain billions of barrels of oil and gas prospects – under the unitary auth... ===========

Love affair between Bilawal, Hina Rabbani Khar emerges

By Web Desk - Sep 24th, 2012 (50 Comments) 344Social media is abuzz with a shocking revelation of love affair between Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. A Bangladeshi weekly tabloid claimed that one of the Western intelligence agencies have romantic relations between youngest foreign minister of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar and Bilawal Bhutto, the son of President Asif Ali Zardari and slain Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. It said the intelligence report even indicated a ‘cold feud’ between the father and the son, following Bilawal’s decision of marrying Hina Rabbani Khar, as she is poised to end her marital relations with millionaire businessman Firoze Gulzar, from whom she has two daughters named Annaya and Dina. The weekly tabloid quoting sources said that President Asif Ali Zardari is vehemently opposing his son’s willingness of knotting marital relations with a woman with two children, saying it would not only jeopardize Bilawal’s political career but would also invite political doom for the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). It added Being aggrieved by his son’s ego and determination in making family with Hina Rabbani Khar, Asif Ali Zardari played key-role behind using country’s intelligence agencies in spreading the scandal about the evasion of electricity bills worth 70 million Rupees by Galaxy Textile Mills, a company owned by Khar’s husband Firoze Gulzar and father-in-law. The media reports also alleged that she and her husband are also among many other beneficiaries of NRO – an ordinance drafted to save corruption money and provide immunity to the corrupt. It claimed that, at this stage, sensing his father’s aggressive attitude towards Hina Rabbani Khar, Bilawal expressed anger and even threatened of resigning from the post of Presidency of Pakistan People’s Party. The tabloid said Bilawal told Asif Ali Zardari that he would settle in Switzerland with Hina Rabbani Khar and her daughters, though later he even told his father that, Hina might leave her daughters with her husband after the divorce. It said that Bhutto’s mother Benazir Bhutto left a hidden wealth worth a few billion dollars in Switzerland and Bilawal is the legal nominee of all those properties. The tabloid claimed that the secret affairs between Bilawal Bhutto and Hina Rabbani Khar came to the knowledge of Asif Ali Zardari, when the duo was caught in compromised situation inside the official residence of the President, where his son Bilawal Bhutto also resides. Later, President Zardari collected mobile call records between Bilawal and Hina and found evidences of relations between the two. The relations became much exposed to Asif Ali Zardari, when Hina Rabbani Khar sent Bilawal a greeting card on his birthday on September 21, 2011 with hand-written message stating – “The foundation of our relations is eternal and soon we shall be just ourselves.”

In New York, defiant Ahmadinejad says Israel will be "eliminated": Jewish prayers: "May the Christians perish in an instant"

Posted 27 September 2012 - 01:04 PM Kissinger agrees with Ahmedinejad about Israel fate!!! Many Jews and non-Jews were surprised to read the statement of former Professor Kissinger assistant concerning Israeli longevity. According to her, Dr Kissinger had said that Israel will not survive another 10 years. That is despite the thousands of Jewish Political Gurus, Israeli huge stockpiles of all types of weapons of mass destruction, AIPAC and MOSSAD conspiracies, dirty works and assassinations and billions of US tax payers money; Israel may not survive another decade. Besides Ahmedinejad who publicises his known anti-Israeli rhetoric, millions throughout the world may have reached the same conclusion as Professor Kissinger. The mathematic of reality does'nt favour Israel. To start with the USA is fed up being a party to all Israeli atrocities and violations. The authority of pro-American Arab military dictarors, Kings, Emirs and Sultans is being degraded by the day and a strong Islamic current is threatening to flood the areas surrounding Israel. And instead of being an asset, Israeli stockpile of Nuclear weapons is becoming a liability. At this very moment, Israel is in breach of 39 security council resolutions. If Israel launch an attack on Iran, the Kissinger ten-year may be drastically reduced. So the Jews will look for a place to emigrate to after settling in Israel since 1948. This fate is expected from a country that has been led by terrorists (Begin, Shamir, Netanyahu), assassin (Barak), criminal (Sharon), and a rapist (Kassav). Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times
"What's clear is that, around the world, there are still a lot of threats out there." Obama's remarks were collected by pool reporter David Boyer of the Washington Times.
Foreign invaders of Arab and Muslim lands will eventually disappear! Started by Adnan Darwash, Sep 21 2012 01:36 PM Posted 21 September 2012 - 01:36 PM The Crusaders (collected from various countries) launched 10 crusades. They were eventually defeated and their remnants dissipated like water in the vast Arabian desert. In our recent history, the French colonised Algier between 1830 and 1960. They were defeated despite having 300,000 of the toughest and crueliest foreign legionaires (collected from various countries). The Jews (collected from various countries) have been killing Arabs (Muslims and Christians) and taking their lands to establish and expand the Jewish state formed in 1948. By stupidity, arrogance or sheer confidence and faith, Arabs will not accept defeat as a fact or forget their losses. The agressors and the invaders were always made to pay. This must surprise the short-sighted, crafty Jews and their mentors, the American zombies. The current USraeli crusade against Arabs and Muslims is another chapter of our long history. The heroic Iraqi and Afghani resistance fighters and later the Libyans, want Arabs and Muslims to teach historical lessons to the later-day crusders and to the uncivilised invaders. The near-sighted Jews never ask themselves why they have been the most hated nation on earth for the last 3000 years. Expulsion and extermination in Britain, Spain and Germany did not teach them a lesson. Their stubborness will lead them to another disaster making Hitler´s holocaust a day on the beach. They have introduced all types of weapons of mass destruction to the Middle East. They have been using their money to finance Western politicians launching Jewish wars on Arabs and Muslims. Furthermore, the Jews have been very successful at burning all bridges in case they decide on beating a retreat. Well, the formula for defeating the Zionist conspiracies is easy, but the execution is somewhat complex. It must begin with exposing Jewish anti-Christ benedictions in their prayers in order to cut any support from the Church. And will end with rallying Arabs and Muslims to defeat American forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya and Syria. The Jews are depending heavily on US support to carry out Nazi-type atrocities against Arabs. The defeat of America will automatically mean the end of the state of Israel in its current rogue status. The Christian fundamentalists must know of this example of former Jewish prayers: "May the Christians perish in an instant" The Jewish establishment was vehemently against Jesus Christ (whose mother was a Jew) and his teachings. Jesus´s message of love and forgiveness was in direct conflict with the Jewish code of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" albeit both messages were presumed to be from the same God. The Jews were accused by the Church of betraying Jesus to the Romans that led to his crucification. In their prayers, 18/19 benedictions (Birkat ha-minim) Jews included the following: For apostates (meshummadin) let there be no hope, and the arrogant kingdom be speedily uprooted in our day. May the Nazerenes (Nozerim=Christians) and the heretics (minim) perish in an instant. May be blotted out of the book of the living, and may they not be written with righteous (ps.69:29). Blessed are you O Lord, who subdues the arrogant. It is not only the hated Israelis who are enjoying the Arab and Muslim wrath, but the stupid Americans who are financing Jewish atrocities and becoming a party to all Israeli crimes and atrocities. After the Israelis, the Americans are the most hated people in the world today. For this reason, many Arabs and Muslims are currently settleing scores with the Americans whenver they get a chance. Posted 20 September 2012 - 09:47 AM It is puzzling why Hilary Clinton fails to understand the Muslims’ reaction? The common American citizen is close to being brain washed, believing that the US is a force for the good of people giving generous aids, spreading democracy and liberating countries. Naturally, the US media, controlled by moguls and power centres, share the blame for not telling the people the other side of US foreign policy. During the cold war, the Americans were supporting autocrats and despot, the likes of Pinochet, Carlos, the Shah, the Saudi Royal Family and General Mobuto; of Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, respectively. CIA agents had been involved in assassinating intellectuals and opponents of US foreign policy. After September 11, the war on terror was translated into a war on Islam and Muslims. Kidnapping and torturing of Muslims were practiced on a very large scale. Most of the economic sanctions were imposed on Muslim countries. Three Muslim countries, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were destroyed and their governments were toppled. Syria is on its way to qualify as a failed state. The US drones continue to Kill Muslims. Not to mention the way passengers with Muslim names are treated as criminals at the US borders. The US anti Arab and anti Muslim practices are clearly demonstrated in the refusal of the US to accept Palestine as a member of the UN and for supporting the Israeli crimes in Gaza. Thanks to Wikileaks.com, a large number of US conspiracies and atrocities were exposed. If Hilary Clinton is oblivious to these facts, one must feel sorry for the hapless people living in the Bible Belt of America. Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times ============== In New York, defiant Ahmadinejad says Israel will be "eliminated" Mon, Sep 24 16:35 PM EDT By Louis Charbonneau NEW YORK (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday disregarded a U.N. warning to avoid incendiary rhetoric and declared ahead of the annual General Assembly session that Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be "eliminated." Ahmadinejad also said he did not take seriously the threat that Israel could launch a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, denied sending arms to Syria, and alluded to Iran's threats to the life of British author Salman Rushdie. The United States quickly dismissed the Iranian president's comments as "disgusting, offensive and outrageous." "Fundamentally we do not take seriously the threats of the Zionists," Ahmadinejad, in New York for this week's U.N. General Assembly, told reporters. "We have all the defensive means at our disposal and we are ready to defend ourselves." "Iran has been around for the last seven, 10 thousand years. They (the Israelis) have been occupying those territories for the last 60 to 70 years, with the support and force of the Westerners. They have no roots there in history," he said, referring to the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948. "We do believe that they have found themselves at a dead end and they are seeking new adventures in order to escape this dead end. Iran will not be damaged with foreign bombs," Ahmadinejad said, speaking through an interpreter at his Manhattan hotel. "We don't even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they (the Israelis) represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated," he added. In 2005, Ahmadinejad called Israel a "tumor" and echoed the words of the former Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, by saying that Israel should be wiped off the map. Ahmadinejad said the nuclear issue was ultimately between the United States and Iran, and must be resolved via talks. "The nuclear issue is not a problem," he said. "But the approach of the United States on Iran is important. We are ready for dialogue, for a fundamental resolution of the problems, but under conditions that are based on fairness and mutual respect." "We are not expecting a 33-year-old problem between the United States and Iran to be resolved in a speedy fashion," Ahmadinejad said. "But there is no other way besides dialogue." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted Israel could strike Iran's nuclear sites and criticized U.S. President Barack Obama's position that sanctions and diplomacy should be given more time to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran denies it is seeking nuclear arms and says its atomic work is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity. On Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Ahmadinejad and warned him of the dangers of incendiary rhetoric in the Middle East. Ahmadinejad, who has used previous U.N. sessions to question the Holocaust and the U.S. account of the 9/11 attacks, did not heed the warning and instead alluded to his previous rejection of Israel's right to exist. In Washington, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel's security. "President Ahmadinejad's comments are characteristically disgusting, offensive and outrageous. They underscore again why America's commitment to the security of Israel must be unshakeable, and why the world must hold Iran accountable for its utter failure to meet its obligations," Vietor said. The United States also officially linked Iran's state oil company to the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a move that enables Washington to apply new sanctions on foreign banks dealing with the company. Ahmadinejad also addressed a high-level U.N. meeting on the rule of law on Monday, and his remarks there prompted a walkout by Israel's U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor. "Ahmadinejad showed again that he not only threatens the future of the Jewish people, he seeks to erase our past," Prosor said in a statement. "Three thousand years of Jewish history illustrate the clear danger of ignoring fanatics like Iran's president, especially as he inches closer to acquiring nuclear weapons." Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted on Sunday as saying that Iran could launch a pre-emptive strike on Israel if it was sure the Jewish state was preparing to attack it. Obama will underscore his commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and address Muslim unrest related to an anti-Islamic video in his speech to General Assembly on Tuesday, the White House said. 'BULLYING COUNTRIES' At the meeting on the rule of law, Ahmadinejad said states should not yield to rules imposed "by bullying countries." He is due to speak at U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday. Western envoys typically walk out of Ahmadinejad's U.N. speeches in protest at his remarks. Ahmadinejad said on Monday that conditions in Iran - under U.N., U.S. and European Union sanctions over its nuclear program - were not as bad as portrayed by some and the country could survive without oil revenues. There will be high-level side meetings on Iran's nuclear program and the Syrian conflict during the General Assembly, but U.N. diplomats do not expect either issue to be resolved soon. Ahmadinejad's annual visits to New York, a city with a sizable Jewish population, are routinely met with protests against his anti-Israel rhetoric. The New York Post newspaper said on Monday it tried unsuccessfully to deliver to his delegation a Jewish-themed welcome basket containing traditional Jewish foods, such as Gold's Borscht and Manischewitz Gefilte Fish, as well as a ticket to the off-Broadway play "Old Jews Telling Jokes." 'WE SEEK PEACE IN SYRIA' Ahmadinejad rejected charges by the United Nations and Western officials that Iran is sending arms to pro-government forces in Syria fighting rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad. "The so-called news that you alluded to has been denied vehemently, officially," he said to a question. "We see both sides as equally our brothers," he said. "The intervention and meddling from outside have made conditions that much tougher. We must help to quell the violence and help ... (facilitate) a national dialogue." Ahmadinejad also was asked about a move by an Iranian religious foundation to increase its reward for the killing of Rushdie in response to a California-made anti-Islam video called "The Innocence of Muslims" that has sparked anti-American protests around the Muslim world. "Where is he now?" Ahmadinejad asked of Rushdie. "Is he in the United States? If he is, you shouldn't broadcast that for his own safety. Rushdie, an Indian-born British novelist who has nothing to do with the video, was condemned to death in 1989 by Khomeini, Iran's late leader, over his novel "The Satanic Verses," saying its depiction of the Prophet Mohammad was blasphemous. Ahmadinejad appeared to reject Washington's position that while it condemns the video's content, freedom of expression must be upheld. "Freedoms must not interfere with the freedoms of others," Ahmadinejad said. "If someone insults, what would you do? ... Is insulting other people not a form of crime?" (Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Writing by Michelle Nichols and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Will Dunham) ============= Iran threatens to attack US bases if war erupts Get short URL email story to a friendprint version Published: 24 September, 2012, 23:08 AFP Photo / Fars News / Mehdi Hadifar TRENDS:Israel vs IranIran tension TAGS:Nuclear, Iran, USA, Israel, War Iranian officials say they aren't scared of Israel’s threats of a military assault aimed at their rumored nuclear warhead program, but a senior officer in Iran's Revolutionary Guard says such a strike would warrant retaliation against US bases. Should Israel make good with its warning of using military force to take down an Iranian nuke procurement plan, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says that the response will be costly for the United States military, even if America does not endorse a unilateral strike on Iran. Gen. Hajizadeh explains in a statement this week that America’s continuing support of Israel is enough to associate them with any attack waged against Iran, even if the US has officially condemned any plans to put boots in the ground to dismantle the rumored nuclear program. "For this reason, we will enter a confrontation with both parties and will definitely be at war with American bases should a war break out," Hajizadeh says, according to a post on Iran's state Al-Alam TV. Hajizadeh adds that among the US facilities that would be targeted are structures in Bahrain, Qatar and Afghanistan. "There will be no neutral country in the region," Hajizadeh says. "To us, these bases are equal to US soil." Israeli officials continue to make a case that Iran is working towards obtaining a nuclear warhead and have repeatedly pleaded with the United States to intervene, but Iranian authorities insist that any research being done is for peaceful purposes. Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” and once more pressured US President Barack Obama to announce America’s cooperation in an attack against Iran. Although President Obama refused to intervene at this time, over the weekend he told CBS’ 60 Minutes news program that he understands Israel’s plea but must put the national security of the US first above their ally’s request. “When it comes to our national security decisions — any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out—any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis — on these issues. Because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence,” the president told 60 Minutes. On Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad commented on the conflict from the United Nations headquarters in New York City, refusing to call Israel by name and rejecting their warnings. "Fundamentally we do not take seriously the threats of the Zionists. … We have all the defensive means at our disposal and we are ready to defend ourselves," Ahmadinejad said. "We don't even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated," the president added. President Ahmadinejad had arrived in New York to participate in the UN General Assembly’s annual discussion for the last time as president, as Iranian rules forbid him from running for another term. He is not scheduled to deliver a speech until Wednesday, but ahead of that address he said he remains open for discussions with the United States. "The nuclear issue is not a problem. But the approach of the United States on Iran is important. We are ready for dialogue, for a fundamental resolution of the problems, but under conditions that are based on fairness and mutual respect,” Ahmadinejad said. "We are not expecting a 33-year-old problem between the United States and Iran to be resolved in a speedy fashion. But there is no other way besides dialogue.” ============== Changing Attitudes Towards the Procurement of Energy THIS WEBINAR IS VoIP ONLY. ( Audio broadcast from your computer speakers) Pricing: $59 Members / $180 Non-Member* *Non-Member Fee is $180 plus a one-year complimentary NIGP membership (for eligible individuals). Please contact us directly at membershipinfo@nigp.org for more information. Date and time: Thursday, November 15th, 2012 1:00 PM ET - 2:30 PM ET Check your local start time Presented by: Bob Wooten, Director, Government Accounts, Tradition Energy Contact hours: 1 (Contact hour awarded based on use of First and Last Name at Log In) UPPCC recertification points: .125 Registration Deadline: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 at 5:00PM ET - Registrations cannot be accepted the day of the Webinar All skill levels: Energy represents a significant operating cost for most state and local governments. As deregulation of the energy markets in the US has become more familiar to many in purchasing, in many cases thoughts and preconceived notions of how to procure energy have not evolved appropriately. Opportunities continue to grow which allow for contracts more specifically tailored to the needs of each entity – resulting in lowered costs for the actual energy commodity itself. In 2010, NIGP released a survey that measured the understanding of these opportunities, and the results showed a definite gap in knowledge. With the release of this revised survey this Fall, NIGP will again see if these attitudes have changed or if things still remain as they were back in 2010. During this webinar, attendees will learn the factors driving energy volatility and the best practices for managing commodity procurement. At the end of this Learning Event, students will be able to: Recognize energy volatility and the importance of creating an energy procurement strategy that will help control overall energy costs Identify energy markets that will allow development of a customized energy contract Develop a contract that fully meets the energy needs of ones jurisdiction

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Iran boosts cyber security with secure domestic network-report

Sun, 23 Sep 2012 16:03 GMT Source: reuters // Reuters DUBAI, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Iran has connected all its government agencies to a secure domestic Internet service and plans to link ordinary Iranians up to the same network, an official was quoted as saying on Sunday, in a move to beef up cyber security. The Islamic state tightened its cyber security after its disputed nuclear programme was attacked in 2010 by the Stuxnet computer worm, which caused centrifuges to fail at the main Iranian uranium enrichment facility. Tehran, whose nuclear programme is suspected by the West of being aimed at developing a bomb, accused the United States and Israel of deploying the worm. "In recent days, all governmental agencies and offices ... have been connected to the national information network," deputy communications and technology minister Ali Hakim-Javadi was quoted as saying on Sunday by the Mehr news agency. The second phase of the plan would be to connect ordinary Iranians to the national network. According to Iranian media, the domestic system would be fully implemented by March 2013 but it was not clear whether access to the global Internet would be cut once the secure Iranian system was rolled out. Millions of websites deemed to have un-Islamic content are blocked by Iranian authorities, along with many expressing anti-government views. Many Iranians suffered serious problems accessing email and Internet social networking sites in February, ahead of parliamentary elections. Opposition supporters used social networking sites to organise widespread protests after the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which they said was rigged in his favour. Communications and Technology Minister Reza Taqipour said last month Iran needed to develop its own network to ensure the safety of the country's information, the Fars news agency reported. "Especially on major issues and during crises, one cannot trust this network at all," he said, referring to the global Internet. "Control over the Internet should not be in the hands of one or two countries." Authorities said in April a computer virus was detected inside the control systems of Kharg Island - which handles the vast majority of Iran's crude oil exports - but the terminal remained operational. (Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian and Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Sophie Hares) === Cmdr. warns of WWIII if Iran attacked Sun, 23 Sep 2012 13:55:01 GMT A senior Iranian military commander has warned that an Israeli strike on the Islamic Republic could trigger the World War III. “We see the United States and the Zionist regime [of Israel] alongside one another and can by no means imagine that the Zionist regime would initiate a war [against Iran] without the US support….In case of the eruption of such a [war] condition, the situation would spin out of control and management; this war is likely to degenerate into the World War III. It means that some countries might enter the war in favor of or against Iran,” Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said on Al-Alam television on Sunday. “An independent war between Iran and the Zionist regime or the US could not be imagined,” the general said, adding that in case a war breaks out, Iran would be on collision course with both sides. "“The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the US bases in the region as part of the American soil and will definitely target them if a war breaks out,” he added." He went on to say that “One should not imagine that the countries in the region would declare neutrality if a war breaks outs.” On Saturday, IRGC chief Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said a war on Iran “will eventually happen,” warning that the attack will lead to the Israeli regime’s obliteration. Israel is stepping up threats of carrying out a unilateral strike against Iran’s nuclear energy facilities before the US presidential election on November 6. However, the US opposes any Israeli military action at the current juncture. Israeli threats are based on the unsubstantiated claims that the peaceful nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic have been diverted to the acquisition of military nuclear capability.

Daughter & Son of former Iranian president Rafsanjani taken to prison

Sun, Sep 23 04:12 AM EDT By Yeganeh Torbati DUBAI (Reuters) - The daughter of influential former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was taken to prison late on Saturday to serve a six-month sentence for "spreading anti-state propaganda," Iranian media reported. Faezeh Rafsanjani, a former member of parliament, was convicted in January and sentenced to jail. The conviction is believed to be over an interview she gave to an opposition news site in which she criticised human rights violations and economic policy in Iran. Gholamhossein Esmaili, Iran's prisons chief, was quoted by the Mehr news agency as saying she was taken to Tehran's Evin Prison. She was detained briefly in 2009 after street protests against the election that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Protesters said it was rigged in favour of the incumbent. Faezeh had addressed supporters of defeated candidate Mirhossein Mousavi, who had gathered in defiance of a ban on opposition protests. Her latest detention comes as her brother Mehdi Rafsanjani is expected to return to Iran after living and studying in the United Kingdom. Officials have said Mehdi should be arrested upon arrival in Iran, accusing him of fomenting unrest after the 2009 vote. An independent source told Reuters Mehdi was in Dubai and expected to return to Iran on Sunday. The wealthy Rafsanjani family has faced heightened pressure from hardliners since the 2009 vote, which set off the deepest political crisis and worst unrest in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The centrist Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the founding figures of the Islamic Republic and a close aide to the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, expressed sympathy for opposition demonstrators and saw his own power and influence wane as a result. In March 2011, he lost his post as head of the state clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, consolidating the ascendancy of the hardline Ahmadinejad. (Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati; Additional reporting by Marcus George; Editing by Janet Lawrence) ========== Hashemi Rafsanjani's son detained Mon, 24 Sep 2012 19:18:17 GMT Iran's Judiciary has arrested the son of Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani over his role in the unrest that followed the country’s 2009 presidential vote. Mehdi Hashemi was arrested hours after he arrived at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport from Dubai Sunday night. He was put under temporary detention on Monday. Mehdi Hashemi spent 36 months abroad after leaving the country for Britain following the post-election events. On Saturday, Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of the Expediency Council’s Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was also arrested to serve her six-month jail sentence. ============== Iran's Ahmadinejad, reviled abroad, fades at home Fri, Mar 02 08:05 AM EST By Alistair Lyon BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has often surprised his foes, but Friday's parliamentary poll may make him a lame duck for the rest of his presidency, a penalty for defying the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader. Vilified in the West for his barbs against America and Israel, his defiance on Iran's nuclear work, and questioning of the Holocaust, the blacksmith's son has long relied on his charismatic appeal to the poor and devout, as well as his links to the elite Revolutionary Guard and Basij religious militia. Many Iranians underestimated the little-known Ahmadinejad before he defeated political heavyweight Hashemi Rafsanjani for the presidency in 2005 and even later as he accumulated power. His re-election in 2009, in a vote his reformist opponents said was rigged, ignited an eight-month firestorm of street protests - a failed foretaste of last year's Arab uprisings. Ahmadinejad prevailed thanks to unwavering support from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who abandoned his role as lofty arbitrator to fight for the president in a struggle that exposed gaping divisions in the religious and political elite. But Ahmadinejad seemed only hungrier for power and challenged the authority of Khamenei himself, sacking an intelligence minister last year and then sulking at home for 10 days after the Supreme Leader reinstated the man. Ultimate power, however, remains with Khamenei.
"Iran has become a one-party system: the party of Khamenei," said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment. "The most important qualification for aspiring members of parliament is obsequiousness to the Supreme Leader."
Ahmadinejad may pay the price for failing to conform to this rule in Friday's election expected to erode his support in parliament, which has summoned him for an unprecedented grilling next month, mainly over his handling of the economy. DIVIDE AND RULE "Khamenei likes to divide and rule," Sadjadpour said. "For that reason he may see it in his interests to weaken Ahmadinejad's faction but keep it on life support." Western sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to make nuclear concessions have started to hurt energy and food imports, but many Iranians blame Ahmadinejad's policies for soaring prices. They say his cuts in food and fuel subsidies, replaced with direct monthly stipends of around $38 per person, have fuelled inflation, officially running at around 20 percent, although some economists say it is more like 50 percent. Ahmadinejad's government has been tainted by a fraud alleged to have diverted $2.6 billion of state funds. Dozens have been arrested over the scandal, which was disclosed with Khamenei's approval. The president denies any government wrongdoing. "I suspect Ahmadinejad will lose in the elections, but of course the term is meaningless," said Ali Ansari, professor of Iranian history at Scotland's St Andrews University. "I can't see many people voting and in any case the competition is limited to Ahmadinejad and Khamanei candidates," he said. "Given that the Revolutionary Guard want to take more seats, this will signify greater strength for Khamenei inasmuch as these candidates are currently identifying with the Leader." With reformists mostly sidelined and opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi under house arrest, the election will pit hard-line factions against each other, all proclaiming loyalty to Iran's Islamic revolutionary ideals. DEVIANT CURRENT But Ahmadinejad's inner circle, especially his chief of staff Rahim Mashaie, have angered Khamenei and other senior Shi'ite clerics for promoting a "deviant current" that they see as threatening to those principles and to their own dominance. Khamenei's backers accuse Ahmadinejad's camp of pursuing an "Iranian" school of Islam, viewed as an inappropriate mix of religion and nationalism. The president berates his rivals for insulting him and has threatened them with jail. "The clerical elite will not back anyone that it perceives to be inimical to its interests," said independent analyst Mohammed Shakeel. "However, the more the president is marginalized, the more he appears to relish the challenge. "His own austere lifestyle and his attempts to portray himself as the champion of the poor provide him with a strong counterbalance with which to see through the end of his term." Ahmadinejad, a small man who dresses informally, plays on his modest origins to connect with rural voters and those who have moved to cities, as his own family did after he was born in the farming village of Aradan, southeast of Tehran. The 56-year-old president may have hoped to secure the election of a protege to succeed him in 2013, but that would require a revival of his drooping political fortunes. "It seems the Supreme Leader is dissociating himself from Ahmadinejad ahead of the presidential election next year, when a candidate more amenable to the hard-line conservatives is likely to triumph," said Shakeel. Ahmadinejad, an engineer and former Revolutionary Guard officer, has upset predictions before. A political unknown before becoming mayor of Tehran in 2003, he defeated Rafsanjani, a powerful former president, in the 2005 presidential vote. After the tumult of his 2009 re-election, Khamenei praised Ahmadinejad as "courageous, wise and hard-working", while advising him to listen to his critics as well. By October 2011, the president had so annoyed the Supreme Leader that the latter floated a proposal to change Iran's constitution to do away with a directly elected presidency altogether, an idea Ahmadinejad briskly dismissed as "academic". Carnegie's Sadjadpour said the president's record of insubordination and relentless self-aggrandizement had alarmed even his former allies in the conservative establishment. "Ahmadinejad has shown a unique ability to lose friends and alienate people," he said. (Editing by Philippa Fletcher) Corrects garbled word in second-last paragraph. ================