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News in Brief

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  • Zafar Khan
    Iraqis vote on invisible constitution http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article318225.ece Millions of Iraqis are expected to go to the polls on
    Message 1 of 530 , Oct 9, 2005
      Iraqis vote on 'invisible' constitution


      Millions of Iraqis are expected to go to the polls on
      Saturday to vote on a constitution they have never
      seen, as increasing violence and worsening communal
      tensions hamper distribution of the document. American
      and Iraqi forces yesterday attacked targets in the
      western town of Haditha as they continued an offensive
      against fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the
      leader of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. A separate operation is
      aimed at pacifying Kurdish cities in the north, while
      British forces in southern Iraq are seeking insurgents
      responsible for a series of sophisticated bombs that
      have killed six of their number since July and set off
      a war of words between Britain and Iran.

      Goldsmith challenges Blair over terror laws


      Tony Blair's most senior legal adviser has expressed
      doubts about whether holding terrorist suspects for as
      long as three months without charge would be

      The small-time hood who became Iraq's Public Enemy No1


      Last week US forces in Iraq chose the first day of
      Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, to launch a new
      offensive along the Syrian border against Abu Musab
      al-Zarqawi, the man they blame for most of the
      violence racking the country. But, as before, all they
      have succeeded in doing is bolstering his myth. No one
      had heard of Zarqawi until Colin Powell, then US
      Secretary of State, named him in the February 2003
      speech to the UN Security Council which prepared the
      world for war in Iraq. At that stage, the Jordanian
      was not recognised as a leader by al-Qa'ida. But,
      thanks to his relentless promotion as a bogeyman by
      the US - most recently by President George Bush last
      week - and his subsequent endorsement by Osama bin
      Laden, Zarqawi, 38, is now every bit as dangerous as
      he has always been portrayed.

      Sunni leadership pulls back from boycott of Iraq poll


      Sunni leaders yesterday failed to agree on a boycott
      of this week's referendum on a new constitution, a
      move that would have exacerbated Iraq's political and
      security crisis. However, they said they hoped that
      those voters who do participate will vote no. Members
      of several Sunni groups, including the Muslim Clerics'
      Association and the Iraqi National Dialogue, had
      gathered at Baghdad's Um al-Kura mosque at the start
      of a process of consultations that could last until
      the poll on Saturday.

      Ukraine Debuts at Dubai Qur'an Contest


      CAIRO, October 7, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – Ukraine is
      making its debut at the Dubai International Holy
      Qur'an Award competition. Suliman Woleef will vie
      against contesters from 76 Muslim countries as well as
      a number of non-Muslim countries, home to large Muslim
      minorities, the Federation of Social Organizations in
      Ukraine (Arraid) said in a statement, a copy of which
      was obtained by IslamOnline.net. The annual
      competition accepts only one contestant from each
      Muslim country or a Muslim minority nation. Dubai
      International Holy Quran Award begins every year on
      the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of
      Ramadan, marked this year on Tuesday, October 3.

      Iraqi police are among 12 seized by British forces in
      Basra raid


      British forces launched a fresh crackdown in Basra
      yesterday when troops seized 12 Iraqis, including
      police officers, who were suspected of involvement in
      attacks against coalition forces. A house filled with
      members of a Shia militia was raided just hours after
      Tony Blair accused Iran of exporting technology and
      explosives to guerrilla allies in Basra and other
      parts of southern Iraq.

      Bin Laden's deputy tells militants to stop attacking
      civilians in Iraq


      Al-Qa'ida's second-in-command has urged Abu Musab
      al-Zarqawi, the terrorist group's top operative in
      Iraq, to reduce attacks on Iraqi civilians and focus
      on killing Americans, US officials say. The
      instructions were conveyed to Zarqawi in a 6,000-word
      letter from Ayman al-Zawahari, Osama bin Laden's
      deputy, dated in early July. The document was
      apparently discovered by US forces in Iraq.

      Al-Qaida tells terror chief to kill people less


      Al-Qaida has urged its commander in Iraq, Abu Musab
      al-Zarqawi, to shoot rather than behead hostages
      because brutal executions alienate the Muslim world,
      according to American officials. Ayman al-Zawahiri,
      the Islamist group's second-in-command, allegedly told
      his colleague that a bullet was as deadly as a knife
      and would not repulse so many potential supporters.
      The advice was included in a 6,000-word letter
      intercepted by American forces in Iraq in July.
      Excerpts were made public this week after the Bush
      administration learned that US television networks had
      obtained a partial description of the contents.

      Kosovo moves a step closer to independence


      Final talks on Kosovo's future will begin soon, with
      the question of independence for the southern Serbian
      province on the table, Kofi Annan, the United Nations
      secretary-general, said yesterday. He told reporters
      in the Swiss capital that he would notify the UN
      security council that he wanted the discussions to
      begin soon, adding: "The question concerns
      independence or autonomy."

      Sister of suicide bomber 'encouraged him to attack
      Israeli target'


      One of the first British Muslims to go on a suicide
      bombing mission against Israel was encouraged by his
      sister, the Old Bailey was told. A week before Omar
      Sharif left for Israel, his sister Parveen sent him an
      e-mail telling him to be strong, the court heard. "She
      was encouraging her brother to go through with the
      bombing," Jonathan Laidlaw, for the prosecution, said.

      Beaten Saudi TV presenter flees


      Rania al-Baz, a Saudi Arabian television presenter who
      shocked her country by publishing photographs of
      herself after being beaten by her husband, has left
      for France, apparently never to return. "I won't go
      back," Ms Baz said in Paris yesterday, clearly
      exhausted. "At the moment I don't have anywhere to
      live. I will try to find work here or in London."
      Asked the reason for her departure, she would only
      say: "I was not safe any more in Saudi Arabia. Now, I
      must rest, remain quiet for a few days, and think
      about my children, who are still back in Jeddah."

      Serbs bow to pressure for single Bosnian police force


      After a year of blocking the move, Serbian leaders
      have caved in to international pressure by agreeing to
      establish a single police force in Bosnia, the key to
      dissolving ethnic division a decade after the war
      ended. Western officials and Paddy Ashdown, the
      international governor of Bosnia, were meeting in
      Sarajevo last night to decide how to reward Bosnia for
      defusing the country's biggest political dispute.

      Hamas would ban men and women dancing


      If Hamas were to win control of the Palestinian
      Authority in coming elections, it would ban men and
      women from dancing together and deny specific rights
      to gay people, according to Mahmoud Zahar, the
      faction's leader in Gaza. Dr Zahar is quoted on the
      Arabic language Ilaf website as suggesting that a
      Hamas-run Palestinian state would gradually outlaw
      co-operation with Israel.

      Boeing apologizes for "offensive" ad


      Boeing Co. is apologizing for an ad that ran under its
      name in recent weeks in three magazines. The ad for
      the CV-22 or Osprey, a product of Boeing and Bell
      Helicopter, shows members of the armed forces
      descending by rope from a plane onto a mosque
      surrounded by smoke and fire. The top of the full-page
      ad reads, “It descends from the heavens. Ironically it
      unleashes hell.”

      Muslim athletes adapt to on-field Christian culture


      Haneef Haqq has clearly fit in with his Jacksonville
      State University football teammates, despite the
      differences between his Islamic faith and the
      Christian customs practiced on the team. The players
      elected the linebacker from Huntsville as team captain
      this season. Haqq (pronounced hock) is acutely aware
      that as a Muslim, he is in the minority in Alabama and
      on the football team. "My beliefs are Islamic, but I
      haven't had any problems fitting in or being
      comfortable in my surroundings," he said. "It's been
      pretty easy.

      War-dead Web site leads to Polk obscenity arrest


      Polk County officials arrested a Lakeland man on
      obscenity charges Friday after investigating his
      graphic Web site, which has gained international
      attention for allowing U.S. soldiers to post pictures
      of war dead on the Internet. The charges against
      Christopher Michael Wilson, a former police officer,
      are likely to reignite the debate about obscene
      material in the Internet age. It also raises questions
      about whether the federal government played a part in
      motivating the prosecution.

      Muslims to explain meaning of their fast during


      Local Muslims began fasting from dawn to dusk
      Wednesday when a new crescent moon signaled the start
      of Ramadan, Islam's holiest month. The faithful are
      trying to be especially pious this month and to
      refrain from food, drink, smoking and sex - all the
      sensual pleasures - during daylight. They are also
      trying to explain to the wider community who they are
      and what they believe.

      Helping Islamic kids be proud of identity


      The way it started out, the way it was originally
      written, the child in the story only had to deal with
      a basic fear shared by kids everywhere. That maybe,
      because he wasn't exactly like them, he wouldn't be
      liked or accepted by his peers. But events took a
      hand, and the story subtly changed in a way its author
      could not have foreseen.
    • Zafar Khan
      Allah s name in Kashmir Sky http://www.islamawareness.net/Miracles/miracle_allah_sky.html ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ West Embraces Sham
      Message 530 of 530 , Feb 3, 2008
        Allah's name in Kashmir Sky


        West Embraces "Sham" Democracies


        CAIRO — Europe and the United States increasingly
        tolerate autocrats posing as democrats in countries
        such as Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria and Russia out of
        pure self-interest, Human Rights Watch said on
        Thursday, January 31.
        "It's now too easy for autocrats to get away with
        mounting a sham democracy," Kenneth Roth, the HRW
        executive director, said in a press release.

        "By allowing autocrats to pose as democrats, without
        demanding they uphold the civil and political rights
        that make democracy meaningful, the US, the EU and
        other influential democracies risk undermining human
        rights worldwide."

        The watchdog's World Report 2008 said the US and
        Europe do not press governments on the key human
        rights issues that make democracy function such as a
        free press, peaceful assembly and a functioning civil

        It separately reviewed rights situations in more than
        75 countries, identifying many troubling cases such as
        atrocities in Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic
        of Congo, Ethiopia's Ogaden region, Iraq, Somalia, Sri
        Lanka, and Sudan's Darfur region.

        The report voiced concern at closed societies or
        severe repression in Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea,
        Libya, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

        It accused the Bush administration of failing to push
        for all governments to respect human rights.

        "The Bush administration has spoken of its commitment
        to democracy abroad but often kept silent about the
        need for all governments to respect human rights."

        In 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, Bush
        advocated democracy in the Middle East in a series of
        bold statements and speeches.

        But the reform tone died down as Washington was
        getting deeper and deeper into the Iraq quagmire,
        needing the help of repressive regimes in the region.

        In 2005, Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
        again played the democracy tune, vowing support for
        "the democratic aspirations of all people."

        Little has changed since then.

        Israeli Embassy in Mauritania Attacked


        NOUAKCHOTT — Gunmen opened fire on the Israeli embassy
        in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott early Friday,
        February 1, wounding five people, amid growing public
        anger at the stifling Israeli blockade of the Gaza

        "At 2:20 this morning, there was shooting at the
        Israeli embassy in Nouakchott," Israeli ambassador
        Boaz Bismuth told Reuters.

        "It only happened a few hours ago, but a shooting on a
        foreign embassy is a very serious incident."

        Bismuth said all the embassy staff, Israeli and
        Mauritanian, are safe.

        Witnesses said six men wearing boubous – long flowing
        African gowns – and turbans got out of a vehicle and
        walked towards a restaurant near the embassy.

        After a few minutes "they said loudly in Arabic 'let's
        go' then shouted 'Allah Akbar' (God is Greatest) and
        opened fire" at the embassy, said one witness, who was
        at the restaurant when the attack took place.

        Footage showed the embassy undamaged, but there were
        three bullet holes in the windscreen of a vehicle
        parked outside.

        The gunmen also sprayed bullets at a nightclub about
        50 meters (yards) from the embassy on the same street.

        Five people, including a French woman, were injured in
        the two attacks.

        Friday's attack also came just weeks after the 2008
        Lisbon-Dakar rally, which was due to have passed
        through Mauritania, was cancelled due to a security
        alarm caused by two December attacks claimed by

        Al-Qaeda's North African branch claimed responsibility
        for the killings last month of a number of Mauritanian
        soldiers and four French tourists.

        Public Anger

        The attack comes as pressure increases within
        Mauritania against the presence of an Israeli embassy

        The president of the national assembly, Messaoud Ould
        Boulkheir, called Sunday for the country to
        "reconsider" its "shameful" relations with Tel Aviv
        following its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

        It was up to parliamentary "deputies and the
        Mauritanian people to urge the government to
        reconsider the shameful ties with an entity that kills
        our brothers, occupies their land and keeps them under
        the blockade," Ould Boulkheir told the National
        Assembly earlier this week.

        "Gaza is aching at the massacres of its sons and at
        the blockade," he told the opening of a special
        parliamentary session, referring to Israel's total
        lockdown since January 17 of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

        Ould Boulkheir, who is constitutionally the most
        powerful man in the west African country after the
        head of state and Senate president, became the first
        senior politician publicly and officially to question
        relations established with Israel in 1999, under the
        regime of Maaouiya Ould Taya.

        The speaker is the leader of the Progressive Popular
        Alliance, now in power, which has always called for
        Mauritania to break off those ties sealed with the
        Hebrew state, in solidarity with the Palestinians.

        Domestically, the government of President Sidi Ould
        Cheikh Abdallahi has pursued a policy of freeing up
        the press and working for reconcilation among the
        traditional rulers and the black African population.

        Last week, leaders of parties in an increasingly
        active opposition and some allied with the government
        sent a letter to Abdallahi calling on him to sever
        relations with Israel.

        US Army Suicides Spike


        WASHINGTON — The number of US army soldiers committing
        suicides after deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan
        continued to spike in 2007, hitting levels not seen in
        more than a quarter century, army data has shown.

        "We are perturbed by the rise despite all of our
        efforts," Colonel Elsbeth Ritchie, psychiatric
        consultant to the army's surgeon general, told Agence
        France-Presse (AFP).

        Ritchie was part of a team that reviewed suicide
        prevention efforts in Iraq in October after Lieutenant
        General Raymond Odierno raised concerned about
        suicides among deployed soldiers.

        Data released by the army Thursday, January 31, show
        the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides spiked
        in 2007 with 89 confirmed suicides and another 32
        deaths awaiting confirmation as suicides.

        In 2006, 102 active duty soldiers committed suicide,
        almost double the number in 2001.

        According to the figures, more than 2,000 soldiers
        tried to take their own lives or injure themselves in
        2006, compared to about 375 in 2002.

        Most suicides are young males between the ages of 18
        and 24, but the army experts are also starting to see
        higher numbers of suicides among older soldiers and

        Ritchie said 11 female soldiers killed themselves in
        2006. "That's the highest number of females we've ever
        seen," she said.

        Conflict spells disaster for whole of East Africa


        Kenya's political meltdown is threatening its economic
        lifeline to Somalia and other neighbouring countries
        and disrupting the supply of desperately needed relief

        The economies of landlocked states such as Uganda,
        Rwanda and Burundi, which rely on Kenya's trade links
        via its Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, are already
        being hit by the effects of the unrest.

        Goods are piling up in Mombasa amid fears of blockages
        along the main road to Nairobi. Other arteries
        including the roads from the capital to the western
        city of Kisumu and the highway between Nakuru and
        Eldoret have also been blocked. Guillermo Bettocci,
        the Somalia representative of the UN High Commissioner
        for Refugees, expressed concern about the cancellation
        of flights at Nairobi airport, which is used to fly
        out supplies to Somalia.

        He described the situation in Somalia, where fierce
        fighting has resumed between Islamic fighters and
        Ethiopian forces sent to prop up a transitional
        government, as "the world's worst humanitarian
        disaster" which he said had now overtaken Darfur in
        terms of a humanitarian emergency. A total of one
        million people have been displaced inside Somalia by
        the conflict, including 250,000 in Mogadishu alone.

        One of Bin Laden's top six aides is killed in
        suspected US strike

        · Abu al-Libi dies in attack on Pakistan compound
        · Leader of Afghan militants targeted Cheney last year


        senior al-Qaida figure in Afghanistan, described by
        Western officials as one of Osama bin Laden's top six
        lieutenants, has been killed, it was reported
        Abu Laith al-Libi was "martyred along with a group of
        his brothers on the territory of Islamic Pakistan"
        according to a statement on Ikhlaas.org, a website
        that often posts communiques from Islamists in
        Afghanistan and Iraq.

        Libi's death may be linked to what is suspected to be
        a US missile strike in Pakistan's North Waziristan
        region earlier this week, in which 12 people - several
        Arabs and central Asians, as well as local Taliban
        members - are believed to have died. Locals told
        reporters that they heard US Predator drones flying in
        the area shortly before the explosion at a compound,
        and a Pakistani daily newspaper, The News, reported
        that the attack was targeted at Libi and another
        senior figure, Obaidah al Masri.

        Pakistani officials said they had "no information"
        indicating that Libi was dead, but the Associated
        Press quoted a "knowledgeable western official"
        confirming the death: "It appears that Al-Libi has met
        his demise."

        Letters: British Muslims
        Muslims should not be surprised at backlash against


        Robert Fisk: The curious case of the forged biography

        When Robert Fisk heard that his life of Saddam Hussein
        was selling well, one thing bothered him: he had never
        written one. His investigation took him to the
        murkiest corners of Cairo


        It arrived for me in Beirut under plain cover, a brown
        envelope containing a small, glossy paperback in
        Arabic, accompanied by a note from an Egyptian friend.
        "Robert!" it began. "Did you really write this?"

        The front cover bore a photograph of Saddam Hussein in
        the dock in Baghdad, the left side of his head in
        colour, the right side bleached out, wearing a black
        sports jacket but with no tie, holding a Koran in his
        right hand. "Saddam Hussein," the cover said in huge
        letters. "From Birth to Martyrdom." And then there was
        the author's name – in beautiful, calligraphic
        typeface and in gold in the top, right-hand corner.
        "By Robert Fisk."

        So there it was, 272 paperback pages on the life and
        times of the Hitler of Baghdad and selling very well
        in the Egyptian capital. "We all suspect a well-known
        man here," she added. "His name is Magdi Chukri."

        Needless to say, I noticed one or two problems with
        this book. It took a very lenient view of the
        brutality of Saddam, it didn't seem to care much about
        the gassed civilians of Halabja – and it was full of
        the kind of purple passages which I loathe. "After the
        American rejection of the Iraqi weapons report to the
        UN," 'Robert Fisk' wrote, "the beating of war drums
        turned into a cacophony..."

        Danish library plans to house cartoons of prophet

        · Controversial works will be secure, says spokeswoman
        · Muslim society vows to ignore 'provocation'

        Robert Tait
        Wednesday January 30, 2008
        The Guardian


        Denmark's national library is to risk re-opening an
        international political storm by housing the cartoon
        images of the prophet Muhammad that provoked violent
        convulsions throughout the Islamic world two years
        The royal library in Copenhagen - founded in the 17th
        century by King Frederik III and home to many historic
        treasures - has declared the drawings to be of
        historic value and is trying to acquire them for
        "preservation purposes".

        The library, widely acknowledged as the most
        significant in Scandinavia, has agreed to take
        possession of the caricatures on behalf of the museum
        of Danish cartoon art, a spokesman told the Art

        UK lacks counter-terror policy, says Musharraf

        · Pakistani president hits back at British critics
        · Your Islamist militants are home-grown, Brown told


        Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, claimed
        yesterday that Britain lacked a long-term
        counter-terrorist strategy and argued that Islamist
        extremism was a home-grown problem for Britain rather
        than his country's responsibility.
        Speaking before meeting Gordon Brown in Downing
        Street, and in response to persistent British
        criticism of his record on counter-terrorism,
        Musharraf set out the shortcomings he sees in the UK's
        efforts to deal with militant young Muslims, pointing
        out that all the July 7 2005 bombers were born in the

        "We have adopted a five-point strategy. You need to
        adopt a similar strategy to curb this kind of tendency
        in youngsters, who tend to become terrorists, because
        merely getting hold of them and punishing them legally
        does not solve the problem or get to the root of the
        problem," he said.
        He listed the five elements of Pakistan's
        counter-terrorist strategy: curbing the propagation of
        extremism in mosques; restricting the publication of
        extremist literature; banning extremist organisations;
        stopping the teaching of militant Islam in schools;
        and bringing madrasas (religious schools) into the

        Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Why is racial abuse now
        considered acceptable?


        On the day my beloved son was born at the John
        Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, Margaret Thatcher gave a
        speech on how her kith and kin felt rather "swamped"
        by alien cultures and peoples. My child was branded –
        rejected, I felt – as he took his first breath. I
        never forgave the Iron Lady for inciting animosity
        against us.

        This Wednesday the boy, now a barrister, turns 30. His
        Britain is dynamic, diverse and – in spite of old and
        new fissures – remarkably at ease with itself, as is
        he. Though discrimination blocks talent and top jobs
        still go to white, clubbable chaps, opportunities have
        been prised open and a meritocracy operates in many
        professions. There is nowhere else I would choose to

        And yet, and yet, I see a return to some of the
        attitudes personified by Thatcher and Enoch Powell,
        cultural protectionists who wanted England to be their
        England and only theirs once again. There are also
        ominous signs that racial intolerance is breaking out,
        even among the usually civil middle classes. It is
        hugely upsetting that we blacks and Asians
        increasingly experience spit-in-your-face racism, even
        in London, the city made by strangers.

        Last Monday, I was speaking at an Evening
        Standard/YouGovStone public debate on what we wanted
        from the London Mayor. We were at Cadogan Hall in
        smart Sloane Square. The audience– many well-heeled –
        was lively and keen, a good sign of political
        engagement. Such debates can get fiery and that makes
        them real and exciting. Other panellists were Michael
        Eboda, the ex-editor of The Voice newspaper, the
        prolific and weighty columnist Simon Jenkins, and
        Boris Johnson. All went spiffingly well until I said
        we needed time-limited, affirmative action in
        recruitment and promotion for key institutions such as
        the police forces.

        In Northern Ireland, affirmative action has
        transformed the police force so it reflects the
        Catholic/Protestant population. Mr Eboda then directly
        interrogated Mr Johnson on some of his insulting
        assertions about black people. The Tory MP first
        huffed and puffed and then blew out a timid apology.
        Neither Mr Eboda nor I were rude or aggressive, yet we
        seemed to stir some pretty revolting feelings in a
        number of ladies and gents attending. There was much
        unruly shouting. I was called a "cunt" and told to go
        back to Uganda. Mr Eboda was also racially abused, as
        was anybody else, black and white, who stood up to the
        posh hooligans. Members of the Black Police Federation
        later told me they were actually afraid of the mob
        malevolence. Five years ago, few readers resorted to
        ugly, racist abuse. Now hundreds mug me via email.

        Talk to Al-Qaeda: French Expert


        PARIS — A French expert in terrorism and Islamic
        militancy is calling for a dialogue with Osama bin
        Laden's Al-Qaeda organization to refute its
        "unrealistic" ideologies as the security option has
        proved a "fiasco."
        "In talking to Al-Qaeda and its leaders, I'm sure we
        are able to counter their ideology with facts on the
        ground," Anne Giudicelli told IslamOnline.net in an

        "This will be the first step to face Al-Qaeda."

        Giudicelli, a former anti-terror adviser to the French
        Foreign Ministry, said a quite dialogue with Al-Qaeda
        leaders could help convince them that their ideas,
        like enforcing Shari`ah in European societies, simply
        do not work.

        "An in-depth dialogue will enable us convince Al-Qaeda
        leaders that their ideology is inapplicable and

        Giudicelli regretted European rejection of bin Laden's
        truce offer in 2004 in the aftermath of the deadly
        Madrid bombings claimed by his network.

        Artificial Life Under Fire


        WASHINGTON — An announcement by controversial US
        scientist Craig Venter of taking a major step toward
        creating the first ever artificial life form by
        synthetically reproducing the DNA of a bacteria has
        aroused heated scientific debate over the ethics of
        the lab trial and its success rates.
        "Venter is not God," Helen Wallace, a biologist and
        spokeswoman for GeneWatch UK, told Agence
        France-Presse (AFP).

        Hamilton Smith, from the J.Craig Venter Institute, in
        the study published Thursday in Science magazine, that
        through a five-year research effort showed that
        building large genomes is now feasible so that
        important applications such as biofuels can be

        The move is seen as the penultimate stage in the
        endeavor to create an artificial life in the form of a
        bacteria based entirely on a man-made DNA genome.

        The research has been carried out at the laboratories
        of Venter, who has hailed artificial life forms as a
        potential remedy to illness and global warming.

        The chromosome which Venter and his team has created
        is known as Mycoplasma laboratorium and, in the final
        step of the process, will be transplanted into a
        living cell where it should "take control,"
        effectively becoming a new life form.

        The bacteria, which causes certain sexually
        transmitted diseases, has one of the least complex DNA
        structures of any life form, composed of just 580
        genes. In contrast, the human genome has some 30,000.

        Beirut Blast Kills Senior Officer


        BEIRUT —A senior intelligence officer was killed with
        three other people in a car bombing in the Lebanese
        capital, Beirut, on Friday, January 25, in the second
        bombing targeting an official at the security and
        military establishments in as many as days.
        "Captain Wissam Eid, a member of the Internal Security
        Forces, and his bodyguard were killed in the blast," a
        security official told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

        Desert state channels oil wealth into world's first
        sustainable city
        Lord Foster designs car-free, solar-powered project
        for 50,000 people


        In an expanse of grey rock and dust in one of the
        harshest environments on earth, the United Arab
        Emirates is about to build what is being described as
        the world's first sustainable city, designed by
        British architect Lord Foster.

        The site is far from promising. Miles from a polluted
        sea, a fierce sun raises temperatures to 50C (120F) in
        the summer, and there is no fresh water, no soil and
        no animals. But tens of billions of petro-dollars will
        be poured into these seven square kilometres of desert
        on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.

        Called Masdar - "the source" in Arabic - the walled
        city is intended to house 50,000 people and 1,500
        businesses. It will have no cars and be
        self-sufficient in renewable energy, the majority of
        which will be solar energy.

        The formal unveiling of the desert eco-city will be
        made today at a summit on future energy sources in Abu
        Dhabi, attended by the UK business secretary, John
        Hutton, and Prince Andrew.

        "It's extremely ambitious," said Gerard Evenden,
        senior partner in Lord Foster's architecture practice
        in London, which has had a team working on the design
        for nine months. "We were invited to design a
        zero-carbon city. In this harsh place we needed to
        look back at history and see how ancient settlements
        had adapted to their environments." The buildings will
        huddle together as in a casbah, and will be cooled by
        wind towers which will collect the desert's breezes
        and flush out hot air. No building will be more than
        five storeys high; the city is to be oriented
        north-east to south-west to give the optimum balance
        of sunlight and shade.

        'To impose democracy from outside is inherently

        Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, tells Simon
        Tisdall in a rare interview that western policy in the
        region is ill-informed and at times arrogant


        Western countries should stop trying to browbeat
        Kenya's warring political leaders into submission and
        do more in practical terms to prevent poverty, lack of
        opportunity, and Islamist terrorism from further
        destabilising the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia's prime
        minister, Meles Zenawi, has told the Guardian.
        "The threat of western sanctions as a response to the
        current crisis in Kenya is very, very misguided,"
        Meles said. "If it is presumed that the Kenyans will
        democratise in order to eat the peanuts of development
        assistance from the European Union, for example, it
        would be a big mistake."

        Placing pressure on resources to influence the
        post-election process, which has degenerated into
        violence amid claims of government-engineered fraud,
        would not work and could be counter-productive, he

        "What it does do is give the impression that Africans
        democratise in response to development assistance and
        all you have to do is close the taps and they will sit
        up and behave like proper schoolchildren. That is very
        unfortunate and quite demeaning."
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