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Shiite Pilgrims Killed In New Attacks Across Iraq

AFP - Attacks across Iraq on Monday, many of which targeted Shiites, killed 11 people and wounded dozens, including 15 Afghans visiting the country for religious commemorations, officials said.

The violence included bombings in and around Baghdad against Shiite worshippers walking to the shrine city of Karbala, 110 kilometres (70 miles) south of the capital, for Arbaeen rituals later this week.

In the deadliest attack, a car bomb blast killed four people and wounded at least 25 near Husseiniyah Shiite mosque in Muasalat, southwest Baghdad, at about 6:30 pm (1530 GMT), said officials from the ministries of interior and defence.

About half an hour later, another car bomb explosion killed one person and wounded at least five others in Shaab, a Shiite neighbourhood in the east of the capital, the officials said on condition of anonymity.



Former US President Carter 'Pleased' With Egypt Polls

AFP - Former US president Jimmy Carter gave the thumbs up on Tuesday to Egypt's parliamentary elections, saying the people's will was "expressed accurately."

"We have been very pleased," Carter told reporters during a tour of a polling station at the Rod al-Farag girls' secondary school in a working class district of the Egyptian capital

He said the election -- a three-staged process launched in November to choose the first parliament since mass protests forced former president Hosni Mubarak to quit -- had been peaceful despite "some problems."

"But in general the will of the people has been expressed accurately," he said on the eve of the end of the polls.



Top Senator: An Attack On Israel Is An Attack On US

01/10/2012 01:29

An Iranian attack on Israel would be tantamount to attacking the United States, US Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) told an auditorium full of high school students in Jerusalem on Monday.

Inouye, introduced to the students by former AIPAC president Robert Asher as the best friend Israel has in Congress, said he discussed the Iranian threat in a meeting earlier in the day with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“We in the US are deeply concerned with the activities in Iran,” said Inouye, who is America’s senior senator, having served continuously since 1963. “If the Iranians should ever develop a nuclear device or bomb, that could mean the end of the world as we know it in the Middle East. It would have an impact on all countries, not just Israel. As a result, our position is that if you attack Israel, you are attacking the United States.”

Inouye is the president pro tempore of the US Senate, making him third in line to succeed the US president, following the vice president and speaker of the house. He is also chairman of the powerful senate appropriations committee, and is here leading a delegation from that committee that also includes Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).



Obama Ready to Strike to Stop Iran: Ex-Adviser (Dennis Ross)

By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan - Tue Jan 10 11:41:13 GMT 2012

No one should doubt that President Barack Obama is prepared to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon if sanctions and diplomacy fail, the president’s former special assistant on Iran said.

Obama has “made it very clear” that he regards a nuclear- armed Iran as so great a threat to international security that “the Iranians should never think that there’s a reluctance to use the force” to stop them, Dennis Ross, who served two years on Obama’s National Security Council and a year as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special adviser on Iran, said in an interview yesterday.

“There are consequences if you act militarily, and there’s big consequences if you don’t act,” said Ross, who in a two- hour interview at the Bloomberg Washington office laid out a detailed argument against those who say Obama would sooner “contain” a nuclear-armed Iran than strike militarily.

The administration considers the risks of permitting a nuclear-armed Iran to be greater than the risks of military action, said Ross, who last month rejoined the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a research group.



Oly's Ordeal: Corgi Survives 4 Days After Owner Dies In Avalanche

By BRETT FRENCH Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012

Assumed to have died in an avalanche that killed one of his owners on Saturday, an exhausted and hungry Welsh Corgi dog lay down Wednesday by the door of the Cooke City hotel room that the family had occupied four days earlier.

“The family is super excited,” said Mark Staples, of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, which investigated the incident. “It’s one bright spot for them.”

Robert Weinstein, owner of the Alpine Motel at Cooke City, spotted the dog around noon Wednesday.

“I just saw it outside sitting by the room, which is pretty amazing,” he said.



Iranian, Venezuelan Leaders Rebuff U.S., Joke About Bomb

By Andrew Cawthorne and Brian Ellsworth

CARACAS | Mon Jan 9, 2012 6:56pm EST

(Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez lavished each other with praise on Monday, mocked U.S. disapproval and joked about having an atomic bomb at their disposal.

"Despite those arrogant people who do not wish us to be together, we will unite forever," the Iranian president told Venezuela's socialist leader Chavez at the start of a visit to four left-leaning Latin American nations.

Ahmadinejad was in Venezuela at the start of a tour intended to shore up support as expanded Western economic sanctions kick in over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

"The imperialist madness has been unleashed in a way that has not been seen for a long time," Chavez said in a ceremony to welcome Ahmadinejad at his presidential palace in Caracas.



Iran Reports Arrests Of U.S. Spies

MOSCOW, January 9 (RIA Novosti)

Iran’s Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi has announced the arrest of several alleged U.S. spies charged with an attempt to disrupt the upcoming parliamentary elections, the official IRNA news agency reported.

“The detainees were in contact with abroad through cyberspace networks,” IRNA quoted Moslehi as saying on Sunday.

“We arrested them after we obtained full information about their espionage activities,” Moslehi said without giving any further details.

The announcement comes as Tehran's tensions with the West continue to escalate after Western powers threatened new sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its controversial nuclear program.



Syria Hails Visit Of Russian Warships To Tartus

DAMASCUS, January 9 (RIA Novosti)

Syrian authorities have called the visit of a Russian naval task force to the port of Tartus a “show of solidarity with the Syrian people,” the official SANA news agency reported.

A Russian task force, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, arrived in Tartus on Sunday to replenish water and food supplies during a long-term training mission in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

“We highly respect Russia’s honorable stance in support of the Syrian people,” SANA cited Governor of Tartus Atef al-Naddaf as saying.

Russia maintains a Soviet-era naval maintenance site near Tartus as its only military foothold in the Mediterranean. Moscow is planning to modernize the facility to accommodate large warships, including missile cruisers and even aircraft carriers after 2012.



Panetta: Iran Is Seeking Capability To Build Nuclear Weapon But Hasn't Decided To Develop One

By DOUGLAS BIRCH | Associated Press |

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Iran is laying the groundwork for making nuclear weapons someday, but is not yet building a bomb and called for continued diplomatic and economic pressure to persuade Tehran not to take that step.

As he has previously, Panetta cautioned against a unilateral strike by Israel against Iran's nuclear facilities, saying the action could trigger Iranian retaliation against U.S. forces in the region.

"We have common cause here" with Israel, he said. "And the better approach is for us to work together."

Panetta's remarks on CBS' Face the Nation, which were taped Friday and aired Sunday, reflect the long-held view of the Obama administration that Iran is not yet committed to building a nuclear arsenal, only to creating the industrial and scientific capacity to allow one if its leaders to decide to take that final step.



Israel Charges Five Settlers With Army Base Rampage

JERUSALEM | Sun Jan 8, 2012 12:45pm EST

(Reuters) - Israel charged five Jewish settlers on Sunday with orchestrating a riot in an army base in the West Bank in a bid to foil plans to dismantle illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The December 13 rampage sparked outrage in Israel where the conscript military is a revered institution and a symbol of unity. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged a swift crackdown against the perpetrators.

Israel continues to expand larger settlements in land Palestinians seek for a state, but has taken steps to evacuate smaller outposts built without government authorization.

The four-page charge document said the men, who had been arrested shortly after the attack, had sought to thwart the eviction of unauthorized settlements. It listed seven counts including conspiring to riot, illegally entering a military base and tracking army movement in the West Bank.


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