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    Default world top new !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    add rep and replies.................
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    Default Zimbabwe halts opposition rallies


    Zimbabwe's authorities have stopped the opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai from campaigning ahead of the 27 June elections.

    The order banning "several future rallies" came after police briefly detained Mr Tsvangirai ahead of a rally in the second largest city of BulawayoThe length or extent of the ban, which cites security fears, is not yet clear.

    It comes soon after the government banned food aid distribution, saying agencies were helping the opposition.

    Relief organisations reject the charges, warning that Zimbabwe's "desperate" situation could get even worse. Some four million people - a third of the population - rely on aid after poor harvests and an economic crisis. Safety fears

    It is not clear how many rallies are affected by the ban, or whether it signals the end of official campaigning by Mr Tsvangirai ahead of the polls.

    His party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says the ban is "rank madness" as the meetings are its only way to communicate with supporters because it is denied access to public media.

    In a statement, the party quoted a letter from the police saying that "because the MDC had complained that its leaders were targets for assassination the authorities could not guarantee their safety and were therefore banning several future public rallies".

    The government has previously dismissed MDC concerns of a possible assassination threat as fantasy.

    The MDC accuses President Robert Mugabe's supporters of leading a campaign of intimidation which has forced thousands from their homes and left at least 65 dead.

    Mr Tsvangirai was detained by police for several hours on Friday - the second such incident in three days. On Wednesday, he was stopped and held for eight hours before being released without charge.

    Zimbabwe's information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu declined to comment.
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    Default Sri Lanka's war turns on civilians


    The use of two bus attacks in one day is clearly designed to spread fear in Sri Lanka which has seen a series of increasingly frequent attacks targeting civilians on public transport in recent weeks.

    Suburbs of both the capital, Colombo, and the central town of Kandy have been targeted - spreading the geographical net wide on the same day. Powerful fragmentation mines are increasingly being used to target crowded buses and trains in the south of Sri Lanka.

    The attacks tend to be in suburbs and primarily kill and injure civilians where once the rebels used mine explosions to attack army buses carrying soldiers or naval personnel in the east of the island. Suicide bombers

    During the 25 years of Sri Lanka's civil war, the Tamil Tiger rebels have frequently changed tactics as they have built up their fighting force and equipped it with multi-barrelled rocket launchers, mortars and artillery. But the Tigers are best known for their use of suicide bombers - often multiple suicide bombers, male and female.

    And they have been blamed for high-profile bombs blasts at major infrastructure sites like the international airport, the port, the central bank or five-star hotels - attacks which psychologically dented financial confidence in Sri Lanka and often damaged the country's tourism industry. There is nothing to suggest the rebels could not strike at the heart of Colombo if they wanted but it seems they have deliberately decided to cause panic in the public transport system and disrupt civilian life.

    Those who suffer are commuters - ordinary people who fear the journey to work and worry about how to take their children safely to school.

    The mere rumour of a bomb which may turn out to be caused by the sound of something harmless will send anxious parents rushing to collect their children from school.

    Civilians targeted

    So why may the Tigers have changed tack when their senior military leaders previously questioned why the Palestinian militant groups used suicide bombers to kill Israeli civilians at bus stops instead of hitting at big economic targets? Many believe the attacks in the south are conducted by the Tigers in revenge for what they say is a sharp increase in claymore mine attacks on civilians in rebel-controlled territory.

    The government does not give journalists access to rebel territory so attacks and their casualty figures there are impossible to verify.

    But the Tigers accuse the government of using guerrilla-style tactics against them - employing what are called "deep penetration units", or Tamil-speaking paramilitaries, to infiltrate rebel areas and kill civilians. The government denies this.

    Although there are military battles on the frontline between rebel and government territory in the north, it appears the war has descended into small-scale violence targeting civilians on both sides.

    Living on the edge

    These are attacks which serve little strategic military or political purpose except increasing the general sense of insecurityNeither side can hope to win the war like this nor can they hope to change things politically by making civilians suffer more than they already have in decades of conflict.

    Those minority Tamils who live in Colombo say they cannot remember ever being as scared as they are now.
    It does not matter if they are doctors or lawyers - they expect to be questioned and searched at numerous roadblocks and checkpoints.

    After every bomb some Tamils in the nearby locality will be rounded up for questioning and houses searched.

    The security forces normally look in particular for anyone from the north-east of the island but even Tamils born and brought up in the south say they are treated with equal suspicion now.

    The majority Sinhala community is also on edge like never before - watching who gets on buses, reporting suspicious parcels and avoiding public transport if they can possibly afford it - preferring to pay to hire an expensive private van than risk their lives on a train or bus.
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    Default Explosives seized near Pakistan capital


    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Police near Pakistan's capital seized three explosives-filled vehicles and detained a half-dozen people overnight Thursday.
    The bust that comes while the Islamabad area is still on high alert after the suicide car bombing at the Danish Embassy earlier this week.

    The seizure was the result of a tip, and it took place in suburban Rawalpindi -- the city near Islamabad, a source in Islamabad's police told CNN on Friday.

    Police pulled over two Toyota Land Cruisers and a Toyota Corrolla. They found around 1,100 kilograms, or around 2,200 pounds, of explosives. Six people in the cars were being questioned, the source said.

    Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been on high alert after the blast on Monday outside the Danish Embassy killed at least six people. A Web posting purportedly from al Qaeda has claimed.
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    Default Egypt deploys hundreds of policemen on Gaza border

    RAFAH, Egypt, June 6 (Reuters) - Egypt deployed hundreds of riot police along the border with the Gaza Strip on Friday, fearing hundreds of Palestinian protestors may try to storm the Rafah crossing, security officials said.

    One official said 500 policemen as well as scores of border guards were deployed at Rafah border crossing and along a concrete wall separating Sinai and the coastal strip. "Hundreds of Palestinians are starting to gather in front of the main gate of the crossing on the Palestinian side demanding it to be opened," the official told Reuters on a customary condition of anonymity.

    Another security official put the number of policemen at around 1,000, along with 500 border guards.

    The Rafah crossing is the Gazans' main point of contact with the outside world because few of them are allowed through the passenger terminal at the Erez crossing with Israel.

    All of Gaza's crossings have largely been shut since the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the coastal strip last June when its fighters routed the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.

    Palestinian militants blew holes in the border wall with Egypt in January, allowing hundreds of thousands of Gazans to flock into Sinai to stock up on food and fuel supplies.

    Egypt has been trying without much success to broker a truce between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza. Hamas has repeatedly urged Cairo to open the Rafah crossing unilaterally if the truce talks broke down. (Reporting by Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia and Mohamed Youssef in Rafah; Writing by Alaa Shahine; Editing by Timothy Heritage)
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    Default World Leaders Pledge to Combat Food Crisis


    to download the talk
    http://www.voanews.com/mediaassets/e...it_06jun08.Mp3
    http://www.voanews.com/english/figle...it_06jun08.Mp3
    World leaders at a UN summit in Rome have pledged to reduce trade barriers and boost agricultural production to combat a global food crisis. At the end of a 3-day world food security summit in Rome, delegates approved a declaration resolving to ease the suffering caused by soaring food prices. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.

    It was no easy matter for the delegates at the world food security summit in Rome to reach an agreement on a final declaration to ease increasing hunger in the world. Nearly 5,000 representatives from more than 180 countries spent three days discussing how to ease the suffering caused by soaring food prices.
    Delegates held their talks at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. At the end of a long third day, an agreement was reached. FAO Director General Jacques Diouf had said at the start of the conference that the time had come for action.

    "We have approved a declaration, you know that it has not been very easy as usual and, in addition, during the discussions, the third elements of the global framework for action, global framework for action, that document was also presented in the framework of the task force," he saidHe added that what essentially was reached at the Rome conference was a political declaration of intent to ease hunger. The document calls for swift help for small-holder farmers in poor countries who need seed, fertilizers and animal feed in time for the approaching planting season. But it remains to be seen if the words adopted in Rome will translate into changed farm or trade policies at home.

    Diouf said the gathering wasn't a pledging conference but billions of US dollars from countries, regional banks and the World Bank were promised to combat hunger.

    "At the closing of the conference the representative of the United States indicated that they would be committing 5 billion US dollars over the next years in support of agriculture and food security," he said.

    Some Latin American countries have raised strong objections to the declaration. These included Cuba that was disappointed the document does not criticize the long-standing U.S. embargo against the Communist-run island.

    Argentina was unhappy over the language about trade barriers. It says the declaration does not blame farm subsidies in the US, European Union and other Western food-producers for a major role in driving up prices.

    Delegates at the summit also discussed the contentious issue of biofuels, recognizing that there are both "challenges and opportunity."
    Last edited by najis; 06-06-2008 at 07:48 PM.
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    Default

    Nice news updates......

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KingKaran View Post
    Nice news updates......

    thanks for u are replies
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    Default Turkish ruling party meets after court setback


    ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's ruling AK Party held an emergency meeting on Friday after the top court overturned a government-led reform which lifted a ban on Muslim headscarves at universities.

    Analysts said Thursday's ruling by the Constitutional Court was the most serious setback for the AK Party since it came to power in 2002 and posed a serious threat to its survival.

    Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan chaired the AK Party meeting, which started at 1200 GMT, and hundreds of women in headscarves protested in several cities.

    The headscarf ruling will play a central role in a separate case that seeks to close the ruling AK Party for anti-secular activities, and ban 71 members, including Erdogan and the president, from belonging to a party for five years.

    The secularist establishment, including army generals and judges, suspects the AK Party of harboring a hidden agenda.

    Mustafa Unal, a columnist for religious-leaning daily Zaman, wrote: "This verdict will affect the closure case negatively."

    Hurriyet newspaper said the AK Party executive was expected to discuss various options to deal with the crisis, including the option of calling an early parliamentary election.

    The Constitutional Court is expected to rule on the AK party closure case in the coming months but if the party feels its has been boxed in, it may make a preemptive move, analysts said.
    The political uncertainty has hit the lira and bonds.

    Analysts fear reforms in the European Union candidate country will be put on hold as the AK Party fights for survival.

    NEXT MOVE?

    Analysts expect the AK Party to be outlawed, although some say the court could decide to punish AK party leaders given that forming a new party would be easy under Turkish electoral law.

    Senior AK Party members told Reuters recently the party had begun to believe it would be closed and Erdogan banned from politics. The sources, who declined to be named, said party members had begun planning to create a new party.

    Turkey has a history of banning political parties and the AK Party's predecessor was banned in 2001 for Islamist activities.

    The courts and the military see themselves as guardians of a strict separation of religion and politics, which is rooted in the foundation of the modern state in the 1920s from the ruins of the dismembered Ottoman Empire.

    The party denies charges of Islamist activities, which it regards as an attempt by arch-secularist opponents to dislodge a government with a large parliamentary majority.

    But the headscarf reform has rekindled a decades-long dispute over the role of Islam in a country of 70 million that is officially secular but predominantly Muslim and has yet to reconcile the two sides. "I am crushed and feel hopeless," said Esra Altinay Ozbecetek, 29, who left university when she was 19 because she was not allowed to wear a headscarf to class.

    "For 10 years I've watched people enter and graduate from university and I've just sat by and watched," she said.

    The government has won praise for securing EU-accession talks status in 2005 and pushing through difficult political and economic reforms, although the reform process has since slowed.

    Analysts said the headscarf move was ill-planned because Erdogan failed to address the concerns of opponents of the garment, particularly urban secularist women.

    "Personally, I'm afraid that the headscarf could become an established symbol of the state and that wearing headscarves in universities is just the first step," said Fatma Aslan, a 24-year-old student in Istanbul.
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    Default South Africa: Countries Marks World Environment Day

    Bathandwa Mbola
    Pretoria

    Today the world celebrates World Environment Day - a day which aims to spread awareness of the environment while creating awareness of the need to preserve and enhance the environment.

    This year's theme "Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy" - urges people to cut down on activities that increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    "World Environment Day will highlight resources and initiatives that promote low carbon economies and life-styles, such as improved energy efficiency, alternative energy sources, forest conservation and eco-friendly consumption," said the United Nations (UN) on its website.

    Celebrated annually on the 5 June since 1974, the day was designated by the UN.

    The date recalls the opening day of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, 1972 which led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme.While recognising that climate change is becoming the defining issue of our era, the day's agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues.

    It aims to empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues, said the union.

    It also aims to advocate partnership, which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

    As part of the celebrations for the day, Johannesburg held a two-day climate change summit which started on Monday at Nasrec Expo Centre.

    The summit targeted mostly municipalities to create awareness around the city's climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes.

    The city is leading the way in South Africa when it comes to measures to curb climate change.

    It has launched a wide range of environmental programmes since hosting the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.

    Success stories include greening the city, especially those areas that have been previously disadvantaged; the wetlands rehabilitation programme, specifically the Vorna Valley and Mapetla wetlands; and retro-fitting council-owned buildings with energy efficient lighting.

    Meanwhile, the Collect-a-Can- the recycling company has joined organisations and governments around the world in recognising and celebrating the day.

    Collect-a-Can embarked on various projects that run throughout the year.

    "Our biggest project is the schools competition, a project that aims to encourage, educate and inform children on the importance of a clean environment, through recycling waste like used beverage cans," said the organisations Managing Director, Funani Mojono.

    For the second time this year Collect-a-Can will attempt another Guinness World Record for the most cans collected anywhere in the world.

    However, Mr Mojono said the event would be bigger and better than before as more companies and organisations are getting involved in the initiative.

    Since Collect-a-Can was established in 1993, it has supported efforts aimed at maintaining a cleaner and safer environment.For its part, Collect-a-Can has recovered and recycled more than 750 000 tons of used beverage cans.

    "Waste management represents a key environmental challenge for South Africa and once again we are dedicating ourselves to ensuring that used beverage cans, and consequently tin-plate, exist in harmony with the environment," said Mr Mojono.

    According to Mr Mojono, Collect-a-Can's involvement and support in celebrations like the World Environment Day proves how dedicated the company is to curbing environmental pollution and also hope this will serve as an invitation to many other individuals and organisations.
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    Default Obama Backs Away From Comment on Divided Jerusalem

    Facing criticism from Palestinians, Sen. Barack Obama acknowledged yesterday that the status of Jerusalem will need to be negotiated in future peace talks, amending a statement earlier in the week that the city "must remain undivided."Obama's statement, made during a speech Wednesday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group, drew a swift rebuke from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

    "This statement is totally rejected," Abbas told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "The whole world knows that holy Jerusalem was occupied in 1967, and we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state." The Bush administration's official position is that the status of Jerusalem must be decided by the parties. Before he left office, President Bill Clinton proposed a formula under which "Jerusalem should be an open and undivided city," including locating the Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.

    Obama quickly backtracked yesterday in an interview with CNN.

    "Well, obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations," Obama said when asked whether Palestinians had no future claim to the city.

    Obama said "as a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute" a division of the city. "And I think that it is smart for us to -- to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city."

    But Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) later said on behalf of the Obama campaign that Obama's comment to CNN should not be seen as backtracking or even an amendment. He said Obama was clarifying that he has long believed it is up to the parties involved to determine the status of Jerusalem.
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    Default Northern Ireland leaders hold talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London

    LONDON: The leaders of Northern Ireland's power-sharing administration held talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown Friday in a bid to assuage tensions threatening the province's fragile Catholic-Protestant coalition.

    First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy leader Martin McGuinness met Brown to discuss contentious issues including the devolution of the police and justice systems, education and the use of the Irish language.

    The talks began around 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) and dragged on into the afternoon. But Robinson played down expectations of any breakthroughs.

    "We all have to recognize that while it's good to come here and meet Gordon Brown the business has to be done back in Northern Ireland," he said.

    Robinson was selected Thursday to replace former First Minister Ian Paisley, who has stepped down at the age of 82. Paisley stunned the world last year by sitting down in government alongside Sinn Fein, the public face of the outlawed Irish Republican Army, and working closely with former IRA commander McGuinness.But tensions between the British Protestant Democratic Unionist Party and the Irish Catholics of Sinn Fein have been rising, threatening the province's 13-month-old governing coalition.

    Sinn Fein had threatened to block Robinson's appointment — a step that could have triggered the collapse of power-sharing — but relented after the Democratic Unionists agreed to open immediate negotiations under Brown's direction.

    The key deadlock is over forming a new Justice Department for Northern Ireland that would receive powers from Britain to oversee the police and courts.

    Protestants oppose the power transfer, in part because of Sinn Fein's preferred candidate for justice minister: Gerry Kelly, who helped plant the IRA's first London car bombs in 1973 and led the biggest prison escape in British history a decade later.

    The Democratic Unionists say they might agree nonetheless — if the IRA takes a final symbolic step toward oblivion by disbanding its seven-man command, known as the army council.

    The underground group killed 1,775 people during a failed 1970-97 campaign to force Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom, but renounced violence and disarmed in 2005. The IRA continues to exist as a controlling force in the most hard-line Catholic areas.

    Although Brown was hosting the talks, his office said he would act only as a facilitator, leaving Robinson and McGuinness to lead the discussions. Representatives of the Irish government also were attending.Arriving for the talks at 10 Downing Street, Robinson said he had been surprised to learn Irish representatives would be there.

    "These are internal Northern Ireland matters," he said. "Gordon Brown never spoke to me to indicate the Irish would be present today."
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    Default Clinton meets with Obama, and the rest is secret


    But Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton came together here Thursday evening to pull off a secret rendezvous. They ditched their traveling entourages, eluded camera crews across town and startled many of their own advisers as they held their first private meeting since becoming archrivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    It was a political scavenger hunt like this capital had seldom seen before — at least in the current frenzied climate — where the two rivals huddled at an undisclosed location. Only hours earlier, she sought to cool speculation that she was clamoring to be his running mate, but suddenly the city's media was awash in rumor as word spread of their meeting.

    The evening began in routine fashion, with Obama holding a large rally in northern Virginia. Then, he was scheduled to travel by motorcade to Dulles International Airport and fly to Chicago. The motorcade arrived, but Obama did not, stirring alarm among reporters who had been aboard the campaign plane for 45 minutes as it sat on the tarmac.

    Shortly before takeoff, one part of the secret was divulged. Robert Gibbs, the campaign's communications director, said Obama would not be flying to Chicago as previously scheduled. He gave no reason for this mysterious pronouncement and there was little time for questions, considering that the engines had started to whirl.Sunlen Miller, who covers the Obama campaign for ABC News, filed an urgent dispatch via Blackberry to report that the senator had abruptly changed plans and had given the slip to those who were traveling with him all day. "I sent it as the wheels were going up," Miller said of her message, recounting the agitation and confusion among her fellow travelers as the 757 lifted off.

    It wasn't until after the plane landed in Chicago — sans the presidential candidate — that Gibbs confirmed a meeting had taken place between the rivals. Details? None given.

    The face-to-face meeting, initiated by Clinton, illustrated how the hierarchical roles of the candidate's relationship suddenly were changing. While Obama agreed to meet Clinton on her terms — at the location and time of her choosing — he was doing so wearing the title of a presumptive nominee, eager to get their first session out of the way and move onto the general election.

    Several early reports suggested that Obama and Clinton were holding the secret session at her home on Whitehaven Street, which sits in the shadow of the vice president's residence in Northwest Washington. In the end, aides said, the meeting did not take place there, a development that for hours injected a cloak-and-dagger-like element into the drama and set off a mad scramble for reporters to find the secret location.For a time, the search took place live on cable television, unfolding like a Washington spy thriller, with the two leading characters sneaking around with the help of decoys and diversions.

    Was it taking place at the home of Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, who supported Clinton but is also friendly to Obama? (If so, where does she live? Property records indicated an address on Nebraska Avenue, which turned up nothing.)

    Or was it happening at Obama's small duplex on Capitol Hill? Or, perhaps, the congressional picnic that was underway at the White House on Thursday evening?

    Those questions — not to mention the substance of the meeting — went largely unanswered. Advisers to both candidates did not respond to questions by telephone or email, saying the senators demanded that the session be kept secret.

    Throughout the long primary season, Chuck Todd, the political director of NBC News, turned to maps and charts to help explain the state-by-state — and delegate-by-delegate — maneuverings. No visual aids could help explain this mysterious Clinton-Obama story.

    "This is only a taste of the media deception to come, the granddaddy of them all when it comes to secret meetings is the vice presidential search," Todd said, after calling an end to the hunt for information. "It's a frustrating game campaigns play when it comes to these private meetings. But they rarely pay a real price because secretly the press corps enjoys the chase."

    Finally, as Obama was headed back to Chicago on a private plane and Clinton had returned to her home, another rarity took place. A joint statement was issued by representatives of the two senators, but sent out by Obama's staff. Those words, perhaps, were the first cooperative undertaking since the presidential race began six seasons ago."Senator Clinton and Senator Obama met tonight and had a productive discussion about the important work that needs to be done to succeed in November," the statement said.

    Clinton's farewell from the race comes Saturday. When she offers her endorsement, Obama said he intends to be in Chicago with his family. Unless, of course, he isn't.
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    Default 2 top leaders of U.S. Air Force pushed out


    WASHINGTON: The Air Force's senior civilian official and its highest-ranking general were ousted by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Thursday following an official inquiry into the mishandling of nuclear weapons and components, an episode that Gates called an indication of systemic problems in the Air Force.

    The Air Force secretary, Michael Wynne, and the service's chief of staff, General T. Michael Moseley, were forced to resign after the inquiry found that the latest incident reflected "a pattern of poor performance" in securing sensitive military components, Gates said at a Pentagon briefing.

    So deep and serious are the problems, Gates said, that he has asked a former defense secretary, James Schlesinger, to head "a senior-level task force" to recommend improvements in the safekeeping of weapons, delivery vehicles and other sensitive items.

    Never before has a defense secretary ousted both a service secretary and a service chief, according to senior Pentagon officials. Since taking office 18 months ago, Gates has made accountability of theme of his tenure. He has also fired senior army officials, after disclosures of shoddy conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the service's premier medical facility for wounded soldiers.

    "Our policy is clear," Gates said. "We will ensure the complete physical control of nuclear weapons, and we will properly handle the associated components at all times. It is a tremendous responsibility, and one we must and will never take lightly."The inquiry involving the Air Force was an effort to determine how four high-tech electrical nosecone fuses for Minuteman nuclear warheads were sent to Taiwan in place of helicopter batteries. The mistake was discovered in March — a year and a half after the erroneous shipment.

    Most troubling, a senior Pentagon official said in advance of the briefing, was that little had been done to improve the security of the nuclear weapons infrastructure after it was disclosed last year that the Air Force unknowingly let a B-52 bomber fly across the United States carrying six armed nuclear cruise missiles.

    Gates emphasized that neither incident posed a danger of a nuclear mishap. Nevertheless, he said, the inquiry made it clear that the Air Force has suffered for years from a loss of expertise in handling nuclear materials. He acknowledged that the Air Force has taken steps to improve the situation, but he said more must be done, and with outside scrutiny, to fix "structural, procedural and cultural problems."

    Pentagon officials said Moseley met Thursday with Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and that Wynne was meeting with Gates's deputy secretary, Gordon England.

    The mishandling of the nosecone fuses was viewed as another indication of lack of discipline within America's nuclear infrastructure, and was another embarrassment for the people in charge of those weapons.

    Last year, the Air Force disclosed that it unwittingly let a B-52 bomber carrying six armed nuclear cruise missiles fly from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana last August. About 36 hours passed before the missiles were properly secured, officials have said.

    Those errors in handling nuclear weapons components was more than just an indication that the cold war-era focus on these powerful weapons had become fuzzy. It put the Bush administration in a difficult position, as the United States government is struggling to prevent the technology for nuclear weapons from spreading to nations that do not already have them and has criticized North Korea and Iran for their nuclear ambitions, and even criticized Russia for not sufficiently safeguarding its stockpile.

    After the incident with the nosecone fuses was discovered, Gates told the Air Force and navy secretaries "to conduct a comprehensive review of all policies, procedures, as well as a physical site inventory of all nuclear and nuclear-associated material equipment across their respective programs."

    Admiral Kirkland Donald, the director of Navy Nuclear Propulsion, the head of the investigation, gave his report to Gates last week.

    Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, applauded Gates's move. "Secretary Gates's focus on accountability is essential and had been absent from the office of the Secretary of Defense for too long," Levin said in a statement. "The safety and security of America's nuclear weapons must receive the highest priority, just as it must in other countries."

    A separate inquiry into contracts for the Air Force's flying stunt team, the Thunderbirds, had added to the service's troubles over recent months.

    In April, a Pentagon investigation found a $50 million contract to promote the Thunderbirds was tainted by improper influence and preferential treatment. No criminal conduct was found, but three officials were subjected to administrative penalties.Those specific incidents only added to a sense of frustration Gates has felt toward some Air Force actions regarding weapons procurement, budgets and execution of the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to his aides.

    Gates has said he has been struggling for months to bring more surveillance aircraft to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The Air Force has more than doubled the number of armed Predator and Reaper hunter-killer aircraft over Iraq and Afghanistan since last early last year, but aides to Gates said he was still unsatisfied, and he appointed a task force to accelerate surveillance vehicles into the combat zone.

    The expected replacement of the top Air Force officials is similar to Gates's decisions in March 2007 after disclosures of shoddy conditions at Walter Reed.

    Francis J. Harvey was forced by Gates to resign as army secretary. That action followed by a day a decision that the two-star general in charge of Walter Reed, Major General George Weightman, would be relieved of command.
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    Default U.S. Senate panel accuses Bush of Iraq exaggerations


    WASHINGTON: A long-delayed Senate report endorsed by Democrats and some Republicans has concluded that President George W. Bush and his aides built the public case for war against Iraq by exaggerating available intelligence and by ignoring disagreements among spy agencies about Iraq's weapons programs and Saddam Hussein's links to Al Qaeda.

    The report was released Thursday after years of partisan squabbling, and it marks the close of five years of investigations by the Senate Intelligence Committee into the use, abuse and faulty assessments of intelligence leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

    That some Bush administration claims about the Iraqi threat turned out to be false is hardly new. But the report, based on a detailed review of public statements by Bush and other officials, is the most comprehensive effort to date to assess whether policymakers systematically painted a more dire picture about Iraq than was justified by available intelligence.

    The 170-page report accuses Bush, Vice President **** Cheney and other top officials of repeatedly overstating the Iraqi threat in the emotional aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Its findings were endorsed by all eight committee Democrats and two Republicans, Senators Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

    In a statement accompanying the report, Senator John Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said: "The president and his advisers undertook a relentless public campaign in the aftermath of the attacks to use the war against Al Qaeda as a justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein."Dana Perino, the White House spokesman, on Thursday called the report a "selective view," and said the Bush administration's public statements were based on the same faulty intelligence given to Congress and endorsed by foreign intelligence services. Senator Christopher Bond of Missouri, the committee's top Republican, called the report a "waste of committee time and resources."

    The report on the prewar statements about Iraq found that on some key issues — most notably Iraq's purported nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs — the public statements from Bush, Cheney and other senior officials were generally "substantiated" by the best estimates at the time from American intelligence agencies. But the report found that the administration officials' statements usually did not reflect the intelligences agencies' uncertainties about the evidence or disputes among them.

    In a separate report, the Intelligence Committee provided new details about a series of clandestine meetings in Rome and Paris between Pentagon officials and Iranian dissidents in 2001 and 2003. The meetings included discussions about possible covert actions to destabilize the government in Tehran, and they were used by the Pentagon officials to glean information about internal rivalries inside of Iran and suspected Iranian "hit" team targeting American troops in Afghanistan.

    The report concludes that Stephen Hadley, now the national security adviser, and Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary, "acted within their authorities" to dispatch the Pentagon officials to Rome. At the same time, the report criticized the meetings as ill-advised and accused Hadley and Wolfowitz of keeping the State Department and intelligence agencies in the dark about the meetings, which it portrayed as part of a rogue intelligence operation.

    The two reports were the final parts of the committee's so-called "phase two" investigation of prewar intelligence on Iraq and related issues. The first phase of the inquiry, begun in the summer of 2003 and completed in July 2004, identified grave faults in the Central Intelligence Agency's analysis of the threat posed by Saddam.

    The report was especially critical of statements by Bush and Cheney that linked Iraq to Al Qaeda and raised the possibility that Saddam might supply the terrorist group with weapons of mass destruction. "Representing to the American people that the two had an operational partnership and posed a single, indistinguishable threat was fundamentally misleading and led the nation to war on false premises," Rockefeller wrote.

    Bond and four other Republicans on the committee sharply dissented from the report's findings and suggested the investigation was a partisan smokescreen to obscure the real story: that Central Intelligence Agency failed the Bush administration by delivering intelligence assessments to policymakers that have since been discredited.

    In a detailed minority report, four of those Republicans accused Democrats of hypocrisy and their own campaign of cherry-picking — namely, refusing to include misleading public statements by such top Democrats as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Rockefeller.

    As an example, they pointed to an October 2002 speech by Rockefeller, who declared to his Senate colleagues that he had arrived at the "inescapable conclusion that the threat posed to America by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction is so serious that despite the risks, and we should not minimize the risks, we must authorize the president to take the necessary steps to deal with the threat."The report about the Bush administration's public statements does shed some new detail about the intelligence information available to policymakers as they built a case for war. In September 2002, for instance, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "the Iraq problem cannot be solved by airstrikes alone" because Iraqi chemical and biological weapons were so deeply buried that they could not be penetrated by American bombs.

    Two months later, however, the National Intelligence Council wrote an assessment for Rumsfeld concluding that the Iraqi underground weapons facilities identified by the intelligence agencies "are vulnerable to conventional, precision-guided, penetrating munitions because they are not deeply buried."

    On Thursday, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democratic member of the Intelligence Committee, said Congress was never told about the National Intelligence Council assessment.
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