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      SHB COMPLETES SR775 MILLION BONDS SALE
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Arab News RIYADH: Saudi Hollandi Bank (SHB) announced yesterday the successful closure of its SR775 million issue on Monday, which is the first tranche of a SR1.5 billion Tier–II Sukuk issuance recently approved by the bank’s shareholders.

«The successful closure of this Sukuk puts SHB as the first >>>


      ALFAISAL UNIVERSITY, SWCC FORGE RESEARCH TIEUP
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Mohammed Rasooldeen | Arab News RIYADH: The Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) and Alfaisal University yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in research and training in the application of desalination technology.

The agreement was inked by Prince Bandar bin Saud, chairman of the Ex >>>


      DISABLED KIDS RAISE SR1.2M AT ART AUCTION
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Fatima Sidiya | Arab News PROUD MOMENT: Thirty–five paintings by disabled children were auctioned off at a fundraising event at Lailaty Hall in Jeddah on Monday. (AN photo) JEDDAH: The paintings by disabled children were auctioned off on Monday at the seventh charity fundraiser entitled «Color Their Life&raq >>>


      EXPECT CHILLY WEATHER
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Arab News RIYADH: Get out the wool thobes! The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment said in a statement yesterday that a cold front and gusting winds were expected through Monday in many parts of the Kingdom.

Low temperatures in the north will be between –3 to –8 Celsius. The central region can >>>


      GCC APPEALS FOR END TO MASSACRE
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Arab News Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah attends the concluding session of the 2'th GCC summit in Muscat on Tuesday. (SPA) MUSCAT: The Gulf Cooperation Council yesterday condemned the blatant Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and urged an end to relentless air raids >>>


      HOUSEMAID THREATENS TO KILL HERSELF
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Arab News JEDDAH: An Indonesian maid threatened to commit suicide by jumping from the balcony of a fourth–floor apartment in Jeddah in protest against physical abuse by her Saudi employer, police said yesterday.

Col. Misfar Al–Juaid, spokesman for the Jeddah police, said officers arrived at the scen >>>


      KING ABDULLAH ARRIVES IN RIYADH
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Arab News RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah arrived in Riyadh Tuesday evening after leaving Muscat earlier in the day. The king, who led a Saudi delegation, attended the Gulf Cooperation Council summit held in Oman&#3's capital on Monday and Tuesday.
>>>


      MINISTRY DENIES BREAKING UP QATIF RALLY
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Samir Al–Saadi | Arab News JEDDAH: The Ministry of Interior has rebuffed reports that Saudi security forces fired rubber bullets, injuring at least six people including two children, to break up a pro–Palestinian rally in the Eastern Province on Monday.

«No such protest took place. There were >>>


      ONAIZAH GIRL’S MOTHER SEEKS HRC SUPPORT
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Fatima Sidiya | Arab News JEDDAH: The mother of an eight–year–old Onaizah girl whose recent bid for a divorce from the 58–year–old man her father married her to was rejected by a court has contacted the Human Rights Commission (HRC) for help.

The girl’s father, who is divorced from her m >>>


      SAUDI PLANES SENT TO ARISH
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Arab News ARISH: Two Saudi planes carrying 20 tons of medicines and medical relief materials intended for the injured people in Gaza arrived at the Arish airport in Egypt on Tuesday. The consignments, sent from Riyadh at the orders of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, will be transported to Gaza by road a >>>


      WOLF HUNTING A POPULAR PASTIME IN YANBU
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Muhammad Al–Sheikh | Arab News THE LYNCH TREE: Wolf hunters hang their kill from trees to drive other wolves from farms. (AN photo) YANBU: The view is like something out of a Wild West movie. As one approaches this crooked tree located by the side of a dusty and busy highway around 75 kilometers outside Yanbu, one >>>


      CAIR SAYS ISRAEL HAS TURNED GAZA INTO A GIANT JAIL
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Barbara Ferguson | Arab News WASHINGTON: As Israel kept up its string of attacks on Gaza for a fourth day that has killed hundreds and injured hundreds more through air attacks, US President George W. Bush leaned on Palestinian leaders to urge Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel.

Israel has said it will no >>>


      GAZA PROTEST BOAT SAILS BACK INTO LEBANON
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     BEIRUT: A boat carrying international peace activists and medical supplies to the embattled Gaza Strip sailed into a Lebanese port yesterday – after being turned back and damaged by the Israeli Navy, organizers of the trip said.

A small crowd on the docks in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre, includ >>>


      ISRAELI OFFENSIVE WILL GO ON ‘FOR WEEKS’
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Hisham Abu Taha | Arab News VICTIM OF BRUTALITY: Palestinians bury four–year–old Lama Hamdan at Beit Hanoun after an Israeli missile killed her along with her 12–year–old sister on Tuesday. (Reuters) GAZA CITY: Israel yesterday readied troops on the Gaza border and warned that its deadly assault, >>>


      KIDS TRAUMATIZED AS ISRAELI BOMBS RAIN DOWN
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Agencies GAZA CITY: «We are scared ... that we can die at any moment,» said 11–year–old Mohammed Ayyad, still terrified hours after a massive Israeli bombardment of Hamas government buildings next to his house in Gaza.

Like the rest of Gaza’s children, he has been traumatized by the four >>>


      PAKISTAN WANTS INDIA TO RESUME DIALOGUE
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Azhar Masood | Arab News ISLAMABAD: Pakistan yesterday called for talks with India to defuse tensions between the nuclear–armed neighbors, as New Delhi denied claims it had moved troops into offensive positions on the border.

The comments from the foreign ministers of the South Asian rivals were the lates >>>


      PRO–INDIA PARTIES TO TAKE POWER IN KASHMIR
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Nilofar Suhrawardy | Arab News NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: A pro–India coalition will head the Kashmir state government, ending nearly six months of federal administration that saw deadly protests against New Delhi’s rule, leaving more than 50 people dead.

No single party managed to win a majority in the election >>>


      PROTESTERS STORM EGYPTIAN MISSION
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Agencies ADEN: Demonstrators broke into the Egyptian Consulate in the Yemeni port city of Aden briefly yesterday in a protest against Cairo’s response to Israel’s offensive against Gaza.

The protesters, mostly students from the University of Aden, «vandalized furniture before they were removed peacefully >>>


      SHOE–THROWING IRAQI REPORTER’S TRIAL PUT OFF
      Arab News, 31-12-2008
     Reuters BAGHDAD: The trial of an Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at US President George W. Bush in Baghdad has been postponed pending an appeal over whether the incident amounted to an assault, his lawyer said yesterday.

TV journalist Muntadar Al–Zeidi is charged with assault against a foreign head of >>>


      A CHRISTMAS–TIME TRADITION THAT‘S FOR THE BIRDS
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     FAYSTON, Vt. –– It‘s a Christmas time tradition dating to 1'00, and it has nothing to do with Jesus or Santa. It‘s literally for the birds.

In the National Audubon Society‘s annual Christmas Bird Count, which runs through Jan. 5, birders from around the Western Hemisphere head >>>


      AUTHORITIES BAFFLED BY SNOWY DEATH OF LITTLE GIRL
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM BOISE, Idaho –– Less than three weeks after her daughter turned 11, JoLeta Jenks picked out the clothes the girl would be cremated in.

Sage Aragon died, apparently of hypothermia, after she and her 12–year–old brother, Bear, tried to trudge through 10 miles of snow on Christmas Day to >>>


      BLAGOJEVICH SURPRISES MANY WITH SENATE APPOINTMENT
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM CHICAGO –– Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich created a new distraction for his state by making an appointment to the U.S. Senate even while he faces federal corruption charges for, in part, allegedly trying to sell the very seat he now is trying to fill.

Blagojevich tapped former state attorney gener >>>


      BRIBERY TRIAL LOOMS AS JEFFERSON LOSES DELAY BID
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     WASHINGTON –– Rep. William Jefferson is running out of options. The Louisiana Democrat, in his final days in office, lost a longshot bid Monday to delay his trial on bribery charges.

Jefferson has been trying to get the charges thrown out, but a federal judge refused and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court o >>>


      DEMOCRATS‘ STRUGGLE OVER FILLING OBAMA SEAT
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM WASHINGTON –– Rep. Bobby Rush says he doesn‘t think any U.S. senator would be caught turning a black man away from serving alongside them.

He thought wrong. No Senate Democrats responded to his racial challenge. And they got support from President–elect Barack Obama, who will be the f >>>


      GM AIMS TO DRIVE SALES WITH INCENTIVES
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     December 31, 2008; D01 No longer teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, General Motors is tackling its next financial challenge: convincing people to buy cars again.

GM‘s financing arm, GMAC, detailed plans to increase lending to a broader range of car buyers yesterday, just hours after the Treasury Depart >>>


      HAWAII GIDDY TO HAVE OBAMA HOME ON THE ISLAND
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM ON SANDY BEACH, Hawaii –– When many islanders look at Barack Obama, they see not only the next president, but a skilled bodysurfer, a man who flashes the "shaka" or hang loose sign, and someone who wears the same rubber slippers they do.

Hawaii is overflowing with pride that a son of th >>>


      HUNDREDS IN MICH., NYC, LOS PROTEST GAZA ATTACK
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM DEARBORN, Mich. –– Israel‘s military strikes on the Gaza Strip prompted pro–Palestinian protests in America, with marchers denouncing the violence in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, New York City and Los Angeles.

Hundreds of protesters braved 30–degree weather Tuesday and filled >>>


      JUDGE AWARDS $65M TO MEN TAKEN FROM USS PUEBLO
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM WASHINGTON –– A federal judge on Tuesday awarded more than $65 million to several men who were captured and tortured by North Korea after the communist country seized the U.S. spy ship USS Pueblo during the Cold War.

North Korea never responded to the lawsuit filed by William Thomas Massie, Donal >>>


      LASER EXPERIMENT HOPES TO SAVE FARM WATER
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     LOS ANGELES –– Seventy–six years after the invention of the modern sprinkler helped revolutionize farming, lasers may revolutionize it again.

Jan Kleissl and a handful of his students at the University of California at San Diego think technology using laser beams might lead to a better way to >>>


      LAWMAKERS TO QUESTION SEC WATCHDOG ABOUT MADOFF
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The internal watchdog at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will testify Monday at a hearing by U.S. lawmakers who want to know how the investor protection agency failed to detect the alleged $50 billion fraud committed by Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff.

Members of th >>>


      LAWYER SAYS 68–YEAR–OLD WOMAN STOLE FOR SON
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     HAMILTON, Ohio –– A defense lawyer says the Ohio woman dubbed "the Granny Robber" in several bank heists was trying to support a grown son who had fallen on hard times.

Sixty–eight–year–old Barbara Joly has admitted she robbed a bank in March and investigators suspect her >>>


      MADOFF SET TO DISCLOSE LIST OF HOLDINGS
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM NEW YORK –– Investigators may get a clue Wednesday into how much money might be available for victims in the Bernard Madoff scandal.

The fallen investment guru is scheduled to submit a list of his personal assets to the Securities and Exchange Commission by the end of the year, including property >>>


      MASKED GUNMEN KILL 1, INJURE 3 IN DALLAS STORE
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     DALLAS –– Police say one person has been killed and three wounded after three men in ski masks opened fire in a store in Dallas.

Dallas police spokesman Gerardo Monreal said two men and two women were inside the North Dallas business when the shootings happened Tuesday night.

Sgt. Bruce McD >>>


      MINN. MAN WHO DROVE PLOW INTO RIVER IS FIRED
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     CROOKSTON, Minn. –– A Minnesota snowplow operator who drove a $200,000 loader into a frozen river has been fired.

Mike Raymond was clearing snow from county parking lots early Monday when he decided to also clear off a boat ramp on the frozen Red Lake River in Crookston.

Raymond says he wan >>>


      MOBILE MUSEUM SET TO ROLL IN RURAL OKLAHOMA
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     OKLAHOMA CITY –– An interactive mobile museum with 10 different hands–on exhibits is headed for rural Oklahoma to drum up school children‘s interest in science.

The museum on wheels features 10 different hands–on exhibits, including a laser chamber where children play a game simila >>>


      NYC MAYOR COZIES UP TO DEMOCRATS AS ELECTION NEARS
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     NEW YORK –– Mayor Michael Bloomberg was a Republican the last time he campaigned for his job. Now as he prepares to run for re–election in his left–leaning city, he seems to be trying to bury his GOP past.

The billionaire mayor, who was a lifelong Democrat before he changed to Republican >>>


      OBAMA PLEDGES SCHOOLS UPGRADE IN STIMULUS PLAN
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     WASHINGTON –– Barack Obama probably cannot fix every leaky roof and busted boiler in the nation‘s schools. But educators say his sweeping school modernization program _ if he spends enough _ could jump–start student achievement.

More kids than ever are crammed into aging, run–down >>>


      OHIO COURT REJECTS PRIEST‘S APPEAL IN NUN KILLING
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     TOLEDO, Ohio –– Ohio‘s highest court has turned down an appeal filed by a Toledo priest convicted of murdering a nun.

The Ohio Supreme Court said Wednesday that it is declining to hear the appeal of the Rev. Gerald Robinson.

Robinson was convicted in 2006 of killing Sister Margaret An >>>


      PRO–PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS AT OBAMA‘S HAWAII HOUSE
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     KAILUA, Hawaii (Reuters) – A small group of placard–waving pro–Palestinian demonstrators gathered near U.S. President–elect Barack Obama‘s vacation retreat in Hawaii on Tuesday to protest against the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Obama has made no public comment on the strikes, which >>>


      RECESSION WEIGHS ON HOME PRICES, CONSUMERS
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     By Renae MerleWashington Post Staff WriterWednesday, December 31, 2008; D01 Home values tumbled at a record rate in October, according to a widely watched report released yesterday that also indicated that the housing downturn is spreading and worsening.

Home prices fell 18 percent in October compared with the >>>


      RETIREE PLEADS GUILTY TO GIVING U.S. SECRETS TO ISRAEL IN THE 1'80S
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     A02 A retired engineer from New Jersey whose clandestine activities went undetected for more than two decades pleaded guilty yesterday to a criminal charge accusing him of serving as an unregistered agent for Israel.

Ben–Ami Kadish passed classified documents to an Israeli handler between about 1'80 a >>>


      SC UNEMPLOYMENT FUND COULD GO BROKE WITHOUT DEAL
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     COLUMBIA, S.C. –– A standoff between South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and the state‘s unemployment agency is endangering benefits to thousands of people.

The state‘s unemployment fund will run dry by the end of the day unless the state accesses a $146 million federal loan to keep benefit >>>


      TREASURY DEFENDS HANDLING OF BAILOUT
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     PM WASHINGTON –– The Treasury Department is defending its management of a $700 billion bailout program amid criticisms about confusing shifts in strategy and deficiencies in tracking how the money is being used.

A new report says Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson‘s decision to focus the program >>>


      ATHEISTS SUE TO GET PRAYER, GOD OUT OF OBAMA‘S SWEARING–IN
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     B03 A group of atheists, led by a California man known for challenging the use of the words "under God" in recitals of the Pledge of Allegiance at public schools, filed a lawsuit yesterday to bar prayer and references to God at the swearing–in of President–elect Barack Obama.

Michael A. Ne >>>


      BLAGOJEVICH MAKES SENATE PICK DESPITE DEMOCRATS‘ OBJECTIONS
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     Brushing aside the objections of Democratic leaders, embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich selected former state attorney general Roland W. Burris yesterday to take the Senate seat previously held by President–elect Barack Obama, setting up a potential constitutional showdown.

In a raucous news conferen >>>


      DEGREES OF SEPARATION? NOT IN ILLINOIS POLITICS.
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     By Eli Saslow and Hamil H. HarrisWashington Post Staff WritersWednesday, December 31, 2008; A04 President–elect Barack Obama spent yesterday afternoon in Honolulu, going to the zoo with his daughters and visiting his high school campus. And yet, he couldn‘t escape the political melodrama unfolding more than >>>


      E–HAIL TO THE CHIEF
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     By Jose Antonio VargasWashington Post Staff WriterWednesday, December 31,
2008; C01 "Fired up, ready to go –– that was the campaign slogan," says a beaming Ernest E. Johnson on a recent Saturday. A real estate agent and longtime Washington activist, the 60–year–old worked the street >>>


      ELMENDORF TAPPED FOR CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill announced yesterday that Douglas W. Elmendorf will take over the Congressional Budget Office. In that role, the Harvard–educated economist will oversee a team of 230 people who provide nonpartisan, budgetary analysis to Congress.

Elmendorf‘s selection represents ye >>>


      FOR BUSH, HAPPY TRAILS TO CRAWFORD
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     By Nelson HernandezWashington Post Staff WriterWednesday, December 31,
2008; A03 CRAWFORD, Tex., Dec. 30 –– The sun is setting on this rural corner of President Bush‘s empire.

This week, the president is spending what are expected to be his final days at his family ranch, a craggy 1,583&nd >>>


      LOBBYIST SUES N.Y. TIMES, SAYING IT FALSELY ALLEGED AFFAIR WITH MCCAIN
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     A05 A Washington lobbyist filed a $27 million defamation lawsuit against the New York Times yesterday, accusing the newspaper of falsely intimating that she had a romantic relationship with Sen. John McCain and used it to benefit her clients.

The lawsuit by Vicki L. Iseman, filed in U.S. District Court in Richm >>>


      TREASURY‘S BAILOUT PROMISES RUNNETH OVER
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     By Binyamin AppelbaumWashington Post Staff WriterWednesday, December 31,
2008; D03 With the announcement of its $6 billion investment to stabilize GMAC, the Treasury Department has now spent or committed more money than Congress has allocated to its financial rescue program, effectively making more promises than it >>>


      AN IRAQI CITY DIVIDED, AND DEFINED, BY ITS WALLS
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     By Anthony ShadidWashington Post Foreign ServiceWednesday, December 31,
2008; A10 BAGHDAD, Dec. 30 Sadiya Street stretches a few feet beyond the neighborhood that bears its name. That is, on a map. But the geography of Baghdad is determined by masonry, a maze of towering concrete barriers that isolate, segregate and >>>


      ATTACK BRINGS MILITARY FOCUS HOME
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     By Pamela ConstableWashington Post Foreign ServiceWednesday, December 31,
2008; A10 ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 30 –– With Pakistan and its army distracted by revived hostilities with neighboring India, a brazen suicide bomb attack Sunday by Islamist radicals in a northwestern village served as a jolting r >>>


      BEHIND GAZA OPERATION, AN UNEASY TRIUMVIRATE
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     A01 JERUSALEM, Dec. 30 –– Three Israeli leaders met in secret Friday to review the plan of attack, according to a government spokesman. The targets had been selected, the warplanes readied. Clear skies were forecast over the Gaza Strip.

Hours later, Israeli forces began an aerial assault against the >>>


      BRAZILIAN AIRLINE FOUNDER FACES MURDER ACCUSATIONS
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     PM RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil –– For the second time in a month, Brazilian authorities have asked for a murder indictment against a co–founder of Brazil‘s No.
2 airline, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Authorities accuse Nene Constantino, 78, of ordering the 2001 killings of two men >>>


      CHINA‘S HU URGES CLOSER TIES WITH RIVAL TAIWAN
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     BEIJING –– Chinese President Hu Jintao said Wednesday that often–hostile relations with Taiwan have improved greatly over the past three decades and that Beijing remains committed to its long–term goal of peaceful reunification with the island.

"Great changes have been made in the c >>>


      CHINA DAIRY BOSS DELAYED REPORTING QUALITY ISSUES
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     BEIJING –– A former dairy boss who could face the death penalty in China‘s tainted milk scandal testified Wednesday that she began investigating product quality issues in May but did not notify authorities until August, a state news agency said.

Tian Wenhua, former board chairwoman and general >>>


      CZECHS TAKING OVER EU PRESIDENCY
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM PRAGUE, Czech Republic –– A weak government. A Euro–skeptic president.

Parliament in stalemate over an EU reform treaty. The Czech Republic does not look ideally suited to assume leadership of the European Union.

On Thursday, the Czechs take over the bloc‘s six–month ro >>>


      ETHIOPIAN TROOPS PACKING UP TO LEAVE SOMALIA
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     4:15 AM MOGADISHU, Somalia –– Ethiopian troops who have been propping up Somalia‘s government for the past two years were packing up to leave Wednesday amid fears their departure will allow a strengthening Islamic insurgency to take over.

But it was unclear when the thousands of soldiers would >>>


      EU WORRIED ABOUT ‘THREATS‘ AGAINST NOBEL LAUREATE
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     PARIS –– France has summoned the Iranian ambassador for talks to protest pressure on Nobel Peace Prize winner Shahin Ebadi.

A French Foreign Ministry statement says the European Union has "real fears" for Ebadi‘s safety after a search of her law offices in Tehran and the closure of a >>>


      GUNMAN WOUNDS 2 IN MALL SHOOTING IN DENMARK
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     COPENHAGEN, Denmark –– Police say a gunman has wounded two people at a shopping mall in central Denmark, and officers are chasing him.

Police could not confirm a report by the Danish TV2 news channel that the injured were Israelis.

Police say one of the wounded was shot in the arm and the o >>>


      HOSPITAL IN GAZA CITY ENGULFED BY SUFFERING
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     By Sudarsan Raghavan and Islam Abdel KareemWashington Post Foreign ServiceWednesday, December 31, 2008; A11 JERUSALEM, Dec. 30 –– Rawiya Ayad lay in a bed on the ground floor of Gaza City‘s Shifa Hospital on Tuesday, connected to a respirator. A bandage covered her head, and dried blood scarred her fac >>>


      INDONESIAN SPY CHIEF CLEARED IN ACTIVIST‘S MURDER
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     JAKARTA, Indonesia –– An Indonesian court Wednesday acquitted the former deputy chief of state intelligence of charges he ordered the mid–flight poisoning death of a prominent human rights campaigner.

A panel of judges cleared retired Maj. Gen. Muchdi Purwoprandjono of all charges, saying in a >>>


      ISRAEL REJECTS PROPOSED CEASE–FIRE
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     By Sudarsan Raghavan and Griff WitteWashington Post Foreign ServiceWednesday, December 31, 2008; 6:15 AM JERUSALEM, Dec. 31 –– Israeli leaders rejected on Wednesday a cease–fire plan to immediately pause attacks on the Gaza Strip for 48 hours, declaring that as proposed there were no guarantees Hamas f >>>


      ISRAEL REJECTS TRUCE CALL, ATTACKS GAZA
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     31, 2008; 8:45 AM GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip –– Israel rejected international pressure to suspend its air offensive against Palestinian militants whose rocket barrages are striking close to the Israeli heartland, sending warplanes Wednesday to demolish smuggling tunnels that are the lifeline of Gaza‘s Islam >>>


      ISRAEL SAYS GAZA TRUCE PROPOSAL UNREALISTIC
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     GAZA (Reuters) – Hamas rockets hit the major Israeli city of Beersheba on Wednesday and Israel described as unrealistic a French proposal for a 48–hour truce that would allow more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

Foreign powers have increased pressure on both sides to halt hostilities and Israe >>>


      LAWSUIT TARGETS NEW POLICY ALLOWING GUNS IN PARKS
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     The Bush administration was sued yesterday over a new policy that would allow people to carry concealed, loaded guns in most national parks and wildlife refuges.

"The Bush administration‘s last–minute gift to the gun lobby, allowing concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks, jeopardizes >>>


      MUTED NEW YEAR FESTIVITIES IN INDIA, MUMBAI QUIET
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     2008; 4:24 AM MUMBAI (Reuters) – Scanners, blocked roads and tight security will temper New Year revelries across India on Wednesday as fear of militant violence hangs over the country after last month‘s Mumbai attacks.

An unprecedented security blanket covered India‘s main cities this week, u >>>


      NO SIGN OF SOUTH KOREAN POLICY SHIFT TOWARD NORTH
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM SEOUL, South Korea –– South Korean President Lee Myung–bak indicated no softening of his hard–line stance on North Korea and vowed Wednesday to work closely with Washington to end the communist nation‘s nuclear ambitions.

Ties between the two Koreas have plunged to their lowest >>>


      OBAMA‘S ‘ONE PRESIDENT‘ GAMBIT
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     By Michael D. ShearWashington Post Staff WriterWednesday, December 31,
2008; A02 When it comes to repairing the faltering U.S. economy, Barack Obama offers vision, numbers and detail. But as Israeli bombs and Palestinian rockets explode in the Middle East, the president–elect has responded with silence.
>>>


      PAKISTAN KILLS 3 IN AFGHAN SUPPLY ROUTE OPERATION
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     PESHAWAR, Pakistan –– Pakistani troops killed three militants in an operation to secure the major supply route to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, an official said Wednesday.

Fazal Mahmood said the road through the famed Khyber Pass remained closed, but he hoped it would reopen soon. The U.S. mi >>>


      PAKISTAN LAUNCHES ASSAULT IN NORTHWEST
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     December 31, 2008; A10 ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 30 –– Pakistan‘s military launched a major offensive Tuesday in the northwestern tribal region known as Khyber Agency, temporarily closing a key route used to supply U.S. and allied forces battling insurgents in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan >>>


      PAKISTANI CONFESSES TO MUMBAI ATTACKS: OFFICIAL
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM ISLAMABAD, Pakistan –– A militant arrested in Pakistan has confessed involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks and is giving investigators details of the plot, a senior Pakistani government official said Wednesday.

The revelation could add to pressure on Islamabad to either bring Zarar Shah and ot >>>


      PAKISTANI INVESTIGATORS FIND MUMBAI LINK: REPORT
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A leader of a banned Pakistani Islamist militant group has confessed to being a main planner of the attack on Mumbai, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing a Pakistani investigator.

The government has not responded to the report but President Asif Ali Zardari told U.S >>>


      RECORD 151 US TROOPS DIE IN AFGHANISTAN IN 2008
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM KABUL, Afghanistan –– A record 151 U.S. forces died in Afghanistan in 2008, the deadliest year yet in a seven–year war that military officials say is likely to get even bloodier in 200', as thousands more American troops pour into the country.

The number of roadside bombs doubled from t >>>


      REPORT ON COLUMBIA FINDS GEAR LACKING
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     The seat restraints, pressure suits and helmets of the crew of the space shuttle Columbia did not work well, leading to "lethal trauma" as the out–of–control ship lost pressure and broke apart, killing all seven astronauts, according to a new NASA report.

At least one crew member was alive >>>


      ROCKETS MAKE ISRAEL RETHINK WEST BANK PULLBACK
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     31, 2008; 11:25 AM ASHDOD, Israel –– As rockets from Gaza reach deeper into Israel than ever before, they may be weakening what has long been a cornerstone of Middle East peace efforts _ the prospect of exchanging land for peace.

Israeli hard–liners have warned for many years that any territor >>>


      SAUDI FM CRITICIZES PALESTINIANS
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM CAIRO, Egypt –– Saudi Arabia‘s foreign minister on Wednesday blamed Palestinian divisions for Israel‘s onslaught on Gaza, a reflection of U.S.–allied Arab governments‘ anger at the Hamas militant group.

Saud al–Faisal made the comments at the opening of an emergency >>>


      STRICTER SMOKING BAN SET FOR FEDERAL OFFICES
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     December 31, 2008; A13 Government workers at federal buildings who want a cigarette break will have to take a stroll before they light up, according to a new federal policy.

A regulation published last week in the Federal Register by the General Services Administration prohibits smoking in the courtyards of fed >>>


      THAI POLITICAL CRISIS SET TO DRAG ON IN 200'
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     BANGKOK (Reuters) – Supporters of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vowed on Wednesday to resume their street campaign for new elections in 200', suggesting no respite from a long–running political crisis as a recession looms.

In a sign of the strife to come, leaders of the pro&ndash >>>


      VOLUNTEER SUICIDE BOMBERS SEEK TO ATTACK ISRAEL
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     6:46 AM TEHRAN, Iran –– Hard–line Iranian student groups have appealed to the government to authorize volunteer suicide bombers to leave Iran and fight against Israel in response to the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.

The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had not responded to the >>>


      WORLD BIDS A RELIEVED ADIEU TO A ROCKY YEAR
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     AM SYDNEY, Australia –– Amid the jubilation and celebration of New Year‘s Eve, another feeling is present for many as a decidedly rocky 2008 comes to a close: relief.

Randolph King, 63, of York, England, tried to forget his retirement fund losses as he sat on a hill overlooking Sydney Harbor, >>>


      ZIMBABWEAN ACTIVISTS TO SPEND NEW YEAR‘S IN JAIL
      Washington Post, 31-12-2008
     HARARE, Zimbabwe –– A respected human rights campaigner and 31 other activists in Zimbabwe will remain in jail over New Year‘s after a High Court judge postponed an application for their release until Friday.

Zimbabwe Peace Project leader Jestina Mukoko and the other detainees are accused of p >>>


      ‘SURVIVOR: THE BUSINESS WORLD‘
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     Real Estate Joy of Giving Travel Week‘s End Anglo File ‘Survivor: The Business World‘ By Ami Ginsburg Tags: Israel News Two weeks ago Israel Chemicals was blindsided by its partner in Dead Sea Magnesium: Volkswagen unexpectedly announced it was handing its 35% stake in DSM over to ICL.

The Isr >>>


      BUSINESS IN BRIEF
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     Real Estate Joy of Giving Travel Week‘s End Anglo File Business in Brief Worried by the escalation as the Palestinian–Israeli fighting escalates, the Nepalese government is blocking workers from traveling to Israel. The Nepalnews.com Web site reports that the Nepalese government is worried that the situation >>>


      CHANGING PIPELINE ROUTE TO COST DOUBLE
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Avi Bar–Eli The natural gas infrastructure project in the northern part of the country is likely to double its original budget, costing about $120 million instead of the $60 million (NIS 230 million) originally planned. The deviation from the original budget was caused by a change in the route of the pipeline, >>>


      EL AL LIMITS BENEFITS FOR IZZY BOROVICH
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Yuval Maoz El Al‘s shareholders approved a pared–down retirement package for the national airline‘s majority shareholder Izzy Borovich during a shareholders meeting held yesterday.

Every year, Borovich, his wife and his children aged below 21 will be entitled to a free flight ticket, anothe >>>


      ELECTRIC CORP FACES DOWNGRADE
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Avi Bar–Eli A major credit rating agency is getting concerned about the debt repayment ability of one of Israel‘s iconic institutions, none other than the Israel Electric Corporation.

At the end of the third quarter of 2008, the government company carried no less than NIS 52 billion in debt, of w >>>


      GAS PRICE FALLING 5% AT MIDNIGHT
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Avi Bar–Eli At midnight tonight, the price of gasoline will drop by about 5% – 25 agorot per liter – to its lowest level since 2005.

This is the fourth straight month in which gasoline for cars will be dropping, thanks to the sliding price of crude oil in world markets.

Advertiseme >>>


      HARD LOOK / DEAR TYCOONS, IT‘S NOT ME, IT‘S YOU
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Yaron Eldad "An agreement should be reached with the regulator on restructuring of debt, with higher interest, and with state participation in the companies.

The finance minister talks about his vision for 20 years from now, but the house is burning right now. Who cares what we will do tomorrow? The mos >>>


      HOW IBM ATE UP ITS RESERVES AND ASKED FOR MORE
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Doron Tsur Tags: Israel News Last week this column was devoted to the sorry state of some of America‘s biggest companies, as revealed by their balance sheets – especially the gigantic element of intangible assets. Their state is all the more surprising given the many years of plenty that preceded the grea >>>


      MAARIV JOURNALISTS UNIONIZE
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Haim Bior Maariv journalists decided yesterday to organize under the Histadrut labor federation, and will hold a protest meeting late this week at the newspaper‘s office in Tel Aviv to declare a labor dispute. Under the law, a strike can be called two weeks after a dispute is officially declared.

While >>>


      MARKET REPORT / TEL–BONDS LEAPT LIKE IBEXES
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Nathan Sheva Tel Aviv stocks gained ground yesterday, but the story of the day was the indices tracking corporate bonds.

While blue chips advanced by about 1.5%, the Tel–Bond 20 index shot up by 2.'% and the Tel–Bond 40 index gained 4.2%. The Tel–Bond 60 index rose 3.4%. All are extraor >>>


      MARKETS IN BRIEF
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     Radvision, which specializes in video–conferencing over the Internet, has decided to lay off 5% of its workforce, 20 people, and to cut executive pay. For the third quarter of 2008, Radvision reported $21.6 million in revenues, an increase of 4% over the corresponding period in 2007, but it posted an operating los >>>


      POALIM TURNS ECOFRIENDLY AND HEALTH CONSCIOUS
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Sharon Shpurer Bank Hapoalim has just published its environmental sustainability report for 2007, detailing the bank‘s efforts to economize and become more environmentally friendly.

The report states that Hapoalim has been implementing paper–saving measures for years, but last year the bank exten >>>


      PROBLEMS FOUND AT TAHAL‘S PROVIDENT FUND
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Eti Aflalo Far from the public eye, the Finance Ministry‘s Capital Market Department has quietly nationalized and sold the provident fund for Tahal (Israel Water Planning) employees. The problem is that during the process, irregularities were uncovered at the largely unsupervised fund.

Tahal‘s pr >>>


      PROVIDENT FUNDS‘ 2008 RETURNS: –18%
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Eti Aflalo With the end of trading today, one of the worst years Israeli pension funds have known will come to its whimpering end. Provident funds, pension funds and other long–term savings vehicles all had a dreadful year. Not only did the value of the assets they hold shrink badly, frightened investors withdr >>>


      SHEKEL CLIMBS DESPITE RATE CUT
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Tal Levy Despite the steep 0.75% drop in interest on the shekel declared Monday, the dollar surrendered to the global trend yesterday. The greenback sank by 2.1% against the shekel, to an official rate of NIS 3.765. The U.S.

currency lost ground against the euro as well, dropping 1.7% to 1.4162 dollar to the >>>


      TOYOTA TO INTRODUCE NEW, LOW–COST MODELS
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Daniel Schmil United Motors, the importers of Toyota, is planning a strategic overhaul for 200' that will include lower price tags for may of their models and improvement of the twin–clutch gear box, the target of much criticism.

The advertising campaign for the Toyota Yaris, which will come with a >>>


      V.A.T. REVENUES PLUNGED 20% IN DECEMBER
      Haaretz, 31-12-2008
     By Meirav Arlosoroff and Ora Coren State revenues from V.A.T. on imports plunged 20% in December compared to last year, and are down 13% compared to November. Such a sharp drop in import activity in a single month is unprecedented, raising deep concerns about the direction the economy is taking.

V.A.T. revenues >>>



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