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    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Sen. John McCain

    I can see into the future

    Reuters - McCain calls for more vigorous U.S. diplomacy

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    McCain calls for more vigorous U.S. diplomacy

    Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 7:9PM UTC

    By Tim Gaynor

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain, looking to chart an independent course on U.S. foreign policy, called on Wednesday for a more vigorous international diplomacy and a new effort to rebuild frayed relations with allies.

    Distancing himself from the sometimes unilateral diplomatic approach of President George W. Bush, McCain said the United States needs to live up to its responsibilities as a world leader and become a "model citizen" in the global community.

    "The United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone," the Arizona senator, back from a trip to Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, said in a speech to the World Affairs Council in California.

    "Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies," McCain said.

    McCain, who has been criticized by Democrats for hewing too closely to the policies of Republican Bush, acknowledged the damaged U.S. image around the globe after five years of the Iraq war.

    "Leadership in today's world means accepting and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation. One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to our fellow democracies," he said.

    McCain restated his opposition to torture and said the United States should close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where it holds terrorism suspects.


    "America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us as a model," he said. "How we behave at home affects how we are perceived abroad. We can't torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured."

    The Bush administration has denied torturing terrorism suspects, but has admitted using waterboarding -- a simulated drowning technique widely regarded as torture -- in some instances.

    McCain has clinched the Republican nomination and will face the winner of the Democratic race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in November's presidential election.

    The speech in Los Angeles was his second major policy address in two days as he tries to lay the groundwork for general election campaign and keep a high public profile while the two Democratic senators continue their nomination battle.

    He spoke on the economy on Tuesday.

    Clinton, a New York senator, and Obama, an Illinois senator, both support relatively quick withdrawals of troops from Iraq, and McCain rebuked their stance.

    "We have incurred a moral responsibility in Iraq," he said. "It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature withdrawal."

    He said a withdrawal from Iraq would constitute an abandonment of efforts to rebuild the U.S. image abroad.

    "Our critics say America needs to repair its image in the world. How can they argue at the same time for the morally reprehensible abandonment of our responsibilities in Iraq?" he asked.

    "Those who claim we should withdraw from Iraq in order to fight al Qaeda more effectively elsewhere are making a dangerous mistake," he said.

    (Writing by John Whitesides; editing by Patricia Wilson and Mohammad Zargham)

    (To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at

    Reuters - Sprint, Clearwire up on Wi-Max cable joint venture

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    Sprint, Clearwire up on Wi-Max cable joint venture

    Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 2:54PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares of Sprint Nextel Corp <S.N> and Clearwire Corp <CLWR.O> rose sharply on Wednesday after reports that both companies are in talks with the two biggest U.S. cable operators to create a nationwide wireless company.

    The new $3 billion joint venture would be partly funded by contributions of about $1 billion from Comcast Corp <CMCSA.O>, the largest U.S. cable operator, and about $500 million from Time Warner Cable <TWC.N>, the second-largest, people familiar with the talks told Reuters on Tuesday.

    Sprint shares rose as much as 8 percent in early trading before easing back to $6.65, a rise of 3.6 percent. Clearwire was up 9.7 percent at $14.69 after jumping as much as 18 percent.

    The joint venture would use WiMax technology to support Internet access at speeds up to five times faster than traditional wireless networks and could support a range of mobile and video applications. It is seen as a potential substitute for fixed-wire high-speed Internet that, for instance, could be offered across an entire metropolitan region.

    Shares of Sprint and Clearwire's larger rivals were lower on Wednesday morning.

    Verizon Communications <VZ.N> was down 3 percent at $35.80, while AT&T Inc <T.N> fell 1.7 percent to $37.36.

    (Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

    Reuters - Mobile calls set for take off on UK planes

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    Mobile calls set for take off on UK planes

    Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 1:49PM UTC

    LONDON (Reuters) - Passengers on UK-registered aircraft could soon be able to use their mobile phones to make calls and send text messages, the telecommunications regulator Ofcom said on Wednesday.

    Ofcom, which had been examining the proposals since last year, said the plans would be subject to approval by the relevant UK and European aviation bodies.

    The regulator said the decision had been developed with other European Union countries and the system could be used in European airspace.

    Under the plans, airlines wishing to provide the service would allow passengers to use their own handsets once the aircraft reaches a minimum height of 3,000 meters. They would not be allowed during take-off and landing for safety reasons.

    The system would work by connecting the mobile phone to an onboard base station to make and receive calls which would then be billed through a passenger's normal service provider.

    "The safety of passengers is paramount and mobile systems on aircraft will only be installed when they have secured approval by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK," Ofcom said.

    "If such approval has been secured it will be a matter for individual airlines to judge whether there is consumer demand for these services."

    In responses to the consultation, British airline BMI said it was eager to offer its passengers a mobile service.

    (Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Quentin Bryar)

    Shakespeare Online

    To be

    Reuters - Shakespeare goes digital

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    Shakespeare goes digital

    Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 1:19PM UTC

    LONDON (Reuters) - A U.S. and British library plan to reproduce online all 75 editions of William Shakespeare's plays printed in the quarto format before the year 1641.

    The Bodleian Library in Oxford and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC have joined forces to download their collections, building on the work of the British Library which digitized its collection of quarto editions in 2004.

    "There are no surviving manuscripts of Shakespeare's plays in his handwriting so the quartos are the closest we can get to what Shakespeare really wanted," said Bodleian spokeswoman Oana Romocea.

    "Some quartos do, however, have his annotations around the printed text."

    The project is designed to make all of the earliest printed versions of Shakespeare's plays, many of which are only accessible to scholars, available to the wider public.

    The process of downloading the quartos will begin next month and take a year to complete. Online visitors will be able to compare images side-by-side, search the plays and mark and tag the texts.

    "We (at the Bodleian) have about 55 copies, although some of them are duplicates," said Romocea.

    "Each quarto is different, so it's very interesting from a research perspective to compare the quartos.

    "For example, some of the famous lines in 'Hamlet' exist in one quarto and in another they don't, or they are very different."

    Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays and collaborated on several more between about 1590 and 1613. He died in 1616.

    (Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

    Reuters - Pentagon approves development of new radios

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    Pentagon approves development of new radios

    Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 4:4PM UTC

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Wednesday said it approved the start of development of a next-generation radio system for aircraft, ships and ground stations, paving the way for a huge contract award to either Boeing Co <BA.N> or Lockheed Martin Corp <LMT.N> in coming days.

    Pentagon acquisition chief John Young signed a document approving the next phase of the Joint Tactical Radio System program late on Monday.

    Defense analysts say the contract for system design and development of the Airborne Maritime and Fixed Station (AMF) segment of the program will total $800 million to $1.2 billion. A later production contract could translate into business deals valued at $10 billion or more over the long term, they say.

    (Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by John Wallace)

    Tensions Rise in Basra

    What you looking at?

    Reuters - Battle rages in Basra as government cracks down

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    Battle rages in Basra as government cracks down

    Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 3:16PM UTC

    By Aref Mohammed

    BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi forces fought Shi'ite militants on Wednesday in battles that threatened to wreck a truce by a powerful cleric that U.S. forces had credited for much of the reduction in violence of the past year.

    More than 60 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting, centered on the oil hub of Basra in the south and on Shi'ite neighborhoods of Baghdad where armed followers of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr hold sway.

    Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in Basra overseeing the campaign, said fighters would be spared if they surrendered within 72 hours. Sadr's followers rejected the ultimatum.

    The assault was the largest military campaign carried out yet by Maliki's forces without U.S. or British combat units, posing a crucial test for the Iraqi government's ability to impose its will and allow American forces to withdraw.

    "These are Iraqi decisions, they are Iraqi government forces and these are Iraqi leaders implementing and directing these decisions," U.S. military spokesman Major-General Kevin Bergner said in Baghdad. He said U.S. and British backing was limited to small mentoring teams and some air support.

    "A year ago the Iraqi security forces would have struggled to move this force, they would not have been able to support it and it would have been difficult for the government then to take this strong action," he told a news conference.

    Washington aims to bring 20,000 of its 160,000 troops home by July after a build-up of troops reduced violence dramatically last year. But violence has increased in the past few months.

    Maliki's government is under pressure to show it can maintain security on its own. U.S. Democratic candidates who hope to succeed President George W. Bush next January are calling for a speedy withdrawal from an unpopular war.

    Sadr, a young, anti-American cleric, helped install Maliki in power after an election in 2005 but later broke with him. His followers, known as the Mehdi Army, have feuded with other Shi'ite groups, especially the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, a powerful force in Maliki's government and in the police.

    The fighting threatens a ceasefire which Sadr declared last August, winning praise at the time from U.S. commanders for helping to reduce violence.

    Sadr's followers have taken to the streets demonstrating against Maliki's government and forcing schools, universities and shops to close. On Tuesday he said he would call a "civil revolt" if attacks against his followers did not stop.

    The truce was still in effect, senior Sadr aide Luwaa Sumaisem told Reuters in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf.

    The head of Sadr's office in Basra, Harith al-Ithari, said the movement was negotiating with Maliki to end the fighting.

    "There are ongoing negotiations with the prime minister. Maliki asked to meet Sadr officials in Basra," he told Reuters. "Things are moving in the direction of solving the crisis."


    The worst fighting has been in Basra, where a health official said 40 people had been killed and 200 wounded.

    Heavy gunbattles restarted early Wednesday in five districts of Basra after a brief lull. Mortars or rocket attacks regularly struck Iraqi security checkpoints and bases.

    Ground commander Major-General Ali Zaidan told Reuters his forces had killed more than 30 militants on the first day of the operation, which began before dawn on Tuesday. More than 25 were wounded and around 50 were captured, he said.

    "The operation is still going on and will not stop until it achieves its objectives," he said.

    A British military spokesman said the assault was expected to last two to three more days. British forces, which patrolled Basra for nearly five years, have withdrawn to a base outside the city since December and were not involved in the fighting.

    An official with Iraq's Southern Oil Company said production in the Basra area could be disrupted if the fighting continues for more than three days, preventing employees from reaching work. The area produces 80 percent of Iraq's oil exports.

    In the capital, a health official said 14 people were killed and more than 140 wounded in clashes in Sadr City, the Shi'ite slum named for the cleric's slain father, where the younger Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia have widespread influence.

    Bergner said rogue Mehdi Army units linked to Iran were responsible for days of constant mortar strikes on the Green Zone diplomatic and government compound and other Baghdad areas.

    One mortar bomb on the Green Zone seriously hurt three U.S. civilians. Mortar attacks killed five people and wounded 21 in the Karrada neighborhood and killed four in Risala.

    Elsewhere in the south, Sadr fighters seized control of seven districts in the town of Kut. A Reuters witness heard clashes near a government building. Residential buildings and cars were on fire and mortar explosions could be heard.

    Where is he?

    Here I am

    What it meant

    This should have got herf two days ago

    Who is?

    I am

    Tibet tensions escalates

    Fire, fire

    Reuters - China seeks to contain ongoing Tibet unrest

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    China seeks to contain ongoing Tibet unrest

    Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 1:41PM UTC

    By Benjamin Kang Lim and Lindsay Beck

    BEIJING (Reuters) - China sought on Wednesday to contain ongoing protests in its ethnic Tibetan regions, as it stepped up detentions in Tibet's capital Lhasa and vowed tighter control over monasteries.

    The western province of Qinghai was the latest area to report anti-government activities, with hundreds of civilians staging a sit-down protest after paramilitary police stopped them from marching, a Beijing-based source who spoke to residents said.

    "They were beating up monks, which will only infuriate ordinary people," the source said of the protest on Tuesday in Qinghai's Xinghai county.

    A resident in the area confirmed the demonstration, saying that paramilitaries dispersed the 200 to 300 protesters after half and hour, that the area was crawling with armed security forces and that workers were kept inside their offices.

    The Tibet unrest -- and China's response to it -- has also become a lightning rod for criticism of its Communist authorities ahead of the Beijing Olympics, marring the country's desire to use the Games as a "coming out" party.

    The unrest began with a series of peaceful marches in Lhasa earlier this month that soon led to a deadly riot. China says 19 people died in the violence, while representatives of the Tibetan government-in-exile say 140 died in clashes.

    China has pinned the blame for the protests on the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism who lives in exile in India. He fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, and denies he masterminded the demonstrations.

    But echoing China's public security minister, Chinese scholars vowed to press ahead with "patriotic education" in Tibet's monasteries, accusing monks there of being duped by the Dalai Lama into supporting separatism.

    The education campaigns, which have increased under Tibet's current Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, are blamed by some for sowing resentment of Beijing within the region's Buddhist monasteries, but the scholars said they were necessary.

    "The purpose of patriotic education is because the Dalai clique has been trying hard to disrupt development in Tibet and disrupt the normal practices of Tibetan Buddhism," Dramdul, who heads the Religious Studies Institute at the China Tibetology Research Centre, told a news conference.

    "Patriotic education ought to stop the infiltration attempts by the Dalai clique and provide education to the monks," he said.


    The Beijing source said resentment at the paramilitary presence around Lhasa's monasteries prompted one monk at the Ramoche temple to hang himself.

    Police were searching for those involved in the demonstrations and the riot earlier this month.

    "It's very harsh. They are taking in and questioning anyone who saw the protests," the source said. "The prisons are full. Detainees are being held at prisons in counties outside Lhasa."

    Despite international calls for Beijing to use restraint in its response to the unrest, the United States and Britain have reiterated their support for the Beijing Games, although Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said Washington should be more forceful in speaking out against violence in Tibet.

    "I don't think we should wait until the Olympics to make sure that our views our known," Clinton told reporters.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday refused to rule out a possible boycott of the Olympics.

    Beijing on Wednesday criticized French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner for saying he could not tolerate the crackdown in Tibet and French Junior Minister for Human Rights, Rama Yade, for saying she would meet the Dalai Lama if he visited France.

    "The Lhasa riot is a violent, secessionist incident planned and incited by the Dalai group," the official Xinhua news wire quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang as saying.

    "Any country that has an objective and just point of view should understand and support China's measures to maintain social stability and safeguard people's lives and property."


    In a letter circulated by the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, a Lhasa resident described tight controls on religion and resentment over an influx of Han Chinese residents since a rail link was built to the remote, mountain region.

    "While the government promised that the new railway to Lhasa would bring prosperity, tourism and cheaper goods to the region, the reality is that it has brought so many new settlers that the demand for, and consequently the price of, everyday commodities has sharply risen," the letter said.

    "Monks are always discriminated (against) and targeted as the primary danger to the state," it added.

    But, illustrating the gulf in views about the cause of unrest between Beijing and Lhasa, Lhagpa Phuntshogs, who directs the China Tibetology Research Centre, said the Dalai Lama had instigated marches among monks, who wanted to restore serfdom.

    "What do they want? I think it's very clear that they want to try to restore the old theocracy in Tibet. The separatist elements are not happy with the end of theocracy in Tibet ... and they are not happy with the end of backwardness in Tibet."

    (Additional reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by David Fogarty)

    Motorola to Split

    Me not make good money

    Reuters - Motorola to split into two companies

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    Motorola to split into two companies

    Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 12:29PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Motorola Inc said on Wednesday it would split into two publicly traded entities to separate its loss-making handset division from its other businesses, sending its shares up more than 10 percent.

    The move, which comes amid an intensifying proxy battle against activist investor Carl Icahn, would take the form of a tax-free distribution to Motorola's shareholders and is expected to be completed in 2009, the company said.

    Motorola has been losing handset market share and is now ranked third in the world. The two entities it plans to split into are Mobile Devices, and Broadband & Mobility Solutions. The latter consists of its network equipment, enterprise and public safety businesses.

    It said the creation of two companies would improve flexibility, increase management focus and provide more targeted investment opportunities for shareholders.

    Motorola Chief Executive Greg Brown said in a statement that the company has started a global search for a new CEO for the mobile devices business.

    The move comes after Motorola said in late January that it was conducting a strategic review of its business that could lead to a separation of the handset business.

    The company is engaged in a proxy battle with Icahn, its second-largest shareholder. Icahn has proposed a slate of four directors to the board and is suing Motorola to force it to hand over documents related to its mobile devices business.

    Motorola said on Wednesday there was no assurance the planned split, which is subject to further financial, tax and legal analysis, would occur.

    Its shares rose to as much as $10.82 before settling at around $10.32 in premarket trading, still up 5.7 percent from their close on Tuesday at $9.76 on the New York Stock Exchange.

    (Reporting by Sinead Carew and Tiffany Wu; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Dave Zimmerman)

    Volunteers Brace the Levy in. Arkansaw

    Holding it down

    CNN - Volunteers hold back Arkansas flood

    Sent from's mobile device from

    Volunteers hold back Arkansas flood

    Volunteers armed with sandbags held back water springing up from under a rural levee Tuesday as the White River continued its highest surge in a quarter-century through eastern Arkansas.

    The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning during the morning for rural Prairie County north of Interstate 40 after spotters noticed the levee had "sand boils" -- water passing under the earthen barrier and appearing on the side like a muddy spring. By the afternoon, 100 volunteers held back the flow by building sandbag barriers for the water to be held in, creating pressure to stem the tide.

    Thomas "Babe" Vincent, a levee district board member, praised the spirit of the volunteers.

    "We've had people here today from the other side of the river who aren't in danger," Vincent said.

    After heavy rains last week, major rivers overflowed, inundating north and central Arkansas and driving people from their homes and businesses. Almost half the state -- 35 counties -- was declared a disaster area.

    The waters continued to rise Tuesday even as the sun was shining. The Army Corps of Engineers did not expect the White River to crest downriver at Clarendon until Friday at 33.5 feet.

    Gov. Mike Beebe said disaster relief likely would come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Teams of state and federal officials were deployed Tuesday to examine flood-damaged buildings and businesses. Officials first put damages at $2 million but said it would likely rise well above that once the waters recede.

    "We're hitting areas we can get to because a lot of areas we can't get to," FEMA spokesman Bob Alvey said.

    National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell in Weldon Spring, Mo., said that the rains were not expected to be close to the amount that fell in Missouri last week -- 5 to 10 inches or more over three days -- but that this time the precipitation would fall on saturated ground and into full river basins. Work was under way to determine just what the rainfall might mean for river levels later this week.

    Meanwhile, a federal judge in St. Louis and a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused Tuesday to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from raising water levels on the Missouri River this week. Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon sued Monday seeking to stop the action, claiming it could add to downstream flooding.Watch Missouri floods cause destruction

    The corps usually releases extra water in March, and again in May, to prompt spawning of the endangered pallid sturgeon.

    John Paul Woodley, the Pentagon's assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, said Tuesday that the corps planned to release water at midnight unless its forecasts changed. The agency's modeling shows that water levels in flooded areas will drop by the time the release reaches them, he said.

    "We would not release water to Missouri or any other state if we felt it would cause a likelihood of flooding," Woodley said.

    Chavez not for McCain

    Me no like McCain

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    If you know me then you know my name. I am The Black Rider and the world is my Flame. The rider writes, observes, creates, produces, and learns the world around him. Ride on. Ride on!

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