Guam earthquake : 7.2-magnitude quake hits Guam News Photos

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) — A major 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck southwest of U.S. territory Guam on Saturday local time, the United States Geological Survey reported on its website.

The quake occurred at 7:19 a.m. on Saturday local time (2119 GMT on Friday), 375 km (230 miles) southwest of Hagatna (formerly Agana), capital of Guam, at a depth of 4.7 km (2.9 miles), the USGS said.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that, based on historical earthquake and tsunami data, no destructive widespread tsunami threat exists.

“However, earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts within 100 km of the earthquake epicenter. Authorities in the region of the epicenter should be aware of this possibility and take appropriate action,” the center said.

Guam is an island in the western Pacific Ocean and the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands. It is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States and one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government.

American flight crash ,accident killed former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and four other people on August 11

The American senator, Ted Stevens – who was renowned for directing hundreds of millions of dollars in worthless projects to his home state of Alaska until he was convicted of corruption and thrown out of office – has been killed in a plane crash.

Stevens, who survived a similar crash in Alaska in 1978 that killed his wife, was on a junket to a fishing lodge courtesy of a telecommunications company when the aircraft came down in bad weather in a remote part of the state.

Five of the nine people on board the singled engine plane are believed to have died. Some of the survivors were reported to have struggled with serious injuries through the night until help arrived.

Among the survivors was former head of Nasa and the North American chief executive of the European aerospace firm and defence contractor, EADS, Sean O’Keefe, and his teenage son. Officials said O’Keefe was badly injured and was one of three passengers flown to a hospital in Anchorage.

The plane went down at about 8pm Alaska time on Monday near Lake Aleknagik, about 320 miles southwest of Anchorage. It was spotted by another aircraft but the Alaska air national guard and US coastguard only reached the site 12 hours later as fog and rain had reduced visibility to just a few hundred yards.

Stevens, 86, who served in the Senate for 41 years – longer than any other Republican – was flying to a fishing lodge near Lake Aleknagik. The plane and the lodge are owned by an Alaskan telecommunications firm, GCI.

Stevens and O’Keefe were close friends who were described as “fishing buddies”.

The former senator was renowned in Alaska for his ability to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in federal government funds to the oil-rich state with a small population. He was affectionately known as Uncle Ted and in 2000 was named “Alaskan of the Century” by the state legislature. The state’s main airport, in Anchorage, was named after Stevens.

One of his projects became known as the “Bridge to Nowhere” after it was revealed he had ensured Congress directed $450m for the construction of a bridge in Ketchikan that was of little discernible use other than to link a small island of about 50 people to the mainland.

Alaska’s governor, Sean Parnell, yesterday paid homage to Stevens.

“Though small of stature, Ted Stevens seemed larger than life, and anybody who knew him, knew him that way, for he built for Alaska and he stood for Alaska and he fought for Alaskans,” he said.

Barack Obama said Stevens, who won several medals as a pilot in the Far East during the second world war, “devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform”.

But Alaskan voters began to see Stevens in a different light after he was charged with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts – including remodelling work on his home that doubled its size – from oil companies and contractors.

He was convicted on seven charges of corruption in 2008. The convictions were overturned a few months later after the US attorney general, Eric Holder, said there was serious misconduct by prosecutors.

But the voters had already delivered their verdict. Eight days after his conviction, Stevens lost his bid for re-election to the Senate.

The authorities also investigated suspicions that Stevens steered millions of dollars in federal funds to a sports fishing group run by a former aide when it was supposed to have gone to the National Park Service.

But yesterday Stevens’ tainted past was largely brushed aside as the former governor of Alaska and fellow Republican, Sarah Palin, recalled him in glowing terms.

“He is a warrior, an Alaskan hero. A world war two vet who dedicated his life to his country. He is one of our heroes up here,” Palin said.

Before the crash that killed his wife, Ann, Stevens is reported to have spoken of a premonition that he would die in a plane crash. Stevens re-married several years later.

Abu Bakar Bashir arrested for alleged involvement in terrorism

His lawyer, Muhammad Ali, said his client was taken in early today, allegedly for involvement with a new militant network in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.

Police said Bashir, 71, was arrested by the Indonesian police anti-terrorist taskforce Detachment 88 while travelling from Ciamis in West Java, where he had been attending Koran recitals, to his home in Solo.

Taken to police headquarters in Jakarta, Bashir said as he was led into the building: “This is Allah’s blessing; this is America’s fabrication.”

Bashir is accused of involvement in an Islamic militant training camp uncovered by police in Aceh province in February, said counter-terrorism chief at the security ministry, Ansyaad Mbai.

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“He had been involved in terror network in Aceh. As we know, that terror group in Aceh is linked with Jemaah Islamiah and many other extremist groups in our country,” Mbai told Agence France Presse.

“One of the allegations is that he provided funding to the Aceh military training. It’s one of many allegations weighed against him,” he added.

In the aftermath of the discovery of the training camp, police claimed to have killed 13 suspects, including the senior Jemaah Islamiah operative and Bali bomber Dulmatin, and arrested more than 60 others.

Three members of Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, a group established by Bashir after splitting from the Indonesian Mujahadeen Council two years ago, are already under arrest on suspicion of helping to finance the Aceh operation.

Rumours have circulated for weeks that Bashir, a fiery preacher known for propagating hatred against foreigners, was next on the list.

Bashir has denied he or members of his group are linked to the Aceh group.

On Saturday, police arrested five suspects and seized high-explosive materials in separate anti-terror raids in several areas in West Java province.

The target of the alleged terror plots was not immediately clear, but Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Saturday said police had foiled a terror plot against him as he visited the province.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith hailed today’s arrest.

“Australia welcomes the fact that Indonesian police have today arrested Abu Bakar Bashir in connection with possible terrorism-related offences,” Mr Smith said.

Wahyudin, the director of Bashir’s Al Mukmin Islamic boarding school in Solo, told the Jakarta Globe today that the cleric’s wife, Aisyah, might also have been taken into custody.

Bashire’s son, Abdul Rohim, insisted his father, who went to Ciamis for a preaching engagement, was innocent.

“He was heading back to Solo when police arrested him together with my mother,” he said. “We appeal police to treat my parents well. … He is innocent, he was just carrying out his obligations as as Muslim”.

Bashir is best-known as the alleged founder and spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, the al-Qa’ida-linked group responsible for the Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Bashir, who denies the association and that JI even exists, was jailed in 2005 on a charge of conspiracy in relation to the 2002 outrage but acquitted of charges arising from the Marriott Hotel bombing the following year.

In June 2006 he was released from prison and in December that year the Supreme Court overturned his conviction.

The International Crisis Group last month said it was possible Bashir’s arrest would have little impact on Indonesian extremism.

“He is very much the elder statesman of Indonesia’s radical movement, but he is neither the driving force behind it now nor its leading ideologue,” it said in a report.

But authorities should handle the arrest with care to avoid a backlash, it warned.

“If Bashir is arrested for a third time since the first Bali bombing, the police will be under enormous pressure to produce hard evidence of criminal activities.”

Video of Indonesia arrests radical cleric Bashir from Youtube:

Flood in China : 127 killed, 2000 missing in fresh landslides in China

Fflood fury continued to wreak havoc in China where 127 people were killed and 2,000 were missing after one of the worst landslides hit the remote Gansu province today, submerging a township inhabited by 1.3 lakh people, mostly Tibetans.

Flood waters with sludge and rocks from a blocked river on spate buried an entire village, devouring everything in its wake, including several multi-story buildings.

Hundreds of homes were toppled and several residents were still trapped in the Chengguan Township and several villages in northwest China’s Zhouqu County in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province, official media reports said, quoting ruling Communist party officials.

“76 people were injured, while nearly 2,000 others in the county were still missing. About 45,000 people have been evacuated,” Xinhua news agency said, quoting a statement from the provincial civil affairs department.

The Tibetan Autonomous region which has a population of over 1.3 lakh has been submerged by the landslides.

Sludge as thick as two meters was spread across some major roads in the county.

Many trapped residents were waiting for rescuers atop buildings, an official statement said, adding that a primary school and some governmental offices in the county were also damaged.

Thirty three percent of the people of the prefecture were Tibetans.

As soon as the news broke out, prime minister Wen Jiabao rushed to the spot while president Hu Jintao ordered all out efforts by the army and civilian forces to mount a massive rescue efforts to save people.

Wen has set up temporary headquarters for rescue work aboard a plane heading for landslide-hit Zhouqu County to coordinate the relief activities.

The tragedy occurred last night with torrential rains which led to the landslides, said Diemujiangteng, head of the county.

The Bailong River on the banks of which the township was built had overflowed and a large body of slow moving water engulfed the Chengguan township.

“Many people were trapped. Now sludge has become the biggest problem to rescue operations. It’s too thick to walk or drive through,” he said.

“It’s very hard to locate the people washed away by floods. It’s hard to say what their chances of survival are,” he said.

Peng Wei, head of the county’s fire department said, “the county is in a valley and the river runs through the middle.”

Government figures issued before the fresh disaster had put the number of people killed or missing in the devastating floods in the country this year at over 2,000.

Plane hijacking foiled at Moscow airport

Moscow, July 29 (IANS) A man who allegedly tried to hijack a passenger plane at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport was detained Thursday.

The plane on a domestic flight from Russia’s North Caucasus city of Mineralniye Vody to Moscow was due to land at 1145 GMT, Xinhua reported.

However, ‘before the aircraft landed, one of the passengers had a message passed to the captain that one of the people on board possesses valuable information for law enforcement agencies,’ said a transportation police spokesman.

The captain then reported the incident to ground services and steered the aircraft to a special landing site.

The man, 40, then demanded appearances of senior officials and reporters at the airport, while taking all the people on board the plane as hostages.

However, as one of the passengers fell ill and the hijacker allowed doctors to board the plane, special forces personnel disguised as doctors aboard and seized him.

Arizona preparing appeal of immigration ruling

PHOENIX – Arizona is preparing to ask an appeals court to lift a judge’s ruling that put most of the state’s immigration law on hold in a key first-round victory for the federal government in a fight that may go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Jan Brewer called Wednesday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton “a bump in the road” and vowed to appeal.

Protesters in Phoenix went ahead with plans Thursday for a march to the state Capitol and a sit-in at the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff said if protestors were disruptive, they’d be arrested, and he vowed to go ahead with a crime sweep targeting illegal immigrants.

Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Brewer, said Arizona would ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco later Thursday to lift Bolton’s preliminary injunction and to expedite its consideration of the state’s appeal.

Bolton indicated the government has a good chance at succeeding in its argument that federal immigration law trumps state law. But the key sponsor of Arizona’s law, Republican Rep. Russell Pearce, said the judge was wrong and predicted the state would ultimately win the case.

Opponents of the law said the ruling sends a strong message to other states hoping to replicate the law.

“Surely it’s going to make states pause and consider how they’re drafting legislation and how it fits in a constitutional framework,” Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, told The Associated Press. “The proponents of this went into court saying there was no question that this was constitutional, and now you have a federal judge who’s said, ‘Hold on, there’s major issues with this bill.'”
He added: “So this idea that this is going to be a blueprint for other states is seriously in doubt. The blueprint is constitutionally flawed.”

In her temporary injunction, Bolton delayed the most contentious provisions of the law, including a section that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. She also barred enforcement of parts requiring immigrants to carry their papers and banned illegal immigrants from soliciting employment in public places — a move aimed at day laborers that congregate in large numbers in parking lots across Arizona. The judge also blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.

“Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked,” said Bolton, a Clinton administration appointee who was assigned the seven lawsuits filed against Arizona over the law.

Other provisions that were less contentious were allowed to take effect Thursday, including a section that bars cities in Arizona from disregarding federal immigration laws.

The 11th-hour ruling came just as police were preparing to begin enforcement of a law that has drawn international attention and revived the national immigration debate in a year when Democrats are struggling to hold on to seats in Congress.

The ruling was anxiously awaited in the U.S. and beyond. About 100 protesters in Mexico City who had gathered at the U.S. Embassy broke into applause when they learned of the ruling via a laptop computer. Mariana Rivera, a 36-year-old from Zacatecas, Mexico, who is living in Phoenix on a work permit, said she heard about the ruling on a Spanish-language news program.

“I was waiting to hear because we’re all very worried about everything that’s happening,” said Rivera, who phoned friends and family with the news. “Even those with papers, we don’t go out at night at certain times there’s so much fear (of police). You can’t just sit back and relax.”

More demonstrators opposed to the law planned to gather Thursday, with the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the immigrant-rights group Puente saying they would march from the state Capitol.

Lawmakers or candidates in as many as 18 states say they want to push similar measures when their legislative sessions start up again in 2011. Some lawmakers pushing the legislation said they would not be daunted by the ruling and plan to push ahead in response to what they believe is a scourge that needs to be tackled.

Arizona is the nation’s epicenter of illegal immigration, with more than 400,000 undocumented residents. The state’s border with Mexico is awash with smugglers and drugs that funnel narcotics and immigrants throughout the U.S., and the influx of illegal migrants drains vast sums of money from hospitals, education and other services.

“We’re going to have to look and see,” said Idaho state Sen. Monty Pearce, a second cousin of Russell Pearce and a supporter of immigration reform in his state. “Nobody had dreamed up, two years ago, the Arizona law, and so everybody is looking for that crack where we can get something done, where we can turn the clock back a little bit and get our country back.”

Kris Kobach, the University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor who helped write the law and train Arizona police officers in immigration law, conceded the ruling weakens the force of Arizona’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants. He said it will likely be a year before a federal appeals court decides the case.

“It’s a temporary setback,” Kobach said. “The bottom line is that every lawyer in Judge Bolton’s court knows this is just the first pitch in a very long baseball game.”

In the meantime, other states like Utah will likely take up similar laws, possibly redesigned to get around Bolton’s objections.

“The ruling … should not be a reason for Utah to not move forward,” said Utah state Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from Herriman City, who said he plans to co-sponsor a bill similar to Arizona’s next year and wasn’t surprised it was blocked. “For too long the states have cowered in the corner because of one ruling by one federal judge.”

The core of the government’s case is that federal immigration law trumps state law — an issue known as “pre-emption” in legal circles and one that dates to the founding of America. In her ruling, Bolton pointed out five portions of the law where she believed the federal government would likely succeed on its claims.

The Justice Department argued in court that the law was unconstitutional and that allowing states to push their own measures would lead to a patchwork of immigration laws across the nation and disrupt a carefully balanced approach crafted by Congress.

Arizona argues that the federal government has failed to secure the border, and that it has a right to take matters into its own hands.

For now, the federal government has the upper-hand in the dispute, by virtue of the strength of its arguments and the precedent on the pre-emption issue. The Bush administration successfully used the pre-emption argument to win consumer product cases, and judges in other jurisdictions have looked favorably on the argument in immigration disputes.

“This is clearly a significant victory for the Justice Department and a defeat for the sponsors of this law,” said Peter Spiro, a constitutional law professor at Temple University who has studied immigration law extensively. “They will not win on this round of appeals. They’ll get a shot after a trial and a final ruling by Judge Bolton.”

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