Bush defends legacy in final news conference

Monday, January 12, 2009
US President George W Bush on Monday (January 12) cautioned his successor Barack Obama that the country still faced a “grave threat” of a terrorist attack but dismissed assessments that America’s global moral standing was damaged during his presidency.
In his last formal news conference before demitting the White House on January 20 after a turbulent two-term presidency, Bush rejected critisism of his “war on terror” tactics and his policy on Iraq and on the economic crisis facing the nation. He said the president-elect will be facing an enemy that “would like to inflict damage” on Americans.
Bush appeared indignant when asked about America’s bruised image overseas in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. “I disagree with this assessment that, you know, that people view America in a dim light, he said. Bush said he realises that some issues such as the prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have created controversy. But he defended his actions after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including approving tough interrogation methods for suspected terrorists to protect the country.
Bush talked about threats posed by North Korea and Iran, members of what he once referred to as an “axis of evil.” He said Pyongyang is “still a problem” - and that it is important that talks on that country’s nuclear programme bring about a “strong verification regime.” He also described Iran as “still dangerous”.

On Gaza, the US President said that a “sustainable ceasefire” could be accomplished only when “Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel.” Bush said that the “choice is Hamas’ to make.” He also stated that the best way to get a sustainable cease-fire is to “work with Egypt to stop the smuggling of arms into … Gaza. “Countries that supply weapons to Hamas have got to stop,” he said.

Bush also said that “Israel has a right to defend herself.” But he also said that Jerusalem should ensure that civilians are not hurt in the military operations. On Iraq, Bush also said he is not certain whether democracy will survive in Iraq.

The President defended his decision to send an additional 30,000 US troops to Iraq saying it has helped stabilise life in the war-torn country. “The question is, in the long run, will this democracy survive, and that’s going to be a question for future presidents,” he said.

Turing to economy, Bush said Obama has not yet asked him to request the release of the remaining USD 350 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Programme (TARP) funds to revive the economy. Bush said he has no intention of releasing the fund unless Obama asks him to do so. “I don’t intend to make the request unless he specifically asks me to make it,” Bush said.

If Bush submits a request in the next few days authorising the release of the remaining funds from the TARP programme, the money wouldn’t be available for 15 days at the earliest — or a few days into the Obama administration.

Bush called Obama “a smart, engaging person” and said he wishes his successor all the best. He hinted at the huge responsibility the 47-year-old first Black-American US President-elect is about to assume when he enters the Oval office. “There’ll be a moment when the responsibility of the president lands squarely on his shoulders,” Bush said.

When asked on his plans after leaving office, Bush said: “When I get out of here, I’m getting off the stage. I believe there ought to be one person in the Klieg lights at a time.” The President acknowledged that his “biggest mistake” in was “clearly putting a ‘Mission Accomplished’ [banner] on an US aircraft carrier. “It was a mistake,” Bush said about how his administration handled the fall of Baghdad to US troops. “It sent the wrong message,” he said.

A Strong Earthquake Jolted Upper Parts of Pakistan

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lahore :A strong earthquake jolted upper parts of Pakistan early Monday. According to sources, the quake magnitude was reported 5.7 on Richter scale while its epicenter was in the remote Hindu Kush mountain range.
Tremors were felt in Islamabad, Peshawar, Swat, Chitral, Gilgit, Buner, Lahore, Mirpur Azad Kashmir, Abbotabad, Balakot, Mansehra, Batgram, Kohat, Hangu and Karak. Meanwhile, people in panic have come out of their homes.
However, there were no immediate reports of any casualties or damage.

Hamas senior leader killed as Israeli assault enters 2nd week

Saturday, January 3, 2009

GAZA: An Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip killed a senior commander of Hamas's armed wing, the Islamist group said on Saturday.
Hamas said Abu Zakaria al-Jamal died early on Saturday from wounds sustained in an Israeli air strike overnight.
Israeli warplanes continued to pound Gaza as the assault on Hamas entered its second week, with the Islamist group's leader warning of a "black destiny" if ground troops are sent in.
The armed wing of Hamas said its fighters had repelled a patrol of Israeli special forces troops trying to cross the border into the Gaza Strip.
A spokesman for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades told foreign news agency that fighters spotted an unspecified number of Special Forces trying to enter the Shijaiyah border neighbourhood of eastern Gaza City at around 1 am (2300 GMT Friday).
He said the fighters fired six mortar rounds at the Israelis, who returned fire with small arms and retreated. He said there were no casualties.

Bangkok Nightclub inferno Toll Rises to 61

Friday, January 2, 2009

BANGKOK: The death toll from a fire at a Bangkok nightclub New Year party has raised to 61 after two more people died in hospital overnight, a senior health official said Saturday.

The toll from the blaze at the Santika nightclub could rise further as many of the injured remain in critical condition, said Chatree Charoencheewakul, secretary of the National Institute of Emergency Medical Systems.

“It’s very sad. The death toll is now at 61 after a man and woman died last night,” Chatree told foreign news agency.
“Of the 89 who are still hospitalised, 26 remain in the ICU (intensive care unit). Based on their medical records, I think up to five cases are very serious and I am really concerned for them,” he said.
Police are still investigating the cause of the blaze at the packed club in the city’s popular Ekkamai district, which broke out just after midnight on Thursday after revellers counted down the New Year.

Serial Bomb Blast Rock Assam, 30 injured 5 Killed

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Guwahati: At least 17 people were injured as serial bomb blasts rocked Assam’s capital Guwahati on Thursday, the first day of 2009.
Reportedly, one blast occurred in a crowded market at Birubari at 1.45 pm, the second blast at 2.15 pm at Bhootnath area in the city, injuring six people, and the third blast occurred at Bhangarh area.

Initial reports suggested that the Improvised Explosive devices laden on cycles were used for the low-intensity blasts.

The blast occurred at a time when Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is on a two-day visit to Assam to review the counter-insurgency situation and the prevailing law-and-order situation at a meeting of the Unified Command on Friday.

No militant outfit has yet claimed the responsibility of the blasts.
Earlier, the state witnessed serial blasts on October 30, 2008, in which 88 people were killed.