Maliki Critical of Bush, Calls for Better Weapons for Iraq

IRAQ NEWS

Report: Iraqi Leader Says U.S. Should Provide Better Weapons in Comments Critical Of Bush

Iraq's prime minister said security forces would have better control over their country if the United States had equipped them with more -and better -weapons, speaking during an interview in which he was deeply critical of Washington, an Italian daily reported Thursday. (AP)

Iraqi PM: 400 Shiite Fighters Detained

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said 400 fighters from a key backer of the Shiite-led government have been arrested, and a government spokesman said Thursday the U.S. is not giving Iraqi security forces enough money for training and equipment. (AP)

Series of Blasts Kill 19 in Baghdad

A series of explosions and shootings rocked Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing at least 19 people and wounding dozens, police said. (AP)

IRAN/U.S.

Washington 'Snubbed Iran Offer'

Iran offered the US a package of concessions in 2003, but it was rejected, a senior former US official has told the BBC's Newsnight programme. (BBC)

SOMALIA

U.S. Vows to Hunt Al Qaeda Fugitives in Somalia

U.S. operations in Somalia will go on until key al Qaeda targets are eliminated, a Pentagon official said, as debate sharpened over Washington's next move in the stricken nation. (AFP)

LITVINENKO INVESTIGATION

Russia Says Murders Are a Plot Against Putin

A senior aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the murders of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and former spy Alexander Litvinenko are part of an attack by powerful groups against the head of state. (Reuters)

NIGERIA

Six Foreign Hostages Freed in Nigerian Oil Delta

Six foreign hostages were freed in Nigeria's oil-producing delta on Thursday and President Olusegun Obasanjo voiced impatience with his policy of negotiation in the face of rising violence in Africa's oil heartland. (Reuters)

RUSSIA

Russian Media Scorn Massive 'Terror' Alert

Russian newspapers poured scorn on Thursday on a vast anti-terrorism operation launched nationwide on Wednesday, asking whether the whole scare was just an exercise or even a politically motivated trick. (The Mail and Guardian)

U.S.

U.S. 'To Halve' No-Fly Watch List

The US is reviewing the list it uses to bar suspected terrorists from travelling on airliners, saying it hopes to halve the number of names. (BBC)

FBI Probes Mercury Spill on Subway Platform

The FBI is looking for a man who spilled five ounces of mercury on a Los Angeles subway platform three days before Christmas, according to CNN. (USA Today)

DRUG/WEAPON TRAFFICKING IN ASIA

From Drugs to Guns

Long known for its wheeling and dealing in heroin, methamphetamines and pirated video discs, Myanmar's United Wa State Army (UWSA), the world's largest armed narcotics-trafficking group, is dangerously diversifying its business interests into a new type of contraband: newly produced war weapons. (Asia Times)

ANALYSIS & OPINION

A Spy Program in From the Cold

Of the many ways that President Bush has trampled civil liberties and the balance of powers since the 9/11 attacks, one of the most egregious was his decision to order wiretaps of Americans' international calls and email without court approval. (NY Times)

Politics and Corruption

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