Google News — January 31, 2005

Read some of the most captivating news headlines of January 31, 2005 — from London, Washington, Jerusalem and Baghdad.

October 21, 2002

Read some of the most captivating news headlines of January 31, 2005 — from London, Washington, Jerusalem and Baghdad.

BAGHDAD — King Hassan bin Talal of Iraq was assassinated today by a suicide bomber who threw himself in front of the American-backed monarch during a visit to the University of Baghdad.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Hashemite Kingdom's Royal Guards said the former Jordanian prince and uncle of Jordan's King Abdullah II was killed by a member of the Iran-backed Shiiyat Jihad insurgency seeking the overthrow of the U.S.-installed regime in Iraq.

The assassination is the biggest in a string of reversals that the Bush Administration has suffered since its bloodless victory in Operation Wildcat two years ago.

"By itself, the loss of America's king in Iraq might not be the end of the world," said analyst Steven Miller of London's International Institute for Strategic Studies. "But coming on top of the fall of Basra to Iranian-backed Shiite extremists, it puts President Bush's 2003 victory over Saddam seriously at risk."

CHICAGO — Emergency draw-downs by Midwestern Emergency Energy Authorities have exhausted the Strategic Petroleum Reserve two months in advance of predictions in the wake of fierce winter storms.

The most recent draw-downs followed announcements of at least 11 deaths in the Chicago area last weekend. Local agencies struggled to keep up with the combined effects of sub-zero weather and oil prices over $100 per barrel.

Some analysts argue that the collapse of the dollar to 0.55 euros is as responsible for high energy prices as Saddam Hussein's decision to spike Iraq's principal oil wells with radiological weapons on the eve of the U.S. attack in January 2003.

"A hundred billion barrels of reserves can come and they can go," said David Caruthers of Energyonline.com. "But it's the blow-out of the dollar that forced Wal-Mart into bankruptcy. And it's the dollar that's given us 20% inflation rates and mortgages over 25%. And it's the dollar that's moving energy markets today."

JERUSALEM — The Sharon government fell on a vote of no confidence yesterday after nearly four years in power. The coalition's fall follows a dramatic rise in settler casualties east of the Red Line drawn after Israel's 2003 border extension and the country's continued struggle with rolling blackouts and water shortages.

Arab commentators called Sharon the first victim of the permanent war on Israel declared by President Sultan of the Sudairy Arab Republic upon his overthrow last September of his cousin Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.

While the republic has taken no overt actions against Israel, President Sultan has announced plans to cut its oil output 60%.

But a Pentagon official who asked not to be identified said Sharon's downfall had become inevitable as new settlements stretched the Israeli Army's inability to safeguard the country's pre-2004 borders. "How the IDF was supposed to hold down 40 new communes overlooking the Jordan River when they couldn't even agree where to build a border fence, I don’t know," noted the official.

Referring to the Israeli ex-Prime Minister, Paul Wolfowitz of the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica commented, "He was a terrific little bird to have in the cockfight while he lasted."

WASHINGTON — President Bush chided the Supreme Court today for refusing to extend its three-month suspension of the 2004 presidential election. The nation-wide poll has been in limbo since the election-eve crash of Florida's new Southland Voting Network.

"What are they thinking?" asked a boisterous President Bush during a brief signing ceremony for the fourth Continuing Resolution on the 2005 budget. "First Saddam shows up in Iran and then those two evil-doers try to blow up the Williamsburgh Bridge in their speedboat. Is this any time for an election?"

It was the Democrats, however, who most feared the imminent vote. “Do I look like a happy guy?” asked Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence McAuliffe.

Most analysts give the party and its presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, little chance of winning a nationwide election in the near future — a view that has hardly changed since 18 state delegations failed to attend last August’s Democratic Convention.

McAuliffe declined to comment on the embarrassing string of Democratic primary campaign bankruptcies as the Gore, Gephardt, Edwards and Lieberman organizations proved unable to fund themselves under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. "Forget the bankruptcies," he said, "just tell me what you're going to do when the only states that show up at the Convention want to vote against their native sons."

LONDON — Following on the heels of Genentech, Pfizer Ltd has completed the relocation of its headquarters to London, England. With Pfizer's move, Abbott Laboratories of Chicago, Illinois becomes the last major drug company to remain domiciled in the United States.

In a press briefing held this morning in Zurich, Abbott CEO Miles White said, "At Abbott Laboratories, we are proud to reconfirm our commitment to the USA."

Analysts noted that — like Pfizer and Genentech — Britain's Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Schering-Plough, Amgen and Genzyme have announced significant investments in promising therapeutic cloning technology since Switzerland's Novartis launched trials of a stem cell treatment for Alzheimer's in September 2003.

Asked whether U.S. limits on stem cell research were responsible for the exodus of pharmaceutical firms, a Justice Department spokesperson said that Attorney General John Ashcroft was in a morning prayer meeting and unavailable for comment.

RIO DE JANEIRO — For the second time in a row, the U.S. national team thrashed Brazil in CONMEBOL/CONCACAF preliminary play for the 2006 World Cup. Despite star forward Brian McBride's absence from injuries sustained during MLS play-offs, the U.S. side roared to a 3-2 victory.

Shaking his head in dismay, head Brazilian national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari remarked, "It is all Lula's fault. Ever since he linked up with Bishop Macedo and the Universal Church to win the 2002 elections, God has been mad at Brazil."

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