Turkmenistan's president-for-life, Saparmurat Niyazov, has ordered a zoo be built for 300 species of birds and animals, including penguins, in the Central Asian republic's Kara Kum desert, state television has announced.Penguins planned for the desert
The decision comes a year after the 65-year-old strongman announced construction of an ice palace capable of holding 1000 people.
A Turkish firm was expected to complete construction of the 40-hectare park within a year, the TV said.
"The zoo will be situated north of Ashkhabad where the Kara Kum desert begins. The animals will live there in conditions close to those of their natural habitat and the zoo will cost several million dollars," said an official at the Turkmen environment ministry, which will select the animals.
"We are examining the possibility of acquiring animals from the four corners of the planet, such as penguins from the north," the source said.
The zoo is the latest in a series of grandiose projects ordered by the man who styles himself "Turkmenbashi," the leader of all Turkmen, whose gas-rich country of five million is dotted with statues of himself and his mother.
In August 2004, he ordered that a giant ice palace be built in mountains north of the capital, but doubts were raised about whether it could be sustained in a desert country that receives just 100-250 millimetres of rain a year.
AUSTRALIA'S most radical Islamic group has defied John Howard by launching a provocative public campaign to persuade Muslims the 9/11 terror attacks were a massive US-inspired conspiracy.The Australian: 9/11 a US plot, newspaper claims
The latest edition of a new Islamic newspaper launched by fundamentalist Melbourne-based Sheik Mohammed Omran's Ahlus Sunnah Wal-Jamaah Association argues that a plane did not crash into the Pentagon in Washington in the September 11 attacks and that the story was instead a major hoax.
The contentious move by the group comes despite the Prime Minister calling for the nation's Islamic leaders to avoid making inflammatory comments about terrorism.
Sheik Omran was last month snubbed by Mr Howard, who did not invite him to the summit with Muslim leaders in Canberra.
The unprecedented public campaign by Sheik Omran's group comes on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, which killed almost 3000 people.
The newspaper, called Mecca News, then promises that "in future editions we will uncover the rest of the questions which surround 9/11".
Using pictures to support its arguments, which include claims that there were no remains of a plane found inside the Pentagon, the paper accuses Australia of only now "catching up with the debate" about what really happened on September 11, 2001.
"It is not seen as 'patriotic' to challenge the widely accepted theory, however things are changing," the newspaper states.
The newspaper credits its editor-in-chief and founder, Sheik Omran, with "breaking the ice" by raising questions in Australia about who was responsible for 9/11.
Sheik Omran recently angered the Government and moderate Muslims by effectively proclaiming that Osama bin Laden was a good man and by questioning whether the London bombings in July were carried out by Muslims.
Sheik Omran has also angered moderate Muslim leaders by saying he believed the US, rather than bin Laden, was behind the 9/11 attacks.
This opinion - shared by many radical Muslims - comes despite bin Laden himself admitting involvement in 9/11 attacks in a video broadcast late in 2001, during which the al-Qa'ida leader expressed delight that the death toll had far exceeded his own expectations.
Here's some good news. The July 8 issue of Physical Review Letters, the journal of the American Physical Society, reports that it may be feasible to build a working time machine. Einstein's special theory of relativity raised the possibility of altering the flow of time, and now an Israeli scientist has proposed a method for accomplishing that end using normal materials in a vacuum.I don't quite agree that the Mesopotamian adventure was unnecessary, but Rumsfeld's shoestring "transformational" military isn't going to win any wars against near-peer adversaries like China.
Which means that one day, when Donald Rumsfeld has finally quit the Pentagon's fabled E-ring and America has a president with some inkling of what is going on in his biggest cabinet department, it may be possible to undo all the damage that the last four years have visited on the nation's military posture. During that time, the Bush Administration has pursued defense policies so poorly conceived that they expend half a trillion dollars per year while making the nation progressively less prepared for future military challenges.
The latest evidence of that remarkable achievement is a report by Mark Mazzetti in today's Los Angeles Times disclosing that policymakers are considering killing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a program that was supposed to provide three of the military services and a dozen allies with their next generation of tactical aircraft. Pentagon spokesperson Lawrence Di Rita told the Times it is too early to say which programs will be cut or kept, but the truth of the matter is that all the tactical-aircraft options the ongoing "quadrennial defense review" is considering would slash fighter programs inherited from previous administrations.
One option would kill the Air Force's version of the F-35, eliminating about 70% of the planned domestic buy. Another option would kill both the Air Force and Navy versions. Either way, the whole program would eventually disappear, because whatever planes remained would end up looking astronomically expensive. As for the more capable F-22 Raptor -- the plane the Air Force says it really needs to maintain global air superiority for the next generation (and which has already been largely paid for) -- that would cease production by the end of the decade. Incidentally, so would every other fixed-wing aircraft the military is currently buying.
If some foreign country had visited this sort of destruction on America's military, historians would call it an huge defeat. Apparently Rumsfeld isn't satisfied to have presided over the biggest terrorist attack in history, an unnecessary war in Mesopotamia, and the unraveling of the western alliance. Now he wants to bequeath to his successors a denuded defense posture that invites countries like China to begin competing again in the conventional measures of military power where America was thought to be supreme.
It is a stunning commentary on the shallowness of the administration's vision of military transformation that all the lessons learned in a century of fighting imperialism, fascism and communism are being tossed aside to address a handful of extremists scattered across Arabia. Rumsfeld and his advisors are so traumatized by their repeated failures in dealing with this modest threat that they are now engaged in a wholesale dismantling of the nation's military posture -- air power, sea power, land power -- as they grasp fruitlessly for some way out of the box they have fashioned for themselves.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being removed from his role in managing the Bush administration's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and is returning to Washington.
Brown, who has been under fire for the federal government's slow response to the storm that devastated much of the Gulf Coast region, will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.
Asked if he was being made a scapegoat for a federal relief effort that has drawn widespread and sharp criticism, Brown told The Associated Press after a long pause: "By the press, yes. By the president, No."
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin garnered a ton of publicity with a profanity-laced interview he gave to WWL radio last Thursday, where he blasted President Bush and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco for not coming to rescue his city in time.
However, Nagin's most newsworthy comments - where he explained why he didn't use hundreds of city school buses to evacuate his city's flood victims - went almost unnoticed.
Turns out, Nagin turned his nose up at the yellow buses, demanding more comfortable Greyhound coaches instead.
"I need 500 buses, man," he told WWL. "One of the briefings we had they were talking about getting, you know, public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out of here."
Nagin described his response:
"I'm like - you've got to be kidding me. This is a natural disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans."
While Nagin was waiting for his Greyhound fleet, Katrina's floodwaters swamped his school buses, rendering them unusable.