Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Malcom Lagauche

Human nature is very encompassing. Sometimes, we see people working for good causes, but they extract a heavy price in publicity to satisfy their egos. Other times, we see people who perform great deeds in an almost anonymous fashion. Rarely, however, do we see a person conduct extraordinary actions without self-publicity at the age of 16. Today’s article will be about such a person. In 1996, a friend called me and said, "You won’t believe what I just saw at school (San Diego City College). There is a photo exhibition showing the destruction of the Amiryah Bomb Shelter." I asked, "Who’s putting it on?" My friend replied, "A student. His name is Chris Martin." Before I talk about Martin, let me refresh your memories about the bombing of the Amiryah Shelter. On February 14, 1991, the U.S. bombed this civilian bomb shelter in Baghdad with two 2,000-pound bombs which were specially made to penetrate the thick walls of the structure...

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Abbas Starts His Coups d'état to Overthrough Hamas Government


The Hamas led government rejected a call by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Hamas government ministers to attend his speech which was delivered by noon today, Saturday in the presidential headquarters in Ramallah City. The minister of Interior , Said Siyam said the government had decided to refuse an invitation to attend President Abbas.The reason is a protest against the recent bloody and tragic events - the assassination attempt in Gaza Strip on Ismail Haniyeh , that killed his bodyguard,one of his advisors and wounded the Palestinian Prime minister Ismail Haniyeh's son - when they returned home to Gaza from abroad on Thursday...

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US Embassy doubles visa generation capacity (India)

New Delhi, Dec 16: As the number of Indian visitors to the US is constantly on the rise, with over 3.58 lakh Indians America-bound in 2006, the US Embassy has taken steps to double its visa generation capacity in the country that include opening new interview centres.

"We have taken steps to double the capacity in visa production in India. We hope the backlog of visa cases to be redressed by March next," Peter G Kaestner, minister-counsellor for consular affairs and consul general told reporters here yesterday.

In September this year, the US Embassy was dealing with a backlog of 90,000 visa applications and since implementation of special measures, it has been able to clear 50 per cent of it.

The steps taken include doubling the size of current visa section and adding ten new visa interviewing windows in New Delhi, construction of consulate general building in Mumbai and having a new pre-screening facility and six additional interviewing windows in Chennai.


Russia defies West and goes ahead with nuclear fuel sale

RUSSIA is to begin supplying Iran with nuclear fuel early next year despite mounting concern in the West that this could accelerate Tehran’s plans to build a nuclear bomb.

Sergei Shmatko, head of Atomstroyexport, Russia’s state nuclear fuel exporter, said last week that preparations to send fuel to Iran would start next month and the first consignment was expected to reach the Islamic republic in early spring.

The announcement, at a time when Russia is asserting itself as an energy power, has caused anxiety in western countries which are trying to convince the Kremlin to end its nuclear co-operation with Tehran.

The concerns were strengthened yesterday when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reported to have told a Kuwaiti envoy that Iran was ready to transfer its nuclear technology to neighbouring countries.


Pentagon to move troops into Kuwait (from NC) -so begins the buildup

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 8 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military is planning to move a brigade of troops into Kuwait in what could be the first step of a short-term surge of American forces into
Iraq to stabilize the violence.

The 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division is expected in Kuwait shortly after the new year, a senior Defense Department official told The Associated Press on Friday. The official requested anonymity because the plans had not yet been announced.

The 2nd Brigade, made up of roughly 3,500 troops, is based at Fort Bragg, N.C., and would be deployed in Iraq early next year if needed, the official said. The move would be part of an effort to boost the number of U.S. troops in Iraq for a short time, the official said. The plan was first reported by CBS News.

In a half-hour video conference with

President Bush on Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki outlined plans for the national reconciliation conference taking place in Baghdad on Saturday. Al-Maliki cited the desire of many people in Iraq for a larger core of Iraqi political leaders to come together for the common objective of stabilizing the country and promoting the rule of law, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in describing the conversation........

“Every Aspect” Of Iraqi Judicial System Lacking... System Overloaded, Unable To Process Detainees...

The New York Times Michael Moss December 16, 2006 04:31 PM

In a cavernous room that once displayed gifts given to Saddam Hussein, eight men in yellow prison garb sat on the floor facing the wall, guarded by two American soldiers.

Among them was Abdulla Sultan Khalaf, a Ministry of Industry employee seized by American troops who said they found 10 blasting caps and 100 sticks of TNT. When his name was called, he stood, walked into a cagelike defendant's box and peered over the wooden slats at a panel of three Iraqi judges of the central court.


...The judges reviewed evidence prepared by an American military lawyer — testimony from two soldiers, photographs and a sketch of the scene. The evidence went largely unchallenged, since Mr. Khalaf had no lawyer. The judges appointed one, but Mr. Khalaf had no chance to speak with him. Mr. Khalaf told the judges the soldiers were probably chasing a rogue nephew and denied that the explosives were his or ever in his house. "Let me examine the pictures," he insisted. The judges ignored him. His lawyer said nothing, beyond declaring Mr. Khalaf’s innocence. The trial lasted 15 minutes. The judges conducted six trials of similar length and depth before lunch, then deliberated for four minutes. Five defendants were found guilty; one was acquitted. "The evidence is enough," Judge Saeb Khorsheed Ahmed said in convicting Mr. Khalaf. "Thirty years."...

Blair's Leaked Memo: British Voters Think Govt. Is In Shambles...

Daily Mail Simon Walters December 16, 2006 07:41 PM

Labour has no chance of winning the next Election because voters think the Government is a shambles - and there is little Gordon Brown can do to stop David Cameron becoming Prime Minister.

That is the devastating verdict of a secret Downing Street memo drawn up for Tony Blair by his senior advisers and obtained by The Mail on Sunday.


ISG Blunder: Multiply by 20

ISG says 5,000 U.S. contractors in Iraq, DoD says 100,000

12/09/2006 9:38 PM ET

The Iraq Study Group in its exhaustive report flatly stated U.S. military contractors employ 5,000 people in Iraq. The Defense Department announced December 4, however, that its first census of the contractor population in Iraq showed 100,000 government contractor employees there. A tip of the hat to Slogger Christina for pinpointing this ISG gaffe.

DC Scoop Boom, Bust, Embarrassment

Flop: Iraq Reconstruction Conference in Washington
By ROBERT PELTON 12/10/2006 8:39 PM ET

The twice-annual Rebuilding Iraq Conference and Expo in Washington was once the talk of the military and security contractor communities. In those glory days, spooks, contractors, and top Iraqi and U.S. officials were among the thousands in attendance. Huge deals were done. Lots of smiling faces. No more. The Sixth Rebuilding Iraq Conference and Expo last week in Washington was an unmitigated bust. Not only was it sparsely attended, it had the misfortune of coinciding with the release of the bleak report of Iraq Study Group, which surely would take issue with the confab's slogan: "Building on a Successful Beginning." While Kurdistan is open for business and doing well, the Iraq gold rush is over.

DoD Posts Counterinsurgency War-Fighting Manual On Web...

Now You And Everyone, Including Al Qaeda Terrorists And Insurgents, Can Read The Entire 282-Page Manual…
Iraq Slogger Eason Jordan December 16, 2006 06:51 PM
By EASON JORDAN Posted 4 hr. 1 min. ago

Your IraqSlogger editors are stunned that the Pentagon has released to the entire world and posted on the Web the U.S. military�s new 282-page counterinsurgency war-fighting manual.

This is the first post-9/11 �war on terror� U.S. military counterinsurgency manual � the long-awaited doctrine meant to turn the tide for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Deadly Militia Attack Against Palestinians in Baghdad Sparks Appeal

NewsBlaze, CA

Voicing alarm at a deadly attack by armed militia on a predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood in Baghdad, the United Nations refugee agency today renewed its call for the international community to provide a humanitarian solution for Palestinians trying to flee Iraq. At least nine people, including several children, were reportedly killed and many others were wounded when local militia shelled the Al Baladiya area of the Iraqi capital for three hours yesterday, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees...

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Israeli high court sanctions political assassinations

Bill Van Auken, WSWS

Israel’s high court Thursday ruled that the Zionist regime’s use of political assassination—so-called "targeted killings"—against members of Palestinian organizations in the occupied territories is not only justified but in conformity with international law. The ruling constituted the court’s long-delayed response to a case filed by two human rights groups seeking a ruling that the practice constituted a violation of international law and that such killings amounted to war crimes. Instead, the Israeli justices gave a green light to the security forces to continue assassinating those deemed "terrorists" by the Zionist authorities, thereby ensuring that the killing and maiming of both political opponents of Israeli occupation and innocent bystanders will not only continue, but escalate...

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The Istanbul Conference


Azzaman devotes a lot of space this morning to coverage of the Istanbul conference of Wednesday and Thursday (December 13 and 14), with a picture of the group. There were around 100 attendees, including politicians, clerics, intellectuals and activists, the reporter says, from Iraq and from outside of Iraq. Following an exibition of photos and videos to indicate the realities of what is occuring in Iraq, the meeting was convened by Abdulrahman bin Amir al-Nuaimi. He said the purpose of the meeting was to link up Sunnis in Iraq and outside of Iraq and to present a clear idea to those outside of conditions that Iraqi Sunnis are facing...

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From Pomegranate to Dearborn: The loss of Iraqi art

Hashim Al-Tawil / The Arab American News

"Out of Iraq: Artists' Meditations on Their Homeland," is an exhibit currently appearing at the National Arab American Museum (NAAM) in Dearborn. The question is why? The exhibit is of questionable origin and value and does not accurately reflect Iraqi art in America. Worse, it reflects the art of those trying to ameliorate Iraqi art and replace it with post-Saddam works that acknowledge and accept the occupation of that country. The exhibit was initially curated by Leila Kubba and features the works of three Iraqi artists living in the States: Mohammed Fradi, Leila Kubba and Nadwa Qaragholi. The exhibit originated at the Pomegranate Gallery in Soho, a gallery owned by an Iraqi Jew, who left Iraq when he was a child (...) As military control alone cannot achieve the entire conquest of an occupied people, the occupation has employed a very specific strategy by which to ameliorate authentic Iraqi culture altogether, deconstruct its very essence and replace it with something more accepting of the foreign presence. Hence a program of "de-Arabizing" Iraq and to a certain extent "de-Islamicizing" Iraq has been implemented since the early days of the occupation. The majority of Iraq's prominent artists and intellectuals resented the occupation and have not collaborated with the deconstruction of Iraqi culture...

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No Mr. Buckley, No

Anwaar Hussain, Fountainhead
December 15, 2006

Dear Mr. Buckley,

Writing in National Review Online in February 2006, you William F. Buckley Jr. its Editor at Large and a diehard conservative icon, admitted that the U.S. mission in Iraq has failed but gave the following reason for the disaster;

"Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans…………they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols."

No Mr. Buckley, no. You are muddying the water.

Since your chant has now been taken up by many Cons, Neocons and Repubs, the record must be set straight.

Mr. Buckley, your great country went to war with a nation that was already impoverished by more than 20 years of war and American led, UN-imposed sanctions. The immediate aftermath of the war found the traumatized Iraqi society without a recognized head of state or a working administration with well over 70 highly fragmented political parties pulling their unfortunate country in every which way.

Mr. Buckley, that Iraq would indeed have plunged into complete chaos was a foregone conclusion clear to every one but the likes of your good self. Your military annihilated Iraq’s central leadership, disbanded its armed and police forces, decimated its bureaucracy and stumped its judiciary with mock trials. Your country encouraged competing tribal and ethnic forces to pull Iraq apart. With no infusion of money, no central leadership, no overseeing bureaucracy, no American commitment for rebuilding, and no self-sustaining industry, Iraq was certain to sink into a bloody civil war and that is precisely what has happened. Do not muddy the water Mr. Buckley.

Moreover, any nation, including yours that has now become not a dream but a nightmare for many, would have behaved the same way under similar circumstances.

As a matter of fact, your country may have fared far worse. Your society, sir, has now been transformed into a culture of carnivorous marauders, most of them with a past criminal record. Allow me to give a glimpse of this violent nature of the society of which you are a mouthpiece.

According to Christian Science Monitor, in 2003 alone, more than 5.6 million Americans were in prison or had served time there. That's 1 in 37 adults living in the United States, the highest incarceration level in the world. Talk of ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols Mr. Buckley.

Not only that, with over 570,000 prison inmates released annually, "the suspect has a criminal record" has become more like a broken record playing over and over for American victims and their families. In the past about four decades, total crime in America has increased over 350%. Millions of criminals have been released from prison, many have been given probation for their crimes. All now roam the streets of America like cocked guns and ticking bombs. Talk of ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols Mr. Buckley.

Yours is the most violent society in the world presently Mr. Buckley. In your great country, the crime clock continues to click incessantly. According to reliable statistics, there is one murder every 22 minutes, one rape every 5 minutes, one robbery every 49 seconds, and one burglary every 10 seconds. Not only that, the cost of crime in your beloved country continues to mount: $78 billion for the criminal justice system, $64 billion for private protection, $202 billion in loss of life and work, $120 billion in crimes against business, $60 billion in stolen goods and fraud, $40 billion from drug abuse, and $110 billion from drunk driving. When you add up all, crime costs Americans a staggering $675 billion each year. Talk of ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols Mr. Buckley.

The crime battle in America now rages in terms of seconds and minutes within your own national boundaries Mr. Buckley. It rages in your states, cities, towns, communities and yes even in your own streets and homes. With crimes to property occurring every two seconds, and a violent crime every 19 seconds, crime is a war with casualties now being counted in seconds and minutes. Talk of ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols Mr. Buckley.

And hush Mr. Buckley. It is not a just a matter of crime statistics availability in your country. Compare your beloved country with some other developed countries of the world for example. You would squirm if I informed you that of the 10 cities having the highest murder rate in USA and Europe, 8 are American cities i.e. Washington, Philadelphia, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, Houston and New York City. Talk of ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols Mr. Buckley.

Now if by a quirk of fate, a world force of a million odd strong men were formed up from countries that have had enough of you and your divine country’s endless machinations, landed in your great country, surrounded your murderous capital and cities like Chicago and New York, dissolved your federal and state administrations, disbanded your armed, civil and police forces, threw into the stockade your lying bunch of criminal leaders and announced the arrival of a New American Century of dog eat dog within you geographical confines, what would happen in your society that has more guns than hands Mr. Buckley? Talk of Iraqi animosities and ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols Mr. Buckley.

This is how criminal and violent your society has become Mr. Buckley. This is what you need to keep in mind next time you talk of Iraqi animosities and ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols Mr. Buckley. And I have not even touched upon the racial and religious tensions simmering on the fault lines just below the surface of your national fabric.

Get this straight Mr. Buckley.

Iraq fiasco was, is and always will be a gigantic human catastrophe, resulting from the stillborn vision of small men who wanted to ride high on their demented dreams.

No Mr. Buckley, no. Do not muddy the water.

Yours Truly,
Anwaar Hussain

Copyrights : Anwaar Hussain

Women Lose Ground in the New Iraq Once They Were Encouraged to Study and Work; Now Life Is 'Just Like Being in Jail'

Sadams Secular Nation
Georgies Liberation of Iraqi Women under Occupation

Palestine on the brink of civil war?

Welcome to DEMOCRACY AMERICA STYLE, A country democratically elects a Govt, and America and Israel go in a destabalize it, if it is not to their liking. America and Israel running true to form

Nigel Parry, The Electronic Intifada

Since the Palestinian elections on 25 January 2006 brought a resounding Hamas victory, Fatah and its US and Israeli allies have been working to destabilize the democratically-elected government. Hamas truly did deserve a chance at power after a year of unilateral ceasefire in the face of Israeli assassinations of its leaders, massive Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land, and the ongoing daily brutality of Israel's military occupation. And it certainly deserved the opportunity after seven years of Fatah's abject failure during the "peace process", leaving nothing but a legacy of continuously-colonized land while Fatah officials blatantly embraced self-serving corruption and overt pandering to US and Israeli interests...

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WP: U.S. to Armor-Plate Iraqi Police Vehicles

Reacting to criticism that the United States has not provided the right equipment to Iraqi security forces, the Multi-National Command in Baghdad has been seeking a contractor to put armor on 1,300 American-made SUVs and pickup trucks used by the Iraqi National Police.

The awarding of the contract was scheduled for yesterday.

The program is being undertaken two years after Iraqis began to be recruited because the Iraqi National Police "have been losing policemen due to small arms fire and IEDs while operating in their patrol trucks," according to the solicitation for bidders published last month.

The planned work is to provide either steel or composite plates for the doors and undercarriage of the vehicles to protect against bullets of up to 7.62mm caliber, the ammunition fired by the AK-47s used by many of the insurgents.

The armoring will require the contractor to upgrade each vehicle's suspension system to support the added weight and to do the work in a way that leaves the driver and passenger in the front seat with the ability to see the rearview mirrors. In addition, the contractor has to provide space behind the cab of the pickup trucks for machine guns that can swivel a full 360 degrees.


Pentagon eyes $468.9 bln budget for fiscal 2008

By Andrea Shalal-Esa and Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House has approved a fiscal 2008 budget request of $468.9 billion for the Pentagon, $4.7 billion more than expected last year, according to a memorandum obtained by Reuters.

It is also asking the Pentagon to cover some Army and Marine Corps war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the regular budget, rather than through emergency budget requests.


Army chief seeks fewer limits on activating reserves
By Megan Scully, CongressDaily

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker on Thursday argued that the Defense Department must lift restrictions governing the mobilization of National Guard and Reserve troops to meet current demands in Iraq and Afghanistan and ease pressures on active-duty troops.

Schoomaker, who also left open the possibility of significant increases in the size of the Army, painted a dire picture of ground troops' ability to respond to worldwide operations should current mobilization policies remain intact.

"The situation in the Middle East and rest of the world leads me to conclude we are on a new long-term plateau of high operational demand," Schoomaker told the independent Commission on National Guard and Reserves during a hearing on Capitol Hill. "And, in my view, we are on a dangerous path that dictates we must increase our strategic depth, increase readiness and reduce our operational risk."

McCain Says Major Financiers Will Back His 2008 Bid

Senator McCain announced yesterday that several major figures in the New York financial community have agreed to serve as fund-raisers for his expected bid for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. >>>cont


UN demands an immediate halt to Israeli settlements

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Saturday December 16, 2006

New York- The United Nations has demanded that Israel immediately halt its controversial settlement policy, it was reported Saturday. "Settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights (are) illegal and an obstacle to peace as well as economic and social development," a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly with 162 votes in favour late Friday in New York said.

Eight countries, including Israel and the United States, voted against the resolution, while 10 abstained.

The UN also called on Israel to guarantee the security of aid organizations working in the Palestinian Territories.

The 15-member Security Council renewed the mandate of the UN observer force in the Golan Heights for another cycle. The UN force that has observed the truce between Israel and Syria since 1974 is now due to remain in the area until the middle of 2007 at least.

There are 1,000 soldiers in the Golan Heights force from countries like Austria, Canada and India.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency

Richardson Takes On McCain: Denounces Plan To Send More Troops To Iraq...

CNN Mark Preston December 16, 2006 03:09 PM

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will denounce Sen. John McCain's, R-Arizona, suggestion that more U.S. troops are needed in Iraq when he appears Saturday at a New Hampshire Democratic Party event, his campaign said.

Richardson is actively exploring a run for the Democratic presidential nomination, while McCain is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination. Richardson and McCain have said they will announce their plans early in the coming year.


See US Soldier's PowerPoint On "How To Win In Anbar"...

Army Captain's Simple Demonstration: How to Win in Iraq
Officer Killed in Battle, but His Ideas Live On
ABC News MARTHA RADDATZ December 15, 2006 07:36 PM

President Bush has spent the last few weeks engaged in complex briefings with senior military officers, State Department officials and outside experts as he tries to come up with a new plan to achieve victory in Iraq.

But a young captain serving in Iraq's violent Al Anbar Province has offered a simple explanation of what the problem was in Iraq and how to solve it. Among his observations is the importance of having a moustache in Iraq.

Related: Click Here for Patriquin's Presentation



Associated Press and The New York Times December 16, 2006 02:12 PM

Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, who just two weeks ago took the first steps toward a White House bid in 2008, announced on Saturday that he was quitting the race. He said he had concluded that his hopes of winning were too remote to make it worth continuing.
Read the entire article here.

Former Democratic vice presidential nomineeJohn Edwards intends to enter the 2008 race for the White House, two Democratic officials said Saturday.
Read the entire article here.

Co-Worker: Russian Spy Poisoned Because Of Dossier Damaging To Putin Admin Official...

Reuters December 16, 2006 12:14 PM

Murdered Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was killed because of an eight-page dossier he had compiled on a powerful Russian figure for a British company, a business associate told the BBC on Saturday.

Litvinenko died in London on November 23 after receiving a lethal dose of radioactive polonium 210. On his deathbed, he accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his killing. The Kremlin has denied involvement.


New age Me and I'll New age You...

Layla Anwar

Another American Soap Opera. James Bond and the Cowboys report. Oops , sorry meant the James Baker report which basically summarizes as follows : Change course and think of our long term oil interests. Now the cowboy G.Bush stated only yesterday that :"The Enemy has not been defeated yet." Danger is still looming . How about another 5 million Iraqis dead , will that attenuate your fears? Not important, let's not get side tracked with details. George.W.Bush says that he has a plan. A plan dictated by none other than God himself. (and yes politically correct feminists, in this instance it is definitely a HE, so lay off my back.) I will relay to you what exactly happened....

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Defiant Hamas rejects call for elections

There is a democratically elected Government Wanker, The people voted and elected Hamas, you lost.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

By Donald Macintyre

Hamas yesterday uncompromisingly rejected calls for new elections as fresh violence threatened a slide into worsening and potentially bloody conflict between it and the rival Fatah group it ousted in last January's poll.

The Islamist faction staged a formidable display of popular strength at a rally in its Gaza City heartland, while in the West Bank city of Ramallah, hospital officials said at least 32 of its supporters were injured, some critically, when Fatah-dominated security forces fired on demonstrators. There were also exchanges of fire between the two factions in Gaza City, close to the home of Mohammed Dahlan, a prominent Fatah figure accused by a Hamas spokesman yesterday of being behind the gun attack on the convoy of the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, on Thursday. The attack killed a bodyguard and injured his eldest son, Abed Haniyeh.

He added that people had come to the rally to "swear they would not recognise Israel"one of the international conditions for lifting the boycott.

In a reference to the deployment of armed Fatah forces, including those of Mr Abbas's presidential guard, who fired at Hamas militants at the Rafah terminal on Thursday, Mr Hayya said: "What a war, Mahmoud Abbas, you are launching, first against God, and then against Hamas." But he insisted: "We will not be pushed into a civil war planned by collaborators."

WP: Women Lose Ground in the New Iraq

Hey Laura you call this LIBERATION? Well I don't think the women of Iraq like your kind of Liberation.
Once They Were Encouraged to Study and Work; Now Life Is 'Just Like Being in Jail'
Saturday, December 16, 2006; A12

BAGHDAD -- Browsing the shelves of a cosmetics store in the Karrada shopping district, Zahra Khalid felt giddy at the sight of Alberto shampoo and Miss Rose eye shadow, blusher and powder.

Before leaving her house, she had covered her body in a billowing black abaya and wrapped a black head scarf around her thick brown hair. She had asked her brother to drive. She had done all the things that a woman living in Baghdad is supposed to do these days to avoid drawing attention to herself.

It was the first time she had left home in two months.

"For a woman, it's just like being in jail," she said. "I can't go anywhere."

Life has become more difficult for most Iraqis since the February bombing of a Shiite Muslim mosque in Samarra sparked a rise in sectarian killings and overall lawlessness. For many women, though, it has become unbearable.

Interview Out of Afghanistan

READ MORE: 9/11, Iraq, 2006, Afghanistan, Israel
by Taylor Marsh

This morning on a special edition of my radio show I spoke with Scott Kesterson, the only imbedded U.S. photojournalist in Afghanistan. Special thanks to Amy at BlogTalkRadio who made the introduction and arrangements.

Scott and I talked about everything from Pakistan's role in thwarting Afghanistan's sovereignty, to the "two Talibans," which Scott believes is an important and completely misunderstood reality in this region of the world. In addition, we talked about culture and women's roles as well.

Iranian influence was an interesting part of the discussion and will surprise and confound many people. Scott articulates Iran's positive influence in some areas of Afghanistan, which, when juxtaposed against their anti Israel mania, reveals a much more complex leadership than most Americans appreciate or are willing to contemplate.

Scott also did a post today here at Huffington Post, which I hope you will read and watch if you haven't already.

I've got severals podcasts with Scott. Please take the time to listen to this man, as well as spread the word about his work. He's telling a story that is not being reported because of Iraq. He calls Afghanistan the "forgotten war," as do many others.

Scott also reminds us that the fight in Afghanistan is still very much about 9/11. Afghanistan was the righteous war to many of us, myself included. Some of our soldiers, National Guard and Special Forces continue to fight that fight. Scott's work highlights their heroism, as well as his own. It is a remarkable story.

Scott Kesterson - Interview from Afghanistan
Scott Kesterson - Pakistan's Role in Afghanistan
Scott Kesterson - Two Types of Taliban
Scott Kesterson - Dangers, then to Women & Culture
Scott Kesterson - Culture & Taliban in Government
Scott Kesterson - Role of the Photojournalist Today

- Taylor Marsh LIVE! can be heard from 6-7 pm eastern - 3-4 p.m pacific, Mon.-Thurs, with podcasts available.

Hasn't the Bush Family Done Enough Already?

Over the last 30 years, every single Republican presidential ticket has featured someone named Bush or Dole. I was cautiously optimistic 2008 would break the trend. Perhaps not.

The scuttlebutt over the last several days is whether the Bush brothers are split in their 2008 presidential preferences. George W....


Like Rats From a 2008 ship

READ MORE: Iraq, 2006, New York Times, 2008, George W. Bush

The New York Times had an interesting item yesterday on how the Iraq Study Group report is contributing to the great GOP crack-up over the war, noting that "deep fissures among Republicans over how to manage a war that many fear will haunt their party -- and the nation -- for years to come" are becoming more apparent.

I think that's obviously true, but I noticed something else about some of the newer Republican critics of the war, most of whom have been far more supportive of the Bush White House over the last several years.

* Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), for example, went from being a traditional GOP back-bencher, with precious little to say about the war in Iraq, to being a staunch critic.

* Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has supported the war for years, and has trumpeted "cut and run" talking points for months, but is now suddenly concerned about the future of the war effort.
* Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) has been a non-entity in the broader debate over Iraq, but now he's being openly critical of the war, calling conditions in Iraq "grave and unsettling."

* Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) has said nary a word about the war, but now he's pushing for a major change.

What do all of these senators have in common? They're all Senate Republicans who are up for re-election in 2008. What a coincidence.

And they're all, apparently, scared enough to ditch their GOP talking points and start sounding like Democrats, now that the winds have shifted. I guess elections really do have consequences.


Women's Rights Disappearing In Postwar Iraq...

Washington Post Nancy Trejos December 16, 2006 09:07 AM

Browsing the shelves of a cosmetics store in the Karrada shopping district, Zahra Khalid felt giddy at the sight of Alberto shampoo and Miss Rose eye shadow, blusher and powder.

Before leaving her house, she had covered her body in a billowing black abaya and wrapped a black head scarf around her thick brown hair. She had asked her brother to drive. She had done all the things that a woman living in Baghdad is supposed to do these days to avoid drawing attention to herself.


Dem Sen. Bayh Drops Out Of '08 Race After Obama Frenzy Eclipses Him In NH...

Associated Press Nedra Pickler December 16, 2006 08:40 AM

Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh (news, bio, voting record) of Indiana will not seek the presidency in 2008, saying he believes the odds of a successful run were too great to overcome.

"At the end of the day, I concluded that due to circumstances beyond our control the odds were longer than I felt I could responsibly pursue," Bayh said in a statement Saturday. "This path -- and these long odds -- would have required me to be essentially absent from the Senate for the next year instead of working to help the people of my state and the nation."


US Mint Releasing “First Lady” Gold Coins...

Associated Press MARTIN CRUTSINGER December 16, 2006 09:53 AM

Not to be outdone by their husbands, the first ladies are getting their chance to shine on the nation's coins. Starting next year, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and all the rest will begin appearing on a new series of gold coins.


“Last-Ditch” Peace Talks: Iraqi PM Reaches Out To Baathists In Effort To Keep Job…

Agence France-Presse Paul Schemm December 16, 2006 09:07 AM

Iraq's embattled prime minister offered an olive branch to former supporters ofSaddam Hussein, calling for them to join the country's new leaders in a national peace process.

At the opening of peace talks, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urged former soldiers from the ousted dictator's defeated army to join Iraq's new security forces in fighting the armed factions which are tearing the country apart.



Washington Post Charles Babington December 16, 2006 08:40 AM

Incoming Democratic committee chairmen say they will hold a series of hearings and investigations early next year to build the case for their call for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and for possible action against defense contractors found to have wasted billions in federal funds.

The emerging plans to grill administration officials on the conduct of the war are part of a pledge for more aggressive congressional oversight on issues such as prewar intelligence, prisoner treatment at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and the government's use of warrantless wiretaps.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Cheney Has Already Said He'll Ignore the Democratic Congress

FindLaw columnist and former counsel to the president John Dean draws on both recent history (especially from the Clinton years) and current developments to predict the advent of some very contentious conflicts in Congress. Dean believes Democrats won't engage in the kind of hardball tactics that Republicans employed in the Clinton years, but he does predict intense Democratic interest in, and action on, the series of scandals that have plagued the Administration -- many of them involving the Vice President.

"It is their duty as officers of the Constitution, who have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution, to carry out impeachment."

FindLaw columnist and former counsel to the president John Dean argues that, while there is a very strong case to be made for seeking the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Democrats would be foolish to do so, for their efforts would be futile in the end. Dean suggests refocusing the debate over possible impeachments, to concentrate on lower-level Administration officials, who could then be disqualified from holding future office. To make his case, Dean draws upon the only historical instance in which a lower-level official was impeached.

Canadian rendition victim still on US watch list

EXCLUSIVE: White House Forbids Publication Of Op-Ed On Iran By Former Bush Official
RAW STORYPublished: Friday December 15, 2006

Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who was detained by the US as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, and tortured in a Syrian prison, remains on a post-9/11 US government watch list, RAW STORY has learned.

In a Canadian Broadcast Corporation radio appearance, US Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, when asked if Arar was still on a government watch list responded, "My information is that he is on the watch list and has been since he was deported, yes."
Maher Arar was detained on suspicion of links to al Qaida at New York's Kennedy Airport in September 2002, while en route to his home in Canada from a family vacation in Tunisia. After a series of steps that appeared highly illegal, the US transferred Arar first to Jordanian and then to Syrian custody, where he was detained and tortured for more than a year before his release was finally secured. A Canadian government commission cleared him of any wrongdoing in September of this year.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based group that has advocated on Arar's behalf, said in a statement sent to RAW STORY, "That the United States would have the gall to keep Maher on a watch list, implying that he poses a threat to this country, is outrageous, although not surprising, since this Administration is unwilling to admit its mistakes and still tries to conceal them. The real threat to the U.S. is our government’s utter disregard for the rule of law and for the truth."

In another CBC interview two days ago, Canada's Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day pledged that "the situation that happened with Mr. Arar would not happen today."
CCR's full statement can be accessed at their website.

EXCLUSIVE: White House Forbids Publication Of Op-Ed On Iran By Former Bush Official

White House forbids official's Iran op-ed

Nixes column rapping Bush refusal to engage Iran; Iraq attack data 'classified.'

And the Democratic Front-runner Is... John Edwards?

Joe Klein scopes out an Iowa poll showing the former vice presidential candidate with a surprising lead among Democratic Presidential hopefuls. Is Hillary in trouble?


Only a seriously diseased political junkie-one without a life, one who hates to go holiday shopping, one like me-would give a local Presidential poll more than a nanosecond's attention this early in the political process. But...hey, it's Iowa and the results are kind of interesting. The Des Moines Register is reporting these numbers in a poll of Iowa Democrats conducted in October by Harstad Research for a group called Environmental Defense:

John Edwards 36%
Hillary Clinton 16%
Barack Obama 13%
Tom Vilsack 11%

Among county Democratic Party leaders, the numbers are even more startling:

Edwards 40%
Vilsack 15%
Obama 11%
Clinton 8%


Bush Likely To Send More Troops To Iraq...

Matt Damon: Maybe The President’s Daughters Should Go To Iraq…

Bush Likely To Send More Troops To Iraq...
BBC News December 15, 2006 10:41 PM

US President George W Bush is likely to boost troop levels in Iraq next year, an administration official has said.

Up to 25,000 more troops could be deployed to try to help end the violence, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


If I Did It Publisher Judith Regan Fired From HarperCollins...

Eat The Press Rachel Sklar December 15, 2006 08:25 PM

Jossip had the rumor, NYT has the confirm: Judith Regan was fired late this afternoon, officially, by publisher HarperCollins, the parent company for her imprint, Regan Books, "effective immediately." The termination was confirmed this evening by HarperCollins president and CEO Jane Friedman in a two-sentence release, according to the Times.

The annoucement comes in the wake of the outcry following Regan's planned publication of the O.J. Simpson 'confession' book, "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened," which Regan had also produced as a planned two-hour special to run on Fox during November sweeps. After the public recoiled in distasted and revulsion from the crass, sordid attempt to capitalize on the decade-old tragedy, Rupert Murdoch-owned parent company NewsCorp. pulled the special and recalled the book.


What Would Happen If Jesus Were Born In U.S. Today?

Nazareth Carpenter Being Held On Charges Involving Underage Mother
Bethlehem, Judea - Authorities were today alerted by a concerned citizen who noticed a family living in a barn. Upon arrival, Family Protective Service personnel, accompanied by police, took into protective care an infant child named Jesus, who had been wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding trough by his 14-year old mother, Mary of Nazareth.

Former wall street broker, Max Keiser, investigates the US economy

10 Minute Video

An absolute must see for anybody holding their wealth in U.S. Dollars

In case you missed it:

The United States has been funnelling more than $100,000 a month to warlords battling Islamist militia in Somalia, according to a Somalia expert who has conferred with the groups in the country.

Yet another hint that the US administration has little intention of implementing all of Baker-Hamilton report:

US secretary of state tells Washington Post that US will not 'trade away' Lebanon to Syria nor allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons – in exchange for peace in Iraq. Says administrations stepping up efforts for Israeli-Palestinian calm

After Years of Gearing Up For High-Tech Warfare, Service Is Short on Basics

Despite Its $168 Billion Budget,: The Army Faces a Cash Crunch:
Humvees Rise to $225,000

At a time when the war in Iraq is deepening, and debate over pulling out the troops is intensifying, the rising cost of waging the fight is outpacing even the Army's huge budget. The financial squeeze is leaving the Army short of equipment and key personnel.

This year's Pentagon budget is $436 billion. That amount does not include more than $140 billion that's being spent this year alone on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Voices of Iraq: Baghdad-Embassies

The political committee in al-Shaheed al-Sadr's office urged the Iraqi government to close down the U.S. and British embassies in Baghdad and expel the two ambassadors

Guantanamo Detainees To Be Held Even Without Evidence

BY Con Coughlin

The hard core of detainees held at America's Guantanamo Bay detention camp will be held indefinitely even if there is insufficient evidence to bring them to trial, a senior Bush administration official said.


Why Did They Torture Jose Padilla

By John Grant

What makes this case so insidious is that, according to a psychiatrist who examined him over a 22-hour period, the treatment Padilla received in the South Carolina brig was such that he now "lacks the capacity to assist in his own defense." In other words, a U.S. citizen was secretly worked over for 21 months to the point he is unable to think well enough to engage with his lawyer.


Bush’s Mad-Dash to History’s Dustbin :

By Mike Wwhitney

Muqtada al-Sadr is the most powerful man in the country, the de-facto sovereign of Iraq. He oversees the 60,000 man Mahdi Army which currently poses no threat to US forces. If Bush turns on him, the occupation will become virtually untenable overnight. .


Missing Soldier Classified As Captured

An American soldier missing in Iraq since late October probably was captured by the enemy, the Pentagon said Thursday, making official what the U.S. military there has suggested for more than a month.

Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie, a 41-year-old Iraqi-born resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., was snatched off the street while he was visiting his Iraqi wife in Baghdad on Oct. 23.

U.S. forces have conducted raids in portions of Sadr City searching for al-Taayie, who worked as a translator. The U.S. government has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to his recovery.

He initially was listed as ''whereabouts unknown,'' but the military generally reviews such cases to rule out all other possibilities, including being absent without leave. He is now considered ''missing-captured.''

Defense Department: http://www.defenselink.mil


Army chief accused of lying about Britain's readiness for Iraq war

An inquest into the death of a British tank commander killed in Iraq has heard a tape he recorded three days before his death, in which he accuses the Army of telling "a blatant lie" by saying that British troops were ready for war, and tells his wife, "I just want to come home."

Sergeant Steve Roberts, 33, died in a "friendly fire" incident after he was attacked by a stone-wielding Iraqi man while manning a checkpoint outside the southern city of Az Zubayr on 24 March 2003. Had he been wearing the enhanced combat body armour that should have been issued to troops, he would have survived, pathologists found. But he was ordered to give it up three days before his death, due to shortages.

An Army Board of Inquiry into Sgt Roberts' death found that his Browning pistol failed during the attack. He was shot by a soldier in a Challenger tank who was trying to protect him but did not know his gun was inaccurate at short range.

In a audiotape recorded as a letter for his wife, Samantha, Sgt Roberts, from Shipley in West Yorkshire, accuses the then Chief of the General Staff, Sir Mike Jackson, of lying by claiming that Britain was ready for war.

He tells her the military supplies are "disgraceful" and a "joke", and adds he fears being attacked by Americans since his 2nd Royal Tank Regiment does not have the equipment to identify them as friendly forces. He tells her: "Kit we're being told we are going to get, we're not. It's disheartening because we know we're going to have to go to war without the correct equipment."


Saudi inquiry decision faces legal challenge

PM and attorney general offer different accounts of why probe was dropped

The government's controversial decision to drop a Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations that Saudi officials were bribed to win a lucrative order for a British arms firm could be challenged in the high court, it emerged last night.

Anti-arms trade campaigners yesterday instructed lawyers to consider a legal action against Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, after he halted the SFO inquiry into allegations of corruption by officials from BAE Systems when sealing the Al-Yamamah deal in the 1980s.

The pressure groups Campaign against the Arms Trade and the Corner House, a social and environmental justice group, believe the grounds for the decision - made after the prime minister warned it was against Britain's security and foreign policy interests - could be subject to judicial review. A leading QC, David Pannick, has been hired.

Yesterday confusion over the background to the decision to halt the arms corruption inquiry deepened as Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith offered apparently conflicting explanations.


Cheney: Rumsfeld “Is The Finest Secretary Of Defense This Nation Has Ever Had"…

FL Suspends Executions After “Botched” Injection...

Associated Press RON WORD December 15, 2006 04:58 PM

Gov.Jeb Bush suspended all executions in Florida after a medical examiner said Friday that officials botched the insertion of the needles when a convicted killer was put to death earlier this week.

Dr. William Hamilton, who performed the autopsy, said the execution of Angel Nieves Diaz took 34 minutes -- twice as long as usual -- and required a rare second dose of lethal chemicals because the needles were inserted all the way through his veins and into the flesh in his arms. The lethal chemicals are supposed to go into the veins.


Associated Press December 15, 2006 04:57 PM

A federal judge who imposed a moratorium on executions in California on Friday declared the state's method of lethal injection unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled in San Jose that California's "implementation of lethal injection is broken." But, he said, "it can be fixed."


Unhappy White House Threatens Dem Sen. Bill Nelson Over Syria Visit: “May Cost Some People Their Credibility”…

The New York Times SHERYL GAY STOLBERG December 15, 2006 04:12 PM

The White House said Thursday that a Democratic senator's meeting with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was inappropriate and undermined democracy in the region, while three more senators, including a Republican, made plans to visit Damascus in defiance of President Bush.

The visits are troublesome for the Bush administration because they come in the wake of the report by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which has called for the United States to engage in direct talks with Iran and Syria. Mr. Bush has steadfastly resisted such talks, and the visits by the senators could add to public pressure on the White House to change that policy.

The Examiner Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin December 15, 2006 06:01 PM

President Bush was upstaged Thursday by an American actor-cum-African tribal chief.

The president and Mrs. Bush participated in the White House Summit on malaria, but the talk was all about the emcee -- Isaiah Washington, one of the stars of the immensely popular ABC drama "Grey's Anatomy." The actor's connection to Africa, where malaria is particularly devastating, is beyond reproach: Visiting his relatives on the continent earlier this year, he was inducted into the Mende tribe as a tribal chief.


Attitudes toward the United States reached new lows

Proxy War Anyone?

By Leigh Ferrara

The New York Times reports today that Saudi Arabia will back the Sunni minority in Iraq if the United States withdraws its troops. This move by the Saudi government sends a strong message that they will not be passive observers of Iran's involvement in Iraq. Nawaf Obaid, a security adviser to Saudi Arabia, writing in the Washington Post last month, warned of this impending possibility, although he made clear his views were not those of his country. It appears now that they are. King Abdullah expressed Saudi Arabia's intentions to support Iraq's Sunnis to Dick Cheney during the VP's visit to Riyadh two weeks ago. It's a foregone conclusion that bordering nations will play a role in the outcome of the situation in Iraq. What possible roles are still unknown, but there are several scary prospects floating around. Obaid wrote, "To be sure, Saudi engagement in Iraq carries great risks -- it could spark a regional war. So be it: The consequences of inaction are far worse."

A proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia is definitely one of the looming possibilities.

Posted by Leigh Ferrara on 12/13/06


Today in Iraq

Police found the bodies of two people, shot and tortured, in al-Lij village, 35 km south of Baghdad. A car bomb exploded near an Iraqi army convoy and killed two people, including a policeman, and wounded seven, including three soldiers, in Nafaq al-Shurta in western Baghdad. A car bomb killed an Iraqi explosives expert along with his assistant when they were trying to dismantle it on Wednesday night in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad. The tortured, bullet-ridden bodies of 21 kidnap victims were found on the streets of the capital on Wednesday. At least 17 people were killed Wednesday in car bombings against Shiite and Sunni targets in Baghdad. A car bomb struck the largely Sunni area of Yarmouk on Wednesday, killing two people and wounding three. Gunmen in military uniforms kidnapped dozens of people Thursday from a major commercial area in central Baghdad, the second mass abduction in the capital in a month. The attackers drove up to the busy al-Sanak area in about 10 sport utility vehicles and began rounding up shop owners and bystanders. Two police officers said 50 to 70 people were abducted...

continua / continued

Palestinians need support, not division (epilogue to a smeary gatekeeping campaign)

Mary Rizzo, peacepalestine

End of the year, it seems natural to try to sum up a few things, to try to draw up the balance sheet of what has been happening. Unfortunately, for Palestinian people and for the people of Lebanon, being on the wrong side of the Israeli stick has meant now (as much as ever) destruction, death, and suffering. Even as the world was witnessing the wanton demolition of civilian infrastructures, it seems as though Israel gets let off the hook again, as amazing as it seems to many of us. The propaganda is THAT intense that we turn a blind eye. It would have been an important opportunity for the people who consider the struggle for the extension of human rights to every person on our planet to not miss an opportunity to voice their horror for this outrageous and illegal violation of basic human rights, considering the situation that we are witnessing in Iraq; a total disaster. But, excepting isolated cases, that did not happen....

continua / continued

U.S. training Fatah in anti-terror tactics Underlying motive is to counter strength of Hamas, analysts say

Matthew Kalman, San Francisco Chronicle

U.S. officials training Palestinian security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas are emphasizing urban anti-terrorist techniques as part of a systematic effort to bolster Abbas and his Fatah loyalists to counter the political success of Hamas, according to Palestinian analysts and officers receiving the training. But one officer who has received the training says the purpose of the newly beefed-up force is to protect the Palestinian president from assassination. The Presidential Guard, made up entirely of Fatah activists loyal to Abbas, has been increased to 1,000, up from about 90 officers under his predecessor, Yasser Arafat...

continua / continued

Iraqi refugees can't find peace Hundreds of thousands spread across Mideast, straining host countries

QAISAR AHMED, Los Angeles Times

...The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees put it more starkly in a recent assessment: "Iraq is hemorrhaging. The humanitarian crisis which the international community had feared is now unfolding." Including those who have fled their homes but remained inside the country, nearly 10 percent of Iraq's prewar population of 26 million has been displaced (...) Consider the fate of Laith Youssef, a shopkeeper who also ended up in Amman. An Iraqi gang threatened to kidnap his three children if he did not pay $40,000. Weeks later, a grenade exploded outside his shop, speckling his leg with shrapnel. Then he was jailed for 15 days for offending the Shiite militia known as the Mahdi Army. While he was imprisoned, his wife was attacked for not wearing strict Islamic dress in public. Mr. Youssef and his family fled to Jordan, but even here, without the bombs and beheadings, life is tough...

continua / continued


Desert Peace

Despite the fact that there were 339 targeted assassinations in the Occupied Territories since the year 2000, despite the fact that 210 of those murdered were targets and the rest (129) were innocent bystanders, the Supreme Court of Israel declared it legal for Israel to continue such operations. This practice has received condemnation from most European countries, but once again, Israel does not give a damn... it will continue doing what it wants to.... legal or not. This is a most dangerous precident that must be protested by the civilised world.... it cannot be allowed. The following AP report deals with the court's decision....

continua / continued

Iranians go to polls in test for Ahmadinejad (Khaleej Times)

Edited by acmejack on Fri Dec-15-06 09:30 AM

TEHERAN - Iranians started voting on Friday for local councils and a powerful clerical body in the first electoral test for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies since he swept to office in 2005.

The vote for city and rural councils and the Assembly of Experts, in theory the most powerful institution in the Islamic Republic, will show if the president’s rivals are regaining popularity even if the results have no direct impact on policy.

Ahmadinejad’s anti-Western and anti-Israel statements have caused alarm in the West. Any indication his popularity is waning is likely to be taken as a welcome sign among Western countries worried about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The United States has accused Iran of having a secret programme to build nuclear weapons, a charge Teheran denies.


Gunmen kill Shiite tribal sheik in Iraq (3 US troops killed)

By QAIS AL-BASHIR, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 1 minute ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gunmen killed a Shiite tribal sheik linked to British forces in a drive-by shooting Friday in the southern city of Basra, while two Marines and a soldier were reported killed in fighting elsewhere in

One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 and one Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Thursday after fighting in Anbar province, an insurgent stronghold, the military said. In Ninevah province to the northwest, a soldier assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed Tuesday, the military said.

The deaths raise to 54 the number of American troops who have died in December, which is on track to become one of the deadliest months of the war. At least 2,942 members of the U.S. military have died since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Iraqi police said two car bombs being driven by suicide attackers exploded at U.S. checkpoints in the militant base of the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi and American soldiers opened fire to foil one of the attacks, an Iraqi police lieutenant said on condition of anonymity because he was concerned for his safety. He said four Iraqi civilians were killed......

Reuters: Kyrgyzstan threatens to review U.S. airbase deal

Kyrgyzstan threatens to review U.S. airbase deal

Friday, December 15, 2006; 2:23 AM

BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyzstan threatened on Friday to review its agreement
with the United States on the use of a military airbase in the Central Asian
state following the fatal shooting of a Kyrgyz citizen by a U.S. airman.

U.S. relations with its key Central Asian partner soured this month after the
U.S. Air Force airman killed a fuel truck driver at a checkpoint in a security

On Friday Kyrgyzstan's parliament passed a resolution calling on the government
to take tough action.

Troops at the base cannot be prosecuted by Kyrgyz courts under an agreement
between the two countries as they enjoy a similar status to diplomats.

Full article:

Also: GI who shot Kyrgyz citizen at Manas still in Kyrgyzstan - US AF - ITAR-TASS

Prosecutors move closer to Darfur trial

A Sudanese rebel arrives at the abandoned village of Chero Kasi in Darfur less than an hour after Janjaweed militiamen set it ablaze. Photograph: Scott Nelson/Getty Images

Mark Tran and agencies
Friday December 15, 2006Guardian Unlimited

A proposed war crimes tribunal for Darfur moved a step closer to reality today, after the chief prosecutor for the international criminal court (ICC) said he was ready to present evidence to judges.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the UN security council of his plans to submit the case to the court's judges in February. Under the Rome statute, that created the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, the judges will decide whether the case should proceed after reviewing the evidence.

"The evidence in this emerging first case points to specific individuals who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity including persecution, torture, murder, and rape," the ICC said on its website.

The security council referred the situation in Darfur to the prosecutor in March 2005. More than 200,000 people have died and about 2.5 million people displaced in three years of fighting between African rebels and government troops, allied with the Janjaweed Arab militia. The conflict has spread into neighbouring Chad and the central African republic and is now in "free fall," with the prospect of 6 million people going without food or protection, the outgoing UN humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, said last week. >>>cont


Blair faces storm of protest over Saudi arms probe

Looks like the Saudis have all the influence, on what America and Briton do today.

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Friday December 15, 2006
By Anna Tomforde,

London- The British government's unusual intervention to
halt a sensitive inquiry into alleged bribery payments in connection
with a major arms deal with Saudi-Arabia has prompted accusations of
corruption against Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The decision to abandon fraud investigations into an alleged 60-
million pounds (117 million dollars) "slush fund" said to have been
operated by leading British arms manufacturer BAE Systems to secure
the purchase of Eurofighter jets by Riyadh followed "intense
pressure" from Saudi Arabia, analysts said Friday.

Investigators at Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had reached
a crucial stage in their two-year probe when Britain's Attorney-
General, Peter Henry Goldsmith, announced late Thursday that - at the
advice of Blair and key government ministers - the corruption probe
would be stopped.

The investigations were launched in 2003 following disclosures in
the Guardian newspaper that BAE had allegedly paid bribes to Saudi
dignitaries and middlemen to secure what is known as the Al-Yamamah

Blair, who had already had a bad day being interviewed by police
in connection with alleged irregularities over party funding, was
abroad when Goldsmith made his statement to the House of Lords.

After talks in Turkey Friday, Blair is expected to visit several
Middle East states.

British analysts believe that Blair's open intervention in the
Saudi investigations, which he defended Friday, will be grist to the
mill of critics who claim that the Labour government is mired in
corruption. >>cont

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency

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