Monday, March 31, 2008

Hillary's lies about outsourcing

Newly released White House records demonstrate that Clinton lied about NAFTA. NAFTA, however, is but a single thread in a web of deception regarding globalization and free trade. Clinton is lying not only about NAFTA, but about outsourcing as well. And the evidence comes, not from Obama, but from official records, video tapes, quotations and recordings of Clinton speeches abroad.

A third American war in the making?

On March 30, the Russian News & Information Agency, Novosti, cited "a high-ranking security source: "The latest military intelligence data point to heightened US military preparations for both an air and ground operation against Iran."

According to Novosti, Russian Colonel General Leonid Ivashov said "that the Pentagon is planning to deliver a massive air strike on Iran's military infrastructure in the near future."

The chief of Russia's general staff, Yuri Baluyevsky, said last November that Russia was beefing up its military in response to US aggression, but that the Russian military is not "obliged to defend the world from the evil Americans."

On March 29, OpEdNews cited a report by the Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz, which was picked up by the German news service, DPA. The Saudi newspaper reported on March 22, the day following Cheney's visit with the kingdom's rulers, that the Saudi Shura Council is preparing "national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts' warnings of possible attacks on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactors."

And Admiral William "there will be no attack on Iran on my watch" Fallon has been removed as US chief of Central Command, thus clearing the way for Cheney's planned attack on Iran.

Paulson's fixit plan for Wall Street

It is being billed as a "massive shakeup of US financial market regulation", but don't be deceived. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's proposals for broad market reform are neither "timely" nor "thoughtful" (Reuters) In fact, its all just more of the same free market "we can police ourselves" mumbo jumbo that got us into this mess in the first place. The real objective of Paulson's so called reforms is to decapitate the SEC and increase the powers of the Federal Reserve.

Bedouin resist Israeli plan to build Jewish towns on ancestral lands

Iranian general played key role in brokering Iraq cease-fire

Iraqi lawmakers traveled to the Iranian holy city of Qom over the weekend to win the support of the commander of Iran's Qods brigades in persuading Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to order his followers to stop military operations, members of the Iraqi parliament said.

Sadr ordered the halt on Sunday, and his Mahdi Army militia heeded the order in Baghdad, where the Iraqi government announced it would lift a 24-hour curfew starting early Monday in most parts of the capital.

The day the US declared war on Iran

Pakistan in tug of war over terror

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani has boldly asserted that from now on parliament will handle all matters of national security, including the all-important "war on terror". President Pervez Musharraf and the military, backed by the United States, have other ideas, and they could use the issue of the reinstatement of the judiciary to make this clear.

McCain, Lieberman and Rev. Hagee

As John McCain and his presumptive vice-presidential running mate, Joe Lieberman, toured the middle East together . . . it was useful to keep in mind the words of one of John's recently announced supporters, John Hagee. . . .

A reading of the sermon that inspired the Fox's incessant diatribe reveals that the sermon is no worse than, and in many respects considerably more thoughtful than, the hatred expressed by John McCain supporter, John Hagee (JH) over the years. JH's calumny has made anything even hinted at by Reverend Wright seem bland.

Fed eyes Nordic-style nationalisation of US banks

Scandinavia's bank rescue proved successful and is now a model for central bankers, unlike Japan's drawn-out response, where ailing banks were propped up in a half-public limbo for years.

While the responses varied in each Nordic country, there a was major effort to avoid the sort of "moral hazard" that has bedevilled efforts by the Fed and the Bank of England in trying to stabilise their banking systems.

Norway ensured that shareholders of insolvent lenders received nothing and the senior management was entirely purged. Two of the country's top four banks - Christiania Bank and Fokus - were seized by force majeure.

"We were determined not to get caught in the game we've seen with Bear Stearns where shareholders make money out of the rescue," said one Norwegian adviser.

CIA enlists Google's help for spy work

Shia cleric orders followers to end Iraq clashes

Delays fuel fears of electoral fraud in Zimbabwe

The delay in official results of Zimbabwe's presidential vote today fuelled international fears that Robert Mugabe was resorting to electoral fraud to hang on to power.

Shake-up aims to streamline US system

The US Treasury will on Monday unveil a plan for the biggest reshaping of the financial regulatory system since the Great Depression – but its recommendations may be more notable for what they do not seek to tackle. . . .

The plan also does not address the practices linked to the current housing and mortgage crisis, including the practice of packaging risky subprime mortgages into securities that formerly carried high credit ratings.

Turkish court puts ruling party on trial

Turkey's top court decided Monday to put the Islamist-rooted ruling party on trial for alleged anti-secular activity, in a case that could threaten national stability and Ankara's bid to join the European Union.

Bush and McCain's shared foreign policy approach

Thematically, rhetorically and substantively, McCain's speech, particularly as it concerned the Middle East, was essentially a replica of the speech George Bush has been giving for the last seven years. It trumpeted virtually every tenet of the neoconservative faith: to be safe, the U.S. must slay tyranny around the world, spread democracy, bring freedom to the grateful peoples of the Middle East so they turn towards us and away from the Terrorists, using "more than military force" -- but also military force. We'll only be safe by controlling and transforming the Middle East to look the way we want it to look.

McCain is a pure neoconservative in exactly the way that Bush and Cheney are, which is exactly why David Brooks, and like-minded ideologues like Bill Kristol, swoon over McCain's foreign policy "principles."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Vatican: Muslims outnumber Catholics

Muslims now outnumber Catholics worldwide, making Islam the most widespread religious denomination, according to the Vatican.

From lowest caste to high office in India

She smiles like a queen from almost every street corner here. Billboards congratulate her on her recent 52nd birthday, declaring her admirers' wish that she live for "thousands of years."

Her name is Mayawati, and she has a penchant for diamonds, helicopters and power, all of which are at her disposal as the leader of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state and home to the Taj Mahal. Elected chief minister in May, she reigns over a population more than half that of the United States.

But Mayawati, who goes by one name, has her eye on an even bigger prize: becoming prime minister of India.

Done with defending Dick Cheney

For at least six years, as I've become increasingly frustrated by the Bush administration's repeated betrayal of constitutional — and conservative — principles, I have defended Vice President Cheney, a man I've known for decades and with whom I served and made common cause in Congress. No longer. . . .

Pakistan militants welcome talks with new government

The Pakistani Taliban welcomed the new government's readiness to negotiate an end to a spreading conflict in Pakistan on Sunday, but they vowed to carry on fighting U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Tenet's war

Mobile phones 'more dangerous than smoking'

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.

The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.

Time runs out for islanders on global warming's front line

Dutch Jewish group: Anti-Islam film is 'counterproductive'

The newly-released anti-Islam film by right-wing Dutch legislator Geert Wilders drew condemnations from the Netherlands' Central Jewish Board, which Friday called the film's focus on anti-Jewish preachings by Muslims "counterproductive" and "generalizing."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Iraq's Sadr tells followers to keep arms -aide

"Moqtada al-Sadr asks his followers not to deliver weapons to the government. Weapons should be turned over only to a government which can expel the occupiers," aide Hassan Zargani told Reuters by telephone.

The borrowers

The consensus is that we are still in the first act of a three-act drama. And the original sin of excessive borrowing has yet to be fully punished. Any country that borrowed more than it could afford over the past 15 years is in deep trouble. That means the United Kingdom as well as the United States. Because, at some point, you either have to stop borrowing, which for habitual borrowers means stopping spending, which means a recession; or you have to devalue your currency in order to slash the real value of your debt.

Bernanke's next big bail out plan

The Federal Reserve is presently considering an emergency operation that is so risky it could send the dollar slip-sliding over the cliff. The story appeared in the Financial Times earlier this week and claimed that the Fed was examining the feasibility of buying back hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) with public money to restore investor confidence and clear the struggling banks' balance sheets.

Lawyer: Gitmo trials pegged to '08 campaign

The Navy lawyer for Osama bin Laden's driver argues in a Guantánamo military commissions motion that senior Pentagon officials are orchestrating war crimes prosecutions for the 2008 campaign.

Russia challenges US in the Islamic world

Russia today is well placed to offer its good offices to mediate a dialogue of civilizations between the Christian West and the Islamic East. In fact, Lavrov in his speech at the Dakar summit of the OIC drew the attention of the Islamic world to the "situation of Muslims in the European countries and the attempts by some politicians to stir up Islamophobia".

. . . it works to the advantage of Moscow when it insinuates that American oil companies are siphoning off Iraq's oil wealth and are making a killing out of high oil prices (though these are also provideing Russia with a windfall); that the US strategy is to establish political and military control over the region; that the US "simply does not want stabilization in Iraq, and will keep a sustained conflict"; that the Bush administration may deliberately launch an intensive air attack against Iran with the sole purpose of crippling Iran's military and economic infrastructure, which would make Tehran's "claims to regional leadership unrealistic for a long time to come", to quote Moscow commentators.

Somalia’s government teeters on collapse

By its own admission, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia is on life support. When it took power here in the capital 15 months ago, backed by thousands of Ethiopian troops, it was widely hailed as the best chance in years to end Somalia’s ceaseless cycles of war and suffering.

But now its leaders say that unless they get more help — international peacekeepers, weapons, training and money to pay their soldiers, among other things — this transitional government will fall just like the 13 governments that came before it.

Indians pressure Dow on Bhopal cleanup

Twenty-three years after a Union Carbide chemical plant in India spewed poisonous gas in what remains the world's worst industrial disaster, survivors are demanding a cleanup of toxic chemicals at the abandoned factory site that have contaminated their groundwater.

Pakistani PM vows to fight terror

Pakistan's new Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gillani, has told parliament in Islamabad that his top priority will be the fight against terrorism.

Setting out plans for the first 100 days of his coalition government, he told MPs that "terrorism and extremism" were the country's "greatest problems".

The National Assembly endorsed him with a vote of confidence.

Mr Gillani is a member of the Pakistan People's Party, whose leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December.

Police refuse to support attacks on Mehdi Army

Friday, March 28, 2008

Daniel Barenboim shuns Israel's 60th anniversary

Zbigniew Brzezinski: How to end the war

The war has become a national tragedy, an economic catastrophe, a regional disaster and a global boomerang for the United States. Ending the war is thus in the highest national interest.

Rev. Wright's letter to the New York Times

Has Fitna's producer Geert Wilders read the Bible?

Has Geert Wilders, the Dutch producer of the anti-Islam film Fitna, read the Bible? Here are some excerpts:

Judges 19:29 - And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.

Psalms 137:9 - Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

As for what really happened on 9/11, see this video.

Palestinians fear two-tier road system

For the first time, the Supreme Court, albeit in an interim decision, has accepted the idea of separate roads for Palestinians in the occupied areas.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel told the Supreme Court that what was happening on the highway could be the onset of legal apartheid in the West Bank — a charge that makes many Israelis recoil.

Indian men in US 'slave' protest

Stalled assault on Basra exposes the Iraqi government's shaky authority

Instead of being a show of strength, the government's stalled assault is demonstrating its shaky authority over much of Baghdad and southern Iraq. As the situation spins out of Mr Maliki's control, saboteurs blew up one of the two main oil export pipelines near Basra, cutting by a third crude exports from the oilfields around the city. The international price of oil jumped immediately by $1 a barrel before falling back.

In Baghdad, tens of thousands of supporters of Mr Sadr, whose base of support is the Shia poor, marched through the streets shouting slogans demanding that Mr Maliki's government be overthrown. "We demand the downfall of the Maliki government," said one of the marchers, Hussein Abu Ali. "It does not represent the people. It represents Bush and Cheney."

Arab leaders boycott Damascus summit over Lebanon crisis

Obama attacks Bill Clinton’s economic legacy

n his address Mr Obama associated Mr Clinton’s abolition of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 with the financial scandals that rocked the early years of the Bush administration and which led up to the bailout earlier this month of Bear Stearns.

Mr Obama also ascribed the bankruptcy of Enron and WorldCom in 2001 and the subsequent lack of oversight of the US sub-prime mortgage market to the influence of special interests and lobby groups in Washington DC dating from the Clinton era.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dutch politician posts anti-Islam movie on Internet

A movie critical of Islam by anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders was released today on the Internet.

Wilders's 15-minute film, "Fitna," features verses from the Koran alongside images of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001 and on Madrid trains in 2004.

Libya offers new deal to terror victims

Libya has proposed a "comprehensive" new deal to the United States aimed at resolving a string of cases to compensate terrorism victims, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.

One killed, 14 wounded in Baghdad Green Zone attack

Thousands in Baghdad protest Basra assault

In direct confrontation with the American-backed government in Iraq, thousands of supporters of the powerful Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia took to the streets of Baghdad on Thursday to protest the Iraqi Army’s assault on the southern port city of Basra, as intense fighting continued there for a third day.

Evidence in Toronto terror case not quite 'sensational'

The summary of evidence released this week in advance of the trial of one of the Muslim men and boys arrested two years ago on terror charges describes what will come out in court as "shocking and sensational." . . .

But as with everything else that has emerged from the high-profile but secretive prosecution, this week's revelations end up creating more questions than they answer.

UN remains wary of debate on suicide bombings

As suicide bombings continue unabated, not only in Afghanistan but also in Iraq and Pakistan, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish human rights organisation, is currently lobbying member states for a special session of the 192-member U.N. General Assembly on "suicide terror".

'Supporting a dictator in Chad'

The European Union has been accused of "supporting a dictator" by deploying a military mission to Chad that is largely comprised of troops from France, the country's former colonial master.

NPR News: National Pentagon Radio?

NPR calls itself public radio. It's supposed to be willing to go where commercial networks fear to tread. But overall, when it comes to politics and war, the range of perspectives on National Public Radio isn't any wider than what we encounter on the avowedly commercial networks.

The enigmatic second battle of Basra

Prosecutor: War goal of Fla. terror plot

War with the U.S. government was at the heart of a terrorist plot to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices, a prosecutor said Wednesday during closing arguments in the retrial for six Miami men accused of conspiring with al-Qaida. . . .

Batiste's attorney, Ana M. Jhones, accused the Bush administration and FBI of looking to "set people up" on overblown charges in their zeal to make a high-profile terrorism case. She said Batiste faked interest in terrorism to con a government informant posing as an al-Qaida operative out of $50,000.

Greed pays: Welfare on Wall Street

Islamic loans turn profit for banks in USA

Devon Bank, responding to local customers in a neighborhood filled with Pakistani and Middle Eastern immigrants, stumbled onto something big: Islamic finance is booming worldwide, fueled by the windfall from sky-high oil prices and a return to a more strict interpretation of the holy Quran across the Islamic world. Once Devon Bank introduced sharia-compliant mortgages and other loans, "People started coming out of the woodwork," Loundy says.

In a report last month, credit-rating agency Moody's Investors Service said that the global Islamic finance market has grown about 15% in each of the past three years and is now worth about $700 billion worldwide. The heavyweights of global finance have taken notice: Citigroup, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and others have affiliates devoted to Islamic finance.

U.S. steps up unilateral strikes in Pakistan

Bombers attack Basra oil pipeline

One of southern Iraq's two main oil export pipelines has been severely damaged in a bomb attack, officials said today.

The bombing of the pipeline, seven miles south of Basra, came as clashes between Iraqi security forces and Shia fighters in the port city entered a third day.

. . . "We will lose about a third of crude exported through Basra."

Pakistan's new leaders tell US: We are no longer your killing field

NPR underreports Iraq deaths

The most recent survey of Iraqi deaths is the poll conducted by Opinion Research
Business, a top British polling firm, in August 2007, which found an estimated 1.2 million deaths by violence among Iraqi households.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The fateful Battle of Baghdad

The Iraqis will continue to endure the results of the "surge", yet another brutal chapter in the endless war that once promised them liberation.

The crazy Rev. Wright

Obama's 'audacity of hypocrisy'

The most "audacious" hypocrisy in the entire speech is the implication that the conflicts in the Middle East emanate from "the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical islam." Of course, European and Western colonialism and imperialism have no bearing on the discussion and our stalwart ally, Israel, has nothing to do with the situation.

DOCUMENTARY: 'Bush's War'

Frontline added little to the discussion. Notably missing was any allusion to the unconscionable role the Fourth Estate adopted as indiscriminate cheerleader for the home team; nor was there any mention that the invasion was a serious violation of international law.

Pentagon holds thousands of Americans 'prisoners of war'

Pakistan to U.S., 'there's a new sheriff in town'

“If America wants to see itself clean of terrorists, we also want that our villages and towns should not be bombed,” he said at a news conference here. Mr. Sharif, a former prime minister, added he was unable to give Mr. Negroponte “a commitment” on fighting terrorism.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Depleted uranium turns earthworms into glowworms

Worms are a crucial part of the ecosystem, aerating the soil and aiding the nutrient uptake of plants. If they are contaminated, it suggests the wider environment is tainted. . . .

Depleted uranium is used to make hard tips for armour-piercing rounds. When they explode, the uranium turns into a fine powder which is carried on the wind for miles around. In Iraq and Kosovo, the use of the shells has been blamed for horrific birth defects as well as being implicated in causing Gulf war syndrome.

The woman who nearly stopped the war

Pakistanis at odds with religious parties

The good news is that the tribal people want to progress and they have very little faith in Pakistani religious parties to solve their problems. The bad news is that those parties and their surrogates are dictating and defining the agenda in those areas. In the meantime, the Taliban continue to make their presence known in the country and always leave their calling card in the form of indiscriminate bombings of government installations and killings of innocent bystanders.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pope risks Muslim anger by baptising controversial journalist

The Pope has risked a renewed rift with the Islamic world by baptising a Muslim journalist who describes Islam as intrinsically violent and characterised by “hate and intolerance”.

In a surprise move at the Easter vigil at St Peter’s, Pope Benedict XVI baptised Magdi Allam, 55, an outspoken Egyptian-born critic of Islamic extremism and supporter of Israel.

Rockets hit Green Zone, gunmen kill seven

Baghdad's heavily fortified "Green Zone" came under heavy rocket or mortar attack on Sunday, and police said up to eight people had been killed by rockets falling short outside the government and diplomatic compound.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

McCain's spiritual guide: destroy Islam

Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

DOCUMENTARY: Body of War

Phil Donahue is getting in the last word.

One of the first television personalities to speak out against America's hapless adventure in Iraq, Donahue was also among the war's earliest media casualties. He lost his MSNBC talk show back in 2003 when, according to an internal memo, his bosses had begun worrying that he would turn his show into "a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity."

Donahue took his sacking with grace and, for all appearances, vanished from view.

But not for long. Last month, Donahue showed up at the Toronto International Film Festival with a new documentary, Body of War, a searing chronicle of an American soldier gravely wounded in Baghdad, and his tortured physical and emotional struggle to find place of comfort back home.

'U.S. Sen. John McCain is no war hero'

The untold story of the Human Shields

Protests mark Iraq war's 5th anniversary

Entrances to the Internal Revenue Service were blocked by "war crime-scene" tape. Traffic couldn't pass through parts of downtown. And families sightseeing near the White House shielded their children from a demonstration against torture.

Italian judge orders CIA trial to proceed

n Italian court ruled the trial of 26 U.S. intelligence agents involved in the rendition of suspected terrorist sympathizer Abu Omar would resume in July.

The CIA agents are being tried in abstentia for allegedly kidnapping Abu Omar in Milan in 2003 and spiriting him off to Egypt for a presumably forceful interrogation.

US terror listing forges unity

Islamist insurgents in Somalia say their inclusion on a U.S. terrorism list will help recruiting and has spurred them to strengthen ties with other groups blacklisted by Washington.

"We were not terrorists," rebel commander Mukhtar Ali Robow told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"But now we've been designated ... we have been forced to seek out and unite with any Muslims on the list against the United States," he said late on Thursday.

U.S. officials say Robow's al Shabaab, the militant wing of a sharia courts group that ruled most of southern Somalia for the second half of 2006, is closely affiliated with al Qaeda.

Sunni militia strike could derail US strategy

The success of the US "surge" strategy in Iraq may be under threat as Sunni militia employed by the US to fight al-Qaida are warning of a national strike because they are not being paid regularly.

Leading members of the 80,000-strong Sahwa, or awakening, councils have said they will stop fighting unless payment of their $10 a day (£5) wage is resumed. The fighters are accusing the US military of using them to clear al-Qaida militants from dangerous areas and then abandoning them.

Iran a nuclear threat, Bush insists

President Bush said Thursday that Iran has declared that it wants to be a nuclear power with a weapon to "destroy people," . . . even though a National Intelligence Estimate concluded in December that Iran had stopped its weapons program in 2003, a major reversal in the long-standing U.S. assessment. . . .

Experts on Iran and nuclear proliferation said the president's statement was wrong. "That's as uninformed as [Sen. John] McCain's statement that Iran is training al-Qaeda. Iran has never said it wanted a nuclear weapon for any reason. It's just not true. It's a little troubling that the president and the leading Republican candidate are both so wrong about Iran," said Joseph Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spitzer: It's the big brother who should bother us

Gov. Spitzer's bust should give pause to those in Congress who are ready to hand President Bush a free pass to continue his six-year campaign of warrantless spying on Americans.

What nailed Spitzer, we now learn, was a series of bank transactions he had with the bank account of the Emperor's Club VIP call girl operation.

Now reportedly, this particular probe was being conducted by the IRS, which allegedly was investigating the Emperor's Club. Once the IRS discovered it had caught the New York governor in its web, it forwarded the case to the US Attorney General's Office, where it was pursued by the FBI, apparently on the instructions of AG Michael Mukasey. The investigation moved from monitoring the bank to monitoring phones, and Spitzer was captured talking to the Emperor's Club dispatcher. Bingo. Promising Democratic political career ruined.

Now the monitoring of the Emperor's Club was reportedly done with a court-ordered warrant. That's fine.

But this case shows us how people can get caught up by this kind of investigation really quickly.

Now imagine that instead of a call-girl operation, this had been a mosque or an international charity organization, and suppose you were someone who had made a call to ask about making donations to help the victims of the last earthquake in Indonesia? If that mosque, or charity, happened to be on the list of outfits being monitored by the NSA's computers, your call might well have been picked up. Then the focus would shift to your phone and your internet server, and conceivably every communication you made would bewatched.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The hell-disaster of Iraq

Five years on, and still we have not learnt. With each anniversary, the steps crumble beneath our feet, the stones ever more cracked, the sand ever finer. Five years of catastrophe in Iraq and I think of Churchill, who in the end called Palestine a "hell-disaster".

But we have used these parallels before and they have drifted away in the Tigris breeze. Iraq is swamped in blood. Yet what is the state of our remorse? Why, we will have a public inquiry—but not yet! If only inadequacy was our only sin.

Today, we are engaged in a fruitless debate. What went wrong? How did the people—the senatus populusque Romanus of our modern world—not rise up in rebellion when told the lies about weapons of mass destruction, about Saddam's links with Osama bin Laden and 11 September? How did we let it happen? And how come we didn't plan for the aftermath of war?

Oh, the British tried to get the Americans to listen, Downing Street now tells us. We really, honestly did try, before we absolutely and completely knew it was right to embark on this illegal war. . . .

Yet one of the terrible ironies of our times is that the most bloodthirsty of American statesmen—Bush and Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfovitz—have either never heard a shot fired in anger or have ensured they did not have to fight for their country when they had the chance to do so. No wonder Hollywood titles like "Shock and Awe" appeal to the White House. Movies are their only experience of human conflict; the same goes for Blair and Brown. . . .

Indeed, the Iraqi civilian death toll since our invasion is now greater than the total number of British military fatalities in the Second World War, which came to an astounding 265,000 dead (some histories give this figure as 300,000) and 277,000 wounded. Minimum estimates for Iraqi dead mean that the civilians of Mesopotamia have suffered six or seven Dresdens or—more terrible still—two Hiroshimas. . . .

Ugandan rebel reaches out to International Court

It was an unexpected journey by attorneys for the elusive Joseph Kony, a Ugandan rebel commander with messianic delusions and a ghoulish human rights record. The legal delegation went on an exploratory mission earlier this month to the International Criminal Court, which wants Kony tried on war crimes charges for his role leading the Lord's Resistance Army.

The visit to The Hague came during the final phase of negotiations between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Kony's brutal and bizarre rebel army to end one of Africa's longest-running and most vicious wars.

Spitzer successor had affair in Manhattan hotel

It was the moment that dignity would be returned to state government. Eliot Spitzer, felled by his sex-for-cash improprieties, was no longer Governor of New York and David Paterson was taking the reins. A pity then that by yesterday we were hearing of new slap-and-tickle naughtiness – from Mr Paterson no less.

What aphrodisiacs are these folks taking? Mr Paterson, who is blind, sat down with reporters from the New York Daily News within hours of his swearing in to bare his soul. Yes, he said, his wife, Michelle, had gone through a bit of a bad patch and beginning in 1999 he had began his liaisons with a mistress in a Manhattan hotel that lasted two or three years.

Climate change may spark conflict with Russia, EU told

European governments have been told to plan for an era of conflict over energy resources, with global warming likely to trigger a dangerous contest between Russia and the west for the vast mineral riches of the Arctic.

EU told to prepare for flood of climate change migrants

According to the EU's two senior foreign policy officials, Europe needs to brace itself for a new wave of migration with a very different cause - global warming. The ravages already being inflicted on parts of the developing world by climate change are engendering a new type of refugee, the "environmental migrant".

Within a decade "there will be millions of environmental migrants, with climate change as one of the major drivers of this phenomenon," predict Javier Solana and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's chief foreign policy coordinator and the European commissioner for external relations. "Europe must expect substantially increased migratory pressure."

Bush says Iraq war was worth it

President Bush says he has no doubts about launching the unpopular war in Iraq despite the "high cost in lives and treasure," arguing that retreat now would embolden Iran and provide al-Qaida with money for weapons of mass destruction to attack the United States.

Bush is to mark the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on Wednesday with a speech at the Pentagon.

Is the Pentagon policy shop funding Likudist fronts?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Confusion reigns in Pakistan

Transcript: Barack Obama's speech on race

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution—a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time. . . .

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country—a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam. . . .

America was conned—who will pay?

Bear Stearns marks the moment when the global financial crisis went critical. Up until last Friday, it had been possible—just about—to believe that the worst was over and that things were about to get better. That pretence was stripped away when JP Morgan, at the behest of the Federal Reserve, stepped in when the hedge funds pulled the plug on the fifth-biggest US investment bank.

It is now clear that no end is in sight to the turmoil, and the reason for tha is that the Fed and the US treasury are no closer to solving the underlyin problem than they were eight months ago. The crisis will only end whe house prices stop falling and banks stop racking up huge losses on their loans Doing that, however, will require the US government to intervene directly in the real estate market to end the wave of foreclosures. Ideologically, it is ill-equipped to take that step and, as a result, property prices will fall and the financial meltdown will go on and on

Ultimately, though, action will be taken because there will be political pressure for it. Indeed, it is somewhat surprising that there is not already rioting in the streets, given the gigantic fraud perpetrated by the financial elite at the expense of ordinary Americans.

Did an 'expert' on terrorism conspire with a foreign government to violate the constitutional rights of American Muslims?

Steven Emerson, who has appeared at numerous congressional hearings and on major news outlets as an alleged 'expert on terrorism,' has raised some serious concerns among congressional staffers, civil rights groups, and some members of the media.

E-mail communications made available during lawsuits involving the building of a mosque in Boston, MA (Boston Lawsuit - ISB David Project), indicate a collaboration between Emerson and the Israeli Government. These electronic communications prove that Emerson, along with some anti-Muslim advocacy groups, worked directly with the public affairs office of the Israeli consulate in Boston to formulate the creation of a smear campaign intended to stop the construction of a new Islamic cultural center.

The PA's hollow protests

Senior Palestinian Authority officials can justifiably say that settlement construction continues despite everyone's protests and condemnations - not only theirs. Europe is protesting, Peace Now is protesting, the United Nations is protesting and even Condoleezza Rice protests occasionally, not to mention Israel's literary elite.

The settlements continue to expand, along with the number of roads closed to Palestinians.

Silenced by the men in white socks

Shut them up. Accuse them. Imprison them. Stop them talking. Why is it that this seems to have become a symbol of the Arab - or Muslim - world? Yes I know about our Western reputation for free speech; from the Roman Empire to the Spanish inquisition, from Henry VIII to Robespierre, from Mussolini and Stalin to Hitler, even - on a pitiable scale - to Mr Anthony Blair. But it's getting hard to avoid the Middle East.

When Egyptian women cry "Enough!", they are sexually abused by Mubarak's cops. When Algerians demand to know which policemen killed their relatives, they are arrested for ignoring the regime's amnesty. When Benazir Bhutto is murdered in Rawalpindi, a cloak of silence falls over the world's imams.

US pulls strings in deadly puppet show

The attack by the Colombian military on the guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Ecuadorean territory did not come out of the blue. There had been a series of political moves and symbolic aggrandisements from the military for it to have been approved by Colombian leaders and citizens.

One of the main precursors for this attack was Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's cosy relationship with the United States. Uribe would not have done what he did in Ecuador had he not been fully backed up by the Bush Administration.

Therefore, this attack takes on a different subtext: one of the United States attempting to destabilise the growing, democratically elected governments in South America.

U.S. State Dept. an organ of Israeli propaganda

Anti-Semitism, including government-promoted hatred toward Jews and prejudice couched as criticism of Israel, has risen globally over the last decade, the State Department said on Thursday.

"Today, more than 60 years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is not just a fact of history, it is a current event," it said in a report to Congress.

Move to ban ruling Turkish party

Turkey's chief prosecutor has asked the Constitutional Court to ban the governing AK Party, accusing it of anti-secular activities.

Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya said he believed that there was enough evidence to show the party had been contravening Turkey's secular constitution.

The AK Party, which has Islamist roots, won last year's general elections.

So any move to close it will be extremely controversial, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul says.

China prepares for crackdown by clearing Tibetan capital of witnesses

After days of street fighting and protests by Tibetans seeking independence, Chinese authorities have moved to clear Lhasa of the last independent witnesses ahead of a deadline for demonstrators to surrender. Beijing's governor in Tibet promised leniency to demonstrators prepared to give themselves up, but Tibet independence groups said scores of people had already been killed during the protests.

Yesterday, sources in Lhasa said NGOs and the few remaining foreign journalists were taken out of the city, leaving no one to inform the world of how Beijing would reinforce order.

Iraq fuelling rise in asylum seekers

Iraqis are still fleeing their country five years after the US-led invasion and top the list of asylum seekers in the industrialised world, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday.

How is it that only Spitzer was 'caught?'

Washington politics—and by virtue of his very position, the governor of New York is included in Washington politics—is infested with sexual immorality. And "infested" is putting it mildly. The Republican and Democrat parties alike are awash in sexual immorality—both heterosexual and homosexual. And 99% of this debauchery is never reported. The guilty politicos are never "caught," never "outed."

So, why was Governor Spitzer "caught?" Don't forget that Spitzer has been carrying on this way for at least ten years. Suddenly, now, he is found out.

They say that Governor Spitzer was "Client 9" for this particular hooker. So, who are "clients 1-8"? And who are "clients 10-100"? Why do we not know their names? Anyone able to afford this prostitute's price of $1,000 per hour has to be someone of means. Who were they?

How is it that in this elaborate FBI "sting," only Governor Eliot Spitzer was "caught?"

Monday, March 17, 2008

'Al Qaeda itself does not exist'

"The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear," a three-hour historical film by Adam Curtis recently aired by the British Broadcasting Corp., argues coherently that much of what we have been told about the threat of international terrorism "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. . . .

But the film . . . directly challenges the conventional wisdom by making a powerful case that the Bush administration, led by a tight-knit cabal of Machiavellian neoconservatives, has seized upon the false image of a unified international terrorist threat to replace the expired Soviet empire in order to push a political agenda.

Switzerland to sign huge Iran gas deal

Swiss energy giant EGL is set to sign a 25-year deal in Teheran on Monday to buy 5.5 billion cubic meters of Iranian natural gas per year, starting in 2011, for a reported €18 billion.

The contract will be the second largest European gas deal, although EGL spokesman Bogdan Preda told The Jerusalem Post, "We are not releasing the value of the deal."

In April, the Austrian energy company OMV signed letters of intent with Iran valued at €22 billion to supply Europe with gas, but that contract has yet to be finalized. US officials are closely scrutinizing the legality of the OMV deal.

Where are they now? The faces of the Iraq war five years on

Iraq war's cost: Loss of U.S. power, prestige, influence

Thanks in part to the Iraq war, the next U.S. president — Republican or Democrat, black or white, man or woman — will take office with America's power, prestige and popularity in decline, according to bipartisan reports, polls and foreign observers.

The U.S. military's assassination problem

In 2004, when an American missile fired from a Predator drone killed Taliban leader Nek Mohammed, an observer told a journalist that the bombing was so exact it "didn't damage any of the buildings around the lawn where Mohammed was seated." It was an endorsement, if ever there was one, of the Bush administration's post-9/11 efforts at assassinations using what are known as decapitation attacks.

The practice, which is shrouded under a veil of intense secrecy, is generally regarded as warfare's answer to laser surgery: clean and accurate, cheaper than waging a protracted ground battle, and less risky for American troops. But in reality, these premeditated and narrowly focused air bombings often fail to kill their intended foe and hit civilians instead. "It's much more difficult to hunt people with a 2,000-pound bomb than people realize," says Marc Garlasco, who until 2003 was one of the Pentagon's leading analysts of air strikes, including assassinations.

Seven out of 10 Iraqis want foreign forces to leave: poll

More than two-thirds of Iraqis believe US-led coalition forces should leave, according to a poll conducted for British television ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

VIDEO: American Men

Protesters across the world condemn Iraq war

Thousands of protestors marched against the Iraq war in Los Angeles on Saturday as part of a global day of action that drew huge crowds in London and smaller protests elsewhere in Europe and Canada.

Police said about 2,000 people marched through Hollywood, while organizers put the figure at 10,000. They carried banners denouncing President George W. Bush and urged an end to the conflict in Iraq, where 155,000 US troops are deployed.

Earlier, thousands of people gathered in London and the Scottish city of Glasgow ahead of the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq on March 20, calling for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Police in London said there were 10,000 on the streets but organizers the Stop the War Coalition put the crowds at between 30,000 to 40,000.

Iraq: Who won the war?

Not the 90,000 Iraqi civilians or the 4,200 US and UK troops killed since 2003. The big winners are the money men who have made billions.

The hard lessons that we must learn from Iraq

Five years have passed since Tony Blair sent British troops to fight in Iraq. That war altered the course of British politics and changed the global balance of power. To Iraq it brought freedom, terror, poverty, opportunity, renaissance and apocalypse....

As an intervention, whether for moral or strategic goals, it failed.

House passes spy bill and rejects phone immunity

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives defied President George W. Bush on Friday and passed an anti-terrorism spy bill that permits lawsuits against phone companies.

But the 213-197 vote was far short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a promised veto by Bush. He has demanded that any telecommunication company that participated in his warrantless domestic spying program secretly begun after the September 11 attacks receive retroactive immunity.

Dollar's plunge pushes eurozone past US

The dollar's plunge has made the eurozone the world's biggest economy by one measure and has underscored shifts that are reorienting the 15-nation bloc towards Asia, Russia and oil-rich Gulf states, analysts say.

160 feared dead in Albania explosion

One hundred and sixty people, many of them Americans, are feared dead or injured after a series of large explosions at an army base on the outskirts of Tirana, the capital of Albania, officials have said.

Dozens killed in Tibetan protests

Police have fired teargas to disperse Buddhist monks and others staging a second day of protests in sympathy with anti-Chinese demonstrations in Lhasa that has left at least 30 dead. Unconfirmed reports say the figure is closer to 130.

Bombing hits popular Islamabad restaurant

A bomb blast Saturday at an Italian restaurant popular with foreigners in Pakistan's capital killed at least one person and injured 11, including five U.S. Embassy workers, according to police and hospital officials.

The explosion ripped through the back patio of Luna Caprese at 8:45 p.m., leaving a crater across from a busy outdoor mall. The blast could be heard several miles away.

The attack occurred just two days before Pakistan's newly elected Parliament is scheduled to convene.

Spain’s many Muslims face dearth of mosques

Although Spain is peppered with the remnants of ancient mosques, most Muslims gather in dingy apartments, warehouses and garages like the one on North Street, pressed into service as prayer halls to accommodate a ballooning population.

The mosque shortage stems partly from the lack of resources common to any relatively poor, rapidly growing immigrant group. But in several places, Muslims trying to build mosques have also met

Saturday, March 15, 2008

'Free market' zealots bring disaster to America

Bush and Spitzer: Compare and Contrast

he Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, has resigned for being a longtime customer of a high-priced prostitution ring.

The President of the United States, George W. Bush, remains, disgracing his office for longtime repeated violations of the Constitution, federal laws and international treaties to which the U.S. is a solemn signatory.

In his forthright resignation statement, Eliot Spitzer-the prominent corporate crime buster-asserted that "Over the course of my public life, I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself."

In a recent speech to a partisan Republican fund-raising audience, George W. Bush fictionalized his Iraq war exploits and other related actions, and said that next January he will leave office "with his head held high."

Russia throws a wrench in NATO's works

The great shortfall in the Putin legacy has been the failure of his presidency to make Russia a full-fledged partner of Europe. He has now made an offer to NATO that is irresistible - making Russia a participant in the alliance's Afghan mission. The Russian offer comes at a time when the war in Afghanistan is going badly and NATO can afford to take help from whichever quarter help is available.

Washington faces an acute predicament insofar as Moscow won't settle for selective engagement by NATO as a mere transit route but will incrementally broaden and deepen the engagement, and major European allies might welcome it. Moscow insists on the involvement of the CSTO and even SCO. On the other hand, Russia's involvement could invigorate the NATO mission in Afghanistan and ensure that the mission is not predicated on the highly unpredictable factor of Pakistan's partnership.

Will Washington bite?

Watching the dollar die

When I was a young man, gold was $35 an ounce. Today one ounce gold bullion coins, such as the Canadian Maple Leaf, cost more than $1,000.

Our coinage was silver. Our dimes, quarters, and half dollars had purchasing power. Even the nickel could purchase a candy bar, ice cream cone or soft drink, and a penny could purchase bubble gum or hard candy. If a kid could collect 5 discarded soft drink bottles from a construction site, the 2 cents deposit on the returnable bottles was enough for the Saturday afternoon movie. Gasoline was 32 cents a gallon. A dollar’s worth was enough for a Saturday night date.

Our silver coinage was 90 per cent silver.

Inside the slave trade

This is the story of the 21st century’s trade in slave-children. My journey into their underworld took place where its alleys and brothels are most dense - Asia, where the United Nations calculates 1 million children are being traded every day. It took me to places I did not think existed, today, now. To a dungeon in the lawless Bangladeshi borderlands where children are padlocked and prison-barred in transit to Indian brothels; to an iron whore-house where grown women have spent their entire lives being raped; to a clinic that treat syphilitic 11-year-olds.

Chaos in Tibet as protests spread

Chad-Sudan pact seen crucial for peace in Darfur

Chadian rebels on Friday dismissed the latest peace pact between Chad and Sudan, a deal that Khartoum and Paris said must succeed if there was any chance of finding a political solution in Darfur.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his Chadian counterpart Idriss Deby signed the non-aggression deal in Senegal late on Thursday in an effort to end cross-border rebel attacks on their respective territories.

But the Chadian National Alliance, part of a rebel coalition that attacked the capital N'Djamena last month, besieging Deby in his presidential palace for two days, dismissed the Dakar deal and vowed to pursue their campaign against him.

We own the world

You all know, of course, there was an election -- what is called "an election" in the United States -- last November. There was really one issue in the election, what to do about U.S. forces in Iraq and there was, by U.S. standards, an overwhelming vote calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces on a firm timetable.

As few people know, a couple of months earlier there were extensive polls in Iraq, U.S.-run polls, with interesting results. They were not secret here. If you really looked you could find references to them, so it's not that they were concealed. This poll found that two-thirds of the people in Baghdad wanted the U.S. troops out immediately; the rest of the country -- a large majority -- wanted a firm timetable for withdrawal, most of them within a year or less.

The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks and Spitzer charges are intimately linked

This week, Bernanke’s Fed, for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks’ mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.

Up until Wednesday, there was one single, lonely politician who stood in the way of this creepy little assignation at the bankers’ bordello: Eliot Spitzer.

Who are they kidding? Spitzer’s lynching and the bankers’ enriching are intimately tied.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Robert Fisk: The cult of the suicide bomber

Khaled looked at me with a broad smile. He was almost laughing. At one point, when I told him that he shoulhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifd abandon all thoughts of being a suicide bomber - that he could influence more people in this world by becoming a journalist - he put his head back and shot me a grin, world-weary for a man in his teens. "You have your mission," he said. "And I have mine." His sisters looked at him in awe. He was their hero, their amanuensis and their teacher, their representative and their soon-to-be-martyred brother. Yes, he was handsome, young - just 18 - he was dressed in a black Giorgio Armani T-shirt, a small, carefully trimmed Spanish conquistador's beard, gelled hair. And he was ready to immolate himself.

FACTBOX: Selected remarks by Bush on the Iraq war

German minister says schools should teach Islam

Schools in Germany should offer Islam - along with Christianity and Judaism - as a required religion class in the future, the interior minister said Thursday, but he insisted that the courses be taught in German.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said that it would take a while before Muslim community leaders worked out a legally binding agreement with the state, but that an agreement on the issue had been reached.

John McCain told to dump spiritual guide in row over 'war' on Islam

John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has been called upon to renounce a church leader he considers his spiritual guide for urging a Christian war to destroy the "false religion" of Islam.

A number of prominent US weblogs demanded he reject the support of Reverend Rod Parsley, of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, an influential televangelist and political figure who campaigned alongside him in the run up to the Ohio primary.

Manacled, starved, beaten: a rendition victim's story

Khaled al-Maqtari's nightmare began when American troops arrived at the al-Ghufran market in Fallujah in January 2004. He was arrested along with other terrorist suspects and taken to Abu Ghraib jail. For the next four years he was held captive, moved from country to country and suffered, he says, appalling torture.

Mr al-Maqtari, from Yemen, was one of the many inmates in the US's secret "ghost detention" who disappeared into an international network of prisons, their whereabouts unknown to family and friends.

Dollar plunges to record low

The dollar plummeted to record lows and the price of gold touched $1,000 on Thursday as retail sales figures confirmed that the US is in recession and concern intensified about spreading distress in the hedge fund sector.

Petraeus: Iraq not making 'sufficient progress'

Two-state dreamers

If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world's most intractable, much the same can be said of the parallel debate about whether its resolution can best be achieved by a single state embracing the two peoples living there or by a division of the land into two separate states, one for Jews and the other for Palestinians.

The obstacle to a solution, is not about dividing the land but about Zionism itself, the ideology of ethnic supremacy that is the current orthodoxy in Israel. As long as Israel is a Zionist state, its leaders will allow neither one state nor two real states.

If we stopped distracting ourselves with the Holy Grail of the two-state solution, we might channel our energies into something more useful: discrediting Israel as a Jewish state, and the ideology of Zionism that upholds it. Eventually the respectable facade of Zionism might crumble.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Israel raises the ante against Iran

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is on a speaking tour in the United States, putting her considerable personal charm in the service of a shrewd salesmanship - of a US war on Iran.

Although considered a dove by Israeli standards, Livni is now on a historic mission that has begun with a pre-travel warmer in the form of a highly publicized telephone call to the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, assuring him that there is direct linkage "between Iran and the terror groups".

Coinciding with the ominous news that US CENTCOM chief Admiral William Fallon has resigned - or been sacked - for his opposition to a war with Iran, Livni hopes to harvest a blowing wind of war against another Middle Eastern country that dares to challenge Israel's regional hegemony.

'The magic is over' for the United States

Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France and a longtime humanitarian, diplomatic and political activist, said this week that whoever succeeds President Bush might restore something of the United States’ battered image and standing overseas but that “the magic is over.”

Hamas calls for truce and outlines terms

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas's administrative arm in Gaza, said the group would end violence if Israel stopped its military activity throughout the Palestinian territory, lifted the sanctions on Gaza and reopened the besieged strip's borders.

The proposals came on the fifth day of an uneasy lull between Hamas and Israel.

Iran still a target?

In a reality-based world, the idea that the United States should attack Iran would by now seem most implausible. Not only is the Iraq war taking a terrible financial and human toll, but American intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran is not building nuclear weapons. Iran should logically fall into the same category as Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and North Korea - countries that behave in ways the U.S. dislikes but do not pose such imminent threats that they must be bombed.

Unfortunately, though, reality is not what guides the Bush administration. It is still driven by the impulses that led to the Iraq invasion. This means that the world may wake up any morning between now and Jan. 20 to news that U.S. missiles are falling on Iran. Ominously, Adm. William J. Fallon, who had strongly opposed the idea of attacking Iran, announced his early retirement yesterday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pentagon report on Saddam's Iraq censored?

The Bush Administration apparently does not want a U.S. military study that found no direct connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda to get any attention. This morning, the Pentagon canceled plans to send out a press release announcing the report's release and will no longer make the report available online.

The report was to be posted on the Joint Forces Command website this afternoon, followed by a background briefing with the authors. No more. The report will be made available only to those who ask for it, and it will be sent via U.S. mail from Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia.

Terrorism less deceptively defined

“But ‘terrorism’ no longer means terrorism,” to quote Robert Fisk, the longest-serving western journalist in the Middle East. “It is not a definition. It is a political contrivance. ‘Terrorists’ are those who use violence against the side that is using the word.” Until we get past the contrivance, using the word “terrorism” is itself an act of belligerence. Its false distinctions conceal our own terrorism. It absolves its perpetrators. And it makes us complicit in the duplicity, if not the terrorism, for standing united behind the contrivance.

A terror tour of Israel

The prisoner of Dhaka

There is a decent, brave man sitting in a dungeon in a country where the British empire began - a country of poets, singers, artists, free thinkers and petty tyrants. I have known him since a moonless night in 1971 when he led me clandestinely into what was then East Pakistan and is now Bangladesh, past villages the Pakistani army had raped and razed. His name is Moudud Ahmed and he was then a young lawyer who had defended the Bengali independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The torture of Sami Al Arian

The storm of criticism that followed George Bush's weekend veto of Congressional limits on the CIA's use of torture might lead to the conclusion that, reprehensible as "torture" might be in remote, secret CIA locations, it could never happen here in the US. But the Bush administration's abuse of power in its treatment of Dr. Sami al Arian and other acquitted Palestinian "terrorism-defendants" has already demonstrated that "torture" for this administration is commonplace - even here.

In December 2005, a Tampa jury acquitted Dr. Al Arian of "terrorism" charges. Two years later he is still in prison, and in the 6th day of a hunger-strike because the Bush administration refuses to honor a May 2006 promise to release and deport him. Unless he receives proper medical care within days, he risks irreversible renal failure and death - all under the watchful eyes of the Bush "Justice" Department.

Beauty ad banned after Christian outcry

A TV ad campaign featuring lingerie-clad women praying for beautiful hair has been banned by the advertising watchdog because it might offend Christians.

Second Muslim elected to Congress

Indiana voters on Tuesday elected a Muslim to Congress, only the second of that faith chosen in U.S. history.

Andre Carson, grandson of the late Democrat Rep. Julia Carson, was elected to serve the balance of her term in the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election.

The younger Carson, 33, a member of the Indianapolis City Council who converted to Islam about a decade ago, will serve out the remainder of his grandmother's term through calendar 2008. He beat Republican Jon Elrod and a third party candidate with 52 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Elrod.

Burma's forgotten Rohingya Muslims

In 1992, 250,000 Rohingyas, which is a third of their population, fled over Burma's border into Bangladesh to escape the persecution. Fourteen years later more than 20,000 of them are still in the same refugee camps and around 100,000 more are living illegally in the surrounding area.

Burma's forgotten Rohingya Muslims have set up a new web site.

The silent violence of Gaza's suffering

The world's largest prison-Gaza prison with 1.5 million inmates, many of them starving, sick and penniless-is receiving more sympathy and protest by Israeli citizens, of widely impressive backgrounds, than is reported in the U.S. press.

In contrast, the humanitarian crisis brought about by Israeli government blockades that prevent food, medicine, fuel and other necessities from coming into this tiny enclave through international relief organizations is received with predictable silence or callousness by members of Congress, including John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Amidst the swirl of hard-liners on both sides and in both Democratic and Republican parties, consider the latest poll (February 27, 2008) of Israelis in the highly respected newspaper-Haaretz: "Sixty-four percent of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza toward a cease-fire and the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. Less that one-third (28 percent) still opposes such talks. An increasing number of public figures, including senior officers in the Israeli Defense Forces' reserves have expressed similar positions on talks with Hamas."

Hamas, which was created with the support of Israel and the U.S. government years ago to counter the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has repeatedly offered cease-fire proposals. The Israeli prime minister rejected them, notwithstanding "a growing number of politicians and security offices who are calling for Israel to accept a cease-fire," according to Middle East specialist, professor Steve Niva.

Citing faith, Bush defends war actions

President Bush delivered a rousing defense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on Tuesday, mixing faith and foreign policy as he told a group of Christian broadcasters that his policies in the region were predicated on the beliefs that freedom was a God-given right and “every human being bears the image of our maker.”

Museveni rejects Hague LRA trial

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni says leaders of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) should face local justice, rather than trial at The Hague.

Three top LRA officials including leader Joseph Kony face prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The LRA insists that the war crimes indictments are lifted before signing a deal to end the long, brutal conflict.

The 22-year rebellion in northern Uganda has left thousands dead and nearly two million displaced.

US Middle East commander quits over policy on Iran

The top US commander for the Middle East resigned yesterday, a step that seems to bear out reports of sharp policy differences on Iran between a hawkish White House and a uniformed military leadership opposed to military action.

The suddenness was underlined by the circumstances of the announcement – made at the Pentagon by the Defence Secretary Robert Gates, at the very moment that Admiral William Fallon, the head of US Central Command in charge of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, was on a visit to Iraq.

Sudan warns west of 'Iraq-style disaster' in Darfur

UN peacekeeping troops are heading for "another Iraq or Afghanistan disaster" in Darfur as long as talks between the government and rebel groups remain stalled and the US maintains its hostile stance, Sudanese officials and regional experts warned today.

Speaking in Khartoum, the former foreign minister Hussein Suliman Abu Salih said Sudan suspected the deployment of up to 26,000 soldiers in a joint UN-African Union force was part of US plans to subjugate the country and overthrow its Islamic government.

Turkey to invest $12 billion to help Kurds

Turkey plans to invest up to $12 billion in its impoverished, mainly Kurdish southeast region as part of efforts to drain support for separatist PKK rebels, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Forcing Iran to prove a negative

I have seen this game played before: as a chief inspector with the United Nations in Iraq, I participated in similar efforts to construct briefings composed of fragmentary sourcing of questionable quality. The end product, comprising visually-pleasing organisations charts, communications diagrams and procurement records, was used to brief the security council members in an effort to strengthen their resolve to confront a recalcitrant Iraq. These briefings generated the myth of a retained Iraqi WMD capability, which lived on until proven false in the aftermath of the US-British invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

Iraq had been placed in the impossible position of having to prove a negative, a doomed process which led to war. I am fearful that the EU-3 is repeating this same process, demanding Iran refute something that doesn't exist except in the overactive imaginations of diplomats pre-programmed to accept at face value anything negative about Iran, regardless of its veracity. The implications of such a morally and intellectually shallow posture could very well be disastrous.

McCain, more bellicose than Bush?

In May of 2006, as Iraq spiraled down into an orgy of sectarian bloodletting, John McCain had a solution. "One of the things I would do if I were president," McCain told a group of wealthy contributors, "would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, 'Stop the bullshit.'"

If only someone had thought of that before. This is the man Brian Williams of NBC News recently referred to as having "vast foreign-policy expertise and credibility on national security."

McCain's insightful plan to end the Iraqi sectarian conflict was just one comment, of course. But given how often we are told these days that McCain has "credibility" and "experience" on matters of foreign policy and national security, it's worth asking what effect all that alleged experience has had on him. Because when McCain actually opens his mouth to discuss these issues, his ideas and beliefs often sound so simple-minded they make George W. Bush look like Otto von Bismarck. And the one consistent theme in McCain's thinking is his support for the application of military force as the best way to deal with foreign-policy challenges. Because it's been working out so well for the last five years.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fallon resigns Pentagon post

The top U.S. Commander for Iraq and Afghanistan, Admiral William “Fox” Fallon, resigned today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a news conference . . .

Per AP, "Gates said Fallon had asked him Tuesday morning for permission to retire and Gates agreed. Gates said the decision was entirely Fallon's and that Gates believed it was 'the right thing to do.'" Gates also denied that Fallon's position on Iran policy was any different than that of the president's, despite the current issue of Esquire Magazine, which "portrays Fallon as the one person in the military or Pentagon standing between the White House and war with Iran".

Former Italian president: 9/11 orchestrated by CIA, Mossad

Former Italian president Francesco Cossiga, the man who revealed the existence of Operation Gladio, says that the September 11, 2001 attacks were orchestrated by the CIA and Mossad, and that this was common knowledge amongst global intelligence agencies.

Cossiga's revelations about 9/11 were published last week in Italy's oldest, and widely read, newspaper—Corriere della Sera.

Roughly translated from Italian, Cossiga says, "the disastrous attack has been planned and realized from the American CIA and the Mossad with the aid of the zionists in order to put under accusation the Arabic Countries and in order to induce the western powers to take part are in Iraq are in Afghanistan".

Cossiga joins a growing list of professionals who question the official report on 9/11.

Defying Mukasey, Congress sues Bolten, Miers

On Monday, House Democrats filed a lawsuit against former White House counsel Harriet Miers and White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten, after Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused last week to enforce Congressional subpoenas.

"I do not take this step lightly," said John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "It is extremely rare that Congress must litigate in order to enforce subpoenas and no compromise can be reached. Unfortunately, this administration simply will not negotiate towards a compromise resolution so we must proceed."

How Israeli troops invade homes in Gaza, brutalize, steal

Big bang or chaos: What's Israel up to?

Whether Israel's military logic revolved around the "chaos theory" or the "big bang", its iron-fist intervention in Gaza was neither to send a message to the Israeli public nor to "commit genocide". Rather, Israel's plans are regional, with Gaza being a testing ground.

Support drops for action on Iran

Support for tough international action against Iran over its nuclear programme has fallen in the past 18 months, a pohttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifll carried out for the BBC suggests.

US fails a fourth time to hit al-Qa'ida suspect in Somalia

A US missile strike in Somalia, aimed at a man described by the Pentagon as a "known al-Qa'ida terrorist", succeeded only in hurting six civilians and killing three cows and a calf, the IoS has learned.

At least one Tomahawk missile was believed to have been fired from a US submarine off the Somali coast on Monday. It hit a shack in the small town of Dobley, four miles from the Kenyan border. Dobley is one of several towns and villages in southern Somalia that are now under the administration of Islamists connected to the former Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which briefly controlled most of southern and central Somalia in 2006.

Israel defies freeze on illegal settlements

Israel approved plans yesterday to build 330 new homes in a suburban West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem. The move was denounced by the Palestinian Authority as "a slap in the face of the peace process" and called on the Quartet of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia to "act to get Israel to revoke the decision".

Follow China's aid lead, Sudan urges west

Sudanese government officials yesterday accused the west of applying double standards over the Darfur crisis and urged European countries to stop posturing and follow China's lead in assisting the country's economic development.

Blasts in Pakistan kill at least 22

Two suspected suicide car bombs exploded in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Tuesday, killing 22 people and wounding dozens, most of them in an attack on a government security office, police and officials said.

More than 500 people have been killed in Pakistan this year in militant-related violence, including a campaign of suicide bombings.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Egypt arrests 700 members of Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt has arrested 700 members of the Muslim Brotherhood ahead of April's local council elections.

Scoring the 'surge' and what lies beyond

On December 31, Moqtada al-Sadr’s cease-fire ends. So too does the UN mandate authorizing the presence of foreign military forces in Iraq Under the Bush “plan,” U.S. troops will still be in Iraq – and the costs in lives and treasure may quickly escalate.

Imagine what $845 billion could have done to improve the quality of life for everyone around the globe—the amount already spent on these wars, let alone the projected “final” cost of at least $2 trillion.

'The era of crusades and jihads is over'

The era of crusades and jihads is over and Muslims and Christians should strive to coexist and not allow extremists to drag the world into a war of religions, Senegal's president said ahead of an Islamic summit this week.

President Abdoulaye Wade made the appeal before a meeting of the world's biggest Islamic body, the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which he is hosting in the Senegalese capital on Thursday and Friday.

Senate panel critiques prewar claims by White House

After an acrimonious investigation that spanned four years, the Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to release a detailed critique of the Bush administration's claims in the buildup to war with Iraq, congressional officials said.

The long-delayed document catalogs dozens of prewar assertions by President Bush and other administration officials that proved to be wildly inaccurate about Iraq's alleged stockpiles of banned weapons and pursuit of nuclear arms.

But officials say the report reaches a mixed verdict on the key question of whether the White House misused intelligence to make the case for war.

Iran shifts focus fully on Iraq

By showing up in Baghdad, Ahmadinejad ended all speculation on who rules contemporary Iraq, along with the Americans. It certainly is not Saudi Arabia.

Ahmadinejad came in broad daylight, with an official agenda agreed to well in advance, and spent the night in Baghdad. Bush comes with no prior appointment; Ahmadinejad comes at the official request of the Iraqi government. Symbolically for the Americans, the American leader refused to stay in the Green Zone, which is under US control, but rather, stayed at the home of his Iraqi counterpart, Jalal Talabani. He seemed to be saying: "Regardless of reality, I still refuse to accept American control of my own backyard."

The only similarity is that both are greeted by Sunni demonstrators who feel neglected and persecuted by post-Saddam Iraq.

Obama supporter shocked to see herself in Hillary ad

The so-called "red-phone ad" was played all over the country and helped turn the tide for Hillary Clinton leading up to her big win in Ohio. The ad shows a sleeping child and asks voters who they would want to see answering a 3 a.m. emergency phone call to the White House.

But the young girl starring in the ad will actually be voting age next month and says she's no fan of Hillary Clinton.

Britain makes camera that "sees" under clothes

The high-powered camera can detect hidden objects from up to 80 feet away and is effective even when people are moving. It does not reveal physical body details and the screening is harmless, the company says.

Bandit raids cut Darfur food aid

Food aid deliveries to Sudan's Darfur region have been reduced by 50% after a series of bandit attacks on convoys, the UN's food agency has warned.

Israel defies freeze on illegal settlements

Israel approved plans yesterday to build 330 new homes in a suburban West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem. The move was denounced by the Palestinian Authority as "a slap in the face of the peace process" and called on the Quartet of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia to "act to get Israel to revoke the decision".

Embattled Malaysian PM sworn in for second term

Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was sworn in for a second term Monday, defying calls to quit after presiding over the ruling coalition's worst ever election performance.

But veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad, who ruled for two decades before handing power to Abdullah as his chosen successor in 2003, accused the prime minister of "destroying" the coalition and led calls for his resignation.

Israel plots another Palestinian exodus

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai's much publicized remark last week about Gaza facing a shoah – the Hebrew word for the Holocaust – was widely assumed to be unpleasant hyperbole about the army's plans for an imminent full-scale invasion of the Strip.

Last summer Vilnai began quietly preparing a plan on behalf of his boss, the Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to declare Gaza a "hostile entity" and dramatically reduce the essential services supplied by Israel. The cuts were finally implemented late last year after the Israeli courts gave their blessing.

Vilnai and Barak, both former military men, like so many other Israeli politicians, have been "selling" this policy – of choking off basic services to Gaza – to Western public opinion ever since.

Under international law, Israel as the occupying power has an obligation to guarantee the welfare of the civilian population in Gaza, a fact forgotten when the media reported Israel's decision to declare Gaza a hostile entity.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Musharraf under threat as parties seal pact on joint government

Pakistan's two largest political parties — which won last month's national elections — sealed a power-sharing deal yesterday, raising doubts about President Musharraf's political future.

National Muslim-Christian initiative launches in N. America

Christian and Muslim leaders met this past week to launch the National Muslim-Christian Initiative in North America aimed at facilitating greater understanding between the two religious communities.

The initiative was sparked by concerns from both Christians and Muslims over misrepresentations of Islam and stereotypes of Muslims in North America. It was also encouraged by an unprecedented letter last year from 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals around the world addressed to Christians.

Culture wars? How 2004

We are at the beginning of a new era in which large, secular problems related to war and peace, economics and the United States' standing in the world will displace culture and religion as the electorate's central concerns. Divisions on "values" questions will not disappear, but they will be far less important to voters and campaigns.

Bush's victory rested both on 9/11 and on enthusiasm from religious voters. But what's most important is that 2004 is destined to be the last in a long line of contests in which culture and religion proved central to the outcome.

God's country

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with 140 million people (one-seventh of all Africans), and it’s one of the few nations divided almost evenly between Christians and Muslims. Blessed with the world’s 10th-largest oil reserves, it is also one of the continent’s richest and most influential powers—as well as one of its most corrupt democracies. Last year’s presidential election in particular—in which President Olusegun Obasanjo, an evangelical Christian, handed power to a northern Muslim, President Umaru Yar’Adua—was a farce. Ballot boxes were stuffed by thugs or carted off empty by armed heavies in the pay of political candidates. Across the country, political power is a passport to wealth: according to Human Rights Watch, anywhere from $4 billion to $8 billion in government money has been embezzled annually for the last eight years. The state has all but abdicated its responsibility for the welfare of its people, roughly half of whom live on less than $1 a day.

In this vacuum, religion has become a powerful source of identity. Northern Nigeria has one of Africa’s oldest and most devout Islamic communities, which was galvanized, like many others, in the 1980s by the global Islamic reawakening that followed the Iranian revolution. For Christians, too, in Nigeria, there’s been a revolution: high birthrates and aggressive evangelization over the past century have increased the number of believers from 176,000, or 1.1 percent of the early-20th-century population, to more than 51 million, or more than a third now. Thanks to this explosive growth, the demographic and geographic center of global Christianity will have moved, by 2050, to northern Nigeria, within the Muslim world.

Obama and the bigots

The most monstrous bigotry in this election isn't about either race or sex. It's about religion.

The whispering campaigns allege that Mr. Obama is a secret Muslim planning to impose Islamic law on the country. Incredibly, he is even accused — in earnest! — of being the Antichrist.

Mass grave of 100 found in Iraq

A mass grave containing about 100 badly decomposed bodies was discovered in Khalis. Overall, at least another 36 Iraqis were killed and 17 more were wounded in the latest attacks. One American soldier was killed as well. Meanwhile, talks to determine the long-term presence of the US in Iraq began between the two nations. Also, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said he wanted better relations with Iraq, after Iraq's PM visited the neighboring country

Chad's Deby survives thanks to Western support

"Chad is one of Africa's poorest and least stable countries and Mr Deby one of the continent's worst presidents."

Dutch MP thrives on Islamophobic controversy

Geert Wilders, the 44-year-old politician with a striking mane of blonde hair, thrives on the publicity he gets calling for an end to immigration from Muslim countries and for Turkey to be kept out of the European Union.

Wilders, who heads the Freedom Party, plans to release a short film this month which he says will depict the Koran as a "fascist book".

Robert Fisk: Offended by Shakespeare? Let's ban him

Radio host's suit against Islamic group in court

A federal judge said Friday that she was leaning toward tossing out conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage's copyright theft lawsuit against an Islamic lobbying group who used portions of the popular program to solicit donations and call for an advertising boycott of "The Savage Nation."

India's movie mecca goes global

Mumbai, the Big Apple and Tinseltown rolled into one city, is experiencing an economic boom that is fueling its fast-evolving film industry, the world's largest, with twice the movie output of Hollywood.

George Soros paid $100 million for a stake in Reliance Entertainment, an Indian film production house. Last year, Sony Pictures Entertainment cut a multimillion-dollar investment deal with Indian entertainment conglomerate Eros International, which last year released "Saawariya," the first big-budget Hindi movie financed by Hollywood.

Serbia in crisis as PM quits over Kosovo

The Serbian prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, dramatically resigned today, saying his government had collapsed over the issue of Kosovo's declaration of independence last month.

Mr Kostunica had previously conceded that his government was in 'deep crisis', accusing his coalition partners of giving up on defending Serbia's claim to Kosovo in favour of better ties with the West, which backs Kosovo's secession.

Malaysia's governing coalition suffers heavy losses

In what was called a political tsunami here, the National Front won just 51.2 percent of the popular vote, giving it enough seats to remain in power. But the coalition lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time since 1969 - and with it, the right to amend the Constitution freely, which it has done 40 times in 50 years.

Cut 'sovereign' Israel loose

An Israeli attack against Gaza killed more than 100 people, most of them innocent civilians. It was a reprisal attack for a few rockets fired into Israel by some Hamas hotheads. 13 Israelis have been killed by these rockets in the past seven years.

In World War II, when the Germans killed civilians as a reprisal for an attack on their forces, it was called a war crime.

The United States should stop the $3 billion annual gift to the Israelis and tell them that as of now, the U.S. will no longer protect them from United Nations sanctions or criticism with our veto. Israel is quick to say it is a sovereign and independent country; well, it's time the U.S. put that to the test.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Indian editor a casualty of proposed US-India nuclear pact

Mubhashar Jawed Akbar, the wordsmith who once cheekily suggested that Bombay should establish diplomatic relations with the rest of India, has been eased out of his position as editor-in-chief of a pioneering experiment in Indian journalism, The Asian Age.

Indian journalist Seema Mustafa, and her editor, shed more light on this.

Seema Mustafa writes, "the reality is that the government cannot go ahead with the nuclear deal and hope to win an election. ...The minorities are particularly unhappy with the repercussions of the global war against terror, and are definitely amongst the first to have climbed on to the anti-imperialist plank. The poor and the oppressed have seen little in five years to convince them that the Congress party is working for their uplift. We have 53 of the worlds billionaires, ranking fourth in the list of countries, even as 300 million plus Indians live on less than one dollar a day."

Seema's editor writes: "The Asian Age editors have been sacked by the new management. Mr M. J. Akbar, the founder of the newspaper, has been unceremoniously replaced with T. Venkatt Ram Reddy. As an immediate impact the above column was not allowed to be published under the new management."

Islam stuck in 12th century on women's rights?

Before 9/11/01, the media relegated stories about women in Islamic societies to page B27, below the fold. Ever since 9/12/01, those same stories have screamed from the front pages in 100-point type. The shift in discourse coincided with the launch of Bush's global "War on Terror," when various hawks began using the plight of women in Islam to illustrate the supposed perfidy of our "enemies," and to justify a series of military "interventions"—invasions—by Western powers.

The United States has very little standing to criticize anyone else about the status of women. We rank 71st in the world in terms of the proportion of women serving in our legislature, with just 16 percent. That's significantly worse not only than the European countries, it's also a poorer showing than Sudan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

Blair plans to teach religion at Yale

Yale, the Ivy League alma mater of his good friend George Bush, confirmed yesterday that the former prime minister is to join the schools of management and divinity at the campus in New Haven, Connecticut, in the autumn. He will teach a course on faith and globalisation, looking at religion in the modern world.

Friday, March 7, 2008

About John Hagee's endorsement of McCain

John Hagee, leader of the politically powerful group Christians United for Israel (CUFI), endorsed Republican nominee for president, John McCain. Here is some of Hagee's statements.

CUFI considers its defining issue to be the growing challenge of radical Islam, particularly as relates to the security of Israel and the United States. CUFI is increasingly concerned by Iran and its potential nuclear threats. Hagee often alludes to Nazi Germany in order to underline what he believes to be the gravity of the situation:

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are reliving history. It is 1938 all over again," Hagee explains in a 2007 speech. "Iran is Germany. Ahmadinejad is Hitler. And Ahmadinejad, just like Hitler, is talking about killing the Jews."

Iraq: The calm before the conflagration

The United States is funding and in many cases arming the three ethnic factions in Iraq—the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunni Arabs. These factions rule over partitioned patches of Iraqi territory and brutally purge rival ethnic groups from their midst. Iraq no longer exists as a unified state. It is a series of heavily armed fiefdoms run by thugs, gangs, militias, radical Islamists and warlords who are often paid wages of $300 a month by the U.S. military. Iraq is Yugoslavia before the storm. It is a caldron of weapons, lawlessness, hate and criminality that is destined to implode. And the current U.S. policy, born of desperation and defeat, means that when Iraq goes up, the U.S. military will have to scurry like rats for cover.

U.S. pressures India on 'pre-emptive war'

As the Iran issue threatens to turn critical, New Delhi is faced with a serious challenge from its policy of promoting a "strategic partnership" with Washington. Efforts are on to push Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government to play a significant support role in case the Pentagon unleashes another "pre-emptive" war in the Middle East.

Barack Obama is better off without Samantha Power

A key foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama, Samantha Power, was forced to resign today after describing Hillary Clinton as a monster. Obama is better off without Power.

We know Power primarily from her television appearances on the subject of Darfur. We don't recall her mentioning the Chinese oil concessions (desired by U.S. companies), and the diminishing farmlands in the north (attributed to global warming) which caused herders there to migrate south where they came into conflict with farmers.

Nor did Power mention that among the 200,000 Darfurians who have died, a World Food Program report says that about 20% died due to violence, and 80% died mainly from starvation and from diseases.

Meanwhile, she appeared to ignore the far worse crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More people have died there than in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Darfur combined—5.4 million by some estimates.

The late Senator Lantos played a major role in the Darfur deception, just like he did in the deception leading to the first Gulf War.

A high point of the public relations campaign against Iraq, was the testimony of a Kuwaiti refugee, before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 15, 1990, who told of Iraqi troops removing over 300 babies from incubators in Kuwait City hospital, and dumping them on the floor to die.

On January 6, 1992, John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper's Magazine and author of "Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War," revealed in a New York Times Op-Ed that "Nayirah," the alleged refugee, was the daughter of Saud al-Sabah, Kuwait's ambassador to the United States, and that Hill and Knowlton, a large public relations firm, had helped prepare her testimony, which she had rehearsed before video cameras in the firm's Washington office.

"The chairmen of the Congressional group, Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, and John Edward Porter, an Illinois Republican, explained that Nayirah's identity would be kept secret to protect her family from reprisals in occupied Kuwait" wrote MacArthur.

Islam gives London finance markets edge

After taking a battering from the global credit crisis, London has a potential ace up its sleeve as it seeks to restore its reputation as a global financial center — its premier position in the Islamic banking industry.

The British government will decide next week if it will issue a sovereign Islamic bond, or sukuk, a new avenue into a market that's estimated to eventually reach $4 trillion by Standard & Poor's.

Intelligence estimate on Iraq may be kept secret

A new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq is scheduled to be completed this month, according to U.S. intelligence officials. But leaders of the intelligence community have not decided whether to make its key judgments public, a step that caused an uproar when key judgments in an NIE about Iran were released in November.

Iraqi women more oppressed than ever

Iraq, where women once had more rights and freedom than most others in the Arab world, has turned deadly for women who dream of education and a professional career.

Former dictator Saddam Hussein maintained a relatively secular society, where it was common for women to take up jobs as professors, doctors and government officials. In today's Iraq, women are being killed by militia groups for not conforming to strict Islamist ways.

Iran Contra 2.0: How the Bush admin lied to Congress

The Bush administration lied to Congress and boosted military support for rival Palestinian faction Fatah in the aim of provoking a Palestinian civil war they thought Hamas would lose. Vanity Fair dubbed the episode “Iran Contra 2.0”—a reference to the Reagan administration’s funding of Nicaraguan Contras by covertly selling arms to Iran.

Iraq could blow up in John McCain's face

Seldom has the official Iraqi and American perception of what is happening in Iraq felt so different from the reality. Cocooned behind the walls of the Green Zone, defended by everybody from US soldiers to Peruvian and Ugandan mercenaries, the government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki pumps out alluring tales of life returning to normal that border on fantasy.

Obama: Why is Afghanistan the 'right war'?

Barack Obama should reconsider his posture on the US mission in Afghanistan as fighting the right war while Iraq has been the wrong war. It’s a question that several NATO countries are beginning to ask ahead of the NATO meeting in Bucharest in April which is meant to review progress.

Progressive parties say cut military ties with Israel

Progressive parties in India accused the Indian government of “aiding and abetting” Israel in its attacks on Palestine and called for an end to military and security ties with Israel during a press conference on Wednesday.

The fancy guns are trained on China

On February 4, President George W Bush announced a baseline military budget of US$515.4 billion for the next fiscal year, not including funds for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the largest one-year Pentagon request in real, uninflated dollars since World War II.

A close examination of the FY 2009 request indicates that the principal sources of future budget growth are not the "war on terror" or other such low-intensity contingencies but rather preparation for all-out combat with a future superpower. Probe a little deeper into Pentagon thinking, and only one potential superpower emerges to justify all this vast spending: the People's Republic of China.

McCain's consistent folly on Iraq

McCain has been consistent about Iraq, in the sense of being consistently wrong. If the American people get a long look at what he's said and a clear picture of our fortunes in Iraq, he may yearn for the days when he was being pilloried for offering "amnesty" to illegal immigrants.

The mounting costs of the Iraq war

U.S. military killed in Iraq: 3,973
Number of U.S. troops wounded in combat since the war began: 29,203
Iraqi Security Force deaths: 7,924
Iraqi civilians killed: Estimates range from 81,632-1,120,000

Internally displaced refugees in Iraq: 3.4 million
Iraqi refugees living abroad: 2.2-2.4 million
Iraqi refugees admitted to the U.S.: 3,222

Thursday, March 6, 2008

As alliances shift, Iran wins—again

The George W Bush administration promoted a Turkey-Israel axis, a Sunni Arab "axis of fear" and then a Saudi-Israeli nexus, always trying to isolate Iran. None of these concoctions has worked, and there are even hints that Washington and Tehran have concluded a secret deal brokered by Saudi Arabia to hammer out contentious issues. This might be fanciful, but the bottom line is that Iran sees itself as the ultimate victor of the US war on Iraq.

More FBI privacy violations confirmed

The FBI acknowledged Wednesday it improperly accessed Americans' telephone records, credit reports and Internet traffic in 2006, the fourth straight year of privacy abuses resulting from investigations aimed at tracking terrorists and spies.

'If Fallon leaves ... military action against Iran'

An article in Esquire magazine's April issue predicts that if Fallon leaves his position at Central Command, "it may well mean that the president and vice president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don't want a commander standing in their way."

Did Hillary Clinton win or lose in Texas?

While Hillary prevailed over Barack Obama in the primary vote tally, by 51 per cent to 48, Senator Obama appeared to have the edge in this second election, winning about 52 per cent of caucus votes against 48 per cent for Senator Clinton, but those figures were based on just 36 per cent of returns, with no certainty when the rest might be tallied and reported.

Gaza conditions 'at 40-year low'

Gaza's humanitarian situation is at its worst since Israel occupied the territory in 1967, say UK-based human rights and development groups.

They include Amnesty International, Save the Children, Cafod, Care International and Christian Aid.

They criticise Israel's blockade on Gaza as illegal collective punishment which fails to deliver security.

Canada tosses CIA testimony obtained by waterboarding

The Canadian government is no longer using evidence gained from CIA interrogations of a top Al Qaeda detainee who was waterboarded.

According to documents obtained by NEWSWEEK, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the country's national-security agency, last month quietly withdrew statements by alleged Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah from public papers outlining the case against two alleged terror "sleeper" operatives in Ottawa and Montreal.

Iraqi oil ministry to sign oil deals

The two-year deals, known as technical support agreements, or TSAs, are designed to develop five producing fields to add 500,000 barrels per day to the country's current 2.4 million barrels per day output.

CIA-Mossad plot against Iran

BOOK: The War on Islam

"The War on Islam"—4th, expanded edition, recipient of the Human Rights Foundation Gold Award—is now available at Amazon.com at a special prepublication price.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ricin an unlikely weapon of mass destruction

Roger Von Bergendorff, remained in a coma in a Las Vegas-area hospital March 5, nearly two weeks after he apparently inhaled ricin powder, a biological toxin that later was found among his belongings. The FBI is investigating the case to determine how the potentially deadly substance came into Von Bergendorff's possession—and, more important, what he planned to do with it.

Due to its ease of manufacture and its potency, ricin often is cited as an ideal terrorist weapon. Ricin has been used in assassinations, but to deploy a true biological weapon of mass destruction takes the resources of a state.

The first time I was called a self-hating Jew

Washington's covert attempts to overturn an election

The attempt by western politicians and media to present this week's carnage in the Gaza Strip as a legitimate act of Israeli self-defence—or at best the latest phase of a wearisome conflict between two somehow equivalent sides—has reached Alice-in-Wonderland proportions.

India-Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline deal

The gas deal is worth USD 22 billion. Under the proposed accord, India would import 5 million tons of liquefied natural gas a year from Iran for 25 years. The U.S. is opposed to the deal.

Candidate McCain's skeleton closet

The mega prison of Palestine

Iraq war cost beyond human comprehension

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz championed the $60 billion figure, but added that much of the cost might well be covered by Iraqi oil revenues; the country was, after all, floating on a "sea of oil." ("To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong," he told a congressional hearing.) If economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes are right in their recent calculations and this will turn out to be more than a $3 trillion war (or even a $5-7 trillion one), then the Bush administration was at least $2,940,000,000,000 off in its calculations.

Amity Shlaes, a senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations, disagrees.

Here come the media attacks on Obama

US warplanes target Somali town

The attack on Monday, confirmed by the US, is the fourth US strike in Somalia in 14 months.

U.S. working on two agreements on Iraq ties

David Satterfield, the State Department's coordinator for Iraq, told Congress, "In addition to a status of forces agreement, we intend to establish a framework for a strong relationship with Iraq, reflecting our shared political, economic, cultural and security interests".

Rep. William Delahunt of Massachusetts, said he thought such a framework would require congressional approval—the planned status of forces agreement would contain an "authority to fight" that is not in most such deals.

Clinton hints at sharing ticket with Obama

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton hinted at the possibility of a Democratic "dream ticket" with Sen. Barack Obama.

Speaking on "The Early Show" on CBS, Clinton said "that may be where this is headed, but of course we have to decide who is on the top of the ticket."

Patience is the best Iran policy

With the IAEA now able to ascertain that the Iranian explanations about both the origin and use of its enrichment program are consistent with the information available to the IAEA, there no longer remains a technical justification for demanding the suspension of Iran's ongoing uranium enrichment activities.