Tuesday, January 31, 2006

UK: 100th soldier dies in Iraq

A British soldier has died in a blast in southern Iraq - the 100th UK forces fatality since the 2003 invasion. The soldier, from the 7th Armoured Brigade, died as result of injuries sustained after a blast in Umm Qasr in Basra province, the UK government said.

Three other troops were injured, one seriously. They are receiving treatment at the Shaibah medical facility.

It's only Logical

If you enjoy what we do here on Terrorism News then take a look at the exceptional work being done on the site A Logical Voice. The site has an incredible ability to keep up with numerous issues a day and it is almost scary to think about the amount of work that must go into keeping it all going. Excellent commentary, logical conclusions and a very enjoyable read. One thing to keep in mind before you decide to give your opinion to the guys over there, they have a very sensible and clear posting policy on the site so make sure you give that a read before leaving any comments.

What do real Iranians think ?

Iranian bloggers are commenting extensively on the nuclear row between Iran and the West. A significant number of bloggers seem to blame President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in particular for the crisis and suggest that he has taken Iran to the brink of war.

The sports lovers are worried that the Iranian team may be expelled from the World Cup because of the nuclear issue and Mr Ahmadinejad's comments on Israel and the Holocaust. There are expressions of confidence about support for Iran in the Islamic world and suggestions that Iranian politicians are playing a sophisticated game.

Below are some entries from a selection of Iranian blogs:

'It smells of war'

I wish God would take this sense of national honour away from us; no, I wish He wouldn't but I wish we'd use it at appropriate times...

Why is it that our planes crash, our buildings collapse at the slightest tremor, our cars burst into flames, we don't have even a half-standard football stadium in the entire country, but when it comes to nuclear energy, it's a national issue?!... Anyway, it smells of war. God help us. Our people have suffered a lot over these past 100 years.

'Deflecting public opinion'

Mr Ahmadinejad didn't mention in any of his campaign slogans that, if he became president, he intended to remove Israel from the map...

I also don't recall him promising that he'd take the nuclear file to the point of having international sanctions imposed on the country, having the file referred to the Security Council, sacrificing the country's economic interests and war...

What has brought the government to this point today is that it's realised that it's not capable of fulfilling even 55% of its campaign slogans... so it wants to deflect domestic public opinion by creating constant international crises in order to pretend that it's foreigners who are preventing the government from fulfilling its promises.

Listening to VOA

As I was going about my work in the evening, I was listening to the "Roundtable with You" programme on the Voice of America and I think that it was an interesting and enlightening programme about the current tensions and the consequences of the sanctions that the Security Council may adopt towards Iran. Make sure you listen to it. I've recorded it for friends who may not be able to access VOA's site because it's being blocked.

Opposition to sanctions

Well, the uranium enrichment crisis seems to have reached its acute stages and it's becoming more severe every day. What's the world to do in the face of this problem? Like most Iranians, I'm opposed to any kind of solution that inflicts suffering on the people.

Support in the Islamic world

Since I know a lot of Arabs and Muslims, I have to say that they're very, very happy for Iran to even have nuclear weapons. And their argument is always based on the problem of Israel. I've talked to a lot of Britons and Europeans too. They too say that it's Iran's right, because Israel has this technology too.

'Who says Iran is different from Iraq?'

I think that it might be possible to do something before we're taken to the Security Council, but I doubt it'll be possible afterwards, because, after referral, Iran will cease its voluntary cooperation measures and inspectors will probably not be allowed into Iran. Who says Iran is different from Iraq?

'Count yourself lucky'

Today, my American professor told me: You Iranians should count yourselves lucky that we attacked Iraq, because if we hadn't attacked them, we'd have attacked you by now!

'Congratulations Mr President!'

Greetings Mr President! I wanted to congratulate you. God willing, you're on a roll, taking our dear country towards ruin... I won't allow the flames of war, ruin, famine and wretchedness to be lit in my country. I don't want to be shamed any further before the world. I don't want war! I don't want nuclear energy. This oil is more than enough for me.

'God help us!'

God help us. And it's only been five months [since Ahmadinejad became president]. We still have three years and six months to go - if it isn't extended.


Come on you guys. It's really bad to be so indifferent to the country's current affairs and to be totally immersed in personal concerns. I was talking to a friend today about recent political-social issues, the possibility of an embargo and so on, and I realized that they couldn't care less and were only concerned about their own banal affairs.

We all have something called social responsibility. Look how the Europeans are involved in all kinds of movements now for the sake of future generations. But all we think about is our research and finishing our theses and we couldn't care less what's happening in the world.
All these blogs were read by the BBC Monitoring team and the full article and links to the actual sites can be found here.

What a wonderfully diverse range of views. The very people that could likely be killed if those that wish for an immediate attack on Iran got their way. In my opinion those that are willing to bomb Iran without a second thought should spend a moment or two actually getting to know what sort of people they are willing to sacrifice simply based on their view of a President that isn't actually that popular at home ...

Hmmm now where else could that apply ?

Monday, January 30, 2006

SATIRE : President Bush: In an Emergency State Of The Union Speech To Congress

This a piece of satire and that is all it is meant to be. Please do not take this seriously for I certainly did not when posting it. Most sensible people will either find it amusing or pointless. The designer is well aware that a very small number of people may be offended by it and has offered his email to directly correspond with anyone who wishes to take issue with his work tom@canwetalk.com. So if you find it funny, grotesque, true, false, anti American, mature, childish or a sure sign that democracy lives in the United states be sure to let Tom know.

Anyway saying all that here is the satirical State of Union address. (real player required)

Zawahiri taunts U.S. in new video

Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri has appeared on a video tape taunting the US about an air strike in Pakistan which failed to kill him. On the tape, aired by Al Jazeera TV, he called the US president a "butcher" and asked: "Do you want to know where I am? I am among the Muslim masses."

Monday's video was his first appearance since a US air strike that targeted him on 13 January in Pakistan.Al-Zawahiri said he had survived the raid which he said killed "innocents".

"US airplanes ... launched a raid on a village in near Peshawar after Eid al-Adha in which 18 Muslim men, women and children were killed in what they call the war against terror," al-Zawahiri said."They said this was intended to kill myself and four brothers but now the whole world has discovered their lies ..."."The whole world has discovered the magnitude of the United States' lies and failure and how barbaric it is in its fight against Islam and Muslims," he said.

"My second message is to the American people, who are drowning in illusions. I tell you that Bush and his gang are shedding your blood and wasting your money in frustrated adventures," he said, speaking in a forceful and angry voice

He said that neither President George Bush nor "all the powers on earth" could bring his death "one second closer".

U.S. Officials and Iraqi Insurgents in direct talks

American officials in Iraq are in face-to-face talks with high-level Iraqi Sunni insurgents, NEWSWEEK has learned.

Americans are sitting down with "senior members of the leadership" of the Iraqi insurgency, according to Americans and Iraqis with knowledge of the talks (who did not want to be identified when discussing a sensitive and ongoing matter).

The talks are taking place at U.S. military bases in Anbar province, as well as in Jordan and Syria. "Now we have won over the Sunni political leadership," says U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. "The next step is to win over the insurgents." The groups include Baathist cells and religious Islamic factions, as well as former Special Republican Guards and intelligence agents, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the talks. Iraq's insurgent groups are reaching back. "We want things from the U.S. side, stopping misconduct by U.S. forces, preventing Iranian intervention," said one prominent insurgent leader from a group called the Army of the Mujahedin, who refused to be named because of the delicacy of the discussions. "We can't achieve that without actual meetings."

U.S. intelligence officials have had back-door channels to insurgent groups for many months. The Dec. 15 elections brought many Sunnis to the polls and widened the split between Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi's foreign jihadists and indigenous Sunni insurgents. This marks the first time either Americans or insurgents have admitted that "senior leaders" have met at the negotiating table for planning purposes. "Those who are coming to work with [the U.S.] or come to an understanding with [the U.S.], even if they worked with Al Qaeda in a tactical sense in the past—and I don't know that—they are willing to fight Al Qaeda now," says a Western diplomat in Baghdad who has close knowledge of the discussions. An assortment of some of Iraq's most prominent insurgent groups also recently formed a "council" whose purpose, in addition to publishing religious edicts and coordinating military actions, is to serve as a point of contact for the United States in the future. "The reason they want to unite is to have a public contact with the U.S. if they disagree," says the senior insurgent figure. "If negotiations between armed groups and Americans are not done, then no solutions will be found," says Issa al-Addai al-Mehamdi, a sheik from the prominent Duleimi tribe in Fallujah. "All I can say is that we support the idea of Americans talking with resistance groups."

They have much to discuss. For one, Americans and Iraqi insurgent groups share a common fear of undue Iranian influence in Iraq. "There is more concern about the domination by Iran of Iraq," says a senior Western diplomat, "and that combination of us being open to them and the dynamics of struggle for domination of violence has come together to get them to want to reach an understanding with us." Contacts between U.S. officials and insurgents have been criticized by Iraq's ruling Shiite leaders, many of whom have longstanding ties to Iran and are deeply resented by Sunnis. "We haven't given the green light to [talks] between the U.S. and insurgents," says Vice President Adel Abdel Mehdi, of the Shiite party, called the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Negotiations are risky for everyone—not least because tensions between Al Qaeda and Iraq's so-called patriotic resistance is higher than ever. Two weeks ago, assassins killed Sheik Nassir Qarim al-Fahdawi, a prominent Anbar sheik described by other Sunnis as a chief negotiator for the insurgency. "He was killed for talking to the Americans," says Zedan al-Awad, another leading Anbar sheik. Al Qaeda, meanwhile, continues to gain territory in the Sunni heartland, according to al-Awad: "Let me tell you: Zarqawi is in total control of Anbar. The Americans control nothing." Many, on both sides, are hoping that talks could change that.

Source : Newsweek

Saddam walks out in trial uproar

Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein walked out of court amid uproar within minutes of the resumption of his murder trial under a new presiding judge. He left in protest after his defence team walked out, and was followed by two more of his co-defendants.

The walkouts came after the new chief judge, Raouf Abdul Rahman, had Saddam's half brother and co-defendant Barzan al-Tikriti removed from the courtroom. Saddam and seven others are on trial for the 1982 killing of 148 villagers.

They could face the death penalty if convicted of the killings, which followed an assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein in the village of Dujail. The trial continued for some time with half of the defendants missing until the judge adjourned it until Wednesday.

The court proceedings started with the new chief judge saying that he would not tolerate any defendants making political speeches or disobeying his authority. His predecessor, Judge Rizgar Amin, had resigned earlier this month after criticism that he had been too lenient towards the defendants.

Mr Tikriti, a former Iraqi intelligence chief who is suffering from cancer, launched into a lengthy complaint about his medical condition and treatment. Judge Rahman ordered the forcible removal of Mr Tikriti, who shouted that the court was "the daughter of a whore" as he was dragged away.

The judge then rounded on the defence lawyers, saying that they had contributed to the atmosphere that allowed defendants to think they could make lengthy speeches and disrespect the authority of the court. Next, a defence lawyer was ejected from the court, and as a result the rest of Saddam's defence team stormed out, despite the judge warning "any lawyer who walks out will not be allowed back into this courtroom".

The former Iraqi leader then launched into a vigorous exchange with the judge, telling him that he wanted to leave and be tried in absentia.

"I want to leave the court," Saddam Hussein demanded of the judge, who in turn ordered the former leader out. "I led you for 35 years and you order me out of the court?" the former Iraqi president responded angrily.

"I am the judge, you are the defendant. You have to obey me," the judge hit back. He accused Judge Rahman of abusing his rights as a defendant who was "innocent until proven guilty".

As the argument became more heated Saddam Hussein banged his hands on the dock and hurled insults at the judge. Eventually, the judge said that the defendant should also be removed and he was led from the court too, shouting "Down with the traitors!" as he went.

Judge Rahman then appointed four new defence lawyers, but two more of the defendants, Taha Yassin Ramadan and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, said they did not approve of their appointment and they also left the court.The trial then resumed with an anonymous female witness giving evidence about events in Dujail from behind a curtain until it was adjourned until Wednesday.

Saad Djebbar, an international lawyer and commentator on Middle East politics, told the BBC that the chaotic scenes meant that the whole trial was being undermined:

"I think it was a big mistake that this trial was held in Iraq because the judge, you cannot find a person, one individual today in Iraq - judge, lawyer, prosecutor who is impartial vis-a-vis Saddam Hussein. Either they are with him or against him."

Source : BBC More Sources : Star-Telegram , Wapakoneta Daily News , WRAL ,Grand Junction Daily Sentinel , USA Today

Bag Baby (you have to see this video)

Absolutely no connection to terrorism at all but I have never seen anything like this video before. Of course I have heard stories of such things happening but to see something so moving and at the same time shocking that ultimately turns out not to have some tragic ending is quite something.

Watch this video from the BBC (windows media player required) picked up from Brazilian television.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Human rights watch annual review

When Human Rights Watch, a respected organization that has been monitoring the world's behavior since 1978, focuses its annual review on America's use of torture and inhumane treatment, every American should feel a sense of shame. And everyone who has believed in the United States as the staunchest protector of human rights in history should be worried.

Many nations - Belarus, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Cuba, Sudan and China to name only some of the worst - routinely trample on human rights in a way that neither the United States nor any of its allies would ever countenance. But the United States wrote the book on human rights; it defined the alternative to tyranny and injustice. So when the vice president of the United States actually lobbies against a bill that bans "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment," Human Rights Watch is justified in delivering harsh criticism.

The report does not let anyone else off the hook. The massacre of hundreds of demonstrators in Uzbekistan, the ethnic cleansing in Darfur, the restrictions on civil society in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in Chechnya and all the other familiar episodes of human-rights abuse are reported and condemned.

But in the introduction by the executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, the United States is singled out not only because it has raised the heinous practice of torture to a "serious policy option," but also because in so doing it is sacrificing its ability to champion human rights in other countries. America is not the worst violator, Roth writes, but it is the most influential. Now, when Americans accuse Iraqi Shiites of torturing Sunni prisoners, the messenger's reputation taints the message.

The report says that 2005 made clear that abuse of detainees has become a "deliberate, central part of the Bush administration's strategy for interrogating terrorist suspects," and it accuses Britain of complicity in the practice. We have no illusion that the administration will pay any more heed to Human Rights Watch than they have to anyone else on this issue. But the report is also an indictment of the rest of the United States for failing to stop the destruction of its most cherished values.

Source : Here

When your used up where do you go (video)

The music video When your used up, where do you go. Soldier is a thought provoking piece that's worth viewing and is performed by The Robert Cray Band . The band also asks you to sign this letter to the American Congress.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

BYU professor's group accuses U.S. officials of lying about 9/11

A few months ago Brigham Young University physics professor Steven E. Jones made headlines when he charged that the World Trade Center collapsed because of "pre-positioned explosives." Now, along with a group that calls itself "Scholars for 9/11 Truth," he's upping the ante.

"We believe that senior government officials have covered up crucial facts about what really happened on 9/11," the group says in a statement released Friday announcing its formation. "We believe these events may have been orchestrated by the administration in order to manipulate the American people into supporting policies at home and abroad."

Headed by Jones and Jim Fetzer, University of Minnesota Duluth distinguished McKnight professor of philosophy, the group is made up of 50 academicians and others.They include Robert M. Bowman, former director of the U.S. "Star Wars" space defense program, and Morgan Reynolds, former chief economist for the Department of Labor in President George W. Bush's first term. Most of the members are less well-known.

The group's charges include:

Members of the Bush administration knew in advance that the 9/11 attacks would happen

No Air Force or Air National Guard jets were sent to "scramble" the hijacked planes, which were clearly deviating from their flight plans, although jet fighters had been deployed for scramblings 67 times in the year prior to 9/11.

The video of Osama bin Laden found by American troops in Afghanistan in December 2001, in which bin Laden says he orchestrated the attacks, is not bin Laden.

The Scholars group hopes that media outlets around the world will ask experts in their areas to examine the group's findings and assertions. If this were done, they argue,

"one of the great hoaxes of history would stand naked before the eyes of the world."

Source : Here

The 'Academicians' have developed their own web site which can be found here. The site includes a must read (Microsoft word) document here. Also as astutely noticed by Logical Voice you should note the surprise discovery that Bin Laden does not appear to be wanted by the FBI for the 9/11 atrocity at all.

Very intriguing reading.

Documents Show US Army Seized Wives As Tactic

The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.

In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."

Iraq's deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim Ali, dismissed such claims, saying hostage-holding was a tactic used under the ousted Saddam Hussein dictatorship, and "we are not Saddam." A U.S. command spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, said only Iraqis who pose an "imperative threat" are held in long-term U.S.-run detention facilities.

But documents describing two 2004 episodes tell a different story as far as short-term detentions by local U.S. units. The documents are among hundreds the Pentagon has released periodically under U.S. court order to meet an American Civil Liberties Union request for information on detention practices.

In one memo, a civilian Pentagon intelligence officer described what happened when he took part in a raid on an Iraqi suspects house in Tarmiya, northwest of Baghdad, on May 9, 2004. The raid involved Task Force (TF) 6-26, a secretive military unit formed to handle high-profile targets.

"During the pre-operation brief it was recommended by TF personnel that if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target's surrender," wrote the 14-year veteran officer. He said he objected, but when they raided the house the team leader, a senior sergeant, seized her anyway.

"The 28-year-old woman had three young children at the house, one being as young as six months and still nursing," the intelligence officer wrote. She was held for two days and was released after he complained, he said.

The second episode, in June 2004, is found in sketchy detail in e-mail exchanges among six U.S. Army colonels, discussing an undisclosed number of female detainees held in northern Iraq by the Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division.

The first message, from a military police colonel, advised staff officers of the U.S. northern command that the Iraqi police would not take control of the jailed women without charges being brought against them.

In a second e-mail, a command staff officer asked an officer of the unit holding the women, "What are you guys doing to try to get the husband — have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to come get his wife?"

Source and full article here

First document: here (pdf)
E-mail exchange: here (pdf)

Isn't holding someone against their will as leverage called 'kidnap' , can you imagine seeing this headline next time the Insurgents kidnap someone. 'Insurgents seize Westerner as leverage tactic to facilitate removal of US forces.'

Its amazing how differently we word things when its our side doing the kidnapping. They even have the ransom note being pinned to the door. Maybe the western police forces should try the same tactics , kidnap the families of the criminals they wish to catch here at home. Cant see it catching on. Can you ?

Middle Eastern TV reports on Hamas victory (video)

From Democracy Now a compilation of over 30 news stations from around the Middle east showing how the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections was presented to their audiences.

You can watch it Here (Real player required) Length 49 Min's 56 seconds includes introduction by Democracy now.

EU panel probing alleged prisons may call on Cheney, Rumsfeld

An EU committee investigating alleged CIA secret prisons could call Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to testify, a senior member of the panel said.

British Liberal Democrat Sarah Ludford, a member of the EU parliament and vice president of the investigative committee, said "very senior people" would be asked to answer questions about the alleged prisons. "I don't see why we should not invite Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney," Ludford said.

She acknowledged, however the EU parliament would have no legal power to subpoena them. "Our only pressure, if you like, on these people to come and talk to us and cooperate is political embarrassment," she said.

Source : here

Of course they wont turn up and I doubt very much they will feel any embarrassment either. But refusing to turn up for such a serious charges as the abuse of the sovereignty of nations , kidnap , secret prisons and the use of torture will be a major embarrassment even if those accused fail to feel any.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Rumsfeld's Roadmap to Propaganda

A secret Pentagon "roadmap" on war propaganda, personally approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for "boundaries" between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but provides for no such limits and claims that as long as the American public is not "targeted," any leakage of PSYOP to the American public does not matter.

Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive at George Washington University and posted on the Web today, the 74-page "Information Operations Roadmap" admits that "information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa," but argues that "the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information dissemination practices."

The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, amended in 1972 and 1998, prohibits the U.S. government from propagandizing the American public with information and psychological operations directed at foreign audiences; and several presidential directives, including Reagan's NSD-77 in 1983, Clinton's PDD-68 in 1999, and Bush's NSPD-16 in July 2002 (the latter two still classified), have set up specific structures to carry out public diplomacy and information operations. These and other documents relating to U.S. PSYOP programs were posted today as part of a new Archive Electronic Breifing Book.

Several press accounts have referred to the 2003 Pentagon document but today's posting is the first time the text has been publicly available. Sections of the document relating to computer network attack (CNA) and "offensive cyber operations" remain classified under black highlighting.

Article source and further reading National Security Archive

UK : Afghan troop levels to hit 5,700

The number of UK troops in Afghanistan will peak at 5,700, Defence Secretary John Reid has told MPs. The majority will be sent to the south, to the volatile Helmand area, which Mr Reid admitted was "more demanding" than other regions in Afghanistan.

He said they would be a "potent force" against the Taleban and drugs barons.

An extra 3,300 troops will go to the country to add to 1,100 already there and 1,950 announced earlier, but the total at any time will not top 5,700.

The deployment will cost £1bn over three years.

Tehran claims Britain behind bombings in Ahvaz

Iran directly accused Britain of of equipping and directing those behind a twin bomb attack in the oil city of Ahvaz that killed eight people and wounded dozens more.

Britain immediately dismissed the allegations which come amid a wider deterioration of relations between Tehran and London over Iran's nuclear programme as "completely without foundation".

"The trace of Iraq's occupiers in the Ahvaz crimes are clear, and they must take responsibility," hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Iranian media on Wednesday.

Eight people died and 46 others wounded in Tuesday's attacks in the restive southwestern Iranian city situated close to the border with British-controlled southern Iraq. A visit to Ahvaz that day by Ahmadinejad had been cancelled at the last moment because of bad weather.

"We have information showing that British soldiers in Iraq equip these elements and draw up their missions," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA. "It is not necessary to point out that the members of this group are based in London," he added, apparently referring to the Britain-based Popular Democratic Front of Ahvazi Arabs.

In London, the Foreign Office denied the charges.

"We reject these allegations from Mottaki," a spokesman told AFP. "Any linkage between HMG (Her Majesty's Government) and these terrorist attacks is completely without foundation."

Ahvaz has been hit by a wave of insecurity over the past year. These include ethnic riots in April and a string of car bombings prior to the June presidential election in which Ahmadinejad scored a shock victory.

In October another double bombing in Ahvaz killed six people and wounded more than 100. Several pipelines have also been hit by blasts in recent months, with sabotage reportedly suspected in at least one of those incidents.

After the October blasts, Mottaki also said the clerical regime had proof of British meddling. Several officials in Tehran have also alleged that Britain and the United States were seeking to destabilise the Islamic republic by supporting ethnic minority separatists.

Arabs are said to represent three percent of Iran's population of 69 million, who are mainly Farsi speaking, but they are believed to make up close to 50 percent of oil-rich Khuzestan's population.

"Britain must respond to the doubts of Iranians concerning the events in Ahvaz and the terrorist attacks in Khuzestan," Mottaki was also quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

On Tuesday, government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham blamed "international terrorists" and said Ahmadinejad had ordered the intelligence and foreign ministries "to probe the role of foreign hands in this incident."

Source : here

Thursday, January 26, 2006

China and Iran warm to Russian nuclear proposal

China and Iran expressed support on Thursday for a Russian proposal to resolve Tehran's standoff with Western governments which suspect it of secretly planning to build a nuclear bomb.

Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, on a one-day trip to Beijing to seek China's support, said the Russian proposal that Iran's uranium fuel be enriched on Russian soil rather than in Iran needed further discussion.

Tehran has previously shown little interest in the idea, intended to ensure it does not covertly divert enriched fuel toward a weapons program. It has repeatedly insisted it has no plans to build bombs but has the right to enrich uranium fuel on its territory for nuclear power generation.

"The Russian suggestion is a useful one, but needs to be discussed further," Larijani told a Beijing news conference. He later told Reuters Iran was willing to show flexibility but rejected the "language of force", an apparent reference to the threat of U.N. sanctions.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a news conference earlier that China wanted other countries to consider Moscow's proposal. "We think the Russian proposal is a good attempt to break this stalemate," he said.

Earlier this month Iran removed U.N. seals on enrichment equipment and announced it would resume nuclear fuel research. The United States and its European Union allies say the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should turn Iran over to the United Nations Security Council.

But China said U.N. sanctions would only complicate matters. "We oppose impulsively using sanctions or threats of sanctions to solve problems," Kong said.

Source and further reading (3 pages) here

How seldom we weigh our neighbors in the same balance as ourselves

Sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh.....

US ambassador to Peru James Curtis Struble has complained that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez "is meddling a lot in other countries' affairs."

There is no hypocrisy in that is there ?

Source here

Palestinian PM resigns as Hamas heads to shock victory

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei has announced his resignation, saying Hamas must form the next government following the parliamentary elections.

It comes as the militant Islamic group appeared to be heading for a shock win. With counting still under way, officials from the ruling Fatah party said Hamas had won a majority. Official results are due at 1900 local time.

Israel, the US and the EU consider Hamas a terrorist group and have said they do not want to deal with it.

"I am going to present my resignation to President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and Hamas should form the [new] government," Mr Qurei told journalists, according to AFP news agency.

Hours before official results were due to be released, Fatah officials conceded that Hamas had won the elections. Hamas claimed it had won at least 70 seats in the 132-member parliament.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Jerusalem says a victory for Hamas would present a huge challenge for Israel and the international community and for Hamas itself. He says many believe the militant movement would be more comfortable as the major opposition party rather than having power thrust on it at the first attempt.

With victory looming, senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said the group wanted to work with Fatah in a "political partnership". But he said Hamas would not hold peace talks with Israel.

"Negotiations with Israel is not on our agenda," he said.

"Recognising Israel is not on the agenda either now."

Source : BBC Previous post : Here

Here we go ... Hamas are democratically elected it seems and they are the choice of the Palestinian people. Israel has every right to security and Hamas has every right to represent the people that have voted for them in such huge numbers.

So what now ?

Just like Iran it seems you get extreme governments out of extreme situations. If there is to be any sign of peace some serious banging of heads is going to need to happen. Hamas must recognise Israel at least enough to talk to them and Israel must recognize that Hamas have been democratically elected and have every right to speak for the Palestinian people.

Hard though it will be for both sides they will have to find some way forward if they ever desire peace for their children and their children's children.

Saddam to sue Bush and Blair

Defence lawyers for Saddam Hussein Wednesday distributed copies of a lawsuit against President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair for destroying Iraq.

The suit accuses Bush and Blair of committing war crimes by using weapons of mass destruction and internationally-banned weapons including enriched uranium and phosphoric and cluster bombs against unarmed Iraqi civilians, notably in Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, al-Kaem and Anbar.

The Amman-based legal team had said Sunday that the ousted president intended to start legal action against the two leaders of the Iraq war in the International Criminal Court in the Hague, but the text of the suit was made available Wednesday.

The suit also accuses the U.S. president and British prime minister of torturing Iraqi prisoners, destroying Iraq's cultural heritage with the aim of eliminating an ancient civilization, and inciting internal strife.

Bush and Blair were also accused of polluting Iraq's air, waters and environment.

The lawsuit demanded that Bush and Blair appear before court to answer the charges filed against them and requested the harshest punishment in line with Dutch legislation and the rules of international and humanitarian laws.

It also requested compensation for all material and moral damage inflicted on the Iraqi people.

Source : here

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hamas gains share of power in Palestine

In the first Palestinian parliamentary elections in a decade, the ruling Fatah Party fell short of a majority in the 132-seat parliament, with the militant group Hamas thrusting itself onto the political scene, exit polls showed late Wednesday

Exit polls suggest that the ruling Fatah party has won a narrow victory in the first Palestinian parliamentary elections for a decade.

The first official poll gave Fatah more than 46%, compared to 39.5% for Islamic militant group Hamas. Both Fatah and Hamas have said they will consider a coalition if there is no clear winner. Voting has been brisk, with turnout at 73%, the election commission said. In the West Bank, 70.6% voted, while in Gaza the figure was 76.8%.

Observers say the elections were peaceful, and one EU official said the vote was an example to the Arab world.

Sources and Opinion from around the globe BBC , CNN , Reuters , Washington post , MSNBC , Al Jazeera , Jerusalem Post , Xinhua (China) , Peoples Daily (china) , Kerala (India) , Daily Times (pakistan) , Dar Al Hayat (Saudi Arabia) , Moscow Times (Russia) , Islam Online .

Katrina warnings 'went unheeded'

The US government was warned about the risk Hurricane Katrina posed to New Orleans before the storm hit, but the warning was ignored, a senator says.

Democrat Joseph Lieberman, on a Senate panel studying the response to Katrina, said emergency agency Fema had warned on 27 August the city could be flooded. He accused the White House of being unwilling to hand over documents which might explain why no action was taken.

A White House spokesman insisted the administration was cooperating fully.

Sen Lieberman said the report from Fema had been received by the White House several hours before the storm made landfall on 29 August. The note warned of the potential for serious damage, loss of power and flooding in New Orleans, he told the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing.

Why was the president left so uninformed that he said four days later: 'I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees'?

It also predicted that Katrina would exceed the projections of an exercise the previous summer, which had suggested a Category 3 storm would require mass evacuations and could breach the city's flood defences.

Hurricane Katrina was a Category 4 storm with winds of 233kph (145mph) winds when it hit the city.

"What happened to that report?" Sen Lieberman asked. "Why was the president [George Bush] left so uninformed that he said four days later: 'I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees'?"

He said the White House had failed to provide important documents which could explain why the warnings went unheeded and had been reluctant to allow officials to be interviewed.

Sen Lieberman accused the Department of Homeland Security of a "conscious strategy of [delaying] our investigation in the hope that we would run out of time".

Source : BBC

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Redefining failure

From Democracy Now!:
In Iraq, the U.S has admitted that insurgents carried out over 34,000 attacks during 2005. This marks an increase of nearly 30 percent over the previous year. Despite the spike, U.S. officials have attempted to put a positive spin on the news. A military spokesperson said the numbers "tells me the coalition and the Iraqi forces have been very aggressive in taking the fight to the enemy."

Israel 'has to withdraw further'

Israel will have to withdraw from further parts of the West Bank, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said.

In his first policy speech as interim leader, he said the main challenge ahead was to shape Israel's borders for good to ensure a Jewish majority. It could not continue to control parts with a Palestinian majority, but would keep its main settlements, he said.

Mr Olmert told a conference at Herzliya that Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank last year was a turning point.

In order to ensure the existence of a Jewish national home, we will not be able to continue ruling over the territories in which the majority of the Palestinian population lives," he said.

However, Mr Olmert said that Israel would keep security zones, the main settlement blocs, and places important to the Jewish people, such as Jerusalem.

Read more at the Source

U.S. 'Outsourced' Torture

The head of a European investigation into alleged CIA secret prisons in Europe said Tuesday that evidence pointed to the existence of a system of "outsourcing" of torture by the United States, and that it was highly likely European governments were aware of it.

But Swiss Sen. Dick Marty said there was no tangible proof so far of the existence of clandestine centers in Romania or Poland as alleged by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, and complained of a lack of cooperation by EU governments.

His interim report, based partly on results of national investigations and recent press reports, did not break new ground and largely repeated his previous claims that U.S. policies in the war on terror contravene international law on human rights. Allegations that the CIA hid and interrogated key al-Qaida suspects at Soviet-era compounds in Eastern Europe were first reported Nov. 2 in The Washington Post.

"There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of "relocation" or "outsourcing" of torture," Marty said in the report to the Council of Europe, the human rights watchdog on whose behalf he is investigating.

"Acts of torture or severe violation of detainees' dignity through the administration of inhuman or degrading treatment are carried outside national territory and beyond the authority of national intelligence services," Marty said. He added that more than 100 suspects may have been transferred to countries where they faced torture or ill treatment in recent years.

"The entire continent is involved," Marty told the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, a body comprising several hundred national lawmakers. "It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware."

In his report, Marty analyzed the cases of an Egyptian cleric allegedly kidnapped from Milan, Italy, in 2003 by CIA agents and a German captured in Macedonia and taken to Afghanistan in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

Citing an American lawyer, Marty also said six Bosnians were abducted by U.S. agents on Bosnian soil and taken to Guantanamo Bay, despite a Bosnian court ruling ordering their release.

Last week, Italy's justice minister formally asked the United States to allow Italian prosecutors to question 22 purported CIA operatives they accuse of kidnapping the Egyptian cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, in 2003 from a Milan street.

Nasr, believed to belong to an Islamic terror group, was seized Feb. 17, 2003. Prosecutors claim the cleric, who is also known as Abu Omar, was taken by the CIA to a joint U.S.-Italian air base, flown to Germany and then to Egypt, where he says he was tortured.

Marty also said he would follow up on evidence gathered in the case of Khaled al Masri, a German of Lebanese origin reportedly kidnapped from Germany to Afghanistan, in the next stage of his investigation.

Marty, who is expected to issue another interim report in the next few months, complained there was enormous pressure on him to produce evidence of secret CIA prisons but there was not much help from the Council of Europe or governments.

"Not a single day passes without me being asked, 'Do you have any hard evidence, is there any proof?'" he said. "I am not a judicial authority, I have no means of investigation, the logistical support available to me is very limited."

The European Union's top justice official, Franco Frattini, called on all EU governments Tuesday to "fully cooperate" with the investigators.

The Council of Europe launched its probe after allegations surfaced in November that U.S. agents interrogated key al-Qaida suspects at clandestine prisons in eastern Europe and transported some suspects through Europe to other countries.

Human Rights Watch identified Romania and Poland as possible sites of secret U.S.-run detention facilities. Both countries have denied involvement. Clandestine detention centers would violate European human rights treaties.

Marty said there was no irrefutable evidence of the existence of secret CIA prisons in Romania, Poland or any other country.

"On the other hand, it has been proved that individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and all rights and transported to different destinations in Europe, to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered degrading treatment and torture," he said. If eventually uncovered, the detention centers would likely be small cells that could be easily hidden, he added.

Marty has obtained flight logs archived by the Brussels-based air safety organization Eurocontrol and satellite images of air bases in Romania and Poland.

Source : here

Hunger strikers close to death

DESPITE force feeding by the American military, several hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay may be close to death, according to lawyers acting for the detainees.

The condition of two emaciated Yemeni hunger strikers who have been refusing solid food since August is causing particular concern. There are also fears for the life of a hospitalised Saudi prisoner.

The wife of a British resident and hunger striker, Shaker Aamer, visited the Commons last week to appeal to MPs for help. Aamer’s wife, 31, who lives in London with her four children and has asked for her name to be withheld, said: “This is the time to do something. My husband is not going to last.”

Aamer has been on hunger strike since November 2. Although he has lost weight, he is stronger than some other prisoners taking part in the protest at their detention without trial.

According to a report to be released tomorrow by the prisoners’ rights group Reprieve, the Yemenis, identified as Abu Bakah al-Shamrani and Abu Anas, are said by detainees to be gravely weak. Shamrani weighs only 70lb (5 stone).

Reprieve claims Camp Echo, which is comprised of isolation cells, has been turned into a “force feeding institution” away from other prisoners and its gravel path paved with concrete so the hunger strikers can be moved around in wheelchairs.

read more at the source

Army Interrogator Convicted For Killing Jailed Iraqi

From Democracy Now!:
A military jury has convicted an Army interrogator of negligent homicide for his role in the death of an Iraqi general. The interrogator -- Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. - killed the Iraqi man by putting a sleeping bag over the general's head, wrapping him in electrical cord, sitting on his chest and covering his mouth. He faces up to three years in prison. Had Welshofer been convicted of murder, he would been sentenced to life in prison. Attorneys for Welshofer said he had been given permission to use harsh techniques during interrogations. In one email, Captain William Ponce wrote "The gloves are coming off, gentlemen.... We want these individuals broken. Casualties are mounting." The interrogator's attorneys also questioned why no one else was charged in the general's death. The general was severely beaten two days before his death by a group of Iraqis reportedly being paid by the CIA.

The U.S. terror threats that didn't count

From Democracy Now!:
Last year federal investigators told a Senate committee that environmental and animal groups like ELF and ALF represented the nation's leading domestic terror threat. The Southern Poverty Law Center however recently criticized the federal government for underestimating the threat posed by violent right-wing organizations. According to the Center, the radical right has plotted to carry out at least 60 terrorist plots inside the United States since the Oklahoma City Bombing. This includes plans to bomb or burn government buildings, mosques, synagogues and abortion clinics, plans to assassinate government officials and civil rights leaders and efforts to amass chemical and biological weapons arsenals.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cartoon of the week

Spotted here

Iraq's Sadr says his militia will support Iran

Firebrand Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has assured Iran that his Shi'ite Muslim militiamen will support the Islamic Republic if it comes under attack, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday.

Although the United States and Israel have said they prefer diplomacy as a means to solve a dispute over Iran's atomic programme, they have not ruled out military options.

Washington accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

"If neighbouring Islamic countries, including Iran, should come under attack, then the Mehdi Army will support them," Sadr said on a visit to Tehran.

Sadr's Mehdi Army militia rose up against U.S. occupying forces in Iraq in 2004.

In Iran, Sadr has met Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki

Source : Reuters

Silencing the tyrant

By Eric Margolis

Saddam Hussein's trial in Baghdad has become a circus. The presiding judge refuses to return to court, and defence lawyers have been murdered.

What to make of this spectacle? Emotionally, it's good to see the tyrant who terrorized so many on trial for his life. But morally and legally, Saddam's trial is a travesty of justice. This is an old-fashioned Soviet-style show trial set up by U.S. occupation authorities.

Its goal is not to determine Saddam's guilt or innocence, but to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq which, by the way, was a blatant violation of international law.

The court lacks any legal basis, being created by the puppet regime installed by the U.S. after the invasion. Saddam has no proper legal defence. Witnesses remain secret and beyond cross-examination. Defence witnesses risk murder by Shia hit squads.

Pre-trial publicity -- the vast propaganda campaign by the U.S. to demonize Saddam -- and Iraqi TV programs (controlled by U.S. authorities) about Saddam's alleged crimes, would trigger a mistrial in any proper legal system.

In short, a kangaroo court, designed to find Saddam guilty and probably order his execution.

Dead dictators tell no tales. If allowed to fully testify, Saddam would reveal the whole sordid story of America's long, intimate collaboration with his regime, and how the U.S. and British governments of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher encouraged, armed and financed Iraq to invade Iran.

Saddam is being tried for ordering a massacre in a small Shia village where he narrowly escaped assassination. He will not be tried for his worst crime, the invasion of Iran, that caused 1.5 million casualties on both sides.

Saddam's regime ferociously repressed Kurdish tribes, and used poison gas against them -- as it did against Iranian troops. But these attacks occurred while Iraq was fighting to the death against Iran, and its chronically rebellious Kurdish tribes had defected to the Iranian invaders.

Similarly, Saddam's forces killed many Shia after George Bush Sr. called on them to rebel against Baghdad. Israel and Iran had been stirring up, arming and financing Kurdish rebels in Iraq for decades.

Under international law, Saddam had every right to fight rebels seeking to either overthrow Iraq's government, or trying to secede. Across the border, Turkey waged similar war against its Kurdish rebels.

Recall that when Imperial Britain ruled Iraq, which it created to grab Mesopotamian oil, that saint of neoconservatives, Winston Churchill, ordered the RAF to use poison gas against "Kurds, Pathans, and other primitive tribesmen." When Iraqis rose in the 1920s against British rule, Her Majesty's soldiers gunned down some 20,000.

Ironically, U.S. forces in Iraq are doing the same things Saddam's thuggish regime did: Bombing and blasting rebels (this time Sunnis); holding 18,000 political prisoners; torturing and executing suspects. Uncle Sam is the new Saddam.

Saddam should face trial for his many crimes, but in a proper legal venue, under full western and international law. The trial should be moved at once to the UN tribunal at the Hague. A fair trial will establish an important international legal precedent.

Those citing the World War II Nuremberg trials as precedent for Baghdad's kangaroo court should read the magisterial words of that court's Chief Justice, Robert Jackson: "No political or economic situation can justify the crime of aggression." Please take note, President Cheney and VP Bush.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Fahrenheit 9/11 (Video)

For anyone that has not watched it already , I spotted Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 on Google videos and you can watch it here.

I have no Idea if Michael has endorsed the film being there or not and if it comes to light that he has not then i will remove the link.

Laura Bush 'the President is anti-war'

I think this one belongs in the you couldn't make it up section

"The choices that a president makes, for instance, are so consequential, there are so many consequences - and so I knew that, even though that doesn't always help when you are in the midst of it yourself. Many people are very, very sincerely anti-war, everyone is anti-war, the president is anti-war, no-one wants war, but no-one wanted what happened on September 11 either."

Full article here

It seems the feeble connections to the horrors of 9/11 and the illegal invasion of Iraq are still being made but it really doesn't matter President Bush is anti war!

I assume she is using the Orwellian definition of the word 'war'.


Osama tape or Osama fake

Personally I have quite a number of doubts about the latest Bin Laden tape. If you remember there was the independent research that was carried out in 2002 on one of these 'CIA confirmed' tapes that showed it almost certainly to be a fake. Then we had the fantastically timed October 2004 fiction which gave the US President a six point lead as he headed into the election.

This latest tape is incredibly poor quality ( probably to stop the Swiss from exposing this one too) and is already being questioned by scholars and journalists (windows media file) alike.

As per usual the timing is perfect for the President and as noted in this BBC article 'the immediate political effect of the tape will probably be to boost support for President George W Bush'.

Many people including Pakistan's President Musharraf believe Bin laden died quite some time ago and a number of independent analysts date his death on or around the week of December 10, 2001. Which will of course be well known to those that went to his funeral. ( copy of Arabic newspaper article printed in al-Wafd, Wednesday, December 26, 2001 Vol 15 No 4633 announcing Bin Ladens funeral here )

If you take into account the reams of evidence available for his death in December 2001 then it makes his last interview all the more interesting . It was in the Karachi-based Pakistani daily newspaper, Ummat, and printed on September 28, 2001. Bin laden was asked about the September 11th attacks and this was his reply...

"I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of a battle. "

An amazing contrast to his willingness to put his name to every terrorist action since his death.

Now don't get me wrong I am no fan of Bin Laden and I certainly would not want to defend him. His list of crimes even without the 'incident' on 9/11 would make almost any government put him at the top of their wanted list , but that obviously was not the view of the CIA when they last met him in July 2001. The fact that CIA trained and funded Bin Laden during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan is so well known that it is barely worth a link. ( but here is one anyway )

Osama was a nasty piece of work and the world is better off without him. I just wonder how long the Emmanuel Goldstein routine will continue to work on a significant number of the American population.

Anyway for those that believe he is still alive and well here is the full transcript of the fanatical terrorists latest rant recorded during a spare five minutes away from his constant need for kidney dialysis. Apparently helping out President Bush just in time for the warrantless domestic spying hearing this coming week.

How Ironic.

Annual Amnesty International Lecture: Noam Chomsky, 'The War on Terror', (full text)

Described by The New Yorker as 'one of the greatest minds of the 20th century', Noam Chomsky gave the 2006 Amnesty Lecture, hosted by Trinity College Dublin, on January 18th. The theme of the lecture was 'The War on Terror'.

The full text of the lecture has now been made available here. (pdf file)

Very interesting reading .

The NeoConservative Manifesto

Not all Fascism looks like Adolf Hitler.

Length : 2 min 40 sec

Watch it here

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Veteran reporter says 3,000-4,000 Iraqis killed every month

Between 3,000 and 4,000 Iraqis are killed every month, rendering "ridiculous" US President George W. Bush's estimate of about 30,000 civilian casualties since the start of the war, veteran British journalist Robert Fisk said Wednesday.

The figures were compiled during several recent trips to the country occupied since March 2003 by US-led forces, The Independent newspaper's Beirut-based correspondent told a news conference in Madrid where he was promoting his book "The Great War for Civilisation".

The casualty rate meant up to 48,000 Iraqis a year were dying in the conflict, "the figure of 30,000 plus is ridiculous", Fisk said, adding that the West did not care about Iraqi deaths.

Bush quoted the figure in the lead-up to Iraq's general election in December. The White House later made clear it was not an official government estimate but was based on media reports.

The Americans were trapped and the only way out was to talk directly to the insurgents, mostly former Iraqi soldiers who had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda, said the Arabic-speaking journalist, who has specialised in Middle Eastern affairs for more than two decades.

One of the few reporters to interview Osama bin Laden, Fisk said Al-Qaeda's creator was initially supported by Washington in the same way that Saddam Hussein was once backed by the Americans.

"Most of the people we hate we actually created," he said.

Source : here

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Deep Thoughts...

What happens when people loose the capacity for rational thought? They "cling to the familiar, arrive at premature conclusions, and impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes" according to Jack Glaser, Arie Kruglanski, John Jost and Frank Sulloway in their paper Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition.

Kfir Alfia, co-founder and leader of the right-wing youth movement Protest Warriors found this out first hand in 2005 at a pro-war rally. Check out this video of what happened when Kfir and one of his loyal members tried to support like minded folks at an anti-Cindy Sheehan rally. If you can't quite catch what the gentleman at the end says, here it is:
These people came to confuse! These people came to confuse! They're leftists and they're acting as if they are conservatives, or people supporting peace and they're leftists! Or you can see it's in the literature! [Whatever the hell that last sentence means. - DJEB]
Rock n Rev has a report of the event at his website as well.

It's hard being a raving lunatic apparently. Even your fellow lunatics don't understand you.

Welcome to Greater Georgelandia

Power to the peephole! Another animation from Mark Fiore.

A Tribute to Iraqi Ingenuity...

Riverbend continues to inspire us all by not just living through the nightmare that his happening to her beloved country Iraq , but keeping the world informed of her thoughts and observations throughout what must be a living hell for almost all Iraqis.

Her latest article looks at the reconstruction effort taking place in Iraq today and compares it to the damage done to the country during the 1991 gulf war or as she says using ' American terminology, after Iraq ‘liberated’ Kuwait in 1990'.

what damage was done ?

Well her article states 'For 42 days, Baghdad and other cities and towns were bombarded with nearly 140,000 tons of explosives, by international estimates. The bombing was relentless- schools, housing complexes, factories, bridges, electric power stations, ministries, sewage facilities, oil refineries, operators, and even bomb shelters (including the only baby formula factory in Iraq and the infamous Amirya Shelter bombing where almost 400 civilians were killed). '

Here are the numbers and types of buildings damaged or destroyed as listed on her site

Schools and scholastic facilities – 3960
Universities, labs, dormitories – 40
Health facilities (including hospitals, clinics, medical warehouses) – 421
Telephone operators, communication towers, etc. – 475
Bridges, buildings, housing complexes – 260
Warehouses, shopping centers, grain silos – 251
Churches and mosques – 159
Dams, water pumping stations, agricultural facilities – 200
Petroleum facilities (including refineries) – 145
General services (shelters, sewage treatment plants, municipalities) - 830
Factories, mines, industrial facilities - 120

So how long did it take to rebuild all of this ? (whilst sanctions were in place against Iraq)

Well Riverbend informs us that 'Two years and approximately 8 billion Iraqi dinars later, nearly 90% of the damage had been repaired. It took an estimated 6,000 engineers (all Iraqi), 42,000 technicians, and 12,000 administrators, but bridges were soon up again, telephones were more or less functioning in most areas, refineries were working, water was running and electricity wasn’t back 100%, but it was certainly better than it is today. Within the first two years over 100 small and large bridges had been reconstructed, 16 refineries, over 50 factories and industrial compounds, etc.'

Are things going just as well this time ? , surely we can reconstruct the country better than the 'butcher of Baghdad' could manage.

Well no 'Nearly three years after this war, the buildings are still piles of debris. Electricity is terrible. Water is cut off for days at a time. Telephone lines come and go. Oil production isn’t even at pre-war levels… and Iraqis hear about the billions upon billions that come and go. A billion here for security… Five hundred million there for the infrastructure… Millions for voting… Iraq falling into deeper debt… Engineers without jobs simply because they are not a part of this political party or that religious group… And the country still in shambles'

Please check out the full article on the link above and don't miss the photographic evidence that she provides to back up her view. There is no better place to go if you want to know what Iraqis are really feeling about what is happening each and every day in their country.

If you still want more after taking in her thoughts then I would advise this excellent review of the article at Daily Kos ( HT to Hype)

Official US agency paints dire picture of 'out-of-control' Iraq

An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".

The "conflict assessment" is an attachment to an invitation to contractors to bid on a project rehabilitating Iraqi cities published earlier this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).

The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" described by George Bush.

The USAid analysis talks of an "internecine conflict" involving religious, ethnic, criminal and tribal groups. "It is increasingly common for tribesmen to 'turn in' to the authorities enemies as insurgents - this as a form of tribal revenge," the paper says, casting doubt on the efficacy of counter-insurgent sweeps by coalition and Iraqi forces.

Meanwhile, foreign jihadist groups are growing in strength, the report said.

"External fighters and organisations such as al-Qaida and the Iraqi offshoot led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are gaining in number and notoriety as significant actors," USAid's assessment said. "Recruitment into the ranks of these organisations takes place throughout the Sunni Muslim world, with most suicide bombers coming from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region."

The assessment conflicted sharply with recent Pentagon claims that Zarqawi's group was in "disarray".

Read the full article here.

Agip: Never let it be said they aren't immoral

Perhaps it is because they are an oil company...

According to Agip's companies website, "[t]he company has also adopted a code of practice in its relations with its stakeholders and is committed to the development of guidelines and policies pertinent to corporate responsibility, to investing in people and their valorisation and to the pursuit of sustainable development through the integration of environmental and social considerations in its growth processes. "

But which part of "corporate responsibility" or which "social considerations" did they use when they bought oil rights from the Ecuadorean Huaorani Indians for, among other trinkets and small items, rice, butter, a whistle, two soccar balls and a stopwatch? From AlterNet:

Scanning bookshelves in his tiny law office in Quito, Ecuador, Bolivar Beltran's disdain for Big Oil is as legible as the contracts that map their nefarious ways.

"These were all negotiated in secret," says the soft-spoken attorney and Ecuadorian congressional aide, explaining how he used a lawsuit last year to obtain pages of once-classified contracts between the Ecuadorian military and 16 multinational oil companies.


Too often, the tribes' introduction to modernity comes from oil company negotiators. By finessing them into signing away oil access in morally deplorable contracts, these deals channel the legendary purchase of Manhattan island for $24 worth of trinkets. But they are learning fast. Increasingly savvy to the oilman's ways, tribes here are putting on war paint, grabbing spears and shotguns, and saying no, sometimes violently, to the world's most powerful interests.


In 2001, Agip Oil Ecuador BV, a subsidiary of the multibillion dollar Italian petrochemical company Eni, convinced an association of Huarani Indians to sign over oil access to tribal lands and give up their future right to sue for environmental damage. In return Agip gave, among other things, modest allotments of medicine and food, a $3,500 school house, plates and cups, an Ecuadorian flag, two soccer balls and a referee's whistle.

Other contracts, some marked classified, are signed by multinational oil companies and the Ecuadorian military. Activists and attorneys interviewed for this story say the documents prove the Ecuadorian army has become a private security force for oil companies, one obligated to patrol vast swaths of jungle lands while engaging, and spying on, Ecuadorian citizens opposed to oil operations.

The contracts I reviewed typically required companies to provide money and nonlethal logistical support such as food and fuel in exchange for military protection of staff and facilities in remote jungle areas.


In July 2001, a "master agreement" was signed between the Ecuadorian Ministry of Defense and 16 oil companies, including Petroecuador, the state oil company, and U.S.-based companies Kerr-McGee, Burlington Resources and Occidental Oil. Covering a duration of five years, the document is stamped "Reservado" -- classified. Its purpose: "To establish, between the parties, the terms of collaboration and coordination of actions to guarantee the security of the oil installations and of the personnel that work in them." It obligates the military to undertake "the control of arms, explosives and undocumented persons" in areas of oil operations and to give periodic updates to oil executives in monthly meetings. For their part, oil companies are obligated, among other things, to provide food, fuel and medical attention while maintaining permanent communication links with military units in the sector.


Another contract between the ministry of defense and California-based Occidental Oil, dated April 2000 and also marked classified, required soldiers to "carry out armed patrol and checks of undocumented individuals in the area of Block 15; provide security guards for ground travel of personnel, materials, and equipment within the area of operations and its area of influence; [and] plan, execute and supervise counterintelligence operations to prevent acts of sabotage and vandalism that interfere with the normal development of hydrocarbon activities."

"This basically gives the company the ability to spy on citizens," Beltran told me, a sentiment echoed by Steve Donziger, a U.S. attorney involved in an Ecuadorian environmental lawsuit against Chevron Corp.

Read more>

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Memo stokes up terror flights row

The US may have used UK airports to transport terror suspects more than the twice so far admitted, a leaked Foreign Office memo suggests. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says only two cases, in 1998, have been found where such transfers were approved.

But the memo published in the New Statesman magazine shows uncertainty. "The papers we have uncovered so far suggest that there could be more than the two cases referred to in the House by the foreign secretary" it says.

The memo, written in early December, is apparently designed to prepare Tony Blair for questions about the flights - part of a process known as "extraordinary rendition".

It says officials are urgently examining the files.

"We now cannot say that we have received no such requests for the use of UK territory or air space for 'extraordinary rendition'," , "We should try to avoid getting drawn on detail" and "try to move the debate on... underlining all the time the strong counter-terrorist rationale for close co-operation with the US" the memo states .

The Foreign Office and Downing Street both refused to comment on a leaked document.

Source : BBC

What a surprise , It seems Jack Straw may not have been telling the truth when he tried to say this only happened during the time of President Clinton .

It has often been said that ' A lie can work its way around the world before the truth has even put its boots on' . I just never considered that the boots in question would be on the feet of a suspect who was on his way to be illegally tortured .

For all the latest on the constantly evolving issue of 'extraordinary renditions' why not check out Reykjavik Transit. A great source on this subject .

Exclusive interview with Howard Zinn

A few days ago Stefan from Cultureblog posted an exclusive interview with Howard Zinn . You so rarely see bloggers (including myself) making the effort to get out there and actually do the ground work creating the original articles that has made the blogosphere as important as it has become. So I think this kind of work should be commended

Check it out for yourself at Cultureblog ( a new site with original content )

Nearly 50 Killed in another day of tragedy for Iraq

Gunmen and car bombings killed nearly 50 Iraqis in several attacks around the country Wednesday, police officials said, in a new wave of violence that has ended a week-long lull in fighting.

Gunmen ambushed a heavily defended convoy of telecommunications workers traveling the streets of the capital Wednesday morning, killing 10 security guards and kidnapping two African engineers, an Iraqi government spokesman said.

It was unclear who seized the engineers, who worked for the Iraqna cell phone company, said Col. Mohammed Ahmed Nuaimi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry. Nuaimi said the ambush had taken place in Baghdad's western Nafaq al-Shurta district, which neighbors a Sunni Arab-dominated area of the city. A report by the Associated Press, citing a statement by Iraqna, said that the kidnapped engineers had come from Malawi and Madagascar.

Baghdad police also discovered the bodies of seven people, believed to be Shiites, who had been left in a deserted area of the Wahdah neighborhood, Nuaimi said. He believed that the victims had been kidnapped from the same area a few days before.

Nuaimi also said that two car-bomb explosions in the capital wounded several people, including five police officers, but that no one was killed.

In the town of Nibaei in northern Iraq, police found the bodies of 25 people who had been shot in the back of their heads, a police spokesman there said in an interview. A witness told police that armed men had set up checkpoints and scanned the identity cards of passersby with the goal of killing police officers and other government employees, Lt. Raed Mahdi Khazraji of the Salah al-Din provincial police force said. Khazraji said that the witness had been spared because he was a retired teacher.

Another group of gunmen attacked a police station in Iskandariyah, about 25 miles south of Baghdad, a spokesman for the Babil province police force said. Two officers were killed and four were wounded in the ensuing firefight, police Capt. Muthanna Ahmed said. The police captured three of the gunmen, Ahmed said, and discovered that one of them was a foreign fighter.

In another attack reported Wednesday, a roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi police patrol in the town of Saadiya to the east of Baghdad, killing three officers and one civilian, according to a spokesman for the Diyala province police.

Source Washington Post

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

'War on Terror' Continues to Create Terrorists

The CIA’s recent botched attempt to kill al Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman Zawahiri, in Pakistan illustrates why the Bush administration’s overly aggressive “war on terror” actually motivates terrorists to attack the United States. Certainly, capturing or killing the brains behind al Qaeda is an important goal. Unfortunately, in the U.S. method of warfare—which unduly emphasizes attrition, heavy firepower and sophisticated weaponry, even against guerrillas and terrorists—the technology of killing has outstripped the quality of human intelligence needed to hit the correct targets. The CIA’s unmanned Predator drone fired missiles that killed many Pakistani civilians, including women and children, but apparently not Zawahiri.

Making things even worse, the killing of women and children continues to spark public outrage all across Pakistan, leading to mass protests in all of Pakistan’s major cities and the trashing and burning of a U.S.-supported aid organization. Such public ire will make it even less likely that the United States will receive accurate future intelligence about where Zawahiri and his boss, Osama bin Laden, are hiding, even though the prices on their heads are substantial.

And to shore up the popularity of his war on terror at home, which has been dragged down by an incongruous, unnecessary, now unpopular war in Iraq, President Bush has combined these reckless military actions with cowboy rhetoric, which only further stoke the flames of anti-U.S. hatred among radical Islamists. Bringing back the “clash of civilizations” rhetoric used during the Cold War against the “godless Communists,” the administration is now implying that those with “too much god of an alien kind” are trying to build a worldwide empire that could again threaten the United States. The president has cast the war on Islamic terrorism as a contest between the men in white hats who advocate freedom and those with black headgear who want to create “a totalitarian Islamic empire reaching from Spain to Indonesia.”

Read More at the source

F.B.I spied on thousands during 'pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy'

In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy.

As the bureau was running down those leads, its director, Robert S. Mueller III, raised concerns about the legal rationale for a program of eavesdropping without warrants, one government official said. Mr. Mueller asked senior administration officials about "whether the program had a proper legal foundation," but deferred to Justice Department legal opinions, the official said.

Read more here

That is the question that keeps being asked "whether the program had a proper legal foundation," Well Al Gore seems to think that it is not legal , in fact even Republican Senators such as Arlen Specter are walking through a political minefield finding themselves making comments such as ...

"Impeachment is a remedy. After impeachment, you could have a criminal prosecution, but the principal remedy ... under our society is to pay a political price."