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Friday, November 30, 2007

They talk in Annapolis They kill in Gaza

Source almanartv

Israeli Air strike Martyrs 4 Palestinians

29/11/2007 Four Hamas resistance fighters have been martyred in a new Israeli occupation air raid and another attack in the Gaza Strip.

The martyrs were identified as Saher Shahin, 25, and Imad Abou Tuhema, 22.

They were members of the Al-Qassam, the armed wing of the Islamic resistance movement.

An Israeli occupation army spokesman confirmed the raid, saying a helicopter attacked "several Palestinian suspects who were approaching the border."

According to the United Nations Charter, struggle against military occupation of territories of the member states is legitimate.

Two other members Abdallah Astal, 22, and Khami Abu Ruyia, 18 died when a tank shell hit them in another area in the south of the Gaza Strip.

Two Hamas members were wounded and two others died in the air attack which took place near Khan Yunus in the south of the Gaza Strip late Wednesday.

All Options Open against Israel after Annapolis: Hamas

29/11/2007 Hamas warned on Thursday that all options were open for the Islamic resistance movement against Israel after a US conference that revived settlement talks and five days in which Israeli occupation troops had killed 12 resistance fighters in Gaza. "All options are open to answer any crime, especially after the Annapolis conference, which gave the Zionists a green light to commit more and more crimes against our people," said a statement from the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military armed wing.

Since Sunday, Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip has killed 12 resistance fighters, most of them from the Islamic resistance movement. Hamas vigorously opposed the international conference in Annapolis, Maryland this week that revived Israeli-Palestinian talks after a seven-year freeze and to which the Islamic movement was not invited.

Hamas also warned the Palestinian leadership against making good on its pledge to implement the roadmap for Middle East talks - as expressed in a joint statement that the two sides agreed just before the start of the conference on Tuesday. The first phase of the roadmap - an international plan that has made next to no progress since its launch in 2003 - calls for the Palestinians to undertake "visible" steps against fighters planning attacks on Israelis.

"It is not acceptable to implement the steps in the first phase of the roadmap, especially if they arrest our mujahedeen or take our weapons," the statement said. "If this happens, it will mean a declaration of war between us and any side which implements the roadmap steps."

In their joint statement, read out by US President George W. Bush at the start of the Annapolis conference on Tuesday, the Israelis and Palestinians agreed "to immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based roadmap."

Fatah, Hamas to Join Ranks if Israeli Army raids Gaza

Readers Number : 126

30/11/2007 Fatah will fight alongside Hamas if and when the Israeli occupation army launches a military operation in the Gaza Strip, a senior Fatah official in Gaza City said Thursday. Israeli occupation troops take up a position during a battle on the Gaza border. "Fatah won't remain idle in the face of an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip," the official said. "We will definitely fight together with Hamas against the Israeli army. It's our duty to defend our people against the occupiers." The Fatah official said his faction would place political differences aside and form a joint front against Israel if the Israeli army enters the Gaza Strip. "The homeland is more important than all our differences," he said.

The statements came amid reports that some Arab countries were planning to resume mediation efforts between Fatah and Hamas to avoid further deterioration in the aftermath of the Annapolis conference. According to the reports, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have decided to invite representatives of Fatah and Hamas for talks on ways of ending their power struggle. A senior Palestinian official who visited Cairo this week said the Egyptians and Saudis have reached the conclusion that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas won't be able to move forward with the talks with Israel without solving his problems with Hamas. The official said Abbas had given his blessing to Cairo and Riyadh to resume their efforts to end the crisis with Hamas.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak phoned Abbas Thursday and discussed with him the results of the Annapolis conference and the possibility of resuming negotiations between Fatah and Hamas. Abbas is currently on a visit to Tunisia, where he is expected to brief veteran PLO officials on the outcome of the conference. Earlier this week, the Egyptian government gave permission to several pro-Palestinian organizations in Egypt to send truckloads of food and medicine to the Gaza Strip. The trucks are scheduled to arrive in the Gaza Strip on Friday through the Rafah border crossing, which remains closed to travelers.

Hamas, meanwhile, is bracing for a massive Israeli occupation army operation to halt the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip. Sources in the Gaza Strip said Hamas's security forces have been placed on full alert and most of the movement's senior leaders have gone into hiding for fear of being targeted by Israel. In addition, Hamas has evacuated many of its security and civil institutions. Hamas leaders on Thursday tried to establish a link between the Annapolis conference and a potential Israeli army attack on the Gaza Strip. They said the latest escalation, which claimed the lives of some 20 Hamas members over the past week, was directly linked to the conference. Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said Israel was stepping up its military operations in the Gaza Strip to cover up for the "failure" of the Annapolis conference. He said the thousands of Palestinians who demonstrated against the conference over the past few days in the occupied West Bank indicated that a majority of the public were opposed to Annapolis.

Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri said the killing of six Hamas resistance fighters over the past 48 hours was one of the direct results of the Annapolis conference. "The Annapolis conference has failed," he said. "This conference was nothing but an attempt to impose the American and Israeli agenda on the Palestinians. The conference also gave a green light to Israel to launch a big military operation in the Gaza Strip."

Western Democracies Defending Apartheid

Olmert: Two States, or Israel is Finished


29/11/2007 "If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told daily Haaretz Wednesday, the day the Annapolis conference ended in an agreement to try to reach a Mideast settlement by the end of 2008.

Olmert said the Annapolis conference "met more than we could have defined as the Israeli expectations, but that will not absolve us of the difficulties there will be in the negotiations, which will be difficult, complex, and will require a very great deal of patience and sophistication."

According to Olmert, "we now have a partner," in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "He is a weak partner, who is not capable, and, as Tony Blair says, has yet to formulate the tools and may not manage to do so. But it is my job to do everything so that he receives the tools, and to reach an understanding on the guidelines for an agreement. Annapolis is not a historic turning point, but it is a point that can be of assistance."

On Wednesday, Olmert and Abbas met again separately with President George W. Bush, and later joined him, along with their chief negotiators, Israeli Foreign Minister Tsivi Livni and Ahmed Qurei, for a brief ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to inaugurate the Israeli-Palestinian talks. Olmert departed the U.S. Wednesday night and arrived in the occupied territories Thursday afternoon.

Olmert's private conversation with Bush Wednesday centered on blocking the Iranian nuclear threat. Olmert told reporters Wednesday that "there is nowhere I encounter greater understanding for Israel's existential issues than in the Oval Office."

At a meeting earlier this week in Washington, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov informed Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Russia has decided to supply the nuclear fuel rods for Iran's Bushehr power plant. The fuel will be sent to Iran in special packaging, in keeping with the instruction of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Lavrov told Barak, adding that "it is not so simple to open these packages without it being discovered."

Ahmadinejad: Israel will not survive
Wed, 28 Nov 2007 18:08:07
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the Zionist regime will not survive as it is established based on atrocities and tyranny.

He said after a cabinet session on Wednesday that the US-sponsored Mideast conference in Annapolis was doomed to 'failure'.

The Iranian President added that the issue of Palestine could only be resolved through respecting the rights of the Palestinian nation and its will, the condemnation of the occupation and restoring the right of Palestinian refugees to return.

"Soon, even the most politically optimistic individuals will agree that this conference was a failure from the start," Ahmadinejad continued.

“The people who expected a breakthrough at the meeting were mistaken,” he concluded.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An American story

Tue, 27 Nov 2007 21:24:31
By Hedieh Ghavidel, Press TV, Tehran

Dear Americans, PLEASE, don't stop to think!

Yes, Iran is after a nuclear bomb that is why the IAEA has released a report saying Tehran has been truthful about its nuclear activities. And of course the US government is against nuclear bombs and would never think of using them. Ask any Japanese about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and they will tell you all about it.

Nuclear weapons are bad. Nuclear technology is very bad; of course it depends on who has them and who uses them.

'No country' should have nuclear technology. 'No country' is Iran. The rest of the world does not fall under the 'no country' category.

It's absolutely fine, however, for India and Pakistan to have nuclear technology as much as it is necessary for France and China to sign the biggest nuclear deal in history. But 'no country' should be stopped before it can use nuclear technology to generate electricity.

What does NPT mean anyway? If Israelis don't want to sign such a treaty, why should they be forced to? How could one imagine the Israelis are after nukes?

How would IAEA inspectors know? They have never even seen an Israeli nuclear plant in the first place? Israel isn't an NPT member, so IAEA inspectors are not allowed to visit its nuclear facilities.

The innocent Israelis probably don't even know what a 'nuke' is and they are not considered 'no country' either, so there is no reason to worry.

There is no doubt the US government is after 'PEACE' that is why they are hosting a 'peace conference' on the Israel-Palestine conflict without the presence of the true representative of the Palestinian nation. How would Palestinians know what is in their best interest? How could they have any clue about what they want?

History has shown wise Americans should be allowed to impose their will on such inferior races, just as their forefathers laid the foundation of the US government on ethnic cleansing.

However, America is currently only concerned with humanitarian acts; therefore, it supports Israeli leaders who are patiently seeing to the cleansing of Palestine of all its original inhabitants.

American rulers take 'Global Peace' very seriously why else would they start an arms race in the Middle East? Serving two purposes at the same time, filling their pockets will oil dollar and threatening their arch enemy Iran.

Iranians are an uncultured race. They do not know the first thing about ethics. That is why their President accepted an invitation to speak at Columbia University, listened to the host insulting him and smiled while delivering his speech without insulting the host in return.

Iranians are violent people. They have traveled all the way across the world to invade the US' neighboring countries, Canada and Mexico, and constantly accuse Washington of helping terrorists kill their troops. Shame on them!

Tehran doesn't really want to see security in Iraq; that is why even though all relations with Washington were severed in 1979, Iran recently negotiated with compassionate Americans three times.

President Bush, America's role model in compassion, could not tolerate the gradually declining US economy, so he gave young Americans a window of opportunity, a chance to experience the American dream first hand in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the 'boys' get paid to willingly die and open up spots for new recruitment.

It is only fair to allow jobless young men to serve their country in a foreign land, kill and violate a couple of civilians and eventually become one of the faithfully departed. No one should miss out on this 'once in a life time' experience.

The American government is a model for all. It not only provides its youth with well-paid jobs, but also exports made-in-the-USA democracy to less-privileged nations without using unconventional weapons.

Most American soldiers who return home ill from radiation exposure have not sustained a battle injury. God's will is what defects children, whether they are American or Iraqi, for the US has never used DU weapons in Iraq. Even if they have, such weapons blessed by Washington only have redeeming qualities.

But of course, Americans need not stop to think.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Hezbollah wants US-free Lebanon

Mon, 26 Nov 2007 10:46:57

Hezbollah says Lebanon will not become a ME US base.
Hezbollah MP has said the Lebanese opposition will not allow the country to turn into a political base for the US in the Middle East.

Hezbollah representative, Hussein al-Haj Hassan, said the opposition is stronger and more united than ever, and is enduring the current conditions in Lebanon with patience.

The Lebanese opposition parties do not want to miss an opportunity to agree on a consensus candidate before the presidential election finally takes place.

He stressed that the stance taken by the opposition is not a sign of weakness, but an indication of the strong desire to preserve sovereignty and unity inside Lebanon.

He advised the March 14 Alliance to ditch the idea of a half-plus-one vote permanently, if it is an advocate of stability and national reconciliation.

According to the Lebanese constitution, the presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian in the country's sectarian power-sharing system.

The candidates must win two-thirds of the parliamentary votes to become president.



Oxford invitation draws fire
Mon, 26 Nov 2007 01:03:11

David Irving, Historian
UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission has slammed the Oxford University's debating society, for inviting Holocaust denier David Irving.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission, said Irving never should have been invited, AP reported.

Irving served a prison sentence in Austria from February to December 2006 denying the Holocaust.

Protests are expected outside the society on Monday, where Irving plans to attend the Free Speech Forum, along with Nick Griffin, the leader of the Britain's far-right British National Party (BNP).

The BNP has opposed immigration and been accused of promoting race riots in northern England between whites and South Asian immigrants.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hidden Hand in Lebanese Politics?

U.S. Renews Support for Saniora

Source almanatv

24/11/2007 The Bush administration on Friday urged all parties in Lebanon to remain calm and refrain from violence after the country's parliament failed to elect a new president as required by the constitution. The U.S. State Department appealed for the Lebanese military and security services to uphold the rule of law and for political actors to negotiate. The U.S. statement, however, noted that the unconstitutional government of Fouad Saniora "will temporarily assume executive powers and responsibilities until a new president is elected by Lebanon's Parliament."
"This is the procedure stipulated by the Lebanese constitution and will ensure that the government is able to continue conducting its business without interruption," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in the statement.
"The United States government commends Lebanon's armed forces and security services for their stated commitment to ensuring law and order during this interim period, and we urge all Lebanese political groups to do their part to maintain calm and promote security for Lebanon's citizens," he said.

The European Union also voiced regret that Lebanon failed to elect a new head of state and urged political factions to agree on a compromise. "The EU Presidency notes with regret that it hasn't been possible to elect a president of the Republic of Lebanon," Portugal, current holder of the bloc's rotating presidency, said in a statement.
"The EU Presidency appeals to all political parties to continue dialogue with a view to electing a president as soon as possible," the statement said. Portugal urged "all concerned to respect the Lebanese constitution and to abstain from all actions that could upset public order and the security of the citizens," noting that that Lebanon's stability is "important for the entire region".

Meanwhile, UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday expressed deep concern over the Lebanon situation and said he "regrets" the failure by rival politicians to elect a successor to Lahoud. Ban "regrets this development and urges all parties to maintain calm as well as to further intensify efforts to reach a compromise as soon as possible," a statement said. Noting that he was "deeply concerned at the fragility of the situation in Lebanon, the secretary general called on "all parties to live up to their responsibilities and act within the constitutional framework as well as in a peaceful and democratic manner."

Geagea Rejects a President Adopts Hezbollah-FPM Accord

24/11/2007 The head of the Lebanese Forces (LF) Samir Geagea said Saturday that he opposes the election of a president who is committed to the existing understanding between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) of General Michel Aoun. He claimed that General Aoun is not the leading Christian leader and urged him to consider consensus on presidential candidates Nassib Lahoud and Butros Harb who represent the Feb. 14 bloc to "salvage Lebanon." Geagea, addressing a news conference, also accused Hezbollah and the FPM of impeding the presidential elections rejecting to adopt their understanding paper.

Meanwhile, General Michel Aoun invited Christian political, spiritual, economic, Labor and media personalities to meetings at his residence to discuss threats facing the nation due parliament's failure to elect a new head of state. The Monday-to-Wednesday meetings were called due to the "extraordinary political situation arising from the presidential vacuum and claims by a non-constitutional government that it has assumed power," according to text of the invitation. Aoun said assuming presidential powers by the Saniora government "contradicts the constitution and entente and deals a blow to coexistence" between Lebanon's 18 sects. He urged all Christian politicians invited to the meetings at his residence in suburban Rabiyeh, east of Beirut, to "shoulder your responsibilities … in order to salvage the nation and preserve Lebanon's pluralist image."

Lebanon, Lahoud - Foreign intervention

20,000 troops deployed in Beirut
Sat, 24 Nov 2007 11:00:23

An army checkpoint in Beirut
About 20,000 army troops have been deployed in different parts of Beirut after Lebanon's President declared a state of emergency.

President Emil Lahoud handed over the country's security to the army amid mounting tension in the country and the rival political camps' failure to agree on a compromise candidate to replace him.

Lahoud has said that he considers the government of PM Fuad Siniora as illegitimate.

Amid looming crisis in the country that may plunge it into another civil war, Lahoud declared the state of emergency as of November 24 and tasked the army with establishing security in Lebanon.

The Lebanese Parliament was scheduled to elect a successor for the President on Friday, but it was forced to deter the session to November 30 due to the lack of quorum required for the election.


Lahoud gone Lebanon in political hole

Sat, 24 Nov 2007 06:51:56
Emile Lahoud stepped down and vacated the Baabda presidential palace in Beirut at midnight Friday, leaving the country in political crisis.

The former army general left office, after nine years, during an official ceremony held for him at the presidential palace in an area northeast of Beirut at midnight (2200 GMT).

Hours before his presidential powers expired, Lahoud declared that threats of a state of emergency prevail over Lebanon and he assigned the army to maintain law and order throughout the nation.

But Lahoud's decision was rejected by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora who said in a statement that the presidential measure is "not factual and not based on constitutional or legal authorities". Neither Lahoud nor the Lebanese opposition coalition led by Hezbollah recognize the legitimacy of the Siniora government.

Consequently, Lebanon with no president for the moment and no consensus between the majority and the opposition as to who should fill the power vacuum, is a country in the grips of a very tenuous security situation.

Siniora said Friday that once President Lahoud's mandate expires at midnight Friday the government will stay on to rule the country.

Earlier in the day parliament failed for the fifth time to choose a new president. National Asembly Speaker Nabi Berri said that the body will convene again next Friday to try and elect the 12th president in the country's history.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

35m Americans go hungry in 2006

Thu, 15 Nov 2007 06:18:58

Around 35 million Americans were hungry in 2006.
The number of Americans who went hungry in 2006 was held in check at 35 million, the US Agriculture Department says in its report.

A total of 12.65 million households were "food insecure," or 10.9 percent of US homes, up from 12.59 million a year ago, the US Agriculture Department said Wednesday.

The USDA defines food insecurity - its metric for measuring hunger - as having difficulty acquiring enough food for the household throughout the year.

"It looks very stable from this year to last year," said Mark Nord, who co-authored the annual report for USDA's Economic Research Service.

Overall, 35.52 million people, including 12.63 million children, went hungry compared with 35.13 million in 2005. The survey was conducted in December 2006 and represented 294 million people, an increase of 2.5 million from 2005.

Food advocacy groups said the figures showed the United States was not doing enough to combat hunger, and feared conditions could worsen.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

U.S. Aid to Musharraf is Largely Untraceable Cash Transfers

After Pervez Musharraf declared martial law this weekend, Condoleezza Rice vowed to review U.S. assistance to Pakistan, one of the largest foreign recipients of American aid. Musharraf, of course, has been a crucial American ally since the start of the Afghanistan war in 2001, and the U.S. has rewarded him ever since with over $10 billion in civilian and (mostly) military largesse. But, perhaps unsure whether Musharraf's days might in fact be numbered, Rice contended that the explosion of money to Islamabad over the past seven years was "not to Musharraf, but to a Pakistan you could argue was making significant strides on a number of fronts."

In fact, however, a considerable amount of the money the U.S. gives to Pakistan is administered not through U.S. agencies or joint U.S.-Pakistani programs. Instead, the U.S. gives Musharraf's government about $200 million annually and his military $100 million monthly in the form of direct cash transfers. Once that money leaves the U.S. Treasury, Musharraf can do with it whatever he wants. He needs only promise in a secret annual meeting that he'll use it to invest in the Pakistani people. And whatever happens as the result of Rice's review, few Pakistan watchers expect the cash transfers to end.

About $10.58 billion has gone to Pakistan since 9/11. That puts Pakistan in an elite category of U.S. foreign-aid recipients: only Israel, Egypt and Jordan get more or comparable U.S. funding. (That's only in the unclassified budget: the covert-operations budget surely includes millions more, according to knowledgeable observers.) While Israel and Egypt get more money, Pakistan and Jordan are the only countries that get U.S. cash from four major funding streams: development assistance, security assistance, "budget support" and Coalition Support Funds. Pakistan, however, gets most of its U.S. assistance from Coalition Support Funds and from budget support. And it's those two funding streams that have minimal accountability at best.

The "budget support" package is the lion's share of U.S. economic assistance to Pakistan -- and it's not spent in conjunction with any U.S. agency. "It's a cash transfer," says Lisa Curtis, a South Asia analyst at the Heritage Foundation who used to work on the South Asia desk at the State Department and for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-ID). "That goes directly to the Pakistani treasury." It totalled around $200 million each year until earlier this year, when Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) plucked $75 million of out of it and put it in an education fund for USAID to administer. In theory, budget support is supposed to free up the treasuries of the four countries that receive it for investing in their national infrastructure. But in practice, recipients can do with it whatever they like. "The notion is it gives them greater flexibility on how to use the money," explains Craig Cohen, vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "The trade-off is accountability."

In Pakistan's case, the only oversight is an annual agreement, known as the Shared Objectives statement, whereby top State Department and Treasury Department officials receive from Musharraf deputies -- usually Prime Minister Shawkat Aziz -- an explanation of how Musharraf intends to spend the money. The agreement is reached entirely in secret. "A good question is what are the objectives we're basing this budget support on," Cohen says.

Accountability also suffers in the Coalition Support Funds. According to Rick Barton of CSIS, who spearheaded perhaps the most comprehensive report on the murky world of U.S.-Pakistan ties, Pakistan has gotten over $6 billion in Coalition Support Funds since 9/11, with disbursements rising to total about $100 million a month. This, too, is a direct cash transfer. "The Coalition Support funding is basically a sort of a handshake deal between militaries," Barton says. "We don’t have good sense where it goes. ... we don't ask a lot of questions, and we don't have a lot of record-keeping. "

Only about ten percent of the $10.58 billion since 9/11 has gone toward development aid and humanitarian assistance, according to the CSIS report -- even after Pakistan suffered a devastating earthquake in October 2005. "Close to 90 percent goes to the military-led government," Barton says. "Some of it is directly into the military, and the other pieces go into the Musharraf government."

In Pakistan, the military runs not just the government, but major sections of the economy as well. Joshua Hammer recently reported for The Atlantic that the Pakistani military owns large stakes in the country's "banks, cable-TV companies, insurance agencies, sugar refineries, private security firms, schools, airlines, cargo services, and textile factories." Mainlining largely untraceable money into the Pakistani treasury helps this system perpetuate itself -- even as widespread public discontent, from both moderates and radicals, boils over. It also sends the signal that the U.S. prefers to have relations with Pervez Musharraf rather than the Pakistani people.

"The whole orientation of policy and assistance provided since 9/11 is that he's the indispensable leader," says Cohen. "And the money runs through the central government and that leader."

What Has Bush Done?

Russia Suspends Arms Treaty
source almanartv

07/11/2007 Russia's parliament has voted to suspend Moscow's support for a key treaty limiting the deployment of armed forces along its border with Europe. Parliament's lower house, the Duma, unanimously agreed to temporarily abandon the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe treaty (CFE). The bill still faces approval in the upper house in December before President Vladimir Putin can sign it. The CFE is one of many issues recently putting Moscow at odds with the West. The Duma approved the bill in the 418-0 vote.

In the motion, MPs said the CFE treaty "no longer responds to the security interests of the Russian Federation" in light of Nato expansion and other factors in Europe. The vote amounted to legislative confirmation of a decree signed by President Putin in July.

The CFE was one of the most significant arms control agreements of the Cold War years. It set strict limits on the number of conventional weapons - battle tanks, combat aircraft, heavy artillery - that the members of the Warsaw Pact and Nato could deploy in European territory stretching from the Atlantic coast to the Urals.

In the wake of the collapse of communism, the treaty was revised in 1999, in part to address Russian concerns. Russia ratified the 1999 revised version, but Nato has not done so. Nato states are first demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia and Moldova, but Moscow says the issues are not linked. The Kremlin has also voiced concern over US plans to station part of a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The above is in response in BUSH below:

Bush: Europe need for missile shield is 'urgent'

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 23, 2007

President George W. Bush on Tuesday warned that Europe urgently needs a US missile defense system to blunt a growing threat from Iran, despite vocal opposition from Russia.

In a speech to the US National Defense University, Bush said the world may have less than a decade before arch-foe Tehran possesses rockets able to reach the United States and strike any country in Europe, perhaps by 2015.

"Today we have no way to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat. And so we must deploy a missile defense system there that can," he said. "The need for missile defense in Europe is real, and I believe it is urgent."

But Bush seemed starkly at odds with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said in Prague that the United States might build the system but delay activating it until there was "definitive proof" of an Iranian threat.

"We would consider tying together the activation of the sites in Poland and the Czech Republic with definitive proof of the threat, in other words Iranian missile tests and so on," Gates said in a joint news conference with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.

Bush's message was that the world could ill-afford to wait.

"Our intelligence community assesses that, with continued foreign assistance, Iran could develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States and all of Europe before 2015," he said.

"If it chooses to do so, and the international community does not take steps to prevent it, it is possible Iran could have this capability. And we need to take it seriously now," he said.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Gates was referring to the "possibility" that the missile shield may not have "to be deployed if we can verify that Iran doesn't have ballistic weapons that they could aim at our NATO allies or at us.

"But those are lots of 'ifs,'" she said. "We do believe that we are going to need it to prevent against a threat from Iran."

Bush also sought to soothe angry Russian opposition to the plan, insisting that the system aimed to thwart possible attacks from North Korea or Iran -- not Moscow.

"The Cold War is over. Russia is not our enemy," he said, noting that the US plan calls for 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic and could be "easily overwhelmed" by Moscow's massive missile arsenal.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do the math," quipped Bush.

The United States has been increasingly vocal about what it says is the threat posed by Iran, including its nuclear program, alleged support for terrorism, and alleged aid to insurgents targeting US forces in Iraq.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin has blasted US plans for a separate US missile shield and warned Washington against any military action against Iran, which says it seeks atomic energy for civilian purposes.

Top officials in Moscow have questioned US assessments of Iran's nuclear program and missile development, and warned darkly of "measures to neutralize that threat" if Russian fears are ignored.

Gates said Tuesday in Prague that Washington had proposed a Russian presence at the planned US anti-missile sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Bush also signaled he was open to a proposal from Putin to use radar facilities in ex-Soviet Azerbaijan and southern Russia, installations that would not peer into Russian territory, but that they would be in addition to current US plans.

"We believe these sites could be included as part of a wider threat monitoring system that could lead to an unprecedented level of strategic cooperation between our two countries," he said.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Once too Often!

UNIFIL urges Israel to halt overflights
Wed, 07 Nov 2007 08:47:39

UN has asked Israel to stop overflights.
Spokeswoman for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon Yasmina Bouzian has urged the Zionist regime to stop violating Lebanese airspace.

"We have protested to the Israeli army against the air violations and we have asked that they be stopped," Bouziane said on Tuesday.

The overflights "do not only constitute a violation to Lebanese sovereignty, but also to (UN Security Council) Resolution 1701... and they create a tense atmosphere," she added.

She pointed out that they had already submitted reports to the UN Security Council on the overflights.

The UN has repeatedly denounced Israel's overflights as undermining the credibility of UN peacekeepers posted in south Lebanon and efforts to stabilize the region.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Message: If You Can Exercise, So Can We

Hanan Awarekeh almanartv

06/11/2007 Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Kassem has confirmed that thousands of the party's resistance fighters have staged secret military maneuvers without weapons or uniforms near occupied Palestine's border in southern Lebanon. On Monday Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, reported that Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah personally supervised the maneuvers, which it said were carried out in the last three days and were the biggest ever staged in Lebanon. In an interview with the Lebanese 'OTV' Channel Monday night, Sheikh Kassem said that these maneuvers were meant to deter Israel from launching another assault against Lebanon, and increase Hezbollah’s readiness for any future war. Hezbollah resistance fighters gathered south of the Litani River for an “exercise of defensive nature against an overall Israeli strike”, and to prove that the scope of Hezbollah's missiles could cover the entire territory of Israeli settlements. Sheikh Kassem stressed that UN resolution 1701 was not breached since the maneuvers were carried out without arms, taking into consideration the presence of the UNIFIL and the Lebanese army in the area. Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah said it was only "normal" that the group be fully ready to confront any possible Israeli attack. "Clearly, we will not let Israel carry out aggression against Lebanon while we sit still," he told LBCI TV, referring to the increased Israeli air violations mainly over southern Lebanon in recent days. For his part, Hezbollah's senior official Sheikh Hassan Izzeddine also confirmed the maneuvers. "In response to what the enemy is doing, this maneuver by the Islamic resistance was part of its work and its commitment to always defend Lebanon, its sovereignty and its people."

If Israel Can Do Drill, So Can We
Speaking to The Daily Star in a telephone interview, former senior UNIFIL adviser Timur Goksel said “Hezbollah is sending a political message to Israel. It has always been Hezbollah’s way to respond to Israel in kind," Goksel said.
He added that the message to Israel was simple: "If you can do these exercises, so can we." He also said that by being unarmed and not in uniform during the exercise, Hezbollah did not "legally" violate 1701.

Israeli Reaction
Israeli media dealt with Hezbollah’s maneuvers as a dangerous threat to Israel’s security at a time the Israeli officials refused to comment on the issue. But it was reported that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has raised the issue in a meeting with the Foreign and Security Committee. Some Israeli security officials were quoted as saying that Israel has to send a suitable warning in response to these maneuvers and urged Israel to do something about them and not to hide behind its fingers. The Israeli media also denied what the head of the unconstitutional government Fouad Saniora had earlier said that the maneuvers did not take place and that they were, in fact, "simulations."

Saniora on Monday said that authorities checked with military and police units as well as the UNIFIL and "they confirmed nothing on the ground really happened." "It was, let's say, a simulation probably, in an operation room, on the desk, probably they did such a thing," he claimed. "This has been confirmed by all the sources."

Israeli Channel 10 said that the Hezbollah maneuvers were the most public yet. "This was not a simulation on papers, as Saniora had claimed, this is what we call leadership training in many south Lebanese regions including south of the Litani River. The Israeli army had monitored the whole process. It was not only of defensive nature, but was offensive as well."

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Bush Gives Musharraf Tips on Eliminating Democracy

from other bloggers
Andy Borowitz

In what he described as "an emergency mission to help a key ally in the war on terror," President George W. Bush flew to Islamabad today to give General Pervez Musharraf tips on how to eliminate democracy.

Mr. Bush said he scheduled the trip just hours after General Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan and suspended elections "because when it comes to eliminating democracy, I thought my friend Pervez could benefit from my experience."

[...] "When you're getting rid of democracy, the last thing you want to do is tell people you're doing it."

Mr. Bush said that eliminating such things as privacy, freedom of speech and the constitution had to be done "very quietly and stealthy-like."

He also criticized the Pakistani dictator's firing of the chief justice of the Supreme Court: "Trust me, if you're going to get rid of elections, a Supreme Court could come in handy."

What Bush has done to Democracy here is probably reversible. I'm not so sure about Pakistan.


The preceding was sort of in a jocular vein. The following is not but it fits right in, from Juan Cole:

Musharraf appears to have concluded that the Supreme Court would rule against him, thus his coup-within-a-coup, which at last throws off the tattered facade of democratic institutions and reveals the naked military tyranny underneath. Pitifully, Musharraf explained that he had to make the coup in order to ensure the transition to democracy he says he began 8 years ago. Apparently the "transition" (i.e. Musharraf's dictatorship) will last for the rest of his life.

No wonder Bush is conferring closely with Musharraf! He wants to learn from an expert!

© Alternate Brain and Gordon

Monday, November 5, 2007

Momentum built for Cheney impeachment

Sun, 04 Nov 2007 19:23:38

Dennis Kucinich
Congressman Dennis Kucinich says he will offer a resolution to the House of Representatives to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Democratic lawmaker who will introduce his privileged resolution next week said on Friday that the momentum is built for Cheney's impeachment.

"Millions of citizens across the nation are demanding Congress to stand up against the Vice President's abuse of power," Kucinich said.

"The Vice President continues to use his office to advocate continued occupation of Iraq and prod our nation into a belligerent stance against Iran," added the US presidential hopeful.

While the American media has decided to keep Kucinich's announcement on a low profile 54 percent of the Americans are in favor of impeaching Cheney according to an American Research Group survey conducted last July.

Analysts believe the number of pro-impeachment Americans is on the rise due to Cheney's hawkish policies towards the Islamic republic.


Hezbollah stages maneuvers

Lebanese Hezbollah stages maneuvers
Mon, 05 Nov 2007 20:06:41

Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah
The Lebanese Resistance Movement, Hezbollah, stages maneuvers in southern Lebanon in a bid to counter last week's Israeli war games.

Al-Akhbar newspaper wrote that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah personally supervised the maneuvers. Thousands of unarmed combatants took part in the exercise making it the largest scale maneuvers in the history of Hezbollah.

The Hezbollah's exercises were carried out in the last three days without weapons or uniforms, billing it as the biggest ever staged near Israel's border in southern Lebanon.

"In response to what the enemy is doing, this maneuver by the Islamic resistance (Hezbollah) was part of its work and its commitment to always defend Lebanon, its sovereignty and its people,'' Sheik Hassan Izzedine said on Monday.


Hizbullah confirms maneuvers; Lebanese gov't downplays action

Published: 11.05.07, 15:30 / Israel News

Hizbullah has staged military maneuvers near Israel's border in southern Lebanon to counter last week's Israeli war games, the group said Monday.

The pro-Hizbullah newspaper Al-Akhbar reported thousands of unarmed fighters took part, but the Lebanese government downplayed the drills as likely just a simulation. (AP)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Kucinich questions Bush mental health

Wed, 31 Oct 2007 10:38:37

US democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich
US presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich has questioned Bush's mental health for claiming Iran's nuclear case might trigger World War III.

"I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health," said Kucinich. "There's something wrong. He does not seem to understand his words have real impact."

The democratic candidate who was speaking to the editorial board of The Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday added, "You cannot be a president of the United States who's wanton in his expression of violence."

"There's a lot of people who need care. He might be one of them. If there isn't something wrong with him, then there's something wrong with us. This, to me, is a very serious question."

Kucinich, who is a US Congressman from Ohio, has proposed to impeach both Bush and his Vice President Dick Cheney.

Bush had claimed Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons, adding this may lead to World War III. His remarks drew fierce domestic and international criticism.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez also condemned Bush's war rhetoric, saying he must be taken to a madhouse.

Tehran has rejected Bush's allegations as baseless, insisting that its nuclear program is solely aimed at peaceful purposes. The UN nuclear watchdog, IAEA, has also confirmed there is no evidence to prove Iran is developing nuclear weaponry.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

US spin doctors fib about Iraq

Fri, 02 Nov 2007 22:01:11
By Bita Ghaffari, Press TV, Tehran
Western print and broadcast media have been giving much hype to an apparent decline in violence-related deaths of US soldiers and Iraqi civilians in October 2007.

Figures say 875 Iraqi civilians have been killed in Oct. compared to 1,023 in Sept., while the number has fallen to 36 for US military personnel from 65 during the same period.

It can be safely argued that the civilian death toll is much higher, for a large number of fatalities are never reported.

In the chaotic situation that is governing Iraq today, it cannot be expected that all killings in every corner of the violence-torn land be accounted for.

Not to mention that the murders committed by private US contractors, or military mercenaries, go largely unreported.

So the proposition - based on inadequately compiled information - that violence has ebbed in Iraq, is rather immature.

The ignominious acts by US forces in Iraq have implanted such a profound hatred in the hearts of Iraqis that will last for generations to come. Iraqi people no longer want the 'planned-in-USA' gifts of anxiety and intimidation, murder and insecurity, dearth and poverty bestowed upon them on a daily basis.

President Bush's propagandists hail a decline in the level of violence against US troops and confidently attribute it to the success of the 'surge' strategy in Iraq.

But these figures fall short of portraying the situation as it is. The figures largely pertain to lethal attacks in Baghdad and Anbar.

Even if we acknowledge that the level of violence has gone down in Oct., there's no reason for the immature deduction that the surge policy is working.

Eight-hundred and twenty-five people have lost their lives in one month and that provides no justification for joy.

Inconclusive figures from one month have been collected to jump to the conclusion that there's been a decline in the level of violence against US military.

Yet, the statistics do not include those injured. The nonsensicality of the proposition further comes to the surface when we recall that the highest-ranking US military personnel in Iraq since the 2003 invasion was wounded in a roadside explosion in the very month of October. Brigadier General Jeffrey Dorko was transferred to a medical center in Germany to receive treatment for wounds which were claimed to be non-life threatening.

US soldiers are equipped with most expensive and cutting-edge devices and weaponry. The army's Humvees, equipped with devices to discover and dismantle roadside bombs, patrol Iraqi neighborhoods consistently.

Despite the distinctive US military superiority over the Iraqi insurgents, roadside blasts continue to kill and maim American soldiers on patrol.

The rise in insurgency, which the US military adamantly blames on al-Qaeda militants, is ample evidence that the American forces are not welcome in Iraq.

The people of Iraq are frustrated and outraged over the endless killings of civilians, rampant insecurity and brutal air raids which have taken a heavy toll on the population. They've come to the realization that the presence of US troops, contrary to what is claimed, has brought distress instead of democracy, slaughter instead of security and privation instead of peace.

Millions of Iraqis have been either internally displaced or have migrated to other countries with adverse consequences for the children's education and the families' economy.

The nation has been deprived of its productive workforce. The invasion has inflicted substantial damage on the country's infrastructure, reversing its development and taking it back for at least several decades. Those inside the country are leading even more unstable lives.

The population in most parts in pressed for energy, safe drinking water, electric power, etc. There has been a surge in the number of US soldiers in Iraq suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental conditions.

The number of soldiers back from tour of duty, who seek post-traumatic stress disorder counseling, is on the rise. They are growing more skeptical of the rationality of Bush's much-publicized war. Soldiers are traumatized by the prospects of fighting a most-hated war.

Why should they pay the price of Bush's nonsensical foreign policy? What is the purpose of fighting this unjust and unjustified war? In what ways are they defending their nation? The US army has admitted a record decline in its volunteers for basic training this year than at any time since in 1973.

This is a sign of the growing unpopularity of the Iraq war inside the United States.

The Iraq war is now so detested in the US that diplomats shunning Iraq tour of duty are threatened with losing jobs.

As a near-retirement State Department employee put it, an Iraq assignment is evidently a 'potential death sentence'. The killing of every single US soldier sends a clear signal: The Americans are wanted out of Iraq.

But it seems like the Whitehouse bigheads are planning a much longer stay: at least 50 years as admitted by General John Abizaid, the former commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM).

More surprisingly, he blatantly asserted that the dependency on Middle East oil will be a major driving force behind prolonged American stay in Iraq.

But no matter how complicated the spin doctoring strategies employed by the American PR experts to downplay the army's failures and whitewash the Bush administration's blunders regarding the Iraq war, the US military personnel will be viewed as hostile invaders rather than messengers of peace.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Iraqi tales of life under the militias

Note these stories are excerpts from BBC, they may be true, half true or not true. The reasons being I am "seeing" rightly or wrongly, Americans and their Allies are using both Sunni and Shia for Ethnic Cleansing of both of the them when they partially failed due to stiff resistance even using Blackwater mercenaries. I was not there but do read them to give some idea.

The power of the Shia and Sunni militias presents the Iraqi government with one of their most challenging problems. BBC Arabic.com asked a number of Iraqis how the militias affected their lives.


My second name is Ali, which is a Shia name. My first name is Omar, a traditionally Sunni name.

My mother liked the idea that through my name I was reflecting both the Sunni and the Shia traditions, despite the fact that we are Shia.

It turns out her decision to call me Omar was not a good one.

My name is not to the liking of either Shias or Sunnis, and I was nearly killed recently because of it.

During my exams, I had to travel between my mainly Sunni neighbourhood to a Shia district. As always, there were militias belonging to each sect on the outskirts of each area.

As I was about to enter the Shia area, an armed militiaman stopped me.

He asked me to show him my ID card. The militiamen saw my name, and they asked me whether I was Shia or Sunni.

I told them that I was Shia, but my mother called me Omar to bring the two sects closer. They started beating and kicking me severely because they thought I was a liar, and they told me that if they saw me again, they would kill me.

Either I change my name, or I leave the country altogether

The same thing happened to me at the hands of Sunnis, because my father's name is Ali. I narrowly escaped being killed.

It is strange, I do not feel that I belong to either side. I am Shia by birth, but I have always seen myself as an Iraqi. I have always been proud of my name which unites the two sects.

There is no solution. Either I change my name and accept being forced to take sides, or I leave the country altogether. Now, I am even afraid to leave the house.


I live in Talbiya, a Shia area, very close to Sadr city.

Our neighbourhood is currently under the control of the Mehdi army, one of the most powerful Shia militias.

The Mehdi army is made up of ordinary people who took matters into their own hands after the regime collapsed and they saw that the government was not doing anything to protect them.

These individuals now play a major role in our area.

You see them driving expensive cars and carrying arms. People go to them for help and protection.

The militias are becoming indispensable to us because they provide us with protection.

I agree that militias play a negative role, but given the weakness of the police, army and the state of lawlessness, we find ourselves forced to rely on them.

For example, the militias helped a family to get their son released after he was kidnapped by militias in another area.

The militias have an effective intelligence network, and they know everyone in the area.

They are becoming indispensable to us because they provide us with protection.


The role of the militias often does not conflict with that of the police at all.

I cannot call them outlaws; there is no law

For example, you see militiamen helping traffic police in their work, and they also help in deterring thieves and burglars.

Merchants and grocers used to be very frightened of sending their goods to be sold in Jamila market, one of the biggest vegetable and fruit markets in Baghdad.

But now there are no thieves in Jamila market, thanks to the militias.

I cannot call these men outlaws, because there is no law in the first place. They are people whose existence is dictated by the lawlessness and chaos in Iraq.


I have been living in this mainly Shia neighbourhood for 20 years.

Although I am Sunni, I haven't suffered any ill-treatment in this area, even after the increase of sectarianism in the country.

People in my area come to me for medical help any time day or night.

However, I think that the existence of militias is a problem.

I fear that I may be attacked if the Shia militias in the area were to be provoked by Sunni militias.

One day I found a threatening note pinned to my door warning me to leave the neighbourhood. I took the note and I went to the militia's headquarters.

They told me that it was not their work, and asked me to call them should anything untoward happen. They assured me they knew me very well, and that they were aware that I helped people and that I did not behave in a sectarian way.

But I am not happy or comfortable that the militia have control.

The only authority that should carry arms is the government police and security, or else we will have chaos.

But for the time being, they make the place more secure, because the government is still weak.


I am a Shia woman living in Amariya, which is a mainly Sunni area in Baghdad.

The militias have turned our lives into a living hell

There were a large number of Saddam's senior army officers and many ex-Baath party senior officials living here; all of them made wealthy during the reign of Saddam.

After Saddam was toppled, most of them lost their power and privileges and they were struggling both financially and psychologically.

It was easy for them to join the pro al-Qaeda militias.

I told the neighbours that we were Sunnis, but after months of fear, I have decided to leave Iraq.

I have seen killings every day.

I saw with my own eyes young men being killed simply for being the sons of Shia families in the area.

I saw a 20-year-old girl being killed simply for having worked in a hairdresser's shop.

The militias have turned our lives into a living hell. They want us to live according to their laws and rules.

Young children are not allowed to wear shorts and western hairstyles are not permitted.

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