Thursday, December 20, 2007
At the conclusion of an investigation lasting more than a year, the Military Advocate General has charged five soldiers from the Nahshon Battalion with three counts of aggravated assault.
Three of the soldiers have already been discharged from the army and one was transferred to another unit. Only one soldier remains in active duty in the battalion.
According to the indictment, the soldiers were responsible for transferring 13 Palestinian detainees from the Tulkarm Regional Brigade to an IDF military court in northern Israel in April 2006.
During the journey, the soldiers grabbed the prisoners by their hair, struck their chests and necks and demanded they repeat the number soldiers had previously assigned them with. When a prisoner would say the correct number, the soldiers would fall upon him in a beating frenzy.
The indictment also charges the soldiers with forced the prisoners to eat Bamba, an Israel snack food made of peanut butter. The soldiers reportedly ridiculed the prisoners while they ate. The soldiers also stopped along the way to buy French fries and force-fed them to the Palestinians. more
Monday, December 17, 2007
The tragedy of Afghanistan continues as the valiant and courageous Afghan freedom fighters [The Taliban] persevere in standing up against the brutal power of the Soviet invasion and occupation. The Afghan people are struggling to reclaim their freedom, which was taken from them when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979.
In this three-year period the Soviet Union has been unable to subjugate Afghanistan. The Soviet forces are pitted against an extraordinary people who, in their determination to preserve the character of their ancient land, have organized an effective and still spreading country-wide resistance. The resistance of the Afghan freedom fighters is an example to all the world of the invincibility of the ideals we in this country hold most dear, the ideals of freedom and independence. more
Blogged with Flock
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The media savvy climate gang has a convenient idea: simple numbers to shape climate concersations: 2, 445 and 25 - 40,
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 — As the insurgency in Iraq escalated in the spring of 2004, American officials entrusted an Iraqi businessman with issuing weapons to Iraqi police cadets training to help quell the violence.
By all accounts, the businessman, Kassim al-Saffar, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, did well at distributing the Pentagon-supplied weapons from the Baghdad Police Academy armory he managed for a military contractor. But, co-workers say, he also turned the armory into his own private arms bazaar with the seeming approval of some American officials and executives, selling AK-47 assault rifles, Glock pistols and heavy machine guns to anyone with cash in hand — Iraqi militias, South African security guards and even American contractors. more
Is this Washington or the Kremlin?
The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was the final factor in a military equation that now appears to guarantee that there will be no war with Iran during the Bush administration. It meshes with the views of the operational types at the Pentagon, who have steadfastly resisted the march to war led by some Administration hawks. The anti-war group was composed of Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs; and Admiral William Fallon, who oversees the U.S. forces that would have had to wage that war. In recent months, all have pushed back privately and publicly, on the wisdom of going to war with Tehran. Indeed, the Pentagon's intelligence units were instrumental in forming the NIE's conclusions. more
Thursday, November 29, 2007
It may be bad for Middle East peace but it's great for the Rabbi business, a recent survey claims 80 % of Israelis say they observe "religious traditions."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
October 7, 1997
Web posted at: 10:43 a.m. EDT (1443 GMT) In this story:
* Offer to end suicide bombings
* Palestinian-Israeli peace talks resume
* Related stories and sites
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (CNN) -- Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the Islamic fundamentalist movement Hamas, said Tuesday he would forge a truce with Israel that would end suicide bombings if Israel withdrew completely from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and removed all of its Jewish settlements.
"If Israel withdraws completely from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and it removes all of its settlements, I will make a truce with it. You have my word for it," he said.
David Bar-Illan, a senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the peace overture was "a positive change" despite the "unacceptable conditions."
In the past, militants within Hamas have never indicated a willingness to negotiate. Instead, they have spoken of a "holy war" to establish an Islamic state in all of what is now Israel. more
Friday, November 23, 2007
Japan's former ambassador to Lebanon, Naoto Amaki, had a telling conversation with Hezbollah's Sheik Hassan Nasrallah shortly following al-Qaida's September 2001 attack on America.
"He told me, 'We learned how to do suicide missions from the kamikazes,'" Amaki recounted. "Nasrallah said the Shiites all commend the Japanese 'samurai spirit.'" But the ambassador rejected Nasrallah's twisted tribute.
Are shahids kamikazes? No way, say the real kamikazes. Now octogenarian veterans, Japanese kamikaze survivors deeply resent being compared to terrorists and don't hesitate to explain why. more
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Greenpeace activists who arrived Thursday morning at a conference on the nuclear issue at Tel Aviv University stripped in protest a few moments before the start of a speech by President Shimon Peres.
The protestors carried leaflets bearing the messages "strip the Middle East of nuclear programs" and "a new Middle East = clean from nuclear programs." They were briskly removed from the hall by security guards. more
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
MOSCOW - The Russian military has successfully tested what it described as the world’s most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered bomb, Russia’s state television reported Tuesday.
It was the latest show of Russia’s military muscle amid chilly relations with the United States.
Channel One television said the new weapon, nicknamed the “dad of all bombs,” is four times more powerful than the U.S. “mother of all bombs.” More
Friday, October 19, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
(Hassan Nasrallah said in September 2005 he wanted negotiate deals for the release of Lebanese citizens held by Israel. Looks like he is, slowly but surely, getting his wish. - a)
Lebanon's Hezbollah movement has agreed to hand over the remains of an Israeli in exchange for a Lebanese prisoner and the bodies of two of the group's fighters.
"An exchange of bodies and a prisoner swap could take place this afternoon at the Naqoura crossing between Israel and Lebanon," a Lebanese security source said on Monday.
The two dead Hezbollah fighters went missing last summer during the 34 day war between the Shia Muslim group and Israel in southern Lebanon.
The conflict began in July 2006 after the Lebanese movement captured Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, two Israeli soldiers, in a cross-border raid.
An army report released last December said that the two soldiers were wounded, one seriously and the other only moderately, during their capture.more
Friday, October 12, 2007
Al Gore reacts to his win
From the Nobel Committee award announcement
"Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states." more
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Apartheid in the Holy Land
Monday April 29, 2002 The Guardian
In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust centre in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.
What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.
On one of my visits to the Holy Land I drove to a church with the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem. I could hear tears in his voice as he pointed to Jewish settlements. I thought of the desire of Israelis for security. But what of the Palestinians who have lost their land and homes? more
Monday, October 08, 2007
BAGHDAD - Three black GMC Suburbans - each fitted with armored plates and bulletproof windows - made up the heart of the convoy. The front and rear were protected by Blackwater USA gun trucks, known as Mambas, each mounted with two belt-fed 7.62 caliber heavy guns.
The vehicles snaked through the checkpoints and blast walls of the Green Zone on another scorching morning. The temperature that day - Sept. 16 - would rise again above 100 degrees.
Kerry Pelzman, a USAID specialist on helping rebuild Iraqi businesses, schools and other infrastructure, rode in one of the Suburbans. Her appointment was about two miles from the nearest Green Zone entrance in a neighborhood of opulent homes once occupied by members of the Saddam Hussein regime.
Within a few minutes, Pelzman was again in a secure compound for a planning session on Izdihar - a U.S.-Iraqi joint venture company that was working to rebuild Iraq's badly damaged services and funded by USAID on a three-year contract. More
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Yesterday, by a vote of 76-22, the Senate passed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment in support of military actions against Iran. This is the second such endorsement of the president by a senate majority in just three months. In July, the Lieberman amendment to "confront Iran" passed with the far stronger majority of 97-0.
The original draft of Kyl-Lieberman had asked U.S. forces to "combat, contain, and roll back" the Iranian menace within Iraq. But the words "roll back" were all too plainly a coded endorsement of hot pursuit into Iran; and the senators did not want to go quite so far. To assure a larger majority the language was accordingly trimmed and blurred to say "that it should be the policy of the United States to stop inside Iraq the violent activities and destabilizing influence of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies."
The inclusion of Hezbollah deserves some notice. It is part of a larger attempt, already apparent in the Lebanon war of 2006, to manufacture an "amalgam" of all the enemies of Israel and the United States throughout the region, and to treat them all as one enemy. Those who believe in the amalgam will come to agree that many more wars by the United States and Israel are needed to crush this enemy.
More provocative is a secondary detail of the amendment, which received less notice from the mainstream media. Kyl-Lieberman approves the listing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Iran as a "foreign terrorist organization." Now, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard is the largest branch of the Iranian military. By granting Vice President Cheney's wish (a distant dream in 2005) to put the Iranian guard on the U.S. terrorist list, the Senate has classified the army of Iran as an army of terrorists. The president, therefore, as he follows out the Cheney plan has all the support he requires for asserting in his next speech to an army or veterans group that Iran is a nation of terrorists.
It was said during the Vietnam War that "a dead Vietnamese is a Viet Cong." It will assuage the conscience for U.S. bombers of Iran to know that a dead Iranian is a terrorist. The Senate, by this classification, has absolved the bombers in advance. more
Thursday, September 27, 2007
David Miliband, the foreign secretary, yesterday attempted a break with a decade of Blairite foreign policy, admitting a scarred government needed to stop and think why its well-intentioned interventions had alienated millions of Muslims.
In a frank speech, he also admitted there could be no military solutions in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying the government had found it hard to win peace in such countries. He repeatedly said the government needed to learn lessons as it launched a second wave of foreign policy in which there would be greater reliance on stronger multilateral institutions. More
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The Pope refused a request for an audience during the August holidays.
Senior Vatican sources told the BBC the Pope does not normally receive politicians on his annual holiday at the Castelgandolfo residence near Rome.
But one leading Italian newspaper said it was an evident snub by the Vatican towards the Bush administration.
There are at least two reasons why Pope Benedict may have decided peremptorily against a private meeting with Ms Rice.
First, it was Ms Rice who just before the outbreak of the Iraq war in March 2003 made it clear to a special papal envoy sent from Rome, Cardinal Pio Laghi, that the Bush administration was not interested in the views of the late Pope on the immorality of launching its planned military offensive.
Secondly, the US has responded in a manner considered unacceptable at the Vatican to the protection of the rights of Iraqi Christians under the new Iraqi constitution.
The Bush administration has told the Vatican that as coalition forces have not succeeded in securing the whole territory of Iraq, they are unable to protect non-Muslims.
Instead of meeting the Pope, Ms Rice had to make do with a telephone conversation with the Vatican's number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was visiting the US during August on other business.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
BAGHDAD -- -- U.S. diplomats and military officers have been in talks with members of the armed movement loyal to Muqtada Sadr, a sharp reversal of policy and a grudging recognition that the radical Shiite cleric holds a dominant position in much of Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.
The secret dialogue has been going on since at least early 2006, but appeared to yield a tangible result only in the last week -- with relative calm in an area of west Baghdad that has been among the capital's most dangerous sections.
The discussions have been complicated by divisions within Sadr's movement as well as the cleric's public vow never to meet with Iraq's occupiers. Underlying the issue's sensitivity, Sadrists publicly deny any contact with the Americans or British -- fully aware the price of acknowledging such meetings would be banishment from the movement or worse.
The dialogue represents a drastic turnaround in the U.S. approach to Sadr and his militia, the Mahdi Army. The military hopes to negotiate the same kind of marriage of convenience it has reached in other parts of Iraq with former insurgent groups, many Saddam Hussein loyalists, and the Sunni tribes that supported them. Both efforts are examples of how U.S. officials have sought to end violence by cooperating with groups they once considered intractable enemies. more
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf -- a key U.S. ally -- is less popular in his own country than al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, according to a poll of Pakistanis conducted last month by an anti-terrorism organization.
Additionally, nearly three-fourths of poll respondents said they oppose U.S. military action against al Qaeda and the Taliban inside Pakistan, according to results from the poll conducted by the independent polling organization Terror Free Tomorrow.
"We have conducted 23 polls all over the Muslim world, and this is the most disturbing one we have conducted," said Ken Ballen, the group's head. "Pakistan is the one Muslim nation that has nuclear weapons, and the people who want to use them against us -- like the Taliban and al Qaeda -- are more popular there than our allies like Musharraf."
The poll was conducted for Terror Free Tomorrow by D3 Systems of Vienna, Virginia., and the Pakistan Institute for Public Opinion. Interviews were conducted August 18-29, face-to-face with 1,044 Pakistanis across 105 urban and rural sampling points in all four provinces across the nation. Households were randomly selected.
According to poll results, bin Laden has a 46 percent approval rating. Musharraf's support is 38 percent. U.S. President George W. Bush's approval: 9 percent.
Asked their opinion on the real purpose of the U.S.-led war on terror, 66 percent of poll respondents said they believe the United States is acting against Islam or has anti-Muslim motivation. Others refused to answer the question or said they did not know.
"We failed in winning hearts and minds in Pakistan," Ballen told CNN. "In fact, only 4 percent said we had a good motivation in the war on terrorism." more
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
(CBS/AP) Back in 2003, the U.S. proudly trotted out the so-called "mother of all bombs," a device described as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in history.
Now, Russia claims it has built the "dad of all bombs," claiming that it is four times more powerful, has an epicenter temperature that is twice as high and covers double the area with its destructive force.
Russian state television says the military has successfully tested what it describes as the world's most powerful non-nuclear, air-delivered bomb.
Alexander Rukshin, a deputy chief of the Russian armed forces staff told the Channel One television station that the bomb is comparable to a nuclear weapon in efficiency and capability, but unlike a nuclear weapon, it doesn't hurt the environment. He described the mechanism of the bomb's destructive capabilities, saying that it is based on the detonation of a fine spray of combustible substance resulting in a shockwave and a high temperature explosion. more
Monday, September 10, 2007
Standard schoolgirl uniform it's not. Hip teens are hitting the Tokyo Lash Bar in the city's Omotesando district for eye-poppingly over-engineered fake lashes. Using a unique applicator and a special latex adhesive, makeup pros install a set of these architectonic master pieces, like the high-end Velvet Feather for about $43 and Yellow Flash or Dazzling Diamante for less than $20. A bit steep, but the lashes can be reused as many as 10 times. Plus, the falsies often have unexpected features. Take Lucent Sky and Lucent Sun: When light hits these translucent lashes, they cast colored patterns on a gal's face. If only they made a pair that blinked when her keitai rang ... - WIRED
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Tarred, feathered and tied to a lamppost: Justice for a drug dealer on the streets of Ulster | the Daily Mail
Tied to a lamppost, he stands with his head and upper body covered in tar and feathers. A makeshift placard hung around his neck with a piece of string announces the reason for his treatment.
It is a very public humiliation, and a medieval one. Almost ten years since Northern Ireland's Troubles officially ended, this remains the crude face of justice on the streets of south Belfast.
This man was subjected to the painful tarring and feathering on the Taughmonagh estate, a loyalist stronghold in the city.
Locals had accused the victim, who is in his thirties, of being a drug dealer. And when police allegedly did not act, they took the law into their own hands.
Two masked men tied up the accused victim, poured tar over his head and then covered him in white feathers, apparently from a pillow case.
A small crowd including women and children looked on as the men then adorned their victim with a placard reading: "I'm a drug dealing scumbag".
Pictures of the punishment were sent to a local newspaper more
Sunday, September 02, 2007
By PEGGY NOONAN
What will be needed this autumn is a new bipartisan forbearance, a kind of patriotic grace. This is a great deal to hope for. The president should ask for it, and show it.
Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, will report to Congress on Sept. 11. From the latest metrics, it's clear the surge has gained some ground. It is generally supposed that Gen. Petraeus will paint a picture of recent decreases in violent incidents and increases in safety. In another world, that might be decisive: It's working, hang on.
At the same time, it's clear that what we call Iraq does not wholly share U.S. objectives. We speak of it as a unitary country, but the Kurds are understandably thinking about Kurdistan, the Sunnis see an Iraq they once controlled but that no longer exists, and the Shia -- who knows? An Iraq they theocratically and governmentally control, an Iraq given over to Iran? This division is reflected in what we call Iraq's government in Baghdad. Seen in this way, the non-latest-metrics way, the situation is bleak.more
Thursday, August 30, 2007
America is now seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbours and allies, according to an international survey of public opinion published today that reveals just how far the country's reputation has fallen among former supporters since the invasion of Iraq.
Carried out as US voters prepare to go to the polls next week in an election dominated by the war, the research also shows that British voters see George Bush as a greater danger to world peace than either the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, or the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both countries were once cited by the US president as part of an "axis of evil", but it is Mr Bush who now alarms voters in countries with traditionally strong links to the US. MORE
Thursday, August 02, 2007
"'This is a relationship that allows us to discuss the most difficult and most sensitive issues in a way that is respectful and friendly,' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the media gathered at a joint press conference with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal on Tuesday.
But the Secretary must not have found some of the foreign minister's comments to the press very respectful or friendly, since they were labeled 'unintelligible' in a State Department transcript of the event.
According to the State Department, al-Faisal said in his opening statement:
The Kingdom is keen on achieving peace in Iraq and maintaining its unity and stability. However, the success of these efforts are tied to achieving social stability, equality, and representation for all of Iraq’s people and all of the ethnic and religious groups there. Iraq bears a responsibility to (unintelligible)." more":
In his Saturday radio address, President Bush tried to spin the new National Intelligence Estimate and its warnings regarding a dangerously resurgent Al Qaeda in Pakistan. But buried among cherry-picked quotes about successes against Bin Laden's organization and his comical claim of willingness to work with Congress to "modernize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act" was a startling admission. President Bush acknowledged that his post 9/11 mantra of "no safe havens for terrorists" was a dismal failure:
"One of the most troubling [points in the NIE] is its assessment that al Qaeda has managed to establish a safe haven in the tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. Last September, President Musharraf of Pakistan reached an agreement that gave tribal leaders more responsibility for policing their own areas. Unfortunately, tribal leaders were unwilling and unable to go after al Qaeda or the Taliban." (more)
Monday, July 16, 2007
Al-Jazeera TV reporter Ahmad Zeidan: Opium is known as "the petroleum of the Afghans." The abundance of water in this region has been invested in a remarkable way. When America built these conduits in the days of Afghan king Zahir Shah, it did no know they would be irrigating the poppy fields behind me. These fields, which account for half of Afghanistan's GNP, were destroyed by the Afghan Taliban movement, but they appeared again after its fall. Now, Taliban says it will not interfere in the daily affairs and livelihood of the Afghans. What was prohibited yesterday is permitted today. Watch the Al Jazeera Report
FOXNews.com - Pilotless Robot Bomber Squadron Heads for Afghanistan, Iraq - Technology News | News On Technology
The Reaper is loaded, but there's no one on board. Its pilot, as it bombs targets in Iraq, will sit at a video console 7,000 miles away in Nevada.
The arrival of these outsized U.S. 'hunter-killer' drones, in aviation history's first robot attack squadron, will be a watershed moment even in an Iraq that has seen too many innovative ways to hunt and kill.
That moment, one the Air Force will likely low-key, is expected 'soon,' says the regional U.S. air commander. How soon? 'We're still working that,' Lt. Gen. Gary North said in an interview.
The Reaper's first combat deployment is expected in Afghanistan, and senior Air Force officers estimate it will land in Iraq sometime between this fall and next spring. They look forward to it" (more)
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Iranian Jews blast offer of cash for immigrating to Israel
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent
An Iranian Jewish organization announced over the weekend that it rejected an initiative to promote Iran's Jewish community to immigrate to Israel using cash incentives.
Iranian Jews in Tehran synagogue
"[The money is]inappropriate and politically immature," the group said in a statement that was carried by Western and Iranian news outlets. It added Iran's Jewish community has remained loyal to the Islamic Republic and that their "Jewish Iranian identity is not a commodity that passes from the hands of one merchant to another in return for money."
The statment addressed an offer by expatriate Iranian Jews offering a sum of $10,000 to each individual to immigrate to Israel.
The $10,000 offer doubled the existing $5,000 allocated each Jewish Iranian upon arrival to Israel by the Ministry of Absorption and the Jewish Agency.
Iran's Jewish community has decreased from 80,000 before the Islamic revolution, to about 20,000 today.
It is represented in parliament by a Jewish lawmaker and is the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel. (more)
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
By STEVEN ERLANGER
Published: July 11, 2007
JERUSALEM, July 11 — The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, convened the Palestinian legislature today, but a boycott by the Hamas party meant there was no quorum, which was precisely what Mr. Abbas wanted. With parliament unable to transact business, he can extend the life of the emergency cabinet that he appointed after Hamas fighters took control of the Gaza Strip. Fatha politicians in PA parlaiment.
Fatah members of the Palestinian legislature convened in Ramallah, but Hamas boycotted the session.
Hamas legislators, who won a majority of seats in the most recent parliamentary election in January 2006, stayed away from today’s session and said it was illegal. Salah al-Bardawil, a Hamas legislator, said in Gaza that convening the legislature “without arrangements with the biggest bloc, and with the Israeli arrest of Hamas legislators, was an attack on Palestinian legitimacy.” (more)
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
BAGHDAD, July 10 -- More than two dozen mortar shells pounded the Green Zone on Tuesday, killing three people, including a U.S. military member, and injuring 18, among them five Americans, U.S. officials said.
The dead also included an Iraqi and a person of unknown nationality. Two of the wounded Americans were service members and three were contract employees, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.
The attack, around 4 p.m., was the latest in a series of mortar and rocket strikes in recent months against the Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and other Western missions along with Iraqi government buildings. In April, a suicide bomber attacked inside Iraq's parliament building.
A U.S. official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "around 30" mortar shells had hit the Green Zone. "They got hammered," the official said(more)
Having secured the release of kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston on July 4th, Hamas officials are now moving discreetly to negotiate freedom for another Gaza hostage — Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit, seized in June 2006 in a raid by Palestinian militants who had tunneled under the Israeli security wall around Gaza, is currently being held by kidnappers who include members of Hamas' own military wing, as well another radical group, the Popular Resistance Committees.
An investigation by TIME reveals a marked contrast in how the Israelis and Hamas view their complicated on-again, off-again negotiations over Shalit's release. The disconnect arises partially out of Israel's refusal to deal directly with Hamas, which they consider a terrorist organization. While some informed Israelis say they are 'optimistic' that Shalit will be free 'within weeks,' Hamas officials are far more cautious — one offered the glum assessment that bargaining could drag on for another year." (more)
Monday, July 09, 2007
Hamas' military industry is giving serial production numbers to the roadside charges and Qassam rockets it manufactures, a senior intelligence officer in the Southern Command told Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi during his visit to the rocket-battered town of Sderot on Monday.
According to the officer, intelligence sources believe that a real 'Hamas army' exists in the Gaza Strip and includes between 7,000 and 10,000 soldiers, who are being armed continuously with weapons smuggled through the Philadelphi route." (more)
"America's Roadside Bloomery Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I had a thought after I posted this image of Black Eyed Susans (and other flowers) taken yesterday on a Floyd County roadside. Here it is:
It would be neat for contributors from all over the country to offer their images to an aggregate gallery called Unplanted Gardens: America's Roadside Bloomery.
All images would include in their composition a road of some kind, just to place it, and then the wildflowers that grow there unplanted. Hiway department wildflower beds don't count.
Each image should be 72 dpi, max size of 800 pixels on the largest side. Information should minimally include the location, if possible some ID on the flowers, and any other pertinent or interesting information." (more):
More than 180,000 civilians — including Americans, foreigners and Iraqis — are working in Iraq under U.S. contracts, according to State and Defense department figures obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Including the recent troop buildup, 160,000 soldiers and a few thousand civilian government employees are stationed in Iraq.
The total number of private contractors, far higher than previously reported, shows how heavily the Bush administration has relied on corporations to carry out the occupation of Iraq — a mission criticized as being undermanned.
"These numbers are big," said Peter Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar who has written on military contracting. "They illustrate better than anything that we went in without enough troops. This is not the coalition of the willing. It's the coalition of the billing." (more)
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Tribes in western Iraq, and in and around Anbar province specifically, have begun stockpiling different sorts of weapons, driving up the prices of weapons in the Iraqi market, al-Malaf Press reports in Arabic.
The agency writes that the alleged tribal buildup focuses on Kalashnikov rifles, in addition to other types of light and medium weapons such as mortar shells and launchers, PKCs and others.
Because the tribal arms buildup has reached unprecedented levels, the prices of arms have spiked to new highs in the area, al-Melaf Press reports.
One Kalashnikov in Anbar province goes for 750,000 Iraqi dinars (ID), while earlier an AK rifle could be had in Anbar province for less than 400,000 ID." (more)
Friday, July 06, 2007
By ROBERT Y. PELTON 07/04/2007 12:15 PM ET
Peruvian security contractors doze off beneath an American flag as they wait for helicopter transport in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, 19 February, 2006.
As predicted in Slogger, the print media pile-on on military contractors is in full swing. The latest big daily to weigh in is the Los Angeles Times with T. Christian Miller's revelation that there are now more contractors than soldiers in Iraq.
Miller had to use FOIA’s to pull some of the numbers but even then, some large companies are still off the radar and official sources differ drastically on the actual count. It’s an article designed to promote more questions than answers among readers as the public begins to ask, “Who are those guys?” (more)
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania — At the Olympic Sports Stadium here, a collection of dun-colored buildings rising mirage-like from the vast Sahara, about a dozen women clad in tennis shoes and sandals circled the grandstands one evening in late June, puffing with each step.
Between pants came brief explanations for their labors. “Because I am fat,” said one, a dark-eyed 34-year-old close to 200 pounds. Another, a 30-year-old in bright pink sneakers, said, “For myself, for my health and to be skinny.” It is a typically Western after-work scene. But this is the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the mirror opposite of the West on questions of women’s weight. To men here, fat is sexy. And in this patriarchal region, many Mauritanian women do everything possible — and have everything possible done to them — to put on pounds. (more)
By Derrick Z. Jackson, Globe Columnist | May 9, 2007
MILITARY SOCIOLOGIST David R. Segal was asked Monday over the telephone what he hears in his surveys of soldiers. He quoted an African-American veteran of the Iraq invasion and occupation: "This is not a black people's war. This is not a poor people's war. This is an oilman's war."
Gregory Black, a retired Navy diver who last year started the website BlackMilitaryWorld.com, said that quote sums up what he too hears from African-American veterans of Iraq.
"African-Americans detest this war," Black said yesterday in a phone interview. "Everybody kind of knows the truth behind this war. It's a cash cow for the military defense industry, when you look at the money these contractors are making. African-Americans saw this at the beginning of the war and now the rest of the country has figured it out. It's not benefiting us in the least."(more)
On the Italian Adriatic coast, where romance reigns and beachcombers bask in the sun, the notorious Latin lover looks for his prey and he hunts his conquest with chat-up lines. The women are fed up.
"We run away from Italian men," said Tiziana Andreoletti. "They're such a drag."
And it happens all the time. Boy meets girl and boy annoys girl. So, the Italians have enacted an interesting solution to this problem. They have created a beach strictly for women. No men, children or loud disco music are allowed. (more)
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
In West Bank, Hamas Is Silent but Never Ignored
“I don’t want to spend my life in jail!” a 35-year-old restaurant owner said, refusing to give his name after expressing pro-Hamas sentiments in an interview here.
Hamas, shrewd as it is deadly, has gone to ground in the West Bank, which is controlled now by its secular rival Fatah and supported by the United States, Europe and Israel as the territory with the only workable Palestinian government. more
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
WASHINGTON (RFE/RL) -- The greatest strengths of the Iraqi Sunni-based insurgency's media strategy -- decentralization and flexibility -- are also its greatest weaknesses, according to a report released by RFE/RL.
The book-length report, "Iraqi Insurgent Media: The War Of Images And Ideas" by RFE/RL regional analysts Daniel Kimmage and Kathleen Ridolfo, provides an in-depth analysis of the media efforts of Sunni insurgents, who are responsible for the majority of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq.
Kimmage and Ridolfo argue that the loss of coordination and message control that results from decentralization have revealed fundamental disagreements about Iraq's present and future between nationalist and global jihadist groups in Iraq and that these disagreements are ripe for exploitation by those interested in a liberal and democratic Iraq. (more)
Friday, June 22, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Hamas acted on a very real fear of a US-sponsored coup | Israel and the Middle East | Guardian Unlimited
Washington's fingerprints are all over the chaos that has hit Palestinians. The last thing they now need is an envoy called Blair
Friday June 22, 2007
Did they jump or were they pushed? Was Hamas's seizure of Fatah security offices in Gaza unprovoked, or a pre-emptive strike to forestall a coup by Fatah? After last week's turmoil, it becomes increasingly important to uncover its origins. more...