Saturday, September 24, 2005

Here is a photo of German soldiers in WWI. The man on the left is Adolf Hitler. Look at the eyes. Posted by Picasa

They're Not Going To Like Us

..."The potency of this anti-Americanism means, among other things, that we can't solve our problems in Iraq by sending in more troops. A bigger U.S. footprint would only increase Iraqi anger and fuel the insurgency. In contrast, fewer American troops may actually make it easier to stabilize the country, if the United States can help the Iraqis create a strong military and government of their own. America may be having trouble defeating Abu Musab Zarqawi, but the Iraqis won't. The moment they forge a real national government that draws together Sunnis and Shiites, Zarqawi is a dead man.

Realists are always quoting Machiavelli's admonition that it is better to be feared than loved, but that advice never seems to resonate very well with American presidents. They want to be feared and loved. Perhaps under our system, politicians become addicted to love. But in a world where we are the only superpower, the reality is that we will be unpopular. Nobody is going to root for Goliath -- even a nice, democratic Goliath.

An uncharitable world expects America to act in its own interests, and so we should. We promote democracy and anti-terrorism not because these are universal ideals, but because they serve America's need for a more stable world. We will never convince the rest of the world that we aren't acting selfishly, no matter what we say."

[bth: the author presumes a national Iraqi government emerges. I do not. I think it will splinter and fragment.]

Turks fire from high ground onto Australians at Gallipoli. 1915 Posted by Picasa

The Danger Next Door

"THE Sept. 18 elections for Parliament and provincial councils were an important step in Afghanistan's march toward democracy. But now that progress is threatened by an increasingly violent insurgency that uses Pakistan as a staging area for attacks.

Unless the United States and Pakistan take steps to eliminate this sanctuary, the security situation in Afghanistan will continue to deteriorate and undermine the country's fragile democracy.

This year has been the most violent in Afghanistan since the United States helped overthrow the Taliban government in 2001. The number of Americans killed so far in 2005 (74) is a 570 percent increase from 2001 and a 50 percent increase from 2004. In addition, the number of insurgent attacks against Afghan civilians has steadily increased each year since 2001.

Unlike the violence in Iraq, the fighting in Afghanistan is not the result of a local population deeply hostile to American forces. A 2004 opinion poll by the Asia Foundation showed that 65 percent of Afghans had a favorable view of the United States government, and 67 percent had a favorable view of the American military - findings supported by my own observations and data from trips to the region during the last three years."...

Instead, a complex support network in Pakistan is the key to the Afghan insurgency's survival. Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan get supplies and help in Pakistani provinces like North-West Frontier and Baluchistan. Numerous captured Taliban prisoners have said they received training in Pakistani areas like the Mansehra district. Even more troubling, evidence suggests that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate has helped Taliban insurgents. ...

Mata Hari. Famous WWI German Spy. Posted by Picasa

‘Hindu girl marries her abductor, embraces Islam’

"ISLAMABAD: A Hindu girl who was abducted in Jacobabad has married one of her four abductors and embraced Islam, Minister of State for Interior Wasim Shahzad said on Thursday.

Speaking in the National Assembly he said the girl was abducted on September 14 and a case was registered the same day. 'Two of the four abductors were arrested,' he said in response to a Calling Attention Notice.

The minister said she gave a statement in the court that she has married one of the accused and embraced Islam at Dargah Amrit Sharif. 'In light of her statement the court dismissed the case,' Wasim added.

Gayan Chand Singh, however, said her kidnapping falls in the category of rape and a case should be registered against the abductors. 'It is a very sensitive issue which brings a bad name to the country,' Gayan Chand said."...

[bth: the internet makes this travesty of justice international news where it once was just a local scandal. The Pakistanis can't figure out why the world suddenly focuses on these matters. It is only international pressure and scorn that will cause them to address this issue. The rape of a Hindu girl may be a time honored tradition among the good Muslims of Pakistan, but rape doesn't make good headlines when your country is trying to extort financial and trade concessions from the west and you are pretending to look for Osama Bin Laden et al.]

Germany Taube which translates into Pigeon. Posted by Picasa

Taliban not crumbling: US general

"AFGHANISTAN'S Taliban rebels are not a spent force despite their failure to disrupt the weekend's parliamentary vote and will continue attacks into next year, a top US general said.

'I'm not ready to sign up to the fact that Taliban are crumbling,' General Jason Kamiya, second in command of the 20,000 strong US-led force in the country, told reporters at Bagram Airbase.

'There still will be an enemy insurgency next spring' he said.

US and Afghan officials said at the beginning of the year that the Taliban's days as a threat were numbered, but militant-related violence since then has made this the bloodiest year since the Taliban were toppled in 2001."...

 Posted by Picasa

Out of a burning tank and into a murderous crowd

"MY face was on fire. Petrol poured down behind me and into the back. Luckily I had goggles on. It was panic. You don't think about anything, you just want to put the flames out.'

Sergeant George Long, 29, of the Staffordshire Regiment, was describing the moment he had to dive in flames from his Warrior armoured vehicle as a furious mob closed around it outside a Basra police station this week.

As the vehicle moved towards the al-Jameat station to help troops rescue two servicemen seized by Iraqi police, the optical scopes through which the commander steers were smashed.

He had to open his turret to guide the vehicle without crushing the mob or British troops.

Then a petrol bomb, lobbed through the turret hatch, set him and his gunner alight. ..."

German Anti-Aircraft Gun on Mercedes Truck Posted by Picasa

Battle robots could join dogs on S. Korea border

"SEOUL (Reuters) - Armed, six-legged robots may one day work alongside man's best friend on the southern side of the Korean DMZ.

South Korea will spend 33.4 billion won over the next five years to develop the robots for the heavily fortified demilitarised zone that divides the peninsula, the Communications Ministry said in a statement Friday.

South Korea envisages the robots performing roles on the battlefield now done by dogs, such as sniffing for explosives and catching intruders, the ministry said.

The robots will stand knee-high to the average adult, mounted on wheels for road missions or on as many as eight legs to get them over uneven terrain, it said. Equipped with firearms, they will be able to carry out combat missions via remote control.

South Korea's Defense Ministry announced plans this month to reduce the number of its troops in uniform by about 25 percent over 15 years and develop more high-tech weapons systems.

North Korea maintains most of its 1.2-million-strong army near its border with the South. The two Koreas are technically still at war because the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice and not a peace treaty."

German Krieger Posted by Picasa

Returning to chaos in Iraq

..."You cannot go immediately because the country will collapse - and it is you, after all, who brought the chaos. You destroyed Saddam, but you also destroyed a system that had worked for 50 years. You didn't just take Saddam, you took the whole order: the police force, the way the police worked, the way security was kept and managed.

Withdrawal right now will mean the complete collapse of our society; if the British and US forces stay, the collapse will just be more gradual. I don't want to be too pessimistic "I've thought about this for a long time - but I can't see the answer. I've been all over Iraq in the past year, and been asked by many, many people what the best solution is. I don't know.

What I do know is that the violence will increase before the constitution is voted on in December, and ultimately I believe my country will divide: the Shias in the south turning towards Iran; the Kurds turning to themselves in their northern homeland, and in the middle - my broken country. "

Reserved for Hurricanes Only. Posted by Picasa

Congressmen slam NATO over Afghanistan

"Republicans and Democrats united in slamming NATO over Afghanistan, Thursday.

America's European allies were falling short in their contribution to restoring stability and security, the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations was told.

Calling NATO 'timid and pathetic,' Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., singled out France, Italy and the Low Countries for criticism. Republicans, including committee Chairman Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., echoed his view. "...

According to the Pentagon, there are 17,900 American troops currently deployed in Afghanistan. France, meanwhile, has contributed fewer than 700.

"We protected Europe from the Soviet Union for two generations," said Lantos. "All we are asking is for European countries to step up to the plate."

Louisiana Lawmakers Propose $250 Billion Recovery Package

"A panel of House Republicans began an inquiry on Thursday into what its chairman described as the 'largely abysmal' government response to Hurricane Katrina as Louisiana's Congressional delegation proposed a broad recovery plan they estimated would cost $250 billion.

'We recognize that it's a very high number,' said Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana. 'But I guess part of introducing this package and doing it unified in our delegation is to say this is an unprecedented natural disaster, a national tragedy. And it's going to take an unprecedented response.'"

The money would be directed to Louisiana through virtually every federal agency to rebuild schools and roads, provide health care, bolster industries like state fisheries and offer mortgage relief to protect homeowners from foreclosure. A commission would be established to devise new hurricane and flood protection, with $40 billion set aside for that.

The proposal, which does not include Mississippi and Alabama projects, also seeks $1.5 billion to rebuild damaged veterans facilities; $5 billion for postsecondary educational institutions; $10 million to reunite children separated from their families by the storm; $50 billion in Community Development Block Grants for communities "hardest hit" by Hurricane Katrina; and $100 million for mosquito abatement.

A group of Republican senators stepped up the call for significant spending cuts to offset the recovery's cost, promising legislation within two weeks. "We cannot allow deficit spending to suddenly renew itself and begin increasing out of control," said Senator John E. Sununu, Republican of New Hampshire.

As lawmakers braced for the landfall of Hurricane Rita, they worried that it could deliver another devastating and costly blow to the nation....

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Fiscal Policy: Why 'Stupid' Fits

"Hurricane Rita heads inexorably westward, threatening to add to the human and financial costs of Hurricane Katrina. And when it comes to taxes and spending, Washington acts as if nothing is happening.

True, a group of very conservative Republicans issued a list of program cuts on Wednesday under the imposing name 'Operation Offset.' The cuts that the Republican Study Committee proposed have won their sponsors praise for making 'tough choices.' Of course the sponsors won't actually have to live with these cuts, because Republican leaders dismissed most of the reductions, especially in congressional pet projects and the Medicare prescription drug benefit."

And it's hard to give the fiscal conservatives too much credit, since they would cut $80 billion from Medicare and $50 billion from Medicaid over five years and suggest reductions in school lunches, rent subsidies for the poor and foreign aid, among other things. The idea seems to be that to help Katrina's poor and suffering victims, other poor and suffering people will have to sacrifice.

Nonetheless, permit me to offer a little cheap grace on these conservatives. At least the Operation Offset crowd has produced this list of cuts and forced its own leaders to disown them. The exchange showed how fundamentally stupid our budget policies have been over the past five years -- and, yes, I'll defend that strong word.

Here's a fact getting far too little attention: The cost this year alone of the Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 comes to $225 billion. In other words, the revenue lost because of tax cuts going through this year without any congressional action would more than pay the costs of Katrina recovery.

Why describe our government's fiscal policies as "stupid," rather than, say, "ill-advised" or "misguided"? The softer words of conventional opinion writing imply disagreement but suggest an honest coherence in the other side's view. Hey, we all disagree on stuff, right?

But our current budget policies are built not on honest coherence but on incoherence or, even worse, a dishonest coherence....

British soldier on guard in gas mask. Posted by Picasa

Poll: Fewer than half think U.S. will win in Iraq - Sep 22, 2005

"A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Thursday indicated fewer than half of Americans believe the United States will win the Iraq war, and 55 percent of those surveyed said it should speed up withdrawal plans.

Only 21 percent said the United States definitely would win the war in Iraq, which began when a U.S.-led coalition invaded in 2003 to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Another 22 percent said they thought the United States probably would win.

Twenty percent of respondents said the United States was capable of winning in Iraq -- but probably would not. And 34 percent said they considered the war unwinnable."...

Galveston  Posted by Picasa

Choose: Guns or Butter

..."Sooner or later, Americans are going to have to make hard choices -- guns or butter. Not surprisingly, they overwhelmingly tell pollsters they'd choose butter. When asked by a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll how they'd prefer to finance the (at least) $200 billion Hurricane Katrina relief effort, only 6 percent proposed cutting domestic spending and just 15 percent supported increasing the deficit. A majority -- 54 percent -- chose 'cut spending for the war in Iraq.'

The curse of Texas is once again upon the land -- an elective war, important enough to fight, not important enough to pay for. Up to now, it's been manageable if only because few have been asked to sacrifice anything for the grand cause of . . . well, it's hard to say, isn't it? On a national scale, the casualty rate is bearable and the financial cost has not been felt because the money was first looted from the surplus and then borrowed. "...


"The Pakistani military officers battling al Qaeda along the border with Afghanistan who have the latest first-hand information about Osama bin Laden believe he is hiding with a small cadre in Afghanistan and is no longer an effective leader for the terrorist group." Steve Kroft's report from Pakistan will be broadcast on the 38th season premiere of 60 MINUTES Sunday, Sept. 25 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS television Network.

'I think now [bin Laden] is being protected or assisted by a very short number, which keeps his profile very low," the counter-terrorism head of Pakistan's Intelligence Service, ISI, tells Kroft."

[He is someplace along the border, probably in Afghanistan] is what my assessment says," opines the brigadier who goes by the name 'Ali' and whose true identity is known by only a few government officials.

Ali tells Kroft his forces have diminished bin Laden/'s power by capturing 594 al-Qaeda members and crippling the group's communications, including infiltrating their courier network." 'We have been able to effectively break the communications network from top to bottom. We do not allow these people to communicate with each other,' says Ali.

The information gleaned from the captives and given to coalition officials has helped to prevent planned terror attacks against financial buildings in the U.S., planes and buildings at London's Heathrow airport and has assisted in the capture of al-Qaeda operatives in Great Britain." 'The mere fact that there has not been a replication of 9/11 speaks volumes of what we shared with the world,' boasts Ali.

Finding bin Laden doesn't matter at this point, believes Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, in charge of Pakistan's anti-terrorism operations along the Afghanistan border.Ê "If [bin Laden] is hiding in a hole, neither the electronic nor the human intelligence can find him," he tells Kroft.Ê "Is it all that important to find him? If he's taken out tomorrow, his ideology is not going to come to an end.Ê I don't think that it's importantÉif he is capturedÉ.This is my personal view," says Hussain.

Kroft also spoke to the Pakistani leader, ÊGen. Pervez Musharraf.Ê "These troops are not certainly on the trail of one man and that's all they are doing," notes Musharraf.Ê "We are fighting terrorism wherever it is. If Osama happens to be there incidentally, he will be killed or captured," he tells Kroft.

[bth: finding OBL is important to us. What part of that does this military officer not understand?]

Remarque with Dietrich in Hollywood. Posted by Picasa

The Hunt for Remarque

...In 1933, the moment that Germany elects Hitler to power, he opens the hunt for Remarque the author of "All Quiet on the Western Front". In Hitler's eyes his former fellow-soldier has betrayed the Fatherland.

Remarque flees to America. He has already written two sequels to All quiet on the Western Front (The Road Back and Three Comrades) and other novels - and now he becomes even more productive.

In the United States Remarque becomes the hero of the pacifist movement - and of Hollywood, after a movie is made of Im Westen Nichts Neues. He has love-affaires with Marlene Dietrich (picture right), Greta Garbo and Paulette Goddard.

Safe and famous in America nothing can harm Remarque anymore.

That's why the Nazi's in 1943 snatch his sister Elfriede, who had stayed behind in Germany with her husband and two children. After a short trial she is found guilty of 'undermining morality'.

The verdict states verbatim that she is convicted, "as her brother is beyond our reach at this moment".

Elfriede is decapitated with an axe, thus on a specific order by Adolf Hitler.

WWI. The telegram, "I regret to inform you..." Posted by Picasa

The feared telegram - "Regret to inform you..."

"There came a sudden loud clattering at the front door knocker that always meant a telegram.

For a moment I thought that my legs would not carry me, but they behaved quite normally as I got up and went to the door. I knew what was in the telegram - I had known for a week - but because the persistent hopefulness of the human heart refuses to allow intuitive certainty to persuade the reason of that which it knows, I opened and read it in a tearing anguish of suspense.

'Regret to inform you Captain E.H. Brittain, MC, killed in action Italy June 15th'

'No answer,' I told the boy mechanically, and handed the telegram to my father, who had followed me into the hall. As we went back into the dining-room I saw, as though I had never seen them before, the bowl of blue delphiniums on the table; their intense colour, vivid, ethereal, seemed too radiant for earthly flowers.

(Taken from 'Testament of Youth', by Vera Brittain)"

Friday, September 23, 2005

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Saudi Minister Warns U.S. Iraq May Face Disintegration

"Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said Thursday that he had been warning the Bush administration in recent days that Iraq was hurtling toward disintegration, a development that he said could drag the region into war.

'There is no dynamic now pulling the nation together,' he said in a meeting with reporters at the Saudi Embassy here. 'All the dynamics are pulling the country apart.' He said he was so concerned that he was carrying this message 'to everyone who will listen' in the Bush administration."...

Prince Saud argued: "But what I am trying do is say that unless something is done to bring Iraqis together, elections alone won't do it. A constitution alone won't do it." Prince Saud is a son of the late King Faisal and has been foreign minister for 30 years.

The prince said he served on a council of Iraq's neighboring countries - Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Kuwait as well as Saudi Arabia - "and the main worry of all the neighbors" was that the potential disintegration of Iraq into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish states would "bring other countries in the region into the conflict."

Turkey, he noted, has long threatened to send troops into northern Iraq if the Kurds there declare independence. Iran, he asserted, is already sending money and weapons into the Shiite-controlled south of Iraq and would probably step up its relationship, should the south become independent. Saudi Arabia has long been wary of Iran's influence in the region, given that it is a Shiite theocracy.

"This is a very dangerous situation," he said, "a very threatening situation."

[bth: the battle lines are drawn.]

Iraq Sunnis Want Constitution Rejected

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - About 150 clerics and tribal leaders from Iraq's Sunni Arab minority called for the rejection of the country's draft constitution in an upcoming referendum, saying on Thursday that it would lead to the fragmentation of Iraq.

The local leaders from Iraq's insurgency-torn Anbar province, the country's Sunni heartland, gathered for a three-day conference aimed at putting forward their stance ahead of the planned Oct. 15 referendum. It was held in the Jordanian capital for security reasons.

``We urge all the Iraqi people to go to the polls and say no to the constitution,'' Sheik Abdul-Latif Himayem, a prominent cleric from the Anbar capital, Ramadi, who organized the conference, told The Associated Press.

``The constitution as it now stands strips Iraq from its Arab identity and instigates racial, religious and political segregation,'' he said. ``It is a minefield and could never be implemented.''

Sunnis have sharply opposed the draft constitution, largely because it would give Shiites in the south the power to form a mini-state that Sunnis fear will deprive them of oil resources and ultimately lead to Iraq's fragmentation. Sunni leaders are hoping to defeat the draft in the referendum by gathering a two-thirds ``no'' vote in at least three provinces.

``No federalism, no for the division of Iraq and no for the constitution,'' Sheik Qassem Jassam al-Jumaily, a prominent figure from Fallujah, said in a speech to the gathering.

Himayem said the conference will call for national peace and reconciliation ``to avoid civil war.'' "....

[bth: Avoid a civil war the Sunnis are initiating....]

High Cleric Urges Shiites To Adopt Iraqi Charter

"Iraq's most influential religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, on Thursday urged his followers to adopt a draft constitution scheduled for a nationwide referendum next month, offering crucial support for a document that will give legitimacy to the fledgling Iraqi government.

Observers had been watching to see whether Sistani would weigh in on the political process. Millions of Shiites followed his call in January to vote in the country's first democratic elections in nearly half a century, which gave the Muslim sect a majority in the new government."

If two-thirds of the voters in any three of Iraq's 18 provinces reject the constitution, a new government must be formed and the process of writing the document would start again.

Some Sunni Muslim clerics and politicians have urged their followers to vote down the document, complaining that they did not have adequate representation in drafting it. Sunnis, the favored group under ousted president Saddam Hussein, are estimated to make up nearly 20 percent of the population and form the majority in four of the country's 18 provinces....

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Memorial Day at Soldier's Home. Posted by Picasa

Shiites fleeing Sunni dominated neighborhoods of Baghdad

"The ethnic cleansing of Baghdad neighborhoods is proceeding at an alarming and potentially destabilizing pace. "

Some Shiite Muslim residents in predominantly Sunni Muslim Baghdad neighborhoods are fleeing their homes because they say the country's violence and sectarian tensions have reached their front doors, forcing them to move into more homogenous communities.

Government officials and academic experts agree that the virtual expulsion of some ethnic groups from mixed communities is troubling and threatens the nation's stability, which depends on a degree of ethnic harmony. Some worry the purges are setting the early stages of civil war, saying that homogenous neighborhoods could become future battlegrounds in the capital.

Indeed, some government officials concede that insurgents, mainly Sunnis, are controlling parts of Baghdad.

"Civil war today is closer than any time before," said Hazim Abdel Hamid al Nuaimi, a professor of politics at al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. "All of these explosions, the efforts by police and purging of neighborhoods is a battle to control Baghdad."

"To the extent that families are moving out, neighborhood by neighborhood, that itself is a sign of civil war," said Noah Feldman, a constitutional expert at New York University who visited Iraq in 2003 with American officials....

Neighborhoods have a long way to go before they're fully cleansed. While most of western Baghdad is Sunni and the east is largely Shiite, there are major exceptions, making it difficult for anyone to divide the city cleanly. No Baghdad neighborhood is made up solely of one sect.

Four neighborhoods are most affected by the purges: Doura, Amiriyah, Ghaziliyah and Sadiya, all newer western Baghdad neighborhoods.

In some cases, residents are abandoning homes and moving in with relatives who live in largely Shiite neighborhoods, most of them on the city's east side. Others are renting homes there...

"I am worried. The situation is critical," said Adil Abdel Mahdi, Iraq's vice president. "There is a plan there to purge areas. Zarqawi is saying that, clearly."

Mahdi said the government is making progress and added that a new approved constitution will lead to more stability. Iraqis will vote on the proposed document next month. But others, including Feldman, said the constitution could create more division. ....

The emerging purification of neighborhoods isn't limited to Baghdad. In Najaf, a Shiite holy city, clerics opened a hotel for Shiites fleeing the northern city of Tal Afar. The residents fled several months before Iraqi and American officials launched an offensive there earlier this month to rid the city of insurgents.

Riath Noori, 38, a street vendor fled Tal Afar two weeks ago and moved into the hotel in Najaf. He has no plans to move his family of 11 back home.

"We had two choices - leave the city or take revenge. Our ayatollah said we cannot take revenge, and I don't want to go back to a city that reminds me of my pain."

In some areas, Sunnis are escaping Shiite neighbors, although that trend is less pronounced...

Many Sunni families also have fled the predominantly Shiite southern city of Basra, which has become dominated by rival Shiite militia groups.

A Christian man living in the Doura neighborhood who asked to be identified as Ashur said he desperately wants to get out of Doura, but no one wants to buy his house. He's worried that after the Shiites leave, insurgents will begin targeting the Christians.

He added he wants to get out soonest because in the current environment, "today is always better than tomorrow."

[bth: This is a sure sign of civil war and the partitioning of Iraq.]

Ronal Wood Sr's son was killed this summer in Iraq. Posted by Picasa

War protesters linked to radical left-wing groups

"The groups gathering in Washington this weekend to protest President Bush and the war in Iraq have ties to radical left-wing groups and communist organizations and have enjoyed the support of the left's biggest financial supporter, George Soros.

United for Peace and Justice (UPJ) and International Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) are the two main organizers of the weekend of events -- the first major public protest allowed to surround the White House in more than 10 years -- and expect 100,000 people from dozens of smaller left-wing and liberal organizations. "...

"They're not anti-war. They are anti-West, anti-capitalism and anti-American political culture," Mr. Tierney said. "You see the speeches, the flags, the posters, the speakers and the pamphlets cover a whole host of revolutionary causes, literally everywhere." ...

[bth: "They're not anti-war. They are anti-West" that is at the heart of why I can't get behind this movement even though Sheehan and I spoke together in NH in July.]

Gulf Coast sunset Posted by Picasa

Arianna Huffington: Plamegate: The John Bolton Connection

"I'm now hearing that the investigation may be inching closer to never-confirmed UN Ambassador John Bolton."...

Katrina's Cost May Test GOP Harmony

"Congressional Republicans from across the ideological spectrum yesterday rejected the White House's open-wallet approach to rebuilding the Gulf Coast, a sign that the lockstep GOP discipline that George W. Bush has enjoyed for most of his presidency is eroding on Capitol Hill.

Trying to allay mounting concerns, White House budget director Joshua B. Bolten met with Republican senators for an hour after their regular Tuesday lunch. Senators emerged to say they were annoyed by the lack of concrete ideas for paying the Hurricane Katrina bill.

'Very entertaining,' Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said sarcastically as he left the session. 'I haven't heard any specifics from the administration.'

'At least give us some idea' of how to cover the cost, said Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), who is facing reelection in 2006. 'We owe that to the American taxpayer.'

The pushback on Katrina aid, which the White House is also confronting among House Republicans, represents the loudest and most widespread dissent Bush has faced from his own party since it took full control of Congress in 2002. As polls show the president's approval numbers falling, there is growing concern among lawmakers that GOP margins in Congress could shrink next year, and even rank-and-file Republicans are complaining that Bush is shirking the difficult budget decisions that must accompany the rebuilding bonanza"...

[bth: time to spend some of that Bush "political capital" we heard so much about? The Bush funding plan is OPM "Other Peoples Money." not the beneficiaries of the tax cuts.]

You promised Posted by Picasa

Mohammed B. fights move to high-security jail

"AMSTERDAM -Mohammed B. has taken legal action against the decision to move him from a prison in Amsterdam to the high-security facility (EBI) in Vught.

His lawyer Peter Plasman has lodged an appeal with the sentencing monitoring board.

Amsterdam Muslim B. was jailed for life in July for stabbing and shooting Van Gogh to death in the east of the capital on 2 November 2004. B. did not mount a legal defence in relation to the murder, which he said he carried out because the victim had insulted Islam.

B. is now denying fresh allegations that he had attempted to arrange for a handgun to be smuggled into the Bijlmerbajes prison in Amsterdam to enable him to escape. "...

Sheehan arruves in DC Posted by Picasa

Pakistan police arrests two Islamic militants with explosives - Irna

"Pakistani police on Tuesday arrested two suspected Islamic militants with explosives and bomb-making literature near the industrial city of Faisalabad.

The report received on Tuesday said that one of the bearded men was wearing a head-to-toe veil, (burqa) worn by many conservative women in Pakistan.

The suspects are believed to be members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an extremist Sunni Muslim militant group that was banned in 2001 for attack.

The report said that the two suspects were found carrying 16 kg (35 pounds) of explosives.

According to the initial investigating, the men claimed they were experts in making bombs. "

Beer & Worms Posted by Picasa

Matt Towery: Time to confront reality

"A day of reckoning is coming for Republicans and conservatives, and it is approaching rapidly.

Thanks to a series of natural disasters, unspeakable acts of terrorism and the responses to them, this country is headed beyond a mere budget crisis. We're drifting toward to a five-alarm financial fiasco. "...

Iraqi forces Posted by Picasa

Iraq exit strategy still elusive

"The troops are supposed to be holding the ring while Iraqi security forces are built up.

But if the Iraqis to whom the British are due to hand over security control are themselves unreliable, the strategy is gravely weakened.

Security is one of the two hinges on the door marked 'exit'. The other is constitutional government.

Neither hinge has been screwed into place. Until they are, the door will not open and the British government will not declare a timetable for withdrawal. Nor does the Iraqi government show any signs of asking the British, let alone the Americans, to leave. "...

9-11 Omission Report. Posted by Picasa

Arianna Huffington: Plamegate: The John Bolton Connection

"I'm now hearing that the investigation may be inching closer to never-confirmed UN Ambassador John Bolton.

According to two sources, Bolton's former chief of staff, Fred Fleitz, was at least one of the sources of the classified information about Valerie Plame that flowed through the Bush administration and eventually made its way into Bob Novak's now infamous column."...

Medal of Honor Recipient Posted by Picasa

Police Find Relief Supplies in City Official's Home

"BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Police found cases of food, clothing and tools intended for hurricane victims at the home of the chief administrative officer for a New Orleans suburb, authorities said Wednesday.

Officers searched Cedric Floyd's home because of complaints that city workers were helping themselves to donations for hurricane victims. Floyd, who runs the day-to-day operations in the suburb of Kenner, was in charge of distributing the goods. "...

Iran wins bid to delist Argentina bomb suspects

"Iran succeeded today in getting Interpol to cancel international wanted notices for 12 of its nationals sought by Argentina in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre, police sources said."...

Military cemetery Posted by Picasa

High level Saudis removed from 9/11 lawsuit

"NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Saudi High Commission for Relief and two Saudi princes were granted immunity on Wednesday from litigation in three lawsuits stemming from the September 11 attacks on the United States.

U.S. District Judge Richard Casey found that Prince Salman, president of the High Commission, and Interior Minister Prince Nayef were not personally liable since they were acting as agents of the Saudi government.

The lawsuits charged that the High Commission and the princes had sponsored terror with Saudi funds under their direction. "...