Saturday, March 11, 2006

ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: FBI Warns of Possible Terror Threat at Sporting Events

ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: FBI Warns of Possible Terror Threat at Sporting Events: "March 10, 2006 -With college basketball championships under way around the country, the FBI has warned stadium operators of a possible suicide bomb attack at sporting events.

In a directive issued today, obtained by ABC News, the FBI said a posting on an extremist message board 'advocated suicide attacks against sporting events as a cost-effective means of killing thousands of Americans.'

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said they cannot confirm the credibility of the threat or whether the message is affiliated with al Qaeda.

The FBI said the Internet posting said the suicide attacks would be justified because the United States refused a truce offered by Osama bin Laden in his last videotaped statement, Jan. 19, 2006. "

Posting Suggests Using American Suicide Bombers
According to the FBI bulletin, the author of the posting recommended using "three to five blond or black American Muslim suicide bombers." The FBI said the author suggested that homemade explosives be hidden under their winter clothing.

The posting recommended, according to the FBI, that one suicide bomber detonate inside the stadium and the others detonate at exit gates as spectators were fleeing.

"The combined explosions would create a panic that would kill far more spectators than the bombing alone," the FBI quotes the message as saying.

The FBI said it is unaware of any specific or credible plans to attack any sporting event but notes that terrorist groups have mounted attacks at sporting events in the past.

The FBI recommends that sports leagues and stadium operators review and coordinate security practices and emergency response procedures "to address this potential threat."
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John Burns, Back from Baghdad: U.S. Effort In Iraq Will Likely Fail

John Burns, Back from Baghdad: U.S. Effort In Iraq Will Likely Fail: "NEW YORK A day after returning to the U.S., after another long term as bureau chief in Baghdad, John Burns of The New York Times said on Bill Maher's Friday night HBO program that he now feels, for the first time, that the American effort in Iraq will likely 'fail.'

Asked if a civil war was developing there, Burns said, 'It's always been a civil war,' adding that it's just a matter of extent. He said the current U.S. leaders there--military and diplomatic--were doing there best but sectarian differences would 'probably' doom the enterprise.

Burns said that he and others underestimated this problem, feeling for a long time that toppling Saddam Hussein would almost inevitably lead to something much better. He called the Abu Ghraib abuse the worst of many mistakes the U.S. made but said that even without so many mistakes the sectarian conflict would have gotten out of hand.

He also pointed to a key period coming up, as the top American generals decide over the next two weeks whether to go ahead with the planned 'draw down' of U.S. troops starting this spring which, as it turns out, coincides with deteriorating conditions on the ground. The problem is, he said, any U.S. withdrawals could lead to chaos there, with the Iraqi military not ready to take over, but not bringing troops home would prove to be a political disaster for the White House at home.

Speaking from Cambridge, Mass., Burns observed that he had been on the ground for 24 hours and of all the people he had interacted with so far 'no one supports this war.'

His most recent article from Baghdad appeared in The Times on March 5. He said he was heading to California next.

Burns was one of the few Americans journalists who stayed in Baghdad during the U.S. attack on Iraq in March 2003, and has spent most of his time there since.

[bth: I wish someone would ask him what would happen if Iraq were to break up into three countries?]
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TERRORISM: MADRID TRAIN BOMBERS "WERE PLANNING FURTHER ATTACKS"

TERRORISM: MADRID TRAIN BOMBERS "WERE PLANNING FURTHER ATTACKS": "Madrid, 10 March (AKI) - Almost two years to the day since al-Qaeda linked bombers killed 191 passengers and injured almost 1,000 in devastating train bombings the Spanish capital on 11 March, 2004, it has emerged that the bombers had planned to carry out further attacks in Spain, according to disclosures published on Friday in the Spanish daily, ABC.

A particuarly disturbing relevation in the ABC report is that other terrorist attacks were planned on Spanish soil. Investigators reportedly found details of planned attacks by the Madrid cell on the computer of one of the bombing suspects, Jamal Ahmidan, known as 'the Chinaman'. Among the cell's possible future targets were an English school in Madrid, and the Avila and Toledo synagogues, ABC reported.

Investigators found a kind of manual on how to organise a terrorist group that Ahmidan had downloaded onto his computer one week after the deadly attacks from an 'online al-Battar training camp' based in Saudi Arabia. The 'instructions' received by Ahmidan included how to form a terror command structure in a large city.

The manual contains information on the composition of an al-Qaeda cell. This needs to be made up of five groups: the leadership, information and logistics staff, operatives who carry out attacks, and financial officers. Only the leadership of a cell can know the objective of an attacks, according to the manual.

Just a few days after Ahmidan downloaded the manual, police found 12 kilogrammes of explosives near Toledo, on the tracks of the high-speed Madrid-Seville express train. Ahmidan and several other Madrid train bombing suspects blew themselves up in a flat in a Madrid suburb when police moved in to arrest them three weeks after the bombings. A police special operations officer was killed and 18 police officers were injured in the blast.

The second anniversary of the Madrid train bombings will be marked in a low-key climate, with little pomp and ceremony - at the request of relations of the victims. More than 200 of the attacks still need medical assistance, and a further 264 need psychological help. On Friday night prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero and King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia will attend a memorial concert for victims of the Madrid attacks and the 7 July 2005 bombings of the British capital London's transport system that killed 54 and injured 700.

No bombing suspect has yet stood trial. Judge Juan del Olmo is expected to present his first indictments in the complex investigation by 10 April: some 30 people out of 116 suspects, many of whom are Moroccan, are expected to be charged. Del Olmo and the National Court have been warned that unless the investigation is stepped up, some of the 25 defendants currently detained might have to be released from custody before any trial ends. Spain's 11th March Association of Terrorism Victims president, Pilar Manjon said on Thursday she was starting legal action against del Olmo. Manjon is angry that del Olmo has so far asked only 10 of the hundreds of victims of the deadly attacks to testify before him.
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It didn't have to be this way

Guardian Unlimited Special reports It didn't have to be this way: "Few Serbs can afford to travel to neighbouring countries nowadays so most have little idea how far the Serbian capital lags behind its neighbours such as Budapest or Prague. Visitors to Belgrade using public transport are warned to be very careful where they stand for fear of falling through the floor of the dilapidated Ikarus trolley-buses that have not been repaired for decades.

It didn't have to be this way. It is ironic that during the 1980s the former Yugoslavia was in pole position in the race for European integration. The country had open borders, a soft dictatorship, a thriving and cosmopolitan arts and cultural scene, the best transport and communications infrastructure in eastern Europe and a multinational workforce, many of whom had worked abroad"

But after years of war, economic sanctions and isolation, Serbia is now the region's laggard. The Milosevic era still casts a long shadow. Even though Slobodan Milosevic was arrested and extradited to the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague in the summer of June 2001 his legacy continues to shape the country that he once ruled. Unlike its neighbours, Serbia has never made a clean break from communism.

Although the country is a democracy, many of the same networks in politics, business, the military and the intelligence services that ran Serbia during the Milosevic era still to a large extent control it now. Organised crime groups, which flourished smuggling cigarettes and petrol during the 1990s, are still powerful. European observers cite continuing problems with corruption, a poor judiciary and pressures on the media as preventing EU membership in the near future.
Slovenia, a former Yugoslav republic, is already a member of both the European Union and Nato, as are most of Serbia's neighbours. Even Romania and Bulgaria are likely to join the EU in 2007. But the waves of foreign investment that have revitalised other communist countries have passed Serbia by; tens of thousands of the country's brightest and best young people have made new lives abroad, most never to return. The enduring power of the ultra-nationalist right, especially the Serbian Radical party, does not bode well for the country's modernisation and integration. Milosevic's Socialist party helps keep the government coalition in power.

Yet there are some encouraging signs that Serbia may at last be turning the corner, and the death of Slobodan Milosevic could yet prove to be a key turning point. Last year the country was shocked by a video broadcast on television of paramilitaries executing Bosniak men and boys captured after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995. The soldiers were members of the "Scorpions", a paramilitary group under the control of the Serbian interior ministry. The gruesome video caused a wave of revulsion across the country and many of those filmed shooting the prisoners were arrested soon afterwards and put on trial.

A new film about the rape of Bosnian women by Serbian soldiers, Grbavica, has been shown in Belgrade and received a standing ovation. Yet the Bosnian Serbs still refuse to screen it. Only when Serbs across the former Yugoslavia face up to their past can the legacy of the Milosevic era finally be left behind.

· Adam LeBor is the author of Milosevic: A Biography, published by Bloomsbury UK

[bth: Its amazing how utterly evil Slobo was and how his legacy of evil retards the region. It's a shame he didn't live to be convicted and hung.]

Iraqi Shi'ite cleric calls U.S., Britain and Israel a 'Triad of Evil'

Haaretz - Israel News - Article: "...Al-Jaafari is strongly supported by al-Sadr, whose followers hold 30 seats in the 275-member parliament. The remainder of the Shiite blocs control 100 more.

'The candidate for prime minister must demand the withdrawal of the occupiers, or put a timetable for their pullout. I don't support any person who does not say that,' al-Sadr declared. 'What is important is that the occupiers leave because they are behind what is happening in Iraq.'

'Putting a timetable on foreign troop withdrawal represents a victory for Iraqis not for terrorists,' he said.

The cleric, speaking from the holy city of Najaf, said Saddam Hussein should not be tried but executed immediately. He criticized what he called American intervention in the trial and causing to take too much time."....

Retired Supreme Court Justice hits attacks on courts and warns of dictatorship

The Raw Story Retired Supreme Court Justice hits attacks on courts and warns of dictatorship: "Via NPR. Rush transcript by RAW STORY. Listen to the audio report here.
Supreme Court justices keep many opinions private but Sandra Day O'Connor no longer faces that obligation.

Yesterday, the retired justice criticized Republicans who criticized the courts. She said they challenge the independence of judges and the freedoms of all Americans. O'Connor's speech at Georgetown University was not available for broadcast but NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg was there.

Nina Totenberg: In an unusually forceful and forthright speech, O'Connor said that attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms. O'Connor began by conceding that courts do have the power to make presidents or the Congress or governors, as she put it "really, really angry." But, she continued, if we don't make them mad some of the time we probably aren't doing our jobs as judges, and our effectiveness, she said, is premised on the notion that we won't be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts. The nation's founders wrote repeatedly, she said, that without an independent judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government those rights and privileges would amount to nothing. But, said O'Connor, as the founding fathers knew statutes and constitutions don't protect judicial independence, people do. "

And then she took aim at former House GOP leader Tom DeLay. She didn’t name him, but she quoted his attacks on the courts at a meeting of the conservative Christian group Justice Sunday last year when DeLay took out after the courts for rulings on abortions, prayer and the Terri Schiavo case. This, said O’Connor, was after the federal courts had applied Congress’ onetime only statute about Schiavo as it was written. Not, said O’Connor, as the congressman might have wished it were written. This response to this flagrant display of judicial restraint, said O’Connor, her voice dripping with sarcasm, was that the congressman blasted the courts.

It gets worse, she said, noting that death threats against judges are increasing. It doesn’t help, she said, when a high-profile senator suggests there may be a connection between violence against judges and decisions that the senator disagrees with. She didn’t name him, but it was Texas senator John Cornyn who made that statement, after a Georgia judge was murdered in the courtroom and the family of a federal judge in Illinois murdered in the judge’s home. O’Connor observed that there have been a lot of suggestions lately for so-called judicial reforms, recommendations for the massive impeachment of judges, stripping the courts of jurisdiction and cutting judicial budgets to punish offending judges. Any of these might be debatable, she said, as long as they are not retaliation for decisions that political leaders disagree with.

I, said O’Connor, am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning. Pointing to the experiences of developing countries and former communist countries where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O’Connor said we must be ever-vigilant against those who would strongarm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.

Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington.

Pentagon admits errors in spying on protesters - U.S. News - MSNBC.com

Pentagon admits errors in spying on protesters - U.S. News - MSNBC.com: "The Department of Defense admitted in a letter obtained by NBC News on Thursday that it had wrongly added peaceful demonstrators to a database of possible domestic terrorist threats. The letter followed an NBC report focusing on the Defense Department's Threat and Local Observation Notice, or TALON, report."...

Pentagon admits errors in spying on protesters - U.S. News - MSNBC.com

Pentagon admits errors in spying on protesters - U.S. News - MSNBC.com: "The Department of Defense admitted in a letter obtained by NBC News on Thursday that it had wrongly added peaceful demonstrators to a database of possible domestic terrorist threats. The letter followed an NBC report focusing on the Defense Department's Threat and Local Observation Notice, or TALON, report.

Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Roger W. Rogalski�s letter came in reply to a memo from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who had demanded answers about the process of identifying domestic protesters as suspicious and removing their names when they are wrongly listed.

"The recent review of the TALON Reporting System ... identified a small number of reports that did not meet the TALON reporting criteria. Those reports dealt with domestic anti-military protests or demonstrations potentially impacting DoD facilities or personnel," Rogalski wrote on Wednesday.

"While the information was of value to military commanders, it should not have been retained in the Cornerstone database."..

Friday, March 10, 2006


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Contractor Bilked U.S. on Iraq Work, Federal Jury Rules

Contractor Bilked U.S. on Iraq Work, Federal Jury Rules: "Two Army veterans and their company cheated the U.S. government on a contract to furnish Iraq with a new currency in 2003 and should pay more than $10 million in assorted damages, a federal jury in Alexandria ruled yesterday.

In the first civil fraud verdict arising from the war effort, the eight-member panel decided, after two days of deliberation, in favor of two former workers who claimed in a lawsuit that Custer Battles LLC created phony Cayman Island companies to overcharge the Coalition Provisional Authority that ran Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003."

"This is a smashing victory for U.S. taxpayers and these whistle-blowers though the Bush administration did nothing to help," said Alan M. Grayson, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Robert Isakson and William Baldwin. Under the federal False Claims Act, citizens can sue on behalf of the government and the Justice Department can then decide whether to join the suit, which it did not in the Custer Battles case.

The company, which had offices in Northern Virginia and Rhode Island, was founded in 2002 by Scott Custer, a former Army Ranger, and Michael Battles, a West Point graduate who also served in the CIA. The war in Iraq brought it meteoric growth, as it picked up CPA contracts to manage security at Baghdad International Airport and help distribute the country's new currency.

The lawsuit named the two co-founders, along with Joseph Morris, who managed the currency contract.

During the three-week trial, Grayson called the company executives "war profiteers," while defense attorneys called the accusers "bounty hunters."

The trial has been complicated by the murky legal status of the CPA and the various sources of money it used to try to rebuild the country. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told the jury that they could only consider fraud charges on the first $3 million spent on the Custer Battles currency contract -- out of a total of about $20 million -- because that clearly came from the U.S. Treasury.

Attorneys for Custer and Battles did not return calls yesterday seeking comment. Barbara Van Gelder, Morris's attorney, said that because the judge has yet to rule on whether the CPA is a government entity "the impact of the jury's decision is in limbo."

Grayson said yesterday that there are "dozens" of other fraud cases about contracts in Iraq that remain sealed because the department has not decided whether to join them or not. He called such delay "a dereliction of duty." His clients will get 25 to 30 percent of the awarded damages, with the rest going to the U.S. Treasury, he said.

The law allows for triple damages. Grayson said the jury also added another $230,000 in back pay for Baldwin, who said he was demoted for complaining about the company's actions, and more than $400,000 in fines for specific fraudulent acts.

During the trial, retired Brig. Gen. Hugh Tant III told jurors that Custer Battles's performance amounted to "probably the worst I've seen in my 30 years in the Army." Tant had been overseeing the firm's work on the currency conversion contract.

He testified that of the 36 trucks the firm supplied, 34 did not work. When he confronted Battles, he said Battles responded: "You asked for trucks and we complied with our contract and it is immaterial whether the trucks were operational."

Custer and Battles both took the stand to deny that the offshore companies were designed to trick the government into paying more.

Staff writer Griff Witte contributed to this report.
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U.S. Sets Plans to Aid Iraq in Civil War

U.S. Sets Plans to Aid Iraq in Civil War: "The U.S. military will rely primarily on Iraq's security forces to put down a civil war in that country if one breaks out, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told lawmakers yesterday.

Sectarian violence in Iraq has reached a level unprecedented since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and is now eclipsing the insurgency as the chief security threat there, said Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, who appeared with Rumsfeld."

"The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the . . . Iraqi security forces deal with it to the extent they're able to," Rumsfeld told the Senate Appropriations Committee when pressed to explain how the United States intended to respond should Iraq descend wholesale into internecine strife.

If civil war becomes reality, "it's very clear that the Iraqi forces will handle it, but they'll handle it with our help," Abizaid said later when asked to elaborate on Rumsfeld's remark....

[bth: the plan is ... well there is no plan.]
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Poll: Bush Approval Rating Hits New Low

My Way News: "WASHINGTON (AP) - More and more people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance, question his character and no longer consider him a strong leader against terrorism, according to an AP-Ipsos poll documenting one of the bleakest points of his presidency.

Nearly four out of five Americans, including 70 percent of Republicans, believe civil war will break out in Iraq - the bloody hot spot upon which Bush has staked his presidency. Nearly 70 percent of people say the U.S. is on the wrong track, a 6-point jump since February."...

The poll suggests that most Americans wonder whether Bush is up to the job. The survey, conducted Monday through Wednesday of 1,000 people, found that just 37 percent approve of his overall performance. That is the lowest of his presidency.

Bush's job approval among Republicans plummeted from 82 percent in February to 74 percent, a dangerous sign in a midterm election year when parties rely on enthusiasm from their most loyal voters. The biggest losses were among white males.

On issues, Bush's approval rating declined from 39 percent to 36 percent for his handling of domestic affairs and from 47 percent to 43 percent on foreign policy and terrorism. His approval ratings for dealing with the economy and Iraq held steady, but still hovered around 40 percent.

Personally, far fewer Americans consider Bush likable, honest, strong and dependable than they did just after his re-election campaign.

By comparison, Presidents Clinton and Reagan had public approval in the mid 60s at this stage of their second terms in office, while Eisenhower was close to 60 percent, according to Gallup polls. Nixon, who was increasingly tangled up in the Watergate scandal, was in the high 20s in early 1974....

Thursday, March 09, 2006

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Arab ally senses Bush no longer has control in Washington

FT.com / World - Arab ally senses Bush no longer has control in Washington: "The decision by the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to order state-controlled Dubai Ports World to end its control over US port facilities marks the lowest point yet in the relationship between President George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress.

Mr Bush had warned repeatedly that blocking the deal would send a dangerously discriminatory message to the world. He threatened repeatedly to veto any congressional legislation.
But with his public approval ratings at record lows and his Republican party abandoning him, one of the US's closest allies in the Arab world concluded that he was no longer in control in Washington."....
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the morningside post: Iran and Israel: Bombs Away? Or Not?

the morningside post: Iran and Israel: Bombs Away? Or Not?: "It's the question on a lot of minds right now: will Israeli grow frustrated with diplomatic efforts to contain Iran's nuclear program and turn to military force to deal with the threat?

A lot of the talk has been meaningless bluster and swagger, especially by -chicken hawks-in the United States. But someone who actually has some real knowledge on the issue attempted to answer the question in a presentation at the Hudson Institute Tuesday: Lt. Gen Moshe Yaalon, who served as chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, claimed that Israel had the capability to significantly degrade Iran's nuclear capability, but made clear that Israel would prefer not to have to do the job, and particularly not alone. "


Ever since Israel bombed Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981 to halt Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons, Israel’s so-called “Begin doctrine” has made clear that it will not tolerate a nuclear rival in the region . (Israel is widely acknowledged to have such weapons, although it publicly will not confirm it). Israel’s nuclear program had its origins in its leaders' drive to ensure that the Holocaust would never be repeated. Given that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has recently both denied the Holocaust and called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” it’s not surprising that Israeli officials might view the Islamic Republic armed with nuclear arms and “existential threat” to its security that they will not tolerate. Even if Iran developed nuclear weapons, as Yaalon and others acknowledge, Tehran is not suicidal enough to actually use such weapons. More likely they say is that Tehran would be able to use such an arsenal as a shield to step up efforts to aid terrorist groups, destabilize moderate Arab regimes, and further damage the peace process.

Still, for diplomatic and practical reasons Israel does not want to confront Iran alone. Diplomatically, Israel would prefer to avoid the onus of a preemptive attack. Practically, Israel knows that Iran could respond to an attack in number of ways, launching its Shahab ballistic missiles against Israel, allowing its Hezbollah and Palestinian allies to launch thousands of short-range rockets against Israel, and assisting other kinds of terrorist attacks.

So Israel has been trying to walk a fine line in recent months, making clear that it will attack if necessary in order to pressure the United States and Europe to put a halt to Iran’s nuclear program one way or another without being so bellicose as to let those countries pass the buck to it.

In this back-and-forth, questions have been raised about whether there is ultimately a military option to stop Iran’s nuclear program, short of the invasion that no one prophecies given the current U.S. problems next door in Iraq.

Yaalon says that there is certainly the option to significantly delay Iran’s efforts. Because Iran has learned from Israel’s attack on Iraq’s reactor, such an attack would be far more complicated. It would require multiple strikes lasting days at dozens of targets. But he said that despite some reports to the contrary, Israel has the necessary capabilities to carry it out: long-range aircraft and refueling capability; cruise missiles and other munitions that can penetrate Iranian defenses; bunker-busting bombs that would work against buried and hardened targets like Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facilities; and submarines to launch cruise missiles. And it has some defenses against Iranian attacks, such as the Arrow missile defense system for use against the Shahab.

[bth: it is important that we not be goaded into war like a dumb big brother.]
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Clarkstown bulletproof vest collection surpasses expectations

Clarkstown bulletproof vest collection surpasses expectations: "NEW CITY � Clarkstown Police Officer Chris Cortelli made a simple request when he went off to train with the U.S. Marines.

He wanted his fellow officers to obtain bullet-proof vests for his reserve unit before they headed to Iraq this month.
Yesterday afternoon, the Clarkstown police union began shipping 762 used bullet-proof vests to Cortelli's unit, training in a California desert.

The Marines will use the vests to line the walls of Humvees and other military vehicles for added protection from small-arms fire and shrapnel from roadside bombs.

The Clarkstown Police Benevolent Association, supported by the county union, put out the call for used vests about five weeks ago.

Clarkstown PBA officials got far more than they expected as used vests came pouring in from officers in Rockland and other law enforcement agencies across the tri-state area.

PBA officials called the donations heartwarming and a sign that the troops were being supported on the homefront."

"Chris and the other guys are putting themselves in harm's way," PBA President Joseph Knarich said yesterday.

"This is the least we can do," said Knarich, who served with the Marines. "We started asking for vests in our newsletter and the media picked it up. It then snowballed after that."

As Knarich spoke, Officer Charles Barone drove a small forklift that put an estimated 3,400 pounds of vests in pallets onto a Yellow Transportation truck parked in the police headquarters' lot.

Barone maneuvered the small truck back and forth until all six pallets were loaded for driver Rich Jones.

The Maybrook-based trucking company is providing the transportation for free.

Tom Kirby, the company's distribution manager in Maybrook, said many veterans drive for the firm and they looked forward to helping the troops.

The vests will wind their way across the country to Cortelli's unit, which is stationed at Twentynine Palms, the Marine Corps Desert Warfare Training Center, in the Mojave desert.
Cortelli, 30, and his fellow Marines are scheduled to leave for Fallujah between March 19 and 23.

Although the Marines are issued body armor, not all Humvees are protected. Since the Iraq invasion, U.S. troops have used upgrade kits or have welded scrap metal onto their vehicles to make them safer.

The vests have a shelf-life of about five years, when officers get new ones. Many officers keep their used ones and so have extras, Knarich said.

PBA officials said the number of vests donated far exceeded expectations.

Some of the vests had personal messages from adults and children. The messages ranged from "God Bless America" and "God Bless the Troops" to handprints by children and other words of encouragement, Knarich said.

"I thought maybe we would get 100 vests," Clarkstown PBA secretary John Hanchar said. "But they just kept coming in to where we had a hallway filled with vests. Joe and I looked up and we had more than 3,000 pounds of vests."

[bth: so going on 3 years into this war in Iraq Marines are still having to put old vests onto the sides of their vehicles for protection. This story is from the east coast, the next one is from the west coast. The one after that is a citizen putting together equipment to protect gunners. All the while the public is fighting the procurement system and inertia of the military to get stuff done.]
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OC Sheriff's Department gives armor to Iraq-bound Marines

"Department has donated surplus anti-ballistic armor to a Marine unit in Iraq.

As they were deployed in late January, the unit received outdated bulletproof vests and protective panels to line military vehicles to protect against roadside bombs left by insurgents.

Such bombs are a leading cause of U-S military deaths in Iraq.
The Sheriff's Department would not identify the unit that received the donation or say whether the gift was requested.
A Marine Corps spokesman says the donation was not solicited.

This week, county supervisors retroactively approved the gift.

Sheriff's officials had supplied the equipment without permission because the unit that received the vests was leaving quickly and there wasn't time to get the supervisors' O-K beforehand."
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ABC News: Engineered Seat May Save Army Gunners in Combat, but It Faces Pentagon Resistance

ABC News: Engineered Seat May Save Army Gunners in Combat, but It Faces Pentagon Resistance: "BAGHDAD, Iraq March 7, 2006 � Sgt. William Hartmann is one of thousands of U.S. soldiers and Marines who as a gunner has been responsible for providing security to supply convoys from Humvees or tanks. It's a dangerous job, but Hartmann says it's even more perilous because of his equipment -specifically, the narrow nylon strap that gunners are supposed to sit on.

'Basically your legs start cramping up and you lose sensation overall,' he said. 'A lot of us gunners end up standing up to prevent that from happening, and unfortunately that's how you get killed as a gunner.'

Gunners who stand are more vulnerable to gunfire, Hartmann said. During accidents, explosions, and when the Humvee rolls over, gunners are too often ejected because the gunner strap has no restraint.

It can be deadly. Gunners have complained about this to the Pentagon, military publications, and other media to little or no avail. It's not the first time Pentagon commanders have taken heat for not providing the best equipment for soldiers here.

There was the question of insufficient vehicle armor. Meeting with troops in Kuwait in December 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked by Tennessee National Guard Spc. Thomas Wilson, 'Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?'

A Pentagon study leaked to the media in January concluded that as many as 80 percent of the Marines killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body might have had a better chance of survival with extra body armor to protect their shoulders and sides. Such armor has been available since 2003.

And now - gunners' seats?

For what it says are privacy concerns, the U.S. military shares little information about how troops are killed or injured, but anecdotal evidence abounds. A March 2005 Pentagon fatality memo described how after a "preventable" accident, "the gunner of the second vehicle was ejected from the turret and sustained fatal injuries."

"I'm here to serve my country, and I'll do everything it takes to do just that," Hartmann said. "But I don't want to come home to my three children and my wife because of an accident and an event that could have been easily avoided if I had just had better gear."

Help From Home

So Hartmann turned to Kyle Greenwood, his friend in Texas.
Greenwood lives on a horse farm with his wife and two young boys, and is something of a handyman. Hartmann thought he might be able to come up with a comfortable saddle for the tank that would also strap gunners in to prevent them from being ejected and killed.

"There were accidents," Greenwood said, "that gunners were being thrown out, and he said, 'Find some way to tie me into this.'"

Said Hartmann: "In all the years that I've known Kyle Greenwood, what I know about Kyle is he's the type of guy that can get things done."

Greenwood sat down and began sketching a new gunner's seat for his friend. It had a wider leather seat, like a saddle, and a strap to secure Hartmann into his vehicle.

He called it the "Cooper Sling" to honor his late father-in-law, Pat Cooper, a military man like Hartmann, who says the Cooper Sling is a lifesaver.

"The only way you can sit that low in a profile and not be in sheer agony is being in a seat like the Cooper Sling," Hartmann said.

Hartmann's comrades in the desert saw his new gear and wanted Cooper Slings for themselves.

Greenwood agreed.

"At that point, I felt I made a commitment to these guys that I would make them for them," he said, "so I had to go raise money, try to find a way to get these made as quickly as possible."

Greenwood quit his job as a successful home remodeler, and asked friends and family to invest in his new company. He set up a Web site and charges around $500 per Cooper Sling.

"Put yourself in Kyle's position," Hartmann said. "I mean, do you tell them, 'I know this is a safer seat for you. I know this will help you do your job much better. But this is only for my friend.'"

Saving Soldiers' Lives

Greenwood has sold more than 4,000 Cooper Slings to soldiers in the United States, Iraq and Afghanistan. They are sold on the Internet and mailed directly to the war zones.
Some are purchased by field commanders and some by civilians through an adopt-a-gunner program, while other soldiers have bought Cooper Slings with their own money. Canadian soldiers have bought them, too.

Greenwood started receiving unsolicited letters from soldiers in the field, like one from Sgt. Daniel Rodriguez after a truck smashed into his Humvee. "Your Cooper Sling kept me from being ejected out of the vehicle," Greenwood said, reading it aloud.

He read another letter from a soldier in the Texas National Guard on the front lines in Iraq: "The Cooper Sling saved my life. And my wife and soon-to-be five kids appreciate it."
Facing Pentagon Resistance

The Pentagon has so far resisted any efforts to make the Cooper Sling standard issue.

In fact, Greenwood's mission to get a Cooper Sling to every gunner was dealt a blow last month when the Army posted a warning urging soldiers not to use it.

The warning said testing had showed that "it did not prevent the gunner from being ejected out of the gunner's hatch and would actually prevent rapid entry into the vehicle crew compartment during a roll-over drill."

Greenwood was especially surprised to hear this warning because he had received letters from Army commanders thanking him for saving their soldiers' lives.

The Pentagon would not comment except to reiterate its position that testing had showed it to be unsafe and to add that it "directs that any of these items installed on Army vehicles be removed immediately and replaced with an authorized seat."

Hartmann has since come back safe from Iraq, perhaps the best testament to his buddy's invention.

"Worst-case scenario for me, it turns out to be a nonsuccessful business venture," Greenwood said. "This isn't really a sacrifice for me. The ones who are making a sacrifice are guys over there defending our country."

Pentagon commanders have taken heat for not always providing the best equipment for soldiers — whether that be inadequate armor for a soldier's vehicle or for his body.

Regarding the Cooper Sling, the Army has agreed to take another look and will have it tested at an Army-approved facility at the end of this month.
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US calls NKorea's missile program global threat after tests - Forbes.com

US calls NKorea's missile program global threat after tests - Forbes.com: "WASHINGTON (AFX) - North Korea's missile program has emerged a global 'threat', the United States said, after the Stalinist nation reportedly test-fired two missiles amid a stalemate in nuclear talks.

Washington urged Pyongyang to abide by a moratorium on missile tests and return to six-nation talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons drive.

'As we have continued to point out, North Korea's missile program and activities are a threat not only to the region, but the international community at large,' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, according to Agence France-Presse.

The United States, he said, 'calls upon North Korea to abide by the moratorium concerning missile tests.' "....

The ground-to-ground missiles with a range of five kilometers landed in North Korean territory, the television network said.

The tests appeared to be North Korean 'posturing' following their hints at ending the six-party talks and a recent US warning of a Pyongyang missile buildup, said Strategic Forecasting Inc (Stratfor), a private US intelligence firm.

'Given the current political climate -- stalled six-party talks, discussions over sanctions and counterfeiting and US warnings of a North Korean missile buildup -- the timing fits with Pyongyang's previous ploys,' Stratfor said in a report. ...

[bth: The administration is trying to make an awful lot out of a 5 kilometer missile launch. How that could be viewed as a provocative act is beyond me. Americans have lost their fear N. Korea and their trust in this Administration. That's why this talk about threats and danger from Bolton and Rice is gaining no traction whatever.]
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West will suffer more than Iran: Ahmadinejad

Top News Article Reuters.com: "TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday the West would suffer more than Iran if it continued to try to stop the Islamic Republic developing nuclear technology, local media reported.

Speaking a day after it became clear that the U.N. Security Council would take up Iran's nuclear case, Ahmadinejad said Tehran would not be bullied or humiliated.

'They (Western countries) know that they are not capable of inflicting the slightest blow on the Iranian nation because they need the Iranian nation,' Ahmadinejad said in a speech in western Iran.

'They will suffer more and they are vulnerable,' the semi-official ISNA students news agency quoted him as saying.
His comments were echoed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the ultimate decision-maker in the Islamic state, who urged government officials not to give in to Western pressure.

Khamenei said the move to send Iran's case to the Security Council was part of a psychological war masterminded by Washington and aimed at undermining Iran's clerical rulers.
'That is why if the Iranian nation and government steps back on nuclear energy today, the story will not end there and the Americans will make another pretext,' state television quoted him as telling the Assembly of Experts, an elected body of senior clerics which supervises the supreme leader's activities.
'The officials are responsible for continuing Iran's drive for advanced technology, including nuclear energy, without yielding to the pressures,' he said."....

[bth: For the clerics and Ahmadinejad its a win/win situation. If we do not attack then they will almost certainly build nuclear weapons with technology provided them by Pakistan's Khan and Russia with China and N. Korea providing missile technology. If we do attack then they use this very popular issue in Iran to rally the people and crack down on their internal enemies. My feeling is that the Plan B of Israel's attack on Iran makes the most sense at this point. Keep in mind though that the UN Security Council actions coincide nicely with the internal election in Israel and Cheney's recent appearance at AIPAC. The public is being stoked up and this will continue until at least the end of this month and the elections in Israel.]
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Carter Urges Troop Withdrawal From Iraq

Carter Urges Troop Withdrawal From Iraq: "SEATTLE -- Former President Jimmy Carter criticized the war in Iraq on Wednesday, urging a troop drawdown as the United States enters its fourth year of conflict in Iraq.

'It was a completely unnecessary war. It was an unjust war,' said Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner. 'It was initiated on the basis of false pretenses. All of those are true, but we can't just pre-emptively withdraw.'

He urged the Bush administration to bring home as many troops as possible within the next 12 months.

'The violence is increasing monthly,' Carter said. 'My prayer is we'll see some kind of democracy eventually evolve.'

His comments came at a news conference before a building dedication at the University of Washington.

Carter was the keynote speaker at the dedication of the university's new Genome Sciences and Bioengineering Building in honor of William H. Foege. Foege directed the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during Carter's presidency and later headed The Carter Center, which promotes peace and health programs around the world.
Carter credited Foege with saving the lives of millions of people through his efforts to eradicate smallpox, Guinea worm and river blindness, and by encouraging childhood immunization.

Foege works with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which contributed $50 million for the building."
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CQPolitics.com - War Puts Military Veteran Candidates in the Spotlight

CQPolitics.com - War Puts Military Veteran Candidates in the Spotlight: "There has been a gradual but deep decline in the ranks of Congress members who have served in the military � primarily the result of the aging of the World War II and Vietnam era generations and the end of the military draft in 1973.

That trend could be slowed, if not reversed, this year, with both major parties presenting long and growing lists of military veterans who are running for the House.

Today, 26 percent of the members in Congress also served in the military. Just 15 years ago, during the Persian Gulf War, about half of the members of Congress were military veterans. Over just the past four years, the number of military veterans in the House has declined to 109 today from 134 in the 107th Congress and 119 in the 108th Congress."...

Gallup: Bush disapproval rating highest of any president since Nixon

The Raw Story Gallup: Bush disapproval rating highest of any president since Nixon: "More than 4 in 10 Americans strongly disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, according to the latest CNN/Gallup poll, the highest of any president except Nixon in the waning months of his presidency. Just 40 percent of Americans believe Bush can manage the country effectively; Bush registers a 38% approval rating with a 60% disapproval rating. "....
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Women sue over sex with Marine recruiters

US News Article Reuters.com: "SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two women who said two U.S. Marine Corps recruiters forced them to have sex after they expressed interest in joining the force sued over the incidents on Wednesday. ...
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Negative Perception Of Islam Increasing

Negative Perception Of Islam Increasing: "As the war in Iraq grinds into its fourth year, a growing proportion of Americans are expressing unfavorable views of Islam, and a majority now say that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll found that nearly half of Americans -- 46 percent -- have a negative view of Islam, seven percentage points higher than in the tense months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, when Muslims were often targeted for violence."...

According to the poll, the proportion of Americans who believe that Islam helps to stoke violence against non-Muslims has more than doubled since the attacks, from 14 percent in January 2002 to 33 percent today....
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Rates of hearing loss climbing for troops

KRT Wire 03/08/2006 Rates of hearing loss climbing for troops: "WASHINGTON - The Army's chief of staff, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, wears hearing aids. Asked why once, the crusty special operations veteran grinned and said: 'Guns, helicopters, demolition - 36 years of it.'

Schoomaker's faulty hearing is far from rare in the military. And experts say the war in Iraq has led to epidemic rates of hearing loss among troops.Yet while all the armed services are scrambling to come up with better hearing protection, the Army is slashing its staff of military audiologists - the specialists who combat hearing loss - to make room for more 'trigger pullers' at the front. Only two military audiologists, for example, are at Fort Hood in Texas, home base for more than 40,000 soldiers.'

It's frankly alarming,' Theresa Schulz, a former Air Force audiologist and incoming president-elect of the National Hearing Conservation Association, said of the reduction in military audiologists even as noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise.Army officials say that most or all of the military audiologists lost will be replaced by civilians and that the service has enough audiologists in any event.

A review of recent studies and interviews with experts by The Dallas Morning News show that:

Perhaps a fourth - and probably more - of troops who have served in Iraq since March 2003 have returned with hearing loss from gunfire, bomb blasts or other noise.

Exact figures on how many troops have suffered hearing damage in Iraq or Afghanistan don't exist, in part because the Army failed until recently to give most troops hearing tests at both the beginning and end of their service, a 2005 study by the independent Institute of Medicine found. And as the American Journal of Audiology recently noted, Army Reserve and Guard members may be 'underrepresented' in Armymedical evaluations because "they are more likely to seek care through civilian providers."
Despite the evidence of rapidly rising hearing damage, the Army plans to cut the number of uniformed audiologists in its ranks from 36 to a projected 19. The Army had 70 uniformed audiologists in 1991, before a post-Cold War reduction in the Army's overall size.

The bill to taxpayers for disability payments for hearing damage to all veterans - already roughly $1 billion annually - is likely to soar in future years as increasing numbers of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan realize the extent of their hearing loss....

As it is, only about 20 of the Army's military audiologists work primarily in hearing conservation, said Lt. Col Kathy Gates, the Army surgeon general's top audiology adviser.
Those 20 are responsible for getting the hearing conservation message to about 324,000 soldiers - those routinely exposed to hazardous noise - out of the 600,000 regular Army, Army Reserve and National Guard troops on active duty.
Coley, a former helicopter pilot who retired from the Army as a colonel in 1998, said civilian audiologists could be trained to do what military audiologists do now.

"The civilians who come into the Army need to understand that their job is going to be hearing conservation," he said.

Douglas Ohlin, a civilian audiologist who has managed the Army's hearing conservation program for 26 years, said Coley's vision of reorienting civilian audiologists from treating patients to teaching hearing conservation was "either wishful thinking or he's blowing smoke, because that is not what has happened in the past."

"That isn't going to work and has not worked because they (civilian audiologists) are clinic-bound," Ohlin said. "The hospital commanders want them ... in the clinics."...

Beyond the Army's purchases of Combat Arms Earplugs, its Communications Electronics Command has spent $64 million over the past 17 months on 100,000 pair of "noise cancellation" headsets for soldiers, Marines and Air Force troops who use noisy vehicles. Many of the headsets went to units going to Iraq.

Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the Army surgeon general, "recognizes a concern over audiology," Coley said, and has asked higher-ups to seek Pentagon permission to postpone conversions while the medical command considers the issue.

The percentage of troops whose hearing has been damaged in Iraq could actually be higher than one fourth, some experts said, for a soldier who loses an arm or leg in a roadside bomb blast often suffers hearing damage, too, but is listed as an amputee rather than a hearing casualty.

The Institute of Medicine study cited "reports of hearing loss among 62 percent of personnel with blast injuries who were treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from March 2003 through May 2005."

Whatever the actual number, the future cost to taxpayers will be billions, experts predicted.

"We know that it's a problem, and we expect to see a high incidence of hearing loss among returning veterans," VA audiology director Beck said.

That needn't be, hearing protection advocate Schulz said.
"People should be as militant about noise as they are about asbestos," she said. "It's the same kind of hazard. There's no blood, there's no pain. It's a slow, insidious damage.

"And 30 years later you're standing there like the chief of staff of the Army, wearing hearing aids."
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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

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Iraq: good, bad and ugly

Star-Telegram 03/06/2006 Iraq: good, bad and ugly: "WASHINGTON - This administration, from President Bush to Vice President Dick Cheney to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, has sowed the seeds of a bitter harvest in the Middle East that Americans will reap for decades, if not generations.

That harvest includes (but isn't limited to) a war bill that's approaching $400 billion and growing by $100 billion a year, an American military ground down by unceasing combat deployments, and a casualty count that doesn't include thousands of troops who are coming home with psychological problems.

We can never know how many of the 2,298 dead soldiers and 16,906 wounded (as of this writing) might have been saved by better body armor, more and better armored vehicles and, above all, an honest assessment of the enemy they were sent to fight."

The invasion and occupation of Iraq that was going to be over by the summer of 2003 is entering its fourth year. The violence is unabated. The numbers of Americans and Iraqis dying daily haven't dropped.

It's not as if the triumvirate wasn't warned, though the members would like you to believe that. It's that they chose to believe their own rose-colored vision of what was happening in Iraq and what wasn't, reinforced by the likes of Ahmad Chalabi.

As Iraq now trembles on the brink of all-out civil war, my Knight Ridder colleagues Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel reported last week that a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) requested by the U.S. Central Command was delivered in October 2003. It warned that the real danger we faced in Iraq was homegrown Sunni insurgents, not just the foreign terrorists and Baath Party dead-enders that the White House and the Pentagon kept holding up as the bogeymen.

By twisting or ignoring the warnings of senior intelligence analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the nation's civilian leaders allowed a small Sunni insurgency to grow like cancer.

The authors of that NIE sounded the warning but offered hope of improvement, saying that the insurgency could be tamped down if Iraq's economic condition improved. Other civilian and military officials sought increases in the number of American troops in Iraq, as well as some role for the Sunni minority in any new government.

The NIE's authors were dismissed as "naysayers" and "not team players" by the administration. The vice president was so out of touch with reality that as recently as May 2005, he was declaring that the Iraq insurgency was "in the last throes."

So what we now know is this: The administration was told again and again what was wrong and what ought to be done, and the principals chose to ignore the truth.

I keep coming back to the failure to properly arm and protect our soldiers, and to send enough of them in the beginning to get the job done and keep the lid on a huge, fractious country with 25 million people with even more old hatreds. When a soldier in Kuwait challenged Rumsfeld on the issue of vehicle protection, he replied: "You have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want."

At the time, Rumsfeld was sending American divisions to Iraq without their Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, and sending their crews out to patrol the most dangerous roads in the world in light Humvees.

Some 60 percent of our casualties in Iraq have been from improvised explosive devices. Any idiot can plant an IED beside or beneath a highway or road or city street and then hit the call button on a cellphone when an American convoy drives into the kill zone.

Three years into the war, the Pentagon only now has named a retired four-star general to head a search for technical solutions to the enemy's prime weapon.

History is going to judge these men harshly for what they did, and also for what they did not do, when the lives of American soldiers and the future of Americans yet unborn were in their hands.

To paraphrase Rumsfeld: You must fight the war you have, not the one you want; and you must fight it with the leadership you have, not the leadership you want.

Joseph L. Galloway is senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers

[bth: as usual Mr. Galloway is right on the money.]

Iran Threatens U.S. With 'Harm and Pain'

News From The Associated Press: "VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Iran threatened the United States with 'harm and pain' Wednesday for its role in hauling Tehran before the U.N. Security Council over its disputed nuclear program.

'The United States has the power to cause harm and pain,' Iran said a statement meant for delivery at the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board meeting in Vienna on Iran's refusal to freeze uranium enrichment.

'But the United States is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if that is the path that the U.S. wishes to choose, let the ball roll.'"...
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UN court cuts Bosnian Serb's sentence over Srebrenica massacre

UN court cuts Bosnian Serb's sentence over Srebrenica massacre: "The United Nations war crimes court in The Hague reduced to 20 years in jail the sentence handed down to Momir Nikolic, the first Bosnian Serb officer to plead guilty to participating in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
Nikolic, the former security and intelligence chief of the Bratunac brigade of the Bosnian Serb army was, in May 2003, the first officer to admit to having a hand in the brutal killings.
Bosnian Serb troops overran the UN protected enclave of Srebrenica in 1995 and slaughtered almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys there. The massacre is the only period in the bloody 1992-95 Bosnian war that the court has established as constituting genocide."...

[bth: less than 1 life per day - 400 dead x 20 years=8,000. Is this justice?]
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Manhunt launched for clerics behind Pakistan tribal clashes

Khaleej Times Online: "MIR ALI, Pakistan- Pakistani troops Tuesday searched for two pro-Taleban clerics accused of instigating the worst fighting near the Afghan border since the start of the -war on terror"officials said.

A tense calm prevailed amid a curfew in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal area, where 140 militants died in days of fierce fighting that erupted on Saturday. There were only sporadic clashes overnight.

The bodies of some insurgents were lying around the military fort in the town, said one of the thousands of residents who have fled the town for the nearby village of Mir Ali.

The local administration has called tribal elders to hold talks on opening the main market and ending the violence, but one tribesman said few were willing to risk reprisals from the Taleban by acting as go-betweens with the government."...
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UAE Moves (Hesitantly) on Bout

Douglas Farah: "The United Arab Emirates has, in recent days, grounded all flights of Irbiss Air, one of Viktor Bout's flagship airlines that was banned by the United Nations but continued to fly unimpeded despite that minor inconvenience.

Sources on the ground in Sharjah confirm what the U.S. Embassy in the UAE recently transmitted to the State Department-that Irbiss, which continued to post flights on the Sharjah airport without even changing its name, was being shut down and its aircraft grounded. The UN action to designate Bout's companies and freeze his assets came last December, but had not be heeded by UAE. Of course, it had not been heeded by contractors working for the U.S. military either, who continued to hire Bout aircraft despite the fact such contracts are illegal.

The primary reason for the move against Irbiss, my sources said, was the UAE's embarssment of letting Bout continue to fly despite years of international requests to shut him down. Bout's close business relationship with the Taliban and his ferrying weapons to that despotic regime, which shared the weapons with al Qaeda, did not seem to bother the UAE leaders."...
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IRAQ: Women attacked for removing headscarves, NGO says

BAGHDAD, 7 March (IRIN) - Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in early 2003, the number of women attacked for choosing not to wear head scarves and veils has more than tripled, according to the Women's Rights Association (WRA), a local NGO in the capital, Baghdad.

'Women are being killed because they don't wear headscarves and veils,' said WRA spokeswoman Mayada Zuhair. 'A life is being taken because of a simple piece of cloth, and someone should prevent more women from being killed by these ignorant people who that believe honour depends on what you're wearing.'

According to WRA, there have been 80 attacks to date against women and reports of four women being killed by their families in 2005. This is compared too 22 attacks between 1999 and March 2003 and one death. "...
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