Saturday, May 06, 2006

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Iraqis Cheer Crash of British Helicopter

My Way News - Iraqis Cheer Crash of British Helicopter: "BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A British military helicopter crashed in Basra on Saturday, and Iraqis hurled stones at British troops and set fire to three armored vehicles that rushed to the scene. Clashes broke out between British troops and Shiite militias, police and witnesses said.

Police Capt. Mushtaq Khazim said the helicopter was apparently shot down in a residential district. He said the four-member crew was killed, but British officials would say only that there were 'casualties.'

British forces backed by armored vehicles rushed to the area but were met by a hail of stones from the crowd of at least 250 people, who jumped for joy and raised their fists as a plume of thick smoke rose into the air from the crash site.

The crowd set three British armored vehicles on fire, apparently with gasoline bombs and a rocket-propelled grenade, but the soldiers inside escaped unhurt, witnesses said."

British troops shot into the air trying to disperse the crowd, then shooting broke out between the British and Iraqi militiamen, Khazim said. At least four people, including a child, were killed, he said. Two of the victims were adults shot by British troops while driving a car in the area, Khazim said.

The crowd chanted "we are all soldiers of al-Sayed," a reference to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an ardent foe of the presence of foreign troops in Iraq....

Patton WWI Posted by Picasa

Statistics Aside, Many Feel Pinch of Daily Costs - New York Times

Statistics Aside, Many Feel Pinch of Daily Costs - New York Times: "...Their concerns are instead centered on a combination of high gasoline prices, creeping insurance costs and the pressure of a large number of adjustable-rate mortgages, now jumping to market rates, that helped to fuel one of the largest housing booms in American history.

Though they may not fear for their jobs or worry about long-range financial health - national polls show a general satisfaction with the economy - their kitchen-counter economy is an increasing source of everyday anxiety.

In Brandon and other suburbs of Tampa, where gas prices are among the highest in the nation and home insurance rates have risen since last summer's hurricanes, residents say they have had all they can take.

'We're really worried about a lot of things,' said Nancy Tuttle, co-owner of a vending machine business in the suburbs here. 'The cost of gas, the cost of house insurance, the cost of medical insurance, it's just everything.'

The increase in prices, particularly of gasoline, is taking a political toll on President Bush, even in a Republican area like these suburbs. A recent nationwide CBS News poll found that only 33 percent of those surveyed approved of Mr. Bush's job performance and that 74 percent disapproved of his handling of the gasoline issue.

'We went from totally believing in Bush to really having our doubts,' said Wayne Toomey, who owns a house with Ms. Tuttle in the nearby suburb of Parrish. 'It comes down to his lack of care about gas prices.'"....

[bth: rising gas prices have one of the highest correlations with decreased presidential popularity. ]
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Tribal leaders want Afghan 'drug kingpin' released

Pajhwok Afghan News: "KABUL, May 4 (Pajhwok Afghan News): With a year passing since Haji Bashir Noorzai, an Afghan, dubbed as one of the world's most wanted drug kingpins was arrested in US, tribal elders from his native region have launched efforts to free him.

Hailing from Afghanistan's most poppy-producing province to the south, Noorzai was detained in New York last May for indictment alleges him a notorious smugglers. He was also accused of having close links with the Taliban and supplying weapons to the Islamic militants with his drug money.

He can face 10 years jail if the charges of trying to smuggle 500 kilograms of heroin with a value of more than $50 million into the United States was proved against him"...

Syed Musa, who led the team, told Pajhwok Afghan News Noorzai's release was needed for strengthening security of the country and effectively waging war against drugs.

"I dont want to speak about legalisation of drugs in Afghanistan but Noorzai's release would help restore calm to the volatile southern provinces," said Musa, who came from Kandahar.

Musa said he had talked to Noorzai and he vowed to do all-out efforts for elimination of drugs. "People of Kandahar and other provinces would be happy to see Haji Noorzai freed and they would certainly follow his words," said Musa, who insisted their suggestion for release of the detained tribal elder was aimed at national interests only.

Rumors have been flying around now-a-days that the Taliban have encouraged farmers in southern parts of the country to grow more poppies. Security officials have recently expressed concerns that the mounting violence in southern Afghanistan was linked to the drugs issues.

Commander of the regional army corps in Kandahar Gen. Rahmatullah Raufi said drugs was a grave threat contributing to insecurity in the south
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Missile or rocket hits UK chopper in Iraq

Jerusalem Post Report: Missile or rocket hits UK chopper in Iraq: "A British military helicopter crashed in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Saturday, and a crowd of locals cheered and threw stones at British forces who raced to the scene to close off the area.

Police Capt. Mushtaq Khazim said the helicopter crashed into a two-story house in a residential area of the city, apparently after being hit by a missile or a rocket. He said the four-member crew had died but that no Iraqis were hurt on the ground."
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SAS rescue team gave Kember's kidnappers time to flee - World - Times Online

SAS rescue team gave Kember's kidnappers time to flee - World - Times Online: "BRITISH officials allowed the kidnappers of the peace activistNorman Kember to escape so as not to endanger the life of the hostage when he was rescued in March.

Hostage negotiators feared that, after almost four months in captivity, Mr Kember, 74, might have been too frail to survive an SAS assault on the kidnappers'hideout. The armed gang was given 15 minutes to flee, leaving the veteran British campaigner and two Canadian colleagues in safety. "...
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Counterterrorism Blog -- Alazam 5 Rockets and the Zarqawi Tape

Counterterrorism Blog: "In last week's posting, The Military & Propaganda Messages in Zarqawi's Tape, I pointed out the missiles that were so prominent in video were crude and ineffective weapons as the rockets were small and unguided. While this is true in a conventional sense, it turns out the weapons depicted in the video are Alazam 5 rockets, some of which have been modified for a very unconventional purpose, as a delivery vehicle for a radiological weapon. An unnamed military source contacted me to identify the rockets shown in the video, and stated, 'It was known as the Alazan 5 a former Soviet weather rocket in which the Chechen's modified as a surface to surface missile... There were many missing from Moldova and we had reports of five warheads that were modified as RDDs [Radiological Dispersion Devices] also missing.' The military source followed up with a confirmation, and noted 'They are most definitely the same missile... It shows there is a weapons link [from] the Moldova black market [to Iraq]...' "
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Hekmatyar vows allegiance to bin Laden

Gulf Times � Qatar�s top-selling English daily newspaper - First Page:
Published: Friday, 5 May, 2006, 12:52 PM Doha Time
A wanted Afghan warlord said he was ready to fight under the banner of the Al Qaeda terror network headed by Osama bin Laden, according to a video broadcast on Qatar-based Al Jazeera yesterday.

"We look forward to fighting along their side and under their banner," Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said referring to bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Hekmatyar, who heads the anti-government party Hezb-e-Islami, is a former prime minister now wanted by US forces as a terrorist.

Hekmatyar berated Western governments for not taking seriously a truce offer made by bin Laden in January to the American people and another to European countries in April 2004 in return for an end to interference in Muslim countries.
"The Americans and their friends the Europeans are the ones who declared war on the Muslims and ignited the flames in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq," he said
.

"They are trying to rule Muslim states directly or through their vassals. They are plundering the wealth of Muslims and holding them back from self determination."

An anti-government insurgency in southern Afghanistan being carried out by Taliban and other Islamic militants has claimed more than 1,600 lives in the past year.

Bin Laden, sheltered by the Taliban regime that was removed from power in a US-led invasion in late 2001, is believed to be hiding out along the remote, mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. � AFP"
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Friday, May 05, 2006

Letter: Empty words for U.S. troops

� West Central Tribune �: "Any time we put our troops into harm's way, you must have the best training, the best equipment, the best pay." That's what George W. Bush said on Oct. 8, 2003.

Let's examine the record.

Of the 20,000 Humvees sent to Iraq, 6,000 had factory-installed armor. Nine thousand trucks were sent to transport our troops; less than 1,000 had armor. We've all heard the stories of the body armor purchased by individuals and families when the Department of Defense didn't supply them to the troops. Radio jammers would have helped prevent so many deaths but they were not deployed to Iraq.

When Donald Rumsfeld was asked about the equipment, his reply was, "You go to war with the Army you have" not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

Apparently it was only the war they wanted at that time.
What about the pay for those whom we have put in "harm's way"?

As the deaths and wounds increased for our troops in Iraq, Bush's budget for 2005 called for a decrease of their monthly imminent danger pay from $225 to $150 with an additional cut for the family separation allowance from $250 to $100.

In April 2005 the Veterans Administration pleaded for money for the hospitals, but Republicans in Congress defeated the measure to provide $2 billion for health care funding. In February 2005 patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center were asked to pay for their meals."

But we are grateful for the sacrifices of our brave troops — why, the Department of Defense sent out letters of condolence to the families with Rumsfeld’s signature (added by a machine).

Is it any wonder that Marine General Greg Newbold said, “My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions — or bury the results.”

Support for our troops is more than a yellow ribbon on an SUV or empty words from the president.
Barbara M. Edwards, Spicer
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Finance exec resigns at DHB industries

Newsday.com: Finance exec resigns at DHB industries: "Shares of body armor manufacturer DHB Industries Inc. fell today after the Westbury-based company said its financial director has resigned.

DHB, which makes protective body armor for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well for New York City police officers, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Lawrence R. Litowitz resigned as of April 28.
DHB offered no reason for the resignation.

The company said that it intends to begin a search for a replacement. In mid-day trading, shares of DHB fell 11.46 percent, or 40 cents, to $3.09.

Litowitz resigned less than a month after taking over from Dawn Schegel, who left the company April 7.

The move was the latest in a series of problems for DHB, whose stock was selling for $9.48 in the past year.

DHB missed the deadline to file its 2005 annual report. It is reviewing the accuracy of reported inventory levels. The American Stock Exchange said the company is not in compliance with listing standards because of the delayed filing.

The company has also been hit by an array of shareholder lawsuits alleging insider sales by directors and officer. The company has denied any wrongdoing."

Also today, DHB said it has received a $12.2 million order from the U.S. government to supply lightweight body armor. It said production will begin this month at its Point Blank Body Armor subsidiary in Southern Florida.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

[bth: so no one will put their name on the 2005 financials. This means there is a terrible problem. Probably means insider trading, financial manipulation and fraud for the largest producer of body armor for the DoD.]
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Two Italian soldiers killed by roadside bomb near Kabul

Xinhua - English: "KABUL, May 5 (Xinhua) -- Two Italian soldiers were killed and four others were injured in a roadside bomb explosion near the Kabul city on Friday, said the military.

The blast occurred around 1:00 pm on the road 20 km south to the Kabul city when Italian troops were patrolling, Luke Knittig, spokesman of the International Security Assistance Force, told Xinhua.

Two military vehicles were hit by improvised explosive devices while one soldier was killed at the site, he added. Another soldier was seriously injured and later died in the hospital.

Earlier in the day, three Afghan police were injured in a roadside bomb explosion near Kabul.

Taliban has intensified attacks against the Afghan government and foreign troops this year. Over 300 people including 15 American soldiers have been killed in the Taliban-linked insurgency since beginning of this year. Enditem "
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Iraqi Public Favors International Assistance

World Public Opinion: "...A majority of Iraqis (59%) feel that in six months it will be necessary for Iraq to have "military forces from other countries." Just 39% say that "six months from now Iraqi security forces will be strong enough to deal with the security challenges Iraq will face." Not surprisingly, 55% of Shia and 73% of Kurds endorse the need for foreign forces."...

What is surprising is that 59% of Sunnis also endorse the need for “military force from other countries” six months from now. In the case of the Sunnis, this support for help from military forces from unspecified “other countries” is in sharp contrast to attitudes about the presence of “US-led forces.” An overwhelming 83% of Sunnis favor the withdrawal of “US-led forces” within six months.

Those who say Iraq still needs the help of foreign forces were also asked how much longer such forces would be needed. Twenty-one percent (of the whole sample) say one year, 26% two years and 12% three years or more. Kurds’ estimates of how much longer foreign forces would be needed are a bit longer (33% three years or more, 31% two years), while Sunni and Shia estimates are similar.

A poll of Iraqis conducted in Baghdad governorate by Gallup in September 2003 also found strong support for an international military presence. Sixty-four percent said they would favor “installing an international peacekeeping force in Iraq.” Only 32% were opposed. ...

Iraqis also express support for the UN, not the US, to take the lead in the economic reconstruction of Iraq. Overall, 59% express such a preference, with just 21% favoring the US taking the lead. Kurds have the highest percentage favoring the US taking the lead (43%), but the majority (53%) of Kurds favor the UN. Shia express the strongest support for the UN (64%). Only 22% of Shia support the US taking the lead in reconstruction.

Sunni support for the US taking the lead is almost nonexistent (4%). But approximately half of Sunnis (48%) express support for the UN, while 46% says they would prefer to have neither involved.
When asked whether the UN is having a positive or negative influence in Iraq now, this produces a divided response, with 38% saying mostly positive and 38% saying mostly negative. Shia are mixed, with 39% saying the UN is having a mostly positive influence and 38% saying it is having a mostly negative influence. Given their strong desire for a larger UN role, this suggests that there is unhappiness with the UN for not taking a more active role in Iraq. Among those who say the UN is playing a mostly negative role in Iraq, 59% prefer the UN to take the lead in economic reconstruction.
Kurds are the most satisfied with the UN, with 60% saying it is having a mostly positive influence on the situation in the country. Sunnis are the least satisfied with the UN’s influence on the situation in Iraq—57% say it is mostly negative....

Two-thirds of Iraqis approve of US involvement in nonmilitary activities—including training Iraqi security forces, developing Iraq’s oil industry, building government institutions, mediating between ethnic groups, assisting with infrastructure and economic development and helping organize local communities. Yet a majority or plurality says the US is doing a poor job in each of these areas.

Of the seven nonmilitary activities Iraqis were asked about, approval is highest for training Iraqi security forces (77% overall) and lowest for US efforts to help mediate between ethnic groups (65% overall)....

Large majorities of Iraqis from all ethnic groups concur that it was a good idea for Iraqi leaders to agree to each of these points:
• Rejection of terrorism—99% overall (100% of Shia, 98% of Sunnis, 96% of Kurds)
• All groups should participate in the political process—97% overall (98% of Sunnis, 97% of Shia, 93% of Kurds)
• A timetable for withdrawal of US-led forces—87% overall (94% of Sunnis, 90% of Shia, 64% of Kurds).

Of the 28% of Kurds who say that having such a timetable is a bad idea, 90% say it is too soon to talk about withdrawing US-led forces from Iraq.

Yet when asked about the influence of the Arab League on the situation in Iraq in general, only 30% say it was mostly positive. Opinions are divided in every group on the Arab League’s influence. Fifty percent of Sunnis give a neutral answer, that the Arab League had neither a positive nor negative effect, while Shia and Kurds are divided among those who feel it had a negative effect, those who feel it had a positive effect and those who feel it had neither or no effect...
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World Opinion on China More Positive Than on US, But Slipping

World Public Opinion: "As President Hu Jintao makes the first visit of his presidency to Washington this month, global public opinion polls reveal that China's ratings in world opinion are substantially better than those of the US--though they have slipped a bit lately, concurrent with the ascension of Hu Jintao to the Chinese presidency"...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

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Despite Upgrades, Humvee Deaths Up

Despite Upgrades, Humvee Deaths Up - CBS News: "(CBS/AP) Coming on the heels of insurgent violence in Iraq on Wednesday, a new report says that despite stronger armor on over 50,000 Humvees and other military vehicles throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, roadside bombs have killed more U.S. troops this year based on Pentagon records.

Most are dying in their Humvees, USA Today reports, as insurgents plant more powerful bombs and use different triggering methods to evade U.S. countermeasures, experts tell the newspaper.

According to Pentagon casualty reports, 67 U.S. troops have died this year in roadside bomb attacks on their Humvees, and another 22 troops were killed when IEDs hit other military vehicles, including more heavily armored tanks and troop carriers.

That's up from 27 in Humvees - and an additional 38 deaths involving IED attacks on other vehicles - during the first four months of 2005, USA Today notes, using Pentagon and the newspaper's Iraq war casualty database. Roadside bombs also killed more troops in Afghanistan, USA Today reports, with 10 killed this year, compared with one in the first four months of 2005. "....

[bth: so IED related death in vehicles is up 37% in Iraq year over year for the first four months and up 10 fold in Afghanistan. It would be interesting to know if other causes of death are down. I believe the number of IED attacks in Iraq has been about constant, but the number in Afghanistan is up dramatically. Also I believe the number of wounded is down year over year - at least it was down 25% from 2004 to 2005 from all causes.]

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Over 60% American youth can’t find Iraq on map!

Juniors: "Most American young people can't find Iraq on a map, even though US troops have been there for more than three years, according to a new study.

Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans aged 18-24 in a survey could place Iraq on an unlabelled map of the Middle-East, a study conducted for National Geographic found. Only about one-quarter of respondents could find Iran and Israel on the same map."...
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PAKISTAN: AL-QAEDA HAS DIRTY BOMB, REPORT SAYS

PAKISTAN: AL-QAEDA HAS DIRTY BOMB, REPORT SAYS: "Islamabad, 2 May (AKI) - Osama bin Laden possesses a 'dirty bomb' and nuclear devices bought on the Russian black market prior to 2001, according to Hamid Mir, the journalist who interviewed bin Laden shortly after the 11 September attacks. 'Material useful for building a dirty bomb was smuggled from Russia to Georgia and then on to Afghanistan,' Mir said in an interview with the website of satellite network al-Arabiya. He added that the device was built with various materials, including uranium, by an Egyptian engineer known as Saad. 'I met this engineer only once, in 2000, when the Taliban controlled Kabul' he said. "

In the interview, Mir also said the Saudi terror leader had changed his mind at the last minute on the idea of making one of the hijacked 11 September planes crash into a US nuclear plant.The Pakistani journalist, also said he has precise and up-to-date information on how the Saudi terror leader lives.

"Last September I met the bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden, Abu Hamza, who told me that he had married an Afghan woman with whom he had three children.

On the same day he told me of the death of one of Bin Laden's wives during childbirth in a mountainous zone where there were no doctors. It seemed that her death was not a major problem for bin Laden as death in childbirth is quite frequent among Afghan women," Mir recounted.

It is unclear to which of bin Laden's wives his bodyguard was referring, even if it seems probably it was the daughter of Abu Hafs al-Masri.

Abu Hamza al-Jazeeri - an Algerian who in 2003 was in Iraq but later returned to Afghanistan - also indicated that combatants go from Afghanistan to Iraq and back through Iran.

Regarding the life of bin Laden and his followers in Pakistan, bin Laden's body guard recounted that the Arab fighters bought food from the local Pashtun tribes who sell them bread, milk and meat.

"Abu Hamza told me that Osama bin Laden keeps in touch with his fighters and follows news via satellite television and the statements which appear on the Internet.

He is well and spends his days praying and reading the Coran inside a cave," he continued, adding that he had left the Afghan mountain stronghold of Tora Bora at the end of December 2001.

Asked how he could be informed about what is going on in the world from inside a cave, the journalist replied: "Where he is located, he can listen to the radio, and al-Qaeda has four bases in the main cities of Pakistan form where he can see the satellite channels and he can use Internet."

"Bin Laden's envoys regularly prepare reports with the main news developments and send them to his hideout," he added.

"After leaving Tora Bora he spent much time in the mountainous region dividing Pakistan and Afghanistan, then he was in Khost, Konar, Baktia, Baktika and in Waziristan. That border area is safe, while that with Iran is not," he said, noting that one of bin Laden's sons, Saad, lives in Iran.

Regarding bin Laden's relationship with Jordanian militant and leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Hamid Mir said the two men are in regular contact.

"They communicate through CDs - inside which are compressed files in which there are the plans of operations to be carried out. They are carried to and fro by couriers passing rough Iran," he concluded.
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The Naval War Against al Qaeda

Counter-Terrorism Operations: "May 3, 2006: On December 12, 2001, multi-national Coalition Task Force 150 was formed to police an enormous area, from the Strait of Hormuz and Pakistani territorial waters in the north, via the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and southwards to Kenya and the Seychelles, in support of the war on terror. These waters are those most likely to be used by al Qaeda to support terrorist operations.

Since then, vessels attached to TF-150 have participated in hundreds of maritime intercept operations (MIOs), in which passing vessels are boarded and searched for contraband, run numerous anti-piracy patrols (and engaged pirates on several occasions), monitored violations of exclusive economic zones as a favor to local governments, and conducted other operations in support of Coalition efforts against international criminals and terrorists.

TF-150 is built around ships from France, Germany, the United States, and Pakistan, which are regularly supplemented by vessels from other nations, which currently include Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, while Japan has contributed a logistical support ship. Although at present composed of about a dozen ships, TF-150 has at time numbered several dozen. On April 24th Rear Admiral Shahid Iqbal of the Pakistani Navy assumed command of TF-150 from Commodore Hank Ort of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

Most participants in TF-150 have been NATO members or other allies of the U.S., including Italy, Spain, and Australia. Command of TF-150 rotates among the participating navies. The appointment of RADM Iqbal, who is both first Pakistani and the first Moslem to command TF-150, was made both to recognize the non-NATO role in the operation and to encourage other Moslem nations to take part. Reportedly negotiations with Saudi Arabia are in progress, and are scheduled with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, Kenya has expressed an interest in participating, and talks are believed scheduled with South Africa, which has the most capable navy in sub-Saharan Africa.
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U.S. Mass Transit on Alert

The Blotter: "ABC News has learned that the Department of Homeland Security has alerted U.S. mass transit officials to 'suspicious videotaping' of European rail systems that point to a continuing terrorist interest in targeting mass transit and 'possible surveillance or pre-operational planning.' "...

The contents of the 17 minute tape that appeared suspicious included the recording of station signs from inside a moving train, shooting footage of the rail car and station platform ceilings and recording trash can and stairwell locations. This footage seems to mesh with known techniques and elements of prior casing reports of planned and executed terrorist plots including the London bombing and plots against the New York City subway system....
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Moving puppy-bag sparks bomb alert in Italy

Moving puppy-bag sparks bomb alert in Italy��Reuters.com: "MILAN (Reuters) - A moving bag apparently abandoned on a tram in Italy sparked panic among passengers who thought it was a bomb -- but turned out to contain four puppies."

Passengers, alarmed by movement in the large bag left on a seat on Tuesday evening, warned the driver, a witness said.

"The driver stopped the tram and started walking up and down, trying to find out why the bag was left in the middle of the carriage," the witness told Reuters. The transportation company in the northern city of Milan confirmed the report.

"People started moving away from the bag and some old ladies started murmuring about a possible bomb attack," the witness added.

But just as the driver prepared to raise the alarm by calling transport headquarters, the owner of the bag -- a homeless man sitting on the other side of the coach -- stood up and opened the bag, revealing the puppies.

"They were just puppies, but these days you never know," the driver said.

Italy has been on alert for possible attacks since the March 11, 2004 bombings in Madrid and the attacks on London's transportation network last July.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

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Rumsfeld versus Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld versus Rumsfeld - Los Angeles Times: "...How should Joshua B. Bolten, who is driving to reshape the Bush administration, deal with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who is fast becoming a political liability and may resist any serious change of direction?

There's already a model for this. It was set by none other than the young Rumsfeld himself, when he became White House chief of staff in the Ford administration and was confronted with the overwhelming authority of Henry A. Kissinger, then secretary of State and national security advisor"...

Nevertheless, over the next 15 months, Rumsfeld whittled down Kissinger's role in national security and took on more and more power. How did he do it? And how might the young Rumsfeld have taken on the formidable Rumsfeld of today? Here are lessons for Bolten from Rumsfeld's early career:

1) Bide your time. In the early months, Rumsfeld left Kissinger alone and went after lesser rivals. You need time to redefine the issues.

2) Don't target him directly. Instead, go after his bureaucratic empire.The early Rumsfeld cut down Kissinger by arguing, rightly, that the same individual should not serve as both secretary of State and national security advisor. Someone challenging Rumsfeld today could fault his Pentagon for battling to maintain its control over agencies such as the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Security Agency. Focusing on the secretary of Defense's turf battles with other agencies is one way of pointing out that Rumsfeld's disputes extend beyond his struggles with the career military.

3) Invoke the issue of openness. In the final, chaotic hours of the Vietnam War, Kissinger erred by allowing the media to be told that all Americans were out of Vietnam, at a time when some U.S. Marines were still struggling to get out of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. Rumsfeld ordered the press secretary to make it public. "This war has been marked by so many lies and evasions that it is not right to have the war end with one last lie," Rumsfeld said. Noble sentiments. Bolten could similarly make clear that he favors greater access for the media to information about the war — disclosures that might not reflect well on Rumsfeld.

4. Let the Republican rank and file go after the Cabinet secretary's top political patron. Kissinger was dominant inside Washington but not within the Republican Party. Politics was the job of Kissinger's longtime friend and patron Nelson Rockefeller, who at the time was vice president of the United States. Sound familiar? By the fall of 1975, Republican leaders grew increasingly disenchanted with Rockefeller, and President Ford decided to distance himself from his own second in command. Once Rockefeller was neutralized within the Republican Party, Kissinger's authority eroded too. Rumsfeld, who had clashed with Rockefeller inside the White House, did little to shield him. Bolten should keep in mind that Rumsfeld's standing today is linked to Cheney's, and if Cheney's position weakens, Rumsfeld's will too.

5. Let Capitol Hill do the heavy lifting. Ford nominated Rumsfeld as secretary of Defense in the fall of 1975, at the same time elevating Cheney to White House chief of staff. At Rumsfeld's confirmation hearing, he was grilled by Sen. Henry (Scoop) Jackson, who demanded to know why Kissinger, as secretary of State, possessed so much more authority, and so much greater access to the president, than did the secretary of Defense. Rumsfeld gave bland answers in his testimony — and then went back and secretly sent a transcript of the hearings to the president, showing him Jackson's queries.

6. Inside the administration, question policies secretly but vigorously. During the Nixon years, Rumsfeld became the center of a group of domestic-policy aides who questioned Kissinger's policies by asking why the Vietnam War was dragging on. In the Ford years, Cheney wrote a biting internal memo dissenting from the Ford-Kissinger decision to deny a White House meeting to Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn. None of this leaked, but it had a considerable impact inside the administration. In a similar vein, Bolten could begin quietly asking why the Iraq war is dragging on, or otherwise challenge the drift of the administration.

7. Study "Rumsfeld's Rules," the series of observations about public life that he wrote in the 1970s. They may prove useful in the coming months. Three decades ago, Rumsfeld wrote: "Don't think of yourself as indispensable or infallible. As Charles DeGaulle said, the cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men…. Have a deputy and develop a successor." The Rumsfeld rules also contain this gem: "It is easier to get into something than to get out of it." But then, that was a long time ago.
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Republicans will retain control both Houses after Nov 2006

CQPolitics.com: House Balance of Power Scorecard Details This link will take you to congressional races seat by seat. This analysis indicates that Democrats are unlikely to gain control of the house.

Currently the House breaks down 203 Democrats and 232 Republicans thanks largely to DeLay's vicious partisan redistricting in Texas. The projected Nov 2006 results based on current polling data by district are Democrats 202, Republicans 224 with 9 showing no clear favorite. Even if all undecideds go Democrat there will be insufficient votes to gain control of the House.

In the Senate the polling data shows no net change with Democrats holding 45, Republicans 54 and only 1 with no clear favorite.

I conclude that 2006 will set the stage for significant change in 2008 and Democrats go crazy and pull their hair out and Republicans struggle with turnout.
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Sour news for GOP in poll

Sour news for GOP in poll - Yahoo! News: "...A spokesman for the House Republicans' campaign committee, Carl Forti, said unhappiness with Bush doesn't doom the GOP's 29-seat House majority because 'President Bush is not on the ballot.'

Forti also noted that the poll showed 59% of respondents said their own representative deserves to be re-elected. However, poll data show that's the lowest percentage since 1994, when Republicans won control of Congress from the Democrats.

Sarah Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said voters are linking Bush's problems to his GOP colleagues: 'The American people want change.'

Since 1950, there have been six times when presidents had Gallup approval ratings below 50% in the spring as their party sought to keep control of Congress. The president's party lost House seats in all six years, ranging from five in 1968 to 54 in 1994.

A 15-seat switch in November would give the Democrats a majority in the House. A six-seat switch would give Democrats control of the Senate.

The poll comes as the Iraq war and a sharp increase in gasoline prices have contributed to public uneasiness."...

[bth: He's right the President isn't on the ballot. Most folks favor their own congressman, they don't like the congress. That's a big difference. Polls indicate tht Republicans will hold both houses after Novembers elections. Democrats think that because they are unhappy they can get control of at least the House. Well it doesn't work that way. Watch out in 2008.]
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Iraqi President Says Sunni Insurgents See Iran as Threat

Iraqi President Says Sunni Insurgents See Iran as Threat: "BAGHDAD, May 2 -- Iraq's president appealed for national unity and the renunciation of sectarian violence ahead of a parliament meeting set for Wednesday, saying he had met with Sunni Arab insurgent leaders and observed a 'great change' in their war aims.

The insurgents 'do not think that the Americans are the main enemy,' President Jalal Talabani said in an interview on al-Hurra television Tuesday night. 'They feel threatened by what they call the 'Iranian threat.' '"

He referred to the insurgents' fear of Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, which many Sunnis believe is dominated by the neighboring Shiite theocracy in Iran. Despite their worries about Iran, Talabani said, he found them "reasonable and ready for the peaceful political process," and he appealed to Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds to participate together in a government.

"If the current government is formed as a national unity government which represents the entire spectrum of the Iraqi people, then I think we will be able to solve the problem of terrorism within a year," Talabani said....
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Taliban Threat Is Said to Grow in Afghan South

Taliban Threat Is Said to Grow in Afghan South - New York Times: "TIRIN KOT, Afghanistan, April 27 - Building on a winter campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations and the knowledge that American troops are leaving, the Taliban appear to be moving their insurgency into a new phase, flooding the rural areas of southern Afghanistan with weapons and men."

Each spring with the arrival of warmer weather, the fighting season here starts up, but the scale of the militants' presence and their sheer brazenness have alarmed Afghans and foreign officials far more than in previous years.

"The Taliban and Al Qaeda are everywhere," a shopkeeper, Haji Saifullah, told the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, as the general strolled through the bazaar of this town to talk to people. "It is all right in the city, but if you go outside the city, they are everywhere, and the people have to support them. They have no choice."

The fact that American troops are pulling out of southern Afghanistan in the coming months, and handing matters over to NATO peacekeepers, who have repeatedly stated that they are not going to fight terrorists, has given a lift to the insurgents, and increased the fears of Afghans.

General Eikenberry appealed for patience and support.

"There has not been enough attention paid to Uruzgan," he said in a speech to the elders of Uruzgan Province gathered at the governor's house in Tirin Kot, the provincial capital. "I think the leaders, the Afghan government and the international community recognize this. There is reform coming and this year you will see it."

The arrival of large numbers of Taliban in the villages, flush with money and weapons, has dealt a blow to public confidence in the Afghan government, already undermined by lack of tangible progress and frustration with corrupt and ineffective leaders.

This small one-street town is in the Taliban heartland, and the message from the townspeople was bleak.

Uruzgan, the province where President Hamid Karzai first rallied support against the Taliban in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, is now, four years later, in the thrall of the Islamic militants once more, and the provincial capital is increasingly surrounded by areas in Taliban control, local and American officials acknowledge. A recent report by a member of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan shown to The New York Times detailed similar fears....

[bth: fabulous]
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Pardons Granted 88 Years After Crimes of Sedition - New York Times

Pardons Granted 88 Years After Crimes of Sedition - New York Times: "HELENA, Mont., May 2 - When Steve Milch found out recently that his great-grandfather, an immigrant from Bavaria, had been convicted of sedition in Montana during World War I, he was taken aback. It was something no one in the family had ever talked about."

For the past 88 years, a lot of secrets have been kept in Montana families, especially those of German descent, about a flurry of wartime sedition prosecutions in 1918, when public sentiment against Germany was at a feverish pitch.

Seventy-nine Montanans were convicted under the state law, considered among the harshest in the country, for speaking out in ways deemed critical of the United States. In one instance, a traveling wine and brandy salesman was sentenced to 7 to 20 years in prison for calling wartime food regulations a "big joke."

But the silence — and for some families, the shame — has ended. The convictions will be undone on Wednesday when Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a descendant of ethnic Germans who migrated here from Russia in 1909, posthumously pardons 75 men and three women. One man was pardoned shortly after the war.

Forty-one of those convicted, including one woman, went to prison on sentences from 1 to 20 years and paid fines from $200 to $20,000.

"I'm going to say what Gov. Sam Stewart should have said," Mr. Schweitzer said, referring to the man who signed the sedition legislation into law in 1918. "I'm sorry, forgive me, and God bless America, because we can criticize our government."...

The sedition law, which made it a crime to say or publish anything "disloyal, profane, violent, scurrilous, contemptuous or abusive" about the government, soldiers or the American flag, was unanimously passed by the Legislature in February 1918. It expired when the war ended, Mr. Work said.

During that time, though Germans were the largest ethnic group in Montana, it was also illegal to speak German, and books written in it were banned. Local groups called third-degree committees were formed to ferret out people not supportive of the war, especially those who did not buy Liberty Bonds.

"They leaned on people to ante up and buy bonds, and if they didn't, they were disloyal and considered pro-German," Mr. Work said. ...

Mr. Work, who was conducting research for the book when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred, said he had found the similarities between 2001 and 1918 to be eerie.

"The hair on the back of my neck stood up," Mr. Work said. "The rhetoric was so similar, from the demonization of the enemy to saying 'either you're with us or against us' to the hasty passage of laws."

Twenty-seven states had sedition laws during World War I.

Montana's became the template for a federal law, enacted by Congress later in 1918. More than 30 Montanans were arrested under the federal law, though none were convicted, according to the Montana Sedition Project, which Mr. Work directs.

Mr. Work and other historians believe that the harshness of the Montana law was influenced by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, which dominated the state economically and viewed the law as a way to deal with labor unrest. Many of those charged with sedition were immigrant laborers.

But blame should also be laid at the feet of Governor Stewart, Mr. Work said.

"In the last 100 days of his term, he commuted 50 sentences, including 13 murderers and 7 rapists," he said, "but not a single seditionist."

[bth: welcome to America.]
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