Georgia Blast Kills 2 During Putin Visit

Georgia Blast Kills 2 During Putin Visit

By VOA News
13 August 2009

Russian news reports say two people were killed and several others wounded in a bomb blast in Abkhazia during Wednesday’s visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Putin’s one-day trip to the Georgian breakaway territory was the first by a top Russian official since Moscow last year recognized Abkhazia’s independence after the five-day Russian-Georgian war.

The reports quote authorities as saying the blast in the resort town of Gagra killed a 52-year-old woman and wounded four others. A second victim died later in a hospital.

Authorities say no one was hurt in the second blast, which occurred in the Abkhaz capital, Sukhumi, shortly after Mr. Putin departed the city and returned to the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Obama’s One-sided “Democracy”

Roadblocks Devised to Push Back Against Health Care Town Hall Protesters

Supporters of health reform say they are simply pushing back against opposition that is disruptive and designed to shut down debate while opponents say the tactics are underhanded and intended to undermine democracy in action.

FOXNews.com

//

Americans who want to express their opinions on health care reform at town halls across the country are encountering a host of roadblocks, ranging from fake schedules to a demand that they show their driver’s licenses or photo identification.

Supporters of President Obama’s plan say they are pushing back against opposition that is disruptive and designed to shut down debate. But opponents say the supporters’ tactics are underhanded and designed to undermine democracy in action.

In Texas, Rep. Gene Green’s office is requiring town hall attendees to present a photo ID that proves they live in his district.

On his Web site, Green says “due to a coordinated effort to disrupt our town hall meetings, we will be restricting further attendance to residents … and verifying residency by requiring photo identification.”

Greene’s spokeswoman, Brenda Arredondo, told FOXNews.com that the Democratic congressman enacted the policy after she and other staffers overheard attendees saying they were going to keep disrupting the town halls. After the policy went into effect at the fourth town hall Green hosted this month, she said eight out of 10 attendees were found not to be constituents.

They were allowed to stay, she said, leading to the same outbursts seen at the other three. But they won’t be allowed to attend the fifth one, she said.

“Those people are welcome to call their members of Congress and voice their opinions,” she said, adding that Green is trying to listen to his constituents.

She said the policy is not intended to block opponents of health care reform. “If you want to come yell and scream and are constituents, we obviously more than welcome your voice,” she said. “It’s not to silence anyone’s voice from the district.”

In Illinois, two Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Obama this week complaining that Democratic organizers scheduled meetings between them and their constituents without ever notifying them, misleading their constituents into going to town halls on the wrong day.

Illinois Reps. Mark Kirk and Judy Biggert wrote that their constituents had apparently signed up for meetings to discuss health care reform with them after receiving an Aug. 9 e-mail from BarackObama.com urging them to do so.

“However, the names of our constituents and the times they wished to visit were never communicated to us,” the letter said.

As a result, the lawmakers claimed more than 20 constituents came to their district offices on Monday.

“When they learned neither the White House, the Democratic National Committee nor Organizing for America had passed their request to our offices, they were understandably confused and upset with the BarackObama.com e-mail they had received,” they wrote.

They urged the organizers not to keep them in the dark in the future.

In response, Democratic National Committee Communications Director Brad Woodhouse issued a statement saying that the OFA members were not told to go to offices unannounced.

“They are mischaracterizing this — which is not surprising if you look at the falsehoods Republicans are spreading on this issue,” he wrote. “OFA sent an e-mail to all its supporters asking them to sign up for drop bys with every House and Senate office — Democrat and Republican — to drop off a flyer in support of heath insurance reform.”

Woodhouse said the e-mail advised supporters that “they should call ahead to make sure the office was open and that if they wanted to do more than drop by the office they should schedule a meeting on their own.”

Health Care for America Now, a coalition group organizing support for Obama’s proposal, e-mailed a four-page memo to activists across the country on how to provide “cover” to lawmakers at the town halls. The group, whose members include ACORN, the Service Employees International Union and the National Council of La Raza, urged activists to contact lawmakers before the town halls to plan ways to preempt opposition.

“Ask the member’s staff what would be most helpful and talk through a strategy for making sure the right messages don’t get drowned out by chaotic protesters,” field director Margarida Jorge wrote.

“Address the [member of Congress] directly with a positive message: Remember, these members need cover and they are getting beaten up by right wing zealots in these meetings.”

Jacki Schechner, a spokeswoman for HCAN, told FOXNews.com that the group sent the memo after many of its 120 field organizers in 44 states encountered screaming and shouting at the town halls.

“Not that the opposition caught anyone off guard,” she said. “The level of screaming and shouting and lack of intelligent discourse caught people off guard.”

Schechner noted that the memo does not emphasize any one tactic, but rather coordination with lawmakers to facilitate the town hall. She rejected the notion that the memo is designed to undermine democracy.

“We would love to have more conversation,” she said. “What undermines democracy is the screaming and yelling and not allowing people to talk.

“There’s a very important detail being lost here. There are details of health care not being explained because no one can get a word in edgewise,” she said, adding that the town halls are intended for lawmakers to explain those details. “That legitimate conversation is not happening because there’s such an angry din of noise.”

Schechner said the memo has already helping lawmakers like Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, who was rushed by protesters at earlier town halls where one held a sign showing Doggett with devil’s horns. But now the town halls are more orderly, she said.

Myths And Facts About al-Qaeda

Myths And Facts About al-Qaeda
By Karin Friedemann
8-12-9
The media myth of a global Islamic conspiracy never got much traction in America before 2001 because the minority Muslim American population simply did not seem like much of a threat, because Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States are loyal US allies, and because Americans generally have a positive attitude toward wealthy investors. After 9/11 pro-Israel propagandists exploited public ignorance and created a nightmarish fantasy of al-Qaeda in order to put the US and allies into conflict with the entire Islamic world. What is al-Qaeda? What do they believe? What do they actually do?
Osama bin Laden first used the term “al-Qaeda” in an interview in 1998, probably in reference to a 1988 article written by Palestinian activist Abdullah Azzam entitled “al-Qa`ida al-Sulba” (the Solid Foundation). In it, Azzam elaborates upon the ideas of the Egyptian scholar Sayed Qutb to explain modern jihadi principles. Qutb, author of Social Justice in Islam, is viewed as the founder of modern Arab-Islamic political religious thought. Qutb is comparable to John Locke in Western political development. Both Azzam and Qutb were serious men of exceptional integrity and honor.
While Qutb was visiting the USA in 1949, he and several friends were turned away from a movie theater because the owner thought they were black. ‘But we’re Egyptians,’ one of the group explained. The owner apologized and offered to let them in, but Qutb refused, galled by the fact that black Egyptians could be admitted but black Americans could not,” recounts Lawrence Wright in The Looming Tower. Qutb predicted that the struggle between Islam and materialism would define the modern world. He embraced martyrdom in 1966 in rejection of Arab socialist politics.
Azzam similarly rejected secular Palestinian nationalist politics as an impediment to moral virtue. He opposed terrorist attacks on civilians and had strong reservations about ideas like offensive jihad, or preventive war. He also hesitated to designate any Muslim leader as an apostate and preferred to allow God to make such judgments. Inspired by the courage and piety of Afghan Muslims struggling against the Soviets, Azzam reinterpreted Qutb’s concept of individual and collective obligation of Muslims in his fatwa entitled “Defense of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation after Iman (Faith).” Qutb would have prioritized the struggle of Egyptian Muslims to transform Egypt into a virtuous Islamic state while Azzam argued that every individual Muslim had an obligation to come to the aid of oppressed Muslims everywhere, whether they are Afghan, Kosovar, Bosnian, Thai, Filipino, or Chechen.
John Calvert of Creighton University writes, “This ideology would soon energize the most significant jihad movement of modern times.”
At Azzam’s call, Arabs from many countries joined America’s fight against Communism in Afghanistan. No Arab jihadi attack was considered terrorism when Azzam led the group, or later when bin Laden ran the group. Because the global Islamic movement overlapped with the goals of the US government, Arab jihadis worked and traveled frictionlessly throughout the world between Asia, Arabia and America. Azzam was assassinated in Pakistan in 1989, but legends of the courageous sacrifices of the noble Arab Afghans energized the whole Islamic world.
After the Soviets left Afghanistan, bin Laden relocated to Sudan in 1992. At the time he was probably undisputed commander of nothing more than a small group, which became even smaller after he lost practically all his money on Sudan investments. He returned to Afghanistan in 1996, where the younger Afghans, the Taliban welcomed him on account of his reputation as a veteran war hero.
There is no real evidence that bin Laden or al-Qaeda had any connection to the Ugandan and Tanzanian embassy attacks or any of the numerous attacks for which they have been blamed. Pro-Israel propagandists like Daniel Pipes or Matthew Levitt needed an enemy for their war against Muslim influence on American culture more than random explosions in various places needed a central commander. By the time the World Trade Center was destroyed, the Arab fighters surrounding Osama bin Laden were just a dwindling remnant living on past glories of Afghanistan’s struggle against Communism. Al-Qaeda has never been and certainly is not today an immensely powerful terror organization controlling Islamic banks and charities throughout the world.
Al-Qaeda maintained training camps in Afghanistan like Camp Faruq, where Muslims could receive basic training just as American Jews go to Israel for military training with the IDF. There they learned to disassemble, clean and reassemble weapons, and got to associate with old warriors, who engaged in great heroism against the Soviets but did not do much since. Many al-Qaeda trainees went on to serve US interests in Central Asia (e.g. Xinjiang) in the 1990s but from recent descriptions the camps seem to currently provide a form of adventure tourism with no future enlistment obligations.
Although western media treats al-Qaeda as synonymous with Absolute Evil, much of the world reveres the Arab Afghans as martyr saints. Hundreds of pilgrims visit Kandahar’s Arab cemetery daily, believing that the graves of those massacred in the 2001 US bombing of Afghanistan possess miraculous healing powers.
Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women. Joachim Martillo contributed to this article.

China calls halt to Gwadar refinery

[The price of Pakistan's surrender to US demands.  The drama in FATA and Balochistan are obviously enough to convince China that the country is unsafe.   The American price for potential investment will be the dismemberment and dissolution of the Nation that will be "formerly known as Pakistan."]

China calls halt to Gwadar refinery

By Syed Fazl-e-Haider

QUETTA, Pakistan – Cash-strapped Pakistan, which has had to accept more than US$11 billion from the International Monetary Fund

, is threatened with the loss of a huge foreign investment

after China said it had shelved its multi-billion dollar coastal oil refinery project at Gwadar, in southwest Balochistan province.

China has formally informed the Pakistani authorities that the refinery project has been deleted from the list of financial

development plans agreed with Islamabad for the financial year ending next June as there has been no progress on the project, according to a Business Recorder report.

The decision, which follows suspension in January by the

United Arab Emirates state-run International Petroleum Investment Company

(IPIC) of work on the $5 billion Khalifa Coastal Refinery (KCR) project at Hub, also in Balochistan, creates uncertainty about the future of the planned $12.5 billion mega oil city project in Gwadar, of which the refinery there was to be a key element.

It also casts doubt over plans for a corridor carrying energy pipelines and refinery products the length of Pakistan from Gwadar onto western China.

The global recession was a factor in forcing the Chinese and UAE governments to shelve their refinery projects, the Business Recorder report said, citing sources in Pakistan’s Petroleum Ministry. Local analysts, however, believe that security concerns were also an important factor.

The province has battled with a low-level insurgency for the past five years. Most recently, a security forces’ checkpoint was attacked on Wednesday in Quetta, Balochistan’s capital, killing four people and injuring five others.

The United States is also turning its attention to the province, which borders Afghanistan to the north, as part of its battle against Taliban insurgents in the region.

Many Chinese nationals have been attacked, kidnapped and killed in the country since May 2004, when three Chinese engineers were killed in Gwadar.

While its nationals are under threat in Pakistan, China is also concerned about Islamist militants operating in China’s western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It says some have been trained in Pakistan’s unruly tribal areas to the north of Balochistan. Xinjiang, a Muslim-dominated region, was the scene of riots last month in which 197 people were killed. Beijing claimed Uyghur separatists were responsible for the violence.

Great United Petroleum Holdings Company Limited (GUPC) of China started work on the Gwadar petrochemical city project in December 2006. Under a memorandum of understanding signed between Pakistan and China that year, GUPC was committed to conduct a feasibility study and preparation work. The GUPC was also to build 1,000-2,000 service stations in the country.

China had expressed interest in building the refinery during a visit to China in February 2006 by Pakistan’s then-president General Pervez Musharraf, who also offered a “trade corridor” that would carry imported Middle East oil and refined products from Gwadar to Kashghar, in western China.

China had planned to build a refinery and petrochemical complex with an initial 10 million tonnes per year (200,000 barrels per day) capacity, later expanding to 21 million tonnes. Pakistan has allocated 5,000 hectares of land for the proposed oil city.

Gwadar is close to the entrance to the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, China’s biggest source of crude, and a pipeline to western China would greatly reduce the time and distance required to transport the fuel, while cutting out the congested seaways around Singapore.

The earlier halted UAE-built Khalifa refinery was originally planned for Gwadar, before being moved east to Hub district. In 2007, the UAE signed an implementation agreement with Islamabad to establish the $5 billion refinery, which Abu Dhabi’s IPIC was to build with a target refining capacity of 200,000 to 300,000 barrels per day. So far the UAE government has not started work on the project, which was scheduled to be completed by 2012.

In March, Pakistan told the UAE government that if work did not start within 60 days, Islamabad would seek other investors or expand the capacity of the Pak-Arab Refinery (Parco), in central Pakistan, by 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

It was not possible for the UAE to immediately start work on the refinery, with a huge investment, due to the global economic meltdown over the past year, according to a report published in The News on March 30. In view of the expected delay in initiating the Khalifa project, the government would ask Parco, the country’s largest refinery, to start increasing capacity, the report said, citing Asim Hussain, adviser to the prime minister on petroleum.

China is playing an increasing role throughout Pakistan’s economy, from sales of consumer goods to developing natural resources, with several mining projects underway in Balochistan. It has been the biggest foreign investor and partner in the development of Gwadar port for commercial shipping as well as an energy hub.

The port was officially declared functional last December, yet the outlook there is also uncertain. The government is in dispute with the Pakistan navy, which is reluctant to vacate 582 hectares of land it is using at the port and which is wanted for development. Ports and Shipping Minister Babar Khan Ghauri said late last month that the port may be shut down if the navy did not vacate the land, the Daily Times reported.

Syed Fazl-e-Haider, sfazlehaider05@yahoo.com, is a Quetta-based development analyst in Pakistan. He is the author of six books, including The Economic Development of Balochistan (2004).

ISI and Friends Block Iran/Pakistan Progress

The politics of pipelines

By Tariq Fatemi

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) greets President Asif Ali Zardari before the start of a trilateral summit in Tehran. — Reuters

Some 10 years ago, the federal cabinet was examining the possibility of selling surplus power to India. Today, thanks to the Musharraf regime’s criminal neglect of this sector, we are facing a crippling power shortage.

Islamabad has little to show for its efforts to secure energy sources over the years, apart from signing numerous memorandums of understanding.

As far back as 1993, an MOU was signed to construct the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project that India later wanted to join. It envisaged a 2,670km land pipeline with a 3,620 mmcfd gas transmission capacity.

A year later, an MoU was signed to bring gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan. In 2002 an agreement envisaging a pipeline over 1,271km up to Multan was also signed. It enjoyed US support, but continuing turmoil in Afghanistan, coupled with Turkmenistan’s inability to provide convincing proof of its gas reserves, is preventing progress. Then there is the Qatar-Pakistan pipeline under consideration since April 1992.

Many experts are convinced that it is only the IPI project that is technically viable and economically attractive. But US opposition has prevented any concrete movement on it. In the past year or so, India has lost some of its ardour for it, partly because of the US civilian nuclear deal and partly because of the high price demanded by Iran.

The Pakistani leadership claims to be committed to it, pointing to the presence of Presidents Zardari and Ahmadinejad at the signing ceremony of the gas sale agreement earlier on.

However, a recent controversy is causing concern. The petroleum adviser has resigned a couple of weeks after his startling disclosure that two countries, one western and the other in the Middle East, were applying pressure on Pakistan to abandon the project.

This had come as a rude shock to those who were reminded that the Indian petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar had been eased out soon after his public defence of the project. No less significant was a news report that the country’s premier intelligence agency had expressed its reservations with the project, suggesting that Pakistan look for other options. Now we hear that the entire issue may be placed before parliament where it could be lost in debate for years.

Have we succumbed to external pressure and abandoned the only ‘doable gas pipeline project? The nation deserves to know. In the meanwhile, the world’s major powers are engaged in a frantic search to secure assured sources of energy by building transmission lines to move gas from the energy-rich Gulf and Central Asia to energy-starved Europe.

The latest to be launched is the Nabucco project, for which many of Europe’s statesmen gathered in Ankara last month. They were joined by US special envoy on Eurasian energy issues, Richard Morningstar, who some 10 years earlier had been instrumental in getting everyone on board the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline project despite Russia’s opposition.

The 3,300km Nabucco project, signed by Turkey, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, is estimated to cost $11bn and is projected to transport Central Asian gas bypassing Russia, going via Turkey to Austria and Germany through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. With four entry points into Turkey, it will ultimately tap gas from diverse sources and pump enough gas to meet five to 10 per cent of the European Union’s needs.

However, it is Iran’s involvement that makes the Nabucco pipeline so intriguing, for it will make it the transit corridor for Turkmenistan gas that will eventually go into the pipeline. For this, Iran has entered into an arrangement with Turkmenistan, with the two agreeing that instead of constructing a pipeline from Turkmenistan along the bottom of the Caspian Sea, they would transport Turkmen gas to Europe via existing pipelines to Turkey.

This means that Tehran has decided that while Washington explores how to rebuild relations with it, it can forge a strategic partnership with Europe, a view confirmed by the Turkish energy minister.

The Nabucco project represents a setback for Russia, as it will enable Europe to diversify its energy supplies. This explains why it had been promoting the South Stream project as an alternative to Nabucco, persuading the Balkan and Central European countries to opt for it. It may also mean that Turkmenistan is moving away from Russia and getting closer to the US, which could transform the Caspian energy sweepstakes.

With Russian gas supplies dwindling and surplus for export shrinking, Gazprom is even more dependent on Turkmenistan which currently produces 80,000mmcfd annually out of which most is sold to Russia. However, in recent months, supplies to Russia have been cut back sharply, because of an explosion on the Soviet-era Central Asia-Centre pipeline.

In the meanwhile, Turkmenistan has also agreed to increase its contracted gas supplies to China via a pipeline nearing completion. In addition, Turkmenistan has agreed to step up gas supplies for the Nabucco pipeline, which means that Turkmenistan intends to reduce its dependence on Russia. This could encourage other Central Asian energy producers to move away from Russia and opt for European markets through pipelines not going through Russian territory.

This means that Turkey is fast becoming the ideal transit country to carry non-Russian gas from Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to Europe, thereby assuming the role of an energy hub for Europe. But Turkey is careful not to antagonise Russia, a neighbour, top trading partner and main gas supplier.

Turkey is already linked directly to Russia through the Blue Stream gas pipeline, which runs under the Black Sea. Hoping to attract Russia and Kazakh oil, Ankara is promoting a pipeline from its Black Sea port of Samsun to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean coast, which already serves us a terminal for conduits pumping oil from Azerbaijan via Iraq.

While the world’s powerful states are scrambling to acquire secure sources of energy, we have failed to move on even one pipeline project, which only shows how oblivious our leadership has been to the country’s increasingly desperate need for energy.

‘Discovery of mass graves in Swat’

‘Discovery of mass graves in Swat’

The witnesses to mass burials said at least in some cases the bodies appeared to be those of Taliban militants: HRCP report.—File photo

LAHORE: A fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan to Swat has documented accounts of extrajudicial killings by the security forces, discovery of mass graves in the conflict-hit region and the unabated suffering of the civilian population.

The report of the three-day mission says a number of Swat residents have reported having seen mass graves in the area, including at least one at Kookarai village in Babozai tehsil and another in an area between Dewlai and Shah Dheri in Kabal tehsil.

The witnesses to mass burials said at least in some cases the bodies appeared to be those of Taliban militants, it added.

The mission expressed grave concern over the ‘worrying development’ and also over credible reports of numerous extrajudicial killings and reprisals carried out by the security forces.

The mission said: ‘It is vital for the success of the military operation against terrorists that the security forces’ actions are distinguishable from the atrocities committed by the Taliban. ‘Taliban justice’ has been rightly condemned for its brutal and arbitrary nature and was crucial in helping turn the public opinion against the extremists. Treatment of individuals by government must aspire to a higher standard.

‘The human rights violations by security forces can only be discouraged if the State puts in place a transparent mechanism to monitor violations both during and post-conflict and fulfill its obligation of providing justice through due process.’

The HRCP mission also noted serious difficulties faced by the local population and internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning to Swat.

‘The IDPs have returned to find a number of houses in the area damaged in the military operation. Shops in most areas are yet to reopen and the ones that are open have scarce supplies. The local people demand that the government ensure the supply of essentials to the returning population, including subsidised edibles for the families that cannot afford to buy them on account of financial losses. Restoration of the devastated infrastructure and provision of safe drinking water must be given top priority to prevent the spread of disease.’

While a massive security operation in Swat seems to have dented the Taliban network in the area for now, the threat still exists. A lack of safety and security remains for the people being sent back to the valley from IDP camps, the mission reported.

‘That the law and order situation is still not completely under control is testified by the continued curfew in the area. Even military officials in the area acknowledge that parts of Swat are yet to be purged of the militants. The beheading of a police official in Sangota (Mingora) on July 28 triggered fear among local residents who had returned to their homes after being assured that the militants have been flushed out of the area.’

It said none of the national and provincial assembly members or district or tehsil nazims had so far returned to the conflict-hit area. Their absence itself is a reflection of the apprehension of lack of security in the region. The government should provide the elected representatives of the area appropriate security to encourage their return, which would also boost public morale. The mission urged a campaign to apprehend local-level Taliban operatives and other terrorists.

The return from the IDP camps must be voluntary and the people should be given accurate assessment of the situation on ground to enable them to make an informed decision.

The HRCP emphasised that security of the displaced population must be the guiding principles in any decision on repatriation.

‘The shifting of IDPs from camps in the NWFP cities to safe places in Swat, and not hurried repatriation or closure of camps for the IDPs, must be the main consideration for the government,’ the mission said.

It further said the government must not send the returning IDPs to areas yet to be cleared of Taliban and should instead move the IDP camps to those areas of Swat that have been secured and are accessible to national and international humanitarian aid agencies.

It would make the displaced population feel more at home in a climate they are accustomed to, the mission said.

It said the IDPs should be expeditiously compensated for the damage caused to their houses and other property during the military operation to allow them to rebuild their lives at the earliest.

The civil society must also come forward to assist the traumatised population as well as demand provision of justice through due process and an end to human rights violations in security operations, the HRCP said.

Seventy killed as Baitullah, Bhittani supporters clash

Seventy killed as Baitullah, Bhittani supporters clash

By Alamgir Bhittani

Militants loyal to Baitullah attacked Bhittani’s men and torched 33 houses.—Photo by AP

TANK: Fierce clashes broke out between supporters of Baitullah Mehsud and rival Turkistan Bhittani in the Frontier Region of Jandola on Wednesday and each side claimed inflicting heavy casualties on the other.

According to sources, militants loyal to Baitullah attacked Bhittani’s men in Soor Gher area and torched 33 houses. They said seven supporters of Bhittani were killed and 15 were captured.

Meanwhile, Bhittani’s men claimed to have killed over 50 attackers. According to AP, at least 70 fighters were killed in the clash.

Two intelligence officials said militants used rockets, mortars and anti-aircraft guns against Turkistan’s men. The officials, who cited wireless intercepts from the area, confirmed at least 70 people had been killed.

Bhittani said 90 fighters were killed and more than 40 houses were destroyed.

There was no way to independently confirm the death toll, as the fighting was taking place in a remote, mountainous area that is off-limits to journalists.

A senior official confirmed the clash but did not give details about casualties. ‘The local administration has no writ in the area and we have no information about the number of casualties,’ he added.

Meanwhile, a BBC Urdu report said that as clashes escalated, spreading to various areas, helicopter gunships could be seen flying over the region.

Helicopter gunships subsequently targeted three vehicles in use of Baitullah Mehsud’s fighters. At least 15 men travelling in those vehicles were killed, the BBC report said.

Commander Bhittani, who enjoys the backing of the government, has emerged as the main challenger to the Baitullah group in Tank and Jandola.

The sources said the Bhittani group had eliminated the Baitullah group in Tank city and adjacent areas.

U.S. Privatizes Colombian War with its Transnational Mercenaries

Eva Golinger: U.S. Privatizes Colombian War with its

Transnational Mercenaries

by Eva Golinger

For the year 2009 the State Department of the United States will invest approximately $520 million in Plan Colombia. More than half of this money went to private North American contractors charged with developing, promoting and furthering irregular warfare in Colombian territory and in Latin America; this was revealed to the Bolivarian News Agency by the lawyer and researcher Eva Golinger.

“This constitutes the total privatization of the war in Colombia through the utilization and financing of transnational mercenaries that have no legal obligation to respond to any judicial system in the world. In other words, they enjoy complete immunity,” explained Golinger.

Golinger explained that in certain declassified government documents she found a list of 31 American contractors that maintain relations with the State Department. This list contains the amounts of financing awarded by the administration in Washington to advance the war in Colombia.

“What jumps out here is their areas of responsibility and the amount of money which they receive for a period of 12 months,” says Golinger.

Even though these are American companies contracted by the State Department, they are not subject to any American legal code, according to Golinger.

“As part of a bi-national accord, in Colombia they have total immunity, that is to say, they respond to nobody for their crimes, actions and operations,” she emphasized.

Of the 31 companies on this list, Golinger has limited herself in this opportunity to mention the most important and those with a long history of belligerence in various parts of the world.

The Transnationals of War

The first on the list is Lockheed-Martin, one of the largest companies of the military-industrial complex in the United States. It is dedicated to producing weapons and technology, including war planes.

“Its contract includes $53 million in financing for the period of one year to provide logistical support and technical assistance to the national police of Colombia, in addition to training personnel for special operations,” said Golinger.

Another company is Dyn Corp International, which also forms part of the American military-industrial apparatus. The State Department provides it with $164 million in financing to provide pilots, technicians and logistical support to the Colombian army.

“Similarly, the Arinc company, a private contractor of the military-industrial apparatus, received $8 million dollars to maintain, manage and train the Colombian national police in the task of intercepting signals and obtaining equipment associated with espionage,” she says.

Also, Oackley Network received $5 million for the provision of software for monitoring the internet and to assist in espionage programs conducted by the crime division of the Colombian national police.

Similarly, one also encounters on the list ITT, a transnational telecommunication company that participated in the coup d’état against [Chilean president] Salvador Allende.

“In 2007 it received some $7 million to operate a hemispheric radar system, offer logistical support and provide radar equipment in Colombian territory that operate via satellite,” said Golinger.

Echelon Espionage

Another company with global reach is the Rendón Group, which acquired a contract for $3.4 million to give communicational support to Plan Colombia and to counter narcotics operations.

“The Rendón Group, being a company of the Pentagon, is one of the most well known groups of experts in psychological operations dedicated to designing this type of campaign… it is this company that manages a great part of the media campaign against Venezuela and Ecuador,” Golinger commented.

Moreover, she sustained that the contract stipulates the use of the Echelon system, the largest known espionage system, invented in the 1970s by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

“It is a satellite system that has the capacity to monitor all worldwide communications. They enter a specific word in the system, and this is linked to the rest of the communications systems. If they find that someone used that word on the telephone, cell phone, or computer, attention is directed toward that place. It gives the exact location and permits the conversation to be monitored,” she commented.

In conclusion, Golinger expressed that the financing implies a continuation of the escalated offensive and imperialist aggression against the region.

“We saw the coup d’état in Honduras, the resurgence of the Colombian-Venezuelan conflict and the concern on the part of the countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) over the [new U.S.] military bases [in Colombia]… This is not the end of it,” she affirmed.

Translated by Zachary Lown for Venezuelanalysis.com

‘Our new target is Georgia’

[Turkey putting Islamic face on American probes and plots.]

‘Our new target is Georgia’

Thursday, 13 August 2009

omercihadvardan.jpgMÜSİAD*, an actor in the regional initiative which is a result of USA-AKP collaboration, defined its new target as Georgia. MÜSİAD which made an expedition “with a leader team” spelled the pleasure it gets from Turkey’s activity in the region.

AKP government which developed economical and political initiatives in the Middle East, Balkans, Caucasians under the umbrella of USA, defined its new target as Georgia. MÜSİAD (Independent Industrialist Businessmen Assocaition)’s president Ömer Cihad Vardan stated that there is an important potential for Turkish businessmen in construction, agriculture, tourism and energy sectors.

“Leader group”
Vardan stated that they came to Georgia “as a leader group” after Georgia’s Deputy Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze’s invitation, “to receive information and to investigate”. Vardan added, “We had the chance to see Batum which has historical ties to Turkey”.

Vardan stated that they are planning to visit Georgia again in the near future as a larger group of businessmen and plan to have a business forum and added that there is a great potential construction, agriculture, tourism and energy areas.

“Soviets are evil, EU-NATO is fair”
Vardan claimed that there is a problem of regulation in all countries under the influence of Soviet Union and said that they are “trying to turn the face of Georgia to West and with the goal of EU and NATO open a new chapter and attrack investers and develop the country”.

Vardan said, “We, as Turkey, we should consider how much share we can get from this process”.

“Stability model Turkey gains importance in the area”
MÜSİAD’s President Vardan emphasized the pleasure he got from Turkey’s initiative under the shadow of USA with the observation, “we are becoming important”.

Vardan said that Turkey, “is having an important position in her region and –with the recent developments– in the whole world” and added, “As a citizen of Turkey, I am watching with content that we are taken seriously; I am very happy about this”.

Vardan underlined “AKP stability” and said, “In order to have economical stability, political stability should be established. To reach political stability, democracy should be established. We, in our country went through all these in the near past. One who can not see this only if he has blind eyes and deaf ears. Therefore, before everything, we want democracy to be present in all areas and want Turkey to become a stability model. I am not referring to a particular segment; I am making my point for everyone of us in Turkey. We can NOT do without : Stability…”.

“We are supporters of the initiatives”
Vardan stated that they support not only initiatives within the country but all kinds of initiatives in other countries for solving problems. He said that the fact that problems are solved in countries like Cyprus, Syria, Iraq resulted in increase in commercial relations and trade volume.

Ermenistan will also take her share from the “initiative”
Vardan stated that they are pleased that Ermenistan-Turkey relations are in a process of becoming normal and said that they may have attempts to develop collaboration for commercial business with Armenia.

soL (News Desk)

* : MÜSİAD (Independent Industrialist Businessmen Association), while has the word “independent” in its name, there is a trick of words. The word independent, müstakil, in fact stands for muslim, müslüman. MÜSİAD is the association of capitalists with a political islamists tendency and backed by the government.

Wikipedia: Free disinformation

Wikipedia: Free disinformation

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Wikipedia is open to everyone on the Internet who wants to contribute and millions of pages are viewed every day. However, Wikipedia has become subjected to misleading alterations by intelligence services, media organizations, governments and private companies.

Widespread use of the Internet provides open access to “more democratic” resources. On the top of these resources is Wikipedia, publishing in 26 languages, containing about 6 million articles. Everyone with a computer and Internet access can contribute to Wikipedia, however, since identities are kept private, Wikipedia is subject to modification by the secret services, governments and companies.

Placing “October Revolution in Russia” among comments entered under the topic “Gallipoli Campaign (Çanakkale Savaşı)” may be interpreted as innocent mistake, however, obvious misleading changes were made. Examples are topics such as the War in Lebanon, Palestinian People’s Liberation Front, CIA and George Bush.

A contribution made in Wikipedia according to an author in relation to Lebanon War in 2006, starts with “kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah and missiles attacking Israel on the same day” and the final outcome of the war is “Israel’s undisputable victory”. With regard to the war in Lebanon, it is impossible even for an author who reads newspapers regularly to write an article like this without referring to any resources, unless of course, it was “intentional”! Another similar distortion is made on pages of the Palestinian People’s Liberation Front. A writer entered a comment that the organisation had close relationship with the Israeli intelligence service, Shin Bet, although changed subsequently. There is a volume of disinformation that can be proved to be incorrect in Wikipedia in addition to anonymously distorted alterations.

WikiScanner captures
A graduate from the Institute of Santa Fe in New Mexico, Virgil Griffith has written a software program called WikiScanner which automatically scans the changes in Wikipedia by connecting to the Internet. The program also shows the numerical Internet protocol addresses (IP) kept anonymously until now, can determine what substances are replaced and by whom. The software developed by Griffith, who is currently studying towards a masters degree at the California Institute of Technology, is also supported by Wikipedia. The software program become well known by uncovering dozens of manipulations so far.

One of the culprits making alterations revealed by the program is a familiar one. The US Intelligence Service, CIA is behind dozens of media manipulations and has changed many titles arbitrarily on Wikipedia. The WikiScanner captured that the writers are making changes on the pages about the invasion of Iraq, Iranian President Ahmedinejad, President George Bush are all connected to the CIA building. WikiScanner also confirmed who entered the information and changes to title of Ahmedinejad the “Wahhhh” as an exclamation or adding “estimated” to the number of US troops died in Iraq.

Another familiar name, FBI, next to changing the paragraphs critical to anti-terrorism laws passed in the United States, removed photographs of the Guantanamo Base from Wikipedia.

Another misleading alteration is connected to the Vatican City, altering the profile of Gerry Adams, the leader of the Sinn Fein, claimed to be the political wing of the Irish Liberation Army. Gerry Adams has a Catholic background. Evidence of news from daily newspapers against Mr Adams’ connection with two murders in 1974 had been deleted from the site.

Previously, it was proven that a team was established to manipulate the information on Wikipedia by the government of Austria.

Nevertheless, alteration to Wikipedia is not limited only to intelligence services. For example, the US media giants New York Times and Wall Street Journal bilaterally made changes to each others’ pages, however, the biggest battle of critical alterations were conducted between Fox TV and MSNBC. The modification on the Wikipedia article for Fox News Political Commentator, Bill O’Reilly was made from computers at the MSNBC. On the other hand, demeaning additions to the profiles of MSNBC correspondents on the site were added by the Fox News.

Known by its hard line towards its employees, WalMart was caught by the WikiScanner when attempting to change criticism about the company. Similarly, manufacturer of electronic voting machines, Diebold in the US has been caught when deleting 15 paragraphs criticizing the company.

Can it be saved?
Although, Internet resources by being open to public access may mean, “self regulation”, it seems difficult for the individual users to deal with corporations or the intelligence services shown in the Wikipedia example. Therefore, identifying the untrue claims such as “the person who killed US President Kennedy had been in the Soviet Union for two years”, becomes extremely difficult for individual users. It is inevitable to question the neutrality policy of the world’s largest virtual encyclopedia which has become a resource of disinformation instead of its resources being used as a “reference”. Moreover, successful examples such as WikiScanner are able to prove some of the disinformation. However, the adequacy of the software is also open to debate. This is because the disinformation can remain as an “innocent error” if it has not originated from the premises of a particular institution.
(soL – News Desk)

Torture Program Architects Made Millions

Report: Torture Program Architects Made Millions

Posted by Daniel Carty

(CBS)

Two military retirees and psychologists with “no relevant scholarship” made millions of dollars as the driving force behind the CIA’s controversial interrogation program ultimately terminated under the Obama administration, according to a New York Times report Wednesday.

Beginning in 2002, the CIA contracted Dr. Jim Mitchell and Dr. Bruce Jessen to devise an interrogation strategy for suspected al Qaeda operatives that included waterboarding, a technique later characterized as torture.

The ripple effects of the program are still being felt months after it was cancelled by the White House, as Attorney General Eric J. Holder Jr. weighs the pursuit a criminal investigation. He’s expected to make a decision in the coming weeks. The CIA is also set to release a 2004 report on the program by the agency’s inspector general, according to the Times.

Mitchell and Jessen, who both served as Air Force psychologists training service members in interrogation resistance, pursued completely different research while obtaining their degrees, according to the report.

After serving in the Air Force as an explosives expert, Mitchell completed his doctorate at the University of South Florida in 1986. His research compared diet and exercise in controlling hypertension.

Jessen studied “family sculpting” – where patients construct models of family members to define their emotional relationships – on his way to earning a doctorate from Utah State University.

Both men worked in the Air Force’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, or SERE, training program, which was created to prepare service members for the harsh Chinese-style interrogations undergone by Americans during the Korean War. Jessen served as the program’s top psychologist during the 1980s before moving on to head a “graduate” training program. Mitchell replaced Jessen after the move.

Around the time of the 9/11 attacks, the now retired Mitchell created training company Knowledge Works. Using his extensive military contacts, Mitchell began circulating his theories on demoralizing al Qaeda suspects into cooperation, according to the report. His ideas were well received within the CIA and, with Jessen, he wrote a proposal that based American interrogation strategy on enemy practices – slaps, stress positions, sleep deprivation, wall-slamming and waterboarding.

In 2002, Abu Zubaydah, reportedly al Qaeda’s third in command, was being interrogated at a CIA prison in Thailand. FBI investigators had originally used conventional techniques like rapport-building to obtain intelligence. Mitchell arrived later and directed a more coercive treatment for Zubaydah including sleep deprivation and 83 waterboarding sessions over several months. During the interrogation, FBI and even some CIA officials reportedly expressed reservations about the use of torture techniques.

Jessen joined his partner in July before both men determined that the suspect had no more information to yield.

With Justice Department authorization of the enhanced interrogation techniques, business was booming for the pair. The each made between $1,000 and $2,000 a day. What started out as a home-based operation became a 60-employee business with offices in Spokane and Virginia by 2007.

But it just as quickly dried up. Beginning in 2006, elements within the Bush administration, notably Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, started questioning the legitimacy of the program. Public opinion began to steadily deteriorate until the Obama administration took office and terminated the program.

Now in danger of becoming ensnared in a criminal probe, Mitchell and Jessen have retained well known defense lawyer, Henry F. Scheulke III, according to the Times.