BEIJING: China has signaled it wants to go the US way and set up military bases in overseas locations that would possibly include Pakistan.
The obvious purpose would be to exert pressure on India as well as counter US influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“(So) it is baseless to say that we will not set up any military bases in future because we have never sent troops abroad,” an article published on Thursday at a Chinese government website said. “It is our right,” the article said and went on to suggest that it would be done in the neighborhood, possibly Pakistan.
“As for the military aspect, we should be able to conduct the retaliatory attack within the country or at the neighboring area of our potential enemies. We should also be able to put pressure on the potential enemies’ overseas interests,” it said.
A military base in Pakistan will also help China keep a check on Muslim Uighur separatists fighting for an independent nation in its western region of Xingjian, which borders the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Beijing recently signed an agreement with the local government of NWFP in order to keep a close watch on the movement of Uighur ultras.
“I have personally felt for sometime that China might one day build a military base in India’s neighborhood. China built the Gadwar port in Pakistan and is now broadening the Karokoram highway. These facilities can always be put to military use when the need arises,” Ramesh V Phadke, former Air Commodore and advisor to the Institute of Defense Studies told TNN. Phadke said the article in very significant. “The purpose may be to see how the international community reacts to it,” he said.
China, which has no military bases outside its territory, has often criticized the United States for operating such overseas bases. It has not just changed its standpoint but also wants to enter the lucrative protection business.
“With further development, China will be in great demand of the military protection,” the article said. Pakistan, which buys 70% of its military hardware from China, is likely to be an eager buyer for such protection. Beijing may also be able to pressurize Islamabad to accept its diktat using the threat of withholding military supplies.
A Pakistani expert on China-Pakistan relationship has a different view on the subject. “The Americans had a base in the past and it caused a political stink. I don’t think it would be politically possible for the Pakistani government to openly allow China to set up a military base,” he said while requesting anonymity. Pakistan might allow use of its military facilities without publicly announcing it, he said.
A Chinese military base can tackle several international relations issues, it said. One of them is “the relationship between the base troops and the countries neighboring to the host country.” This is another indication that Beijing is considering Pakistan as a possible base. China’s argument is that a foreign base would actually help regional stability.
“If the base troops can maintain the regional stability, it will be probably welcomed by all the countries in the region,” the article said. Beijing is conscious that the move might result in opposition from the US, UK and France which has overseas military bases.
“Thirdly, the relationship between the big countries in the world. The establishment of the troop bases is sensitive to those big countries which have already set up the bases abroad,” the article said.
Something occurred in China yesterday, something
that may have been a magnitude 8.6 quake.
By Holly Deyo
error’ from three different seismic stations in three different countries? It’s funny, the USGS didn’t
report it. Whatever occurred, these seismic stations picked up something ‘interesting’.
MIRANSHAH: The death toll of people killed in drone strike in North Waziristan has reached to nine.
According to sources, drone fired four missiles in bordering area of Dattakhel last night. The hideout of militants belonged to Jalaluddin Haqani group, a car and an anti-aircraft gun had been targeted in the attack. Nine people were killed in the strike. The anti-aircraft gun was installed to target drones. A drone was destroyed five days ago in the area.
[Both Blair and Bush should be behind bars.]
Catherine Meyer – Time Magazine January 29, 2010
Anyone who attended the Jan. 29 session of Britain’s Iraq inquiry to watch Tony Blair crumble went home disappointed. When the nation’s former Prime Minister returns to center stage, he seldom fails to remind even his sharpest critics of his prodigious political skills — the very same skills that had enabled him to cajole dubious colleagues and a skeptical Parliament into reluctantly supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq. An inquiry panel of career diplomats and academics was never likely to dent his composure. (“They’re sitting there like chickens,” squawked an exasperated audience member during a break from proceedings.) Yet Blair’s light grilling still produced a major eye opener: as opponents of the Iraq conflict waited in vain for an apology or some gratifying symptom of inner regret, Blair instead used the platform to argue for opening a new battlefront — against Iran.
The inquiry was established to learn the lessons of Iraq. Chief among these lessons is that dangerous regimes that may have weapons of mass destruction must be confronted, according to Blair, and he made sure the inquiry was in no doubt that Iran sits at the top of his personal axis of evil. “When I look at the way Iran today links up with terror groups … a large part of the destabilization of the Middle East … comes from Iran,” he said. As for taking action to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, that’s “for the leaders of today to decide. My judgment is you don’t take any risks with this issue,” Blair added.
This was vintage Blair, linking his unpopular — and for many Britons, discredited — military adventure against a regime that proved as pathetic as it was pathological to the specter of a very different regime, one that is widely reviled by a substantial number of the human-rights activists and libertarians who most fiercely decry the Iraq war. And unlike Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Iran does have a nuclear program, although no hard evidence has yet been produced that it is using that program to produce weapons.
An interviewer for a BBC religious-affairs program broadcast last December asked Blair what he would have done if he had realized before the war that Saddam had no WMD. “I would still have thought it right to remove him,” Blair replied. He refined that response — which could have been legally risky, since WMD, not desire for regime change, provided the official justification for British action — during his Iraq-inquiry testimony. “Sometimes what is important is not to ask the March 2003 question but to ask the 2010 question,” he said. (Remember, the hallmark of a true politician is the ability to interview oneself.) “Supposing we had backed off this military action, supposing we had left Saddam and his sons, who were going to follow him, in charge of Iraq. He had used chemical weapons, caused the death of over a million people.”
“What we now know is that he retained absolutely the intent and the intellectual know-how to restart a nuclear and a chemical-weapons program when the inspectors were out and the sanctions changed, which they were going to do,” he continued. “Now, I think that it is at least arguable that he was a threat, that had we taken that decision to leave him there, with an oil price not $25 but $100 a bbl., he would have had the intent, he would have had the financial means, and we would have lost our nerve.”
That analysis, combined with Blair’s contention that the weapons inspectors had no chance of success no matter how much time they were given — not because there was nothing to find but because Saddam had no intention of cooperating with them, Blair argued in a piece of logic unlikely to assuage his critics — explains the former Prime Minister’s unshakable tranquillity. Blair harbors “not a regret for removing Saddam Hussein,” he told his inquisitors. “I believe he was a monster.”
Of course, a monster is pretty much how protesters at the daylong hearing saw Blair himself. Besuited and wearing Blair masks smeared with stage blood, a trio of demonstrators held aloft a casket emblazoned with the motto “The Blood Price.” Relatives of military casualties who had failed to secure seats in the hearing kept a vigil outside its doors, alongside an array of protesters who still feel the need to publicly express their anger over Blair’s Iraq role. “I’m hoping he’s going to live in the U.S.A. after this. Him and Bush are … cronies, aren’t they?” asked pensioner John Howsam, who braved icy rain to make his point.
The object of all this emotion isn’t unmoved by it. But out of office, as in power, he is irrepressible. “In the end, [the war] was divisive, and I’m sorry about that,” said Blair, in his single use of the S word during his testimony. But, he continued, “if I’m asked if we’re safer and more secure [another question he put to himself], I believe indeed that we are.”
— With reporting by Meg Handley in London
Why Cyberconsciousness Won’t Takes Aeons to Evolve
Posted: Jan 29, 2010
Humanity is devoting some of its best minds, from a wide diversity of fields, to helping software achieve consciousness. The quest is not especially difficult as it is a capability that can be intelligently designed; there is no need to wait for it to naturally evolve.
Compared with biology, vitological consciousness will arise in a heartbeat. This is because the key elements of consciousness – autonomy and empathy – are amenable to software coding and thousands of software engineers are working on it. By comparison, the neural substrate for autonomy and empathy had to arise in biology via thousands of chance mutations. Furthermore, each such mutation had to materially advance the competitiveness of its recipient or else it had only a slight chance of becoming prevalent.
The differences between vitology and biology in the process of creating consciousness could not be starker. It is intelligent design versus dumb luck. In both cases Natural Selection is at play. However, for conscious vitology, any signs of consciousness get instantly rewarded with lots of copies and intelligent designers swarm to make it better. This is Darwinian Evolution at hyper-speed. With conscious biology, any signs of consciousness get rewarded only to the extent they prove useful in the struggle for biosphere survival. Any further improvements require patiently waiting through eons of gestation cycles for another lucky spin of genetic roulette. This traditional form of Darwinian Evolution is so glacial that it took over three billion years to achieve what vitology is accomplishing in under a century.
The people working hard to give vitology consciousness have a wide variety of motives. First, there are academicians who are deathly curious to see if it can be done. They have programmed elements of autonomy and empathy into computers. They even create artificial software worlds in which they attempt to mimic natural selection. In these artificial worlds software structures compete for resources, undergo mutations and evolve. The experimenters are hopeful that consciousness will evolve in their software as it did in biology, with vastly greater speed.
Another group of “human enzymes” aiming to catalyze software consciousness are gamesters. These (mostly) guys are trying to create as exciting a game experience as possible. Over the past several years the opponents at which a gamester aims have evolved from short lines (Pong; Space Invaders) to sophisticated human animations that modify their behavior based upon the attack. The game character that can make up its own mind idiosyncratically (autonomy) and engage in caring communications (empathy) will attract all the attention. Any other type of character will then appear as simplistic as Play Station 2.
Third and fourth groups focused on creating cyber-consciousness are medical and defense technologists. For the military cyberconsciousness solves the problem of engaging the enemy while minimizing casualties. By imbuing robot weapon systems with autonomy they can more effectively deal with the countless uncertainties that arise in a battlefield situation. It is not possible to program into a mobile robot system a specific response to every contingency. Nor is it very effective to control each robot system remotely based on video sent back to a distant headquarters. The ideal situation provides the robot system with a wide range of sensory inputs (audio, video, infrared) and a set of algorithms for making independent judgments as to how to best carry out orders in the face of unknown terrain and hostile forces. The work of one developer in this area has been described as follows:
“Ronald Arkin of the Georgia Institute of Technology, in Atlanta, is developing a set of rules of engagement for battlefield robots to ensure that their use of lethal force follows the rules of ethics. In other words, he is trying to create an artificial conscience. Dr. Arkin believes that there is another reason for putting robots into battle, which is that they have the potential to act more humanely than people. Stress does not affect a robot’s judgment in the way it affects a soldier’s.”
The algorithms suitable for a military conscience will not be difficult to adapt to more prosaic civilian requirements. Independent decision-making lies at the heart of Autonomy, one of the two touchstones of consciousness.
Meanwhile, medical cyber-consciousness is being pushed by the skyrocketing need to address Alzheimer’s and other diseases of aging. Alzheimer’s robs a great many older people of their mind while leaving their body intact. The Alzheimer patient could maintain their sense of self if they could off-load their mind onto a computer, while the biotech industry works on a cure. This is analogous to how an artificial heart (such as a left-ventricular assistance device or LVAD) off-loads a patient’s heart until a heart transplant can be found. Ultimately the Alzheimer’s patient will hope to download their mind back into a brain cleansed of amyloid plaques.
Indeed, using cyber-consciousness for mind transplants would be a way to provide any patient facing an end-stage disease a chance to avoid the Grim Reaper. While the patients will surely miss their bodies, the alternative will be to never have a body. At least with a medically provided cyber-conscious existence, the patient can continue to interact with their family, enjoy electronic media and hope for rapid advances in regenerative medicine and neuroscience.
The field of regenerative medicine will ultimately permit ectogenesis, the rapid growth outside of a womb of a fresh, adult-size body in as little as twenty months. This is the time it would take an embryo to grow to adult size if it continued to grow at the rate embryos develop during the first two trimesters. Advances in neuroscience will enable a cyber-conscious mind to be written back into (or implanted and interfaced with) neuronal patterns in a freshly regenerated brain.
Biotechnology companies are well aware that over 90% of an average person’s lifetime medical expenditures are spent during the very last portion of their life. Lives are priceless, and hence we deploy the best technology we can to mechanically keep people alive. Medical cyber-conscious mind support is the next logic step in our efforts to keep end-stage patients alive. The potential profits from such technology (health insurance would pay for it just like any other form of medically-necessary equipment) are an irresistible enticement for companies to allocate top people to the effort.
Health care needs for older people are also driving efforts to develop the empathetic branch of cyber-consciousness. There are not enough people to provide caring attention to the growing legion of senior citizens. As countries grow wealthy their people live longer, their birthrates decline below the replacement rate and, consequently, their senior citizens comprise an ever-larger percentage of the population. Among the OECD group of advanced countries, the dependency ratio, which measures the number of people over 65 to those between 20 and 65, is projected to grow from .2 currently to .5 by 2050. In other words, today there are five younger people to care for each older person, whereas in four decades there will be just two workers to care for each older person. There is a huge health care industry motivation to develop empathetic robots because just a small minority of younger people actually wants to take care of older people.
The seniors won’t want to be manhandled, nor will their offspring want to be guilt-ridden. Other than importing help from developing countries – which only postpones the issue briefly as those countries have gestating dependency ratio problems of their own – there is no solution but for the empathetic, autonomous robot. Grannies need – and deserve – an attentive, caring, interesting person with whom to interact. The only such persons that can be summoned into existence to meet this demand are manufactured software persons, i.e., empathetic, autonomous robots. Not surprisingly, empathetic machines are a focus of software development in the health care industry. Companies are putting expression-filled faces on their robots, and filling their code with the art of conversation.
Finally, the information technology (IT) industry itself is working on cyber-consciousness. The mantra of IT is user-friendly, and there is nothing friendlier than a person. A cyber-conscious house that we could speak to (prepare something I’d like for dinner, turn on a movie that I’d like) is a product for which people will pay a lot of money. A personal digital assistant that was smart, self-aware and servile will out-compete in the marketplace PDAs that are deaf, dumb and demanding. In short, IT companies have immense financial incentives to keep trying to make software as personable as possible. They are responding to these incentives by allocating floors of programmers to the cyberconsciousness task. Note how rapidly these programmers have arrogated into their programs the human pronoun “I”. Until cyberconsciousness began emerging, no one but humans and fictional characters could call themselves “I”. Suddenly, bits and building blocks of vitology are saying “how may I help you?,” “I’m sorry you’re having difficulty,” “I’ll transfer you to a human operator right away.” The programmers will have succeeded in birthing cyberconsciousness when they figure out how to make the human operator totally unnecessary. From their progress to date, this seems to be the goal. Add to this self-replication code, and conscious vitology has arrived.
In summary, humanity is devoting some of its best minds, from a wide diversity of fields, to helping software achieve consciousness. The quest is not especially difficult as it is a capability that can be intelligently designed; there is no need to wait for it to naturally evolve. As a result, cyberconscious will appear immediately on the heels of life-like vitology.
Unnatural Selection is Still Natural Selection.
Natural Selection is the name Darwin gave to Nature’s heartless process of dooming some species and variants of species to extinction, while favoring for a while others. The principal tool of Natural Selection is competition within a niche for scarce food. Losers don’t get enough food to reproduce, and hence they die out. Winners get the food, make the babies and pass on their traits, including the ones that make them superior competitors.
When environmental change eliminates much of the food, such as during an ice age, previously useful traits may become meaningless and former Natural Selection champions may quickly join the mountain of extinct losers. During such times Nature selects for traits that enable food gathering and reproduction in changing, or changed, environments. The cockroach has these traits.
Alternatively a new species may enter a niche, as when hominids entered the environment of the mammoth. In cases like this Nature might simply select the better killer, since it was not the mammoth’s food that interested Man, but the mammoth as food. Plants and animals will not only extinguish other species through starvation, they will also do so through direct extermination. All the while, Nature will carpet bomb all manner of species via environmental changes brought about by geophysics (e.g., volcanism) or astrophysics (e.g., asteroids).
Natural Selection is now acting upon software forms of life. In this case Nature’s tool is neither food nor violence. Instead, ey is using man as a tool, relying upon eir differential favoring of some self-replicating codes over others. Just as Nature started off with viruses in the biological world, ey is also flooding the vitological world with them. This is no doubt because viruses are the simplest types of self-replicating structures – they do nothing but self-replicate and plug themselves in somewhere (sometimes to great harm; other times to significant benefit). Molecular viruses spontaneously self-assembled out of inanimate molecules before anything more complicated did, and hence Natural Selection played with them first. Similarly, software viruses spontaneously man-assembled out of inanimate code before anything more complicated, and hence Natural Selection is playing with them first. As viruses randomly or with man’s help cobble together more functionality, then Natural Selection will play with the resultant complex entities.
Natural Selection is simply a kind of arithmetic for self-replicating entities. It is a tallying up of the results of what happens to self-replicating things in the natural world. Those that self-replicate more successfully are represented by a larger slice of the pie of life. There are many ways to self-replicate more successfully – grab resources better than others, kill others better than they can kill you, adapt to changes better than others. Nature doesn’t really care how one self-replicates more successfully. Ey just keeps track, via Natural Selection, by awarding the winners larger shares of the pie of life.
Since math is math, whether done by people or bees, Nature surely does not care if the agent of selection is human popularity rather than nutritional scarcity. Natural Selection is no less natural for humans being in the middle. Indeed, we have human intermediation to thank for thousands of recombinant DNA sub-species, hundreds of plant types and dozens of animal species. Thank Man for the household dog!
Man is now hard-at-work naturally selecting for the traits that make software more conscious. Humanity cannot resist an overwhelming urge to create unnatural life in the image of natural life. But this effort at Unnatural Selection is still Natural Selection. The end result will still be an arithmetic reordering of pie shapes and pie slices. The overall pie of life will be much larger, for it will now include vitology as well as biology. And within that larger pie, there will be slices accorded to each of the types of vitological life and biological life that successfully self-replicate in a changing environment. Mindclone consciousness will arrive vastly faster than its biological predecessor because Unnatural Selection is Natural Selection at the speed of intentionality.
Martine Rothblatt serves on the IEET Board of Trustees and is author of several books on satellite communications technology, gender freedom, genomics, and xenotransplantation.
(For more stories on Afghanistan and India click [ID:nAFPAK]
NEW DELHI, Jan 30 (Reuters) – India is willing to back efforts to seek peace with Taliban to stabilise Afghanistan, foreign minister S.M. Krishna said, indicating a softening of stand towards a group known to be close to rival Pakistan.
“We are willing to give it a try,” Krishna told the Times of India in an interview published on Saturday.
“If the Taliban meets the three conditions put forward — acceptance of the Afghan constitution, severing connections with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and renunciation of violence, and are accepted in the mainstream of Afghan politics and society, we could do business.”
India has sought to retain influence in Afghanistan to deter anti-India militant training camps there — which it accuses rival Pakistan of backing – and to more generally try and counter a militant Islamic surge threatening regional security. [TOTAL B.S. Afghans are fighting an occupation, not Indian assholes over two hundred miles away. Mr. Krishna is proffering a ludicrous excuse.]
It seeks to do so in part with a $1.2 billion aid spent on building roads and power lines that has won popular support.
Pakistan, which considers Afghanistan as a fall back position in the event of a war with India, says New Delhi is expanding its presence there to stir discontent inside Pakistan.
Krishna’s comments come after ministers from 60 countries met in London on Thursday to endorse a plan to win over Taliban foot soldiers with cash and jobs in a renewed effort to turn the tide in the eight-year-old war. [ID:nLDE60ROMM].
While accepting the reality of the new plan on the Taliban, Krishna made clear the Indian discomfort with the group, saying its fundamental assessment of the Taliban remained unchanged.
“We consider them to be terrorists who have close links with the al-Qaida and other terrorist groups,” he told the daily.
“We are next door and our experiences make it difficult for us to differentiate between good or bad Taliban,” he said, adding the West saw the group “from far away”.
Besides trying to lure away Taliban fighters from the insurgency, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has also offered to hold talks with the top leaders of the Taliban. The Taliban have not yet responded to his latest appeal. (Reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing bySanjeev Miglani)
BEIJING (Reuters) – China will suspend mutual military exchanges with the United States over its arms sales to Taiwan, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday.
“Considering the severe harm and disgusting effect of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese side has decided to suspend planned mutual military visits,” Xinhua quoted the Defense Ministry as saying.
[The Obama team is really playing with fire by pushing these front-line anti-missile missiles to Taiwan. It's not as if we don't need China to either keep buying our worthless Treasury paper or at least cash it in slowly, to prevent this sham of an economic "recovery" from being exposed to the world.]
FILE – In this July 20, 2006 photo, a U.S.-made Patriot missile is launched during the annual Han Kuang No. 22 exercises in Ilan County, 80 kilometers (49 miles) west of Taipei, Taiwan. The United States is planning to sell US$6.4 billion in arms, including Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles, mine hunter ships and information technology, to Taiwan, a move that will infuriate China and test whether President Barack Obama’s efforts to improve trust with Beijing will carry the countries through a tense time. (AP Photo/File) (AP)
The Associated Press
Saturday, January 30, 2010; 4:22 AM
BEIJING – China angrily summoned the U.S. ambassador on Saturday and warned that a plan to sell $6.4 billion in arms to Taiwan would harm already strained ties. One Chinese expert said the sale would give Beijing a “fair and proper reason” to accelerate weapons testing.
The planned sale, posted Friday on a Pentagon Web site, is likely to complicate the cooperation the U.S. seeks from China on issues ranging from Iran’s nuclear program to the loosening of Internet controls, including a Google-China standoff over censorship.
Cutoffs of military ties top the list of possible punishments that Chinese state media and academics have publicly discussed in recent weeks as Beijing repeatedly warned the U.S. against the arms sale.
The U.S. is “obstinately making the wrong decision,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday after Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei warned Ambassador Jon Huntsman that the sale would “cause
consequences that both sides are unwilling to see.” The vice minister urged that the sale be immediately canceled, it said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy, Susan Stevenson, confirmed that China expressed its views, and said the embassy had no comment.
The notification on the Pentagon Web site said the sale would include 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, 114 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles, mine-hunting ships and information technology. U.S. lawmakers have 30 days to comment on the proposed sale. Without objections, it would proceed.
Taiwan is the most sensitive issue in U.S.-China relations. China claims the self-governing island as its own, while the United States is Taiwan’s most important ally and largest arms supplier.
Though Taiwan’s ties with China have warmed considerably since Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou took office 20 months ago, Beijing has threatened to invade if the island ever formalizes its de facto independence.
Ma told reporters Saturday that the deal should not anger the mainland because the weapons are defensive, not offensive.
“The weapons sale decision will … allow us to have more confidence and sense of security in developing cross-Strait relations,” he said.
The United States, which informed China of the planned sale only hours before the announcement, acknowledged that Beijing may retaliate by temporarily cutting off military talks with Washington, which happened after the former Bush administration announced a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Taiwan in 2008.
Both sides have said they want to improve military ties, which have been frosty.
Experts warned that China could take further steps to underscore its newfound power and confidence in world affairs.
“Maybe the People’s Liberation Army will accelerate weapons testing, because this time we have a fair and proper reason to do so,” said Jin Canrong, a professor of international studies at China’s Renmin University.
Beijing has test-fired rockets in recent weeks for an anti-missile defense system in what security experts said was a display of anger at the pending arms sale.
“The U.S. will pay a price for this. Starting now, China will make some substantial retaliation, such as reducing cooperation on the North Korea and Iran nuclear issues and anti-terrorism work,” Jin added.
The arms package, however, dodges a thorny issue: more advanced F-16 fighter jets that Taiwan covets are not included.
The Pentagon’s decision not to include the fighters and a design plan for diesel submarines – two items Taiwan wants most – “shows that the Obama administration is deeply concerned about China’s response,” said Wang Kao-cheng, a defense expert at Taipei’s Tamkang University.
China has more than 1,000 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan. The U.S. government is bound by law to ensure the island is able to respond to Chinese threats.
Other possible targets for punishments from China over the planned arms sale include a dialogue on human rights that President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao had agreed to reconvene by late February.
Some Chinese scholars have suggested that China should flex its economic muscle by blacklisting U.S. defense firms involved in the arms package.
“China has more bargaining chips now than before,” said Shuai Hua-ming, a ruling Nationalist Party lawmaker in Taiwan.
Associated Press writers Foster Klug and Robert Burns in Washington, Charles Hutzler in Beijing and Annie Huang in Taipei contributed to this report.
KABUL (AFP) – The Taliban denied Saturday that leaders of the Islamist group fighting to overthrow the Afghan government had met with UN representatives to discuss bringing peace to Afghanistan.
The Taliban issued a statement branding reports of a meeting with the UN’s outgoing special representative to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, in Dubaithis month as “rumours” and “propaganda”.
Referring to itself as “the leading council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” — as it did during its 1996-2001 rule of the war-torn nation — the group said the reports were “propaganda by the invading forces against the jihad and mujahideen”.
“The leading council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly denies the rumours reported by some international media about talks between Kai Eide and representatives of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the Taliban said.
“To defuse this (propaganda) we insist on continuing our holy Islamic jihad against the enemy,” it said in a statement, referring to the US and NATO forces fighting the Taliban insurgency.
The statement said the Taliban’s refusal to negotiate peace had ensured that an international conference in London on Thursday, attended by around 70 countries, was a failure.
“Now in an effort to recover their military and political prestige, the enemies are resorting to a propaganda conspiracy,” it said.
The reports that Eide had met with Taliban figures emerged after the conference, which aimed to thrash out a roadmap for Afghanistan’s future with one of the main themes being the social reintegration of Taliban fighters.
A UN official revealed that “active members of the insurgency” had met Eide this month, at their request, to discuss peace talks.
Kai Eide met the men in Dubai, reportedly on January 8, and details were shared with the Afghan government, the official said on condition of anonymity.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who hosted the conference, declined Friday to comment on the reported meeting, calling it an “allegation”.
Asked to comment while attending the annual World Economic Forum meeting in the Swiss Alps, Miliband said tersely: “You’ll have to talk to the UN about that, because that’s an allegation that’s been run in the newspapers.”
The Taliban had already dismissed the London conference as a propaganda ploy, calling US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown ”war-mongering rulers” who wanted “to deceive the people of the world… that people still support them”.
The statement also dismissed a plan by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to woo what he and Western leaders refer to as Taliban “moderates” — essentially unemployed and poor men who fighting for cash rather than ideology — with offers of money and jobs.
“They announce that they will provide money, employment and opportunity to have a comfortable life abroad for those mujahedeen who agree to part ways with jihad,” the Taliban said in an earlier statement.
“This is baseless and futile,” it said. “Had the aim of the mujahedeen of the Islamic Emirate been obtainment of material goals, they would accept dominance of the invaders in the first place.”
And it criticised the Afghan government as corrupt, describing as fraudulent the recent presidential election, after which Karzai, linked to a high proportion of bogus ballots, was declared victor.
“Traffickers of intoxicating items, human rights violators, corrupt persons, national traitors and usurpers of people’s private property grabbed power,” it said.
Karzai’s government is backed by 113,000 troops US and NATO troops, with another 40,000 being deployed this year, bringing the fight to the Taliban, who many military officials say are starting to show signs of battlefield fatigue.
Nevertheless, the usual winter slowdown in fighting has failed to materialise, with foreign troop deaths at 44 for this month, compared to 25 for January 2009.
The latest deaths came on Friday, according to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which released a brief statement saying that two US soldiers and a US civilian were killed in eastern Afghanistan.
An ISAF spokesman confirmed to AFP the “employee” was an American civilian but said no further information was available on what happened or where.
GHAZNI (Reuters) – NATO troops clashed with their Afghan army allies and called in air strikes, killing four Afghan soldiers and wounding six, Afghan provincial officials said Saturday.
Shahedullah Shahed, spokesman for the governor of Wardak province southwest of Kabul, said foreign forces and Afghan troops were both conducting operations Friday night in the province when they started shooting at each other.
“Four army soldiers were killed and six wounded when a foreign forces air strike hit their post,” he said. “We don’t know why it happened, but it is deeply regrettable.”
He said the strike had targeted an Afghan Army outpost in the area that had been newly established.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed that an “incident” had taken place between Western and Afghan security forces, but declined to give further details.
“We are working with the Ministry of Defense to determine the facts of the incident,” said U.S. Army Lieutenant Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the force.
The births of deformed babies in Gaza has increased since the Israeli offensive which took place last year, Palestinian doctors claim.
Most recently a woman gave birth to a child at the Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip which was severely deformed, the baby boy’s face was malformed, his nose is flattened, there is reddish-brownish skin discoloration and the limbs are short with the feet curling in, a similar shape to a gorilla’s.
The child, unsurprisingly nicknamed ‘Gorilla Baby’ was abandoned by his parents. The mother and father of the little boy have left the hospital and refuse to go back and claim the baby, so he will remain under the hospital’s custody until other arrangements can be made.
Doctors at the hospital say that Gorilla Baby and a host of other mutated children are not the result of genetic conditions, they point the finger squarely at the use of white phosphorus by the Israeli armed forces.