Violence Welcomes China Ramadan

Violence Welcomes China Ramadan

OnIslam & News Agencies

The violence occurred as China’s Muslims prepare to celebrate Ramadan on Monday

BEIJING – A day before the start of the holy fasting month for China’s Muslims, at least 11 people were killed in a series of attacks in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

“There were cries and blood everywhere … Terrified people flooded into our office to hide,” Yang Hongmei, a female resident in Xinjaing, told the official Xinhua news agency.

At least eight people were killed when two attacks rocked the far-west city of Kashgar before two gunmen using knives went on assaulting residents.

“Our security guards tried to save the residents while our manager attempted to subdue an attacker by holding him, but the man had a knife and stabbed him in his abdomen,” said Yang.

Three people, including a policeman, were also killed and 28 injured in an explosion in the same city.

The attacks came less than two weeks after 18 people were killed in an attack in the restive Xinjiang region.

China and the Afghan Endgame

China and the Afghan Endgame

BEIJING – Ever since US President Barack Obama decided to begin withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan, global interest in what role (if any) China will play in determining that war-ravaged country’s future has grown dramatically. After all, China is not merely a neighbor of Afghanistan, but the world’s most important rising power – indeed, a “world power,” as Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff proclaimed in Beijing this past June.

If China proves itself willing to help shore up Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration, it will not seek to gain any immediate advantage from the withdrawal of US forces. But, despite the billions of dollars China has invested in developing Afghanistan’s natural resources, it is hard to see it undertaking a policy of broader and proactive engagement there.

One reason why China is wary of assuming a bigger role in Afghanistan, despite the country’s undoubted importance for regional stability, is that America’s war there has been controversial in China from the outset. Chinese nationalists believe that the war was undertaken by the US partly in order to place its military near one of China’s most sensitive borders. Moreover, to supply its Afghan forces, the US deepened its military footprint in Central Asia by renting the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, which also shares a border with China.

In the eyes of Chinese nationalists, these efforts were all the part of an American conspiracy to encircle China. Thus, Chinese nationalists can’t wait to see the back of America’s Afghan military presence.

For Chinese strategic realists, any support for America’s efforts to help end the Afghan insurgency should be part of a broader China-US bargain. China might agree not to undermine America as it withdraws only if the US agrees to rethink its arms sales to Taiwan, or to pull back from its commitment to support Japan’s claims to the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, the ownership of which China disputes. Obviously, such deals will be unwelcome in the US.

Given that neither Chinese foreign-policy camp believes that it will get what it wants out of cooperating with the US, both simply want America’s withdrawal to happen as soon as possible, without concern for what Afghanistan will look like afterwards. For both camps, only great-power politics matters for China’s national security, and if diplomacy cannot influence the balance of power, there is little reason to engage with an issue.

For Chinese liberals, Afghanistan is fraught with ethnic threats. By recklessly denying China’s request to extradite Uighur extremists to China for trial, the US showed scant regard for an issue of paramount importance – the threat posed to China’s hard-won unity by separatists. Muslim Uighurs from Xinjiang province were captured in Taliban training campus and jailed at Guantánamo Bay with other international terrorists from 2002 through 2009. China thought their extradition necessary to undercutting international sympathy for Uighur independence seekers. But the US worried about the potential for human-rights abuses in China and rejected the Uighurs’ extradition.

Indeed, former President George W. Bush welcomed Rebiya Kadeer, a leader of the exiled Uighur independence movement, to the White House, embittering many Chinese. And given that the Uighur bastion of Xinjiang is close to China’s borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US was unwise to raise Chinese hackles in this way.

Of course, a stable, orderly, and secular Afghanistan serves China’s interests as much as it benefits the rest of the world. Yet few Chinese are willing to confess that the US-led Afghanistan war, which removed the Taliban and Al Qaeda from their dominant roles in the country, improved China’s domestic security. That refusal is clearly the result of the “structural” ambivalence that now exists between the US and China.

The extent to which China will engage Afghanistan positively will depend in large part on whether China rids itself of the prevailing zero-sum mindset and facilitates America’s military withdrawal by doing what it can to stabilize the country.

China can help by stiffening the resolve of Pakistan’s military to move more aggressively to contain Taliban extremists on its territory; open border regions to help resupply NATO forces in Afghanistan; and invest in the country’s infrastructure. Indeed, China’s relations with Pakistan have assumed greater importance recently, owing to the tensions that now exist between Pakistan and the US.

The Obama administration’s challenge nowadays is to calibrate its recent suspension of some military aid to Pakistan in order to maximize its leverage without pushing the government even closer to the extremists. By working with the US on Pakistan, China can help secure its own interest in a strong Pakistani campaign against the militants on its territory. Regardless of the Bush-era disputes with the US over the Uighur prisoners at Guantánamo, China is in a better position to tell its “all-weather” friends in Islamabad that stabilizing Afghanistan is not only an American objective, but a significant Chinese goal as well.

China’s cooperation may not be essential to defeating Al Qaeda and other militants in Afghanistan, but it will be if lasting peace and stability is to be realized. Chinese and US interests in Afghanistan are unlikely ever to be perfectly aligned, but the two sides can and must learn to cooperate for their own benefit, and that of the region. The challenge for China is to exert its power and influence in a way that harmonizes with the US, despite widespread displeasure among Chinese at America’s position on a variety of issues, from Taiwan to the East and South China seas.

Zhu Feng is Deputy Director of the Center for International & Strategic Studies, Peking University.

Zhu Feng   

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011.
http://www.project-syndicate.org

Motorcycle-Riding Assassins Gun-Down Lashkar Leader In Tank

Tribal elder killed by militants in northwest Pakistan

From Rezaul H Laskar
Islamabad, July 31 (PTI) Suspected Taliban fighters today shot dead a pro-government tribal elder involved in efforts to repatriate tribesmen who had fled their homes in northwest Pakistan due to fighting between militants and security forces.

The militants, who were riding a motorcycle, shot tribal elder Malik Arsala Khan in the crowded main market of Tank district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, police officer Shah Nawaz Khan said.

The attackers fled after the incident.

Malik Arsala Khan was appointed chief of a “peace committee” or pro-government militia four months ago, when the government began repatriating internally displaced persons to the restive South Waziristan Agency.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Officials said nearly 200 tribal elders have been killed by Taliban militants over the past five years in South Waziristan Agency, which is located near Tank district.

The Taliban have warned tribal elders and government- backed ”lashkars” or militias against bringing people back to areas where the army is conducting operations against militants.

The government and security forces have stepped up efforts to repatriate displaced people to areas that have been cleared of the Taliban after military operations.

Thousands of people fled homes when security forces launched a major operation against the Taliban in South Waziristan in October 2009.

The army subsequently declared victory over the militants in South Waziristan, the birthplace of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, early last year.

Recent attacks on security forces have raised fears about the presence of militants in some parts of the tribal district.

The Taliban have said they will continue their attacks on security forces.

China to give squadron of J10-B fighters to Pakistan

China to give squadron of J10-B fighters to Pakistan

Islamabad, July 30: Taking bilateral defence relations to a new high, China will give Pakistan a squadron of the advanced J-10B fighter aircraft, a media report said.
The offer was made by senior Chinese military leaders to visiting Pakistan Army’s Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Waheed Arshad, the Urdu daily Jang reported Saturday, quoting defence sources.
The J-10B fighters are equipped with the latest weapons and Pakistan will be the first country, after China, to have these advanced aircraft, it said.
During his visit, Lt.Gen.Arshad was assured that the defence relationship between the two countries will reach new heights and China’s efforts for the safety and security of Pakistan will be never-ending. IANS

When Obama Smiles Like That, You Know That We Are _ucked

Bloomberg Reports Tentative Debt Ceiling Deal Reached Minutes Ago

posted by VICTORIA PYNCHON

Bloomberg appears to be the first news source to report that a tentative deal on the debt ceiling has finally been reached between the GOP and the White House. As Bloomberg reported just minutes ago,

The White House and congressional Republicans have found the framework of an agreement to increase the nation’s debt ceiling that would raise borrowing authority through the next presidential election, a person familiar with the talks said late last night.

The tentative outlines of the accord include spending cuts of $1 trillion and creation of a special committee to recommend additional savings of up to $1.8 trillion. The new panel would have to act before the Thanksgiving congressional recess in late November or government programs including Defense and Medicare would face automatic, across-the-board cuts, the person said.

With the debt ceiling threat eliminated, the process of choosing federal programs to cut will begin. Those negotiations and the political drama surrounding them will likely consume the public’s attention during the 2012 Presidential race. If the Democrats in the Senate accept the deal cut by their President, they will be handing the GOP the victory it sought – dramatically slashing the federal budget without requiring new taxes or even raising revenues by eliminating costly tax exemptions to the wealthiest Americans.

Although the markets may well favorably react to the news, it does nothing to solve the most serious problems facing the country, including our participation in three wars, nine percent unemployment and a burgeoning class of retirees, many of whom lost jobs, property and retirement funds in the economic crash only banks and other financial institutions the likes of JP Morgan, US Bancorp and American Express are recovering from with aid from the U.S. government.

How American voters will react to deep cuts to federal programs meant to stimulate the economy and decrease unemployment in 2012  is as unpredictable as the brinksmanship the public has just endured over the debt ceiling.

RAF Conducts Its Libyan Operations from Cyprus, Twenty Miles From Base Explosion

AKROTIRI air base near Limassol was yesterday officially designated the British command centre for any international military operation on Libya, British bases authorities confirmed.  March 20, 2011

The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are two British-administered areas comprising a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprusadministered as Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom.

Turkish Cypriot president says British bases are considered sovereign in island

Published: 3/21/2011

Turkish Cypriot president said on Monday that the British bases were considered sovereign in Cyprus under the 1960 Zurich and London Agreements.

President Dervis Eroglu of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said when the Republic of Cyprus was being founded in 1960, Britain made bases on Cyprus be accepted as “sovereign.”

“Therefore, there is nothing to intervene,” Eroglu said when commenting on use of British bases in Cyprus during the military operation on Libya.

Eroglu said TRNC wanted establishment of an administration in Libya with the will of the nation.

“The bombardment should not harm civilians in Libya,” Eroglu said.

The USA, the United Kingdom and France have launched an air strike against Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi’s forces to enforce a UN resolution imposing a ban on all flights in Libyan airspace, excluding aid flights, and authorising member states to “take all necessary measures” to “protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack”. Al-Qadhafi has ruled Libya for more than 40 years. An uprising against him began last month after the long-time leaders of neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt were toppled.

Moreover, Eroglu said Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots were a bit away from an agreement that could be accepted by the two parties.

Eroglu said Turkish Cypriots were doing their best to reach an agreement, however he could not say that a progress had been made in ongoing negotiations.

The Greek Cypriots should know that the Turkish Cypriots had the right to live in Cyprus as much as themselves, Eroglu said.

Eroglu said the Greek Cypriots did not feel any obligation to reach an agreement with the Turkish Cypriots as they were a member of the European Union (EU), adding that there could not be a unilateral settlement.

More Garbage About Afghan Taliban “Reconciliation”/Sell-Out Psyop

[This is from the Indian press and for all we know, it may be total bullshit.  Does anyone really know anything about this alleged “negotiation with the Taliban” psyop, other than the drivel released through the Western media?  As far as I can tell, the West is looking for people connected with the Taliban resistance, who are willing and able to sell their movement out.  Whoever can help NATO put the Taliban in a box in the south will wind-up with half a country and a good start on the next Afghan civil war.]

War and priests

Battling for peace: Rocketi and Zaeef / Photo: Syed Nazakat

NEIGHBOURS

Five mullahs hold the key in Afghan peace talks

By Syed Nazakat

At the centre of US President Barack Obama’s plan to have an honourable exit from Afghanistan are five key figures—former Taliban commanders Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, Mullah Abdul Salam Rocketi, Mullah Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Tayeb Agha. Obama’s war advisers have been talking to them in an effort to shift the focus from the battleground to negotiation.
Zaeef, a co-founder of the Taliban, has in recent months received American and European diplomats at his home in Kabul’s Pashtun-dominated Khush-Haal neighbourhood. Unlike other Taliban commanders who defected after the US-led forces swept Afghanistan, Zaeef still has credibility with the Taliban fighters and his views are said to reflect those of the Taliban leadership. “There are many foreign dignitaries who have asked my opinion and advice,” Zaeef told THE WEEK on phone. “I told them, ‘If you are sincere, we can end the war without further bloodshed’.”

The peace initiative has also made Rocketi, former Taliban military chief of Jalalabad and once a close aide of Taliban chief Mullah Omar, a central figure. Rocketi’s connections with Taliban commanders in the turbulent southern Afghanistan and his relationship with members of parliament have made him a good interlocutor. Muttawakil, former foreign minister, was one of the Taliban commanders invited by the Saudi king in 2008 to initiate the peace talks.

An Afghan tribal leader told THE WEEK that the Taliban leaders who had spoken to him wanted to end the war. He said they preferred direct talks with the US without Pakistan’s intervention. “They know the trouble in Afghanistan started because of foreign interventions—whether it was Russia, the US or Pakistan. We have to decide our fate on our own,” he said.
Reconciliation, however, is a delicate task. Omar, who has been hiding—presumably in  Pakistan—since the fall of Kandahar in 2001, is not a participant in the ongoing talks, nor does he attend the secret meetings of the Taliban leadership council. When he does communicate, it is through written statements. Therefore, one purpose of the peace initiative is to reach Omar and to know who among his close circle, if any, might be willing to negotiate.

To facilitate talks, a UN Security Council resolution has removed 14 Taliban leaders from the sanctions list. More importantly, the US has engaged Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Tayeb Agha to persuade the Taliban. Baradar, Omar’s brother-in-law and his second-in-command, was captured in Karachi last year. According to a senior Afghan official, Baradar is now willing to be a part of the peace jirga.
However, it could be the youngest of the five mullahs, 30-year-old Agha, who is likely to lead the negotiations. A former personal assistant to Omar, he is in contact with the Taliban leaders in Quetta shura and has reportedly participated in at least three meetings with US negotiators.

But the pursuit of peace can be risky. The Taliban, despite having suffered massive losses in the past 10 years, controls areas in southern Afghanistan and, in the past two years, has even spread to the comparatively peaceful northern regions. This has alarmed the non-Pashtun, anti-Taliban militias, who are vehemently against the negotiations. A civil war along ethnic lines is a possibility. And then there is Pakistan, which has a history of interfering in Afghanistan by training and arming militias it favours.

Taliban Leader Disputes News Reports About Expelling Hakeemullah

North Waziristan Taliban leader Bahadar denies reports he expelled ‘militants’

By BILL ROGGIO

The top Taliban leader in Pakistan’s lawless tribal agency of North Waziristan has denied that he ordered other “militants” to vacate areas under his control.

Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the emir of the Taliban in North Waziristan, said recent reports that he ordered Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan leader Hakeemullah Mehsud and others to leave the tribal agency were “fabricated.” Bahadar made the statement through his official spokesman, Ahmadullah Ahmadi, according to The News.

Ahmadi warned Pakistani reporters not to attribute false statements and said the Taliban had launched an investigation into the reports.

“We always respected journalists and will continue our cooperation with them in future as well but request them to show honesty and professionalism while writing about sensitive issues,” Ahmadi told The News. “We will not tolerate those involved in defaming the Taliban by such fabricated stories.”

As recently as July 26, a report emerged at IRNA that Bahadar’s Shura-e-Mujahideen had issued a “last warning to those who had attacked the [Pakistani] security forces” after Pakistani troops were killed in an IED attack in North Waziristan. “They should avoid any such action in future otherwise practical steps would be taken against them,” read the statement attributed to Bahadar.

Ahmadi also claimed that there were no “militants” in North Waziristan, and that Bahadar’s Taliban faction has lived up to its terms of a peace agreement with the Pakistani military. But, as documented here at The Long War Journal numerous times, Bahadar provides support and shelter for top al Qaeda leaders as well as terrorists from numerous Pakistani and Central Asian terror groups, including the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

North Waziristan serves as a base for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and non-aligned Taliban groups, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Group, and a host of Pakistani terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Punjabi Taliban.

The Religion of Evil

The Religion of Evil

The Moscow Times

While the left argues with the right and nationalists argue with pro-Westerners, a new ideology has arisen in society that has the potential to win supremacy over the minds of the masses.

People do not have faith in free-market forces, much less in the government. In place of all the failed ideologies of recent decades, people are believing more in conspiracy theories.

But this is not to say these people believe that conspiracies are behind specific events or phenomena. The conspiracy theories have more to do with a new global vision, a worldview contending that every social event of any significance is being guided by some external and inexorable evil force.

According to this theory, an anonymous elite uses the political process to manipulate and control people’s behaviors: The financial and political elite stage revolutions, organize economic crises and finance social discontent. In short, they control the global chaos.

To Russian adherents of this type of conspiracy theory, the United States is the main conspirator, regardless of which president is in the White House. These adherents exploit the cultural baggage accumulated during the Soviet era for their own purposes.

The difference is that Soviet propaganda critical of the United States was focused on exposing the evils of capitalism, whereas the current criticisms serve as an excuse and a cover for Russia’s own corrupt form of state capitalism.

There is no talk of the universal shortcomings of capitalism that affect Russia and the West equally, but only of the ill will of the Americans who, for some reason, have supposedly sent economic and political crises to Russia.

Believers in modern conspiracy theories assert that even floods, tsunamis and earthquakes are the handiwork of evil plotters.

We are thus confronted by the appearance of a new and pagan religion. The world is not guided by the will of a single, benevolent higher power, but by a vast number of conflicting dark forces.

What’s more, adherents of this belief hold that the only way to counter this threat is not to oppose evil with good but to oppose it with even more powerful evil.

What is the secret behind the stunning success of this religion of evil? It frees the common man of any responsibility for his life and actions. It does not promise him the ability to influence the course of history or even to be the master of his own behavior. Rather than promote the idea that people are nothing but cattle, this belief system is the natural outcome of people who agree with this assessment.

This belief in an all-embracing conspiracy not only reinforces people’s tendency to view themselves as little more than cattle, but also makes them smugly self-satisfied in rejecting enlightenment and reason. Even worse, they consider any grassroots attempt to change society from below, including social protest, as pointless.

The people’s reflexive tendency to pacify themselves and to rationalize their own passivity is what finally transforms people completely into cattle.

As the joke about the psychologist says: “The treatment was a success: The patient continues to wet his bed, but now he is proud of it.”

Boris Kagarlitsky is director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.

Eight Afghans killed by Tajik forces

Eight Afghans killed by Tajik forces

Posted on July 29, 2011

AIBAK (NNI): Eight Afghan citizens were killed by Tajik forces after they crossed the border into the neighbouring country from northern Samangan province, residents said, but local officials expressed unawareness about the incident.According to an Afghan based news agency, a former member of the Wolesi Jirga, Ahmad Khan Samangani said that a 45-member group of Afghans went to Tajikistan for tourism few weeks back.They were arrested by Tajik forces while collecting herb plants in Kolab area, he said, claiming four of the detainees were killed four days after their arrest.Samangani said he had shared the incident with parliament and had called for seriously investigating into the killings.He also said the Wolesi Jirga secretary had promised to take up the issue with Tajikistan embassy in Kabul.A resident of Gul Qishlaq village in Aibak city, Hafizullah, said his brother Abdul Samad along with 44 others people from Samangan had gone to Tajikistan with a trader Haji Faqir 45 days ago.He added that a dozen of Afghans who were able to escape had reached northern Takhar province through Badakhshan.Mohammadullah, one of the escapees, said that the dead bodies of his eight friends had been transferred to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, by Tajik soldiers and relatives of the victims had been informed that the bodies had been released to Afghan embassy in Tajikistan.Samangan Governor Faizullah Anosh said he had no details about the incident.A relative of one of the victims, Asadullah, said the dead Afghans were of ages between 20 and 30 and they were residents of Tota, Gul Qishlaq and Orlamsh and Hazrat Sultan districts of Samangan.Calls seeking comments in this reagard from the Ministry of Interior and Foreign Affairs were not answered.

Taliban didn’t kill Kandahar mayor, daughter says

‘Corrupt people’ working for government among those family blames for slaying

BY WILLIAM MARSDEN, THE GAZETTE

Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haider Hameedi, 63, was killed this week because he was a fearless crusader against corruption at all levels of Kandahar’s governments, his daughter says.

“It was not the Taliban who killed him,” Rangina, 34, said.

Rangina, who said she was her father’s closest confidante, said “criminals and thieves and corrupt people working for the government” killed her father.

Hameedi was killed Wednesday morning in the courtyard garden of city hall by a suicide bomber who had concealed the explosives in his turban. While the Taliban have claimed responsibility, they have been known to take credit for killings in which they had no real involvement.

Rangina said Afghan “gangsters” often worked with the Taliban, but it was not the Taliban who killed him.

When she was reminded that he was killed by a suicide bomber, she laughed and said: “These corrupt gangsters are capable of doing anything.”

She said her father was a man of powerful convictions. “He believed that if the criminals in government saw that honesty was the best way to help the people they would change their ways.”

Rangina said her father knew he was a marked man, not from the Taliban but “from the corrupt people in the Karzai government.”

Hameedi grew up in the city and was working as an accountant in the Afghan government’s Finance Department when the Soviets invaded in 1978. He fled Afghanistan in 1981 and eventually moved to the United States with his three daughters and two sons.

His daughter Wazma, 42, lives in Toronto and was visiting Kandahar when her father was killed.

Hameedi was considered the only politician who tried to improve the city by building schools, imposing health regulations, installing sidewalks and lighting, and helping to create low-cost housing projects.

The mayor was well known for exposing corrupt officials and power brokers who had seized government land for their own financial benefit.

Eight months ago, he bulldozed a market with 100 shops owned by a powerful clan in Kandahar called the Mazalai. The land was located behind the governor’s palace and belonged to the city. The land had been slated for the construction of a school.

More recently, he planned to take back government land that corrupt businessmen had seized to build housing so they could collect rents. Many had built walls around the parcels of land they seized but had not yet built houses.

Hameedi wanted to tear down the walls and divide the land into 2,000 small lots to be sold at low prices to lowincome people, government workers and teachers.

“He wanted to legalize it all and anybody who had built a house on the land already would be allowed to stay but with a smaller lot,” Rangina said.

She said her father never hesitated to confront and expose people who tried to bribe him and often warned representatives of coalition forces about corrupt officials or businessmen.

Hameedi believed, for instance, that a contractor paid by Canada to install solar lighting in the city was using substandard solar panels.

He also imposed health regulations on food production. For instance, he forced bakeries to use natural gas instead of burning wood or plastics that polluted the air.

Rangina said that unless the West stops Pakistan from arming and giving insurgents a safe haven, there will be no peace in Afghanistan.

She runs the only business in Kandahar that is owned by a woman. It’s called Kandahar Treasures and it markets Afghan scarves and purses and other items made by Afghan women.

She said she plans to leave the country. “There is nothing left for me here,” she said. “It is very difficult to have hope for the immediate future.”

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

The Price of Our Imperial Wars Hitting Home, With Frontline Troops Hoping Their Wives Get Paid

“My soul aches when I think about hungry soldiers, unpaid officers and their families, who have been suffering for years without a home of their own.”–Boris Yeltsin

Anxiety in Afghanistan over troops pay if US defaults

* Aug. 2 deadline raises anxiety for U.S. troops

* Fallout on U.S. forces from a default unknown

* U.S. troops seen reporting for duty regardless

By Phil Stewart

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, July 30 (Reuters) – It is unclear if the United States will be able to pay troops on time in the event of a debt default, the top U.S. military officer told troops in Afghanistan on Saturday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Pentagon officials were working hard to plan for a potential default but cautioned that the circumstances were extraordinary.

“So I honestly can’t answer that question,” he told troops at Kandahar air base in southern Afghanistan, as several expressed anxiety over budget wrangling in Washington.

Potentially suspending pay to U.S. forces waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is an extremely sensitive subject in the United States and Mullen acknowledged that many troops lived paycheck to paycheck.

“So if paychecks were to stop, it would have a devastating impact,” Mullen said, answering questions from troops.

“I’d like to give you a better answer than that right now, I just honestly don’t know,” he said.

The United States has warned that it will run out of money to pay all of its bills after Aug. 2 without a deal from Congress to raise a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Where U.S. troops fall in priority for payment in a default has not been made clear.

With $172 billion of revenue between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31, the U.S. Treasury could fully fund Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid, interest on the debt, defense vendor payments and unemployment insurance, found a study by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center.

But that would leave entire government departments — such as Labor, Commerce, Energy and Justice — unfunded, and many others unpaid, like active-duty troops and the federal workforce.

Mullen said he believed that troops would be paid eventually, and added that there was an expectation U.S. forces, seen as essential to national security, would need to show up for work.

“I have confidence that at some point in time whatever compensation you were owed you will be given,” he said.

“But I don’t know mechanically exactly how that would happen. And it is a huge concern.”

While a group of congressmen pushed forward a bill this week to ensure that the active military servicemen still get paid in the case of default, there’s no firm plan yet.

The White House hasn’t made any assurances and neither has the Treasury Department.

Some financial organizations that service military clients, like USAA and the Andrews Federal Credit Union, have stepped up to say that they will advance pay if there is a default. (Editing byMichelle Nichols)

NATO Bombing Libyan TV In Vain Attempt To Win Propaganda War

[Qaddaffi’s words seem to be a bigger threat than his weaponry.  Just as in the NATO aggression in the former Yugoslavia, Western interventionists try to silence the cameras and voice recorders, while they attempt to enforce an Islamist government on the people there.  In Serbia, TV and radio stations were hit repeatedly to create the news blackout needed to provide cover to NATO’s monstrous deeds.  Libyan infrastructure, like that in Serbia is being reduced to rubble to force primitive conditions upon the civilized people, hoping to break their will to resist.]

Radio Television Serbia- April 22, 1999

Libya conflict: Nato targets TV satellite dishes

Nato says it has disabled three Libyan state TV satellite transmission dishes in the capital, Tripoli, through a “precision air strike”.

It said the operation was intended to stop “inflammatory broadcasts” by Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Nato said it was in the process of assessing the effect of the strike.

Libyan state TV broadcasts remained on air following the Nato statement about the raid.

Coalition forces began operations in Libya in March, under a UN mandate authorising military action for the protection of civilians.

Libyan rebels began an uprising against Col Gaddafi in February. Despite Nato’s intervention, they have struggled to break a military deadlock.

A Nato statement said the strike was “performed by Nato fighter aircraft using state-of-the-art precision guided munitions”, and that there had been “due consideration and careful planning to minimise the risks of casualties”.

“Our intervention was necessary as TV was being used as an integral component of the regime apparatus designed to systematically oppress and threaten civilians and to incite attacks against them,” it said.

It said the strike would “reduce the regime’s ability to oppress civilians” but also “preserve television broadcast infrastructure that will be needed after the conflict”.

Reports from Tripoli said a series of loud explosions were heard in the city centre late on Friday evening.

Libyan state TV reported that civilian targets had been hit, though this could not be verified.

The Libyan capital has been a regular target for Nato air strikes in recent weeks.

Setting Western Eurasia On Fire, While NATO Slips Into Central Asia

[The would-be masters of the known universe are betting their asses on their behavior modification capabilities.  They are setting more fires than they have firemen.]

War Clouds Gathering Again in the Caucasus

28 July 2011

Three years after the Russia-Georgia armed conflict, war clouds are again gathering in the Caucasus.

Already deadlocked for years, the peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan hit a brick wall on June 24 in Kazan, when a much-anticipated peace summit broke up without agreement. PresidentDmitry Medvedevhad put his personal authority behind the talks, having personally convened nine previous meetings between the two leaders over the past two years.

Now, there is increasing talk of war — a war that would be presumably started by Azerbaijan in a bid to regain the province of Karabakh and the surrounding districts that were seized by Armenian forces during the war from 1992 to 1994. Armenia argues that the Armenian residents of Karabakh have a right to independence and that it is unrealistic to expect Armenians to live as a minority under Azerbaijan’s rule given the history of animosity between the two sides. Each side cites atrocities against civilians committed by their adversary during a conflict that erupted in 1988.

It has become common to describe the standoff as a clash between two competing principles — “self-determination” for Karabakh versus “territorial integrity” for Azerbaijan. This makes the dispute sound like a technical difference of opinion, one that a few good lawyers could easily resolve.

In reality, there is no difference over moral or legal principles between the two sides. Rather, as in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is a question of “two peoples — one land.” The disagreement is over who owns a specific piece of real estate: Karabakh, a land-locked mountain region having no particular economic or strategic value and with a population of just over 100,000.

Karabakh has come to have deep symbolic significance for both parties. For Azerbaijan, it is a question of erasing the humiliation of military defeat and seeking justice for the 600,000 refugees that fled into the remainder of Azerbaijan as a result of the war. The refugees are roughly equal to the number of Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948, yet they have been virtually ignored by the international community. For Armenia, it is about holding on to territory after a century during which Armenian residents have been progressively driven from their lands. That process culminated in the massacres — or genocide — that occurred during World War I, a tragedy that still overshadows and immeasurably complicates the conflict over Karabakh.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe proposed some basic principles for a peace settlement back in 2007. The core idea is temporary recognition of Karabakh’s self-rule in return for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the other occupied districts. These Madrid Principles fudge the question of sovereignty by allowing for a referendum on self-determination in Karabakh at some point in the future. Armenia is being asked to give up something concrete —occupied territories — in return for something ephemeral — promises about a future referendum.

The main carrot being offered Armenia in return for leaving the occupied districts around Karabakh is the opening of the border with Turkey, which was closed by Ankara in solidarity with Azerbaijan in 1993. The 2008 Russia-Georgia war threatened Armenia’s land transit route through Georgia, leaving them dependent on access from Iran. A concerted international effort to persuade Turkey to open the border narrowly failed in October 2009, when domestic political opposition caused Turkey to retreat from an agreement to open the border that was signed with great fanfare in Zurich.

Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, has repeatedly stated that independence for Karabakh is non-negotiable, so Armenia’s reticence about moving ahead with the peace process is understandable. Why is Aliyev continuing to negotiate in the face of Armenian intransigence? If Aliyev can convince the international community that Armenia is blocking the Madrid Principles, that could give him some political cover for launching a war. Aliyev claims that time is on Baku’s side, since Armenia’s population is shrinking due to its stagnant economy, while Azerbaijan is booming thanks to its oil wealth. But Aliyev faces re-election in 2013, and keeping the lid on the opposition will be more difficult absent some progress on Karabakh. In addition, starting in 2014, Azerbaijan’s oil production will be past its peak, and revenues will start to fall.

Even some liberals are saying that a short war — a war in which neither side would probably achieve victory — could clear the way for real negotiations. The model is the 1973 Yom Kippur war, which Egyptian President Anwar Sadat claimed as a victory and which opened the door to the Camp David peace talks.

More important, an indecisive war would discredit the hawks on both sides, enabling peacemakers to strike a bargain without facing a coup when they returned home. Azerbaijan’s gross domestic product is five times that of Armenia, and Baku spent $3 billion in 2010 on its military, more than Armenia’s entire budget. But Armenia has taken delivery of sophisticated Russian hardware, including the S-300 air defense system and is home to a Russian military base housing 5,000 troops, whose tenure was extended last year through 2044.

Thus, an attack on Armenia by Azerbaijan could well trigger Russian intervention, just like Russia’s response to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia in 2008. Aliyev has been trying to maintain good relations with Russia in the hope that Moscow will press Armenia to agree to a settlement and will stay on the sidelines in a future conflict.

The main factor preventing a war is that none of the great powers want to see a resumption of hostilities. The West does not want to see a disruption of oil supplies, and for Russia a war would trigger a wave of refugees and possibly increased Western intervention in their Caucasus backyard. But the Russia-Georgia war of 2008 was a reminder that the major powers cannot always control their smaller allies and client states. If war were to break out, Russia would probably back Armenia because it must be seen as standing up for its main ally in the region. The mere threat of Russian intervention serves as a deterrent to Turkey entering the war in support of Azerbaijan. At the same time, however, Azerbaijan is arguably a more valuable ally for Russia than Armenia because of its important strategic location on the Caspian. Winning Azerbaijan away from the United States would be a substantial strategic gain for Moscow.

In any event, given the large and influential Armenian diaspora in the West, Armenia should not be placed indefinitely in the Russia camp. A few years down the road and a color revolution in Yerevan could see a pro-Western government there. Hopefully, cool heads will prevail, and the existing situation of neither war nor peace will stagger on through another hot summer.

Peter Rutland is professor of government at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

The Moscow Times

Armenian President Pisses-Off Turkish President In Provocative War of Words

Yerevan claims Sarksyan’s words ‘misinterpreted’

TODAY’S ZAMAN, ANKARA
Armenian President Sarksyan’s controversial words sparked harsh criticism from Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan.
In defense of recent remarks made by Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan that were considered by Turkish officials an encouragement for young students to fulfill the task of their generation and occupy eastern Turkey, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan rejected the interpretation, saying Sarksyan’s words were “interpreted out of context.”
“I believe Turks failed to read the full text, interpreting the president’s words out of context. Serzh Sarksyan’s statement is serious and reasonable,” Kocharyan was quoted as saying in a news report by Armenian news web portal Panarmenian.net on Wednesday. Claiming that all the attention to the remarks, which he called “hysteria” in his statement, was created by Turkey, Kocharyan suggested that Turkey refuses to make sense of the remarks on eastern Turkey “because the country [Turkey] does not need to do so.”

The argument was initiated when Sarksyan replied to a question from a student whether “Western Armenia,” including Mount Ağrı (Mount Ararat), would ever be united with the rest of Armenia, saying that the success of this task depended on future Armenian generations. “When it was necessary, in the beginning of the 1990s, to defend a part of our fatherland — Karabakh — from the enemy, we did it,” said the Armenian leader in a justification of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, an issue still awaiting resolution, and repeated that “each generation has its responsibilities and they have to be carried out with honor.”

Sarksyan’s words sparked harsh criticism from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who responded harshly during a joint press conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, condemning the remarks. He called them a “historic mistake” that should be corrected. Erdoğan stated that the remarks amount to an invitation to schoolchildren to occupy eastern Turkish lands which Armenia considers their historical homeland. The significance for Armenians of Mount Ağrı stems from a belief that the Armenians first adopted Christianity as an official religion in A.D. 301 in the area surrounding the mountain, which is now located on the eastern Turkish border with Armenia.

On Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry released a written statement strongly condemning Sarksyan’s remarks, which they interpreted as an “indication that Mr. Sarksyan has no intention of working for peace,” adding that “it is the responsibility of statesmen to prepare their societies, particularly their youth, for a peaceful future instead of provoking them into adopting an ideology of hate.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış also stated on Wednesday that Sarksyan’s remarks show that he does not comprehend the peaceful hand Turkey has extended to his country. “What Sarksyan has done was shoot himself in the foot. We hope the best response to Sarksyan’s delusion is given to him by the Armenian youth,” Bağış told the Anatolia news agency.

Two years ago, Turkey and Armenia were on the verge of signing a twin protocol aimed at normalization between the two countries and establishing diplomatic ties, but the parties failed to agree on preconditions, which ended up blocking the path to normalization.

On a separate note, Armenia has held the upper hand over the thorny Nagorno-Karabakh issue since the country occupied the landlocked region inside Azerbaijani borders in 1994. The dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region is still awaiting the outcome of an international project for a solution, supervised by the Minsk Group, founded in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States. The efficiency and legitimacy of the Minsk Group has been disputed as Azerbaijan has, at times, pointed to a biased attitude of the chairing countries, which host populous Armenian diasporas, and to the fact that the Minsk Group has failed, for almost two decades, to come up with an effective solution. Armenia is currently in possession of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory.

Washington’s Idiocy Has the Old Folks Scared–A Good Time To Be Afraid

US seniors fear hard times ahead if no debt deal

By Fabienne Faur (AFP)

WASHINGTON — Retired CIA analyst Ruth Washington is one of the lucky ones. She says she could survive for six months if Congress fails to reach a debt deal and her Social Security payments are cut off.

But she and other senior citizens are not optimistic about the near future — they say their loved ones could suffer, and they are angry at lawmakers on Capitol Hill for allowing politics to endanger their livelihoods.

“I’m fine. I live well, not beyond my means. It just frightens me to think what all those people on Social Security are going to do without money. What’s going to happen if they don’t receive a check?” Washington, 83, told AFP.

“If the government delays my pension, I have about six months that I could survive on my own.”

Washington spends some of her days at the Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center, a gathering place for retirees in a predominantly black neighborhood in the northwest section of the US capital.

She knits, listens to jazz and talks politics with her friends. These days, the battle of attrition between Democrats and Republicans over a plan to avert a calamitous US debt default is the hottest topic on the agenda.

The world’s top economy has said it will no longer be able to borrow funds to pay its bills on August 2 if a deal is not reached — potentially depriving the 54 million Americans on Social Security of their much-needed payments.

Donald Gaines, an 81-year-old retired US Treasury legal expert, said he too could “survive for quite a while” without his pension payments, but worried about his loved ones.

“I own my house, I own my car, I have comfortable savings,” he said.

But Gaines said his son is in trouble. After banks allowed him to borrow 2.5 times the value of his home, he lost his job, and his house went into foreclosure.

“I’m sure I’m going to have to maintain the position of helping my relatives and my close friends — I couldn’t sit back and watch them,” Gaines said.

The AARP, the country’s main advocacy group for seniors, sent an open letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to “address the growing anxiety” among those worried that their benefits will be cut off with little warning.

“Beneficiaries need to know that payments will continue, regardless of the Congressional discussion over an agreement to raise the nation?s debt limit,” the letter said.

“Without Social Security benefits, unprecedented hardship would befall millions of Americans who rely on these earned benefits to pay for life necessities such as food, medications, utilities and shelter.”

Disabled veterans have taken their cause to Facebook, organizing a virtual march on Washington this week to push the government to “honor its moral obligations to those who sacrificed so much in the name of freedom.”

Preston Lee, a 78-year-old former civil servant and accountant, is not alone in voicing frustration at the political deadlock over how to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit and curb the ballooning US budget deficit.

“Most of the people I talk with feel that the politicians are really not doing their job,” Lee said. “Do I trust them? I don’t have the choice but to trust them.”

Washington said she was “angry” and accused Republicans of having ulterior motives.

“I don’t think it’s about the debt ceiling — it’s about Obama. They want him to fail and this is a way of getting him to fail. They could have solved this problem a long time ago,” she said.

Gaines agreed, calling the situation “outrageous and completely unnecessary.”

“It’s strictly politics. The Republicans do not want to see Obama succeed in anything. Their whole program is designed to keep him from going a second term,” he said.

“One sentence and a bill could solve the whole problem, but they go so far as to put the whole country in jeopardy just to keep the president from being re-elected.”

Former Intelligence Chief: Stop Drone Strikes

Former Intelligence Chief: Stop Drone Strikes

By: KIMBERLY DOZIER, AP Intelligence Writer |Associated Press
ASPEN, Colorado –ASPEN, Colorado (AP) Former U.S. intelligence chief Dennis Blair said Friday that the U.S. should stop its drone campaign in Pakistan, and reconsider the $80 billion a year it spends to fight terrorism.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, Blair said the CIA’s unmanned aircraft operation aimed at al-Qaida is backfiring by damaging the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. The former director of national intelligence suggests giving Pakistan more say in what gets hit by drone strikes and when, despite Pakistan’s record of tipping off militants when it gets advance word of U.S. action.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who previously headed the CIA, has lauded the drone campaign as a key tool to take out al-Qaida and other militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Strikes, which have more than tripled year-to-year under the Obama administration, are done with tacit Pakistani assent, though publicly, Pakistani officials decry the hits. That tension has grown worse after the U.S. unilateral raid into Pakistan May 2 to kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and an earlier incident in January, when a CIA contractor was held for killing two Pakistani men in Lahore that he said were trying to rob him.

Blair said the continuing drone strikes are more of a nuisance than a real threat to al-Qaida, and that only a ground campaign by Pakistan would truly threaten it and other militant organizations. The U.S. had been training forces for that purpose until the program was canceled by Pakistan in retaliation for the bin Laden raid.

Al Qaida “can sustain its level of resistance to an air-only campaign,” he said. “I just see us with that strategy walking out on a thinner and thinner ledge and if even we get to the far end of it, we are not going to lower the fundamental threat to the U.S. any lower than we have it now.”

One Unfortunate Baloch Who Survived Getting “Disappeared,” Before Disappearing Permanently

 Killing Baluchies (Baloch) is serving God: Pakistani Army

Killing these infidel Balochies is serving Islam – then one of them stepped forward and started shooting at me, said Nasir Dagarzai Baloch who miraculously escaped death the first time after being shot and dumped by Pakistani army. He wasn’t so lucky the second time; as his killers make sure he won’t survive again.

Following is the story of teenage Nasir Dagarzai Baloch who was first abducted on January 23rd, 2011 along with other colleagues Rasool Baksh, Abid Saleem and Mehrab Baloch. On January 27, four days later, they were shot at and dumped in Panjgoor area. Nasir Baloch miraculously, indeed, survived despite being extremely wounded and dumped.

After initial treatment in a local hospital in Panjgoor, Nasir Baloch was shifted to Quetta for further treatment because his condition was worsening and he needed extensive care. At the, Quetta, Hospital the Pakistan intelligence agencies visited him continuously. It was assumed that as soon as he gets better he’d abducted again. The doctors had put a rod in his broken leg and had asked him to visit back in five months’ time. Fearful of re-abduction Nasir Baloch’s family shifted him to his home town and rest of the treatment was carried out there.

After four months of slow recovery, on 25 May 2011 Nasir Baloch was on his way to see his doctor and ask him to take the Iron rod out from his leg. He was travelling from Kharan to Quetta, Balochistan, by Al-Emirate Coaches; when the passenger bus arrived at Luckpass Police and FC joint check point it was stopped. The intelligence agencies personnel already waiting for the Coach boarded the bus and dragged Nasir and his brother, Gull Mohammad Baloch, out; put them in their car and drove off. This happened before the eyes of other passengers of the bus and the local police and FC (Pakistan’s Paramilitary forces).

Nasir Baloch and his brother’s whereabouts remained unknown until his bullet riddled mutilated body was found from Western Bypass area of Quetta on July 17 of this year along two other Baloch, who were later identified as Maqsood Qalandarani Baloch and Murtaza Sarparah Baloch.

During his recovery from earlier torture Nasir Baloch was visited by several of his friends and well-wishers they insisted that he must tell them what he had gone through? Who abducted him and how he survived? On the continuous insistence of his friends he narrated the following story. The friends did not publish his story earlier because they didn’t want to risk his life. Now that he has been re-abducted and killed under-custody his friends decided to publish his story just to give a picture of the brutalities of Pakistan’s so called Islamic army and let the world know about the suffering of Baloch political activists who are still in custody of this savage military.

Open in new windowNasir Baloch’s Narration according him: [warning graphic narration] “On January 23, I along with my three friends (Rasool Baksh, Abid Saleem, Mehrab Baloch) were sitting at my place when we heard a knock at the door. Mehrab has asked Rasool Baksh to check – who is at the door. As soon as Rasool Baksh went out nearly a dozen FC and Military personnel jumped the wall of the house and came in; they ordered us to put of hands up – we did as we were told. Some of the army men went to the next room and ordered all women and children to come out. When they came out they were made stand in a row and an old army officer shamelessly started taking off the earrings from the ears of the women and he also ordered them to handover their rings, watches and whatever else they had in their possession. Later they tied the mouth of women with clothes and locked them in the other room. They then blindfolded and started beating us with butts of guns and kicks; they also verbally abused us. They dragged us out of our home and put us in their cars. After a while of driving we felt that we were in a room being beaten by sticks, kicks, gun butts and they were swearing at us again.

When they open the piece of cloth from our eyes, there was this dark room; people were hanging [by the ceiling] upside down above us. Then, there comes this old white bearded man [Military official] the first day and he tells us: “Listen! I am in the stat of ablution from past 25 years. I have not committed any sins since my childhood. If anyone lies to me I can immediately feel, with the help of my afflatus, that this person is lying. So now! You guys tell me how many people have you killed?”

Mehrab and I replied simultaneously that we bear GOD our witness that we have never killed anyone. Upon hearing this, the old man takes out his knife and starts slitting the thighs of Mehrab; he literally cut a piece of flesh from Mehrab’s thigh. Then he turns to me a starts slitting my chest with that sharp knife. Meanwhile I saw another soldier pushed Abid Saleem to the wall and started hammering his palms on the wall with a huge sharp nail. I heard Abdi Saleem screaming just once and then he lost his conscious – he just fainted before our eyes – but the brutal military official kept hammering his palms to the wall. Our other two friends were also watching what we were going through as they were sitting in the same room. Soon I lost my conscious too.

When I regain my conscious I saw this old brutal and savage soldier rubbing some white powder on my wounds; as soon has he rubbed this powder my entire body, mind and heard started burning. At one glace I saw Abid Saleem and Mehrab were tied with electric wires and they were being given electric shocks – I could feel their agony – they were moving just like a fish out of water. Then they started beating me with a flat plastic belt which Iron bolts had fixed to it, the torturers kept saying: “You’re enemy of Allah, his prophet and Islam. You kill Punjabis, and we are only here to protect them; any Baloch who say wrong about any Punjabi, We will cut off his tongue” – they uttered all these words in one breath while still giving electric shocks to my friends and beating me with the plastic belt.

After all this torture and inhuman treatment they did not ask us any questions but the torture continued. We would lose our conscious and they would wait until we regain conscious and start beating us again. This continued all night.

The following morning the same old white- bearded man showed up again and asked us not to force him to commit any sin. “Tell me the truth! Who are your other friends in Panjgour”? Now we were half-dead; we could only hear but could not speak a single word. Then he ordered his men to untie our hands; as soon as our hands are untied – suddenly they attacked Mehrab and broke his arm before our eyes. They did the same to Abid Saleem and then broke my arm. We all fainted again and when I regain conscious – I saw Abid Rasool Baksh’s body hanging by ceiling – they executed him in the same room where they kept us; he was dead.

Then they put me in a jeep – I was kind of happy and relieved that they are going to let me go – however, the car stopped after a while and they dragged me out of the car. I saw around twenty military men standing in line – then one of them stepped forward and started addressing the others: “since we the army of God, we are fighting for Allah almighty and these Balochi people are kaafir (infidels). They are fighting against Allah and his prophet on the saying of Israel and India that is why killing them in permissible and serving Islam”. After the speech all the solders said “Allaho Akbar – God is great”. Then one of the solders came forward and started firing live bullets at me. Soon I fainted again this time when I regain my conscious I found myself in the Hospital”.

This was the story of late Nasir Baloch who suffered at the hand of the soldiers of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He was lucky enough to survive first time but his killers made sure that he won’t survive again to expose them. This story also illustrates the pain and suffering of other Baloch political activist that had been killed under custody and those who are still in the illegal secret prisons of Pakistani army. This painful story is enough evidence for the world to open their eyes, wake up and start taking notice of Pakistan’s atrocities against Baloch people. The criminal silence of International Human Rights Organisations and the International Community as a whole is encouraging the brutal Pakistani military to commit more crimes.

Source: BUC Urdu BLOG

Tit-for-Tat Diplomatic Recriminations Threaten Obama’s “Reset” Game

MOSCOW – From wire dispatches
This file photo shows Russian President Dmitry Medvedev giving an interview to the Financial Times newspaper in St. Petersburg, June 18, 2011. AFP photo
This file photo shows Russian President Dmitry Medvedev giving an interview to the Financial Times newspaper in St. Petersburg, June 18, 2011. AFP photo

Russia plans to place U.S. officials on a visa blacklist in response to the U.S.’ decision to ban entry to Russian officials linked to the prison death of a lawyer, the Kremlin said Thursday.

Washington outraged Moscow by banning visas for an unspecified number of Russian officials linked to the 2009 death in prison of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky which became a symbol of abuses in the Russian judicial system.

The Russian foreign ministry warned on Wednesday that it would take “adequate measures” against the U.S. over the move, which it warned could damage diplomatic relations. “I can confirm that the Russian foreign ministry, on the order of the President (Dmitry Medvedev) is working on measures against U.S. citizens which are the same as those announced by the State Department,” Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said.

She told the ITAR-TASS news agency that Russia was “bewildered” that the State Department had decided to prejudge the guilt of the officials before Moscow had completed its own investigation. The State Department did not say what officials were on the blacklist but Magnitsky’s supporters have accused senior investigators of deliberately allowing him to die in a bid to silence the lawyer.

Magnitsky, 37, died in the Matrosskaya Tishina jail in Moscow of untreated pancreatitis after being held in pre-trial detention in a complex fraud case for 11 months. The council that advises Medvedev on rights said Magnitsky was likely beaten in jail and criticized the fact that the very investigators the lawyer had accused of fraud charged him with the same crimes and led the case against him. But so far criminal probes have only been opened against the doctor and deputy head of the Butyrskaya prison in Moscow where Magnitsky had been held for several months. U.S.-Russian relations soured during President George W. Bush’s administration but improved significantly under Obama, who took office in 2009 promising a “reset” in bilateral ties.

Compiled from the reports of AFP and Reuters by the Daily News staff.

 

Greek Cyprus cabinet quits in wake of blast

NICOSIA – Agence France-Presse
Greek Cyprus’ cabinet resigned in preparation for a reshuffle aimed at holding together a fragile governing coalition in the face of growing public anger over a munitions blast that has escalated the economic crisis.
This file photo shows protesters holding up a poster of Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and marching to the presidential palace to protest the munitions blast.
This file photo shows protesters holding up a poster of Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and marching to the presidential palace to protest the munitions blast.

The entire cabinet of Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias, under fire after a munitions blast killed 13 people and wrecked the island’s main power plant, resigned on Thursday, as Christofias himself said he had no intention of stepping down.

The 11 ministers were asked by Christofias to submit their resignations so a reshuffle could take place, government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou told reporters. “The president … briefed ministers of his intention to make a general reshuffle of the cabinet and for this reason requested that ministers put their resignations at his disposal,” he said. The ministers will stay on until a new government is appointed.

Asked by a reporter if he had thought about it, he said: “No, not in any case. The people elected me and I am accountable to the people.” Stefanou said there will be a reshuffle “soon” following consultations with the government’s coalition partners and other parties.

“It is a move for the president to seek to appoint a government of wider acceptance to achieve consensus on economic measures and to restore public trust,” he said. The move comes after junior coalition partner Diko told its ministers on Wednesday to quit the government. And it follows an announcement by ratings agency Moody’s that it had downgraded Greek Cypriot government bond ratings in part over the economic fallout from the blast and the “increasingly fractious domestic political climate.”

Christofias and his team are widely accused of failing to prevent the explosion, which also injured more than 60 people, caused millions of euros in damage to homes and businesses in the vicinity and threatened economic recovery on the island. Diko said its ministers were asked to tender their resignation to Christofias to “assist and expedite decision making and taking initiatives which everybody expects”.

It said decisions needed to be taken to “restore the trust of citizens in the state and its institutions and rescue the economy.” A reshuffle is supported by communist Akel, the president’s own party. Diko had two ministers — health and commerce — in the cabinet following the resignation of Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou last week.

Leaked documents in the media indicate that officials knew that the 98 shipping containers of munitions — piled up in the blazing sun at the base near Limassol — could explode. The government has said Christofias was never made aware of the risk. Among those killed was the head of the Greek Cypriot navy, Captain Andreas Ioannides, who was reported to have repeatedly denounced the situation. The blast also claimed six firemen and six other military personnel.

The key Vassiliko facility provided more than half of the country’s electricity. Since the blast, thousands have gathered nightly outside the presidential palace to call on Christofias to resign following the island’s worst peacetime military disaster. The containers had been at the base since their seizure in February 2009 when Greek Cyprus intercepted, under pressure from the U.S. and other Western nations, a Cypriot-flagged freighter bound from Iran for Syria.

Stand-Off Between Turkish Govt and Generals Over Ergenokon Plot

[SEE:  ‘Turkey’s ‘sledgehammer plot’ ]

Turkish Chief of General Staff, top commanders resign amid controversy

TODAYSZAMAN.COM,
Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner
Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner and the commanders of the air, navy and land forces have all resigned from their positions amid controversy over the appointment of generals.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier ruled out any prospects of tension between the government and the military at a Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting slated for Monday, saying that the decisions to be made at the meeting will be in accordance with the law.

Last August, Turkey witnessed tensions between the military and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government when the General Staff attempted to promote a number of generals and admirals standing trial in criminal cases. The government resisted the move and the individuals were eventually not promoted.

YAŞ meets each August to discuss promotions and dismissals within the armed forces. The fact that there are some commanders and military officers who are suspects in ongoing coup cases has led some to speculate that there could be disagreement between the military and the government about the promotion of these individuals. The ruling AK Party had earlier signaled that it would not give the green light for the promotions of these individuals at the YAŞ meeting.

Currently there are 195 suspects, all retired and active duty members of the armed forces, in the ongoing case of Sledgehammer, a suspected coup plan devised at a military gathering in 2003 that allegedly sought to undermine the government in order to lay the groundwork for a military takeover. More senior military personnel have recently been arrested and jailed on charges of links to the subversive coup plan. The government plans to prevent the promotion of 41 Sledgehammer suspects who are active TSK members.

Before this year’s YAŞ meeting, Erdoğan, Koşaner and President Abdullah Gül had a summit to prevent a similar crisis from happening. The government and the military agreed that none of the generals that are currently in jail will be promoted.

Gül made a statement on Friday, saying his meeting last week with Erdoğan and Koşaner should not be seen as a glitch in communication. “These are normal things. As the president, I need to know what I am signing when such important decisions are made. I can’t blindly sign any document,” he said. The president also said he felt the need to make this statement, speaking to journalists outside a mosque after Friday prayer, because there have been many questions from journalists inquiring if the pre-YAŞ meeting indicated a problem.

Erdoğan on Friday said he wanted no surprises, adding that everything should be done according to the law. “I don’t think there will be any tension. The convention will proceed very smoothly. The laws regarding dismissals and promotions are obvious. The laws in this country are functioning normally. What the laws call for will be done.”

All the commanders except Koşaner were already set to retire on Monday.

The government made it clear that the appointments and promotions at the upcoming YAŞ meeting will be in line with laws regulating dismissal and promotion, while commanders insisted on upholding long-held traditions the military has adhered to for decades in the appointment and promotion of senior-level commanders.

 

Highest-ranking Turkish soldiers quit from posts

ANKARA – Anatolia News Agency
Gen. Işık Koşaner
Gen. Işık Koşaner

Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner requested his retirement Friday afternoon.

His request was followed by the similar requests by Turkey’s Land, Sea and Air Force commanders.

The Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, is to meet on Monday.

Other soldiers are expected to be promoted so that that the council can convene.

Gendermarie Commander Gen. Necdet Özel, the only commander who did not ask for retirement, later arrived at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office for a meeting.

Erdoğan and Özel are expected to release an official declaration.

Pakistani Taliban Using Kidnapped Swiss Couple To Bargain for Aafia Siddiqui

[There are some very strange things about this case, which might indicate collusion between the Pak. authorities and the Pakistani Taliban.  Who notified the TTP that these Swiss travelers were being let go?  Why were these two Swiss policemen in Balochistan, without following local laws requiring notification of authorities first?  What had they been doing in India, first?   Why were they taken into police custody?  Why, if they were really traveling to Iran, as indicated by the authorities, were they turned loose heading north, away from Iran?  Why do the police still have their IDs?  What does this say of TTP connections with Baloch terrorists?  As usual–nothing but questions about Pakistan.]

Taliban offers exchange for Swiss hostages

An unconfirmed report says the Taliban in Pakistan will release two Swiss tourists they kidnapped at the beginning of July if the United States frees a Pakistani scientist convicted of terrorism.

The Swiss pair were abducted in the southwestern Baluchistan province while travelling across Pakistan in their camper van.

The Associated Press said it spoke to Taliban commander Waliur Rehman on Thursday in South Waziristan, a northwestern tribal region.

Rehman told AP that the Taliban had ordered the kidnapping in order to gain freedom for Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated woman who is serving 86 years in an American jail for trying to kill US officials in Afghanistan.

Rehman said the Swiss had not been tortured but if Siddiqui was not freed, their fate would be in the hands of a Taliban court.

The Swiss foreign ministry refused comment on the latest development, saying only that it had “taken note” of the information published in the press.

A spokesman referred to a government statement on July 2 which said the authorities had set up a task force which would do everything in its power to free the hostages and ensure no harm came to them.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

The Swiss identity card of Oliver David Och (L) and the Swiss driving licence of Daniela Wildmer are set on a table at a police station in Quetta. -AFP Photo

Olivier David Och, 31, and Daniela Widmer, 28

Och is a policeman in canton Bern, while Widmer is a former policewoman from the same force, but a Bern police spokeswoman stressed: “They were travelling in Pakistan in a private capacity.”

Pakistani Levies inspect a van which was used by a Swiss couple outside their Levies station in the Loralai district, 170 kilometres (105 miles) east of the provincial capital Quetta on July 2, 2011. (AFP photo) (AFP photo)

The couple’s blue Volkswagen van was found abandoned in Killi Nigah after they were snatched in Loralai district, around 170 kilometres (100 miles) east of the Baluchistan capital Quetta.

According to visas stamped in their passports, they entered Pakistan from India on June 28.

Officials say that so far, the kidnappers have conveyed no demands.

The pair entered Baluchistan from Punjab province and might have been heading for Quetta, perhaps en route to Iran, officials said.

Official: 2 Swiss kidnapped in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province

Official: 2 Swiss kidnapped in SW Pakistan

By ABDUL SATTAR | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Gunmen kidnapped a Swiss man and woman as they were eating at a hotel in Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province on Friday, an official said.

The kidnapping underscores the deep insecurity in Pakistan, where abductions have been on the rise. Many are carried out by criminals, and some are believed to lead to ransoms that help fund militants.

Authorities were trying to figure out exactly who the Swiss pair were and what they were doing in the Lorali area, local official Sohailur Rehman said.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry said it was aware of a possible kidnapping case in Baluchistan. Spokeswoman Jenny Piaget said the ministry was in contact with Pakistan authorities but would give no further details.

The Swiss pair were driving from Punjab province, and when they reached Lorali, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) north of Quetta, the capital of the province, they were given a police escort. However, once they reached its outskirts, beyond the area under the police jurisdiction, they were left without the security guides, Rehman said.

Baluchistan is a particularly dangerous region in Pakistan. It is the scene of a low-level separatist insurgency, and criminal gangs involved in the kidnapping for ransom trade are common.

Most kidnapping victims in the country are Pakistani, but foreign aid workers, diplomats and other foreigners have also been targeted.

Bush’s Pawn In Palestine and the Long Arm of the Law–Mohammad Dahlan Facing Murder Charges

Dahlan outside the Palestinian territories thanks to the interventions of an Arab (video)

Khalid al-Faqih – Occupied Palestine

Left the Palestinian leader, Mohammad Dahlan, the Palestinian territories by Jordan after the Palestinian Authority raided his home and arrested his bodyguards and confiscated their weapons, and Palestinian sources revealed that the interventions of Mannar Arab secured to Dahlan this director after the decision referred to the Public Prosecution on charges of corruption.

Mohammed Dahlan leaves West Bank for Jordan

A Fatah official has reported that the former member of the movement, Mohammed Dahlan, has left the Palestinian territories and returned to Jordan.

A source from the Palestinian security forces added that a large illegal weapons cache was confiscated from Dahlan’s home in Ramallah, as well as thousands of unregistered bullets found on his guards. (Elior Levy)

Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush, whose secret Palestinian intervention backfired in a big way. Photo illustration by Chris Mueller; left, by Debbie Hill/Sipa Press; right, by Issam Rimawi/ApaImages/Polaris; background by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters/Corbis.

[SEE: The Gaza Bombshell]

Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war.

Heightened propaganda BS against Iran

Heightened propaganda BS against Iran


The Americans are ratcheting up the rhetoric against the Mullahs of Iran.

Last week a senior military officer warned Iran against developing nuclear weapons and supporting Iraqi insurgents. No evidence was offered for these accusations but in this day and age of what passes for “American Diplomacy”, mere faith based rhetoric and semantics is sufficient.

Lets be clear……the mullahs of Iran are happy for the USA to do their job for them in IRAQ.

Saddam’s Iraq against whom Iran fought a long hard 8 year war, and lost………… with 1,000,000 deaths unofficially and $500 billion worth of physical damage to the country. Iran is VERY VERY VERY happy that the Americans got rid of Saddam and have expressed openly the satisfaction of this fact to the USA several times directly.

The Mullahs of Iran are happy with the Americans in Iraq for a second reason. 

The minority SUNNIS of Iraq (20% of the population) who ran the country for 1300 years for the first time are no longer in power, but the majority SHIA who are politically, socially and psychologically aligned to Iran.

Everything is just peachy for Iran/Iraq relations thanks to the USA and its expenditure and sacrifices in the country. Why unsettle this apple cart godsend feast for Iran NOW by backing a few inconsequential insurgency activities in the country which could be linked to Iran if discovered, and reverse the near exit of ALL noble American warriors from the sand nigger country?

The mullahs are stupid to be sure, but not that stupid.

The insurgency in Iraq is SUNNI against the USA, backed by Saudi Arabia…..possibly Syria, though no evidence, Jordan and Libya all of which are Sunni run countries.

There is malicious devious speculation that the recent attacks in Iraq are the work of the USA itself since some of its power elements don’t want to leave Iraq after all the love and care poured into the country…and the attacks thus become a timely justification for the USA to stay. 

As to Iran and “al-Qaeda”………….oh pleeez! Iran is a SHIA run country, and “al-Qaeda” is a phantom non-existent front of Western Intelligence which according to many many many credible Western sources is almost finished as an organization. So why would Iran want to tie-up with a has been organisation? Further given the acrimony of these two entities, and the ever diminishing returns of “al-Qaeda” as a organized threat….why would Iran make a pact with such an organization? Have we been watching too many Hollywood movies?

Why is the treasury Department making pronouncements on security issues?

______________________________

US Accuses Iran of ‘Secret Deal’ With al-Qaeda

No Evidence, But Treasury Dept ‘Convinced’ Deal Exists

by Jason Ditz at antiwar.com

Fresh off of weeks of accusing the Iranian government of secretly backing Iraqi Shi’ite militias against the US occupation force there (without any evidence) the Obama Administration is now accusing the Iranian government of having entered into a “secret deal” with al-Qaeda.

The latest allegations came by way of the US Treasury Department, which claimed that al-Qaeda is using Iran as a “pipeline” to funnel cash and extremists to various countries. They named al-Qaeda ‘facilitators’ involved but named no Iranian government officials.

And indeed, they conceded that there was no actual evidence to back up this claim either, but simply maintained that they are “convinced” that such a deal simply must exist. Though al-Qaeda has long sought a presence in Iran’s Sunni southeast (forging ties with Sunni Baloch separatist movements), this has usually been to the detriment of the Shi’ite government, and Iran has been fighting al-Qaeda openly for decades.

Which makes the claims of a “deal” puzzling, as the two sides have a strong ideological and historical animosity. The entire basis of the claim seems to be that since al-Qaeda has a presence in Iran and since the US is hostile toward both, it is only natural that they must be in cahoots. The fact that it makes absolutely no sense is only a minor inconvenience for an otherwise useful narrative.

(“al-Qaeda” doesn’t have a presence in Iran….when the USA invaded Afghanistan in 2001, some of the 5000 Arab Jihadis who fought for the Taliban in Afghanistan tried to escape via Iran back to the Gulf…..they were captured..some returned to Gulf state custody, others pending the decision of Gulf state governments have been under house arrest in Iran. Many Arab states don’t want these Arab Jihadis back in their countries but neither can they imprison them automatically as most have done nothing against their natural country……..hence the limbo of the Arab Jihadis in Iran under house arrest)

At least 16 dead in Ukraine mine blast

 

 

[Ukrainian coal miners might have the worst jobs on the planet, considering the dangerous near-primitive conditions in some of the mines, the constant cave-ins and explosions, coupled with the constant agitation of having to work everyday, without knowing when, or if, they will ever get paid.  In addition to these miserable conditions, there are the political divisions in Ukraine between the Russians and the Ukrainians, the miners and the owners, the statists and the democrats.  Many of the recent fires and explosions to plague this region have been blamed on pissed-off miners…that remains to be proved.  The following Google map included below, is rerun from the previous reports.]

 Ukraine mine

An explosion at the Ukrainian mine killed 16 people on Friday. Picture: Alexander Khudoteply. AFP

An explosion at a Ukrainian coal mine killed 16 miners Friday, with nine others missing, while one person was killed in a second accident.

Ukraine’s emergency services ministry said that nine workers were unaccounted for at the mine in the Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine, after previously saying 10 people were missing.

Two more miners were hospitalized from the blast, which occurred at a depth of 3,002 feet (915 meters). The cause of the explosion was under investigation.

In a separate incident, one miner was killed and eight injured in a collapse in the Donetsk region, also in the east of the country, the ministry said.

A 230-foot (70-meter) head frame, which is used to lower workers down mines, collapsed at the site in the city of Makiyivka, AFP reported.

Ukraine’s coal mines are considered among the most dangerous in the world, employing the use of outdated, Soviet-era equipment.

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

When 10% of the People Believe In An Idea, Then It Spreads Like Grass Roots Prairie Fire

[The social scientists and computer geeks have proven that we only need to convince 10% of the people, in order to advance our beliefs.  Much like the theory of the “hundredth monkey,” when “X” number of people learn something, it then spreads throughout the community.  We only need to convince one-tenth of the people that “911 was an inside job,” the “war on terror is a fraud,” or that “the CIA killed Kennedy,” in order to infect the remainder with our beliefs.]

Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”

As an example, the ongoing events in Tunisia and Egypt appear to exhibit a similar process, according to Szymanski. “In those countries, dictators who were in power for decades were suddenly overthrown in just a few weeks.”

The findings were published in the July 22, 2011, early online edition of the journal Physical Review E in an article titled “Social consensus through the influence of committed minorities.”

Read more at RPI News.

Keywords: tipping point

Clinton raised issue of a Russian link to bombing in Georgia

Clinton raised issue of a Russian link to bombing in Georgia

By Eli Lake

The Washington Times

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton questioned her Russian counterpart twice in recent months about reports of the Moscow government’s involvement in the bombing attempt on the U.S. Embassy in Georgia in September.

Mrs. Clinton raised the Sept. 22 incident in February on the sidelines of an international security conference in Munich during talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to four U.S. officials.

At the meeting Feb. 5, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Lavrov signed the New START arms pact, which President Obama has said is the centerpiece of his administration’s new “reset” policy of seeking closer ties with Russia.

However, the officials said that despite the issue having been raised in Munich, Russian GRU Maj. Yevgeny Borisov, who the Georgian Interior Ministry and a CIA-authored report have said is behind a spate of bombings in Georgia, continues to operate from a base in the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia.

The National Intelligence Council, the analytical arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provided Congress on Thursday with a new analysis of the blast. One administration official told The Washington Times there was “no consensus” on responsibility for the Tbilisi blast.

The new analysis followed disclosure by The Times on July 22 of aRussian government link to the attempted bombing that was based on aGeorgian government probe and a CIA study.

Mrs. Clinton brought up the bombing a second time on July 13, the same day she and Mr. Lavrov signed a new U.S. agreement on child adoptions.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner declined to comment on the discussions. “We can’t get into the substance of our diplomatic exchanges with any other country,” he said. “We do discuss with all parties in the region issues affecting regional security and stability. I am not going to get into specifics.”

In an interview Thursday, Shota Utiashvili, director of information and analysis for the Georgian Interior Ministry, revealed that Maj. Borisovremains in Abkhazia.

Some U.S. intelligence officials complained that the U.S. reaction to the possible state-sponsored terrorism has been too weak. “The fact that this GRU major is still at large in Abkhazia should tell you all you need to know about how effective our response has been,” one U.S. intelligenceofficial said.

Normally, intelligence officers who are exposed by another government are recalled home and their careers are cut short.

Russian officials have denied the charges and accused Georgia of trying to foment a propaganda campaign by pinning the embassy blast on their military intelligence service.

“It looks like the aim of the publication in The Washington Times is to trigger a second propaganda wave around issues that have already been discussed with American and Georgian representatives at the beginning of this year,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

David Smith, chief negotiator during defense and space talks with the Soviet Union during the George H.W. Bush administration said Russia’s motivation for such activities is “fairly clear.”

“Part of the reason they do these things is precisely because it is not clear to Westerners why they would do them,” he said. “They are out to destabilize Georgia. They are out to make it look like it is a chaotic and lawless place.”

Story Continues →

Tajik border guards kill eight Afghan drug couriers

Tajik border guards kill eight Afghan drug couriers

MOHIDEEN MIFTHAH

DUSHANBE, July 28 (Reuters) – Border guards in Tajikistan have shot dead eight gunmen trying to smuggle drugs into the ex-Soviet republic from neighbouring Afghanistan, a senior Tajik security official told Reuters on Thursday.
The border guards seized 50 kg (110 lb) of various drugs after the shootout with a group of 12 gunmen, which took place on Wednesday some 200 km (125 miles) southeast of the Tajik capital Dushanbe, the official said, requesting anonymity.
“Eight of the armed drug couriers were killed, another four managed to return to the neighbouring country,” he said, adding that there had been no losses among the border guards.
Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul, on a visit to Tajikistan, said he had been informed of the border incident and wanted more details of the shootout before his return to Kabul.
Tajikistan, a mountainous country of 7.5 million people bordering Afghanistan and China, was ravaged by a civil war in 1992-97 and remains the poorest of the 15 former Soviet nations.
It relies heavily on remittances from migrant workers.
Afghan opiate drugs — mainly heroin — make their way across Tajikistan further into vast and sparsely populated Central Asia to reach their main final destination, Russia.

Pakistan torturing Balochistan activists, report says

Pakistan torturing Balochistan activists, report says

Cover of HRW report
HRW accuses the security forces of brazenly killing people

Hundreds of political activists are being held and tortured by security forces in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, Human Rights Watch says.

The region is currently the centre of an insurgency by local tribesmen fighting for greater political rights.

A new report by the rights group focuses on political activists detained without charge. Many of them were later killed, the report says.

The Supreme Court is investigating the killings and disappearances.

Entitled “We can torture, kill and keep you for years”, the report completes a three-part series of investigations on Balochistan by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan says that taken together they present a disturbing and violent picture of what many are calling Pakistan’s secret dirty war.

“Pakistan’s security forces are engaging in an abusive free-for-all in Balochistan as Baloch nationalists and suspected militants ‘disappear’ and in many cases are executed,” HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said.

“The national government has done little to end the carnage in Balochistan, calling into question its willingness or ability to control the military and intelligence agencies.”

Pakistani authorities routinely deny claims of abuses in Balochistan.

‘Propaganda’

The latest 132-page report says state security remains responsible for most of the abuses.

This includes holding detainees as young as 12 years old without charge – as well as the increasing torture and killing of those held, it says.

File photo of paramilitary soldiers on guard near the site of a shooting on the outskirts of Quetta June 22, 2011.
Balochistan is the scene of frequent attacks

The report details 45 alleged cases of enforced disappearances, the majority in 2009 and 2010. It says that while hundreds of people have been “forcibly disappeared” in Balochistan since 2005, dozens of new enforced disappearances have occurred since Pakistan returned to civilian rule in 2008.

The report is based on over 100 interviews by HRW in Balochistan in 2010 and 2011 with family members of “disappeared” people, former detainees, local human rights activists, lawyers and witnesses to government abductions.

It says that those targeted are primarily Baloch nationalist activists or suspected Baloch militants.

“Pakistani security services are brazenly disappearing, torturing, and often killing people because of suspected ties to the Baloch nationalist movement,” Mr Adams said. “This is not counterinsurgency – it is barbarism and it needs to end now.”

Security officials in Balochistan routinely dismiss such claims as part of propaganda by separatists.

They say all those arrested have been produced in courts.

In a recent interview, the top security official in Balochistan told the BBC the killings were the result of infighting amongst the nationalists.

But other security officials have also told the BBC that they have detained the activists.

They say the insurgents are being supported by India and it is the duty of Pakistan’s security forces to do their utmost to suppress them.

The report also highlights how difficult conditions are getting for ordinary citizens in Balochistan. The province has strategic importance as it borders Iran and Afghanistan.

US officials say the Afghan Taliban leadership have their headquarters in the province, a claim Pakistan denies.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and most sparsely populated province, is also rich in minerals – with vast untapped deposits of oil, gas, copper and gold.

But locals say most of this remains under the control of the federal government – its policies have left them little choice, many say, but to side with the insurgents.

Musharraf Wakes-Up

Musharraf’s APML in tatters

Azim M Mian
NEW YORK: Despite the fact that Pervez Musharraf had very cordial and encouraging meetings with some US Congressmen and senators and was assured of some support in his mission to return to Pakistan next March, he had to face strong criticism from his own friends and political supporters of his party, the APML.

His close confidant for the last nine years and former chairman of Pakistan Cricket Control Board, Dr Nasim Ashraf, has resigned from all positions and basic membership of the party. He was the top boss of his party in North America with the title of Chief Coordinator of APML in North America. Dr Ashraf had established 11 chapters of APML – eight in USA and three in Canada.

The reasons for his resignation are not known and all efforts to reach Dr Nasim Ashraf failed. He did not respond to phone calls. However, Pervez Musharraf did attend the wedding of Dr Nasim Ashraf’s daughter in Virginia on July 22 before he left USA.

Another staunch supporter of Pervez Musharraf since his days in power has also announced his complete dissociation with Musharraf and his party. Arshad Khan, a New Yorker, who held rallies to support Pervez Musharraf till recently, has publicly blamed Musharraf for making wrong decisions, promoting his relatives and those who can organise colourful evenings for him. “We cannot support his objectionable activities and wrong decisions any more. I have been supporting him for too long, even after he had resigned; but now I cannot take his nepotism, faulty decisions and struggle to capture power again,” said Arshad Khan of New York’s Pak-America Rabita Council. He also pointed out that Pervez Musharaf’s public meeting in New York was a total failure as hardly 250 people came to listen to him.

Nasim Ashraf’s resignation has caused gloom among APML supporters in New Jersey, Houston and other parts of USA. Imran Siiddiqi, who was made APML coordinator for Canada by Pervez Musharaf last week, however, claims that there is no rift or unrest in his party in Canada and he will do his best to resolve issues through dialogue among members. But sources say that other party chapters in Canada have not accepted Pervez Musharaf’s decision to promote Imran Siddiqui from Ontario to the top party post.

Insiders have disclosed to The News that Dr Nasim Ashraf has informed Pervez Musharaf about his plan to quit politics completely. He plans to return to his medical profession after long absence. According to his family sources, Dr Ashraf plans to spend some time with a hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Hindu militant linked with Hizbul Mujahideen killed in encounter

Hindu militant linked with Hizbul Mujahideen killed in encounter

Express news service

He was a Hindu by birth who got buried in the martyrs graveyard at Marwah with all Muslim rites this evening after his parents refused to take his body from the police. Identified as Subash Kumar Shan alias Wasif alias Qamran, the first Hindu divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen for Kishtwar division, he was killed in a fierce gun battle with police and security forces on Tuesday.

Subash along with his three accomplices had got trapped in Gokund area of Renie Nallah, some 20 kms from Nawapachi in Marwah tehsil after police and security forces launched a joint combing operation following specific information on Tuesday morning. However, when the combing operation was in progress, militants opened fire on the police and security forces who retaliated.

Inspector General of Police for Jammu zone, Dilbagh Singh, said that apart from Subash, the other three militants engaged in the encounter included Jahangir, Riyaz and Sajjad. However, while Subash was killed, Sajjad got injured. The later along with two others, however, managed to escape.

Initially the slain militant was identified by police and security forces as Sajjad Ahmed Mir alias Rizwan of Tachna Dachhan. An AK 47 rifle along with ammunition, one wireless set and two Chinese greades were seized from him.

However, as the body of the slain militant was shown to his relatives, they denied him being Sajjad. Following a controversy over his identity, the slain militant was brought to Marwah where people identified him as Subash, son of Jeevan Lal Shan, an ex-serviceman, of Palmar, Marwah.

Though he happened to be the second Hindu militant having been killed in the hilly district during the last two years, police said that Subash was a hardcore militant involved in a number of killings. He had joined militancy in 2001 and he was made divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen for Kishtwar division after the surrender of Furdaus Ahmed Matoo alias Prince in 2009. The first Hindu militant killed in the district was Kuldeep Kumar of Puneja.

As Subash had joined militant ranks against the wishes of his family members, his parents after the postmortem refused to take his body from the hospital. The body was later handed over to some local Muslims for his burial at martyrs graveyard at Marwah.

With his killing, the Hizbul Mujahideen has received a major set back as Subash being a Hindu was a source of inspiration for other militants operating in the area. The slain militant commander was a great motivator and he was, at present, busy recruiting new youth to his ranks.

Pakistan and India Determined To Keep Talking

Peace talks pick up pace as India, Pak skirt blocks

Sachin Parashar, TNN

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan on Wednesday pressed ahead with their peace engagement, steering around contentious issues — particularly Jammu and Kashmir and terrorism — that bedevil their ties.

Erasing the scars of last July, when their foreign ministers clashed in full public view in Islamabad, India and Pakistan on Wednesday managed the rare feat of speaking in one voice. They agreed to invest in a relationship of “trust and mutually beneficial cooperation”.

It wasn`t easy given differences over the usual stumbling blocks that cropped up during the meeting between foreign minister S M Krishna (78), and his young counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar (34), but the two sides worked around them successfully enough for foreign secretary Nirupama Rao to later declare that the “fog has now lifted” over the relationship.

Khar too raised hopes when she described the relationship as entering a new era and stated that the mindset of people in both the countries had changed, allowing ties to move in the right direction. In terms of deliverables, a number of CBMs to enhance cross-LoC trade and travel were announced.

“It is our desire to make the dialogue process uninterrupted and uninterruptible,” Khar said after the meeting, summing up the determination to stay engaged. The restraint was evident at the press conference of the two foreign secretaries where neither rose to the bait of provocative questions.

Talks did not start on a very promising note though. The meeting started with Krishna strongly expressing displeasure to the Pakistani delegation over Khar`s meeting with separatist Hurriyatleaders on Tuesday evening ahead of the official talks.

Krishna wanted to know what was the locus standi of the Hurriyat as they were not representative of the people of India. He also took exception to the press statement Pakistan High Commission issued after the meeting with separatists.

Khar promptly assured Krishna that she did not intend to give offence to India.

The two sides did not let the issue overshadow talks even in public. Rao confirmed that India had expressed concern over the meeting and that it reflected divergences. “We have a different point of view from Pakistan on the meeting and we have expressed our concern frankly and candidly,” she said. But she also emphasized that the neighbours had the political will to work together.

Rao`s counterpart Salman Bashir also spoke in a conciliatory vein. He said the meeting with Hurriyat should not be construed as an attempt to cast shadow over the talks, adding that Pakistan`s intention was to reach out in the interest of democratic polity.

Sources said the Pakistanis chose not to be prickly also when Krishna forcefully raised the lack of credible effort to punish the 26/11 masterminds, and continuing hate propaganda against India by the sorts of Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed.

“We have made attempts to infuse the dialogue with the Thimphu spirit,” Rao said referring to the meeting between PM Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani in Bhutan last year when they paved the way for re-engagement.

Krishna also raised the confessions made by Pakistani-American Lashkar operative David Headleyduring the trial of another accused Tahawwur Rana in Chicago about the role of ISI but the Pakistanis quickly assured that they would investigate the matter.

Terror and J&K were discussed at length and this manifested itself in the joint statement which called for eliminating terror in all its forms and, on J&K, spoke of finding a “peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences”. They also agreed for a continued discussion on J&K in a purposeful and forward-looking manner.

Rao said there was “cautious optimism” in India-Pak relations. Krishna stated that things were “on the right track”. The two foreign ministers decided to meet again in the first half of 2012. “This is indeed a new era of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, and it is our desire… to make it an uninterrupted and an uninterruptible process,” Khar said.

“There has been a mindset change in the people of the two countries that we must acknowledge,” she added. Khar showed remarkable maturity for her age when during the joint press briefing after the talks, she resisted all temptations to play to the gallery by mentioning the K-word even though it figured prominently in the joint statement.

Bashir too said after the talks that the two countries needed to make a conscious effort to be respectful to each other to maintain the momentum and ensure deeper level of engagement. “Either of us should not seek advantage over the other as we go for a deeper level of engagement. It is also not appropriate to read into what is said and what is not. We have to understand that this is a work in progress,” said Bashir.

After the talks, when asked if the Hurriyat meeting was an attempt to establish “parallel” structures in the bilateral relationship, Rao said as far as India was concerned, there was only a “bilateral structure” between the two governments to address all issues. Hurriyat leaders had insisted before Khar in the meeting on Tuesday that Kashmiris too be made a part of the dialogue between India and Pakistan.

Shifting the National Conversation On Terrorism from Islamaphobia to Mass-Murderers

Norway Killings Shift Debate on Islam in Europe

By 

BERLIN — Less than a week after the mass killings in Norway, evidence of a shift in the debate over Islam and the radical right in Europe already appeared to be taking hold on a traumatized Continent.

Members of far-right parties in Sweden and Italy were condemned from within their own ranks for blaming the attack on multiculturalism, as expressions of outrage over the deaths crossed the political spectrum. A member of France’s far-right National Front was suspended for praising the attacker.

Lurking in the background is the calculation on all sides that such tragedies can drive shifts in public opinion. The violent actions of a terrorist or homicidal individual can hardly be blamed on nonviolent political parties. But politicians have begun to question inflammatory rhetoric in the debate over immigrants, which has helped fuel the rise of right-leaning politicians across Europe in recent years.

The head of the Social Democratic Party in Germany, Sigmar Gabriel, told the German news service dpa on Wednesday that a trend toward xenophobia and nationalism in the region had fostered the attacks in Norway. In a society where anti-Islamic sentiment and isolation were tolerated “naturally on the margins of society there will be crazy people who feel legitimized in taking harder measures,” he said.

“The center of society has to make clear that there is no room for this with us, even for sanitized versions,” Mr. Gabriel said. “There is a deep feeling in society that the pendulum has swung too far toward individualism.”

It is too soon to tell what the political fallout from the attacks will be. The left in Europe is out of power in major countries including Britain, France, Germany and Italy — and has struggled to find a cause to revitalize it, or at least to reframe the passionate debate overimmigration. The mainstream right, on the other hand, could find it more difficult to accept support from the far-right parties after the deadly events in Oslo and on Utoya Island.

“The biggest challenge is the opportunism of the center and I think this will change now,” said Joschka Fischer, Germany’s former foreign minister and a leading European voice on the left, pointing to the Danish government’s cooperation with the far-right Danish People’s Party, which has pushed through a partial reinstitution of border controls.

The political fallout will be unpredictable in part because Europe is still so varied in its political landscape, with each country’s different history and culture. Norway, for instance, is not a member of the European Union.

That may make it more difficult for a left-leaning politician to seize the initiative against conservatives the way that President Bill Clinton did in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, which was carried out by a right-wing extremist. Trying to link mainstream politicians to the beliefs of Anders Behring Breivik, who authorities in Norway say has taken responsibility for the killings and his lawyer says is insane, is also risky.

Pascal Perrineau, professor at the Institut d’é(aigu)tudes politiques de Paris, where he directs the Center for Political Research, said that French parties were being “extremely cautious” in their approach to the tragedy out of fear of looking like they were exploiting it. According to Mr. Perrineau, it was unlikely to shift the larger balance of power between right and left in France, but would make it more difficult for the far-right Front National and its leader Marine Le Pen in elections.

Mr. Breivik 1500-page manifesto, while full of calls for violence, also contains some passages that echo the concerns of mainstream political leaders about preserving national identity and values.

“So much of what he wrote could have been said by any right-wing politician,” said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-chairman of the Green bloc in the European Parliament. “A lot of arguments about immigrants and Islamic fundamentalism will now be much easier to question and to push back.”

The clearest evidence of a change in tone at this early stage may be the way anti-immigrant parties try to rein in their members. A member of the National Front, Jacques Coutela, was suspended for calling Mr. Breivik “an icon” on his blog. He replaced it with a note saying he denounced Mr. Breivik’s actions.

Murder of Afghan mayor deals new setback to Karzai

Murder of Afghan mayor deals new setback to Karzai

Associated Press

In this undated image made available by the provincial media center Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi addresses a press conference in Kandahar south of Kabul, Afghanistan. The mayor of Kandahar was assassinated on Wednesday July 27, 2011 by a suicide bomber who hid explosives in his turban Afghan officials said. The Taliban say they sent the suicide bomber who killed the mayor of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. Hamidi was the third major powerbroker from the south to be slain this month. (AP Photo/Provincial Media Center )

An assassin struck at the heart of President Hamid Karzai’s political machine in southern Afghanistan Wednesday, killing the mayor of Kandahar with an exploding turban and deepening a power vacuum in the Taliban’s main stronghold.

The slaying of Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi was the third killing of a Karzai associate in a little more than two weeks. The attacks have jeopardized the Afghan government’s tenuous grip on the strategic south after recent success in routing the Taliban.

On July 12, a close associate gunned down Karzai’s powerful half brother at his home in Kandahar. Five days later, Karzai’s inner circle suffered another hit when gunmen in Kabul killed Jan Mohammad Khan, a presidential adviser on tribal issues and a former governor of Uruzgan province, which is also in the south.

The 65-year-old, gray-haired mayor was slain inside a heavily fortified government compound just before he was to meet with local residents caught up in a land dispute, according to Mohammad Nabi, an employee of the mayor’s office. The attacker was holding a piece of paper and trying to talk to the mayor when he detonated a bomb hidden inside his turban, said Nabi, who witnessed the killing.

“After that, there was some shooting,” he said. “I hid behind a wall. The windows were shattered. There was dark smoke.”

In the aftermath, part of the attacker’s black and gray-striped turban was strewn on the ground next to a blood-spattered tree.

One civilian was also killed and another civilian and a security guard were wounded, the governor’s office said.

Hamidi was buried Wednesday evening in a family plot near Kandahar University. Karzai’s elder brother, Qayyum Karzai, was overcome with grief at the funeral.

“It is a bad day for Kandahar and it is a bad day for Afghanistan. The Kandahar mayor was an honest Muslim who was serving the country,” Qayyum Karzai said, then wiped tears from his eyes with both hands and walked away.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the trio of killings. But the south is rife with tribal rivalries and criminals and it is not yet certain the group orchestrated the assassinations.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi called the killing a “big blow” to the Karzai administration. He told The Associated Press that the Taliban killed the mayor because he ordered the destruction of homes that city officials claimed had been illegally constructed. He said the mayor was killed to avenge the deaths of two children during the demolition work.

Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa said the two children were accidentally killed by a bulldozer knocking down the homes.

During his four years as mayor, Hamidi had campaigned against warlords and criminals and was particularly harsh on people who took illegal control of property, according to his son-in-law, Abdullah Khan. Just before the killing, the mayor had ordered more than a dozen large homes torn down in the north end of the city, saying they had been built illegally.

“From day one, I was afraid,” Khan told the AP in a telephone interview. “I wanted to put pressure on him to leave.”

He expressed doubt the authorities were up to the task of investigating the killing.

The president denounced the attack, blaming “terrorists who don’t want this country to be rebuilt.”

Gen. John Allen, the new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Ryan Crocker, the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, also condemned the assassination.

“Clearly a string of assassinations is not a good sign … but at the same time, this could be a sign of significant weakness on the part of an enemy who has had a pretty darn hard year,” Crocker told reporters at his first briefing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“I don’t think you can chart a straight line that says that three assassinations guarantees a total unraveling either of international support or Afghan confidence. It could very well go the other way.”

Kate Clark, senior analyst with the Afghanistan Analysts Network, said the loss of another presidential ally in the south _ Karzai’s main base of political support _ could weaken the president there. Insurgents are “doing very well if they’re managing to pick off these major figures,” she said. “These people are not easy to target.”

Hamidi, an accountant who also had U.S. citizenship and spent years living in northern Virginia, was considered an ally of Wali Karzai in Kandahar but he operated behind the scenes. His name was mentioned as someone who might take over Wali Karzai’s unofficial position _ a master operator who played hard-line tribal and political factions against one another to retain ultimate control over the restive province. However, some said his tribal contacts were not strong enough to assume that role.

Kandahar provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Razaq defended recent steps to improve security in the city.

“You can’t judge security through this single incident,” Razaq said.

Provincial intelligence chief Gen. Mohammad Naeem Momin said Kandahar would recover from the setback.

“Kandahar is like a base for the insurgents so they will try to show their presence, but it doesn’t mean that we have lost control here,” he said.

Agha Haji Lalai, acting head of the Kandahar provincial council since Wali Karzai’s death, said the province needs special attention from the government in the wake of the killings.

“It’s time for the government and the president to think about it and take some serious steps,” he said. “I don’t think people will feel secure now and the government structure in Kandahar is not strong.”

There have been a string of government officials assassinated in Kandahar. Two deputy mayors were murdered last year, the provincial police chief was killed in April and the top cleric in the province was killed earlier this month when another attacker who stuffed explosives in his turban blew himself up in a mosque during a memorial service for the president’s half brother.

Shekaba Hashimi, a lawmaker from Kandahar expressed little hope that anything would be done to stop the assassinations.

“We have raised this issue many times in the parliament,” she said. “Nobody pays any attention.”

Hashimi, who has been critical of the president, said that while insurgents are attacking government officials, Karzai is telling them: “Come, my brothers and let’s have peace.'”

Fawzia Kofi, a lawmaker from Badakhshan, said she didn’t think Hamidi’s death would be a serious political blow to Karzai, but said it highlighted the lack of security for government officials.

“We are not safe in our offices. We are not safe in our houses,” she said. “It is a matter of concern. But in his case, I think this was about the land dispute.”

___

Associated Press writers Amir Shah, Patrick Quinn, Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez in Kabul and Kathy Gannon in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Republicans Slamming the Brakes on Hillary’s State Dept. Spending

A key House panel is to vote Wednesday on a measure that would slash many areas of State Department and foreign aid funding, and place new restrictions on assistance to Pakistan, Egypt and Yemen.

The Republican-sponsored bill is expected to pass, since the party holds seven of the 11 seats on the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee. But the vote is just the first step in what is likely to be a drawn-out battle over funding for diplomacy and foreign aid in 2012.

The bill would roughly double aid to the so-called “front-line states” — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq — providing them with about $7.6 billion, in line with the Obama administration’s request. But it would reduce spending for the rest of State Department and foreign programs by around $5 billion, or 11 percent. If it were to become law — a big if — the cuts could be severe enough to necessitate furloughs at the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to some budget analysts.

The legislation reflects the determination of the Republican-dominated House to rein in spending at a time of record deficits, but to preserve military assistance and programs aimed at fighting drug-trafficking and terrorism.

“We have established tough oversight and accountability measures that will make sure my constituents’ tax dollars are not wasted overseas while making sure we support our national security priorities and key allies,” said Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), head of the subcommittee, in a statement.

The bill will doubtless be a disappointment to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has made it a priority to staff up the State Department and the depleted ranks of USAID. The legislation would reduce the State Department’s operating budget by around 14 percent. It also would significantly cut development assistance and contributions to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank.

“At a time when the demands we place on our diplomatic and development workforce are increasing, it is short-sighted to downsize the Department of State and USAID,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), the panel’s top Democrat. “Funding levels are also inadequate to maintain global leadership on global health, development, and disaster relief.”

The spending bill adopted by the House will have to be reconciled with one from the Democratic-majority Senate that will almost certainly look much different. If that doesn’t happen by Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, Congress may vote to continue spending at current levels.

The House bill slaps tough new conditions on aid to several countries. It would block aid to Pakistan unless the country shows progress on fighting terrorist groups and helps the U.S. government investigate Osama bin Laden’s network.

The measure would also cease funding for the Palestinian Authority if it continued to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations this fall. And it would hold up aid to Egypt, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen until Clinton certified that their governments didn’t include terrorist groups or their sympathizers.

The bill also includes a Republican priority — reinstatement of the “Mexico City policy,” which bars U.S. assistance to non-governmental organizations abroad that promote abortion. That policy, in place under President George W. Bush, was reversed by the Obama administration.

Wana Taliban Waging War Against Immodesty with Bonfire of Sexy Fabric

Mulvi Nazir group bans phone cameras, transparent fabric

P G

Mulvi Nazir 

WANA: The Taliban’s Mulvi Nazir group banned the use of mobile phone cameras and the sale of transparent fabrics for women’s clothes in South Waziristan Agency, Dunya News reported July 26.

Nazir’s men seized and burned 10,000 sq m of fabric from merchants in Wana’s market.

The Taliban threatened punishment for any shopkeeper caught selling see-through fabric to women, media reported.

They also threatened severe punishment and fines of up to Rs. 50,000 (US $578) for anyone found with a cell-phone camera, media added.

Russia threatens to sink a reboot

Russia threatens to sink a reboot

(” Foreign Policy “
Josh Rogin (Josh Rogin)
Russia USA america button reset
© Reuters

Russia has threatened Obama administration that will stop cooperation on Iran and prevent further deliveries of supplies to Afghanistan if Congress passes a law which has been criticized in the Russian practice of human rights. The White House argues that the Russian-American relations have restarted three positive result: START-3 of nuclear arms reductions, cooperation with Russia in sanctions against Iran and Russia’s agreement (for money) for the transfer of American military supplies through Russian territory to Afghanistan. But now Russia is using two of these three results as leverage, trying to get from an administration that she did not give Congress the adoption of a law prohibiting the issuance of visas to the Russian representatives involved in crimes in the area of human rights. The bill is named for the lawyer Magnitsky , who was tortured and died in a Russian prison in 2009. It is aimed against those who arrested Magnitsky, as well as against other Russians, “guilty of murder without trial, torture and other serious violations of human rights.” The administration acknowledged that sounded Russian threats in its official statement on the bill text which managed to get Cable. “High-level representatives of the Russian government warned us that the answer is asymmetric in the case of adoption of this law, – the document says. – Their argument is that they should not be waiting for support for sanctions against countries such as Iran, North Korea and Libya, at the same time when sanctions are applied against them. Russian officials have stated that the adoption of the law will be threatened, and other areas of bilateral cooperation, including transit cargo to Afghanistan. ” “The Russian Duma has already proposed a bill to impose similar visa restrictions and the freezing of financial assets of those U.S. officials who are deemed guilty Russia in violation of the rights of Russian citizens arrested abroad and brought to trial in the U.S. – said the administration. – We can not judge the scale of such shares, but note that due to the adoption of the Law S. 1039 hit, and other U.S. national security interests “.Washington Post first reported today on a statement of administration and published the news that the State Department quietly switched involved in the murder Magnitsky Russian officials in black visa list. It seems that this blacklist was an attempt to forestall the adoption of the Administration law. “Clinton Secretary of State has taken steps to prohibit entry into the U.S. of those involved in the death of Magnitsky, which set in due to illegal actions. Therefore, the administration sees no need for further legislation, “- said in a statement. But in fact, the proposed bill included not only those who are involved in the case Magnitsky. The Senate version of the bill also included those involved in a variety of Russian affairs on human rights violations, including that of the jailed Russian dissident, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.The main proponent of the bill the Senate Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland (Ben Cardin) said today in an interview with Cable, that he is working to respond to the expressed fears of the administration. He does not know when the bill is considered in committee and at a meeting of the Senate. “I work with the administration, working with the committee, working with my colleagues Senators to decide how to proceed – he said. – The strategy may change due to two reasons: first – what happens in Russia, the second – what happens at the State Department. At the moment, all is changeable. ” Meanwhile, the administration has another problem with a reboot – it should get out of Congress repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment of 1974, which was adopted as a punishment for the Soviet Union, his treatment of Jewish immigrants. This amendment prevents the granting Russia the status of permanent normal trade relations, which is one of the conditions of its accession to the WTO.Director of Russian National Security Council, Mike McFaul (Mike McFaul), appointed by the administration as ambassador to Moscow said last month New Republic, that it is not against the idea of making some new law to replace the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which could exert pressure on Russia in matters of human rights. “Jackson-Vanik amendment is outdated, – he said. – Let’s create a mechanism for newer, which is more appropriate for 2011. ” It is doubtful that the House of Representatives, with its Republican majority will give Russia the status of permanent normal trade relations. This means that the importance of law as a trump card Magnitsky in the negotiations may be minimal. Either way, it is now clear that the Obama administration attaches great importance to preserving the achievements of restarting and does not want that something in the way. “When we came to power, reboot, and Russia has become one of the key foreign policy goals – said in May reporters deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes (Ben Rhodes). – These relations are for the United States among the most fruitful. ”

China protests against U.S. spy flights near its coast: report

(Reuters) – China warned that recent U.S. surveillance flights near the Chinese coast have severely harmed strategic mutual trust and were a major obstacle hindering military ties between the two countries, state media reported Wednesday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, vowed Monday to press ahead with surveillance flights near China despite opposition from Beijing, following reports that Chinese jets crossed a boundary with Taiwan to pursue a U.S. spy plane.

Two Chinese Sukhoi-27 fighters last month briefly crossed a line in the center of the Taiwan Strait that is considered an unofficial air boundary between both sides. Asian media reported the Chinese jets were attempting to intercept a U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane.

“We demand that the U.S. respect China’s sovereignty and security interests and take concrete measures to boost a healthy and stable development of military relations,” the Global Times newspaper quoted the Ministry of National Defense as saying.

Xinhua news agency later quoted ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng as saying the reconnaissance missions “have severely undermined mutual trust and remained a major obstacle to the development of military ties.”

The comments followed Mullen’s visit to China two weeks ago, part of efforts to improve ties with the People’s Liberation Army. Their ties have been rocky, with China unhappy with U.S. reconnaissance patrols near its coast and is suspicious of its bases in South Korea and Japan.

China’s rapid military buildup and territorial disputes in the South China Sea have also sparked concerns in the region.

The United States for its part wants greater military transparency from China over its military modernization, and has warned about China’s growing missile and cyber capabilities.

Self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by China as part of its sovereign territory, has been another major irritant in Sino-U.S. military relations. China has been furious about a 2010 package of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan worth up to $6.4 billion.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Are rightwing bloggers to blame for the Norway massacre?

Are rightwing bloggers to blame for the Norway massacre?

In an article titled Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S., the New York Times highlights the connection between Anders Behring Breivik and American bloggers:

The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them…

His manifesto, which denounced Norwegian politicians as failing to defend the country from Islamic influence, quoted Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch Web site, 64 times, and cited other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.

Mr. Breivik frequently cited another blog, Atlas Shrugs, and recommended the Gates of Vienna among Web sites. Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of Islam who runs Atlas Shrugs, wrote on her blog Sunday that any assertion that she or other antijihad writers bore any responsibility for Mr. Breivik’s actions was “ridiculous.”

Much as I find Geller’s writing execrable, the primary responsibility for the slaughter in Norway rests with the cowardly killer and not the hate-mongers he quotes in his pathetic manifesto.

That’s not to say that there are no consequences for spewing a constant stream of hatred and intolerance.

After the Giffords shooting, I wrote about eliminationism on the right. My focus was on the invective directed by rightwingers at the left, but it also applies to anti-Muslim bigotry rampant on a number of conservative sites…

Hate breeds violence (Originally posted 1/8/11)

Anyone who listens to the relentless liberal-bashing on rightwing radio and other conservative outlets will quickly realize that the level of vitriol and derision directed at the left will inevitably provoke a few individuals to act out. And they do. Often with deadly consequences.

Digby explains:

It is clear to me that most people in journalism and (non-right wing) blogging do not listen to right wing talk radio very often and simply cannot believe it when critics report what they are saying. … I realize that it’s hard to believe that Americans are this obnoxious. It’s probably even harder to believe they are paid hundreds of millions of dollars to promote this bigotry on the radio to millions of other Americans, but they are — they are speaking the language of eliminationism and hate day after day after day. If it soothes you to believe that those who are alarmed by that are the intemperate ones so be it, but it doesn’t change what they are doing or the effect it’s had on our politics.

For context, read The Terrorist Threat: Right-Wing Radicals and the Eliminationist Mindset:

An abortion provider who had been a frequent target of Fox News’ bloviator Bill O’Reilly was gunned down during a church service in Kansas; a mentally disturbed man who believed the “tea-bagging” movement’s contention that the Obama administration is destroying the American economy — and who reportedly owned a number of firearms — withdrew $85,000 from his bank account, said he was part of a plot to assassinate the president and disappeared (he was later captured in Las Vegas); and this week, a white supremacist who was deeply steeped in far-right conspiracism entered the U.S. Holocaust Museum and opened fire, killing a guard before being shot and wounded by security personnel.

The three incidents share a common feature: All of these men thought they were serving a higher moral purpose, that is, defending their country from an insidious “enemy within” as defined by the far right — a “baby-killer,” the Jews who secretly control the world and a president who’s been accused of being aManchurian Candidate-style foreign agent bent on nothing less than the destruction of the American Way.

David Neiwert, a veteran journalist who has covered violent right-wing groups for years, calls the worldview that informs this twisted sense of moral purpose “eliminationism.” It’s the belief that one’s political opponents are not just wrongheaded, misinformed or even acting in bad faith. Eliminationism holds that they are a cancer on the body politic that must be excised — either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination — in order to protect the purity of the nation.

As eliminationist rhetoric becomes increasingly mainstream within the American right — fueled in large part by the wildly overheated discourse found on conservative blogs and talk radio — Neiwert’s new book,The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, could not have come at a more important time. In it, Neiwert painstakingly details how the rise in eliminationism is a very real threat and points to the dangers of dismissing extreme rhetoric as merely a form of “entertainment.”

Here’s an exceptionally detailed post from Media Matters on another example of rightwing hate breeding violence:

I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn’t for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind.” – Byron Williams

Byron Williams, a 45-year-old ex-felon, exploded onto the national stage in the early morning hours of July 18.

According to a police investigation, Williams opened fire on California Highway Patrol officers who had stopped him on an Oakland freeway for driving erratically. For 12 frantic minutes, Williams traded shots with the police, employing three firearms and a small arsenal of ammunition, including armor-piercing rounds fired from a .308-caliber rifle.

When the smoke cleared, Williams surrendered; the ballistic body armor he was wearing had saved his life. Miraculously, only two of the 10 CHP officers involved in the shootout were injured.

In an affidavit, an Oakland police investigator reported that during an interview at the hospital, Williams “stated that his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU.”

One myth promulgated by the right and the media is that there is equivalence between provocative language on the far left and far right, but that is far from the case:

Even the most cursory perusal of rightwing radio, television, blogs and assorted punditry illustrates a profound distinction: in large measure, the right’s overarching purpose is to stoke hatred of the left, of liberalism. The right’s messaging infrastructure, meticulously constructed and refined over decades, promotes an image of liberals as traitors and America-haters, unworthy of their country and bent on destroying it. There is simply no comparable propaganda effort on the left.

The imbalance is stark: Democrats and liberals rail against the right’s ideas; the right rails against the left’s very existence.

The result is an atmosphere where bigotry thrives, where science and reason are under assault, where progress (associated with progressivism) is frowned upon. And it’s an atmosphere where violence becomes more likely. Pretending this is not the case is to enable it.

The deeply-etched themes that run through American politics reflect the right’s successful framing: Democrats and liberals are wimps, Republicans and conservatives are gun-toting patriots; Democrats and liberals despise their country, Republicans and conservatives are the only ones willing to protect it; Democrats and liberals want to intrude on your freedom, tax you and bankrupt the nation, Republicans and conservatives want to give you freedom, liberty and wealth. The current of eliminationism infusing the right’s worldview is an inevitable outcome of such contorted impressions – it’s a natural impulse to want to destroy that which is (supposedly) destroying you.

Those who foist the false right/left equivalency ignore this reality. Their definition of extremism is necessarily warped, since they have to stretch logic to fabricate a sense of balance. If you want single-payer health care, you’re a liberal extremist, but if you deny global warming, you’re simply a conservative skeptic. As the national discourse moves further and further right, only the most unhinged rightwingers are tagged as extreme, while all it takes for a liberal to be labeled an extremist is to espouse a policy position that is out of the mainstream. That is not to say there are not violent individuals and extremists on the left, but that it is absurd to argue that left and right are comparable in the language of violence and incitement.

When center becomes right and right becomes far right, conservatives can get away with wilder and weirder behavior. Exhortations from radio blatherers to bash liberals are dismissed as “entertainment.” Glenn Beck’s bizarre rantings barely get a yawn.

This has been a long time coming and culpability lies not just with the haters but with those in the media and Democratic establishment who refuse to confront the hate-mongering when they see it. Here’s something I wrote about Ann Coulter in 2006.  It sums up everything I want to say about the ongoing demonization of the left and the resulting potential for violence [The title of Coulter’s most recent book is “Demonic”]:

NBC, a major U.S. media outlet, has given Coulter extended play in recent days. They have knowingly given a public forum to a woman who slandered 9/11 widows and who is now on the record identifying John Murtha, a U.S. Congressman, a Marine, as an ideal target for murder. Anybody who watched Ann Coulter’s June 14th appearance on the Tonight Show had to realize that it was a watershed moment in the war between the establishment media and the progressive netroots. It was also a signal to Democrats that liberal ideology can be denigrated with impunity. Had the words “Jew” or “Christian” or “Conservative” been substituted for “Liberal” we’d be waking up to a national scandal.

Never mind that Jay Leno and George Carlin sat like trembling lambs while Coulter spewed gutter-level invective at millions of Americans – we’ve already seen the same obsequiousness from Larry King, Matt Lauer (who ended his faux-debate with Coulter by saying “always fun to have you”) and others. The larger issue here is that despite an uproar from the progressive netroots, NBC saw fit to give Coulter a platform to continue her liberal-scapegoating and to slander women who lost their husbands on 9/11.

It’s hard to deny that Coulter’s words border on incitement. What she says is neither amusing nor smart nor humorous nor factual nor worthy of airing on a major media outlet. It treats a substantial segment of the population as sub-human, as creatures deserving of public scorn and worse (She said Jesus would say that “we are called upon to do battle” on liberalism). Careful not to violate Godwin’s Law, I’ll refrain from the obvious comparisons, but what we’re dealing with here is a dangerous inflection point in American politics. When this kind of opprobrium is peddled by major media outlets, it’s high time that the Democratic establishment and the larger progressive community understand that this is a make-or-break showdown with the media.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and their ilk have made an industry out of liberal-bashing. Coulter fits in perfectly with those hate-traffickers. And contrary to the false Michael Moore comparisons made by Leno and others, there is no progressive counterpart to these people on the national stage. The basic thrust of the left’s critique is that George W. Bush and his administration are bad for America. It is in our tradition for citizens to defend the Constitution and to question the actions of their elected leaders. Rightwingers may characterize it as Bush Derangement Syndrome, but the progressive community, for the most part, is going after government corruption and lies, not vilifying an entire group of Americans as Bin Laden-loving traitors.

Nearly five years after I wrote that, only one thing has changed: the problem has gotten worse.

Melissa McEwan nails it:

This is not an argument there is no hatred, no inappropriate and even violent rhetoric, among US leftists. There is. This is evidence that, although violent rhetoric exists among US leftists, it is not remotely on the same scale, and, more importantly, not an institutionally endorsed tactic, as it is among US rightwingers.

This is a fact. It is not debatable.

And there is observably precious little integrity among conservatives in addressing this fact, in the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

And as long as we continue to play this foolish game of “both sides are just as bad,” and rely on trusty old ablism to dismiss Jared Lee Loughner as a crackpot—dutifully ignoring that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators; carefully pretending that the existence of people with mental illness who are potentially dangerous somehow absolves us of responsibility for violent rhetoric, as opposed to serving to underline precisely why it’s irresponsible—it will be inevitable again.

The Norway tragedy is the work of an evil individual, and he should burn in hell for his barbaric actions. He is culpable for the carnage he wrought, not the bloggers from whom he drew inspiration. The blood of children is on his hands. Nevertheless, we would be foolish to discount the climate created by the torrent of invective and incitement emanating from America’s right.

Breivik and the Anti-Muslim Right

Breivik and the Anti-Muslim Right 

Posted by Michael Cohen

I, for one, am shocked, shocked to read that anti-Muslim bigots are defending themselvesagainst charges of culpability in the heinous terrorist acts of Anders Behring Breivik, by hiding behind the narrow reed that they never specifically advocated violence against children.

I was even more surprised that my good friend and colleague, Josh Foust, is making a similar argument, claiming that “In reality, no one really understands why they or anyone else behaves the way they do” and that “it does not follow that [anti-Muslim] writers should be linked to and blamed for his attacks. All of them, to a person, have distanced themselves from and condemned Breivik’s actions.” This strikes me as a far too generous read on the damage being wrought, both directly and indirectly, by the propagation of anti-Muslim narratives not just in Europe, but certainly also in the United States.

Certainly these writers don’t deserve direct blame for Breivik’s horrific actions (and it doesn’t mean one should put restrictions on their right to free speech). However the notion that hate-filled words and paranoid assertions about Islamic “takeover” somehow operate in a vacuum and don’t inform, inspire or, above all, validate the views of sociopaths likeBrievik runs counter to well-understood links between extreme and paranoid narratives and activism and violence. Individuals who are prone to paranoia, fetishize violence, demonstrate anti-social or sociopathic behavior or externalize blame can certainly be susceptible to conspiratorial and eliminationist narratives.

Honestly, is anyone really shocked that as anti-Muslim attitudes have increased in recent years (on both sides of the Atlantic) that something like this has happened? It’s like being shocked that as anti-government attitudes took on greater prominence in the early 1990s, Oklahoma City happened. (The only thing most surprising is that Breivik’s actual violence was perpetrated against non-Muslims).

Indeed, Breivik’s own manifesto, apes the hate-filled fear mongering of Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and other anti-Muslim bigots. He cites both writers and other anti-Islamistfearmongers in his 1,500 page manifesto that was released at approximately the same moment that he was engaging in one of the worst acts of mass violence in Europe since WWII. He is, as Toby Archer in Foreign Policy said a clear product of “predominantly web-based community of anti-Muslim, anti-government, and anti-immigration bloggers, writers, and activists.” Again, Breivik and his views didn’t just emerge from the ether.

Similarly as Brian Fishman nicely points out, Breivik’s actions coincide with the rise of radical right extremists and incipient revanchist nationalism across Europe. It stretches credulity to argue that this is all just a coincidence or that Breivik’s actions were in no way influenced or his beliefs validated by extremist narratives about Islam andmulti-culturalism that present these as some sort of existential threat to European civilization. Indeed, at his court hearing today Breivik plead not guilty, because he “believes that he needed to carry out these acts to save Norway” and western Europe from “cultural Marxism and Muslim domination.”

Of course, such rhetoric is clearly not restricted to Islam – and especially in the UnitedStates. We see it when pro-life advocates describe abortion doctors as “murderers”; we see it when political leaders warn that their opponents are seeking to ‘destroy America’; we see it when some of those same leaders talk about their political opponents with the use of eliminationist rhetoric. Stoking hatred and presenting opponents as not simply wrong, but immoral is the sort of speech that is and should be protected – but also should be recognized for what it is, deeply dangerous. (Peter Daou has a great post on this here). After the Gabrielle Giffords a lot of commentators jumped to false conclusions about what drove Jared Loughner to violence – but in a sense trying to find that connection was almost secondary in importance. Loughner may not have been influenced by Sarah Palin puttingcrosshairs over the names of vulnerable Democratic officeholders; it doesn’t mean such speech isn’t reckless and irresponsible.

Again, none of this means that those who might have inspired or influenced Breivik are responsible for his actions. And we certainly can’t know for sure if Breivik would have acted the way he did even if not for the anti-Muslims rantings of others (though it does appear on the surface that these words served as validation for his own toxic views).

But it also doesn’t mean that we should be blind to the consequences of hate-filled language.

If anything it should lead to greater scrutiny of how such words are being interpreted and even harsher condemnation for them.  And that goes for both hate-mongers and political leaders, like the majority of Republicans running for President who have warned of creeping sharia – a stance that casually plays on anti-Muslim attitudes for electoral gain. Arguing that bigoted and prejudice speech is a value neutral exercise because it is not accompanied by calls for violence is, for a lack of a better term, a bit of cop-out.

Speech matters and those who would traffic in eliminationist, extremist narratives don’t get a pass when violent psychopaths take such rhetoric to a not illogical, violent end.

Suicide bomber kills Kandahar city mayor, Ally of Wali Karzai

Suicide bomber kills Kandahar city mayor

Taliban claims responsibility for fatal attack on Ghulam Haidar Hameedi by man who hid explosives in his turban.
Ucciso da un kamikaze il sindaco di Kandahar source
The mayor of Kandahar Hamidi  

The mayor of Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar city has been killed in a suicide bombing, provincial officials say.

Ghulam Haidar Hameedi was killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a corridor near Hamidi’s office, Zalmay Ayoubi, the spokesperson for the Kandahar governor, said on Wednesday.

“It appears the bomber was carrying the bomb in his turban,” Ayoubi said.

Abdul Razaq, the Kandahar police chief, said Hameedi was meeting some elders from a district of Kandahar when one of them got close to the target and detonated a bomb hidden in his turban.

Bismullah Afghan Mal, a member of the upper house of parliament from Kandahar, also confirmed Hameedi’s death.

Taliban’s claim

Claiming responsibility for the attack, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, the Taliban spokesperson, told the Associated Press news agency that Hameedi had ordered the destruction of homes that city officials claimed had been illegally constructed.

Ahmadi said the Taliban killed him to avenge the deaths of two children who they allege were killed during the demolition work.

Afghanistan’s Taliban has been involved in the many prominent assassinations in the recent past, and Hameedi’s killing is the third assassination of a major political figure in the last one month.

Ryan Crocker, the new US ambassador to Afghanistan, and General John Allen, the new commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, both condemned the killing.

“It is an indication of the challenges ahead,” Crocker said during his first briefing at the US embassy in Kabul.

He said the recent string of assassinations could be an indication that the Taliban “have been damaged to the point that they are resorting to terrorist attacks.

“Clearly these are horrific attacks but they can also be interpreted as a sign of organisational weakness on the part of the adversary”.

Hameedi’s death comes two weeks after President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai– one of the most powerful men in southern Afghanistan – was assassinated at his home.

Hameedi, who lived in the US for nearly two decades before returning to Afghanistan after the collapse of the Taliban in 2001, was considered to be Wali Karzai’s ally in Kandahar.

Power vacuum

Last week, Karzai’s inner circle suffered another blow when assailants strapped with explosives killed Jan Mohammad Khan, an adviser on tribal issues and a former governor of Uruzgan province in the south.

A member of parliament also was killed in the July 17 attack at Khan’s home in Kabul.

Hameedi’s killing came amid a dangerous power vacuum after Ahmad Wali’s death.

At a funeral service for Ahmad Wali, a suicide attacker killed a senior religious leader and at least four other people.

Barack Obama’s announcement in June of phased pullout of US troops seems to have further emboldened the Taliban, who have stepped up violence against senior officials.

Kandahar was the site of over half of all targeted killings in Afghanistan between April and June, a UN report said.

 

The Truth Is Out–Republicans Are Terrible At Basic Math

Debt crisis: Republicans scramble to rewrite plan following figures bungle

Embarrassment for Congress speaker John Boehner after budget office finds $350bn hole in his original proposal

guardian.co.uk

US House Speaker John Boehner

John Boehner’s miscalculation has given the US debt crisis another twist. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

The US debt crisis has escalated after Republicans were forced to rewrite their proposal to lift the debt ceiling, because they miscalculated how much the original plan would cut spending.

In an embarrassing development for John Boehner, the Republican Congress speaker, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) ruled on Tuesday night that his bill would have only cut spending by $850bn (£517bn)over the next decade, not the $1.2tn he had aimed for. Republicans are now racing to rewrite the legislation, and have pushed back a congressional vote on the plan from Wednesday to Thursday at the earliest.

Although Boehner was already struggling to find support for his package, the delay increases the risk that Washington will fail to agree a deal toraise the debt ceiling before 2 August, when the federal government is expected to run out of money.

The dollar dropped against other currencies on Wednesday morning as investors faced the possibility that America could default. Several economists believe the country will lose its AAA credit rating within months, which would push up its borrowing costs, even if the $14.3tn debt ceiling is increased in time.

The White House said on Tuesday it was working with Congress to devise a “Plan B” that might attract enough support. The two sides have been deeply divided for weeks, with Republicans demanding deep spending cuts and Democrats anxious to include tax rises as a major part of the deal.

The US people may be losing patience with their political leaders. The congressional telephone system was swamped with calls from the public on Tuesday, coming close to collapse. The websites of several members of Congress have crashed this week, after president Obama urged Americans to make their voices heard.

Across the globe, there is growing astonishment that the world’s biggest economy is on the brink of a technical default because its elected leaders cannot hammer out a deal. Nouriel Roubini, the leading economics professor, said there was disbelief in China. “Biggest concern in meetings in Hong Kong: will the US default on its debt? Folks here are shocked by the dysfunctional US political system,” he tweeted from Shanghai.

In London, the FTSE 100 fell 39 points at the start of trading to 5890, following widespread losses in Asia overnight. Traders are braced for the debt ceiling negotiations to go right to the wire.

“Equity markets remain on the back foot as the US debt impasse continues to dominate the agenda. The political spat continues and as a result the expectation is that negotiations will be ongoing into next week, right up to that August 2nd deadline,” said Chris Weston, Institutional trader at IG Markets.

Five French UNIFIL Troops Hurt in Sidon Blast

Five French UNIFIL Troops Hurt in Sidon Blast

by Naharnet Newsdesk

Five French soldiers serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were wounded on Tuesday, one seriously, in a roadside bomb attack in the southern city of Sidon, a UNIFIL spokesman told Agence France Presse.

“According to preliminary reports, at around 6:00 pm today (1500 GMT) an explosion targeted a UNIFIL convoy along the highway at Sidon,” said UNIFIL spokesman Neeraj Singh.

“Five UNIFIL peacekeepers were injured in the explosion. Three of the injured were transported to hospital for treatment.”

For its part, state-run National News Agency said the explosion occurred near the Siniq Bridge at Sidon’s southern entrance.

One of the soldiers taken to hospital was in serious condition with burns to his face and shrapnel in one eye, an official at Hammoud Hospital in Sidon told AFP.

The second soldier was slightly wounded in his left eye, the official added, asking not to be named. The third soldier was released and sent back to base, he said.

An army spokesman told AFP the bomb was placed on the side of the road and was triggered as the vehicle — a troop carrier — drove by.

The front of the vehicle was badly damaged and several parts were blown 20 to 30 meters by the force of the blast.

Several French peacekeepers could be seen covered in dust near the site of the explosion.

UNIFIL forensic experts rushed to the scene along with Lebanese troops, who cordoned off the area and began gathering evidence.

“We are working in coordination with the Lebanese army to determine the circumstances of the incident,” Singh said.

Prime Minister Najib Miqati, who is vacationing in France, telephoned Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi, asking them to open an immediate probe into the bombing, his office said.

Miqati also called French Ambassador to Lebanon Denis Pietton to condemn the attack.

On May 27 six Italian peacekeepers were wounded — two of them seriously — along with two civilians in a similar roadside bomb explosion near Sidon.

The UNIFIL, a multinational force which currently has 12,000 troops stationed in south Lebanon, was initially set up to monitor Lebanon’s border with Israel.

It was expanded after a devastating 2006 war between the Jewish state and Hizbullah.

The force has been the target of three other unclaimed attacks, the latest in January 2008 when two Irish officers were wounded by a roadside bomb.

In the deadliest incident, three Spanish and three Colombian peacekeepers were killed in June of 2007 when a booby-trapped car exploded as their patrol vehicle drove by.

Claims of major US airstrikes on Mullah Nazir and Gul Bahadar forces, in Afghanistan

35 Pakistani Taliban killed in US air strikes in Afghanistan

PTI

ISLAMABAD: At least 35 Pakistani Taliban fighters have been killed in US air strikes in Afghanistan after they attacked a convoy of foreign troops, reports from the Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan said on Tuesday.

The reports said that a group of 100 Pakistani Taliban militants fired missiles and rockets at a convoy of foreign forces in Paktiya on Friday.

US ground forces sought air cover and NATO fighter jets targeted the Pakistani militants, killing 35 of them.

Over a dozen rebels were injured. They were brought to hospitals in North Waziristan Agency, the reports said.

Those who were killed included militants from Pakistani Taliban groups led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir.

Punjabi Taliban militants too were among the dead and injured, residents of Waziristan said.

The Taliban factions led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir have struck peace deals with thePakistan government but they are accused by the US of sending fighters across the border into Afghanistan.

US drones routinely target militants of both groups in Waziristan.

Pakistani militants are now trying to transfer the bodies to Waziristan, sources said.

But local residents said most of those killed were local tribesmen and people were visiting their relatives to offer condolences.

Clinton Pushing Double-Cross On the Sub-Continent

Is this the Obama doctrine?

The writer was Pakistan’s ambassador to the EU from 2002-2004 and to the US in 1999 tariq.fatemi@tribune.com.pk

Nothing seems to be going right in Pakistan-US relations. Just when we were wondering what Pakistan needed to do to restore some semblance of normalcy to its ties with the US, the latter decided to arrest Ghulam Nabi Fai, long a voice against violence and an advocate for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. Are the two agencies playing games with each other?

Next, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to serve another ‘demand note’ on Pakistan and that too while in India, which made it needlessly provocative. Her other remarks at the end of the US-India strategic dialogue were not helpful either, particularly her support for India’s quest for transit rights across South and Central Asia. It was, however, in the southern port city of Chennai that Clinton became India’s unabashed cheerleader, stressing that India-US ties would be the defining partnership of the 21st century, while nudging India to play a more assertive role across the Asia-Pacific region, arguing that it “is an ambitious agenda, but we can afford to be ambitious.” Her assertions must have fallen on receptive ears, as Indian Foreign Minister Krishna confirmed that “we discussed our shared interest in peaceful and stable Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region architecture in the region”. As if to demonstrate how much the two are in sync, it was announced that the Indian president would be undertaking official visits to South Korea and Mongolia, two countries of special interest to China, while the joint statement revealed that “India, the US and Japan plan to commence a trilateral dialogue at the senior official level.”

Increasingly, Clinton has been sounding as if she has joined those in the US who are convinced of the need to galvanise South East Asian nations to confront China now, rather than in the future, when it may no longer be feasible. A year ago, at the annual Asean Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Hanoi, Clinton had waded into the choppy waters of the South China Sea, where China and its South Asian neighbours are embroiled in a contentious dispute, declaring America’s support for the right to freedom of navigation. Suspecting it as America’s effort to fish in troubled waters, China was constrained to warn the US and other major powers to stay out of disputes in the region. At last week’s ARF annual meeting, Clinton renewed her efforts to encourage South East Asian nations to be more assertive in their claims to the strategically located and potentially lucrative waters of the South China Sea.

Clinton’s remarks in Chennai appear to flesh out the bare bones of the US-India strategic partnership envisaged by Bush and the neocons. Its scale is huge and ambition unlimited, as Clinton herself admitted. Though an Indian Ocean power, the US is committing itself to making India a Pacific Ocean power as well, and for this purpose encouraging her to work with Japan on security issues relating to the region. The East Asia Summit would be turned into the premier regional forum for dealing with security issues and India invited as an observer, for the first time, in the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Nothing could be more provocative to China.

Do Clinton’s exhortations in Chennai represent the Obama doctrine for ‘containment’ of China? Getting India into this arrangement may sound like a stroke of genius, but could turn out to be a huge folly as well. Coming as it does at a time when the American economy shows no sign of recovery and its debt to China exceeds $1 trillion, Clinton and company are engaging in an audacious gamble and one that is likely to add greatly to regional tension and turmoil.

Given Pakistan’s strategic relations to China and continuing tensions with India, the Obama administration’s encouragement of India to become more assertive and ambitious in both South and South East Asia demonstrate the limitations of US-Pakistan relations, while creating huge challenges for Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune

Pak. Army Claims Pak. Taliban Turned Qurans Into I.E.D.s

Army concludes ‘successful’ South Waziristan operation

By PPI

Army claims to have cleared the Janata Valley in South Waziristan of terrorists. PHOTO: REUTERS/ FILE

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Army has successfully completed its Tri Star operation in Janata Valley of South Waziristan Agency to flush out terrorists.

An ISPR press release on Tuesday said that the operation was successfully completed and security forces gained full control of Janata Valley inflicting heavy causalities on terrorists and capturing large caches of arms and ammunition.

The operation was launched on July 13, 2011 in Janata Valley where terrorists had occupied surrounding heights ranging from 4000 to 8000 feet, made sanctuaries, training centers from which they used to operate deep South for terrorist activities, planting improvised explosive devises, fire raids, ambushes.

To eradicate the terrorists, a two pronged operation was launched in 28 square kilometre area.  A search operation found IEDs planted in Holy Qurans by the terrorists, pointing to the fact that the terrorists were oblivious to Islamic values and would indulge in all sorts of practices to achieve their heinous objectives since they did not hesitate to degrade the Holy Book.

During the operation a number of terrorists were killed, whereas three key terrorists were captured alive.

Besides destroying terrorists sanctuaries huge cache of arms, ammunition were recovered including two 75mm recoilless rifles, five 12.7 mm guns, one 82 mm Mortar, one missile launcher with two Missiles, fourteen 127mm Rockets and 50,000 rounds of various calibers.

Security forces also defused 16 IEDs and destroyed propaganda material being used by miscreants.

Anders Breivik wasn’t a “lone wolf”, he was part of a movement

Anders Breivik wasn’t a “lone wolf”, he was part of a movement

by Adam Bienkov

Right-wing pundits are now very keen to tell us that the Norwegian terror attacks were not caused by right-wing anti-multicultural ideology.

The fact that Anders Breivik quoted Daily Mail articles in his manifesto and forged links with the same anti-immigration groups lauded by our tabloid press is apparently neither here nor there.

He was just a lone nutter okay? And besides, if it wasn’t for multiculturalism, then there wouldn’t have been a problem there in the first place.

Boris Johnson takes a similar tack today, telling his Telegraph readers that:

“It wasn’t about immigration, or Eurabia, or the hadith, or the Eurocrats’ plot against the people. It wasn’t really about ideology or religion. It was all about him… There is an important lesson in the case of Anders Breivik. He killed in the name of Christianity – and yet of course we don’t blame Christians or “Christendom”. Nor, by the same token, should we blame “Islam” for all acts of terror committed by young Muslim males.

We shouldn’t blame right-wing politics for right-wing terrorism, says Boris, just as we shouldn’t blame Islam for Islamic terrorism. Right-wing politics isn’t the problem. Islam isn’t the problem.

Except that Boris used to say that Islam very much *was* the problem.

Here he is in The Spectator shortly after the 7/7 bombings:

That means disposing of the first taboo, and accepting that the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem. To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke. Judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers… What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam’s mediaeval ass?

Back then Islam definitely was the problem for Boris, just as he thinks that the right-wing fear-mongering pushed by the likes of his colleagues and friends definitely isn’t the problem now.

The difference between the two cases is not one of principle but of politics.
Boris did not feel implicated by those who blamed Islam for the 7/7 attacks but he does feel implicated by those blaming right-wing politics for the Breivik attacks.

When Islam was in the dock, Boris wanted it detained without charge, but now that right-wing ideology is in the dock, he wants it released, no questions asked.
It’s a sly trick, but it’s one that he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with.

Islamic ideology had questions to answer after 7/7 and the hard-right ideology pushed by certain pundits in the press has questions to answer now.

The Anders Breivik of this world do not emerge from nowhere, just as the English Defence Leagues of this world do not emerge from nowhere. They are fostered by an ideology legitimised by screaming tabloid headlines and the fear-mongering of politicians who really should know better.

And unfortunately whilst Breivik’s actions were the actions of a nutter, he is not the only nutter out there.

Three years ago 54 explosive devices and 12 firearms were found at the home of BNP member Terence Gavan.

Like Breivik, Gavan saw himself as defending his country from Muslim immigration, and like Breivik he was dismissed as a “lone wolf” whose ideology we didn’t need to worry about.

And yet from lone wolves, larger packs are formed.

So whilst we shouldn’t entirely blame right-wing ideologues for helping form those packs, we shouldn’t entirely absolve them from their responsibilities either.

Intellectuals Sought To Transform Human Nature With a Tablet or a Blotter Paper–Span. Trans.

[Anyone who has ever had the acid experience understands the transformational aspects of the drug–once you swallow it, you are never the same.  The expansion of consciousness into multiple paths at once could be seen as psych training for today’s “multitasking.”  Those who have tread this path are equally divided into those who are glad to have had the experience and those who are sorry that they ever put the damned thing into their mouth, or the “windowpane”  into their eye (ask someone who understands).  We may learn one day, if we survive, that these people did indeed alter the collective human mind by altering a few consciousnesses.]

WORLD A sting operation broke up one of the most extraordinary drug trafficking networks that the world has ever seen and the British police changed forever.What was Operation Julie?


It was not the typical drug bust. When 800 police officers throughout the United Kingdom conducted the raid just before dawn one morning in 1977, dozens of officials working on the case had their faces unshaven, long haired hippy style. They seemed rather taken from a concert by Pink Floyd. And the great cooperative development of LSD (lysergic acid) that were intended was, if anything, even more unusual. Among its leading members, doctors, scientists and academics, motivated, insisting by an evangelical urgency to transform human consciousness. But despite its ideals of peace and love, his plot was, at that time, the largest drug network that Britain had ever seen and one of the largest in the world. After the agents seized a stash enough for six million “trips”, the price of one dose of LSD on the streets of the kingdom jumped from one pound to five in one night. The investigation, named Operation Julie, only destroyed the band.
You could say it represents the final throes of the counterculture of the 1960, since destroyed the idealism with which many viewed the world of drugs and ushered in an era more harsh and brutal in the underworld of narcotics . In addition, its unprecedented scale and cooperation between the forces forever changed the way the UK was monitored and set the mark that would have the so-called war on drugs in the 1980s. The investigation led to raids in 87 homes, which resulted in over 100 arrests and 15 ringleaders sentenced to a combined 120 years in prison. psychedelia in Cambridge had all started in a unusual scenario: in academia at the University of Cambridge, inspired by the philosophy of American Timothy Leary, LSD pioneer, who postulated that the drug might open the mind and transform society for the better. The catalyst was David Solomon, a California bohemian intellectual and a contributor to Leary, who came to Cambridge in 1967. Two years later he met Richard Kemp, a chemist at the University of Liverpool. Soon, Kemp began to frequent the circle of Solomon, and his first production of LSD began in the American house, a former vicarage. One of the radical scholars who came to play a key role within the organization was Leaf Fielding, an anarchist who had left college after his introduction to the acid, at the age of 18. started making tablets, converting raw chemicals into individual doses and later took over the distribution network. As recounted in his recently published memoir, “Living outside the law,” the most complete account yet of the story of Operation Julie by a member of the conspiracy, the band’s motivation was not money but the promise of building a new society and the search for a solution to the nuclear confrontation of the Cold War.”We were all very idealistic,” he recalls. “I was convinced that this was the answer to world problems.””We saw a new awakening terrible to break the impasse in which the world had gone.” In 1973, fearful of police attention, one of the wings of a cooperative run by Kemp and Solomon moved to west Wales, while another branch was in London. The arrival of these figures countercultural towns and cities like Llanddewi Brefi Tregaron or was less suspicious than could imagine. The natural beauty of Welsh county of Ceredigion and low cost of living had attracted a large population of hippies, according to Lyn Ebenezer, author of “Operation Julie: the biggest LSD bust in the world” freelance journalist who worked as a local at the time. Figures from the likes of the Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix made ​​pilgrimages to the area. “Color” The leaders of LSD were parallel work, mingled with their neighbors and visiting bars local. As a result, says Ebenezer, quickly became popular neighbors. “They were great characters,” he says. “I gave color to the picture.” “Yes, they dressed differently to the locals. But most of the locals knew they were not the archetype of the hippies who do not work and lived off state benefits. were part of the community. ” In fact, like many on the net, Fielding did not need to take the risks he ran. By the time the raids had already established a legitimate business and prosperous: a health food store. Shortly before the crash, told colleagues he wanted to go outside the network. “We started out as idealists, but then became a paranoia,” he recalls. And they had good reason to be paranoid. The police had discovered a piece of paper with the name of one of the ingredients of LSD in Kemp’s car after an accident. That was the kickoff of a police investigation multinational drug unprecedented. It was given the name Operation Julie, as he called one of the officers, Sgt Julie Taylor, who would later immortalized in song by The Clash, “Julie’s Been Working For The Drug Squad “(” Julie has been working for the drug squad. “) In the homes of the heads were installed listening devices and dozens of undercover agents were sent to West Wales to impersonate hippies and monitored for 13 months . Dai Rees, a drug inspector of the brigade, was among those who “converted” to the operation. “We left the long hair, we used jeans, we were pretty sloppy,” he recalls. “Wear a shirt and tie would have been impossible.” On March 26, 1977, detectives finally broke. They found evidence of large-scale operation that exported drugs to 100 countries and according to some reports, supplying 90% of LSD in the United Kingdom.Share certificates and details of bank accounts in Switzerland were evidence that the band had come a long way from its early roots idealistic and had become a multinational corporation that handled millions of pounds. For the police, the gang’s arrest and imprisonment of its leaders were seen as a huge achievement and further research would follow the example of lateral force Operation Julie. Dai Rees is proud to have played an important role in this collective operation. Talents “We were totally convinced we were doing the right thing,” he says. “I think all police forces in the country at that time had some experience with people who had ended up in psychiatric hospitals or who were involved in serious crimes because of LSD.” But, however, the police inspector can not avoid seeing the imprisonment of people as intelligent and well educated as a tragic loss. “When you see that talent leaving the dock to start a prison sentence, does not jump for joy,” says Rees. Kemp was sentenced to 13 years in prison and his girlfriend Christine Bott, a physician qualified to nine years. His punishment meant the end of the manufacture of LSD by the band. Fielding, who was sentenced to eight years in prison, said that drug gangs filled the void they left were far more dangerous than his.After release, set up another food store and founded an orphanage in Malawi. And he says he does not regret anything. However, no longer believes in the ability of LSD to transform the planet. “Now I realize how unrealistic it was: one can not solve world problems with a pill,” he admits. “Obviously, some people suffered and it makes me feel bad, but some drugs work for some people and not for others. I like a drink with the meal, but I’m not an alcoholic. ” Views on the war on drugs, in which Julie’s Operation seen as a starting point, remain divided. But the legacy of a group of hippies in rural areas of Wales is still alive.

Colombian colonel sentenced for faking civilian murders

Colombian colonel sentenced for faking civilian murders

Colombia's former President Alvaro Uribe addresses businessmen and politicians in Cancun on 9 June
The false positives scandal arose during President Alvaro Uribe’s campaign to crush left-wing rebels

A Colombian army colonel has admitted his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms and claimed they were rebels killed in combat.

Colonel Luis Fernando Borja was sentenced to 21 years, reduced from 42 years for accepting responsibility.

In a typical case in 2007, Borja admitted two men were lured to their deaths with supposed promises of work.

He is the most senior officer convicted so far in what has become known as the “false positives” scandal.

The scandal arose from a body bag culture in the army, in which soldiers were rewarded with prestige and promotions according to the number of rebels they killed.

The attorney general’s office is investigating more than 1,400 cases involving thousands of victims.

Borja’s unit was operating in the northern province of Sucre when the murders, for which he has been convicted, were perpetrated.

Most of the “false positives” occurred under the two administrations of President Alvaro Uribe. He is credited with beating back left-wing rebels who threatened to overthrow the state.

Now questions are being asked about the cost of this success in human rights abuses, says the BBC correspondent in Bogota, Jeremy McDermott.

Earlier this month, eight soldiers were sentenced to 60 years each for killing four farmers and then pretending they were guerrillas in 2006 in the province of Antioquia.

Knights Templar Drug Mafia In Mexico

Knights Templar: In Mexico, like Norway, criminals look to past for legitimacy

The attacker in Norway and a Mexican drug ring both invoke the ancient Knights Templar to describe themselves. Why do violent ideologues and criminals search the past for inspiration?

In this photo taken July 14, white robes with Maltese crosses, guns, munitions and Knights Templar paraphernalia are shown to the press after being seized by the Mexican army near the town of Santa Gertrudis, Mexico. The Templar Knights, a new drug cartel that was created after it splintered from the La Familia cartel last March, has issued a code-of-conduct booklet for members saying it is fighting a war against tyranny and injustice.

AP

By James Bosworth, Guest blogger / July 25, 2011

Mexico‘s newest criminal organizations, the Knights Templarissued a “code of conduct” that included moral standards while also justifying the use of lethal force. The KT appears to be an offshoot of La Familia, another group that followed a cult-like ideology as it simultaneously profited from criminal activity and engaged in significant violence in Michoacan (also see Global Post andAl Jazeera).

Over the weekend, it has come out that the killer inNorway‘s shocking massacre last week also consideredhimself a member of the Knights Templar. He claims that a group of nine individuals met a decade ago to refound the organization. His manifesto calls for the organization to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.”

Did an 800-year-old organization inspire violence on two continents this week? I doubt anyone thinks these two groups are linked. It’s just a coincidence that they use the same name. Yet, it raises the question of what makes violent ideologues and criminals search the past for inspiration? And what makes two groups so far apart find that inspiration in the Knights Templar?

I’ve touched on the political ideology of Mexico’s criminal organizations previously. They do try to impact politics, but the main political goals are usually to have freedom of movement and action, avoiding arrest by the authorities. Still, La Familia and Knights Templar do claim an ideology beyond the freedom to be criminals, claiming to impose a moral authority and set of rules on the regions they control. The Zetas, on the other side, have engaged in violent acts that don’t appear to match their criminal goals and hint at a dark view of their role in Mexico and the world. Analysts question whether these groups legitimately follow their “ideologies” or if they are a false cover to grant some form of political legitimacy to criminal operations.

The Mexican Knights Templar code of conduct appears to be a false appeal to Mexico’s citizens. By promising to stand up for poor and the oppressed, they take a page from the FARC‘s book in claiming to fight for economic justice while really cashing in on criminal actions. Their rule to use violence in only certain cases doesn’t stand up to the brutal and seemingly senseless killings that they have committed in the past month.

As for the guy in Norway, his nationalistic and anti-Muslim views are part of a very disturbed and violent mind. The Knights Templar label is a failed attempt to grant historical legitimacy to a violent act that truly has no justification.

— James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant based in ManaguaNicaragua, who runsBloggings by Boz.

IN PICTURES: Mexico’s drug war

The Secret Killers

AC 130H Spectre gunship

The Secret Killers

  • The US military is fast becoming Manhunting, Inc, expanding its use of highly secretive “capture/kill” teams. Task Force 373 in Afghanistan is one such special operations forces assassination unit.

Find, fix, finish, and follow-up” is the way the Pentagon describes the mission of secret military teams in Afghanistan which have been given a mandate to pursue alleged members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda wherever they may be found. Some call these “manhunting” operations and the units assigned to them “capture/kill” teams.

Whatever terminology you choose, the details of dozens of their specific operations — and how they regularly went badly wrong — have been revealed for the first time in the mass of secret US military and intelligence documents published by the website Wikileaks in July to a storm of news coverage and official protest.  Representing a form of US covert warfare now on the rise, these teams regularly make more enemies than friends and undermine any goodwill created by US reconstruction projects.

When Danny Hall and Gordon Phillips, the civilian and military directors of the US provincial reconstruction team in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, arrived for a meeting with Gul Agha Sherzai, the local governor, in mid-June 2007, they knew that they had a lot of apologizing to do. Philips had to explain why a covert US military “capture/kill” team named Task Force 373, hunting for Qari Ur-Rahman, an alleged Taliban commander given the code-name “Carbon,” had called in an AC-130 Spectre gunship and inadvertently killed seven Afghan police officers in the middle of the night.

The incident vividly demonstrated the inherent clash between two doctrines in the US war in Afghanistan — counterinsurgency (“protecting the people”) and counterterrorism (killing terrorists). Although the Obama administration has given lip service to the former, the latter has been, and continues to be, the driving force in its war in Afghanistan.

For Hall, a Foreign Service officer who was less than two months away from a plush assignment in London, working with the military had already proven more difficult than he expected. In an article for Foreign Service Journal published a couple of months before the meeting, he wrote, “I felt like I never really knew what was going on, where I was supposed to be, what my role was, or if I even had one. In particular, I didn’t speak either language that I needed: Pashtu or military.”

It had been no less awkward for Phillips. Just a month earlier, he had personally handed over “solatia” payments — condolence payments for civilian deaths wrongfully caused by US forces — in Governor Sherzai’s presence, while condemning the act of a Taliban suicide bomber who had killed 19 civilians, setting off the incident in question. “We come here as your guests,” he told the relatives of those killed, “invited to aid in the reconstruction and improved security and governance of Nangarhar, to bring you a better life and a brighter future for you and your children.  Today, as I look upon the victims and their families, I join you in mourning for your loved ones.”

Hall and Phillips were in charge of a portfolio of 33 active US reconstruction projects worth $11 million in Nangarhar, focused on road-building, school supplies, and an agricultural program aimed at exporting fruits and vegetables from the province.

Yet the mission of their military-led “provincial reconstruction team” (made up of civilian experts, State department officials, and soldiers) appeared to be in direct conflict with those of the “capture/kill” team of special operations forces (Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Green Berets, together with operatives from the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Activities Division) whose mandate was to pursue Afghans alleged to be terrorists as well as insurgent leaders.  That team was leaving a trail of dead civilian bodies and recrimination in its wake.

Details of some of the missions of Task Force 373 first became public as a result of more than 76,000 incident reports leaked to the public by Wikileaks, a whistleblower website, together with analyses of those documents in Der Spiegel, the Guardian, and the New York Times. A full accounting of the depredations of the task force may be some time in coming, however, as the Obama administration refuses to comment on its ongoing assassination spree in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A short history of the unit can nonetheless be gleaned from a careful reading of the Wikileaks documents as well as related reports from Afghanistan and unclassified Special Forces reports.

The Wikileaks data suggests that as many as 2,058 people on a secret hit list called the “Joint Prioritized Effects List” (JPEL) were considered “capture/kill” targets in Afghanistan. A total of 757 prisoners — most likely from this list — were being held at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility (BTIF), a US-run prison on Bagram Air Base as of the end of December 2009.

The idea of “joint” teams from different branches of the military working collaboratively with the CIA was first conceived in 1980 after the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw, when personnel from the Air Force, Army, and Navy engaged in a disastrously botched, seat-of-the-pants attempt to rescue US hostages in Iran with help from the Agency. Eight soldiers were killed when a helicopter crashed into a C-130 aircraft in the Iranian desert.  Afterwards, a high-level, six-member commission led by Admiral James L. Holloway, III recommended the creation of a Joint Special Forces command to ensure that different branches of the military and the CIA should do far more advance coordination planning in the future.

This process accelerated greatly after September 11, 2001.  That month, a CIA team called Jawbreaker headed for Afghanistan to plan a US-led invasion of the country. Shortly thereafter, an Army Green Beret team set up Task Force Dagger to pursue the same mission. Despite an initial rivalry between the commanders of the two groups, they eventually teamed up.

The first covert “joint” team involving the CIA and various military special operations forces to work together in Afghanistan was Task Force 5, charged with the mission of capturing or killing “high value targets” like Osama bin Laden, senior leaders of al-Qaeda, and Mullah Mohammed Omar, the head of the Taliban. A sister organization set up in Iraq was called Task Force 20. The two were eventually combined into Task Force 121 by General John Abizaid, the head of the US Central Command.

In a new book to be released this month, Operation Darkheart, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer describes the work of Task Force 121 in 2003, when he was serving as part of a team dubbed the Jedi Knights.  Working under the alias of Major Christopher Stryker, he ran operations for the Defense Intelligence Agency (the military equivalent of the CIA) out of Bagram Air Base.

One October night, Shaffer was dropped into a village near Asadabad in Kunar province by an MH-47 Chinook helicopter to lead a “joint” team, including Army Rangers (a Special Forces division) and 10th Mountain Division troops.  They were on a mission to capture a lieutenant of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious warlord allied with the Taliban, based on information provided by the CIA.

It wasn’t easy. “They succeeded in striking at the core of the Taliban and their safe havens across the border in Pakistan. For a moment Shaffer saw us winning the war,” reads the promotional material for the book. “Then the military brass got involved. The policies that top officials relied on were hopelessly flawed. Shaffer and his team were forced to sit and watch as the insurgency grew — just across the border in Pakistan.”

Almost a quarter century after Operation Eagle Claw, Shaffer, who was part of the Able Danger team that had pursued Al Qaeda in the 1990s, describes the bitter turf wars between the CIA and Special Forces teams over how the shadowy world of secret assassinations in Afghanistan and Pakistan should be run.

Fast forward to 2007, the first time Task Force 373 is mentioned in the Wikileaks documents. We don’t know whether its number means anything, but coincidentally or not, chapter 373 of the US Code 10, the act of Congress that sets out what the US military is legally allowed to do, permits the Secretary of Defense to empower any “civilian employee” of the military “to execute warrants and make arrests without a warrant” in criminal matters. Whether or not this is indeed the basis for that “373” remains a classified matter — as indeed, until the Wikileaks document dump occurred, was the very existence of the group.

Analysts say that Task Force 373 complements Task Force 121 by using “white forces” like the Rangers and the Green Berets, as opposed to the more secretive Delta Force. Task Force 373 is supposedly run out of three military bases — in Kabul, the Afghan capital; Kandahar, the country’s second largest city; and Khost City near the Pakistani tribal lands.  It’s possible that some of its operations also come out of Camp Marmal, a German base in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Sources familiar with the program say that the task force has its own helicopters and aircraft, notably AC-130 Spectre gunships, dedicated only to its use.

Its commander appears to have been Brigadier General Raymond Palumbo, based out of the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Palumbo, however,left Fort Bragg in mid-July, shortly after General Stanley McChrystal was relieved as Afghan war commander by President Obama. The name of the new commander of the task force is not known.

In more than 100 incident reports in the Wikileaks files, Task Force 373 is described as leading numerous “capture/kill” efforts, notably in Khost, Paktika, and Nangarhar provinces, all bordering the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of northern Pakistan. Some reportedly resulted in successful captures, while others led to the death of local police officers or even small children, causing angry villagers to protest and attack US-led military forces.

In April 2007, David Adams, commander of the Khost provincial reconstruction team, was called to meet with elders from the village of Gurbuz in Khost province, who were angry about Task Force 373’s operations in their community. The incident report on Wikileaks does not indicate just what Task Force 373 did to upset Gurbuz’s elders, but the governor of Khost, Arsala Jamal, had been publicly complaining about Special Forces operations and civilian deaths in his province since December 2006, when five civilians were killed in a raid on Darnami village.

“This is our land,” he said then. “I’ve been asking with greater force: Let us sit together, we know our Afghan brothers, we know our culture better. With these operations we should not create more enemies. We are in a position to reduce mistakes.”

As Adams would later recall in an op-ed he co-authored for the Wall Street Journal, “The increasing number of raids on Afghan homes alienated many of Khost’s tribal elders.”

On June 12, 2007, Danny Hall and Gordon Philips, working in Nangarhar province just northeast of Khost, were called into that meeting with Governor Sherzai to explain how Task Force 373 had killed those seven local Afghan police officers.  Like Jamal, Sherzai made the point to Hall and Philips that “he strongly encourages better coordination… and he further emphasized that he does not want to see this happen again.”

Less than a week later, a Task Force 373 team fired five rockets at a compound in Nangar Khel in Paktika province to the south of Khost, in an attempt to kill Abu Laith al-Libi, an alleged al-Qaeda member from Libya. When the US forces made it to the village, they found that Task Force 373 had destroyed a madrassa (or Islamic school), killing six children and grievously wounding a seventh who, despite the efforts of a US medical team, would soon die. (In late January 2008, al-Libi was reported killed by a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone strike in a village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan in Pakistan.)

Paktika Governor Akram Khapalwak met with the US military the day after the raid. Unlike his counterparts in Khost and Nangarhar, Khapalwak agreed to support the “talking points” developed for Task Force 373 to explain the incident to the media. According to the Wikileaks incident report, the governor then “echoed the tragedy of children being killed, but stressed this could’ve been prevented had the people exposed the presence of insurgents in the area.”

However, no military talking points, no matter in whose mouth, could stop the civilian deaths as long as Task Force 373’s raids continued.

On October 4, 2007, its members called in an air strike — 500 pound Paveway bombs — on a house in the village of Laswanday, just six miles from Nangar Khel in Paktika province (where those seven children had already died). This time, four men, one woman, and a girl — all civilians — as well as a donkey, a dog, and several chickens would be slaughtered. A dozen US soldiers were injured, but the soldiers reported that not one “enemy” was detained or killed.

Not all raids resulted in civilian deaths.  The US military incident reports released by Wikileaks suggest that Task Force 373 had better luck in capturing “targets” alive and avoiding civilian deaths on December 14, 2007. The 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) was asked that day to support Task Force 373 in a search in Paktika province for Bitonai and Nadr, two alleged al-Qaeda leaders listed on the JPEL. The operation took place just outside the town of Orgun, close to US Forward Operating Base (FOB) Harriman. Located 7,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, it hosts about 300 soldiers as well as a small CIA compound, and is often visited by chattering military helicopters as well as sleepy camel herds belonging to local Pashtuns.

An airborne assault team code-named “Operation Spartan” descended on the compounds where Bitonai and Nadr were supposed to be living, but failed to find them. When a local Afghan informant told the Special Forces soldiers that the suspects were at a location about two miles away, Task Force 373 seized both men as well as 33 others who were detained at FOB Harriman for questioning and possible transfer to the prison at Bagram.

But when Task Force 373 was on the prowl, civilians were, it seems, always at risk, and while the Wikileaks documents reveal what the U.S soldiers were willing to report, the Afghan side of the story was often left in a ditch.  For example, on a Monday night in mid-November 2009, Task Force 373 conducted an operation to capture or kill an alleged militant code-named “Ballentine” in Ghazni province. A terse incident report announced that one Afghan woman and four “insurgents” had been killed. The next morning, Task Force White Eagle, a Polish unit under the command of the US 82nd Airborne Division, reported that some 80 people gathered to protest the killings. The window of an armored vehicle was damaged by the angry villagers, but the documents don’t offer us their version of the incident.

In an ironic twist, one of the last Task Force 373 incidents recorded in the Wikileaks documents was almost a reprise of the original Operation Eagle Claw disaster that led to the creation of the “joint” capture/kill teams. Just before sunrise on October 26, 2009, two US helicopters, a UH-1 Huey and an AH-1 Cobra, collided near the town of Garmsir in the southern province of Helmand, killing four Marines.

Closely allied with Task Force 373 is a British unit, Task Force 42, composed of Special Air Service, Special Boat Service, and Special Reconnaissance Regiment commandos who operate in Helmand province and are mentioned in several Wikileaks incident reports.

Capture/kill” is a key part of a new military “doctrine” developed by the Special Forces Command established after the failure of Operation Eagle Claw. Under the leadership of General Bryan D. Brown, who took over the Special Forces Command in September 2003, the doctrine came to be known as F4, which stood for“find, fix, finish, and follow-up” — a slightly euphemistic but not hard to understand message about how alleged terrorists and insurgents were to be dealt with.

Under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the Bush years, Brown began setting up “joint Special Forces” teams to conduct F4 missions outside war zones.  These were given the anodyne name “Military Liaison Elements.” At least one killing by such a team in Paraguay (of an armed robber not on any targeting list) was written up by New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Thom Shanker. The team, whose presence had not been made known to the US ambassador there, was ordered to leave the country.

“The number-one requirement is to defend the homeland. And so sometimes that requires that you find and capture or kill terrorist targets around the world that are trying to do harm to this nation,” Brown told the House Committee on Armed Services in March 2006. “Our foreign partners… are willing but incapable nations that want help in building their own capability to defend their borders and eliminate terrorism in their countries or in their regions.” In April 2007, President Bush rewarded Brown’s planning by creating a special high-level office at the Pentagon for an assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities.

Michael G. Vickers, made famous in the book and film Charlie Wilson’s War as the architect of the covert arms-and-money supply chain to the mujaheedin in the CIA’s anti-Soviet Afghan campaign of the 1980s, was nominated to fill the position. Under his leadership, a new directive was issued in December 2008 to “develop capabilities for extending US reach into denied areas and uncertain environments by operating with and through indigenous foreign forces or by conducting low visibility operations.”  In this way, the “capture/kill” program was institutionalized in Washington.

“The war on terror is fundamentally an indirect war… It’s a war of partners… but it also is a bit of the war in the shadows, either because of political sensitivity or the problem of finding terrorists,” Vickers told the Washington Post as 2007 ended. “That’s why the Central Intelligence Agency is so important… and our Special Operations forces play a large role.”

George W. Bush’s departure from the White House did not dampen the enthusiasm for F4.  Quite the contrary: even though the F4 formula has recently been tinkered with, in typical military fashion, and has now become “find, fix, finish, exploit, and analyze,” or F3EA, President Obama has, by all accounts, expanded military intelligence gathering and “capture/kill” programs globally in tandem with an escalation of drone-strike operations by the CIA.

There are quite a few outspoken supporters of the “capture/kill” doctrine. Columbia University Professor Austin Long is one academic who has jumped on the F3EA bandwagon. Noting its similarity to the Phoenix assassination program, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the US war in Vietnam (which he defends), he has called for a shrinking of the US military “footprint” in Afghanistan to 13,000 Special Forces troops who would focus exclusively on counter-terrorism, particularly assassination operations. “Phoenix suggests that intelligence coordination and the integration of intelligence with an action arm can have a powerful effect on even extremely large and capable armed groups,” he and his co-author William Rosenauwrote in a July 2009 Rand Institute monograph entitled” “The Phoenix Program and Contemporary Counterinsurgency.”

Others are even more aggressively inclined. Lieutenant Colonel George Crawford, who retired from the position of “lead strategist” for the Special Forces Command to go work for Archimedes Global, Inc., a Washington consulting firm, has suggested that F3EA be replaced by one term: “Manhunting.” In a monograph published by the Joint Special Operations University in September 2009, Manhunting: Counter-Network Organization for Irregular Warfare,” Crawford spells out “how to best address the responsibility to develop manhunting as a capability for American national security.”

The strange evolution of these concepts, the creation of ever more global hunter-killer teams whose purpose in life is assassination 24/7, and the civilians these “joint Special Forces” teams regularly kill in their raids on supposed “targets” have unsettled even military experts.

For example, Christopher Lamb, the acting director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, and Martin Cinnamond, a former U.N. official in Afghanistan, penned an article for the Spring 2010 issue of the Joint Forces Quarterly in which they wrote: “There is broad agreement… that the indirect approach to counterinsurgency should take precedence over kill/capture operations. However, the opposite has occurred.”

Other military types claim that the hunter-killer approach is short-sighted and counterproductive. “My take on Task Force 373 and other task forces, it has a purpose because it keeps the enemy off balance. But it does not understand the fundamental root cause of the conflict, of why people are supporting the Taliban,” says Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Department contractor who resigned from the government last September. Hoh, who often worked with Task Force 373 as well as other Special Forces “capture/kill” programs in Afghanistan and Iraq, adds: “We are killing the wrong people, the mid-level Taliban who are only fighting us because we are in their valleys. If we were not there, they would not be fighting the US”

Task Force 373 may be a nightmare for Afghans.  For the rest of us — now that Wikileaks has flushed it into the open — it should be seen as a symptom of deeper policy disasters.  After all, it raises a basic question: Is this country really going to become known as a global Manhunters, Inc.?

Police probing U.K. links of Norway killer

[I was torn between the journalist’s compulsion to find and rebroadcast the truth about life or death issues like terrorism and my moral hesitation to anything which would further the goals of the terrorist, but in the end, I felt that researchers needed to have access to this material, considering the links to British racism.  For that reason, here is a link to the  “Breivik manifesto.”  2083 A European Declaration of Independence, by andrew Berwick, London  2011.  All roads lead back to British terrorism.]

Police probing U.K. links of Norway killer

HASAN SUROOR

Anders Behring Breivik, left, responsible for Norway's twin terror attacks, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing in Oslo on Monday, July 25, 2011 where he pleaded not guilty to one of the deadliest modern mass killings in peacetime.
APAnders Behring Breivik, left, responsible for Norway’s twin terror attacks, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing in Oslo on Monday, July 25, 2011 where he pleaded not guilty to one of the deadliest modern mass killings in peacetime.

Scotland was on Monday reported to be investigating potential British links to Norway’s mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik after he said that he had been in touch with right-wing extremist groups in the United Kingdom, especially the English Defence League (EDL) which is engaged in a virulent anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-multiculturalism campaign.

A 1,500–page “manifesto” that Breivik posted on the internet before embarking on last week’s massacre is datelined “London, 2011” and signed “Andrew Berwick”, an Anglicised version of his name. He described an Englishman Richard as his “mentor”.

Describing himself as a successor to the medieval Knights Templar, associated with the Crusades, Breivik claimed he was “recruited” at a meeting in London, April 2002, called by two English extremists thought to be EDL members. He also claimed that he had more than 600 EDL members as his “Facebook” friends and had spoken to many of them.

“In fact, I was one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning,” he wrote.

The so-called “Breivik manifesto” names former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and Prince Charles as “traitors” for promoting multiculturalism and allowing too many immigrants to come into Britain.

Mr. Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw are accused of “dishonestly concealing a plan to allow in more immigrants and make Britain more multicultural”.

Mr. Brown’s picture appears in a gallery of “war criminals” for “colluding” with Muslim extremists. Prince Charles is criticised for his links with the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

The EDL denied any links with Breivik.

British Government’s National Security Council, chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron, asked the police to reassess the threat from far right groups in the light of Breivik’s action and his claims about his links with them.

Mr. Cameron has been criticised for ignoring warning about the threat from white supremacists and focusing solely on Muslim extremists.

Speaking after the NSC meeting, Mr Cameron said: “We are going to take stock of what happened in Norway and see if there are lessons to be learned.”

WAS THE 2008 FINANCIAL CRASH AN ACT OF SUBVERSION AND TERRORISM?

WAS THE 2008 FINANCIAL CRASH AN ACT OF SUBVERSION AND TERRORISM?

BILL GERTZ

By 

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/feb/28/financial-terrorism-suspected-in-08-economic-crash/

Evidence outlined in a Pentagon contractor report suggests that financial subversion carried out by unknown parties, such as terrorists or hostile nations, contributed to the 2008 economic crash by covertly using vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system.

The unclassified 2009 report “Economic Warfare: Risks and Responses” by financial analystKevin D. Freeman, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, states that “a three-phased attack was planned and is in the process against the United States economy.”

While economic analysts and a final report from the federal government’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission blame the crash on such economic factors as high-risk mortgage lending practices and poor federal regulation and supervision, the Pentagon contractor adds a new element: “outside forces,” a factor the commission did not examine.

“There is sufficient justification to question whether outside forces triggered, capitalized upon or magnified the economic difficulties of 2008,” the report says, explaining that those domestic economic factors would have caused a “normal downturn” but not the “near collapse” of the global economic system that took place.

Suspects include financial enemies in Middle Eastern states, Islamic terrorists, hostile members of the Chinese military, or government and organized crime groups in RussiaVenezuela orIranChinese military officials publicly have suggested using economic warfare against the U.S.

Michael G. Vickers, assistant secretary of defense for special operations, said the Pentagon was not the appropriate agency to assess economic warfare and financial terrorism risks. (Associated Press)Michael G. Vickers, assistant secretary of defense for special operations, said the Pentagon was not the appropriate agency to assess economic warfare and financial terrorism risks. (Associated Press)

In an interview with The TimesMr. Freeman said his report provided enough theoretical evidence for an economic warfare attack that further forensic study was warranted.

“The new battle space is the economy,” he said. “We spend hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons systems each year. But a relatively small amount of money focused against our financial markets through leveraged derivatives or cyber efforts can result in trillions of dollars in losses. And, the perpetrators can remain undiscovered.

“This is the equivalent of box cutters on an airplane,” Mr. Freeman said.

Paul Bracken, a Yale University professor who has studied economic warfare, said he saw “no convincing evidence that ‘outside forces’ colluded to bring about the 2008 crisis.”

“There were outside players in the market” for unregulated credit default swaps, Mr. Brackensaid in an e-mail. “Foreign banks and hedge funds play the shorts all the time too. But suggestions of an organized targeted attack for strategic reasons don’t seem to me to be plausible.”

Regardless of the report’s findings, U.S. officials and outside analysts said the Pentagon, theTreasury Department and U.S. intelligence agencies are not aggressively studying the threats to the United States posed by economic warfare and financial terrorism.

“Nobody wants to go there,” one official said.

A copy of the report also was provided to the recently concluded Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, but the commission also declined to address the possibility of economic warfare in its final report.

Officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said senior Pentagon policymakers, including Michael Vickers, an assistant defense secretary in charge of special operations, blocked further study, saying the Pentagon was not the appropriate agency to assess economic warfare and financial terrorism risks.

Mr. Vickers declined to be interviewed but, through a spokesman, said he did not say economic warfare was not an area for the Pentagon to study, and that he did not block further study.

Mr. Vickers is awaiting Senate confirmation on his promotion to be undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

Despite his skepticism of the report, Mr. Bracken agreed that financial warfare needs to be studied, and he noted that the U.S. government is only starting to address the issue.

“We are in an era like the 1950s where technological innovation is transforming the tools of coercion and war,” he said. “We tend not to see this, and look at information warfare, financial warfare, precision strike, [weapons of mass destruction], etc. as separate silos. It’s their parallel co-evolution that leads to interesting options, like counter-elite targeting. And no one is really looking at this in an overall ‘systems’ way. Diplomacy is way behind here.”

Mr. Freeman wrote the report for the Pentagon’s Irregular Warfare Support Program, part of the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, which examines unconventional warfare scenarios.

“The preponderance of evidence that cannot be easily dismissed demands a thorough and immediate study be commenced,” the report says. “Ignoring the likelihood of this very real threat ensures a catastrophic event.”

The report concluded that the evidence of an attack is strong enough that “financial terrorism may have cost the global economy as much as $50 trillion.”

Because of secrecy surrounding global banking and finance, finding the exact identities of the attackers will be difficult.

But U.S. opponents in Russia who could wage economic warfare include elements of the former KGB intelligence and political police who regard the economy as a “logical extension of the Cold War,” the report says.

Asked by The Times who he thought to be the most likely behind the financial attacks, Mr. Freeman said: “Unfortunately, the two major strategic threats, radical jihadists and the Chinese, are among the best positioned in the economic battle space.”

Also, the report lists as suspects advocates of Islamic law, who have publicly called for opposition to capitalism as a way to promote what they regard as the superiority of Islam.

Further Pentagon Low Intensity Conflict office research into possible economic warfare or financial terrorism being behind the economic collapse by the Pentagon’s Special Operations and was blocked, Mr. Freeman said.

The Pentagon report states that the evidence of financial subversion revealed that the first two phases of an attack on the U.S. economy took place from 2007 to 2009 and “based on recent global market activity, it appears that the predicted Phase III may be underway right now.”

The report states that federal authorities must further investigate two significant events in the months leading up to the financial crisis.

The first phase of the economic attack, the report said, was the escalation of oil prices by speculators from 2007 to mid-2008 that coincided with the housing finance crisis.

In the second phase, the stock market collapsed by what the report called a “bear raid” from unidentified sources on Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and other Wall Street firms.

“This produced a complete collapse in credit availability and almost started a global depression,” Mr. Freeman said.

The third phase is what Mr. Freeman states in the report was the main source of the economic system’s vulnerability. “We have taken on massive public debt as the government was the only party who could access capital markets in late 2008 and early 2009,” he said, placing the U.S. dollar’s global reserve currency status at grave risk.

“This is the ‘end game’ if the goal is to destroy America,” Mr. Freeman said, noting that in his view China’s military “has been advocating the potential for an economic attack on the U.S. for 12 years or longer as evidenced by the publication of the book Unrestricted Warfare in 1999.”

Additional evidence provided by Mr. Freeman includes the statement in 2008 by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. that the Russians had approached the Chinese with a plan to dump its holdings of bonds by the federally backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Among the financial instruments that may have been used in the economic warfare scenario are credit default swaps, unregulated and untraceable contracts by which a buyer pays the seller a fee and in exchange is paid off in a bond or a loan. The report said credit default swaps are “ideal bear-raid tools” and “have the power to determine the financial viability of companies.”

Another economic warfare tool that was linked in the report to the 2008 crash is what is called “naked short-selling” of stock, defined as short-selling financial shares without borrowing them.

The report said that 30 percent to 70 percent of the decline in stock share values for two companies that were attacked, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, were results of failed trades from naked short-selling.

The collapse in September 2008 of Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, was the most significant event in the crash, causing an immediate credit freeze and stock market crash, the report says.

In a section of who was behind the collapse, the report says determining the actors is difficult because of banking and financial trading secrecy.

“The reality of the situation today is that foreign-based hedge funds perpetrating bear raid strategies could do so virtually unmonitored and unregulated on behalf of enemies of the United States,” the report says.

“Only recently have defense and intelligence agencies begun to consider this very real possibility of what amounts to financial terrorism and-or economic warfare.”

As for Chinese involvement in economic sabotage, the decline in the world economy may have hurt Beijing through a decline in purchases of Chinese goods.

Treasury spokeswoman Marti Adams had no immediate comment on the report but said her department’s views on the causes of the economic crash were well known.

Analysts say U.S. is shifting Pakistan policy amid new situation

Analysts say U.S. is shifting Pakistan policy amid new situation

English.news.cn

By Jamil Bhatti

ISLAMABAD, July 25 (Xinhua) — After the recent U.S. steps against Pakistan, including a bill in U.S. congress to cut the aid for Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s harsh statement about Pakistan in New Delhi, and the arrest of its citizen Dr. Fai for his alleged links with Pakistani intelligence agency, majority of Pakistanis now believe that America has started revenging

Political leader and analyst of Pakistan Dr. Shireen Mazari on Monday condemned the U.S. government in strong words for its recent actions and statements targeting Pakistan on multiple fronts.

She identified three major developments by the U.S. government involving Pakistan within a couple of days.

“First is the introduction of the bill in the congress seeking to restrain U.S. aid to Pakistan, and imposition of unacceptable conditions from the granting of unquestioning quick visas to U.S. personnel to interfere Pakistan’s domestic affairs,” Mazari told Xinhua.

The United States has already, according to Mazari, put forward irrational and irritating demands on Pakistan, especially regarding to the military with which U.S. wants to attach its own military personnel.

The second intentional negative move by the U.S. authorities was the joint U.S-India statement at the conclusion of Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to India in which the United States almost announced India as the future monitor of Asian countries especially of Pakistan.

Many Pakistanis and analysts view this U.S. development negatively as they said U.S. brought India directly into Pakistan’ s internal matters by jointly demanding Pakistan to eliminate all terrorist “safe havens” in the country.

Clinton said while concluding her visit on July 18-20 that New Delhi must play a more assertive role in Asia.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who had already showed his concerns over the bill in congress, said Saturday that Pakistan would not accept any country’s domination in the region.

“We don’t want any Chaudhry (a title used locally for powerful individuals) in the region,” Gilani said.

Pakistan’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who plans to travel to India on Tuesday for bilateral dialogue, made clear Pakistani policy about the U.S. announcement on India’s assertive role in the region.

“Pakistan would not accept the supremacy of any country in the region as Pakistan is by no means inferior to India,” said Khar after she returned from meeting with Clinton on the sidelines of ASEAN regional forum in Bali, Indonesia.

The third U.S. development under extreme criticism by Pakistan is the arrest of American national Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai of Kashmiri American Council by U.S. security department for his alleged role for Pakistan’s top intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Mazari termed this act as the most bizarre and most damaging for bilateral relations in the long run.

Aslam Khan, another senior analyst who keeps a close eye on Indo-U.S.relations, doubted about the American allegations on Dr. Fai for his relations with ISI because he was arrested just few days ahead of Clinton’s visit to India.

“This action had two open purposes, first to impress the Indians before Clinton’s tour and second to malign and pressurize Pakistan who has tightened its policy on the American diplomats’ freedom of movement within Pakistan,” Khan told Xinhua.

Senior Pakistani analyst and former diplomat Asif Ezdi sees the U.S. support for India’s rise in a broader context.

In an article printed in a local daily on Monday, he said the United States has been launching such efforts over one decade against the background of the growing political, economic and military power of China, seen by Washington as a challenge to its position as the sole superpower.

“India’s assigned role in the U.S. strategy was to serve as a counterweight to China and to stem its assertiveness,” Ezdi said.

Khan believed the Pak-U.S. relations that got tense after U.S. unilateral operation in Pakistani city of Abbottabad which led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, have now dropped to their lowest.

According to some well-informed sources of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, the main reason for icy relations is the unending American demands of “do more” for Pakistan to which the latter has presented many excuses due to unsuitable ground realities as the U. S.-led forces started to leave Afghanistan.

Most interviees asked by Xinhua were not surprised over the U.S. shift of its pakistan policy from soft to harsh, saying that they knew as the United States gradually exits Afghanistan, it would change its behavior towards Pakistan.

Editor: Yang Lina

Hillary Wants India to Come out and play

[Let us hope and pray that Indian leaders have been burned by the empire enough times to see through the smoke and mirrors, not to mention the river of bullshit which flows continually from Washington.]

Come out and play

Seema Sirohi

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is said to be one of the drivers of the India policy in Washington, pushing and pulling when the going gets dull. Her visit to New Delhi for the second round of the India-US strategic dialogue was important to manage the differences that have arisen over time – from the nuclear liability law to defence contracts, from alleged misconduct of diplomats to blocking India from opening a new consulate in Seattle.

But more important was the American eagerness to see India loom larger on the world stage. Clinton’s basic message was “We Want More India” in the world – in Southeast Asia, in the Indian Ocean, in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, in Central Asia, inLatin America.

The joint statement was a veritable spreadsheet of initiatives covering every area of “human endeavour”. From space to clean energy, from student internships to creating an open source data platform on e-governance, from disease detection to aviation safety, every box was checked. While this large mesh is a celebration of the depth and breadth of the relationship, the key is the new American willingness to discuss the world with India with an aim to push it to assume greater responsibility in world affairs. It is up to New Delhi to seize the opportunity, or not.

America is beginning to treat India as an equal partner. The trilateral dialogue of India, the US and Japan, announced during Clinton’s visit, is significant and a perfect venue to discuss China’s rise and the attendant ripples. But the neighbourhood must come first where India faces tough prospects.

The regional situation is grim with assassinations of key Afghan leaders even before the real drawdown of US troops begins, and the clenched-teeth posture of the Pakistan army. India is rightly worried about the endgame in Afghanistan and the talks the US is holding with the Taliban. But it can take comfort: Washington will not plead Pakistan’s case in Afghanistan. If India wants to train Afghan security forces and play a role in shaping Afghanistan’s future besides investing in infrastructure projects, the Americans are on board.

If India wants an Afghanistan with an independent government, which makes its own security decisions, does not allow the country to become a terrorist playground and provides access to Central Asia, it has to do more than just hope for the best. So far the emphatic enunciations from New Delhi have been in the form of what it won’t do – Pranab Mukherjee told Clinton last month India does not want to get involved in the “security affairs of Afghanistan”. So what then?

Success will depend on how well India and Pakistan talk to each other about their region’s future. The Pakistani establishment may recognise that it can’t manipulate the Taliban this time around as it did in the 1990s. Making fine distinctions between Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban is futile; the two are seamless and represent Pashtun interests on both sides of the border. They are a new morphed entity, more a part of the global Salafi movement and less prone to tribal loyalties of the old days. If there is civil war in Afghanistan after US troops leave by 2014, it will be far more vicious. But if Afghanistan were gradually drawn into regional trade – Pakistan could allow transit to India, for starters – the whole region would benefit.

Both India and the US have the same difficult task – bringing Pakistan on board. The overall US policy on Pakistan remains a series of confusing moves, alternately cajoling and berating. While Clinton was meeting top Indian officials, the FBI arrested an ISI front man in Washington. Ghulam Nabi Fai, a Kashmiri separatist prone to sweet-talking his way through the corridors of the US Congress to denounce India, was exposed. Also exposed was the hypocrisy that often goes withIslamabad pleading Kashmir’s cause in major capitals. That the Obama administration is chipping away at the ISI and seriously encircling it, at least within US jurisdiction, is good news.

Also welcome is growing India-US cooperation on counterterrorism – note the heavy hitters who came with Clinton: James Clapper, director of national intelligence, and Michael G Vickers, under-secretary of defence for intelligence.

But the US also bends over backwards and stretches the limits of imagination on Pakistan. Clinton recently certified to the US Congress that Pakistan had shown a “sustained commitment” to “combating terrorist groups” to allow a part of $1.5 billion in new US military aid to flow through. Two days later, on March 20, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the ISI was involved with the Haqqani network. More recently, the US suspended $800 million in aid to Pakistan in retaliation for Pakistan throwing out US military advisers.

Unfortunately, Clinton’s clean chit is a reminder of the 1980s when the US government annually certified Pakistan was “not” building a nuclear bomb when it clearly was, to allow US aid to Pakistan for the mujahideen. State department lawyers would argue that while all the bomb ingredients were present, they were in different places and unassembled. Ergo, no bomb. But terrorist networks of today are very assembled.

The snakes-and-ladders US policy on Pakistan will continue for the foreseeable future with its own impact on the Afghanistan pullout. But the big takeaway from Clinton’s visit has to be the full-throated American call for India to come out to play before the game gets fixed. And not be afraid of the umpiring.

( The writer is a senior journalist)

Norway suspect says his extremist group has ‘two more cells’

People pay tribute to victims of the twin attacks in central Oslo, Norway, today.
By Emilio Morenatti, AP

In a closed hearing today, the suspect in the Oslo killings pleaded not guilty to charges of committing acts of terrorism and will be held for at least 8 weeks.

Update at 9:54 a.m. ET: The suspect was ordered held for eight weeks, the first four in complete isolation, without access to visitors or the right to write letters.

After 8 weeks, the prosecution can return to the court and request that he be held longer, according to a court official.

Update at 9:49 a.m. ET: The suspect in the Oslo killings told the court today about “two further cells in our organization,” the court says. adding that the remarks will reqauire additonal investigation in the case.

A statement by the court said that he also spoke of such cells to police.  (read HERE)

Huge poppy seed cache confiscated in Afghanistan

Huge poppy seed cache confiscated in Afghanistan

David Ariosto

Kabul, Afghanistan: Nearly half a million of pounds of opium poppy seeds have been confiscated in southwestern Afghanistan during a joint raid by NATO and Afghan National Security forces, officials said.

The operation took place Wednesday in the Delaram district of Nimroz province, which borders Iran.

The find represents the largest uncovered by Afghan and coalition forces this year, according to Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Seddiqi.

The opium poppy can be used to make heroin and other drugs, and is considered a staple of insurgent funding.

Afghanistan is considered the world’s leading cultivator of opium poppy, ahead of Myanmar, according to a 2011 United Nations report.

The country accounts for 63% of the world’s total areas under opium poppy cultivation, despite a smaller harvest last year due to an unspecified disease in opium plants.

Locally, one gram of heroin costs around $4, the U.N. reported. After the product is transported to illicit markets in the United States or northern Europe, the same amount is worth between $170 to $200 per gram.

In a separate operation in Kandahar province, security forces also uncovered 4,400 pounds (nearly 2,000 kilograms) of hashish and 33 pounds (15 kilograms) of ammonium nitrate, which can be used in fertilizers and as an explosive component.

Afghan Hunter/Killer Squads

TOLOnews.com

Covert forces of Afghans have been trained by CIA to keep the war against the Taliban on the track as US troops are leaving the country.

But a senior official in Karzai’s Office expressed unawareness about the forces.

Members of one shadowy group of some 400 men in southern Kandahar province have given The Independent insight into their training and secret operations against militants.

A senior member of the 400-man shadowy force has said that they were taught hand-to-hand combat by foreign military advisors, were delivered to targets by US Black Hawk helicopters and have received a thank-you note from President Hamid Karzai for their work.

“These forces are the most shadowy and the most unaccountable in the country and it’s a serious problem that nobody’s taking responsibility for,” Rachel Reid, a senior policy advisor to the Open Society Foundation, said.

Deputy Spokesperson for President Karzai, Seyamak Herawi, said: ”President Hamid Karzai has sought clearance about the units for several times.”

The paramilitary groups are stationed in eastern and southern Afghanistan where they gather intelligence, secure the border with Pakistan, and launch raids on militants of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the host of other militant groups.