Tuesday, January 31, 2006

'We Strive to Be a Compassionate, Decent, Hopeful Society'

Following is a transcript of President Bush's State of the Union address, as recorded by The New York Times:

Bush Says U.S. Must Remain a World Leader

"In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting, yet it ends in danger and decline," Bush said.

Envoys Pledge to Keep Afghan Money Flowing

LONDON -- Envoys from nearly 70 nations and international bodies vowed Tuesday to maintain their financial support for Afghanistan, which is still plagued by violence and poverty more than four years after the fall of the Taliban.

Afghan Leader Outlines Plan as Aid Pledged Anew

The five-year plan known as the Afghan Compact, which will be signed here, is a blueprint to improve governance, the economy and security in the country, which is still trying to recover from years of devastating conflict that began with the invasion by Soviet forces in 1979.

Afghans Win Aid, Military Pledges at Conference

LONDON (Reuters) - Afghanistan received promises of economic and military support from Western nations at a conference in London on Tuesday in return for pledges to fight corruption and the illegal opium trade.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Afghanistan to Commit to Broad Reforms

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 30 — Afghanistan is expected to sign an agreement this week with more than 60 donor countries that outlines an ambitious five-year plan for social, economic and political change, as Kabul seeks to move beyond the Taliban era.

New development strategy for Afghanistan unveiled ahead of London Conference – UN

30 January 2006 – On the eve of an international conference aimed at putting Afghanistan on a solid course towards stability, a visionary yet practical development strategy for the country was made public today by the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA).

Afghanistan: Civilian Life Must Be Donor Priority

(London, January 30, 2006)—International donors gathering in London this week to discuss Afghanistan’s development should do more to address the serious problems with insecurity and lack of development facing ordinary Afghans, Human Rights Watch said today.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

ABC News: Vargas, Colleagues Reflect on Dangers of War Reporting

Jan. 29, 2006 — The attack on the Iraqi convoy carrying "World News Tonight" co-anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt was a reminder of the dangers all journalists face in a war zone.

ABC News anchor, cameraman stable after Iraq bombing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and camera operator Doug Vogt were in serious but stable condition on Sunday after suffering head injuries when their Iraqi military vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

US to unveil key financial package at London talks on Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States said it would announce a big financial aid package for Afghanistan at a key conference in London next week on the country's future.

The Daily Star - - Hamas' triumph is a real opportunity

Three key points seem important about Hamas' victory. The first is that the election campaign was not a referendum on making war or peace with Israel. Hamas did not win because it promised to wipe out Israel. It won because it held out the promise of redressing some of the terrible imbalances and chaotic distortions that have come to define Palestinian domestic society in the past few years. These include corruption and incompetence in the Palestinian Authority governance system, lawlessness at the local level, and a humiliating inability to protect Palestinian communities' basic day-to-day ability to function because of the sustained onslaught of Israeli occupation policies. Hamas won because Palestinians think it can do a better job than Fatah in bringing order and self-respect to the business of daily life.

Friday, January 27, 2006

European Press Review

Trud agrees. "As usual, the US position on this issue is inconsistent. The US is promoting democracy in the region but when free elections yield the results Washington does not like, the will of the majority of the population may be disregarded." "Nevertheless, the people's choice will have to be accepted sooner or later - there is no other way."

Jerusalem Post, Bush: We won't talk to Hamas

"I've made it very clear that the United States does not support political parties that want to destroy our ally Israel, and that people must renounce that part of their platform," he said.

Bush Defends His Goal of Spreading Democracy to the Mideast

"There was a peaceful process as people went to the polls, and that's positive," Mr. Bush said. "But what's also positive is that it's a wake-up call to the leadership. Obviously people were not happy with the status quo. The people are demanding honest government. The people want services."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hamas Sweeps Palestinian Elections, Complicating Peace Efforts in Mideast

The election results stunned U.S. and Israeli officials, who have repeatedly stated that they would not work with a Palestinian Authority that included Hamas, which both countries and the European Union have designated as a terrorist organization.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

UK to boost Afghan troop numbers

The UK takes control of Nato forces in Afghanistan in May, with soldiers due to oversee reconstruction efforts.

At N.S.A. Headquarters, Bush Says Surveillance Program Is Necessary

"We've seen that part of the terrorists' strategy is to place operatives inside of our country," Mr. Bush said after his visit to the N.S.A. headquarters at Fort Meade, Md.

Palestinians Voting to Elect New Parliament

Exit Polls Suggest Fatah Party Is Leading

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

World Bank urges Afghan donors not to bypass govt

Critics accuse the world community of spending the aid on propping up their own operations or pursuing their own agendas. However many donors believe the corruption-tainted government does not have the capacity to handle the huge amount of cash coming in.

Bird Flu: The Untold Story

What is bird flu? Everybody's had the flu at some time in their lives, with its familiar symptoms: aches, chills, fatigue and cough. So why is the "bird flu" making so many headlines?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Canada Conservatives win election - TV networks

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's opposition Conservative Party won Monday's federal election but did not gain enough seats to have a majority in Parliament, all four national television networks predicted.

Canadian Voters Lean Toward New Leadership

Public opinion polls showed the Conservatives poised to oust Prime Minister Paul Martin, 67, replacing him with a 46-year-old political strategist from western Canada, Stephen Harper.

What worries Jordan's Queen Rania?

"The gap between people who feel that if they work hard, they have a chance of bettering their lives, and those who actually feel that they are just condemned to a life of needlessness and hopelessness. A person who's hurting halfway around the globe, his pain is eventually going to affect me."

World Leaders' Worries: Former President Bill Clinton

Former president Bill Clinton thinks Americans should be concerned about foreign policy issues, and, more importantly, bringing the citizens of the world together.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Attacks Strain Efforts On Terror

"All the terrorists and the enemies of Afghanistan are because of Pakistan. They are receiving their training there and they are being sent to Afghanistan for attacks."

Pakistan: U.S. Must Consult Before Attacks

Aziz said Pakistani officials were given no notice before the Jan. 13 attack that killed at least 13 civilians, including women and children. The attack was apparently aimed at al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, who wasn't there.

How many times will the US get deeply involved there, help throw the country into chaos, and then just walk away?

The US gives $2 billion a year to Egypt and $3 billion a year (actually much more) to Israel. The US budget is something like $2 trillion. Isn't rebuilding Afghanistan to the point where it doesn't fall into chaos again and threaten the world as a result worth as much as helping Egypt and Israel remain at peace?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

U.S. stocks suffer biggest fall in nearly 3 years

NEW YORK, Jan 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks suffered their biggest loss in nearly three years on Friday, plummeting on disappointing earnings from blue chips Citigroup Inc.

Afghan Protesters Denounce Bombings, Pakistan

``Death to Pakistan, death to ISI,'' the protesters shouted on Saturday, referring to Pakistan's main Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
``The U.N. should stop Pakistan from interfering in Afghanistan,'' Qari Baba, a former governor of Ghazni province, told the crowd.

Pakistan Tells U.S. Not to Repeat Attack

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's president told a senior American official Saturday the United States must not repeat airstrikes like the one that apparently was aimed at al-Qaida but killed civilians in a remote village, as officials sought to soothe public outrage over the attack.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Online NewsHour: Osama Bin Laden Threatens U.S. in New Message -- January 19, 2006

MAMOUN FANDY: It would feed into the whole conspiracy theory in the Arab and Muslim world that actually the mighty United States does not want to get bin Laden and Zawahiri because it wants to continue its campaign against the Muslim world. And all Muslims are puzzled why the mighty United States with all satellite intelligence and everything else, they cannot pinpoint these two guys. So they must have an ulterior motive. There is something larger.

Chirac Hints at Nuclear Reply to State-Supported Terrorism

PARIS, Jan. 19 - President Jacques Chirac said Thursday that he would consider a nuclear response to a large, state-backed terrorist strike against France.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2006 (Human Rights Watch, 18-1-2006)

“Fighting terrorism is central to the human rights cause,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “But using illegal tactics against alleged terrorists is both wrong and counterproductive.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Big Security Council Members Agree on Iran

LONDON -- Russia and China agreed with the United States and its European allies Monday that Iran must fully suspend its nuclear program, but the countries stopped short of demanding referral to the U.N. Security Council, Britain's Foreign Office said.

Israeli Ready for Peace Talks if Palestinians Disarm Hamas

JERUSALEM, Jan. 17 - Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said Tuesday that he would be willing to restart peace talks with the Palestinians if they met the longstanding Israeli demand to break up armed factions.

Two Groups Planning to Sue Over Federal Eavesdropping

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 - Two leading civil rights groups plan to file lawsuits Tuesday against the Bush administration over its domestic spying program to determine whether the operation was used to monitor 10 defense lawyers, journalists, scholars, political activists and other Americans with ties to the Middle East.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Afghanistan President Urges West to Stay

"It will take many, many more years before we can defend ourselves with our own means, before we can feed ourselves or work for our development with our own means," Karzai said.

Congressman Crowley Protests New York Education Testing on Islamic Holiday Eid-ul-Adha

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) has denounced the New York State and New York City Department of Education’s decision to schedule the beginning of mandatory statewide tests for third, fourth and fifth grades during the Islamic holidays of Eid-ul-Adha (Celebration of Sacrifice).

NATO Eyes "Plan B" for Afghanistan Expansion

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO is studying options to ensure it can still expand operations to southern Afghanistan by the middle of the year even if the Netherlands decides not to take part, diplomats told Reuters on Monday.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Afghanistan needs more US help, Reed says

PROVIDENCE, R.I. --Afghanistan suffers from a "lack of robust resources" for reconstruction, U.S Sen. Jack Reed said Sunday after his three-day trip to the central Asian nation.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pilgrims descend on Mecca for Hajj

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- About 2 million Muslims from around the world were gathering under heavy security Sunday for the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammad.

Afghan officials accused on drugs

The security chief at Kabul airport has accused Afghan officials of colluding with drug smugglers and ordering the release of arrested suspects.

Turkey And Afghanistan Are Not Merely Friends But Mutual Helpers And Assistants, Karzai

''Turkey was the first country in history that Afghani female students were sent to. Afghani girls received education in Turkey in the 1920s. The children of those girls now remember Turkey and one of its famous folk poet Yunus Emre,'' remarked Karzai.

Foreign-Language Learning Promoted

President Bush announced plans yesterday to boost foreign-language study in the United States, casting the initiative as a strategic move to better engage other nations in combating terrorism and promoting freedom and democracy.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Afghan President Takes Landmark Turkey Trip

Karzai is the first Afghan head of state to visit Turkey since former Afghan King Zahir Shah in 1957. Karzai briefly visited Turkey in 2002 as interim leader of the Afghan government.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Israeli Leader Sharon Suffers Massive Stroke

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's powers were transferred to his deputy Wednesday after he was rushed to the hospital to undergo emergency surgery for a brain hemorrhage.

Afghan Gov't Orders Barriers Dropped

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The government said Monday it has ordered the U.S. Embassy, the U.N. and other organizations to remove security barriers that are blocking streets in Afghanistan's capital and causing traffic jams.

Rethinking Nation-Building -- Washingtonpost

By Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart
Sunday, January 1, 2006; B07

In 1945 the future of capitalism as the organizational form of the economy and democracy as the organizational form of the polity was far from certain in the advanced industrialized world. Today there is a remarkable consensus on both the preferred economic and political forms. With globalization of the media, the benefits of membership in the wealthy democratic club are beamed daily to the homes of billions of people who in turn aspire to the economic opportunities and political freedoms that the market economies and democratic societies have delivered to their citizens.

Yet the daily experience of so many people in poor countries is confrontation with the realities of failing or fragile states, criminalized and informal economies, and the denial of basic freedoms. It is not resentment of the West but exclusion from the right to make decisions in their own countries that feeds the resentment of the poor. At the same time, the networks of violence that have declared war on the security and order of ordinary people in

the developed world are making use of the territory of failed states to expand their bases of destruction.

The path to security is not just investment in the institutions of security. The price tag for security in a fragile state can quickly run into billions of dollars a year. A sustained analysis by NATO of the best means of achieving security in Afghanistan showed that credible institutions and public finance would contribute more to security than would the deployment of troops. Nor is the answer money alone; in these countries, money cannot be translated to capital, because such things as the rule of law, transparency and predictability are lacking. The state is the most effective, economical way of organizing the security and well-being of a population, just as the company is the most effective approach in a competitive economy.

Thus the need for functioning states has become one of the critical issues of our times. Global political, economic and security institutions must have a new goal: to promote the emergence of states that can fulfill their necessary functions. This goal provides a unified answer to numerous initiatives, including debt crisis, implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, and security.

It also requires that we make clear what functions need to be performed by a state if it is to have internal legitimacy and external credibility. We have proposed a framework of the 10 most critical functions the modern state must perform, which was endorsed by a group of leaders of post-conflict transitions last year. The functions include maintenance of a monopoly on the legitimate means of violence, the nurturing of human capital, and creation and regulation of the market. We have also proposed that state-building or sovereignty strategies be devised to meet the goal of having the state perform each of the 10 functions -- strategies backed by compacts between the leadership of countries and the international community on the one side and citizens on the other to create capable states that deliver value to their citizens. And instead of thousands of reports, there should be a single global report on state effectiveness, compiled with the involvement of global and local civil societies and issued by a credible international organization.

For this to work, the global institutions must receive renewed attention. Despite some obvious shortcomings of the United Nations and international financial institutions, the fact remains that if they did not exist they would need to be invented. We must not succumb to calls for their abolition or further weakening.

Revitalization of these organizations will require sustained attention from the leaders of the Group of Eight industrial nations, which need to agree on a program of reform. It is critical to redefine their tasks and coordinate their activities. In turn, their leaderships need to become models of transparency in recruitment, evaluation and promotion of staff members. U.N. agencies need the resources to tackle state-building in fragile and conflict-ridden states. The decision at the U.N. summit in September to create a peace-building commission provides the United Nations with the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment and capacity for serious reform.

The international system needs reordering, with a new role for the United Nations, international financial institutions and security organizations. The wars of Europe between 1648 and 1945 were made history by collective security institutions. With that experience in mind, the nature of current threats and opportunities can now be confronted.

Ashraf Ghani is chancellor of Kabul University. He was adviser to the United Nations during the Bonn process and the establishment of the first post-Taliban administration in Afghanistan, and was Afghan minister of finance from 2002 to 2004. Clare Lockhart is a fellow of the Overseas Development Institute in Britain.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Bush Defends Spying Program As 'Necessary' to Protect U.S.

Bush Defends Spying Program As 'Necessary' to Protect U.S.