Thursday, November 30, 2006

President Bush’s News Conference With Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq

U.N. Rushes to Send Food to Poor Afghans

Pope makes Turkish mosque visit

Pope Benedict XVI has visited one of Turkey's most famous mosques in what is being seen as an attempt to mend relations with the Muslim community.

Preserving Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage: An Interview with Nancy Hatch Dupree

Nancy Hatch Dupree. An Historical Guide To Afghanistan. Prefaces

The World's Largest Collection of Recent Afghan History (An American Woman Has Devoted Her Life to Afghanistan)

Half a century ago, she wrote five guidebooks on the country's rich antiquities, traveling to study ancient relics like the Buddhas of Bamyian — which he Taliban later destroyed — and the towering Minaret of Jam. Her guides are still widely used today. Dupree came to Kabul as the young wife of an American diplomat. But when that marriage quickly fell apart, she fell in love with Louis Dupree, then the world's pre-eminent Afghan scholar. She and Louis later married at the palace grounds. "There was deep, deep snow, which was considered good luck," she said. "And it was because we had a very good marriage." Her husband traveled around the country researching Afghan history, she said, "and I tagged along with my notebook."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Living symbols of reform in Afghanistan

NATO'S UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Afghanistan Looms over Riga

How can NATO meet the security needs of the 21st century? Important questions like this are getting the short shrift in Riga, as leaders struggle to get beyond differences over Afghanistan.

Sarkozy declares presidential bid

His centre-right UMP party is due to select its candidate in January and President Jacques Chirac is not expected to seek a third term.

Afghan mission dominates Nato talks

The restrictions hampering the use of Nato forces in Afghanistan were the most contentious issue at this summit.

Iraq’s Premier Abruptly Skips a Bush Session

Bush Adviser’s Memo Cites Doubts About Iraqi Leader

AFGHANISTAN: Wage Hike as Anti-Corruption Move

Afghanistan: WFP in race before winter snows and flooding

Ahead of the winter freeze, WFP is racing to complete deliveries of food for impoverished Afghans living in communities that will be cut off once the bitter cold arrives and heavy snows set in – and in other parts of the embattled country, the food agency is providing assistance to victims of severe floods.

Taliban drown our values in sea of blood, say political leaders from

Hundreds of political leaders and chiefs from the Pashtun tribes inhabiting Pakistan's border with Afghanistan have for the first time held a peace jirga, or tribal council, demanding an end to Taliban violence. "Around the world we are accused of being terrorists, but tolerance is in our blood. We demand all the world respect our values, culture and the dignity of our people," said Mehmood Khan Achakzai, the leader of a moderate Pashtun party in Balochistan.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Prodi Rejects Bush's Call for Troop Redeployment in Afghanistan

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Romano Prodi said Italy would not allow its 1,900 troops in Afghanistan to be moved by NATO commanders to other parts of the country, rejecting a call by President George W. Bush.

Nato 'to ease Afghan troop rules'

Earlier, US President George W Bush berated Nato members, calling on them to accept "difficult assignments".

Afghanistan: Letter to NATO Secretary General Regarding Summit in Latvia - (Human Rights Watch)

When NATO Ambassadors meet on November 28 and 29 in Riga, Latvia for the alliance’s 19th Summit, they should pay considerable attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan. People from all over Afghanistan have told Human Rights Watch that they view NATO’s role in the International Security Assistance Force (“ISAF”) in Afghanistan as necessary for providing and ensuring their security. However, many Afghans have told Human Rights Watch that they are concerned and frustrated by insufficient coordination between ISAF’s security operations and the process of development and reconstruction.

Pope Discusses Brotherhood with Muslims in Turkey

Pope Benedict meets in Ankara with Ali Bardakoglu, secular Turkey's top religious official.

Non-Fiction: Armstrong, 'Muhammad: A Prophet of Our Time'

Karen Armstrong, Author of The Great Transformation: The Beginning of our Religious Traditions; A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and Muhammad: A Prophet For Our Time ..... Above all, a tribesman had to be generous and share his livestock and food. Life in the steppes would be impossible if people selfishly hoarded their wealth while others went hungry. A tribe that was rich today could easily become destitute tomorrow . . . .

Bush: Afghanistan, Iraq at Center of War on Terror

Pope Urges Peace During Visit to Turkey

The pope visited the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, and wrote in a guest book that Turkey is "a meeting point of different religions and cultures and a bridge between Asia and Europe," reported the AP.

Former President Jimmy Carter Examines Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

JIMMY CARTER: In order to have peace, Israel has got to withdraw from the occupied territories, not just from token withdrawals from a few settlements leaving about 150 other settlements on Palestinian land. The fact is that, when the Palestinians dug under the Israeli wall from Gaza and captured the Israeli soldier, one soldier, at that time, Israel was holding 9,200 Palestinians prisoner, including 300 children, almost 300, 293 children, some of them 12 years old, and holding almost 100 women prisoner. And immediately, the Palestinians who took that soldier said, "We want to swap this soldier for some of our women and children." And the Israelis rejected that proposal and refused to swap at all with the Palestinians in the West Bank. That was the key to the issue. So it's right that the Palestinians took a soldier, which they should release. But for Israel to keep 9,000 Palestinians and not release any of them is something that you don't mention in the question, and it's generally not even known in this country. A majority of Israelis, in every public opinion poll that's been done since 1967, have favored exchanging the confiscated Palestinian land for peace.

Frontline: Secret History of the Credit Card | PBS

Bush to Pursue Fresh NATO Commitments

"We're in a long struggle against terrorists and extremists who follow a hateful ideology and seek to establish a totalitarian empire from Spain to Indonesia," Bush said in a speech at Latvia University as part of a meeting of the NATO members.

Bernanke: Economy Growing Moderately

Outside of the housing market, most of the economy appears healthy and likely to continue growing at "a moderate rate" over the next year or so, causing price pressures to gradually ebb, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said today.

Bush berates hesitant Nato allies

US President George W Bush has berated Nato members reluctant to send troops to Afghan hotspots, demanding they must accept "difficult assignments".

Pope Backs Turkey’s Bid to Join Europe

The Pope Tones Down His Act in Turkey

Long known for his rigid thinking, Benedict XVI shows new flexibility in trying to mend fences in the wake of his controversial speech about Islam

NATO eyes Afghan handover in 2008

Karzai governs nation on shaky foundation

Washington today regards Pakistan as a key ally in fighting terrorism, but many Afghans suspect the country of playing a double game, cooperating with the United States while fostering the Taliban insurgency. Karzai's frustration over tactics used by the U.S. and allied military forces, including the continued bombing of civilian areas, is raw. Senior Afghan officials are surprisingly frank about the dangers of foreign military dominance. Despite the success in uniting Afghanistan's fractured ethnic groups into a national army, a senior aide to Karzai, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, called the army a "sort of lame-duck institution" without the capacity to make decisions. "It will fall the instant that the U.S. military is not behind it," the official said.

UN, World Bank warn over Afghan 'opium economy'

Report: Afghan officials aid traffickers

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's criminal underworld has compromised key government officials who protect drug traffickers, allowing a flourishing opium trade that will not be stamped out for a generation, an ominous U.N. report released Tuesday said. The fight against opium production has so far achieved only limited success, mostly because of corruption, the joint report from the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said.

NATO leaders see progress on Afghanistan troops

President Bush appealed to allies to provide more soldiers with fewer national restrictions for the most dangerous ground mission in NATO's 57-year history. "To succeed in Afghanistan, NATO allies must provide the forces NATO military commanders require," Bush said just before the summit began in Riga, many of whose inhabitants had left town to avoid disruption caused by the tight security.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Alarm over Afghan school places

More than half of Afghanistan's children are not going to school because of a shortage of places and teachers, the aid agency Oxfam says.

1994: Norway votes 'no' to Europe

Norway has voted to reject membership of the European Union in a referendum, for the second time in its history. With 92% of the referendum votes counted the "no" campaign had a clear margin of 52.4% to 47.6% for the "yes" vote. Turnout was estimated at 80%.

Dutch criticised for ‘not disguising prejudice against Muslims’

WASHINGTON: The Washington Post on Saturday criticised the Dutch government for no longer even bothering to “disguise its ugly prejudice” against Muslims. The newspaper said in an editorial that Muslim communities were increasingly portrayed – especially by the European media – as havens for religious intolerance that flourished because of the overly tolerant policies of liberal governments.

Dutch Election Reflects Europe's Anxiety

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Following similar votes in Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic and Austria, the Netherlands woke up from elections this week that yielded no clear winner and promises a prolonged period of political drift and uncertainty.

European Minorities Torn Between Worlds

There is one recurrent theme: A sense of "otherness." "I am a stranger in Turkey and also in Germany," said Ozturk, an 18-year-old living in Berlin. "I am trapped in a hole in between two cultures." Ramani, the "freedom addict," put it bluntly: "Sometimes I feel like ripping myself apart."

Intolerance in Europe: Prostitutes and drug dealers are welcome in the Netherlands. Just don't wear a veil.

Sometimes the bigots portray their crude attacks on Muslim beliefs and culture as a defense of freedom of speech -- as when a Danish newspaper last year chose to publish gratuitously offensive cartoons about the prophet Muhammad. Sometimes they claim to be promoting better communication, as when British parliamentarian Jack Straw recently asked Muslim women to remove their veils when visiting his office. Luckily for the enemies of cynicism and disingenuousness, there is also the Dutch government -- which no longer bothers to disguise its ugly prejudice.

Luxury goods highlight Afghan wealth gap

The suits, the $14 shirts and the $8 ties also symbolize a growing wealth gap in Afghanistan, where 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line on less than $2 a day. Many of Afghanistan's wealthy few are citizens who returned from abroad after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001, eager to invest in rebuilding their nation. Others are senior government officials and warlords. Some have grown rich on corruption or the illegal trade in opium, which some estimates say accounts for 60 percent of Afghanistan's Gross Domestic Product. The disparity frustrates many Afghans, who see the ostentation and ask themselves what happened to the promise of a better life after the 2001 invasion and the billions of dollars of foreign aid pumped into reconstruction. Five years on, basic services like running water, sanitation and electricity are still sorely wanting. Most homes in Kabul get electricity for just four hours every second night. Beggars remain a common sight.

Afghanistan to Dominate NATO Summit

The 26 presidents and prime ministers all know that the future of their alliance is playing out in the deserts of Kandahar and mountains of Uruzgan rather than in their conference hall on the Baltic Sea. "We must have security married to good governance and development, and that means the EU, U.N. and NATO working in harmony with Afghans," she wrote on NATO's Web site last week.

Bush to Seek NATO Review of Troop Commitments in Afghanistan

TALLIN, Nov. 27--President Bush will ask NATO for fresh troops for the fight in Afghanistan and fewer restrictions on how they can be used when he sits down this week with alliance leaders to review the state of the dangerous mission there, according to senior U.S. officials.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rosy picture of Afghanistan hides grim truth -- Chief Correspondent Paul McGeough.

Indeed, there is a constitution and there have been elections for a parliament and a president. But that the parliament includes too many of the war criminals from the past, or their associates, is generally ignored by an all-powerful executive.

Blair Says NATO's `Credibility' Is at Stake in Afghanistan

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Tony Blair said NATO's credibility is on the line in Afghanistan and he's pressing allies to end restrictions on the use of their troops in the country. ``We have to make sure not just the U.K., but all NATO partners are doing their utmost to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan,'' Blair said in his weekly questions session in Parliament today. ``The credibility of NATO rests on us doing everything we can.''

Female Afghan minister pushes for rights

Ghazanfar said she's trying to draft laws making violence against women illegal, but the legislation must be approved by many former warlords who are now lawmakers in the Afghan parliament. "The elimination of violence against women does not work if we just conduct seminars and workshops," Ghazanfar said.

Bush set for burst of talks with allies

Retired Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, said that "events in Afghanistan are reaching a critical juncture, and European politics and perceptions, as well as U.S. commitments in Iraq may prevent NATO from getting the assets necessary to ensure victory." "A military failure in Afghanistan would be catastrophic for the alliance," Ralston said.

Bush readies Afghan push at NATO

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President George W. Bush heads to the NATO summit in Latvia looking to press European allies for more support as the Afghan war reaches a pivotal point, and US-occupied Iraq slides into chaos.

Bush demands Afghan action on drugs

President George W. Bush called Hamid Karzai to demand more action against Afghanistan's world-leading drugs trade and reiterate continued US support, the Afghan president's office said.

Bomber strikes Afghan restaurant

The attack took place in Orgun district near the border with Pakistan.

Afghan drug crop to flood Europe

European cities risk higher numbers of heroin overdoses as Afghanistan's record opium poppy crop floods cities with the drug, the UN has warned.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Airline checks claim of 'Muslim while flying' discrimination

NATO CHAOS DEEPENS IN AFGHANISTAN: "The Germans Have to Learn How to Kill"

The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate -- and NATO is squabbling about who is to blame. Some countries are tired of taking casualties while others, like the Germans in the north, refuse to get involved in the fighting.

Anti-Immigrant Policy Boosts France's Le Pen Again

Morning Edition, November 22, 2006 · Jean-Marie Le Pen, who rose to a surprising second-place finish in the French 2002 presidential election, is drawing support again this year for his anti-immigration stance. The extreme-right politician is pushing for a "national preference" welfare system that favors indigenous French over those with immigrant backgrounds.

Afghanistan, Five Years On: Backlogs, Shortages Hamper Afghan Courts

Half of these judges are unqualified, Chief Justice Azimi says. Moreover, judges in Afghanistan don't make a living wage. And Azimi is unable to monitor caseloads in remote areas because his ministry lacks proper computers. "People in Afghanistan need legitimate institutions to resolve their problems," says Alex Their, a senior rule-of-law adviser at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
He says these local discussions get better results than formal courts today, but adds that there are drawbacks: "There are certain traditional practices in Afghanistan which violate human rights. Those practices are carried forward particularly at the village level."

DEMOCRACY IN THE BALANCE: Afghan warlords find limits to power

Despite Karzai's declaration, the warlords are among the most powerful forces in the country. Scores of them are as entrenched as ever in the provinces, fielding private armies, profiting from the opium trade and co-opting police officials. Those who have come to Kabul know they could easily reconstitute their militias. In the meantime, they are untouchable. The United Nations Development Program, which runs a project designed to rid the country of warlords and illegal militias, says at least 500 members of Karzai's government are directly linked to illegal armed groups. That number does not include Cabinet ministers, governors or members of parliament. Warlords are so entrenched at those levels that the U.N. program dares not target them."We are not now addressing the level of governors and ministers and above — in other words, none of the big guys," said Ariane Quentier, a strategic advisor for the U.N. program. "That would be political suicide at the moment."

Group seeks probe after imams removed from plane

TSA | Transportation Security Administration

Liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers and in a one-quart, zip-top bag.

TSA | Transportation Security Administration

Liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers and in a one-quart, zip-top bag.

Annan says U.S. is ‘trapped in Iraq’

Six Muslim imams removed from U.S. airliner

MINNEAPOLIS - The Council on American-Islamic Relations called Tuesday for an investigation into the behavior of airline staff and airport security in the removal of six Muslim scholars from a US Airways flight a day earlier. “Unfortunately, this is a growing problem of singling out Muslims or people perceived to be Muslims at airports, and it’s one that we’ve been addressing for some time,” council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.

Islam and Europe - MSNBC

Bush 41 Defends Son To Arab Critics

(AP) Former President George H.W. Bush took on Arab critics of his son Tuesday during a testy exchange at a leadership conference in the capital of this U.S. ally. "My son is an honest man," Mr. Bush told members of the audience which harshly criticized the current U.S. leader's foreign policy.

Celebrex: Colon Benefit, Heart Risk

Studies Show Polyp Prevention Benefit Doesn't Outweigh Painkiller's Heart Risk

Is Surgery Best Way To Stop Back Pain?

New Major Study Suggests Sometimes People Are Too Quick With Procedure

First Daughter Barbara Robbed in Argentina

First Daughter Barbara Bush had her purse and cell phone stolen as she had dinner in a restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina, even though she was being guarded by a detail of Secret Service agents, according to law enforcement reports made available to ABC News.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Europe's Right Turn: Europe Looks Inward, Tilts to the Right

The inward-looking climate throughout the continent is playing into the hands of right-wing political parties that until recently had been stigmatized as unacceptable in proper European society. The radical populist right is scoring electoral successes from Poland to Austria, from Switzerland to Germany.

Danes' Anti-Immigrant Backlash Marks Radical Shift

Morning Edition, November 20, 2006 · An anti-immigrant backlash, bordering on xenophobia, is sweeping across Europe. Sentiments once associated with ultra right-wing parties are becoming mainstream. Many taboos are being broken -- nowhere more starkly than in Denmark -- the erstwhile poster child of the welcoming and nurturing welfare state.

Putin Foe, a Former KGB Agent, Says He's Been Poisoned

Afghan Flood Death Toll Climbs to 120

British PM Visits Troops in Afghanistan

Afghan Desert Key to World Security, Says Blair

CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The security of the world will be decided on the desert battlefields of Afghanistan, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told his troops on the frontline of an increasingly bloody war on Monday.

Israeli General Orders Lebanon Inquiry

The United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center has estimated that Israel fired as many as 4 million cluster submunitions and that up to 1 million may not have detonated immediately.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Afghanistan's Neighbors Discuss Trade

NEW DELHI -- Afghanistan's neighbors and donor countries met Sunday to discuss ways to boost trade, economic growth and stability in the war-ravaged country.

Saddam trial 'flawed and unsound'

The trial of Saddam Hussein was so flawed that its verdict is unsound, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch says.

Blair, Musharraf Commit to Terror Fight

AIDS, heroin two-pronged problem for Afghanistan

KABUL (AFP) - With eight HIV positive cases in 2001 and 61 today, Afghanistan is worried a growing use of heroin will add the spread of AIDS to its long list of problems inherited from decades of war. The Central Asian country is better known as the world's top producer of opium, the raw ingredient of heroin: about 92 percent of opium comes from Afghanistan's poppies, the
United Nations says.

Many dead in Afghan flash floods

At least 56 people have been killed in recent flash floods in western Afghanistan, officials have said.

Afghan 'threat to wider region'

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has warned that instability in Afghanistan poses a huge threat to peace and prosperity in the whole region. "The job is not over and the stakes are still very high," Mr Karzai said. "The security of the region and the world at large are not yet fully safeguarded," he said.

UN chief: Nato cannot defeat Taliban by force

President Karzai urges renewed commitment to Afghan reconstruction

To those of our partners who may be pondering their continued involvement in Afghanistan, I say the job is not over and the stakes are still very high," Karzai told leaders from around 19 countries who gathered in India's capital, New Delhi, for the two-day conference on Afghanistan.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Afghanistan: President Karzai Discusses Worsening Security

"Our wishes did not materialize the way we expected -- that the removal of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda would bring an end to terrorism...our hope was for absolute peace in Afghanistan. We hoped that the mothers and sisters of Afghanistan would be free from bombs and attrocities and war."

Sweden challenges EU plan to simplify divorce

A European Union plan to streamline divorce proceedings is coming under fire from Sweden, which is warning that the change could pave the way for socially conservative countries to block divorces.

U.S. Airstrikes Climb Sharply in Afghanistan

Nearly 50 people killed in Afghanistan floods

HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) - Flash floods caused by heavy rains have killed nearly 50 people in western Afghanistan with 60 more missing, the Afghan health ministry said.

Milton Friedman, 94, Free-Market Theorist, Dies

Milton Friedman, the grandmaster of free-market economic theory in the postwar era and a prime force in the movement of nations toward less government and greater reliance on individual responsibility, died yesterday. He was 94 and lived in San Francisco.

Saudi ban puts Ariana Haj flights in limbo

Saudi ban puts Ariana Haj flights in limbo

New Afghan police force deployed

The Afghan government has begun deploying more than 11,000 auxiliary police in the south of the country to combat worsening lawlessness. One diplomat has described the auxiliary police as legalised militias loyal to their warlords, and not the central government in Kabul.

Why Muslim women wear the veil

The Koran, Islam's holy book and treated as the literal word of God, tells Muslims - men and women - to dress modestly.

Dutch government backs burqa ban

The Dutch cabinet has backed a proposal by the country's immigration minister to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa in public places.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tourists to take terror out of Tora Bora -- The Sunday Times

FANCY following in the footsteps of the world’s most wanted terrorist as he evades capture by the most powerful army on earth? Soon tourists will have their chance as the Tora Bora caves where Osama Bin Laden slipped through the grasp of American forces are to be turned into a holiday resort. “Tora Bora is already a world-famous name but we want it to be known for tourism, not terrorism,” said Gul Agha Sherzai, governor of the eastern Afghanistan province of Nangahar where the caves are situated. Long before anyone had heard of Osama, Tora Bora was known as a picnic spot and now it can be both.”

PREVIEW-Afghanistan shows challenges for more global NATO

(Reuters) - The United States is pushing NATO to shoulder more global burdens but the alliance's Afghan deployment illustrates the challenges of getting the 26-nation group to project its power beyond its borders. Ahead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Nov. 28-29 summit in Riga, U.S. officials are making the case that Afghanistan is a model for the Western alliance to take on more security challenges around the world. But analysts argue, and U.S. officials acknowledge, that NATO has had trouble getting some members to send troops to the south of Afghanistan, where British, Dutch and Canadian forces are fighting a revived Taliban insurgency.

U.S. Interests and Central Asia Energy Security by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D--

In the past five years, real and present dangers to U.S. national security, especially Islamist terrorism and threats to the energy supply, have affected U.S. policy in Central Asia. The region has great energy potential and is strategically important, but it is land-locked, which complicates U.S. access and involvement there.[1] The United States has varied and at times compet­ing interests in Central Asia. The region, which includes the five post-Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbeki­stan, as well as Afghanistan and the Caspian basin, plays an important part in U.S. global strategy in view of its proximity to Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and other key regional actors. No less important are its ethno-religious composition and vast deposits of oil, gas, coal, and uranium. U.S. interests in Central Asia can be summarized in three simple words: security, energy, and democ­racy. The United States is waging an enduring strug­gle to safeguard the West in general and America in particular, not only from terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan, but also from overreliance on unstable sources of hydrocarbons in the Middle East. In that effort, it is essential that U.S. foreign policy not inflate the importance of one interest to the detriment of the others.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Europe diary: Headscarf chic

Rabia Yalcin looks stunning. I am not sure I should write that about someone who prides themselves on dressing in accordance with the Islamic dress code, but she is an Istanbul fashion designer who says her aim is "to show the beauty of the flower, while covering the flower". She's wearing a bright scarlet headscarf, a grey jacket and trousers modelled on Turkish pantaloons.

French Socialists pick candidate

French Socialists will vote later on Thursday to choose who will represent the party in next year's election for a new president.

Afghan violence 'likely to rise'

A top American defence official has warned that the level of violence in Afghanistan will go on rising.

Blair advises Baker's panel

Mr. Blair said a positive strategy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would help Britain and the United States win the support of moderate Muslims and increase pressure on Iran and Syria to work for peace, the spokesman said.

Sweden Afraid of Russian Spooks

First it was Poland which came out against the planned Baltic Sea pipeline from Russia to Germany. Now, though, Sweden says it is worried that the Russians will use the installation for spying.

NATO: EU Debates Role in Afghanistan

European Union foreign and defense ministers meeting in Brussels today are expected to engage in a heated debate about the 25-member bloc’s future role in Afghanistan.

Wolesi Jirga approves MPs privileges -- (Pajhwok Afghan News)

According to a reliable source in Parliament, Right and Privileges Commission presented their plan and approved it with majority of votes. The privileges were included over 0.1 million afghanis salary for each MP and diplomatic passport for their children below the age of 18, the source added.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Afghan women seek death by fire

Increasing numbers of Afghan women are committing suicide by setting fire to themselves to escape difficult lives, according to NGOs based in the country.

Blair pushes Mid East peace to US

Botox May Reduce Knee Osteoarthritis Pain

Study Shows Injecting Botox May Delay Or Eliminate Need For Joint Replacement Surgery

Common Heart Attack Treatment Reconsidered

Study: Angioplasties Given 12 Hours After An Attack May Do More Harm Than Good. "It is critical to seek medical care quickly. Don't deny that something is happening. Don't sit at home and take antacids." Opening arteries quickly is crucial to surviving heart attacks, and the study's findings do not change the need for urgent action or the evidence that angioplasty saves lives when done soon after an attack. The usual treatment is angioplasty, in which doctors snake a tube through a blood vessel in the groin to the blockage. A tiny balloon is inflated and a mesh stent is put in place to prop the artery open.

Afghanistan hopes its nascent force, made up of all ethnic groups, can be a unifying institution. But can it defend the nation without the U.S.?

"People are very upset and disappointed with the government," said Col. Abdul Raziq, a brigade commander in southern Afghanistan. -- The army is important for reasons beyond security. Afghanistan has no unifying institutions. The government of President Hamid Karzai controls Kabul but little else. The national police force is notoriously corrupt and, in the hinterlands, often loyal to warlords or opium merchants.

Forced marriage, abuse behind self-immolation by Afghan women

KABUL (AFP) - Forced marriage and chronic abuse are among the key triggers for the growing cases of self-immolation among women in Afghanistan, a regional conference heard.

Ashamed of corruption, Afghan offers to quit -- Customs chief says it's impossible to stay on in job

"I can't keep honest people in my office, because they would get fired by somebody at the Finance Ministry," Mr. Sakzai said. "The drugs mafia has people everywhere." "The government ministers are spending all their energy to keep the President happy, keep the foreigners happy and enrich themselves," he said. "The foreigners need to smarten up. They are helping with this corruption. They do nothing to stop it.

Clinton urges Canada to hold the line in Afghanistan

VICTORIA — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is urging Canada to stay the course on Afghanistan and continue providing aid and military muscle to defeat the Taliban. “I promised myself that as long as the situation in Afghanistan persists, I would never come to Canada without thanking you for your participation through NATO in the effort to save a genuine moderate, pro-western democracy,” he said. “I am grateful.” Canada is “doing a good thing,” Mr. Clinton said.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Call to bridge West-Muslim divide

A cross-cultural group of 20 prominent world figures has called for urgent efforts to heal the growing divide between Muslim and Western societies. People who feel they face discrimination, humiliation, or marginalisation are reacting by asserting their identity more aggressively, the report says. Their findings were presented to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at a ceremony in Istanbul on Monday.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Diplomatic Assurances Against Torture Offer No Protection From Abuse -- Human Rights Watch

(New York, November 10, 2006) – The United Nations’ ruling that Sweden violated the global torture ban in its involvement in the CIA transfer of an asylum seeker to Egypt is an important step toward establishing accountability for European governments complicit in illegal US renditions, Human Rights Watch said today.


Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, known as the Durand Line, was created by the colonial British during the 19th century. Since that border subsequently was inherited by Pakistan when it became a country through the partition of British colonial India, Afghanistan has never formally recognized the border. Karzai says discussions about the Durand Line is not on the agenda of the cross-border jirga he has proposed. "The agenda of the discussion is about peace and the removal of terrorism," he said. "There is no place for any other issue in it and there will be no talks on any other issue. This jirga does not have the authority to discuss the Durand Line or to make decisions about it. This is a question that goes higher than the authority of such jirgas. This issue cannot be decided on the basis of my signature or the government’s approval. This is a question for the people of the two nations. It is beyond the authority of a jirga that is convened for the purpose of peace." Karzai also spoke with RFE/RL at length about why he continues to oppose a proposal by Pakistan to build a security fence along the border to stop cross-border infiltration by militants.

Five years on, more than 4,000 killed in succession of attacks and suicide bombings in Afghanistan

Analysts agree that internal conditions play a large role in Afghan instability. Corrupt governors and police chiefs, powerful drug lords and outgunned police chiefs have hobbled Mr Karzai's authority, particularly in the south. In the cities billions of dollars in foreign aid have had limited effect, with most Afghans still living short, harsh lives while watching a tiny minority grow fabulously wealthy.

Opinions: Is America too Racist for Barack? Too Sexist for Hillary?

About This Project

Three years ago, an e-mail came through my inbox with a message that someone was looking for help getting computers to Kabul for a women's business center. On a whim, I followed the link at the bottom of the message and stumbled upon the Business Council for Peace, a nonprofit organization that assists women in post-conflict countries.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Gates' Views Have Differed From Bush -- The Associated Press

"I don't think the president misled the American people. I think intelligence misled the president," Gates said in March 2005, speaking to a conference at Texas A&M, where he is president.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Afghanistan: Security Council Upcoming Mission -Human Rights Watch Letter-

The deteriorating human rights situation throughout Afghanistan warrants immediate attention and action by the United Nations. Human Rights Watch believes the Security Council’s upcoming fact-finding mission to Afghanistan can help improve conditions by demonstrating the United Nation’s ongoing commitment to the well-being of all Afghans.

How Much You Need to Set Aside

Experts on retirement saving talk about the crisis facing middle class Americans.

FRONTLINE: can you afford to retire?: what you need to know | PBS

How many Americans working in the private sector have retirement plans?
What's the difference between employer-sponsored pension plans and 401(k) plans?
What are the advantages of 401(k) plans for employees?
What are the advantages of 401(k) plans for companies?
What are the pitfalls of 401(k) plans for employees?
What are the major mistakes workers make managing their 401(k)s?
What should be the combined employee/employer amount put into a 401(k) each year?
What can be done to make 401(k)s work well?
What happens when companies don't have enough money to fund their pensions?
How bad is the problem of corporations underfunding their pension trust funds?
Healthy companies are also freezing pension plans. How does that work?
What's being done to address the problem of underfunded pension trust funds?

No 'cheap peace' in Afghanistan

The raging violence in southern Afghanistan should be a wake-up call to western nations, not an excuse to give up, says a new report by a respected international conflict studies group. “The desire for a quick, cheap war followed by a quick, cheap peace is what has brought Afghanistan to the present, increasingly dangerous situation,” says the group, which has a self-appointed mission to prevent and resolve conflicts.

UN urged to act over Afghanistan

Human Rights Watch has urged the United Nations to address the situation in Afghanistan where more than 3,000 people have died in fighting this year. The New York-based group also said urgent action was needed to address corruption and abuses by warlords. It blames not only the Taleban-led insurgents for the violence, but also regional warlords - some of them operating with the blessing of the Afghan government - and Nato-led forces.

Analysis: Why 'Islamofascism' May Create New U.S. Enemies

"It is fairly clear that the people we are describing are all fascist," says former conservative Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also a historian by training. "They are all prepared to use the power of the state to impose a totalitarian system on others." -- But the problem with using a term like "Islamofascism," says historian Michael Burleigh, "is that it suggests to many people that Islam itself is fascist." -- Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, who teaches Islamic law at UCLA, agrees. "The thing I don't think most Americans realize," says Abou El Fadl, "is all this Islam-hating materials, they reach the Muslim world." -- "They [people in the Muslim world] are well aware that practically every single week, a new Islam-hating book comes out, a book that talks about Islam as an inherently evil religion, an inherently dangerous religion," says Abou El Fadl. -- For former Pentagon advisor Richard Perle, the term "fascist" or "fascism" is an emotive term, which is applied with precision by very few people. Perle doesn't use the term "Islamic fascism." But he does believe that the fight faced by Western countries today is very similar to the fights they faced in the past -- the struggles between a liberal democratic vision and a totalitarian one.

Official: Britain Tracks Terrorist Plots -- The Associated Press

What to Expect from the Democratic Agenda --NPR

But there's another saying as well: "Be careful what you wish for, you may well get it." And so Democrats, having gotten what they wished for, may now find running the two chambers even more daunting than the last time they held them both at once (1993-94).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Turkey given month to rescue EU bid

Turkey was on Wednesday given a month to rescue its bid to join the European Union, as Brussels sought to allay public concerns that the EU is expanding too far and too fast. In response, Ankara said it was up to the 25-nation bloc to keep the negotiations alive.

Republicans move to reshape leadership

Democrats Take Senate; Concession in Virginia Completes Midterm Sweep

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Colleagues Debate His Legacy

DOV ZAKHEIM, Former Pentagon Official: And if you recall, in the first weeks afterwards, even when we said we were going to go after Afghanistan, things hadn't moved quickly. A lot of people said, "Oh, this is going to fail. Nothing's going to happen." And then we won, and we won very big in Afghanistan. Clearly that made a difference. ---- LAWRENCE KORB, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense: I think by going into Iraq before he finished the job in Afghanistan -- and Afghanistan is getting worse now -- I think he made us less safe.

Who's Who In New Senate Leadership

Palestinians Chide U.N. Silence on Gaza

(AP) Palestinians denounced the U.N. Security Council's silence on Israel's offensive in Gaza on Thursday, urging the United Nations' most powerful body to condemn the killing of 18 family members and demand a withdrawal of Israeli troops from the coastal strip.

Pennsylvania medical gifts will help Afghanistan heal

Afghanistan, one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, contains 10 percent of the 60-70 million land mines that have been laid during conflicts around the globe. According to UNICEF, close to 5 percent of Afghan households have at least one person who has been affected by a land mine or unexploded ordnance.

The Fading Durand Line

After losing two wars with Afghanistan, the British, established one of those borders, the Durand Line, drawn between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since 1893, this demarcation line was disputed from the beginning.The Durand Line, the western border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, was delineated in 1893 as the boundary between then British India and Afghanistan. The international community recognizes the Durand line as the Pak-Afghan border since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, but successive Afghan rulers have repudiated its legitimacy.

Vegetable-rich low-carb cuts heart disease risk, says study

The Harvard researchers also considered the relative CHD risk as a function of the percentages of energy from carbohydrate, animal protein and animal fat, or from carbohydrate, vegetable protein and vegetable fat. For those who consumed protein and fat from animal sources, no significant difference in relative CHD risk was observed, regardless of carbohydrate consumption. However, the women who consumed protein and fat from predominantly animal sources and who adhered most closely to the low-carb diet, the relative risk of coronary heart disease was cut by 30 per cent, compared to those who followed a more low-fat-type diet.

US trade gap narrows

The Commerce Department said the trade gap shrank to $64.3bn after hitting a record high of $69bn in August, as exports climbed by $600m to a high of $123.2bn and imports fell for the first time since the start of the year after the price of foreign oil eased. The narrowing in the trade gap was greater than economists predicted, but left the deficit close to all-time highs, underlining concerns about global imbalances.

Mubarak warns on Saddam execution

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has warned that hanging former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will lead to even more bloodshed in Iraq. Mr Mubarak said hanging the former president would only enhance sectarian and ethnic divisions between Iraqis.

Mubarak Warns Against Hanging Saddam

CAIRO, Egypt -- Egypt's president came out strongly against hanging Saddam Hussein, saying in remarks published Thursday that it could make Iraq explode into more violence. But Iraq's prime minister said the execution could take place by the end of the year. "Carrying out this verdict will explode violence like waterfalls in Iraq," Mubarak was quoted as saying by state-run Egyptian newspapers. Hanging Saddam "will transform (Iraq) into blood pools and lead to a deepening of the sectarian and ethnic conflicts."

For Bush's New Direction, Cooperation Is The Challenge

Bush Urges Bipartisan Cooperation Among Political Leaders

President Bush today called on political leaders to put Tuesday's midterm elections "behind us" and to "rise above partisan differences," as he urged Congress to complete work on federal spending bills and other priorities in a final legislative session.

Congressional Democrats Face Challenges

''Simply having the title of majority is not enough,'' said Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democratic leader in the Senate. ''It's a long litany of challenges before us.''

World Welcomes Shift in U.S. Politics

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Politicians, analysts and ordinary citizens across much of the world welcomed the electoral rebuke given President Bush's Republican Party and the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday.

Afghans Losing Faith in Nation’s Path, Poll Shows

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 8 — Afghans have lost a considerable amount of confidence in the direction of their country over the past two years, according to an extensive nationwide survey released Wednesday. Sixty percent of those surveyed said an Islamic nation could attain democracy without becoming Westernized, while 35 percent said democracy challenged Islamic values.

Palestinians call for revenge at funeral

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip - Women collapsed in grief, a man hoisted his dead baby aloft and tens of thousands of Palestinians called for revenge Thursday as they jammed a cemetery for the funeral of 18 civilians killed in an errant Israeli artillery attack.

NGOs in Afghanistan fear backlash over NATO's humanitarian role

KABUL (AFP) - Nongovernment groups in Afghanistan are worried about the growing role
NATO forces are playing in reconstruction, fearing people will not differentiate between soldiers and aid workers as security deteriorates.

Iraqi official: 150,000 civilians dead - Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A stunning new death count emerged Thursday, as Iraq's health minister estimated 150,000 civilians have been killed in the war — about three times previously accepted estimates.

US working against militancy on both sides of Afghan-Pakistan border

KABUL (AFP) - The United States is backing efforts on both sides of the volatile Afghan and Pakistan border to assert government authority and defeat Taliban militants operating there, a top US official said. Boucher was in Afghanistan for talks with President Hamid Karzai and other top officials about efforts to end the Taliban insurgency and to push development of the war-battered country to discourage support for militants.

Afghanistan expects no changes with U.S.

KABUL, Afghanistan - Top American and Afghan officials said Thursday they don't expect the United States' commitment to Afghanistan to change despite the shake-up in Congress and the
Pentagon. A new poll found that Afghans are losing confidence in the direction their country is headed. U.S. undersecretary of state Richard Boucher, during a visit to Kabul, also said he did not expect a change in direction in Afghanistan, stressing that the mission has strong bipartisan support.

Make a drug deal with Afghanistan

The Afghan people are rebelling because the U.S. government is currently committed to destroying 60% of their economy. In the name of the "war on drugs," a U.S. corporation, Dyncorp, is being paid to barge into the fields of some of the poorest people in the world and systematically destroy their only livelihood.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democrats fell Rumsfeld and appear to win Senate

In his first public statement since the result, Mr Bush on Wednesday said he accepted a “large part” of the responsibility for the Republican electoral defeat.

For Bush's New Direction, Cooperation Is The Challenge

Tuesday's electoral earthquake triggered an equally seismic reaction in Washington yesterday, one that signaled more clearly than ever that a politically humbled President Bush now agrees with a resurgent Democratic Party on the need for a change of course in Iraq. What was not clear was whether the two sides are genuinely prepared to work together to produce one.

Bush urges quick investigation on Israel's raid on civilians

U.S. President George W. Bush said Wednesday that he is "deeply saddened" by the killing of 18 Palestinian civilians during an Israeli raid in the Gaza Strip and called for a quick investigation.

Democrats win control of Senate, AP reports

Minnesota voters send first Muslim to Capitol Hill

Keith Ellison, a Minnesota state legislator and lawyer, reached the political milestone by defeating two other candidates in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, which covers the Minneapolis area. Regarding his Muslim faith, he said, "people draw strength and moral courage from a variety of religious traditions." "Mine have come from both Catholicism and Islam. I was raised Catholic and later became a Muslim while attending Wayne State University. I am inspired by the Quran's message of an encompassing divine love, and a deep faith guides my life every day."

In full: President Bush's speech

The full transcript of US President George W Bush's statement on the mid-term election results and on the resignation of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Israeli Shelling Kills 18 Gazans; Anger Boils Up

BEIT HANUN, Gaza Strip, Nov. 8 — Israeli tank shells killed 18 Palestinians, including 8 children and 6 women, at a cluster of houses here on Wednesday, one of the largest single losses of life in Gaza in years.

Donald Rumsfeld's Long Career

As He Steps Down As Secretary Of Defense, A Look At His Path And Achievements

Rumsfeld Steps Down; Gates To Succeed Him

"I also believe most Americans — and leaders here in Washington from both political parties — understand we cannot accept defeat." -- President Bush

Pelosi: 'I've Broken The Marble Ceiling'

Pelosi: "This Congress is steeped in tradition and history, and it's very hard for a woman to succeed to the level that I have and I think it sends a message to all women that if this can happen, anything can happen."

Rumsfeld resigns; Democrats close in on Senate

Rumsfeld Resigns as Defense Secretary After Big Election Gains for Democrats

The president said he would nominate Robert Gates, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency and now president of Texas A & M University, to replace Mr. Rumsfeld. Mr. Gates served under the first President George Bush and is closer to him than he is to the current president.

Many Overseas Welcome Democratic Wins

MADRID, Spain -- The seismic shift that midterm elections brought to Washington's political landscape was welcomed by many Wednesday who oppose the war in Iraq and the harsh methods the Bush administration has employed in fighting terrorism.

Rumsfeld to Step Down as Defense Secretary

President Bush today announced he is replacing Donald H. Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, saying a "fresh perspective" is needed at the Pentagon to deal with the war in Iraq.

Afghanistan 'to spray poppy crop'

Democrats seize control of House

The White House conceded the Democrats had picked up the 15 net seats needed to wrest power from the Republicans for the first time in 12 years.

Democrats Take Majority in House; Pelosi Poised to Become Speaker

Democrats Take Control of House; Senate Hangs on Virginia and Montana

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Eyes turn to 2008 presidential prize -- FT

Election issues -- FT

Afghan conflict: Reporter's diary --BBC

Saddam 'executed by end of year'

Speaking to the court in the afternoon session, he cited references to the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus who had asked for forgiveness for those who had opposed them. "I call on all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds, to forgive, reconcile and shake hands," the former president told the court.

Pashtuns protest Pakistani meddling in Afghanistan

CHAMAN, Pakistan, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Several thousand ethnic Pashtuns rallied in a Pakistani town near the Afghan border on Tuesday, accusing Pakistan of meddling in Afghanistan's affairs. "We demand the government of Pakistan stops playing its game in Afghanistan," Hamid Khan Achakzai, a leader of a Pakistani Pashtun nationalist party and a former member of parliament, told the rally in the southwestern town of Chaman. "This duplicitous policy poses serious danger to the entire world," Achakzai said

Turnout Appears Strong For Midterm Elections

Monday, November 06, 2006

Merkel warns Turkey over Cyprus

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that Turkey's EU bid will be in serious trouble if Ankara does not open its ports and airports to Cyprus.

U.K.’s Blair opposes death penalty for Saddam

LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday he opposed the death penalty for former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein but that his trial had reminded the world of the deposed leader’s brutality. Asked about Saddam’s sentence at his monthly press conference, Blair noted that Britain opposed the death penalty, “whether it’s Saddam or anyone else.”

Shiites, Kurds Celebrate Saddam Death Sentence; Sunnis Protest -- pbs

Greenspan: Economy to Improve Despite Housing Slump

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said today that home sales and prices may continue to slide for some time, but the broader U.S. economy appears poised for a rebound. Greenspan said he could not predict when home sales will start rising again, or when home prices will stabilize. But he said of prices, "it's hard for me to believe that they can stabilize at the level they are now because we had too much of a speculative surge. We have to lose some of that."

Last Minute Voting Drives Stepped Up

Campaigning for Democratic congressional candidates today in Rochester, N.Y., former president Bill Clinton said the Democrats' ability to take control of the House and Senate depends on "the diving board vote" -- people who have previously voted Republican and are "scared to jump off" and vote Democratic.

Win, Lose or Draw, Bush Faces Unfamiliar Terrain

Parties Focus on Turnout as Races Tighten

“Remember, if you want your taxes low, vote Republican,” the president said. “And as you go to the polls, remember, we’re at war. And it you want this country to do everything in its power to protect you and, at the same time, lay the foundation of peace for generations to come, vote Republican.” President Bush

Powell's military doctrine is set to sway presidents

The George W. Bush/Rumsfeld doctrine was put to the test in Afghanistan and Iraq. It flunked. Determined to invade Iraq quickly after deposing the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Bush administration split US forces and put the lion's share in Iraq. In both places, the result has been the worst of all worlds - insufficient conventional forces for effective pacification, but enough to inflame local hostility and provide targets.

Cheney says vote will not deflect US in Iraq

“You cannot make national security policy on the basis of that [election outcomes],” he said.

Hussein Is Sentenced to Death by Hanging

A Duty NATO Is Dodging In Afghanistan

NATO calls for overhaul of Afghanistan strategy

BERLIN: NATO's secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, is calling for a radical overhaul of military, civilian and development operations in Afghanistan that would involve the U.S.-led military alliance in playing a greater role in training the Afghan Army and the European Union taking over the entire training of the police forces.

CIA finds Karzai government losing support -- U.S.-backed Afghan leader's authority fades outside Kabul

Afghanistan -- A recent Central Intelligence Agency assessment found that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was significantly weakened by rising popular frustration with his U.S.-backed government, American officials say.

Analysis: International resonance of Iraq verdict

Iraq: Amnesty International deplores death sentences in Saddam Hussein trial

Saturday, November 04, 2006

SPEAKING FREELY, Afghanistan's stability lies with Pakistan

KABUL - In 1989, the Soviet Army withdrew from Afghanistan. Simultaneously, the West disengaged from the Afghan conflict, which left the Afghans at the mercy of regional powers. The collapse of the communist bloc provoked a shift in US policy in the region. Because the US lacked a strategic interest in Afghanistan, Washington [delegated the formulation] of Afghan policy to both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which are two close allies of the US. The Saudis had no other interest in Afghanistan than the desire to create a government in Kabul that was hostile to Iran. Although Iran shares a common language and culture with Afghanistan, it has historically had a limited influence on the country.

Afghan Women Lack Access to Contraceptives, Still Need Basic Healthcare

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bush: Dems not unpatriotic, just wrong on Iraq

Power shift or not, Senate less likely to back war

In battleground races, Democrats are sounding a lot like traditional Republicans, emphasizing family values, budget restraint and foreign policy. Some Republicans are sounding more like Democrats as they play down their past support for the Iraq war and distance themselves from an unpopular president.

Trump: No card up sleeve on making money

(CNN) -- From 401(k) accounts to playing the stock market, there are many strategies to saving money for retirement. They all, however, rely on one fundamental condition: to save money, you first have to make it.

The true Afghan mission

British Prime Minister Tony Blair reminded Canadians yesterday that they are fighting the good fight in Afghanistan. But Afghan authorities are undermining that fight by allowing tribal customs to prevail over civilized legal norms.

US's Afghan policies going up in smoke -- By Ann Jones

How the West short-changed Afghanistan

We went to war to restore democracy and prosperity to Afghanistan, and spent billions on building new homes, hospitals and highways. But five years and thousands of lost lives later, everything is crumbling and the ferocious Taliban are back. Where did it all go wrong?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Campaigns Set For TV Finale

The Republican and Democratic parties dumped tens of millions of dollars this week on dozens of congressional races, locking up broadcast time yesterday for a blizzard of new advertising that will saturate the airwaves over the final weekend of the midterm campaign season.

World, Taliban Enlists Video in Fight for Afghanistan

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, it banned television and even photographs of people, declaring them un-Islamic. Now, nearly five years after the fundamentalist movement was routed from Kabul, Taliban fighters are waging a guerrilla war against Afghanistan's government, with the help of technology they once renounced.

In depth: Muslims in Europe --BBC

'Only 50 years left' for sea fish

There will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a major scientific study.

Afghan Farmers Likely to Match Harvest

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan farmers now planting opium poppies will probably reap a harvest comparable to this year's record crop, in part because insurgents are preventing effective counter-narcotics work, officials said Thursday.

Former Iranian President Criticizes Bush

LONDON -- Iran's former president criticized President Bush for trying to "export democracy" in the Middle East and said the United States has been defeated in Iraq.

EC provides 2.5m euros to drought victims in Afghanistan

PESHAWAR, Nov 1 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The European Commission (EC) has decided to provide 2.5 million euros in emergency humanitarian aid for victims affected by severe drought in Afghanistan. Access to food and clean water supplies, as well as food security will be improved for the most vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on disabled people and female-headed households.

Afghan president launches website

The website can be accessed on:

Cluster bomb victims overwhelmingly civilian: report

GENEVA (Reuters) - Civilians, a quarter of them children, make up almost all the victims of cluster bombs over the last three decades, a humanitarian agency said on Thursday.

NATO urges EU to do more in Afghanistan

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO urged the European Union to do more to help the civilian reconstruction of Afghanistan on Thursday as it battles to overcome resistance by Taliban fighters in the south of the country. The U.S.-led defense alliance made the appeal after hosting a conference with senior officials of the United Nations, World Bank and EU on coordinating security and reconstruction efforts.

Traditional Afghan council will address return of Taliban

KABUL: Looking back to a centuries-old tradition, Afghanistan is preparing a tribal meeting of hundreds of people to tackle a Taliban insurgency that is paralyzing the country. But analysts warn the "jirga" could backfire, with a chance that delegates - likely to include Islamist tribal leaders - will make demands that are unacceptable to the government and its international allies. The gathering in Afghanistan and another due in Pakistan are intended to enlist support in the ethnic Pashtun belt along their border that sees the worst of the violence. The eastern city of Jalalabad will likely be the venue for the Afghan jirga expected in December or January, Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta told

Troops will be in Afghanistan for next 20 years, says commander -- Kim Sengupta, London Independent

The War in Afghanistan: Drugs, Money Laundering and the Banking System

The landlocked state of Afghanistan sits at the crossroads of Central Asia, the Indian sub-continent, and the Middle East. It is geo-strategically and economically important for a number of reasons. Firstly, Afghanistan is a major geo-strategic hub that conveniently flanks Iran, the former Soviet Union, and China. Afghanistan’s location has always been significant. For most of its history, the geographic area has been a frontier between Iran, India, and China. Later, since its Independence from Iran, it has acted as a buffer state between Iran, Tsarist Russia succeeded by the Soviet Union, and India under British colonial rule—later succeeded by the Republic of India and Pakistan. Afghanistan is an ideal place to create a wedge between the major Eurasian powers and to establish a permanent military presence for future operations in Eurasia. Secondly, Afghanistan also constitutes a doorstep into energy-rich Central Asia, which bypasses the territories of Iran, the Russian Federation, and China. This is an important factor because external forces from outside the region such as the United States or Britain can use Afghanistan to circumvent these rival regional powers. A pipeline corridor running through Pakistan and Afghanistan from the oil and gas fields of Turkmenistan and Central Asia has been a major project for the United States and its oil corporations for years.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Simple changes to save your heart

Get at least seven hours of sleep. That's per night, not week. And men—a needier breed—require eight. The benefit? Ask us if you still need an explanation when you wake up in the morning. The pressure's on… »

Westerners may be more promiscuous but monogamy still rules!

According to a new study which collected data from people in 59 countries, westerners are more promiscuous than those in the developing world.

The Safety of Kabul -- National Review

KABUL — If you were to visit Kabul, the first striking thing you’d notice is that the city is much smaller than you might expect — and that the stark, brown mountains surrounding it are much larger, with snow-covered peaks visible just behind them. The people we pass as the patrol walks down both sides of the road are neither particularly friendly nor unfriendly. They seem barely to notice the foreign soldiers, though children (some of them fair skinned with blond hair) rush up to offer chewing gum for “only one dollar.” Brushed off, they cheerfully skip away.

Prince urges religious tolerance

The Prince of Wales has called for religious tolerance and moderation in a speech during his visit to Pakistan. He was speaking at a women's college near Islamabad after safety fears led to the cancellation of a planned trip to Peshawar close to the Afghan border.

U.S. Stands Apart from Talks by Iraq's Neighbors

One of the many options for trying to stabilize Iraq is to include its neighbors in the process. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, and Iran all have an interest in making sure the violence in Iraq doesn't spread across their borders

Afghanistan: NATO Should Do More to Protect Civilians

(New York, October 30) – NATO forces operating under the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force to Afghanistan (ISAF) need to take greater precautions to protect civilians and establish a program to compensate Afghans who have lost family members, are injured or suffer property damage due to their actions, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch also joined a call by the US-based organization Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) in calling for NATO to immediately create a program to provide monetary compensation for civilian death, injury or property damage resulting from military operations.

What it takes to be great -- (Fortune Magazine)

Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work