Saturday, March 10, 2007

German Parliament Approves Planes for Afghanistan

The German parliament on Friday voted to send a handful of reconnaissance jets to Afghanistan. But not everybody is happy with the decision. --- The planes will be stationed at the German base at Masar-i-Scharif in northern Afghanistan. Germany will also be sending an additional 500 support personnel in a mission that has been authorized until the next time the Afghanistan mission comes up for review on October 13, 2007. The Tornado mission will cost an additional €35 million.

Greenspan still the guru, now with recession twist

During the 18-1/2 years Alan Greenspan was chairman of the Federal Reserve, he scrupulously avoided forecasting recessions. Now, it seems he can't stop using the word, and that has created headaches for his successor, Ben S. Bernanke.

German MPs raise retirement age

US Senators Question Administration Strategy for Afghanistan

Scent Strategy for Improving Memory (Smelling Rose Scent May Strengthen Memory During Sleep)

March 9, 2007 -- Smelling a scent while learning and again during deep sleep may help you remember what you learned, German scientists report.

Angry? It May Be in Your Genes

(WebMD) Genetics may affect women's anger, hostility, and physical aggression, University of Pittsburgh scientists announced today.

Justice Department Report Claims Bureau Improperly Used Terror Bill To Obtain Private Information

(CBS/AP) The FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about people in the United States, a Justice Department audit concluded Friday. --- FBI Director Robert Mueller said he was to blame for not putting more safeguards into place. "I am to be held accountable," Mueller said. He told reporters he would correct the problems and did not plan to resign.

E.U. Raises Bar in Fight Against Global Warming

PARIS, March 9 -- European Union leaders agreed Friday to take the 27-country bloc beyond the targets of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, agreeing to legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy.

Gates stays world’s richest but Buffett closes in

The richest woman on the list was Liliane Bettencourt, 84, of France, the daughter of Eugene Schueller, the L’Oréal founder. She was ranked at number 12 with $20.7 billion.

Friday, March 09, 2007

US/Iraq/Afghanistan: Accountability for Detainee Abuse

Human Rights Watch - Impact -- March 2007

Afghan copper lode a key to renewal?

TORONTO -- Were it anywhere else in the world, its mineral riches would surely have been tapped long ago, yet millions of tonnes of copper in the Aynak deposit sit untouched. -- The wealth underground has been shielded from exploitation by activity on the surface: foreign invasion, civil war, terrorism, occupation. -- Aynak is in Afghanistan, a place known more for land mines than copper mines.

U.S. Claims Progress in Afghan Opium War

VIENNA, Austria -- The international community is making significant strides toward ridding northern Afghanistan of opium, a U.S. counter-narcotics official said Friday, despite setbacks in the Taliban-controlled south and forecasts of another record year of poppy cultivation.

Legal Affairs: FBI Investigations Faulted in Scathing Report

All Things Considered, March 9, 2007 · The FBI has repeatedly broken the law with efforts to obtain private information about people in the United States, according to a sharply critical report from the Justice Department's inspector general. -- "I am particularly concerned about findings in this report that indicate we did not have appropriate policies in place," Mueller said, "and in other areas where we did have policies, we did not adhere to them in using this important tool."

Report Details FBI Data-Collection Errors -- By R. Jeffrey Smith

Over a three-year period ending in 2005, the FBI collected intimate information about the lives of a population roughly the size of Bethesda's -- 52,000 -- and stored it in an intelligence database accessible to about 12,000 federal, state and local law enforcement authorities and to certain foreign governments.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

State Department Releases 2005 Human Rights Country Reports

Democratic countries now better able to address problems, report says

Iraq, Afghanistan failing in human rights, US says

WASHINGTON: Fledgling U.S.-backed democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq are failing to protect human rights, the State Department says, despite huge flows of American aid to improve conditions after the ousters of governments run by Taliban militia and Saddam Hussein. --- "Too often in the past year we received painful reminders that human rights, though self-evident, are not self-enforcing," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in presenting the report. --- Afghanistan and Iraq have received millions in U.S. aid for rights and democracy programs — $102.9 million (€78.6 million) for Afghanistan last year alone and $183 million (€139.7 million) for Iraq since 2004, according to State Department figures.

Women's Day in a Dream for Some Afghans

KABUL, Afghanistan Mar 8, 2007 (AP)— Qamar laughed bitterly at the idea of International Women's Day, as if it were a cruel joke.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Afghanistan: US Should Investigate Civilian Deaths

(New York, March 6, 2007) – The United States should abide by Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s call for immediate investigations into US military operations on March 4 and 5 that resulted in high loss of civilian life, Human Rights Watch said today.

Study: Olive Oil May Prevent Ulcers

A new Spanish study suggests extra virgin olive oil may help prevent and treat H. pylori infections, which are responsible for millions of cases of gastritis and peptic ulcers each year. More...

Study: CT Scans Don't Help In Lung Cancer

The Line Between Torture and Cruelty

The United Nations and the United States government make a distinction between torture on the one hand and “cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment” on the other. But a study published yesterday uses data obtained from survivors to suggest that the distinction does not exist in practice, and may inadvertently provide justification for torture.

Preserving Land and Wildlife, to Restore the Afghan Identity

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Europe Struggles with Influx of Iraqi Refugees

Morning Edition, March 6, 2007 · After four years of chaos and violence, nearly two million Iraqis remain outside their country, according to the UN agency for refugees. Most are overwhelming neighboring countries, particularly Jordan and Syria. In Europe, Iraqi applications for asylum have doubled over the past three years. But few European countries are offering much refuge, with one exception: Sweden.

Nangarhar officials, elders call for prosecution of killers

JALALABAD, March 5 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The Governor, provincial council and tribal elders of the eastern Nangarhar province while condemning the civilian casualties by foreign troops on Monday demanded the prosecution of those involved in the incident.

U.S. raises tensions in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan–For the second time in less than 24 hours, the U.S. military yesterday acknowledged involvement in an incident that caused multiple civilian deaths in Afghanistan – this time, an air strike on a rural compound that killed nine people from the same family, according to Afghan officials.

String of Afghan deaths cause outrage, put government, U.S. mission in jeopardy

KABUL, Afghanistan: Haji Lawania was driving his gray SUV on a short trip to the market when he ran into an Afghan civilian's worst nightmare: a hail of gunfire from U.S. Marines that shattered his windshield and killed three companions. --- The storm of bullets — right after a suicide attack on the Marines — hit Lawania in the right hand and back, and drilled 100 holes into his vehicle. His father, nephew and a village elder in the SUV were killed.

A war on innocents

AFGHANISTAN is back to square one, as far as the security scenario is concerned. Reflective of the situation is the fact that the US troops are increasingly on the offensive; and as the past two days have showed, innocent civilians are increasingly coming under fire.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

8 Afghans die after attack on U.S. convoy

It was the highest civilian death toll this year in an incident involving U.S. or other foreign troops. Such casualties erode public support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has repeatedly appealed to coalition forces to exercise greater care to avoid harming civilians.

Marines Open Fire After Afghan Ambush

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 4 -- At least eight Afghan civilians were killed Sunday in eastern Afghanistan when U.S. Marines traveling in a convoy were hit by a car bomb and responded by firing in a way that some witnesses called reckless.

Investigation into Afghan deaths

The Afghan authorities have launched an investigation into the circumstances of a militant attack on a US marines' convoy in which eight civilians died.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Embassy of Afghanistan Newsletter Vol. 39 February 2007

President Hamid Karzai Meets U.S. Vice President and NATO Chief

Embassy Press Releases

Afghan opium 'hits record output'

Opium production in Afghanistan reached record levels last year, the United States has said.

Diana inquest to be heard by jury

A jury should hear the inquests into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed, the High Court has ruled. --- Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed won a ruling overturning deputy royal coroner Baroness Butler-Sloss's decision that she would sit alone. --- Three senior judges said the inquests should be heard by a jury, a decision Mr Al Fayed said was a "good victory". -- The princess and Dodi died in 1997 in a road crash in Paris. Their inquests are scheduled to start in May.

NOW : "Enemies of Happiness"

An Afghan woman speaks out for democracy and is threatened with death. --
Visit the website

Enemies of Happiness -- Interview with Malalai Joya

It seems that the U.S. government and its allies want to rely on them and install them to the most important posts in the executive, legislation and judicial bodies. Today the whole country is in their hands and they can do anything using their power, money and guns. They grab billions of dollars from foreign aid, drugs and precious stones smuggling. --- The U.S. wants a group or band in Afghanistan to obey its directions accurately and act according to the U.S. policies, and these fundamentalists' bands of the Northern Alliance have proved throughout their life that they are ready to sacrifice Afghanistan's national interests for their lust for power and money. The U.S. has no interest in the prosperity of our people as long as its regional and strategic interests are met. --- Our exclusive with the subject of "Enemies of Happiness" GO

Enemies of Happiness -- Danish filmmaker Eva Mulvad

Can an Afghan woman, armed with only a strong voice and a fierce loyalty to her homeland, overcome entrenched views and death threats to help bring democracy to Afghanistan?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

EDITORIAL: Keep pressuring Musharraf -- LATimes

Pakistan receives a lot of U.S. aid to fight terrorism. But are we getting our money's worth? --- Meanwhile, the Pakistanis are having their own doubts about the marriage. They believe that the U.S. is just using them in the war on terror and will dump them as soon as they're no longer needed. And they say they are being blamed for NATO's failure to curb the Taliban inside Afghanistan — a weakness highlighted by the suicide bombing Tuesday outside Bagram air base during Cheney's visit.

Latest food scare in the U.S. hits Hollywood party scene

Hepatitis A is caused by a virus spread by ingesting something contaminated with the feces of an infected person and can be spread through contaminated food and water. -- It attacks the liver and can cause fever, diarrhea and jaundice, but is rarely fatal. -- It can be spread when an infected worker touches food, even cooked food, without taking proper precautions. -- The virus is most often spread through fecal-oral contact, such as touching hand to mouth after using the bathroom or shaking the hands of infected people who have not washed properly.

Vitamins can kill -- by Peter Lavelle

So it's a good reason to leave the pills and capsules sitting on the supermarket shelf. Go to the fresh food and dairy sections instead – there's beta carotene in yellow, red, and deep green vegetables; vitamin A in cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk, and yoghurt; and vitamin E in soya, corn, olive oil and nuts.

Antioxidant Vitamins May Increase Mortality

Walter Reed General Relieved of Command

The action came 10 days after a Washington Post series exposed deplorable living conditions for some wounded outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed and bureaucratic problems that prevented many from getting the care they need. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates later described the situation as "unacceptable," appointed an independent review panel to look into it and vowed rapid corrective action.

U.S. Faults Friends, Foes in Drug War

WASHINGTON --In its annual global survey of the drug war, the department said massive opium poppy production in Afghanistan, long the world's top producer of the main ingredient for heroin, continued to pose a major threat due to its links with groups such as the Taliban. ---"Afghanistan's huge drug trade undercuts efforts to rebuild the economy and develop a strong democratic government based on the rule of law," the department said in the 2007 International Narcotic Control Strategy Report.

President Convenes Bipartisan Terror Panel

Despite initial wariness from Democrats, President Bush finally convened a bipartisan working group to advise him on terrorism, sitting down at the White House yesterday to discuss the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan with senior lawmakers from both parties.

SEC Files Charges in Wall Street Insider Trading Scheme

Federal prosecutors today unsealed criminal charges against more than a dozen people -- including former executives at three of Wall Street's elite investment banks and traders at prominent hedge funds -- for engaging in thousands of improper trades in a pair of wide-ranging schemes.

U.S. Markets Rebound From Morning Plunge

The U.S. stock markets bounced back from steep losses early today as investors weighed a mix of upbeat and lackluster economic reports. But the markets struggled all afternoon to find some direction.

New Options (and Risks) in Home Care for Elderly

Army Relieves General of Walter Reed Command

WASHINGTON, March 1 — The head of Walter Reed Army Medical Center has been relieved of command after reports disclosed poor living conditions and bureaucratic problems endured by soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the shadow of the warlords -- Paul McGeough, Kabul

Afghanistan: Amnesty Bill Could Threaten Faith In Democracy

February 2, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The lower chamber of Afghanistan's parliament passed a bill on January 31 that would grant immunity to all Afghans involved in war crimes during the last quarter century. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) warns that the legislation -- if approved by the upper chamber of parliament and signed by President Hamid Karzai -- could mean failure for the process of national reconciliation.

Afghanistan: EU Aid Targets Justice System

BRUSSELS, February 12, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- EU officials say it could also pave the way for more ambitious EU efforts in Afghanistan -- including assistance revamping key legal institutions. -- Before today's meeting, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner described Afghanistan's current legal architecture as inadequate in most respects. -- Ferrero-Waldner said ahead of today's meeting that the police mission is a harbinger of bigger things to come. She said the EU will provide 600 million euros ($777 million) over the next four years to help fund Afghanistan's public administration, with a particular focus on the legal system. -- "We intend to put a very special focus now on strengthening public administration, and also in particular the reform of the key legal institutions," Ferrero-Waldner said.