Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Immigration agency raises the cost of citizenship

Unless Congress votes to block them, the higher fees go into effect July 30 -- giving congressional opponents two months to decide whether to take the unusual step of overturning regulations.


A new political movement is taking shape in Afghanistan that is pro-Western in orientation and seeks to present Afghans with a clear ideological alternative to the vision offered by the resurgent Taliban movement. The movement’s leader maintains that a "great" number of Afghans want to move in a democratic direction.

Muslim Politician Is Messenger of Change

In Denmark of all places -- the country with Europe's toughest immigration laws -- a Muslim member of parliament has become a rising star on the political scene. Now he wants to shake up traditional Danish politics with his new party.

'Germans Will Have to Go on the Offensive'

Best-selling Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid discusses the recent Taliban attacks on NATO troops in Afghanistan and the elusive prospects of lasting peace in the Hinda Kush.


Robert Zoellick has been designated the new president of the World Bank following Paul Wolfowitz's departure. Many Germans remember him as the likeable mediator who helped bring about German reunification. But Zoellick's maxim is still "America first."

World Bank Continues Zoellick's Rise

President Bush on Wednesday nominated Robert Zoellick to be the next president of the World Bank, replacing Paul Wolfowitz. --- When you talk to people about Zoellick, you hear the same words over and over. Some are positive: smart, even brilliant. Then, there are the negatives: tough, even arrogant.

5 GIs Among 7 Killed in Afghan Crash

S& P 500 Soars to Record High

NEW YORK, May 30 -- The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index hit a record high today, marking the end of a four-year healing period for U.S. stocks battered by the burst of the tech bubble, the collapse of Enron and WorldCom, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Helicopter crashes in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s Buzkashi Parliament

A recent fight in the legislature leads some to wonder whether Afghanistan is ready for civilised discourse.

Afghans dispute U.S. version of raid casualties

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, May 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. military said coalition and Afghan troops killed six Taliban and arrested four in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, though a provincial official and residents said the casualties were villagers.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Future of world linked to Afghanistan: Khalilzad

UNITED NATIONS: New US Ambassador to United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad assured the United States was committed towards making Afghanistan a strong and stable prosperous democratic nation. --- Afghanistans future is very important for us. It is obviously important for the people of Afghanistan. It is also important for the future of the region and the world. What happens in Afghanistan would have an impact not only on the region, but the world over. --- There are dilemmas with regard to building state institutions, meeting the expectations of the people in terms of rule of law, in terms of economic prosperity. There is violence which has been perpetrated by the enemies of Afghanistan that has to be dealt with. --- Khalilzad said: I have a strong conviction that the people of Afghanistan want to succeed. They have seen problems caused by extremism, by terror, by backwardness. They want to be the masters of their own destiny. ---- I hope the leaders of the region would learn from the experience of Europe, which chose after World War II a different model of cooperation in security, political, economic and other fields. Now they are more prosperous than ever but the rule by which they play and compete is very different. That is something which has to happen in this region ultimately because now the focus of the world is on it because of its problems.

U.N. should lead Afghanistan peace effort: Britain

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain lobbied U.N. officials on Thursday with a proposal for the world body to lead a comprehensive "campaign plan" for peace in Afghanistan, where NATO-led troops are struggling against Taliban insurgents. --- Defense Secretary Des Browne said the United Nations was best placed to coordinate a peace-building effort he said had until now largely fallen on military commanders.

Afghanistan: Reinstate MP Suspended for ‘Insult’

(New York, May 23, 2007) – The Afghan parliament should immediately reinstate Malalai Joya, a member suspended for criticizing colleagues, and revise parliamentary procedures that restrict freedom of speech, Human Rights Watch said today.

U.S. Citizen Services -- US Embassy

Information for Travelers, Kabul-Afghanistan

U.S. Embassy Announces Scholarships for 2008-2009 Fulbright Programs

Several different fellowships are offered in Afghanistan. Each program has its own requirements and timeline, so please review the descriptions carefully. ----
Fulbright Graduate Program
Fulbright Undergraduate Program
The Hubert H. Humphrey Program
Foreign Language Teaching Assistant

MiPAL: Afghanistan

Compiled By The National Defense University Library

Afghanistan's Veteran Jihadi Leader: An Interview with Qazi Mohammad Amin Waqad

Qazi Mohammad Amin Waqad: Instead of pursuing the Taliban, the anti-terrorism coalition should have developed the country's infrastructure and strengthened their influence in those regions most vulnerable. Every person, whose chance for life ends, would accept death. And that was the reality the Taliban faced. --- As I have experience among the anti-Soviet jihadi groups, there are deep differences among these parties' feelings toward the Taliban. The jihadis [warlords] did not have the ability to recruit people. They had a limited number of followers. --- The government does not have a wide range of cultural activities. Its cultural affairs minister does not take any initiative. And government officials do not resemble the people, especially in the southern part of the country. --- The top officials' problem and mainly Karzai's problem is distinction. Karzai does not know how to place suitable people in the right posts. He may care for his friendship with a person and assign him to a post. --- The Afghan people are very dissatisfied with the present government. If foreign troops leave Afghanistan, all of Waziristan and the eight agencies of Pakistan—youths and mullahs—will enter Afghanistan in millions. We have reached a very critical point.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Foreign Policy: The List: The World’s Fastest-Growing Religions

Foreign Affairs - The Prophet of Moderation: Tariq Ramadan's Quest to Reclaim Islam - Jonathan Laurence

THE REAL MUHAMMAD: Ramadan's Prophet Muhammad is a humble and compassionate figure, a sponge for learning. He is thoroughly devoted to God, but no fanatic: "Woe to those who exaggerate," Muhammad tells his followers at one point. "Moderation, moderation!" He is a discreet preacher who knows that honey is more effective than vinegar. He wins his followers' hearts with his flexibility: there are no forced conversions, and Muslims may even leave the faith if they find they do not like it. He welcomes the incorporation of local cultural practices, even singing at a wedding (which sharia does not permit), as an "enrichment." At another point, he gives a free meal to someone who has broken the rules of the Ramadan fast -- and he does it with a smile. ---- Ramadan's Muhammad is a model of equanimity, guaranteeing "trust and respect of principles" and inviting his fellow Muslims "to go beyond tolerance to learn, listen, and recognize others' dignity." Even when "relations deteriorated" with the Jews, Ramadan reminds his readers, "the Quran states that any hatred that may incidentally arise from a war cannot obviate the principles to which believers must remain faithful." And in Ramadan's telling, Muhammad's first wife, Khadijah -- the first convert to Islam and a female presence who could almost always be found alongside her husband -- makes a striking case against gender segregation. Muhammad would repeatedly insist before accepting a dinner invitation, "What about her?"

The End of National Currency

Summary: Global financial instability has sparked a surge in "monetary nationalism" -- the idea that countries must make and control their own currencies. But globalization and monetary nationalism are a dangerous combination, a cause of financial crises and geopolitical tension. The world needs to abandon unwanted currencies, replacing them with dollars, euros, and multinational currencies as yet unborn.

Bush, NATO chief regret civilian deaths

(Pajhwok Afghan News): Regretting civilian casualties in Coalition and NATO operations in Afghanistan, US President George W. Bush and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer insisted on the need for NATO unity to thwart the threat from resurgent Taliban.

US concerned at Iran's expulsion of Afghan refugees

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States Tuesday voiced concern over Iran's large-scale deportations of Afghans living illegally in the country saying the flood of returning refugees was becoming a burden.

Death penalty: Executions fall as pressure grows for universal moratorium

Collateral Disasters -- Newsweek

In Afghanistan's lopsided ethos, every civilian death counts against the Americans.

Report 2007: Politics of fear creating a dangerously divided world - news.amnesty - Amnesty International

(London) Powerful governments and armed groups are deliberately fomenting fear to erode human rights and to create an increasingly polarized and dangerous world, said Amnesty International today as it launched Amnesty International Report 2007, its annual assessment of human rights worldwide. --- "Through short sighted, fear-mongering and divisive policies, governments are undermining the rule of law and human rights, feeding racism and xenophobia, dividing communities, intensifying inequalities and sowing the seeds for more violence and conflict," said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International. --- "The politics of fear is fuelling a downward spiral of human rights abuse in which no right is sacrosanct and no person safe." --- "Unless governments address the grievances on which these groups feed, unless they provide effective leadership to bring these groups to account for the abuses they have committed and are ready to hold themselves accountable, the prognosis for human rights is dire," said Ms Khan. --- In Afghanistan, the international community and the Afghan government squandered the opportunity to build an effective state based on human rights and the rule of law, leaving the people to chronic insecurity, corruption and a resurgent Taleban. In Iraq, the security forces incited sectarian violence rather than restrained it, the justice system proved woefully inadequate, and the worst practices of Saddam's regime -– torture, unfair trials, capital punishment and rape with impunity –- remained very much alive.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Karzai Tells World Not to Abandon Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) - The world must remain engaged in Afghanistan until the country manages to stand on its own feet or ``terrorists'' will strike again, President Hamid Karzai warned on Tuesday.

Nato 'should share Afghan burden'

All members of the Nato alliance should share the "burden" of fighting the Taleban in Afghanistan, US President George W Bush has said.

Poll: Muslim Americans overwhelmingly Democratic, but conservative on many issues -- USATODAY

Poll: US Muslims Feel Post-9/11 Backlash Despite Moderate Outlook

A quarter say they have been the victim of discrimination, and 54 percent feel Muslims are singled out for extra government surveillance. --- Amaney Jamal of Princeton University's Department of Politics worked on the survey. She says most respondents feel misunderstood by the rest of U.S. society. "The key issues that were cited was that there is a lack of knowledge about Islam; that stereotypes continue to affect the Muslim community, people have unfair perceptions of the Muslim community and the continuing allegations that Muslims are linked to terrorism," she said.

Leading Afghan woman MP suspended

An outspoken woman in the lower house of the Afghan parliament, Malalai Joya, has been suspended after comparing other MPs to animals.

Muslims 'well integrated' in US --- BBC

Muslim Americans are largely integrated in US society and moderate in their views, a nationwide survey suggests. --- However, most respondents say life has become more difficult for US Muslims since the 11 September attacks.

WHO'S WINNING (IN AFGHANISTAN)?-- By Jim Maceda, NBC News Correspondent

No matter how many times I’ve visited the country, or been embedded with U.S. forces, or covered the lives of ordinary Afghans caught up in the almost 6-year-old war, I still cringe when asked – and I’m ALWAYS asked when I get back – ‘How’s things in Afghanistan?’’ Invariably I pause for a few seconds, hoping to find the magic answer as I collect my thoughts. But there is no silver bullet: ‘’Good,’’ I venture. ‘’And bad.’’ --- But, say critics, Kabul’s success is built on nothing but funny money: either from the billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance that never spread beyond the capital, or from war booty and drug money. And while there may be bubbles of peace here and there, overall, Kabul is too unsafe today for a foreign reporter to walk its streets without the kind of protection he would take into the streets of Baghdad. What about Afghanistan’s progressive president, former Baltimore restaurateur Hamid Karzai? We, in the West, tend to see him as a bastion of moderation, a leader who understands the value of bringing democracy to a nation that still lingers in a previous millennium. But many Afghans see Karzai as the failed leader of a failed state, rampant with corruption. --- ‘’This government and all of those in it are thinking only of themselves, ‘’ says one outspoken critic, Dr. Wadi Safi of Kabul University. ‘’They don’t know the nation, and they don’t think they are accountable to the people because nobody punishes them.’’

70,000 Afghans 'expelled' from Iran in a month

KABUL -- More than 70,000 Afghans who were in Iran illegally have been returned in the past month, the United Nations said Monday, as talks were underway between the neighbors over the controversial deportations.

Karzai tells world not to abandon Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) - The world must remain engaged in Afghanistan until the country manages to stand on its own feet or "terrorists" will strike again, President Hamid Karzai warned on Tuesday. --- KABUL (Reuters) - The world must remain engaged in Afghanistan until the country manages to stand on its own feet or "terrorists" will strike again, President Hamid Karzai warned on Tuesday.

Afghan TV Station Clashes with Prosecutor

“We are worried because the fundamentalists, the mujahedin, are the majority in the parliament,” said Samander. “They do not want freedom of the press, and they do not want the press to publish anything negative about their activities, about what they did in the past and are still doing. They just want the press to be under their control.”Samander said that with journalists under attack in parliament, in the government, and, increasingly, from the revived Taleban, media outlets are beginning to seek protection elsewhere - leading to bias.“I am worried about journalism in Afghanistan,” he said. “Most publications and media organisations are now starting to work for specific sides. They are losing their objectivity, and if things continue this way Afghanistan’s media will lose the trust of the people and of the international community.”Journalists face a growing array of problems, he said, foremost among them interference from armed groups.“Everywhere is controlled by the gun,” said Samander. “But the government’s reaction to journalists is also very bad. They do not know what journalists are – for them, journalists are spies.”

Congressional Human Rights Caucus, -- Education in Afghanistan:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory." In Afghanistan a lack of trained teachers, safe conditions, sufficient facilities, and sufficient resources has limited education opportunities for Afghanis.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Spanta has lost legal status as FM: Qanuni

But President Hamid Karzai - objecting to the unseating of his foreign minister over an issue not directly related to his job - referred the matter to the Supreme Court for interpretation. He also asked the minister to continue until the apex court gave its ruling.

Border skirmishes won't affect jirga, hopes Karzai

Musharraf: Rivals will not return

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has restated he will not let former PMs Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto return to Pakistan before elections this year.

Bomb hits historic India mosque

Ending Battle, Wolfowitz Resigns From World Bank

World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz resigned yesterday, effective June 30, yielding to demands from governments around the world that he leave to end the ethics controversy that has consumed the institution.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Gallo: Aside from the normal generational shift, it is certainly a true turning point in the political cycle. The ideology of the left, which has influenced, if not dominated, public and intellectual life in France since World War II, is in a deep crisis. Marxism ended long ago, and yet the French socialists haven't discovered any new answers. Many leaders of the left still view social democratic reform as betrayal. This stands in contrast to a candidate who, for the first time, has clearly, decisively and forcefully declared, as part of his platform: "I am a man of the right."

Bush hosts Blair in farewell White House summit

Immigration Compromise Reached by Senate Negotiators

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the Democrats' chief negotiator, acknowledged that the bill had to meet concerns from both ends of the political spectrum. --- "This plan isn't perfect, but it's a strong bill and it is a worthy solution," he said. "Only a bipartisan bill will become law, and I believe we owe it to the American people . . . to solve this crisis in a way that upholds our humanity and our tradition of a nation of immigrants." --- Under the deal, undocumented workers who crossed into the country before Jan. 1 would be offered a temporary-residency permit while they await a new "Z Visa" that would allow them to live and work lawfully here.

Bush: Blair exit may be my fault

At their last joint press conference in Washington on Thursday, the two leaders heaped praise on each other and re-affirmed their relationship. --- Mr Blair said he admired Mr Bush "as a president and I regard him as a friend" and said he was proud of the relationship between their countries.

Bush and Blair defend war record

Tony Blair and George W Bush have reaffirmed the decisions they took over war in Iraq and said their countries would stay united against terrorism.

Afghanistan's "Staggering" Economic Growth Doesn't Stem Poverty

Recently, Alastair McKechnie, the World Bank director for Afghanistan, called the changes in Afghanistan "staggering." According to McKechnie, the Afghan economy has grown at a 10% rate, and though he concedes that there is no available data on unemployment, "people even in rural areas look more prosperous," and are "generally much better off." --- Now the Bush administration has requested an additional $11.8 billion from Congress "to accelerate Afghan reconstruction projects and security forces training in 2007-2008," and to "help President Karzai defeat our common enemies.” This, they claim, is to demonstrate a "commitment to the Afghan people."--- Hopefully, the average Afghan, including the Afghan government, will reap some benefits, but so far it's not looking good. IRIN reports that since the 2001, about 60 donors have spent $13 billion in reconstruction and development activities; yet ”out of every US dollar spent by donors in Afghanistan's reconstruction 80 cents finds its way out of the country.” -- The "rest has been spent by donors themselves," with some Afghan officials stating that the money has been allocated through foreign subcontractors, leaving little accountability of where all the aid money is going.

Forgotten women turn Kabul into widows' capital

Walking the streets of Kabul under a full burqa, the traditional garment that the Taliban insisted that women wear and which many still do, it is possible to gain access to Afghanistan's forgotten women. --- There are two million war widows in Afghanistan, and their plight is easy to forget in Hamid Karzai's capital, where Western-style shopping malls, bars and French restaurants are opening up for wealthy foreign aid workers and Afghan expatriates. --- Every morning Gul, who was widowed when an American bomb hit her house in 2001, leaves her two daughters to go begging on the streets of Kabul. "If I'm lucky, I'll make about 50 afghanis (80p), enough to buy two pieces of bread," she says. --- Kabul, it is said, is the widows' capital of the world. As many as 50,000 women like Gul live in the city, and many make their home in the abandoned buildings that dot the suburbs, often living in horrific conditions. In a nation with a fractured infrastructure and, at £125 a year, one of the lowest per-capita incomes in the world, many widows are left without relatives able to take them in or offer even modest financial support. --- War widows often stand outside government buildings holding frayed photographs of their late husbands, hoping to be noticed. "They should be the government's top priority," says Ms Akrami. "These women are uneducated; they lack basic job skills and cannot fend for themselves. If America invaded us to liberate our women, this is a clear sign that they are failing miserably."

Out of the ruins --- FT. By Rachel Morarjee

Real estate prices in Kabul were higher than Tokyo or New York as thousands of international aid workers and consultants poured into the bombed out remains of the city. -- News agencies were paying thousands of dollars for one house with no running water and an unexploded rocket in the basement. --- Mirwais Ekhsani, a 22-year-old realtor who runs the Wazir Akbar Khan Property agency, recalls a time before the hardline Islamic regime ended when he rented a four-bedroom house to a Danish charity for $500 a month and danced with joy. By contrast; "in 2002, right after the Taliban fell, it was possible to rent a house like that for $15,000 a month." --- Still, many market observers see the correction as a positive development - a sign that Kabul is rebuilding and stabilising. Previously, the only viable place for foreigners to live was Wazir Akbar Khan, a neighbourhood in the eastern part of the city made famous by the best-selling novel The Kite Runner and seen as the Beverley Hills of Afghanistan in the 1960s. Because the area had been occupied by mujahedin commanders, many of its houses, with original fittings and swimming pools, survived and were eventually rented to embassies and aid organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. --- Elsewhere, whole neighbourhoods destroyed by the fighting, such as Karte Char and Karte Se in western Kabul, have slowly been rebuilt, driving prices down and allowing foreign companies, aid agencies and their employees to move in. "Every house in Kabul has the same problems with water and electricity, so people are now thinking: 'Why not move to a district further west and pay half the price?' " says Naser Shahalemi, operational director of Gilbert Real Estate, a US-backed estate agency that does business all over the country. --- These re-emerging neighbourhoods are full of modest, three- or four-bedroom homes in streets that bustle with small tailor's shops, beauticians and fruit stalls only half and hour's drive away from Kabul's embassies and the United Nations offices. --- But evidence of the recent conflict remains. Sitting in the garden of his three-house compound in Karte Char, where roses are just coming into bloom, New York-based owner Torialai Popal points to the bullet marks in the property next door. "My houses were like that," he says. "It was an absolute disaster. It took a lot of work to make them habitable again." --- Ordinary Afghans are still strugging to recover. --- More development - not of expensive mansions but of standard homes and apartments and infrastructure - is desperately needed to serve the city's booming population. Thirty years ago, when Afghanistan was still a mecca for backpacking hippies, the capital had 750,000 residents. By 1999 it had 1.8m and, according to World Bank estimates, the number grew at 15 per cent per year for the next five years. Larger than the next 10 largest Afghan cities combined, it is now groaning under the weight of its own growth. --- Only 18 per cent of homes have access to running water, electricity is available less than one day in three in the winter months and the streets are full of sewage. Foreign aid agencies have moved in to help fix these problems but the side effect has been to push poor and even middle class Afghans out of the market. --- In Microrayon, a Soviet-built housing project that straddled the front line during the civil war, boxy two-bedroom flats rent for at least $300 a month, six times the average government official's salary.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

MPs boycott session against presidential action

Chirac bids an emotional farewell to French people

Like an ageing actor taking a final curtain call, President Jacques Chirac gave a brief, and emotional, farewell to the French people last night. --- In a five-minute, live television address, M. Chirac said he was leaving office with "the pride of duty accomplished and with great confidence in the future of our country". By remaining united as a family, he said, France could - despite its "many divergences" - remain a "leader in Europe" and a beacon of respect for human rights in the world.

Sarkozy to take office in France

Outgoing French President Jacques Chirac is preparing to hand over power to his successor Nicolas Sarkozy.

Afghan Refugees - Pawns in Standoff with West

TEHRAN, May 15 (IPS) - As the Iranian regime firmly implements a plan to repatriate the bulk of an estimated one million Afghan refugees living illegally on its soil, it is apparent that the move is aimed at embarrassing the West over its failures in the region.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Power Struggle in Afghanistan (NEW ALLIANCE THREATENS KARZAI)

In Afghanistan, an odd, new alliance of Mujahedeen, old communists, and royalists is threatening President Hamid Karzai's leadership. But can the motley crew solve the country's problems?

Paul Wolfowitz --- Huffingtonpost

Who is going to replace Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Dow Jones investor opposes Murdoch

A major Dow Jones shareholder on Sunday vehemently opposed a $5bn offer from News Corp, warning that Rupert Murdoch, the media giant’s chief executive, would endanger the integrity and editorial independence of The Wall Street Journal, its flagship title. --- In a statement, James Ottaway Jr, a former Dow Jones board member, accused Mr Murdoch of using his media empire to further his personal and political agendas.

Defeated Socialists search for scapegoats

Ms Royal can argue that she did better than Lionel Jospin, who in 2002 led the Socialists to a humiliating third place behind Jacques Chirac and far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. But France’s main opposition party still faces a wrenching crisis. --- ”The left is not credible on so many issues, from the 35-hour working week to immigration and law and order,” says Dominique Reynié, professor at Sciences Po university.

Collateral Disasters -- Newsweek

In Afghanistan's lopsided ethos, every civilian death counts against the Americans.

A Quiet Prayer for Democracy --- By Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek

Afghan Media Face Threat of Controls

Sarkozy Wins the Chance to Prove His Critics Wrong

Mr. Sarkozy is also a bit of an outsider, the first son of an immigrant to rise to the French presidency in a country struggling to integrate second-generation immigrants, the grandson of a Sephardic Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism in a country still riddled with anti-Semitism and a graduate of France’s creaky state university system in a country long governed by technocrats trained at a handful of small, elite “great schools.”

New Turkey president poll fails

Turkey's parliament has failed for a second time to elect the Islamist-rooted governing party's candidate for president, Abdullah Gul.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Washington relief at Sarkozy win

Nicolas Sarkozy opposed the Iraq war as much as President Chirac's handling of the diplomacy. He wants America to announce a phased withdrawal. He also opposes Turkish membership of the EU, which Washington favours. --- Nevertheless, with Nicolas Sarkozy now in Paris, Angela Merkel in Berlin and soon, one assumes, Gordon Brown in London, the US feels that it has regained an axis of friendship in northern Europe.

Victorious Sarkozy pledges unity

France's new President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy has called for unity after a bitterly-contested campaign. --- Mr Sarkozy, 52, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, won enemies as interior minister for his harsh condemnation of rioters during urban unrest two years ago. --- Now set to take over from 74-year-old President Jacques Chirac, he struck a conciliatory tone in his victory speech.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Rights group slams curbs on reporting in Afghanistan

NEW YORK, May 3 (Pajhwok Afghan News): An influential rights watchdog has underlined the need for effective global action for the protection of journalists and press freedom, particularly in war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq. --- "In Afghanistan, the deteriorating security situation has made intimidation, harassment and violence an everyday reality for Afghan journalists and human rights defenders," the group said in a report marking the World Press Freedom Day.

Religious leaders condemn US operations in Afghanistan

KABUL (AFP) - Religious leaders condemned US forces for taking the lives of "innocents" in Friday prayers in parts of Afghanistan where dozens of civilians were allegedly killed in anti-militant operations this week.

Southwest Asia: Afghan Refugees Allege Abuse From Iran Repatriation

May 3, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Tehran has expelled tens of thousands of Afghans from Iran since mid-April in a move Iranian authorities say is aimed at repatriating 1 million unregistered Afghan refugees by March 2008.

Microsoft, Yahoo Reconsider Merger

A year ago, Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. explored the idea of combining to form a greater competitor to Google Inc.

House passes expanded hate crime bill

NATO Looking Into Civilian Death Reports

An Afghan boy, holding a piece of bread like many hungry children doing, cries after his parents were allegedly killed during a raid by U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces in Bati Kot area of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan in this April 29, 2007 file photo.

House Panel Approves a Record $48 Billion for Spy Agencies

The committee added to the Bush administration's funding request for "human intelligence" activities by the CIA and the Defense Department. In addition, Reyes noted, "we invest in language training for collectors and analysts and in language translation capabilities" and "add funding for sending additional analysts overseas."

Queen Elizabeth Tours Jamestown

France rivals end electoral push

Queen sees historic US settlement

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have visited the site of the US's first permanent English settlement, to mark its 400th anniversary.

Germany: Help Russia by Addressing Putin's Abuses

Civil Society Should Not Be Held Hostage to Energy Policy

Afghanistan: Civilians Bear Cost of Escalating Insurgent Attacks (Human Rights Watch)

(Kabul, April 16, 2007) – Civilian deaths from insurgent attacks in Afghanistan increased dramatically over the past 15 months, and many were the result of insurgents’ failure to respect the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.--- The 116-page report, “The Human Cost: The Consequences of Insurgent Attacks in Afghanistan,” --- Human Rights Watch has previously reported on numerous cases in which Afghan government and international forces in Afghanistan appear to have conducted indiscriminate attacks in violation of the laws of war. --- The new report also details how attacks on Afghan teachers and schools, especially girls’schools, doubled from their already high levels in 2005.

’08 Republicans Differ on Defining Party’s Future

The 10 Republican presidential candidates met for their first debate Thursday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Each endorsed a muscular approach to foreign policy and national security, and several of them invoked Reagan as a model.

The Republican Candidates’ First Debate

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Change France but keep the lunches

Queen begins US trip in Virginia

The 81-year-old monarch will be joined by the Duke of Edinburgh for the six-day East Coast tour. --- The official state visit will end with two days in Washington DC with President George Bush.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Afghans Say U.S. Bombing Killed 42 Civilians

President Hamid Karzai said at a news conference in Kabul that the Afghan people could no longer tolerate such casualties. “Five years on, it is very difficult for us to continue accepting civilian casualties,” he said. “It is becoming heavy for us; it is not understandable anymore.” ---
There have been several episodes recently in which civilians have been killed and foreign forces have been accused of indiscriminate or excessive force. --- That has prompted Afghan officials to warn that the good will of the Afghan people toward the government and the foreign military presence is wearing thin.

Wall Street Journal Weighs Life Under Rupert Murdoch

But Mr. Murdoch, the media baron who runs the News Corporation, may need a little more of his trademark patience to win The Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones & Company. Yesterday, the company’s board announced that it was taking no action on Mr. Murdoch’s surprise $5 billion bid because members of the controlling Bancroft family holding 52 percent of the company’s votes oppose it. [Page C1.]

Ronald Reagan, In His Own Words

The diaries, which have been stored at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., cover the gamut of his presidency, from arms-control negotiations to the Challenger disaster to his meetings with Hollywood figures. Reagan drew on the diaries in writing his 1990 autobiography.

Karzai Says Civilian Toll Is No Longer Acceptable

KABUL, May 2 -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared Wednesday that his government can "no longer accept" civilian casualties caused by U.S.-led operations, shortly before news spread that as many as 51 civilians may have died during clashes this week in far western Afghanistan. --- Civilian deaths are "becoming a heavy burden and we are not happy about it," Karzai told reporters here.

Afghan leader says working on government reshuffle

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai, facing efforts by senior members of his government to curb his powers, said on Wednesday he was working on a cabinet reshuffle. --- First Vice President Ahmad Zia Masood and several current and former cabinet members have formed a political party to push for the creation of a new post of prime minister, who would take some of the powers currently held by Karzai. --- "The government as a whole should be reformed. Efforts are under way in this regard," Karzai told reporters when pressed for a reaction to the formation of the party and speculation he planned to sack the rebels.

Reagan Diaries Reveal Private Thoughts of a Public Leader

Two decades after President Reagan left office, we're given a new glimpse at his private thoughts, with the publication of the handwritten diaries he kept during his eight years in the White House. --- He kept the diaries diligently, using clear orderly handwriting to take note of his daily events and activities and to shed a human light on the most dramatic chapters of his time in office. --- Vanity Fair has published excerpts from Douglas Brinkley's forthcoming book, "The Reagan Diaries," which include an entry days after he took office in 1981. The new president made it clear he would play to win the Cold War.

French rivals clash in TV debate

Conservative frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal clashed over employment, the economy, the environment and law and order. --- Click here: BBC NEWS World Europe French presidential debate: Excerpts

Karzai anger over civilian deaths

President Karzai summoned foreign military commanders to tell them his people's patience was wearing thin. --- "The president told Nato and coalition commanders that the patience of the Afghan people is wearing thin with the continued killing of innocent civilians," a statement from his office said. --- "Civilian deaths and arbitrary decisions to search people's houses have reached an unacceptable level and Afghans cannot put up with it any longer. Mr Karzai told journalists that civilian deaths would bring "bad consequences".

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Marriott Hotel Lease Agreement Signed -- Embassy of Afghanistan (Investment News)

The Government of Afghanistan and US-based General Systems International (GSI) executed on April 23 a 99-year lease agreement for the construction of a 209-room, five-star Marriott Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan.

AACC Congressional Forum Addresses Priorities for U.S. Funding to Afghanistan

The moderator, AACC's Chairman of the Board Ajmal Ghani A., provided context for the event. He called Afghanistan a post devastated country and stated that "Afghanistan and Iraq put together in the budget requests in the past has been a disadvantage for Afghanistan, which has been getting a 1 to 19 ratio of the development aid. The budget Supplemental is needed and the security sector must be reinforced, but the money designated for economic development, considering that Afghanistan's infrastructure and economy were completely destroyed, is simply not enough."

Has a decade of Blair changed Britain?

As Tony Blair celebrates a decade in office, philosopher Julian Baggini looks at how the fabric of the UK has changed.

Olmert Beseiged - Council on Foreign Relations

President Bush Vetoes War-Funding Bill

President Bush today vetoed a $124 billion emergency war-funding bill that contains a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, calling the measure "unacceptable" and saying it amounts to setting a date for "failure."

Afghan emerald miners see no sparkle in foreign investment

KHENJ, AFGHANISTAN - Outside Kabul, where the city's cosmopolitan character dissipates into tribal communities cloistered by high mountain passes, "foreign" and "investment" are fighting words. There is a deeply rooted sense that foreigners have come to Afghanistan only for conquest, and that foreign investment is just a form of economic imperialism. --- Lacking the stability needed for businesses to take root, Afghanistan has instead developed an informal economy of traders, merchants, smugglers, and middlemen. "The conflict went on so long that it created a conflict-based economy, and that becomes hard to change even after the conflict ends," says William Byrd, an analyst at the World Bank.

U.S. Says Raids Killed Taliban; Afghans Say Civilians Died

Afghans protest eviction of refugees by Iran

KABUL (AFP) - Hundreds of people rallied in Afghanistan's capital Kabul on Tuesday to protest Iran's expulsion of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees, witnesses said. --- "Among the forced returnees here, there are women who have left family members in Iran, there are people who have left their accounts unsettled in Iran," said Azad. --- Millions of Afghans have fled their country because of the violence and conflict that has destroyed much of Afghanistan over the past three decades.

Bush Vetoes Troop Withdrawal Bill

WASHINGTON -- President Bush vetoed legislation to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq Tuesday night in a historic showdown with Congress over whether the unpopular and costly war should end or escalate.

Protesters Press for Path to Citizenship

Israeli Prime Minister Facing Calls for His Resignation

Immigration Rallies Hit U.S. Streets

Angry over recent raids and frustrated with the U.S. Congress, thousands of people protested across the United States to demand a path to citizenship for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. More...

Former CIA Director Answers Critics

Former CIA officials, including some top terrorism experts, are accusing Tenet of hypocrisy for not speaking out earlier against the White House's push to invade Iraq. --- Tenet himself has accused the White House of tarnishing his reputation by falsely asserting he told administration officials finding weapons of mass destruction would be a "slam dunk." Tenet now says that's not what he actually meant.

Former CIA Director Tenet's Memoir Sparks Controversy

Conquering Colon Cancer - CBS News

(CBS) Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Thanks in large part to colorectal cancer screening, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been going down for the past two decades. Treatments have improved as well. As a result, there are around 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the U.S.

Pistachios in the diet can significantly reduce cholesterol and help prevent narrowing of the arteries.

One or two handfuls of the nuts can make a big enough difference to lower the risk of heart disease, say scientists. --- Volunteers who ate three ounces of pistachios a day for one month lowered their total blood cholesterol by 8.4%. --- Crucially, levels of "bad" cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), went down by 11.6%.

Pistachios May Take Bite Out of Cholesterol

What the government won't tell you: we are losing Afghan hearts -- By Adam Holloway

The Taliban cannot beat our brave and committed Armed Forces in any sort of conventional military engagement. But the Afghan people also trusted us to provide security and reconstruction: as they see it, we are providing neither. --- In Helmand I learned that while the Afghans want us there, it is so that we provide precisely that reconstruction and security. We the British talk a good plan in terms of development and governance. --- The only problem is that we are not delivering our "comprehensive approach". The Department for International Development's contribution has been woeful. ---"They sit in their office in the British base and write reports for London," said one local.

More aid share going through Afghan government

KABUL, May 1 (Reuters) - International donors are increasingly routing Afghan aid through the government, but requiring too much to be spent that way may drive some donors away, the U.N.'s Special Representative to Kabul said on --- About 30 percent of aid currently goes through the government, and U.N. Special Representative Tom Koenigs said the increasing ability of Afghan institutions to handle rebuilding work meant more could be given that way.

German trade surplus hits record

Turkey's presidency vote annulled

The constitutional court in Turkey has annulled last Friday's parliamentary vote to elect a new president.

Karzai, Musharraf in terror vow

The Afghan and Pakistani presidents have agreed to increase co-operation against terrorism during talks in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

'Civilians dead' in Nato assault

Afghans protested for a third day at alleged civilian deathsAt least 30 civilians were killed during recent fighting in the Afghan province of Herat, police and government officials say. --- They say that women and children were among the victims.

The fourth Afghanistan Development Forum (ADF)