Saturday, June 30, 2007

Princes ready for Diana concert

The concert in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales will be an "incredible" night of music, Prince William and Prince Harry have said. --- The concert, at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, will commemorate their mother's life almost 10 years after she died.

Officials: Soviet-Era Caches, Not Iran, Arming Taliban

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan - While United States officials accuse Iran ofarming a resurgent Taliban, officials here say the weapons are actually partof vast caches left behind by the Soviet army that fought a nine-year war inAfghanistan before withdrawing in 1988. --- Ustad Basir Arifi, secretary for the Disarmament of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG)program in northern Afghanistan, told IPS that weapons abandoned by the SovietUnion there are now being moved by professional smugglers to the southern provinceswhere the Taliban Islamist movement has its stronghold.

Kabul limos prove hit with locals

True or False: We Are Losing The War Against Radical Islam --By Fareed Zakaria

July 2-9, 2007 issue - Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, are strangely united on one point: the threat from global jihad is growing dangerously. Republicans use that belief as a way to remind the American people that we live in a fearsome world—and need tough leaders to protect us. For Democrats, the same idea fortifies their claim that the Bush administration has failed to deal with a crucial threat—and that we need a new national-security team.

Afghan Civilians Said Killed in Clash

'Sicko' a pain in the neck for health care industry

Uncomfortable attention on insurers, drug companies

"I Take the iPhone Home"

Afghan Civilians Said Killed in Clash

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- U.S.-led airstrikes targeting Taliban militants who had attacked NATO forces slammed into civilian homes in southern Afghanistan, killing both civilians and insurgents, Afghan and Western officials said Saturday.

Afghans Face a Loss of Health Care

JALALABAD, Afghanistan -- This month, two Afghan medical workers drove off into the hazy blue mountains that rise above this dusty provincial capital. They have not been seen since. --- The International Committee of the Red Cross recently said it faces a more restrictive environment than it has in two decades of work in Afghanistan. "It's not a conflict where there are clear front lines," said Franz Rauchenstein, the agency's deputy chief in Kabul. "It's more complicated than in the good old days, when you had Party A controlling one area and Party B controlling another. Now that can change every day."

U.N. chief concludes surprise visit to Afghanistan

Afghan women journalists targeted

KABUL, Afghanistan - Farida Nekzad began receiving menacing calls on her cell phone a half hour after arriving at the funeral of a fellow female journalist assassinated by gunmen. --- "'Daughter of America! We will kill you, just like we killed her,'" she quoted the man on the phone as saying as she stood near the maimed body of Zakia Zaki, the owner of a radio station north of Kabul.

Foreign air strikes kill 65 Afghan civilians: mayor

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (AFP) - Anti-Taliban air strikes by US- and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan killed 65 villagers including children, a local official said Saturday, amid growing anger here over civilian deaths.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

ARTF OKs $80m grant assistance for Afghanistan

(Pajhwok Afghan News): The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) Management Committee has approved $80 million grant assistance for the impoverished Central Asian country.--- Of the package, $70 million will help the Karzai administration pay wages of non-uniformed civil servants and $10 million to improve the utilisation of government and donor resources.

After a Decade, Blair Hands British Premiership to Brown

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair Named Middle East Envoy

Just hours after stepping down as British prime minister Wednesday, Tony Blair was tapped by the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations to head international efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.

Dollar Rises Versus Yen, Euro as Fed Highlights Inflation Risk

June 28 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar rose against the yen and euro as the Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate at 5.25 percent and said inflation is a risk to the economy.

Review: 'Sicko' a tonic, even with flaws

"Sicko" begins with three cases illustrating the plight of the 46 million Americans without health insurance, but quickly moves on to address wider concerns about the kind of care reserved for the lucky 250 million who do have coverage.

Paris Hilton: "I've Been Through A Lot"

"God does make everything happen for a reason... it gave me, you know, a timeout in life just to really find out what is important and what I want to do, figure out who I am."

U.S. To Stop Some Chinese Seafood Imports

Shrimp And Catfish Are On List Of Farm-Raised Fish That Have Tested Positive For Illegal Antibiotics ---- The Food and Drug Administration said it would detain three types of fish — catfish, basa and dace — as well as shrimp and eel after repeated testing has turned up contamination with drugs unapproved in the United States for use in farmed seafood.


Since early 2007, the number of suicide bombings, political assassinations, and armed clashes has risen in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, which indicates a gradual deterioration of the situation in this relatively peaceful part of the country. While the Afghan government and NATO forces have focused on the insurgent-infested territories of southern and eastern Afghanistan, anti-government elements have become increasingly active in the northern and western provinces.

Afghan Government Divided Against Itself

U.S.: Afghan Jews Keep Traditions Alive Far From Home

NEW YORK, June 19, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- More than 200 Jewish families of Afghan descent live in the New York City borough of Queens -- the largest group of Afghan Jews outside of Israel. In Afghanistan, meanwhile, there is officially only one Jew left, Zebolan Simanto, a 45-year old caretaker of a synagogue in Kabul.

Senate Blocks Effort to Revive Immigration Overhaul

Women under siege in Afghanistan -- BBC

For the past three months, Afghan female MP Shukria Barakzai has been receiving a letter saying she may be targeted by a suicide bomber in the next six months. --- Ms Barakzai says she is being targeted by "various elements" because of her speeches against the country's warlords, her support for women's rights and for her criticisms of Pakistan.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Fresh Impetus that Europe Desperately Needs

All of Europe's internal divisions were revealed at the Brussels summit. Once again, selfish national interests were promoted with tricks, threats and embarrassing haggling. Nevertheless, the result is a step forward for the European Union.

Women Attacked or Killed in Afghanistan

Blair 'to quit as MP to be envoy'

Files on Illegal Spying Show C.I.A. Skeletons From Cold War -- NYTimes

US Dismisses Reports on Afghan Deaths

WASHINGTON -- Despite rising civilian deaths in Afghanistan's counter-terror war _ and rising criticism _ a U.S. general suggested Tuesday that coalition commanders do not need to change the way they operate.

Report: Muslim Integration Crucial to U.S.

A better-integrated Muslim population would better serve the United States as it navigates critical domestic and foreign-policy challenges involving Muslim populations, a new report argues.

Blair, Schwarzenegger Push Global Leaders for Action

LONDON, June 26 -- Tony Blair, in his last news conference as British prime minister, joined California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday in calling for world leaders to take action on climate change.

CIA Releases Files On Past Misdeeds -- washingtonpost

Partly disclosed yesterday, the documents chronicle activities including assassination plans, illegal wiretaps and hunts for spies at political conventions.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Karzai angry over West's tactics -- BBC

He criticised his Western allies' "extreme" use of force and said they should act as his government asked. --- "Innocent people are becoming victims of reckless operations" because the troops had ignored Afghan advice for years, Mr Karzai told reporters. --- "As you are aware over the past several days, as result of indiscriminate and imprecise operations of Nato and coalition forces, our people suffered casualties," Mr Karzai told reporters in Kabul, looking visibly angry. --- "We are thankful for their help to Afghanistan. But that does not mean that Afghan lives have no value. Afghan life is not cheap and it should not be treated as such," he said.

Karzai Decries Civilian Deaths

KABUL, June 23 -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai chastised U.S. and NATO-led troops Saturday for their "careless operations" and accused them of killing more thanUsing some of his strongest language yet against the foreign forces that occupy his country, Karzai asserted that "Afghan life is not cheap and it should not be treated as such." 90 civilians in the past 10 days, as fresh reports emerged of more noncombatant deaths. --- "We do not want any more military operations without coordinating them with the Afghan government," a visibly angry Karzai said at a news conference in Kabul, the capital. "From now onwards, they have to work the way we ask them to work in here."

Arab militants join fight in Afghanistan

JALALABAD, Afghanistan - Arab Islamic radicals who fled Afghanistan in the U.S.-led invasion are coming back, eager to support suicide bombers in their increasingly frequent and effective attacks on Western and Afghan forces.

NATO admits more civilian deaths in anti-Taliban fight

KABUL (AFP) - The NATO-led force in Afghanistan admitted Sunday to killing more civilians, this time in Pakistan, a day after harsh criticism from President Hamid Karzai about military operations.

British open fire in Afghanistan

On Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused foreign soldiers of carelessly killing scores of Afghan civilians and warned that the fight against resurgent Taliban militants could fail unless foreign forces show more restraint.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Unfriendly fire -- (Western forces in Afghanistan)

The West's self-inflicted wounds in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda

Fatal errors in Afghanistan -- (A counter-insurgency in trouble)

Too few soldiers and too much bombing from the air is damaging the American-led campaign

U.S. Stocks Decline on Mortgage Concern; Bear Stearns Falls

June 22 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks plunged, capping the Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst week since early March, as concern intensified banks will be saddled with losses on mortgage bonds. --- Banks and brokerages contributed 28 percent to the drop in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, led by Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Exxon Mobil Corp. fell the most in the Dow average after the price of natural gas slid to a three-month low.


On World Refugee Day 2007, Amnesty International stands in solidarity with refugees around the world from countries such as Afghanistan, Burundi, Iraq, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Sudan who are awaiting a solution to their plight and sometimes have been for generations. ----Amnesty international calls on all governments to uphold their international obligations to respect and protect the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers. However, in many parts of the world, governments are portraying refugees and asylum-seekers as a threat to the societies in which they have sought protection. Such fears are being used and fuelled by the same governments that have legally committed themselves to protect refugees from the persecution they have escaped in their countries.

World Refugee Day kicks off amid warnings and calls for help

GENEVA, June 20 (UNHCR) – People across the world were celebrating World Refugee Day on Wednesday amid a call on the global community to help the world's displaced and a warning that their numbers were set to rise. --- "As we mark World Refugee Day, let us recall what sets these families, children and elderly apart from others on the move around the globe. The difference is that they cannot go home. To ensure that they are cared for and protected until they can, let us offer them our support and understanding," Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Foreign Policy: The Failed States Index 2007

The world’s weakest states aren’t just a danger to themselves. They can threaten the progress and stability of countries half a world away. In the third annual Failed States Index, FOREIGN POLICY and The Fund for Peace rank the countries where the risk of failure is running high.

Afghanistan ranked 8th among "failed states"

Study Revises Risk Factors for Women on Hormones

Bush Vetoes Stem Cell Funding Legislation

Princes saw the pressure Diana was under

The royal brothers talk about the loss of the mother, fame and their future, ---Prince Harry: 'We had each other', --- Timeline: Prince William's life, Timeline: Prince Harry's life

A conversation with William and Harry

Princes William and Harry, in the third part of their first-ever American TV interview, talk to NBC's Matt Lauer about their impressions of America, and what they would do with their lives if they had not been born into royalty.

Bloomberg party switch fuels talk of 2008 -- (Reuters)

FEATURE-Better times, new problems for model Afghan city

HERAT, Afghanistan, June 20 (Reuters) - The man who runs the western Afghan province of Herat has many problems, but he says his biggest headache has nothing to do with the Taliban.

There are grounds for hope in Afghanistan - Council on Foreign Relations

Authors: Craig Charney, President, Charney Research, Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy


Palestinian Authority: Hamas and Fatah must end revenge killings, attacks and abductions

U.S. Stocks Plunge on Higher Yields, Mortgage Bond Concern

June 20 (Bloomberg) -- Financial shares tripped over higher bond yields, sending the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to its steepest drop in two weeks.

Afghanistan's press | Thriving yet threatened | Economist

Freedom of expression is intoxicating in a conservative country where the government and religious establishment have long kept a tight rein and where the Taliban regime banned music and television. --- But many government members think the freedoms have gone too far. They argue that journalists are often poorly trained, biased and prone to defame institutions and individuals. The government of Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, has supported a free press, but has been hurt by press criticism at a time when it wants to counter Taliban propaganda.

AFGHANISTAN: War, poverty and ignorance fuels sexual abuse of children

According to Shukria Barakzai, an Afghan human rights activist and MP, for the past 25 years the majority of the country has suffered perpetual war and violence that has culminated not only in the physical destruction of the country, but has also brought about an obscurantist culture of war with very little respect for human rights.

United States Opposes Legalizing Opium Poppy Crop in Afghanistan

Washington -- Legalizing the opium poppy crop in Afghanistan would be disastrous for that country and for the world, a U.S. State Department official says.

State Dept. Promises Passport Solutions

N.Y. Mayor Bloomberg Leaves GOP

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg abruptly left the Republican Party yesterday, declaring himself free of a "rigid adherence" to ideology and stoking speculation that he will use his multibillion-dollar fortune to mount an independent bid for the White House.

Afghanistan 'is failed state' -- BBC

The survey says that two of the countries at the forefront of the US war on terror - Iraq and Afghanistan - are also among the world's 10 most vulnerable countries. --- Countries listed as 'critical': 1. Iraq 2. Afghanistan3. Pakistan4. N Korea5. Bangladesh6. Burma7. Chad8. Sudan9. Guinea 10. Ivory Coast11. Nigeria12. Central African Republic13. Ethiopia14. Somalia15. DR Congo16. Uganda17. Burundi18. Zimbabwe

Muslim face of the US Marines -- BBC

Honour, courage, commitment - those are the same three philosophies that Islam teaches us
Egyptian American soldier

Lenders sell $1bn in seized Bear assets

The giant market for securities backed by US subprime mortgages was thrown into turmoil on Wednesday as lenders sold more than $1bn of assets seized from two Bear Stearns hedge funds that suffered heavy losses on subprime bets.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Seven Afghan Children Killed in U.S.-led Airstrike

Foreign Affairs - Let Women Rule - Swanee Hunt

Summary: Although women have made large strides professionally over the last century, politics remains a man's world. Significant barriers stand in the way of more women assuming positions of political leadership -- not least women's own attitudes. If serious efforts are not made to break down these barriers, the world will miss out on the benefits that women can bring to policymaking.

America's Bad Deal With Musharraf, Going Down in Flames

Most Unstable Country

Iraq now ranks as the second most unstable country in the world, ahead of war-ravaged or poverty-stricken countries such as Somalia, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Congo, Afghanistan, Haiti and North Korea, according to the 2007 Failed State index issued today by Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace.

U.S.-Led Airstrike Kills 7 Children in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 18 -- U.S.-led coalition forces killed seven children in an airstrike against a suspected al-Qaeda hideout in Afghanistan on Sunday, adding to a civilian death toll that has become an increasing source of tension between the coalition and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Children die in Afghan air raid

Friday, June 15, 2007

Missions impossible: NATO's Afghan dilemma, -- By Philip Smucker

"By talking so much about democracy and propping up warlords without delivering serious progress, we have managed to discredit a lot of our basic notions in the eyes of the Afghans." --- But Afghans themselves also question how Western governments and their carefully chosen Afghan partners have managed to spend billions of dollars in development assistance with little other than several unsafe highways to show for it. --- Beyond a sputtering economy, however, increasing numbers of Afghans wonder how with nearly 50,000 foreign troops in their country security could have diminished in the past two years. --- "For Afghans, the 'global war on terror' was something for the rest of the world," says Sanjar Qiam, the general manager of a leading national radio station. "For Afghans it was about getting rid of the Taliban and getting rid of the Northern Alliance, but we still have both of them, and they seem to be getting stronger by the day."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Princes 'excited' over Diana show -- BBC

Prince William has said he would like the Princess Diana memorial concert to be a chance to remember all the "amazing things" his mother did. --- They also talked movingly about their mother, explaining that not a day passed without them thinking of her. The concert will mark the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana's death.

Diana: The Untold Story, -- "Diana Chronicles" Reveals Unknowns About "Terribly Sad Life" Of Princess

(CBS) Ten years after Princess Diana's death, people are still fascinated with the woman who came to be known as "The People's Princess."

Abdominal Pain May Be The First Sign Of Ovarian Cancer

Because it is very difficult to detect the cancer during its early stages when it is best treated, women often end up going to their doctors very late in the stage when there are almost no treatment options available. That is why the new list of early signs may be a life saver for many women. ---- The report compiled by the research team says that women who experience sudden bloating and the need to urinate urgently must consult their doctors as soon as possible. Additionally abdominal and pelvic pain may also herald the beginning of ovarian cancer.

US Congress urges military to tackle Afghan opium

Washington - A bumper crop of poppies in Afghanistan is prompting Congress to push a reluctant US military into a bigger role to rid the country of the illegal trade. --- The reason? Officials have long suspected that the centuries-old opium industry is funding the Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan.

Will United States Sacrifice Afghanistan For Iran?

Diplomatic Traffic : The Afghanistan-Russia Rapproachement and its geopolitical implications

BACKGROUND: The major reason for Karzai to turn to Russia and other members of the Russia-led military bloc is the continuing deterioration of the military situation in Afghanistan. The U.S. attack against the Taliban was launched with the presumption that Afghanistan would naturally evolve into a basically democratic country. But the attempt to impose democracy from above was even more ill-conceived than the USSR attempt to impose socialism. Indeed, the Soviets entered Afghanistan prepared for a long stay, whereas the USA expected a quick and essentially painless transformation. --- While the problem with the American engagement in the war seems to have been clear to Karzai early on, he became especially alarmed by the American desire in 2006 to pull out some American troops and replace them with troops from NATO partners, countries that were especially unwilling to send their soldiers into harm’s way. Karzai apparently started to think that a change in the White House could lead to the Americans abandoning him. He is, of course, well aware of the gruesome end that Najibullah, the Soviet-installed ruler of Afghanistan, met, as well as the fate of the last Iranian Shah, who was not able to settle in the United States after the Iranian Revolution. It is not surprising that Karzai tried to find other options, even if they meant antagonizing his Western sponsor.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ovarian Cancer: "Silent Killer" No More?

Possible Symptoms May Help Women And Doctors Detect The Disease Before It's Too Late

Analysis: Fighting Between Hamas and Fatah Rages Across Gaza

Mark Perry, Conflicts Forum: What we saw today in Gaza was a clear Hamas victory. They have won everything except for a small portion of Gaza. --- I agree with my colleague. This is about power and politics. This isn't secular versus religious; this is about who governs. Hamas is really a moderate organization. We don't look at an Islamist group as a moderate organization, but if Gaza and the West Bank descend into chaos, we're not going to get Fatah replacing Hamas. We're going to get al-Qaida. --- It's time to start talking with Islamist moderate groups, no matter how distasteful we think about it. We have to start recognizing legitimate Islamist groups that win elections. Hamas won an election.

Aga Khan Calls for Private Sector Role in Afghanistan

The Aga Khan said the lack of co-ordination and fragmentation of development efforts has been a barrier to progress in Afghanistan. He cited illegal drug production as one example. -- "The most profound example is the fact that much of this country's economic life - activities related to illicit drug production - falls outside the reach of any legitimate regime. In many developing countries, illicit activities have shrunk as legal authority extends its influence and as alternative licit activities - in the realm of agriculture for example - take on added value," he said.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bush Pays Tribute to Victims of Communism

"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate," he said. "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

ICRC warns of growing civilian toll in Afghanistan

U.S.: Iran sending weapons to Taliban

PARIS - A senior U.S. diplomat accused Iran on Tuesday of transferring weapons to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan — the most direct comments yet on the issue by a ranking American official.

Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report 2007

Release of the Seventh Annual Trafficking in Persons Report

US strike 'kills Afghan police' -- BBC

Seven Afghan policemen have been killed by US forces in a "friendly fire" incident in the eastern province of Nangarhar, Afghan officials say.

Afghanistan: Child Laborers Miss School, Face Spiral Of Poverty

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says economic difficulties in Afghanistan force one in three school-age children to work in order to help their families survive. As a result, many are missing out on a basic education. --- Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission warns that the prevalence of child labor is creating a generation of illiterate Afghans.

Afghanistan: Insecurity spreads amid escalating conflict

Geneva / Kabul (ICRC) – “The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is worse now than it was a year ago,” said Pierre Krähenbühl, director of operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), speaking in Geneva today.

Civilians bear brunt of conflict in Afghanistan-ICRC

GENEVA, June 12 (Reuters) - The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has worsened in the last year and civilians are bearing the brunt of suicide attacks and aerial bombing raids, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Tuesday. --- "Civilians suffer horribly from mounting threats to their security, such as increasing numbers of roadside bombs and suicide attacks, and regular aerial bombing raids," said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of ICRC operations.

ICRC says NATO must prevent Afghan civilian casualties

GENEVA (Reuters) - NATO must do more to prevent civilian casualties during military operations in Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Alzheimer's sufferers to quadruple by 2050

BEIJING, June 11 (Xinhuanet) -- The 26 million people worldwide thought to be living with Alzheimer's disease could quadruple over the next 40 years and swell to more than 106 million by 2050, researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, predict.

Powell Calls for Closure of Military Prison at Guantanamo

Former secretary of state Colin L. Powell said yesterday that he would close down the U.S. military prison for enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "this afternoon" because it has become a major problem in "the way the world perceives America."

German Chancellor's 'Sterling Achievement': Angela Merkel, The Summit Savior - International - SPIEGEL

Embassy of Afghanistan Newsletter, May 2007

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Survives Apparent Assassination Attempt by Taliban

Losing Afghanistan: Firepower Doesn’t Always Win Wars

Bush Greeted Warmly in Albania

All Things Considered, June 10, 2007 · Nearing the end of his eight-day European trip, President Bush made a stop in Albania Sunday. Bush, who is the first U.S. president to visit the former Communist country, was greeted by wildly enthusiastic crowds.

Group of Eight Summit Yields Africa Aid, Little Else

Eight industrialized nations concluded their summit Friday after reaching an agreement on aid to Africa, but failing to reach consensus on climate change or missile defense.

INTERVIEW-Veteran adviser says Afghans need own solution

KABUL, May 4 (Reuters) - Afghanistan must find its own political path and foreign troops, who are losing the trust of the public, should soon leave the country, a veteran adviser to Afghan governments for four decades said on Friday. --- Tarzi says the Americans were welcomed as the bringers of a new era of freedom when they deposed the Taliban in 2001 but it was now time to reach out to all sides in the fighting. --- The rising number of accidental deaths of Afghans at the hands of Western troops, along with rampant corruption and a lack of progress in rebuilding the country, is contributing to an increasing pessimism among diplomats, journalists and businessmen spoken to by Reuters in Kabul this week.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Interview with Richard Holbrooke on the G-8, Iraq and Afghanistan: 'Too Much Choreography, Too Little Spontaneity'

Holbrooke: I support very strongly the initiative in Afghanistan, but it is not going well right now. We have to do better. The drug program has been a failure and a colossal waste of money. The Karzai government is not as strongly supported as it used to be. The Taliban is using Pakistan to regroup and that problem has not been addressed successfully. So these issues have to be dealt with very aggressively. But we can't walk away from Afghanistan. ---

U.S. Planning to Ease Rules on Passports, Official Says

John Edwards - Money - Economics - Poverty - Presidential Elections of 2008 - New York Times

Afghan Forces: Rooting Out the Corruption - US News and World Report

"There was corruption and there still is corruption," Durbin says. "Corruption in many cases comes from a culture of survival. To help your family, you'll do whatever it takes." --- "Our biggest threat is time," says Durbin. "Do [the people of Afghanistan] really believe that this new government will make their days better?" The other question on their minds, says Durbin, is if they stand up to the Taliban and narco-traffickers, will their government support them? "I wouldn't stand up to the Taliban if I didn't think I could have my government back me up," he says. --- But building a quality force takes time, adds Durbin. The question, he adds, "is will Afghans wait" for that to happen? "That's our dilemma."

Senior officials clash in Afghan capital; 6 Afghan police killed in violence

Afghanistan: Latest Female Journalist's Slaying Highlights Plight

Zaki's slaying comes less than a week after the murder of a popular 22-year-old television presenter, Shakiba Sanga Amaj, who was also shot dead in her family home in the capital.

Radio station director shot dead in Parwan

CHARIKAR, June 6 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Zakia Zaki, director of the independent Radio Sulh in the central Parwan province, was shot dead inside her house last night.

Top Afghan law officer assaulted --- BBC

Attorney-General Abdul Jabar Sabet - one of President Hamid Karzai's closest aides - told the BBC that he needed hospital treatment after the attack. --- The general, Deen Mohammad Jurat, says he and his men were only acting in self-defence. ---Mr Sabet said the attackers wanted to kidnap him. "It was a pre-planned plot. He sent his man to the place where (he knew) I was going. --- "I have arrested people who (the general) wanted to be freed. He too was on my target list, this is why he attacked me." --- Gen Jurat is now serving as a top interior ministry general providing security for some American companies.

House OKs Afghanistan aid bill

WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday passed a $6.4-billion aid package for Afghanistan that would cut off funding to local governments with ties to drug dealers, criminals or terrorists, a standard that the White House says is unrealistic. --- According to a House report, opium poppy cultivation grew 59% during the 2005-06 growing season, producing more than 6,600 tons of opium.

An Afghanistan rebuilt starts with a rebuilt private sector

How do you start a business in a country of suicide bombings, blackouts, bribes, drug trading and rampant illiteracy? --- Everyone agrees that if Afghanistan is ever to get back on its feet, it must create a working economy with a vibrant private sector. More than five years after the fall of the Taliban, it hasn't even come close. --- With a per capita GDP of just $315 (U.S.) a year, Afghanistan has few roads, few trained workers and only a handful of barely functional banks. The biggest legal exporter is a carpet maker that earns just $40-million a year.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Praise at U.N. for a New U.S. Envoy’s Inclusive Tactics and Convivial Style

UNITED NATIONS, June 5 — One by one, the ambassadors at an unusually jolly diplomatic dinner last month rose to pay tribute to the new American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. --- Afghan-born, educated in Lebanon and able to converse in five Central Asian languages, Mr. Khalilzad says his origins, appearance and accented English give him an advantage with the envoys, particularly those from the developing world who eye American policy with such doubt. “The way I look and my background and style resonate with many of them,” he said. “I try to explain to them that I understand their culture and I know where they are coming from, that they are seeing conspiracies where the motives are really innocent. Often when I make a comment like that, they laugh because they can see I have read them correctly.”

Is U.S. Safer Since 9/11? Clinton and Rivals Spar

Israel/OPT: Forty years of occupation -- no security without basic rights - news.amnesty - Amnesty International

Folic Acid Supplements Don't Reduce High-Risk Colon Cancers

Bernanke Takes the Inflation Bet

While the housing slump drags on, the Fed chief says inflation is the bigger risk. Translation: Don't expect rate cuts any time soon

Bush Says Russia has 'Derailed' Democratic Reforms

"The Cold War is over. It ended," Bush said at the medieval Prague Castle, where he met with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek."My message will be: 'Vladimir -- I call him Vladimir -- you shouldn't fear a missile defense system. As a matter of fact, why don't you cooperate with us on a missile defense system?'" Bush said.

'I'm not Expecting a Solution this Week'


'I am a True Democrat'


ARTF okays $90m grant for SNP

(Pajhwok Afghan News): The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) Management Committee has approved a $90 million grant for the Afghan governments flagship initiative called the National Solidarity Programme (NSP).$60 million of the grant will be made available immediately while the remaining $30 million will be disbursed in coming months for NSP - one of the five rural development initiatives that form the backbone

Bangladesh ex-PM in murder probe

Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia alternated as prime minister since 1991 and are bitter foes.

C4 to air Diana crash photographs

Channel 4 will broadcast on Wednesday photos of the crash that killed Princess Diana, despite objections from her sons. --- Prince William and Prince Harry's private secretary wrote to the channel saying they felt it would be a "gross disrespect" to their mother's memory.

Bush criticises Russia on reform

If standing for liberty in the world makes me a dissident, then I'll wear the title with pride, George W Bush --- If the American nuclear potential grows in European territory, we will have to have new targets in Europe, Vladimir Putin

How 1967 defined the Middle East -- BBC

To understand what is happening between Israel and the Palestinians now, you have to understand what happened in the Middle East war of 1967.

1967: Israel launches attack on Egypt --BBC

Israeli forces have launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt and destroyed nearly 400 Egypt-based military aircraft.

French pullout from Afghanistan not imminent: Sarkozy

"We do not have the mission to stay there forever, but to leave now would show a lack of unity with our allies," Sarkozy was quoted as saying in The New York Times.

Pentagon chief sees progress in Afghanistan

Gates, on his second visit to Kabul, believes the situation has improved, although violence has risen.

Afghan leader expresses support for Iran

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave Iran his full embrace Monday, saying it has been his country's "very close friend," even as U.S. officials meeting with him here repeated their accusation that Iranian-made weapons were flowing to Taliban fighters. --- Karzai made the remarks at a joint news conference after a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who was in Afghanistan for nearly 24 hours to meet with American commanders and Afghan officials. Gates said that he raised the issue of the Iranian munitions in his meeting with Karzai, but acknowledged that there was no evidence the Iranian government was behind the alleged shipments.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Losing the 'other war' in Afghanistan? --- By Karl F. Inderfurth

WASHINGTON: Controversy rages over the war in Iraq, but what about the so-called other war in Afghanistan, for which there is strong bipartisan support in the United States and in the international community? Is there a danger of losing in Afghanistan? The answer is yes. ---- Almost six years after U.S.- led military forces removed the Taliban and its Qaeda support network from power, major challenges are seriously undermining popular support and trust in the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai: A resurgent Taliban and a growing sense of insecurity throughout the country, including Kabul; rampant corruption, ineffective law enforcement and a weak judicial system; a failure to provide social services, lagging reconstruction and high unemployment; a booming drug trade and too many warlords.

Afghans' anger over US bombings -- BBC