Friday, September 21, 2007

Making a killing: how private armies became a $120bn global industry --By Daniel Howden and Leonard Doyle in Washington

In Nigeria, corporate commandos exchange fire with local rebels attacking an oil platform. In Afghanistan, private bodyguards help to foil yet another assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai. In Colombia, a contracted pilot comes under fire from guerrillas while spraying coca fields with pesticides. On the border between Iraq and Iran, privately owned Apache helicopters deliver US special forces to a covert operation.

Billions In Aid Wasted In Afghanistan

(CBS) American doctor Dave Warner is on a mission in eastern Afghanistan to show people back home how billions of taxpayer dollars sent here are being wasted.

Karzai Confronts Afghan Parliament on Minister --by Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

Afghan and Western analysts say the fight could be Karzai's last stand against the former warlords, who dragged Afghanistan through a quarter-century of war. These former mujahedeen are growing stronger amid the spreading insecurity in Afghanistan. They dominate the parliament, and they are threatening to shut it down if the foreign minister stays.

The American dollar is tumbling around the world.

The falling dollar could be good news for multinational corporations. That's because it makes American-made goods more affordable in international markets while making it harder for foreign manufacturers to undercut domestic competition.

Karzai to address UN general assembly

On September 23 Karzai is to address an international conference on Afghanistan co-chaired by the United Nations, Spanta said.

We're losing in Afghanistan too -- Opinion & Editorials

Contra Donald Rumsfeld's rosy assessment, the country looks a lot like it did on Sept. 10, 2001.

US troops push Afghan elders to resist rebels

Ready for another Mideast war? -- By James Dobbins

WASHINGTON: On Sept. 6, Israeli aircraft bombed Syria and also seem to have violated Turkish airspace. So far, the Israeli government has offered no explanation. Does this mean we on the verge of another Middle East war, to accompany those underway, recently suspended, or in the offing in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza? --- Is the United States trying to head off this latest conflict, or has it given Israel the green light?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

RAND Review | Summer 2007 | Afghanistan on the Edge

A World at Risk of Winning the Urban Battle, Losing the Rural War, Abandoning the Regional Solution

Dan Rather Sues CBS for $70 Million

The Former News Anchorman Claims CBS Made Him 'a Scapegoat'

Simpson Ordered to Surrender Passport, Stay Away From Witnesses

"We expect Mr. Simpson to be processed and released fairly quickly," one of Simpson's attorneys, Yale Galanter, said at a news conference. "He's relieved. This has been a very harrowing experience for him."

Afghanistan Opium Survey, 2007 -- CFR

Afghanistan Opium Survey, 2007

German cabinet agrees to renew Afghan mission

Canadians, Dutch seek more allies for Afghan mission

On Bail, Simpson Is Freed From Jail -- Washington Post Staff Writer

"There isn't a place on the planet where Mr. Simpson could go without someone recognizing him," Galanter said outside the courthouse. "Despite his past and people's opinion of him," the lawyer said, Simpson "is not a flight risk."

O.J. Simpson goes free on bail -- LATimes

Galanter said the defense team, which includes local lawyer Gabriel L. Grasso, succeeded in its goal to get a "fair and reasonable bond and get Mr. Simpson to go home to his family."

Is O.J. Getting A Fair Shake? -- CBS

Cops Say Yes; Defense Attorney And Some Critics Aren't So Sure

Sarkozy targets pension benefits -- BBC

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has outlined controversial plans to overhaul the pension benefits of half a million mainly public sector workers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Russia, China Worried By Iran Attack Talk

Building a Dam in a Bid to End Afghan Instability

Repairs of the half-century-old dam at Kajaki Reservoir may cost up to $500 million. It is the largest project planned by the U.S.

U.S. in no rush to attack Iran -- for now

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Despite blunt French talk of possible war with Iran, the United States may for the moment be too entangled in Iraq to turn from diplomatic to military action to curb Tehran's nuclear and regional ambitions.

Opposition criticizes Musharraf plan to retain military post

Paris Talks Tough on Iran -- Time

O.J. Simpson charged with kidnap and robbery

Yale Galanter, a lawyer for Mr Simpson, said: "Mr Simpson is not guilty of these charges. We believe it is an extremely defensible case based on conflicting witness statements, flip-flopping by witnesses and witnesses making deals with the Government to flip."

Simpson Faces 10 Charges In Las Vegas

His attorney, Yale Galanter, told the Associated Press, "You can't rob something that is yours."

The Fed and Character -- Wall Street Journal

Stocks soar as Fed makes sharp cut in rates

Stocks surged after the Federal Reserve moved aggressively to head off the risk of a sharp slowdown in the US economy on Tuesday, cutting interest rates by 50 basis points to 4.75 per cent.

UN Expected to Extend Afghanistan Force

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council is expected to extend the authorization of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan ahead of a high-level meeting on Sunday to focus on promoting national reconciliation in the country.

Fed Cuts Key Rate More Than Expected

The Federal Reserve cut a key interest rate yesterday in an aggressive attempt to keep turmoil in financial markets from damaging the overall U.S. economy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Memorandum for the Secretary of State -- (Whitehouse, For Immediate Release)

Despite the significant progress made in Afghanistan since 2001, the country continues to face tremendous challenges. Our struggle to win hearts and minds, while confronting the insurgency, continues to directly hinge on our ability to help the Afghan government produce visible results. We need to encourage a firm belief among the Afghan people that their national government is capable of delivering an alternative to the preceding decades of conflict. Our reconstruction assistance is an essential instrument to achieve that goal.

Afghanistan's deminers surrounded by danger

Landmines, cluster bombs and unspent shells left over from three decades of war litter the ground, exposed by scouring winds that have blown the top soil away. -- Others are still hidden below the surface, part of an estimated 100,000 landmines still in the ground in Afghanistan, home to the world's largest demining program and one of the highest landmine injury rates.

AOL to Move HQ to NYC, Regroup Ad Units

Microsoft faces fresh antitrust probes

The judgment by the European Court of First Instance handed a historic victory to the European Commission in its nine-year legal battle with Microsoft, and gives the regulator crucial backing to expand its investigation.

Afghanistan: U.S. Worried Iran Sending Chinese Weapons To Taliban

(RFE/RL) -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte says Washington has complained to Beijing about Chinese weapons shipments to Iran that appear to be turning up in the hands of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

Rumi without borders -- By Shakila Khalje

Rumi and his family moved from Balkh and traveled to Baghdad, Mecca and Damascus, and eventually settled in Konya, present day western Turkey.

Afghan dream: 'My hopes for Afghanistan's future'

Former BBC man's hopes for a better future for his country

Memorandum for the Secretary of State --(Whitehouse --press release)

SUBJECT: Presidential Determination Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries for Fiscal Year 2008 -- For Immediate ReleaseOffice of the Press Secretary

She called for a requirement for businesses to obtain insurance for employees, and said the wealthy should pay higher taxes to help defray the cost fo

She called for a requirement for businesses to obtain insurance for employees, and said the wealthy should pay higher taxes to help defray the cost for those less able to pay for it. She put the government's cost at $110 billion a year.

Clinton Calls For Universal Health Care

Plan Requires Every American To Have Insurance, With Assistance To Help Defray Cost

Bomber Kills 8 In Afghan Government Office

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Talks To Lesley Stahl About Subprime Mortgage Meltdown

(CBS) Alan Greenspan may go down as one of the best chairmen of the Federal Reserve in American history. His 18-year tenure was marked by unprecedented economic growth, budget surpluses and a booming stock market. And he was praised universally for shepherding the economy through the shock of 9/11.

Greenspan Defends Low Interest Rates

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan tells Lesley Stahl he knew about abuses in subprime lending but failed to foresee their paralyzing market effects until late 2005. More...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Britain tells US: We're winning Afghan battles but not the war

Britain is risking a new foreign policy rift with the US after bluntly telling the Bush Administration that it is “winning the battles but losing the war” in Afghanistan. --- Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, fear that the US remains “fixated” by Iraq and is failing to address what they regard as the real front line in the war on terrorism.

Reaching His Prime Time in Afghanistan

Mohseni, director of the Moby Media Group, was in Washington for meetings at the State Department and with U.S. media and business counterparts. His five-year-old company -- which got start-up help from the U.S. Agency for International Development -- owns two of the most-watched television networks in Afghanistan, an FM radio station, a video production house, an ad agency, a music label and a small magazine. --- In some ways, Mohseni, 41, is the Rupert Murdoch of Afghanistan.

Bhutto announces Pakistan return -- BBC

Ms Bhutto, who leads the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), has been trying unsuccessfully to reach a power-sharing deal with President Pervez Musharraf.

بوش پلان:له عراق دځينې ځواکونوشاتگ -- BBC

د امريکا ولسمشر جارج ډبليو بوش خپلو خلکو ته په يوه مهمه وينا کې له عراق څخه د ځينې ځواکونو د شاتگ اعلان وکړ .

حمله مسلحانه مرگبار به بازار صرافان هرات -- BBC

نشریات چاپ امروز کابل بیشتر آغاز ماه رمضان را مورد توجه قرار داده و مساله گفتگوی طالبان با دولت افغانستان را نیز بررسی کرده اند.

روزنامه دولتی انیس نوشته است که "رمضان ماه خود یابی و دیگر شناسی است". این روزنامه افزوده است که دراین ماه باید به "نیازمندی ها و خواست های شهروندان" توجه شود. --- روزنامه دولتی اصلاح با توجه به آغاز ماه رمضان نوشته است که اگر مخالفان دولت از این فرصت استفاده کنند نه تنها باعث "دوام زندگی مشروع آن ها خواهد شد بلکه بازسازی و توسعه اقتصادی در افغانستان" نیز سرعت بیشتر خواهد یافت.

Address by the President to the Nation

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. In the life of all free nations, there come moments that decide the direction of a country and reveal the character of its people. --- We are now at such a moment.

Bush Tells Nation He Will Begin to Roll Back 'Surge'

President Bush tried to turn a corner in the fractious debate over Iraq last night by ordering the first limited troop withdrawals since voters elected an antiwar Congress last year. But the move did little to appease Democratic leaders, who dismissed it as a token gesture masking an open-ended commitment of U.S. troops.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

US health insurance costs rise nearly twice as fast as pay: survey

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The cost of health insurance in the United States climbed nearly twice as fast as wages in the first half of 2007, with family coverage costing employers around 1,000 dollars (714 euros) a month, a poll showed Wednesday.

UN envoy criticises German army's role in Afghanistan

BERLIN (AFP) - The senior UN envoy to Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, criticised the restricted role of the German army in the strife-torn country in an interview published on Wednesday. --- "I think the German army stationed there should support the police in the fight against drugs and drug laboratories and not say: 'That has got nothing to do with us'," Koenigs, a German, told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

Jude Law visits war-torn Afghanistan

The 'Cold Mountain' star traveled to the war-torn country to film a documentary about the United Nation's Peace Day on September 21, which the UN hopes will see a day-long global ceasefire.

Six years on, terrorism a daily threat: Afghanistan

KABUL (AFP) - Terrorism is a daily threat in Afghanistan six years after the 9/11 attacks that led the United States to topple the Taliban, the government said Tuesday on the anniversary of the Al-Qaeda attacks.

Afghanistan can count on full German support: Merkel

BERLIN (AFP) - Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday pledged Germany's full support for peacekeeping in Afghanistan despite increasing opposition from German voters to the mission. --- "I warn against the suggestion that we could leave Operation Enduring Freedom," Merkel said in a speech to the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

War-Weary Taliban Looking To Politics -- (CBS) Written by CBS News'

President Karzai said Sunday that his administration was willing to negotiate with Taliban leaders, and for the first time since they were ousted from Kabul, Taliban leaders have responded favorably, albeit guardedly, to the offer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

SPIEGEL, Germany's Top Officer in Kabul: 'Afghanistan Will Be a Better Place in 20 Years'

Weak government, poor infrastructure, a wretched security situation: The highest-ranking German officer at ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Major Gen. Bruno Kasdorf, told SPIEGEL ONLINE he wants to see more troops, more reconstruction workers and a lot more patience in Afghanistan. --- Kasdorf: I repeat: Pulling out of OEF would not be helpful. It bothers the Americans when Europeans accuse them of waging the war in a brutal fashion. If there were no OEF, the insurgency would gain strength in the country and they would consider themselves unopposed here, which could also threaten ISAF's success. Here at ISAF we don't have the forces to go after the extremists alone. At the same time, fighting terror is not our mandate.

Doctor on call in Afghanistan -- (BBC News, Wakhan Corridor, north-east Afghanistan )

We're not going to be here forever, and we are having an effect on the health of the population which we couldn't do in the UK and that's a very satisfying feeling. Dr Alex Duncan --- "Their lives are really hard and sometimes tragic - often tragic. --- "We have a neighbour who lives up the hill who has lost eight children and it's just heartbreaking really to see that.

Israel's Syria 'raid' remains a mystery -- BBC

Rescuers bound for Sumatra quake -- BBC

The quake, measured by US officials as magnitude 8.4, sparked tsunami alerts across the Indian Ocean.

Putin names next prime minister -- BBC

Syria protests Israeli airstrikes

U.S. says attack deep inside Syrian territory; Damascus cites 'aggression'

A Woman Finds Her Place in the Afghan Power Struggle

TV Review 'A Woman Among Warlords', Click here: Wide Angle . A Woman Among Warlords . Handbook PBS

Japan ruling party seeks new leader after PM quits

Tehran Times : Kabul will never allow any threat to Iran from border: Afghan FM

TEHRAN -- Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadar Spanta said Kabul would never allow any threat to endanger Iran’s security on its eastern border with Afghanistan.

Prime Minister of Japan to Step Down

In a hastily called news conference, Mr. Abe acknowledged that he had lost the public’s trust and said that he hoped a new leader would be better able to carry out his policies, including continuing the Japanese military’s participation in the war in Afghanistan.

Iraq's Refugee Crisis Worsens

They Grew Up To Be President

(CBS) Americans like to believe that anyone can grow up to be president. But what was it about Ike's youth or JFK’s childhood or Harry Truman's school days that got them to the White House?

Americans Living Longer Than Ever

The United States continues to lag behind at least 40 other nations. Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, has the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Japan, Macau, San Marino and Singapore ranked second, third, fourth and fifth.

Weak Housing Market Could Spark Recession

(AP) Ongoing weakness in the housing market will push the national economy to the brink of recession, but growth in other areas should put the country back on a slow road to recovery by 2009, according to an economic forecast released Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Story from American Public Media

9/11 Mother Sees Afghan School She Funded

KABUL, Afghanistan - Sally Goodrich, whose son died in the Sept. 11 attacks, kept a grip on her grief as she surveyed the foundations of the Afghan school being built with money she raised in the United States. Click here: Peter M. Goodrich Memorial Foundation, or Click here: Peter M. Goodrich Memorial Foundation

US marks sixth 9/11 anniversary -- BBC

The enemies of America, the enemies of our values and our liberty, will never again rest easy,
Defence Secretary Robert Gates

A Woman Among Warlords -- PBS

Click here: Wide Angle PBS: Learn more about Aghanistan's National Assembly in our Handbook. Explore women's rights in the Taliban and post-Taliban's eras in the Info Graphic. View portraits of Afghan women in our Photo Essay.

Enemies of Happiness

ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS is a revelatory portrait of this extraordinary freedom fighter and the way she won the hearts of voters, as well as a snapshot of life and politics in war-torn Afghanistan.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Twin suicide raids kill 26 in Afghan south: police

Congress, White House Battle Over Iraq Assessment

On the eve of crucial testimony on Capitol Hill about the war in Iraq, the White House and its allies are feuding with congressional Democrats over the credibility and independence of one of today's star witnesses, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces there.

Harper wants to 'finish the job' in Afghanistan; against 'rush' into vote

Pakistan: Musharraf Illegally Forces Sharif Back Into Exile (Human Rights Watch, 10-9-2007)

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia Conspire in Illegal Transfer of Opposition Leader

How Osama bin Laden Escaped death 4 times after 9/11 --By Hamid Mir ( CanadaFreePress)

Islamabad, Pakistan One man changed the world on 9/11 six years ago. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that he won't change it more with other attacks similar to the world-altering 9/11. The world's only superpower has declared him their most dangerous enemy, and he as been wanted by the superpower for more than a decade. But the truth is that Osama bin Laden, the World's Most Wanted Man, has been lucky enough to have escaped death four times in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.

When to call a personal-injury lawyer

An insurer is certain to make you a quick offer, and it won't be its best one. Sometimes you need an attorney to make sense of it all -- and many times, you don't. (Insurance companies focus on dollars, not victims , -- When not to hire a lawyer , -- When to find counsel, -- What to know about the process, -- A third: the lawyer's cut of the settlement, -- How long until I get my money? )

How to file an insurance claim -- and win -- By

Here are some general tips for handling auto and home insurance claims:
How to file an insurance claim -- and win
When your health plan won't pay
Know your COBRA rights

Fossett sought via Google Earth

Images from Google Earth are being enrolled in the search for adventurer Steve Fossett.

Afghans losing hope: former FM and Massoud aide

KABUL (AFP) - Afghanistan is supported by the world's strongest military forces and the Taliban are weakened, but Afghans are still losing hope, ex-foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah told AFP in an interview.

US surge plan in Iraq 'working'

The military objectives of the US troop surge in Iraq "are largely being met", the top US military commander in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus, has said.

Pakistan deports ex-PM on return -- BBC

In Washington, the White House described Mr Sharif's deportation as an internal matter but added that the forthcoming election should be free and fair. -- Saudi officials have indicated he will be allowed to stay in the kingdom.

The Canadian Press: Former PM deported soon after return to Pakistan after years in exile

Afghanistan's Karzai Urges Taliban Talks After Scare

As Karzai was making his speech, a bodyguard stepped up and spoke to the president, TV showed. Karzai then walked away from the podium, asking his bodyguard, "What is the story?."

Japan PM Abe's Job At Stake as Parliament Meets

TOKYO (Reuters) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began the toughest battle of his political life in a parliament session that opened on Monday after staking his job on extending Japan's naval mission in support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld Calls Afghanistan 'Big Succes'

NEW YORK -- In an interview billed as his first since leaving the top Pentagon post, Donald Rumsfeld calls Afghanistan "a big success," but says U.S. efforts in Iraq are hampered by the failure of Iraq's government to establish a foundation for democracy.

Sharif 'taken to Pakistan jail' -- BBC

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been arrested and flown to prison after returning home from exile, officials and eye-witnesses say.

Potato 'fuel of human evolution'

Man's ability to digest starchy foods like the potato may explain our success on the planet, genetic work suggests. --- And these extra calories may have been crucial for feeding the larger brains of humans, speculate the University of California Santa Cruz authors. --- Previously, experts had wondered if meat in the diet was the answer.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

افغانستان با بیش از هفتاد درصد بی سواد --- BBC

افغانستان در حالی به استقبال روز بین المللی سواد می رود که براساس تخمین صندوق حمایت از کودکان سازمان ملل متحد (یونسف)، هم اکنون هفتاد و یک درصد مردم این کشور از بی سوادی رنج می برند.

هرج و مرج در سخنرانی کرزی در سالگرد مسعود -- BBC

آقای کرزی در حالی که صداهای شبیه تیراندازی در بیرون از ورزشگاه شدت گرفته بود، گفت: "خواهران و برادران عزیز، با احترام به همه، مجلس را ختم می کنیم، خداحافظ تان."

Statement by Press Secretary Sally McDonough

Earlier today, Mrs. Laura Bush underwent a successful posterior cervical foraminotomy to relieve the pressure on the pinched nerves in her neck. -- Mrs. Bush is resting comfortably at the White House.

In pictures: Pavarotti's funeral -- BBC

Afghan bombers 'foreigners' - UN

More than half of suicide bombers used by the Taleban for attacks in Afghanistan are not Afghans, the UN has quoted a Taleban commander as saying.

Karzai whisked away after firing on public meeting

KABUL: A function marking the death anniversary of former defense minister Ahmad Shah Masood was abandoned after unidentified gunmen fired shots and hurled stones at the venue here on Sunday.

International conference on the occasion of 800th birth anniversary of Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi

An international conference on the occasion of 800th birth anniversary of the great poet, scholar and intellectual, Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi was held at UNESCO’s main office in Paris.

Top Bush admin official due in Kabul next week

Afghanistan: 'Bush Bazaar' Offers A Taste Of Western Life

Named after the U.S. president, the market is where Afghans can buy cheaply priced supplies that apparently have been gleaned from foreign military bases. --- The Bush Bazaar is in central Kabul on a road leading to the military bases for most countries in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Cluster Bombs Decried in Bill -- THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

--U.S. forces in Iraq used 13,000 cluster bombs with almost 2 million bomblets in 2003, during the initial invasion. During the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 against al-Qaida centers and the Taliban government that sheltered them, the U.S. used 1,228 cluster bombs with 248,056 bomblets; they have killed 127 civilians, 70 percent under the age of 18.

Feminists Well-Represented Among Forbes' Most Powerful Women

"It is encouraging to see such a large number of self-identified feminists among Forbes' list of most powerful women," Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal said. "This shows that women who believe in equality have an advantage in becoming powerful. It will hopefully pave the way for more women to gain power, because feminists have a record of helping women up the ladder."

Friday, September 07, 2007

NATO chief urges Kabul to do more against drugs trade

GENEVA (AFP) - "NATO has not prime or even secondary responsibility, the international community -- first and foremost the Afghan government -- they should absolutely do more and be more active in the poppy fields than they are at the moment, they are primarily responsible," he said.

Afghanistan operation faces 'real difficulties': French minister

Afghan Police Seek Kidnapped De-Miners

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Police and villagers hunted on Friday for 13 mine-clearing workers kidnapped in a restive part of Afghanistan, a day after two NATO soldiers and more than 20 insurgents were killed in fierce fighting.

Embassy in the News

Ambassador Jawad Responds to Afghanistan's Ranking on Foreign Policy Magazine's Failed States Index (video)

FPTV: How Do You Defend a Failing State?

It’s not easy representing one of the world’s most vulnerable nations. Not only must you confront such problems as endemic poverty, entrenched corruption, and ethnic violence, but you have to defend your government from ferocious criticism in the media. To get the other side of the story, FPTV sat down with ambassadors from seven of the worst-performing countries on the 2007 Failed States Index.

FP: The Failed States Index 2007, ( In some of the world’s most dangerous regions, failure doesn’t stop at the border’s edge. It’s contagious.)

Sowing InstabilityFighting by a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan and in the lawless Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan has the potential to spread instability across Central Asia. Pakistan and Uzbekistan have shown only marginal gains in their index scores during the past year and are at risk not only from spillover but from growing internal dissent. But it is Afghanistan’s record poppy yield that has neighboring states most concerned. Drug trafficking routes, fueled by underground heroin factories, cut swaths through the former Soviet republics to the north, bringing crime, addiction, and HIV/AIDS in their wake.

Foreign Policy: The Failed States Index 2007

What holds back many of the world’s most fragile regimes is that they were never truly in charge in the first place. ---- 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. --- When it comes to assessing state failure, some countries emerge with split personalities. That is, states may be the picture of stability, peace, and economic growth in some areas, yet no-go zones in others. A dozen countries among the 60 most vulnerable contain “virtual states,” areas that are essentially self-governing, but claimed by the central government. and

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Afghan 'gun culture' is fuelled by fear -- Mark Sedra and Robert Muggah

Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, billions of dollars worth of firepower have been funnelled to successive regimes and armed groups such as the Mujahedeen and the Northern Alliance. Arms dealers have sought and found thriving markets there. Suppliers ranged from the Soviets, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, to China, Iran, and Central Asian states. --- The Geneva-based Small Arms Survey estimates that Afghanistan is home to as many as 10 million arms, including thousands of U.S.-made FIM-92 Stinger missiles. Unexploded ordnance and mines littering the countryside also attract enterprising Afghans who fashion them into the improvised explosive devices that currently wreak havoc among NATO troops.

Dollar Falls Versus Euro as Mortgage Delinquencies Reach Record

Ten Years On: Why Diana Mattered -- Time

The Long Goodbye: A decade after her death, Princess Diana still looms large in Britain's psyche

Laura Bush's Burmese Crusade

U.S. First Lady Laura Bush rarely speaks out strongly on foreign affairs. --- One exception: Burma. She has been a consistent critic of the military junta and a supporter of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Case For National Service

Judge Rules Provisions of Patriot Act Unconstitutional -- Washingtonpost

Israel/Lebanon: Israeli Indiscriminate Attacks Killed Most Civilians -- Human Rights Watch

(Jerusalem, September 6, 2007) – Israel’s indiscriminate airstrikes, not Hezbollah’s shielding as claimed by Israeli officials, caused most of the approximately 900 civilian deaths in Lebanon during the July-August 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch investigated more than 500 of the deaths.

Tenors lead tributes to Pavarotti -- BBC

The world is a smaller place without the big man, Sting

World economy 'facing slowdown'

Global economic growth is likely to be dampened by the turbulence which has swept world markets, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

Powerful 'grab Afghanistan land'

Former military commanders, members of parliament and senior officials are seizing land and then selling it on illegally, says Yousaf Pashthun. --- There is a "land mafia" which has stolen 5,000 sq km of land this year. --- It is another indication of the extent of corruption and the absence of the rule of law in Afghanistan.

Luciano Pavarotti, King of the High Cs, Dies at 71

Millions of people associate opera with two words: Luciano Pavarotti. That name alone sounds like a mini aria, albeit without one of the great tenor's signature high Cs (audio).

President Bush Discusses Exports with China's Hu

Economy: New Forecloure Rate Surges to Record

Bush's mortgage bailout just might work, -- Jon Markman

If insider buying is any indication, home builders and financial-services providers expect dramatic reversals of fortune in the coming months.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

10-Term Ohio Congressman, 68, Found Dead in His Arlington Home

Chinese weapons 'reaching the Taliban'

The BBC reported: “Unnamed US officials have recently been quoted as saying that China has been selling arms to Iran which Iran is then passing on to insurgent groups in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Pressure for tougher Afghan anti-drugs drive - UN

BRUSSELS, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Pressure is growing on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to get tough on his country's burgeoning opium industry with methods such as aerial spraying, the head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on Wednesday.

Saudis 'ask Sharif not to return'

Saudi Arabia has asked Pakistan's exiled ex-PM Nawaz Sharif not to return to the country, citing a commitment he made in 2001, local media say.

US B-52 in nuclear cargo blunder

The US Air Force has launched an investigation after a B-52 bomber flew across the US last week mistakenly loaded with nuclear-armed missiles.

Housing, Jobs Data Weigh on Stocks

Stocks Fall After Economic Report From Fed

Stocks deepened their losses today after the release of weak housing data and a report from the Federal Reserve concluding that the turmoil in the financial markets had limited impact on the economy last month.

Search continues for Fossett

Possible sightings of his plane flying above the eastern Sierra spur hope that he'll be found. 'Steve is a tough old boot,' says the aviator's friend, Sir Richard Branson.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Afghan roadside blast kills six

Bangladesh stuck in political limbo

Steve Fossett missing in Nevada

A plane flown by record-breaking US adventurer Steve Fossett is missing in the Nevada desert, US federal aviation officials have said.

Documents Show Troops Disregarding Rules

-- New documents released Tuesday regarding crimes committed by U.S. soldiers against civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan detail a troubling pattern of troops failing to understand and follow the rules that govern interrogations and deadly actions.

Like a Candle In the Wind, -- By Anne Applebaum

"She was the people's princess. And that's how she will . . . remain." -- I marked the 10th anniversary of the death of the Princess of Wales by watching Tony Blair's sob-choked 1997 tribute to Lady Diana on YouTube.

Challenges Mount in Afghanistan

"The enemy are attacking with machine guns and rocket launchers, and we can reply only with rifles," complained Col. Sayad Yakub Khan. "We don't have the capacity to respond."

Bush, in Iraq, Says Troop Reduction Is Possible

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq, Sept. 4— President Bush arrived in Australia today from Iraq, where he had made a surprise visit to emphasize security gains, sectarian reconciliation and the possibility of a troop withdrawal.

Heart attack victims do worse on drug stents: study

VIENNA (Reuters) - Patients given drug-coated stents after an acute heart attack are nearly five times more likely to die six months to two years later than those with bare metal forms of the arterial scaffolding, research showed on Tuesday.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Leave it to us to end the poppy curse - Telegraph

By Ahmad Zia Massoud, First Vice-President of Afghanistan, --- Why, when so much has been spent, has the policy failed so badly?

British anti-drug effort a failure: Afghan official

LONDON (Reuters) - British efforts to combat opium production in southern Afghanistan have completely failed, Afghanistan's first vice-president said on Sunday, calling for tougher measures, including aerial spraying. --- Ahmad Zia Masood said Britain and the United States had spent hundreds of millions of dollars to combat growing of opium poppies used to make heroin. --- "It is now clear that your policy in the south of our country has completely failed," he wrote in an article in Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper. --

Click here: Leave it to us to end the poppy curse - Telegraph

Bernanke fuels hope of interest rate cuts

Mr Bernanke’s remarks came as President George W. Bush announced measures to help struggling homeowners refinance mortgages through an expansion of the Federal Housing Administration and tax changes. But Mr Bush insisted there would be no government bail-out to solve the subprime mortgage crisis.

The Monarchist:

Click here: The Monarchist: Remembering Diana

Royals remember Princess Diana 10 years after death

CHRONOLOGY: Life and times of Princess Diana

Fortress Germany: Skilled Immigrants? No Thanks --- SPIEGEL

Germany is lagging behind other major industrialized countries in its efforts to attract skilled workers. While other nations see highly qualified immigrants as a benefit, Germany regards them more as a threat -- and is setting the hurdles as high as it can.

The war on poppies -- By Peter Bergen and Sameer Lalwani

The U.S. must stop targeting poor farmers and focus on the traffickers who make the bulk of the profits from heroin. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents on the ground should step up efforts to interrupt money-laundering networks and interdict labs and shipments. The DEA should also turn Afghanistan's shame-based culture to its advantage by making public the list of top Afghan drug suspects, including government officials, as it did in the 1990s, when it publicized the names of Colombia's drug kingpins.

Propping Up the Weak as a Policy -- NYTimes

JUST how much President Bush’s goals abroad are now at the mercy of some of the world’s weakest leaders was clear last week in how the White House reacted to events in Pakistan.

Bhutto vows early Pakistan return

Afghan attack 'kills civilians'

Harrods silent for Diana and Dodi --- BBC

A moving tribute has been held for Diana, Princess of Wales, at Harrods - led by the man who lost his son in the crash that killed her.

In full: Harry's tribute to Diana --- BBC

In a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry describes the unwavering love of the "best mother in the world" and the way he and his brother's lives were split in two by her death.

U.S. eyes trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration will push Congress in coming months to approve legislation aimed at reducing the threat of violence from "very troubled regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan" by creating new job opportunities, a top U.S. trade official said on Monday.

Sarkozy boosting French force in Afghanistan

PARIS: France is sending more troops to Afghanistan to train the Afghan army, President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a foreign policy speech Monday. --- "I decided to reinforce the presence of our trainers in the Afghan army, because it is (the Afghan army) that must first of all wage and win the fight against the Taliban," Sarkozy said in opening an annual conference of French ambassadors, his first as president.