Friday, November 30, 2007

Bush Urges Emergency War Funds to Avoid Defense Layoffs

President Bush warned Congress yesterday that the Pentagon will soon have to start laying off civilian employees and reducing operations at U.S. military bases unless lawmakers send him an emergency war funding bill that does not mandate troop withdrawals from Iraq.

Bush Urges Congress to Fund Wars Before Holiday

Speaking at the Pentagon on Thursday, the president called on lawmakers to approve nearly $200 billion for the Pentagon before leaving for the Christmas holidays.

Afghanistan’s Judiciary Rebuilding Under New Supreme Court

Washington -- Training and monitoring efforts can help strengthen the rule of law ---- To help increase the rule of law and end corruption, Afghanistan is seeking $360 million for its judiciary. But the chief justice stressed it is not right for the country to simply expect aid, since the donors are also "expecting assurances that we are functioning correctly" and using the money properly. Rule of Law, Rebuilding Afghanistan

TAP gas pipeline project in trouble

The $4 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project, which India has been invited to join, may be shelved due to a fresh pact between Russian gas giant Gazprom and Ashgabat for increased Europe-bound gas supplies at higher rates.

Economy: Subprime Bailout: Good Idea or 'Moral Hazard?', November 29, 2007 · Should the federal government bail out lenders and borrowers caught up in the subprime mortgage crisis? It's a simple question but, like everything else surrounding the high-risk, high-cost loans, the answers are far from simple.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

UN: World Economic Growth Rate Slowing

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The world economy has been growing more slowly after global unemployment jumped to 6.3 percent last year, the highest in a decade, the United Nations reported Wednesday. --- Some 195 million people were unemployed in 2006, an increase that despite continued growth in global economic output is ''giving rise to the phenomenon of jobless growth,'' the report said.

Fed's Hints Of a Rate Cut Cheer Markets - WSJ

The Federal Reserve, faced with mounting signs of a slowing economy, opened the door to an interest-rate cut next month, cheering the nation's stock market, which staged its biggest two-day rally in five years.

List of who's who at Mideast summit - Israel-Palestinians (AP)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The heads of each delegation attending the Mideast peace summit in Annapolis, Md., as provided by the State Department.

Frequently used CT scans may raise cancer risk

Millions of Americans, especially children, are needlessly getting dangerous radiation from “super X-rays” that raise the risk of cancer and are increasingly used to diagnose medical problems, a new report warns.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

UN: New Post to Combat Violence Against Children

"Violence is a daily reality for millions of children around the world. The special representative to the secretary-general will provide high-level international leadership to confront this global scourge."

Nixon Papers Illuminate Deep Throat Link -- (CBS/AP)

White House Files Reveal President Nixed Bid To Make Mark Felt Head Of FBI: --- The documents, also shedding light on foreign and national security policy from the Nixon years, show increasing urgency in U.S. attempts to pacify the Middle East and alarm over Israel's apparent progress in developing nuclear weapons. In a memo section starkly titled "WHAT WE WANT," national security adviser Henry Kissinger told Nixon that America's best play was to keep the Israeli bomb secret, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

Foreign Affairs - Can the War on Terror Be Won? - Philip H. Gordon

Terrorism is not a strategy with which Muslims will forever want to be associated, and eventually it will create a backlash within Muslim societies. With time and experience -- and if the United States and its allies make the right choices -- Muslims themselves will turn against the extremists in their midst. Somewhere in the Muslim world, at some point possibly sooner than many realize, new Lech Walesas, Václav Havels, and Andrei Sakharovs will emerge to reclaim their people's future from those who have hijacked it. They will seek to put their civilization on a path toward restoring the glory of its greatest era -- when the Muslim world was a multicultural zone of tolerance and intellectual, artistic, and scientific achievement.

NATO bombing kills 14 road workers in Afghanistan, local officials say

KABUL: A NATO air strike killed 14 laborers working for an Afghan road construction company that had been contracted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to build a road in the mountainous province of Nuristan in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.

Helio Castroneves Voted `Dancing' Champ

"It's not only about dancing, you know? It's about popularity," Castroneves said after the show. "That's what I'm actually very happy about."--- His partner, Julianne Hough, also had won last season's competition, with speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno. "She has an incredible fan base," Castroneves said.

Readers score this season of ‘Dancing’

And the winner of this season’s “Dancing With the Stars” is ... the viewers! “It was the best year yet of the show,” wrote Dale Ann of Spokane, Wash. “I am happy with the winners. ... It was a beautiful season.”

NATO air-strike kills 12 Afghan civilians-governor

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Nov 28 (Reuters) - NATO air strikes killed 12 civilian road workers in eastern Afghanistan, a provincial governor said on Wednesday, an incident bound to fuel Afghan resentment against the presence of international forces.

Economy: Fed Survey: U.S. Economic Growth Slows, November 28, 2007 · The U.S. economy expanded at a slower pace during the late fall as tighter credit, rising defaults in mortgages and higher fuel costs compelled consumers to keep their wallets closed.

Afghanistan's Air Corps Struggles to Rebuild

Morning Edition, November 28, 2007 · In Afghanistan, military jets and helicopters are vital to the war being waged against the Taliban and other insurgents. The aircraft are not just vital to combat, but also to troop and supply transport hampered by Afghanistan's many mountains and poor roads.

O.J. Simpson Firmly Pleads Not Guilty -- The Associated Press

"I am very concerned that we get 12 people on the jury that can listen to the evidence that occurs in the courtroom," attorney Yale Galanter said on the courthouse steps. "People are going to have opinions."

Taser death sparks Canada debate

The use of Taser guns by the police is under fierce debate in Canada.

Musharraf gives up army uniform -- BBC

Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto welcomed President Musharraf quitting his army post but said her party was in no hurry to accept him as a civilian leader.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Caroline Kennedy, turns 50, is 'Cover Girl' for AARP's Magazine

"Ever since I was a little girl, people have told me that my father changed their lives, or that President Kennedy's inaugural challenge, `Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,' inspired a generation in the 1960s that transformed our nation with courage," she told the magazine. "To me that is one of his greatest legacies. Now, it is up to us to redefine that commitment for our time."

Kennedy 'sells memoirs for $8m' -- BBC

The most prominent surviving member of the Kennedy family, Sen Edward Kennedy, has reportedly agreed to sell the rights to his memoirs for $8m (£4m).

In pictures: Afghan mine clearing -- BBC

December 2007 marks 10 years since the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel mines. You may find the next photo disturbing.

Family want Fossett declared dead -- BBC

Putin machine squeezes opponents -- BBC

Opposition politicians in Russia are warning that the parliamentary election on 2 December could mark the end of any serious opposition to President Vladimir Putin and his already dominant political party, United Russia.

TREASURIES-Bonds fall as bank injection soothes credit fear

NEW YORK, Nov 27 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries plunged on Tuesday, giving back gains after the biggest rally in three years, after Citigroup Inc. landed a cash injection that soothed some fears over the health of the financial sector.

Israel, Palestinians OK Negotiating Plan

Framework for Mideast Peace Talks Set at Conference

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Nov. 27 — President Bush today announced a joint decision between Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work toward a peace agreement by the end of 2008. --- Bush’s Remarks: Text Video

Monday, November 26, 2007

Afghan suicide attack kills two -- BBC

The attack took place outside a defence ministry building close to the British, Canadian and Pakistani embassies.

Gates Foundation gives $100 million more to eradicate polio

To try to finally finish the job of ridding the world of polio, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday announced the donation of a $100 million matching grant to Rotary International aimed at prompting the international community to contribute. --- Only four countries -- India, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan -- currently report about 700 active cases of the paralytic and sometimes fatal disease. The naturally occurring disease was eradicated from the U.S. in 1979 and from all of the Americas in 1994.

Anti-polio drive gets $200m boost -- BBC

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Edwards Didn't 'Cower' from Wife's Cancer -- by Adam Hochberg

"The campaign goes on strongly," John Edwards said at the news conference, which was at the same hotel that hosted the couple's wedding reception. "We have no intention of cowering in the corner." -- Profile: Former Sen. John Edwards (NC)

Bush Hopes for Peace on Eve of Mideast Talks, November 26, 2007 · President Bush said Monday that he is optimistic that this week's summit in Annapolis, Md., can lead to peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Your Money: How Do You Define Wealth?

Talk of the Nation, November 26, 2007 · Public opinion surveys suggest that almost all Americans — regardless of how much money they make — characterize themselves as "middle class." So where is the dividing line between middle-class and wealthy?

Weak rule of law hinders human development in Afghanistan

United Nations, New York — In Afghanistan, “the justice system must be rebuilt in a way that bridges modern and traditional justice institutions, protects citizens’ rights and strengthens rule of law, a pivotal step in Afghanistan’s march to successful political transition and development.” This is a key recommendation of the Afghanistan National Human Development Report 2007, unveiled here today.

American Special Forces in Pakistan: Back to the Future? (YaleGlobal)

Paula Newberg has covered Pakistan’s politics for almost three decades and is the author of “Judging the State: Courts and Constitutional Politics in Pakistan.”

AFGHANISTAN: Kabul facing "unregulated" urbanisation

Kabul is the victim of a "rapid, unregulated and unequal" urbanisation, according to Yusuf Pashtun, the minister of urban development, and Pietro Calogero, a PhD researcher on urban development at the University of California. --- From an estimated 500,000 people in early 2001 Kabul's population has soared to over three million in 2007, according to the Afghan Central Statistics Office. --- "Urbanisation in Kabul has strikingly been unequal. It has made a small fraction of rich and powerful richer, and the majority of the poor poorer," said Calogero. --- Wealthy commanders, senior government officials and other influential individuals have widely grabbed, redistributed, sold and used public land in Kabul and in many other parts of the country for their personal interest, said Pashtun. --- Pashtun believes there is a powerful "land mafia" in Kabul operating with impunity. "The mafia brazenly grabs public and state-owned land and builds irregular houses and commercial centres or sells land to other brokers," Pashtun said. The mafia is very powerful and has links everywhere, he added.

Doctors Administer Electrical Shock To Vice President's Heart To Restore Normal Rhythm

"During examination he was incidentally found to have an irregular heartbeat, which on further testing was determined to be atrial fibrillation, an abnormal rhythm involving the upper chambers of the heart," said spokeswoman Megan Mitchell. She said Cheney went to the hospital around 5 p.m. --- About 2.8 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heartbeat, and cases are increasing as the population ages.

Wall Street Sells Off Sharply

Concerns About Credit, Banking Wipe Out Enthusiasm Over Retail Sales; Dow Falls 240 Points, --- Money Matters Get words to the wise, from the wise, on handling, making and saving money.

Analysis: Teatime war in Afghanistan?

"For us ze war is over by teatime, ja," ran the headline in the Nov. 18 edition of the (London) Sunday Times. The British weekly accused the Germans of having abandoned their NATO allies in an offensive against the Taliban. Apparently, Bundeswehr medical evacuation helicopters pulled out in the middle of the battle because they needed to be back on home base by sundown. The other NATO forces were thus forced to retreat as well, the newspaper said.

EC concerned over violence against Afghan women

U.S. dismisses Russian claim of election meddling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States rejected on Monday claims by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Washington was trying to undermine December parliamentary elections, calling his sharp words election "rhetoric."

U.S. Hopes to Use Pakistani Tribes Against Al Qaeda -- NYTimes

National Security Council sees no strategic gains despite combat successes -- By Karen DeYoung

In Washington, Afghanistan policy has often seemed to be on the back burner since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Republican presidential candidates rarely discuss it, while Democrats generally bring it up to criticize the administration, saying officials are paying too much attention to Iraq at the expense of a "forgotten" war.

The life of a Princess -- Times

The Times obituary, Slide Show , The Princes' final farewell

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bush welcomes peace conferees

"I remain personally committed to implementing my vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security," Bush said in his welcoming statement, which was released by the White House. "The Israelis and Palestinians have waited a long time for this vision to be realized, and I call upon all those gathering in Annapolis this week to redouble their efforts to turn dreams of peace into reality."

U.S. Notes Limited Progress in Afghan War (Strategic Goals Unmet, White House Concludes)

A White House assessment of the war in Afghanistan has concluded that wide-ranging strategic goals that the Bush administration set for 2007 have not been met, even as U.S. and NATO forces have scored significant combat successes against resurgent Taliban fighters, according to U.S. officials. --- This judgment reflects sharp differences between U.S. military and intelligence officials on where the Afghan war is headed. Intelligence analysts acknowledge the battlefield victories, but they highlight the Taliban's unchallenged expansion into new territory, an increase in opium poppy cultivation and the weakness of the government of President Hamid Karzai as signs that the war effort is deteriorating.

Corruption, bribes and trafficking: a cancer that is engulfing Afghanistan

“The people around him tell him of a cuckoo land,” said Shukria Barakzai, a Pashtun MP who is both a friend and critic of Karzai. “He circles within a small mafia ring who are supporting the destruction of the system. At the beginning there were only 10 to 15 of them but since then they have spread like a cancer in Afghanistan.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Afghan Slayings Stir Grief, Fury And Suspicion

BAGHLAN, Afghanistan -- Mohammed Asadullah, a high school teacher in this quiet northern town, was lining up his students to greet a group of visiting legislators from the capital when the bomb went off, hurling bodies into the air and sending up a cloud of thick, dark smoke. What happened next, he and other survivors recounted, was worse. ---- "The bodyguards got nervous and started shooting. The police started firing, too. They even tried to shoot me," the teacher said Monday, angry tears coming to his eyes. He pointed to a charred, splintered pine tree where the bomb had detonated. "It was horrible. People were running and screaming, but it just went on. Five other teachers were killed by bullets, and so many students. They should all have been in class studying."

Bush More Emphatic In Backing Musharraf

The comments, delivered in an interview with ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, contrasted with previous administration statements -- including by Bush himself -- expressing grave concern over Musharraf's actions. --- "What exactly would it take for the president to conclude Musharraf has crossed the line? Suspend the constitution? Impose emergency law? Beat and jail his political opponents and human rights activists?" asked Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a presidential candidate. "He's already done all that. If the president sees Musharraf as a democrat, he must be wearing the same glasses he had on when he looked in Vladimir Putin's soul."

Stocks Fall Amid Economic Jitters

Freddie Mac, a Buffer Against Crisis, Posts $2 Billion Loss

The mortgage funding giant Freddie Mac said yesterday that it lost $2 billion in the third quarter, offering fresh evidence that the declining housing and credit markets are taking their toll on companies that were once thought to be bastions of stability.

Rice hopes for Mideast agreement before Bush term ends

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday the United States will try to get an agreement on Mideast peace before the end of the Bush administration.

Afghanistan in danger of becoming a divided state: Taliban now controls vast swathes of unchallenged territory in Afghanistan

LONDON – The Senlis Council on Wednesday called on NATO’s troop force size to be doubled to 80,000 after its new security assessment report based on field research during the last month revealed 54% of Afghanistan’s landmass now hosts a permanent Taliban presence. --- “The security situation has reached crisis proportions. The insurgency now controls vast swaths of unchallenged territory including rural areas, border areas, some district centres, and important road arteries” said Norine MacDonald QC, President and Lead Field Researcher of The Senlis Council.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

US Urged to Spend More on Afghan Aid

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) --Though the government aid arm U.S. Agency for International Development has spent more than $4.4 billion in Afghanistan since 2002, the British-based aid agency Oxfam said that figure is dwarfed by U.S. military spending here -- some $35 billion in 2007 alone. --- Since the U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan has received more than $15 billion from the international community. Oxfam said continued aid will be crucial to Afghanistan's development for years to come.

US Urged to Spend More on Afghan Aid

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. spending on aid work in Afghanistan is only a fraction of what the American military spends, and too much of the aid money pays the high salaries of expatriate employees, an international aid agency said Tuesday. --- Though the government aid arm U.S. Agency for International Development has spent more than $4.4 billion in Afghanistan since 2002, the British-based aid agency Oxfam said that figure is dwarfed by U.S. military spending here _ some $35 billion in 2007 alone.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pakistani Crisis Hinges on Split Between Activists, Military

Hate Crimes Rose 8 Percent in 2006 - New York Times

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hate crime incidents rose nearly 8 percent last year -- more than half motivated by racial prejudice, the FBI reported Monday, as civil rights advocates increasingly take to the streets to protest what they call official indifference to intimidation and attacks against blacks and other minorities.


NEW YORK, Nov 19 Asia Pulse - The United States Friday announced the formation of a public-private partnership for justice reforms in Afghanistan. --- The US initiative to strengthen the fragile judiciary system of Afghanistan will be formally launched by the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, next month in Washington, an official announcement said .

Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan (Office of the Spokesman)

We are pleased to announce the formation of a Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan. The Secretary of State will launch this new initiative next month in Washington, DC. The Public-Private Partnership will be co-chaired by U.S. Coordinator for Counternarcotics and Justice Reform in Afghanistan Thomas A. Schweich, and Partner, Arent Fox LLP, and former U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations Robert C. O'Brien.

Sidr Leaves Thousands Dead, Missing in Bangladesh

At least 3,113 people are known dead and more than 1,000 are missing, said Lt. Col. Main Ullah Chowdhury, an army spokesman.

How Chocolate Can Save the Planet

Morning Edition, November 19, 2007 · Many people agree that chocolate is good for the soul, and researchers are finding that chocolate can be good for the body, too. But the environment? How could chocolate help with global climate change?

Black Gold Finances the Dreams for Abu Dhabi

All Things Considered, November 15, 2007 · One of the countries winning big from record-high oil prices is the United Arab Emirates. --- This federation of seven small sheikdoms in the Persian Gulf only became an independent state in 1971. --- Thanks to its oil wealth, it has transformed itself from an undeveloped backwater into one of the world's fastest-growing economies. --- Today, the United Arab Emirates exports more than 2 million barrels of crude oil a day — and sits on top of vast deposits of both oil and natural gas.

Study: Aging Brains Can Benefit from 'Training'

Morning Edition, November 19, 2007 · A new study suggests that one hour a day of intensive brain exercise can improve thinking and memory. The study — involving more than 400 adults age 65 and older — found that those who underwent training scored higher on general memory tests.

Stocks Fall Amid Banking Concerns

Stocks have fallen in six of the last eight sessions. Last week, stock finished higher after a string of volatile sessions. The Dow ended up 1.03 percent for the week, while the S&P 500 index ended up 0.35 percent, and the Nasdaq finished up 0.35 percent.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Losing Afghanistan, One Civilian at a Time

The road between the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad and the Pakistani border is one of the busiest in the country, congested with gaily painted trucks, battered taxis, buses packed to the rafters and Afghans riding bikes. One morning in early March, a suicide bomber plowed a Toyota packed with explosives into the middle of a U.S. convoy patrolling that road, killing himself and injuring a Marine. That was bad enough, but what may be the key to Afghanistan's future was what happened next.

Pakistan: Musharraf Uses Anti-Terror Laws to Jail Critics (Human Rights Watch)

"Musharraf is trying to cling on to power by beating and jailing an ever-growing number even of opposition activists. But as Musharraf fills the jails with his critics, Pakistanis are expressing their disgust at his repressive rule through continued protests."

UN Committee Votes for Wordwide Death Penalty Moratorium

A UN resolution cleared by the controversial Human Rights Committee to ban the death penalty could soon go up for a vote in the General Assembly. But a roster of countries that include China, Iran, Syria and the US are opposing it.

US policy in the balance in Pakistan -- BBC

"In diplomacy, as you know, we don't get instant replies," said John Negroponte carefully, as he addressed the media before leaving Islamabad.

US tells Musharraf to step back -- BBC

Negroponte urged Musharraf to quit his army post swiftly

Afghanistan trailing badly on development: study

The report urged donors to fulfil aid commitments, adding that since 2006 they have contributed or pledged 10 billion dollars, "only half of what the government believes is needed to implement its development strategy." --- Afghanistan's position of 174th out of 178 placed it above only Niger (the lowest), Sierra Leone, Mali and Burkina Faso, and it was second to last on a separate ranking reflecting inequalities between men and women.

Afghanistan Trailing Badly On Development: Study

KABUL, Afghanistan (AFP)--Afghanistan is fifth last on a global index of human development, according to a report released Sunday, despite billions of dollars in aid and help since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. --- The country's ranking on the Human Development Index - a composite survey of education, longevity and economic performance - is the lowest outside Africa, according to the Afghanistan Human Development Report 2007.

Afghanistan: Karzai's Corruption Comments Could Lead To Cabinet Shakeup

Wadir Safi, a professor of political science at Kabul University, says the issue of fighting corruption could show how much real power Karzai exercises in Afghanistan. "It has yet to be seen whether he is able to bring about these kinds of changes -- or if he is able to confront all of those powers that he mentioned," Safi says. "These are not just problems that appeared yesterday. During the last three years, Karzai frequently has been told about the problems of corruption, bribery, and increasing insecurity. But he has done nothing -- as if he was deaf." In the end, Safi says, Karzai's remarks suggest that the Afghan president is likely to introduce major changes to his cabinet in the near future. "[Karzai's domestic political position] is very weak. If he doesn't bring changes after this speech, I don't think he will be able to keep his position as president. He must bring about broad and sweeping change to all areas -- to every field -- from top to bottom," Safi says.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Afghan Governor Has Big Plans for Lonely Province -- by Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

Morning Edition, November 13, 2007 · There are a lot of things that make Nuristan unique among Afghanistan's 34 provinces. --- Many of its jagged mountains are blanketed in fir trees, making this northeastern province look more like Montana than a place in Afghanistan. And its people, scattered among isolated villages, have their own language. --- But perhaps most unusual in Nuristan these days is its governor, Tamim Nuristani.

Germany could consider separate EU steps on Iran

But Russia and China, permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council, are opposed to more sanctions. As a result, France has been pushing for the European Union to impose its own separate U.S.-style sanctions against the Islamic Republic.


German train drivers expanded their national strike on Thursday, leaving hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded and cargo piling up at the country's major ports. Meanwhile in France, transport strikes continue to cause chaos as the railway unions show no signs of relenting.

German rail strike extends action

German train drivers go on strike , Strike hits German rail freight , German train strike brings chaos

Franco-British tensions surface at inquest -- BBC royal correspondent

Seven weeks into the inquest into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Al Fayed, differences in approach are emerging between the British and the French.

Karzai Criticizes High Officials, Deputies For Corruption

November 15, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has criticized members of his cabinet and deputies in parliament for corruption -- saying the problem is so widespread that it is setting back the reconstruction of the country. Karzai says the living conditions of ordinary Afghans are deteriorating every day while government officials think only about how to increase their personal wealth. --- "All politicians in this system have acquired everything -- money, lots of money. God knows it is beyond the limit. The banks of the world are full of the money of our statesmen. The luxurious houses [built in Afghanistan in the past five years] belong to members of the government and parliament, not only in Kabul, but here and there. Every one of them have three or four houses in different countries."

US seeks end to Pakistan crisis -- BBC

US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte - who is in Pakistan - has spoken on the telephone to opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. --- He told her "moderate forces" should work together to get Pakistan back to democracy, the State Department said.

Bangladesh cyclone kills hundreds

Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated or sought safe shelter before the storm hit the coast from the Bay of Bengal, but some were left behind.

Afghans battle rising prices -- By Jon Boone in Kabul

Like the rest of the world Afghanistan is being hit by the rising price of oil. But the effects are particularly harsh on a country that imports nearly everything. Pakistan’s state of emergency has caused a further dramatic rise in prices, officials at the commerce and industry ministry say. Drivers say their trucks are being prevented by Pakistani border guards from crossing into Afghanistan.

Nothing is certain in Afghanistan except uncertainty

Spin Bolduk, Afghanistan — Sometimes death slaps you in the face when you see a friend racing down for cover or when the enemy empties its pistols or machine gun in your direction. Other times it comes like a black blanket of absolute fear and deadening horror. It is 4:30 am in Kabul and my colleague Guido Schmidt and I are at the headquarters of the Afghan Border Police. The city is painted in a thick hazy blackness due to there being no street lights and a heavily depleted power supply. We are here to join a 12-truck convoy heading out to one of the world’s most deadly highways. The one that takes you to Afghanistan’s most dangerous region, Kandahar.

Republicans Seek Retraction of Report on Wars' 'Hidden Costs'

We call on Senator Schumer and the Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate to withdraw this defective report." Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) chairs the committee. ---
House Passes Bill to Bring Troops Home
House Passes $50B Iraq Withdrawal Bill
Report Puts Hidden War Costs at $1.6T
Dems Stymied on War Bills

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Survivors recall Baghlan bomb horror

After 30 years of conflict, Afghans have had to get used to violence. But this bombing shocked the country profoundly. --- Partly because of the high number of deaths, partly because so many of the dead were children. And partly because no-one has claimed responsibility.

Danish centre-right wins election -- BBC

Denmark's centre-right government of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has won a snap election, securing a third consecutive term in office.

Pakistan police charge Imran Khan -- BBC

Pakistani police have charged opposition figure Imran Khan under the anti-terrorism act after his first public appearance under the emergency. --- The former cricketer was detained after going to Punjab University in Lahore.

Significant Potential for Undiscovered Resources in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has significant amounts of undiscovered non-fuel mineral resources according to the U.S. Geological Survey's 2007 assessment, unveiled today at the 3rd annual U.S.-Afghan Business Matchmaking Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Afghans Expanding Pomegranate Exports

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) - Farm hands place mounds of bright red pomegranates into shipping boxes stamped ``Product of Afghanistan.'' The price and quality of the sweet fruit are up, and the farmers are happy that a new storage facility has extended their selling season.

OJ Simpson faces Las Vegas trial -- BBC

His lawyer, Yale Galanter, said his client was innocent and would not negotiate a plea bargain to settle the case before trial. --- "I do not believe that Mr Simpson committed any crimes. Mr Simpson does not believe he committed any crimes," said Mr Galanter.

O.J. Simpson Will Stand Trial (CBS/AP)

Outside the courthouse, Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, argued again that the former football star was trying only to reclaim family heirlooms and that he believed no crime was committed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Amnesty urges NATO to end Afghan prisoner transfers amid torture fears

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Human rights watchdog Amnesty International urged NATO-led forces in Afghanistan Tuesday to stop transferring prisoners to the Afghan authorities, saying it feared they could be tortured. --- Click here: Afghanistan: Detainees transferred to torture: ISAF complicity? - Amnesty International, --- Click here: International forces fail Afghan detainees - The Wire - November 2007 - Amnesty International

US seeks concrete reform steps from Afghan leader Karzai

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States expressed concern Monday over "unacceptable" levels of corruption and deteriorating security in Afghanistan and sought concrete reform steps from President Hamid Karzai. --- "There is serious problem of governance in Afghanistan," said Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy to the United Nations.

Doctor Thought Princess Diana Would Survive Crash

The first doctor on the scene of Princess Diana's Paris car crash thought she would survive but he had no idea how severe her internal injuries were. --- Dr Frederic Mailliez, who had worked for the fire brigade as an emergency doctor, was driving through the Alma tunnel on the night of August 31, 1997, just after Diana's chauffeur-driven limousine crashed on the opposite side of the carriageway. --- "She was alive, she was moaning, but she was really weak," said Mailliez who discovered only next day who his patient was.

In interview, Musharraf defends rule by decree

Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to lift his state of emergency, insisting in an interview that it was the best way to ensure free and fair elections.

Afghan burden tasks Nato allies

Tensions over Nato's mission in Afghanistan are clearly far from over, though the message from Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was one of reassurance.

Afghan Diary: Tracking the Taleban -- BBC

Has Bhutto broken with Musharraf?

Bhutto calls on Musharraf to quit

Pakistan's detained opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has called for President Pervez Musharraf to step down. --- I think it's time for General Musharraf to leave. He is totally out of his depth,
Benazir Bhutto

Monday, November 12, 2007

Afghanistan's heroin addiction -- The Guardian

Slower Brain Maturity Seen in ADHD Kids

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Crucial parts of brains of children with attention deficit disorder develop more slowly than other youngsters' brains, a phenomenon that earlier brain-imaging research missed, a new study says.

Chocolate Used More Than 3, 000 Years Ago

Bill Clinton Says 'Boys' Tough on Wife

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Former President Clinton said Monday his wife can handle the criticism from her presidential rivals even though ''those boys have been getting tough on her lately.''

Edwards Unveils Plan for Vets With PTSD

PLYMOUTH, N.H. (AP) -- Presidential contender John Edwards is introducing a $400 million plan Monday to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, including those recently returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Saudi Prince Buying 'Flying Palace' Jet

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- In the annals of excess, it could be a new high: a more than $300 million dollar, super-sized luxury airplane, bought and outfitted solely for the private comfort of a Saudi Arabian billionaire.

Pakistan's Bhutto detained ahead of mass protest

LAHORE/LONDON (Reuters) - Pakistani police put opposition leader Benazir Bhutto under house arrest for a week on Tuesday as the Commonwealth threatened suspension unless President Pervez Musharraf repealed a state of emergency.

Private security firms a problem in Afghanistan: study

KABUL (Reuters) - Private security contractors in Afghanistan add to the sense of insecurity, are often confused with foreign troops, employ former militiamen and may have links to crime, said an independent Swiss study published on Monday. --- The presence of so many armed men, often from different groups operating in close vicinity to one another, added to residents' sense of insecurity, the study found.

Afghan civilians die in US raid -- BBC

US-led forces say they have killed at least 15 insurgents and three civilians in fighting in southern Afghanistan.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

SPIEGEL STUDY: Germany Still Divided 18 Years After the Fall of the Wall

Friday marks the 18th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It also marks the day on which children born on Nov. 9, 1989 will become legal adults -- the first generation to have grown up in the country following the collapse of communist East Germany and its reunification with West Germany.

NZealand defence minister's nephew killed in Afghanistan with US army

WELLINGTON (AFP) - The nephew of New Zealand Defence Minister Phil Goff has been killed while serving in the US Army in Afghanistan, Goff said Monday.


Record drug harvests, a weak government, a flagging economy and mounting civilian deaths are stoking support for Islamic militants in Afghanistan. To reverse the current trend, President Hamid Karzai’s administration, along with its foreign supporters, must do a better job in delivering basic social services on the grassroots level, experts and politicians say. --- Beyond the violence related to the insurgency, Afghanistan’s weak economy presents another challenge for Karzai. Unemployment officially hovers around 40 percent, and most Afghans live in appalling conditions, with no electricity, running water or sewage. Power in the capital runs just a few hours a day. --- "In fact, it’s getting worse. There is a lack of jobs, a lack of employment. Overall, nothing much has been done. The money that has come in has not been productive in relation to industrialization. In fact, we are losing what we had."

Deja vu in Pakistan power struggle -- BBC

The imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan this week is another setback for anyone hoping for the restoration of democracy. The move came shortly after the return to Pakistan of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. She was put under house arrest on Friday although the detention order was lifted the same day.

Abandoning Afghanistan unfortunate: Carter

(Pajhwok Afghan News): Known as a man of peace, Carter said: Unfortunately though that was abandoned unnecessarily, tragically by the United States as we shifted our attention to Iraq, which I believe was unfounded and not necessary."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lest we forget --- By Raymond Whitaker in Kabul

In Afghan fields, the poppies blow... and another British soldier dies in a war without end

Text of Bush and Merkel's Remarks

Text of the news conference Saturday with President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Bush's Texas ranch, as provided by the White House:

Iran's Nuclear Program Focus of European Leaders' U.S. Visits

French, German leaders join Bush in effort to end impasse with Iran

THE 41ST PRESIDENT: Father defends Bush on Iraq war -- USATODAY

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Former president George H.W. Bush forcefully defended his son's handling of the Iraq war Thursday, saying critics of the current president have forgotten the "extraordinary brutality" of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. --- "You're here to talk about the library," he said, not about the current president. "He has my full, unequivocal support. I feel about him great respect for what he's doing and tries to do, and I think much of the criticism is grossly unfair. … That's a father caring about his son and his president." --- LIBRARY TOUR: Video of Bush 41 in Oval Office replica

Economy faces risks, not recession: Bernanke

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers on Thursday the U.S. economy did not appear headed for recession, but warned growth could prove weaker than expected and inflation higher.

Bush on Musharraf: 'He Knows My Position'

Bush and Merkel discuss tougher sanctions on Iran

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel told U.S. President George W. Bush on Saturday she would be willing to support a third round of U.N. sanctions against Iran if Tehran continues to resist demands to halt sensitive nuclear work.

Pakistan Announces Plan (Bhutto Out After House Arrest_

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan announced plans to lift its state of emergency within one month and allowed opposition leader Benazir Bhutto to leave her home following a day under house arrest, as the country sought Saturday to restore its battered image at home and abroad.

State of the Afghan Nation: Economy

Despite billions in support and some success with Afghan-headed rural regeneration projects, Afghanistan's economy continues to struggle with security issues, a shortage of skilled workers and corruption "entrenched at every level" hampering many reconstruction and development efforts, said Anita Nirody, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) country director for Afghanistan. -- State of the Afghan Nation: Education State of the Afghan nation: Government State Of The Afghan Nation: Opium State of the Afghan Nation: Security

2007 Deadliest for US in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Six U.S. troops were killed when insurgents ambushed their foot patrol in the high mountains of eastern Afghanistan, officials said Saturday. The attack, the most lethal against American forces this year, made 2007 the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion.

Friday, November 09, 2007

59 schoolchildren killed in Afghan blast

"The education minister has ordered that no children should be ever again be used in these sort of events," said Zahoor Afghan, an Education Ministry spokesman. He said the children ranged in age from 8 to 18.

Pakistan: Release Judges, Lawyers and Activists From Arbitrary Detention (Human Rights Watch)

Human Rights Watch has received credible reports that the Pakistani military’s feared Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and Military Intelligence (MI) agency are jointly detaining and interrogating them. Both agencies have a well-documented history of “disappearances” and using torture against political opponents. Families throughout the country have not had access to the detained lawyers except in exceptional cases. --- US: Suspend Non-Humanitarian Aid to Pakistan

Bhutto at the Barricades -- TIME

The Limits of Afghan Press Freedom

Helmand journalist describes police mistreatment on return from reporting trip to Taleban territory.

ELECTIONS IN DENMARK: Muslim Politician Could Be Surprise Kingmaker

Danish politician Naser Khader is young, energetic and the first Muslim MP in Denmark. As head of the New Alliance he could end up being the surprise kingmaker in Danish politics if voters throw their support behind his new ideas for how to treat immigrants.

Iran Crisis To Top Agenda of US Trip

The sounds of saber rattling against the mullah regime in Iran are getting louder in Washington. When Chancellor Angela Merkel travels to the United States this week, German politicians at both ends of the political spectrum will expect her to voice clear opposition to further military escapades. But Merkel prefers quiet diplomacy.

War on National Review -- By Victor Davis Hanson

I don’t think many Americans would argue that the answer for the sometimes lethargic elected Karzai government in Afghanistan should be a coup by a Pashtun warlord and his battle-hardened lieutenants. Prime Minister Maliki and his elected government in Iraq are frequently criticized for being unwilling, or unable, to deal with Shiite militias. Should the U.S., then, look instead for an ex-Baathist to knock a few heads and declare martial law?

Bush Cozies Up to More Foreign Leaders

Bush will urge Germany and other NATO allies to stay in the fight in Afghanistan where violence this year has been the deadliest since the Taliban's ouster. Gordon Johndroe, a National Security Council spokesman, said Bush would like to hear about Merkel's recent trip to Afghanistan. Merkel, meanwhile, wants to impress upon Bush the need to keep Russia a partner in facing international challenges, at a time when Moscow's support is crucial for additional sanctions against Tehran for its suspected atomic weapons ambitions.

L.A. officials defend mapping of Muslim areas

Civil rights groups have harshly criticized the new initiative as racial profiling that unfairly targets Muslims. The American Civil Liberties Union along with other community groups sent a letter to the LAPD this week saying the prospect of such a measure raised "grave concerns."

Afghanistan pushes reconciliation effort

Sarkozy Lauds Bonds With U.S., Backs Bush on Afghan War, Iran

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy used his first official visit to Washington to extol two centuries of bonds with the U.S. and lay out pro-American positions on the war in Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear dispute.

Benazir Bhutto Under "Virtual House Arrest" Ahead Of Planned Protest

(CBS/AP) Pakistani police backed by armored vehicles detained opposition leader Benazir Bhutto at her Islamabad residence Friday and reportedly rounded up 5,000 of her supporters to block her mass protest against emergency rule.

Clinton: Blame Me for Health Failure

Who's winning Pakistan power game? -- BBC

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Police surround Bhutto's home -- CNN


Afghanistan is lost, says Lord Ashdown

Nato has "lost in Afghanistan" and its failure to bring stability there could provoke a regional sectarian war "on a grand scale", according to Lord Ashdown.

Bush tells Karzai: 'Remain strong'

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush telephoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday to offer his sympathies after Afghanistan's deadliest suicide bombing, the White House said. --- "The president told President Karzai that America cares deeply about the Afghan people and he urged him to remain strong," spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters.

واکنش جبهه ملی به انفجار بغلان -- BBC

آقای فراهی افزود: "حتی گفته می شود نشان پنج گلوله در سینه سید مصطفی کاظمی وجود دارد همچنین در وجود محافظان کشته شده نیز نشان گلوله مشاهده می شود. البته این نشانه بمب نبوده بلکه نشانه گلوله است." --- آلبوم عکس

بغلان:د قربانىانو پاتې شوني کيسې کوي -- BBC

Afghanistan mourns bomb victims -- BBC

Afghanistan has begun three days of mourning, a day after dozens of people were killed in what is being called the country's worst suicide bombing.

On the run with Imran Khan -- BBC

If we do not struggle against this, [Musharraf] will take the country towards destruction
Imran Khan

Bhutto under house arrest in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani police backed by an armored vehicle surrounded the Islamabad home of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Friday, and officials said she had been detained in her house ahead of her planned rally against emergency rule.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Visits Afghanistan

The Embassy of Afghanistan, Washington, DC

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Big selloff on Wall Street

NEW YORK ( -- Credit market fears once again sent stocks reeling, as the Dow industrials plunged 361 points Wednesday, marking one of its biggest point declines of the year.

Karzai: 41 killed in suicide blast

Among the lawmakers listed as dead in Karzai's statement is Mustafa Kazemi, the former commerce minister and spokesman for the opposition, who is also a top warlord in the region. The statement also said that the other lawmakers killed included Abdul Mateen, Alhaj Sahibur Rahman, Hajji Muhammad Aref Zarif and Sebghatullah Zaki.

Bush, Sarkozy to Musharraf: Hold elections, step down from military

"My message was very plain, very easy to understand: The United States wants you to have the elections as scheduled, and I want you to take the uniform off," Bush said of his telephone conversation with Musharraf earlier in the day.

Bhutto issues Pakistan ultimatum -- BBC

Bush and Sarkozy declare Iran aim

US President George W Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have said they will work jointly to convince Iran to give up its nuclear programme.

Germany says Afghan attack attempt to strike at reconstruction

BERLIN (AFP) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned Tuesday's suicide attack on a group of Afghan lawmakers which killed 40 people, saying it was an attempt to dissuade those trying to rebuild the country.

Suspicion High After Deadly Attack On Afghan Lawmakers

Many Afghans have told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that they see the attack -- initially reported as a suicide bombing -- as an assassination targeting Sayed Mustafa Kazemi, an influential opposition lawmaker and a former commerce minister.

Televangelists Living Like Kings? -- (CBS)

Senator Investigates Whether Prominent Ministers’ Churches Are Really Non-Profits

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Historic Saudi visit to Vatican -- BBC

Sarkozy begins Washington visit

Afghan suicide blast 'kills 40' -- BBC

Politicians and schoolchildren were among at least 40 people killed in a suicide attack in northern Afghanistan, hospital and provincial officials say.

Monday, November 05, 2007

SURPRISE VISIT TO AFGHANISTAN: Merkel Resists Calls to Send Troops South

German Chancellor Angela Merkel landed in Afghanistan on Saturday for her first visit to the country. She pledged more funds for training police and -- with an eye to an upcoming parliamentary vote -- insisted German troops would not be sent to the dangerous south. ---Merkel took the opportunity to emphasize what she sees as Germany's priorities in Afghanistan, namely training police and helping to build up infrastructure, and she reiterated Germany's determination not to send its troops to the volatile south.

Anger at legal Afghan opium plan -- BBC

Afghan and international narcotics experts have strongly criticised a proposed pilot project to grow opium poppy legally in Afghanistan for use in medicines.

Pakistan 'to keep elections date' -- BBC

Pakistan's prime minister says national elections will be held as scheduled, despite President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule.

Musharraf imposes emergency rule -- BBC

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has declared emergency rule and suspended the country's constitution.

Merkel in surprise Afghan visit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, where some 3,000 German troops are deployed.

Central Asia Looks To Build New 'Silk Roads'

November 3, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Eight member countries of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program have agreed to a strategy to improve Central Asia's transport infrastructure.