Friday, February 29, 2008

Record for Afghan poppy planting -- BBC

Afghanistan grows nearly all of the world's opium poppy crop in an illegal trade worth billions of dollars.

Stocks Dive on New Signs of Economic Chill

The Dow Jones industrials plunged 315 points, and every major index shed more than 2.5 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is off to its worst start to a year since 1941.

U.S., NATO Reaffirm Commitment in Afghanistan

"The United States is committed to the NATO mission in Afghanistan," Bush said. "We're committed to a comprehensive strategy that helps folks in Afghanistan realize security, at the same time, economic prosperity and political process."

Prince Harry in Afghanistan (British Media Kept Quiet)

Video: Prince Harry in Afghanistan (AP, Feb. 29)
Defense chief says Prince Harry being withdrawn from Afghanistan

EU probes German support to banks -- BBC

The European Commission has begun an investigation into whether government assistance to two German banks amounted to illegal state aid.

Prince Harry may be sent back to Britain

A decision on whether Prince Harry should continue fighting in Afghanistan will be taken today as senior generals weigh up concerns for his safety.
Your view: Should Prince Harry be on the front line?
In pictures: Prince Harry in action On the front line
Watch: Prince Harry on being a Taliban target
Have your say: Send your messages of support for Harry and other troops
Prince Harry's bravery in Afghanistan saluted
Timeline: Prince Harry's path to war

Poll: Broad Support for Requiring Health Coverage

Slovak minister in running for UN Afghan envoy post: report

EUnews — - business, legal and financial news and ...
Slovak minister in running for UN Afghan envoy post - Yahoo ...

UN voices concern over Afghans in Iran border province

TEHRAN (AFP) - The UN refugee agency on Wednesday expressed concern about tens of thousands of Afghan refugees who risk expulsion from an Iranian frontier province.

UNHCR to resume Afghan refugees repatriation from Pakistan from March 1

More than 2 million Afghans are still living in Pakistan as refugees, and nearly the same number including 920,000 registered ones are in the neighboring Iran.

Community Peacebuilding in Afghanistan: The Case for a National Strategy

Existing measures to promote peace in Afghanistan are not succeeding.

U.S.: Intelligence Chief Assesses Security Threats From Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan

U.S. National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell now says Karzai's government has control over only about 30 percent of the country, while the Taliban controls about 10 percent of Afghan territory.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gov't Insists It Controls Afghanistan -- he Associated Press

Michael McConnell, the U.S. National Intelligence Director, told a Senate committee in Washington on Wednesday that Afghanistan's central government controls just 30 percent of the country. The Taliban controls about 10 percent and local tribes control the rest, he said. --- In diplomatic circles, Karzai is sometimes referred to as the "Mayor of Kabul," a reference to his control of the capital but weak authority in remote areas of the country.

Bush Calls Surveillance Bill an ‘Urgent Priority’ -- NYTimes

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts said the president was using “the specter of ism” to push his own agenda.

“If the telecommunications companies didn’t break the law, they do not need immunity,” the senator said. “If they broke the law, the American people deserve to know the size and scope of their lawbreaking. Adhering to the rule of law would not ‘aid our enemies’ — it would uphold the very principles we are fighting for. The President’s position has nothing to do with protecting Americans and everything to do with sweeping under the rug illegal activity by his administration and his corporate partners.”

Britain's Prince Harry in Afghanistan -- The Associated Press

LONDON -- The secret is out: Prince Harry has been serving on the front line with his British army unit in one of Afghanistan's most lawless and barren provinces. --- He said the news of his Afghan assignment was delivered by his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Bush urges Congress to pass wiretap bill -- LATimes

WASHINGTON -- President Bush today urged Congress to pass legislation that would give telecom companies immunity from class-action lawsuits for cooperating with U.S. intelligence services in monitoring ist communications. --- On Iraq, Bush called on Congress to fund U.S. troops and chided critics for not acknowledging progress there.

Britain says Prince Harry deployed in Afghanistan Reuters

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The UK's Prince Harry has been serving on the frontline in Afghanistan and seen combat, the UK Ministry of Defense confirmed Thursday. --- In a pre-deployment interview with the British Press Association, he said: "If I'm wanted, if I'm needed, then I will serve my country as I signed up to do."

Why I Think Obama is the Best Candidate on Foreign Policy -- Lisa Gans

McCain Steps Up Criticism of Obama

At a news conference at Hobby Airport in Houston, where Mr. McCain was endorsed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, Mr. McCain opened with a formulation of why he contended Mr. Obama is not ready to be commander in chief.

NATO credibility in Afghanistan at stake if fails to curb militancy

Afghan gov't rejects claim of U.S. intelligence chief

KABUL, Feb. 28 (Xinhua)-- Afghanistan defense ministry on Thursday described the claim of U.S. National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell as baseless and rejected.

Clinton raises $35 million in February

WASHINGTON - Rebounding from weak fundraising in January, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton raised $35 million in February, a campaign official said Thursday, a remarkable recovery and her biggest fundraising period of her campaign. --- Obama spokesman: 'We've raised considerably more than that'

Bush: U.S. is not headed for recession

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Thursday the country is not recession-bound and, despite expressing concern about slowing economic growth, rejected for now any additional stimulus efforts. "We acted robustly," he said.

Prince Harry in Taleban fighting -- BBC

Harry, 23, who is third in line to the throne, has spent the last 10 weeks serving in Helmand Province. --- Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Prince Harry had been an "exemplary solider". "The whole of Britain will be proud of the outstanding service he is giving," he said.

Prince Harry on front line in Afghanistan

LONDON - Prince Harry has been serving on the front line in Afghanistan with the British Army, calling in airstrikes on Taliban positions and going out on foot patrols, the Ministry of Defense announced Thursday.

The most spied upon people in Europe -- BBC

Germany's highest court has ruled that spying on personal computers violates privacy, but governments across Europe are under pressure to help their security services fight terrorism and organised crime.
"On the whole, the French are not big fans of surveillance equipment."

The Long Haul in Afghanistan -- By ROGER COHEN

A whole post-cold-war European generation has grown up in peace, give or take “some Balkan horror on television,” which makes it hard to explain that “it’s a political and moral imperative to fight for our core values in the Hindu Kush.”
Go to Columnist Page » Blog: Passages

Afghan reporter shocked by trial -- BBC

Appreciation: William F. Buckley Jr., Rapier Wit Of the Right -- By Henry Allen

"Everything I do and say and the way I do and say it annoys me," he said once, explaining why he never watched himself on "Firing Line." However, while sailing in his yacht he was known to listen to a tape of David Frye imitating him.

Of course: He was the Connecticut millionaire's son trained to despise affectation and love modesty -- and yet . . . he had the gifts of a great comedian, gifts that are irresistible to anyone in this land that so honors the perpetual undergraduate. And such a vortex of contradictions: the Roman Catholic prep-school Skull and Bones Yalie heir to an Irish family's Mexican oil fortune. (He spoke Spanish before he spoke English.)

U.S. Struggles to Find Envoy, Hindering Effort to Stabilize Afghanistan

The White House has been pushing since early fall to install a powerful new foreign envoy to oversee international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

Bloomberg won't run, but will still be player in White House race

NEW YORK - Mayor Michael Bloomberg has squashed for good the possibility of running for president as an independent, declaring in a newspaper editorial that he will not seek the White House but might put his support behind another candidate who embraces bipartisan governing.

William F. Buckley Jr., 82, Dies; Sesquipedalian Spark of Right

William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died on Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 82.
Slide Show Comment The Lede: Web Tributes Times Topics
Audio Slide Show: ‘A Giant of Conservatism’ by John Tierney
The Times's Sam Tanenhaus: Q&A With Readers Audio: Back Story

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr., 82, dies -- By Hillel Italie

NEW YORK (AP) — William F. Buckley Jr., the erudite Ivy Leaguer and conservative herald who showered huge and scornful words on liberalism as he observed, abetted and cheered on the right's post-World War II rise from the fringes to the White House, died today. He was 82.

Karzai Only Controls 1/3 of Afghanistan -- Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than six years after the U.S. invaded to establish a stable central regime in Afghanistan, the Kabul government under President Hamid Karzai controls just 30 percent of the country, the top U.S. intelligence official said Wednesday.
State Department's Afghanistan Country Page:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Only Severely Depressed Benefit From Antidepressants: Study

TUESDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- While popular antidepressants such as Prozac are widely prescribed for people with varying degrees of depression, the drugs are only effective for those with the most severe depression, a new study suggests.
To learn more about antidepressants, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Shabana's story of hope against the odds -- BBC

The disease, called neurofibromatosis, is common in Afghanistan. --- But due to lack of medical expertise and modern equipment, it is claiming the lives of many children across the country.

General: Obama's Story Is Believable

(AP) Gen. George Casey, the Army's chief of staff, said Tuesday he has no reason to doubt Barack Obama's recent account by an Army captain that a rifle platoon in Afghanistan didn't have enough soldiers or weapons
General: Obama's Story Is Believable - Politics on The Huffington Post

Transcript: The Democratic Debate in Cleveland

The following is a transcript of the Democratic presidential debate on MSNBC in Cleveland, Ohio, as provided by the Federal News Service and CQ Transcriptions via The Associated Press.
Debate Transcript Democrats Clash on Health, Trade and Rival Tactics
Clinton, Obama Ramp Up Their Rhetoric Against China Wall Street Journal Debate puts Hillary Clinton's frustrations on display Chicago Tribune Bloomberg - Guardian Unlimited - The Associated Press - Los Angeles Times

Candidates go on the attack in Ohio showdown -- MSNBC

CLEVELAND - Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois came under a full-out assault Tuesday night from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York in their last debate before crucial primaries in Ohio and Texas that could make or break Clinton’s campaign.

President and Mrs. Bush Discuss Picturing America Initiative

The United States is a country defined not by bloodline, race, or creed, but by our character and convictions. We are united by an unyielding principle, and that is, all men are created equal. We firmly believe that each man and woman has the right to make the most of their God-given talents. And we believe that all are endowed with the divine gift of freedom.
Picturing America
Picturing America The National Endowment for the Humanities

'Afghanistan can govern itself soon'

Biden Warns of Failure in Afghanistan

NEW YORK (AP) — Sen. Joseph Biden on Monday called for more U.S. aid for Afghanistan and deeper NATO involvement there, saying failure could also have dire consequences for neighboring Pakistan. --- "Afghanistan must never again become a safe haven for al-Qaida. But just as important, if Afghanistan fails, Pakistan could follow, because extremists will set their sights on the bigger prize to the east," he said.
Biden Warns of Failure in Afghanistan - Biden Warns of Failure in Afghanistan ...

If Afghanistan fails, Pakistan could follow: Biden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States must focus on securing and rebuilding Afghanistan because if it fails then neighboring Pakistan could follow, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden said on Monday after returning from a tour of both countries. --- He also urged a rebuilding plan similar to the Marshall Plan under which the United States aided Europe's shattered economies after World War Two.
US Senator: If Afghanistan Fails, Pakistan Could Follow
ABC News: If Afghanistan fails, Pakistan could follow: Biden

Obama slammed by speakers at McCain rally -- LATimes

CINCINNATI -- McCain says he will 'absolutely repudiate' comments by an introductory speaker who says Obama sympathizes with 'world leaders who want to kill us.'
McCain Disavows Comments About Obama The Associated Press McCain Supporter Disparages Obama Washington Post MSNBC - FOXNews - Wall Street Journal - Baltimore Sun

McCain retracts comment he could lose on Iraq

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - Republican presidential front-runner John McCain on Monday retracted his earlier statement he would lose the November election if he did not convince Americans they were winning the war in Iraq. --- Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both advocate withdrawing U.S. troops if they are elected president.

Afghanistan says needs stable and democratic Pakistan

Monday, February 25, 2008

Afghan Farmers Turn to Cannabis as Cash Crop

Frustrated by government attacks on their opium poppy crops, a growing number of farmers in Afghanistan are turning to a lucrative alternative that is just as illegal: cannabis, the source of marijuana and hashish.

Bush Predicts GOP Will Hold White House -- The Associated Press

WASHINGTON February 25, 2008, 11:09 pm ET · President Bush predicted Monday that voters will replace him with a Republican president who will "keep up the fight" in Iraq. "I'm confident we'll hold the White House in 2008," Bush told donors at the Republican Governors Association annual dinner, which raised a record $10.6 million for GOP gubernatorial candidates.

Religion Survey Finds Many Americans Swap Faiths

Morning Edition, February 26, 2008 -- Americans are comfortable with change. They not only change jobs and swap hometowns, but, according to a new report, they also try out
Full results of the survey and tools for examining the findings

US Marines prepare for 'different kind of fight' in Afghanistan

CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina (AFP) - For the 2,200 US Marines being deployed to southern Afghanistan next month, training for a mission fighting Taliban insurgents has meant adapting to a different type of enemy.

Afghan women 'remain in danger' -- BBC

A new report from an international rights group says that Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be female.

'We must persevere' in Afghanistan, MacKay says

OTTAWA (CBC) - Defence Minister Peter MacKay opened the House of Commons debate on Monday on the future of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan by urging the opposition to support extending a mission that "matters to Canadians, our soldiers and the international community."

Study Questions Excessive Antibiotic Use In Dementia Patients

Chicago, IL (AHN) - Elderly patients with advanced dementia are seven times more likely to receive antibiotics in their last two weeks of life, a Harvard study reports.
Study Suggests Antibiotics Are Overused The Associated Press Antibiotic Use in Dementia Patients Questioned Forbes Boston Globe - Globe and Mail - MedPage Today

SMU to Vet Bush Institute Fellows

As plans for Bush's presidential library and museum take shape, also coming into view is the public policy institute that Bush wants to see as a companion on the Dallas campus of Southern Methodist University.

Major powers push for new Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior diplomats from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- China, Russia, the United States, France and Britain -- and Germany, met in Washington to discuss strategy over Iran and give momentum to a sanctions resolution still being haggled over at the United Nations.

US Troop Levels Grow in Afghanistan As More Leave Iraq

"Our projection for Afghanistan, is that by late summer we will have about 32,000 U.S. forces there," said General Ham. "That is a little bit more than we have now, we're about 28,000 now.

More top economists now forecast recession

WASHINGTON - Job growth is faltering, consumer confidence plunging. The fallout from the worst housing slump in a quarter-century grows. Wherever you look, the signs are unmistakable that the economy is in trouble.

Clinton Says She Has Experience to Guide U.S. Policy (Bloomberg)

Karzai Takes Afghan Cabinet Out of Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Karzai chaired the meeting in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, said government spokesman Asif Nang. --- The meeting also comes ahead of the country's next presidential election. Karzai's five-year term ends in 2009. He has yet to announce whether he will run again but is widely perceived by Kabul's diplomatic community as preparing for a campaign.

Charlie Wilson’s Warlords -- By Ivan Eland

Fashion: The Red and the Black

Fashion: The Red and the Black -- Slide Show: Red Carpet
Winners and Nominees Interactive Ballot Complete Coverage
Click here: Oscars - Academy Awards - Awards Season - New York Times

List of Academy Award Nominees and Winners

Nominees and winners for the 80th annual Academy Awards.
Slide Show: Red Carpet -- Fashion: The Red and the Black
Winners and Nominees Interactive Ballot Complete Coverage

Clinton Gets Emotional Over Mailers: 'Shame On You, Barack Obama'

ABC News: Obama Camp Replies: 'Everything in Those Mailers Is Completely Accurate.'

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The ghosts of Pul-e-Charkhi -- The Sunday Times

The key to unlocking those secrets of the past was held by Assadullah Sarwary, the head of the Afghan secret police in 1978 and 1979, the time at which most people disappeared. There are no reliable statistics, but from nearly every large family in the Afghan diaspora, from Britain to the US, at least one member was jailed during that period. On documents that list names of prisoners who didn’t come back, it is Sarwary’s signature. Today he is the only representative of the communist regime in prison in Kabul on charges of mass murder. Many of his colleagues are either dead, in the West, or rising to the ranks again in today’s western-backed Afghan government. An Afghan court sentenced him to death in February 2006, but human-rights groups and the United Nations objected to the trial, calling it unfair. He has pleaded not guilty and appealed against the sentence. He’s waiting for the Afghan Supreme Court to grant him a military trial because he was in the air force.

The fact that so many linked to the past regime are still in power and that the country is enmeshed in a new war doesn’t bode well for justice. People are still afraid to talk. “There’s a culture of fear. People from each era are still in power, which prevents civilians from coming forward with proof against past criminals. People don’t trust the system,” said Rahimullah Rameh, a lawyer who investigates war crimes for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

AFGHANISTAN: Winter cold devastates livestock sector

FARYAB, 24 February 2008 (IRIN) - Afghanistan's livestock sector has been badly shaken after unusually cold temperatures have killed more than 300,000 animals, causing fears of higher meat prices and increased food insecurity among the population.

The Candidates: Choosing Which War to Fight

All three say they believe that Afghanistan is an important security threat that needs to be addressed. But the Republican, John McCain, suggests that Iraq remains America’s bugaboo of security threats, while the two Democrats, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, appear to have moved on to Afghanistan. Both of them argue that focusing on Iraq gets in the way of a more serious threat in Afghanistan.

WATCH: Biden: Losing Afghanistan?

Click here: ABC News
Click here: BIDEN Heads to Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Turkey, Press Release

Calling a million women to rise...

"Something has to happen for women and now" The Million Woman Rise. is expected to include a day of speeches, prayer and music Hundreds of Thousands of Women are expected at Saturday's rally , to address violence against women through a show of political, social, economic and creative solidarity.

US urges short Turkish campaign -- BBC

Wannabe first daughters woo youth vote -- BBC

Campaigning kids Would-be first daughters woo the youth vote

McCain’s Age May Figure in Choice of a Running Mate -- MICHAEL COOPER

Clinton Criticizes Obama Over Mailings

What's at Stake in the March 4 Primaries?

Fact Check: Obama's Afghanistan Claim -- ASSOCIATED PRESS

''You know, I've heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon -- supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon,'' Obama said. ''Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq,''

''And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough Humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.

White House says phone wiretaps back on "for now"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration said on Saturday U.S. telecommunications companies have agreed to cooperate "for the time being" with spy agencies' wiretaps, despite an ongoing battle between the White House and Congress over new terrorism surveillance legislation.

Bush Blames Dems on Surveillance Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democratic leaders came under criticism Saturday from President Bush who said they are blocking intelligence legislation so lawyers can sue telephone companies for helping the government eavesdrop on suspected terrorists.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Somber Clinton Soldiers On as the Horizon Darkens

Somber Clinton Soldiers On as the Horizon Darkens
Clinton Criticizes Obama Over Fliers Sent to Ohio Voters
Video: Hillary: Obama Mailing Is 'destructive' AssociatedPress
Angry Clinton rips Obama as Ohio primary campaign intensifies International Herald Tribune Los Angeles Times - Washington Times - New York Times - Washington Post

Fact Check: Obama's Afghanistan Claim -- Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Democrat Barack Obama says the war in Iraq, which he opposes, has pulled troops away from Afghanistan and left soldiers there without proper equipment.

Imam's Wife a Bridge Between Two Worlds

"Just seeing me and seeing that I don't have an accent, that underneath the scarf, yes, I'm a white girl, and I know American culture, it is my culture — that breaks down walls that any amount of information can't break down," she says.

Campaign 2008: The Race for Ohio, Texas

In South Texas, Obama Focuses on Hispanic Voters

Doctors Find 3 New Signs Of Stroke Risk

(AP) What do mammograms, blood-sugar tests and daytime dozing have in common? All may offer clues that someone is headed for a stroke, new studies suggest.
Strokes Among Middle-Aged Women Triple
Music To The Ears Of Some Stroke Victims

Conservatives Are Defending McCain After Newspaper Story

Cindy McCain, Like Others, Stands by Man

Ohio Gov.: Clinton Is More Electable

(CBS) - And if you look at the states that she’s won-- New York, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Arizona, and I think that's going to include Ohio and Pennsylvania and hopefully Texas--I think she has won the states that are going to be critical for a Democrat to win in November in order to win the presidency.

82 Countries Endorse Strong Ban on Cluster Munitions

(Wellington, February 22, 2008) – Eighty-two nations endorsed a strongly worded draft treaty on cluster munitions, moving the world closer to a ban on weapons that cause horrific civilian casualties, Human Rights Watch said today at the end of a week of diplomatic talks in Wellington, New Zealand. The push for a comprehensive ban on clusters, which harm civilians during and after conflict, came despite efforts to water down the text by a handful of states with stockpiles of the weapon.

Cluster munitions are large weapons that release dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions. Air-dropped or ground-launched, they cause two major humanitarian problems. First, their wide-area effect virtually guarantees civilian casualties when they are used in populated areas. Second, many of the submunitions do not explode on impact as designed but lie around like landmines, causing civilian casualties for months or years to come.
Cluster Munition Coalition
82 Countries Endorse Strong Ban on Cluster Munitions

EU calls for deal on UN envoy for Afghanistan

BRDO PRI KRANJU, Slovenia (AFP) - The European Union called for the appointment of a special UN envoy that would coordinate operations in Afghanistan after Kabul rejected earlier this month the candidature of Paddy Ashdown.

Friday, February 22, 2008

U.S. accuses Serbia of failing to protect embassies

BELGRADE (Reuters) - The United States accused Serbia on Friday of failing to protect embassies from attack over Western support for Kosovo's independence, and the EU said such violence could damage Belgrade's prospects of closer ties.

Afghan mission 'a must' says Nato head

Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has completed a two-day visit to Afghanistan at a time of unprecedented tensions in the alliance over its first major operation outside its area in Europe and the North Atlantic.

Fashion & Beauty: Fashion Shows

PHOTO GALLERY: Fashion in Milan
Off the Runway: Marni and McDreamy

Clinton Says Debate Remark Not Meant as Farewell

Clinton tries to energize trailing presidential bid

Economy a key to Afghan peace

OTTAWA–Building Afghanistan's economy and promoting "national reconciliation" have a greater chance of achieving a lasting peace than the use of military force, according to a military study of the parallels between the NATO mission and the Soviet invasion of the 1980s.

$1 billion a year U.S. pays Pakistan under new scrutiny

Once a month, Pakistan's Defense Ministry delivers 15 to 20 pages of spreadsheets to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. They list costs for feeding, clothing, billeting and maintaining 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistani troops in the volatile tribal area along the Afghan border, in support of U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

Britain: US Flights Landed on UK Soil -- The Associated Press

Miliband told lawmakers he was "very sorry" to have to correct statements made by the government in 2005, 2006 and 2007 that there were no such transfers involving Britain.
UK says U.S. rendition flights used its territory

McCain Denounces 'Times' Story on Lobbyist Ties

The New York Times article on Arizona Sen. John McCain

Clinton's debate moment: turning point or end game?

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton's concluding statement in a televised debate on Thursday drew a standing ovation from the audience and plaudits from analysts.
CNN - San Francisco Chronicle - The Associated Press - New York Times

Bush, Feeling Appreciated Abroad -- Washington Post

Busy Travel Schedule Reflects Realities, Opportunities of Last Year in Office
U.S. Policy in Africa Faulted on Priorities
Bush: Kosovo Independence 'Correct Move'

Obama-Clinton Debate Starts Warm, Heats Up -- Washington Post

Obama said his candidacy is based on his belief that he is ready to be president. "I wouldn't be running if I didn't think I was prepared to be commander in chief," he said. "My number one job as president would be to keep the American people safe, and I will do whatever is required to accomplish that."

And he returned, in forceful language, to what has long been his primary example of judgment: the war in Iraq. He said that "Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgment" on that vote in a way "that now has consequences," because it has diverted efforts away from Afghanistan and the hunt for al-Qaeda. Obama also said he was "right" on the question of Pakistan when he argued against banking on Gen. Pervez Musharraf to the exclusion of other Pakistani leaders.

Debate Takes On Contentious Air for Democrats

While Mrs. Clinton may have been harsher than Mr. Obama, she ended the debate with the night’s most memorable grace note, as if eager to leave voters with a gentle final impression after the political skirmishing.

“The hits I’ve taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country,” she said. “And I resolved at a very young age that I’d been blessed, and that I was called by my faith and by my upbringing to do what I could to give others the same opportunities and blessings that I took for granted.”
Transcript: Democratic Debate in Austin, Tex.

Transcript: Democratic Debate in Austin, Tex.

The following is a transcript of the Democratic debate in Austin, Tex., sponsored by CNN and Univision, as provided by Federal News Service.
Transcript: Democratic Debate in Austin, Tex. (February 21, 2008)
Debate Takes On Contentious Air for Democrats

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Navy 'Confident' Missile Destroyed Satellite Fuel Tank

Military officials have a "high degree of confidence" that they were able to hit and destroy the tank of potentially dangerous fuel aboard a wayward spy satellite orbiting Earth last night, but they said they must still monitor the debris to be certain it does not pose further risk of reentering the atmosphere in coming days.

(AP) -- A helicopter carrying three senior U.S. senators made an emergency landing Thursday in the mountains of Afghanistan because of a snowstorm.

Click here: Senators' emergency landing in Afghanistan - Afghanistan-

Senators in Emergency Landing

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A helicopter carrying three senior U.S. senators made an emergency landing Thursday in the mountains of Afghanistan because of a snowstorm. Sens. John Kerry, Joseph Biden and Chuck Hagel were aboard one of two helicopters that made emergency landings, Kerry said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Turkey. Staffers were on the second chopper, Kerry said.

UK apology over rendition flights -- BBC

David Miliband has admitted two US 'extraordinary rendition' flights landed on UK territory in 2002.
In full: Miliband statement
Analysis: Political fall-out
In quotes: Rendition denials

U.S. outrage as Serb protesters burn embassy

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serb protesters ransacked and set fire to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade on Thursday, venting anger at U.S. support for Kosovo's declaration of independence.
US Warns Serbia on Embassy Damage The Associated Press - Newsweek - NPR

McCain Denies Aides’ Statements About Lobbyist

TOLEDO, Ohio — Senator John McCain said Thursday that an article in The New York Times about his close ties to a woman lobbyist was untrue, that he had no romantic relationship with the lobbyist and that he had no confrontations in 1999 with worried staff members who told him to stay away from her.
McCain Denies Aides’ Statements About Lobbyist
CNBC Video Transcript

Who is right on Afghanistan?

Both Polly Toynbee and Seumas Milne have offered strategies for what to do next, but the view on the ground is somewhat different
Click here: Comment is free: Who is right on Afghanistan?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stakes Are Raised, In Last Two Democratic Debates

Can Sen. Hillary Clinton come back in a presidential campaign she once dominated? Will Sen. Barack Obama let her? And could two more debates make a difference?

Thriving Afghan opium crop hampers development: IMF

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A thriving Afghan opium crop earned farmers about $1 billion in 2007 and together with a resurgence in violence was hampering economic development, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

Afghanistan sitting on a gold mine: minister

KABUL (AFP) - Afghanistan is sitting on a wealth of mineral reserves -- perhaps the richest in the region -- that offer hope for a country mired in poverty after decades of war, the mining minister says.

Significant deposits of copper, iron, gold, oil and gas, and coal -- as well as precious gems such as emeralds and rubies -- are largely untapped and still being mapped, Mohammad Ibrahim Adel told AFP.

Already in the pipeline is the exploitation of a massive copper deposit -- one of the biggest in the world -- about 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of Kabul. "There has not been such a big project in the history of Afghanistan," Adel said.

"It is estimated that the Aynak deposit has more than 11 million tonnes (of copper)," he said, citing 1960s surveys by the Soviet Union and a new study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Group Claims Iran Speeding Up Nuke Plans

Clinton, McCain Push Experience Button - WSJ

WASHINGTON -- Mr. Obama and his advisers respond that Mr. Obama has the judgment necessary for the job, and they focus on Mr. McCain's unwavering support for what they now call the "Bush/McCain war" in Iraq.
Obama, Drawing Criticism on Two Fronts, Fires Back New York Times Clinton Says Obama Isn't Ready Washington Post USA Today - Kansas City Star - Chicago Tribune - The Associated Press

Navy Missile Hits Satellite, Pentagon Says

U.S. Payments To Pakistan Face New Scrutiny

Little Accounting for $1 Billion A Year to Support Ally's Troops
Analysis: Musharraf Loss Fallout Unclear

Clinton Says Obama Isn't Ready

NEW YORK, Feb. 20 -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton launched a tough new offensive against Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday, asserting flatly that her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination is not prepared to serve as commander in chief.
Democrats: What Clinton Must Do to Win
McCain's Rise May Upset Democrats' Western Strategy

Missile Strikes a Spy Satellite Falling From Its Orbit

Germans plead Second World War hangover

Germany's role in the Second World War has made it difficult to win public support for military action in Afghanistan, the German ambassador to Britain has admitted.

Center for the Study of the Presidency

Afghanistan Study Group Report
Afghanistan Study Group Final Report, January 30, 2008
Highlights from Afghanistan Study Group Final Report
Media Advisory regarding publication of Afghanistan Study Group Final Report
Listen to the January 30, 2008, Press Conference

Durand line de facto border, says US

WASHINGTON, Feb 15: The report by the Afghanistan Study Group, discussed at the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, urges the United States to reduce antagonism between Pakistan and Afghanistan by persuading Afghanistan to accept the Durand Line as the official border. The report also advises Washington to persuade Islamabad to remove restrictions on transit trade between India and Afghanistan.

British citizenship tests planned -- BBC

Immigrants who want to become British and settle permanently in the UK will need to pass more tests to "prove their worth" to the country under new plans. -- Some migrants may also have to pay into a fund towards public services and have a period of "probationary citizenship".

Pakistan press urges Musharraf to go

Pakistani newspapers say the result of Monday's parliamentary elections is a vote against President Pervez Musharraf.

US warns India over nuclear pact -- BBC

"Time is of the essence," Joseph Biden, one of the senators, said, urging India to confirm its support for the nuclear deal.

Ex-Afghan warlord is 'suspended' --BBC

Gen Dostum said that the attorney general cannot dismiss him, and has appealed to President Hamid Karzai to overturn the decision.

Nato chief calm on Afghan visit -- BBC

The Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is in Afghanistan as the military alliance faces unprecedented tension over its mission there.

Hospitals’ ‘code blue’ most ly at night

More patients die if they go into cardiac arrest after 11 p.m., study finds

Do You Really Need Seven Hours of Sleep?

Yep, you do. Although people do vary in how much sleep they need, the differences are slight, and the vast majority of us (including seniors) need seven to eight hours. Most people who regularly get less than seven hours of rest are simply unaware of the damage that fatigue and sleepiness is doing to their bodies. Chronic "short-sleepers," as scientists call them, have forgotten what it feels like to be well-rested, says Robert Rosenberg, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, in

Barack’s Rock -- Newsweek

Michelle Obama was never much interested in calling attention to herself. As an undergrad at Princeton in the 1980s, she was interested in social change, but didn't run for student government. Instead, she spent her free time running a literacy program for kids from the local neighborhoods. At Harvard Law, she took part in demonstrations demanding more minority students and professors.
Barack's Rock

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Beyond Musharraf - WSJ

Pakistan has never voted a military ruler out of office. That could change following Monday's parliamentary elections. Though President Pervez Musharraf was not on the ballot, the election was about his fate.
Bloomberg - New York Times - Forbes - Times Online

U.N. distributes winter aid to Afghans

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- United Nations agencies are responding to a bitter central Asian winter that has killed hundreds of people in recent weeks, the U.N. said Tuesday.

McCain Hauls in Nearly $12M in January

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican Sen. John McCain raised nearly $12 million in January, propelled by victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina that solidified his place as the leading candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.

Clinton Says Obama Relies on 'Words' -- The Associated Press

"It's about picking a president who relies not just on words, but on work, hard work, to get America back to work," Clinton said at a labor rally here. "Someone who's not just in the speeches business."
Obama, McCain Triumph in Wisconsin

Obama Chips Away at Clinton's Usual Hard Core of Supporters

After the Super Tuesday primaries two weeks ago, Sen. Barack Obama faced continuing questions about the support he could draw from lower-income, white voters and those with less education, who had to that point proved to be the bedrock of support for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Barack Obama's Remarks on Victory in Wisconsin Primary
Robert J. Samuelson - The Obama Delusion

Severe Flooding Expected During Afghan Spring Thaw

U.N. officials say people in Afghanistan's Western Region are living through one of the harshest winters in nearly 30 years. The United Nations reports more than 800 people have lost their lives so far this winter in the four provinces of Herat, Farah, Badghis, and Ghor.

US to Work With New Pakistan Government

Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of several U.S. lawmakers who traveled to Islamabad to observe the election, said Tuesday the results mean the United States can shift its Pakistan policy. --- "This is an opportunity for us to move from a policy that has been focused on a personality to one based on an entire people," Biden, D-Del., said.
Pakistan Remakes Political Arena --- Pakistan's Victory: A democratic vote gives a decisive rebuke to Pervez...

More Pakistanis Flee to Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Pakistanis fleeing to eastern Afghanistan to avoid violence in their country has risen to about 10,000 in recent weeks, a U.S. military official said Tuesday.

Picture power: Tim Hetherington -- BBC

Musharraf rules out resignation -- BBC

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, says he has no plans to resign, despite a sweeping victory by the opposition in the country's parliamentary elections.
Musharraf’s Party Accepts Defeat New York Times Forming Government No Simple Task For Pakistan Opposition Forbes Washington Times - Times Online - Bloomberg - International Herald Tribune

Afghan general prosecutor summons ex-warlord

JFK Assassination Documents Revealed

DALLAS (AP) -- Long-hidden items and documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy were revealed for the first time Monday, after spending nearly two decades locked inside a courthouse safe.

Iraq-Afghan crisis need political solution: Ex-ISI chief

TORONTO: Iraq and Afghanistan crisis cannot be solved by the use of force, time has come to cut a deal and that policy makers from the West should start considering a political solutions, Pakistan's former intelligence chief has said.

"Musharraf is absolutely right when he says look we have been defeated, we can't do anything more. Just like Russians who used 120,000 troops over a decade in Afghanistan, Pakistan now has deployed 80,000 troops while the Western countries has contributed 31,000 (including Canada's 2,500)," former ISI Chief Hamid Gul said in an interview.

Two Days of Attacks Leave Over 100 Dead in Afghanistan

A suicide car bomber plowed into a Canadian military convoy, killing 37 people at a busy market in southern Afghanistan on Monday, a day after a bomber blew himself up at a dog fight outside Kandahar, leaving more than 100 people dead.

Bush 41 Endorses John McCain

"I believe now is the right time for me to help John in his effort to start building the broad base coalition it will take for our conservative values to carry the White House this fall," former President George H. W. Bush said at a press conference in Houston.
Video: Former President Bush Endorses McCain
USA Today - Los Angeles Times - International Herald Tribune
McCain: Iraq Withdrawal Date Equals 'Chaos'
Elder Bush Backs McCain; 'No One Is Better'

Monday, February 18, 2008

Clinton and Obama travel a populist route

Economic woes are on most people's minds in the industrial belt. The Democrats' messages aim to ease those fears.

Pakistanis Deal Severe Defeat to Musharraf in Election

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistanis dealt a crushing defeat to President Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections on Monday, in what government and opposition politicians said was a firm rejection of his policies since 2001 and those of his close ally, the United States.

Unshakable Optimist of the House of Bhutto -- MICHIKO KAKUTANI

Many Women Stay Away From the Polls in an Uneasy Pakistani

Suicide Attack Kills 36 in Afghanistan

Scores killed in Afghan bombing -- BBC

Up to 80 people have been killed in a suicide bombing outside the Afghan city of Kandahar, in one of the country's deadliest attacks since 2001.

Diana murdered, Al Fayed claims -- BBC

Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were murdered, Dodi's father Mohamed Al Fayed has told the inquest into their deaths in a car crash in Paris in 1997.
Point-by-point: Al Fayed's claims
Diana murdered, Al Fayed claims
Ex-Met chief seeks Diana apology
MI6 'Diana-style' plot dismissed
Diana agent 'worked for Al Fayed'

Special Report: Discord in Pakistan -- BBC

US President George W Bush has said history will show the independence of Kosovo to be the "correct move".
Recognition for Kosovo grows
Kosovo declares independence
See a map of Kosovo's ethnic breakdown

Pakistanis Deal a Blow to Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Feb. 19 -- Voters in Pakistan appeared to deliver a sharp rebuke to President Pervez Musharraf on Monday, handing significant victories to the country's two leading opposition parties in parliamentary elections, according to early returns and Pakistani politicians.
Unilateral Strike Called a Model
Special Report: Discord in Pakistan

Bush Urges Malaria Prevention

President Bush is touring Tanzania to promote the fight against malaria in Africa and announced a new effort Monday to provide 5.2 million mosquito bed nets, one for every Tanzanian child age 5 and under.
In Africa, Bush Makes Case for US Aid
In Africa, Bush Touts Partnerships
Bush Touts Effort to Stop Malaria Deaths

Afghanistan recognizes Kosovo's independence

Merkel says no plan to change German missions in Afghanistan

BERLIN, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that Germany is not planning to change or expand its mission in Afghanistan despite mounting pressures from NATO allies.

AFGHANISTAN: Mass deportation from Iran may cause crisis, official warns

KABUL, 17 February 2008 (IRIN) - The Afghan government has once again called upon the Iranian government to suspend its deportation of thousands of Afghans living in Iran illegally until after winter to avoid a humanitarian crisis.

Hearts and Minds on the Durand Line -- Ashley Bommer

The United States has counterterrorism operations in places all over the world -- but not in Pakistan, the center of world terrorism. Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made an offer: "We remain ready, willing and able to assist the Pakistanis and to partner with them, to provide additional training, to conduct joint operations, should they desire to do so." Within hours, fearing a backlash on Pakistani soil, President Pervez Musharraf rejected the American offer.

140 killed in 2 days of bombings, Afghanistan's deadliest span since 2001

Sunday, February 17, 2008

US Lawmakers Address Fear of Failed State in Afghanistan

Some Senate lawmakers say the U.S. is doing much of the heavy lifting in Afghanistan -- with little to show for it. --- One big problem: the failure to eradicate Afghanistan's poppy crop -- suspected of supplying 90 percent of the world's opium trade.

Karzai under foreigners' influence: Afghan paper

KABUL (Reuters) - President Hamid Karzai is under the influence of foreign powers and troops led by NATO and the U.S. must set a firm date for their departure from Afghanistan, a government-run daily newspaper said on Saturday.

In Defense of Hamid Karzai -- WILLIAM MALEY

Ann Marlowe's unpleasant attack on Afghan President Hamid Karzai ["Two Myths About Afghanistan," op-ed, Feb. 11] painted him as a last-minute convert to the anti-Taliban cause, in 2001.

Pakistan's election fraud; McCain and the Persians; NATO and Afghan elections

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kerry to visit Afghanistan, Pakistan

An aide says Kerry will depart Saturday as part of a congressional delegation. He will travel with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joe Biden and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel.

Deadly Afghan winter brings misery and destruction

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- More than 900 people have died as a result of the bitter cold and blizzards engulfing central and western Afghanistan this winter -- considered the worst in three decades, Afghan authorities said on Friday.

Democratic Candidates Emphasize Need for Unity

MILWAUKEE — After days of battling each other in tit-for-tat television advertisements ahead of the Wisconsin primary, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama on Saturday night cooled their rhetoric and reminded Democrats of their fight ahead.

McCain welcomes Bush help on campaign trail

Pakistan - the balance of forces -- BBC

News - South Asia - Views of Pakistan from abroad

'Dozens' killed in Afghan blast -- BBC

Bush, Democrats Disagree Over Wiretapping

President Bush says opposition Democrats are putting the nation at risk by failing to pass a new wiretapping law so the government can monitor suspected terrorist communications without a court warrant.
FOXNews - Reuters - United Press International

Afghanistan: Bitter Winter Claims More Than 900 Lives

Cold, snowstorms and avalanches have killed 926 people as the country suffers what is thought to be the worst winter in three decades, the authorities said.

Fear Saps Vibrancy In Afghan Capital

Afghanistan has been facing a violent rural insurgency by revived Taliban forces for the past two years, but the recent increase in suicide bombings in the capital, coupled with a sharp rise in organized crime and the deteriorating security and political situation in next-door Pakistan, has left people here feeling almost as vulnerable as they did during the civil war of the early 1990s.
Fear and Resolve in Kabul: Growing Sense of Insecurity Afflicts Afghans and Foreigners Alike
Fear Saps Vibrancy In Afghan Capital: Sense of Insecurity Afflicts Foreigners And Locals...

Karzai under foreigners' influence: Afghan paper

KABUL (Reuters) - President Hamid Karzai is under the influence of foreign powers and troops led by NATO and the U.S. must set a firm date for their departure from Afghanistan, a government-run daily newspaper said on Saturday.

The remarks are the first of their kind in an Afghan paper about Karzai and foreign troops in Afghanistan, where there is frustration over growing insecurity and rampant corruption.

"...It should be said that the Afghan nation reacts seriously, despite its difficulties, when the national interests of their country are exposed to foreign danger and have never accepted and nor will accept a protege government," Anis said.

"If the world does not pay attention to this matter, soon the fire of Afghanistan will burn the region and a situation will emerge that will be unimaginable for anyone."

"For the appointment of each high-ranking employee, Mr. Karzai has to propose individuals and then (announce their appointment) after the approval of foreigners," Anis said.
Karzai under foreigners' influence: Afghan paper

The Clinton Team's Long View -- Jose Antonio Vargas

"We are going to fight all the way to the convention," Ickes said.
Clinton Aide Changes Mich., Fla. Stance --
Hillary Clinton campaign defends superdelegate clout
Washington Times - MSNBC - The Hill - Boston Globe

Afghanistan, Iran to meet on refugee expulsions

KABUL: Kabul is seeking an urgent meeting with Tehran about the deportation of Afghans, the government said Wednesday, with 7,000 forced out in the past month despite a pledge to halt expulsions over winter.

German Coalition To Hold Afghanistan Talks - AFP

BERLIN (AFP)--Leaders of Germany's ruling coalition will hold a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the country's military mission in Afghanistan, a government spokesman said on Friday.

Afghan Kidnappings Increasingly Common

As security deteriorates in Afghanistan, kidnappings of Afghans are increasingly common. Even the capital, Kabul, is no longer safe. The growing wave of Afghan kidnappings isn't about politics. It's about ransom.

Many victims and their families accuse the government of complicity. Some claim Afghan police officers are trying to boost their meager salaries by working with kidnappers, a charge that police officials vehemently deny.

"They were well trained, well organized. And without support of government, they cannot do all these things. Because all of them, they have weapons, and their cars, their people, they are moving very freely. They cannot do by their own selves," Wahaaj says.
Click here: NPR: Afghan Kidnappings Increasingly Common

Thursday, February 14, 2008

MPs concerned by Karzai comments -- BBC

Its Lib Dem chairman Malcolm Bruce said: "We are concerned about the recent deterioration in political relations between the government of Afghanistan and the UK. -- "We recognise that the civilian and military effort is entirely dependent on the goodwill of the government and people of Afghanistan. -- "But there is a risk that the tone and timing of recent comments by the government of Afghanistan which are critical of the UK could undermine British public support for the UK's long-term commitment to Afghanistan."

In full: George W Bush's BBC interview

US President George W Bush has given his first interview to the BBC in almost seven years. Here is the full transcript of his conversation with BBC World News America presenter Matt
Bush interview -- Bush tackles critics on terror -- Bush interview: Your reaction
Bush at ease The BBC's Matt Frei sees the relaxed private side of the American president.

House Defies Bush on Wiretaps -- Dan Eggen and Michael Abramowitz

The House of Representatives defied the White House yesterday by refusing to make an expiring surveillance law permanent, prompting a harsh exchange between Republicans and Democrats as they prepared for an extended, election-year battle over national security.
Surveillance Act Expansion Authorized
White House Pushes Waterboarding Rationale

France Mulls Greater Role in Afghanistan

PARIS (AP) -- In American military parlance, it's gut-check time for NATO in Afghanistan, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy appears ready to answer allies' calls for more forces to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Saving Afghanistan From the Sidelines -- Mike Nizza

There are many ways to describe Paddy Ashdown: British politician. The “Michael Jackson of postconflict reconstruction.” The man “asked by the United Nations secretary general to be the UN’s special envoy in Afghanistan but was rejected by Mr Karzai.”

AFGHANISTAN: Pneumonia spreads as winter deaths top 800

Top Officials See Bleaker Outlook for the Economy

Economy: Economic Swoon to Continue, Bernanke Says

"The outlook for the economy has worsened in recent months, and the downside risks to growth have increased," Bernanke said.

Pentagon Plans to Shoot Down Broken Spy Satellite

The White House has ordered the military to shoot down a malfunctioning U.S. spy satellite that is expected to crash to Earth within the next three weeks. The decision was made after the Pentagon determined that the satellite could pose a health risk if it hits a populated area. But the chances of the satellite hitting a person are miniscule, so why destroy it?

Bush, House Democrats Face Off on Wiretapping Bill

All Things Considered, February 14, 2008 · President Bush says the House needs to finish a bill governing U.S. eavesdropping on the phone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists. The current law, the Protect America Act, expires this weekend, and the president says he won't approve another extension of it. The president is insisting
What Happens If Protect America Act Expires?
Bush Seeks to Redraw Domestic Spying Act

US to Try to Shoot Down Spy Satellite -- The Associated Press

WASHINGTON February 14, 2008, 11:07 pm ET · Taking a page from Hollywood science fiction, the Pentagon said Thursday it will try to shoot down a dying, bus-size U.S. spy satellite loaded with toxic fuel on a collision course with the Earth.

Romney Backs McCain’s Candidacy, Ending a Heated Campaign Feud

Times Topics: John McCain Times Topics: Mitt Romney
Romney Backs McCain for GOP Nominee

Candidates' Earmarks Worth Millions -- Paul Kane

The new report, by Taxpayers for Common Sense, is the first to show all the earmarks each lawmaker added to spending bills for an entire fiscal year. It notes the explosive growth of the practice, which amounted to more than $18 billion in fiscal 2008.
Clinton, Obama Offer Similar Economic Visions

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A strategy to save Afghanistan

The great sixth century BC military strategist Sun Tzu wrote: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

With fighting in Afghanistan now entering its seventh year, no agreed international strategy, public support on both sides of the Atlantic crumbling, Nato in disarray and widening insecurity in Afghanistan, defeat is now a real possibility. The consequences for both Afghanistan and its allies would be appalling: global ism would have won back its old haven and created a new one over the border in a mortally weakened Pakistan; our domestic security threat would be gravely increased and a new instability would be added to the world’s most unstable region.

Afghanistan's refugee crisis 'ignored'

A growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is being overlooked as an unknown number of people are fleeing their homes, caught between security forces and the Taliban, Red Cross officials have told the Guardian. --- They say they have less access now to displaced people than at any time over the past 27 years. "The conflict has not only intensified but it has also spread over the last few years. Prolonged human suffering is causing real concern in ever larger areas," said Reto Stocker, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Kabul. "There is little capacity to address it. We've never had so little access."

McCain and Obama Turn Fire on Each Other

A day after his overwhelming victories in three eastern primaries, Senator Barack Obama hammered his economic message in Wisconsin on Wednesday, while Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton sidestepped the next round of Democratic primaries to concentrate on the delegate-rich Texas race.

Bush Signs Economic Stimulus Bill

Bush Presses House on Surveillance

WASHINGTON — President Bush strongly urged the House of Representatives on Wednesday to quickly approve a surveillance bill passed by the Senate Tuesday evening, saying he would not agree to a further extension of the current eavesdropping law.

Candidates’ Foreign Policy Aides -- Ariel Alexovich

Foreign policy advisers to three presidential hopefuls gathered at the National Press Club in Washington on Friday to discuss their bosses’ strategies for Afghanistan and Pakistan. --- Despite being from different political parties, the representatives of Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Barack Obama all said they were disappointed that President Bush didn’t push harder to find Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. And they each spoke of a need for more economic development in Afghanistan and more accountability with regard to aid sent to Pakistan.

World: Afghan Kidnappings Increasingly Common

As security deteriorates in Afghanistan, kidnappings of Afghans are increasingly common. Even the capital, Kabul, is no longer safe.

Bush Ready to Sign Economic Aid Package -- The Associated Press

The bill would raise temporarily to $729,750 the limit on Federal Housing Administration loans and the cap on loans that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can buy. Those measures are designed to provide relief in the market for "jumbo" mortgages and help more homeowners refinance into government-insured loans.

Obama, McCain sweep Potomac primaries

WSJ: Imagine a World Without Islam

Take away Islam, and the world would still be left with the main forces that drive today’s conflicts, including colonialism, cross-national ideologies, ethnic conflicts and terrorism, says Mr. Fuller in Foreign Policy (subscription required).

Mr. Fuller ponders a litany of history’s major battles to drive home his message that while Islam might be a convenient culprit, but global strife, past and present, can’t be blamed on any one religion. Europeans would still have wanted the spoils of the Middle East and launched the Crusades, he says, albeit under a different banner. The West still would have tried various ways to get control of oil-rich areas. The French would still have gone into Algeria for its farm lands. The creation of Israel would still have displaced Palestinians, no matter what their religion.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Foreign Policy: A World Without Islam -- By Graham E. Fuller

What if Islam had never existed? To some, it’s a comforting thought: No clash of civilizations, no holy wars, no terrorists. Would Christianity have taken over the world? Would the Middle East be a peaceful beacon of democracy? Would 9/11 have happened? In fact, remove Islam from the path of history, and the world ends up exactly where it is today. ---- Given our intense current focus on terrorism, war, and rampant antiAmericanism—some of the most emotional international issues of the day—it’s vital to understand the true sources of these crises. Is Islam, in fact, the source of the problem, or does it tend to lie with other less obvious and deeper factors?
Cover Story: A World Without Islam

Foreign Affairs - A New Realism - Bill Richardson

A Realistic and Principled Foreign Policy

A Bishop Pleads for Islamic Law -- Mathieu von Rohr

With his plea for recognition of the Muslim legal system in Britain, the archbishop of Canterbury has outraged his people. In doing so, he has driven a wedge into the center of a passionate national debate.
Shariah in Great Britain?: A Bishop Pleads for Islamic Law
Shariah Is for Everyone!

Obama and McCain Sweep 3 Primaries

Transcripts: McCain Obama Clinton Huckabee
Slide Show: Potomac Primaries

Editorial: Gates, Truth and Afghanistan

The fact that Mr. Gates is permitted such truth-telling is a measure of how bad things have gotten in Afghanistan and how much the United States needs more outside help.

Obama and McCain score triple victories -- FT

Analysis: Clinton looks to Texas and Ohio

Republicans: In Va., Huckabee Again Shows Strength on Right

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) swept Republican primaries in Virginia, Maryland and the District last night, defeating former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and adding to his vast delegate lead in the race to become his party's presidential nominee.

Democrats: Winning Streak Extends To District, Md. and Va.

Obama Sweeps Clinton In D.C., Md. and Va. Clinton Says Nothing About Losses, Exit Polls: Economy Is Top Issue In Md., Va.

Healthy Lifestyle Is the Secret to Longer Life, Researchers Say

Not smoking, regular exercise, maintaining normal weight, and avoiding diabetes and high blood pressure seem to be the secrets of living to age 90, researchers say. -- The researchers also found that genes determine about 25 percent of the variation in lifespan. Therefore, 75 percent can be determined by lifestyle. -- “Smoking, diabetes, obesity and hypertension each are predicted to reduce life expectancy by one to five years, while higher physical activity may add up to five years,” the study said. -- Being in a good shape could add as much as 10 years to a man’s lifespan, the study found.
Some with chronic illnesses function as well as healthy peers Detroit Free Press
Comment by Thomas T Perls MD, MPH, Associate Professor Boston Medical Center

Answer to Afghanistan question more complex than adding troops



Afghan thaw reveals winter toll -- BBC

Officially 800 people have died, but many more will no doubt have frozen to death when the snow fell heavier and the temperatures dropped lower than anybody expected. --- The extreme temperatures and heavy snow struck parts of the country that are not usually hit.

Presidential Battle Comes Home: Obama, Clinton Compete in Potomac Primaries

Lenders Offer Plan to Head Off Foreclosures

Unlike previous government-led efforts, the plan will apply to all borrowers, not just those with subprime mortgages. The participants — Bank of America, Citigroup, Countrywide Financial, JPMorgan Chase, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo — pledged to contact qualifying borrowers with further information through the mail.New loan arrangements would be worked out on an individual basis, officials said.

Senate Moves to Shield Phone Companies on Eavesdropping

Senate Protects Telecom Immunity in Spy Bill

Civil liberties groups denounced the Senate's action.
Senate OKs immunity for telecoms in intelligence bill CNN Reuters - The Associated Press - Baltimore Sun

Senate Approves Immunity For Telecoms in Wiretapping

For their part, companies like AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. have always refused to comment on whether they participated.

Obama to Propose Funds for Afghanistan, Harder Line in Pakistan

Sen. Barack Obama will propose deploying two additional U.S brigades to Afghanistan in a speech Wednesday mapping out his approach to combating terrorism, an adviser said. --- He will also propose doubling US military aid to Afghanistan and putting restrictions in military aid to Pakistan, making it conditional on keeping ungoverned regions, particularly Waziristan, under tight control, the adviser said. The adviser declined to release other details of the speech.
LIVE VIDEO: Barack Obama at University of Md.

Security Forces Search for Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan

Karzai Seeks Aid for Islamic Schools -- The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan needs more international help to build Islamic schools so fewer students will attend more radical ones outside the country, President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday. -- Education Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said Afghanistan is building a "modern system of madrassas" offering a broad-based Islamic education.

Plan Aims to Aid Homeowners, but Advocates Wary

The Bush administration, along with a group of major banks, announced a plan Tuesday called Project Lifeline to give more help to struggling homeowners. --- advocates question whether the new initiative will really provide more assistance.
Many Struggling Homeowners Still Not Getting Help
Home Renovator Accused of Scamming $18 Million
Real Estate Downturn Doesn't Diminish 'House Lust'

Monday, February 11, 2008

U.S. Ties Europe’s Safety to Afghanistan

MUNICH — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issued a stark warning on Sunday to Europeans, saying that their safety from terrorist attack by Islamic extremists was directly linked to NATO’s success in stabilizing Afghanistan.
Miliband Urges NATO Not to Abandon Afghanistan

Mortgage Crisis Spreads Past Subprime Loans

“This collapse in housing value is sucking in all borrowers,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s

Two Myths About Afghanistan -- By Ann Marlowe

As Western leaders and Congress debate NATO's responsibilities in Afghanistan, it's time to dissolve two great American illusions about Afghanistan.
Conflicting Assessments of War in Afghanistan
Harsh Season Overwhelms Afghans: Hopes for Progress Battered by War, Weather, Economy...

Conflicting Assessments of War in Afghanistan -- Peter Baker

President Bush famously doesn't like long memos. So if retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones hoped to get Bush's attention with the report he produced on Afghanistan, he was clever enough to be blunt from the start. "Make no mistake," the report says in its first line. "NATO is not winning in Afghanistan." --- If Bush read that far into the report, he evidently disagrees. During his speech Friday to the Conservative Political Action Conference, the president offered a far rosier view of the situation in Afghanistan than even his own top military and civilian advisers hold. "The Taliban, al-Qaeda and their allies are on the run," Bush declared to the audience of supporters.
Miliband urges NATO not to abandon Afghanistan

Harsh Season Overwhelms Afghans

Hopes for Progress Battered by War, Weather, Economy and Regional Tension --- "Winters here are always severe, and we were well-prepared for this one. But the massive price increases made the conditions much worse," said Rick Corsino, Afghan country director for the World Food Program. "We calculated there were two and a half million people who before were borderline food-insecure. The price increases pushed them into being high-risk."

Too soon to give up in Afghanistan

Mr Karzai’s erratic behaviour is just one reason for fearing for the future of Afghanistan. The Taliban insurgency is still raging across the country. Suicide attacks are occurring at eight times the rate they were in 2006. Diplomats in Kabul are told not to visit restaurants or markets. Last week an International Monetary Fund report portrayed the Afghan economy as based on opium and aid. --- It was a mistake for the west to declare victory in Afghanistan prematurely five years ago. But it would be an even bigger error to declare defeat prematurely now.

Afghanistan suffers worst winter in 30 years

(CNN) -- Aid workers have launched emergency responses to help people in rugged and poverty-stricken central and western Afghanistan, enduring what the United Nations is describing as "the harshest winter in nearly 30 years." -- Hundreds of deaths have been reported this winter as a result of the frigid temperatures, which have dipped to minus 30 degrees Celsius, or minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit.
Oxfam InternationalAfghanistanInternational Security Assistance ForceUnited Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Sunday, February 10, 2008

CAPITAL SOURCES: Who’s Listening to Your Phone Call?

THE AFGHANISTAN DEBATE: Germany Defends Refusal to Enter Taliban Stronghold

"We already have more than 20 dead to mourn from this work, so it isn't very safe," said Erler, a member of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). "It simply is not true to say that some are doing the hard work and others are quitters."
Gates Challenges European Military Leaders on Afghanistan

Terror Threats Force Norway to Close Embassy in Afghan Capital

THE SUPERDELEGATES: 796 Insiders May Hold Democrats' Key

Renewed Focus on Superdelegates

Piloting Afghanistan to a prosperous future -- BBC, Lyse Doucet

When I think about Afghanistan's difficult journey, I often remember its pilots. I call them the "hero pilots". --- They have crossed hostile skies across this land with their national carrier Ariana, sailed over jagged snow capped peaks of the Hindu Kush and navigated the risky entry into a capital ringed by majestic mountain ranges and ancient forts. --- When the Taleban were toppled in 2001, one of Ariana's senior pilots, whom I have known for years, took me to see the veritable Afghan museum strewn along the airfield's apron. --- There was a Russian-built aircraft punctured by a mujahideen stinger missile during the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, as well as smaller jets hit during mujahideen infighting when they took power in the 90s, and the blackened remains of a plane virtually obliterated by US bombing during the onslaught against the Taleban in 2001. --- Ariana lost six of its aircraft in that conflict. All told, theirs is the story of a country that has long been at war.

Ashdown blames Afghan politics for UN envoy veto

"President Karzai, a man whom I respect and I wish him well and I wish his government well, is a politician," the former British political party leader and international envoy to Bosnia-Hercegovina, told BBC television. --- "He's lining up, hopefully, as he would see it, to win the presidential elections likely to be in 2009. --- "I suppose he must have calculated that beating up on Britain -- an ex-imperial power -- beating up on the United States, was not going to do him any harm in a proud Afghanistan amongst the (ethnic) Pashtun vote."

Unworkable constitution has created Afghan turmoil

At the time, many historians and constitutional scholars warned that such a system wouldn't work in a war-torn state with so many tribal and ethnic divisions. Presidential systems typically produce many disgruntled losers intent on challenging or undermining the victor. In addition, they can also put too much formal power in the hands of the winner, leading to personalised politics in which lesser politicians fight viciously over access to the president. Yet, paradoxically, the actual powers of the president are often less than they appear on paper, while his responsibilities are heavy and the expectations that citizens have of him are unrealistic. It is all too easy to create a job that no one could do adequately.
US says global Islamic extremism would thrive on Afghan failure

Thousands protest in Afghan capital for banned pyramid scheme

Clinton Campaign Not Looking for Shuster to Be Fired, After All -- ABC

After some conversations with folks at the Clinton campaign, I can offer some clarity -- maybe -- on what they're asking NBC/MSNBC to do. MSNBC reporter suspended for 'pimped-out' Chelsea

McCain leads handily, Dems deadlocked after contests

Gates Challenges European Military Leaders on Afghanistan

MUNICH, Feb. 10 - Defense Secretary Robert Gates challenged the European military leaders and lawmakers Sunday to revive flagging support for the international mission in Afghanistan, warning that if members of NATO were no longer willing to shoulder the burdens of war equally, it "would effectively destroy the alliance."
Gates: Europe must fight extremism CNN InternationalUS warning on Nato's Afghan role BBC NewsNew York Times - Bloomberg - Voice of America - The Associated Press

Harsh winter kills more than 750 in Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) - More than 750 people have perished as a result of severe cold and heavy snowfalls this winter across Afghanistan, a government official said on Saturday.
Germany Touts Its Role in Afghanistan
Gates calms tensions with Germany over Afghanistan

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sexist coverage of Hillary brings women to her corner -- Margery Eagan

The Clintons were rightly indignant about MSNBC reporter David Shuster saying they had “pimped out” 27-year-old Chelsea by helping her campaign and calling Democratic superdelegates on behalf of her mother, Hillary.
Sexist coverage of Hillary brings women to her corner, Video: 'Pimped Out' Comment Angers Clinton AssociatedPress, Clinton: "No Temporary Suspension or Half-Hearted Apology is ..., Washington Post - Los Angeles Times - Huffington Post

Some Killings Don’t Get Solved -- By JOHN F. BURNS

WHO killed Benazir Bhutto? How was it done? By bullet or bomb, or both?

NATO’s Leader Says the Alliance Remains Unified on Troops for Afghan Mission

MUNICH — Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer’s defense of the unity of the alliance follows several weeks of difficult wrangling between the United States, Canada and their European allies over sorely needed troops to help fight the insurgency in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, Rice presses for NATO help

Obama wins big in Wash., Nebraska, La. (AP)

WASHINGTON - Sen. Barack Obama swept the Louisiana primary and caucuses in Nebraska and Washington state Saturday, boosting his slim delegate lead over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in their historic race for the Democratic presidential nomination. -- Clinton: I'm ready for McCain

Presidential Campaigns Weigh in on Afghanistan

Advisors to Presidential hopefuls Senator John McCain, Senator Barak Obama and Governor Mike Huckabee participated in the forum, which was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. ---

First Lady Laura Bush Commends Progress in Education and Health at U.S.-Afghan Women's Council

Embassy of Afghanistan Newsletter, Click here: january2008newsletter

Friday, February 08, 2008

Varying views of Afghan operation -- BBC

The US and UK have been urging other Nato countries to share more of the combat burden in the south of Afghanistan.

Bhutto's political will released -- BBC

The Pakistan People's Party has released the political will of former leader Benazir Bhutto in which she backs her husband to be party leader. --- "I fear for the future of Pakistan. Please continue the fight against extremism, dictatorship, poverty and ignorance," she wrote.
Click here: BBC NEWS South Asia UK police fail to quell Bhutto doubts

Bhutto’s Party Disputes Scotland Yard’s Findings

UK police fail to quell Bhutto doubts -- BBC

UK bears brunt of Afghans' displeasure

"The British have been much more vocal than other countries on issues like rooting out corruption and getting rid of dysfunctional elements within the government itself. That puts pressure on Karzai's powerbase," he says. "They have worked hard to rebuild the relationship, but you still find people within the embassy complaining about the quality of appointments Karzai is making."

Remarks With UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai

Secretary Condoleezza Rice -- Kabul, Afghanistan

A conversation with Laura Bush - Charlie Rose

Click here: Video Charlie Rose - Laura Bush

Bush proposes huge aid to Afghanistan

NEW YORK (PAN): President Bush has proposed $1.1 billion in aid to Afghanistan for development and economic growth in addition to $1.35 billion sought for strengthening Afghan security forces. --- Sent to Congress for approval, Bush's budget proposal said $1.1 billion aid - routed through the State Department - would advance Afghanistan's overall development by promoting economic growth and strengthening its national and local governing institutions.

Scotland Yard: Force of Blast Killed Bhutto

MAIN REPORT PAGE, Ahmed Rashid: An Update on Pakistan After Bhutto, Timeline: The Turbulent Life of Benazir Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, 1953-2007