Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fed cuts rates again and hints at pause

Khalilzad discusses future of Afghanistan and the role of the international community

In a conversation with German journalist Klaus-Peter Siegloch of ZDF Television, Khalilzad expressed confidence in current multilateral efforts in Afghanistan and reaffirmed American support for new UN Special Representative Kai Eide.
GMF – The German Marshall Fund of the United States

Bush meets with new UN representative to Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The new U.N. envoy to Afghanistan told President Bush on Tuesday that an upcoming donors' conference in Paris is key to helping rebuild the war-ruined nation. Bush said he sees progress, but difficult challenges remain.

France, host of the June 23 meeting, has set a broad goal of raising $12 billion to $15 billion to fund Afghan reconstruction projects through 2014. The United States is looking to contribute a minimum of 25 percent of that total.
Pentagon officials may beef up command role in Afghanistan

Death in childbirth: A health scourge for Afghanistan

Afghanistan (Reuters) -Virtually everyone in Afghanistan can recount a story about a relative dying in childbirth, often from minor complications that can be easily treated with proper medical care.
Poor diet undermines health of northern Afghans
Death In Childbirth: A Health Scourge For Afghanistan

Afghan 'health link' to uranium -- BBC

Some scientists say the rise is linked to use of weapons containing depleted uranium (DU) by the US-led coalition that invaded the country in 2001.
Uranium 'killing Italian troops'
Depleted uranium risk 'ignored'

William visits Afghanistan troops -- BBC

Prince William has made a secret visit to meet British troops in Afghanistan. --- The prince, who received his RAF pilot's wings earlier this month, flew a military transport plane for part of the journey from the UK to Kandahar.

AFGHANISTAN: Food insecurity prompts hundreds to leave their homes

KABUL, 29 April 2008 (IRIN) - Hundreds of people have abandoned their homes and moved to urban areas in different parts of Afghanistan, and some have reportedly migrated to neighbouring Pakistan, due to worsening food insecurity, largely resulting from soaring food prices and low cereal supplies, provincial officials said.

Israelis Claim Secret Agreement With U.S.

Americans Insist No Deal Made on Settlement Growth
A Green Light for Settlement Expansion?

U.N.'s Envoy To Afghanistan Sees Threats To Progress

A fragmented international effort and weak government in Kabul have combined to endanger everything that has been accomplished in Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban nearly seven years ago, the new U.N. envoy to Afghanistan said yesterday.

Politicians call for ministers to resign before launch of investigation

Our correspondent, who was at the parade ground when the gunmen opened fire at 9.45am, said he saw Afghan soldiers fleeing as gun shots cracked overhead and mortar rounds landed in the arena.
Bakhtar News Agency

Monday, April 28, 2008

The European Council on Foreign Relations | No Afghan spring

Intrepid trio tackle Kabul airport drug smugglers

Airport, only one thing stands between them and riches beyond their wildest dreams when they arrive at the other end with a consignment of heroin.
Intrepid Trio Tackle Kabul Airport Drug Smugglers (from Sunday Herald)

Hundreds held after presidential assassination attempt in Afghanistan

According to senior security sources in Kabul, the Afghan police and intelligence service detained some 200 guests at a cheap hotel in Kabul popular among travelling salesman. Among them were the six assailants, who launched their machine gun and grenade attack on Sunday morning, killing an MP, a Shia Muslim religious leader and an 11-year-old boy.

"There is no security force in Afghanistan that people trust," said Ramazan Bashardost, an Afghan MP. "If you pay attention to yesterday's incident, the security forces fled the area before the ordinary people did."

US 'very concerned' about Karzai attack

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House said Monday that it was "very concerned" by a weekend attack which saw Afghan President Hamid Karzai survive a hail of rockets and bullets that killed three people.
President Bush Participates in Joint Press Availability with ...
President Bush Welcomes President Karzai of Afghanistan to the ...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

ولسمشر داود خان او کورنۍ يې څرنگه ووژل شول ؟

د افغانستان د لومړني ولسمشر محمد داود د برخليک په اړه چې د ثور پر اوومه څه پرې راغلل، ډېرې خبرې شوي او بېشمېره کتابونه
ليکل شوي

Karzai escapes assassination bid

KABUL (Reuters) - Three people were killed -- a parliamentarian, the head of a minority group and a 10-year-old child -- and 10 were wounded, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said three of its fighters were killed.

3 killed in militant attack on Afghan president

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Militants firing rockets and automatic rifles attacked the Afghan president at a ceremony in Kabul on Sunday, missing their target but killing three and wounding eight others.

U.S. Weighing Readiness for Military Action Against Iran

The nation's top military officer said yesterday that the Pentagon is planning for "potential military courses of action" as one of several options against Iran, criticizing what he called the Tehran government's "increasingly lethal and malign influence" in Iraq.

German secret service rapped over Afghan spy claims

Mr Farhang, who holds a German passport, told a German newspaper on Friday that he was outraged at being spied on by Germany, with which he has close ties. "Because of this absurd lie that I am a double agent, my life and those of my family members are in danger".

The actions follow revelations on Thursday that the BND in 2006 spied on Amin Farhang, Afghan trade minister, allegedly because he had sought contacts with the Taliban. The BND placed a spying device in a computer used by Mr Farhang in Kabul, and observed his electronic correspondence, including emails, for six months from June 2006 onwards.

Afghan MPs may ban jeans and makeup

The Afghan parliament is considering a law to ban makeup, men's jeans, long hair and couples talking in public, amid fears that the country is sliding back to Taliban-style rules and conservative power. --- The proposal is seen as part of a wider push for Islamic values by Afghanistan's ruling religious elite.

German spy agency rapped over Afghan email monitoring

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany's foreign intelligence service came under fire Thursday after it emerged that the agency illicitly monitored emails between an Afghan minister and a journalist.

Agency Admits Spying on Afghan Politician and SPIEGEL Journalist

The head of Germany's foreign intelligence agency has come under fire over admissions his employees monitored e-mails exchanged between a minister in the Afghan government and a SPIEGEL journalist. Chief spy Ernst Uhrlau will likely keep his job, but the scandal is expected to shake up the organization.

Monday, April 21, 2008

INTERVIEW-Scarred and depressed, more Afghans turn to drugs

KABUL, April 20 (Reuters) - Scarred by decades of turmoil and grief, 66 percent of Afghans suffer from depression or some form of mental disorder, and an increasing number are turning to illegal drugs, a top health official said.

Afghanistan is the world's number one producer of opium, from which heroin is derived. It had an estimated 920,000 drug addicts a few years ago. "This may be greater now," Kakar said.

Afghan ministry denies evidence of depleted uranium

KABUL (Reuters) - The Afghan Public Health Ministry denied on Sunday a media report that there was evidence of nuclear contamination in the Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan. --- The Tora Bora mountains in the east of Afghanistan were heavily bombed by U.S. planes in late 2001 targeting al Qaeda leaders believed to be sheltering in caves there.
Afghan ministry denies evidence of depleted uranium - Yahoo! News

Khalilzad Changes Approach From Hawk to Bridge-Builder

UNITED NATIONS -- At his residence at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, Zalmay Khalilzad displays a banged-up AK-47 assault rifle from Saddam Hussein's arsenal: a souvenir from a war Khalilzad supported and a regime he helped topple.

Khalilzad's supporters say his stints as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations have taught him that the go-it-alone strategy of his neoconservative allies had run its course. "He's a neocon who got mugged by reality," said Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat who advised Iraqi Kurds after the fall of Hussein.

But Khalilzad's diplomatic style has rankled subordinates, who describe him as a disorganized manager. As ambassador in Kabul, he infuriated staffers by recruiting U.S. executives to help run Afghan ministries. Former staff members have criticized him for keeping colleagues in the dark. "Zal would talk to [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai two or three times a day without an interpreter and never write a record of the meeting," said Hillary Mann Leverett, Flynt Leverett's spouse and former Afghanistan director at the National Security Council.
Khalilzad Changes Approach From Hawk to Bridge-Builder ...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Karzai urged to halt executions -- BBC

The US-based Human Rights Watch said Afghanistan's legal system did not meet international standards in capital cases. --- It said the Supreme Court's sentencing of the prisoners showed "a disturbing disregard for the right to life".

Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan: 'I was kidnapped'

CAIRO, Egypt -- Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan appeared on a video aired Saturday by an Arab satellite channel, saying he was kidnapped by Taliban militants more than two months ago.

UN warns Pakistan on refugee plan -- BBC

Pakistan needs to revise a plan to repatriate 2.4 million Afghan refugees by the end of 2009, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has said.

Addressing General Assembly, Pope stresses major UN role on raft of issues

18 April 2008 – Pope Benedict XVI today stressed the United Nations’ major role in seeking a better world as he highlighted, during an address to the General Assembly, the need to protect human rights, ensure development, security and reduce local and global inequalities.

“The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security,” he told the 192-member body in a half-hour speech that was greeted with a standing ovation.
Ban Ki-moon welcomes Pope Benedict, stressing common mission
Click here:

UN food agency faces $750 million shortfall as it bids to feed world’s hungry

18 April 2008 – The recent drastic rise in food prices means the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) now needs more than $750 million to meet its commitment to feed the world’s 73 million hungry people this year.

UK: Don’t Water Down Cluster Ban Treaty

(London, April 19, 2008) – The UK government should abandon its insistence on exempting certain weapons from the new cluster munitions treaty whose text is being finalized next month, Human Rights Watch said today. The government is seeking to weaken the treaty in other ways as well, Human Rights Watch said.
More on Human Rights Watch's work on Cluster Munitions
Cluster Munition Coalition

Human Rights Watch urges Karzai to halt executions

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan President Hamid Karzai should refrain from signing execution orders for about 100 prisoners and declare a moratorium on the death penalty, a leading rights group said Thursday. --- U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said Afghanistan's emerging legal system does not meet international standards for due process and fair trials in capital cases. The group opposes the death penalty in all circumstances.

Ahadi: Afghanistan’s Economic Fortunes

Afghanistan remains a country at war facing huge economic development challenges. But Finance Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi, in Washington for the spring IMF/World Bank meetings, says in the event of improved security and reforms in foreign aid, the country has prospects for steady long-term gains. --- He points to the natural resources sector as a prime revenue source, citing China’s investment in copper mines as a recent example.

US offers Pakistan government $7bn in non-military aid to fight terrorism

The US has promised to curb air strikes by drones against suspected militants in Pakistan, as part of a joint counter-terrorism strategy agreed with the new civilian government in Islamabad, the Guardian has learned. That strategy will be supported by an aid package potentially worth more than $7bn (£3.55bn), which is due to go before Congress for approval in the next few months.

Study faults US Iraq, Afghan reconstruction teams

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A new report warns says US provincial reconstruction teams (PRT), a much publicized program for rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan, operate as ad hoc "pickup games" with no clear direction.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Afghan Commandos Emerge

Afghan commandos train under American combat...

Son of Top Dutch General Is Killed in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A roadside bomb attack on a patrol of Dutch soldiers on Friday killed the son of the Netherlands’ top military officer, a day after his father took command of his country’s armed forces, officials said.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Indian soap operas stir outrage in Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) - Conservative Muslim clerics and some politicians are outraged by the soap operas aired hour-after-hour by more than a dozen private television stations that have sprung up since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

Beijing's Broken Image: Europeans View China as Biggest Threat to Global Security - SPIEGEL

China may have been hoping to garner positive global attention in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, but the issue of Tibet has shattered its image. A new poll shows that Europeans now see China -- not the US -- as the biggest threat to global security.

Economy: World Bank Chief: Biofuels Boosting Food Prices

World Bank Report on Rising Food Prices

Obama reports income of $4.2 million in 2007 tax returns

In tax returns the campaign released Wednesday, the Obamas reported a significant jump in their income from the previous year as profits from the books "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope" accounted for some $4 million. The Obamas paid federal taxes of $1.4 million and donated $240,370 to charity.

Gandhi daughter visits assassin -- BBC

Priyanka Gandhi, daughter of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, says she has met a woman serving a jail term for her father's assassination. --- Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomb in May 1991 while he addressed an election rally. India has always blamed the attack on Tamil Tiger rebels.

Nato making mistake in Afghanistan, warns Turkish minister

"If the people of that country start to perceive the security forces as occupiers, it's going to be a very complicated situation," he told The Daily Telegraph. "What is important is winning their hearts and minds."

Afghanistan: arms proliferation fuels further abuse --Amnesty International

As the NATO Summit takes place in Bucharest from 2 to 4 April 2008, Amnesty International seeks to convey its concern about excessive quantities of small arms, light weapons and munitions being supplied by member states of NATO and allied states to local Afghan security forces and police where there is a substantial risk that such equipment will be used for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Afghan opposition says it's been talking to Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- But Safi, the university professor, said that because the National Front does not represent the government, its negotiations are ''nonsense.''

He said the group, whose leaders fought each other and then the Taliban in Afghanistan's devastating civil wars during the 1990s, only wants to advance its own power.

''They want the Taliban side to be on their side,'' Safi said. ''It's an unholy alliance ... and the Taliban want to use Rabbani and Fahim against Karzai.''

Transcript: Democratic Debate in Philadelphia

The following is a transcript of the Democratic debate in Philadelphia, as provided by the Federal News Service.
Transcript: Democratic Debate in Philadelphia (April 16, 2008)
Check Point: ’60s Radicals Become Issue in Campaign of

Pope Praises U.S., but Warns of Secular Challenges

WASHINGTON — Pope Benedict XVI visited the White House on Wednesday, his 81st birthday, and praised America as a nation where strong religious belief can coexist with secular society.
Text of Pope’s Speech to Bishops Slide Show Video
Pontiff’s Remark About Muhammad Fresh in Minds of Muslims

Pentagon records detail prisoner abuse by US military --The Associated Press

Pentagon documents detail abuse of Afghan prisoners at US facility

Rediscovering Afghanistan -- The National Endowment

The National Endowment for the Humanities invites applications for projects that focus on Afghanistan's history and culture. The special initiative is designed to promote research, education, and public programs about Afghanistan and to encourage United States institutions to assist Afghanistan in efforts to preserve and document its cultural resources.

Since “Rediscovering Afghanistan” was launched in 2005, a number of additional projects have been supported, including the digital reformatting of 2,600 hours of Radio Afghanistan analog music tapes created from 1960 to 1980, an accelerated archaeological conservation training program conducted in the United States for four conservators from Afghanistan, and a traveling exhibition,“The Lost Treasures of Afghanistan.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

McCain Calls for Suspending Federal Gas Tax

Read a full transcript of his remarks.

After Decades, Pakistan Forces Thousands of Afghans to Leave

JALOZAI, Pakistan, April 15 -- About the only thing Aziz ur-Rehman remembers about his life in Afghanistan is his month-long walk through the mountains to Pakistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion.

Hundreds of Afghan refugees stranded on way home

GENEVA (Reuters) - Hundreds of Afghans seeking to return home from northwest Pakistan have been stranded because a tribal clash has closed down a road leading to Afghanistan, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.

FRONTLINE: sick around the world: five capitalist democracies & how they do it

In Sick Around the World, FRONTLINE teams up with veteran Washington Post foreign correspondent T.R. Reid to find out how five other capitalist democracies -- the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland -- deliver health care, and what the United States might learn from their successes and their failures.
Click here: FRONTLINE:sick around the world PBS --- Click here: FRONTLINE: sick around the world: five capitalist democracies & how they do it PBS ---- home + introduction + watch online + five countries + interviews

Pope lands in America - Wahsingtontimes

President Bush personally greeted the Pope at Andrews Air Force Base, meeting the pontiff on the tarmac along with First Lady Laura Bush and soon-to-be-wed daughter Jenna.
Pope 'deeply ashamed' of clergy sex scandal
President outpolls pope
Catholics pony up for visit from pope

World Bank tackles food emergency -- BBC

World Bank head Robert Zoellick warned that 100 million people in poor countries could be pushed deeper into poverty by spiralling prices. -- The World Bank and its sister organisation, the IMF, have held a weekend of meetings that addressed rising food and energy prices as well as the credit crisis upsetting global financial markets.

Child brides 'sold' in Afghanistan -- BBC

In northern Afghanistan it appears some parents are being driven by poverty and hunger to marry off their daughters at an early age. Jenny Cuffe investigates for Radio 4's Seven Days.

Afghanistan: Warlordism 'Is Winning' Versus Democracy -- RFE/RL:

"Do the Westerners and the Americans know our problems -- that aid money is coming from the Westerners but it goes into the pockets of [corrupt] people in the government offices."

Alekozai: People think now that [troops from] 37 countries or more are there in Afghanistan the security should be much, much better. They should terminate the warlordism and the private militias. [Instead], those people have connections with the governmental officials and they still have protection from the government. And that brings insecurity. In Kabul, especially, but also elsewhere in other parts of the country.

People want the international community to stop the private militias -- the groups that are so powerful. That's the main concern of the people, for security. And also, they should promote democracy. Real democracy. And work for that.

People are scared. They cannot say anything because of [the warlords]. We are an international radio [station]. We do something. But our correspondents, even, cannot say something against those warlords because they are very powerful. They could be killed easily or harmed easily. That's the situation. Everybody is asking why the international community doesn't hear.

Alekozai: No. 1, the international community -- or especially the Americans. They say: "Why have the Americans brought those people into power -- the warlords? They knew they were warlords." And [Afghans] can name them for you -- from the vice president to the deputy ministers and ministers. Quite a few were brought from outside.

In parliament, well-known warlords are there. In that situation, how do you expect [the] implementation of democracy and the rule of law -- unless those people are removed from their positions and weakened, at least, and educated people are given a chance -- [those] who think positively about the betterment of their country. Not for themselves. Those [warlords] are collecting money and putting the money in their pockets. They do little or nothing for the society and for the people.

Alekozai: In parliament, 65 percent [of the lawmakers] are warlords. There is no question. A few of them are ordinary Afghans or politicians. But most of them are warlords. They are much stronger than they were six years ago or five years ago, because now they get more money, more security from the international community, more bodyguards. They get stronger and stronger.

Alekozai: At present, the warlordism is winning. If the international community does not pay attention -- strongly -- not by words. By action. They should eliminate the warlords. [The international community] thinks some of them are very strong. But they don't have public support.

I'm stressing this point. They are not that strong. They don't have public support because always they were thinking about themselves, their own pockets. They invest money outside of the country. People say that the Westerners, or in some ways they say the Americans, support these warlords. Otherwise they are nothing. They [say the warlords] were not powerful but [the Americans] made them powerful. And that was a main concern [of the Afghans].

It's very easy to remove them and bring in some people who have no connection with the warlords. And that would be real democracy that the people would enjoy.

Alekozai: About the civil society or civic society, the participation of women is zero in the provinces. Girls are going to school. There is no doubt about it. But they cannot walk, for example, in a park -- or even with their families.

No food price relief seen for poor Afghans

KABUL, April 14 (Reuters) - Impoverished Afghans struggling with rising wheat prices are not expected to get any relief soon with no sign prices are going to come down, a United Nations official said on Monday. --- "We have to put our money where our mouth is now, so that we can put food into hungry mouths. It is as stark as that," Zoellick said at the end of a meeting of the IMF and World Bank's Development Committee.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Mach 14, legislation was introduced to the U.S. Senate by Senators Maria Cantwell, Orrin Hatch, Kit Bond, Joe Lieberman, and Chuck Hagel that would authorize President George W. Bush to designate Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan (Senate Bill no. 2776).

Embassy of Afghanistan Legislative Update for March 2008

Afghanistan Advocacy Group (AAG) Holds Legislative Day and Policy Forum at the U.S. House of Representatives: -- On March 18, the newly formed Afghanistan Advocacy Group (AAG) held their first policy forum, “U.S. policy for Afghanistan: Reassessing Strategies,” and Legislative Day on Capital Hill. The AAG works to encourage greater focus and better policy for Afghanistan. During the forum, the members discussed strategies for key areas of reconstruction and security. Members of the AAG then visited individual Congressional offices to discuss their findings.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Kouchner sees 3,000 French troops in Afghanistan

DUSHANBE (Reuters) - French troops operating in Afghanistan will number about 3,000, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Friday.
France signals further boost to Afghan force

US envoy may challenge for Afghan presidency

US envoy (Zalmay Khalilzad) may challenge for Afghan presidency ...
tehran times : US envoy may challenge for Afghan presidency

IMF head gives food price warning -- BBC

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that hundreds of thousands of people will face starvation if food prices keep rising.
Brown urges action on food prices
How rice price has affected Asia

New U.S. commander in Afghanistan vows to stabilize security

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Emperor's Dagger Sells for $3.3 M

LONDON (AP) -- A dagger used by the emperor who built the Taj Mahal sold Thursday for $3.3 million, an auction house said. --- The dagger once belonged to 17th century Mogul emperor Shah Jahan, whose empire spanned the entire Indian subcontinent and what is now Afghanistan, Bonhams auctioneers said.

Bush Defies Calls for Faster Withdrawal of Iraq Troops

WASHINGTON — Mr. Bush defended the costs of the war, in lives and money, and said that withdrawing from Iraq would be catastrophic to the national interests. He signaled that an American force nearly as large as at any point in the last five years would remain in Iraq through his presidency, leaving any significant changes in policy to the next president.
General Urges Care in Dealing With Militia

Transferred from US custody, Afghan detainees face unfair trials at home, rights group says -- Newsweek

Human Rights First lauded the Afghan government's decision to try the detainees, formerly held in the prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Bagram, Afghanistan, in a court of law. But the New York-based group said in a new report that the legal proceedings are unfairly based on little more than allegations by American officials.
rights group afghan trials unfair

Help That Afghans Need Now -- M. ASHRAF HAIDARI

The April 6 editorial "NATO's Fudges" correctly cautioned that while more troops from NATO are welcome in Afghanistan, our security challenges are simply too large to be effectively remedied by an additional battalion or two.
8 Civilians Killed in Afghan Blast

Rights Group: Afghan Trials Unfair -- Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A human rights group charged on Thursday that Afghanistan is prosecuting detainees transferred from U.S.-run prisons in arbitrary and unfair trials with little evidence.
Rights Group: Afghan Trials UnfairABC 7 News
Saudi Snubs Gitmo War Crimes Court

Afghan U.N. envoy urges sense of urgency on help

KABUL (Reuters) - The new U.N. envoy to Afghanistan said on Wednesday he wants to inject a sense of urgency in efforts to coordinate help for the country. --- Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide arrived in Afghanistan last month aiming to improve coordination of international civilian and military activities and cooperation with the Afghan government.

Khalilzad Says He Plans to Leave UN Post

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad said in comments broadcast Wednesday that he will resign "in the next few months" to work in the private sector.
Khalilzad says he plans to leave UN post - Yahoo! News
Khalilzad Says He Plans to Leave UN Post - Khalilzad Says He Plans to Leave UN Post

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Fixing Afghanistan -- By Fred Gedrich

Afghanistan's thriving trade is a significant barrier to the country fully moving into modernity after centuries of chronic instability, poverty, and barbaric rule. The U.S.-led counter-narcotics program, which emphasizes poppy crop destruction, hasn't been able to thwart it. Absent a suitable anti-drug alternative the nation risks becoming a failed state again, crippling the war against radical Islamic extremism.

Seven or more eggs a week raises risk of

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Middle-aged men who ate seven or more eggs a week had a higher risk of earlier , U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday. --- Eggs are rich in cholesterol, which in high amounts can clog arteries and raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Afghanistan's presidential poll set for late 2009

US president gets an earful from Afghan governors

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Eight Afghan governors met Tuesday with US President George W. Bush to tell him a few unpleasant truths about the plight of their country as coalition forces fight ists and the Taliban.

House passes Chinese down resolution

Visa Legislation Delay Squeezes Seasonal Workforce

Afghanistan's future -- BBC

China stands firm on Tibet relay -- BBC

China has reaffirmed its commitment to take the Olympic torch through Tibet despite strong international pressure.

China: Leaders Should Not Attend Olympics Without Rights Improvements

(Washington, DC, April 9, 2008) – World leaders should defer accepting invitations to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing until the Chinese government makes key human rights improvements, Human Rights Watch said in an open letter today.

Afghanistan strategies -- By Ronald E. Neumann

The Atlantic Council says we're not winning in Afghanistan and they are right. In the last year, violence has spread to additional areas of the country. The Afghan government remains weak, plagued by inefficiency and corruption with limited reach into the countryside. And calls for faster economic progress are increasingly shrill among Afghans and donors alike.

AFGHANISTAN: Children work in brick factories to help pay off family debts

JALALABAD, 8 April 2008 (IRIN) - Over 2,200 children are working long hours in dozens of brick-making factories in Nangarhar Province, eastern Afghanistan, to pay off their families' debts, a survey by the Child Action Protection Network (CAPN), an Afghan body, has found.

Up to 90 percent of 2,298 children - boys and girls - who work in 38 brick-making factories in Sorkhrod District of Nangarhar Province do not go to school and are deprived of other means of education, said the survey conducted by a local non-government organisation (NGO), Wadan Afghanistan.

AFGHANISTAN: Humanitarian needs growing as conflict spreads - ICRC

KABUL, 8 April 2008 (IRIN) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed deep concern about the intensification and spreading of armed conflict in Afghanistan, and called on aid agencies to "urgently" meet the growing humanitarian needs of conflict-affected Afghans.
Afghanistan: Insecurity spreads amid escalating conflict
icrc war spreading across afghanistan

US hopes to pledge more for Afghans Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is hoping to pledge almost $4 billion in additional aid for Afghanistan at an international donors conference to be held in Paris in June, a U.S. official said Tuesday. --- International donors have pledged about $32.7 billion in reconstruction funds for Afghanistan since 2001, of which $21 billion has come from the United States.

But more manpower is still needed to fill gaps in the force and international assistance to Afghanistan has been criticized as wasteful, with one umbrella group of aid agencies estimating that 40 percent of donations go to salaries of highly paid foreign experts.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Kabul hotel tax raid sparks cash exodus -- FT

Afghanistan businesses are moving cash reserves overseas after learning that the government claimed it was owed more than $285,000 in back taxes from the Aga Khan’s luxury hotel development in Kabul.
Kabul business choked by fear and corruption
Afghan aid ‘wasteful and ineffective’

IMF puts cost of credit crisis at $945bn -- FT

The financial sector faces potential losses of almost $1,000bn as a result of the credit crisis, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday, warning of further losses and writedowns on prime mortgages, commercial real estate, leveraged loans and consumer finance.

متن سخنرانی رئیس جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان در اجلاس سران کشور های ناتو و آیساف در بخارست پایتخت رومانیا

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم جلالتماب سکرتر جنرال ناتو ، روسای جمهور ، صدراعظمان ، جلالتماب سرمنشی سازمان ملل متحد ، عالی جنابان ، خانم ها و آقایان !شش ونیم سال قبل افغانستان موضوعات مهمی را به جهان مطرح کرد که پاسخ به انها نه تنها به آِينده افغانستان بلکه به امنیت جامعه جهانی نیز رابطه مستقیم دارد . این موضوعات در قالب چند سوال مطرح بود - آیا جهان برای از بین بردن خطر تروریزم بین المللی دست به دست هم خواهند داد ؟ و اینکه آیا مردم افغانستان بالاخره این فرصت را خواهند یافت تا در مورد سرنوشت خود تصمیم بگیرند و کشور شانرا به سوی ثبات ، دموکراسی و سعادت و رقاه سوق دهند تا باردیگر به لانه مصئون تروریستان بین المللی مبدل نشود ؟شش ونیم سال قبل : مردم افغانستان ، یکجا با جامعه جهانی تحت رهبری ایالات متحده امریکا، افغانستان را از چنگال تروریزم بین المللی نجات داده و به باز سازی افغانستان بعد از سال ها خشونت ، ویرانی و تروریزم اغاز کردند ما راه طولانی رابرای رسیدن به این هدف مشترک پیموده ایم . امروز من اینجا نه تنها برای بحث در مورد آینده افغانستان ، بلکه برای ابراز امتنان مردم افغانستان از نقش ارزشمند ناتو و هر کشور عضو آن که در چند سال گذشته به افغانستان کمک کرده اند ، آمده ام

Climate change threatens Afghan health

Visiting a malaria and leishmania centre in Darulaman, Kabul, Minister of Health Dr. Sayed Amin Fatemi said: --- "We all have a role to play in mitigating the impact of climate change, by ensuring efficient use of our existing food and water resources, reducing pollution from our vehicles and using our land more efficiently."

Over 400 children taken from Texas polygamist ranch

401 children from polygamist sect in custodyLos Angeles Times
400 children in custody from Texas compound Philadelphia Inquirer

IMF plans gold sale to raise $6bn -- BBC

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed selling some of its gold holdings as part of radical plans to shore up its troubled finances.

Depression linked to Alzheimer's -- BBC

People who have had depression may be more prone to Alzheimer's disease, two studies suggest. --- Dutch researchers found Alzheimer's was 2.5 times more likely in people with a history of depression.
Inactivity link to mental decline

Bush urged to focus terror fight on Afghanistan, Pakistan

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Democrats have called on President George W. Bush to refocus US counter-terror efforts to Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying that over-emphasis on Iraq has allowed Islamic extremists to regroup along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Rice: Still Not Running for VP

U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pose for a photo as they attend a meeting with new NATO invitees at the NATO summit in Bucharest April 3, 2008. (Reuters)

Karzai announces his intention to run for another term

Sweeping the polls with more than 55 percent of the votes in his favor, Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun from Kandahar, the former stronghold of the Taliban movement, also had the fullest support of the United Nations, the United States and the Western countries that sent their troops and pledged billions of dollars in aid to rebuild the war-devastated country.

Let's do the job in Afghanistan and get out

Princess Diana unlawfully killed -- BBC

Princes William and Harry said they "agreed" with the verdicts and thanked the jury for the "thorough way" in which they considered the evidence. --- But Mr Al Fayed's father Mohamed has refused to accept the verdict.
Princes welcome Diana verdicts
Life of Diana, Princess of Wales
Princess Diana ...on 60 Minutes; Exclusive Video Only on Yahoo! News

Probe of Afghan 'civilian s' -- BBC

The Afghan government has launched an investigation into reports that up to 33 civilians were killed in a US and Afghan army operation. --- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly urged the US and Nato to take care to avoid civilian casualties.

The New Economics of Outsourcing

Efforts to send IT work anywhere but Bangalore are taking on added urgency as costs of doing work in India rise and the dollar sinks

16 die in strike against Afghan warlord -- Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S. and Afghan forces attacked a remote village in a mountainous region of northeastern Afghanistan following reports that an infamous insurgent leader was in the area, a governor said Monday. At least 16 people were killed.

Ahmad Chalabi: Iraq's master manipulator -- NBC News

Paparazzi, Diana's driver ruled at fault -- Associated Press

LONDON — A coroner's jury returned the most serious verdict within its power Monday, ruling that Princess Diana and her boyfriend were unlawfully killed because their driver and pursuing paparazzi were reckless — behavior tantamount to manslaughter.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Laura Bush calls youth guarantors of Afghan uplift

BUCHAREST (PAN): US First Lady Laura Bush has called for Afghan girls and boys to acquire higher education in order to secure a bright future for their long-suffering country, hit by decades of debilitating conflict.

Welcome for more Afghan resources -- BBC News, Kabul

Military leaders in Afghanistan have welcomed the 2,000 extra troops and resources committed by a number of different nations at the Nato summit in Bucharest.
Don't 'pull an Iraq' in Afghanistan The Christian Science Monitor

Bush, Putin say goodbye -- Associated Press Writer

SOCHI, Russia - With time running out on an often testy seven-year relationship, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin are taking on a lot of unfinished business in their final leader-to-leader meetings Sunday.
Europe owes a huge thank you to skilful, patient President George Bush at The Guardian (UK)., Apr 03

A Century-Long War? Not Exactly.

Senator Releases Tax Returns as Part of Presidential Battle

In the past eight years, Bill and Hillary Clinton earned a combined $109 million, with the former president collecting nearly half of that money as a speaker hired at times by companies that have been among his wife's most generous political supporters.
Clintons Earned $109 Million in 8 Years
The Clintons' Taxes

Afghan woman MP challenges parliament expulsion

KABUL (AFP) - An Afghan woman MP controversially expelled from parliament a year ago for causing "insult" to fellow lawmakers said Saturday she had filed a petition for reinstatement. --- "The parliament's move was not only against freedom of speech and democratic values but it was fully against the constitution," she said, adding that she will fight her way back to the house through legal action.

A 'perfect storm' of hunger - Los Angeles Times

The U.N.'s World Food Program is struggling as costs of food and fuel skyrocket while the numbers of people needing help surge across the globe. Millions are in danger.
Food aid costlier as need soars - Los Angeles Times


In public, NATO is demanding that all allies contribute their fair share to the ongoing effort in Afghanistan. But behind closed doors, a paper has been circulated that may provide the beginnings of an exit strategy. Germany is pushing the plan. --- Is German Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung looking for a way out of Afghanistan?
Secret Exit Strategy Circulated: Does NATO Want Out of Afghanistan ...

European Court of Human Rights Upholds Ban on Deporting to Countries Using Torture

Judgment Comes at Time When Deportation is Occurring Frequently
2008 Report: Democracy Charade Undermines Rights

Friday, April 04, 2008

NATO Summit Fails to Heal Deep Divisions

The smiles in Bucharest were little more than show. Politically, the NATO summit was a fiasco. The Western alliance remains deeply divided and faces an identity crisis -- with Russian relations just one of the alliance's many points of dispute.

Food aid costlier as need soars

The U.N.'s World Food Program is struggling as costs of food and fuel skyrocket while the numbers of people needing help surge across the globe. Millions are in danger.
Prices pinch, but appetites in Europe flourish

More US troops for Afghan force -- BBC

The US intends to send a "significant" number of extra troops to aid Nato's effort in Afghanistan in 2009, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said.
Russia and Nato sign Afghan deal
Putin holds 'positive' Nato talks
Win some, lose some for US

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Border Complicates War in Afghanistan

SPERA DISTRICT, Afghanistan -- As a cold darkness enveloped the tiny U.S. military camp just inside Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, word spread that Taliban fighters were on the move nearby, planning an attack.

UN Envoy Seeks Bigger Afghan Role

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- The United Nations should take a bigger role in Afghanistan and work harder with NATO to boost efforts to stabilize the country, new U.N. envoy Kai Eide said Thursday.

NATO Endorses Europe Missile Shield

BUCHAREST, Romania — NATO leaders agreed Thursday to endorse a United States missile defense system based in Europe and to provide more troops for Afghanistan, but they refused to back President Bush’s proposal to bring Ukraine and Georgia closer to NATO membership.
Bush Urges Patience in Afghanistan

Washington Blocks Exports of Munitions Firm Suspected of Fraud

Nato meets Canada's troop demands -- BBC

Canada will continue its frontline role in southern Afghanistan after the February 2009 deadline it has set.
Will Nato summit bring peace?
Bush praises Afghan pledges
Q&A: Isaf troops in Afghanistan

ناټو پر افغان ماموريت جوړه خو پر نورو مسايلو نه ده -- BBC

ناټو هيله لري چې په افغانستان کې د خپل ماموريت په تړاو بحثونو کې لا يووالى وښيي

تاکید سران ناتو بر استراتژی تازه برای افغانستان -- BBC

رهبران سازمان پیمان آتلانتیک شمالی (ناتو)، در دومین روز نشست خود در بخارست، در بیانیه ای آنچه را که استراتژی جدید برای تامین امنیت و ثبات در افغانستان خوانده اند، اعلام کرده اند

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Analysis: Allies Split Over Afghanistan

BUCHAREST, Romania -- At the heart of President Bush's problem in getting NATO allies to send more combat troops to Afghanistan is a basic disconnect over the war: The Europeans don't see it as one.
Bush Delivers Remarks at NATO Summit
Bush to Meet NATO Allies Divided Over Adding Troops in Afghanistan:_

Remembering the Soviet 'Vietnam'

The Soviet Union's decade-long war in Afghanistan in the 1980s is a conflict many in the former countries of the USSR would rather forget.

New French force for Afghanistan -- BBC

France has offered to send a battalion of troops to eastern Afghanistan, a Nato spokesman at the alliance's summit in Bucharest has confirmed.
Bush praises Afghan pledges

Ashdown warning over Afghanistan -- BBC

The Nato-led alliance is "getting pretty close" to losing control of Afghanistan, Lord Ashdown, the former UN envoy to Bosnia has warned.
Afghan assistance

Afghanistan on agenda as NATO leaders meet Ban, Karzai

BUCHAREST (AFP) - NATO leaders begin negotiations in earnest over Afghanistan Thursday, after the opening day of their summit in Bucharest saw a successful French offer of more troops, but a public disagreement over the alliance's enlargement.
Bush feeling 'good' over more NATO troops for Afghanistan AFP

Afghan leader blames media for Ashdown veto over UN job

BUCHAREST (AFP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday said a London media report had forced him to block the appointment of Britain's Lord Ashdown as United Nations envoy to his country.
NATO agrees to send reinforcement of 1,000 troops to Kandahar The Canadian Press
Afghanistan on agenda as NATO leaders meet Ban, Karzai AFP
Bush pushes NATO on Afghanistan, Georgia, Ukraine Reuters

Afghanistan economy grew nearly 14 percent in 2007, new report says

KABUL, Afghanistan: Afghanistan's legal economy grew nearly 14 percent in fiscal year 2007, but the surge was hampered by corruption, insecurity and the lack of electricity, a new report said Wednesday.

The Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, an alliance of 94 international aid agencies, said that since 2001, the international community has pledged US$25 billion in help but has delivered only US$15 billion. --- Of that US$15 billion, some 40 percent of it — or US$6 billion — goes back to donor countries in corporate profits and consultant salaries, the ACBAR report said.

Russia's problems nudge Afghanistan off the map

Putin's grievances in Eastern Europe and Balkans will make it hard for Harper to get world leaders' attention at NATO summit

Afghan failure to meet IMF target casts doubt on debt relief: a report

LONDON, April 2 (APP)- The influential British daily ‘Financial Times’ has reported that International aid and debt relief for Afghanistan has been thrown into doubt by the country’s failure to honour an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and warnings that its three-year development master plan could be rejected.

Working to rid Afghanistan of land mines a 'kind of jihad'

"If you protect the life of one person, then you will be rewarded as if you have protected all the world," Mr. Ahmed said, citing a verse from the Koran.

Afghan Corruption a Growing Concern -- Time

"Frankly, defeating the Taliban is the least of our worries," says one. "They are not going to beat us. It's not them that are crippling the economy. What is killing this country is corruption and drugs. That is not for NATO to deal with; that is for the Afghan government to deal with." Military measures are temporary, at best: If Afghans don't trust their government, NATO's best efforts will ultimately be futile. --- "Corruption is the tree. Terrorism, destabilization, smuggling and poppy are its branches," says parliamentarian Hossein Balkhi. "If you cut down corruption, the rest will die."

Genetic link to smoking addiction -- BBC

Scientists have identified genetic variations that raise the risk of lung cancer for smokers and former smokers.
Lung cancer 'link to lack of sun'
Lung Cancer

Bush Sees NATO Backing Missile Defense

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — President Bush expressed confidence Wednesday that NATO will bolster its combat forces in Afghanistan and endorse a missile defense system for Europe that Russia has opposed.

Bush Calls for NATO Expansion at His Last Summit -- Michele Kelemen

Afghanistan Dispute Reflects Broader NATO Crisis
Rice Seeks More NATO Help in Afghanistan

Bernanke Says Recession Possible

Wall Street Pulls Back As Oil Spikes
Bernanke Sees Little Growth for U.S. Economy
Wall Street Rallies on European Banks' Big Losses

Memo Details Justification for Harsh Interrogation Tactics

The Pentagon on Tuesday made public a declassified -- and now defunct -- memo that outlined the legal justifications for using harsh interrogation techniques against terror suspects, saying that President Bush's wartime authority trumps any international ban on torture.
The USA Patriot Act
The Homeland Security Act
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Domestic Surveillance Questions
Gathering Intelligence
Immigration and Registration
The Homeland Security Advisory System

Journalist Describes Army Unit Tour in Afghanistan

Elizabeth Rubin, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, describes life for a U.S. Army company assigned to a remote outpost in Afghanistan.

Economy on Brink of Recession, Bernanke Warns

"Recession is possible, but recession is a technical term ... I'm not ready to say whether or not the U.S. economy will face such a situation," Bernanke told lawmakers, according to Reuters.

Bush urging Nato expansion east -- BBC

US President George W Bush has repeated his call for Nato to expand eastwards. --- Mr Bush also said he "felt good" about Nato allies' reaction to appeals for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan.
Uncertainty as Nato door opens
Bush praises Nato Afghan pledges

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A New Study Links Cell Phone Use With Cancer

According to one of the world’s top neurosurgeons, Doctor Vini Khurana, mobile phones *could* kill far more people than smoking or asbestos.
Pittsburgh Expert Disputes Cell Phone, Brain Cancer Link WPXI.comDoctor Suggests Cell Phones May Be Riskier Than Cigarettes TechNewsWorld WITN TV - Food Consumer - Consumer Affairs - AHN

Blood Pressure Drugs Lower Heart Risk

Hypertension: Never too old to benefit from treatment USA Today
Blood pressure drugs save lives in over-80 set Reuters India New study cuts elderly mortality,
Washington Post - Guardian - Reuters

Muslim troops help win Afghan minds -- BBC

The BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, can reveal that Arab soldiers have been taking part in dangerous missions alongside US troops in Afghanistan.
'Muslim brothers' How Arab troops are winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan

Plan to Overhaul Financial Industry Outlined

Treasury Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Regulatory Structure (PDF)
Summary of Treasury Recommendations (PDF)

Afghanistan adrift in misplaced aid

The ELBAG report called for "greater emphasis in looking at Afghan priorities rather than donor priorities" and "reducing the amount of preferenced aid, reducing the gap between donor commitment and disbursement and routing more of the external budget trough the Afghan government".

Afghan MP plots path to presidential palace

Ramazan Bashar Dost, who represents a seat in the capital, Kabul, says he developed the idea for a public meeting place from Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park, and would rather use the money that he would otherwise spend on a proper office to give to the poor.

"We have to change the leadership of our country if we are ever to become rich and democratic. The current people in power destroyed Afghanistan. We have had six years of [President Hamid] Karzai, and it has not been a good experience."

Mr Bashar Dost, a former minister of planning who acquired a degree in political science (and his French accent) at university in Paris, believes he is the man for the job and thinks that his policies of rooting out corrupt governors and ministers will prove popular.

Pakistan's new leaders tell US: We are no longer your killing field

How Not to End the War -- Washingtonpost


Osama bin Laden flew to London in 1986 to help negotiate the purchase of Russian-made surface-to-air missiles to be used by Arab fighters then battling the Soviet military in Afghanistan, according to a new book on the bin Laden family.