Sunday, December 31, 2006

P-81 U.S. plans for Iraq shift as deaths reach 3,000

U.S. plans shift as deaths reach 3,000

BAGHDAD, Iraq - With U.S. deaths at the 3,000 mark, the U.S. military is accelerating plans to turn its main mission in Iraq from fighting insurgents to training Iraqi forces and hunting al-Qaida terrorists. Thousands more U.S. advisers would work inside of Iraqi units to improve their skills, which in most units still fall short of what is needed to bring down the country's violence.

President Bush is also considering the "surge" option — increasing temporarily the number of U.S. combat troops from its current 134,000 by 25,000 or more in hopes of securing the capital Baghdad to boost chances for political reconciliation.

But even without that boost, the role of the embedded advisers will take on new importance in the coming months as the U.S. struggles to hand over security duties to Iraq, bring down American casualties — and pave the way for an eventual withdrawal.

The new initiative is the latest and most ambitious of several attempts to improve the effectiveness of Iraqi units, which so far have fallen short of expectations.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

P-80 Saddam dead...not the end.. but just the beginning of the end.....

Saddam compliant, calm in final moments

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The scene was at once macabre and riveting..... One of the most notorious dictators of the late 20th century, his hands bound behind him, was led up the stairs of the gallows by masked men in leather coats. A few seconds later, a trapdoor snapped open and — with a crash — the tyrant was dead.

Saddam may have been the first chief of state executed in the age of the Internet and the camera phone. Probably because of that, his death was graphically documented on video, and available worldwide, within hours.

This was not a Hollywood version of an execution: in video aired on Iraqi TV and several Web sites, the former strongman did not plead for his life, nor did he violently resist the executioners who slipped the rope around his neck. State television did not broadcast footage of the actual hanging.

But camera phone video, posted in full or in part on several Arabic language Web sites, picked up where the TV coverage left off. In it, Saddam was taunted in the final seconds leading up to his execution, and appeared to have smiled at his tormentors. While the sentence was carried out, he calmly recited verses from the Quran in a clear voice.

Finally, Saddam's body can be seen swinging in the dim light — his neck apparently snapped..... One of the most striking things about the grisly videos, perhaps, was how calmly and cooperatively the tyrant faced death.

***************************** says a me comment **********************************

Well many may breathe a sigh of relief that Saddam is gone and that he deserves what he got... I'm not defending him, but he alone is not the problem or the issue that Iraq and the world face... Bush and the US invaded Afghanistan as a war on terror and then Iraq on the pretence of retrieving weapons of mass destruction and then when that failed, like they knew it would, their reason for invading Iraq was on removing Saddam Hussain from power and bringing democracy to the country...

So now that Saddam is no longer in the picture and the US's attempt at bringing democracy to the region is failing along with support for their being there, the question now is, what is the US going to do? Withdrawal would mean defeat and that isn't in their agenda... I feel that this is the lull before the storm and that the USA and Israel will now shift attention to Iran. Bush wouldn't get more money and troops for his failed policies in Iraq, but he may pull it off if he can change the threat to America and its allies to oil rich Iran... After all, Oil was the reason for the invasion of Iraq in the first place and now that Iraqi oil is in American hands... it's on to the next target in global domination...

Says a me


Warnings against Saddam hanging
Maverick British MP denounces Saddam's hanging as illegal blunder
Saddam sees death as 'sacrifice'
U.S., Iran praise execution of Saddam
Iraq PM orders probe of Saddam execution
Saddam execution video draws criticism

Friday, December 29, 2006

P-79 Saddam could hang in hours:

Saddam could hang in hours: Iraqi officials

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein may be hanged within hours, senior Iraqi officials and the ousted president's defense team said on Friday...... One senior Iraqi source told Reuters key legal issues had been resolved and he could go to the gallows shortly. Another official said Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was meeting key figures, including the Justice Minister, to agree the details.

But the start of a week-long Muslim holiday could delay the hanging and some senior Iraqi officials still doubt there will be a rapid execution...... The State Department denied comments from Saddam's chief defense lawyer and Iraqi state television that U.S. forces had already handed the former president over for execution...... In any case, formal custody may not be very significant since U.S. troops were likely to remain on hand to the end as Washington is concerned the process goes smoothly.

Defense lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi told Reuters Saddam had been handed to the Iraqi authorities and that attorneys had been told they could not visit their client. Earlier he said he was told to arrange to collect Saddam's personal effects -- a move another defense lawyer said indicated he could die on Saturday.

Saddam, whose appeal against a conviction for crimes against humanity was rejected this week, has long been formally in Iraqi custody but physically held by U.S. military guards.

P-78 China increases its military might .... says it faces threats

China defends military rise, says faces threats

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's military modernization will focus on strengthening its navy and air force as it faces security threats from border spats, historical disputes and self-ruled Taiwan, a defense white paper released on Friday said.

But China, whose increasing defense spending and military build-up has been a source of friction with the United States, will never engage in an arms race or threaten any other nation, the policy paper said..... "The navy will gradually ... raise its marine combat and nuclear counter-attack capabilities," it said.

"The air force aims at speeding up its transition from territorial air defense to both offensive and defensive operations, and increasing its capabilities in the areas of air strike, air and missile defense, early warning and reconnaissance and strategic projection."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

P-77 Fraud, Katrina contracts could waste $2B

Fraud, Katrina contracts could waste $2B

WASHINGTON - The tally for Hurricane Katrina waste could top $2 billion next year because half of the lucrative government contracts valued at $500,000 or greater for cleanup work are being awarded without little competition.

Federal investigators have already determined the Bush administration squandered $1 billion on fraudulent disaster aid to individuals after the 2005 storm. Now they are shifting their attention to the multimillion dollar contracts to politically connected firms that critics have long said are a prime area for abuse.

In January, investigators will release the first of several audits examining more than $12 billion in Katrina contracts.

Friday, December 15, 2006

P-76 Report: UK wasn't worried about Saddam and WMD

Report: UK wasn't worried about Saddam

LONDON - Britain's former top Iraq expert at the United Nations said in previously secret testimony that most government officials did not believe Iraq posed a threat in the months leading to the U.S.-led invasion, according to a new report. .... Carne Ross, a former first secretary to the British mission at the U.N. responsible for Iraq policy, told a House of Commons committee that he and other analysts believed that Iraq had only a "very limited" ability to mount an attack of any kind, including one using weapons of mass destruction, or WMD.

"Iraq's ability to launch a WMD or any form of attack was very limited," he said. "There were approx 12 or so unaccounted-for Scud missiles; Iraq's air force was depleted to the point of total ineffectiveness; its army was but a pale shadow of its earlier might; there was no evidence of any connection between Iraq and any terrorist organization that might have planned an attack," he wrote.

During the months leading up to the war, he said, there was no new evidence that Saddam posed a threat. "What changed was the government's determination to present available evidence in a different light," he testified.

Ross' testimony is likely to be cited during a full parliamentary debate on the Iraq war next month.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

P-75 Ban sworn in as U.N. secretary-general

Ban sworn in as U.N. secretary-general
UNITED NATIONS - South Korea's Ban Ki-moon was sworn in Thursday as the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations, promising to make his top priority the restoration of trust in the world body that has been tarnished by corruption scandals. Ban, 62, will take the reins of the United Nations on Jan. 1 when Kofi Annan steps down after 10 years at the helm. He will be the first Asian to lead the organization in 35 years

Ban will oversee an organization with some 92,000 peacekeepers around the world and a $5 billion annual budget. Its reputation has been battered by scandals in the oil-for-food program in Iraq and in peacekeeping procurement, and its outdated practices need reform to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

P-74 Cuba vows to defy U.S. efforts at change

Cuba vows to defy U.S. efforts at change
HAVANA - Cuba vowed to defy U.S. efforts for economic and political change on the island in a front-page editorial Thursday in the Communist Party's newspaper that also referred to dissidents as "mercenaries" and "counterrevolutionary puppies."

Members of the U.S. government "should not fool themselves," the editorial said. "The Cuban government and people will take charge, as they've done until now, of guaranteeing the complete failure of these plans ... to encourage the subversion and internal counterrevolution in our country."

Washington maintains a decades-old trade and travel embargo against Cuba. The Bush administration has adopted even stricter policies aimed at squeezing the island's economy and pushing out the communist leadership.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

P-73 Bush decides direction of Iraq policy

Bush decides direction of Iraq policy

President Bush said Wednesday he would "not be rushed" into a decision on a strategy change for Iraq, saying that in a round of consultations he heard both some interesting ideas and some "ideas that would lead to defeat." ..... "And I reject those ideas," Bush said after meeting with top generals and Defense Department officials at the Pentagon. He said those ideas included "leaving before the job is done, ideas such as not helping this (Iraqi) government take the necessary and hard steps to be able to do its job."

Although the White House had initially suggested that Bush would deliver his speech on Iraq strategy before Christmas, he has decided to delay it until early next year.

On Tuesday, in similar discussions with field commanders, Bush heard Gen. John Abizaid, top U.S. commander in the Middle East, and Gen. George Casey, the top general in Iraq, ask the administration to pour increased funding into more armored vehicles, body armor and other critical equipment for the Iraqis, said a defense specialist familiar with the meetings. The source requested anonymity because the discussions were private.

Abizaid has told the Senate Armed Services Committee that troop levels in Iraq need to stay fairly stable and the use of military adviser teams expanded. About 140,000 U.S. troops and about 5,000 advisers are in Iraq.

'06 Dec 17 U.S. to triple number of military trainers in Iraq

Sunday, December 10, 2006

P-72 India.... child slave labour

Misery goes on for India child workers

Shanta looks like any other six-year-old, except there is an open wound on her head, her hands are swollen, chapped and grey and she can barely walk.... She is the youngest of the three little girls aged six to 13 years who were rescued last month from Faridabad in the state of Haryana.... Badly beaten and bruised, the girls all worked as domestic helps just a few miles away from India's capital, Delhi.

In October, the government enacted a law banning children under 14 from working as domestic servants, at teashops, food stalls, restaurants, hotels or in the hospitality industry...

Shanta says she had been working with the family for the past year after her brother left her there..... "I used to work in water the whole day. She [the employer] beat me up regularly with a stick for not finishing my work on time. I was woken at four in the morning and then I had to wash the clothes, sweep and mop the floor," she told the BBC.

According to Shanta, she was given rice only twice a day - served on the floor - and was made to sleep in the bathroom.....She said that she never complained about her plight as that would have meant more beatings

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

P-71 Canadian RCMP "To serve and protect".. Yea right... but just WHO are they serving and protecting.

Top Mountie under pressure to quit job OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's top Mountie, under heavy fire for botching the case of a man deported to
Syria by U.S. agents, came under immense pressure to resign on Tuesday after he admitted to misleading legislators about the affair.

The fate of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli looked ever more precarious after Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was concerned by what the police chief had done.

Zaccardelli's woes stem from an official inquiry that found the RCMP had mistakenly told Washington that Canadian software engineer Maher Arar was an Islamic extremist.... U.S. agents arrested Arar in 2002 and sent him to Syria, where he says -- and the inquiry concurred -- that he was repeatedly tortured during the year he spent in Damascus jails. Arar was released in 2003 and is now suing Ottawa for damages.

Zaccardelli appeared before Parliament's public safety committee in September and told legislators he had first learned of the inaccurate information in 2002. But on Tuesday he said he had been mistaken and had in fact not become aware of the problem until the inquiry issued its report this year.

"I obviously did state certain things that were not accurate, and so I apologize for that," he told the committee.

Disbelieving legislators from both the governing Conservatives and opposition parties told Zaccardelli they did not think his explanation was credible.

"I'm a little bit incredulous that a police officer with 36 years' experience could make such a mistake ... I think you can appreciate why, on both sides of this committee, we find that a little bit hard to believe," said Conservative Laurie Hawn.

UPDATE '06 Dec 08 Mountie resignation not enough, Canada's Arar says

Monday, December 04, 2006

P-70 NASA says it will set up polar moon camp.....

NASA says it will set up polar moon camp WASHINGTON - NASA may be going to the same old moon with a ship that looks a lot like a 1960s Apollo capsule, but the space agency said Monday that it's going to do something dramatically different this time: Stay there..... Unveiling the agency's bold plan for a return to the moon, NASA said it will establish an international base camp on one of the moon's poles, permanently staffing it by 2024, four years after astronauts land there.

It is a sweeping departure from the Apollo moon missions of the 1960s and represents a new phase of space exploration after space shuttles are retired in 2010.
Last year, NASA said it would cost $104 billion just to get back to the moon for its first trip, but on Monday NASA officials declined to estimate the larger costs of a permanent lunar program. They just said it would stay within NASA's budget.

The estimated time frame for NASA's lunar plans are:

2009 — a first test of one of the lunar spaceships.

2014 — the first manned test flight of the Orion crew exploration vehicle, but no moon landing.

2020 — the first flight of the four-astronaut crew to the moon.

**************************** says a me comment **********************************

Back in the early 1960's President John Kennedy set plans in motion to have a man on the moon within 10 years. By 1969, Neil Armstrong had walked on the moon. Special metals and plastics technology, as well as propulsion and other systems were all developed from scratch. Computers were just beginning to come out of the tube stage... and yet they did that 40 YEARS AGO...

Look back at all the inventions and technological advances science has made... but some how NASA would have us believe that the space program needs to be re-invented and that they have learned nothing in the past 40 years... and can't even duplicate wat was done...

There are already bases on the moons polar regions and dark side.. There are also manned bases on Mars and Venus and they are presently working on one on Jupiter...


P-69 Britain - Blair unveils plan for nuclear missiles

Blair unveils plan for nuclear missiles LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair launched plans Monday for a new multibillion-dollar submarine-based nuclear missile defense system, warning lawmakers the future may hold perilous threats from rogue regimes and state-sponsored terrorists.... In what is expected to be among his last major acts as premier, Blair told the House of Commons that despite the end of the Cold War, potential threats were posed by North Korea, Iran and others.

"In these circumstances, it would be unwise and dangerous for Britain alone of any of the nuclear powers to give up its independent nuclear deterrent," he said.

Blair said Britain would cut back on its stock of nuclear warheads from 200 to 160 — a move intended to make the proposal more acceptable to detractors within his own party. But he said any decision to reduce the nuclear-armed submarine fleet from four to three would be made only after a new vessel is designed. Blair said advisers had ruled out land or air based alternatives as too costly and too vulnerable.

The existing submarine fleet will be phased out from 2022, defense officials said.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

P-68 U.S. gov't has terror ratings on travelers since 2002

U.S. gov't terror ratings draw outrage WASHINGTON - A leader of the new Democratic Congress, business travelers and privacy advocates expressed outrage Friday over the unannounced assignment of terrorism risk assessments to American international travelers by a computerized system managed from an unmarked, two-story brick building in Northern Virginia...... Incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record) of Vermont pledged greater scrutiny of such government database-mining projects after reading that during the past four years millions of Americans have been evaluated without their knowledge to assess the risks that they are terrorists or criminals.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Americans and foreigners crossing U.S. borders since 2002 have been assessed by the Homeland Security Department's computerized Automated Targeting System, or ATS.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years. Some or all data in the system can be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring, contracting and licensing decisions. Courts and even some private contractors can obtain some of the data under certain circumstances.

"It is simply incredible that the Bush administration is willing to share this sensitive information with foreign governments and even private employers, while refusing to allow U.S. citizens to see or challenge their own terror scores," Leahy said. This system "highlights the danger of government use of technology to conduct widespread surveillance of our daily lives without proper safeguards for privacy."