Wednesday, August 31, 2005

US-Led Afghan Forces Kill Taleban Commander

U.S. and Afghan forces have killed a Taleban commander and three of his fighters in southern Afghanistan.
A U.S. military spokesman says Payenda Mohammed, who was thought to have led about 150 rebels, was killed in a battle in Kandahar province Wednesday. He was believed responsible for numerous rocket attacks, ambushes and other guerrilla-style assaults. At least three other militants were killed and 15 wounded as U.S. warplanes and helicopters rocketed caves along a ridge where they were hiding. Afghan and U.S. forces have stepped up attacks in recent months to flush out militants and boost security to prevent the Taleban from carrying out threats of subverting next month's parliamentary polls.

Monday, August 29, 2005

US And Japan Plan Floating Runway

Japan and the US are planning to build a giant floating runway off the coast of western Japan in a bid to reduce noise pollution by US military aircraft, local media reported yesterday.
The "megafloat" will be built six miles off Iwakuni, home to a US marine base, at a cost of up to $4.5 billion (¥500bn) (£2.5bn), the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said, quoting government sources. The countries will include the plans in an interim report on the realignment of US forces in Japan due in October. The new runway would be used by about 70 aircraft, including F/A-18 fighters. The jets, which serve the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk moored at nearby Yokosuka naval base, have been the target of complaints from residents because of the noise. "Being four kilometres away [from land], nearby residents won't be bothered by the noise," the Yomiuri quoted a Japanese government official as saying. US officials believe the sea off Iwakuni is calm enough to safely support the floating base, which will be made out of hollow metal boxes and could last 100 years. Local councils in the Iwakuni area oppose the megafloat, however, saying the presence of more aircraft will increase noise levels and heighten the risk of accidents. In addition, the Iwakuni base has already been selected to be used for refuelling for aircraft from the marine corps air station on the southern island of Okinawa. Okinawa is home to well over half of the 47,000 US military personnel in Japan.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Al-Qaeda Targeting USA, Australia, UK And Asia

Al-Qaeda has listed the United States and Australia as prime targets for attacks this year along with Britain, South Korea’s spy agency has reported. South Korea, Japan and the Philippines are secondary targets, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) told Parliament this week, quoting a “senior” Al-Qaeda member arrested last month. “According to NIS, this terrorist testified that South Korea, Japan and the Philippines are secondary targets, while the United States, Britain and Australia are the prime targets for this year,” a lawmaker said. NIS did not reveal the name of the Al-Qaeda member, where he was arrested or what country handed over the information, according to the lawmaker sitting on the National Assembly’s intelligence committee, who requested anonymity. The comments come after the Financial Times quoted French investigating magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere as saying that an Asia-Pacific financial center such as Sydney, Tokyo or Singapore could be targeted by Al-Qaeda extremists. NIS told the committee that security officials were on alert for attacks in South Korea, which is hosting an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the southern port of Busan in November. South Korea, Japan and the Philippines have all contributed troops to the US-led war in Iraq. South Korea, which like Japan hosts US military bases, has 3,600 troops in Iraq, the third-largest contingent after the United States and Britain. Britain has already been targeted by extremists this year with 56 people dying in the July 7 bombing of three subway trains and a double-decker bus in London. Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard on Friday acknowledged his country was a possible terror target as he responded to the Financial Times report. “I have said for a long time this country can’t imagine that it’s free from the prospect of a terrorist attack,” he said. “We are, in my view, well prepared. But the important thing is not to have an effective response mechanism after the attack, the aim is to try and stop it occurring in the first place.” In the interview published on Friday, Bruguiere, France’s top terrorist investigator, said Asian financial centers could be targeted to undermine investor confidence. “We have elements of information that make us think that countries in this region, especially Japan, could have been targeted” by the Al-Qaeda network, he said. “Any attack on a financial market like Japan would mechanically have an important economic impact on the confidence of investors. Other countries in this region, such as Singapore and Australia, are also potential targets.” Asia-Pacific financial capitals reacted calmly to the report but officials said the region was prepared for the worst.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Philippine Rebels Linking Up With Foreign Jihadists

A lethal mix of militant groups is emerging in the southern Philippines, a senior police intelligence official said, warning of attacks as foreign and local jihadists share resources, talents and capabilities.
The intelligence official, who declined to be identified, said foreign Islamic militants, mostly Indonesians, were building alliances with several homegrown Moslem rebels to survive government offensives on the southern island of Mindanao. Since July, Philippine troops backed by U.S. aerial surveillance vehicles have been combing coastal and mountain villages in Maguindanao province for about 30 rebels from the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, who are thought to be operating with a handful of Indonesian militants. "These militants are now crossing organisational lines to exchange and share manpower, expertise and resources," the intelligence official told reporters. "If governments in the region are cooperating to eliminate these threats, we are now seeing that terrorists are also sharing their 'best practices' to fight back". A senior U.S. diplomat in Manila drew an angry reaction from government leaders earlier this year when he said Mindanao risked turning into "an Afghanistan situation". The Philippine official said there were intelligence reports that Rajah Solaiman Revolutionary Movement, a group of radical Moslem converts, had merged with the Abu Sayyaf group led by Khaddafy Janjalani. This, he said, had increased the threat of attacks in Manila because most of the converts were based around the capital. Janjalani, long the subject of manhunt operations on Mindanao, is also thought to have developed close links with Indonesian militants belonging to different jihadist groups, including Jemaah Islamiah (JI). A classified security report shown to Reuters said JI instructors had taught about 60 of Janjalani's followers how to handle crude bombs fashioned out of unexploded mortar rounds. JI has been blamed for several of the deadliest attacks in southeast Asia, including the October 2002 Bali bombing that nearly killed 200 people, mostly Australian tourists. Philippine officials said foreign militants were forced to seek out other Moslem groups in Mindanao because the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest Moslem rebel group, which is in talks with the government, started pushing them to leave. But they said rogue MILF elements continued to protect the foreign militants, allowing them to hide in a marshy area in Maguindanao province. "We always believed the leadership of MILF is determined to cut its ties with these militants," said Rodolfo Garcia, a member of the government's peace panel negotiating with the The government has said it will resume informal talks with the MILF within a month in Malaysia on a proposed ancestral homeland for Muslims in Mindanao to help end the conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people since the late 1960s.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Japanese Prime Minister To Resign Next Year

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi today said he will step down in September 2006 at the end of his term as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, even if the ruling coalition wins a majority in the forthcoming elections. Earlier this month, Koizumi dissolved the lower house of Parliament and called elections after rebels in his own party helped the upper house reject legislation to privatise the postal service, the centrepiece of the premier’s reformist program.
Koizumi, who has been prime minister since April 2001, has indicated his intention to step down at the end of his term, but today’s comment was the first of such kind since he called the elections, set for September 11. “I will fulfil my duties as prime minister and president of the LDP until September 2006, but I am not thinking of serving after that,” he said. The approval rating for Koizumi’s Cabinet topped 50% in a series of newspaper polls taken after he called the elections. Koizumi, in his second term, has been one of Japan’s longest-serving prime ministers. The LDP has been in a ruling bloc with the smaller New Komeito Party.

Monday, August 22, 2005

US, South Korea To Go Ahead With War Games Despite Pyongyang Anger

The United States and South Korea said Thursday joint war games would go ahead next week despite North Korean claims that the drills were preparations for a preemptive strike on the communist state. The military exercise which feature computer-simulated war scenarios will take place in South Korea from August 22 to September 2, the US-South Korea Combined Forces Command said in a statement.
"It is designed to evaluate and improve combined and joint coordination, procedures, plans and systems for conducting operations critical to the defense of the peninsula," the statement said. It gave no details about the annual drill but previous editions have involved joint mobilisation of an unspecified number of South Korean troops and more than 10,000 US troops. The United States informed North Korea of the exercise last week, prompting Pyongyang to denounce them as "preparations for preemptive attack" on the communist state. The war games were also aimed at forcing North Korea "to accept the unjust demands raised by the US at the six-party talks," North Korea's military spokesman said in a statement on Saturday. Six-country talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programmes went into a three-week recess on August 7 in a deadlock over Pyongyang's insistence on the right to peaceful nuclear activities. The United States flatly rejected the North Korean demand, citing the Stalinist regime's track record of secretly developing nuclear weapons. The talks are to resume in the week of August 29. Rodong Sinmun, the North's ruling communist party newspaper which acts as Pyongyang's official mouthpiece, on Thursday renewed its call for ending the US military presence in South Korea. "Neither peace and reunification of Korea nor peace and security in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world are thinkable as long as the US troops stay in South Korea," Rodong said in a commentary monitored here. About 32,500 US soldiers are stationed here to help 650,000 South Korean military troops face up to North Korea's 1.2-million-strong army. The United States has maintained its military presence in South Korea according to a mutual defense treaty since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Islamic Militant Training Disrupted In The Philippines

U.S.-backed offensives have disrupted terrorism training by the Jemaah Islamiyah group, prompting the al-Qaeda affiliate to constantly change camps and delaying the arrival of a batch of Indonesian recruits, a Philippine government report said.
That training began in 1998, mostly in the southern strongholds of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, according to the report seen Tuesday by The Associated Press. Last year, though, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front began pressuring the foreign trainers to move away, apparently to avoid sporadic government anti-terrorist offensives. "The holding of training courses by the JI at this time, even in far-flung or swampy areas, would almost be improbable owing to government offensive threat," the report said. Western nations have been concerned about the training in the Mindanao region, which helped buffer the loss of terrorist camps in Afghanistan. The U.S. military has been providing anti-terrorist training and weapons to Philippine troops. It also has conducted covert surveillance missions across Mindanao, military officials say. If the military offensives ease, the terrorist training could resume, the report said, citing the presence of about 25 Indonesian militants in the south. Jemaah Islamiyah has been blamed for deadly bombings across Southeast Asia, including the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. The MILF, currently holding peace talks with the Philippine government, repeatedly has denied military reports linking it to the Indonesian-based group. The MILF's late founder, Hashim Salamat, forged an agreement in the mid-1990s with Indonesian friends, leading Jemaah Islamiyah to set up a training camp in Mindanao, principally for new Indonesian recruits, the report said. "They were allowed to set up training camps under MILF protection, replicating the Afghan camp system ... transferring deadly skills to a new generation of operatives," the report said. Jemaah Islamiyah militants designed an 18-month "cadetship training program" for 17-18 Indonesian recruits at a time, the report said. The first batch attended a camp called Hudeibah starting in mid-1998 and ending in February 2000, the report said. Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged spiritual head of the Jemaah Islamiyah who has been jailed for his role in the Bali bombings, attended the graduation ceremony, the report said. Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, and fellow militant Ali Ghufron, known as Mukhlas, were among the Indonesian instructors, the report said. Both are in custody and face charges for deadly terror attacks. The next batch of Indonesian recruits arrived in 2000, but their training was disrupted by a major military offensive on the MILF's main camp, Abubakar, forcing them to transfer to the Muaskar Jabal Quba camp on Mt. Kararao. A third group arrived in August 2002, completing its training in February 2003, the report said. A fourth group had not arrived because of military assaults, the report said, citing information from arrested Indonesian militants. Members of the extremist Abu Sayyaf group and the MILF, as well as recruits from Malaysia and Singapore, also underwent training, but it was disrupted by assaults, it said. An arrested Jemaah Islamiyah trainer, known as Rohmat, said three Indonesian militants trained about 60 Abu Sayyaf rebels on southern Jolo island in March 2003 "but they were constantly on the run to avoid government forces," the report said. Half of the rebels and the Indonesians shifted the training site to nearby Zamboanga del Norte province. In November, the MILF asked Abu Sayyaf trainees and their Indonesian instructors to seek a new training site amid intensifying offensives, the report said. The MILF has been under pressure to prove it does not coddle terrorists, with military officials saying some of its commanders maintain links with Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

After 60 Years, Many In Asia Cannot Forgive Japan

Many in Asia found it difficult to forgive and impossible to forget the Japanese aggression that still haunts the region 60 years after the end of the Pacific war but others let the anniversary pass with barely a mention. Southeast Asian nations that suffered in the war but benefited afterwards from Japan's economic might marked the end of the war Monday with little fanfare and few ceremonies.
But for those who experienced horrors such as the destruction of Manila, the "Death Railway'' in Burma or the rape of the Chinese city of Nanking, anger and sadness remained raw. "Filipinos have very short memories,'' said Philippine author Francisco Sionil Jose, who lived through the Japanese occupation. "My ambition was to run amok in Japan and kill as many Japanese as possible.'' Historians estimate that about 15 million people, less than a third of them soldiers, died as a result of the conflict that spanned Japan's invasion of China in 1931 and Emperor Hirohito's declaration of surrender on August 15, 1945. For Chinese and Koreans, the pain of the war and occupation has been sharpened by the perception that Japan has still not shown genuine contrition for its actions. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi again apologised Monday for suffering caused by Japanese military aggression and pledged that Tokyo would never again go to war. But North Asians also want leaders to stop going to Tokyo's Yasukuni war shrine that is home to the spirits of executed war criminals. "I don't like Japanese people,'' said a Beijing man named Fang. "They still don't recognise their past mistakes.'' In Indonesia, little visible notice was taken of the anniversary. While many Indonesians were ill-treated by the Japanese and Tokyo offered little in the way of real freedom, no love had been lost between most Indonesians and the Dutch that the Japanese ousted. The Philippines suffered more than any other southeast Asian country, but the only sign of the anniversary was a dozen Chinese-Filipino veterans who laid wreaths at a memorial. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo failed even to mention the war in a speech to the army Monday. About 100,000 Filipinos died just in the month-long battle in Manila between Japanese forces and American troops that turned the former "Pearl of the Orient'' into a wasteland. Some put the lack of outrage at Japan's actions down to the fact that Japan was only the latest in a series of brutal colonizers after Spain and the US. Even in South Korea, which was formally colonised by Japan from 1910 to 1945, ceremonies marking Liberation Day on Monday chose to focus on hopes for an era of brotherhood on the Korean peninsula, divided at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Unlike his remarks a year ago that ignited diplomatic tension with Tokyo, President Roh Moo Hyun gave a speech heavy on Korean national reconciliation and skirted direct calls to Japan to make amends for its past.

Monday, August 15, 2005

U.S.A. & South Korea War Games Prelude To War?

North Korea's military said on Saturday war games by South Korea and United States were a prelude to a U.S. military attack and a tactic to compel it to accept U.S. terms in six-party talks on its nuclear program.
The North's comments were the first since the six-country talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions went into a three-week recess on August 7. "Its brigandish aim is to wind up its preparations for preemptive attack on the DPRK and drive the situation on the peninsula to an extreme pitch of tension," the North's official KCNA news agency quoted an unnamed spokesman of the North Korean army as saying, referring to the drills. DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. But South Korean officials say the exercises are largely computer-simulated drills to test U.S. and South Korean readiness for military emergencies on the Korean peninsula. They begin later this month and will not involve any mobilization of forces. South and North Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia broke from the talks after a rare series of intense negotiations over two weeks in Beijing. The talks are scheduled to resume in the week of August 29. The drills are also designed to "force the DPRK to accept the unjust demands raised by the U.S. at the six-party talks," the North Korean army spokesman was quoted as saying. North Korea insisted at the six-party talks on retaining the right to operate a civilian nuclear program.
Washington wants Pyongyang to forswear all nuclear programs in return for energy aid and security guarantees. "The U.S. side's arrogant action only bars the KPA from expecting anything from the dialogue with the U.S. and reinforces its correct judgment that it is the only way of defending the country and its sovereignty and system to build up deterrence for self-defense," the spokesman was quoted as saying. KPS stands for the Korean People's Army, which maintains the majority of its 1.2 million troops close to the border. At a senior military officers' meeting on Friday, South and North Korea failed to reach agreement on setting up a meeting of generals from the two sides to ease military tensions. In a separate KCNA report, the North said it was "not suitable" for such a meeting to take place because of the military drills by the U.S. and South Korea.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Lately I've noticed that some links to my blogs identify me as a Conservative. I under stand how that assumption can be made, After all I am a Republican!
How ever... I do lean a little twords Libertarian. Being an Darwinist (Evolutionist) The christian elements of the conservative movement do not mix well with my personal ideology. I DO belive our laws evolved from the ten comments so its okay to place them in public settings. Under God in the Pledge Of Allegiance does not offend me, Nor does in God We Trust on our money. The Majority of the American population belive in God in one form or another and I belive in majority rule. Libertarians are a little to close to being anarchists. I HATE DOPE! And every time I get a ear full of the "it should be your own choice to use harmless marijuana" propaganda, My blood pressure increases to dangerous levels! (I have done drugs) I get it, I understand what drugs and alcohol are all about! There is a reason drugs are illegal. And when Libertarians embrace the absence of any cohesive principles I tend to to back away. How ever if your a man and you like to take it up the ass from another man... Go right ahead. BUT... Dont tell me I have to accept it as normal. And the conflicts between the two ideologies go on and on. So in conclusion I find my self NOT 100% Conservative & NOT 100% Libertarian, But still a Republican. A Independent Republican!

Another One Bites The Dust


Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Sheehan Family Supports The Troops, Our Country, And Our President

The family of American soldier Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004, has broken its silence and spoken out against his mother Cindy Sheehan's anti-war vigil against George Bush held outside the president's Crawford, Texas ranch. The following email was received by reporters from Casey's aunt and godmother:
Spc. Casey Sheehan
Our family has been so distressed by the recent activities of Cindy we are breaking our silence and we have collectively written a statement for release. Feel free to distribute it as you wish.

Thanks, Cherie

In response to questions regarding the Cindy Sheehan/Crawford Texas issue: Sheehan Family Statement:

The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.


Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.

Philippine Report Reveals Rebel Plots Against U.S., British

Islamic militants linked to al-Qaida have plotted attacks on U.S. and British embassies, hotels, a mall and other targets across the country, according to a confidential Philippines government report reviewed Thursday by The Associated Press. The report, which was prepared in March, contains sketchy details of bombing, kidnapping and assassination plots that Philippine intelligence agencies say are linked to the Abu Sayyaf extremist group and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Some of the attacks were intended to be staged by Filipino militants trained by al-Qaida's regional ally, Jemmah Islamiyah, the report said.
The Abu Sayyaf members have been battling government troops in the southern Philippines, and the group has been blamed for bombings and other terror attacks in recent years, including two explosions in the southern port of Zamboanga that wounded 30 people late Wednesday. Two other southern cities mentioned as targets in the report, Cotabato and Koronadal, were hit by bombings that wounded four people July 30. The Abu Sayyaf also was blamed for those blasts. The MILF's leaders have been engaged in peace talks with the government since 1997 and spokesman Eid Kabalu denied the group was planning any attacks. "That's an invention," Kabalu told AP. "The peace talks have not been cut and there is a cease-fire in place." The report said the terror attacks being plotted by the Abu Sayyaf were intended to project strength after setbacks in battles with government troops. Among attacks blamed on the Abu Sayyaf were three almost-simultaneous Feb. 14 bombings that killed eight people and wounded more than 120 in Manila and the southern cities of General Santos and Davao. The report said those bombings bolstered concerns that Jemaah Islamiyah is operating in the Philippines and co-ordinating with local militants. "The JI fund support for terrorist operations remains unhampered despite the neutralization of key financiers in previous years," the report said. Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sulaiman planned car bombings in Manila's business district, military and police camps in the capital and sites in Davao, the report said. Two Abu Sayyaf would-be suicide bombers were waiting to acquire "luxury cars" to use in the attacks, it said. Ferries serving the southern Mindanao region and Manila also are Abu Sayyaf targets, the report said. The report said the MILF's special operations group, whose members have been linked in the past to Jemaah Islamiyah, plotted to bomb U.S. and British embassies, a commuter train, hotels and a mall in the capital on unspecified dates. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's national security adviser, Norberto Gonzales, said terror plots may have been delayed or thwarted by U.S.-backed military offensives that have kept Abu Sayyaf guerrillas on the run, tighter immigration watches and the strengthening of security at potential targets. Gonzales also said government offensives against local militants may have prompted Jemaah Islamiyah to plan to send about 10 Indonesians for possible suicide bombing missions in the Philippines. Previously, foreign militants have relied on local insurgents to carry out attacks, he said. At least two of the 10 Indonesian militants may have already reached here, he told reporters. "We are beginning to see a new development," he said.

Friday, August 12, 2005

US Reporter Killed 'Because He Was to Marry A Muslim'

Steven Vincent
An American journalist who was shot dead in Basra last week was executed by Shiite extremists who knew he was intending to marry his Muslim interpreter, it has emerged. Steven Vincent was shot a week before the planned wedding to Nouriya Itais and had already delivered a $2,500 dowry to her family. The disclosure casts new light on the grip of Islamic religious sects in the British-run south- east of Iraq - raising concern that they will take control once troops start to withdraw. Mr Vincent was abducted from his hotel three days after writing a piece in the New York Times accusing British officials of allowing religious parties to infiltrate the Basra police. In America, his death was taken as retribution for his article. But in London yesterday, British officials pointed out that the police in Basra believed it was retribution for his affair. "We warned him to look after his security in a more professional manner than he was doing," said the official. The couple were found by Iraqi police after being shot by their captors. Medics managed to save Ms Itais.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Boycott The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones' upcoming album contains a song seemingly critical of President Bush, but Mick Jagger denies it's directed at him, according to the syndicated TV show "Extra." "It is not really aimed at anyone," Jagger said on the entertainment-news show's Wednesday edition. "It's not aimed, personally aimed, at President Bush. It wouldn't be called 'Sweet Neo Con' if it was." The song is from the new album, "A Bigger Bang," set for release Sept. 6. There is no mention of Bush or Iraq. But it does refer to military contractor Halliburton, which was formerly run by Vice President Cheney and has been awarded key Iraq contracts, and the rising price of gasoline. "How come you're so wrong? My sweet neo-con, where's the money gone, in the Pentagon," goes one refrain. The song also includes the line: "It's liberty for all, democracy's our style, unless you are against us, then it's prison without trial." "It is certainly very critical of certain policies of the administration, but so what! Lots of people are critical," Jagger told "Extra." A representative for the Stones said the group had no further comment about the song. The Rolling Stones intend to kick off a U.S. tour in Boston Aug. 21.

CNN Assists In Misrepresentation Of John Roberts

CNN has reviewed and agreed to run a controversial ad produced by a pro-abortion group that falsely accuses Supreme Court nominee John Roberts of filing legal papers supporting a convicted clinic bomber! The news network has agreed to a $125,000 ad buy from NARAL, Reporters have learned, for a commercial which depicts a bombed out 1998 Birmingham, AL abortion clinic. The Birmingham clinic was bombed seven years after Roberts signed the legal briefing. The linking of Roberts to "violent fringe groups" is the sharpest attack against the nominee thus far. However, the non-partisan University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg reviewed the NARAL ad and found it to be False.” found "in words and images, the ad conveys the idea that Roberts took a legal position excusing bombing of abortion clinics, which is false." The Republican National Committee is preparing to send a letter to television stations asking them to pull the spot, according to sources. The RNC’s letter claims: "NARAL's ad is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts that has no purpose but to mislead the American people."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

GOP Reports Wisconsin Voter Fraud

The Wisconsin Republican Party said it used U.S. Postal Service records to find nine people who allegedly voted in Milwaukee then again in either Chicago, Minneapolis or Madison. A task-force investigating the 2004 presidential vote already has found that there were 4,600 more ballots than registered voters in Milwaukee. Nine people have been charged so far. The Republicans sent the information to the task force, which will review it for possible charges.

North Korean Threat Cause Japan To Rethink Nuclear Weapons

Sixty years after the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese are beginning -- with a gentle nudge from Washington -- to talk openly about the long-forbidden subject of nuclear weapons.
The post-World War II pacifism under which Japan's military is known as a "self-defense force" remains strong. But the rise of China and North Korea's nuclear ambitions have spurred what is referred to here as "active pacifism," or a more pragmatic line on defense. Talk of a nuclear Japan has, in some cases, been broached by American officials. The new U.S. ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer, had barely settled into his office in June when he told reporters: "If you had a nuclear North Korea ... it seems to me, that increases the pressure on both South Korea and Japan to consider going nuclear themselves." Two years earlier, Vice President Dick Cheney was quoted in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper saying a nuclear-armed North Korea could force Japan to "consider whether or not they want to readdress the nuclear issues." Japan will likely choose to remain as "America's strategic dependent," wrote Robyn Lim, professor of international relations at Nanzan University in Nagoya, in the July 19 issue of the Jamestown Foundation's China Brief. But, he said, "Because of the growing sense of threat from North Korea's dangerous nuclear ambitions, it is no longer taboo to talk about nuclear weapons in Japan." For 34 years, Japan's nuclear-weapons policy has been based on three principles known as the "sangensoku," under which the country renounces the right to own or produce nuclear weapons or allow them on Japanese territory. But Tokyo foreign-affairs columnist Yoichi Funabashi says a debate has begun within Japan's defense-policy community on whether to amend the sangensoku to afford free passage to nuclear-armed U.S. warships.
Shinzo Abe, a rising political star and grandson of former prime minister Nobusuke Kishi, has gone further, arguing that there is nothing unconstitutional about possessing small, strategic nuclear weapons. Mr. Abe is considered a leading contender to replace Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, whose term ends in 2006. Similarly hawkish pronouncements have been heard from influential opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa, who told an audience in Fukuoka in 2002: "It would be so easy for us to produce nuclear warheads. We have plutonium at nuclear-power plants in Japan, enough to make several thousand such warheads." Japan's burgeoning stockpile of plutonium already is drawing suspicion from its Asian neighbors. The country is the world's third-largest user of nuclear power after the United States and France with about 50 uranium-fueled nuclear reactors. Next year, a massive $20 billion plutonium-reprocessing plant will open at Rokkasho-mura in the northern part of the main island, Honshu, marking an expansion into a branch of nuclear energy that is so complex, risky and costly that few nations have attempted it. Anti-nuclear organizations charge that Rokkasho-mura -- the only such facility in a declared non-nuclear state -- dangerously increases the risks of global proliferation. "Whereas Nagasaki was destroyed by [12 pounds] of plutonium, Japan itself currently has nearly [100,000 pounds] and plans to have a lot more," said Shaun Burnie, a spokesman for Greenpeace International. "We believe Japan's program is unjustified and poses a major proliferation threat to this region."
Other Japanese experts scoff at the near-term possibility of a nuclear-armed Japan. "The Hiroshima-Nagasaki legacy is so profound," said Mr. Funabashi, that "less than 10 percent" of the Japanese public supports nuclear weapons and to advocate their use would be political suicide. Similarly, a government defense expert who spoke on the condition of anonymity said any speculation that Japan might adopt nuclear weapons was "baseless." The expert suggested that the United States was raising the prospect simply to pressure China into working harder for a nuclear deal with North Korea.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings Dies

ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings died today at his home in New York City. He was 67.
On April 5, Jennings announced he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He is survived by his wife, Kayce Freed, his two children, Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23, and his sister, Sarah Jennings. In announcing Jennings' death to his ABC colleagues, News President David Westin wrote: "For four decades, Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him. "As you all know, Peter learned only this spring that the health problem he'd been struggling with was lung cancer. With Kayce, he moved straight into an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. He knew that it was an uphill struggle. But he faced it with realism, courage, and a firm hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones. In the end, he was not. "We will have many opportunities in the coming hours and days to remember Peter for all that he meant to us all. It cannot be overstated or captured in words alone. But for the moment, the finest tribute we can give is to continue to do the work he loved so much and inspired us to do."

Town Taxes Church

The Scituate tax board is ordering the Archdiocese of Boston to pay property taxes on St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church, saying church leaders' plan to close the parish negates its tax-exempt status. The church is among more than 80 that the archdiocese has sought to close as part of the consolidation brought on by declining attendance and persistent financial struggles. On Tuesday, the Scituate Board of Assessors voted 2-1 to bill the archdiocese $42,000 in taxes annually, based on an assessment of $4.45 million for the 30-acre property. "My feeling is if they decided they no longer want to use it as a church, I would consider it a taxable property," board chairman Fred Avila said. As religious institutions, churches are exempt from paying property taxes under state law. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini has not been used for worship services for the past nine months, but a group of parishioners have been staging an around-the-clock vigil since October to keep it open. It is one of about a half-dozen parishes where such sit-ins have hampered the archdiocese's efforts to close churches. "We certainly disagree with the position" of the Scituate tax board, archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon said. "It is still a blessed church. People are still in vigil there."
Scituate tax officials said they expected the archdiocese would challenge their decision, which could go before the state Appellate Tax Board and then the state courts. Scituate appears to be the first Massachusetts town to propose taxing a church targeted for closure, but tax assessors in other towns where parishioners are staging vigils told reporters they are considering similar moves. Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who registers nonprofit institutions, said the Scituate case leads to the broader question of what is and isn't a nonprofit. However he said he supports the tax board's decision. A Galvin spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment on Friday. The archdiocese plans to close 80 of its 357 parishes as part of the realignment announced last year. Sixty-two parishes have already closed, 14 more are scheduled to be shut down and six -- including St. Frances -- await word on appeals to the Vatican.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Sexual Predator Rights Trump Public Children Safety

The practice has become widespread undercover agents pose as children on Internet chat rooms. When adults strike up online relationships and arrange for sexual liaisons, police are waiting at the rendezvous point with handcuffs and arrest warrants. But a ruling of a federal court judge in Kansas City is calling the legality of the tactic into question.
U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple acquitted Jan Helder yesterday of using the Internet to try to entice a child into sex. Helder’s attorney, J.R. Hobbs, had argued that his client didn’t break federal law because the person his client was accused of enticing wasn’t a minor but a Platte County deputy pretending to be a minor. The ruling came just minutes after a jury returned a Guilty Verdict. Helder, 42, of Mission Hills, Kan., had faced a sentence of five to 30 years. "We will appeal this," U.S. Attorney Todd Graves said. "Our program is going forward." Hoping to make a dent in what appears to be a widespread problem, the Platte County Sheriff’s Department has made online child exploitation a priority. Suspects accused of crimes in Missouri are prosecuted at the state level. Federal prosecutors handle suspects from other states. Federal prosecutors in Kansas City said about 30 men had been convicted on federal charges here using undercover officers or agents. Many more cases are pending. Because most of the defendants have entered guilty pleas, Helder’s case is among the first to have gone to trial. And Graves said Helder’s defense had not been used before in Kansas City federal court. Prosecutors said that several court rulings had upheld the use of undercover officers but that the U.S. Supreme Court has not spoken on the issue. Hobbs disagreed, telling the judge that some cases had suggested that the undercover officers cannot be used. A local detective who heads Internet sting efforts for the Boone County Sheriff’s Department to catch would-be sex offenders said today he’s comfortable with the way his agency operates. All offenders caught under the Boone County effort are charged in state courts, which have upheld the use of undercover agents posing as children, Detective Andy Anderson said. "One thing that would not affect us is that we’re charging people under the state statute," he said. "Our law seems pretty clear that the state legislature does not want to put up with this particular thing." The Boone County stings have netted eight suspects since October.

Japan To Speed Up Missile Defence

The Japanese Government is trying to bring forward by up to a year the deployment of a ballistic missile defence shield against the threat of North Korean and Chinese attacks.
A senior Japan Defence Agency official has confirmed the two-tier missile defence program is being pursued with "a sense of urgency" and said that, if necessary, extra funding could be allocated to the project this year. The agency's white paper, approved yesterday by cabinet, does not mention an acceleration of the program but puts ballistic missile defence at the head of its "effective responses to new threats and diverse contingencies" and cites North Korea and China as the main sources of threat. "North Korea's development, deployment and proliferation of ballistic missiles, and the nuclear issue in general, is a main factor of instability for the Asian Pacific region as well as the international community, and its moves are of great concern," the report says. The white paper noted that China was developing new nuclear-capable intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles and upgrading the intermediate and medium-range missiles that cover Japan. However, mindful of frequent recent spats with Beijing over military and strategic issues, Japan Defence Agency director Yoshinori Ono said after yesterday's cabinet meeting: "I would like to reiterate that China is not a threat to Japan.
But there are issues that require attention ... and we urge China to improve its transparency." Earlier, when briefing reporters on the white paper, the senior agency official declined to specifically confirm that Japan hoped to start deploying a new generation of Patriot surface-to-air missile, the PAC-3, by the end of this budget year next March, a year ahead of schedule. But he made it clear "technical feasibility issues" for integrating destroyer-launched SM-3 interceptor missiles with the land-based PAC-3 system were close to being resolved. "We have felt that this two-tier defence has become quite realistic, so whether it's half a year or a year that the whole system is completed, the sooner it can be constructed the more desirable it is for us," the official said. "And whether or not we have to wait until the end of the budget year - that is March - there are times you can even put that budgetary allocation forward. In fact, we have had this sense of urgency very keenly for some time." Under the present schedule, the first of three PAC-3 units is supposed to be deployed by March 2007 and Japan would start installing SM-3 systems in its four Aegis missile destroyers the following year. The two-tiered program is planned to be complete by March 2011. The system would allow the Japanese to attack an incoming ballistic missile in mid-course through the upper atmosphere with an SM-3 or, if that failed, in its "terminal phase" with a land-based PAC-3. The Japanese system is designed to mesh with the American Pacific missile defence shield. The Defence Agency said Japan's close alliance with the US, which stations more than 40,000 of its troops in an officially pacifist country, was important "in maintaining peace and stability" in the region but said China seemed "wary" of Washington.
The Defence of Japan white paper focuses most closely on China: its continual expansion of military spending beyond national defence requirements, its missile capabilities and its naval ambitions. The paper notes that China's defence budget for this year rose by 12.6 per cent to 244.7 billion yuan ($39.5 billion), continuing an annual growth rate of more than 10 per cent in "announced" military spending for the 17th consecutive year. However, the paper also notes the budget allocation does not cover equipment procurement or research and development. "It is more than desirable that China will make an additional effort to improve transparency of its defence policy and military capabilities," it said. Japan's budget for defence for the next five years is about Y24 trillion ($282 billion). Sino-Japanese relations have deteriorated in recent months as they argue over energy resources and how they remember Japan's 1931-1945 occupation.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Saddam Hussein Comedy Cavalcade

The trial of Saddam Hussein will be shown on live television, Iraq's national security adviser said yesterday. The trial will show the Arab and Muslim world "that this is going to be a fair, just trial with a defence counsel in there, with a proper prosecuting counsel as well there," Iraqi national security adviser Muwaffaq Rubaie told reporters. "And everybody will watch this trial live on television." Earlier this month, an Iraqi tribunal filed the first charges against the deposed Iraqi leader over the 1982 killing of 143 residents of the village of Dujail, north-east of Baghdad, where he had been the target of a failed assassination attempt. No date for his trial has yet been set.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Joint War Games Between Communist China and Former Communist Russia

Nearly 10,000 troops are to take part in unprecedented joint military exercises by China and Russia this month aimed at strengthening ties between the armed forces of two powers that were once bitter foes. Chinese state media said yesterday the “Peace Mission 2005” exercises would be held from August 18-25 in and around the Russian far eastern port of Vladivostok and the Chinese coastal province of Shandong.
The scale of the exercises, which will involve land, air, naval, paratroop and marine forces, underlines the determination of Beijing and Moscow to expand a military relationship that has blossomed over the past 15 years. Russia is now China's leading source of high-technology weaponry, while the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has become an important source of foreign currency for the crumbling Russian military industrial complex. “The drills mainly aim to deepen Sino-Russian mutual trust, promote mutual friendship and enhance the co-operation and co-ordination of the two armed forces in the areas of defence and security,” China's official Xinhua news agency said. Xinhua said about 1,800 troops from Russia would take part in the exercises along with vessels of its Pacific fleet and 17 long-range military cargo planes. “The joint exercises will also help strengthen the capability of the two armed forces in jointly striking international terrorism, extremism and separatism,” the agency said. The reference to separatism will heighten concerns about the exercises in Taiwan, which enjoys de facto independence from China but which Beijing claims as part of its territory. Chinese and Russian officials have insisted the drills are not aimed at any third party. The choice of name for the exercises and the decision to characterise them as aimed against terrorism also reflect Beijing's desire to avoid fuelling wider worries about its emergence as a military power. A much-watched report by the US Department of Defence last month suggested the PLA's growing clout may tempt Beijing to use force against its neighbours and that it could pose a “credible threat” in the long term to other militaries in the region. The planned exercises set the seal on a dramatic shift in Sino-Russian ties since the late 1980s. Some people in China say much of the Russian far east rightfully belongs to Beijing and territorial rivalry has underlain diplomatic ties for more than three centuries. Under former communist governments the two countries espoused rival brands of Marxism and fought bloody battles along their common border. In recent years, China and Russia have worked hard to resolve differences on territorial issues, although some observers say their military marriage is still largely one of convenience.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Irish Eyes Are Smiling As Britain Slashes Troops In Northern Ireland

Britain revealed a two-year plan Monday for slashing its army garrison and base network to peacetime levels in Northern Ireland in a dramatic, detailed response to Irish Republican Army peace moves.
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said the IRA's promise last week to renounce violence and resume disarmament, if fulfilled, meant Britain could accelerate its military cutbacks that were begun seven years ago. In the most controversial part of the plan, three locally recruited and overwhelmingly Protestant ``home service'' battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment will be disbanded by August 2007. Britain had repeatedly postponed their disbanding because of bitter opposition within the province's British Protestant majority. In a letter to his approximately 11,000 troops and thousands of civilian staff in Northern Ireland, Lt. Gen. Redmond Watt said if the IRA threat does disappear as billed, then Northern Ireland's police no longer will require regular military backup. ``There will be no military requirement for the home service battalions, and they will disband,'' he wrote. Protestant leaders denounced the plans as a reckless capitulation to the IRA, which killed 182 members of the locally recruited battalions from 1971 to 1994 - often when the soldiers were off duty and vulnerable in their private businesses, vehicles or homes. ``I'm absolutely disgusted and very, very angry. This is pure and absolute appeasement,'' said David Burnside of the Ulster Unionist Party, who predicted that a new generation of IRA activists would take advantage of weakened security. ``The IRA have been fought to a standstill by the forces of law and order, but they always return.'' Catholics cheered the decision, reflecting their long-standing hatred of the overwhelmingly Protestant battalions.
Of the approximately 60,000 people who served in the battalions, a few dozen were convicted and imprisoned for killing Catholics or helping illegal Protestant groups to commit such violence, sometimes by leaking army dossiers on IRA suspects. Hain said Britain hoped to reduce its total troop strength in the next two years to ``a permanent military garrison of no more than 5,000 members'' operating from 14 bases, a normal level in United Kingdom terms. Watt said the Northern Ireland-based troops would be available for deployment worldwide, reflecting the current heavy demands Britain faces with its Iraq commitments. Army engineers began Friday to dismantle or withdraw from three installations in South Armagh, an IRA power base along Northern Ireland's border with the Irish Republic, where troops still use helicopters rather than vehicles because of the risk of a roadside ambush. Hain and Watt said engineers this week also would start to take down four of the most high-profile army observation posts: one atop the tallest apartment building overlooking Catholic west Belfast, another overlooking the hard-line Catholic Bogside district of Londonderry, Northern Ireland's second-largest city, and two others in South Armagh. The observation posts for decades have kept a high-tech eye on the IRA's host Catholic communities using powerful cameras and microphones. They have fueled a sense of ``Big Brother'' fears, with locals sometimes turning up the volume on their radios or TVs to mask their conversations. Hain said other goals - such as extending the areas where police could patrol without armored vehicles - might be held back until the final four-month phase of the two-year plan. Hain stressed that all the proposed cuts would depend on the IRA's progress in scrapping its weapons stockpiles and avoiding violent behavior.

Japan Set To Approve Trade Sanctions Against USA

Japan was to decide to impose its first-ever retaliatory sanctions against US imports in response to a controversial anti-dumping law enacted by its close ally, a report said.
Tariff rates would be around 15 percent in line with moves by Canada and the European Union, which have taken retaliatory actions against US products since May 1 over US legislation known as the Byrd Amendment, Jiji Press said. The government was to get approval from the Council on Customs, Tariff, Foreign Exchange and Other Transactions on Monday, it said without naming sources. No immediate comment was available from the trade ministry.
The tariffs would be the latest retaliation for the Byrd legislation, which redistributes levies on dumping -- selling items abroad at less than the price in the domestic market -- to US companies. Japan and other countries including the European Union took the case to the World Trade Organisation, which last year authorized sanctions amounting to 72 percent of the sums reaped by the US law. Jiji Press did not specify items to be slapped with the countervailing duties but earlier reports have said Japan would take action on steel and other industrial products, with higher tariffs taking effect possibly from September. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun said last week that the tariffs would total up to 76.3 million dollars and that they would remain in place until Washington repeals the 2000 US law, which is named after Senator Robert Byrd.
Government leaders have also indicated Japan was ready for the sanctions but declined to set a timeline or give specifics. Japan's move for retaliatory tariffs could be another thorny issue in bilateral trade ties, which have already strained amid a dispute over when Japan would lift its ban on US beef imports, put in place in December 2003. Japan, the biggest importer of US beef before the ban, is under US pressure to resume the imports.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Iran Gets Cocky With Nuclear Programme

Iran has warned that it will resume some nuclear activities on Monday, unless the European Union submits its proposals to resolve the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme. The country claims European nations agreed to August 1 as a deadline for presenting a package of economic and political incentives to encourage Iran to indefinitely suspend uranium enrichment, nuclear fuel reprocessing and related nuclear activities. Iran, which suspended all uranium conversion and enrichment activities in November 2004 following international pressure, said it would resume limited uranium conversion if the EU did not produce proposals by 12:30GMT. "If we do not receive the EU proposal today, tomorrow morning we will start part of activities in Isfahan's uranium conversion facility," said Ali Aghamohammadi, spokesman for the Supreme National Security Council. Speaking to state television, Mr Aghamohammadi stressed that the plans to resume processing uranium ore into gas at the plant were technically not part of the uranium enrichment process and said the work would be carried out under the supervision of UN inspectors. He added that Iran intended to continue talks with the EU. There has been no reaction to Tehran’s threatened intention to resume uranium conversion, but diplomats representing France, Germany and the UK, which speak for the EU on the matter, said they were unaware they had agreed to the August 1 deadline and had simply proposed to submit their proposals in late July or August. The EU has threatened to back calls by the United States to report Iran to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions if the Islamic republic resumes nuclear activity. The US and the EU suspect Iran's nuclear programme may be a cover for efforts to build a nuclear bomb, but Tehran insists that it only wants to harness nuclear power to generate electricity. Iran’s new president, former Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has indicated that he wants to continue the country’s nuclear programme.