Monday, October 31, 2005
The United States will remove 7,000 Marines from Okinawa in a major overhaul of American troops and bases in Japan under a US global plan to make its military more flexible, top officials said.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld shakes hands with Director General of the Japan Defense Agency Yoshinori OhnoThe base realignment unveiled by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Japanese counterpart, Yoshinori Ohno, also boosts bilateral military cooperation in areas ranging from disaster relief to ballistic missile defence to counterproliferation. Japan’s embrace of a sweeping plan to build up joint defences with the United States signals Tokyo’s acceptance of a growing military responsibility in the world and concern about the ambitions of North Korea and China, analysts said. “This relationship must and is in fact evolving to remain strong and relevant,” said Mr Rumsfeld, whose Pentagon has long urged Japan to contribute more to global security. Mr Ohno told reporters ‘we are in fact opening a new era’ in the evolution of the bilateral alliance beyond its initial narrow role of protecting Japan to cover contingencies in areas surrounding the Pacific Ocean island nation. “We’re now talking about joint activities in various areas between Japan and the United States in order to improve the peace security around the world,” he said. Mr Ohno, in a nod to sensitive public opinion at home and in neighbouring Asian countries invaded by Imperial Japan, stressed that Japanese activities would adhere to its war-renouncing constitution and ‘not involve use of force’. China was upset after a February round of US-Japan talks when the two allies listed Taiwan as a mutual security concern.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Kamau Kambon Wants To Exterminate White People
North Carolina State University has distanced itself from comments made by an occasional instructor who recently said blacks must "exterminate white people off the face of the planet.''
Kamau KambonKamau Kambon, an author who taught in N.C. State's Africana Studies program as recently as this past spring, made the comments during a conference at Howard University in Washington, D.C., that was televised nationally by C-SPAN. The conference was organized to discuss mainstream media coverage of racial issues after Hurricane Katrina. Kambon explained how he grew up in Brooklyn and eventually began to wonder why so many of his black friends were dying. He concluded that the reason was systematic oppression by a society designed and run by whites. "We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet to solve this problem ...,'' he said. "So we just have to just set up our own system and stop playing and get very serious and not be diverted from coming up with a solution to the problem, and the problem on the planet is white people.'' Lawrence Guyot, a civil rights leader and speaker at the conference, immediately challenged the remarks, warning that blacks can't work toward full freedom with "racial fanaticism.'' Opio Sokoni, a filmmaker and broadcaster who helped organize the event, also has distanced himself from Kambon's remarks. Kambon, who owns a store in Raleigh called Blacknificent Books, said he was aware of the controversy but wouldn't comment on it. Citing personnel laws, N.C. State officials refused to discuss why Kambon was hired. But they have denounced the remarks. "This type of speech is counter to any reasoned discussion on the issue of race relations and is absolutely unacceptable in the N.C. State community,'' said N.C. State Provost Larry Nielsen, who oversees academic programs at the university. He said Kambon taught at the school occasionally between the spring of 2001 and the spring of 2005. N.C. State spokesman Keith Nichols said Kambon taught at the school on an "as needed'' basis and wasn't slated to return even before his comments on Oct. 14. Nichols said he didn't know why Kambon wasn't rehired this school year and couldn't discuss whether he'd ever be hired again by the university.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Iraqis Adopt Constitution!
Iraq's landmark constitutional was adopted by a majority of voters during the country's Oct. 15 referendum, election officials said Tuesday.
Results released by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq showed that Sunni Arabs, who had sharply opposed the draft document, failed to produce the two-thirds "no" vote they would have needed in at least three of Iraq's 18 provinces to defeat it. The commission, which had been auditing the referendum results for 10 days, said at a news conference in Baghdad that Ninevah province, had produced a "no" vote of only 55 percent. Only two other mostly Sunni Arab provinces - Salahuddin and Anbar - had voted no by two-thirds or more. The constitution, which many Kurds and majority Shiites strongly support, is considered another major step in the country's democratic transformation, clearing the way for the election of a new Iraqi parliament on Dec. 15. Such steps are considered important in any decision about the future withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Iraq.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
A "whites only" sign at a barber shop on Moss Street in Lafayette might grab your attention and take you back to the Civil Rights era.
Herbert Leger's SignThis afternoon, a viewer called our newsroom appalled. We checked it out and found that barber Herbert Leger put the sign up Saturday morning after having to over and over again turn down customers he says he's not qualified to help.
Herbert Leger: The difference is the technique that you use and they have special technique for cutting black people's hair. Just like there's a special technique for cutting white people's hair. I don't have the training, I don't have the experience, I don't have the knowledge and the technique used in cutting black people's hair.
Herbert LegerLeger says he did not intend for the sign to offend anyone. He also says when a customer walks in he can't help, he sends him to his barber friend across the street.
Herbert Leger: The difference is the technique that you use and they have special technique for cutting black people's hair. Just like there's a special technique for cutting white people's hair. I don't have the training, I don't have the experience, I don't have the knowledge and the technique used in cutting black people's hair.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Presidents Approval Ratings Rebound
President Bush, his job approval rating beleaguered by poor marks in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, rebounded from historic lows this summer to 45% in Zogby International's latest poll. The president's job approval numbers bumped back up into the range where they have hovered for most of his second term.
The survey also found that, while voters do not give the President passing marks on his handling of the Iraq War, half (50%) believe the recently-passed Iraqi constitution is a major step in the right direction for the strife-torn nation that will lead to peace and democracy. Meanwhile, 37% believe Iraq is on the brink of a civil war. The Zogby America telephone poll of 1005 likely voters, conducted from October 19 through 21, 2005, has a margin of error of +/-3.2 percentage points. While President Bush's overall job approval is up, and a 52% majority of voters hold a favorable opinion of him, his handling of any number of issues continues to score negative marks-including his handling of the War on Terror, which is now disapproved by 53% in the survey; this is typically President Bush's strongest area in the survey.Bush's bounce appears to be tied to overall perception of the nation's direction; three weeks ago, just 40% said the nation was on the right track. This number now stands at 45%. Voter outlook on the nation's direction improved over an October 3 poll, which showed just 40% believing the nation to be on the right track. That number now stands at 45%, while those who said the nation is on the wrong track declined from 54% to 51%. Southerners continue to hold the most optimistic outlook on the nation's direction; in this region, which the President carried solidly in the last election, half of voters (50%) say the nation is on the right track. The same holds for the "Red States," those states carried by the President during the 2004 election: there, 50% of voters feel the nation is heading in the right direction, while 46% hold a more pessimistic view. In the "Blue States" carried by Democratic Senator John Kerry, meanwhile, just 39% say the nation is heading in the right direction while 56% believe the nation is on the right track. The trend is even more pronounced along party lines. While Republicans are overwhelmingly optimistic about the nation's direction, with 75% saying the nation is on the right track, among Democrats, this drops to 17%. Independents lag behind the national average at 42%. Despite the bounce in his overall job approval, President Bush continues to receive negative marks for his handling of several aspects related to his job. His signature issue of the War on Terror continues for a second straight month to be rated negatively; previously, the President received favorable marks for his handling of this particular area of his presidency. Zogby International conducted interviews of 1005 likely voters chosen at random nationwide. All calls were made from Zogby International headquarters in Utica, N.Y., from October 19 through 21, 2005. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, and gender to more accurately reflect the voting population. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
'My goal is to kill Ariel Sharon'
In case he wasn't clear enough during an exclusive interview this week in which he said his terror group would target the ranch of Israel's prime minister with rockets, the spokesman for a coalition of three Palestinian terror groups warned on an American radio show the same day his "first and foremost goal" is to kill Ariel Sharon.
Listen to ABC Radio's John Batchelor & Jerusalem chief Aaron Klein conduct a live interview with Mohamed Abdel-Al aka Abu Abir, spokesman of the Popular Resistance Committees, a network of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorists. The Committees has taken responsibility for many of the rockets fired at Israeli towns the past few years and for more than a dozen suicide attacks. It also was blamed for the bombing of a U.S. convoy in Gaza in October 2003, killing three Americans. "I want to say the first and foremost goal is to kill Sharon. I want to make life hell for him because he made life hellish for Palestinians," Abdel-Al said during the segment, which aired Monday on the nationally syndicated John Batchelor Show. The interview questions were translated live into Arabic and Abdel-Al's responses were translated back to English. Batchelor and Klein also ask Abdel-Al about the American convoy attack and whether he was trying to embarrass Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by committing attacks ahead of his visit with President Bush yesterday. Abdel-Al's threats to Sharon came one day after the Israeli Defense Forces found a Qassam rocket just outside Sharon's Sycamore ranch, located a few kilometers from Sderot, the town at which more than 20 rockets were fired immediately following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last month. The Qassam rocket at the prime minister's ranch was found next to the grave site of Sharon's wife, Lili. IDF sappers said the attack took place three weeks ago, during the latest round of rocket fire at southern Israel from Gaza. Abdel-Al told reporters both his group and Hamas launched many rockets the past few weeks and he cannot confirm which batch hit near Sharon's ranch. But he warned, "We shall use these rockets against Sderot, against Sharon's ranch and against every city in Israel any time there is need to do so. The Israelis shall wait for surprises from the Palestinian resistance. ... If there is need, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and everywhere in Israel can become our target. Israelis must also know that we have already transferred the knowledge and the technology of producing rockets to the West Bank."
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Airman's Frozen Body Found On Mount Mendel Glacier
Part Of Crew Lost In 1942 Crash The AT-7 went down in 1942. The wreckage wasn't discovered until 1947.
AT-7Now, one of the crew members aboard that military navigational trainer has apparently been found -- frozen in ice on California's Mount Mendel Glacier. The question now is, who was this airman? The body was discovered in the Sequoia National Park recently by two climbers at approximately 13,000 feet. "They were hiking, ice climbing... it's a pretty popular ice climbing route in (Kings Canyon) and what they noticed was the head and shoulder and a part of an arm of a person at the base of the glacier that had melted out over the course of this summer," National Park Service spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet told reporters "We got the report of a person wearing a parachute with a patch that said US Army Corp. There was no Air Force in 1942... that didn't come until 1947, or after World War II." In 1947, hikers on the glacier found part of the missing aircraft along with four bodies. No one knew a fifth soul was on board. Tuesday, two US Park Police officers and an archeologist climbed to the crash site to examine the body. Authorities believe the rest of the aircraft lies under the glacier where the body was found. Park officials hoped to chisel the body out of the ice on Wednesday and perhaps find on it some form of identification. mount mendel glacier sequoia national park
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Fake Yahoo News Site Falsely Reports Chinese Troops Invade Okinawa
A Website pretending to be the Yahoo news site has carried a fake Kyodo News article saying Chinese troops have invaded Okinawa, it was learned Wednesday.
The bogus news site carries the fake article it claimed to be a Kyodo News story written by a correspondent in the United States. "Chinese troops invaded Okinawa in the predawn hours of Tuesday, U.S. Department of Defense officials said," the story partly reads. A link was attached to the genuine Yahoo site. Both Yahoo Japan Corp. and Kyodo News are furious about the fake site, and are considering legal action against the owner of the it. "The story is without foundation and has been fabricated. We'll demand that the page be deleted and are considering filing a criminal complaint with law enforcers for damage to credit," a Kyodo News official said. "The fake site uses our logo without permission. It damages the public's confidence in Yahoo's news site, and we've asked the company that manages the server to delete the page. Depending on the development, we'll consider legal action.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Australia's Defence Minister Robert Hill will hold talks today with Filippino government officials about Australia giving assistance to the fight against Jemaah Islamiah.
Australia's Minister for Defence, Robert HillIt's believed the organisation has set-up camps in the southern Philippines and is working with other suspected terrorist organisations. Senator Hill has visited the south and talked with local military commanders. He will have discussions today in the capital Manila which he thinks can benefit both countries. We are concerned that Jemaah Islamiah maybe infiltrating from Indonesia and if there are ways in which we can help build the capabilities of the Philippine armed forces to meet that threat, then it is our interests as well as theirs, he says.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Sunnis Appear To Fall Short In Iraq Vote
The Iraqi constitution appeared headed for approval yesterday, as early returns from Sunni-dominated regions indicated that the Sunnis could not muster enough "no" votes to defeat the charter.
An Iraqi woman casts her vote in Iraq's constitution referendum symbolizing a step forward for women's rights in the country.With passage virtually assured, the main question now facing U.S. and Iraqi leaders is whether the Sunni Arab minority will accept the results of Saturday's referendum or will once again complain of being left out of the political process. The charter's opponents faced an uphill battle. To defeat it, they needed to marshal a two-thirds "no" vote in three of Iraq's 18 provinces. In two of the four provinces where Sunnis are concentrated, early results showed that the constitution would be approved by a wide margin. That leaves only two provinces -- Anbar in western Iraq and Salahuddin in the country's center -- where the charter could be voted down. While final results are not expected until later this week, U.S. officials yesterday were touting the constitution's passage. But they were quick to add it was unlikely to halt Iraq's raging insurgency. "I have no doubt that the terrorists are going to continue to try to derail the political process, but they've failed every time," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in London. The U.S. military reported yesterday that five American soldiers were killed Saturday by a roadside bomb in the western city of Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold. The deaths brought the number of U.S. service members who have died in Iraq to at least 1,975. Like other Bush administration officials, Rice argued that the constitution's passage would help bring more Iraqis into politics and isolate the insurgents. "What it will certainly help to do is to broaden the base of the political process," she said. But there were signs that some powerful Sunni factions would not accept the referendum results. Several Sunni leaders said they were convinced the charter would be defeated in three Sunni provinces, and accused the U.S. of interfering with the results. "We are warning the Sunni community of acts of fraud," Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni leader, told Al-Jazeera TV. "If the results are tampered with, it might lead to civil war." The referendum followed months of grueling negotiations among Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. Under Iraq's transitional law, a draft of the constitution had to be approved by parliament on Aug. 15 to allow for a nationwide vote two months later. But Iraqi leaders got off to a late start and had to extend the August deadline several times. Sunnis posed the biggest obstacle to achieving a consensus. Making up 20 percent of Iraq's population, Sunnis had ruled the country since it gained independence in 1932. Their power dissipated after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime and, by boycotting January's elections, they were left with little influence in parliament. Iraqi referendum officials handle ballot boxes before counting the votes in Baqouba, Iraq on Sunday. They re-entered the political fray by demanding greater representation on the constitution-writing committee. Even after parliament approved the draft charter, Sunnis were set to vote en masse against it because they believed it paved the way for a weak central government and Iraq's eventual breakup. Under intense U.S. pressure, the draft constitution was amended last week to open a four-month window for more changes next year, after a new parliament is elected by Dec. 15. That provision persuaded one of the largest Sunni groups, the Iraqi Islamic Party, to support the charter. But while the party's decision convinced some Sunnis to vote for the constitution, many other Sunnis considered the turnaround a betrayal. In Washington, Democrats were far less optimistic than the Bush administration in their assessment of the constitution's likely impact. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the charter is still divisive because it leaves key issues undecided. "That means political unity, which is absolutely essential to defeat the insurgency, does not exist in Iraq," Levin said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Negotiations were deadlocked for months over three key issues: the role of Islam in civil laws, the desire of Kurds in the north and Shias in the south to establish semi-independent regions under a federal system with a weak central government, and the paramount question of how to distribute Iraq's oil revenues. In its final draft, the charter was vague on how to divide the oil wealth. But it did guarantee the Kurds' right to maintain their autonomous region and paved the way for the Shias to create new ones.
Philippine, USA Troops To Kick Off Joint Military Exercises
The Philippine and US troops will start a two-week joint exercises named "Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercises" next week, which is aimed at increasing inter-operability and combat readiness of the two troops, said Philippine and US military sources and local media reports.
An opening ceremony for the joint exercise was held Friday at the Philippine Marine headquarters at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig in Metro Manila. Some 4,500 US troops, including marines and navy units, all of them from the US bases in Okinawa, Japan, will join the exercise, while 700 Philippine marines and air force troops will participate,according to Philippine military sources. The exercises will be held in Luzon, including the former US air base of Clark Field in Pampanga, as well as the provinces of Tarlac, Cavite, Nueva Ecija and Zambales. Apart from combat exercises, medical and civic action programs as well as engineering activities will also be undertaken by Philippine and US troops. US troops hold regular military exercises in the Philippines starting in 2002 under the name of counter-terrorism under a mutual defense treaty. US troops have also been providing their Philippine counterparts with intelligence support in hunting down terrorists like the Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), reportedly active in the southern Mindanao region. The US Government has recently offered a bounty of 11 million US dollars for the capture of two JI leaders accused of staging the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia, in which 202 people, mostly Westerners, were killed. The two men are reportedly hiding in Mindanao, according to US and Philippine security officials.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
TASK FORCE BAGHDAD SOLDIERS CATCH BOMBERS IN THE ACT
While conducting a combat patrol in north Baghdad, Task Force Baghdad Soldiers caught two roadside bombers in the act of placing an improvised explosive device. The patrol of 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division Soldiers immediately sealed off the area and captured both terrorists before they could trigger the bomb. The two terrorists were taken into custody for questioning, and an explosive ordnance disposal team safely destroyed the bomb.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Japan To Privatize Postal Service
Marking a moment of triumph for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the once-divisive postal privatization bills easily passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday by a wide margin of 200 votes.
The package of six bills to dissolve Japan Post and in its place create four private companies by October 2017 was approved in the lower house plenary session by 338-138 votes, as members of the Liberal Democratic Party - joined by most of those who were expelled after opposing the bills - voted for the bills along with coalition partner New Komeito. It was a far cry from the scene on July 5, when the bills - virtually the same as those - passed Tuesday - scraped through the chamber by a mere five votes, 233-228, with 37 LDP members voting against and 14 either abstaining or absent. The bills were put on ice on Aug. 8 when the House of Councillors voted against them 125-108. Koizumi responded by dissolving the lower house and won a landslide in the Sept. 11 poll to claim a mandate for legislation he has made the focus of his administration. Koizumi was all smiles Tuesday in his seat in the plenary session hall as Speaker Yohei Kono declared the bills' passage. He stood up, bowed to the chamber and immediately left the hall without voting for other bills on the agenda. Deliberations on the postal bills are scheduled to begin in the upper house Wednesday and the bills are expected to be passed as early as Friday. Their finalization will conclude this summer's political drama, directed by and starring Koizumi, whose most controversial departure from conventional political scriptwriting was the dispatch of so-called assassins to unseat LDP lawmakers opposing the postal bills. With the bills' passage Tuesday all but certain, all eyes were on the 13 ex-LDP lawmakers stuck out in the political wilderness as independents after surviving Koizumi's attempts to unseat them. Of them - former Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma - was a notable opponent of the bills, casting a blue chip in the open ballot. But most others changed their minds and cast white wooden chips approving the bills. One of the better-known postal rebels, former Posts and Telecommunications Minister Seiko Noda, followed up a previous commitment to vote with the government with a white chip Tuesday. "I'd like to admit that my opposition to the bills was completely defeated (as a result of the Sept. 11 election)," Noda said Sunday in her Gifu constituency. Noda, who was long considered a candidate to become Japan's first female prime minister, is desperately seeking Koizumi's forgiveness so she can return to the LDP fold. Former lower house Speaker Tamisuke Watanuki and his fellow postal rebels - who launched two spin-off parties after leaving the LDP - voted against both the government-sponsored postal bills and counter bills sponsored by the Democratic Party of Japan. The DPJ bills, as expected, were rejected earlier Tuesday in the plenary session in a standing vote. Members of the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party voted against both the government's and the DPJ's postal bills. The upper house is expected to rubber stamp Tuesday's lower house result as most LDP members who voted against the bills on Aug. 8 have announced their intention to support the government.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Happy Columbus Day
Columbus Day is a holiday celebrated in many countries in the Americas, commemorating the date of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492.
Christopher ColumbusSimilar holidays, celebrated as Día de la Raza in many countries in Latin America, Discovery Day in the Bahamas, Hispanic Day in Spain, and Día de la Resistencia Indígena in Venezuela, commemorate the same event. Many Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of Italian-American heritage—it is celebrated on the 2nd Monday in October. The first recorded celebration of Columbus Day in the USA was held by the Tammany Society, also known as the Colombian Order, in New York on October 12th 1792, marking the 300th anniversary of Columbus's landing in the Bahamas. Columbus Day was first celebrated by Italians in San Francisco in 1869, following on the heels of 1866 Italian celebrations in New York City. The first state celebration was in Colorado in 1905, and in 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set aside Columbus Day as a holiday in the United States. Since 1971, the holiday has been commemorated in the U.S. on the second Monday in October, the same day as Thanksgiving in neighboring Canada. Banks are almost always closed on this day, as are government offices. Public schools however are not usually closed on Columbus Day; nor is it recognized by most American employers as a day off from work.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Cops Nab Sex Offender Clad in Rope, Feces
A registered sex offender who fashioned a loin cloth from a rope and piece of lawn furniture was arrested near a high school, where he asked four girls for a ride to the mall or a motel, police said.
Kelly James Bailey, 33, of Greenwater, Wash., was wearing only the rope when he shocked a Medford woman by appearing in her back yard. Before he left, Bailey, who appeared to be covered in feces, ran away with a strip of leopard-print vinyl peeled from the seat of lawn chair, said Medford police Lt. Mike Moran. More than an hour later, four North Medford High School girls were waiting in a car near the school when Bailey — now wearing blue jeans, but still covered in the apparent fecal matter — approached the car. He asked the girls for a ride to the Red Carpet Inn or the Rogue Valley Mall. "The girls wisely rolled up their windows and left," Moran said. The girls alerted authorities, who spotted Bailey running near campus. "When we caught him, he still appeared to be covered in fecal matter," Moran said. "He told us, though, he was partying with girls the night before and somehow ended up rolling around in tomato paste." As officers patted him down, they found that he had used the rope and vinyl strip to make a primitive loin cloth. "I think it's definitely the strangest case of the day," Moran said. Bailey was lodged in Jackson County Jail on charges of theft, trespassing, criminal mischief and failing to register as a sex offender in Oregon. He was held on $24,000 bail. The theft charge was for allegedly taking the vinyl strip, Moran said.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Iraq Constitution Distributed Amid Attacks
Residents of one of Baghdad's most insurgent-hit neighborhoods received copies of Iraq's draft constitution Thursday, though some refused to take it and some shopkeepers balked at passing it out, fearing reprisals by militants determined to wreck the crucial Oct. 15 referendum.
Insurgents continued their wave of violence with attacks in and around the capital, including the suicide bombing of a minibus, that killed at least 20 Iraqis and an American soldier. Despite the bloodshed, Iraqis in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora had their first look at the document they will vote on in nine days, though distribution of the U.N.-printed blue booklets — emblazoned "The constitution is in your hands" — got off to a slow start elsewhere. "If we like it, we will vote 'yes.' If we don't, we'll say 'no,'" said Lamia Dhyab, a Shiite woman in a head-to-toe veil. She and other Dora residents got copies Thursday morning along with their monthly government-subsidized rations of rice, soap, cooking oil and other staples. The constitution is being distributed through the rationing system because some 80 percent of Iraqis have been enrolled in it since the days of U.N. sanctions against Saddam Hussein. Hamza al-Baidhani, 60, said the rations distributor he went to refused to pass out the booklets, claiming gunmen threatened to burn his business. "I wish that the Iraqi forces will be responsible for distributing the copies," he said. About two dozen boxes of the booklets were found thrown in a Dora garbage dump — apparently a sign of opposition or of shopkeepers fears of having the document around. Al-Qaida in Iraq has called for increased attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began this week, and more than 290 people have been killed in attacks the past 11 days, many of them Shiites. In Thursday's deadliest assault, a suicide bomber boarded a minibus packed with 14 passengers — officers going to the police academy and students and workers headed home to the Shiite district of Sadr City. The bomber, seated by the driver, set off his explosives belt as the bus passed a police patrol. At least nine people were killed and nine wounded, said Police Capt. Abbas Ali. The bus was left a burned-out husk. The U.S. military warned of more violence but said it was making progress in improving security ahead of the referendum and that two major offensives in the Sunni heartland of western Iraq would help provide a safe atmosphere for the vote. U.S. and Iraqi officials had hoped the drafting of the constitution would unite the country's disparate factions; instead, it has sharply divided them. While Shiite and Kurdish leaders overwhelmingly support the charter, moderate Sunni Arab leaders are urging their followers to vote "no," hoping to defeat a constitution they say will fragment Iraq. Some 5 million copies arrived in Iraq on Monday, but distribution does not appear to have started in the north and south, where the constitution is expected to pass by a wide margin. In Basra and Hillah, major Shiite towns in the south, no copies have been passed out, nor in Nineveh — a mixed northern province of Sunnis and Kurds that could be crucial to the constitution's passage or rejection. Kurdish-language copies had not yet reached many Kurdish areas. Parts of Baghdad were expected to start seeing their copies in the coming days. Dora was one of the first Baghdad districts to get its copies — and the document faced a tough audience. The rural suburb of farms and fields is largely Sunni and insurgents are intensely active. Nearly every day sees a shooting, drive-by killing or gunbattle, including one Thursday evening. "Most of our customers refused to take their copies," said shopkeeper Khalid al-Jabouri, 37. "Some families told me they heard the gunmen were watching them, so they are afraid they will see them getting copies and come to take revenge." Al-Jabouri was eager to get the booklets out of his shop, handing extra copies to families willing to take them. "They're a danger. We're giving extra copies to other shopkeepers in Shiite areas to pass out there." One Sunni man said he refused a copy because he already rejects a constitution he believes was written "in Washington and will be imposed on us in Iraq." "If I had the ability, I would punish the shopkeepers who are distributing them," said Ali Jameel al-Jabouri, an English-literature postgraduate student. Still, many Dora residents who did take copies were eager to look them over, and their opinions didn't always fall along sectarian lines. Omar Ali, a 25-year-old Sunni, was taking his copy home to his 13-member family and was open to approving it. "If I find this text satisfies our aspirations I will give 'yes,' if not I will give 'no' — although I have some reservations on federalism so I need to read it carefully." From what he's heard, Jawad Kadhim, a Shiite, didn't like it. "I reject it because it will lead to the partition of Iraq," he said, leafing through the booklet. U.S. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch warned of a likely spike in insurgent attacks before the referendum but said dual military offensives in the western province of Anbar will make "a safe and secure environment for the people of Iraq during the referendum." Thousands of U.S. troops, along with hundreds of Iraqi soldiers, are fighting in several Euphrates River towns to uproot al-Qaida in Iraq militants the military says are using the area as a base to launch attacks elsewhere. In Haditha, one of the towns troops swept into two days ago in Operation River Gate, U.S. Marines searched homes and plodded through fields of date trees and pomegranates, hunting for suspected insurgents. A roadside bomb hit a Marine patrol in Haditha on Thursday, causing no serious injuries, but the Marines traced the triggering wires to a nearby mosque, where they found buried a large weapons cache. Three men, including two mosque caretakers, were detained. Posted outside one of the mosque's doors was a "note of repentance" from a former city policeman renouncing his job and begging for forgiveness from al-Qaida members for working with security forces, according to Iraqi translators who read the flier as U.S. forces dug up the weapons. In Baghdad, a suicide car bomb hit a convoy of private security contractors in an eastern district, killing three Iraqi bystanders and wounding six others. None of the foreigners — believed to be Americans — were hurt. A roadside bomb killed one U.S. soldier in northern Baghdad, and a car bomb hit another U.S. patrol in a central neighborhood, wounding four Americans, the military said. The death raised to at least 1,944, the number of U.S. military members who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Spy In The White House
The FBI is investigating whether a former Marine took classified information from the White House when he worked in the vice president's office and passed it to Filipino officials, U.S. government officials said.
Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, a 21-year Marine veteran who became an FBI intelligence analyst last year, already has been charged in New Jersey with passing classified information about Filipino leaders to current and former officials of that nation. Aragoncillo worked at the White House from 1999 to 2001 and was assigned to the vice president's office under both Al Gore and Dick Cheney. White House officials said they were aware of the investigation but would provide no details. "It is an ongoing investigation and as such all questions should be directed to the FBI," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "We are cooperating fully with the investigation." Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the department would not comment on an ongoing investigation. A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said investigators were examining all of Aragoncillo's postings where he had access to classified information, including the White House. Aragoncillo was hired to work at the Army's Fort Monmouth, N.J., in July 2004 and began sending classified information and documents in January, according to an FBI complaint made public last month. The documents' contents have not been made public. From May to Aug. 15 of this year, he printed or downloaded 101 classified documents relating to the Philippines, of which 37 were classified "secret," according to the criminal complaint. He sent some of the material to Michael Ray Aquino, a former deputy director of the Philippines national police who lives in New York City, the complaint said. Both men were arrested Sept. 10 at their homes and ordered held without bail following an appearance before a federal magistrate. After his arrest, Aragoncillo "essentially admitted that he took classified information," Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl H. Buch told the magistrate. Officials say 46-year old Leandro Aragoncillo is a naturalized American citizen from the Philippines who worked undetected at the White House for almost three years.Aragoncillo is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in the Phillipines. He had top secret clearance. A Philippine opposition senator has acknowledged that he received information from Aquino. Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief under whom Aquino served, said he and "many others" received information passed by Aquino, but he played down the value of the reports, describing them as "shallow information." Last month, Newark U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said there was no evidence that the administration of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was involved, but he would not say if the suspects were in contact with opposition factions. The Asian nation has been beset by persistent coup rumors since Arroyo was accused of rigging last year's elections.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Terrorism Biggest Threat To Philippines Security
Terrorism has become the biggest threat to the country's security compared to the secessionist and various criminal elements, a government official said. Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes said at a press conference thatterrorism is the No.1 among the threats to the republic since it is "really clear and present."
Angelo Reyes"We've seen (terrorist attacks) in Bali. We have also reports that some of terrorists are probably here so there is clear and present danger of terrorist attack," said Reyes. Dozens of people and over 200 others were injured in the bombing on Saturday night in Bali, Indonesia, which was suspected of being conducted by the Indonesia-based southeastern terrorist network, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Reyes downplayed the reports that two JI terrorists behind the Bali bombings have been trained in the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao. "We don't necessarily believe all reports that come in but we are verifying them." On the current presence of JI operatives in the country, Reyes said: "We cannot prevent them from coming back, but if there are reports on it (JI's return to the Philippines), we will verify it and will run after them again." The JI is being blamed for a number of attacks in Indonesia andthe Philippines, including the Dec. 30, 2000 bombings in Metro Manila. Reyes said that JI terrorists have been dislodged from their training camps in Mindanao as a result of a series of military pursuit operation in 2000. However, a latest military pronouncement indicated that at least 30 to 40 JI militants are still currently operating in the country. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Monday issued an order to form a new national anti-crime task force headed by Reyes to "address heinous crimes, high-profile crimes and other crimes as may be directed by the president." "Part of the reason why we are here is to integrate intelligence collection and monitoring. The recent Bali bombing isa good enough warning that terrorism is with us and will be with us for many years," Reyes said. He was given a "quite short" timetable before the Christmas to improve the peace and order situation in the country. "The instruction of the president is that by Christmas time, weshould have delivered the message that we can have a Philippines wherein the Filipinos can feel safe, and that the criminals are not roaming the streets with impunity," said Reyes. "The timetable is quite short so we have to move fast (so that)by Christmas time we should have our countrymen feeling safe in the streets, in their homes and communities," he added.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Bush Nominates Miers To Fill O'Connor's Seat On High Court
Monday, October 03, 2005
North Korea To Ration Its Food After Turning Away Foreign Aid
North Korea plans to resume full-scale food rationing across the impoverished communist country after ending grain sales, a U.N. relief agency said. ''As of Oct. 1, reports are that cereal sales in the markets will cease and public distribution centers will take over countrywide distribution,'' the World Food Program said in a Friday-dated report. North Korea significantly scaled back its food-rationing system in July 2002 while introducing an economic reform program that increased wages. The reform measures failed, however, as inflation soared amid shortages of food and other goods. The isolated country has relied on outside handouts to feed its people after natural disasters and mismanagement caused its economy to collapse in the mid-1990s. Famine has killed an estimated 2 million people. Last month, however, North Korea asked international aid groups to stop all emergency humanitarian aid by year's end, saying it had enough food from other sources, including South Korea.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Muslim Comedy Sparks Controversy
Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World’ is the title of a film by Albert Brooks which no big studio wants to touch.
The studios are scared of the reprisals in the Muslim world, although Mr Brooks says the film does not poke fun at the Muslim world. Instead, it pokes fun at American ignorance of the Muslim world. Mr Brooks told an American magazine that Sony Studios, for which he made the film, got so worried at the comedy’s title that it decided not to release the movie. That forced Mr Brooks to look for a new distributor. In the movie, Brooks plays a comedian sent by the State Department to India and Pakistan with a couple of minders to find out what makes Muslims laugh so that everyone can get along better in the post-9/11 world. He says he got the idea before President George W. Bush appointed Karen Hughes to be undersecretary of state for public diplomacy charged with countering the negative US image among Muslims. Sony said doubts about the title were only part of much larger problems. Sources close to the company said executives did not find the movie funny and passed on it. Sony said in a statement, “To those looking for truth in this manufactured controversy, here it is: We made our decision to pass on Brooks’ movie the same way we did to accept Fahrenheit 9/ll — on the merits, with neither fear nor favour.” Brooks says most of the jokes in the movie are aimed at Americans, and there are no religious references at all. The film will now be distributed by Warner Independent in January.