Friday, June 30, 2006

Canada Bans Radical Muslim Cleric From Entering The Country

The federal government has taken steps to prevent a controversial British imam from entering Canada on Friday to speak to a Muslim youth conference in Toronto, CTV News has learned. Sheikh Riyadh ul-Haq, a prominent cleric in England who has been accused of publicly vilifying Jews and Hindus, among other groups, was slated to be the keynote speaker for the weekend Youth Tarbiyah conference, sponsored by the Islamic Foundation of Toronto. Sources told reporters that Immigration Minister Monte Solberg informed immigration officials that ul Haq should not be allowed into the country because of his extreme views. The cleric has been accused of making inflammatory comments about Jews, Hindus and moderate Muslims, as well as gay, bisexual and transsexual people. Ul Haq was recently called into the Canadian High Commission in London and was told he would not be admissible to Canada on grounds that his views could incite hatred and violence.
Sheikh Riyadh ul-Haq
"The government has taken the decision that he is not a Canadian citizen, and why are we going to let somebody like that into the country to propagate these kind of views?" CTV's Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife told Newsnet. "And the government is confident that most people will support them on that view." News of the imam's planned visit has enraged Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and gay-rights groups, who wrote last week to Solberg calling for Canada to refuse ul Haq entry to Canada under anti-hatred laws. In a letter, the Muslim Canadian Congress, Canadian Jewish Congress, Hindu Dharma Mission and Egale Canada, a gay-rights group, said ul Haq's history of "dangerous and inflammatory" statements are an affront to Canadian values. The Canadian Jewish Congress issued a statement on Thursday commending Solberg's decision. "We applaud Immigration Minister Monte Solberg's leadership when he made it clear that minority communities in Canada will not face unnecessary and hateful vilification," said CJC National President Ed Morgan."We all felt it was vital to speak with a united voice to in order to ensure Canadian society would not be polluted by this man's dangerous and inflammatory views," said Morgan. Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress said he does not want to see fellow Muslims coming to Canada to spew hate under the banner of Islam. "It's a very dangerous recipe, mixing of religion and politics ... and it is counter-intuitive to any civic society," Fatah said. As a British citizen, ul Haq does not need a visa to enter Canada. A decision about his entry would fall under the discretion of immigration officers. UI Haq was scheduled to speak last Sunday at a Montreal Islamic youth conference, but organizers cancelled the appearance over concerns about negative publicity. The outspoken cleric has visited Canada on at least four other occasions, including a speech he gave in front of 15,000 people at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference at Toronto's Rogers Centre last year. The arrest of 17 suspected terrorists in the Greater Toronto Area has raised concerns about the radicalization of Muslim youth by extremist preachers.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gaza Militants Fired Chemical-Tipped Warhead

A spokesman for gunmen in the Gaza Strip said they had fired a rocket tipped with a chemical warhead at Israel early on Thursday. The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the claim by the spokesman from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. The group had recently claimed to possess about 20 biological warheads for the makeshift rockets commonly fired from Gaza at Israeli towns. This was the first time the group had claimed firing such a rocket."The al-Aqsa Brigades have fired one rocket with a chemical warhead" at southern Israel, Abu Qusai, a spokesman for the group, said in Gaza. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army had not detected that any such rocket was fired, nor was there any report of such a weapon hitting Israel.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The New Who's on First

George: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening? Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.

George: Great. Lay it on me.

Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.

George:That's what I want to know, who?

Condi: That's what I'm telling you.

George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?

Condi: Yes.

George: I mean the fellow's name.

Condi: Hu.

George: The guy in China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The new leader of China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The main man in China!

Condi: Hu is leading China.

George: Now whaddya' asking me for?

Condi: I'm telling you, Hu is leading China.

George: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?

Condi: That's the man's name.

George: That's who's name?

Condi: Yes.

George: ?Will you, or will you not, tell me the name of the new leader of China?

Condi: Yes, sir.

Geoge: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was dead in the Middle East.

Condi: That's correct. George: Then who is in China?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir's in China?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Then who is?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Look Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.

Condi: Kofi?

George: No, thanks.

Condi: You want Kofi?

George: No.

Condi: You don't want Kofi.

George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me th U.N.

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi?

George: Milk! Will you please make the call?

Condi: And call who?

George: Who is the guy at the U.N?

Condi: Hu is the guy in China

George: Will you stay out of China?!

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: And stay out of the Middle East! ?Just get me the guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi.

George: All right! With cream and two sugars.

Philippine Police Uncover New Terror Threat

Philippine police says the Indonesia-based militant group, Jemaah Islamiyah, has formed a new terror group in the Philippines that aims to assassinate President Gloria Arroyo and some members of her cabinet. The disclosure comes as Philippine and Australian officials hold a two-day counter-terrorism conference in the Philippine capital, Manila. Philippine police say the new terror group completed its training course in January, and is out to stage bomb attacks and assassinate President Gloria Arroyo and her officials.A reporter in the Philippines says the information is contained in documents intercepted by police. Police have been placed on full alert, while terrorist attack drills have been scheduled in various cities. Meanwhile, security talks are being held in Manila by Philippine and Australian officials. Australia's ambassador for counter-terrorism, Les Luck, who is attending the talks, says Australia fears al Qaeda-linked militants may be using rebel sanctuaries in the Philippines for training, perpetuating the terrorism threat in the region.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Limbaugh Has A Hard Monday

Rush Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription. Customs officials found a prescription bottle labeled as Viagra in his luggage that didn't have Limbaugh's name on it, but that of two doctors, said Paul Miller, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. A doctor had prescribed the drug, but it was "labeled as being issued to the physician rather than Mr. Limbaugh for privacy purposes," Roy Black, Limbaugh's attorney, said in a statement. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement examined the 55-year-old radio commentator's luggage after his private plane landed at the airport from the Dominican Republic, said Miller.The matter was referred to the sheriff's office, whose investigators interviewed Limbaugh. According to Miller, Limbaugh said that the Viagra was for his use, and that he obtained it from his doctors. Investigators confiscated the drugs, which treats erectile dysfunction, and Limbaugh was released without being charged. The sheriff's office plans to file a report with the state attorney's office. Miller said it could be a second-degree misdemeanor violation. Limbaugh reached a deal last month with prosecutors who had accused the conservative talk-show host of illegally deceiving multiple doctors to receive overlapping painkiller prescriptions. Under the deal, the charge, commonly referred to as "doctor shopping," would be dismissed after 18 months if he continues to submit to random drug tests and treatment for his acknowledged addiction to painkillers.

Secret Government Hotline Gets So Many Telemarketers Calling They Added the Number To The Do Not Call Registry

Ever feel there's no getting away from telephone sales calls? You're not the only one. The federal government has decided to put its own secret Homeland Security hotline to the nation's 50 governors on the federal Do Not Call Registry, according to Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. The move came after a complaint by Minner, who said that when her line rings, chances are it's not an emergency but an unwanted intrusion. "Every time that phone rings, it's telemarketers," she said in Washington. Minner keeps the secret homeland defense hotline in her office. Governors have them for instant communication with Washington in case of a major emergency. Minner says that when her line rings, it's someone offering a time-share condominium or the latest deal on long-distance phone service. "I wonder about the security of that line," Minner said.
Gov. Ruth Ann Minner
She said other governors have reported similar interruptions, such as the caller who chirps, "Hello! Are you satisfied with your long-distance service provider?" Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle reported getting a similar call in 2003. The caller jangled nerves and the phone just as U.S. troops were launching ground combat in Iraq. Telemarketers that use random-number call generators have been stumbling onto the secure phone lines by accident, Minner said. So, she said, the federal government is at last doing what it recommends to millions of Americans with the same problem: placing the line's number on the registry, which makes calls to the number by most telemarketers illegal. Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said he was unaware of the problem. No word on whether the governors' phones ring only at dinnertime.

Chancellor Calls For Churchill's Termination

The interim chancellor at the University of Colorado in Boulder announced in a press conference that Ward Churchill should be fired. "As part of my notice of dismissal we are also relieving Churchill from his duties as a faculty member on the Boulder campus including teaching research and service," said Phil DiStefano, CU's interim chancellor. Earlier this month, the faculty committee on research misconduct at CU recommended the termination of Churchill after they found the professor committed serious, repeated, deliberate research misconduct. Churchill was also accused of plagiarizing others' works, changing facts to suit his agenda and making things up. Early last year, Churchill wrote an essay comparing victims of September 11 to Nazis.
Ward Churchill
DiStefano said the essay is protected by free speech and the Churchill investigation should not affect other faculty member's willingness to write about controversial subjects. "As long as faculty members follow research guidelines, especially areas concerning plagiarism, fabrications and falsification, I think they will continue to write about controversial subjects," DiStefano said. "That's what the university is about." Churchill's attorney, David Lane argued that the essay had everything to do with the termination recommendation. "For the last year and a half we've been engaged in the sham process of looking for those better excuses to fire him," Lane said. "They now believe they have the better excuses and DiStefano has rubber stamped the committee and said 'fire him.'" DiStefano insisted he made the decision carefully after meeting with the dean of arts and sciences, Provost and Churchill himself.
Phil DiStefano
Lane disagreed. "Academic freedom is no longer respected at CU and the First Amendment is no longer respected at CU," Lane said. "That's what this means for CU." Churchill has 10 days to appeal the chancellor's decision to the faculty committee on privilege and tenure and Lane said they will. If it upholds DiStefano's recommendation, CU President Hank Brown and the Board of Regents would have to sign off on the firing. Churchill's attorney, David Layne, said they will sue for a First Amendment violation if that happens. He also said he's not surprised by the call for Churchill's dismissal.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Israel Invades Gaza

Israel sent tanks and commando troops into southern Gaza last night after Palestinian militants, believed to be backed by insurgents from Egypt, killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded four others in an ambush on an Israeli army post. The Israeli counter-assault - the first large-scale incursion into Gaza since troops withdrew from the area last August - marked a serious escalation in hostilities. The assault came amid fears a missing Israeli soldier had been taken into Gaza by Palestinian militants, and hours after the ruling Hamas Government foreshadowed progress on an inter-factional deal moving towards recognising Israel. The incursion followed claims of an agreement between militant leaders to wind back the firing of homemade rockets at Israel that have led to dozens of Palestinians being killed in retaliation during recent weeks.Israeli tanks rolled into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing near the main border gate with Egypt after a number of militants infiltrated Israel and launched a three-wave attack against military posts just after dawn. An anti-tank missile was fired at an armoured personal carrier, and a tank and watchtower were hit in what Israeli military officials described as a "highly professional" operation. The military wing of Hamas, the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility, along with an umbrella group of Palestinian militants, the Popular Resistance Committee. Another non-Palestinian group, the Army of Islam, added its name to the operation. The group is not known to have previously operated in the Palestinian territories and is aligned with the global jihad movement. "Our fighters infiltrated the Israeli army military location near so-called Kerem Shalom," said Abu Mujahid, a PRC spokesman. "They succeeded in blowing up several Israeli vehicles and clashed with Israeli soldiers. The battle is still going on. The number of fighters is bigger than at any time. We have some martyrs who fell during the battle."It was a very complicated and well-studied operation. The details are going to shock the Zionists," the statement said. "There are many surprises that are going to be announced about planning and about the process and about the battle itself." At least two militants are believed to have been killed. Israeli officials claimed a tunnel was used to enter Israel and soldiers were last night scouring southern Gaza for an entry point. For the past week, Kerem Shalom and the main passenger terminal into Egypt, the Rafah crossing, have been largely closed because of Israeli security fears. Intelligence chiefs have warned for months of attempts to smuggle militants into Israel through Egypt. A Popular Resistance Committee statement last night gave weight to the theory. "This is an operation of high quality, during which some of the people were parachuted close to the crossing," it said. The Palestinian operation came less than a day after Israeli commandos briefly entered southern Gaza on Saturday to arrest two Hamas members. Last month Israeli naval commandos ambushed Islamic Jihad militants in the north of the strip as they prepared to fire Qassam rockets at Israel. Hamas's military wing claimed yesterday's attack was to avenge the death of one of its leaders in an Israeli air strike carried out earlier this month. Convoys of tanks, jeeps and armoured personnel carriers massed near the Gaza border last night as an advance column entered the strip. An Israeli cabinet meeting in Jerusalem was considering a large-scale land operation, amid calls for calm from some politicians. The meeting was due to consider a document prepared by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails that aims to orchestrate an end to an Israeli and international boycott of the Hamas Government by implicitly recognising the state of Israel. A total of 18 key points have been thrashed out in recent weeks by Hamas ministers and rivals from the Fatah party it defeated in January elections.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

149 Militants Killed In Major Anti-Taliban Operation In Southern Afghanistan

Nearly 150 suspected Taliban fighters were killed and more than 60 others arrested since the launching of a major anti-Taliban operation in south Afghanistan, Defense Ministry spokesman said. "Operation Mountain Thrust has entered its second week and so far 149 enemies of peace have been killed, 32 others got wounded and 61 more were captured," Zahir Azimi told journalists at a press conference. Asked about the government troops'casualties, he said that only three soldiers lost their lives and 14 others sustained injuries over the past two weeks.Involving 11,000 coalition and Afghan soldiers, the ever- biggest offensive since the collapse of Taliban in late 2001, according to the spokesman, would continue to completely root out militants in the region. 47 militants had been killed over the past two days in the operation covering the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan, the hotbed of Taliban insurgents. A large number of arms and ammunition including 47 assault rifles were also seized from the militants. Taliban militants are yet to make any comment on the claim. Taliban-linked insurgency has claimed the lives of more than 900 people including more than 40 foreign soldiers, among whom there were over 30 Americans, in the past six months.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

President Signs Executive Order Protecting Private Property Rights

President George W. Bush issued an executive order on Friday to limit the U.S. government from taking private property only for the benefit of other private interests, like corporations. The order came exactly a year after a divided Supreme Court ruled a city could take a person's home or business for a development project to revitalize a depressed local economy, a practice known as eminent domain. "The federal government is going to limit its own use of eminent domain so that it won't be used for purely economic development purposes," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. She said more than 20 states had already enacted laws that prohibit the use of eminent domain for purely economic development purposes and four states have proposed constitutional amendments on November election ballots.The high court in 2005 backed the taking by the city of New London, Connecticut, of 15 properties belonging to nine residents or investment owners for a project to complement a nearby research facility by drug company Pfizer Inc. The 5-4 high court decision upheld the plan under the U.S. Constitution, which allows the government to take private property through its eminent domain powers in exchange for just compensation. The ruling outraged property rights advocates and conservatives in Congress who said it gave local governments the right to give any home to a wealthy developer as long as there was a commitment to upgrade the property. Bush's order was aimed at limiting the federal government to taking private property, with compensation, for situations in which it was for "the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties." Bush directed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to issue instructions to government agencies for implementing the policy and also to monitor takings by the federal government. The order does permit the federal government to take property for many public purposes, such as for a public medical facility, roads, a military reservation, acquiring abandoned property or to prevent a harmful use of land.

Mondale Supports Strike Against North Korea

Former Vice President Walter Mondale joined the list of people supporting a pre-emptive U.S. strike against a North Korean missile. Mondale said that the United States should tell North Korea to dismantle the missile - and if it doesn't "we are going to take it out." He said the missile would be easy to hit and "I think it would end the nuclear long-range dreams of this dangerous country," said Mondale, who's also a former U.S. ambassador to Japan, in the interview. Mondale, 78, said North Korea already has nuclear weapons and its ambition to develop a long-range missile is "one of the most dangerous developments in recent history." It's so dangerous, he said, because of the nation's isolation from the international community and its unpredictable leader, Kim Jong Il."It is the danger of our time," he said. "Here's this bizarre, hermit kingdom over there with a paranoid leader getting ready to test a missile system that can hit us." The tensions are over North Korea's apparent preparations to test-fire a Taepodong-2 missile, which is believed to have a range of up to 9,300 miles. That would make it capable of hitting much of the U.S. mainland. Former President Clinton's defense secretary, William Perry, advocated such a pre-emptive strike in The Washington Post. But National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley brushed aside Perry's suggestion. Hadley said he hoped that North Korea would see the unanimously negative reaction from the international community to the test and return to the negotiating table.Mondale and President Jimmy Carter took office 1976 and were defeated by Republican Ronald Reagon in 1980. Mondale was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1984, and lost. President Clinton appointed him ambassador to Japan in 1993 and he served as Clinton's special envoy on the Asian financial crisis and economic reforms in Indonesia five years later. He's currently practicing law in Minneapolis.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Bomb Blast Kills 5 In Philippines

A car bomb exploded in a public market in a southern Philippine town early Friday as a convoy carrying a provincial Governor was passing by, killing five people wounding 10 others, authorities said. The Governor, Andal Ampatuan, was unhurt, local army commander Col. Felipe Tabas said. The blast at 7:30 a.m. rocked the busy market in Shariff Aguad in Maguindanao province, about 560 miles southeast of Manila, he said. He said the bomb was placed in or under a minibus parked nearby, which was loaded with fireworks.
Governor Andal Ampatuan
Among the five killed were two relatives of the Governor, said provincial administrator Norie Unas. At least 10 other people were wounded, most of them passers-by, police said. Ampatuan’s son, Zaldy, is the Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which was created after a large Muslim separatist group signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996.A splinter group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has continued to wage a separatist rebellion, although it signed a cease-fire agreement three years ago amid ongoing peace talks. Al-Qaida-linked militants also are active in the area. Andal Ampatuan Jr., a son of the Governor, blamed “terrorists” for the attempt on his father’s life. He did not elaborate.

Manila Raises Security After Reports Of Attack Plan

The Philippines raised security in Manila after intelligence that Muslim rebels with suspected ties to foreign militants planned to attack shopping malls and transport systems, a top police official said. Manila police chief Vidal Querol said about 15 check points were set up around the capital to guard critical public and private installations such as petrol depots, power, water and communications stations and bus and train stations. "We have been getting intelligence reports on an alleged plot by terrorist groups to plant bombs in Manila and other key urban centers in the south," Querol told journalists, adding he had met with mall owners to seek their help in tightening security. "They promised to help us ensure the safety of shoppers by beefing up mall guards and installing extra security cameras."Querol said the nearly 20,000 police officers in Manila were placed on heightened alert at dawn on Thursday. "In the last few weeks, we're getting consistent reports from various sources about a plot by Muslim rebels to simultaneously bomb three or four targets in the capital," a senior police intelligence official told Reuters. The official said authorities were worried because the reports filtering in contained "very specific" details about the bomb plot, such as date, time and place of targets. Brig. Gen. Delfin Bangit, commander of the elite Presidential Security Group, said the PSG is concerned about the increasing threats from local militant groups with suspected ties to Indonesian jihadist groups. "There were consistent reports of bombings," said Bangit. "We are very concerned because the president has been moving around." Intelligence officials blame a small group of radical Muslim converts, Rajah Solaiman Revolutionary Movement, for the series of bombings in the capital since 2004, including the worst attack that killed over 100 people in a ferry explosion. Two of the group's top leaders -- Ahmad Islam Santos and Pio de Vera -- were arrested last year in Zamboanga City, disrupting an alleged plot to detonate a truck bomb in Manila. "Our latest information suggested a fresh plot to be carried out by new recruits," the intelligence official said, adding the regional militant network Jema’ah Islamiyah and its local partner Abu Sayyaf may have provided funds for the planned attack.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

BUSH LIED! ... (They Found WHAT!!!) Oh Oh

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) announced the finding of over 500 munitions or weapons of mass destruction, specifically "sarin- and mustard-filled projectiles," in Iraq. Reading from unclassified portions of a document developed by the U.S. intelligence community, Santorum said, "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist." According to Santorum, "That means in addition to the 500, there are filled and unfilled munitions still believed to exist within the country."Reading from the document, Santorum added, "Pre-Gulf War Iraqi chemical weapons could be sold on the Black Market. Use of these weapons by terrorist or insurgent groups would have implications for coalition forces in Iraq. The possibility of use outside of Iraq cannot be ruled out. The most likely munitions remaining are sarin- and mustard-filled projectiles. And I underscore filled." Santorum said the "purity of the agents inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives and environmental storage conditions." While acknowledging that the agents "degrade over time," the document said that the chemicals "remain hazardous and potentially lethal." The media has reported that "insurgents and Iraqi groups" want to "acquire and use chemical weapons," Santorum noted. The Pennsylvania senator called the finding "incredibly" significant. "The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction is in fact false," Santorum said. "We have found over 500 weapons of mass destruction and in fact have found that there are additional chemical weapons still in the country."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Australian Troops To Redeploy In Iraq

Hundreds of Australian troops are to redeploy for a more dangerous mission in Iraq, Prime Minister John Howard's government said, sparking calls to bring them home. Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said that 460 soldiers currently guarding Japanese engineers in the southern city of Samawa would move soon to the nearby city of Tallil. They would provide back-up and training for Iraqi forces who are set to take control of the southern province of Al-Muthanna, and help secure the dangerous Syrian border, Nelson said. The move is politically sensitive for Howard's government, which backed the US-led offensive in Iraq in the face of widespread public opposition. Protests have faded and the issue has largely slipped from the headlines in recent months, largely because Australia has suffered only one fatality in Iraq.But the new mission near the volatile city of Nasiriyah, where roadside bombings by insurgents are commonplace, is likely to be more dangerous. Thirty-one Italian soldiers stationed in Nasiriyah have been killed and Rome plans to withdraw its contingent, once the fourth largest in Iraq, by the end of the year. "This has the potential to be more dangerous for our soldiers," Nelson said. He said insurgents were "totally opposed to Iraqi people having the same democratic rights as Australians and other people in the world (and) might possibly want to target Al Muthanna as being the first province to go to Iraqi control." Howard said Monday that Australian troops would continue guarding the 600-strong Japanese contingent until they left the country, and called the redeployment a "sensible next step." Japan was expected to announce its withdrawal later in the day. "The aim is to have the Iraqis look after themselves," Howard said. "If we pull out too quickly ... the whole thing will fall to the ground." But political opponents seized on the news to demand the withdrawal of the 800 Australian troops. "They should be brought home right now," said Australian Greens leader Bob Brown. "Moving them from one province to a less safe province is not a good thing to do."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

U.S. Keeps Quiet On Warships In East Sea

The U.S. has declined to tell the South Korean military if one of its Aegis destroyers is plowing the East Sea with a view to intercepting a long-range ballistic missile North Korea is allegedly planning to launch. Washington normally gives Seoul due notice when an aircraft carrier or Aegis ship is headed into Korea’s maritime operational zone, but it sometimes keeps quiet about ships it sends into international waters off North Korea. Military insiders say there is a good chance the U.S. already has an Aegis vessel in the East Sea.Meanwhile, the U.S. started the largest military exercise in 10 years. The operation codenamed "Valiant Shield" takes place in waters surrounding Guam, with three aircraft carriers joining drills from Monday until Thursday. A spokesman of the U.S. Forces in the Pacific said the possibility that the missile situation in North Korea could have an effect on the drills cannot be ruled out.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Japan Warns North Korea Missile Launch Would Be Viewed As 'Attack'

Japan warned North Korea today it would view any test-fired missile that landed on Japanese soil as an attack, after reports the secretive nation is preparing a new missile launch. Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Tokyo is ready to slap sanctions on the North, which surprised the world by firing a missile over Japan in 1998 without warning. He said any repeat launch would lead immediately to the UN Security Council. "If they failed and the missile dropped on ... Japan, things would be complicated," Aso said on Japanese television. "It will be regarded as an attack." Reports of the imminent test of a long-range missile with the range to hit parts of the United States have drawn stiff warnings from Washington as well as from Japan and South Korea. Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper, citing unnamed Japanese government sources, said citizens of the Stalinist state had been advised to raise the national flag at 0500 GMT and watch a message on television.But that time passed without word of any launch, and South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited an official as saying that a similar call to citizens was issued last year on June 18 as part of an unrelated domestic anniversary. North Korea last year said it had nuclear weapons and since November has boycotted six-nation talks on its atomic drive, saying it will not come back to the bargaining table until the United States lifts sanctions on it. "We will immediately appeal to the United Nations Security Council if North Korea test-fires a missile and threatens Japan's national security," Aso said. "That's a matter of course -- and the United States will support us." Aso also said Tokyo was ready to impose economic sanctions against North Korea in retaliation. "We have already finished legal procedures to take action," he said. "The next step is to put that in motion."Washington is a permanent Security Council member together with Britain, China, Russia and France, while Tokyo holds one of the non-permanent, rotating seats on the 15-member council. Thomas Schieffer, the US ambassador to Japan, said yesterday there were signs the North was preparing a missile launch and warned that such a move would be "grave and provocative." But Schieffer declined to give a time-frame for a launch of a Taepodong-2 missile, which has a range of 3,500 to 6,000 kilometers. In South Korea, a defense ministry spokesman declined to comment on any North Korean preparations but said his country's military alert level had not been changed. "The military is on the same level of alert as usual. There has been no upgrade in the military alert yet," the spokesman said.

War Sanctuary For Pussies

Inspired by the defiance of a soldier from Hawaii, the 300-member congregation's administrative council of the First United Methodist Church of Tacoma has declared itself to be a sanctuary for chicken shit,turncoat, run away with your tail between your legs, servicemen and servicewomen who do not want to go to Iraq. The council voted last weekend to open its doors to those service people beginning today, church officials said Wednesday. The Rev. Monty Smith told reporters that the church has NOT received any applications for sanctuary from members of the armed forces. The decision by the church comes after 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, a Fort Lewis Army officer from Oahu, announced that he will not go to Iraq although he could face two years in prison for failing to deploy.A statement from the church said that service members "who are unable to deploy to combat areas for reasons of conscience" can find protection behind its doors. Smith said that "our initiative was because of Lt. Watada's gesture." Smith said the church stands "in solidarity" with others who hold similar views on Iraq. The church said it was essentially providing a protective space and resources to those contemplating whether to resist deployment to Iraq, Smith said. Watada, 28, is a member of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, the Army's first Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The unit is leaving this month for a second mission in Iraq. This would be Watada's first deployment to Iraq. Watada has tried twice before to resign from the Army. He continues to work as an artillery-targeting officer but is under investigation, his lawyer and military officials said.

North Korea Threatens To 'Wipe Out' US Forces In Case Of War

North Korea threatened to 'mercilessly wipe out' US forces in case of war during a national meeting to mark leader Kim Jong-Il's 42 years' work at the ruling party, according to a ruling party report carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). The threat came as North Korea was reportedly preparing to test-fire a long-range missile despite strong protests from the United States and its allies. Choe Thae Bok, a ranking Workers Party official, said Washington is 'hell-bent on provocations of war of aggression' in the report to mark the 42nd anniversary of Kim's start at the party, KCNA said.
Choe Thae Bok
'If the enemies ignite a war eventually, the Korean army and people will mercilessly wipe out the aggressors and give vent to the deep-rooted grudge of the nation,' Choe was quoted as telling the meeting. North Koreans are customarily advised to watch the televised event, according to Seoul officials who cautiously questioned a news report that had linked the notice to a possible missile launch. Japanese and South Korean media said North Korea is planning a missile test for this weekend. South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying the missile launch could take place either Sunday or Monday. But as of today, North Korea has not been confirmed yet to have fueled the missile at a launch pad in the remote northeast of the country, the final step before a test-firing.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Veteran Appreciative For New Flags After Theft

An 81-year-old veteran is overwhelmed by the flag donations he's received after the thefts of his own flags became public. On the day after Flag Day, Duane Booker woke up and noticed his American flag and his Marine Corps flag had been stolen from his front yard. Since the Duluth News Tribune published a story about the thefts, Booker has received dozens of supporting phone calls and plenty of new flags. "I've heard from the state of Virginia, from Wisconsin, from Congressman (Mark) Dayton's office," he said. "I've got more flags coming than you can shake a stick at." So far, his favorite is a Marine Corps flag he received Friday morning from a woman who said she got the flag when her son was discharged from the Marines. "It's too nice to hang outside, so I guess it'll go on my wall," Booker said.Booker served in the Navy during World War II and as a Marine during the Korean War. Booker said he'll keep all the flags he's received, because each lasts only about three years outdoors. He's also thankful for the support. "There are so many good people in this world. It's too bad they can't all be accounted for," he said. "They certainly overwhelm the bad apples."

US Renews Philippines Travel Warning

The US government has renewed a travel warning for Americans in the Philippines, saying terrorist groups and radical insurgents are planning multiple attacks and Westerners are particularly vulnerable. In a renewed warning that supersedes a March warning, the State Department said it continued “to warn against all but essential travel throughout the country in light of heightened threats to Westerners.”Americans who choose to travel in the country should “remain aware of the continued potential for terrorist attacks, including those against US citizens. “Terrorist groups, including Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group, continue to plan multiple attacks throughout the Philippines, as do some radical insurgents who have broken away from Moro groups.”

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Japan Fears Imminent Missile Test By North Korea

Washington warned Pyongyang not to proceed with a long-range missile test that North Korea may be planning to conduct as early as this weekend. Sean McCormack, State department spokesman, said the US would view a test as a “provocative” act. Japan said a test of a long-range Taepodong-2 missile would violate a 2002 agreement between Pyongyang and Tokyo. Shinzo Abe, chief cabinet secretary and a leading candidate to succeed Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister in September, told reporters: “If North Korea launches a missile that directly affects Japan’s security, it would be a violation of the Pyongyang Declaration.” The declaration was signed when Mr Koizumi met Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, in North Korea in 2002. The agreement included a pledge to freeze indefinitely tests of missiles capable of reaching Japan, Mr Abe said.His comments followed a report in the Financial Times on Friday that the US believed North Korean preparations for a possible long-range missile test had advanced significantly to the point where Pyongyang could launch a Taepodong-2 on “very short notice”. Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton, two Democrats on the Senate armed services committee, this week called on President George W. Bush to develop a strategy to deal with North Korea. “We may be approaching the nightmare scenario in which our only option is to negotiate with a North Korea that can attack the US with a nuclear weapon instead of a North Korea that is still working towards that capability,” the senators wrote in a letter to President Bush. The US has been monitoring activity at a launch site in North Korea for weeks following indications that Pyongyang was preparing to test an intercontinental ballistic missile – which the US Defence Intelligence Agency estimates could potentially reach most parts of the US - for the first time. In 1998, Pyongyang stunned the US and Japan by firing an intermediate range Taepodong-1 missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean. While US intelligence shows test preparations are advanced, Washington does not know whether Kim Jong-il will go ahead with a politically inflammatory test.
Kim Jong-il Tests The Latest North Korean Technology
Many analysts in Seoul say Pyongyang is unlikely to test because of the hardline response it would invite and the possibility that the technology could fail. A US Senate aide said Pyongyang was probably trying to gain attention at a time when Washington has been predominantly focused on Iran. The Pentagon has positioned military assets to deal with any launch, while US and South Korean officials have urged North Korea to abandon any test. South Korea is “bracing” for a possible missile launch, Ban Ki-moon, South Korea’s foreign minister, said. North Korea has a history of performing eye-catching stunts, and a South Korean government official said Pyongyang had political rather than military aims.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Venezuela To Buy Russian Jets

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela will purchase 24 new Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets this year, adding that it may purchase more. Chavez’ words come at the moment when Venezuelan government moves forward with plans to set up factories to produce Kalashnikov assault rifles under license. Chavez said Wednesday the SU-30 jets will replace a fleet of U.S.-made F-16s, which Venezuela has had trouble maintaining because the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has refused to sell Caracas parts. “First we are going to buy 24 Sukhoi S-30’s and we are going to leave open the possibility of a future acquisition” of Sukhoi S-35s,“ Chavez said, quoted by Associated Press.
Hugo Chavez
Speaking to hundreds of soldiers at a military base, Chavez said the first shipment of Russian-built jets would arrive in this oil-rich South American country by the end of the year. Wearing olive green military fatigues and a red paratrooper’s beret, Chavez personally handed out newly-acquired Kalashnikov rifles to soldiers after being presented with his own brand new AK-103 assault rifle. Venezuela ”is going to set up the first Kalashnikov factory in South America,“ said Chavez, whose ”revolutionary“ government is buying 100,000 Russian-made AK-103 assault rifles along with ammunition and accessories. As MosNews reported, the first 30,000 of the assault rifles arrived on June 3. Chavez used surging oil revenues to modernize Venezuela’s military, signing defense deals worth an estimated $2.7 billion with countries including Russia and Spain. Despite Washington’s objections, Venezuela is purchasing 15 Russian helicopters for $200 million, and officials say they hope to buy 18 more.
Sukhoi fighter jet

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Black Sheep Blacklisted

An Indian state has removed nursery rhymes such as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep" from its primary school syllabus because they are "too Western". The government in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, dropped the rhymes, immensely popular with millions of Indian children, from its Class I syllabus taught to five-year-olds. "We want our children to have value education in local color," the Hindustan Times quoted Narottam Mishra, the state's school education minister as saying. Children will now learn English-language rhymes written by Indian poets, papers said.

Leader Wants To Drop 'Fighting Sioux' Lawsuit

A tribal college administrator is asking the Board of Higher Education to forgo a lawsuit over the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" nickname, saying the money would be better spent promoting diversity. David Gipp is the president of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck. He says the board should instead use the money on creating more opportunities for American Indians and all North Dakotans, and promoting diversity. The Board of Higher Education is meeting at Williston State College tomorrow. Its members intend to consult Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem about the possibility of suing the N.C.A.A. for penalizing the use of the nickname and logo.The N.C.A.A. has ruled UND may not use the nickname and logo in postseason tournaments, nor host a postseason tournament if they're used. Last week, UND President Charles Kupchella drafted a letter to the N.C.A.A. in which he called the organization's decision self-righteous and arrogant and said it may have to be corrected through a lawsuit.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Terrorism Case Delays Cause Concern

A Melbourne magistrate has expressed concerned for 13 terrorism suspects, whose trial is being delayed by a wrangle over Legal Aid funding. Victoria Legal Aid is refusing to fund the men's lawyers unless they have security clearances. The lawyers have refused to undergo the checks, saying they do not trust federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock with the information. The Commonwealth says it will only ask for the checks if issues of national security arise during the trial. But Legal Aid says it is not gambling its budget if there could be upheaval ahead and new lawyers may have to be brought into the case. Robert Richter, QC, wants the case to be adjourned for a month for the Commonwealth to offer Victoria Legal Aid indemnity, should there be hurdles.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock
Counsel for the Attorney-General says it is not prepared to write a blank cheque over a situation that may never arise. Isolation concerns Magistrate Paul Smith says an adjournment may achieve nothing. He is concerned there is no end to the stand-off in sight, and does not want the terrorism suspects in custody for a period that cannot be ascertained. The suspects, who are charged with being members of and funding a terrorist organisation, appeared happy to see each other as they arrived in court. However, Mr Richter says the court should not be fooled by their animation. He says the men are sick of being in isolation and need the case to start.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

North Korea plans to test ICBM

North Korea is making plans to test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach the United States and the launch could come soon, US officials said on Monday. One official said there was some debate over the timing of a possible test but a second official said it could happen within the coming weeks. Japanese media for several weeks have reported there have been signs of North Korea making preparations to test a multiple-stage Taepodong 2 missile since early last month. “There is no doubt about it, that is to say they are engaged in missile test preparations completely consistent with launching a missile,” said one government source, . The second official said: “There are truly signs that they are going to go ahead with this .... (and it could come) within the next week or so.”

U.S. Says Border Detentions Decreasing

The arrival of U.S. National Guard troops in Arizona has scared off illegal Mexican migrants along the border, significantly reducing crossings, according to U.S. and Mexican officials. U.S. authorities said Monday that detentions along the U.S.-Mexico border decreased by 21 percent, to 26,994, in the first 10 days of June, compared with 34,077 for the same period a year ago. Along the Arizona border, once the busiest crossing spot, detentions have dropped 23 percent, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. Detentions dropped 31 percent, to 8,308 from 11,977, along the Texas and New Mexico border. The desert region's blistering June temperatures typically drive down the number of migrants, but not so drastically, said Mario Martinez, a spokesman with the U.S. Border Patrol in Washington. The 55 Utah soldiers who arrived June 3 are the first of some 6,000 troops to be dispatched along the border as part of President Bush's plan to stem illegal immigration to the United States.The soldiers aren't allowed to detain migrants and have been limited to projects like extending border fences and repairing roads, but the military's presence is keeping would-be crossers away from the area, migrant rights activists said. Francisco Loureiro, who runs a migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico, across the border from Arizona, said migrants are afraid of the U.S. troops after hearing reports of abuse in Iraq. "Some migrants have told me they heard about the troops on television and, because the U.S. Army doesn't have a very good reputation, they prefer not to cross," Loureiro said. Others have been discouraged by smugglers' fees that have nearly doubled to more than $3,000. Jorge Vazquez, coordinator for Mexico's Grupo Beta migrant aid agency in San Luis Rio Colorado, across from San Luis, Ariz., said that before the troops arrived, his agents encountered at least two dozens migrants daily, most waiting for nightfall to begin their trek through the sandy desert."There have been days ... when we've found only three migrants," Vazquez said. Some migrants may be moving to the California-Mexico border, the only stretch of border that saw a spike in detentions, which were up 7 percent to 5,965 in the first 10 days of June. But it was too early to tell if the deployment would have a permanent effect on migrant routes and crossings of the 2,000-mile border. Wearing Army fatigues and hard hats, the soldiers have worked on projects such as installing vehicle barriers to help prevent smugglers from driving cars full of migrants or drugs across the border. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has said 2,500 troops will be stationed in the four U.S. border states - Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas - by the end of the month. The deployment plan has been criticized in Mexico as heavy-handed, and the Mexican government has said it will watch to ensure National Guard troops aren't detaining migrants.
Only the most persistent migrants remained in San Luis Rio Colorado, which sits across from the area patrolled by the U.S. Border Patrol's Yuma station, the busiest of the Patrol's 143 outposts. Migrants in the region walk some 25 miles through the scrub-covered desert with summer temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees, and then hop on cargo trains to reach their destination. Laureano Miranda, a 37-year-old farm worker from Mexico's Sinaloa state, said he was trying to get back to a construction job in Los Angeles. Miranda and six relatives, who were sewing pieces of carpet to their shoes to avoid leaving footprints, planned to wait for nightfall and start walking across the border 25 miles west of where the troops were stationed. Miranda, who earned about $6 a day picking tomatoes in Sinaloa, said he had heard about the deployment but planned to cross into Arizona anyway. "If there are soldiers or not it's the same thing, because it's always been difficult to cross," Miranda said. "Here, we depend on our luck." Miranda said he made it into the United States on the first try last year, but he expected a more difficult journey this time. "We've heard that there are soldiers and armed 'migrant hunters' but we have to try," Miranda said. "If we don't make it in three tries, then we'll go back home."

Monday, June 12, 2006

Gingrich Considers Presidential Run In 2008

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he may enter the 2008 presidential race if the Republican Party doesn't produce a candidate he likes. In a speech at the Brookings Institution Friday, Gingrich railed against both parties but especially his Republican Party, which he said hasn't stood up since he left office in 1998. The Republican majority in Congress is "failing to deliver" and "neither party currently is where the country is," Gingrich said.He called for the Republican Congress to be more tolerant of dissenting opinion and more vocal in objecting to the executive branch. He noted specifically the Justice Department's handling of an investigation into a Democratic Party congressman, which he considered a strong-arming of the legislative branch. Gingrich said he's thinking of a presidential run because just being a candidate would give his opinions on government more sway. He said he would make an official decision in 2007.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

North Korea Warns South Korea Over Alleged Sea Border Intrusion

North Korea accused South Korea of making repeated intrusions into the North's western waters, and warned that its navy would retaliate against any warships that continue to enter its territory. The North's Navy Command claimed that the South Korean Navy had perpetrated grave military provocations by infiltrating its warships deep into the North's territorial waters near a disputed sea border. A spokesman for the Navy Command said it "will deal a telling blow at any warship intruding into the inviolable territorial waters of the north side without warning, and the South Korean authorities will be held wholly responsible for it." "The number of cases of such open intrusion by the South Korean navy reached more than 120 entering this year, increasing its danger as the days go by," the spokesman said in a statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency. South Korea's Navy dismissed the North's statement as its "annual claims.""We didn't violate the North's territorial waters," said an official at the Navy's public relations office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing policy. The two divided Koreas are at odds over their western disputed border. In their latest high-level military talks in May, the two sides failed to resolve a dispute over whether their maritime border should be redrawn. The communist North doesn't recognize the current border, drawn up by the United Nations at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, and claims it should be further south.The waters around the border are a rich fishing ground, and boats from the two Koreas routinely jostle for position during the May-June crab-catching season. In 1999 and 2002, their navies battled in the western sea, killing several sailors and sinking six ships. The two Koreas remain technically at war since the Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. However, relations have warmed significantly since a breakthrough 2000 summit.

Ted Nugents Opinion Of "Dimebag" Darrell

Ted Nugent has slammed PANTERA's cover of his signature tune "Cat Scratch Fever" as having "no soul, no balls" and "no feel," adding that the members of PANTERA appeared as "Ozzy-like zombies on TV" whose conduct on stage went against his lifelong anti-drugs and -drink stance. Responding to a fan posting on Nugent's official message board (dubbed "The Nuge Board") about late PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and the VH1 "Behind the Music" special on PANTERA, Ted (who posts on the message board under the name "Nuge") wrote that he "never thought too highly of anyone foolish enough to take on the nickname of a life-destroying dope product and promote such family-destroying conduct on stage." (Apparently referring to the fact that Darrell's "Dimebag" nickname is a slang term for a $10 bag of marijuana.)
Dimebag Darrell
When another fan pointed out that Dimebag "loved" Nugent's music and that he had stated in a magazine interview that he often played some of Ted's riffs before a show to loosen up the fingers — going so far as to cover "Cat Scratch Fever" for the 1999 "Detroit Rock City" soundtrack — Nugent responded, "though I'm no expert on all things PANTERA, I did hear their version of 'Cat Scratch Fever' and it was exceedingly white. No soul, no balls, no feel. Caucasian all the way. Elements of dope, booze and heroin disconnect quite apparent as usual. There is no excuse for such horrifically negative, irresponsible, criminal, America-wrecking behavior as such chimp-like substance abuse. Period. They appeared as Ozzy-like zombies on TV. Ya think. American drunks and dopers are allahpuke terrorists' favorite allies. Damn them. Damn them all." After the fan who started the original thread (who calls himself "the_A_team") defended Dimebag by saying that "you have to at least respect Dime as a guitarist," adding that "even though he did drugs, I heard he didn't do very many," Nugent replied, "I indeed do respect all people for the positives in their life. Sadly, there comes a time of diminishing returns in the balance. At the end of the day, my respect is reserved for those solidly in the asset column of mankind."