Thursday, August 31, 2006

Israel Rejects Call By UN For Lifting Lebanon Blockade

Israel has rejected a call by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to lift its seven-week blockade of Lebanon. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Annan a key condition to ending the seven-week-old siege was the release of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah.
Ehud Olmert
Hezbollah have stated that the pair, whose abduction in early July sparked the invasion of Lebanon, will only be freed as part of a prisoner exchange with Israel. Olmert also announced that Israeli troops would not be fully withdrawn from southern Lebanon until the terms of the ceasefire, which began on 14 August, were fully implemented.

Iran Cracks Down On Women's Dress

Police in Tehran have been ordering Iranian women to cover up, stopping those they perceive as "badly veiled." The crackdown followed the 2005 election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "We are certainly seeing a return to behavior we haven't seen for 10 years," Hadi Ghaemi of Human Rights Watch told reporters. "Generally, the imposition of strict Islamic codes has been increasing under Ahmadinejad." Ghaemi said that the penalty for violating a code that requires the complete covering of women's heads and bodies in public depends on the officers involved and the women's political connections."The person could end up in jail depending on their relationship with the authorities," he said. "Generally, the imposition of strict Islamic codes has been increasing under Ahmadinejad." Just as women in recent years had pushed the boundaries by wearing head scarves that revealed more than they hid, many Iranians had flouted the law banning them from owning satellite dishes, the report said. The government has been cracking down on them as well.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ahmadinejad Challenges President George W. Bush To TV Debate

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad voiced defiance as a deadline neared for Iran to halt work the West fears is a step toward building nuclear bombs, and challenged US President George W. Bush to televised debate. In a news conference, Ahmadinejad condemned the US and British role in the world since World War 2 but made no direct mention of the international nuclear confrontation. “I suggest holding a live TV debate with Mr George W. Bush to talk about world affairs and the ways to solve those issues,” he said.The UN Security Council has given Iran until Thursday to suspend uranium enrichment - a process which can produce fuel for reactors or explosive material for warheads - and has threatened sanctions unless it does so. Washington has called for a swift response if Iran does not meet the deadline. But analysts say divisions at the United Nations about how to handle Iran's file could delay such a move.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

2 Pakistani-American Refused Entry Into U.S.A.

The US Government has barred two relatives of Hamid Hayat, a Pakistani-American convicted of supporting terrorists from returning to the country after a long stay in Pakistan. Mohammad Ismail, a 45-year-old naturalised citizen born in Pakistan, and his 18-year-old son Jaber Ismail, who was born in the United States, have not been charged with any crime. However, they are the uncle and cousin of Hamid Hayat, 23, who was convicted in April of supporting terrorists by attending a Pakistani training camp.US authorities said that the men, both Lodi residents, would not be allowed back into the country unless they agreed to FBI interrogations in Pakistan. An attorney representing the family said agents have asked whether the younger Ismail trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan. The men and three relatives had been in Pakistan for more than four years and tried to return to the United States on April 21 as a federal jury in Sacramento deliberated Hayat's fate. But they were pulled aside during a layover in Hong Kong and told there was a problem with their passports, said Julia Harumi Mass, their attorney.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bomb Fears As Al-Qaeda Allies Arrive In Manila

Philippine police fear bombings during the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks as an intelligence report warns two explosive experts from an al- Qaeda-linked group have arrived in the capital, according to a government report. The two experts belong to the Rajah Solaiman Movement, according to the confidential security assessment report. The Rajah Solaiman Movement is a small group of Filipino converts to Islam which has been linked to a number of deadly assaults, including a February 2004 bombing that gutted a popular ferry and killed 116 people in one of Southeast Asia's worst terrorist attacks. It has worked with other al-Qaeda- linked groups, such as the Indonesia- based Jemaah Islamiyah and the small Abu Sayyaf band in the southern Philippines, in plotting attacks and undertaking joint terror training on impoverished southern Mindanao island, according to Philippine military officials."Numerous reports which suggest the possibility of bombing attacks are the major concerns at present," the report said. "With the anniversary of the September 11 al-Qaeda attack fast approaching and the developments in Lebanon, sympathetic attacks should not be discounted," it said. The report did not say whether the two alleged bomb experts were planning to attack a specific target in the capital but it said the presence of Rajah Solaiman members has led to terrorist assaults in the recent past. It cited the group's involvement in last year's Valentine's Day bombing of a passenger bus in the capital's Makati financial district that killed four people and wounded more than 60 others. US and Australian officials have been concerned by the reported existence of terror training camps in the southern Philippines which they said could produce militants that could launch attacks anywhere. The Philippine military has said it has destroyed major training camps used in the south by Filipino and Indonesian militants, who are mostly on the run from continuing offensives.

Gene Simmons Sends Video To Israeli Soldier

Israeli-born "KISS" rocker Gene Simmons sent a get-well video to an Israeli soldier wounded in Lebanon, calling him a hero the world should be proud of. "I can't tell you how proud I am of you and how much the world and Israel owe you a debt of gratitude," Simmons told Ron Weinreich, a tank crewman paralyzed from the chest down, in a video broadcast on Saturday on Israel's Channel 2 television. Channel 2 said the KISS bassist made the video for Weinreich, a fan of the legendary rock group, at the request of Israel's Soldiers' Welfare Association, a fund-raising group.Weinreich, hospitalized near Tel Aviv, was wounded two weeks ago in fighting against Hezbollah guerrillas. "From the bottom of my heart, you're a real hero, you're everybody's hero, you're my hero," said Simmons, who recorded the video in the United States and added in Hebrew: "My name is Haim. I was born in Haifa." Simmons was born Haim Witz in the northern Israeli port city in 1949. He emigrated to the United States at the age of eight with his mother, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Is Military Planning Blast At Quarry?

Politicians, environmentalists and others are concerned that the U.S. military might conduct a large test explosion at a southern Indiana limestone quarry as soon as next year. Mitchell Mayor Butch Chastain and David Sanders, who is running for the 4th District congressional seat against incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Buyer, have planned a news conference Monday to discuss the so-called "Divine Strake" test. The test is scheduled for sometime next year, pending legislation currently on the floor of the U.S. Senate. The Senate could vote on the bill as soon as Sept. 5. The $23 million test had been scheduled to take place this summer in the Nevada desert. It would involve detonating 700 tons of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. However, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency said Aug. 1 it was delaying the controversial project at least until 2007 and considering other locations. Agency spokeswoman Cheri Abdelnour has not said whether the quarry about 70 miles south of Indianapolis is under consideration for the test. However, smaller test explosions using up to 1.5 tons of explosives occurred at Mitchell Quarry in July 2004 and March 2005 as part of a project the military dubbed the Tunnel Target Defeat Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration. Timothy Baer of the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition told 25 people at the Monroe County Public Library on Friday that he believes the military plans to use the quarry for the Divine Strake. The test could help develop weapons to penetrate hardened, deeply buried targets. "This is the largest conventional explosion ever," Baer said. The explosion could harm the region's underlying cave system, Baer said. "It's likely going to do irreparable damage," he said.

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CNN Scolded For Hiring Castro's Daughter

The hiring of Fidel Castro's daughter by CNN was "a doozy of a gimmick," says online commentator Jon Friedman, who calls it the network's "latest stretch for publicity." CNN announced that it had hired Castro's daughter Alina Fernandez as a contributor, "just as the Cuban dictator's health became the island's biggest news story since the heady days of Elian Gonzalez, the bewildered little boy who found himself at the center of a media storm in 2000," Friedman writes for
Alina Fernandez
"Maybe CNN had to settle for Castro's daughter because Elian � wasn't available for the gig." Fernandez is the host of a radio program in Miami and author of the book "Castro's Daughter: An Exile's Memoir of Cuba." But Fernandez was a toddler when Castro came to power, and she has had only "sporadic contact" with him over the years, USA Today reports.Friedman notes: "CNN wants the public to believe that Fernandez has unique insights about her homeland and her father, even though she left the country in 1993 � disguised as a Spanish tourist, no less." He adds: "My biggest problem with CNN is that it has been known to pander for viewers as a way to try to keep up with cable news leader Fox."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

VFW Post Finds Site For G-String Fundraiser

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in O'Fallon, Ill., said it didn't mean any harm, but it has agreed to move a "G-Strings For GIs" strip show featuring male dancers. A nightclub in the nearby town of Sauget, Ill., has agreed to host the fundraiser Saturday night. Members of the VFW post said they figure the striptease event would raise more money in a single night than a month of fish fries.More than 150 women have plunked down $18 each for the event. The proceeds will go toward supplies such as sunscreen, books and bug spray. City officials in O'Fallon said the ladies-night show would have violated town decency codes, and they threatened to yank the VFW's liquor license. The city administrator notes the town has been picking up the cost of mailing packages to the troops. He said the VFW crackdown was not about what's patriotic, but what's appropriate.

Bus Driver Makes Black Kids Sit In Back

A Louisiana school bus driver forced nine black elementary school children to sit in the back of the bus, while designating the front seats for white children, according to a published report. Angry relatives of the black children have filed a complaint with school officials. The children were attending Red River Elementary School in Coushatta, La. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is considering filing a formal charge with the U.S. Department of Justice. "It is extremely alarming. We fought that battle 50 years ago, and we won. Why is this happening again?" NAACP District Vice President James Panell, of Shreveport, said in an interview. Superintendent Kay Easley refused much comment on the allegations Wednesday, calling it a personnel issue. The Times reported that Easley did acknowledge an investigation into the claim and confirmed that the bus driver did not run her route Wednesday or Thursday.
Schoolchildren make their way to the buses after classes at Red River Elementary in Coushatta, La.
The school's principal, Jamie Lawrence, tried to fix the seating on the bus after she found out about the segregation, according to the newspaper's report. But the issue ended up being handled by the district's central office. Some family members said they are calling for bus driver Delores Davis' immediate termination. One family member, Patricia Sessoms, said the bus driver called one of the mothers of the black students to apologize. Sessoms said that after some family members called the central office to complain, the driver was ordered to make seat assignments for the students. "But she still assigned the black children to the back of the bus," she said. The nine black children had to share the two seats in the back, meaning the older children had to hold the younger ones in their laps. After hearing that, the school board ordered a black bus driver to drive across town to drive the nine black children to school. "I think the whole school system needs to be reviewed in Red River Parish," Sessoms said.

Friday, August 25, 2006


If any of you still feel that this war on terror is a mistake, here is an opinion from an unexpected source. It's fascinating that this should come out of Europe. Mathias Dapfner, Chief Executive of the huge German publisher Axel Springer AG, has written a blistering attack in DIE WELT,
Germany's largest daily paper, against the timid reaction of Europe in the face of the Islamic threat.

This is a must-read by all Americans. History may well certify its correctness.


(Commentary by Mathias Dapfner CEO, Axel Springer, AG)

A few days ago Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe - your family name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your head because it's so terribly true.

Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives, as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before
they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to toothless agreements.

Appeasement legitimized and stabilized Communism in the Soviet Union, then East Germany, then all the rest of Eastern Europe, where for
decades, inhuman suppressive, murderous governments were glorified as the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities.

Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo, and even though we had absolute proof of ongoing mass-murder, we Europeans debated and debated and debated, and were still debating when finally the Americans had to come from halfway around the world, into Europe yet again, and do our work for us.

Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European Appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now
countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians.

Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore nearly 500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace movement, has the gall to issue bad grades to George Bush... Even as it is uncovered that the loudest critics of the American action in Iraq made illicit billions, no, TENS of billions, in the corrupt U.N. Oil-for-Food program.

And now we are faced with a particularly grotesque form of appeasement. How is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic
Fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere? By suggesting that we really should have a "Muslim Holiday" in Germany?

I wish I were joking, but I am not. A substantial fraction of our (German) Government, and if the polls are to be believed, the German people, actually believe that creating an Official State "Muslim Holiday" will somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists. One cannot help but recall Britain's Neville Chamberlain waving the laughable treaty signed by Adolph Hitler and declaring European "Peace in our time".

What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies,
and intent upon Western Civilization's utter destruction.

It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last century - a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by "tolerance" and "accommodation" but is actually spurred on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will always be taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness. Only two recent American Presidents had the courage needed for Anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush.

His American critics may quibble over the details, but we Europeans know the truth. We saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War,
freeing half of the German people from nearly 50 years of terror and virtual slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat Blair,
acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic War against Democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after
a number of years have passed.

In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner, instead of defending liberal society's values
and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China.

On the contrary - we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to those "arrogant Americans", as the World Champions of "tolerance", which even
(Germany's Interior Minister) Otto Schily justifiably criticizes. Why? Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic, so devoid of a moral compass.

For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy - because unlike almost all of Europe, Bush realizes what is at stake - literally everything.

While we criticize the "capitalistic robber barons" of America because they seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend our Social Welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive! We'd rather discuss reducing our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage, or our 4 weeks of paid vacation... Or listen to TV pastors preach about the need to "reach out to terrorists. To understand and forgive".

These days, Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands, frantically hides her last pieces of jewelry when she notices a robber
breaking into a neighbor's house.


Europe, thy name is Cowardice.

---God Bless America---

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Israel Should Prepare For Iranian Attack

Israel should prepare for a ballistic missile attack from arch rival Iran, a cabinet minister and former Mossad spy warned this week. "Iran has threatened to attack us with its ballistic missiles and we should prepare behind our lines and civilians for such an attack," Pensioner Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan said in an interview broadcast by Israeli public radio. Eitan, a member of the security cabinet and a former spy for Mossad, the country's overseas intelligence agency, said the authorities needed to "refurbish or prepare numerous shelters."The director of the prime minister's office told the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper that by next Sunday he intended to present Ehud Olmert with a series of proposals to prepare the homefront for any future war. Raanan Dinur made the remarks during a tour of the north, which was pounded by more than 4,000 rockets fired by the Iranian-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah during Israel's 34-day day war in Lebanon, killing 41 Israeli civilians. One of Iran's top hardline clerics warned last week that if the Islamic republic is attacked by the United States and Israel, it will retaliate with ballistic missile strikes against Tel Aviv. The regime's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be "wiped off the map" and called several times or the Jewish state to be moved somewhere else on the planet. Iran is Israel's public enemy number one and has never recognised the Jewish state.

Australian Arrested For China Plane Bomb Threat

An Australian citizen has been arrested in China for allegedly making a bomb threat on board a passenger airliner that was bound for Australia, Chinese media and the Australian government said. A note warning a bomb would explode on the China Southern Airlines flight from Guangzhou to Sydney was found during the journey, passengers had told reporters. The scare forced the pilot to take emergency action and return to Guangzhou, where the 200 passengers were delayed for hours as the plane was searched. No bomb was detected and the flight eventually landed in Sydney seven hours late.Chinese police arrested Wong Chung-wah, an Australian passenger of Hong Kong origin, after verifying his handwriting matched the hoax letter, China's offical Xinhua news agency said, citing an unidentified police official at the Guangzhou airport. The Australian government confirmed the arrest. "We can confirm that a 39-year-old New South Wales man was arrested in Guangzhou on August 22," a foreign affairs department spokeswoman in Canberra told reporters. "We understand he is being questioned in relation to a bomb threat hoax." The spokesman said Australian officials were seeking consular access to the man. Xinhua said Wong, a businessman, told police he was "lovesick" and set up the hoax because he was depressed. No details were released on what charges he may face.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mexican Illegal Immigrants Use Bicycles To Cross The Desert

Illegal immigrants and drug traffickers are using dilapidated bicycles to make a swift, night-time dash over the desert to Arizona from Mexico, border police say. Border Patrol agents in the desert state are finding dozens of the bikes dumped at hamlets such as Three Points, southwest of Tucson, which are used as staging areas by smugglers ferrying marijuana and immigrants on to cities inland. "The illegals use bicycles, either riding them on ranch roads or the foot trails themselves, as a quicker means of getting north," said Border Patrol agent Kevin Nutwell as he inspected a rusty bike discarded on one lonely trail south of Three Points. Agents say it takes up to three days to walk the 45-mile (72-km) trail from the border to Three Points, where immigrants are picked up for an onward journey to Tucson and Phoenix either by truck or packed into cars.
U.S. Border Patrol agent Kevin Nutwell inspects a rusted bicycle abandoned by illegal immigrants in the deserts south of Three Points, Arizona
Stealthy cyclists who make the trip in groups of up to 10 people led by a guide or "coyote" can make the trip in just a few hours. Reuters saw two bicycles dumped on ranch trails outside Three Points, one a 10-speed mountain bike, the other a rusted Chinese model with fat tires and wing handlebars. "The bikes have no amenities like brakes and they sometimes are lucky to have a seat on them," Nutwell said. "They spray paint the bikes flat-black and remove reflectors so that it is easier to travel at night undetected," he added. Southern Arizona is the most heavily transited area along the porous 2,000-mile (3,200-km) U.S. border with Mexico. Last year the cactus-studded corridor south of Tucson was used by more than a third of the 1.2 million illegal immigrants caught crossing the international line. Nutwell said agents also found bicycles that had been rigged with special frames to carry bundles of marijuana along the back roads that crisscross the lonely stretch of desert. "It's just one of the ingenious forms of smuggling that we come across; there's no end to it."

Dylan Says Modern Recordings "Atrocious"

Bob Dylan says the quality of modern recordings is "atrocious," and even the songs on his new album sounded much better in the studio than on disc. "I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really," the 65-year-old rocker said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Dylan, who released eight studio albums in the past two decades, returns with his first recording in five years, "Modern Times," next Tuesday.Noting the music industry's complaints that illegal downloading means people are getting their music for free, he said, "Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway." "You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them," he added. "There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static." Dylan said he does his best to fight technology, but it's a losing battle. 'em. CDs are small. There's no stature to it."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

12 People Taken To Hospital From Minneapolis / St. Paul International Airport

Twelve people have been transported to the hospital and hazardous material crews are at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International right now after several people complained of eye and nose irritation, according to Patrick Hogan, of the Metropolitan Airports Commission. The complaints started around 11 a.m. near Checkpoint 1, Hogan said. An initial investigation by fire officials did not find any dangerous substances in the air, Hogan said. However, complaints continued and the St. Paul Hazardous Material Crews were called in and are still checking the area. Victims reported symptoms including burning of the eyes, nose, and mouth, Hogan said. Officials are still trying to identify the source of the irritation. Checkpoint 1 has been closed. The incident is impacting the ticket counters for American Airlines and U.S. Airways. Other than those ticket counters, airline operations are not being seriously impacted, Hogan said. It's not clear at this point what caused the sickness, Hogan said. Most of the complaints came from Airline employees and TSA employees. Hogan suggested that anyone traveling this afternoon check with the airlines to see if there has been any changes in flight schedule.

Australia Runs Low, But Still Won’t Accept Gay Blood

Yesterday the Australian blood service pleaded with people to donate, saying that it only has 36 hours worth of supplies left. Today, the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal will hear why the Australian Red Cross thinks gay blood isn’t safe enough. 23-year-old Michael Cain is bringing the action against the Red Cross. He argues that they should consider how safe a donor’s sexual conduct is, rather than excluding people on the basis of their sexual preference. "A new donor-screening policy based on the safety of donors' sexual practices rather than the gender of their sexual partners would make the blood supply safer," Mr Cain told The Hobart Mercury last month.Currently the Red Cross Blood Service will not accept donations from sexually active gay or bisexual men. Meanwhile, they admitted yesterday they may have to start importing blood supplies. Only 3% of Australians have given blood in the last year Only Italy and Spain accept blood from sexually active gay men, but there are challenges to exclusion policies in South Africa, the UK and the US. A spokeswoman for the Red Cross said: "Our number one concern is the safety of the blood supply and one of the factors we take into account is lifestyle.

‘Two Irish Muslims Arrested By British Anti-Terror Police’

Two Dublin-based Muslims have reportedly been arrested in Wales as part of an anti-terrorist operation. Reports in the tabloid media this morning say the couple, who are both in their 40s and have a home in west Dublin, were detained at Holyhead 10 days ago. The woman was reportedly carrying a laptop computer that contained instructions on how to make bombs and how to conduct modern guerrilla warfare.This morning's reports say gardaí are extremely worried by the development and are taking it very seriously. The police in north Wales have confirmed that they are holding two people on terrorism charges, but have refused to disclose any further details.

Canadian Military Considers Citizenship-Optional Recruitment Drive

The Canadian Forces may drop Canadian citizenship as a prerequisite for military service in order to boost the country's lagging troop strength. Enlisting landed immigrants is just one idea being looked at by the Forces, Capt. Helene Tremblay said. ''If we want to meet our recruitment targets, it might be necessary,'' said Tremblay, a military-career counsellor at Montreal's Canadian Forces recruiting centre. A decision is expected in the next few months, she added. Maj. Andy Coxhead, a spokesman for the Forces' main recruiting group at Ontario's Camp Borden, confirmed in a telephone interview that discussions among military officials on the subject are ongoing.No decision that threatens national security will be taken and any ''radical change'' to the recruiting process will require high-level approval, Coxhead said. But change to the recruitment process is coming, he added. Last year, 5,873 men and women joined the Forces 1,520, or 20 per cent, of whom were from Quebec. With those numbers, the Canadian military is not growing at a fast enough pace and eventually would be unable to meet its international commitments, Tremblay said. At any given time, 40 per cent of Canada's 63,000 regular troops and reservists are engaged in operational missions and pre-deployment, she said. Canada's high-profile mission in Afghanistan, in which 26 soldiers have been killed, including seven this month, is one of only 18 to which the Forces is committed. As a result, the military has undertaken a national recruitment program, known as Operation Connection. The cross-Canada initiative aims to raise the military's profile and boost troop strength to 75,000 over the next five years. At the same time, the Forces is looking at other ways to increase troop strength. Speaking to a Senate committee this year, Gen. Rick Hillier, Canada's top soldier, floated the idea of fast-tracking citizenship to landed immigrants who serve in the Canadian Forces. The idea is not new. The famed French Foreign Legion was created by the king of France in 1831 to support his war in Algeria. Today, 25 to 35 per cent of its membership is French, and the remainder are from all over the world. After three years of service, the latter group is allowed to apply for French citizenship.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Iran Shells Iraqi Kurdistan Villages

Iranian artillery shells killed at least two civilians and caused dozens of families to flee Iraqi Kurdistan villages, a senior Kurdish official says. The shells were aimed at an area known as a base for militant Kurdish opposition groups seeking independence from Iran and Turkey, said Mustafa Sayed Qadir, a senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which governs the eastern half of Iraqi Kurdistan. The government of Iraq is aware of the shelling, which has taken place in recent months, but has not taken an official position. Iran and Turkey have sizeable Kurdish populations that live in mountainous areas bordering Iraqi Kurdistan. In recent weeks, the two countries have stepped up warnings to Kurdish militant groups seeking independence. Iraqi Kurdistan is autonomous from the rest of Iraq and home to most of the country's five million Kurds.

U.S.-Mexican Border More Secure

The U.S. efforts to bar illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexican border "have made the boundary impenetrable for many". Recent stepped-up patrols, more barriers and high-tech monitoring have made the border harder to cross and appears to be discouraging people from attempting it. From May 15, when President Bush announced the deployment of National Guard troops on the border, to July 23, the number of apprehensions for illegal crossings dropped 25 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the paper.Those who are turned back are often less physically fit and middle-aged. "They freeze from fright atop fences. They hurt themselves on nighttime journeys through gully-rutted terrain. They run too slowly to elude Border Patrol agents who spot them with remote cameras," said the paper. Up to eight percent of about 1,000 migrants failed to cross the border, according to a recent study by researchers from the University of California in San Diego. Wayne Cornelius, who directed the study, said tens of thousands of people fail every year to make it to the United States. But he and other experts disagree with the Border Patrol's contention that migration has slowed significantly. "If you hire the right [smuggler] and are willing to accept the higher degree of physical risk, you can get through," Cornelius said. "But the older people are less tolerant of the kind of risks that young men are willing to take." As America's vast frontier with Mexico remains a highly porous landscape, hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants still manage to cross the border annually, experts said.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mutiny On Flight 613

Passengers refuse to allow holiday jet to take off until two Asian men are thrown off plane
British holidaymakers staged an unprecedented mutiny - refusing to allow their flight to take off until two men they feared were terrorists were forcibly removed. The extraordinary scenes happened after some of the 150 passengers on a Malaga-Manchester flight overheard two men of Asian appearance apparently talking Arabic. Passengers told cabin crew they feared for their safety and demanded police action. Some stormed off the Monarch Airlines Airbus A320 minutes before it was due to leave the Costa del Sol at 3am. Others waiting for Flight ZB 613 in the departure lounge refused to board it. The incident fuels the row over airport security following the arrest of more than 20 people allegedly planning the suicide-bombing of transatlantic jets from the UK to America. It comes amid growing demands for passenger-profiling and selective security checks. It also raised fears that more travellers will take the law into their own hands - effectively conducting their own 'passenger profiles'.
Passengers mutinied on a Monarch Airlines A320 at Malaga
The passenger revolt came as Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary was accused of using the terror crisis to make money. Government sources say he boasted to an official at the Transport Department: "Every time I appear on TV, I get a spike in sales." The Tories said the Government's failure to reassure travellers had led the Malaga passengers to 'behave irrationally' and 'hand a victory to terrorists'. Websites used by pilots and cabin crew were yesterday reporting further incidents. In one, two British women with young children on another flight from Spain complained about flying with a bearded Muslim even though he had been security-checked twice before boarding. The trouble in Malaga flared last Wednesday as two British citizens in their 20s waited in the departure lounge to board the pre-dawn flight and were heard talking what passengers took to be Arabic. Worries spread after a female passenger said she had heard something that alarmed her. Passengers noticed that, despite the heat, the pair were wearing leather jackets and thick jumpers and were regularly checking their watches. Initially, six passengers refused to board the flight. On board the aircraft, word reached one family. To the astonishment of cabin crew, they stood up and walked off, followed quickly by others. The Monarch pilot - a highly experienced captain - accompanied by armed Civil Guard police and airport security staff, approached the two men and took their passports. Half an hour later, police returned and escorted the two Asian passengers off the jet. Soon afterwards, the aircraft was cleared while police did a thorough security sweep. Nothing was found and the plane took off - three hours late and without the two men on board. Monarch arranged for them to spend the rest of the night in an airport hotel and flew them back to Manchester later on Wednesday. College lecturer Jo Schofield, her husband Heath and daughters Emily, 15, and Isabel, 12, were caught up in the passenger mutiny.Mrs Schofield, 38, said: "The plane was not yet full and it became apparent that people were refusing to board. In the gate waiting area, people had been talking about these two, who looked really suspicious with their heavy clothing, scruffy, rough, appearance and long hair. "Some of the older children, who had seen the terror alert on television, were starting to mutter things like, 'Those two look like they're bombers.' "Then a family stood up and walked off the aircraft. They were joined by others, about eight in all. We learned later that six or seven people had refused to get on the plane. "There was no fuss or panic. People just calmly and quietly got off the plane. There were no racist taunts or any remarks directed at the men. "It was an eerie scene, very quiet. The children were starting to ask what was going on. We tried to play it down."
Jo and Heath Schofield with daughter Isabel.
Mr Schofield, 40, an area sales manager, said: "When the men were taken off they didn't argue or say a word. They just picked up their coats and obeyed the police. They seemed resigned to the fact they were under suspicion. "The captain and crew were very apologetic when we were asked to evacuate the plane for the security search. But there was no dissent. "While we were waiting, everyone agreed the men looked dodgy. Some passengers were very panicky and in tears. There was a lot of talking about terrorists." Patrick Mercer, the Tory Homeland Security spokesman, said last night: "This is a victory for terrorists. These people on the flight have been terrorised into behaving irrationally. "For those unfortunate two men to be victimised because of the colour of their skin is just nonsense." Monarch said last night: "The captain was concerned about the security surrounding the two gentlemen on the aircraft and the decision was taken to remove them from the flight for further security checks. "The two passengers offloaded from the flight were later cleared by airport security and rebooked to travel back to Manchester on a later flight." A spokesman for the Civil Guard in Malaga said: "These men had aroused suspicion because of their appearance and the fact that they were speaking in a foreign language thought to be an Arabic language, and the pilot was refusing to take off until they were escorted off the plane."

Terror Attack On German Trains Narrowly Averted

German officials revealed today that terrorists had attempted, but failed, to cause massive casualties with bombs placed on regional trains two weeks ago. "These explosions were meant to go off," Joerg Ziercke, the head of the Federal Criminal police, said at a press conference in Germany today. If successful, the attack would have been the third such attack on an European mass transit system, following bombs placed on Madrid and London trains and subways. German officials said two suitcase bombs, containing bottles of gas, had been placed on trains in Koblenz and Dortmund. The officials said there were strong indications of an organized terror attack."We have found pieces of paper with Arabic letters and telephone numbers from Leganon in the clothes which were in the suitcases to insulate or fix the gas bottles," Ziercke said. Police released photos taken by surveillance cameras in German train stations of suspects carrying large backpacks. Police said it was not clear why the bombs failed to detonate, but that they had been wired to go off at the same time.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fidel 'Light' Prepares For US Invasion

Cuba's interim leader Raul Castro said he had mobilized Cuban troops and increased military readiness, in the face of 'threats' from the United States, on the day his ailing brother Fidel handed over power almost three weeks ago. In his first interview since taking over as leader of Cuba, Raul Castro told the Communist Party's newspaper Granma that he had raised the troops' readiness and called up 'tens of thousands' of reservists. 'We could not rule out the risk of somebody going crazy, or even crazier, within the US government,' Castro, who is also the country's defence minister, said in the interview. Castro said he began augmenting the force on August 1 - the day it was announced that he would take over from Fidel Castro to allow the long-time Cuban leader to undergo surgery to stop intestinal bleeding.Raul Castro also said his 80-year-old brother, who had never before surrendered power during his 47-year rule, was on his way to recovery, and thanked the Cuban people for the thousands of goodwill messages he said Fidel had received. Raul Castro said the US could not influence any change in Cuba, but said he was willing to normalize diplomatic relations with its long-time enemy. 'At this juncture, they should be very clear that it is not possible to achieve anything in Cuba with impositions and threats,' Castro said.
Raúl Castro
'On the contrary, we have always been disposed to normalize relations on an equal plane. What we do not accept is the arrogant and interventionist policy frequently assumed by the current administration of that country.' The United States dismissed Castro's remarks. 'What do we think of them? I guess, not much is the answer,' US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters. 'We're not particularly fond, as you know, of the government of Cuba as run by Fidel,' Casey said. 'I can't say that we're particularly enamoured of the first words we've heard from 'Fidel light'.' The United States has sought to step up pressure on the Castro regime and called for a transition to democratic rule since the temporary handover of power was announced.

Twin Cities Bomber

A 31-year-old St. Paul man was arrested after a small homemade bomb exploded near the Wally McCarthy Cadillac/Hummer car dealership, authorities said. Police said Zachary Scott Schulte, 31, was charged Thursday with three counts, including possessing explosives and fleeing from police. He was held in the Ramsey County Jail with bail set at $30,000. Police alleged Schulte went to the dealership to test drive a Hummer SUV. But the dealership was closed and soon after, Schulte denoted a small explosive nearby that charred one square foot of grass and made a large divot. Police said the motivation was unclear but "there's nothing to indicate he was directly trying to blow up the dealership," said Capt. Rick Mathwig of the Roseville Police Department.
Zachary Scott Schulte
After the bomb exploded, Schulte got in his rental car and was chased by Roseville police but got away. Police said he returned to the dealership two hours later, dressed in a different shirt and topped with a new hairstyle. He again asked to test drive a Hummer. Police arrested him without incident. "A lot of things are strange about this case," Mathwig said. Police later found other explosives in his St. Paul apartment.

Friday, August 18, 2006

North Korea Set to Test Nuclear Bomb

There is new evidence that North Korea may be preparing for an underground test of a nuclear bomb, U.S. officials say. "It is the view of the intelligence community that a test is a real possibility," said a senior State Department official. A senior military official told reporters that a U.S. intelligence agency has recently observed "suspicious vehicle movement" at a suspected North Korean test site. The activity includes the unloading of large reels of cable outside P'unggye-yok, an underground facility in northeast North Korea. Cables can be used in nuclear testing to connect an underground test site to outside observation equipment. The intelligence was brought to the attention of the White House last week. Even before this most recent intelligence, there has been growing concern within the U.S. government that North Korea has been moving toward a nuclear test. North Korea is believed to have enough nuclear material to build as many as a dozen nuclear bombs, but it has never tested one. A successful test would remove any doubt that North Korea is a nuclear power."What does he have to lose?" asked one senior military official, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. On July 4, North Korea conducted seven ballistic missile tests, which provoked international condemnation, including a unanimous United States Security Council resolution condemning its actions. A nuclear test, however, would be seen as a much greater provocation than the missile tests. Only seven other nations in the world have ever conducted nuclear tests. U.S. officials fear a nuclear test could provoke a nuclear arms race in East Asia, forcing Japan and South Korea to develop their own nuclear weapons. "A nuclear test is going to be alarming and troubling for everyone and would cause a very strong reaction I think from all of North Korea's neighbors," said former National Security Council official Michael Green, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. U.S. officials caution that the intelligence is not conclusive. Last year U.S. spy satellites picked up suspicious activity at suspected test sites in North Korea, leading some to predict an imminent nuclear test, but nothing happened.Underground nuclear tests are notoriously difficult to detect ahead of time. U.S. intelligence agencies, for example, failed to predict nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in 1998. Officials say it is possible that North Korea may either be putting on a show for American spy satellites to get attention, or may conduct a nuclear test in an entirely different location. Some analysts believe Kim Jong Il may feel the only way to be taken seriously is to prove that North Korea is a nuclear power. Officials acknowledge that nobody really knows Kim Jong Il's intentions, but there is a belief among analysts that he is upset about the recent U.N. resolution condemning his missile tests and upset with the Chinese for supporting that resolution. "It is the view of most in the community that there is a 50-50 chance North Korea will conduct a nuclear test by the end of the year," said one analyst. Asked what the United States would do in response to a nuclear test, a senior U.S. official told reporters, "We would try to hermetically seal the hermit kingdom." The official said the United States would immediately push for sanctions to cut North Korea's ties to the outside world. Another possible option would be a naval blockade of North Korea. But it is unclear how effective such efforts would be. North Korea is already the most isolated country in the world.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Iranian General: We Will Soon Carry Out Large Military Exercise

The serving Iranian General Commander of the Iranian Army, General Muhamad-Reza Ashtiani said, "In the coming days Iran will initiate a large military exercise." This was reported the Iranian news agency Mehr.In a press conference the general announced that 12 divisions of the land forces will participate in the exercise and that it also include joint exercise of the land, sea, and air forces. During the exercise, that Iranian army will test new weapons and ammunition.

Gerald Ford Expected To Stay At Mayo Clinic Through The Weekend

Former President Gerald Ford remains at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for unspecified tests today, but officials wouldn't talk about his condition. A Mayo spokesman says Ford was admitted for tests and evaluation. A California friend of the 93-year-old former president, Lee Simmons, says he believes the tests had been planned in advance.Ford spent a few days in Colorado's Vail Valley Medical Center last month because of shortness of breath. In January, he was hospitalized for 12 days in California to treat pneumonia. Five years ago, Ford suffered two small strokes. Ford is the nation's oldest living former president. He became president in 1974, after Richard Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Nearly Half Hezbollah Fighters Killed Or Wounded

Israel's five-week assault on Hezbollah left nearly half the Shiite militia's estimated fighting force of 2,500 men dead or wounded, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said. "We estimate Hezbollah lost something like 600 fighters (and) one can imagine 600 others wounded, amounting to 1,000 to 1,200 out of a force of 2,500," he said. There was no way of independently verifying Peres's assertion. Speaking after meeting here with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Peres described the Lebanon-based militia as "a foreign legion" trained and armed by Iran. "This is in fact today an Iranian armed division -- by training, by weapons, by command, by finance," Peres said. He estimated that Iran had been spending more than 100 million dollars per year to arm and train the militia, which sparked the latest Middle East conflict by capturing two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12."They're a paid Iranian force, no matter what the name," he said, asserting that Iranian instructors were working with the militia in Lebanon and that some Hezbollah combatants had received training in Iran. Israel, backed by the United States, says much of Hezbollah's weaponry has come from Iran via Syria. A UN Security Council resolution adopted Friday to end the fighting called for a total embargo on any shipments of weapons or support to armed groups inside Lebanon other than the Lebanese army. The resolution, which succeeded in putting a fragile halt to the fighting as of Monday morning, foresees the creation of a 15,000-strong UN military force to help the Lebanese army prevent arms shipments to Hezbollah. It also demanded that Israel halt all "offensive" military operations in Lebanon and that Hezbollah cease all attacks on Israel. Asked if the language of the resolution gave Israel the freedom to attack any convoys carrying weapons to Hezbollah in defiance of the United Nations, Peres said: "As long as we're not attacked, we don't attack."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Security To Tighten At Northern Minnesota Border

The Department of Homeland Security plans to expand its Border Patrol offices in Duluth, International Falls and Grand Marais as part of the effort to tighten security along the Canadian border, officials said. If funding is approved, each of the offices would have room for 50 employees, a helicopter pad and an 8-foot wall or fence by winter of 2008, according to specifications published for potential contractors. "Our buildings in Grand Marais and the Falls were built in the 1960s, and we've been in the Duluth federal building since 1976," said Lonny Schweitzer, assistant chief of the Border Patrol's Grand Forks sector. "We've been shoe-horning new technology into old facilities. We're looking to increase our facility size and expand manpower," Schweitzer said. The agency won't disclose its current work force at the locations or the number of workers to be added because of security concerns, he said.A 1996 Government Accounting Office report showed Duluth and International Falls each had two agents, and Grand Marais had one. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Schweitzer said the number of agents along the border has jumped from 400 to more than 1,000. Under the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, a 20 percent annual increase in agents on the U.S.-Canadian border is required until 2010. In July, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment by Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., to put an additional 236 patrol agents on the northern border. Notices posted on the government's General Services Administration Web site call for 10-acre sites at Grand Marais, Duluth and International Falls. The projects would include parking for 25 vehicles in a detached, indoor garage, 50 outdoor parking spaces for employees, and a security buffer perimeter of 100 feet between the property and its neighbors.Grand Marais officials viewed the expansion news as a significant potential boost to the economy because it would require building both a facility and housing for potential employees, said Matt Geretschlaeger, executive director of the Cook County-Grand Marais Economic Development Authority. "It's potentially 50 new families here, in our schools and buying gas and groceries," Geretschlaeger said. "What's unique is that it would be a privately held building leased by the federal government, so they would be paying (property) taxes."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Anti-Hugo Chavez Activist Escapes Venezuelan Prison

A Venezuelan labor leader, who was jailed for leading an oil strike against President Hugo Chavez, escaped from prison, state television reported on Sunday. Carlos Ortega, who was serving a nearly 16-year sentence for his role in leading the 2002-2003 oil strike against Chavez, escaped from the Ramo Verde military prison in Los Teques west of the capital of Caracas, Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez said on state television. Three military officers also escaped together with Ortega, the attorney general said, adding that the government has ordered the military to check airports and embassies to prevent them from fleeing the country or seeking asylum.
Carlos Ortega
Ortega, president of the Venezuelan Workers Confederation, was found guilty in December 2005 of civil rebellion and instigation to commit illegal acts for his role in the large-scale oil strike in Venezuela in 2002-2003. The strike crippled the oil production of the world's No. 5 oil exporting country and cost it 7.5 billion U.S. dollars, the government said. Calling on the fugitives to surrender themselves, the attorney general promised their safety would be guaranteed.

Four Of Kidnaping Gang Killed

Philippine security forces killed at least four members of a kidnap-for-ransom gang during a gunbattle on a remote south-western island yesterday, a Marine general said. Brigadier-General Ben Dolorfino, deputy commander of military forces in the southern Philippines, said a police officer was also killed in the gunbattle in Indanan town on Jolo island, near where soldiers were hunting Muslim militants. The soldiers were trying to rescue a woman who had been kept for nearly a month along with her son.The woman, who had been stabbed, was rescued but later died. Her son’s headless body was found earlier yesterday, prompting the rescue attempt for the mother, Dolorfino told reporters. The mother and son had owned a bakery and a pawnshop in the main town on Jolo island. Dolorfino said the trader and her son were taken at gunpoint outside their home last month. A 10m pesos ($195,000) was demanded for their freedom, but was lowered to 6m pesos this month. Since the late 1960s, the Philippines has been fighting communist guerrillas and four Muslim rebel groups, including the small Abu Sayyaf which has been involved in kidnapping, bombings and extortion.

Lebanon War A 'Total Defeat' For Israel Sez Iran

The war in Lebanon has resulted in "total defeat" for Israel, Iran said. "After one month of war, the Zionist regime has faced a total defeat and the Lebanese resistance and Hezbollah have achieved total victory," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Sunday. "In addition to its human, military and economic losses the Zionist regime has also become completely isolated on the international level," he added. "The myth of the invincibility of the Zionist regime was destroyed and hatred against it has reached an apex."
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi.
Reacting to the UN Security Council resolution unanimously adopted Friday calling for an end to hostilities in Lebanon, Asefi said Iran considers it "unbalanced" but is nevertheless "satisfied" because the text took into account Lebanese demands and did not result in the United States and Israel "completely imposing their will." The text calls for an end to the month-long bloodshed and for the deployment of a 15,000-strong international peacekeeping force in south Lebanon. It also calls for Israeli troops to be withdrawn from southern Lebanon after an end to the fighting. Iran, which does not recognise the Jewish state, helped to create Hezbollah in 1982 in response to Israel's invasion of Lebanon. The United States and Israel accuse Tehran of fomenting chaos in the region by channeling weapons to the guerrillas. Iran denies the allegations, saying it provides only "moral support" to the movement.

Movie Night Tonight: Sniper Rifle In Action