|Army Chief Could Become Lebanon President|
28/11/2007 Lebanon's political vacuum could be headed toward a resolution with the country's army chief emerging as a likely candidate for the presidency, officials said on Wednesday. Several MPs and politicians from the ruling bloc and the Lebanese national opposition told AFP that negotiations on electing a new president were now focused on General Michel Sleiman, commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Gen. Kayani replaces Musharraf
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has handed over the military command to General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in the city of Rawalpindi.
In his farewell address, President Musharraf said the army was his life and he was proud to have been the commander of this 'great force'.
General Musharraf stepped down as head of the army after coming under intense international and domestic pressures. He is due to be sworn in as a civilian president on Thursday.
He termed General Kayani as an excellent soldier, adding that he could say 'with full confidence that under his command, the armed forces will achieve great heights'.
Musharraf said Pakistan could not survive without the military.
He said that the army is fighting against terrorists in North West Frontier Province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Baluchistan and the situation now improving in these areas.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Thu, 22 Nov 2007 17:08:47
Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed
"After consulting with politicians and surveying the states current crisis, I decided to appoint Nur Hassan Hussein as prime minister," President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad, announced Thursday.
"We expect him to build an effective government which will be able to save the country from the current hardship,'' added Ahmad.
"I promise to do my duty as the constitution mandates me and I will consult all concerned over Somalia's affairs," said Hassan in a speech after the announcement.
Hussein, the current head of the Somali Red Crescent, replaces Ali Mohamed Gedi who resigned on October 29 over intense diplomatic pressure and his rivalry with President Ahmad.
60 refugees drown in Gulf of Aden
Fri, 23 Nov 2007 15:09:48
Boat accident kills 60 Somalians in Gulf of Aden
Twenty-five others survived and managed to reach the Yemeni southern shores of Redhoum in the Shabwah province, after their boat capsized in the waters Wednesday night, said a security official in Sana on condition of anonymity.
He said fishermen informed the authorities Wednesday night of seeing bodies floating in the water. The army and the local citizens took part in a rescue operation.
The 25 survivors were taken to the refugee camp in the city of Lahij north of Aden. Witnesses said the dead were buried in mass graves Thursday by the local people and the soldiers.
It was not immediately clear how the boat had capsized and some survivors claimed there were six refugees missing. The UN refugee agency has reported that at least 439 migrants have died while crossing the Gulf of Aden this year and at least another 489 are missing.
source PressTV MJ/PA
Saturday, November 24, 2007
“Response to the recent higher oil prices have been vastly varied in different parts of the world. China, Myanmar and South Korea have been the scenes of some unrest at gas stations or have experienced street demonstrations," the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat reported.
While Saudi Arabia has launched a number of new petrochemical companies, Russia is pursuing its development plans with greater confidence.
Chad, on the other hand, is buying new weapons and Brazil is witnessing a faster growth rate, the paper said.
Meanwhile, the inflation rate in the US has started to rise and its trade balance is becoming more negative as the dollar continues to fall against other major currencies.
This is while the oil income per capita of the inhabitants of the oil-rich state of Alaska has risen to $1,654 this year from $547 last year.
The unprecedented increase in oil prices in the past two years has taken the annual earnings from petroleum exports of the producing countries to $700 billions.
Many analysts and politicians believe a new crisis in the Middle East could push crude prices to nearly $200 a barrel, which would have deep impacts on the world economy.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The Ariane 5 lights up the night sky over French Guiana
Britain has launched Skynet 5B - the latest spacecraft in a sophisticated new military communications system.
The satellite rode into orbit atop an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Kourou spaceport, in French Guiana.
Over the course of the next month, 5B will take up a position over the Indian Ocean and begin handling secure traffic for UK forces around the world.
The £3.6bn Skynet project is the UK's single biggest space venture and is designed to operate until 2020.
The rocket left the spaceport at 1906 local time (2206 GMT). It was a case of third time lucky after technical glitches had thwarted two previous attempts at a launch.
The Skynet payload separated from the Ariane just 27 minutes into the flight and was soon picked up by controllers through a ground station in Africa.
The spacecraft will need about 20 days of manoeuvres to take up a geostationary position at 53 degrees East.
See how Skynet 5B will be deployed
Skynet 5B joins the 5A platform which was launched successfully in March. Working together, the two spacecraft will provide near-global coverage.
They will allow the Army, Royal Navy and RAF to pass much more data, faster between command centres. The bandwidth capacity of Skynet 5 is two-and-a-half times that of the old satellite constellation, Skynet 4.
The Skynet spacecraft should meet military needs up to 2020
The new spacecraft have been "hardened" for military use. They will resist attempts to disrupt them with high-powered lasers, and have some capacity to ride out the electromagnetic pulse emitted by nuclear weapons - something that would knock out normal electronic systems.
Classified receive antenna technology on the spacecraft can also go deaf to signals that try to jam communications, whilst at the same time leaving channels open for use by British commanders.
The 5A platform is already making important contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) says.
The RAF's new Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have begun monitoring Taleban operations, and 5A is being used to feed full-motion video back to the UK for analysis.
UK forces expect more high-bandwidth applications such as Reaper to come online in the years ahead.
The upgraded Skynet system is being funded with City money through a commercial company - Paradigm Secure Communications. The firm now provides all satcom services to the Army, Royal Navy and RAF, including the "welfare services" that allow service personnel on tour to phone and email home.
Reacher satellite truck (Astrium)
The Skynet project provides a range of satellite services
"The deal we have enables our customer, the British forces, to concentrate on what they are doing - the military campaign," said Malcolm Peto, the managing director of Paradigm.
"They get better technology, faster; and we get more money because we're incentivised to invest in the technology. It's a virtuous circle.
"The technology in our space industry is supremely efficient. In terms of the special bits that Skynet 5B's got for our military, it's just the best of the best."
Spare bandwidth on the Skynet 5 system will be sold to Nato countries and other "friendly" governments, bringing revenue back to Paradigm and the MoD.
Wednesday's Ariane rocket also lofted a Brazilian telecommunications spacecraft. The Star One C1 spacecraft will provide broadband internet services to South American consumers.
1. Skynet 5 overhauls satellite communications for UK forces
2. The largely autonomous satellites talk to two UK ground stations
3. Skynet 5 supports high-bandwidth applications, such as UAV video
4. Antennas and terminals are upgraded to make best use of Skynet
5. New battlefield networks, such as Cormorant, feed into the system
6. System gives commanders access to more information, faster
The satellites are 'hardened' against interference. A special receive antenna (1) can resist attempts at jamming
Each spacecraft has four steerable antennas (2) that can concentrate bandwidth onto particular regions
The system gives near-global coverage (3), providing 2.5 times the capacity afforded by the previous system
Each spacecraft (4) is a 3x4x4.5m box and weighs just under 5 tonnes; the solar wings once unfurled measure 34m tip to tip
Improved technologies, including a solar 'sail' (5), lengthen the platforms' operational lives to at least 15 years
1. Skynet 5 overhauls satellite communications for UK forces
2. The largely autonomous satellites talk to two UK ground stations
3. Skynet 5 supports high-bandwidth applications, such as UAV video
4. Antennas and terminals are upgraded to make best use of Skynet
5. New battlefield networks, such as Cormorant, feed into the system
6. System gives commanders access to more information, faster
Sunday, November 11, 2007
1. Dalam masa jangka-panjang yang akan membatasi batas pilihanraya akan datang, BERSIH yakin dan percaya bahawa kelapan-lapan aspek ini perlu dikaji dan diperbaharui secara keseluruhannya:
A. Sistem pilihanraya
i. Adalah perlu untuk memperbetulkan ketidakseimbangan yang tinggi antara undian rakyat dan kerusi yang dipertandingkan dalam pilihanraya, dimana undi sebanyak 64% boleh diterjemahlkan kepada 91% kerusi bagi parti pemerintah. Ini adalah kerana berteraskan kepada prinsip asas ‘First-Past-The-Post’ atau ‘Yang-Pertama-Melepasi-Tiang’ dan juga manipulasi menerusi pembahagian kawasan pilihanraya yang bericirikan ‘agihan-timpang’ dan ‘curang’ atau ‘tipu-belit’;
ii. Adalah perlu untuk memperkenalkan satu sistem yang menyenaraikan semua perwakilan parti, supaya jumlah minima 30% perwakilan wanita di parlimen terjamin;
iii. Adalah perlu untuk memperkenalkan semula pilihanraya tempatan dengan sistem pilihanraya yang lebih adil, termasuk memberikan ruang yang lebih kepada penglibatan wanita dan kelompok terpinggir dalam masyarakat.
B. Pentadbiran pilihanraya
i. Adalah perlu untuk merubah Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya sekarang yang ternyata gagal untuk bertindak sebagai sebuah institusi yang bebas dengan bergerak ke arah struktur perwakilan pelbagai parti sebagaimana yang dipraktikkan di negara-negara yang mengamalkan demokrasi;
ii. Memperuntukkan undang-undang yang berkaitan dengan hak pemerhati-pemerhati antarabangsa dan tempatan.
C. Penamaan calon dan parti - bahawa ketimpangan ini mesti diperbetulkan
i. Kuasa berasaskan budibicara yang diberikan kepada Pendaftar Pertubuhan menyebabkan keputusan berkaitan pendaftaran dibuat secara sewenang-wenagnya. Ini dapat dilihat dalam kes Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) dan Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC);
ii. Keputusan berat sebelah dan sewenang-wenang oleh Pegawai Pengurus Pilihanraya yang akhirnya menggugurkan kelayakan calon-calon pembangkang adalah tidak adil;
iii. Klausa kontroversi yang membenarkan calon menarik diri selepas penamaan yang akhirnya membawa kepada pertuduhan rasuah dan kemenangan tanpa bertanding yang menyangsikan;
iv. Wang deposit pilihanraya yang tertinggi di dunia yang secara langsung menghalang penyertaan warga Malaysia yang kurang sumber kewangannya, termasuk golongan wanita dan beberapa kumpulan terpinggir dalam masyarakat.
D. Kempen pilihanraya – peruntukan undang-undang bagi perkara-perkara berikut
i. Menetapkan satu tempoh berkempen wajib yang jauh lebih panjang daripada tempoh 8 hari berkempen dalam pilihanraya lepas yang nyata tidak bermakna langsung;
ii. Memberikan hak kebebasan bersuara dan berkumpul yang sebenar-benarnya sebagaimana yang telah diperuntukkan dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan Malaysia;
iii. Pengawalan secara berkesan dan menyeluruh dalam proses pembiayaan kos untuk berkempen untuk membendung amalan rasuah;
iv. Pertimbangan untuk mengadakan pembiayaan awam bagi kos berkempen kepada parti-parti politik khususnya bagi calon wanita, kumpulan-kumpulan terpinggir dalam masyarakat dan latihan yang mesra gender.
i. Merombak undang-undang yang sedia ada yang telah membolehkan media cetak dan penyiaran dimonopoli oleh para proksi Barisan Nasional;
ii. Peruntukan undang-undang bagi membolehkan semua parti politik mendapat akses atau capaian percuma kepada TV dan radio awam serta akses secara adil (percuma atau berbayar) kepada media swasta;
iii. Peruntukan undang-undang bagi menjamin hak semua parti politik dan calon untuk menjawab segala bentuk tuduhan dan kritikan ke atas mereka menerusi media.
F. Kerajaan Sementara (Caretaker government)
i. Bahawa kerajaan lama adalah dilarang sama sekali untuk membuat sebarang polisi atau keputusan berkaitan dengan pembangunan bilamana Parlimen atau Dewan Undangan Negeri dibubarkan.;
ii. Bahawa menyalahgunakan semua sumber dan instrumen negara bagi tujuan memenangi pilihanraya atau untuk kepentingan parti adalah merupakan kesalahan jenayah;
iii. Bahawa penyediaan dan penyemakan daftar pemilih perlu dibuat secara telus dan tertakluk kepada semakan kehakiman.
G. Daftar Pemilih
i. Bahawa daftar pemilih perlu dikemaskinikan dan tepat, untuk mengelakkan (i) penyingkiran dan pemindahan secara tidak sukarela para pengundi yang sah dan (ii) penyamaran dan pengundian berganda oleh ‘pengundi hantu’;
ii. Bahawa semua rakyat yang layak mengundi perlu secara automatik didaftarkan sebagai pengundi.
i. Melaksanakan penggunaan dakwat kekal (indelible ink) untuk menghalang pengundian berganda;
ii. Memansuhkan sistem pengundian pos kecuali untuk para diplomat dan pengundi yang berada di luar negara memandangkan pertanggungjawaban dan kerahsiaan amat terancam dalam amalan semasa.
Matlamat Jangka Pendek
6. Untuk jangka pendek, BERSIH menyeru kepada Pengerusi dan Setiausaha Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya, Tan Sri Abd. Rashid bin Abd. Rahman dan Datuk Kamaruzaman bin Mohd Noor untuk melaksanakan tiga pembaharuan khusus yang berkaitan dengan daftar pemilih dan pengundian sebagai langkah pertama untuk menuju ke arah pilihanraya yang bebas dan adil:
i. Penggunaan dakwat kekal (sebagaimana yang dilakukan di Indonesia dan India) untuk menghalang pengundian berganda;
ii. Pemansuhan sistem pengundian pos kecuali untuk para diplomat dan pengundi lain di luar negara;
iii. Penyemakan semula daftar pemilih yang lengkap demi memastikan segala kesalahan dan ketimpangan yang sedia ada dapat dihapuskan dan menyediakan satu daftar pemilih yang sebenar-benarnya telus dan meyakinkan;
iv. Semua parti yang bertanding sepatutnya menerima akses yang sama rata kepada media yang dikawal kerajaan terutamanya TV dan radio. Iklan politik daripada semua parti mestilah diterima tanpa sebarang sikap pilih kasih. Media juga perlu memberi hak menjawab sekiranya terdapat laporan berunsur negatif yang berkaitan dengan seseorang ahli politik atau parti politik.
7. Sekiranya BERSIH tidak melihat sebarang respon positif daripada Pengerusi dan Setiausaha Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya berkaitan dengan agenda jangka panjang tersebut, dan terutamanya, tiga agenda pembaharuan secara segera, maka BERSIH akan berkempen di seluruh negara untuk menuntut perubahan dalam pilihanraya serta turut menggesa perletakan jawatan mereka.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Fri, 09 Nov 2007 04:54:53
Israeli's ransack Mosques and detain 7 Palestinians.
Reports say Israeli troops aggressed against the Al-Natur Mosque in Rafidia, western Nablus and the Al-Khadra Mosque in central Nablus.
Eyewitness say Israeli troops forcefully entered the mosques breaking down doors and ransacking the interiors.
In the same operation, Israeli troops abducted at least seven Palestinians and transferred them to an undisclosed destination.
Iran removed from Yahoo, Hotmail list
Thu, 08 Nov 2007 18:01:42
"Yahoo continually reviews its business operations to ensure compliance with these restrictions. Consistent with this policy, we cannot accept registrations from countries subject to these restrictions," a Yahoo spokeswoman told The Register.
"So essentially, you can't choose Iran as a country option because we are restricted from conducting business there - all US companies must comply with this policy," she added.
Microsoft, however, declined to comment on the issue.
Google has kept Iran as an option on the Gmail registration page.
Google officials said that the sanctions do not preclude it from including Iran in its Gmail country list.
Following the adoption of resolution 1747, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, immediately rejected it as illegitimate, maintaining Teheran’s longstanding claim that the country’s nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and therefore outside of the Council’s brief.
He also charged that the sanctions were not being imposed in response to the nuclear programme but were rather “schemes of the co-sponsors” carried out “for narrow national considerations aimed at depriving the Iranian people of their inalienable rights.”
The resolution reaffirms that Iran must take the steps required by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, which has called for a full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities; and ratification and implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s (NPT) Additional Protocol granting the IAEA expanded rights of access to information and sites, as well as additional authority to use the most advanced technologies during the verification process.
States are called on “to exercise vigilance and restraint regarding the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals who are engaged in, directly associated with or providing support for Iran’s proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.”
Any such persons should be reported to the Council’s Iran sanctions committee. A designated list of individuals banned from travel is annexed to the resolution, but its provisions apply to others not listed who are involved in Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.
The resolution imposes a strict import/export ban on Iranian weapons, deciding that “Iran shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft any arms or related materiel, and that all States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran.”
States must also “exercise vigilance and restraint” with regard to any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems destined for Iran.
Except for humanitarian or development aid, States and international financial institutions should not provide funds to Iran, according to the resolution. All countries have 60 days to report to the Iran sanctions committee on steps they have taken to give effect to the resolution.
The resolution also aims for a diplomatic breakthrough, expressing the Council’s conviction that if the IAEA can verify that Iran has suspended its uranium enrichment and reprocessing, this would lead to a negotiated solution that guarantees Iran’s nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes.
Underlining a willingness to work positively for a diplomatic solution, the Council encourages Iran, “to re-engage with the international community and with the IAEA.”
Under other provisions of the resolution, the Director-General of the IAEA is to report back to the Council within 60 days on Iran’s nuclear programme.
The Council will review Iran’s actions in light of that report and will suspend the sanctions “if and for so long as Iran suspends all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, as verified by the IAEA, to allow for negotiations in good faith in order to reach an early and mutually acceptable outcome.”
The measures will be terminated once Iran has complied with all Council demands.
However, if Iran does not comply, the Council will “adopt further appropriate measures” aimed at persuading Teheran to comply with its resolutions and the requirements of the IAEA, the resolution warns.
Today’s text also recalls an IAEA Board of Governors resolution adopted last year which states that “a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue would contribute to global non-proliferation efforts and to realizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery.”
Annexed to the resolution is a proposal put forward last June by six countries – China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States – aimed at achieving an end to the standoff by providing elements of a long-term agreement.
Three months ago, the Council imposed a more limited set of sanctions on Iran over the nuclear issue. That resolution, also adopted unanimously following weeks of intensive diplomacy, contains a list of persons and entities involved with Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes that are subject to a freeze on their financial assets. Today’s resolution expands that list with an Annex containing additional persons and entities also subject to the measures.
Iran’s nuclear programme has been a matter of international concern ever since the discovery in 2003 that it had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the NPT.E team note - article is an extract from a western press thus some elements of the reports are
untrue, half true or exaggerated
Thursday, November 8, 2007
A group of senior US military commanders have reportedly decided to resign, should the White House order a military strike against Iran.
The reports come as tension in the Persian Gulf region has raised fears that US President George W. Bush might order an attack on Iran before his term expires.
"There are four or five generals and admirals we know would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran," a source with close ties with British intelligence services said.
"There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”
A British defense source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. "All the generals are perfectly clear that they don't have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.”
The threat of a wave of resignations coincided with a warning by Vice-President Dick Cheney that all options, including military action, remained on the table.
According to a report in The New Yorker magazine, the Pentagon has already set up a working group to plan air-strikes on Iran.
The panel initially focused on destroying Iran's nuclear facilities. However, army chiefs fear an attack on Iran would lead to a rise in oil prices and a full-blown regional war.
Mr Sarkozy spoke warmly of French-US relations
After talks at Mount Vernon, near Washington, Mr Bush praised his French counterpart as "a partner in peace".
Mr Sarkozy earlier received a standing ovation during the first address in more than a decade by a French leader to a joint session of Congress.
He pledged to US lawmakers that France would support the US in Afghanistan.
But he also urged Americans to do more in the fight against global warming and complained that the Bush administration had allowed the dollar to plummet against the euro.
In a press conference later following talks at Mount Vernon, the historic home of inaugural US president George Washington, Mr Bush said the pair had agreed to "work jointly to convince the Iranian regime to give up their nuclear ambitions for the sake of peace".
"The idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is dangerous and therefore now is the time for us to work together to diplomatically solve this problem," he added.
Mr Sarkozy told reporters: "It is unacceptable for Iran at any point to have a nuclear weapon."
But the French leader emphasized that Iran was entitled to develop civilian nuclear energy, which Tehran argues is the sole aim of its programme.
The BBC's Justin Webb, in Washington, says Mr Sarkozy has taken on the mantle of the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in the affections of the US.
It is a stark contrast to the frosty relations under Mr Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, he adds.
At Congress earlier, the current resident of the Elysee Palace was cheered for more than three minutes before he even began his 45-minute address.
He delighted his audience by saying: "Let me tell you solemnly today, France will remain engaged in Afghanistan as long as it takes, because what's at stake in that country is the future of our values and that of the Atlantic alliance."
Mr Sarkozy, 52, who was elected in May, said he wanted France to "resume its full role" in Nato's military command structure after several decades outside it.
He also urged Americans to "stand alongside Europe in leading the fight against global warming".
And he raised concerns over the dollar's fall against the euro, warning "monetary disarray could morph into economic war" and "we would all be its victims".
Mr Sarkozy devoted much of his speech to expressing gratitude for US heroism on French battlefields in World War II, and to praising American values, spirit and culture.
"America liberated us. This is an eternal debt," he said, adding: "I want to tell you that whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France."
Analysts say Mr Sarkozy's warmly-received visit went a long way towards achieving his promise to "reconquer America's heart", which he declared upon his arrival on Tuesday.
Relations were strained in 2003 when France opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq - and French fries were renamed "freedom fries" on Congress canteen menus.
At a White House dinner with Mr Bush on Tuesday, Mr Sarkozy said differences over Iraq should not weaken their alliance and Mr Bush agreed.
The French leader, who spent the afternoon with Mr Bush while on holiday in New England in August, is widely known back in France as "l'Americain" for transatlantic leanings.
In 1996, many US lawmakers boycotted an appearance by Mr Chirac at the US Congress to protest against France's nuclear testing in the South Pacific.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 6, 2007; 5:07 PM
WASHINGTON -- House Democrats on Tuesday narrowly managed to avert a bruising debate on a proposal to impeach Dick Cheney after Republicans, in a surprise maneuver, voted in favor of taking up the measure.
Republicans, changing course midway through a vote, tried to force Democrats into a debate on the resolution sponsored by longshot presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
The anti-war Ohio Democrat, in his resolution, accused Cheney of purposely leading the country into war against Iraq and manipulating intelligence about Iraq's ties with al-Qaida.
The GOP tactics reversed what had been expected to be an overwhelming vote to table, or kill, the resolution.
Midway through the vote, with instructions from the GOP leadership, Republicans one by one changed their votes from yes _ to kill the resolution _ to no, trying to force the chamber into a debate and an up-or-down vote on the proposal.
At one point there were 290 votes to table. After the turnaround, the final vote was 251-162 against tabling, with 165 Republicans voting against it.
"We're going to help them out, to explain themselves," said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. "We're going to give them their day in court."
Democrats countered by offering a motion to refer the proposal to the House Judiciary Committee for further study, effectively preventing a debate on the House floor. That motion passed by a largely party-line vote of 218-194.
The White House, in a statement, said Democrats were shirking responsibilities on issues such as childrens' health insurance "and yet they find time to waste an afternoon on an impeachment vote against the vice president. ... This is why Americans shake their head in wonder about the priorities of this Congress."
Kucinich has long pushed for a vote to impeach Cheney, but has failed to win the backing of the Democratic leadership. After Kucinich introduced the resolution, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., immediately moved to table it.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said "impeachment is off the table" and Congress is focused on responsibly getting U.S. troops out of Iraq, covering 10 million uninsured children and meeting national priorities long neglected by the Bush administration, said her spokesman Nadeam Elshami.
The resolution said that Cheney, "in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of vice president," had "purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests."
The 11-page resolution also charged that Cheney purposely deceived the nation about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida and has "openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States."
House approval of an article of impeachment sends the issue to the Senate, which has the constitutional authority to try and, with a two-thirds vote, remove a person from office.
Tue, 06 Nov 2007 14:41:21
By Bita Ghaffari, Press TV, Tehran
Given Washington's war rhetoric and the confrontational policies it pursues in the region, it's hard to believe the White House is contemplating the creation of a Palestinian state and the establishment of peace between the age-old foes through negotiations on an equal footing - especially given the coincidence of such 'peace-mongering' propaganda with the evident US failure in Iraq, and its growing go-to-war rhetoric against the Islamic Republic.
The US foreign policy agenda is a confused amalgamation of leniency and severity in its dealings with different countries on exactly the same issues, be it human rights or nuclear technology.
Take Egypt for instance. The country has on many occasions accused the US of interference in its internal affairs, in reaction to American criticism of Cairo's human rights record.
But during her mid-October visit to Egypt, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice unveiled a sudden about-face, asserting that the US always raised human rights issues 'in the spirit of friendship and respect'.
That was an obvious effort to win Cairo's support for the upcoming conference on the Middle East slated for November or December in Maryland, as well as for Washington's anti-Iran strategies.
Condi's intense Middle East shuttle diplomacy in preparation for the sham peace conference - she is currently on her seventh visit to the region this year - has been an absolute failure. The conference thus far lacks any definite date or agenda.
The same can be argued about the US nuclear cooperation deal with India - a country that has not signed the NPT and has violated its commitments to use the technology for civilian purposes by conducting nuclear bomb test in 1974.
India is being offered US nuclear assistance despite its proclaimed nuclear weapons program. Conversely, Iran is threatened with military action for enriching uranium to provide fuel for nuclear power reactors and despite cogent confirmation by the IAEA regarding the country's non-deviation from a civilian program.
Such a contradictory course of action sends a clear message that the US is not earnest in its interactions with the rest of the world. The US gives leeway as long as its interests are ensured. It threatens to use force and military strike when its stakes are endangered.
Analyzed against the background of US hypocrisy, nothing much can be expected of the upcoming Annapolis conference. In fact, the event should be viewed in the light of usual US propaganda efforts.
In its last-ditch desperate attempts, the Bush administration is struggling hard to emerge successful from its foreign policy fiasco and has pinned hope on the conference as a face-saving opportunity.
Former US secretary of state Madeline Albright took to task America's situation in the international system and its fight on terror, saying a foreign policy disaster would be Bush's legacy for his successor.
What the Palestinians want to gain out of any peace conference is a treaty to permanently resolve the issues including borders of a Palestinian state, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the status of al-Quds and the return of Palestinian refugees. The Palestinians also want a timetable for creation of a state.
But any peace conference will stand little chance of success should it fail to provide a comprehensive forum where all parties involved in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict get together for some momentous decisions. And this means without Hamas now controlling the Gaza Strip with 1.5 million residents, any peace talks are certain to break down. How can one expect to achieve peaceful results when one major constituent of the fracas is absent? What executive guarantee can there be for any resolution achieved at the conference?
The US needs to acknowledge the role of Arab neighboring countries particularly Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in working out any durable peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Hamas announced it will hold a conference in Syria to rival the Maryland gathering. The Islamic movement even postponed the confab so it would coincide with Bush's ME conference. As can be clearly witnessed, by only inviting Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction and leaving out Hamas from the peace talks, the US has already deepened the confrontation and further distanced the rival Palestinian groups.
Many officials and analysts across the Arab world have reiterated their concerns over any peace deal reached in the absence of Hamas.
It is evident from the start that a durable peace between Palestinians and the US strongest Middle East ally, Israel, is the last outcome Washington expects to derive from the conference.
One has to bear in mind the US fragile economic conditions as testified by the steady fall in the dollar against a broad range of currencies including to a record low decline against the euro of $1.45, the prospects of recession in the world's largest economy and its colossal budget deficit of $770 billion.
Add to this the fact that the US leads the international arms market, recording $16.9 billion worth of arms sales in 2006.
Sizeable amounts of money injected into the US economy through drug trade should not be downplayed either. As Leuren Moret, an American expert on radiation and public health issues, points out, “Over $850 billion a year in drug money in the US is the CIA cash-flow through the US economy. The US economy would collapse without it.”
Join the pieces of puzzle together and you will simply arrive at the conclusion that what the US needs more than anything else in the Middle East is war and not peace. Conflict and chaos are what can help the world's largest economy keep its lucrative drug and arms business running.
The region is in precarious conditions and can by no means afford another failed attempt to settle the decades-long antagonism that has marked relations between Arab Palestinians and Israelis.
The bottom line is Washington is clearly devoid of characteristics required for an impartial trustworthy peace broker. The proposed conference will fail to pave the path to a permanent peace pact.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Tue, 06 Nov 2007 01:47:20
With oil prices at record levels, the US has little room to maneuver in imposing new sanctions against Iran, the AP reported.
"If Iran sees USD 100 a barrel oil, Iran is likely to conclude, and it may well be true, that no matter how severe the US sanctions are. . . [Iran can stand them]'' said Matthew Levitt, a former US Treasury Department terrorism expert, who is now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"Unless there is a major land and naval blockade, there are always going to be buyers for Iranian oil,'' said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert who works at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Sadjadpour has claimed that a more productive form of pressure against Iran would be a lowering of world oil prices, overall.
"If you can get oil down to USD 60 [per barrel], their (Iran's) calculation might change,'' he said.
The US has stepped up its economic sanctions against Iran and is trying to lobby other countries to do the same, which has been strongly objected by countries such as Russia and China.
Sun, 04 Nov 2007 17:08:38
By Gordon Prather
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R)
The summit, itself, resulted in a number of 'milestone' agreements, including one prohibiting other countries (such as the United States) from using - 'in any circumstances' - territory or facilities of any Caspian Sea littoral state (such as Azerbaijan) for 'use of force or aggression' against another (such as Iran).
And if that message wasn't clear enough, Putin also met privately with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, declaring afterwards in a joint press conference that Iran is an important regional and global power'.
Putin also took the opportunity to tell the world that he had seen no 'evidence' - Director-General ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency hasn't even found an 'indication' - that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Therefore, Russia would go ahead and complete the IAEA safeguarded nuclear power plant at Bushehr.
Talk about pinning the tail on Bush's donkey with a nail-gun.
But, protested Bush, who had just been told by Putin that he wouldn't even be allowed to launch a 'surgical' attack - much less another war of aggression - against Iran from our 'temporary' air base in Azerbaijan, [says]
'We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel.'
(That's a lie, of course. Ahmadinejad has never made such an announcement.)
As Bush must know, even if Ahmadinejad wanted to merely effect regime change in Israel - much less destroy the country - he couldn't. Iran's President is not - even in time of war - commander-in-chief of the Iranian armed forces. Or even of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which Condi-baby has just designated to be somehow involved in 'nuclear proliferation'.
Of course, in time of wars declared by our Congress, our President is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. And Bush believes - or acts as if he believes - our Congress has declared war on anyone Bush 'determines' to be a terrorist or on any state Bush 'determines' to be a supporter of terrorists.
So, quoth Bush,
"I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (the Iranians) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."
It's frequently difficult - sometimes impossible - to make sense of Bush's pronouncements.
But apparently, Bush recently told Russian President Putin that World War III could result not because Iran allegedly has nukes with which to allegedly attack Israel, or not because Iran has the capability of making the fissile material absolutely necessary for making nukes with which to allegedly attack Israel, or not even because Iran allegedly wants to make nukes with which to allegedly attack Israel.
Taking Bush literally, all it will take for the Israelis or the United States to attack Iran, risking WWIII - with the United States and Israel on one side and Russia and China on the other - is some indication that some Iranians know how to make a nuke.
Now, Putin has frequently expressed his opposition to the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons. But, Putin has repeatedly expressed his support for the 'inalienable right' (guaranteed by the NPT) to the use of atomic energy by the Iranians, for peaceful purposes, to be verified by the IAEA.
The Israelis - on the other hand - have repeatedly expressed their outrageous view that the capability of enriching the Uranium-235 content of large amounts of natural uranium to any level is tantamount to having the capability to make a nuclear weapon.
Are they serious?
Well, back in 1981 Israel "took out" Osiraq, a French-built IAEA-safeguarded research reactor, apparently because they had concluded that Saddam Hussein expected Osiraq - in lieu of the Tooth Fairy - to miraculously leave a few nuclear weapons under his pillow.
Since 1991, thanks to the IAEA, the whole world has known that Saddam began his quest for nuclear weapons as a direct result of the Israeli raid on his IAEA safeguarded research reactor.
Here are excerpts from UN Security Council Resolution 487 condemning the Israeli pre-emptive strike.
"Fully aware of the fact that Iraq has been a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since it came into force in 1970, that, in accordance with that treaty, Iraq has accepted IAEA safeguards on all its nuclear activities, and that the agency has testified that these safeguards have been satisfactorily applied to date;
"Strongly condemns the military attack by Israel - in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct;
"Calls upon Israel to refrain in the future from any such acts or threats thereof;
"Further considers that the said attack constitutes a serious threat to the entire IAEA safeguards regime, which is the foundation of the non-proliferation treaty."
Now, Bush the Younger has apparently adopted the equally idiotic and outrageously inflammatory view of the Israelis about Iran's IAEA safeguarded programs.
Nevertheless, it was something of a surprise when Zogby America's latest poll of likely voters revealed that 52 percent "would support a US military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon."
Worse still, according to Zogby, 53 percent believe it is 'likely' that the United States will be 'involved' in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election.
It's too bad Zogby didn't phrase the first question this way;
"Given that the IAEA continues to verify that Iran is engaged in the pursuit of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as is their 'inalienable right' as a signatory to the NPT; Would you support a US or Israeli strike - in violation of the UN Charter - against Iran's IAEA safeguarded nuclear facilities, including the nuclear power plant nearing completion by the Russians at Bushehr?”
“Would you support such a strike even if it resulted in World War III, with US-Israel on one side, and Russia-China-Islam on the other?"
Iran: PG will not serve as anti-Iran base
Mon, 05 Nov 2007 20:37:06
The bill banning the use of Bahrain's terrain is the best evidence in this regard, said Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Ali-Reza Sheikh-Attar.
The IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Aziz Jafari has said that “any attack on Iran would be repelled,” Sheikh-Attar said in an interview with Bahrain's Al Watan newspaper, quoting Jafari as saying.
As for the sanctions, he said that if Washington's two-year sanctions on Iran were effective, their impact on the country's economic indices would have been evident.
This is while, the country's non-oil exports have increased by eight percent since last year, noted Sheikh-Attar.
Elsewhere in his comments, he noted that preparing the agenda for the next joint commission meeting on energy, especially natural gas, was the main objective of his visit to Manama.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
|source almanartv |
It might take as long as half a century before US troops can leave the volatile Middle East, according to retired Army General John Abizaid.
"Over time, we will have to shift the burden of the military fight from our forces directly to regional forces, and we will have to play an indirect role, but we shouldn't assume for even a minute that in the next 25 to 50 years the American military might be able to come home, relax and take it easy, because the strategic situation in the region doesn't seem to show that as being possible," Abizaid said Wednesday at Carnegie Mellon University.
"I'm not saying this is a war for oil, but I am saying that oil fuels an awful lot of geopolitical moves that political powers may have there," Abizaid said. "And it is absolutely essential that we in the United States of America figure out how, in the long run, to lessen our dependency on foreign energy."
"I would characterize what we're doing now as 80 percent military, 20% diplomatic, economic, political, educational, informational, intelligence, etc.," Abizaid said. "You've got to take that equation and change it. Make it 80% those other things."
Abizaid, who has dubbed the current conflict "The Long War," said in September it will take three to five years before Iraq's government is stable enough to operate on its own. Despite the strain on the armed forces, Abizaid said Wednesday it is important to maintain a professional military without re-establishing a draft.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
The potential problem has arisen because the first class area of its giant superjumbo contains 12 private suites complete with double beds.
Singapore, which is the first airline to start flying the A380, said the suites were not sound-proofed.
It said it did not want anyone to offend other travellers or crew.
Singapore added that while the suites were private, they were also not completely sealed.
"All we ask of customers, wherever they are on our aircraft, is to observe standards that don't cause offence to other customers and crew," the airline said in a statement.
"Nothing different applies for our Singapore Airlines Suites customers."
Singapore Airlines took delivery of its first A380 earlier this month, with the first services between Singapore and Sydney starting on 25 October.
It is now set to take delivery of a further five A380s in 2008, out of its order of 19.
Published: 2007/10/31 16:22:26 GMT
© BBC MMVII
Thu, 01 Nov 2007 06:49:55
Iran's Evin Penitentiary and Correctional Center
Parviz Afshar, an advisor to Iran's Ministry of Welfare and Social Security received the prize at the 9th Annual General Meeting and Conference, held on October 21-26.
"Iran was the recipient of 3 out of 7 awards given by the ICPA," Afshar said, adding that one of the awards was presented to Iran Prisons Organization.
The organization created a positive environment for implementation of its programs, of which HIV/AIDS and harm reduction plan is one of the most successful one.
Afshar is also a temporary adviser for WHO, UNODC & UNAIDS.
The ICPA is an organization devoted to improving global understanding and professionalism in the correctional sector.