Tuesday, November 30, 2004

ThisisLondon - Commuting 'more stressful than flying a jet fighter'
By Mark Prigg Science Correspondent, Evening Standard
30 November 2004



The true level of stress faced by commuters in London is revealed today.

A major new study claims the average journey by train or bus is more stressful than being a fighter pilot in combat, or a police officer in a riot. The researchers also say that as passengers' stress levels rocket, their brains switch off, leading to a condition they identified as "commuter amnesia".

Psychologist Dr David Lewis, who led the research, warns that commuters-could suffer serious heart problems. He also says staff are arriving at their offices less able to work. "People's productivity is damaged. The stress levels harm their ability to concentrate when they make it in."

Researchers measured the blood pressure and heart beats of more than 125 commuters, on a variety of routes. More than 800 people were also interviewed.

The normal resting heartbeat on a healthy young person is about 60 beats per minute.

However, as they battled to and from work, the volunteers' heartbeats reached peaks of more than double that - comparable with the rate during strenuous exercise.

Dr Lewis said: "Getting to this rate during physical exercise is good but commuters get this from purely psychological reasons and it puts them at risk of serious heart problems."

He compared the commuters' stress levels with that of fighter pilots and police in training. He said: "The levels experienced by commuters were higher. It's pretty shocking. We found spikes in the heart rate that corresponded with changing trains. The key for commuters is the feeling they are not in control, this is what makes them lose their temper. The phenomenon of "commuter amnesia" discovered by the study, conducted on behalf of Hewlett-Packard, was found by studying volunteers' brain patterns.

Dr Lewis said: "It's a form of self-hypnosis. It's a defence mechanism for the brain, and it's very effective."

Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, said: "This confirms that

... urgent delivery of an improved transport system must become a government priority."

Londoners could also be suffering from the winter blues. Doctors say that the vast majority of us will have increased lethargy, sleeplessness, depression and low self-esteem caused by the lack of sunlight. About a million people in Britain will suffer an extreme version known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Monday, November 29, 2004

No Library should be without these!

Complete list - Top 1000 things for libraries to stock

[OCLC - OCLC Top 1000]


Research : OCLC Top 1000 : Complete list
Complete list

This list contains the "Top 1000" titles owned by OCLC member libraries—the intellectual works that have been judged to be worth owning by the "purchase vote" oflibraries around the globe.

Founded in 1967, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing information costs. More than 50,540 libraries in 84 countries and territories around the world use OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend and preserve library materials.
Can the Blue-Red divide in American politics be explained by people's demographic density and number of children? Fascinating Article!

"The Baby Gap: Explaining Red and Blue" by Steve Sailer in The American Conservative, December 20, 2004:

"As you've seen on all those red-blue maps, most of America's land is red, even though Kerry won 48 percent of the vote. Even excluding vast Alaska, Bush's counties are only one-fourth as densely populated on average as Kerry's counties.

Lower density helps explain why red regions both attract the baby-oriented and encourage larger families among those already there.

A dozen years ago, the U. of Chicago sociologist Edward O. Laumann and others wrote a tome with the soporific post-modern title The Social Organization of Sexuality. I wrote to them and suggested a follow-up called The Sexual Organization of Society, because, in my experience with Chicago, where people lived coincided with their sexual status."
[...]
Likewise, a San Francisco couple earning a $100,000 between them can afford just as much in Cedar City, Utah if the husband can find a $44,000 a year job -- and then the wife can stay home to raise their children.

Moreover, the culture of Cedar City is more conducive to child rearing than San Francisco. Having insulated themselves through distance rather than money, they can now send their kids to public schools.
[...]With more children, the couple will have less money per child to buy insulation from America's corrosive media culture, so they are likely to look to the government for help. Typically, red region parents don't ask for much, often just for quasi-symbolic endorsements of family values, the non-economic gestures that drive Thomas Frank crazy. But, there's nothing irrational about trying to protect and guide your children. As the socially conservative black comedian Chris Rock advises fathers, "Your main job is to keep your daughter off The Pole" (keep her from becoming a stripper).

That red region parents want their politicians to endorse morality does not necessarily mean that red staters always behave more morally than blue staters. While there are well-behaved red states such as Utah and Colorado, hell-raising white Texans are 3.4 times more likely than white New Yorkers to be behind bars. Similarly, whites in conservative Mississippi and South Carolina are 1/6th as likely as blacks in those states to be imprisoned, compared to the national average of 1/9th. In contrast, in ultra-liberal Washington D.C., whites are only 1/56th as likely to be in the slammer as blacks.

The late socialist historian Jim Chapin pointed out that it was perfectly rational for parents with more children than money to ask their political and cultural leaders to help them insulate their kids from bad examples, even, or perhaps especially, if the parents themselves are not perfect role models.

Focusing on children, insulation, population density, and real estate reasonsing reveals that blue region white Democrats' positions on vouchers, gun control, and environmentalism are motivated partly by fear of urban minorities.
[...]
In 2001, the Wall Street Journal's favorite mayor Brett Schundler ran for governor of New Jersey on a platform of vouchers to help inner city children attend better schools in the suburbs. The now notorious Democrat Jim McGreevey beat him badly because white suburban moderates shunned this Republican who put the welfare of urban minority children ahead of their own. These homeowners were scraping together big mortgage payments precisely to get their kids into exclusive suburban school districts insulated from what they saw as the ghetto hellions that Schundler hoped to unleash on their children. They had much of their net worths tied up in their homes, and their property values depended on the local public schools' high test scores, which they feared wouldn't survive an onslaught of slum children. So, they voted Democratic to keep minorities in their place.

The endless gun control brouhaha, which on the surface appears to be a bitter battle between liberal and conservative whites, also features a cryptic racial angle. What blue region white liberals actually want is for the government to disarm the dangerous urban minorities that threaten their children's safety. Red region white conservatives, insulated by distance from the Crips and the Bloods, don't care that white liberals' kids are in peril. Besides, in sparsely populated Republican areas, where police response times are slow and the chance of drilling an innocent bystander are slim, guns make more sense for self-defense than in the cities and suburbs.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Australian: WMDs camouflage real reasons behind Iraq invasion [November 26, 2004]



For those seriously interested in the question I recommend a seriously interesting new book, America's Secret War by George Friedman. Friedman is founder of Stratfor, a private, subscription-financed global intelligence service, which I find consistently well-informed. Friedman writes of the struggle in Iraq in relentlessly Realpolitik terms.

Although the US believed Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, the WMDs were ultimately "a cover for a much deeper game". The big game began with the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan and the US enlisting the assistance of Saudi Arabia in backing the Afghan resistance. The Saudis provided financing and guerilla fighters. They influenced other Islamic countries to send guerillas.

This international brigade included members of Islam's moneyed and educated elite (including Osama bin Laden) - the core of al-Qa'ida.

When the Soviet Union retreated from Afghanistan, this elite had become knowledgeable veterans of guerilla warfare, full of swagger about defeating the world's second superpower.

The oil billionaires back home, impressed with themselves for "bailing the Americans out", financed the warrior elite and the fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

From this fortress headquarters, Friedman writes, al-Qa'ida ("the Base" in English) pressed its grand design for an Islamist world federation, a new Caliphate, which would ultimately match, if not dominate, other superpowers. Global terrorism would be the means. Al-Qa'ida's opening moves - attacks on American embassies and other establishments abroad - were aimed, in Friedman's opinion, less at damaging the US than provoking it to a reckless assault on Islam.
[...]
The passive US response to its early pinprick attacks emboldened and frustrated al-Qa'ida. The jihadists, Friedman writes, "needed to strike a blow that would be devastating, [breaching] the threshold between what was tolerable and intolerable for the US". Their initiative was the September11, 2001, attack on New York and Washington, which shocked and disoriented the Americans. Their first reaction was to speculate almost in panic about a September 11 with nuclear weapons.

This began an obsession with WMDs. US actions were practical and reasonably prompt, however. The US persuaded Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union to make inventory of their nuclear weapons and strengthen security on them.

Rather astonishingly, as Friedman reports it, the US pressured Pakistan - the Muslim country most advanced in nuclear weaponry and the one in closest contact with Islamic fundamentalism - into permitting US soldiers dressed as civilians to place a guard on its nuclear stockpile. To disabuse Islam of the illusion that the US was weak of will and, on the evidence of Vietnam, unable to sustain a prolonged war, the Bush administration decided to strike its own devastating blow in response to September 11.

The invasion and speedy subjugation of Afghanistan staggered the jihadists. But the US, having succeeded only in dispersing al-Qa'ida and the Taliban, rather than eliminating them, believed it needed to strike another heavy blow.

By then it had identified the jihadist campaign as "a Saudi problem". Most of the September 11 suicide attackers had been Saudis. Bin Laden was a Saudi. Saudi money trails were everywhere. An invasion of Saudi Arabia presented the tactical problem of waging war against a country of vast area and the strategic one of disrupting the world's oil supplies.

The Americans had established and then strengthened a military presence in countries surrounding Saudi Arabia - Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. Invasion of Iraq would complete the encirclement.

"From a purely military view," Friedman adds, "Iraq is the most strategic single country in the Middle East, [bordering] six other countries: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran."

So the US struck, with consequences unfolding nightly on our TV screens. Friedman believes the US-jihadist war hangs in the balance. However, the measured actions of the US during the past three years, including its strong military presence in the Middle East, have caused significant moderation of the position on global jihad of Saudi Arabia and other Muslim regimes.

The strategy of the jihadists has stalled: "Not a single regime has fallen to

al-Qa'ida ... There is no rising in the Islamic street. [There has been] complete failure of al-Qa'ida to generate the political response they were seeking ... At this point the US is winning ... The war goes on."
The Australian: French hostages 'in good spirits' [November 29, 2004]: "French hostages 'in good spirits'
From correspondents in London
November 29, 2004



NEW footage has emerged of two French reporters taken hostage in Iraq showing both men apparently well and in good spirits, Britain's the Sunday Times reported today.

Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, who marked their 100th day in captivity yesterday, appear on a CD-Rom obtained by the paper, which said the recording was believed to have been made earlier this month.

The two are the longest-held Western hostages in Iraq.

Chesnot, 37, reportedly says he and Malbrunot are 'here because there are security issues and investigations regarding our identities as we are journalists and the Islamic Army is doing the investigations'.

Speaking in Lebanese Arabic, he says they are being treated well by their captors, 'although their hospitality is not like a five-star hotel'.

'The behaviour of the Islamic Army has been very good. There is no violence involved. We eat three times a day and we get lots of tea and everything is available,' he adds."

See! And some people say that the French aren't contributing to the war effort in Iraq! Pish posh!
2Slick's Forum: Letter from Fallujah



Although American forces had not been into the city since April, we had been collecting intelligence on the city for months through unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s), human intelligence, and Special Forces. So we knew exactly where they stored their weapons and where they held meetings, and so on…all of these attacks from the air were precise and very effective in reducing the enemy’s ability to fight us before thebattle even started.

With each attack, secondary explosions of weapons/ammo blowing up were heard. The Coalition also threw the enemy a curveball by destroying all the vehicles that had been parked in the same location for more than 3 days—-the enemy planned to use these as car bombs when we attacked. Again, almost every single vehicle the air assets attacked had huge secondary explosions.

After 12 hours of massive air strikes, Task Force 2-7 got the green light and was the first unit to enter the city. There is a big train station on the city’s northern limit, so the engineers cleared a path with some serious explosives and our tanks led the way. While this was happening, my intelligence shop was flying our own UAV to determine where the enemy was. It is a very small plane that is launched by being thrown into the air. We flew it for 6 hours and reported grids to the tanks and bradleys of where we saw insurgents on the roof and moving in the street—-so our soldiers knew where the enemy was, before they even got to the location.
[…]
The enemy tried to fight us in “the city of mosques” as dirty as they could. They fired from the steeples of the mosques and the mosques themselves. They faked being hurt and then threw grenades at soldiers when they approached to give medical treatment. They waived surrender flags, only to shoot at our forces 20 seconds later when they approached to accept their surrender.

The next few days, TF 2-7 maintained our battle positions inside the city, coming out only for fuel and more ammo….
[…]
One fighter came running out of a building that our tanks set on fire…he was on fire and still shooting at us. As our Sergeant Major said, “going up against tanks and brads with an AK-47, you have to admire their effort!”

Over the next 5 days, the Marines and our Task Force killed over 1,000 more insurgents. In that time frame, over 900 more fighters made the decision to spend 30 years in prison rather than die.
[…]
We were very disturbed to find one house with 5 foreigners with bullets in their head, killed execution style. Marines also came upon a house where an Iraqi soldier in the Iraqi National Guard had been shackled to the wall for 11 days and was left there to die. These insurgents are some sick people and Fallujah proved that more than ever. 2 mosques were not being used for prayer…but rather for roadside bomb making. They were literally IED assembly line factories, with hundreds of IEDs complete or being built.
[…]
In Fallujah, the enemy had a military-type planning system going on. Some of the fighters were wearing body armor and kevlars, just like we do. Soldiers took fire from heavy machine guns (.50 cal) and came across the dead bodies of fighters from Chechnya, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Afghanistan, and so on…no, this was not just a city of pissed off Iraqis, mad at the Coalition for forcing Saddam out of power. It was a city full of people from all over the Middle East whose sole mission in life was to kill Americans. Problem for them is that they were in the wrong city in November 2004….
Al-Qaeda believed to be calling followers to action in Afghanistan: general:


Al-Qaeda is believed to have called its followers to action in response to the massively attended vote last month that elected President Hamid Karzai, a top US commander said.

A sign that al-Qaeda followers may be slipping back into the country was a recent discovery of a bomb-making operation in Nangarhar province by a small group of Arab fighters killed in an encounter with US forces, said Major General Eric Olson, second in command of US forces here.

'I think there now is a call out to do something to reverse the momentum that right now is going in the direction of freely elected governments,' Olson said in an interview here."......


US intelligence has gathered evidence of anger and disarray within the Taliban over the success of the elections, which drew millions of Afghans to the polls despite the threat of insurgent attacks that never materialized.

Olson said "there is a lot of recrimination and finger pointing about the failure to get something going, some kind of spectacular event."

"There are some groups that splintered off from the mainstream of the Taliban. They are going to try their own way," he said.

"On the other end of the spectrum we've had Taliban fighters come to us, and tell us that they are through, they want to come over and they will put down their arms and stop fighting."

Karzai's inauguration on December 7 and contentious parliamentary elections tentatively targeted for early April loom as potential magnets for retaliatory attacks by Taliban or al-Qaeda.

"What we see in most of Afghanistan is not a direct presence of al-Qaeda themselves, but certainly fighters who support al-Qaeda," Olson said...........


Although its Taliban allies in Afghanistan are stumbling, he said, al-Qaeda is "far from through."

"And in some instances they may be even more dangerous now because of their need to launch some kind of high visibility success which may force them into desperate acts," he said.

The US military here refers to the al-Qaeda leadership as the "two plus three."

Osama bin Laden and his lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri remain at the top of the group's leadership with three others just below them: Abu Laith al-Libi, Abu Hadi al-Iraqi, and Abu Fara al-Libi, senior military officials said.

Zawahiri is believed to move around from time to time to rally the troops, while the others work operations through couriers.

"Bin Laden has not been recorded as giving guidance directly himself, but we've got reason to believe he's doing it indirectly," said Olson.

"And we know the senior leadership of al-Qaeda gives guidance either directly or indirectly to the Taliban, and to foreign fighters who we have made contact with and killed in Afghanistan," he said.

The Al-Qaeda leaders have eluded capture since US-led forces invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. More recently offensives by Pakistani forces in the tribal areas have failed to turn up bin Laden or his lieutenants.

"Here's what I think," said a senior military official. "I think somewhere up in the mountains in Chitral, Bin Laden lives in a house and lives with a family, and probably one bodyguard.

"And once every month, or probably once every two months, he walks 15 miles to another ruin somewhere where he meets with somebody, and then he walks back 15 miles. He doesn't have an HF modem, he doesn't have a satellite TV, DVD, he probably doesn't have any kind of radio."

"And that's probably the life he leads," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Friday, November 26, 2004

CNN.com - Iraqi forces find chemical materials in Falluja lab : "



Iraqi soldiers have discovered chemical materials in a Falluja lab, while a top aide of wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been arrested in Mosul, Iraq's interim national security adviser said Thursday.

The reports came as U.S. and Iraqi forces conducted anti-insurgency operations in Falluja, Mosul and south of Baghdad in the province of Babil.

Iraq's interim National Security Adviser Kasim Dawood announced discovery of the lab with chemical materials which he said was 'manufacturing death, intoxication and assassination.'

'We have also discovered in this laboratory a pamphlet and instructions showing how to manufacture explosives and toxins,' Dawood said. 'And they also talk about the production of anthrax.'

In Washington, a U.S. military official confirmed that materials found in the laboratory included instructions for making anthrax, as well as formulas and ingredients for making explosives and chemical blood agents.

Also found in the lab were hydrochloric acid and sodium cyanide, which can be used to make the blood agent hydrogen cyanide, the military official said.

A U.S. military spokesman in Falluja downplayed the discovery, saying "there is no indication right now that (the chemicals) were being used to produce chemical weapons.""

UPDATE november 28:

From the Australian
"Even though the US military said yesterday it had uncovered a "stunning" amount of arms in Fallujah, US officers later played down remarks by an Iraqi minister that they had found a chemical weapons workshop there - the US officers said the chemicals seemed destined for making ordinary explosives."
UK troops raid rebel stronghold south of Baghdad. 25/11/2004. ABC News Online:

Hundreds of British troops raided houses of suspected Saddam Hussein loyalists today in the latest phase of a US-led operation to crack down on guerrilla strongholds south of Baghdad.

Around 500 British soldiers searched a stretch of road lined with upscale villas where officials in Saddam’s regime kept country retreats outside the capital.

They detained 80 Iraqis and confiscated suspected bomb making equipment.

No soldiers were wounded during the raids, which were part of Operation Plymouth Rock, a new offensive in the area that has been dubbed the “triangle of death”.

The operation, named in reference to the US Thanksgiving celebration, involves 5,000 US troops, Iraqi police commandos and British soldiers.

US and Iraqi troops also raided villages in the area overnight........


Following the offensive in Fallujah earlier this month, in which US forces say they killed 1,200 Sunni insurgents and captured 1,000, the Iraqi government and American military say they will pacify other rebel-held areas ahead of national elections due to be held on January 30.
The area south of Baghdad on the east bank of the Euphrates River is dominated by insurgents, who frequently attack US-led troops, Iraqi police and security forces, and Shiite pilgrims travelling to the shrine cities of Najaf and Kerbala.

The US military says the area was long used by guerrillas to move weapons and fighters between Fallujah and Baghdad.


US continues search for weapons in Fallujah. ABC News Online

US military officials in Iraq say the amount of weapons they have discovered as they continue searching the city of Fallujah would have been enough to fuel a nationwide rebellion.

Us-led troops launched a huge operation three weeks ago to rid Fallujah of insurgents.

With the fighting in Fallujah all but done, US Marines are still searching building by building for weapons.

In a mosque complex in the east of the city they say they found grenades, mortars, rockets and bomb making materials.

They say they also discovered documents detailing interrogations of recent hostages.

A Marine commander described the weapons they had found in the city as a whole as “stunning", enough to mount an insurgency across the country.
Ten Iraqi parties demand vote be postponed



Ten leading Iraqi parties, including Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's movement, demanded that elections scheduled for January 30 be postponed by six months.

These parties, led by former presidential candidate and senior Sunni statesman Adnan Pachachi, signed a joint statement arguing that elections should be postponed by six months to allow an improvement of the security conditions.
World Tribune.com--Zarqawi network appeals for help in first signals of defeat

— Sunni insurgents backing Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi have expressed alarm at the prospect of a defeat by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

An audio tape said to be from Al Zarqawi charged Muslim clerics with letting down the insurgency "because of your silence."

On Wednesday, Al Zarqawi, with a $25 million bounty on his head, was the target of a major manhunt in the Sunni Triangle, Middle East Newsline reported. Iraqi military sources said Al Zarqawi was said to have been seen in an area south of Fallujah.

Islamic sources said that for the first time in more than a year the Tawhid and Jihad group led by Al Zarqawi appears to have lost control over many of its insurgents in the Sunni Triangle.

The sources said Iraqi and U.S. assaults on major insurgency strongholds in such cities as Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi and Samara have resulted in heavy insurgency casualties and a break in the command and control structure.

Over the last few days, Al Zarqawi supporters have appealed for help from Al Qaida and related groups. The sources said Al Qaida's allies, including the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call, have sought to increase recruitment of Muslim volunteers to fight the coalition.

The Internet has also reflected the growing concern that Islamic insurgents would be routed in Iraq. A message posted on an Islamic website appealed for help from Islamic insurgents in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Pakistan and the Palestinian Authority.

The message, posted by a purported insurgency supporter who used the name Abu Ahmed Al Baghdadi, acknowledged that the Sunni insurgency has been harmed by the U.S.-led offensive in Fallujah. Al Baghdadi said insurgents have lost their haven in Fallujah, but asserted that Al Zarqawi has acquired a broader base for operations and recruitment.

For his part, Al Zarqawi has also expressed concern over the U.S. military operation against Fallujah, Mosul and other insurgency strongholds.

On Wednesday, an audio tape posted on an Islamic website and purportedly from Al Zarqawi accused Muslim clerics of failing to support the insurgency in Iraq.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Iraq extremists threaten attacks


THE group led by Iraq's most wanted man have joined other extremist Islamists and Saddam Hussein's old Baath party to threaten increased attacks on US-led forces following the international conference on Iraq.

"We are committed to intensifying armed attacks against coalition forces and their spies and agents... in response to the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, a sordid and suspect farce," said the statement signed by groups including the al-Qaeda Group in the Land of Two Rivers (Iraq) of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The international conference that wound up in Egypt on Tuesday brought together the world's major powers, neighbours of Iraq, the United Nations and others to support the process of political transition, including the January 30 elections.

The signatories said they signed "the statement written by the Iraqi Baath party, not because we support the party or Saddam, but because it expresses the demands of resistance groups in Iraq".

So Zarqawi's Al Qaida in Iraq and the Baathists have a formal alliance. I thought that secular parties wouldn't cooperate with Islamist ones, therefore Saddam would never help Bin Laden. Guess that theory has been proved wrong!
Zarqawi Tape Criticizes Muslim Scholars


BAGHDAD, Iraq — Notorious Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi appears to be increasingly desperate, accusing Muslim clerics of betrayal in an audio recording released Wednesday.

In the tape, the Al Qaeda-linked terror leader says clerics have not spoken out enough against U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The recording, posted on an Islamist Web site, has not yet been authenticated.

Al-Zarqawi, who leads the feared terror group Al Qaeda in Iraq, is believed to have escaped from his headquarters in insurgent-held Fallujah during the massive U.S.-led assault on the city earlier this month.

U.S. and Iraqi security forces continued their search for him after reports that he was north of Baghdad..............


Zarqawi and his group, formerly named Tawhid wa-Jihad (Monotheism and Holy War), is believed to be behind many bomb attacks and hostage beheadings in Iraq. The United States has put a $25 million bounty on his head.

It's not clear if the message, addressed to the ulama — the community of Muslim religious scholars — was intended as a direct threat against religious scholars.

"You have let us down in the darkest circumstances and handed us over to the enemy... You have quit supporting the mujahedeen [holy warriors]," the voice purporting to be that of Zarqawi said. "Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels because of your silence."

"You made peace with the tyranny and handed over the countries and the people to the Jews and Crusaders ... when you resort to silence on their crimes, when you refused to hold the banners of Jihad and Tawhid, and when you prevented youth from heading to the battlefields in order to defend the religion," he said.

"Instead of implementing God's orders, you chose your safety and preferred your money and sons. You left the mujahedeen facing the strongest power in the world," he said. "Are not your hearts shaken by the scenes of your brothers being surrounded and hurt by your enemy?"

This week, two clerics who were part of an influential Sunni group that openly called for a boycott of Jan. 30 national elections because of the U.S. offensive against Fallujah were assassinated by gunmen.

On Tuesday, Sheik Ghalib Ali al-Zuhairi, was killed as he left a mosque after dawn prayers in the town of Muqdadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

His assassination occurred a day after another prominent Sunni cleric was killed in the northern city of Mosul — Sheik Faidh Mohamed Amin al-Faidhi, who was the brother of the association's spokesman. It was unclear whether those two attacks were related.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

UN: 150 Sex Abuse Charges in Congo Peacekeeping

Yahoo! News - UN: 150 Sex Abuse Charges in Congo Peacekeeping:

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations (news - web sites) is investigating about 150 allegations of sexual abuse by U.N. civilian staff and soldiers in the Congo, some of them recorded on videotape, a senior U.N. official said on Monday.



The accusations include pedophilia, rape and prostitution, said Jane Holl Lute, an assistant secretary-general in the peacekeeping department.

Lute, an American, said there was photographic and video evidence for some of the allegations and most of the charges came to light since the spring.

'We are shining a light on this problem in order to determine its scope, and we will not stop there,' Lute told a news conference."
WorldTribune.com-U.S. military captures top insurgency commander

BAGHDAD – The U.S. military has captured what officials termed a senior Sunni commander in Iraq, near the Syrian border.

The military said the Marine Corps detained the top commander in Al Anbar province in western Iraq. The commander, who was not identified, was one of six insurgents captured on Nov. 21 in the Anbar town of Haqlaniya.

"One of the six detainees is believed to be a high-ranking cell leader of anti-Iraqi forces operating in and around the Al Anbar province," the military said in a statement on Monday. The military did not provide additional details...........

Officials said the suspected senior Sunni commander was captured during a raid of Haqlaniyah, along the Euphrates River. Marines also found arms and munitions in the counter-insurgency operation.

The U.S. military has intensified its search for Sunni commanders in Al Anbar, many of whom were said to have escaped from Faluja over the last month. They said Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi and his leading aides have escaped Faluja and were sited in northern Iraq.

The Kurdish newspaper Al Taakhi quoted Iraqi police sources as saying that Al Zarqawi was believed to have been injured in the U.S.-led assault on Faluja. The newspaper quoted a police source from the northern city of Kirkuk as saying that Al Zarqawi was seen arriving in Tuz Khormato, about 75 kilometers south of Kirkuk.

Al Zarqawi's leading aide, Omar Hadid, was also said to have been injured in the battle for Faluja. Officials believe he was still in or around Faluja and leading the Sunni insurgency against the U.S.-led coalition force. The military has reported eliminating most pockets of resistance in the city.

Yahoo! News - Government Uses Color Laser Printer Technology to Track Documents

WASHINGTON--Next time you make a printout from your color laser printer, shine an LED flashlight beam on it and examine it closely with a magnifying glass. You might be able to see the small, scattered yellow dots printer there that could be used to trace the document back to you.

According to experts, several printer companies quietly encode the serial number and the manufacturing code of their color laser printers and color copiers on every document those machines produce. Governments, including the United States, already use the hidden markings to track counterfeiters.

Peter Crean, a senior research fellow at Xerox, says his company's laser printers, copiers and multifunction workstations, such as its WorkCentre Pro series, put the "serial number of each machine coded in little yellow dots" in every printout. The millimeter-sized dots appear about every inch on a page, nestled within the printed words and margins.

"It's a trail back to you, like a license plate," Crean says.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Saudis, Arabs Funneled Millions to President Clinton's Library - November 22, 2004 - The New York Sun: "Saudis, Arabs Funneled Millions to President Clinton's Library

BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 22, 2004

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. - President Clinton's new $165 million library here was funded in part by gifts of $1 million or more each from the Saudi royal family and three Saudi businessmen.

The governments of Dubai, Kuwait, and Qatar and the deputy prime minister of Lebanon all also appear to have donated $1 million or more for the archive and museum that opened last week.

Democrats spent much of the presidential campaign this year accusing President Bush of improperly close ties to Saudi Arabia. The case was made in Michael Moore's film 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' in a bestselling book by Craig Unger titled 'House of Bush, House of Saud,' and by the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Kerry.'This administration delayed pressuring the Saudis,' Mr. Kerry said on October 20. 'I will insist that the Saudis crack down on charities that funnel funds to terrorists... and on anti-American and anti-Israel hate speech.'The Media Fund, a Democratic group whose president is a former Clinton White House aide, Harold Ickes, spent millions airing television commercials in swing states with scripts such as, 'The Saudi royal family...wealthy...powerful...corrupt. And close Bush family friends.'

Perhaps as a result, the Saudi donations to the Clinton library are raising some eyebrows. Mr. Unger said he suspects that the Saudi support may have something to do with a possible presidential bid by Senator Clinton in 2008.

'They want to keep their options open no matter who's in power and whether that's four years from now or whatever,' the author said. 'Just a few million is nothing to them to keep their options open.'"
Iraq election may yet be postponed: Arab ministers:

Violence and boycotts could yet stop promised Iraqi elections going ahead on time, Arab ministers said, despite Baghdad's confident assertion the landmark vote would be held on January 30.

Iraq had somewhat upstaged a major international conference in Egypt on its future by announcing the date for the first post-Saddam Hussein elections a day before the meeting opened.

But not everyone was impressed by its confidence.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit, hosting the conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh said the meeting would be deciding whether the vote could be held on time, adding that 'the question needs to be re-examined'.

'The debates that will take place ... are very important because they will look at the question of the elections and decide on whether they can take place on the date envisaged or whether it needs more reflection.'

Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulki, asked if the election date was not over-optimistic given the relentless violence in Iraq said: 'Dates are not sacred. What is sacred is the process.'"

wow. Egypt and Jordan critiquing Iraq's steps towards democracy. Do Those countries have democracies? Not at all! How dare they!


Whether the Sunni Arab minority -- which dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein and previous regimes -- take part in large numbers will be a major factor in determining the credibility of the elections.

"It is important to assure participation in the elections of all the Iraqi forces, even if it is necessary to have another look at the date of the elections," said an Arab delegate to the conference, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"If the elections took place but were boycotted, there would be a lack of equilibrium in the Sunni representation," he warned.......


But the violence is also a major concern, raising questions about how democratic elections can be organized in a country were large bands of insurgents are still at large and capable of striking hard at civilians and security forces alike.

"We support all the measures taken for the conduct of the elections with the participation of the factions of the Iraqi people," Jordanian government spokeswoman Asma Khodr said in Amman.

But she added: "We are worried that the conditions could prevent the realisation of that objective ... The situation in Iraq worries us and we think it could have negative repercussions on holding the general elections on the date fixed."

Okay, so Sunni Arab countries like Egypt and Jordan are saying that the election is invalid unless the sunnis participate in the vote. Fine. But their Sunni brothers in Iraq are the ones who supported Saddam, and now attack the government. The Sunnis could participate at any time with the Shia and Kurds. The other 60% of Iraq seems to be fine with the new elections. They're just mad because they lost their ability to bully the rest of Iraq as they did under Saddam!

Then they say they want to put off the election in Iraq until the violence stops, when they are the ones causing the violence in the first place!


In Syria, the state-owned daily Ath-Thawra said that the Sharm el-Sheikh conference represented "the best chance for the international parties to affirm the importance of the United Nations and neighbouring countries" in organizing the elections.

But it also warned: "The elections must take place on all Iraqi territory and not on 75 percent of the country as the United States hints at due to the insecurity in regions where resistance actions are taking place."

How can you be resisting the government, in their own words, and at the same time whine that you're not being allowed to participate in the upcoming elections? It doesn't make any sense!
'Security services foil 9/11 attack in UK':

Britain's security services thwarted a September 11-style attack on targets including Canary Wharf and Heathrow Airport, according to reports.

The plot is said to have involved pilots being trained to fly into target buildings including London's famous financial centre and the world's busiest airport.

It is one of four or five al-Qaeda planned attacks, since 9/11, that have come to nothing, after the authorities intervened, reports claim.

The disclosure comes as the Government prepares to unveil a series of tough law-and-order Bills in tomorrow's Queen's Speech, setting out the legislative programme for what is expected to be the final session of the current Parliament.

The speech will contain Bills designed to protect the UK against al-Qaeda attacks as well as plans for a crackdown on major organised crime and petty offences which ruin people's lives."
The Green Side - Email from Dave - Nov 19, 04:

Dear Dad -

Just came out of the city and I honestly do not know where to start. I am afraid that whatever I send you will not do sufficient honor to the men who fought and took Fallujah.........


It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. The enemy they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense and the Marines delivered.

I have called the enemy cowards many times in the past because they have never really held their ground and fought but these guys in the city did. We can call them many things but they were not cowards. ...........


"By now the Marines and Soldiers have killed well over a thousand enemy. These were not peasants or rabble. They were reasonably well trained and entirely fanatical. Most of the enemy we have seen have chest rigs full of ammunition and are well armed are willing to fight to the death. The Marines and Soldiers are eager to close with them and the fighting at the end is inevitably close.

I will write you more the next time I come in about what we have found inside the city. All I can say is that even with everything that I knew and expected from the last nine months, the brutality and fanaticism of the enemy surprised me. The beheadings were even more common place than we thought but so were torture and summary executions. Even though it is an exaggeration, it seems as though every block in the northern part of the city has a torture chamber or execution site. There are hundreds of tons of munitions and tens of thousands of weapons that our Regiment alone has recovered. The Marines and Soldiers of the Regiment have also found over 400 IEDs already wired and ready to detonate. No doubt these numbers will grow in the days ahead."
U.S. tactics, training kept casualties down in Fallujah:

Military leaders hate fighting in cities because it's hard to find the enemy, to tell him apart from civilians and to use supporting weapons such as artillery and tanks. Combat can occur on multiple levels simultaneously (on the street, on rooftops, in basements), communication and resupply are difficult, and there really is no way to clear buildings except to send soldiers or Marines into them.

"A battle fought under these conditions lessens all the advantages the U.S. military possesses on the open battlefield, and requires that soldiers, not machines, fight and die for every corner, set of stairs, soda machine and hallway," wrote George Mordica of the Center for Army Lessons Learned in a 1999 paper. "The grim reaper will collect his due, no matter what devices can be developed to improve our advantage. There are just too many corners, stairs, vending machines and hallways along the way."

By historical standards, however, the grim reaper isn't doing well in Fallujah when it comes to collecting American casualties. Mop up operations continue, but the city is now controlled by U.S. and Iraqi government forces. They killed an estimated 1,200 resistance fighters, and captured 1,100 more in six days, a remarkably short time for a major urban battle, which usually are measured in weeks or months.

As of Friday, the re-taking of Fallujah was achieved at a cost of 51 Americans and five Iraqi dead, and about 425 wounded, of whom about a quarter have been returned to duty. Some 15,000 Marines, soldiers and Iraqi troops were involved in the attack.

"That kill ratio would be phenomenal for any battle, but in an urban environment, it's revolutionary," said retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a respected military strategist. "The rule has been that the attackers would take about a quarter to a third of its force in casualties."

Civilian casualties in Fallujah were held down by the simple expedient of warning residents that the attack was coming and allowing them to leave the city. This approach had the down side of permitting terrorist leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi to escape, along with hundreds of fighters, and evacuating civilians is not always possible.

Lt. Col. Amos Guiora, an Israeli military lawyer, thinks the international laws that govern war, which were written to deal with conflict between states, need to be updated to reflect modern-day realities.............


Iraqi insurgents hoped to recreate in Fallujah a reprise of the 1994 battle of Grozny, which is also a city of about 300,000, during which Chechen rebels destroyed an entire Russian brigade of some 2,500 soldiers while Russian forces virtually leveled the Chechen capital. Military analysts say the Americans in Fallujah avoided the fate of the Russians in Grozny by carefully gathering intelligence over the two months preceding the attack; by innovative use of new technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles; by being able to drop bombs and shoot artillery and even mortar shells with precision, and because of the superior training of American soldiers and Marines.

U.S. and Iraqi government casualties were held down by adopting tactics, first developed by the Israelis, to use bulldozers and tanks to clear routes through buildings to avoid ambushes set in the streets.

The Marine Corps, beginning in the 1980s, was the first American service to prepare seriously for combat in cities. Marine training focused first on preparing individual Marines for the rigors of urban combat, then small units, then larger units, culminating in a 1999 battalion-sized exercise in Victorville, Ca. called "Project Metropolis."............


The Army got serious about urban combat in the 1990s. Basic skills are taught in home units. Units deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan go through an extensive course at the Army's Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. With 18 mock villages and 200 Arabic-speaking role players, the training center prepares soldiers and small unit leaders for just about any contingency they are likely to encounter in Iraq.

The center constantly updates its scenarios, based on real world experiences.

"We've got 26 observer/controllers [instructors] in Iraq right now, gathering information on what worked and what didn't in Fallujah," said Lt. Col. Jay Peterson, chief of plans for exercise maneuver control.

Peterson, who served in Fallujah last year with the 82nd Airborne Division, said that as far as he is concerned, 51 U.S. dead may be a low figure by historical standards but still is far too high. He and his staff are studying ways to reduce friendly casualties in future urban conflicts...........


"'Historically, guerrilla forces have needed to inflict seven casualties for each one they suffer in order to remain viable,' he said. 'The insurgents have had a very bad week.'"
The Australian: US troops 'seize top Iraq guerilla' [November 22, 2004]

US Marines had detained what they believe is a senior commander in the Sunni Muslim insurgency in Iraq’s western Anbar province, the US military said today.

Marines detained six suspected guerillas yesterday in Haqlaniya in Anbar, a province which includes the insurgent strongholds of Fallujah and Ramadi, a military statement said.

“One of the six detainees is believed to be a high-ranking cell leader of anti-Iraqi forces operating in and around the Al Anbar province,” it added, giving no further details.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

FOXNews.com - U.S. & World - Nations Agree to Write Off Iraq's Debt

PARIS — Major economic powers agreed on Saturday to write off billions of dollars of debt for Iraq, the French Finance Ministry said, in a deal that marked a significant step in U.S. efforts to help put the Iraqi economy back on its feet.

Under the agreement, the Paris Club (search) of 19 creditor nations will write off 80 percent of the $42 billion that Iraq owes them, ministry spokesman Rene Forgues said.

"It's 80 percent, it's official," Forgues told The Associated Press. He said the deal would take effect in three phases but did not give additional details.

The Paris Club includes, the United States, Japan, Russia and European nations. Iraq owes another $80 billion to various Arab governments.

The United States had been pressing for up to 95 percent of the Paris Club debt to be lifted. Iraq has said that its foreign debt was hindering postwar reconstruction, already struggling amid the country's persistent insurgency.

The deal represented a considerable concession from France, just as French President Jacques Chirac's government is pushing to rebuild ties with Bush's administration that were damaged by disagreements over the U.S.-led Iraq war. France opposed the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein..........

A large reduction in Iraq's debts to the group would mark a significant step in U.S. efforts to put the Iraqi economy back on its feet and be a boost for Bush as he embarks on his second term.

France had long argued that slashing Iraq's Paris Club debt by more than half would be unfair to other poorer nations that also are saddled with debts but do not have the potential wealth of oil-rich Iraq.

"How would you explain to these people that ... we are going to do more for Iraq than we have done in 10 years for the 37 poorest and most indebted countries in the world?" Chirac said in June at a summit of the Group of Eight powers that Bush hosted.

Germany, another opponent of the war, also had questioned whether a country with rich oil reserves should benefit from huge debt reduction.

Germany's Finance Minister Hans Eichel has said the proposed deal would see 30 percent of Iraq's Paris Club debt written off immediately, another 30 percent in a second stage "tied to a program of the International Monetary Fund" and a further 20 percent "linked to the success of this program."

France sucks. The debt they have is Saddam's debt to them, NOT Iraq's. Iraq wasn't a democracy, and did not vote to borrow money from France. Saddam did that. Now that he is gone, the debt goes with him. That's what I think. They just don't want to see democracy in Iraq.
2Slick's Forum: What's Next For Fallujah?: "What's Next For Fallujah?


This simple answer to this question can be found by looking at the current state of affairs in Samarra, Najaf, and Sadr City. Oh, I'm sorry- the press isn't telling you anything about that. Well, the short story is that our forces are steadily working on financing and supervising reconstruction projects- employing a substantial Iraqi work force and getting the towns back on their feet. Newly trained Iraqi cops provide security and protection, and US forces just sort of monitor the situation and help where they're needed. This is what we in the business call an 'exit strategy.'

While this is a relatively new concept for insurgent strongholds, it's old hat for long-time areas of relative stability like Mosul and Basra. When I was in Mosul last year, we didn't have a substantial insurgent threat to prevent us from moving the city forward. There's a guy named Eric T. Holmes (here's your plug, Eric) who's writing a book about this sort of thing. He asked me to contribute and I gladly obliged. I didn't realize that he was simply going to paste my email into his book- otherwise I probably would have spent more than 10 minutes writing it- but what's done is done. So here's an excerpt for your weekend reading enjoyment:"

I enjoy blogs written by vets. This one is by a man who just returned from Iraq and talks about what he saw and what's going on now. He is trying to combat the incomplete and false picture our media paints. Mainstream media looks worse and worse each day. They really are losing their grip on things. Why read their lefty interpretations when you can have the truth straight from the horse's mouth?
Insurgents Fire on US Troops in Fallujah After Waving White Flag:

"In Fallujah, where U.S. Marines and soldiers are still battling pockets of resistance, insurgents waved a white flag of surrender before opening fire on U.S. troops and causing casualties, Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert said Saturday without elaborating."
Zarqawi 'harder to catch' than Saddam. 21/11/2004. ABC News Online



Iraqi insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is harder to catch than Saddam Hussein but the chances may have improved since he fled Fallujah, a US general says.

General Ray Odierno was part of the team who captured Saddam, after the ousting of his government last year.

He says that Zarqawi, an ally of Al Qaeda, has a well-organised guerrilla network moving him between hide-outs.

However, he says that US defeat of insurgents in Fallujah could have disrupted Zarqawi's co-ordination because he lost his main base.

"I think (with) Saddam, after the fall, there was no organisation, he was fleeing for his life, whereas I think Zarqawi is a little more organised... he has a more organised group around him than Saddam Hussein," Gen Odierno said.

"That's what makes it a bit more difficult with Zarqawi."

Zarqawi is believed to have escaped the insurgency's epicentre despite a US offensive that wrested control of Fallujah from his group.

"It's probably easier now (to catch him)," Gen Odierno said.

Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for hostage beheadings and some of Iraq's bloodiest suicide attacks.

He has declared his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network and is the number one target as US-led forces seek to pacify the country before January election.
Return date uncertain for Fallujah residents. 21/11/2004. ABC News Online



It could be as late as February before hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who fled the US-led assault on Fallujah are allowed to return, US commanders warn.

”The bottom line is there is no firm date. It’s not a date-driven trigger,” said Major Francis Piccoli, a spokesman for the First Marine Expeditionary Force.

“If we have a concern, it would be civilians returning to the city and it not being safe for them.”

The blistering eight-day offensive levelled much of the city of 300,000, the majority of whom made a dramatic exodus ahead of the US military’s overwhelming display of force.

The fighting left the now-deserted city in shambles, littered with rubble, unexploded ordnance and corpses, and US and Iraqi forces are only now making small steps towards reconstruction.

But how long it will take to demolish unsound buildings, restore basic services, destroy unexploded ordnance and pull the bodies from the rubble is unknown.

This has stirred debate within the military on when civilians should be allowed back into the city.

Some military civil affairs officers argue that residents should be allowed to return after the US Thanksgiving holiday, which falls this Thursday.

But the Marine’s 3-5 battalion command told its staff that it might not be until February that basic services like water and electricity would be restored to the city, said 3-5 battalion spokesman Captain PJ Batty.

Preliminary battle damage assessments have started but workers have yet to begin clearing the chunks of concrete and dangling power lines strewn on the streets.

One marine officer said that in a three or four-block radius, as much as 50 per cent of the buildings might not be structurally sound and would have to be demolished.

So far, reconstruction efforts have been limited to volunteers from the neighbouring town of Saqlawiya pulling decomposing corpses from the streets.

Before the offensive started, the US military had more than $US80 million allotted for Fallujah’s reconstruction.

Friday, November 19, 2004

My Way News-Militants Try to Stir Arab-Kurd Violence:



"The two main Iraqi Kurdish parties are mostly secular U.S. allies that have a bloody history of animosity with some militant Islamic groups and Baath Party loyalists, both believed to be active in the Mosul insurgency. The parties have long been targets.

The Kurdish minority generally lives in peace with Mosul's Arab majority, although land and property disputes have in the past created some tensions.

When the militants overpowered Mosul's police force, which U.S. and Iraqi officials say is infiltrated by insurgents, the local government called in reinforcements, some of which came from the mostly quiet Kurdish region.

Gouran said some of the Iraqi National Guard reinforcements rushed to the city came from the Kurdish provinces of Dohuk and Irbil. He said many of their members were former peshmerga, a term that refers to the Kurdish militia that fought former Baghdad governments.

In addition, Kurdish political parties called in peshmerga fighters to guard their offices. The Kurdish militia proved harder for insurgents to overpower than the police - in some cases killing or capturing their attackers.

The solution offered its own problems: The fact that many of the National Guardsmen were Kurds and former peshmerga members didn't sit well with some of the city's Arab residents.

Kurdish and Arab officials took pains to stress that National Guardsmen were members of Iraq's security forces regardless of their ethnicity or their religion and that no peshmerga fighters were patrolling the streets.

'The Kurds have no intention to take over Mosul or to 'Kurdicize' it,' Gouran said. 'The relationship between Kurds and Arabs in Mosul is strong.'

Such assurances fail to ease the concerns of some.

'There has been an escalation in armed attacks against the Kurds and this proves that the Arabs don't agree to let the Kurds control the situation in the city, ' said Salem Ghanim Aziz, an Arab resident.

He said that having Kurdish forces could complicate matters, arguing that Arab residents might want to take revenge against the Kurdish fighters from the north that some blame for taking part in the looting that swept through Mosul when it fell during last year's U.S.-led invasion."
My Way News- Lebanese Demonstrations Target Syria:



"BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Thousands of Lebanese students and activists defied government warnings Friday and demonstrated against Syria's domination of their country.

Large numbers of security forces watched, but did not intervene, as about 3,000 students from several universities and right-wing Christian activists converged on downtown Beirut shouting 'Syrians out!'"...............


While the government had declared street protests illegal, the police and troops seemed to heed Interior Minister Suleiman Franjieh's instructions to exercise maximum restraint. Hundreds of security forces allowed about 1,000 students from the Sagesse University to march to the downtown area of the national museum.

Prominent members of the opposition had warned the government against using force to stop the protests, saying the world is watching. Previous protests against Syria have ended in violent clashes in the streets.

Students opposed to Syria and other members of the opposition have been buoyed by U.N. and U.S. pressure against Syria in recent months. In September, the United States and France steered Resolution 1559 through the U.N. Security Council. It effectively demanded Syria withdraw its forces from Lebanon and stop interfering in the country's internal affairs.

Syria's army crossed into Lebanon in 1976 in the second year of its civil war. By the end of the conflict in 1990, Syria had emerged as the main power broker in the country. Critics accuse Damascus of dominating the country's politics, but the pro-Syrian government says Syria's 14,000 troops are needed to ensure stability.
Yahoo! News - UN staff ready historic no-confidence vote in Annan



UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - UN employees are expected to issue an unprecedented vote of no confidence in Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites), union sources say, after he pardoned the body's top oversight official over a series of allegations.

The UN staff union, in what officials said was the first vote of its kind in the more than 50-year history of the United Nations (news - web sites), was set to approve a resolution withdrawing support for the embattled Annan and senior UN management.

Annan has been in the line of fire over a high-profile series of scandals including controversy about a UN aid programme that investigators say allowed deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) to embezzle billions of dollars.

Staffers said the trigger for the no-confidence measure was an announcement this week that Annan had pardoned the UN's top oversight official, who was facing allegations of favouritism and sexual harassment.

The union had requested a formal probe into the behaviour of the official, Dileep Nair, after employees accused him of harassing members of his staff and violating UN rules on the hiring and promotion of workers.

Top UN spokesman Fred Eckhard announced on Tuesday that Nair had been exonerated by Annan "after a thorough review" by the UN's senior official in charge of management, Catherine Bertini.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | French insurgents killed in Iraq:

A dozen French nationals have travelled to Iraq, officials say
Three Frenchmen have died fighting with insurgents against US-led troops in Iraq, reports say.

The men, all of Arab origin, were killed in the country over recent months as the insurgency has flared.

Two of the men were aged 19 and the third was 24 years old, a French official said.

Authorities estimate that around a dozen Frenchmen of North African or Arab background have travelled to Iraq to join the insurgency."
Yahoo! News - Bin Laden Said Unable to Run Operations

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

WASHINGTON - Pakistan's military has been so effective in pressuring al-Qaida leaders hiding in the tribal region of western Pakistan that Osama bin Laden and his top deputies no longer are able to direct terrorist operations, a senior American commander said Thursday

"They are living in the remotest areas of the world without any communications — other than courier — with the outside world or their people and unable to orchestrate or provide command and control over a terrorist network," said Lt. Gen. Lance Smith, deputy commander of Central Command.

"They are basically on the run and unable to really conduct operations except, in the very long term, provide vision and guidance as Osama bin Laden does when he provides one of those tapes," he added, alluding to a bin Laden video tape released three weeks ago.

Bin Laden has been on the run since U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan (news - web sites) in October 2001.

In a question-and-answer session at the Foreign Press Center, Smith said that for the first time since Pakistan was enlisted as a U.S. ally against al-Qaida, the Pakistani military forces hunting for al-Qaida figures will remain in the western tribal region through the winter.

"It is essential that Pakistan military continue their operations," he said, adding that over the past three to six months they have made "very, very positive moves" against al-Qaida.

South Waziristan, a semiautonomous tribal region along the border with Afghanistan, long has been regarded as one of the most likely hiding places for bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, although there has been no solid intelligence to confirm that.

Between 7,000 and 8,000 Pakistani forces have been deployed in a three-pronged offensive in the eastern reaches of the rugged region this month. U.S. military forces remain largely on the Afghanistan side in hopes of capturing or killing any al-Qaida operatives who cross the border.

"We will continue to search them out. We will find them," Smith said.

The three-star general likened the military effort against bin Laden to the work being done in Iraq (news - web sites) to keep terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other insurgents on the run so "they cannot stay any place for any length of time," thereby reducing their effectiveness.
ABC News: U.S. May Have Found Fallujah Militant Base:

"U.S. troops sweeping through Fallujah on Thursday said they believe they have found the main headquarters of the insurgent group headed by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In video shot by an embedded CNN cameraman, soldiers walked through an imposing building with concrete columns and with a large sign in Arabic on the wall reading 'Al Qaida Organization' and 'There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.'

Inside the building, U.S. soldiers found documents, old computers, notebooks, photographs and copies of the Quran.

Al-Zarqawi last month renamed his group al-Qaida in Iraq, and his followers have been blamed for a number of deadly bombings and beheadings of foreign hostages, including three Americans and a Briton. The United States has offered a $25 million reward for his capture or killing the same amount as for Osama bin Laden.

The senior U.S. Marine commander in Iraq cautioned that the discovery by soldiers in Fallujah was still being investigated."

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Yahoo! News - Humans Were Born to Run, Scientists Say:

Humans were born to run and evolved from ape-like creatures into the way they look today probably because of the need to cover long distances and compete for food, scientists said on Wednesday.

From tendons and ligaments in the legs and feet that act like springs and skull features that help prevent overheating, to well-defined buttocks that stabilize the body, the human anatomy is shaped for running.

"We do it because we are good at it. We enjoy it and we have all kinds of specializations that permit us to run well," said Daniel Lieberman, a professor of anthropology at Harvard University in Massachusetts.

"There are all kinds of features that we see in the human body that are critical for running," he told Reuters.

Lieberman and Dennis Bramble, a biology professor at the University of Utah, studied more than two dozen traits that increase humans' ability to run. Their research is reported in the science journal Nature.

They suspect modern humans evolved from their ape-like ancestors about 2 million years ago so they could hunt and scavenge for food over large distances.

But the development of physical features that enabled humans to run entailed a trade-off -- the loss of traits that were useful for climbing trees.

"We are very confident that strong selection for running -- which came at the expense of the historical ability to live in trees -- was instrumental in the origin of the modern human body form," Bramble said in a statement. ..................



"'There were 2.5 million to 3 million years of bipedal walking without ever looking like a human, so is walking going to be what suddenly transforms the hominid body?' said Bramble.

'We're saying 'no, walking won't do that, but running will.''

If natural selection did not favor running, the scientists believe humans would still look a lot like apes.

'Running has substantially shaped human evolution. Running made us human -- at least in the anatomical sense,' Bramble added.

Among the features that set humans apart from apes to make them good runners are longer legs to take longer strides, shorter forearms to enable the upper body to counterbalance the lower half during running and larger disks which allow for better shock absorption.

Big buttocks are also important.

'Have you ever looked at an ape? They have no buns,' said Bramble.

Humans lean forward when they run and the buttocks 'keep you from pitching over on your nose each time a foot hits the ground,' he added."
Marine, insurgent tactics evolve | csmonitor.com:



"But Tuesday 1st Sgt. Rodolfo Sarino wanted to take the counterinsurgency effort one step further, in keeping with the volumes of new information US troops are learning every day about the rebellion they are trying to crush.

He upended barrels full of drinking water, and used his knife to carve slits into plastic water jugs, draining them, too. Then the marine examined the large store of food adjacent to the kitchen: sacks of rice, bowls of potatoes, and onions.

And he lit a match.

Within minutes, the store was on fire, adding belching black smoke to Fallujah's acrid skyline - and depriving mobile bands of insurgents of at least one life-giving larder.

'That's how they move from place to place and survive,' Sergeant Sarino said, as flames began licking up the food cache. 'They go from house to house, and stockpile food and water wherever they can. You have to [burn it], because that's the only way to defeat them: Deny them food and water, and force them to come out.'

Such tactics are paying off to a degree, in a guerrilla fight on an urban battlefield, where the learning curve for conventional US Marine and Army forces has been steep.

Hungry insurgents have been found among the dozens of men who visited food distribution sites tentatively opened by the Iraqi National Guard on Monday."............

US, insurgents learning more

But the invasion of Fallujah - nerve center and symbol for Iraq's nationwide insurgency - enters its second week, US and Iraqi forces are learning more and more about each other.

Tactics learned here will almost certainly be used against insurgents elsewhere in Iraq, who have taken the Fallujah assault as their cue to attack in a string of cities across Iraq............


US officers say that insurgent tactics are evolving, just as American ones are too, in response. They say they have found evidence of tunnels connecting houses - a ploy once preferred by Serb snipers in Sarajevo - and even use of the underground sewer system.

Insurgents have fired from behind curtains, to mask the flash of their muzzles. They have used armor-piercing ammunition and advanced sniper rifles.

They have also turned living rooms into machine-gun nests, lying in wait for marines who these days are clearing houses. In recent days, two marines died when they crashed through a front gate to clear a house.

Two more casualties came from another incident, in which insurgents had taken a family hostage. Marines broke in, they say, held their fire because of the family, and then were shot themselves.

Marines now use far more "dynamic" entries, which include using explosives to blow open doors, breaching ladders to scale walls and even to bridge separate houses, and flash-bang and fragmentation grenades to clear rooms.

Some platoons are running short of shotgun shells, because so many doors have been breached with them.

One of the biggest firefights took place when Alpha Company set up a platoon base two doors down from a group of more than 30 insurgents. For two days, the rebels kept their activity hidden and quiet..............


But finding the safe houses and remaining insurgents has not been easy for the 10,000 US troops in a city of 300,000 residents, nearly all of whom have moved out during hostilities.

Marines say they have found lots of drugs in safe houses, probably amphetamines similar to speed, to keep them awake. Al Qaeda safe houses in Kabul, after the Taliban fell in November 2001, contained such drugs............


When they hid in a building, US forces didn't hesitate: They destroyed the whole building.

"We've go to get inside their heads," one officer told fellow commanders. "Tactics are evolving, ours and theirs. We've killed those who want to die, and the stupid ones. Now they are smart. And want to live."
Parameters: In praise of attrition - Ralph Peters:

"Even campaigns that appear to be triumphs of maneuver prove, on closer inspection, to have been successful because of a dynamic combination of fire and maneuver. The opening, conventional phase of the Franco-Prussian War, culminating in the grand envelopment at Sedan, is often cited as an example of brilliant maneuver at the operational level--yet the road to Paris was paved with more German than French corpses. It was a bloody war that happened to be fought on the move. Other campaigns whose success was built on audacious maneuvers nonetheless required attrition battles along the way or at their climax, from Moltke's brilliant concentration on multiple axes at Koenigsgraetz (urgent marches to a gory day), to the German blitzkrieg efforts against the Poles, French, and Russians, and on to Operation Desert Storm, in which daring operational maneuvers positioned tactical firepower for a series of short, convincingly sharp engagements. Even the Inchon landing, one of the two or three most daring operations led by an American field commander, failed to bring the Korean War to a conclusion.

More often than not, an overreliance on bold operational maneuvers to win a swift campaign led to disappointment, even disaster. One may argue for centuries about the diversion of a half dozen German divisions from the right flank of the Schlieffen Plan in 1914, but the attempt to win the war in one swift sweep led to more than four years of stalemate on the Western Front. In the same campaign season, Russian attempts at grand maneuver in the vicinity of the Masurian lakes collapsed in the face of counter-maneuvers and sharp encounter battles--a German active defense that drew on Napoleon's 'strategy of the central position'--while, in Galicia, aggressive maneuvering proved to be exactly the wrong approach for the Austro-Hungarian military-which was ill-prepared for encounter battles.

There is no substitute for shedding the enemy's blood."...........


Far from entering an age of maneuver, we have entered a new age of attrition warfare in two kinds: First, the war against religious terrorism is unquestionably a war of attrition--if one of your enemies is left alive or unimprisoned, he will continue trying to kill you and destroy your civilization. Second, Operation Iraqi Freedom, for all its dashing maneuvers, provided a new example of a postmodern war of attrition--one in which the casualties are overwhelmingly on one side.

Nothing says that wars of attrition have to be fair.
New York Post Online Edition: postopinion THE FACES OF DENIAL

By RALPH PETERS


The old-school terrorists that Europe survived did not seek death, although they were sometimes willing to die for their causes. None were suicide bombers, although a few committed suicide in prison to make a political statement.

Crucially, their goals were of this earth. All would have preferred to survive to rule in a government that they controlled.

Now we face terrorists who regard death as a promotion — who reject secular ideologies and believe themselves to be instruments of their god's will.

Indeed, they hope to nudge their god along, to convince him through their actions that the final struggle between faith and infidelity is at hand. While they'd like to see certain changes here on earth — the destruction of Israel, of the United States, of the West, of unbelievers and heretics everywhere — their longed-for destination is paradise beyond the grave.

THE new terrorists are vastly more dangerous, more implacable and crueler than the old models. The political terrorists of the 1970s and '80s used bloodshed to gain their goals. Religious terrorists see mass murder as an end in itself, as a purifying act that cleanses the world of infidels. They don't place their bombs for political leverage, but to kill as many innocent human beings as possible.

Yesteryear's murderers of European politicians and businessmen by the old crowd seem almost mannerly compared to today's religion-fueled terrorists, who openly rejoice in decapitating their living victims in front of cameras.

When political terrorists hijacked airplanes, they hoped to draw attention to their cause. When Islamic terrorists seize passenger jets, they do it to kill as many people as possible.
CNN.com - Probe of Marine's disappearance re-opened - Nov 17, 2004 WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Military investigators have re-opened the case of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Wassef Hassoun after several personal items -- including his military ID and civilian passport -- were found in Falluja, the city where he disappeared in June.:

"Because of the new evidence, the case of Hassoun's disappearance is unexpectedly open again. Investigators are assessing the evidence found in Falluja.

After the initial report that Hassoun was missing, military officials assumed he had walked away from camp. He was listed as a deserter.

His status was changed to captured after the release of a videotape that showed him blindfolded with a sword suspended over his head. A few days later, a posting to three Islamist Web sites claimed Hassoun had been beheaded.

Hassoun denied being a deserter and staging his own kidnapping.

A Marine Corps official said representatives of the Naval Criminal Investigative Services did not interview Hassoun until after he completed his 30-day home leave, following his repatriation back to the United States.

Hassoun may now be interviewed again, the official said.

Hassoun's civilian passport, military identification card and his military uniform were all found, sources said.

The uniform was described by those familiar with the case as being in 'remarkably good shape.'

Other items with Hassoun's name on them, but which the sources declined to describe, were also found. It appeared that some items of identification were altered, the sources said."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"Religious violence in Netherlands alarms Germany:


BERLIN - There is growing alarm in Germany over the torching of mosques, churches and schools in the Netherlands following the brutal killing of Islam-critical film director Theo van Gogh.

With 3.4 million Muslims comprising 4 percent of Germany's population, the question was put this way by a banner headline in the conservative Bild newspaper: 'Is the hate going to come here?' asked the biggest selling tabloid.

The Berliner Zeitung, a left-leaning paper in the German capital where about 200,000 mainly Turkish Muslims live, claims to know the answer: 'The feelings of hated against the majority Christian society are growing.'


So far there has not been a high profile killing in Germany to match the stabbing and shooting of van Gogh. But a series of attacks on Jews in Berlin by Arab youths have sharply raised concerns.

Germany's tough-minded interior minister, Otto Schily, spoke at the weekend of 'a danger' to the country despite successes in integrating the majority of immigrants............

German opposition conservatives are demanding a ban on preaching in mosques in any language other than German.

Calls for such a move were fuelled by a dramatic TV film secretly made last week in a Berlin mosque.

"These Germans, these atheists, these Europeans don't shave under their arms and their sweat collects under their hair with a revolting smell and they stink," said the preacher at the Mevlana Mosque in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, in the film made by Germany's ZDF public TV, adding: "Hell lives for the infidels! Down with all democracies and all democrats!"

There are also demands for loosening German laws to make it easier to expel foreign extremists after years of wrangles to win approval for deportation of radical Turkish Islamist, Metin Kaplan, the self- styled "Caliph of Cologne".

Udo Ulfkotte, a German journalist who has received death threats since writing a critical book on Islam titled "The War in our Cities," underlines that many of the group responsible for the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US had lived in Germany.

Asked about van Gogh's killing, Ulfkotte said: "The spark could jump over here at any time. We just need a provocation like in Holland. Islamists in Germany approved of (van Gogh's) murder and many of them actually cheered it.""

Monday, November 15, 2004

Times Online - Britain - Chirac's skepticism of the United States



Mr Blair suffered another setback when Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State and the administration figure most trusted by Europe, resigned. There were doubts over whether his successor, possibly Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, would be as accommodating.

M Chirac, speaking to British journalists, including The Times, soon after General Powell’s announcement, revealed that he had urged Mr Blair to demand the relaunch of the Middle East peace process in return for backing the war.

“Well, Britain gave its support but I did not see anything in return. I’m not sure it is in the nature of our American friends at the moment to return favours systematically.”

In other remarks that will sting the Bush Administration, he again outlined his vision of a “multipolar” world in which a united Europe would be equal with the US, and mocked Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, for his division of Europe into old and new.

M Chirac said that there would be no division between Britain and France.

“It is like that nice guy in America — what’s his name again? — who spoke about ‘old Europe’. It has no sense. It’s a lack of culture to imagine that. Imagining that there can be division between the British and French vision of Europe is as absurd as imagining that we are building Europe against the United States.”

The comments underline the scale of the task facing Mr Blair as he tries to be a bridge between Europe and America, a job to which he devoted last night’s foreign policy speech at Guildhall in London.

The Prime Minister, aware that Mr Powell’s departure would be received with apprehension by European governments, bluntly told the US Administration to reach out to Europe and enlist its support in the war against terrorism.

“Multilateralism that works should be its aim. I have no sympathy for unilateralism for its own sake,” he said.
For an Iraqi Soldier, the Battle in Fallujah Is Personal (washingtonpost.com)

By Omar Fekeiki
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, November 15, 2004; Page A18

NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq, Nov. 14 -- In every street of the city, there were insurgents, the lieutenant said. In every corner, they were waiting. The fighters would shoot at the Iraqi soldiers and then disappear through open doors. Sometimes they would approach the soldiers and detonate explosives wrapped around their bodies.

"We saw insurgents being divided into pieces," said the lieutenant, 24, who gave his last name as Mustafa. "We'd shoot one bullet and they would explode. It is amazing how trained they are. They are not stupid. They had a plan, but we didn't give them time to apply it."

For Mustafa, one of 2,000 Iraqi soldiers fighting alongside U.S. troops for control of this insurgent-occupied city, the battle for Fallujah was personal. If the fighters continue to control Iraqi cities, there will be no future for him, his children or his wife of 10 weeks. ...........


Mustafa entered Fallujah from the north, his 1st Battalion following closely behind U.S. forces that broke through a mud wall Nov. 8, launching the biggest military operation in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. The 1st Battalion was the first Iraqi force to enter the city. Its task was to fight rebels after the Americans plowed through.

Although they were technically in the rear of the advancing troops, Iraqi soldiers who were interviewed Sunday said that in some respects, they had the tougher job of confronting the insurgents on foot without the benefit of the large tanks and other mechanized infantry that the American forces used to move quickly through the center. The Iraqi soldiers came behind more slowly, their job being to meticulously clear the areas where the U.S. Marine and Army units went.

They said they discovered an equally meticulous insurgent force.

The insurgents were positioned on the tops of houses and other buildings, from which they threw hand grenades and fired AK-47s. "The U.S. artillery shaved them all," said an Iraqi sergeant, whose last name was Adnan. "We took care of the insurgents hiding inside the houses."

Many of the insurgents had long beards and wore turbans, the Iraqi soldiers said. They swarmed the small alleys looking for Iraqi soldiers to kill.

"We found a huge amount of weapons," Mustafa said, including rocket-propelled grenades, surface-to-air missiles, AK-47s and hand grenades.

When the Iraqi soldiers entered the city, they found the fighters hiding in houses and other buildings, even in mosques. Like their American counterparts, the soldiers discovered that the insurgents had laid traps for them. "This was new to us," Mustafa said. "Afterwards, we discovered this trick" and started to bomb the houses where the insurgents were found. ...........

The 1st Battalion of the Iraqi army was established by the U.S.-led occupation in December 2003. Most of its members came from the special forces of the old Iraqi army. Mustafa was one of them, serving in deposed leader Saddam Hussein's army for a year before the U.S. invasion. The resurrected battalion has since served in the southern city of Najaf and in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, including Sadr City.
..............


"In Najaf we were welcomed by people, not like here," Mustafa said "They thought we came to support the U.S. forces. But the Iraqi forces came to liberate Fallujah from insurgents."

After a week of fighting, Mustafa said, Fallujah was in ruins. Houses were destroyed, buildings burned and bodies of insurgents scattered in the streets.


"Nothing in this city is like it was before," he said.

"Don't look to the destruction," a soldier standing next to Mustafa said. "Look at the future of the city without terrorists."
BocaNews.com-
First post-therapy Kerry supporter speaks out publicly


A post-therapy John Kerry supporter spoke out about her trauma treatment for the first time this weekend, saying Florida psychologist Douglas Schooler took her from the depths of despair over President Bush’s victory to a new lease on life.
Forty-four year old Karen of Boca Raton, a divorced mother of one who didn’t want her last name in print, called the trauma specialist’s intensive election therapy “profoundly effective” and described his hypnosis technique as “a healing process.”
“I wasn’t sleeping,” Karen told the Boca Raton News in an interview. “I was very devastated and very astonished that people would re-elect this president. I was moody about the war and economic issues. I felt very unsettled and fearful. I thought, ‘Oh no, what will happen for four years?’”
Karen, whose medical insurance covers the treatment, said she approached Schooler last week after finding herself unable to function publicly due to President Bush’s re-election.
DRUDGE REPORT FLASH 2004
Wounded soldiers describe 'reckless' Fallujah rebels
:

"The handful of Marines and soldiers who met the press were flown to Landstuhl in southwest Germany, which is the largest US military medical facility outside the United States, last week.

They described the rebel fighters as young, disorganised and often reckless but well-armed.

'You recognise them easily. They wear masks, they carry weapons, they move in small squads,' said 22-year-old soldier Kris Clinkscales, who suffered an arm injury from an exploding shell.

'Civilians are usually wearing traditional gowns, they lift their hands when they see you.'

He said he was sure he had not shot at civilians because they were easy to identify. 'There were bodies on the street, but only insurgents,' he said.

Clinkscales is among the 275 wounded on the US side according to figures given by commanders in Baghdad, although a spokeswoman for the hospital said that up to Monday it had treated 419 injured servicemen, mostly from the Fallujah offensive, and that 46 more were due to arrive later that day.

Thirty eight US soldiers have been killed in the assault.

Clinkscales, who arrived at the hospital on Saturday, described the rebel fighters' approach as 'reckless', 'especially the young ones, aged 18 to 20. They were quite disorganised.'

Travis Schafer, a 20-year-old Marine, who injured a hand when a shell exploded, said he was sure the rebels were prepared to sacrifice everything.

'These guys are ready to fight to the death,' he told the press conference. 'I was surprised by the weapons they had,' he added, describing seeing 'loads of RPGs (rocket-propelled grenade launchers) and machine guns'.

And Schafer said the battle had been conducted from street to street.

'This is a rooftop to rooftop kind of fight. You see the snipers jumping from one roof to another.' "