Roy L. Harbin:The DANG-DInGIE American
re:blackwater case exposes
- ~The company's report
cites a Dec. 13 letter to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who became
speaker of the House three weeks later. In that letter, Callahan
requested that Congress aggressively investigate Blackwater. He told
Pelosi that the security contractor is an "extremely
Republican" company that put safety behind its quest for war
The lawsuit and the Democratic
staff assessment have "striking similarities," Blackwater
Callahan said Tuesday of any political motivations behind the
lawsuit. The Fallujah killings "could have and should have been
avoided" if Blackwater had properly equipped the guards as the
company's Baghdad operations manager had urged, he said.~
- re:dem folks try to use
blackwater case to target rice & admin
- ~House Democrats on
Thursday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of grossly
mismanaging diplomatic efforts in Iraq and concealing information
from Congress, putting a visibly frustrated Rice on the defensive.
At a hearing by a
congressional watchdog committee, Democratic lawmakers said the
State Department under Rice had been too lax with armed security
contractors, ignored corruption at the highest levels of the Iraqi
government and was sloppy in overseeing construction of the costly
new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
"I think there was a huge
gap between what she said and reality," said Rep. Henry Waxman,
chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Waxman, D-Calif., and other
Democrats said they would not call on Rice to resign, noting that
their frustration is with the Bush administration's policies rather
than Rice alone.
"If you just change the
deck chairs, it's not going to change the policy," said Rep.
Peter Welch, D-Vt., a committee member.
The hearing gave Democrats the
venue to hammer the administration on the war. Thus far, they have
been unable to pass veto-proof legislation ordering troops home from
Recent events have given them
ample fodder: shootings involving the private guards hired to
protect State Department diplomats; allegations that Iraq's prime
minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has blocked corruption investigations,
and delays in the embassy's construction.
The Democrats' strategy did
not go unnoticed by Republicans.
Democrats seemed to be trying
"to drill enough small holes in the bottom of the boat to sink
the entire Iraqi enterprise, while still claiming undying support
for the crew about to drown," said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia,
the committee's top Republican.
The usually unflappable Rice
became frustrated at several points, including a tense exchange with
Welch on whether al-Maliki was corrupt. Since April, the prime
minister has required that Cabinet-level corruption investigations
first receive his approval. Such a policy, Welch and other Democrats
say, is tantamount to blanket immunity for al-Maliki and his
When repeatedly pressed to say
whether she thought al-Maliki was covering up fraud and abuse, Rice
said she would not respond to rumors.
"To assault the prime
minister of Iraq or anyone else in Iraq with here-to-date
unsubstantiated allegations or lack of corroboration, in a setting
that would simply fuel those allegations, I think, would be deeply
damaging," she said.
After the hearing, Waxman said
there was a gap between "her very smooth presentation" and
the facts. Rice said the State Department was invested in stopping
corruption, but Waxman said she was unfamiliar with al-Maliki's
corruption policy and that department insiders tell lawmakers its
efforts are dysfunctional.~
re:al qaida advocates turn on
- ~Al-Qaida Anger at Jazeera
on Laden Tape
Published: 10/25/07, 9:25 PM
By MAGGIE MICHAEL
CAIRO, Egypt (AP)~
~Al-Qaida sympathizers have
unleashed a torrent of anger against Al-Jazeera television, accusing
it of misrepresenting Osama bin Laden's latest audiotape by airing
excerpts in which he criticizes mistakes by insurgents in Iraq.
Users of a leading Islamic
militant Web forum posted thousands of insults against the pan-Arab
station for focusing on excerpts in which bin Laden criticizes
insurgents, including his followers.
Analysts said the reaction
highlighted militants' surprise at bin Laden's words, and their
dismay at the deep divisions among al-Qaida and other Iraqi
militants that he appeared to be trying to heal.
"It's not about
Al-Jazeera, it's about their shock from bin Laden," said Diaa
Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on Islamic militant groups. "For
the first time, bin Laden, who used to be the spiritual leader who
gives guidance, became a critic of al-Qaida and is confessing
mistakes. This is unusual."
"God fight Al-Jazeera,"
railed one militant Web poster, calling the station a "collaborator
with the Crusaders" for suggesting the tape showed weakness in
al-Qaida and featuring discussions of how the tape reflected
weaknesses and divisions among insurgents in Iraq.
The recording aired Monday
contained unusually strong criticism of insurgents in Iraq from bin
Laden, who urges them to admit mistakes and unify. Bin Laden even
aknowledges that he advises himself not to be "fanatical"
in his stances.
"Some of you have been
lax in one duty, which is to unite your ranks," bin Laden said.
"Beware of division ... Muslims are waiting for you to gather
under a single banner to champion righteousness. Be keen to oblige
with this duty."
"I advise myself, Muslims
in general and brothers in al-Qaida everywhere to avoid extremism
among men and groups," he said.
The tape was met with a
cautiously positive response from at least one insurgent coalition
that has been opposed to al-Qaida.
But the Al-Fajr Media Center,
which usually posts al-Qaida video and audio tapes on the Web,
accused Al-Jazeera of "counterfeiting the facts" by making
the speech appear as exclusively critical of insurgents.
have shamefully chosen to back the Crusaders' side, and the
defenders of hypocrites and the thugs and traitors of Iraq,"
Al-Fajr said in a statement posted on several Islamic Web sites.
Another Web contributor even
rattled off a five-stanza poem of rhymed couplets, comparing the
station to a "miserable fly in the garbage" and
concluding, "Your day will come, vile one. As long as we live,
you won't be safe, Jazeera."
Few of the thousands of
messages posted by contributors on the Web sites - who are only
identified by usernames - called for direct violence against
Al-Jazeera. Most instead urged that the full bin Laden tape be
distributed as widely as possible on the Web to show its true
The full 30-minute audio was
posted on Islamic Web sites the day after excerpts were aired by
Al-Jazeera. It features long sections praising insurgents for their
"holy war" against U.S. and Iraqi troops and urging Iraqis
to join them.
The editor-in-chief of the
Qatar-based station, Ahmed Sheik, refused to comment on the
criticism but said the tape had not been misrepresented.
"Every time, we deal with
their tapes same way we did last time," he told The Associated
Bin Laden's message came at a
time of deepening splits in the Sunni Arab insurgency in Iraq. Some
insurgent groups have formed a coalition rivaling one set up by
al-Qaida in Iraq. Other factions have broken away and joined U.S.
troops in fighting al-Qaida. A group of Sunni Arab tribes in the
western province of Anbar also have campaigned against al-Qaida.
The splits are believed to
have been caused by anger over al-Qaida attempts to dominate the
insurgency as well as by its killings of Sunni tribal leaders and
its attempts to impose Taliban-like rules.
The spokesman of one coalition
of insurgents opposed to al-Qaida welcomed bin Laden's call and even
left open the possibility of working with al-Qaida if its mistakes
"We don't want to get
ahead of ourselves ... but the subject is put forward before the
council," Khattab Abdul-Rahman al-Jabbouri, spokesman of the
Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance, told Al-Jazeera in an
He said al-Qaida in Iraq's
actions "damaged the social fabric of the Iraqi people."
But "if someone corrects their mistake, no matter who they are,
then that is a good thing. That's what we hope for today, so that we
can end the mistakes and unify our ranks so we can be a single line
against the aggressor," he said.
Kara Driggers, Mideast analyst
for the Terrorism Research Center, said bin Laden's criticisms of
al-Qaida in Iraq and his rhetoric addressing all Iraqis - including
tribal leaders - "seems to have brought more authority to the
request (for unity) and the groups are taking it more seriously."
But Eric Rosenbach, a terror
expert and executive director of research at Harvard University's
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said the splits
will be difficult to mend, pointing out that Sunni tribal leaders in
Iraq view bin Laden as being as foreign as the Americans.~
re:psychos target civilians
going to work
- ~ Nearly simultaneous
bombs struck commuters in a predominantly Shiite area on the
southeastern edge of Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least eight
people and wounding two dozen, police and hospital officials said.
The two blasts, which occurred
about 30 yards apart at 7 a.m. in Jisr Diyala, were targeting
government employees, construction workers and vendors preparing to
travel into the capital, according to the officials.
Women and children were among
the eight killed and 24 wounded, which also included three policemen
who had been sipping tea bought from a vendor, the officials said.
The explosives were buried in
a dirt-packed area where minibuses pick up people traveling to the
nearby Baghdad neighborhood of Zafaraniyah and the center of the
city. Vendors were selling pastries, juice and tea.~
complain job is delayed,,but blame violence
- ~There was no electricity
and so the pump was not operating while the team was there. Because
the team couldn't communicate with the two Iraqis at the station, it
couldn't determine why it wasn't working, nor whether they were
following good practices in keeping the station maintained since it
was handed over to Iraqi control.~
- re:us sanctions against
- ~The U.S. sanctions on
elements of Iran's vast armed forces and its largest bank are the
most sweeping since 1979, when the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in
Tehran ruptured diplomatic, business and military ties.
The sanctions are the first of
their type imposed by the United States specifically against the
armed forces of another government. They are part of the Bush
administration's two-track approach to its chief adversary in the
Mideast that offsets diplomatic overtures with sanctions, bellicose
rhetoric and the implicit threat of military action.
U.S. officials insisted
Thursday that the new moves do not hasten war and that the United
States remains committed to finding a way to talk Iran out of a
nuclear program the U.S. claims is hostile.
The punitive moves directly
target Iranian organizations and people the U.S. accuses of
supporting terrorism or spreading weapons of mass destruction, but
the main effect is likely to fall elsewhere - on European and other
overseas banks and firms that do business with oil-rich Iran.
"As awareness of Iran's
deceptive behavior has grown, many banks around the world have
decided as a matter of prudence and integrity that Iran's business
is simply not worth the risk," Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
There has been grumbling,
mainly in Europe, about earlier U.S. financial sanctions on Iran
that overseas bankers found heavy-handed, but Paulson is right that
some of Iran's former financial partners have already distanced
themselves from Tehran under hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Paulson and Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice announced the penalties together, a recognition
that a year-old effort to levy unilateral Treasury sanctions has had
far greater effect than the diplomatic channels Rice has pursued
Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open
negotiations, instead threatening peace and security," through
its nuclear program and export of ballistic missiles, Rice said,
along with what she charged is backing for militants in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
The latest sanctions will cut
off more than 20 Iranian entities, including individuals and
companies owned or controlled by the powerful Revolutionary Guard
Corps, from the American financial system.
State-owned Bank Melli, Bank
Mellat and Bank Saderat were named supporters of global terrorist
groups for their activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle
Any assets found in the United
States belonging to the designated groups must be frozen. Americans
are also prohibited from doing business with those designated
Bank Melli is Iran's largest.
The United States says it provides services to Iran's nuclear and
ballistic missile programs. Bank Mellat serves the state Atomic
Energy Organization and Bank Saderat routes money to terrorist or
militant groups, the administration said.
The administration did not lay
out any new evidence for the allegations.
The designations put companies
outside the United States on notice that doing business with the
designated groups could put them at risk of U.S. financial penalty.
The United States has the
world's largest economy and the most influential banking system, and
much of the world's business is done in dollars.
Paulson said it is nearly
impossible for overseas businesses or banks to "know one's
customer" in Iran and avoid unwittingly funding terrorism or
other illicit activities.
Iran's Iranian Revolutionary
Guard Corps and its Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics
were designated proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and
ballistic missile technology.
The Revolutionary Guards is
the largest component of Iran's military and has influence in
business and other spheres. The defense ministry entity is the
parent organization for Iran's aerospace and ballistic missile
The Quds Force, which was
named a supporter of designated terrorist organizations, is a part
of the Guard Corps that Washington accuses of providing weapons,
including powerful explosives blamed for the deaths of U.S. soldiers
In Iran, the Guards' chief
shrugged off the U.S. pressure.
"They have applied all
their efforts to reduce the efficiency of this revolutionary body,"
General Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to the state news agency
IRNA. "Now as always, the corps is ready to defend the ideals
of the revolution more than ever before."
The United States has long
labeled Iran a state supporter of terrorism and has been working for
years to gain support for tougher global sanctions aimed at keeping
the country from developing nuclear weapons.
The Bush administration has
won two rounds of watered-down U.N. Security Council sanctions but
has been frustrated by months of delay in seeking a third, tougher
set of penalties.
Iran has ignored the U.N.
sanctions and an offer from European nations that do extensive
business with Iran would give the oil-rich country economic and
other incentives in exchange for dropping nuclear activities that
could produce a bomb.
Iran is continuing work on its
nuclear program, which it says is peaceful.
Russia's President Vladimir
Putin warned Thursday against new sanctions on Iran, saying they
would lead to a dead end.
"Why worsen the situation
by threatening sanctions and bring it to a dead end?" Putin
said. "It's not the best way to resolve the situation by
running around like a madman with a razor blade in his hand."
Russia and China, which hold
veto power at the U.N. Security Council, are allies or business
partners of Iran and are the chief holdup for the new sanctions
sought by the United States.
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.,
chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the new
sanctions smack of the "chest-pounding" that preceded the
2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and raise "the specter of an
intensified effort to make the case for an invasion of Iran."
Associated Press writers
Matthew Lee and Jeannine Aversa contributed to this report.~
- re:iran claims it's safe
- ~TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -
Iran's leadership boasts it is safe from U.S. military action,
saying Washington knows an attack would find no world support and
send oil prices skyrocketing. That confidence is buoying the
government in its standoff with the West, despite new sanctions.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator,
Saeed Jalili, on Friday dismissed the U.S. announcement a day
earlier of new sanctions, saying "Washington will isolate
itself" with the measures.
"They have imposed
sanctions on us for 28 years. The new sanctions are just in the same
direction," Jalili said as he returned from talks with European
officials in Germany and Italy, according to the state news agency
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
is taking a hard line in the confrontation with the West over its
nuclear program, apparently confident Washington's main pressure
tools - sanctions and the threat of military action - are
It could be a risky bet.
Ahmadinejad's main vulnerability is domestic: rising criticism from
a public angry over the country's poor economy and from politicians
disillusioned by what they call his mismanagement. Even some
conservatives have expressed fears Ahmadinejad is pushing Iran into
future trouble over the nuclear issue.
Further sanctions, even
unilateral ones from the U.S., could hurt the economy more by
further isolating it from international finance - and Iranians were
already expressing worries over the new measures.
Ahmadinejad, who faces
elections in 2009, knows "jobless and poor people will not vote
for him if his policies bring them more difficulties," said
Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a political science professor at Tehran's Azad
But he believes "unilateral
economic sanctions by Washington are not strong enough (to hurt
Iran) due to Iran's widespread economic relations with the world."
Suzanne Maloney, an expert on
Iran at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said that while
sanctions have put pressure on the regime, oil prices have dampened
"Yes, life becomes more
expensive, but right now they have a fairly considerable cushion,"
she said, adding that sanctions might force the government to become
more fiscally responsible.
"A flush Iran has been an
irresponsible Iran. Most of their economic problems have been caused
by having too much cash on their hands," she said. In the face
of new sanctions, "it's not unthinkable that they'll take more
responsible measures at home that will cut some of the internal
Recent U.S. statements have
deepened Iranians' fears of attack. Last week, President Bush warned
that a nuclear Iran could lead to "World War III," and
Vice President Dick Cheney vowed Sunday that the U.S. and other
nations will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Iran denies
it is seeking nuclear weapons, saying its program aims only to
After the U.S. sanctions
announcement, a string of Iranian military officials came forward to
insist America will not attack Iran, citing the strain on the U.S.
military from the Iraq war and worries over high oil prices. But
they vowed harsh reaction if the U.S. does attack. In the past,
Iranian officials have spoken of retaliating with attacks on Israel
and U.S. bases in the region and with a shutoff of oil from the
A top adviser to supreme
leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - former Revolutionary Guards chief
Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi - said the U.S. knows military action would
send oil prices soaring.
"Without any war, the
price of oil has nearly reached $100 a barrel, so if a firecracker
goes off in the Persian Gulf, the price will reach more than $200,"
he told students Thursday, according to IRNA.
Iran overlooks the Hormuz
Strait at the narrow mouth of the Gulf, through which a fifth of the
world's oil supplies pass.
The current Guards commander,
Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said threats of U.S. attack are "just
exaggerations," warning, "We will reply to any strike with
an even more decisive strike."
And Interior Minister Mostafa
Pourmohammadi said the probability of American attack is "very
"America knows well that
while it can start such an attack, how it ends will not be in
Washington's hands, and such an attack will lead to America's
collapse," he told journalists during in Kuwait on Thursday,
The new U.S. sanctions ban
dealings with a host of companies connected to Iran's Revolutionary
Guards, an elite force that has extensive business holdings in oil,
construction and other sectors. The ban bars American companies from
working with them, but also puts pressure on international firms and
banks not to deal with them as well.
Iran is counting on
international support from Russia and China to prevent harsher U.N.
sanctions. The U.N. has imposed two rounds of limited sanctions for
Iran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. But Moscow and Beijing
are resisting U.S. calls for a third round and have come out against
military action - though both have urged Iran to comply with U.N.
demands for a halt in uranium enrichment.
China warned Friday the new
unilateral sanctions by the United States could increase tensions
over Iran's nuclear program. "Dialogue and negotiations are the
best approach to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue," the
Foreign Ministry said.
U.S. military action would
also likely silence the domestic opposition to Ahmadinejad as people
rally around the government. The head of the largest pro-reform
party, Mohsen Mirdamadi, has warned a U.S. attack would set back
chances for reform and democracy in Iran by decades.
On Friday, Mirdamadi said his
party would stand against any American threat. "We cannot
neglect defending the country's independence and integrity even for
a while," he told a gathering of his Islamic Iran Participation
Still, many Iranians - facing
increasing prices for housing and basic foodstuffs - are expressing
fear over where the government is taking the country.
"I am sure the Iranian
government does not seek war. And I am sure they will abide by
international demands at the last minute," said Mirza Kazemi, a
70-year-old retired oil worker.
Reza Hosseini, owner of a
metal shop, criticized the government's focus on hotspots in the
Middle East, where Iran is accused of backing militant groups.
"I cannot understand why
our government insists on irrelevant issues such as Palestine, Iraq
and Lebanon," he said. "We have too many problems in our
Associated Press Writer Sarah
DiLorenzo contributed to this report from New York.~
re:islamists in pakistan
- ~Islamic militants
reportedly captured and beheaded three militiamen and a police
officer Friday while government troops and helicopter gunships
attacked the nearby stronghold of a radical cleric in northwestern
The fighting came a day after
a suicide bombing killed 20 people in another part of Swat district
in the intensifying conflict between the U.S.-allied government of
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and pro-Taliban forces in the
volatile tribal region along the Afghan border.
After killing the four
security officers, the militants displayed the severed heads in Imam
Dheri village near Swat, said Badshah Gul Wazir, home secretary for
the volatile North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan.~
~A few hours earlier,
militiamen of the regional Frontier Constabulary, supported by army
helicopters, attacked the redoubt of cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who
runs a sprawling seminary in Imam Dheri and leads a band of armed
Hundreds of villagers fled as
the two sides battled across the rushing Swat River, firing
rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and other weapons. Police said
one militant was known dead and two civilians were killed by stray
bullets near the river.
"I never saw this type of
violence in my life," said Abdul Hamid, a 70-year-old shop
owner in Swat, who sobbed as he watched thick smoke rising from
trees set afire on a nearby mountain where fighting also broke out.
"Swat was one of the
safest places on Pakistan, and now it has become Iraq and
Afghanistan, and I don't know what will happen in future,"
An aide of Fazlullah confirmed
one of the cleric's fighters was killed and said four others were
wounded in the fighting, which subsided after the Muslim call to
prayer at sunset.
"God willing, casualties
on their side (the security forces) will be more," the aide,
Sirajuddin, told The Associated Press by telephone from Imam Dheri.
He uses only one name.
He vowed Fazlullah's
supporters would fight to the death. "We have enough heavy
re:more perks for mexico
- ~President Bush asked
Congress on Monday to approve $500 million to help Mexico fight drug
trafficking, the first installment of a $1.4 billion aid package for
the United States' southern neighbor.
The money was included in a
supplemental budget request for the fiscal year that began this
month that is primarily aimed at adding funds for the wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan. The measure included several unrelated items, such
as $724 million for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan's Darfur
region and $106 million to make good on U.S. promises in a nuclear
deal with North Korea.
"All of these are urgent
priorities of the United States, and the Congress should fund them
without delay," Bush said.
The White House took extra
care to shine a spotlight on Mexico's portion of the request, with
White House press secretary Dana Perino issuing a separate statement
about it and Bush calling Mexican President Felipe Calderon to let
him know about the money.~
- re:evidence that
'pro-illegal immigrant amnesty advocates' are helping to breed
internal strife for america,,future civil war seems inevitable
unless politicos stop pandering
- ~Explosives in Mexican
Consulate in NYC
Published: 10/26/07, 2:25 PM
By TOM HAYS
NEW YORK (AP) - Two improvised
explosives were thrown into the rear of the Mexican Consulate early
Friday, causing small explosions that blew out some windows. No
injuries were reported.
Police believe someone on a
bicycle threw the devices - made from replica grenades packed with
explosive powder - at 3 a.m., New York Police Commissioner Raymond
The commissioner said
witnesses reported seeing someone on a bike at that time near the
consulate in Midtown Manhattan.
Edgar Trujillo, the press
attache with the Mexican Consulate, said three windows were
Police and FBI agents were at
the scene. The block was cordoned off by police tape, and by Friday
afternoon, about 50 people who had business at the consulate stood
on the street corner waiting to see if they would be allowed to
The consulate on East 39th
Street between Madison and Park avenues is sandwiched between an
office building and another building under construction covered in
green netting. Residential buildings, banks and food shops are
In 2005, an explosion caused
by two makeshift grenades fitted with fuses blew out a window near
the British Consulate, several blocks to the north. There were no
injuries, and no one was ever arrested.~
re:concerns over jerusalem
- ~Benjamin Netanyahu, the
hawkish former prime minister whose poll numbers show him to be
Israel's most popular politician, looked out over Jerusalem's holy
sites Tuesday and declared the city must forever remain united under
His comments, at times drowned
out by the chants of a Muslim preacher, follow growing signs that
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is ready to share control of Jerusalem
under a final peace settlement with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu and other senior
members of the Likud Party on Tuesday climbed the Tower of David,
built 2,000 years ago to protect the walls of ancient Jerusalem, and
then headed to the Mount of Olives, where Jews believe the dead will
be resurrected in the end of days.
"Jerusalem has been the
pulsating heart of the Jewish people," Netanyahu said. "Now
there are those who come and say, let's divide this heart."~
~The Palestinians insist the
eastern section of the city, where Arabs are the majority, must be
the capital of their hoped-for state - and that a future Palestine
have sovereignty over the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, the third-holiest
site in Islam, where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended
"I think Mr. Netanyahu
should focus on peacemaking, rather than trying to undermine"
the fledgling peace process, said Palestinian negotiator Saeb
Erekat. "They (Israelis) all know at the end of the day that
Jerusalem must be the capital of the two states."
Netanyahu warned Islamic
militants will take control of any part of the city evacuated by
Israel - as they did in the Gaza Strip after Israel withdrew from
that territory in 2005.
"The first thing that
will happen is that when we leave, Hamas comes in," he said.~
- re:power cuts to curb
rocket falls critisized
- ~The Israeli plan is to
cut electricity for 15 minutes after a rocket attack, gradually
increasing the cutoff length if the barrages continue. Israeli
officials would not say when that would begin.
Despite the threat,
Palestinians fired at least eight rockets and 10 mortar rounds into
southern Israel Thursday, the military said. No damage or casualties
Israel supplies about half of
Gaza's electricity through 12 power lines, and defense officials
said the gradual cutoffs would not plunge Gaza into total darkness
or target vital institutions like hospitals because the lines
supplying them would not be closed.
Palestinians and human rights
groups denounced the measure as collective punishment.
One of the groups, Gisha,
issued a statement warning that, "Playing with electricity is
playing with fire," adding: "Even a brief interruption in
electricity threatens the safety and well-being of Gaza residents."
Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Israel had no choice but to take
punitive measures. "Should we tell them to continue firing
rockets at the same power station that provides them with
electricity and continue to bomb the water system that provides them
with water?" he asked on Israel Radio. One of Israel's main
electricity stations is outside Ashkelon, just six miles from Gaza.
Several rockets have exploded nearby.
Electricity inside Gaza has
been rationed through rolling blackouts since Israel bombed the
strip's main power station in 2006. Many places have their own
criticised,,admonished to keep helping their enemies people
- ~Human rights groups say
Israel - as direct military occupier for 38 years, until 2005, and
still in control of Gaza's borders and air space - must do more to
prevent a humanitarian crisis among the 1.4 million residents of the
~Booms go off from time to
time, from mortar rounds and rockets fired by Gaza militants toward
Erez, but fall short. A few hundred yards away, Israeli tanks and
bulldozers rumble along the large concrete wall cutting off Gaza
~Israeli human rights groups
say Israel has further tightened its criteria for patients from Gaza
in recent weeks, allowing entry only to those with life-threatening
Israeli officials said they
are trying to minimize the security risks posed by any Gazans coming
Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for
the branch of the Israeli military involved in coordinating with
Gaza, said only humanitarian hardship cases are allowed out. He said
his office has to ask the defense minister for special permission
for anyone else, including a soccer team heading to a competition
Dror said Erez and other
crossings often come under fire from Gaza, forcing frequent
Those who get the go-ahead
walk for about a mile from the Palestinian trailer to the Erez
terminal, a modern airport-style hall where travelers make their way
through turnstiles, metal detectors and a maze of glass-encased
rooms. Only the very sick can approach by ambulance, and then not
Israeli human rights activists
demand that the military loosen some of the restrictions to allow
more patients out, as well as some 6,400 people who have foreign
passports, residency rights or student visas and are waiting to
leave. A few weeks ago, some 550 people in that group were able to
take army-escorted shuttle buses to Egypt, but Dror said other
departures were halted because of rocket fire.
Anwar Dughmush, 41, who's had
trouble getting his 15-year-old nephew to Israel for an eye
operation, said Gazans were squeezed by all sides, but he was
particularly angry at the Palestinian rivals. "Hamas and Fatah
are responsible for anyone who dies or gets sicker," he said.~
re:attempt to cease/prohibit
preaching/religion in prison
- ~In 2003, a new warden,
James Weeden, banned prisoners from preaching, saying it posed a
security risk to place inmates in positions of authority.
"People behind a pulpit
are in a position of power," Weeden said. "And people
behind a pulpit, of all faiths, have abused that power."~
~The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in Boston ruled against the ban, calling Spratt's preaching
"apparently unblemished by any hint of unsavory activity"
and remanding the case to a lower court. Both sides settled in July,
agreeing that Spratt and other inmates could preach under certain
restrictions, including having supervision.~
re:w.va victim once had
domestic dispute with one assailant
- ~Prosecutors have backed
off state hate-crime charges, saying they only carry an additional
10-year maximum penalty and could complicate their case. For one,
hate crimes typically involve strangers, and Williams knew one of
the suspects. She filed a charge of domestic assault against him in
Williams has been advised not
to discuss anything about her prior dealings with the suspects, or
the more graphic details of her experience.~
re:one mans name stands out in
muslim charity mistrial
- ~Not one of the leaders of
the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was convicted
Monday, and many acquittals were thrown out after three jurors took
the rare step of disputing the verdict.
Juror William Neal told The
Associated Press that the panel found little evidence against three
of the defendants and was evenly split on charges against Shukri Abu
Baker and former Holy Land chairman Ghassan Elashi, who were seen as
the principal leaders of the charity.
"I thought they were not
guilty across the board," said Neal, a 33-year-old art director
from Dallas. The case "was strung together with macaroni
noodles. There was so little evidence."~
~Some jurors were dead-set for
convictions even before they began deliberating, Neal said.
"They brought up stuff
that wasn't even in the case," he said. "They brought up
The jury heard two months of
testimony on charges that the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and
Development funneled more than $12 million in aid to the Palestinian
militant group Hamas. Such aid was illegal after January 1995
because President Clinton branded Hamas a terrorist group.~
~As Fish read the results, it
appeared that jurors had acquitted Abdulqader on all charges,
El-Mezain and Abdulrahman Odeh on most charges, and failed to reach
decisions on any counts involving Baker, Elashi or Holy Land itself.
But even that partial result
was precarious. When the judge polled each juror whether he or she
agreed with the verdicts - normally a formality - things turned
chaotic, as three jurors disavowed the vote.
Fish sent the jury back to
resolve the differences, but after about an hour, they said they
could not continue, and the judge declared a mistrial.~
re:man apprehended with
fuseing,tools and explosives claims innocence,,bail denied
- ~TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A
federal judge denied bail Thursday for an Egyptian college student
arrested after authorities said they found explosive chemicals in
his car near South Carolina Navy base.
U.S. District Judge Steven
Merryday said Youssef Samir Megahed is a "a risk of flight and
an unreasonable danger to the community," agreeing with
prosecutors that the now-suspended University of South Florida
student should stay in jail pending trial on federal explosives
charges. The ruling reverses an earlier decision by another judge
who had set bail at $200,000.
Megahed, 21, was arrested
along with fellow USF student Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 24,
during an Aug. 4 traffic stop in Goose Creek, S.C., about 15 miles
northwest of Charleston and near a Navy weapons station.
In the trunk of their car,
according an FBI agent's statement, police found 20 feet of fuse, a
box of .22-caliber bullets, a drill, several gallons of gasoline,
PVC piping and a mixture of explosive chemicals.
The agent also said Mohamed's
laptop contained a video he made demonstrating how to convert a
remote-control toy into a detonator for terrorist bombs.
Mohamed, who is also Egyptian,
said he made the video "to assist those persons in Arabic
countries to defend themselves against the infidels invading their
countries," according to the agent's statement. He said "he
considered American troops, and those military forces fighting with
the American military, to be invaders of Arab countries," the
The students claimed they were
on their way to a North Carolina beach and that they ended up in
Goose Creek because they were looking for cheap gas.
In an e-mail to The Associated
Press, Megahed's attorney, Adam Allen, confirmed bail was denied for
his client, but did not offer addition comment. In a hearing earlier
this month, Allen contended that Megahed didn't know anything about
the explosives in the trunk or the video on the laptop. He also said
Megahed has never been in trouble and isn't a flight risk because
his family lives in Tampa.
Both men have pleaded not
guilty. Mohamed is being held without bond.
A trial has been set Dec. 3.
If convicted, Megahed faces up to 10 years in prison. Mohamed could
get up to 30 years.~
blockage for iran against hillary and others
- ~"Why is this
amendment so dangerous?" Obama's mailing said. "Because
George Bush and Dick Cheney could use this language to justify
keeping our troops in Iraq as long as they can point to a threat
from Iran, and because they could use this language to justify an
attack on Iran as part of the ongoing war in Iraq."
Responding to the mailing,
Clinton spokesman Mark Daley said: "If Senator Obama really
thinks this is an issue of war and peace, it's odd that he didn't
speak out against the measure before it passed or show up to vote
against it. That's not the kind of strength and leadership Iowans
are looking for."~
~Obama routinely criticizes
Clinton for voting in favor of authorizing the use of force in Iraq,
a move he opposed even though he had yet to be elected to the
Senate. He says that shows he has "judgment we can trust,"
while Clinton's judgment is flawed despite her experience in
~In New Hampshire, Obama said
the debate is representative of the campaign's larger differences.
"We have very good
candidates on the Democratic side," he said. "The
question, though, is whether you are going to nominate a candidate
who is not just tinkering around the edges or can bring about real
Later, Obama traveled to
Boston where he was publicly endorsed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval
Patrick, a Harvard Law School classmate and the second black
governor in U.S. history. Obama could become the nation's first