Everybody wants respect
Just a little bit
And everybody needs a chance
Once in a while
Everybody wants to be
Closer to Free
Secret US plan for military future in Iraq
Document outlines powers but sets no time limit on troop presence
A confidential draft agreement covering the future of US forces in Iraq, passed to the Guardian, shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.
The draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked “secret” and “sensitive”, is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorises the US to “conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security” without time limit.
The authorisation is described as “temporary” and the agreement says the US “does not desire permanent bases or a permanent military presence in Iraq”. But the absence of a time limit or restrictions on the US and other coalition forces – including the British – in the country means it is likely to be strongly opposed in Iraq and the US.
Asian Inflation Begins to Sting U.S. Shoppers
BAT TRANG, Vietnam – The free ride for American consumers is ending. For two generations, Americans have imported goods produced ever more cheaply from a succession of low-wage countries – first Japan and Korea, then China, and now increasingly places like Vietnam and India.
But mounting inflation in the developing world, especially Asia, is threatening that arrangement, and not just in China, where rising energy and labor costs have already made exports to the United States more expensive, but in the lower-cost alternatives to China, too.
Congress To Hear Of Gains In Iraq
Petraeus, Crocker To Face Impatient Lawmakers
In a reprise of their testimony last September, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker plan to tell Congress today and tomorrow that security has improved in Iraq and that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has taken steps toward political reconciliation and economic stability.
But unlike in September, when that news was fresh and the administration said a corner had been turned, even some of the war’s strongest supporters in Congress have grown impatient and frustrated. Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and Crocker will face many lawmakers who had expected more by now and who are wondering whether any real change will occur before the clock runs out on the Bush administration.
China vows to keep torch on track
Beijing has said “no force” can stop the Olympic flame relay, as it faces protests on the US leg of its journey.
Seven pro-Tibet demonstrators have already been arrested in San Francisco after tying anti-Chinese banners to the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The flame is due to arrive in the city on Tuesday, following anti-Chinese protests in Paris and London.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) members meeting in Beijing say they are to review future Olympic torch relays.
Kashmir Says Come On In, the Tee Times Are Safe
SRINAGAR, Kashmir – Naeem Akhtar has an improbable task in the Indian government’s drive to revitalize Kashmir after 18 years of militant violence: rebranding this heavily militarized Himalayan region as a global golfing destination.
Mr. Akhtar, who is permanent secretary to the government tourism department, the most senior official in charge of tourism in Kashmir, readily admits he has a difficult challenge. “We face a lot of uncomfortable questions,” he said last month, staring out at the empty fairways of the Royal Spring Golf Course here. “Tourists travel to relax. A tourist doesn’t want to come to a place that creates apprehension in his mind.”
Hizbollah turns to Iran for new weapons to wage war on Israel
By Robert Fisk in Teir Dibba, south Lebanon
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
The Shia “martyrs” of this hill village are normally killed in the dangerous, stony landscape of southern Lebanon, in Israeli air raids or invasions or attacks from the sea. The Hizbollah duly honours them. But the body of the latest Shia fighter to be buried here – from the local Hashem family – was flown back to Lebanon last month from Iran.
He was hailed as a martyr in the village Husseiniya mosque but the Hizbollah would say no more. For when a Lebanese is killed in live firing exercises in the Islamic Republic, his death brings almost as many questions as mourners.
Sadr will disband his militia if religious leaders ask
The Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr will have talks with senior religious leaders and will disband his powerful Mehdi Army militia if they ask him to do so, one of his aides said yesterday.
Mr Sadr’s surprise move is aimed at preventing an all-out assault on his militiamen by the Iraqi government, backed by US military forces in Iraq, as the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, criticised the Mehdi Army by name.
He also said that parties which continued to maintain militias would not be allowed to take part in the provincial elections this year.
desperate Mugabe begins new assault on white-owned farms
The sound of hands beating on drums grows louder, chanting voices chiming in, more insistent, wilder with every minute. At the entrance to the driveway, young men stand scowling, inhaling on fat joints. A lone policeman, trembling with fear, hangs back, glancing up and down the road.
At the corner of the driveway a farm invasion is in full swing. A hundred-strong mob bays against a flimsy wire fence and drunken men with cold, glazed eyes, surround our car with menace. Inside, a besieged, frightened family is weighing its options.
“Mr Westheim is not coming out,” a bearded man in a Mugabe T-shirt tell us in a mocking voice as others parade around, whipping up the mob. Perhaps we could persuade him to leave, the still shaking policeman tells us. “We don’t want violence,” he says.
Egyptian police arrest over 200 in strike crackdown
CAIRO: What began as a widespread call for a general strike ended as the police cracked down across the nation, dispatching thousands of riot troops, arresting more than 200 demonstrators and fighting with protesters in the north.
While two schools were burned and more than 150 people were reported injured in the northern town of Mahalla al-Kobra on Sunday, it was the eerie emptiness of the normally teeming streets of Cairo that signaled the depth of discontent with President Hosni Mubarak’s government.
Anti-abortion campaigner sparks violent clashes in Italy
By Peter Popham in Rome
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
Italian women’s abortion rights are facing a head-on challenge from one of the nation’s most famous political pundits, a man who calls himself a “devout atheist” and whose countrywide election campaign on a pro-life platform has provoked violent protests.
Giuliano Ferrara, 56, a communist activist turned socialist turned conservative, was a minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s short-lived first government, chairs a nightly political chat show and edits a thin but influential daily paper, Il Foglio.
Eurotunnel turns corner into first profit after years of crisis
PARIS (AFP) – Eurotunnel turned the corner on Tuesday into its first annual, if modest, net profit since opening for rail traffic through the Channel tunnel between France and Britain in 1994.
The company, which came close to drowning under its debt and was restructured and refinanced, said that last year it had made a net profit of one million euros (1.5 million dollars).
Company chairman Jacques Gounon said that this year net profit would be “more than” one million euros and that he intended to pay a first dividend in 2009 in respect of the results in 2008.
Healthcare in Venezuela takes turn for worse
Many public hospitals have fallen on hard times in a nation awash in oil wealth. The childbirth death rate and cases of dengue and malaria are up, and doctors are in short supply.
CARACAS, VENEZUELA — Grimacing from contractions, expectant mother Castuca Marino had more on her mind than birth pangs. She was nervous about whether she and her newborn child would make it out of the hospital alive.
Interviewed as she stood in the emergency room of Concepcion Palacios Maternity Hospital here last week, Marino had heard news reports of six infant deaths there over a 24-hour period late last month. She knew that since the beginning of February, six mothers had died in the hospital during or after childbirth.
“What are poor people going to do?” said Marino, 20, as she was being admitted to this sprawling complex where, on average, 60 babies are born a day. “I’m just hoping that there are no complications and that everything goes well.”