On The 7/11 Plan
Troops welcomed home as Australia quits Iraq
Barbara McMahon in Sydney
Sunday June 29, 2008
Australian soldiers who served in Iraq were given a rousing reception by about 10,000 people yesterday at a ‘welcome home’ parade in Brisbane that marked the country’s withdrawal from combat operations.
Well-wishers waved flags and banners and cheered as some 700 troops, many only recently returned from the war zone, marched through the streets in desert camouflage uniforms with an army band playing ‘Waltzing Matilda’. The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was among a host of dignitaries who paid tribute at the ceremony, described as Australia’s biggest military homecoming parade since the Second World War.
Nigerian conflicts tighten oil bottleneck
An increasingly bold rebel campaign has slashed the country’s output, rattling world markets and underscoring their vulnerability.
By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 29, 2008
WASHINGTON — Amid surging demand for oil, a severe bottleneck has developed in production of high-quality West African crude, alarming world leaders and demonstrating a new vulnerability in fragile oil markets.
With production declining elsewhere, consumer nations had been looking hopefully toward Nigeria. But rebels who have waged an increasingly bold campaign in the oil-rich Niger Delta have slashed the country’s output in their most recent attacks.
The deepening disruptions in Nigeria represent a “huge hole in world oil markets,” said Daniel Yergin, a top oil expert and chairman of the Cambridge Energy Research Associates consulting firm, who warns of an increasingly crisis-prone oil economy.
A New Political Geography
Role Reversals in Virginias Reflect National Shifts
By Alec MacGillis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 29, 2008; Page A01
When Sen. Barack Obama chose the Nissan Pavilion in the outer suburbs of Northern Virginia to kick off his general-election campaign, one of the 10,000 supporters there was David Bruzas, who recently moved to the fastest-growing part of a state that is moving rapidly away from its Republican past.
“Being in this area has made me a lot more politically in tune with what’s going on,” said Bruzas, 27, a systems engineer from Illinois who moved to Fairfax County to work for Cisco Systems in 2005. “And I identify with Obama.”
Occupation Plan for Iraq Faulted in Army History
By MICHAEL R. GORDON
Published: June 29, 2008
WASHINGTON – Soon after American forces toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, Gen. Tommy R. Franks surprised senior Army officers by revamping the Baghdad-based military command.
The decision reflected the assumption by General Franks, the top American commander for the Iraq invasion, that the major fighting was over. But according to an Army history that is to be made public on Monday, the move put the military effort in the hands of a short-staffed headquarters led by a newly promoted three-star general, and was made over the objections of the Army’s vice chief of staff.
Shadow of war looms as Israel flexes its muscle
Israeli fighter jets flew 1,500 kms across the Mediterranean this month, in a dry run for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Tehran has threatened to treat such a raid as a declaration of war. As the Middle East braces itself for a stand-off of epic proportions, how close is the region to that nightmare scenario?
Peter Beaumont, Rory McCarthy, Tracy McVeigh and Paul Harris
Sunday June 29, 2008
The meeting at the home of Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was not supposed to be public. The man invited into Olmert’s official residence in Jerusalem was Aviam Sela, architect of Operation Opera in 1981, when Israel launched a long-range strike against Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. Regarded as a brilliant aviation tactician, in particular in the field of in-flight refuelling, Olmert’s office tried to play down the meeting. But the rumours in Israel’s defence establishment were already flying.
Sela, according to sources close to the meeting, had been called in so that Olmert could ask his opinion on the likely effectiveness of a similar raid to Opera on the nuclear installations of Iran.
West Bank torturers funded by Britain
From The Sunday Times
June 29, 2008
Millions of pounds of British government money is going to Palestinian security forces which use methods of torture including hanging prisoners by their feet and putting them in “stress” positions for hours at a time.
Evidence to be published next month in a report by Human Rights Watch was corroborated last week in interviews by The Sunday Times with victims in the West Bank, ruled by President Mahmoud Abbas’s western-backed Palestinian Authority.
Prisoners who have emerged from Palestinian Authority jails – many of whom have never been charged with any offence or even seen a lawyer – said they had been subjected to mock executions, kicked, punched and beaten with sticks, plastic pipes and hoses.
Tutu urges Zimbabwe intervention
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe – by force if necessary.
The former Cape Town archbishop said he would support the deployment of a UN force to restore peace in the country.
He said African Union leaders should refuse to recognise Robert Mugabe as the legitimate president of Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe declared he was heading for a “sweeping victory”, in remarks made at a relative’s funeral late on Saturday.
Rights group: Post-election violence in Zimbabwe
By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer
HARARE, Zimbabwe – Supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe used batons and thick sticks to beat people who couldn’t prove they voted in a runoff election in which the longtime ruler was the only candidate, an international rights group said Sunday.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said it has documented numerous incidents of intimidation and violence by Mugabe supporters before, during and after Friday’s poll.
The results from the runoff, meanwhile, were expected sometime Sunday, before Mugabe leaves for Egypt, where an African Union summit will be held Monday
Scores hurt in S. Korea beef protests
SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) –
Thousands of protesters battled riot police in downtown Seoul early Sunday morning after a rally opposing South Korea’s decision to import U.S. beef turned violent. More than 100 were wounded, the state news agency reported.
Clashes broke out after more than 15,000 protesters headed toward the presidential office, news agency Yonhap said.
The demonstrators used ropes to pull down police buses that had been parked around the presidential office to block the marchers from entering.
Pakistan launches anti-Taliban crackdown
Sun Jun 29, 2008 7:04am BST
By Ibrahim Shinwari
LANDIKOTAL, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani security forces launched an offensive against Taliban fighters near the northwestern city of Peshawar on Saturday, prompting a militant commander to suspend peace talks and threaten retaliation.
The crackdown in the Khyber tribal region followed a series of sorties by Taliban fighters into Peshawar to push people to observe their puritanical interpretation of Islamic law.
“There has not been any resistance from any group or miscreants,” according to a government statement in Peshawar.
Major-General Alam Khattack, who is leading the offensive, said it was focused on Bara town, around 5 km (3 miles) west of Peshawar, and could be extended to other parts of Khyber.
Blood money: the MPs cashing in on Zimbabwe’s misery
Tory frontbenchers are among those with shares in companies accused of propping up the violent – and now illegal – regimein Harare. Jane Merrick and Archie Bland report
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve heads a list of Tory MPs with sizeable shareholdings in companies accused of propping up Robert Mugabe’s regime, The Independent on Sunday can reveal today.
Three of David Cameron’s frontbenchers are among six Conservatives – and one Liberal Democrat – with investments together worth more than £1m in firms trading in Zimbabwe. The revelations will embarrass the Tory leader, who has sought to take the moral high ground over the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Traffic incident gives insight into Russia’s corrupt legal system
From The Sunday Times
June 29, 2008
Last week I took a shortcut through a small side street leading to Moscow’s central register office. Bad move. A typical Russian wedding is a very bling affair so the narrow lane was clogged with white stretch limos and several wedding parties in the act of raising vodka and champagne toasts to a gaggle of brides and grooms.
Fortunately I was on my motorbike, so I swerved to the only empty space – which happened to be the pavement – and drove along it for less than 15 yards. As I was about to rejoin the road, a door swung open and a man stepped out on to the pavement. Braking sharply, I managed to stop just in time.
Artist Daniel Lezama, Mexico’s provocateur
His challenging depictions of religious icons and sordid interactions are featured in a new solo exhibit in Mexico City.
By Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 29, 2008
MEXICO CITY — WHICH adjective best fits the work of painter Daniel Lezama?
Alluring? Repellent? Classical? Irreverent? Misunderstood?
While critics extol his daring and originality, Lezama, 40, makes certain gallery owners squeamish and collectors nervous. His typically large-scale works are imposing in their size and complexity, startling in their frank depictions of frequently nude, mainly working-class Mexicans (including children) engaged in activities that are simultaneously violent and sordid, touching and tender.