The Guardian reports Taliban vow to meet U.S.-led surge with violence against Karzai government. The Taliban vowed to meet any U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan with a summer of violence. “Mullah Brother Akhund, the second most powerful man in the hardline movement, published a statement on the Taliban website announcing the start of ‘Operation Victory’ today, which he said will involve ambushes on security forces and suicide bomb attacks.”
“Zabihullah Mujahid said the promised upsurge in violence was a response to the decision of the US and several other Nato allies to send more troops to Afghanistan to challenge the influence Taliban insurgents who influence over huge swathes of countryside in the south and in the provinces next to Kabul, the capital.”
The LA Times Scientists see this flu strain as relatively mild.
As the World Health Organization raised its infectious disease alert level Wednesday and health officials confirmed the first death linked to swine flu inside U.S. borders, scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza — at least in its current form — isn’t shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.
In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.
Four at Four continues with DoJ corruption, Somali piracy, and same-ol’, same ol’ in Iraq.
The Washington Post reports a Bush-era Justice Department official violated ethics rules.
A former Justice Department grant-making administrator violated federal ethics and procurement rules in awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in sole source contracts to ideologically favored companies and individuals, the department’s inspector general concluded today.
The administrator, J. Robert Flores, was a political appointee during former president George Bush’s administration who left his post after the inauguration in January. The department’s public integrity section declined to pursue civil or criminal charges against Flores after ethics watchdogs forwarded their findings, investigators said.
McClatchy reports Somali pirates tell their side from a former British prison.
The leader of the pirate crew, 38-year-old Farah Ismail Eid, wore such a hungry look that a visiting government official, unsolicited, folded a pale $10 bill into his sandpaper palm…
The men behind bars, however, offered another explanation for piracy.
Their story is also rooted in greed – not of their brazen colleagues with the million-dollar ransoms, they say, but of foreign companies that they say have profited from Somalia’s lawlessness by fishing illegally in their waters since the 1990s.
In a long interview with McClatchy at the jailhouse in Mandhera, an austere desert fortress in the autonomous northern region of Somaliland, where British forces held Italian POWs during World War II, Eid related what amounts to the pirates’ creation myth, in which overfishing by European and Asian trawlers drove Somalia’s coastal communities to ruin and forced local fishermen to fight for their livelihoods.
“Now the international community is shouting about piracy. But long before this, we were shouting to the world about our problems,” said Eid, a bony-cheeked former lobsterman with a bushy goatee. “No one listened.”
The Guardian reports Six years after Saddam Hussein, Nouri al-Maliki tightens his grip on Iraq.
Observers not steeped in Iraqi history might be bemused to find that six years after the toppling of a dictator, after the death of several hundred thousand Iraqis, a brutal insurgency, trillions of wasted dollars and more than 4,000 dead US soldiers, the country is being rebuilt along very familiar lines: concentration of power, shadowy intelligence services and corruption.