They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Teddy must die

Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammad."

The protesters streamed out of mosques after Friday sermons, as pickup trucks with loudspeakers blared messages against Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in prison and deportation. She avoided the more serious punishment of 40 lashes.

They massed in central Martyrs Square outside the presidential palace, where hundreds of riot police were deployed. They did not try to stop the rally, which lasted about an hour.

"Shame, shame on the U.K.," protesters chanted.

They called for Gibbons' execution, saying, "No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad." Link

db: This says as much about the fractured political relationship between Islamic countries [excluding puppet states] and Britain/US as it does about the mindless nature of religion.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fisk: A different venue, but the pious claims and promises are the same

Haven't we been here before? Isn't Annapolis just a repeat of the White House lawn and the Oslo agreement, a series of pious claims and promises in which two weak men, Messrs Abbas and Olmert, even use the same words of Oslo.

"It is time for the cycle of blood, violence and occupation to end," the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday. But don't I remember Yitzhak Rabin saying on the White House lawn that, "it is time for the cycle of blood... to end"?

Jerusalem and its place as a Palestinian and Israeli capital isn't there. And if Israel receives acknowledgement that it is indeed an Israeli state – and in reality, of course, it is – there can be no "right of return" for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled (or whose families fled) what became Israel in 1948.

And what am I to make of the following quotation from the full text of the joint document: "The steering committee will develop a joint work plan and establish and oversee the work of negotiations (sic) teams to address all issues, to be headed by one lead representative from each party." Come again?

We went through all these steering committees before – and they never worked. True we've got a date of 12 December for the first session of this so-called "steering committee" and we have the faint hope from Mr Bush, embroidered, of course, with all the usual self-confidence, that we're going to have an agreement by 2008. But how can the Palestinians have a state without a capital in Jerusalem? How can they have a state when their entire territory has been chopped up and divided by Jewish settlements and the settler roads and, in parts, by a massive war?

Yes of course, we all want an end to bloodshed in the Middle East but the Americans are going to need Syria and Iran to support this – or at least Syrian support to control Hamas – and what do we get? Bush continues to threaten Iran and Bush tells Syria in Annapolis that it must keep clear of Lebanese elections, or else...

Yes, Hizbollah is a surrogate of Iran and is playing a leading role in the opposition to the government of Lebanon. Do Bush and Condoleezza Rice (or Abbas or Olmert for that matter) really think they're going to have a free ride for a year without the full involvement of every party in the region? More than half of the Palestinians under occupation are under the control of Hamas.

Reading the speeches – especially the joint document – it seems like an exercise in self-delusion. The Middle East is currently a hell disaster and the President of the United States thinks he is going to produce the crown jewels from a cabinet and forget Afghanistan and Iraq and Iran – and Pakistan, for that matter. The worst element of the whole Annapolis shindig is that once again millions of people across the Middle East – Muslims, Jews and Christians – will believe all this and will then turn – after its failure – with fury on their antagonists for breaking these agreements.

For more than two years, the Saudis have been offering Israel security and recognition by Arab states in return for a total withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories. What was wrong with that? Mr Olmert promised that "negotiations will address all the issues which thus far has been evaded". Yet the phrase "withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories" simply doesn't exist in the text.

Like most people who live in the Middle East, I would like to enjoy these dreams and believe they are true. But they are not. Wait for the end of 2008. Link

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dalai Lama: Reincarnation-u-like

Faced with Chinese plans to seize control of his reincarnation, the Dalai Lama has come up with two revolutionary proposals — either to forgo rebirth, or to be reborn while still alive. Link

Monday, November 26, 2007

Teacher on blasphemy charge over 'Muhammad' teddy bear

A British primary school teacher has been arrested in Sudan accused of blasphemy for allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad, it emerged today.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, was arrested yesterday at her home inside Unity high school, a British international school, after a number of parents made a complaint to Sudan's education ministry.

The school's director, Robert Boulos, said Gibbons had since been charged with blasphemy, an offence he said was punishable with up to three months in prison and a fine. Link

db: Dawkins will love this

Bush launches Annapolis 'launch pad'

"This conference will signal international support for the Israelis' and Palestinians' intention to commence negotiations on the establishment of a Palestinian state and the realization of peace between these two peoples," Bush said in welcoming the two Middle East leaders who arrived over the weekend.

Having largely shunned personal Middle East diplomacy during his seven years in office, Bush will meet Olmert and Abbas separately and together. They will be joined at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis by envoys from more than 40 countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has argued that Annapolis would be an opportunity for Israel and Sunni Arabs to close ranks against regional "extremism" -- an allusion chiefly to Iran's nuclear programme, many political analysts believe. Link

db: Hamas? Winners of a democratic election? No place on the launch pad!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

U.N: Tasers Are A Form Of Torture [seen as safe in UK]

A United Nations committee said Friday that use of Taser weapons can be a form of torture, in violation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

Use of the electronic stun devices by police has been marked with a sudden rise in deaths - including four men in the United States and two in Canada within the last week.

Canadian authorities are taking a second look at them, and in the United States, there is a wave of demands to BAN them.

The U.N. Committee Against Torture referred Friday to the use of TaserX26 weapons which Portuguese police has acquired. An expert had testified to the committee that use of the weapons had "proven risks of harm or death."

"The use of TaserX26 weapons, provoking extreme pain, constituted a form of torture, and that in certain cases it could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that had happened after practical use," the committee said in a statement.

Tasers have become increasingly controversial in the United States, particularly after several notorious cases where their use by police to disable suspects was questioned as being excessive. Especially disturbing is the fact that six adults died after being tased by police in the span of a week. Link

db: Meanwhile Britain has loosened up the law to permit the issue of Tasers to untrained cops needing to assert 'conflict management' skills:
Lords Hansard 19 July 2007

Firearms: Taser

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Tony McNulty) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Taser has been available to all authorised firearms officers since September 2004 as a less lethal alternative for use in situations where a firearms authority has been granted in accordance with criteria laid down in the Association of Chief Police Officers manual of guidance on police use of firearms.

I am giving my approval from 20 July 2007 for chief officers throughout England and Wales to

Column WS33

deploy Taser for use by authorised firearms officers in operations or incidents where the criteria for the authorisation to issue firearms does not apply, but where officers are facing violence or threats of violence of such severity that they would need to use force to protect the public, themselves and/or the subject(s) of their action.

I am also approving a 12-month trial of the deployment of Taser by specially trained units who are not firearms officers in similarly violent circumstances requiring conflict management. The trial, commencing on 1 September 2007, will be undertaken in the following 10 forces: Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Gwent, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Metropolitan Police Service, Northamptonshire, Northumbria, North Wales and West Yorkshire.

ACPO has produced new policy and operational guidance documents for both the extension and the trial. The Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC) sub-committee on the medical implications of less lethal weapons (DOMILL) was invited to provide a fourth statement on the medical implications of the use of Taser taking into account the new ACPO policy and guidance. The DOMILL statement confirms that
the risk of death or serious injury from Taser remains low.

Officials said: 76 'Taliban' killed

Nearly 80 Taliban rebels were killed in a series of air raids by international military forces near eastern Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, a provincial government spokesman said Sunday.

About 65 were killed in a single air assault late Saturday in eastern Paktia province on a "large group of Taliban," said Din Mohammad Darvish, a spokesman for the local administration.

Four others were killed in a second assault targeting a vehicle carrying rebels in the same region of the province, Patan district, and four in a nearby area, he said.

Another three were killed in an air strike near Gardez, capital of the restive province, he said.

"Altogether 76 Taliban were killed in separate air strikes by coalition forces," Darvish told AFP.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and separate US-led coalition could only immediately confirm the last incident which they said was targeted at three militants spotted planting a bomb.

Casualty tolls in battles between insurgents and Afghan security forces backed by their international allies are often difficult to establish with officials regularly issuing different numbers that can not be verified. Link

'Black Rock' costs tax payers extra billion every week

The Northern Rock crisis is costing the taxpayer the equivalent of twice the country's primary school budget, it was claimed yesterday.

Acting Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said the Government's initial £25billion bail-out was growing by £1billion a week.

He accused the Treasury of leaving itself open to "blackmail" by hedge fund shareholders who were threatening to block any sale of Northern Rock unless yet more public money was poured into it. Link

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Australia: Bush's other poodle defeated

Australia's conservative Prime Minister John Howard has conceded defeat in elections, clearing the way for center-left Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd to take power. Link

UK data free-for-all. Have some

'Roll-up!' 'Roll-up!'

Unencrypted discs with 25 million Child Benefit records on them were handed to an accountancy firm by government auditors, it has emerged.

The National Audit Office (NAO) gave the CDs - similar to the ones lost by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officials - to accountants KPMG for auditing.

It said the discs - with bank account details on them - were delivered "by hand" to KPMG and returned safely. Link

db: What does 'returned safely' mean exactly when you're talking about CD's? The return of the original physical disk is not like getting back a locked filing cabinet. A thousand images of those CD's may exist already. But I trust KPMG ...

Friday, November 23, 2007

What is the significance of the fact that the two sides seem to be so far apart?

The wide rift between the parties, and the apparent refusal of the U.S. to push Israel to engage in substantive negotiations, may lead to the failure of the conference.

More FAQ on the Annapolis conference

Thursday, November 22, 2007

41% of Iraq's foreign fighters were Saudi

Around 60% of all foreign militants who entered Iraq to fight over the past year came from Saudi Arabia and Libya, according to files seized by American forces at a desert camp.

The files listed the nationalities and biographical details of more than 700 fighters who crossed into Iraq from August last year, around half of whom came to the country to be suicide bombers, the New York Times reported today.

In all, 305, or 41%, of the fighters listed were from Saudi Arabia. Another 137, or 18%, came from Libya. Both countries are officially US allies in anti-terrorism efforts.

In contrast, 56 Syrians were listed and no Lebanese. Previously, US officials estimated that around a fifth of all foreign fighters in Iraq came from these two countries.

US officials have also long complained about Iranian interference in the affairs of its neighbour, accusing Tehran of shipping weapons for militants over the border. However, any assistance does not appear to extend to people, the paper said, reporting that, of around 25,000 suspected militants in US custody in Iraq, 11 were Iranian. No Iranians were listed among the fighters whose details were found. Link

Note: The term 'foreign fighters' in this case excludes 'coalition' forces.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Afghanistan 'falling into Taliban hands'

The Taliban has a permanent presence in 54% of Afghanistan and the country is in serious danger of falling into the group's hands, according to a report by an independent thinktank with long experience in the area.

Despite the presence of tens of thousands of Nato-led troops and billions of dollars in aid, the insurgents, driven out by the US invasion in 2001, now control "vast swaths of unchallenged territory, including rural areas, some district centres, and important road arteries," the Senlis Council says in a report released today.

On the basis of what it calls exclusive research, it warns that the insurgency is also exercising a "significant amount of psychological control, gaining more and more political legitimacy in the minds of the Afghan people, who have a long history of shifting alliances and regime change".

It says that the frontline is getting ever closer to Kabul - a warning echoed by the UN, which says more and more of the country is becoming a "no go" area for western aid and development workers.

The council goes as far as to state: "It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when this will happen and in what form. The oft-stated aim of reaching the city in 2008 appears more viable than ever and it is incumbent upon the international community to implement a new strategic paradigm for Afghanistan before time runs out". Link

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We must not tolerate this putsch against our freedoms

A few journalists and MPs are prepared to fight the government's sinister anti-libertarianism. More people should join them

Henry Porter
Sunday November 18, 2007

Welcome to Fortress Britain, a fortress that will keep people in as well as out. Welcome to a state that requires you to answer 53 questions before you're allowed to take a day trip to Calais. Welcome to a country where you will be stopped, scanned and searched at any of 250 railways stations, filmed at every turn, barked at by a police force whose behaviour has given rise to a doubling in complaints concerning abuse and assaults.

Three years ago, this would have seemed hysterical and Home Office ministers would have been writing letters of complaint. But it is a measure of how fast and how far things have gone that it does nothing more than describe the facts as announced last week.

We now accept with apparent equanimity that the state has the right to demand to know, among other things, how your ticket has been paid for, the billing address of any card used, your travel itinerary and route, your email address, details of whether your travel arrangements are flexible, the history of changes to your travel plans plus any biographical information the state deems to be of interest or anything the ticket agent considers to be of interest.

There is no end to Whitehall's information binge. The krill of personal data is being scooped up in ever-increasing quantities by a state that harbours a truly bewildering fear of the free, private and self-determined individual, who may want to take himself off to Paris without someone at home knowing his movements or his credit card number.

Combined with the ID card information, which comes on stream in a few years' time, the new travel data means there will be very little the state won't be able to find out about you. The information will be sifted for patterns of travel and expenditure. Conclusions will be drawn from missed planes, visits extended, illness and all the accidents of life, and because this is a government database, there will be huge numbers of mistakes that will lead to suspicion and action being taken against innocent people.

Those failing to provide satisfactory answers will not be allowed to travel and then it will come to us with a leaden regret that we have in practice entered the era of the exit visa, a time when we must ask permission from a security bureaucrat who insists on further and better particulars in the biographical section of the form. Ten, 15 or more years on, we will be resigned to the idea that the state decides whether we travel or not.

Who pays for the £1.2bn cost over the next decade? You will, with additional charges made by your travel agent and in a new travel tax designed to recoup the cost of the data collection. But much of the money will go to Raytheon Systems, the US company that developed the cruise missile and which, no coincidence, has embedded itself in Labour's information project by supporting security research at the party's favourite think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research.

The odour that arises from the Home Office contract with Raytheon is as nothing compared to that created last week when the Home Secretary and Prime Minister used the announcement of the 'E-borders' scheme as well as increased security at shopping centres, airports and railway stations to create an atmosphere that would push MPs to double the time a terrorist suspect can be held without trial. It also helped to divert attention from the mess in another Home Office database concerning upwards of 10,000 security guards who may be illegal immigrants.

On detention without trial, no new arguments have been produced by Gordon Brown. He won't say how many days he wants and he won't answer David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, who points out that all the necessary powers to keep people in jail after a large-scale attack are provided in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

To this, Brown replies that declaring a state of emergency would give terrorists 'the oxygen of publicity'. How does he square this absurd statement with the high alert being sounded by police, politicians and spies over the past two weeks, which has given the greatest possible publicity to the power of the Muslim extremists to change our lives?

The truth is that while his government limps, heaves and splutters with an incompetence only matched by its unearthly sense of entitlement, the Prime Minister has become fixated with this issue as though it were a virility test. So his chief Security Minister, Lord West of Spithead, who had voiced his doubts about raising detention without trial on Radio 4, was hauled into Number 10 to have his thoughts rearranged. Less than an hour later, he appeared like an off-duty ballroom dancing champion and adjusted his conviction as though it was no more than a troublesome knot in his very plump, very yellow silk tie. He will not resign of course. What is a mere principle placed against his recent elevation to the Lords and the thrilling proximity to power?

How have we allowed this rolling putsch against our freedom? Where are the principled voices from left and right, the outrage of playwrights and novelists, the sit-ins, the marches, the swelling public anger? We have become a nation that tolerates a diabetic patient collapsed in a coma being tasered by police, the jailing of a silly young woman for writing her jihadist fantasies in verse and an illegal killing by police that was prosecuted under health and safety laws.

Is it simply that the fear of terrorism has stunned us? The threat is genuine and the government is right to step up some security measures, but let us put it into perspective by reminding ourselves that in the period since 7/7, about 6,000 people have been killed on our roads. And let's not forget the bombings, assassinations, sieges, machine-gunning of restaurants and slaughter that occurred on mainland Britain during the IRA campaign. We survived these without giving up our freedoms .

Or is there some greater as yet undefined malaise that allows a sinister American corporation to infiltrate the fabric of government and supply a system that will monitor everyone going abroad? I cannot say, but I do know that an awful lot depends on the 40 or so Labour MPs needed to defeat Brown's proposals on pre-trial detention. They should be given every encouragement to defy the whips on the vote, which is expected within the next fortnight

It is important that the press has moved to the side of liberty. The Daily Mail, which I wrongly excluded from the roll of honour last week, attacked Jacqui Smith for 'her utter contempt for privacy' and warned against the travel delays and inevitable failure of another expensive government database. And Timothy Garton Ash, who has so far stayed above the fray, wrote in the Guardian last week that 'we have probably diminished our own security by overreacting, alienating some who might not otherwise have been alienated'. Labour MPs should listen to these voices.

The Prime Minister is found of quoting Churchill, so I will again: 'If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only precarious chance for survival.' Link

Chavez in Tehran: "Empire of dollar is crashing"

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Monday the "empire of the dollar is crashing," a day after his country and "anti-U.S." ally Iran advocated action over the weakening U.S. currency during an OPEC summit in Riyadh.

Chavez, who on Saturday said oil prices could double to $200 per barrel if the United States attacks Iran over its disputed atomic ambitions, spoke to reporters after talks with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Soon we will not talk about dollars because the dollar is falling in value and the empire of the dollar is crashing," Chavez said in comments translated into Farsi from Spanish.

"Naturally, by the crash of the dollar, America's empire will crash," Chavez said at a joint news conference with Ahmadinejad. The two presidents share the same viewpoint in denouncing U.S. influence in the world.

The final statement of the oil cartel's November 17-18 summit in Riyadh did not include any reference to the falling dollar, in an apparent victory for U.S.-allied moderates led by Saudi Arabia.

But Iran and Venezuela made clear before and after the summit that they would press for action, which could include pricing oil in a basket of currencies, with Ahmadinejad on Sunday calling the dollar a "worthless piece of paper."

A fall in the value of the U.S. dollar on global markets helped fuel oil's rally to a record $98.62 on November 7 -- causing the West to call for more OPEC supplies to cool prices -- but it has also eroded the purchasing power of OPEC members.

Fears the United States or its ally Israel could attack Iran -- over a nuclear energy program Washington says is a cover for seeking atomic weapons -- have also contributed to higher crude prices. Tehran denies the charge. Link

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dubious Media City

Dubai Media City (DMC) part of Dubai Holding is a tax free zone within Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It has been built by the Dubai government to boost UAE's media foothold, and has become a regional hub for media organizations ranging from: news agencies, publishing, online media, advertising, production, and broadcast facilities. The ground work for infrastructure (Such as fiber optic cables) was already laid for firms to setup easily and its visa and operational procedures are relaxed for firms operating within DMC.

On 16th of November 2007 Dubai Government shut down the Pakistani independent and private channels Geo News TV and ARY One World on understanding with the military regime of Pakistan lead by Pervez Musharraf. Later the policy makers in Dubai permissioned these channels to air their entertainment programs, but news, current affairs and political analysis were forbidden to be aired. This has had a devastating impact on all organizations in the media city and they have started considerations about relocating. Link (Wikipedia)

Playing Hamas against Fatah


... intra-Palestinian tensions are being exploited by the US and Israel to try and destroy Hamas, by supporting Abbas and Fatah and pushing a bizarre new peace process that is supposed to kick off with a meeting at Annapolis, Maryland in the coming weeks. This US-driven peace process is unlikely to achieve either credibility or success if one of its main purposes is to exploit and deepen the Fatah-Hamas split, and structurally link the intra-Palestinian clashes with the resumption of peace talks. Trying to defeat Hamas in this way runs the additional risk of turning Abbas and Fatah into discredited collaborators whose addiction to power caused them to give more importance to US-Israeli wishes than to the expressed electoral preferences of the Palestinian people.

... Hamas is not going anywhere, because it is the organic response of many Palestinians to three cumulative burdens: the failure of their own Fatah-led elite, the continuing aggressive policies of Israel and the US, and the discord, dysfunction and degradation of Palestinian society. Trying to destroy Hamas by force after it was democratically elected would only strengthen the very forces of defiance, resistance and self-assertion that brought it to power in the first place.

It is astounding that leaders of Fatah, Israel, Europe and the US refuse to see this very simple reality, and the corresponding conclusion that Fatah and Hamas must re-negotiate the formation of a national unity government, rather than fight it out on the streets of their shattered society. Link

Annapolis - Dead on Arrival [video]

Friday, November 16, 2007

US 'Gitmo' captives off limits to Red Cross - document

The U.S. military’s operating manual for the Guantanamo prison camp has been posted on the Internet [pdf], providing a glimpse of the broad rules and tiniest minutia for detaining suspected terrorists.The 238-page manual, “Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta,” is dated March 27, 2003, and signed by Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who was then the commander of the prison that still holds about 300 al Qaeda and Taliban suspects.

It appears to be an authentic copy of the rules as they existed at the time at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, a spokesman for the Guantanamo detention operation, Lt. Col. Ed Bush, said on Wednesday.

It says incoming prisoners are to be held in near-isolation for the first two weeks to foster dependence on interrogators and “enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee in the interrogation process.”

Styrofoam cups must be confiscated if prisoners have written on them, apparently because prisoners have used cups to pass notes to other captives. “If the cup is damaged or destroyed, the detainee will be disciplined for destruction of government property,” the rules say.

The manual was posted last week on the Web site, which invites whistle-blowers around the world to anonymously publish state documents containing evidence of government corruption and injustice.

The Guantanamo manual is stamped “unclassified,” and “for official use only,” meaning it was not secret but was never intended for mass distribution either.

The manual also indicates some prisoners were designated as off limits to visitors from the International Committee of the Red Cross, something the military has repeatedly denied. Link

Chris Hedges: In the Hands of the Military

The last, best hope for averting a war with Iran lies with the United States military. The Democratic Congress, cowed by the Israel lobby and terrified of appearing weak on defense before the presidential elections, will do nothing to halt an attack. The media, especially the electronic press, is working overtime to whip up fear of a nuclear Iran and tar Tehran with abetting attacks against American troops in Iraq. The American public is complacent, unsure of what to believe, knocked off balance by fear and passive. We will be saved or doomed by our generals.

The last wall of defense that prevents the Bush administration from targeting Iran, an attack that could ignite a regional conflagration and usher in apocalyptic scenarios in the Middle East, runs through the offices of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; Adm. William Fallon , the head of the Central Command (CENTCOM); and Gen. George Casey, the Army’s new chief of staff. These three figures in the defense establishment have told George W. Bush and the Congress how depleted the U.S. military has become, that it cannot manage another conflict, and that a war with Iran would make the war with Iraq look like an act of prudence and common sense.

The reliance on the military command, however, to be the voice of reason in the debate about a new war is not a healthy sign for our deteriorating democracy. Compliant generals can always be found to carry out the Dr. Strangelove designs of a mad White House. Those who resist implementing decisions can easily be removed. The protective cover provided by these figures in the defense establishment could vanish.

The United States is able to launch a massive and devastating air attack on Iran’s military installations. It can obliterate the Iranian air force. It can cripple if not dismantle effective communications and military command and control. It can destroy some of Iran’s underground nuclear facilities. But our intelligence inside Iran, as was true in Iraq, is uneven. We do not know where all of Iran’s nuclear facilities are. And it is probable that an Iranian response against American targets, such as the Green Zone in Iraq, as well as Iranian-sponsored terrorist attacks on American soil, would follow. Shiites in the region would interpret an attack as a war on the Shiite community and would unleash unrest, terrorism and violence against us and our allies from Lebanon to Pakistan.

The battle is between the Cheney camp, which would like to carry out strikes on Iran before Bush leaves office, and Gates and his senior generals. Cheney, who has always been able to push aside the feckless Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is having a tougher time with the military. Fallon, for example, was successful in his attempt to block efforts by Cheney to move a third aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf earlier this year and bluntly said that “there would be no war against Iran” as long as he was chief of CENTCOM.

Gen. Casey informed Congress this fall that the Army was “out of balance” and added: “The demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply. We are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight, and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential contingencies.”

This White House has a habit of dismissing recalcitrant generals. Gen. Eric Shinseki, when he was chief of staff of the Army, ended his career when he told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on the eve of the war in Iraq that “something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” would probably be required for postwar Iraq. Gen. Peter Pace also ran afoul of the White House and was not nominated for a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he publicly defied Donald Rumsfeld. At a press conference in November 2005 he stood next to Rumsfeld as the secretary of defense asserted that “the United States does not have a responsibility” to prevent torture by Iraqi officials. Pace pointedly disagreed with Rumsfeld, saying, “It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it.” Pace also openly dismissed White House claims that Iran was supplying weapons and explosively formed penetrators to Iraqi insurgents. He too was shown the door.

The White House, isolated and reviled at home and abroad, believes it is on a higher mission to save the world from itself. The instability in the Middle East could undermine Gates and his generals. A limited Israeli strike on suspected Iranian nuclear production facilities, currently under discussion in Jerusalem, could trigger retaliatory strikes by Iran on Israel and U.S. targets in Iraq and the Persian Gulf. The clamor for revenge, fueled by a rapacious right-wing media, coupled with our feelings of collective humiliation, could sweep aside all reasoned objections to war with Iran. It happened after the attacks of 2001. It can happen again.

There is a petition circulating that was put together by Marcy Winograd from the Progressive Democrats. The petition is addressed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all U.S. military personnel. It urges them to defy orders to attack Iran. It points out that a pre-emptive war with Iran is a war crime under international law. It reminds military personnel of the statute in the Army Field Manual 27-10, Section 609, and Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 92, that states: “A general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the Constitution, the law of the United States. ...”

The petition notes that any provision of an international treaty ratified by the United States becomes the law of the United States. The United States is a party and signatory to the United Nations Charter, of which Article II, Section 4, states, “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. ...”

Iran has not attacked the United States. The U.S., as a party and signatory to the U.N. charter, would be in clear violation of international law and the laws enshrined in the Constitution if it went to war with Iran. If the citizens and their representatives in Congress refuse to resist and uphold the rule of law, perhaps the military can be prodded to halt our slide into despotism. It is not the best option, but it may be the only one left.

We live now at the mercy of events. A provocation by Iran, aided by a bellicose White House, could plunge us into another war. It could unleash the primitive chant for violence and revenge that rises up from a population that feels vulnerable, uncertain and afraid. There are forces in our society ready and willing to fan the blood lust for a wider circle of war and mayhem. The Iranians, like us, are cursed by their leadership. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is as primitive, inept and paranoid as George Bush. They are the perfect dance partners for a waltz into Armageddon. Link

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mrs. Clinton's forgotten fling with the Killer of Karachi

Hillary's Musharraf

He was the other man in Hillary's life. But it's over now. Or is it?

You've seen all those creepy photos of George Bush rubbing up against Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, the two of them grinning and giggling like they're going to the senior prom. So it's hard to remember that it was Hillary and Bill who brought Pervez to the dance in the first place.

How that happened, I'll tell you in a moment.

But first, let's get our facts straight about the man in the moustache. Musharraf, according to George Bush, The New York Times, NPR and the rest of press puppies is, "our ally in the War on Terror." That's like calling Carmine Gambino, "Our ally in the War on Crime."

Musharraf's the guy who helped the Taliban take power in Afghanistan in 1996. And, through his ISI, Pakistan's own KGB, he is still giving the Taliban secret protection.

And this is the same Musharraf who let Khalid Sheik Muhammed, Osama's operations chief for the September 11 attack, hang out in Quetta, Pakistan, in the open, until Khalid embarrassed his host by giving a boastful interview to Al Jazeera television from his Pakistan hang-out.

And this is the same Musharraf who permitted his nation's own Dr. Strangelove, A.Q. Khan, to sell nuclear do-it-yourself bomb kits to Libya and North Korea. When the story off the flea-market in fissionable materials was exposed, Musharraf (and Bush) both proclaimed their shock - shock! - over the bomb sales. Musharraf didn't know? Sure. Those tons of lethal hardware must have been shipped by flying pig.

But, unlike Saddam and Osama, creations of Ronald Reagan's and George Bush Sr.'s Frankenstein factories, Musharraf was a Clinton special. More

Abbas advocates civil war

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday the Gaza Strip's Hamas Islamist rulers must be brought down, issuing his strongest call yet for their removal.

"We have to bring down this gang that forcibly took over the Gaza Strip," Abbas said in a television address, three days after seven people were killed by gunfire at a Fatah rally surrounded by Hamas security forces in the territory.

Abbas, preparing for a U.S.-hosted Middle East conference the United States hopes will bolster him, offered no details about how Hamas's removal could be accomplished.

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri described Abbas's comments as "shameful" and said they proved he was not interested in any Palestinian internal reconciliation. Link

Saudi Arabia: More shared values

A Saudi Appeals Court has sentenced a woman, who was gang-raped, to six months in jail and 180 lashes, the Saudi daily Al-Watan reported.
The woman was sentenced last year to 90 lashes, but the Appeals Court decided to double her punishment because her immoral behavior was the "prime reason" for her rape.
The court explained its decision by saying that the woman, who was married, had an affair which lasted several months before her rape. This "immoral behavior" led to her rape, the court concluded.
The six rapists were sentenced to between two and nine years in jail and between 350 and 1,000 lashes each.
The case has stirred up tensions in the eastern region of the monarchy, which is dominated by a Shi'ite population. The raped woman was a Shi'ite and the local population is accusing the court of giving relatively mild sentences to the rapists.
The woman's lawyer, 'Abd A-Rahman A-Lahm, said the maximum punishment for rape at gunpoint was the death sentence.
A-Lahm's license to practice law was taken from him following the case, after he objected to the Appeals Court's decision not to allow another appeal at a higher level. Link

db: In the interest of balance I need to point out that BBC Wordservice radio is reporting that this unfortunate Shi'ite lady was sentenced to 200 'lashes' rather than the above 180. Significant if you're on the receiving end.

Shared values - 30/10/07

Barclays writes down $2.7 bln

"We had a very strong income month in October and that's enabled us to absorb those writedowns," said John Varley, Barclays chief executive, adding that BarCap's income was a record for any month in the fourth quarter.

"We have been conservative, but we've also been firing** on a lot of our cylinders in the income line and that enables us to report the results we've reported today," he told reporters on a conference call. Link

db: From the sound of it congratulations are in order .... + early retirement .... +£10 million pay-off. If only more companies could lose cash this well .... whilst being 'conservative'.

** Fire the chief exec

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Washington Stirs a Witch's Brew in Pakistan

Eric Margolis

So, under heavy pressure from Washington, Musharraf agreed to hold elections on 15 January and release some jailed opponents. Washington hailed Musharraf. In reality, however, it was another cynical ploy. Every election Musharraf has held since seizing power in 1999 has been rigged. Does anyone really believe there will be fair elections in Pakistan under martial law or with the media gagged?

Musharraf, who commands less than 8% popular support, and is widely hated as an American stooge, knows he would lose any honest election. What he plans are the same kind of farcical "democratic elections" held by the US-backed military dictatorships of Egypt and Algeria. More

Iraqi MPs Challenge Coalition Mandate

The United Nations Security Council has been warned by Iraqi parliamentarians of a potentially "serious" constitutional and political crisis if it decides to renew the mandate of the U.S.-led multinational force (MNF) beyond December 2007, without approval from lawmakers.

A majority of members of the Iraqi parliament -- 144 out of a total of 275 -- is demanding that any future renewals of the legislative mandate of the 160,000-strong MNF be duly authorised by parliament.

"If we are asked to approve a trade agreement concerning olive oil, should we not have the right to pass an agreement concerning the stationing of foreign military forces on our national soil?" one senior Iraqi lawmaker was quoted as saying.

The existing MNF mandate, established by the U.N. Security Council in October 2003 and renewed in June 2004, November 2005 and November 2006, will terminate Dec. 31.

The Council, however, is expected to meet early next month to approve a fourth mandate renewal, at the request of the United States.

The New York-based Global Policy Forum (GPF) says the letter from the Iraqi legislators warns Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet against recommending a renewal for 2008 without parliamentary approval. More

Lord West caves in on detention without charge

The government was plunged into disarray today over its proposed terror laws as security minister Lord West retracted his statement that he was not "totally convinced" about the need to extend detention of terror suspects for more than 28 days without charge.

The security minister "clarified" his remarks following a pre-planned meeting with Gordon Brown.

In a statement released less than two hours after his comments on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the minister said he was "convinced that we need to legislate now so that we have the necessary powers when we need them".

"I was stating this morning that there will need to be scrutiny in the system, and robust evidence against individuals, to safeguard their rights," he said.

He had earlier told the Today programme: "I want to be totally convinced because I'm not going to go push for something that affects the liberty of the individual unless there's a real necessity for it, and I'm lacking that data at the moment." Link

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Archbishop: Iraq and Afghanistan not 'just wars'

On the eve of Remembrance Sunday, 11 November 2007, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams described the Western-backed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a tragic mess which failed to conform to the principles of 'just war' theory and brought great suffering.

The remarks came over the weekend as the head of the Church of England continued his visit to Norfolk. Dr Williams was speaking during a visit to Norwich Cathedral as part of a three-day tour of the region, reports the Norfolk Eastern Daily News.

The archbishop said that while people should recognise and honour the bravery of soldiers at war, past and present, the Middle East conflicts fell short of one of the significant requirements of what is traditionally held to be a just war. Link

Iraq war cost put at $1.7 trillion

THE cost to the United States of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is about $US1.5 trillion ($A1.69 trillion), according to a study by congressional Democrats.

The study estimates the wars' hidden costs such as higher oil prices, the expense of treating the wounded and interest payments on money borrowed to pay for them.

This is almost double the $US804 billion the White House has spent or requested for the wars, says the Democratic staff of Congress' Joint Economic Committee. The study, The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War, estimates the wars have cost the average American family of four more than $US20,000. Link

Costs £2,100 to vilify Spanish royals

Two Spanish cartoonists have been found guilty of offending the royal family and fined 3,000 euros (£2,100) each.
Their cartoon, on the front page of the weekly satirical magazine El Jueves in July, depicted Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia having sex.

The edition was pulled from newsstands across the country by police.

A judge said that El Jueves' Guillermo Torres and Manel Fontdevila "had vilified the crown in the most gratuitous and unnecessary way".

Torres had drawn the cartoon and Fontdevila, the paper's cartoons editor, wrote the caption.

"Do you realise," says the crown prince in the cartoon, "if you get pregnant this will be the closest thing I've done to work in my whole life." Link

Monday, November 12, 2007

Afghanistan: U.S. kills 'compound' kids and their Mum

The US didn't need air power to do the business in this latest case of infanticide:

The U.S. military in Afghanistan says 15 militants along with an Afghan woman and two children were killed during a battle with insurgents in the south.

In a statement, the U.S.-led coalition said U.S.-led troops were raiding compounds suspected of housing bomb makers in Helmand province on Sunday when militants attacked them with heavy fire.

The statement said several militant fighters barricaded themselves inside a house on the compound and fired at coalition forces. Coalition forces threw a grenade at the house, which collapsed.

Troops later recovered the bodies of an Afghan woman and two children, along with several militants and their weapons.

In eastern Afghanistan, NATO said two of its troops were killed and another wounded Monday, after a roadside bomb exploded.

No other details were available. Link

db: Given the location of the house [in a 'compound'] U.S. boneheads were within their rights to kill off these kids. On the road to freedom kids in compounds must die.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lord 'Snatch' Drayson does the off

'Lord' [don't make me laugh] Paul Drayson, the MoD's minister for defence procurement, has announced to Gordon Brown that he intends to have a bit of a break from defending the indefensible to take part in a car race. He won't be driving a 'Snatch' Landrover [which are, however, perfectly adequate].

Axis of Evil Live from Berkeley

There is only one rogue state ambassador representing his country's interests in Washington and that's the Syrian Ambassador - Dr. Imad Moustapha. With eloquence and humour Dr Moustapha presents an interesting perspective on the War of Terror, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and what it feels like to be in US crosshairs.

U.S., Syria and the New Old Middle East: Confrontation or Cooperation?

watch webcast
listen to podcast
download podcast

Berkeley Website

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Historic meeting of Pope and King Abdullah

Pope Benedict and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah held a historic meeting on Tuesday and discussed the situation of minority Christians in the Islamic country where the Vatican wants them to have more freedom. Link

db: Two old frauds. Screw them.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Afghanistan: Child mortality spin

Close to 90,000 children who would have died before age 5 in Afghanistan during Taliban rule will stay alive this year because of advances in medical care in the country, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday.

The under-5 child mortality rate in Afghanistan has declined from an estimated 257 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2001 to about 191 per 1,000 in 2006, the Ministry of Public Health said, relying on a new study by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.N. and aid agency Save the Children both hailed the advances in health care in Afghanistan.

"This is certainly very positive news," said the U.N. spokesman in Afghanistan, Adrian Edwards. "To come from such low life expectancy to see this improvement does appear to be an indication that the work on the health sector here is beginning to pay off."

... Deaths of Afghan children who don't reach their first birthday have dropped from 165 per 1,000 in 2001 to 129 per 1,000 today, a drop of some 22 percent, Edwards said.

Afghanistan's child mortality rate, from birth to age 5, has been among the worst in the world. Only Sierra Leone, with 283 child deaths per 1,000 live births, Angola (260) and Niger (259) ranked below Afghanistan at 257, UNICEF said in a 2006 report.

By comparison, the United States has eight under-5 child deaths per 1,000 births. Singapore and Iceland, with three childhood deaths per 1,000, topped the rankings. Link

Egypt's, and Pakistan's ‘untouchables’

There's little prospect of the U.S. cutting off Pakistan's military aid - worth a lucrative $150 million a month - as punishment for cancelling democratic elections, mass arrests, human rights considerations and so on. Gen Musharraf need only point to the dictator of Egypt - Hosni Mubarak - who has lorded it since 1981 - under emergency law throughout [emergency law was imposed during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, there was one 18 month break then reimposed after assassination of Sadat]. With no chance of democratic elections occurring any time soon Mubarak still benefits from billions of dollars in U.S. military assistance designed to bolster his position against extremist, radical, and/or democratic forces.
Egypt’s ‘untouchables’

Egypt’s independent, nongovernmental press is trying to cope with government regulations that stifle freedom of speech and deny the public access to balanced news coverage. Last month, some newspapers decided to write about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his son Gamal. Most of what was written was old news to the average Egyptian — Mubarak’s health is a serious question, and he is grooming Gamal to succeed him.

But what happened afterwards is the real news. The government sued all those independent newspapers, and in less than a month, a verdict was handed down to jail 11 Egyptian journalists, five of them editors-in-chief. Nearly two dozen Egyptian newspapers struck and suspended publication to protest the jailings.

The latest crackdown on Egypt’s liberal media came soon after the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood movement. It sent a clear message to the Egyptian public that all forms of opposition, even peaceful ones, will be treated the same, although the amount and type of repression inflicted on different opposition groups may vary.

Mubarak has been in power since October 1981. He was re-elected in 2005 in a highly controversial election boycotted by most influential opposition parties. After the election, Mubarak promised transparency and power-sharing and assured the wary public there is no plan whatsoever to appoint his son as a successor.

In no time, however, Gamal Mubarak was appointed head of the policies committee, which makes him in reality the second most powerful figure in Egypt. And Gamal began to draft and dictate the country’s domestic and foreign policies as well.

As a friend of mine said, “Mubarak’s family owns the land of Egypt, so they have every right to manage it their way. They are the untouchables.” Link

Everybody hates the dollar

There is a lot of uncertainty in financial markets, but there is one bet that almost everyone seems to be making: sell the dollar.

The U.S. dollar fell again on Friday against a basket of six major currencies (.DXY: Quote, Profile, Research), hitting levels not seen in that index's 30-year plus history. It has fallen more than 7.0 percent since the summer's financial ruckus started.

It is an unusually strong consensus, which is often an indicator to go the other way, but, well, there is a lot not to like. More

Pakistan: Elections may take a while

``The state of emergency was only declared last night so a lot of things have to be decided,'' Junior Information Minister Tariq Azeem said in a telephone interview today from Islamabad. ``Now that an emergency has been declared, one needs to look at the schedule again, and we will learn in the next day or two what the new schedule is going to be.'' Link

db: That's not the day's most surprising turn of events, and it's only 12.00PM.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pakistan: Elections to go ahead in January,says Musharraf

Owen Bennet-Jones reported just a moment ago on BBC World Service radio that Musharraf has assured both Gordon Brown and the yanks that Pakistani elections will go ahead in January.

Pakistan: Musharraf declares emergency

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday, state TV said, ahead of a crucial Supreme Court decision on whether to overturn his recent election win.

The report gave no reason for the emergency but it follows weeks of speculation that the president — who is also chief of the army — could take the step, amid rising political turmoil and Islamic militant violence.

"The chief of army staff has proclaimed a state of emergency and issued a provisional constitutional order," a newscaster on Pakistan TV said.

The U.S. and other Western allies this week urged him not to take steps that would jeopardize the country's transition to democracy. Musharraf took power in a 1999 coup.

During previous emergencies in Pakistan, a provisional constitutional order has led to the suspension of some basic rights of citizens and for judges to take a fresh oath of office.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking to reporters Thursday en route to diplomatic meetings in Turkey and the Middle East, said the U.S. would not support any move by Musharaff to declare martial law. Link

Ian Blair personally condemned in new IPCC report

Sir Ian Blair will be personally condemned by the police watchdog next week in a move that could finally cost him his job as Scotland Yard chief.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is understood to be scathing of his attempts to block its initial investigation into the Jean Charles de Menezes case.

Its damning report into the innocent Brazilian's shooting by police at Stockwell Tube station will further undermine the Metropolitan Police Commissioner's attempts to cling on to his position.

It's also emerged a man shot by police in a botched anti-terror raid claims to have been subjected to a second armed arrest.

Abdul Kahar was hit in the shoulder and he and his brother, Abul Koyair, detained when police broke into their home in Forest Gate, East London, in June last year.

Despite an intensive search of the house, no incriminating material was found and the Metropolitan Police had to issue an apology to the pair.

Last night, the brothers told Channel 4 News that they were held at gunpoint again this August by armed officers.

... Officials at the IPCC are angry that Sir Ian tried to stop investigators from accessing the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting scene in the immediate aftermath of the killing in July 2005.

In an extraordinary letter, written within hours of the fatal blunder, the Met Commissioner said he should be able to suspend as he saw fit a legal requirement for the death to be investigated.

Critics say the letter revealed the extent of Sir Ian's desperation to avoid an immediate probe by the IPCC. But the Home Office's top civil servant over-ruled the Met Chief, saying there was nothing in law that allowed his actions.

Details of the exchange will be outlined in the full IPCC report into the Stockwell shooting, which is expected to be released next Thursday.

The report will also include details of how Special Branch detectives tried to cover up a key blunder that led to the shooting. Link

Friday, November 02, 2007

Afghanistan: Children killed in compound, or house

A nighttime raid in eastern Afghanistan by U.S. and Afghan troops sparked a gunbattle that killed three people, including two children, and the military said Thursday it was investigating the deaths.

...The latest civilian casualties came as U.S. and Afghan troops raided a compound suspected of harboring militants belonging to a suicide bombing network. They were fired on as they approached late Wednesday in Bati Kot district in Nangarhar province, said Maj. Chris Belcher, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition.

After the clash, a militant and two children were found dead inside the compound, Belcher said. A woman and another child were wounded, he said.

"It is regrettable that the civilian lives were put in danger by the militants and our sincere condolences goes to the families of the deceased and wounded," Belcher said, adding that the military had launched an investigation.

A policeman also was wounded during the raid, said Ghafoor Khan, a spokesman for the provincial police chief. Three men at the house were detained by U.S. troops, Khan said. Link

db: Compound? House? When is a house a compound?

Sir Ian Blair gets the finger

"The press this morning are almost unanimous in calling for Sir Ian Blair to resign. While we should not forget that the Met was operating under incredible pressure that day in almost panic conditions, the verdict does reveal a devastating set of failures. It is hard to see how Sir Ian Blair can restore the public’s confidence in the police.

Yet judging from Ken Livingstone’s combative defence of him on The Today Programme this morning, Blair won’t be forced out. The Livingstone interview is well worth listening to in full. It is quite incredible to hear Red Ken defending the police chief over the killing of an innocent foreigner, one can only imagine how Livingstone the opposition politician would have reacted to a set of events like this. Link

How the Met changed its tone on the shooting

After the shooting two years ago, the Met commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, was full of apologies and condolences to the De Menezes family. "This is a tragedy," he said at the time. "The Metropolitan police accept full responsibility for this. To the family I can only express my deep regrets." Scotland Yard duly despatched assistant commissioner, John Yates, to Brazil as a further indication of the Yard's desire to make amends.

But last week, when the Met were in the dock at the Old Bailey, the tone was markedly different. In his closing speech, Ronald Thwaites, QC, the Met's defence barrister said of De Menezes: "He was shot because, when he was challenged by police, he did not comply with them but reacted precisely as they had been briefed a suicide bomber might react at the point of detonating his bomb."

Mr Thwaites went on to paint a damning portrait of the dead man: "Not only did he not comply, he moved in an aggressive and threatening manner." He suggested that De Menezes might have been worried about traces of drugs or a phoney visa. "Did he fear he might have some drugs in his jacket and might want to get them out and throw them away when he was challenged by the police?"

Towards the very end of the trial, Mr Thwaites also tried to make the judge, Mr Justice Henriques, disqualify himself on the grounds that he was "entirely pro-prosecution, unbalanced and totally lacking in objectivity".

Sir Ian was in court to hear the jury deliver its guilty verdict. Speaking outside the Old Bailey Sir Ian was in obdurate mood insisting there was no evidence of systematic failure by the Metropolitan police, telling the media "I am going to go back to New Scotland Yard to get on with my job." Link

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Jean Charles de Menezes family Statement

Joint statement from Birnberg Peirce & Partners (the family lawyers), Justice4Jean and the family of Jean Charles De Menezes

"The family are pleased that these proceedings have come to a conclusion and look forward to being able to effectively participate in the inquest that must now follow. They ask why it was necessary for the police to plead not guilty in the first place when evidence of the catastrophic failings was so overwhelming. Instead, the police defence team descended to the gutter, seeking to shift the blame onto the innocent victim from their own wrong doing. This was compounded by the cynical manipulation of two images in the composite photo of Jean Charles and the suspect, Hussein Osman (the latter a photo of questionable origin. Any attempt to salvage the image of the Metropolitan police by those in senior positions publicly apologising for their errors has been undermined by the defence put forward. We note the Judge's observations that the two senior officers giving evidence consider they would have done nothing different in retrospect. We hope that they will now reflect on this and the MPS will review their position.

While the evidence heard at the trial confirms serious failings, particularly at control room level, with regard to the conduct of the police operation that morning, the outcome of the trial leaves many questions unanswered. In particular, no evidence was heard from the officers responsible for shooting Jean Charles, or from any of the civilian passengers who witnessed the shooting. This serious omission enabled the Defence to suggest that there was something about Jean Charles' behaviour on the tube that led him to be shot. The family know that evidence exists to the contrary and urgently await the opportunity for this to be aired. The absence of evidence heard from the two senior tactical advisers or from 'Silver' the man in charge of the firearms operation represents another glaring absence. And what of the 'Shoot to kill policy' itself? Whilst dodgy identification and miscommunication in radio transmissions clearly played their part in the tragic outcome, questions must be asked of a firearms strategy that effectively became an unstoppable machine intent on extinguishing the life of an unarmed 'suspect'.

The family's role in this prosecution has been limited to that of interested observers. They have not had the opportunity to ask questions of any witnesses or to suggest ways in which evidence could be brought to bear to undermine the cynical picture painted by the police defence. They have waited for two and a half years for their opportunity to discover the truth and move towards the possibility of achieving some justice. They now call for a full and fearless inquest, not limited in scope, at which they will finally have an opportunity to properly participate in a public enquiry into Jean Charles de Menezes' death. The Divisional Court, this trial judge and the IPCC are expecting the inquest to be resumed; the family hopes the MPS will not oppose it. A hearing before the Coroner to determine this issue will be heard at Southwark Coroner's Court on 10 December."

Statement from the family of Jean Charles de Menezes read out after the verdict by Erionaldo da Silva, a close family friend.

"Today is an emotional day for us here in London and for Jean's parents in Brazil. I have spoken to Jean's mother, Maria, and she said nothing can bring Jean back but she is at least pleased that the men and women of the jury have found the Metropolitan Police guilty of the charge.

It is the first public recognition of the failing of the Metropolitan police that led to the death of our cousin Jean, an innocent man, shot dead at Stockwell Tube.

We remain determined to ensure that the full truth about Jean's death is made public and that those responsible for his death are held accountable in a court of law.

We now await a full and thorough inquest where we as a family will finally be able to participate and seek answers to all of our questions. We will not rest in our fight for justice"

Statement from Justice4Jean

"We remain of the view that individuals should be held accountable and that there is evidence for manslaughter charges to be brought.

We also now expect the MPA to consider what actions they will take in light of the verdict with regards to outstanding disciplinary charges from the IPCC's Stockwell 2 report against senior officers such as Andy Hayman – guilty of deliberately misleading the public – we now expect these matters to move forward.

We once again ask if Sir Ian Blair enjoys the confidence of the public and his own police service after having presided over the death of an innocent man that today a jury have found to be the result of corporate failings. These are failures that he has continued to deny but for which he is ultimately responsible for."

Iran no worry

Militants Gaining Ground in Pakistan

Bhutto leaves Pakistan for Dubai; suicide attack kills 8

Pakistan in turmoil as 78 die in fresh violence

The US Navy Center for Contemporary Conflict estimates that Pakistan possesses between a low of 35 and a high of 95 nuclear warheads, with a median of 60 [Wiki].

By comparison Iran would be a safe pare of hands for nukes (which nobody can even prove they want}.

CIA chief backs torture

The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, General Michael Hayden, has defended the methods it uses to interrogate terror suspects.

Gen Hayden said programmes such as extraordinary rendition produced what he said was irreplaceable intelligence.

Under the programme, terror suspects are transported to secret prisons in countries with less stringent interrogation rules.

Mr Hayden, speaking in Chicago, said the leads gained justified rendition.

"The irreplaceable nature of that intelligence is the sole reason why we have what I admit freely is a very controversial programme." Link

Basra in the grip of militias

Amid warnings that southern Iraq could erupt into civil war when British troops withdraw, Basra's chief of police has publicly admitted that his forces have been unable to clamp down on growing militia warfare in the city.

In recent months, rival Shia factions have been battling for control of the city which is considered the second largest in the country and home to Iraq's only port.

This makes the Basra a vital outlet to the Gulf for marine transportation of oil and fuel products – a lucrative prize for any political faction looking to consolidate its power in Baghdad.

The ensuing power struggle has led to an exodus of Sunni, Shia and Christian families northwards and often out of the country.

Earlier this week, Major-General Jalil Khalaf, commander of the Basra police department, admitted for the first time that the militias have proven too strong for – and often infiltrated - his forces. Read more

Met police service guilty over De Menezes shooting

The Metropolitan police service was today found guilty of a catastrophic series of errors during the operation that led to firearms officers shooting Jean Charles de Menezes dead on the London underground.

The force was fined £175,000 and ordered to pay £385,000 costs after an Old Bailey jury found it had breached health and safety rules and failed in its duty to protect members of the public in the killing at Stockwell station, south London, on July 22 2005. Link

Japan ditches War of Terror

Japan will withdraw naval refuelling ships from a mission in the Indian ocean after the government failed to secure opposition support to extend the operation.

North Asia correspondent Shane McLeod reports from Tokyo that Japan's Self Defence Force has been supporting multinational forces in Afghanistan by refuelling naval ships in the Indian Ocean.

Special legislation to allow the mission to take place expires today and the government hasn't been able to win opposition support to extend it.

Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda says he still hopes the mission will resume, with more talks scheduled with the opposition leader tomorrow.

With a majority vote in the upper house of parliament, the Opposition is pushing for an early election, arguing that the refuelling mission does not have a UN mandate. Link