Pakistani lorry drivers supplying Nato troops in Afghanistan go on strike


Pakistani Taleban fighters (pictured) have vowed to step up attacks on supply convoys in the Khyber Pass (Tariq/AFP/Getty Images)

An association of Pakistani lorry owners and drivers refused today to resume delivering supplies to foreign troops in Afghanistan after a series of militant attacks on convoys plying the main supply route via the Khyber Pass.

An international shipping company that handles US military supplies through Pakistan also said that there was now “a large backlog of military freight” across the country from Karachi, where the cargo arrives by ship, to the Afghan border, “Clearly the security situation is very difficult,” Kevin Speers, a spokesman for Maersk Lines Ltd, told The Times. “Movement through the Pass has been severely restricted.”

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What part of Ireland’s ‘no’ does the EU not understand?

Asking the Irish to vote again on the Lisbon treaty is arrogant, insulting and undemocratic

Imagine if, following the election of Barack Obama by 52.9% of American voters, the Republican party, which got just 45.7% of votes, demanded another election. Imagine if the Republicans described Obama’s victory as a “triumph of ignorance” – brought about by an “unspeakable” and “ignorant” mass of people who should have been “swatted away by the forces of the establishment” – and insisted on holding a second election so that, this time, the voters could “get it right”.

There would be uproar, outrage, widespread disgust at such elite disdain for the democratic process. Well, now you know how the Irish people must feel. In June this year, 53.4% of Irish voters rejected the Lisbon treaty, against 46.6% who supported it (giving the “No” camp a “sweeping victory” similar to Obama’s). Yet now the Irish will be asked to vote again. EU officials’ behind-doors deal to force a second referendum in Ireland reveals their utter contempt for Irish voters, and for democracy itself. It is an historic sucker punch against the sovereignty of the people.

As soon as the Irish people’s ballots were counted in June, their rejection of Lisbon was treated as the “wrong” answer, as if they had been taking part in a multiple-choice maths exam and had failed to work out that 2+2=4. Now, they will be given a chance to sit the exam again, “until [they] come up with the right answer,” says George Galloway, attacking EU elitism. The notion that the Irish “got it wrong” exposes gobsmacking ignorance about democracy in the upper echelons of the EU. The very fact that a majority of Irish people said no to Lisbon made it the “right answer”, true and sovereign and final. “No” really does mean no.

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Dollar Staggers as U.S. Unleashes Cash Flood, Deficit


U.S. one-dollar notes are arranged for a photograph in Tokyo, Oct. 1, 2008. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg News

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) — The biggest foreign-exchange strategists and investors say the best may be over for the dollar after a four-month, 24 percent rally.

The currency weakened 5.9 percent measured by the trade- weighted Dollar Index after strengthening between July and November as investors bought the greenback to flee riskier assets and repay dollar-denominated loans from lenders reining in credit. Ever since peaking on Nov. 21, the dollar fell against all 16 of the most-widely traded currencies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. policy makers are flooding the world with an extra $8.5 trillion through 23 different plans designed to bail out the financial system and pump up the economy. The decline shows that the increased supply of money may be overwhelming investors just as the government steps up debt sales, the trade and budget deficits grow and de-leveraging by investors slows.

“The dollar will go to new lows as the U.S. attacks its currency,” said John Taylor, chairman of New York-based FX Concepts Inc., which manages about $14.5 billion of currencies.

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Interview with Peter Schiff (12/13/08)

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Source: YouTube

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Rahm Emanuel’s Rise to Power


Rahm Emanuel (Brian Kersey-Pool/Getty Images)

Since Rahm Emanuel was appointed the next White House chief of staff last month, we’ve been retracing his previous life as an investment banker, which earned him more than $18 million in less than three years.

Today the New York Times sheds new light on Emanuel’s Wall Street days — and how they helped send him to Congress.

In late 1998, Emanuel left the Clinton White House to work for Wasserstein Perella, a now defunct investment bank run by Bruce Wasserstein, a major Democratic donor.

“I had this idea that this could work and that it had upside,” Wasserstein told the Times. “It worked out better than I could have hoped.”

Indeed, as we previously noted, Emanuel used his political connections to broker major deals while at the firm. (One deal was a $16 billion merger that created Exelon Corp., now one of the nation’s largest electric utilities. Another involved SBC Communications, the telecommunications company run by William Daley, Clinton’s commerce secretary and the brother of Chicago’s mayor.)

After leaving the bank in 2001 to run for Congress, Emanuel benefited from the sale of Wasserstein Perella, which gave him an unusually large payout. Russ Gerson, global head of financial markets for A.T. Kearney Executive Search, told the Chicago Tribune in 2003 that Emanuel’s compensation would put him “in the top 3 to 5 percent” of investment bankers at that time.

The cash proved helpful when Emanuel found himself in a tough fight for a seat in Congress. He contributed $450,000 out of his own pocket to the primary campaign, and his leading rival accused him of trying to buy his seat, the Times reports.

The financial industry also heavily financed Emanuel’s campaign. From the Times:

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Afghans Rape Children On Canadian Military Base

Such atrocities are ‘normal’ on planet earth: Pakistani women buried alive for choosing husbands
Human beings do net respect themselves, they do not respect others and they do not respect their planet.
This is the perfect recipe for the ultimate disaster.
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Dec 14, 2008 04:30 AM
Source: The Star

Chaplain says senior officer aware of rape by Afghans

Soldier recalls cries from boy brought onto Canadian base

The boy was no more than 12. He wore a wig, lipstick and perfume and was dressed in a flowing robe when an Afghan interpreter escorted him to the entrance of the Canadian base in remote Afghanistan.

It was June 2006 and it was one of Tyrel Braaten’s first days at Forward Operating Base Wilson, about 30 kilometres outside Kandahar.

Braaten watched as the local interpreter, who worked for the Canadians, ushered the boy through the security checkpoint and led him inside a nearby building.

The bombardier was bewildered. He asked another interpreter standing next to him who the boy was. The interpreter shrugged that the boy was one of “the bitches.”

“I said, `What do you mean?’ and he made the motion with his hips, like you know,” said Braaten, 24. “I remember saying, `Are we on Mars? Does this s— go on all the time?'”

The native of Saskatchewan is the latest soldier to come forward alleging in detail how young Afghan boys during his tour in Afghanistan in 2006 were regularly sodomized by Afghan interpreters and soldiers working alongside Canadian soldiers.

For the past four months, the Canadian Forces’ National Investigation Service, an arm’s-length military investigatory body with the power to lay criminal charges, has been probing claims that Canadian commanding officers ignored the complaints of lower-ranking soldiers about the alleged rapes.

Some soldiers have told military chaplains and medical personnel that they were instructed to disregard the sodomy because of a “cultural difference” between Canada and Afghanistan.

In a new development, Maj. Kevin Klein, a high-ranking chaplain, told the Star that a senior officer confided to him in 2007 that his soldiers were struggling to cope with the rapes. Klein has told his story to NIS investigators.

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Police charged £9m by phone firms to use tracking data, prompting calls for ‘free access’

mobile phone
Police forces are spending up to £9m every year to access details of phone records (Posed by model)

Mobile phone firms have been accused of cashing in on crime and terror after charging the police £8.7million a year to access data tracking information.

The companies keep records of the times, dates, duration of mobile phone calls and the numbers contacted but not the actual content of conversations.

They also hold crucial information about the whereabouts of a mobile phone at any given time – which can be accessed by the police to build up a picture of a suspect’s movements.

The details were crucial in the conviction of Soham murderer Ian Huntley and Ipswich prostitute-killer Steve Wright and in identifying those involved in the failed 21/7 terrorist plots in London.

But Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile charge a fee for seeing the data – with the cost running at about £170,000 a week.

This is in addition to £8million the Home Office already pays telecoms firms to store information on their customers for at least a year so it is available to the police and MI5.

Police can see the phone records without having to apply to the courts, with senior offices issuing a Section 22 notice under the powerful Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

The process has become an everyday part of police inquiries and many forces and MI5 have automated systems to retrieve mobile data – prompting calls for the service to be free of charge.

Last year, Section 22 powers were exercised more than 500,000 times.

Read morePolice charged £9m by phone firms to use tracking data, prompting calls for ‘free access’

Gaza families eat grass as Israel locks border

Before you read The Times article below consider also the following articles:

A human rights crime in Gaza by Ex-President Jimmy Carter.

Carter says Israel has arsenal of 150 nuclear weapons:
Carter also condemned Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as “one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth,” according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Carter said in reference to the situation of Palestinians in Gaza that, “There is no reason to treat these people this way.”

Gaza: A modern concentration camp run by Israel:
Gaza is being forced to pump 77 tonnes of untreated or partially treated sewage out to sea daily due to the Israeli blockade of the coastal territory. The fear is that some of this is creeping back into drinking water.
“The health of Gaza’s 1.5 million people is at risk,” Mahmoud Daher, from the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) told IPS.
The results revealed that three areas in Gaza and one area in the Rafah governorate (30.8 percent) are polluted with human faeces (Faecal Coliform) and animal faeces (Faecal Streptococcus), and three areas in Gaza city (23.1 percent) are polluted with animal faeces.

Hungry Gazans Resort to Animal Feed as U.N. Blasts Israel:
GAZA CITY, Gaza — Half of Gaza’s bakeries have closed down and the other half have resorted to animal feed to produce bread as Israel’s complete blockade of the coastal territory enters its 19th day.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon alarmed at the escalating humanitarian crisis called incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week and demanded that he lift the blockade.

BBC: Gazans despair over blockade:
“People in Gaza are waiting in lines for almost everything, and that’s if they’re lucky enough to find something to wait for,” says Bassam Nasser, 39.

Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza

UN suspends food distribution in Gaza

Israeli siege leads to soaring anemia in Gaza newborns

Scottish activist films Israeli navy shooting at Gaza fishermen:
A SCOTTISH human rights activist has filmed the Israeli navy firing machine guns at unarmed Palestinian fishing boats in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s secret police pressuring sick Gazans to spy for them, says report
Israel’s secret police are pressuring Palestinians in Gaza to spy on their community in exchange for urgent medical treatment, according to a report released today by an Israeli human rights organisation.

Israel launches deadly airstrike in Gaza + Hamas fires rockets at Israel after 6 killed

U.N. chief condemns Israel after Gaza clash:
GAZA (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for using “excessive” force in the Gaza Strip and demanded a halt to its offensive after troops killed 61 people on the bloodiest day for Palestinians since the 1980s.

The New York Times: Making Nuclear Extermination Respectable:
On July 18, 2008 The New York Times published an article by Israeli-Jewish historian, Professor Benny Morris, advocating an Israeli nuclear-genocidal attack on Iran with the likelihood of killing 70 million Iranians – 12 times the number of Jewish victims in the Nazi holocaust:

” Iran ’s leaders would do well to rethink their gamble and suspend their nuclear program. Barring this, the best they could hope for is that Israel ’s conventional air assault will destroy their nuclear facilities. To be sure, this would mean thousands of Iranian casualties and international humiliation. But the alternative is an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland.”

Eating weeds and herbs was often the only thing that kept people alive in prison camps.

Israel turned Gaza into one big concentration camp. Why is there no help? Look who rules the world and what interests they have, then you know.
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December 14, 2008
Source: The Sunday Times

AS a convoy of blue-and-white United Nations trucks loaded with food waited last night for Israeli permission to enter Gaza, Jindiya Abu Amra and her 12-year-old daughter went scrounging for the wild grass their family now lives on.

“We had one meal today – khobbeizeh,” said Abu Amra, 43, showing the leaves of a plant that grows along the streets of Gaza. “Every day, I wake up and start looking for wood and plastic to burn for fuel and I beg. When I find nothing, we eat this grass.”

Abu Amra and her unemployed husband have seven daughters and a son. Their tiny breeze-block house has had no furniture since they burnt the last cupboard for heat.

“I can’t remember seeing a fruit,” said Rabab, 12, who goes with her mother most mornings to scavenge. She is dressed in a tracksuit top and holed jeans, and her feet are bare.

Conditions for most of the 1.5m Gazans have deteriorated dramatically in the past month, since a truce between Israel and Hamas, the ruling Islamist party, broke down.

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