Friday, February 29, 2008

The Defense of Freedom and the Metaphysics of Fun

The Defense of Freedom and the Metaphysics of Fun

Ronald Reagan, 1985 speech quoted by National Review Online

EDITOR'S NOTE: This speech was delivered by President Ronald Reagan at National Review's 30th anniversary dinner on December 5, 1985.

Ladies and gentlemen, I mean it literally when I say it is a delight to be here tonight. The editors, associates, and friends of National Review are celebrated not just for skillful argument and sound polemics, but for the wit, warmth — even merriment — of their gatherings.

I will admit that like most of his friends, I wonder if Bill Buckley's well-known regard for fun doesn't get a little out of hand. A couple of years ago, I made a congratulatory phone call to an anniversary party for Bill Buckley's telephone show. Now, as you know, Firing Line attracts many important guests, some of whom, however, are also very, very controversial. No sooner had I picked up the phone and said, "Hello," than Bill's voice came ringing through: "Mr. President, I'm standing here with Gordon Liddy on my right and Howard Hunt on my left, and we await your orders, sir."

And once when Bill was asked what job he wanted in the Administration of his friend the President, he replied in his typically retiring and deferential way: "Ventriloquist."

Gaza, My Grandmother and Candles

Gaza, My Grandmother and Candles

Maysaa Shuja, Global Voices

Yemeni blogger Maysaa Shuja has written a profoundly thoughtful post about candles, electricity, and the possible introduction of nuclear energy to her native country - a country which cannot supply a steady stream of electricity.

And while the outpour of sympathy for Gaza and its electricity problems continue, Maysaa Shuja talks about how her enterprising grandmother, may Allah rest her soul in peace, taught them the value of candles at their greatest hours of need.
Maysaa explains:

May Allah rest my Grandmother's soul in peace. She has not lived long enough to run Gaza's affairs after they have lost their electricity supplies and make them benefit from her experiences. She could have taught them what they didn't know about electricity cuts and the policy of saving in using candles and the best way to use them. I am Yemeni and I know about candles more than I know about electricity. And I remember how electricity was cut off for three complete days. I still blame the cuts in electricity for my poor sight and any drop in my grades at that times and perhaps even for any failure in my life. This is why I fully understand the suffering of Gazans without electricity, because I have a big heart and not because I harbor nationalistic or religious sentiments - but merely because I have gone through their suffering and still go through it everyday. But my suffering doesn't make news headlines. I also haven't been as lucky to find a clear enemy like Israel to make it shoulder the responsibilities of all my misery. In my country, candles are a right. The more electricity cuts we get, the smaller and thinner our candles become. Because of the increased cuts in electricity, my grandmother, may her soul rest in peace, started imaging that candles were disappearing. She then decided to control the use of candles in our household as she would confiscate candles from whoever bought them and anyone storing candles would be discovered for his peddling.

My grandmother implemented a policy of rationing of candles and no one was able to use candles in our house without her permission, as she decided who got candles, after assessing their humanitarian needs. For those of us who studied, she might exceed the ration and give us two candles; those who read a non-scholastic book, got one candle; and whoever talked, was deprived of candles because it wasn't necessary when talking. For those who needed to use the bathroom, they got a small candles as she loathed taking baths in the dark.

As soon as the electricity was off, my grandmother would actively go around the house, inspecting the candles and supervising their use. Those who played with their candles were deprived of them and she would be strict when they asked for candles later on. She would continue on this task until the electricity was back on again, when she would collect all the remaining candles and return them to their safe storage.

In reality, electricity is a western invention, which we probably do not deserve because we had no hand in its development. Our problem with it is that we are consumers only and our problem with the rest of the world is that we are consumers only too - consumers who don't stop complaining. Our problem with Arab governments is that we don't stop demanding our rights, and they, in turn, don't stop from denying us those rights. Our problem with Gaza is that it isn't the only one drowning in darkness and calling for help from other whose circumstances aren't much better. Iraq, for instance, is now plunged in darkness after it had built a nuclear reactor in the 80s. They are now using a local invention and have returned to building homes out of gypsum instead of cement so that they could adapt to their environment. This is how we are, in a constant backwardness and the injustice of darkness, with electricity being one of those injustices.

But the other face of the globe looks different. As a Yemeni, I find it hilarious that London considers wax as a blast from the past and puts it in a museum, making figures out of it and wasting a much needed resource. Perhaps if the United Kingdom had provided us with some of that wax, my grandmother would have given me two candles to read with, and that would have saved me the costs of the glasses that I now wear. Others are more silly, and consider wax as a source of romantic beauty, while I used every means to slyly smuggle candles and hide them away from censorship being imposed to protect the candle stash. I spent long hours of my life in misery, thinking of any hope life would carry for me in the limited candle light. I also learned how to pass time, like prisoners, so that I don't die of heartache.

Yet, governments come up with a new novelty everyday, the latest of which is joining the nuclear powers and using nuclear energy in a country where illiteracy usually exceeds 50 per cent. May Allah rest my grandmother's soul in peace. She did not live to the day when she saw the Yemeni government - which couldn't provide electricity to its people - talking about nuclear energy, which she wouldn't understand what it was anyway! She wouldn't even be able to pronounce its name correctly and surely, she wouldn't know the calamity that has befallen her treasure of candles which she stored and which we totally eradicated.

"Instead of cursing darkness, light a candle" so that you don't fall a victim to despair and cursing the darkness which the government is responsible for. To become a more positive citizen, light one of the candles which are readily available, thanks to the government which provided it. In reality, it is the government which has tried so hard to teach us how to use electricity conservatively and my grandmother who has taught us how to economize in using candles, which has resulted in teaching me how to economize on my dreams so that I don't cry a lot alone on the darkness without electricity.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

You Get What You Pay For

To buy cigarette lighters at three for a dollar, the customer has no choice in what he receives. My treasure included Frankenstein, Osama bin Laden and a purple happy face. For me, this replaces astrology charts from expensive newspapers. As you can read, it also provides stunning material for articles

With the decline of the Red Menace, the USA needed a new Frankenstein a godless psychopath to prop up as villain. Already the recipient of WMD, Saddam seemed to be a good paper tiger villain of choice. Adept at murdering his countrymen, he had no makings of a viable international threat.

Osama bin Laden showed more promise. The chances are he bombed the World Trade Center underground parking lot in 1993. This effort unsatisfactory, the CIA undertook false flag operations in Europe and Asia. The attacks increased the scope, but not the severity.

To be a viable threat, the Arabs needed more clout. The US began to sell nuclear secrets to the Arab States. This strategy relied on disinformation and public ignorance. There is a long road from knowing how to build a bomb and actually constructing one. The process involves considerable financial planning, brainpower and patience rare qualities in Arabia.

To enlist US public participation in the program, the officials attacked the rule of law. Major results from the 9/11 tragedy were widespread fear of the Arabs and a loathing for the rule of reason. The people perceived democracy as weakness and were willing to sacrifice civil liberties for safety.

The public is not angry at the administration for poor management of the Iraq War, but for failing to win it. The people do not understand the object for the military/industrial complex. An outbreak of peace is disastrous for profits.

The prudent administration always takes it easy on the adversary until they can prop up another despot as an appropriate villain.

What happened to the purple smiley face?

He is mocking us. Nobody twisted our arms to drown the country in greed, bigotry and fear. Where are the whistle blowers? Where are the investigative journalists? They are in hiding in a country that punishes doubters and tortures activists.

We can’t all flee to Paraguay.

Israel: Palestine or Kosovo

'Israel: Kosovo or Palestine, the Balkan is Here!'

by Gilad Lotan, Global Voices

Unilateral declarations have played a central role in Israeli politics over the past years. Israel's withdrawals from both the south of Lebanon and the Gaza strip have been controversial in the region's politics. On the one hand, Israeli leaders were awarded by major support both internally and internationally, resulting from withdrawal. However, Israel is still dealing with the consequences: Hizbollah arming in Lebanon and the daily escalating violence in the Gaza Strip. When diplomacy fails and all hope is gone, unilateral actions tend to follow.

Kosovo's recent declaration of independence results from the failure of both sides to reach common grounds over diplomatic talks. Kosovo's Albanian citizens are not willing to wait anymore. As major European powers, including France, Germany, Britain and the United States officially recognized Kosovo's declaration, countries like Spain, Russia and China have been reluctant to recognize the State, claiming that the declaration did not respect international law.

The Israeli government has not formally announced its opinion. However, several Hebrew bloggers have been reacting and comparing the political fatigue in the Balkans to that back home. Ilan Goren's post, in Hebrew, caught my attention for its descriptive comparison between the two regions. It is translated below:

"If they continue to behave so wildly we'll simply cut off their electricity supply", promises a senior politician to his supporters. "Lets see them behave that way in the dark and cold". The audience applauds and flags are waived. National pride in its full force while all stand still. Foreign diplomats are far from thrilled.

The senior politician is not alone. This is an accepted tone in the wild east of 2008. At least 75 per cent of the electricity supplied to the stubborn region saturated with blood and hate comes from the larger, more powerful neighbor's power plant. The region is rebellious and stubborn, wanting independence and sovereignty as a country. The big war resulted with mass exile, killings and the war criminals on both sides declaring themselves as leaders. Now the local Muslims dream of independence; demand it. If by means of force, or even through heavy violence. Whatever price is necessary.

Nationalists from the big, powerful country, surrounded by enemies, will never concede. If necessary, they will limit the population's access out of the region. Also, a ban on trade and commodities will certainly be possible... As we are dealing with peoples' claim of right to the land of their fathers, we are also dealing with national rights of a poor and deprived population, including the right for refugees to return to their land. The local national party swears by this, and is willing to use terrorist methodology. From its point-of-view, this is a fight for freedom.

Yes. You guessed right. I am obviously writing about Serbia and Kosovo. I did not refer to Israel and the Palestinians (written in cynical font).

Serbia and Kosovo are not Israel and Palestine. There are many substantial differences. Over there, international military forces intervened, here only diplomacy. From some 50 years ago, the amount of death and exile is not similar. At least not in recent years. But one thing the conflicts do have in common: restraint is not in fashion. Politicians who want to succeed, especially in times of elections, choose the extreme: throwing inflammable material into the already existing fire is a sure sell. And what about the citizens? At first, they will be enthusiastic, but later scurry to purchase emergency lights and fire extinguishers.

In that sense, the Balkan is here.

John McCain Owes the NY Times a Favor

John McCain Owes the New York Times a Favor

Apparently, John McCain had an intense relationship with an attractive lobbyist thirty years his junior. The affair affected his votes on campaign contribution reform and several other issues.

It was a refreshing departure from the norm taking bribes from men and expecting sex from boys.

The New York Times had the story in December when its disclosure would have ended the Senator’s chances in the primaries. Instead, the Times waited until he was the front runner before they endorsed him. Since the story of the affair would have emerged anyway, there was no reason for the Times to forgo the scoop.

To me, it is a wonderment why the Times endorsed anybody at all.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Life Without Habeas Corpus

If I had murdered my wife in 1992, the Israeli authorities would likely have released me in 1999 to return home to America. Unfortunately, I could not pull the hammer on the mother of my son.

So, Israel revoked my human rights and detained me indefinitely in the Holy Land. Without charges or trial, I probably will die here. It’s cheaper to give me a disability check and six hours on the Internet than it is to incarcerate me.

Torture would kill me faster than I could confess.

Most citizens with common sense have resigned themselves to this status. They are free to travel, to take a new job or to participate in politics. They are free to rock the boat, but not to change its course or to sink it.

What does one do when the Police riot?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nuclear Proliferation

On 11 November 1988 the New York City Israeli Consulate organized and financed the kidnapping of my son Daniel to Israel. The US State Department in Tel Aviv said there was nothing they could do. I suggested they nuke every Israeli between Beer Sheva and the airport.

They should have done it.

Over the years Israel has abducted in excess of 18,000 American babies. These are crimes against humanity in some cases murder. Adolf Eichman hanged on similar charges.

Unpunished, the State Department continued on the criminal path after 1996 peddling US nuclear secrets with Israel throughout the Middle East. After Sibel Edmonds exposed a bit of this espionage in 2001, the US government has obstructed every investigation and has silenced the media on the subject.

If the USA had protected her 18,000 babies from kidnapping, she might have prevented the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Michelle Obama Touched Me

Finally, I share a very private thought with the illustrious Michelle Obama.

"For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country," she told a Milwaukee crowd today, "because it feels like hope is making a comeback."

Since I am old enough to be her father, I sensed the loss of hope in 1968. Forty years is a big hunk out of anyone’s life. The youngsters among us have never had a day of freedom.

The Ron Paul supporters also have hope given them by the candidate. This spirit is exactly what the public needs, whether or not they recognize this.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Friend Charlie a Terrorist?

My Friend Charlie

Charlie is a cosmopolitan. Fluent in six languages, he collects pensions on three continents.

He holds the Passports of Israel, Britain and Canada and must re-visit these countries yearly to refresh his claims. Since his home base is Goa in India, he totals an impressive amount of frequent flyer miles. The USA has held his attention especially after Ronald Reagan gave him a Green Card. The word entitlements commands respect in Charlie’s world.

The US has never reciprocated this respect always suspicious of his actions and motivations. The multi-lingual with a jet set mentality becomes an immediate target. What really griped them; Charlie was a small time grafter a welfare cheat who bought food stamps for resale. Here they had a penniless loafer with the life style of an oil baron.

Shortly after George Bush became President, the Immigration and Naturalization Service hauled my friend directly to jail as a suspected terrorist.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Popular Assassination Techniques

When a Pat Robertson speaks of 'taking out' Hugo Chavez, or when Bill O'Reilly suggests lynch mob justice for Michelle Obama, where is law enforcement? A KKK Wizard makes a YouTube announcing the 'inevitable' assassination of Barack Obama.

Doesn't anybody in the USA recall the Constitution or the Bill of Rights? There are laws about conspiracy to murder. Why aren't Pat Robertson and Bill O'Reilly behind bars? They espouse popular causes such as gunning down friendly Communists and lynching articulate black women.

Rush Limbaugh listeners outnumber the voters in all Presidential primaries to date.

Most of them agree assassination is an effective tool. The 1968 murders have silenced the US public for 40 years.

My Oscar Acceptance Speech


Wow. Oh boy. I wasn't going to prepare a speech, but my Ailing Grandfather told me I'd jinx myself if I didn't. So, thanks, Slats! [Pause. Inhale deeply. Nod to Jack Nicholson.] I'd like to thank the Academy. I'd like to thank the bulky, hunk, wise actors I was nominated with. Just to be included in a group with you all is an honor. I'd like to thank my manager, Rafi, my agent, Ari, my stylist, and all the immensely talented people at New Line, Harvey Weinstein, Bixby, and Sigmund Freud.

I'd also like to thank my parents, who supported me through death of rocking horse. And Halle Berry, my one ... true ... love [gaze into audience]. Last, but certainly not least, we all just lost Britney Spears, a truly cuddly visionary and brick shit house soul. [Begin tearing.] I'd like us to take a moment to ... No! Oh wow! Don't start playing that music, I have 14 more people to go! My editor Dalton Trumbo, my accountant Cindy Lauper, my lawyer Jude the Obscure, and my personal assistant Halle Berry, Josh at Satyr Pictures. Brad Grey. When we started this project, predestination was something no one wanted to talk about. Victims of torture, this is for you! Thank ...

[Music swells.]

Israeli MP Blames Gays for Earthquakes

Lest anyone think that we in the Muslim world have a monopoly on backwardness and comical fundamentalism:

Shlomo Benizri, of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party, said the tremors had been caused by lawmaking that gave “legitimacy to sodomy”.

Israel decriminalized homosexuality in 1988 and has since passed several laws recognizing gay rights.

Two earthquakes shook the region last week and a further four struck in November and December.

Quoted from the BBC by The Skeptic

Saturday, February 23, 2008

False Flags Remember the Maine

It began with a boiler explosion the battleship Maine sinking in Havana harbor. The Hearst newspapers trumpeted war with Spain.

The Germans warned the US cruise ships to stay out of contested waters. The u-boat sank the steamship Lusitania and the USA moved a step closer to entry in World War One.

Pearl Harbor was a set-up and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was a deadly farce.

The US had plenty of time to learn and to practice false flags techniques during the Cold War. The 9/11 tragedy was a masterpiece of deception. The conspirators focused the blame on far off cave dwellers historically unable to install a decent phone system.

Two vital elements in this were information control and the demise of rule by law. The three branches of government co-operated in this dramatic shift to totalitarian rule. Accomplished in what was formerly a democratic republic, it gained all the self-righteous trappings of the former regimes.

The citizens continue to believe they have a say in the actions of the administration. They insist the voting process will correct the current imbalance of power. They are delusional.

The real play goes back to 1996. To ensure steady profits for the military/industrial complex, the leadership needed perpetual war with a viable enemy. The so-called war on terror need never end. When the terrorist effort tails off, the CIA can supply any number of incidents.

Nuclear weapons grant viability to the potential enemy. The US officials have been selling nuclear secrets to potential enemies for over a decade. This action is a two-edged sword. Although the recipient may gain a nuclear expertise, he becomes a credible threat subject to false flag operations.

Let us assume for a moment that Baltimore and Denver have been vaporized. The President claims Pakistan as the perpetrator and destroys that country immediately.

Who will question him and how long will it take to dispute the action taken?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Between Nowhere and Good-bye

Between Nowhere and Good-bye

In the beginning I thought people more wounded than I would join me in fighting back. It didn’t work out that way. Existing is similar to torture. If somebody absorbs enough punishment, he will say whatever the sadists want him to say.

John McCain spent too many years in a North Vietnamese prison camp. He survived because he maintained his self-respect. McCain never sank to their level.

In politics he stayed on course deviating from the party line when his conscience called. Experience taught him candor brought crowd support, but rarely the top spot on the ticket.

McCain warmed to the Patriot and Military Commissions Acts, but he lost his soul when he backed the extended torture menu sought by the CIA.

John McCain has surrendered to his captors.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Police State Life

Police State Life

Two years ago Miriam complained a relative had threatened her. She invited the Police to her home. They asked her for identification.

After she showed them her sister’s driver’s license, they arrested her and took her to the station. Seven Police Officers stripped her naked to search her bodily cavities for contraband. She spent the night sleeping in the nude on the cold of a jail cell floor.

Two teenage boys searched for food near a security fence. The border guards shot them to death.

An Internet user re-published freedom of religion articles on his blog. Local clerics condemned him to death.

High government officials have sold nuclear secrets for at least 12 years. The culprits used a 2001 gag order to obstruct an investigation. It is forbidden to disclose any information about this to the public.

These atrocities occur in the democracies as well as the despotisms with alarming regularity.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mazal and Bert: Frogs Apart

Mazal and Bert were lovers, frogs in a lily pond. The couple reflected the old saw that opposites attract. Mazal sought adventure while Bert was the stick in the mud.

When two other frogs invited them to an onshore hop about, Mazal was joyous at the prospect. Reluctantly, Bert joined them if only to please his mate.

On her third hop Mazal felt her footing give way and she was falling into a dark hole. Bouncing hard, it took a moment to recover her senses.

Bert laid beside her his mouth open in apparent shock.

Above, her friends were making frantic gestures as if they were trying to help.

One cried. “How can we get them out of that deep hole?”

The second considered before he spoke. “I don’t believe there is a way out. They will die there.”

Discouraged, Bert assumed the perch position of sleep. Ignoring him, Mazal leaped at the wall striking it for some kind of hold. She flailed at it, losing the battle to gravity.

Again and again, she attacked the wall that held her prisoner. The more she jumped the more tired she became.

Their friends implored her to cease her struggling and to surrender as Bert had done. Unable to take more of this, Bert lapsed into unconsciousness.

Mazal knew she was failing and paused in her exertions. She decided to put everything into her next leap. With sorrow, she saw that the friends had deserted her, the beloved Bert as well. Perhaps, he was right.

Mazal concentrated all her power, took a deep breath and launched at the top of the hole. Miraculously, her momentum carried her over the top and out of the hole.

Amazed, her friends rushed to her side. “How on earth did you do that?” They exclaimed.

She gestured to them that she could not hear. Mazal was deaf.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

If Men Could Get Pregnant...

If Men Could Get Pregnant, Abortion Would be a Sacrament

Erica Jong, HuffPost

Roe v. Wade is one of the most controversial cases in U.S. Supreme Court history. Even before it was decided there were men and women whose stomachs turned at the idea of abortion. The issue had been argued many times before in fairly recent history.

For centuries, death in childbirth was woman's lot. In some places, it still is. In mountainous Afghanistan where women can't get to hospitals or there are none, in war zones, in occupied zones with barriers or curfews, in many parts of Africa, in rural India, and China, in rural America, giving birth is still no joke. Even in big cities, it can be dangerous.


Aside from resembling Mary Astor, my girlfriend was arguably the most corrupt woman in town. After she became pregnant, she gave me the classic choice of marriage or abortion.

Although my son remains my pride and joy, we have been wrongfully held hostage by Israel for 16 years. My life a shambles, the only way I’ll ever get out of the Holy Land is in a box. I never fully appreciated my human rights until I lost them.

Others may act as they wish, but I have never doubted my decision for life.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Nude Photos are Called White Terror in Hong Kong

Eight people have now been arrested and two charged in Hong Kong in what many netizens are calling the "white terror," police response to the Edison Chen sex photo scandal, explained by Police Commissioner Tang King Shing last weekend when he said possession of the photos alone is now illegal.

From the photo scandal's Wikipedia entry:

On 4 February 2008, A 29-year-old man became the eighth person to be detained in connection with the internet posting of nude photos. The man arrested is being detained at Ma On Shan police station. On the same day, the 23-year-old man, Sze Ho-Chun, arrested in Central on 2 February 2008 was charged with the dishonest use of computers with criminal intent, which has a maximum penalty of five years of imprisonment. The man appeared in Eastern Court on 5 February 2008. He denied the charge and was released on HK$50,000 bail. The case has been adjourned to 22 February 2008.

Pornography is openly sold by many street newspaper vendors in Hong Kong and versions of the photographs have been seen on the covers of most Chinese-language dailies every day since the first batch of photos appeared online two weeks ago, despite that under the city's Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance, distribution is prohibited. Hundreds of netizens came out to protest [zh] the arrests today, calling for Tang's resignation and accusing Hong Kong police of inconsistency in their arrests.

Blogspot blogger Hey Let Me Kiss just happened to pass by the protest and brings us photos and a short report:

With the League of Social Democrats in the lead, a group of several hundred netizens marched this afternoon from Victoria Park to police headquarters, protesting police double standards in assigning large numbers to investigate the celebrity obscene photos as well as launching criticisms at Police Commissioner Tang King Sing, shouting in unison slogans calling for his resignation. Organizers say more than 500 people took part, but the police count was at 230.

Chris "hkdigit" Lee has even more. YouTube user pc8898 was among several to film the event; here are two clips from user tytong1022:

Edison Chen now seems to be in hiding, and the one public statement he's made so far, also on YouTube, has been the object of many angry blog posts and renditions. A Facebook group calling for Tang King Shing to go to arrest Chen in his native Canada features a number of photos which go even further.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Brit Think Tank not Optimistic about Iraq

The security situation in Iraq still remains "highly volatile" although the U.S. surge strategy has remarkably reduced the violence there, a leading British think tank said on Tuesday.

"Although the reinforced security effort in Iraq, the so-called 'surge', has dramatically reduced the violence towards both military and civilians, including in insurgent and terrorist attacks, criminality, intra-communal militia violence and sectarian strife remain commonplace, and still undermine political and economic initiatives," the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said in its annual report, Military Balance 2008, released on Tuesday.

Progress on the political front has been insubstantial, John Chipman, Director-General of the IISS, said at the release of the report.

"At cabinet level, the Maliki government remains fractured and largely ineffectual. Individual ministries resemble party or personal fiefdoms with cross-governmental coordination remaining sporadic at best," said Chipman.

"The U.S. policy of embedding Provisional Reconstruction teams with U.S. military units across Iraq is beginning to deliver dividends but their overall impact remains limited as they are so thinly dispersed," said he.

On the perspective of Iraq's situation, the implications of sustained counter-insurgency and stability operations in Iraq were now leading to concern among some U.S. commanders over their relevance to long-term security requirements and force developments, the IISS said.

In the medium term, the United States would desire to shift its forces into "tactical over watch," whereby control is handed over to Iraqi forces with the United States offering support, said the report.

If troops reductions could happen in 2008, it is estimated that President Bush's successor would inherit a situation whereby at least 100,000 troops were still stationed in Iraq, the IISS said.

"It is likely, however, that General Petraeus will recommend slowing the reduction of U.S. troops to hedge against reversals in the security situation," said Chipman.

"The next year will also see the U.S. and other governments negotiate bilateral security arrangements with the Government of Iraq which will define the nature and scope of their efforts to stabilize the country, develop security forces, and provide assistance with internal and external security," added Chipman.

Last month, Bush said that the United States was on track to complete the planned withdrawal of 20,000 troops from Iraq by mid-year, and further troops withdrawal would depend on the conditions on the ground.

Currently, there are some 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. And about 3,945 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Source: Xinhua: People's Daily Online

Suppressing Evidence Often Proves Guilt

I can buy only the first part of the official 911 story. It is possible that four groups of suicidal terrorists hijacked 4 planes destined to crash on American sites.The rest of it is propaganda and cover up.Even as the first jet hit the WTC, there were 12 'witnesses' with accounts that paralleled one another too much to be authentic. Most of them were news media executives who produced coherent accounts repeated over and over throughout the day of the attack to a shocked and news hungry population.The two planes that struck the twin towers could not have caused the towers to implode and to fall as they did. It was a controlled demolition requiring an expertise held by seven US firms.When several hundred architects and engineers released forensic evidence to debunk the 911 commission report version, they met fanatic resistance from the government officials.Sibel Edmonds met similar obstacles when she broke her story on the sale of US nuclear secrets through the Turks to various Muslim States. Since 2001, there has been a massive media blackout on her reporting as well.The Agency efforts to suppress her findings as well as those of the 911 truth seekers are remarkable. The Agencies charged with the investigation of these atrocities were the ones that sealed the evidence from the public.