Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Fishbowl America Round-Up for July 7th:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Publicity Still

  • Sneak Peek: First Look At New Harry Potter Film – The Harry Potter trio are back to save Hogwarts from dark forces in the eagerly anticipated sixth film in the series. A year after the last Potter film, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, JK Rowling’s creation is back in British cinemas in November.
  • Fred Barnes: McCain Better Step Up ‘Homo-Bashing’ As Strategy – Pam’s House Blend: I guess the talking heads on Fox just get right to the point — the GOP is bankrupt of any ideas or actual accomplishments to run on in 2008, so the flagging McSame campaign better drag out the tired homo straw man, according to Right S
  • Andrew Sullivan: A Long Way From The Green Iguana – It’s funny to watch the partisan right out-do each other to declare Obama a cynic while Charlie Crist gets engaged to a woman at the height of McCain’s veep search.
  • Study: Military Gays Don’t Undermine Unit Cohesion – Congress should repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy because the presence of gays in the military is unlikely to undermine the ability to fight and win, according to a new study released by a California-based research center.
  • A Major Speech in Berlin?: Obama Refines Plans for Germany Trip – Barack Obama’s planned European tour might make a major whistlestop in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. The candidate’s schedule isn’t set, but a Berlin appearance before the end of July looks likely.
  • Borat’s Alter Ego Dupes Former Mossad Agent – It’s unclear whether his Mossad retirement benefit card will be confiscated, but former spy and current political analyst Yossi Alpher is certainly feeling sheepish after being fooled by actor Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Borat.
  • Federal Investigation Launched into Obama’s MD-80 – The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that it is investigating what caused Senator Barack Obama’s plane to make an unexpected landing today in St. Louis.
  • Iraq May Set Timetable For U.S. Withdrawal – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki raised the prospect on Monday of setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops as part of negotiations over a new security agreement with Washington.
  • Webb Says No To Being VP – You can officially scratch off Sen. Jim Webb’s name from the list of Barack Obama’s potential running mates.
  • ABC News: Md. Plantation Attic Holds 400 Years of Documents – For four centuries, they were the ultimate pack rats. Now a Maryland family’s massive collection of letters, maps and printed bills has surfaced in the attic of a former plantation, providing a firsthand account of life from the 1660s through World War II
  • Miami Herald Covers Media Swirl Around Crist – And Avoids The Obvious – I’m not sure how you can explore Florida governor Charlie Crist’s shameless self-promotion for McCain’s consideration as VP (after all, the long-time “bachelor” is willing to get married to pass muster) without going into the ample number of stories about

Fishbowl America Round-Up for July 7th:

Ted Koppel interviews villagers in Qiejiajie, in the Chongqing province, with his interpreter, Mao Sai Feng.

  • Changes In China: Koppel Investigates – The image of Ted Koppel interviewing world leaders is so ingrained that it feels odd to see him wearing a hardhat for a nervous trip into a Chinese coal mine, or sitting in a Chongqing karaoke bar where teenage girls are hired to “entertain” male customer
  • Bush To Meet Russia’s Medvedev – US President George W. Bush on Monday holds his first face-to-face talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a chance to weigh up Vladimir Putin’s heir and tackle outstanding disputes.
  • McCain Promises To Balance Budget – Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) plans to promise on Monday that he will balance the federal budget by the end of his first term by curbing wasteful spending and overhauling entitlement programs, including Social Security, his advisers told Politico.
  • McCain Struggles to Regain Footing – John McCain calls himself an underdog. That may be an understatement. The GOP presidential candidate trails Democrat Barack Obama in polls, organization and money while trying to succeed a deeply unpopular fellow Republican in a year that favors Democrats
  • FDA Reports More Cases Of Salmonella Illnesses – The government on Saturday increased the number of people reported being sickened in a record salmonella outbreak in which tomatoes are the leading suspect although investigators are testing other types of fresh produce.
  • UAE To Cancel Iraq’s $7 billion Debt – Dubai has forgiven the nearly $7 billion Baghdad owes it, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced Sunday.

The Fishbowl America Round-Up for July 6th:

  • Al-Maliki: Iraq Defeated Terrorism – Iraq’s prime minister said yesterday that the government has defeated terrorism in the country, a sign of growing confidence after recent crackdowns against Sunni extremists and Shiite militias.
  • Nadal Dethrones Federer At Wimbledon – Rafael Nadal ended Roger Federer’s five-year reign at Wimbledon on Sunday, winning a riveting, five-set marathon to claim his first title at the All England Club and signal a changing of the guard in men’s tennis.
  • Man Rips Off Hitler’s Head at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum – A man tore the head off an Adolf Hitler wax figure at Madame Tussauds’ new branch in Berlin in what appeared to be a symbolic protest on the museum’s opening day Saturday, officials said.
  • Poll: Founding Fathers Would Be Disappointed In America – As Americans celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, an overwhelming majority say the 56 signers of that document would be displeased at how the country has turned out.
  • Americans Prefer Candidates Strong On Science – A new poll conducted by Scientists and Engineers for America indicates an overwhelming majority of voters prefer candidates who support research into science and technology, with emphasis on the three E’s: education, environment, and energy. Nice to know,
  • Kerry says McCain lacks judgment to be president – John Kerry Says Republican John McCain Doesn’t Have Judgment To Be President

Sneaky snapshots from Prince Harry’s tour of Iraq Afghanistan are surfacing.

Har_09

Hat tip to TowleRoad.com.

Democratic presidential candidate Obama

Telegraph: Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is to fly to Britain next month as part of an ambitious foreign trip that will also take him to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to France and Germany.

Only skeleton details of Mr Obama’s trip have been agreed but an announcement of an outline programme is expected over the weekend.

“You will be hearing something very soon,” a senior Obama aide told The Telegraph.

During Mr Obama’s visit to Britain, likely to take place around the middle of July, he will call on Gordon Brown and, if time permits, David Cameron, the Conservative leader.

A fundraising event to attract campaign donations from wealthy Americans is also understood to be under consideration.

A recent Telegraph poll showed that Mr Obama is overwhelmingly preferred to Mr McCain in Britain and Europe.

Three times as many Britons said they would vote for him as those who indicated they would back Mr McCain, if able to cast a vote in the US election.

But Democratic strategists are concerned that scenes of “Obamamania” in Europe could damage the candidate back home.

In 2004, John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, was mocked for “looking French” while in 2000, George W Bush turned his relative lack of foreign travel into a political asset.

Mr Obama, 46, has not been to Iraq since 2004, a fact that his opponent John McCain, 71, the presumptive Republican nominee and a regular visitor to Baghdad, points out frequently.

His extensive foreign trip – unusual at the height of a presidential campaign – is designed to burnish his comparatively thin foreign policy credentials.

The Illinois senator met Mr Brown for the first time in April at the British Embassy, when the Prime Minister also received calls from Mr McCain and Hillary Clinton, who was them still battling for the Democratic nomination.

Mr Obama has visited Downing Street once briefly during a congressional trip.

On a previous trip to Britain in 1996, he was a guest at the wedding of his half-sister Auma, who has since moved back to Kenya, in Bracknell and went his brother-in-law’s stag night in Wokingham.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has already invited Mr Obama to visit the Elysee Palace and Downing Street aides are understood to be pushing for him to stop in London before Paris as a signal that he considers Britain to be America’s pre-eminent ally.

PageOneQ: Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, profiled on 60 Minutes, has been let go under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Manzella has been twice deployed to Iraq since his enlistment in 2002. Military awards he has received during his service include the Combat Medical Badge. He also received the Barry Winchell Courage Award at the 16th Annual SLDN National Dinner in March of 2008.

“My sexual orientation certainly didn’t make a difference when I treated injuries and saved lives in the streets of Baghdad,” Manzella told SLDN. “It shouldn’t be a factor in allowing me to continue to serve.”

The 30-year-old told CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl in December 2007 that despite the policy, which mandates discharge of a servicemembers who are discovered to be gay, he served openly with the blessing of his colleagues and superiors. After receiving anonymous e-mails advising him to “turn down the flame,” Manzella turned to a commanding officer for help and came out to him in the process. Ultimately, after an investigation, “no evidence of homosexuality” was found, despite video and photographs of Manzella with his partner, and he was told to return to work.

“The discharge of battle-tested, talented service members like Sergeant Manzella weakens our military in a time of war,” said SLDN Communications Director Adam Ebbin. “National security requires that Congress lift the ban on gays in the military and allow commanders to judge troops on their qualifications, not their sexuality.”

Manzella was the first active duty servicemember serving in a war zone to speak with the media. It has been estimated that over 500 individuals serve openly in the United States military despite “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” suggesting selective enforcement of, and perhaps distaste for, the policy, and an unwillingness to sacrifice needed personnel.

Much has been made of Barack Obama’s comments that he would talk to our enemies, pivoting as a policy shift of not even acknowledging the mere existence of the original Axis of Evil (Iran, Iraq and North Korea) and certainly not negotiating with them to change their policies. Since we’ve effectively blown Iraq to pieces, potentially taking North Korea off the list with this policy change today leaves only Iran as the Axis of Evil in today’s world.

The Bush Administration is chomping at the bit to bomb Iran before January, and if they do, there will be hell to pay. In the early 1950s, the U.S. sought to have better relations with the leadership of Iran, so we took it upon ourselves to stage a coup and insert a more America-friendly leader, the Shah. This action ultimately turned a generation of Iranians against the U.S. – or, as Ron Paul would call it, blowback – and led to the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979 and the ultimate overthrow of the Shah, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Now, with tensions increasing again, and with a new generation of Iranians having a negative view of the U.S., what would happen if the U.S. were to bomb Iran? And what would be the Iranian response?If we bomb Iran, we’ve literally screwed ourselves.

TPM: President Bush announces at a press conference this morning that he will be lifting sanctions on North Korea and may shortly remove them from the “Axis of Evil”:

more about “Bush Lifts North Korea Sanctions, May…“, posted with vodpod

Yet another viral video catching on this week that gives some pretty startling figures on just how much we’re spending on the war in Iraq, and just how it could be utilized at home, if only we brought our troops home.

more about “Viral Video: The Costs Of War“, posted with vodpod

New York Times: The Army and Air Force discharged a disproportionate number of women in 2007 under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving in the military, according to Pentagon statistics gathered by an advocacy group.

While women make up 14 percent of Army personnel, 46 percent of those discharged under the policy last year were women. And while 20 percent of Air Force personnel are women, 49 percent of its discharges under the policy last year were women.

By comparison for 2006, about 35 percent of the Army’s discharges and 36 percent of the Air Force’s were women, according to the statistics.

The information was gathered under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a policy advocacy organization.

“Women make up 15 percent of the armed forces, so to find they represent nearly 50 percent of Army and Air Force discharges under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is shocking,” said Aubrey Sarvis, the organization’s executive director. “Women in particular have been caught in the crosshairs of this counterproductive law.”

New York Times: The Army and Air Force discharged a disproportionate number of women in 2007 under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving in the military, according to Pentagon statistics gathered by an advocacy group.

While women make up 14 percent of Army personnel, 46 percent of those discharged under the policy last year were women. And while 20 percent of Air Force personnel are women, 49 percent of its discharges under the policy last year were women.

By comparison for 2006, about 35 percent of the Army’s discharges and 36 percent of the Air Force’s were women, according to the statistics.

The information was gathered under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a policy advocacy organization.

“Women make up 15 percent of the armed forces, so to find they represent nearly 50 percent of Army and Air Force discharges under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is shocking,” said Aubrey Sarvis, the organization’s executive director. “Women in particular have been caught in the crosshairs of this counterproductive law.”

CNN: Five foreign troops were killed Saturday in Afghanistan, bringing the number of NATO and U.S.-led coalition troop deaths in June to 32 — more than in Iraq.

Foreign troop deaths in the Afghan war have been exceeding those in the Iraq conflict in recent weeks, according to figures compiled by CNN.

New York Times: Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Several American officials said the Israeli exercise appeared to be an effort to develop the military’s capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s nuclear program.

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece during the first week of June, American officials said.

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New Yorker:

Olbermann reveres Murrow, but Murrow never called a President “Idiot-in-Chief.’’

It was nearly midnight before Keith Olbermann left the NBC News election studio on May 13th, having spent five hours on the air, co-anchoring coverage of the West Virginia Democratic primary. Olbermann had a short ride home from Rockefeller Plaza to his condominium on the Upper East Side, and he was in bed by 2 A.M. But he lay wide awake, overcome by an urge to get up and move about.

He has been given a diagnosis of Wittmaack-Ekbom’s syndrome, also known as “restless-legs syndrome” (and also “the kicks,” “Jimmy legs,” and “jitters”), a neurological disorder that produces a prickling, itching, or crawling feeling in the legs, profoundly disturbing sleep.

Reclining exacerbates the condition, so Olbermann got out of bed, took a pill for the ailment, and, while waiting for the drug to kick in, scrolled through his BlackBerry, scanning recent messages. One arrested his attention. It was a link to the Web site Politico, which featured an interview conducted that day with President Bush. Olbermann was struck by two questions from the interview, and by Bush’s answers to them: CONTINUE READING

New Yorker:

Olbermann reveres Murrow, but Murrow never called a President “Idiot-in-Chief.’’

It was nearly midnight before Keith Olbermann left the NBC News election studio on May 13th, having spent five hours on the air, co-anchoring coverage of the West Virginia Democratic primary. Olbermann had a short ride home from Rockefeller Plaza to his condominium on the Upper East Side, and he was in bed by 2 A.M. But he lay wide awake, overcome by an urge to get up and move about.

He has been given a diagnosis of Wittmaack-Ekbom’s syndrome, also known as “restless-legs syndrome” (and also “the kicks,” “Jimmy legs,” and “jitters”), a neurological disorder that produces a prickling, itching, or crawling feeling in the legs, profoundly disturbing sleep.

Reclining exacerbates the condition, so Olbermann got out of bed, took a pill for the ailment, and, while waiting for the drug to kick in, scrolled through his BlackBerry, scanning recent messages. One arrested his attention. It was a link to the Web site Politico, which featured an interview conducted that day with President Bush. Olbermann was struck by two questions from the interview, and by Bush’s answers to them: CONTINUE READING

New Yorker:

Olbermann reveres Murrow, but Murrow never called a President “Idiot-in-Chief.’’

It was nearly midnight before Keith Olbermann left the NBC News election studio on May 13th, having spent five hours on the air, co-anchoring coverage of the West Virginia Democratic primary. Olbermann had a short ride home from Rockefeller Plaza to his condominium on the Upper East Side, and he was in bed by 2 A.M. But he lay wide awake, overcome by an urge to get up and move about.

He has been given a diagnosis of Wittmaack-Ekbom’s syndrome, also known as “restless-legs syndrome” (and also “the kicks,” “Jimmy legs,” and “jitters”), a neurological disorder that produces a prickling, itching, or crawling feeling in the legs, profoundly disturbing sleep.

Reclining exacerbates the condition, so Olbermann got out of bed, took a pill for the ailment, and, while waiting for the drug to kick in, scrolled through his BlackBerry, scanning recent messages. One arrested his attention. It was a link to the Web site Politico, which featured an interview conducted that day with President Bush. Olbermann was struck by two questions from the interview, and by Bush’s answers to them: CONTINUE READING

Al-Jazeera: Taliban fighters have attacked a prison in southern Afghanistan, blasting through the entrance of Kandahar’s main jail and triggering a gun battle with the police.

The Taliban fighters are reportedly trying to free their comrades from the jail.

The brother of Afghan president Hamid Karzai said that hundreds of prisoners had escaped.

According to Afghan officials, fighters attacked the main prison in Kandahar on Friday with a car bomb and rockets, killing police and freeing prisoners.

Sarwar Danish, the justice minister, said a suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle at the gates of the prison.

Officials with Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said they are aware of the attack but do not yet have any details.

Qais Azimy, Al Jazeera’s correspondent, said the Taliban fighters have managed to get into the prison to free some of the men.

Afghan police are trying to stop the prisoners from escaping.