Seven months after Congress approved the largest foreign aid package in history to rebuild Iraq, less than 5 percent of the $18.4 billion has been spent and occupation officials have begun shifting more than $300 million earmarked for reconstruction projects to administrative and security expenses.
Recent reports from the Coalition Provisional Authority, the CPA’s inspector general and the U.S. Agency for International Development attest to the growing difficulties of the U.S.-led reconstruction effort. And they have raised concerns in Congress and among international aid experts that the Bush administration’s ambitious rebuilding campaign is adrift amid rising violence and unforeseen costs.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged Yasir Arafat to give Israel’s Gaza pullout a chance and fulfil Palestinian obligations under the “road map” peace plan.
In unusually tough language, Annan – in a letter obtained by the media on Friday – also criticised the Palestinian president for failing to meet obligations under a US-backed peace “road map”, including security reforms and putting an end to human bombings.
He also said Israel had to carry out its road map requirements to dismantle Jewish settler outposts and freeze construction in larger, established settlements.
“You are aware…that the Palestinian side too has obligations it has not fulfilled,” Annan told Arafat.
“The Palestinian Authority should immediately start taking effective measures to curb terrorism and violence.”
“Decisive actions on your part would help the international community ensure that any withdrawal from Gaza is part of the implementation of the road map and not a substitute for it,” Annan wrote.
United States soldiers at a prison outside Baghdad have been accused of forcing Iraqi prisoners into acts of sexual humiliation and other abuses.
The charges, first announced by the military in March, were documented by photographs taken by guards in the prison.
In another, a prisoner stands on a box, his head covered, wires attached to his body. The news show said that, according to the army, he had been told that if he fell off the box he would be electrocuted. Other photographs show male prisoners positioned to simulate sex with each other.
“The pictures show Americans, men and women, in military uniforms, posing with naked Iraqi prisoners,” a transcript said.
“And in most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing or giving the camera a thumbs-up.”
Torture, The American Way
When the US began shipping prisoners to Guantanamo Bay to be held indefinitely away from the prying eyes of the world, talk of torture circulated. A December 26, 2002 Washington Post report pointed out that not only prisoners being forced to stand or kneel in uncomfortable positions for hours at the CIA interrogation centre un Bagram, but were being subjected to such interrogation techniques as sleep deprivation and being kept under bright lights for twenty four hour periods. In the same report the Washington Post also said that prisoners who would not cooperate were sometimes “rendered” to other states for further interrogation.
In other words, if the milder forms of torture being used by the US aren’t getting results, they send the person to be interrogated by a country that will not hesitate to use much harsher forms of torture. It is kind of like outsourcing jobs, but more extreme. Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco are some of the places where the US has sent prisoners for further interrogation. These are all countries known to use torture during interrogation and as punishment.
The US uses other countries so it can maintain the appearance of abiding by international laws and agreements. In reality this no different than performing the torture themselves, but they hide behind the distinction. The US seems much less concerned about even bothering to maintain that illusion under the Bush regime.
The number of terrorist attacks worldwide has dropped to its lowest level since 1969, according to a US State Department report.
But the threat remains of critical international concern said the US State Department in its annual Patterns of Global Terrorism report released on Thursday.
A total of 307 people, including 35 Americans, were killed and 1593 wounded in 190 terrorist attacks around the world in 2003.
While the number of attacks dropped by only eight from 2002, that represents a 45% decrease from the 346 strikes recorded in 2001, including the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington, the report said.
By Madeleine Begun Kane
“A” is for John Ashcroft and the liberties he’s mauled.
“B” is for Barb Bush and hub. Dub’s birth is all their fault.
“C” is for Ms. Condi Rice, who speaks so many lies.
“D” is for the Dixie Chicks, who dare to Bush despise.
“E” is for our soon to be Ex-Prez George Dubya Bush.
“F” is for Al Franken, and his mean and funny Rush.
“G” is for Gen. Boykin, who believes Bush speaks with God.
“H” is for Ms. Karen Hughes, who’s tall of tale and bod.
The rest is posted here and