Friday, February 24, 2006

Iraqi Religious Leaders Rally for Unity

Yahoo news/By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer - quote -
Iraq's most influential Shiite political leader called Friday for Sunni-Shiite unity as religious figures sought to calm passions and pull the nation from the brink of civil war after the bombing of a Shiite shrine two days ago and a wave of deadly reprisal attacks.

An extraordinary daytime curfew in Baghdad and three nearby provinces appeared to have blunted the wave of attacks on Sunni mosques that followed Wednesday's bombing which destroyed the golden dome of the Shiite Askariya shrine in Samarra.

Still, Iraqis feared that the two days of violence which followed the Samarra attack had pushed the country closer to sectarian civil war than at any time since the U.S.-led invasion nearly three years ago.

Several joint Sunni-Shiite prayer services were announced for Friday, including one at the Askariya shrine. But security forces turned away about 700 people, virtually all of them Sunnis, who showed up for the service.
"We all have to unite in order to eliminate them," al-Hakim said in a statement. "This is what al-Zarqawi is working for, that is, to ignite a sectarian strife in the country," he added. "We call for self-restraint and not to be dragged by the plots of the enemy of Iraq."

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad acknowledged the danger facing Iraq - and the U.S. strategy for disengaging from this country. But he also said this was also a "moment of opportunity" for Iraq.

"This tragedy can be used to bring people together," Khalilzad told reporters.
He said several steps were being considered by the Shiite-dominated government, including an investigation to establish responsibility for the shrine attack and better protection for religious sites.

He also said a fund to rebuild the Askariya shrine and repair Sunni mosques damaged in the backlash was under study, as well as a ban on carrying weapons without authorization and the appointment of an advisory political committee to help calm tensions.

Anger, however, was running deep and it could take time to determine whether the country has passed through this latest crisis.
~~~~~~~ - end quotes -

prying1 sez: The people of Iraq could use the bombing of the Askariya shrine to build relationships between the different denominations of Islam thereby fouling the plots of the terrorists that destroyed it. The different factions can and should work together, side by side, to rebuild that which has been destroyed. Lets pray that they see and grasp the opportunity this really affords them.

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France holds human bird flu drill

From the BBC - quote - Authorities in France have staged an exercise to test the ability of the emergency services to cope with an outbreak of bird flu in humans.

In the Lyon exercise two "patients" with symptoms of the virus were evacuated to a hospital isolation ward.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has said France has "one of the most sophisticated plans in Europe". - end quote --


prying1 sez: Leave it to the French to move two people from one room to another and call it a drill. has this - Bird flu fears at French farm - BIRD flu tests were being carried out today at a turkey farm in south-eastern France in what would be the first case in domestic birds in the European Union.

Authorities have sealed off a farm with more than 11,000 turkeys in the south-eastern Ain region, the same area where France's first two cases of the deadly virus - in two wild ducks - were confirmed.


Ireland OnLine reports - Indonesia and Malaysia step up bird flu flight -
Indonesia and Malaysia took their anti-bird flu campaigns to the streets today, testing thousands of chickens, ducks and doves for the H5N1 virus that has killed 87 people across Asia.

In India, veterinary workers wearing goggles and protective suits cleaned up chicken coops in a small town hit by the disease, while China reported that a six-year-old boy infected with bird flu had fully recovered.

Indonesia's Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono declared a war on bird flu as he launched a three-day campaign to test birds across the capital Jakarta - the source of most of Indonesia's human cases.

So far 19 people have died in Indonesia, all in the past nine months, more than any country worldwide within the same period.


MSNBC tells us more about the bird flu called H5N1 -

Pandemic fears

The rapid spread of H5N1 from Asia into the Middle East, Africa and Europe has heightened fears of a human pandemic and triggered sharp falls in poultry sales.

The Economic Community of West African States called for international aid to help set up a regional fund to pay for emergency action as they seek to prevent the spread of the virus, found in poultry in Nigeria this month.

The World Health Organization plans to test samples from four Nigerians possibly infected with the virus, including a woman who died last week and three people who have recovered.

Experts fear that in Africa, where chickens live in millions of homes, the virus could spread rapidly and largely undetected due to a lack of health, veterinary and laboratory services.

They hold similar fears for India, where hundreds of millions of people live in rural areas side-by-side with livestock and domestic fowl.

So far the biggest risk seems to be for people who come into direct contact with sick chickens, and in countries where people personally care for their fowl.

There have been no confirmed human cases in India, but authorities were making final tests of a 12th person quarantined with suspected bird flu in Navapur, a remote town in IndiaÂ’s western Maharashtra state.

prying1 sez: I'd hate to think that this disease could and will become a human to human epidemic but the posibility is there. How many local governments are practicing control even on a small scale as the French did? - I've heard it suggested that people send emails, letters and even step into their local city halls to ask their local tax paid elected officials to do a bit of research on this subject and to come up with a plan in case it hits their communities. - Tell 'em they can get a fund going for the study and stick their hands in the pie. That might encourage them to look into it.

For an excellent reference site to start with check out
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ports Deal Leaves Funny Taste In Mouth

The more I learn about the DP World ports operation buyout the more I'm starting to vacillate. Originally I heard that this company was being given the SECURITY CONTRACT. It was on a late night talk radio show out of Colorado. Apparently the host had not done his homework or I misunderstood the argument. I have since realized it has the OPERATIONS CONTRACT that is being sold. Big difference. The company does have the expertise for the job and has proved it world wide.

I wish I could afford to make blogging a full time job but I don't get enough hits on the little ads on the side bar to pay for candy bars much less the electric bill to run my computer. As a result the time I have for research is limited. I'm at the mercy of the MSM at times and the MSM is at the mercy of inept reporters. Because of this the information I get is usually biased, one sided, or incomplete.

I do listen to Talk Radio and get filled in on a lot of issues from talk show hosts I trust and some I that don't trust. Two of my favorites are Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt. Rush is in favor of the deal and Hugh has his doubts about it. At the moment I am siding with Hugh.

DP World would not serve itself or the country that owns it (It is not a private corporation) by paying 6.8 Billion just to ship a bomb into a port and blow it up. They could do that without putting down the cash and then by the port at the fire sale. Not that is or ever was my fear but I did hear a caller make the suggestion. At this point DP World would best serve it's own interest and the interests of Dubai by working hard to make sure this doesn't happen if the deal goes through.

Daily Kos has it usual tin foil hat conspiracy theorists working overtime to come up with "What if's" and "Maybe Bush's" to fill an encyclopedia. They appear to be scrubbing the's & DP World's website for evidence that Bush started the French and Indian Wars to drum up support for the American Revolution. Most of the tripe on their articles and comments can be ignored.

For example - 24JAN2006 Dave Sanborn, DP Director of Operations for Europe and Latin America has been nominated by US President George W. Bush to serve as Maritime Administrator a key transportation appointment reporting directly to Norman Mineta the Secretary of Transportation and Cabinet Member.

The Kosites are running amuck with payoff theories etc.. It just might be that Dave Sanborn is the right man for this job. He certainly has quite a bit of experience in the field.

I heard a talkshow host last night say that he thought the deal should go through because it would be good for U.S. relationships with the Middle East. To back out now would make the Muslum world dislike us even more. I think if the Muslum world is going to jump and scream and murder and destroy property over cartoons I don't think this ports deal is going to have either a positive or negative effect on them. They will continue in their uncivilized behaviour either way.

My main concern is if there is any chance of a fanatical Muslum being on the board of directors or in a place of confidence in the company could he pass on sensitive information to his terrorist buddies. I'm not certain at this point if there is any sensitive information that would flow to the headquarters of DP World that we should even concern ourselves with this question.

The security at our ports is abysmally poor already. This deal needs a lot more scrutiny before going through.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bush Unaware of Ports Deal Before Approval

Washington Post - 22FEB06 - WASHINGTON -- President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.

Defending the deal anew, the administration also said that it should have briefed Congress sooner about the transaction, which has triggered a major political backlash among both Republicans and Democrats.
While Bush has adamantly defended the deal, the White House acknowledged that he did not know about it until recently.

"He became aware of it over the last several days," McClellan said. Asked if Bush did not know about it until it was a done deal, McClellan said, "That's correct."

"The president made sure to check with all the Cabinet secretaries that are part of this process, or whose agencies or departments are part of this process," the spokesman said. "He made sure to check with them _ even after this got more attention in the press, to make sure that they were comfortable with the decision that was made."

"And every one of the Cabinet secretaries expressed that they were comfortable with this transaction being approved," he said.
"I can understand why some in Congress have raised questions about whether or not our country will be less secure as a result of this transaction," the president said. "But they need to know that our government has looked at this issue and looked at it carefully."

A senior executive from Dubai Ports World pledged the company would agree to whatever security precautions the U.S. government demanded to salvage the deal. Chief operating officer Edward "Ted" H. Bilkey promised Dubai Ports "will fully cooperate in putting into place whatever is necessary to protect the terminals."

prying1 sez: - I appreciate President Bush and am a Pro Bush Republican but on this one I disagree with him.

That was said to counter an Air America mouth that said the republicans stand behind Bush no matter what.

The instability of Arab nations at this time would only put the security of our nation at risk. Apparently Dubai is the most stable of the Arab nations. That is supposed to make me feel better about this deal?

All it would take is one fanatical Muslum in the list of Dubai Ports World employees to turn vital info to his friends. One weak point exploited and we have another terrorist action on U.S. soil. The ports have enough weak points as it is. This deal would only add to it.

hat tip to Doug at Below the Beltway
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Shiite Shrine Damaged

U.S. Won't Support Sectarian Goals

From Yahoo News22FEB06 - SAMARRA, Iraq - A large explosion Wednesday heavily damaged the golden dome of one of
Iraq's most famous Shiite shrines, sending protesters into the streets and triggering reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques. It was the third major attack against Shiite targets in as many days.

Shiite leaders called for calm, but militants attacked Sunni mosques and a gunfight broke out between Shiite militiamen and guards at a Sunni political party in Basra. Army Capt. Jassim al-Wahash said about 500 soldiers were sent to Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad to prevent clashes between Shiites and Sunnis.
The Interior Ministry said four men, one wearing military uniform and three in black, entered the mosque early Wednesday and detonated two bombs, one of which collapsed the dome and damaged part of the northern wall of the shrine.

A government statement said "several suspects" had been detained and some of them "might have had been involved in carrying out the crime."

Police believed some people might be buried under the debris after the 6:55 a.m. explosion but by late afternoon no casualties had been found. The shrine contains the tombs of two revered Shiite imams, both descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, and is among Iraq's most sacred sites for Shiite Muslims.
"This criminal act aims at igniting civil strife," said Mahmoud al-Samarie, a 28-year-old builder who was among the crowd. "We demand an investigation so that the criminals who did this be punished. If the government fails to do so, then we will take arm and chase the people behind this attack."

Religious leaders at other mosques and shrines throughout the city denounced the attack in statements read over loudspeakers from minarets.

President Jalal Talabani condemned the attack and called for restraint, saying the attack was designed to sabotage talks on a government of national unity following the Dec. 15 parliamentary election.
And this from NY Times International21FEB06 - BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 20 - The American ambassador to Iraq issued an unusually strong warning on Monday about the need for Iraq's political factions to come together, hinting for the first time that the United States would not be willing to support crucial public institutions plagued by sectarian agendas.

"The United States is investing billions of dollars" in Iraq's police and army, said the ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. "We are not going to invest the resources of the American people to build forces run by people who are sectarian."

Mr. Khalilzad spoke at a news conference on a day of fresh violence across Iraq. It was the bloodiest day in almost two months.

He was addressing allegations that Shiite death squads operate within the Interior Ministry. Such reports have grown in recent months, with accounts of hundreds of Sunni men being rounded up by men in police uniforms and found dead days or weeks later.

The deaths have infuriated the Sunni Arabs, whose radical fringe leads the insurgency here, and have sharpened their distrust of the Shiite-led government that swept into power last spring.
...The new Parliament is required by law to meet for the first time on Saturday, and Mr. Khalilzad's remarks seemed calculated to put pressure on Iraqis to overcome their differences.

He has sharply criticized Interior Ministry abuses in the past, echoing Sunni concerns about the ministry's failure to stop the killings. He amplified those concerns on Monday, urging the leaders to appoint interior and defense ministers who are "nonsectarian, broadly accepted and not tied to militias."

If Iraq cannot control the sectarian agendas within its government, Mr. Khalilzad said, it "faces the risk of warlordism that Afghanistan went through for a period." Mr. Khalilzad was born in Afghanistan and served as an American envoy there before coming to Iraq last year.

prying1 sez: It is obvious that the murders, suicide bombings and destruction of 'Holy Places' is designed to fire up the passions of both (or all) sects in Iraq. By playing the tit for tat game the people end up fulfilling the terrorists goals of dividing the country and leaving it a no mans land for their own nefarious purposes.

Iraq is a country filled with people being dragged into violence through no wish of their own. I'm certain the majority would prefer to not play the tit for tat game but when suddenly faced with a group of people wishing revenge for whatever reason it is hard to stay neutral and live.

This upcoming meeting mentioned above - "The new Parliament is required by law to meet for the first time on Saturday" - needs to be placed on prayer lists world wide.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Where Have All the Weapons Gone?
(everybody sing!)

Gentle Cricket has a great post - Where did the WMD's go? -

- quote - First, last weekend came tapes that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, had an ongoing Nuclear program as recently as 2000. Personally, this was not a shock considering that US Forces had found 1.8 tons of partially enriched Uranium (enough to produce 30-48 Nuclear Weapons), and 500 tons of yellowcake Uranium. Furthermore, Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, the physicist who had lead the Iraqi nuclear program until 1997, revealed to US forces upon his capture that he had plans and equipment for Uranium-enrichment buried at his home. According to Dr. Obeidi, these were being hidden until a nuclear program could be reinstated.

What startles me more, however, is the accusations that Russia was implicit in the transportation of WMD's from Iraq to both Syria and Lebanon. These accusations were made in 2004 by John A. Shaw, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, saying that

They were moved by Russian Spetsnaz (special forces) units out of uniform, that were specifically sent to Iraq to move the weaponry and eradicate any evidence of its existence
- end quote -

The question is then asked, "Why would Russia be involved in the movement of Iraqi WMD's? These were weapons that were prohibited under 17 UN Resolutions, so why would Russia be involved in hiding them?"

prying1 sez: I hope this has piqued your interest and you go to Gentle Crickets Post. Leave a comment. Thank him for his work at informing us with facts. Comments will encourage him to keep up the good work!

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U.S. Port Takeover By Arab Company Not A Bright Idea

I was off line for a few days and out of the loop for what is going on in the world. Saturday night I got to hear a talk radio show and the subject was the U.S. Ports security contract being transferred to an Arab company, that is, Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates.


The talkshow took a few callers and not one thought it a good idea.

P&O (Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation) currently has the port security contract and DP (Dubai Ports World) wishes to buy P&O. P&O currently runs commercial operations in the ports of New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Miami.

Fox News Reports - quote -

WASHINGTON - Executives at Dubai Ports World are intensifying a public relations effort this week as lawmakers ratchet up protests against the Bush administration over allowing the United Arab Emirates-owned firm to run six U.S. ports.

The government in Dubai will lobby port officials along the East Coast, and its chief operating officer - American shipping executive Edward H. Bilkey - is expected to travel to Washington this week for meetings on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.

Michael Seymour, president of the North American arm of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation (P&O) - the company DP World wishes to buy in order to run the six ports said in a statement that the London-based P&O "is itself a foreign-owned terminal operator that has long worked with U.S. government officials in charge of security at the ports to meet all U.S. government standards, as do other foreign companies that currently operate ports in the United States."

"We are confident that the DP World purchase will ensure that our operations continue to meet all relevant standards in the U.S. through ongoing collaboration between the port operators and American, British, Australian and port security officials throughout the world," Seymour said.

Lawmakers are upset that P&O, which runs 100 ports in 19 countries, is being purchased by DP World with the approval of the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a 12-member panel chaired by Treasury Secretary John Snow and comprised of members of the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Commerce and Homeland Security. Some lawmakers are considering legislation to stop foreign-owned companies from running U.S. ports.
- end quote -

San Jose Mercury News reports - quote -

U.S. terms for approving an Arab company's takeover of operations at six major American ports are insufficient to guard against terrorist infiltration, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Sunday.

"I'm aware of the conditions and they relate entirely to how the company carries out its procedures, but it doesn't go to who they hire, or how they hire people," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told The Associated Press.

"They're better than nothing, but to me they don't address the underlying conditions, which is how are they going to guard against things like infiltration by al-Qaida or someone else, how are they going to guard against corruption?" King said.

King spoke in response to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's comments Sunday about conditions of the sale. King said he learned about the government's terms for approving the sale from meetings with senior Bush administration officials.

Chertoff defended the security review of Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates, the company given permission to take over the port operations. Chertoff said the government typically builds in "certain conditions or requirements that the company has to agree to make sure we address the national security concerns." But Chertoff declined to discuss specifics saying that information is classified.
- end quote -

prying1 sez:

Given the current state of the Arab world I would suggest against this deal. We should pull the contract from P&O and have a U.S. company doing the security at our ports whether the deal goes through or not. Our ports are the weakest link in homeland security. Allowing any Arab country to run security on our shores is stupid. Until they clean up their act and get a long track record of stabilization I would not trust any Arab nation to guard a Taco Bell much less our nations ports.

The continuation of the Cartoon Kerfuffle shows me and the world that the Muslum and Islamic nations are unstable.

Update - GOP governors threaten to block port deal -

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