Showing posts from February, 2008

Harry makes al Qaeda "honor" roll

Times: Prince Harry returns to England today, a hero to the Army, a changed man in the eyes of the public and a target for jihadists. As the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff queued up to heap praise on the 23-year-old second lieutenant, protection for the Prince is to be upgraded. Al-Qaeda websites posted death threats against him yesterday after the worldwide coverage of his ten weeks in Helmand province, Afghanistan. In stark contrast, army message boards carried unanimous praise for the Prince. The Times has seen messages posted on a password-protected al-Qaeda forum, al-Ekhlaas, calling for Prince Harry to be beheaded and a video of his murder to be sent to the Queen. Arabic news items and photographs of the Prince on duty in Helmand were added to the jihadi sites. One posting said: “Nothing will break the heart of his grandmother but only if she loses him. My dear brothers in Allah, carry on provoking to kidnap this precious infidel.” The Taleban a

Father of the year--not

Independent: A businessman with an irrational fear of becoming a father has been jailed for almost four years after he laced his wife's breakfast with abortion pills in an attempt to make her lose their unborn baby. Gil Magira, 36, from Hendon, north London, admitted crushing up the pills, which he bought online, and sprinkling them in his wife's sandwich, yogurt and a bowl of cereal in an attempt to end her 11-week pregnancy. Yesterday, at the Old Bailey in London, Magira was jailed for three years and nine months after pleading guilty to a charge of using an instrument to procure a miscarriage. It was the first time in more than 30 years that someone has been charged with such an offence. It was also the first time that a father has been prosecuted for trying to terminate a pregnancy in such a way. ... Magira's wife, Anat Abraham was left in pain and bleeding and had to go to hospital after her husband's attempts at inducing an abortion. However, the child sur

Secret US email sent to UK tourist site

Telegraph: A tourist information website promoting a small Suffolk town has had to shut down after it received a barrage of thousands of classified US military emails. Sensitive information including future flight paths for US Presidential aircraft Air Force One, military strategy and passwords swamped Gary Sinnott's email inbox after he established, a site promoting the tiny town of Mildenhall where he lives, the Anglia Press Agency reports. As well as Mr Sinnott and his neighbours, Mildenhall is home to a huge US Air Force base and its 2,500 servicemen and women, and the similarity in domain names has led to thousands of misdirected emails from Air Force personnel. Any mail sent to addresses ending would have ended up in Mr Sinnott's mailbox. Now military bosses have blocked all military email to the address, and persuaded him to close down his site to end the confusion. He is giving up ownership of the address next month. Mr Sinnott said: &

Was Zawahiri in Pak 'safehouse' hit by missile?

Bill Roggio: Pakistani and US intelligence are attempting to sort out the names of the al Qaeda and Taliban operatives killed in yesterday's airstrike in Azam Warzak, South Waziristan. Initial reports indicated Arabs and fighters from Central Asia were killed in the operation. One report indicates an "al Qaeda fugitive from Egypt" was among those killed, sparking rumors that Ayman al Zawahiri was the target of the strike. South Waziristan Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, who is often characterized as a "pro-government" Taliban leader, appears to be the center of the storm. "Sources said that the militants belonged to the Abu Hamza group whose leader was said to be a follower of local militant commander Maulvi Nazir," Dawn reported . The attack occurred at the home of Shero Wazir, a follower of Nazir "who had rented it out to an Arab." ... While the identities of those killed in the latest strike in South Waziristan are still being sorted ou

A bad year for the Taliban?

Stra tegy Page: The Taliban are having a bad Winter. The Pakistani army offensive against the Pakistani Taliban has cut off a source of reinforcements. Battles on the border, as Afghan and NATO troops catch Taliban crossing, have declined over a third. As a result, more foreign fighters are being found among dead and captured Taliban. The manpower shortage has caused the Taliban to abandon areas they had long maintained a presence in, particularly in Helmand province. Police there captured most of a terror cell that had been responsible for three bombings. The Taliban are also showing signs of being terrorized themselves. An example was a recent demand by Taliban around Kandahar, that cell phone companies shut down service at night. If not, the Taliban will attack cell phone towers. The Taliban believe the Americans use cell phone signals to track the Taliban at night, and guide smart bombs to where the Taliban are sleeping. Few in the Taliban seem to understand how ELINT (Electroni

Ricin found in Las Vegas

CNN: Police in Las Vegas, Nevada, are investigating the discovery of what they said is the deadly poison ricin in a hotel room. Preliminary tests show the substance is ricin, authorities said, but other tests to confirm it are under way. Meanwhile, the reason the substance was in the room remains a mystery. "We don't know who [the ricin] belongs to or why it would be here at this time," said Capt. Joe Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The FBI said Friday morning it considers this to be a criminal case with no link to terrorism. Authorities were called to an Extended Stay America hotel around 3 p.m. PT Thursday after a man brought a bag with a small container to the manager's office. The man said he found it while retrieving items from a hotel room. The substance is "100 percent ricin," Lombardo said. Three hotel employees and a fourth person who came to the room to retrieve some items went to the hospital as a precaution, Offi

"Don't Worry, Be Happy"

Oliver North: In 1988, singer and songwriter Bobby McFerrin penned a Grammy-winning tune, "Don't Worry, Be Happy." When it comes to collecting intelligence on America's enemies, McFerrin's pleasant a cappella song is now the theme song for Democrats in the House of Representatives. On Feb. 14, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to send the members of the House home on vacation instead of having them vote on extending the Protect America Act, a measure that already had passed in the U.S. Senate 68-29. The bill, among other things, provides civil immunity for private companies that assist U.S. intelligence agencies in intercepting terrorist communications to, from or through the United States. With the House adjourned, the PAA expired -- and Americans became instantly more vulnerable. ... John Cornyn also writes about the importance of passing the intelligence bill. The conduct of the Democrats is disgraceful. Their playing chicken with national security in ord

An actress who can make sense without a script

Angelina Jolie makes the case for helping the Iraqi refugees.

Who do you want answering the phone at 3 a.m.

Clinton's campaign ask the question by my answer would be John McCain at this point.

Possible source of Obama loans was Saddam's bagman

Bill Gertz: New attention is being focused on indirect connections between Iraqi-British billionaire Nadhmi Auchi, who has been tied to illegal activities in Iraq and France, and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. Auchi gave at least $10.5 million to Obama fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko, including a payment of $3.5 million that coincided with Mr. Obama's purchase in 2005 of a $1.65 million Chicago house, the London Times reported Tuesday. The newspaper said the timing of the payment and the house purchase, along with the purchase of land next door by Mr. Rezko's wife Rita from the same seller, raise questions about whether Auchi helped buy the house. Bill Burton, a spokesman for Mr. Obama, would not answer when asked if Auchi helped buy the senator's house. He said the senator did not recall ever meeting Auchi, who was convicted of corruption charges in France in 2003. A lawyer for Auchi told the London Times that his client is not aware that the

Good news from 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines

Michael Ledeen: Our son's Marine battalion, the 3/3, has returned to its base at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, from the hinterlands of Fallujah after a 7-month deployment. He and his Marines are full of praise for the battalion that went before them, which did most of the heavy lifting in the destruction of al Qaeda in that corner of Anbar Province. Both are entitled to high praise, and we can all be grateful that the 3/3 returns to America without losing a single Marine during their deployment. ... Congratulations to 3/3 for another terrific job. I was XO of Mike Company 3/3 in Vietnam in 1968. They were a wonderful bunch of guys. This is just more evidence that we are winning in Iraq and will win if given a chance. Some of the Vietnam 3/3 alumni have a site where you can get information on those who served. Semper Fi.

Obama's hope--al Qaeda will leave Iraq?

Steve Huntley: The political salvos over Iraq between Barack Obama and John McCain the other day made for good political theater. More important, the exchange offered a revealing contrast between the politics of realism and the politics of hope. It began with a question to Obama during the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday. Obama has pledged to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq and was asked if he reserved the right to go back into Iraq. He responded that "if al-Qaida is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad." The next day McCain mocked Obama, ''I have some news. Al-Qaida is in Iraq." Obama fired back, ''I do know that al-Qaida is in Iraq and that's why I have said we should continue to strike al-Qaida targets. But I have some news for John McCain. There was no such thing as al-Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq." So what is O

Obama's cynical war with cynicism?

CTV: ... On Wednesday, CTV reported that a senior member of Barack Obama's campaign called the Canadian embassy within the last month saying that when Senator Obama talks about opting out of the free trade deal, the Canadian government shouldn't worry. The operative said it was just campaign rhetoric not to be taken seriously. The Obama campaign told CTV late Thursday night that no message was passed to the Canadian government that suggests that Obama does not mean what he says about opting out of NAFTA if it is not renegotiated. However, the Obama camp did not respond to repeated questions from CTV on reports that a conversation on this matter was held between Obama's senior economic adviser -- Austan Goolsbee -- and the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago. Earlier Thursday, the Obama campaign insisted that no conversations have taken place with any of its senior ranks and representatives of the Canadian government on the NAFTA issue. On Thursday night, CTV spoke wi

When Obama faces an opponent with real policy differences

Adam Nagourney: When Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton goes after Senator Barack Obama these days, she presses him on the details of his health care plan, criticizes the wording of his campaign mailings and likens his promise of change to celestial choirs. But if Mr. Obama becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, he is sure to face an onslaught from Republicans and their allies that will be very different in tone and intensity from what he has faced so far. In the last few days alone, Senator John McCain has mocked a statement Mr. Obama made about Al Qaeda in Iraq . The Tennessee Republican Party , identifying him with his middle name as Barack Hussein Obama, suggested that his foreign policy would be shaped by people who are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. The Republican National Committee issued a statement on Wednesday invoking a questionnaire Mr. Obama filled out when running for Senate in 2004 to show that he once opposed cracking down on businesses that hire illegal immigrants

The Obama swoon

Gerard Baker: Bill and Hillary Clinton are miffed that the American media have fallen in a collective swoon for the phenomenon that is Barack Obama. You can't blame them. The tone and even the content of so much of the verbiage that pours from television and newspapers on the subject of the man seems to channel Rodgers and Hart, via Ella Fitzgerald: I'm wild again, beguiled again, A simpering, whimpering child again Bewitched, bothered and I. In fairness, though, the beguiling of the American liberal mind by this first-term senator from Illinois looks like sober contemplation compared with the ecstasy he has induced in the synapses of the rest of the world. The Germans call him, without irony, the Black JFK. The BBC evidently thinks he's the best thing to come out of America since, well, in their rather limited worldview, since Jimmy Carter. If you listen carefully you can hear grown men wandering the corridors of London, Brussels and Berlin, crooning as the

Obama widens his lead in Texas

Houston Chronicle: Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama appears to be consolidating a lead over Hillary Rodham Clinton among most constituent groups in Texas except Hispanics, according to a new tracking poll. The survey found Obama leading 48.2 percent to 41.7 percent over Clinton statewide. The poll, conducted Tuesday through Thursday for the Houston Chronicle, Reuters and C-SPAN by Zogby International, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. On the Republican side, U.S. Sen. John McCain appears headed to victory in Texas over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas congressman Ron Paul of Lake Jackson. McCain led with 53.4 percent support to Huckabee's 26.8 percent and Paul's 10.7 percent in a survey that had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. McCain led among all groups, including self-identified conservatives. The tracking poll, which will be conducted daily until next Tuesday's election, found Obama leadin

The audacity of the telecom law suits

Quin Hillyer: Telecommunications companies in the crossfire between congressional Democrats and the White House face lawsuits so breathtaking that it’s a wonder they continue to help anti-terrorism efforts at all when other industries already have balked. But it’s not just the telecoms at risk: If the plaintiffs receive everything they request, the telecoms could not even survive, and the nation’s entire, everyday communications network could fracture. ... Now consider Hepting v. AT&T , one of the dozens of class-action suits already filed against the telecoms. It reads like the account of a vast fishing expedition in which the plaintiffs claim that any small minnow they catch is a veritable Moby Dick of a privacy invasion. It claims the surveillance program “intercepts and analyzes the communications of millions of Americans” in an “illegal domestic spying program.” Never mind, of course, that the only way “millions” of Americans could be said to be affected is if they are said t

The importance of William Buckley

Peggy Noonan: ... It is commonplace to say that Bill Buckley brought American conservatism into the mainstream. That's not quite how I see it. To me he came along in the middle of the last century and reminded demoralized American conservatism that it existed. That it was real, that it was in fact a majority political entity, and that it was inherently mainstream. This was after the serious drubbing inflicted by Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal and the rise of modern liberalism. Modern liberalism at that point was a real something, a palpable movement formed by FDR and continued by others. Opposing it was . . . what exactly? Robert Taft? The ghost of Calvin Coolidge? Buckley said in effect, Well, there's something known as American conservatism, though it does not even call itself that. It's been calling itself "voting Republican" or "not liking the New Deal." But it is a very American approach to life, and it has to do with knowing that the govern

Terrorist rights Euro courts thwarts deportations

Times: Britain’s efforts to deport terrorist suspects including the radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada were dealt a serious blow by the European Court of Human Rights yesterday. In a unanimous decision, the court in Strasbourg ruled against an attempt by Italy to return a Tunisian to his home country. The Italian authorities had sought to have Nassim Saadi deported on the ground that he had played an “active role” in an organisation providing support to fundamentalist Islamist cells in Italy and abroad. The 17 judges decided that sending Saadi back would violate the European Convention on Human Rights because he faced a real risk of torture or inhumane treatment. Britain, which is seeking to send Abu Qatada to Jordan, had intervened in the case in the hope that the court would back the return of suspects regardless of their home country’s human rights record. Ministers argued that the right of the British public to be protected against terrorism should be balanced against suspects’ r

Brit police required to learn Shari'a

Daily Mail: Police will be trained on the importance of the Koran and Sharia law to Muslims under Government plans to tackle extremism. Lessons in the Islamic faith and culture will become part of the formal training for recruits. Chief constables said officers will build better relationships by understanding the communities they are policing. This could prove crucial in rooting out extremism and preventing a terrorist attack, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers. But critics expressed concern that the plan could foster division, rather than combat it. ... Knowing about mutilation and stoning may be effective in terrorizing confessions out of some, but I tend to think this is a wasted effort in dealing with the religious bigots who are threatening to terrorize anyone who does not agree with their weird religious beliefs.

Kabul may be focus of Taliban Spring offensive

Telegraph: Taliban leaders have warned they are planning to strangle Kabul, targeting civilians with dozens of suicide bombings and using thousands of fighters to lay siege to road links to the Afghan capital. Western officials have told The Daily Telegraph that intelligence reports warn of Taliban plans to increase pressure around the city, which saw more than 30 bombings last year. Some Nato officials predict that figure could rise above 100 this year. The Taliban strategy will aim to cripple the city's economy through "spectacular" attacks in a new spring offensive, and erode international will to remain in Afghanistan. Expatriate and diplomatic communities in Kabul have largely disappeared from public places since the targeting of the luxury Serena Hotel in the city in January, which killed eight staff and guests. Speaking from an undisclosed location, one senior Taliban commander with the nom de guerre Abu Tayyub, told The Telegraph: "We have planned that 7,000-

A window on Harry's world in Afghanistan

Guardian: Widow Six Seven had just given them the signal over the radio: "Cleared hot." Seconds later, a roaring could be heard as the US F15 fighter jets dropped two 500lb bombs on their targets. As one dropped a third bomb on a Taliban bunker, men could be seen on the ground scrambling out from their cover. To the American pilots, the English public school voice responding to their "in hot" request and guiding their missile fire gave no clue that the army officer with whom they were communicating was a member of the British royal family. The soldier they knew as call sign Widow Six Seven was Prince Harry, working in Afghanistan as a forward air controller [FAC] identifying Taliban forces on the ground, verifying coordinates and clearing them as targets for attack. The prince's main location was forward operating base (FOB) Delhi, an austere outpost in the perilous Garmsir area close to the border with Pakistan. It is a helicopter ride away from a military hosp

Obama's NAFTA demagoguery

Steve Chapman: ... His campaign claims a million jobs have vanished because of the deal. That sounds devastating, but over the last 14 years, the American economy has added a net total of 25 million jobs -- some of them, incidentally, attributable to expanded trade with Mexico. When NAFTA took effect in 1994, the unemployment rate was 6.7 percent. Today it's 4.9 percent. But maybe all the jobs we lost were good ones and all the new ones are minimum-wage positions sweeping out abandoned factories? Actually, no. According to data compiled by Harvard economist Robert Z. Lawrence, the average blue-collar worker's wages and benefits, adjusted for inflation, have risen by 11 percent under NAFTA. Instead of driving pay scales down, it appears to have pulled them up. Manufacturing employment has declined, but not because we're producing less: Manufacturing output has not only expanded, but has expanded far faster than it did in the decade before NAFTA. The problem is that as

Human intelligence improving in Pakistan?

B. Raman , Outlook India: ... The strike of February 28 was apparently as precise as that of January 29, 2008, and would have been possible only with human intelligence (HUMINT) and not technical intelligence (TECHINT).A significant sequel to the January 29 strike was there were no major protest demonstrations against the US by the villagers in the targeted area. This was because the strike and the HUMINT on which it was based were so accurate that there were no collateral civilian casualties. The lack of major demonstrations showed that the villagers do not mind precisely targeted attacks on jihadi terrorists provided the attacks kill only known terrorists and not innocent civilians. In the past, almost every suspected US missile strike in the tribal belt had been followed by violent demonstrations because the strikes were based on intelligence, which proved to have been inaccurate, and resulted in the death of a large number of innocent civilians. Recent strikes by the US forces on b

Al Qaeda's new tactics in Iraq

Perhaps someone should send this to Obama so he will know that al Qaeda is in Iraq.

Knowing not the enemy

David Ignatius: Politicians who talk about the terrorism threat -- and it's already clear that this will be a polarizing issue in the 2008 campaign -- should be required to read a new book by a former CIA officer named Marc Sageman. It stands what you think you know about terrorism on its head, and helps you see the topic in a different light. Sageman has a resume that would suit a postmodern John le Carre. He was a case officer running spies in Pakistan, and then became a forensic psychiatrist. What distinguishes his new book, "Leaderless Jihad," is that it peels away the emotional, reflexive responses to terrorism that have grown up since Sept. 11, 2001, and looks instead at scientific data Sageman has collected on more than 500 Islamic terrorists -- to understand who they are, why they attack and how to stop them. The heart of Sageman's message is that we have been scaring ourselves into overexaggerating the terrorism threat -- and then by our unwise actions in

Serbia withdrew police before embassy attacks

Washington Post: The Serbian government decided to pull back its police in Belgrade last Thursday so that demonstrators could attack the U.S. and British embassies, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told a Senate committee yesterday. "We have good information that when the U.S. embassy and the British embassy and others were attacked, a decision was taken by the government of Serbia actually to pull the police back and allow them to be attacked, burn the embassy and conduct the violence they conducted," McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee in answer to a question during his testimony on worldwide threats. ... Although witnesses had reported that Serbian police had appeared to withdraw when demonstrators approached the embassies, this was the first time a U.S. official said the Serbian government deliberately permitted the violence to proceed. ... When you consider how much of a police state Serbia still is despite its turn to democracy, it

Democrats want to be trade bullies

Wall Street Journal Editorial: Democrats claim the world hates America because President Bush has behaved like a global bully. But we don't recall him ever ordering an ally to rewrite an existing agreement on American terms -- or else. Yet that's exactly what both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are now promising to do to our closest neighbors, Mexico and Canada. At their Ohio debate on Tuesday, first Mrs. Clinton, followed ever so quickly by Mr. Obama, pledged to pull America out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if the two countries don't agree to rewrite it on Yankee terms. How's that for global "unilateralism"? Democrats sure have come a long way from the 1990s, when Bill Clinton pushed Nafta through a Democratic Congress. And the truth is that both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama have spoken favorably about Nafta in the past. Yet now they are sounding the loudest protectionist notes by a potential President in decades. More dangerous, neither is t

Leftist dog the war and trade for Democrats

Daniel Henninger: ... ... The Vermont governor's quixotic 2004 presidential run did one big thing: It let the netroots out. It empowered the Democratic Left. Web-based "progressives" proved they could raise lots of political money and bring pressure, especially when allied with labor unions. They didn't defeat centrist Joe Lieberman in 2006, but they drove him out of the party. They pushed the party's Iraq policy under Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi into total, rejectionist opposition. In this world, the Petraeus surge is a failure, period. Thus, Obama calmly gives the surge little or no credit. Also in this world, trade and Nafta are anathema, as seen in the House refusal to pass the trade agreement with Colombia, the U.S.'s strongest ally in South America. What the netroots has done is bunch up the party ideologically. While the Republican Party slices conservative ideology as thinly as aged prosciutto, the Democrats, in Congress and on the presidential cam

Sweden, Norway nab Islamic terror suspects

Reuters /NY Times: Swedish and Norwegian security services detained six people on Thursday on suspicion of offences related to terrorism. Security services in the neighboring countries gave few details on the cases, but Swedish news agency TT said the raids were coordinated. "Three people have been taken into custody," said Maria Martinsson, spokeswoman for the Swedish Security Service. "They are suspected of preparing terrorist activity and of financing terrorism." Norway's state security police said in a statement it had also detained three people on suspicion of funding terrorist activities abroad. The raids took place around the Swedish capital Stockholm and also close to Oslo, Norway's capital. Norway's intelligence agency said earlier this month that the threat of terror attacks by Islamic radicals was rising in part because of the country's military presence in Afghanistan. ... I guess Osama can't brag anymore about not attackin

Obama rides into box canyon on Iraq issue

Washington Times: ... But new data from the Rasmussen Reports tracking poll showed that he has some ground to make up versus Mr. McCain on national security. The poll showed 55 percent of voters trusted Mr. McCain on the issue, 25 percentage points more than Mr. Obama. On Iraq, specifically, Mr. McCain holds a narrower lead of 10 percentage points over Mr. Obama, according to the poll of 1,600 likely voters. For months, Mr. Obama has sparred with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, his Democratic primary opponent, over her initial support for the war. And she has been forced to distance herself from her initial vote. McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann said Mr. Obama's stance during the primary has left him nowhere to go and no way to react to changes in the situation on the ground. "He's completely backed himself into a strategic corner where he realizes he has to say he wants to fight al Qaeda, but at the same time, because of the Code cr

Virtual border fence flops first test

Washington Post: The Bush administration has scaled back plans to quickly build a "virtual fence" along the U.S.- Mexico border, delaying completion of the first phase of the project by at least three years and shifting away from a network of tower-mounted sensors and surveillance gear, federal officials said yesterday. Technical problems discovered in a 28-mile pilot project south of Tucson prompted the change in plans, Department of Homeland Security officials and congressional auditors told a House subcommittee. Though the department took over that initial stretch Friday from Boeing , authorities confirmed that Project 28, the initial deployment of the Secure Border Initiative network, did not work as planned or meet the needs of the U.S. Border Patrol . The announcement marked a major setback for what President Bush in May 2006 called "the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history." The virtual fence was to be a key

Missle strikes meeting of Arabs in Pakistan tribal region

Reuters /NY Times: A missile struck a house in a Pakistani region known as being a safe haven for al Qaeda early on Thursday, killing 13 suspected militants including foreigners, intelligence officials and residents said. The attack took place near Kaloosha village in the South Waziristan tribal region on the Afghan border. "The blast shook the entire area," said resident Behlool Khan. A security official said he believed the missile was fired by U.S. forces who are operating in neighbouring Afghanistan, and the house belonged to a Pashtun tribesman, Sher Mohammad Malikkheil, known as Sheroo, who is believed to have links with militants. "Ten people, most of them believed to be of Arab origin, were killed and seven wounded," said an intelligence official, who declined to be identified. Another intelligence official later revised the death toll to 13 and said it included three Pakistanis. He said the house, about 25 km (16 miles) inside Pakistan's border and oppo

Louisiana throws off 3rd world governance

NY Times: ... Six weeks into the term of Gov. Bobby Jindal , an extensive package of ethics bills was approved here this week, signaling a shift in the political culture of a state proud of its brazen style. Mr. Jindal, the earnest son of Indian immigrants, quickly declared open season on the cozy fusion of interests and social habits that have prevailed among lobbyists, state legislators and state agencies here for decades. Mostly, he got what he wanted. Mr. Jindal, an outsider to that rollicking if sometimes unsavory banquet, a Republican with a missionary’s zeal to smite Louisiana ’s wickedness at one of its presumed sources, called on the Legislature to reform itself and its high-living ways. Grudgingly, pushed by public opinion and business pressure, it went along. When the legislative session ended Tuesday, lawmakers had passed bills aimed at making their finances less opaque, barring their lucrative contracts with the state — some have been known to do good business with them —

Why is Obama so insensitive toward Muslims?

AP/NY Times: For Barack Obama , it is an ember that he has doused time and again, only to see it flicker anew: links to Islam fanned by false rumors, innuendo and association. Obama and his campaign reacted strongly this week when a photo of him in Kenyan tribal garb began spreading on the Internet. And the praise he received Sunday from Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan prompted pointed questions -- during Tuesday night's presidential debate and also in a private meeting over the weekend with Jewish leaders in Cleveland. During the debate, Obama repeated his denunciation of Farrakhan's views, which have included numerous anti-Semitic comments. And, after being pressed, he rejected Farrakhan's support in the presidential race. The Democratic candidate says repeatedly that he's a Christian who took the oath of office on a family Bible. Yet on the Internet and on talk radio -- and in a campaign introduction for John McCain this week -- he is often depicted, fal