Monday, July 02, 2007

World News In Brief

Yemen : A suicide bomber crashed a car filled with explosives into a convoy of Spanish tourists visiting an ancient temple. Seven of the tourists were killed, along with two local drivers. The attack is believed to have come from an Al Qaeda organisation. US special forces have been fighting Islamists in Yemen since the bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors in 2000.

Russia : President Vladimir Putin is meeting with President Bush in Maine, and has offered to help the United States establish a missile defence 'shield, in Europe, with the help and agreement of Russia. Putin and Bush were clearly uncomfortable during a press conference. Russia has opposed the US basing missiles in European states close to Russia's borders, and recently claimed the Bush regime was using "Nazi tactics" to destabilise Europe.

United States : Three years ago, the following headline 'It's The People Versus The Government' was the sort of thing you'd find blasting out at you from the top of website fixated on conspiracy theories. But that headline is from a CNN story, highlighting poll results that show Bush and the Democrat-controlled Congress combined are the most unpopular US government in living memory. Bush scores a 30% approval rating. Congress scores a shockingly low 25%. The war in the homeland may not be that far away after all.

Australia : The Howard government paid more than $200,000 to a researcher to investigate how many young Australian Muslim men were "vulnerable" to being influenced by Islamist propaganda. The report concluded that some 3000 young men were already part of "ideological" sleeper cells, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.

UK : A comprehensive report, with some amazing photos, from the Daily Mail on the attempted car bomb attacks on London and Glasgow Airport. Two days of high drama in the UK, as MI5 ditches all other duties to hunt down the ridiculously amateurish bombers, and the network they believe was supporting them. At least six arrests have been made, and there was a car chase down an English motorway, ending with the arrest of a young couple. Claims have been made that the suspects are linked to a Kurdish extremist group. One of the alleged bombers is reportedly a brilliant doctor. London remains on a terror alert pegged as 'critical', meaning another attack is anticipated. A number of UK and European newspapers blast headlines and reports claiming that the United Kingdom is now entering "The Era Of The Car Bomb." We can only hope the next lot are as half-arsed in their attempts as these losers.

Saudi Arabia : Saudi Arabia claims it has foiled some 180 Al Qaeda terrorist operations since 2003, arresting more than 9000 suspects. Saudi Arabia has long been a prime target of Osama Bin Laden, who vowed in the late 1990s to install an Islamist regime after the current Saudi royal family regime was deposed. The kingdom has now formed specialised anti-terror forces to protect its vast oil infrastructure from attacks by Al Qaeda. More than 35,000 men are expected to join the anti-terror forces. Attempted, and successful, attacks on Saudi oil pipelines and refineries in the past have seen the worldwide cost of oil skyrocket. Saudi Arabia, ironically, is the birthplace of Wahhabism, the version of Islamist beliefs that led to the formation of Al Qaeda.

Iraq : The US Military is now accusing the international media of doing half of the insurgency's job for them - spreading disinformation. The US Military says a recent story from Iraq, about how 20 beheaded bodies were found in Baghdad, was false, but wire news services ran with the story regardless. The US Military issued a statement that reads : "Extremists promote falsehoods of mass killings, collateral damage and other violence specifically to turn Iraqis against other Iraqis..." They urged international media to hold off reporting on such alleged massacres until the US Military could confirm or deny the reports. Good luck with that.

The new Iraq Oil Law was supposed to have gone through the government months ago, but the squabbling goes on. The oil-rich city of Kirkuk remains a sticking point.

A Sunni faction of the Iraqi government claims that 350 civilians were killed by American troops during the recent fighting in Baquba. The faction claims the US is engaging in "collective punishment".

: More than 75,000 people have been abducted by Ugandan rebels in the past two decades, and remain unaccounted for. 75,000. Incredible. That's an entire small African city worth of people who disappeared off the face of the Earth.

: A remarkable five nation European poll reveals that 32% of respondents view the United States as a bigger threat to global stability than the combined forces of Iran and North Korea. Another poll revealed that 11% of Americans believe their own country is the greatest threat. But only 23% of Americans view Iran as a severe threat, much lower than you'd expect, considering the amount of conditioning some branches of the US have been undertaking to prepare th American people for the upcoming war on Iran. The effects of propaganda are not as always as effective as the proponents expect, or would like.

Afghanistan : Reports claim that up to 80 civilians were slaughtered during three hours of US airstrikes in Helmand province. The casualty figures are shocking, and are set to inflame anti-American sentiment within the Karzai government, with such an appalling death toll coming only a day after President Karzai told the US they must do everything they can to stop killing Afghan civilians. More than 200 civilians are believed to have died from NATO-led attacks and fighting with Taliban militants in June alone. A fatality figure far higher than that believed to have been generated by Taliban attacks. A shocking propaganda coup results now for the Taliban, who can claim, with some credibility, that the US and NATO are in Afghanistan to kill their women and children. A British officer who served in Afghanistan said every dead civilian meant "five new Taliban" were created.

Some 2800 civilians are believed to have been killed during fighting in the first six months of 2007.

The Australian foreign minister committed Australian troops to fighting the Afghanistan war "for years" to come. By mid-2008, Australia will have more than 1000 soldiers on the ground.

* The new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has a number of new ministers who are notorious in the Bush White House, and the Pentagon, for their anti-Iraq war views. Washington, it is said, is very, very nervous about how this new paradigm may influence Brown's decisions on troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

* Four years ago today, President Bush was asked for his thoughts on the rising casualty rates, and he invited the insurgency, who were launching attacks not then revealed to the American public, and who were so easily dismissed as a threat, to "bring them on." More than 3300 American soldiers have died since Bush extended this invitation to attack American troops.

* There were an astounding 500 terror attacks in the EU last year, but only one attack came from an Islamist. The other 499, or so, were the work of separatists from Spain and France, and other unknown parties.

* North Korea has test-fired a number of short-range missiles which could strike targets inside South Korea. The United States, Japan and China are apparently not happy.

* In Afghanistan, the NATO alliance is fighting the Taliban. In Pakistan, the Taliban are now fighting each other. Dozens die in attacks and counter-attacks in the tribal border lands. Divide and conquer, or just sit back and watch.

* In Palestine, Israel is now handing over more than $US50 million to Fatah. That's Fatah, of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. That's the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who were responsible for numerous terror attacks inside Israel in the past decade. Israel is now funding the people who, until only recently, used to attack them and wish for their destruction. Just when you thought events in the Middle East couldn't get anymore confusing....

* Iran and Venezuela are engaging, once more, in one of their favourite joint activities : bashing the United States and bagging out President Bush. And they're also seeking stronger ties with each other, as Venezuela cranks up support for the Iranian regimes and continues to buy its arms, and jointly increase trade and energy sales. Hugo Chavez claims the elections of anti-American governments through South and Central America shows just how weak the United States, under Bush, has become.