World

Afghanistan Continues To Slip Away

As the American military and people are distracted by the War in Iraq, the United States' first victory in the Bush Administration's 'War on Terror' continues to slide into defeat. Consider this lede from an Oct 2 Associated Press article:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and urged support for efforts to bring "people who call themselves Taliban" and their allies into the government.

Surprised by that? I was. I'm not surprised by the recognition that a war against an armed insurgency would be long and potentially futile. I'm surprised that that is coming from the Republic Majority Leader in the Senate.

It is also surprising the extent to which that sentiment undercuts the activities of NATO allies. Consider the appeal from the NATO Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Richards, for more troops to bolster his 32,000 man force:

He said the south of the country, where NATO troops have fought their most intense battles this year, has been "broadly stabilized," which gives the alliance an opportunity to launch projects there. If it doesn't, he estimates about 70 percent of Afghans could switch their allegiance from NATO to the Taliban.

North Korean Diplomat Makes Vague Threat Of War

Buried in this Reuters story, a North Korean diplomat makes an interesting statement:

"These kinds of threats of nuclear war and tensions and pressure by the United States compel us to conduct a nuclear test," North Korean embassy spokesman Pak Myong Guk told Reuters in Canberra.

"Now the situation around the Korean peninsula is very tense," Pak said. "It may be breaking out (in) a war at any time, I think."

No Sign Of Iran Ceasing Enrichment

Secretary of State Rice, in a CNN interview had these observations about Iran's cooperation with the international community's demands that they cease their efforts to enrich uranium.

"I think it's fair to say that we have not yet heard anything that suggests the Iranians are going to suspend," Rice said. "In fact, you've probably have seen the statements to the contrary from the Iranian President."

The U.N. Security Council passed resolution 1696 to demand that Iran put a stop to its nuclear ambitions or face the threat of sanctions. The deadline under the resolution was August 31st.

Are Pluggable Hybrids (PHEVs) Economical?

A Christian Science Monitor story calls into question the economic efficiency of Pluggable Hybrid Electric Vehicles.

A groundbreaking study released last week sounds a cautionary note to the consumer. Plug-ins do burn less gasoline than regular hybrids - and gobs less than gasoline-only vehicles - but the high cost of their bigger battery packs will probably neutralize even significant savings at the pump, according to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient America (ACEEE)

I have looked into the costs vs savings argument myself, and there is compelling arguments to be made for staying with a gas-powered car if your only concern is money. However, there is more at stake than money. Hybrids, and especially PHEVs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and are beneficial to the environment in terms of the reduction of CO2 emissions. Costs will come down as adoption rates climb.

Tax Break Insanity Favors Hummers Over Hybrids

An article int the Pasadena Star News details how congress allows purchasers of hybrid vehicles a tax credit of up to $1,860. However, that credit is tied to sales quotas and that is leaving Toyota buyers out in the cold as they (Toyota) have now started to exceed their quota.

Meanwhile, purchasers of Hummers and other SUVs get huge tax deductions, as detailed by Taxpayers for Common Sense. The Jobs and Growth Act of 2003 allows for full deductibility of nearly all SUVs.

What can congress be thinking? It is as if throwing CO2 into the air was a national priority instead of a national embarrassment.

$10,000 Electric Car Available

The Boston Globe has an article detailing the first delivery of an electric car made by Zero Air Polution to a buyer in Boston.

The car, called the Xebra, has one significant handicap: it has a top speed of 40 mph.

I think it's nice that people are trying to make these things work, but a car that can only go 40mph I think does more to discredit the electric car movement than support it.

China Calls Taiwan U.N. Entry Dangerous

A Chinese government spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of China called efforts by Taiwan to seek entry into the U.N. "dangerous."

In early August, a few countries sought to include the issue of Taiwan on the agenda for the 61st session of the U.N. General Assembly. For now it has been excluded.

Artic Meltdown Reaching Record Levels

The sea ice in the arctic circle seasonally grows and shrinks each year; however, a disturbing trend, caused by rising sea temperatures is that the summer ice is reaching record lows during the summer.

The summer ice has dropped from about eight million square kilometers in the early 80s to just under 6 million in 2005 with similar drops in the winter.

The maximum amount of sea ice in the Arctic winter has fallen by six percent over each of the last two winters, as compared to a loss of merely 1.5 percent per decade on average annually since the earliest satellite monitoring in 1979. This is happening as summer sea ice continues its retreat at an average of ten percent per decade.

More False Claims Regarding WMDs From The Bush Administration

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is taking to task the Bush Administration and their Congressional counterparts for making false and/or misleading statements about Iran's nuclear ambitions and the IAEA's efforts to monitor their program.

If this sounds like deja vu, it is. The IAEA and Washington fought bitterly over assessments of Iraq's capabilities and ambitions leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Religious Slant To CNN Reporting

"Muslim bomber guilty of killing 17" reads the sensationalized title for a CNN story about a series of bombings that happened in Mumbai, India, in 1993.

Did the bomber happen to be Muslim? Yes. The article even explains what they believe to be the motivation:

... revenge for the demolition of a 16th century mosque in northern India by Hindu nationalists.

Iraq Moves Closer To Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for talks in Tehran Tuesday to discuss relations between their two countries.

Following the talks, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, had the following to say:

"A major portion of Iraq's problems will be solved when the occupying forces leave that country, and that is why we desire and hope that occupiers leave Iraq."

CIA Officers Plan For Legal Defense

Counterterrorism officers at the CIA are lining up for government backed insurance to cover their legal expenses should they face civil or criminal charges for the way they have conducted their jobs.

It would seem their greatest concern comes from a change in leadership in either Congress in 2006 or the White House in 2008.

This insurance is coupled with efforts by the Bush Administration to protect civilians in the government from liability due to the mistreatment of prisoners.

BBC News Analysis of the 'War on Terror'

What is the purpose of George W Bush's 'War on Terror' and what does it mean to the world? Has America's conduct in the 'War' shattered the coalition built up after September 11, 2001?

Five years after the terror attacks on September the 11th, the BBC takes a look at the 'War on Terror', its successes, its failures, and its consequences.

France Rejects 'War on Terror'

The French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, has rejected George W Bush's 'War on Terror' in a speech to the French Parliament.

Villepin went on to highlight France's opposition to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq pointing out the destabilizing effect it has had on the region.

Bush Acknowledges Secret Prisons, Europe Reacts

The Bush Administration has finally acknowledged the existence of secret prisons around the world used by the CIA to "interrogate" terrorists outside of U.S. territory.

If this news makes you feel more secure, you should understand that that security comes at a high price. Obviously, Muslim countries aren't too thrilled with this; but, European countries are quite annoyed as well.

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