Archive for the ‘Associated Press’ Category

Pakistan elections delayed by 1 month

January 2, 2008
By MUNIR AHMAD, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Elections will be delayed by one month following the turmoil sparked by Benazir Bhutto‘s assassination, despite opposition threats of street protests unless the crucial vote is held Jan. 8 as originally planned, a top official said Tuesday.

A senior Election Commission official told The Associated Press that the commission has agreed on a new date. He indicated it would not be before the second week of February, but refused to disclose the exact schedule before the formal announcement on Wednesday.

Opposition parties accused Pakistan‘s government of delaying parliamentary elections to avoid likely defeat and said Wednesday they feared the move could ….

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Veterans make up 1 in 4 homeless in US

November 8, 2007

November  8, 2007– 

WASHINGTON From the New York Times and the Associates Press-

Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.

And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.

The Veterans Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars and says 400 of them have participated in its programs specifically targeting homelessness.

The Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education nonprofit, based the findings of its report on numbers from Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau. 2005 data estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans.

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And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.

Pakistan: Musharraf Imposes Martial Law

November 3, 2007

The Wall Street Journal (Online)
November 3, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday, suspending the constitution, replacing the chief justice before a crucial Supreme Court ruling on his future as president, and cutting communications in the capital.

Pakistan’s main opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, flew back to the country from Dubai and was sitting in an airplane at Karachi’s airport, waiting to see if she would be arrested or deported, a spokesman said. Dozens of paramilitary troops surrounded her house.

Seven of the 18 Supreme Court judges immediately condemned the emergency, which suspended the current constitution.

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press Writer 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday, suspending the constitution, replacing the chief justice before a crucial Supreme Court ruling on his future as president, and cutting communications in the capital. Paramilitary troops and police swarmed the capital.

The opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was flying from Dubai on Saturday. Her spokesman in London said she was already sitting in a plane at Karachi airport, waiting to see if she would be arrested or deported. Another party official said her flight was due to arrive later Saturday.

Seven of the 17 Supreme Court judges immediately rejected the emergency, which suspended the current constitution. Police blocked entry to the Supreme Court building and later took the deposed chief justice and other judges away in a convoy, witnesses said.

The government halted all television transmissions in major cities other than state-controlled Pakistan TV. Telephone service in the capital, Islamabad, was cut.

A copy of the emergency order obtained by The Associated Press justified the declaration on the grounds that “some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes with the executive” and “weakening the government’s resolve” to fight terrorism.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged restraint on all sides and a swift return to democracy in Pakistan.

The United States “does not support extraconstitutional measures,” Rice said from Turkey, where she was participating in a conference with Iraq’s neighbors.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and has been a close ally of the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has struggled to contain spreading Islamic militancy that has centered along the Afghan border and spread to the capital and beyond.

Pakistanis have increasingly turned against the government of Musharraf, who failed earlier this year to oust Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry — the chief justice replaced Saturday.

Rice said that to her knowledge, U.S. officials had yet to hear directly from Musharraf after his declaration.

“Whatever happens we will be urging a quick return to civilian rule” Rice told reporters traveling with her, and a “return to constitutional order and the commitment to free and fair elections.”

Crucial parliamentary elections meant to restore civilian rule are due by January. Musharraf himself was overwhelmingly re-elected last month by the current parliament, dominated by his ruling party, but the vote was challenged. The Supreme Court had been expected to rule imminently on whether he could run for president while still serving as army chief.

Bhutto, seen by many supporters as key to a possible return to democracy, went to Dubai after being targetted by assassins in Pakistan last month. Suicide bombers attacked her homecoming parade after eight years in exile, killing more than 140 people.

She was sitting on a plane at Karachi airport Saturday after returning from Dubai, said Wajid Hasan, a spokesman.

“She is waiting to see if she is going to be arrested or deported,” Hasan said from London, adding that he had spoken to the former Pakistani prime minister by telephone while her plane was on the tarmac in Karachi.

But Fahmida Mirza, an information secretary for her Pakistan People’s Party, said Bhutto had not yet arrived. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained.

Musharraf’s order allows courts to function but suspends some fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution, including freedom of speech. It also allows authorities to detain people without informing them of the charges.

Military vehicles patrolled and troops blocked roads in the administrative heart of the capital. Paramilitary troops behind rolled barbed wire blocked access to an official compound housing lawmakers — barring even wives, children and even a ruling party senator from entering.

In Karachi, about 100 police and paramilitary troops surrounded Bhutto’s house and a bomb disposal squad searched the building, witnesses said.

There were reports of gunfire in several districts of the city, but it appeared to be aerial firing, police said.

The emergency was expected to be followed by arrests of lawyers and other perceived opponents of the government, including civil society activists and possibly even members of the judiciary itself, a ruling party lawmaker said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Private Geo TV reported the arrest of the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan — a lawyer for Chaudhry in the case that led to his reinstatement in July.

With telephone lines cut, it was not possible to contact government spokesmen for confirmation.

Chaudhry and other judges drove out of the court building in a convoy of black cars over two hours after the emergency was declared, under police escort. They were being shifted to their official residences nearby. Officers stopped reporters from approaching.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was deported in September as he tried to return from exile, condemned the emergency and said Musharraf should resign. He also urged the people of Pakistan to rise against Musharraf.

“If you don’t do it today, it will too late then,” he told Geo TV from Saudi Arabia.

In Iraq: Reporters More Dedicated than the U.S. Foreign Service?

November 3, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 3, 2007

As of October 15, 2007, according to the Washington Post, 118 journalist-reporters had been killed in Iraq.

At least 3,830 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to the Associated Press.

We asked the U.S. State Department about any and all deaths and we got this in reply:

“More than 1,200 of 11,500 eligible State Department personnel have already served in Iraq. By 2008, we need to fill 250 posts in the Embassy in Baghdad and we have had 200 volunteers.”

“At least three department employees have been killed in Iraq since the 2003.”


And one more point: who was in charge of protecting the diplomats of the State Department and the Foreign Service? Why, the State Department itself. State hired Blackwater to do the job: and now there are rumors that Blackwater is very unhappy with the way the department behaved in protecting them and managing the contract.

When the city of Washington DC has too much crime in a short time span, the Police Chief and the Mayor declare an “All Hands on Deck.” The city gets flooded with police officers and crime goes down.

After September 11, 2001, I thought I heard the President of the United States declare war on terror: in effect, a national “All Hands on Deck.” Reporters and military people streamed into Iraq.

The Foreign Service? Many ran for cover with no repercussion.


Defense on Steroids; State on Life Support

Rice Tells State Department Staff: You Took an Oath
A Diplomacy of neighborhoods

Diplomatic Infighting

See also:
War’s Necessary Sacrifices

Ahmadinejad seeks to soothe critics

September 25, 2007

By JOHN DANISZEWSKI and NICOLAS B. TATRO, Associated Press Writers

NEW YORK – In his outward persona at least, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to this country to lessen hostility toward himself and to defend Iran, not to rabble-rouse and provoke hatred.

Whether he succeeded remains an open question.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Ahmadinejad presented his country as a reasonable seeker of peace and justice. He denied that it holds any violent intentions against the United States, Israel or any of its immediate neighbors.

“We seek detente,” Ahmadinejad declared. “Every stance and position has been toward peace.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Big Disappointment

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Vietnam Jails Six For Human Trafficking of Women

July 27, 2007

BBC News
July 27, 2007

Six people have been jailed by a court in Vietnam for sending more than 120 women to be sold in Malaysia.Tran Thi My Phuong, 35, received a 12-year term for human trafficking from the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court.Five others, including her Taiwanese husband, received sentences of up to 10 years.

Judge Tran Thi Hong Viet said the gang had promised to find the women husbands in Malaysia, but instead they were sold to a broker and put up for resale.

Overseas marriage is seen by some women in Vietnam as a route out of poverty and the practise is widespread in some rural areas.

But many women fall foul of unscrupulous brokers and are sold into prostitution, while others are forced into marriages that they do not want.

‘Transnational network’

According to the judge, 126 women were trafficked to Malaysia between April 2005 and June 2006.

Depending on their age and looks, the women were sold for between US$1,500 (£736) and $2,000 to a broker in Malaysia.

They were then sold in bars for as much as $6,300 to mostly elderly or disabled men, the Associated Press news agency quoted her as saying.

The police learned about the case when some of the women returned to Vietnam, she said.

“This is the largest transnational women’s trafficking network to be broken up by Vietnamese police,” the French news agency AFP quoted court official Nguyen Thi Hong as saying.

“We have punished the defendants severely because they have seriously harmed the dignity of Vietnamese women.”

Associated Press

HANOI, Vietnam: A court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced six people to prison for luring more than 120 women to Malaysia, where most were sold to elderly and disabled men, a judge said Friday.

Tran Thi My Phuong was sentenced to 12 years in jail for human trafficking, said presiding judge Tran Thi Hong Viet. Her Taiwanese husband Tsai I Hsein was given seven years, and four others received five to 10 years at a one-day trial Thursday, said presiding judge Tran Thi Hong Viet.

The ring members were convicted of trafficking 126 Vietnamese women to Malaysia between April 2005 and June last year, she said.

Viet said the ring members had promised the victims, mostly from the southwestern region, help finding husbands in Malaysia. They were instead sold to a broker in Malaysia for US$1,500 (€1,100) to US$2,000 (€1,500), depending on their age and beauty, she said.

The women were put on sale at bars in Malaysia for as much as US$6,300 (€4,600) , she said, adding most potential buyers were elderly or disabled men.

More than 10 of the victims had managed to escape and return to Vietnam, and reported the case to police, Viet said.

At the court, the defendants maintained that they just wanted to help the women find husbands in Malaysia, but the court determined that their actions constituted woman trafficking, a crime which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years.

Thousands of Vietnamese women have been sold to China and some Southeast Asian nations for sex slaves and forced marriages.

Thailand’s child trafficking industry