Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Pakistan: Militants Kidnapping, Killing Outsiders In Tribal Areas

November 15, 2008

A Canadian journalist abducted this week in Pakistan’s northern tribal region was working on a documentary film for the Al-Jazeera network, media reported Friday.

A handout picture obtained in 2006 shows the logo of Al-Jazeera ...

Beverly Giesbrecht, 52, also known as Khadija Abdul Qahaar, was seized at gunpoint on Tuesday while traveling in the Bannu district of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan.

AFP

The daily Globe and Mail, citing Pakistan’s high commission in Ottawa, said the former magazine publisher who runs a website offering Islamic news was on a freelance assignment for the Arab language network when she was taken.

Her visa application was supported by two letters from Al Jazeera, verifying she would be doing freelance work, said the newspaper.

“The letters say … she will be reporting on the new government and the wider political situation, including the war on terrorism” for a documentary, high commission spokesman Mammona Malik told the newspaper.

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A gunman ambushed a Japanese reporter and an Afghan colleague Friday, wounding both men and their Pakistani driver in the latest attack on foreigners in Pakistan‘s volatile northwest region in three days.

Security appears to be crumbling in Peshawar, a city of 2 million where an Iranian diplomat was kidnapped Thursday and an American aid worker was killed Wednesday.

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer

Motoki Yotsukura, Asahi Shimbun‘s bureau chief, was in a car with Sami Yousufzai, an Afghan who has worked for Western publications including Newsweek, when the assailant opened fire, police said.

Injured Japanese journalist Motoki Yotsukura arrives at a local ...

“Three armed men intercepted our car, and one of them aimed his pistol at me,” said the Afghan, Sami Yousufzai, from a hospital. “He opened fire when I put up resistance. I got a bullet in my hand.”

Yotsukura was wounded in the leg, police said. The injuries to Yousufzai and the driver also were not life threatening.

Asahi Shimbun reported that Yotsukura, 39, had left earlier Friday from Islamabad on a reporting trip to interview people close to the Taliban.

Officers were investigating whether the attack was an attempted assassination or an attempted kidnapping.

Peshawar and the nearby lawless tribal area have seen a rise in attacks on foreigners. A Chinese, an Afghan and a Pole are currently being held after being seized in the region, which is also home to criminal gangs who kidnap for ransom, drug runners and smugglers.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081114/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_108

U.S. trails other nations in chronic illness care

November 13, 2008

Chronically ill Americans are more likely to forgo medical care because of high costs or experience medical errors than patients in other affluent countries, according to a study released on Thursday.

By Will Dunham, Reuters
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The study comparing the experiences of patients in eight nations reflected poorly on the U.S. health care system as President-elect Barack Obama and his allies work on plans to rein in health costs and extend insurance to more people.

The researchers questioned 7,500 adults in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Britain and the United States. Each had at least one of seven chronic conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and depression.

Dutch patients had the fewest complaints, while the Americans had plenty, according to the study by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based health policy research group.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081113/us_nm/us_healthcare_
comparison;_ylt=Ah_gVcf5fUA4FH5wqRF3Ew2s0NUE

Global Economic Meltdown Gives Developing Nations Upper Hand: U.S. and NATO Eclipsed?

October 12, 2008

“In a very bizarre way, roles have been reversed in the global economy. The typical troublemakers of the global economy, the emerging markets, are actually now the world’s creditors…”

By David R. Sands
The Washington Times

As shell-shocked central bankers and finance ministers gather in Washington to confront the world’s financial meltdown this weekend, that grinding noise in the background is the sound of the global balance of power shifting.

In sharp contrast to past crises — from the Latin American debt problems of the 1980s to the Asian and Russian currency collapses of the 1990s — the emerging markets of the developing world boast the strong balance sheets and deep financial pockets while the United States and Western Europe lurch from crisis to crisis.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/
12/financial-crisis-reshapes-world-order/

 

 

Bush says anxiety feeding market instability

October 10, 2008

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent
October 10, 2008

WASHINGTON – President Bush said Friday that the government’s financial rescue plan was aggressive enough and big enough to work, but would take time to fully kick in.

“We are a prosperous nation with immense resources and a wide range of tools at our disposal … We can solve this crisis and we will,” Bush said in brief remarks from the White House Rose Garden.
President George W. Bush speaks about the global financial and ... 

Bush spoke as leaders of the world‘s leading economies gathered in Washington amid frozen credit markets, panic selling in stock markets and a looming global recession.

The president noted that major Western economies were working together in an attempt to stabilize markets and end the spreading panic.

“Through these efforts, the world is sending an unmistakable signal. We’re in this together and we’ll come through this together,” Bush said.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven — the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France Italy and Canada — were here for a weekend meeting. Bush plans to meet with the leaders on Saturday.

Bush said he understood how Americans could be concerned about their economic future, “that anxiety can feed anxiety and that can make it hard to see all that’s being done to solve the problem.”

McCain Major Foreign Policy Address

March 30, 2008

 March 27, 2008

Los Angeles (myfoxla.com)  —  The United States needs to work more closely with democratic nations and restore its image as a world power, Republican presidential candidate John McCain said today in downtown Los Angeles.
US. Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain is ... 
“We can’t build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to,” McCain said during a breakfast meeting of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council at the Westin Bonaventure hotel.

“We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global compact — a league of Democracies — that can harness the vast influence of the more than 100 democratic nations around the world to advance our values and  defend our shared interests.”

In his speech — titled “U.S. Foreign Policy: Where We Go From Here” —  McCain also reiterated his stances that the United States cannot withdraw from Iraq, that torture of prisoners must stop and the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay must be closed.

“America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us as a model,” McCain said. “How we behave at home affects how we are perceived abroad. … We can’t torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured.”

McCain, who recently toured the Middle East and Europe, said the United States must do more to collaborate with democratic nations.

“The United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone,” the Arizona senator said.

“Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed,” he said. “We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies.

“… Leadership in today’s world means accepting and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation,” he said. “One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to our fellow democracies.”

McCain’s comments were a departure of sorts from the Bush Administration, which has been criticized for employing a go-it-alone policy.

But McCain said again he would not advocate the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

“We have incurred a moral responsibility in Iraq. It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible and premature withdrawal,” McCain said.

Democratic candidates Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., have both pledged to gradually withdraw U.S. troops if elected.

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, criticized McCain’s speech as “empty rhetoric” that does nothing to distance him from the policies of President Bush.

“His new appreciation for diplomacy has no credibility after he mimicked President Bush’s misleading case for a unilateral war of choice when it mattered most,” Dean said. “Why should the American people now trust John McCain to offer anything more than four more years of President Bush’s reckless  economic policies and failed foreign policy?”

Foreign policy is considered an area of strength for the 71-year-old McCain, but today’s speech comes eight days after he made a high-profile gaffe.

In a news conference in Amman, Jordan, during a congressional fact- finding trip, McCain told reporters he continues to be concerned about Iranian authorities  “taking al-Qaida into Iran, training them and sending them back.”

When asked about that statement, McCain said, “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaida is gong back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., then whispered to McCain, who said, “I’m sorry. The Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaida.”

Democrats pounced on McCain’s misstatement.

“Not only is McCain wrong on Iraq again, but the bigger problem is either that either he doesn’t understand the problems facing Iraq and basically  the whole Middle East or he’s willing to ignore the facts on the ground,” Luis Miranda, a deputy communications director with the Democratic National Committee, told City News Service.

“Whichever one of those two things it is, it’s just not worthy of inspiring trust.”
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McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rodgers told The New York Times last week that “John McCain misspoke and immediately corrected himself by stating that Iran is, in fact, supporting radical Islamic extremists in Iraq, not al- Qaida — as is reflected in the transcript.

“The reality is that the American people have deep concerns about the Democratic candidates’ judgment and readiness on matters of national security and that’s why the DNC launched their attack.”
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 Text of U.S. Senator John McCain’s remarks at the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles, California:


tion

When I was five years old, a car pulled up in front of our house in New London, Connecticut, and a Navy officer rolled down the window, and shouted at my father that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.  My father immediately left for the submarine base where he was stationed.  I rarely saw him again for four years.  My grandfather, who commanded the fast carrier task force under Admiral Halsey, came home from the war exhausted from the burdens he had borne, and died the next day. 

In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home to the country they loved so well.  I detest war.  It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description.  When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue.  The lives of a nation’s finest patriots are sacrificed.

Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is disrupted; econom ies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war.  

Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly.  Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war.  However heady the appeal of a call to arms, however just the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us. I am an idealist, and I believe it is possible in our time to make the world we live in another, better, more peaceful place, where our interests and those of our allies are more secure, and American ideals that are transforming the world, the principles of free people and free markets, advance even farther than they have.  But I am, from hard experience and the judgment it informs, a realistic idealist. I know we must work very hard and very creatively to build new foundations for a stable and enduring peace. 

We cannot wish the world to be a better place than it is.  We have enemies for whom no attack is too cruel, and no innocent life safe, and who would, if they could, strike us with the world’s most terrible weapons.  There are states that support them, and which might help them acquire those weapons because they share with terrorists the same animating hatred for the West, and will not be placated by fresh appeals to the better angels of their nat ure.  This is the central threat of our time, and we must understand the implications of our decisions on all manner of regional and global challenges could have for our success in defeating it.

President Harry Truman once said of America, “God has created us and brought us to our present position of power and strength for some great purpose.”  In his time, that purpose was to contain Communism and build the structures of peace and prosperity that could provide safe passage through the Cold War.  Now it is our turn. 

We face a new set of opportunities, and also new dangers.  The developments of science and technology have brought us untold prosperity, eradicated disease, and reduced the suffering of millions.  We have a chance in our lifetime to raise the world to a new standard of human existence.  Yet these same technologies have produced grave new risks, arming a few zealots with the ability to murder millions of innocents, and producing a global industrialization that can in time threaten our planet.

To meet this challenge requires understanding the world we live in, and the central role the United States must play in shaping it for the future.  The United States must lead in the 21st century, just as in Truman’s day.  But leadership today means something different than it did in the years after World War II, when Europe and the other democracies were still recovering from the devastation of war and the United States was the only democratic superpower.  Today we are not alone.  There is the powerful collective voice of the European Union, and there are the great nations of India and Japan, Australia and Brazil, South Korea and South Africa, Turkey and Israel, to name just a few of the leading democracies.  There are also the increasingly powerful nations of China and Russia that wield great influence in the international system.

In such a world, where power of all kinds is more widely and evenly distributed, the United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone.  We must be strong politically, economically, and militarily.  But we must also lead by attracting others to our cause, by demonstrating once again the virtues of freedom and democracy, by defending the rules of international civilized society and by creating the new international institutions necessary to advance the peace and freedoms we cherish.  Perhaps above all, leadership in today’s world means accepting and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation.

One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to our fellow democracies.  We cannot build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to.  We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global compact — a League of Democracies — that can harness the vast influence of the more than one hundred democratic nations around the world to advance our values and defend our shared interests. 

At the heart of this new compact must be mutual respect and trust.  Recall the words of our founders in the Declaration of Independence, that we pay “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.”  Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed.  We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies.  When we believe international action is necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right.  But we, in return, must be willing to be persuaded by them. 

America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us as a model.  How we behave at home affects how we are perceived abroad.  We must fight the terrorists and at the same time defend the rights that are the foundation of our society.  We can’t torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured.  I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with our allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control.

There is such a thing as international good citizenship.  We need to be good stewards of our planet and join with other nations to help preserve our common home.  The risks of global warming have no borders.  We and the other nations of the world must get serious about substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years or we will hand off a much-diminished world to our grandchildren.  We need a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner.  We Americans must lead by example and encourage the participation of the rest of the world, including most importantly, the developing economic powerhouses of China and India. 

Four and a half decades ago, John Kennedy described the people of Latin America as our “firm and ancient friends, united by history and experience and by our determination to advance the values of American civilization.”  With globalization, our hemisphere has grown closer, more integrated, and more interdependent.  Latin America today is increasingly vital to the fortunes of the United States. Americans north and south share a common geography and a common destiny.  The countries of Latin America are the natural partners of the United States, and our northern neighbor Canada.

Relations with our southern neighbors must be governed by mutual respect, not by an imperial impulse or by anti-American demagoguery.  The promise of North, Central, and South American life is too great for that.  I believe the Americas can and must be the model for a new 21st century relationship between North and South.  Ours can be the first completely democratic hemisphere, where trade is free across all borders, where the rule of law and the power of free markets advance the security and prosperity of all.

Power in the world today is moving east; the Asia-Pacific region is on the rise.  Together with our democratic partner of many decades, Japan, we can grasp the opportunities present in the unfolding world and this century can become safe — both American and Asian, both prosperous and free.  Asia has made enormous strides in recent decades. Its economic achievements are well known; less known is that more people live under democratic rule in Asia than in any other region of the world.

Dealing with a rising China will be a central challenge for the next American president.  Recent prosperity in China has brought more people out of poverty faster than during any other time in human history.  China’s newfound power implies responsibilities.  China could bolster its claim that it is “peacefully rising” by being more transparent about its significant military buildup, by working with the world to isolate pariah states such as Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe, and by ceasing its efforts to establish regional forums and economic arrangements designed to exclude America from Asia. 

China and the United States are not destined to be adversaries.  We have numerous overlapping interests and hope to see our relationship evolve in a manner that benefits both countries and, in turn, the Asia-Pacific region and the world.  But until China moves toward political liberalization, our relationship will be based on periodically shared interests rather than the bedrock of shared values. 

The United States did not single-handedly win the Cold War; the transatlantic alliance did, in concert with partners around the world.  The bonds we share with Europe in terms of history, values, and interests are unique.  Americans should welcome the rise of a strong, confident European Union as we continue to support a strong NATO.  The future of the transatlantic relationship lies in confronting the challenges of the twenty-first century worldwide: developing a common energy policy, creating a transatlantic common market tying our economies more closely together, addressing the dangers posed by a revanchist Russia, and institutionalizing our cooperation on issues such as climate change, foreign assistance, and democracy promotion.

We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia.  Rather than tolerate Russia’s nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible and that the organization’s doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.

While Africa’s problems — poverty, corruption, disease, and instability — are well known, we must refocus on the bright promise offered by many countries on that continent.  We must strongly engage on a political, economic, and security level with friendly governments across Africa, but insist on improvements in transparency and the rule of law.  Many African nations will not reach their true potential without external assistance to combat entrenched problems, such as HIV/AIDS, that afflict Africans disproportionately.  I will establish the goal of eradicating malaria on the continent — the number one killer of African children under the age of five.  In addition to saving millions of lives in the world’s poorest regions, such a campaign would do much to add luster to America’s image in the world.

We also share an obligation with the world’s other great powers to halt and reverse the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  The United States and the international community must work together and do all in our power to contain and reverse North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and to prevent Iran — a nation whose President has repeatedly expressed a desire to wipe Israel from the face of the earth — from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  We should work to reduce nuclear arsenals all around the world, starting with our own.  Forty years ago, the five declared nuclear powers came together in support of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and pledged to end the arms race and move toward nuclear disarmament.  The time has come to renew that commitment.  We do not need all the weapons currently in our arsenal.  The United States should lead a global effort at nuclear disarmament consistent with our vital interests and the cause of peace.

If we are successful in pulling together a global coalition for peace and freedom — if we lead by shouldering our international responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future for humanity, I believe we will gain tangible benefits as a nation. 

It will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.  This challenge is transcendent not because it is the only one we face.  There are many dangers in today’s world, and our foreign policy must be agile and effective at dealing with all of them.  But the threat posed by the terrorists is unique.  They alone devote all their energies and indeed their very lives to murdering innocent men, women, and children.  They alone seek nuclear weapons and other tools of mass destruction not to defend themselves or to enhance their prestige or to give them a stronger hand in world affairs but to use against us wherever and whenever they can.  Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House, for he or she does not take seriously enough the first and most basic duty a president has — to protect the lives of the American people.< /P>

We learned through the tragic experience of September 11 that passive defense alone cannot protect us.  We must protect our borders.  But we must also have an aggressive strategy of confronting and rooting out the terrorists wherever they seek to operate, and deny them bases in failed or failing states.  Today al Qaeda and other terrorist networks operate across the globe, seeking out opportunities in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa, and in the Middle East.

Prevailing in this struggle will require far more than military force.  It will require the use of all elements of our national power: public diplomacy; development assistance; law enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and robust intelligence capabilities.  I have called for major changes in how our government faces the challenge of radical Islamic extremism by much greater resources for and integration of civilian efforts to prevent conflict and to address post-conflict challenges.  Our goal must be to win the “hearts and minds” of the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their future controlled by a minority of violent extremists.  In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs.

We also need to build the international structures for a durable peace in which the radical extremists are gradually eclipsed by the more powerful forces of freedom and tolerance.  Our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are critical in this respect and cannot be viewed in isolation from our broader strategy.  In the troubled and often dangerous region they occupy, these two nations can either be sources of extremism and instability or they can in time become pillars of stability, tolerance, and democracy.  

For decades in the greater Middle East, we had a strategy of relying on autocrats to provide order and stability.  We relied on the Shah of Iran, the autocratic rulers of Egypt, the generals of Pakistan, the Saudi royal family, and even, for a time, on Saddam Hussein.  In the late 1970s that strategy began to unravel.  The Shah was overthrown by the radical Islamic revolution that now rules in Tehran.  The ensuing ferment in the Muslim world produced increasing instability.  The autocrats clamped down with ever greater repression, while also surreptitiously aiding Islamic radicalism abroad in the hopes that they would not become its victims.  It was a toxic and explosive mixture.  The oppression of the autocrats blended with the radical Islamists’ dogmatic theology to produce a perfect storm of intolerance and hatred. 

We can no longer delude ourselves that relying on these out-dated autocracies is the safest bet.  They no longer provide lasting stability, only the illusion of it.  We must not act rashly or demand change overnight.  But neither can we pretend the status quo is sustainable, stable, or in our interests.  Change is occurring whether we want it or not.  The only question for us is whether we shape this change in ways that benefit humanity or let our enemies seize it for their hateful purposes.  We must help expand the power and reach of freedom, using all our many strengths as a free people.  This is not just idealism.  It is the truest kind of realism.  It is the democracies of the world that will provide the pillars upon which we can and must build an enduring peace.

If you look at the great arc that extends from the Middle East through Central Asia and the Asian subcontinent all the way to Southeast Asia, you can see those pillars of democracy stretching across the entire expanse, from Turkey and Israel to India and Indonesia.  Iraq and Afghanistan lie at the heart of that region.  And whether they eventually become stable democracies themselves, or are allowed to sink back into chaos and extremism, will determine not only the fate of that critical part of the world, but our fate, as well.  

That is the broad strategic perspective through which to view our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Many people ask, how should we define success?  Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the establishment of peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic states that pose no threat to neighbors and contribute to the defeat of terrorists.  It is the triumph of religious tolerance over violent radicalism. 

Those who argue that our goals in Iraq are unachievable are wrong, just as they were wrong a year ago when they declared the war in Iraq already lost.  Since June 2007 sectarian and ethnic violence in Iraq has been reduced by 90 percent.  Overall civilian deaths have been reduced by more than 70 percent.  Deaths of coalition forces have fallen by 70 percent.  The dramatic reduction in violence has opened the way for a return to something approaching normal political and economic life for the average Iraqi.  People are going back to work.  Markets are open.  Oil revenues are climbing.  Inflation is down.  Iraq’s economy is expected to grown by roughly 7 percent in 2008.  Political reconciliation is occurring across Iraq at the local and provincial grassroots level.  Sunni and Shi’a chased from their homes by terrorist and sectarian violence are returning.  Political progress at the national level has been far too s low, but there is progress. 

Critics say that the “surge” of troops isn’t a solution in itself, that we must make progress toward Iraqi self-sufficiency.  I agree.  Iraqis themselves must increasingly take responsibility for their own security, and they must become responsible political actors.  It does not follow from this, however, that we should now recklessly retreat from Iraq regardless of the consequences.  We must take the course of prudence and responsibility, and help Iraqis move closer to the day when they no longer need our help.

That is the route of responsible statesmanship.  We have incurred a moral responsibility in Iraq.  It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature withdrawal.  Our critics say America needs to repair its image in the world.  How can they argue at the same time for the morally reprehensible abandonment of our responsibilities in Iraq?

Those who claim we should withdraw from Iraq in order to fight Al Qaeda more effectively elsewhere are making a dangerous mistake.  Whether they were there before is immaterial, al Qaeda is in Iraq now, as it is in the borderlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Somalia, and in Indonesia.  If we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, as various factions of Sunni and Shi’a have yet to move beyond their ancient hatreds, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda.  Civil war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions.  I believe a reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values.  Iran will also view our premature withdrawal as a victory, a nd the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country with nuclear ambitions and a stated desire to destroy the State of Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow significantly.  These consequences of our defeat would threaten us for years, and those who argue for it, as both Democratic candidates do, are arguing for a course that would eventually draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would entail far greater dangers and sacrifices than we have suffered to date. I do not argue against withdrawal, any more than I argued several years ago for the change in tactics and additional forces that are now succeeding in Iraq, because I am somehow indifferent to war and the suffering it inflicts on too many American families.  I hold my position because I hate war, and I know very well and very personally how grievous its wages are.  But I know, too, that we must sometimes pay those wages to avoid paying even higher ones later.

I run for President because I want to keep the country I love and have served all my life safe, and to rise to the challenges of our times, as generations before us rose to theirs.  I run for President because I know it is incumbent on America, more than any other nation on earth, to lead in building the foundations for a stable and enduring peace, a peace built on the strength of our commitment to it, on the transformative ideals on which we were founded, on our ability to see around the corner of history, and on our courage and wisdom to make hard choices.  I run because I believe, as strongly as I ever have, that it is within our power to make in our time another, better world than we inherited.

Thank you.

Space shuttle Endeavour blasts off

March 11, 2008

By Marcia Dunn, Associated Press Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Shuttle Endeavour and a crew of seven blasted into orbit Tuesday on what was to be the longest space station mission ever, a 16-day voyage to build a gangly robot and add a new room that will serve as a closet for a future lab.
Space shuttle Endeavour lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy ... 

The space shuttle roared from its seaside pad at 2:28 a.m., lighting up the sky for miles around.

It was a rare treat: The last time NASA launched a shuttle at nighttime was in 2006. Only about a quarter of shuttle flights have begun in darkness.

“Good luck and Godspeed, and we’ll see you back here in 16 days,” launch director Mike Leinbach radioed to the astronauts right before liftoff.

“God truly has blessed us with a beautiful night here, Mike, to launch, so let’s light them up and give Him a show,” replied Endeavour’s commander, Dominic Gorie.

They did…

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080311/ap_on_
sc/space_shuttle;_ylt=AtCDpEkg04
ByNJxcvBkiIGWs0NUE

Shuttle Endeavour set to launch Japan lab to space station

March 10, 2008
by Jean-Louis Santini

WASHINGTON (AFP) – When space shuttle Endeavour launches Tuesday it will carry Japan‘s first space lab to the International Space Station, giving the country a prized spot alongside the United States, Russia and Europe.

This illustration provided by The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) ...
This illustration provided by The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) displays ‘Dextre’ (Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator). Astronauts bound for orbit this week will dabble in science fiction, assembling a ‘monstrous’ two-armed space station robot that will rise like Frankenstein from its transport bed. Putting together Dextre, the robot, will be one of the main jobs for the seven Endeavour astronauts, who are scheduled to blast off in the wee hours of Tuesday, March 11, 2008, less than three weeks after the last shuttle flight.(AP Photo/Canadian Space Agency)

With meteorologists reporting 90 percent favorable conditions for liftoff, Endeavour is set to launch at 2:28 am (0628 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The crew of seven, including Japanese astronaut Takao Doi, has already assembled there for the 16-day mission.

A main task at the ISS will be installing the first stage of the Japanese laboratory called Kibo, a micro-gravity research facility which aims to open a vital new stage in deeper space exploration.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080310/sc_afp/
usjapanspaceiss_080310013101

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takao Doi of Japan ... 
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takao Doi of Japan arrives with the crew of space shuttle Endeavour at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Saturday, March 8, 2008. Endeavour is on schedule to launch March 11.(AP Photo/Terry Renna) 
 

China suffers first defeat at WTO over auto parts: source

February 17, 2008

GENEVA (AFP) – China suffered its first defeat at the World Trade Organisation after it upheld a complaint by the United States, European Union and Canada over import tariffs on car parts, sources close to the case said.

WTO judges have handed China and the plaintiffs a confidential decision condemning the Chinese import rules, diplomats said, speaking Wednesday in Geneva on condition of anonymity.

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wtotradedisputeautopartsuseuchina_080217040038

Afghanistan, Missile Defense To Dominate Munich’s Annual Security Conference

February 8, 2008

February 8, 2008

BERLIN (AFP)–A raging Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe were set to send the sparks flying at the annual Munich security conference this weekend.

But fresh from a North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting in Lithuania, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was expected to make little headway in pressing Washington’s aims, particularly when it comes to Afghanistan, experts and diplomats believe.

“Afghanistan is going to be the centerpiece of the conference,” said Daniel Korski from the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“America will continue to make the point for more burden sharing and more troops…There will be a continuation of the rhetoric and the Americans will bring out the bogeyman of NATO’s failure.”

But Gates is likely to draw a blank, Korski added: “Spain, Germany, France and Italy will not be able to provide the reinforcements requested.”

Commanders in Afghanistan have been calling for around 7,500 extra troops for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. ISAF currently comprises 42,000 troops from 39 countries.

In fierce fighting more than 6,000 people, including nearly 220 international soldiers, were killed there last year – the most since the U.S.-led toppling of the Taliban regime in 2001.

The U.S. wants Germany, France, Spain and Italy not only to boost troop numbers but also to aid U.S., U.K., Dutch, and Canadian forces fighting a resurgent Taliban in the south of the country.

Germany for instance leads ISAF in the relatively calm north of Afghanistan but with elections looming in 2009 and public support for Berlin’s six year-old Afghan mission slipping, it is wary of becoming further enmeshed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government stresses instead the reconstruction role of its 3,200 troops, and last week Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung rejected a sharply-worded request by Gates for more help in the south.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and the Prime Minister ...
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, right, review the honour guard at the Berlin Chancellery on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008.
(AP Photo/Fritz Reiss) 

Jung says he will defend this position in Munich.

Germany’s refusal means other countries are also unlikely to step up to the plate, and this in turn could see the existing alliance unravel.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has threatened to withdraw his country’s 2,500 troops unless NATO provides reinforcements.

Since 2002, 78 Canadian soldiers and a senior diplomat have died in roadside bombings and in fighting. Next month sees a crunch vote in Ottawa on whether to extend Canada’s combat mission beyond February 2009.

Gates is also unlikely to get an easy ride over sausages and beer in Munich when it comes to Washington’s plans to site parts of a missile defense shield in eastern Europe.

The 10 planned interceptor missile sites in Poland and associated radar stations in the Czech Republic, which the U.S. wants operational by 2012, are designed, Washington says, to intercept projectiles fired from “rogue states” like Iran.

But Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov is expected to use his appearance in Munich to hammer home Moscow’s strong dislike for the plans, since the installations will be placed on what it sees as its doorstep.
Sergei Ivanov
Sergei Borisovich Ivanov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used a Polish newspaper interview on Thursday to accuse Washington of imperialism and seeking to encircle Russia with the project.

“When you look at a map, it becomes clear that everything is concentrated around our borders,” he told Gazeta Wyborcza.

The annual security conference in the Bavarian capital will bring together around 250 delegates from 50 countries including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, NATO head Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and Mohamed El Baradei, head of the U.N. atomic agency.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Jakob Gijsbert “Jaap” de Hoop Scheffer

France is healthcare leader, US comes dead last

January 9, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) – France is tops, and the United States dead last, in providing timely and effective healthcare to its citizens, according to a survey Tuesday of preventable deaths in 19 industrialized countries.

The study by the Commonwealth Fund and published in the January/February issue of the journal Health Affairs measured developed countries’ effectiveness at providing timely and effective healthcare.

The study, entitled “Measuring the Health of Nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis,” was written by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It looked at death rates….

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