Archive for the ‘lawmakers’ Category

Iraqi Lawmakers Brawl Over Security Pact

November 19, 2008

A session of Iraq’s Parliament collapsed in chaos on Wednesday, as a discussion among lawmakers about a three-year security agreement with the Americans boiled over into shouting and physical confrontation.

The session was dedicated to a second public reading of the agreement, which governs the presence of American troops in Iraq through 2011 and which the Parliament is scheduled to vote on Monday. Even before the session began, legislators were apprehensive.

“There is much tension inside the parliament,” said Iman al-Asadi, a Shiite lawmaker, shortly before the session was scheduled to start. “We worry that they will fight each other inside the room.”

Lawmakers who support the pact said they were worried in particular about the followers of the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who make up a bloc of 32 legislators in the 275 member Parliament. While there are those in Parliament, like many Sunnis, who have objections to elements of the pact, the Sadrists reject any agreement with the Americans in principle.

In a departure from protocol, security guards were present in the room, both because of the tension and because several Iraqi government officials, including the ministers of foreign affairs and finance, were in attendance to answer questions about the agreement. Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign affairs minister, said the guards were unarmed.

As soon as the session began, politicians in opposition to the pact stood up in the hall and volubly argued that the ratification process was unconstitutional, because a law governing the passage of international agreements has not been approved. Supporters say such a law is unnecessary, because Parliament had already ratified numerous agreements without one.

For the next two hours, the Parliament speaker, Mahmoud Mashhadani, lashed out at the objecters and refused their demands to change the Parliament agenda. He then invited Hassan al-Sneid, a Shiite lawmaker, to begin the second public reading of the agreement, a matter of parliamentary procedure.

As Mr. Sneid began reading, witnesses said, Sadrists and other opponents of the agreement continued to trade shouts with lawmakers who supported it. Then, Ahmed Masu’udi, a Sadrist lawmaker, approached the dais. Mr. Masu’udi said later in an interview that he was simply trying to reach Mr. Mashhadani to persuade him to stop the reading; several other witnesses said Mr. Masu’udi tried to attack Mr. Snied. The security guards rushed toward Mr. Masu’udi, who said that they grabbed him and struggled to push him away. At that point, witnesses said, the hall was filled with shouting, lawmakers rushed toward the front and the session ended in chaos.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/world/middleeast/20iraq.html?_r=1&hp

Catholic Bishops Will Challenge Obama, Lawmakers, Nation on Abortion

November 12, 2008

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops vowed Tuesday to forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights, saying the church and religious freedom could be under attack in the new presidential administration.

Bishop Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., front left, and Archbishop ...
Bishop Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., front left, and Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis, right, pray during the semi-annual meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008 in Baltimore. The bishops discussed today Catholic politicians and abortion rights.(AP Photo/ Steve Ruark)

In an impassioned discussion on Catholics in public life, several bishops said they would accept no compromise on abortion policy. Many condemned Catholics who had argued it was morally acceptable to back President-elect Obama because he pledged to reduce abortion rates.

And several prelates promised to call out Catholic policy makers on their failures to follow church teaching. Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., singled out Vice President-elect Biden, a Catholic, Scranton native who supports abortion rights.

“I cannot have a vice president-elect coming to Scranton to say he’s learned his values there when those values are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Martino said. The Obama-Biden press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Diocese of Kansas City in Kansas said politicians “can’t check your principles at the door of the legislature.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081112/ap_
on_re_us/rel_catholic_bishops;_ylt=AiMp4
0sZ19EOx_DLM21Ud2MGw_IE

Musharraf party to nominate PM candidate

March 22, 2008
By LAUREN FRAYER, Associated Press Writer 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Allies of President Pervez Musharraf said Saturday they would field another candidate for Pakistan‘s prime minister after withdrawing their original nominee a day earlier.
A combo of recent pictures of Pakistan's front-runners to become ... 
A combo of recent pictures of Pakistan’s front-runners to become Pakistan’s new prime minister from Pakistan’s slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto party, clockwise from top, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Chaudry Ahmed Mukhtar, Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Yousaf Raza Gillani, seen in Islamabad, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

The reversal appeared to be due to a disagreement between the country’s two main pro-Musharraf parties.

One of the parties, Karachi-based Mutahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM, withdrew its candidate as a “good will gesture” to slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto‘s followers, who won the most parliamentary seats in elections last month.

The MQM withdrew Farooq Sattar’s candidacy late Friday after meetings in London and Karachi, said lawmaker Haider Abbas Rizvi.

But Musharraf’s own party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, said Saturday that it planned to field a candidate to be announced Sunday. Party chairman and president Chaudry Shujaat Hussain said the Sattar’s withdrawal did not reflect the will of all pro-Musharraf lawmakers.

“We will contest the election. We have made this decision,” Hussain told reporters Saturday in Islamabad.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080322/ap_on_re_as/
pakistan_politics;_ylt=AjhM6jS9u
1G72KifQSD2ROqs0NUE

Pakistan: Eye Witness Account from Muhammad, December 26, 2007

December 26, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

Hoping you and your team will be alright. Today I have read a report carried by various newspapers in Pakistan. The US aid plan for Pakistan’s tribal areas is in jeopardy as there are concerns about the lack of an adequate system to keep track of the money, according to The New York Times.

The plan calls for $750 million to be used in the areas over a five-year period, but some say it’s unrealistic to think that the money could be targeted properly in a lawless region where the government has little, if any, influence and there is no US troop presence, the report published on Tuesday added.The civilian aid programme would provide jobs and schooling, build 600 miles of roads and improve literacy in an area where almost no women can read.

Some US lawmakers are concerned that a rush to spend could lead to some of the same problems that were experienced in Iraq, particularly since the plan for Pakistan would also heavily rely on private contractors that can “eat up as much as half the budget.”

As of now, the programme is scheduled to start slowly and will eschew mention of its American origins since there is so much anti-US sentiment in the region.

“My sense is they are ready to start, but who is going to be responsible for management?”  Congressman John F. Tierney asked.

Mr Tierney, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is one of several members of Congress who have begun pushing the State Department for details of how the civilian aid will be monitored.

They said they had not received satisfactory answers.

The importance of the issue, they said, was underlined by the scores of investigations into corruption connected with huge amounts of money and equipment for reconstruction and strengthening Iraq’s army and police forces that cannot be accounted for. “We’re not quite certain about it,” Mr Tierney said. “I have concerns that it not be a repeat of situations in Iraq.”

The new programme is meant to start slowly, with about $350 million to be made available for bidding initially. Among the handful of companies invited to bid are DynCorp International and Creative Associates International Inc, both of which won substantial contracts in Iraq. How effective they will be in the tribal areas is equally uncertain.The Pakistani authorities have ruled out using foreign non-profit groups, known as NGOs, shorthand for nongovernmental organizations. But neither do they approve the American choice of private contractors. They would like the money to go through them.

“We are living in times when NGOs are considered to be all out to convert tribesmen,” Javed Iqbal, until recently the additional chief secretary of Fata told the Times.

“To deal with the tribesmen, you have to understand the tribes,” Mr Iqbal said.  “You cannot ask a woman how frequently she takes contraception, which was one of the questions on an NGO questionnaire. The first reaction is going to box you in the face, and then tell you to get lost”

But Mr Iqbal said he was convinced that the for-profit companies would take a disproportionate amount of the programme money. “Forty-eight per cent of the programme money goes to consultants,” he said.

Dear Sir, I want to bring in your kind notice that Peace and Freedom can deliver positive result in the tribal areas if the task was given to it. It has been enjoying the support of people of tribal areas. The corrupt Pakistani officials should be ignored in this plan.

According to report from other parts of tribal areas, Violence spread to more areas in the Kurram Agency on Tuesday amid reports of infiltration of militants from nearby areas, sources said.

Four people were killed and 10 others were injured in clashes during the day, raising the death toll to 12 in three days. Doctors said that 32 injured people had been admitted to the agency headquarters hospital in Parachinar. However, the exact casualty figures could not be ascertained.Political Agent Zaheerul Islam confirmed only seven casualties in three days of clashes.

A senior official told Dawn in Peshawar that the Civil Secretariat, Fata, had sought more army troops to cope with the situation. “The authorities have formally requested the 11 Corps Headquarters to send more troops to the agency to control the situation,” the official said.

The ISPR’s Director-General, Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad, however, said that an adequate number of troops had already been deployed in the region. If local authorities needed reinforcements, the army would take their demand into consideration, said Maj-Gen Arshad.

A security official, Shakil Qadir, confirmed that skirmishes continued in different parts of the agency and there was a likelihood of reconvening the peace jirga to broker a ceasefire.A 15-member jirga from Hangu had left the area after it failed to broker a truce. It was constituted by the NWFP governor.

Heavy clashes were reported from Sadda, Balishkhel, Alizai, Tangai, Anzeri and Shashu. Security was tightened in Parachinar city and authorities did not relax curfew restrictions on Tuesday.

In the Balishkhel area, rival groups set houses on fire, displacing a large number of people.

Dear Sir, thank you very much again!

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan

Bush says Congress wasting time, money

December 20, 2007
By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House

WASHINGTON – President Bush, successful in forcing the Democratic Congress to bend to his will, complained Thursday that lawmakers had wasted time and taxpayers’ money. His aggressive stand set a confrontational tone for Bush’s final year in the White House.

Bush used a year-end news conference to scold lawmakers for stuffing 9,800 special-interest projects into a $550 billion spending measure. He directed his budget director to explore how to erase what Bush considers wasteful spending.

What began as a troubling year for Bush, facing a new, energetic Democratic Congress, ended in triumph for the president as frustrated Democrats nursed their losses.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071220/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush;_ylt=
AhmuAeIL0F87H2.gDQCtoECs0NUE

US lawmakers seek stiffer regulation of made-in-China toys; more recalls announced

November 1, 2007

by P. Parameswaran

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US legislators unveiled plans Tuesday for stiffer laws to regulate made-in-China toys after Halloween “treat” buckets and costume teeth became the latest tainted products from the Asian nation to be taken off American store shelves.

The Democratic-controlled Congress expects to introduce a wide-ranging toy and child product safety legislation in the “next few days,” said Bobby Rush, the head
of a House of Representatives panel on commerce, trade and consumer protection.

“We are in intense negotiations as we speak” to forge the Comprehensive Consumer Product Safety Bill, he told a news conference at Capitol Hill, where tainted China-made toys recalled in the run up to Halloween were prominently displayed.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071031/pl_afp/uschinatradechildrenhalloween_
071031131757

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More China-Made Toys Recalled

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (UPI) — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of Chinese-made Elite Operations Toys sold by Toys “R” Us because of high levels of lead.

About 16,000 sets of the toys were sold by Toys “R” Us or toysrus.com nationwide. Toys “R” Us initiated the recall when it learned the paint on the toys contained excessive levels of lead, in violation of the federal lead paint standard.

Four recalled military-style Elite Operations toys — manufactured by the Toy World Group Ltd.’s Chun Tat Toys Factory in Guangdong, China — were Super Rigs (product #1004), Command Patrol Center (#1020), Barracuda Helicopter (#1023), and 3 Pack, 8-inch Figures (#1024). The product number is located on the toy’s packaging.

Get more information:
http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Science/2007/10/31/
chinamade_elite_operations_toys_recalled/9604/