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Doubts growing over Afghan strategy

KABUL – Four years after the U.S. military invaded Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban regime, doubts are growing about the U.S. ability to defeat a growing insurgency. Reports by the BBC, Pakistan Tribune and China News Agency indicate that bombings and shootings continue almost daily in the south and east, along with a rise in suicide attacks, for which Afghan officials believe al-Qaeda is partly responsible,

Despite the election of Pres. Hamid Karzai last year and a new parliament due to convene in January 2006, attacks have claimed at least 1,400 lives in the past year, the highest toll since 2001. Since the spring, evidence has been mounting of a renewed drive by Osama bin Laden’s network, particularly in eastern Afghanistan. read more

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Iraq air strike scheme questioned

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is considering a plan to put U.S. airpower at the disposal of Iraqi commanders in order to reduce the number of troops on the ground, an option that is causing consternation among U.S. Air Force commanders, the UK Guardian reports. Military officials warn it could lead to increased civilian casualties and the use of bombing to settle old scores.

According to an article in the New Yorker magazine by Seymour Hersh, the possibility of using airpower as a substitute for troops on the ground causes unease in the military mainly because officials suspect that Iraqis will eventually be responsible for target selection. read more

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U.S. held detainees in Kosovo

PARIS – The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, Alvaro Gil-Robles, has told France’s Le Monde newspaper that the U.S. military ran a Guantanamo Bay-type detention center in Kosovo, and that he was “shocked” by the conditions he witnessed there in 2002. However, he has no proof that the center, located within the U.S. military’s Camp Bondsteel, is linked to alleged CIA “ghost prison” operations.

The Council of Europe, which guarantees human rights in its 46 member states, has launched an investigation into the alleged secret prisons. Dick Marty, who is leading the probe, has already concluded that Romania, which rights groups have labeled a likely site for a secret center, has not hosted a large jail, but didn’t exclude the possibility of small facilities with one or two detainees being kept temporarily for interrogation. read more

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China considers touch of green

BEIJING – Is China beginning to go green? There are some early signs, including the nation’s latest five-year plan, which calls for the efficient use of resources to build an “environmentally friendly society,” and tax reforms discussed at a recent seminar. The latter include preferential policies for the recycling industry and a possible consumption tax for disposable chopsticks, plastic bags, diapers, and other environmentally harmful goods.

According to, when the ideas were outlined by taxation chief Xie Xuren, scholars like Li Xiangju of Xi’an Communications University were enthusiastic. “Things like disposable chopsticks and plastic bags cause a big waste on natural resources and pose environmental hazards,” he said. read more


Selling Sex in Siam

Even paradise has its seedy side, a fact that comes through clearly in Louise Brown's important book, Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia (Virago, 2000). Examining the region's sex trade and shedding light on its abuses and exploitations, Brown's book is a wake-up call and a condemnation. But mostly it is a chronicle of commodification, filled with very sad stories about the lives of innocent girls and women forced to sell their bodies as if they were just so much meat.

Joseph McCarthy

The Revolution May Never Be Televised

Joseph McCarthy
"I am entirely persuaded that the American public is more reasonable, restrained and more mature than most of our industry's program planners believe." - Edward R. Murrow, 1958

To say that George Clooney's new film "Good Night and Good Luck" is one of the most important films of this year is to be guilty of significant understatement. Not since Michael Mann's 1999 thriller "The Insider" has a Hollywood film director made a media-focused mainstream movie this important or timely.