Tag Archive: Iran


Obama’s task: maintaining support for Afghan war

http://beta.news.yahoo.com/obama-task-maintaining-support-afghan-war-135618362.html

President Obama will face a stiff political challenge Wednesday in presenting his plan for a gradual end to the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. His prime-time address must remind a skeptical electorate and a concerned Congress that the country’s longest war remains worth fighting — and funding — for several more years.

 

Obama’s generals have requested more time to consolidate the gains they say have been made since the president dispatched 33,000 additional U.S. troops to the country last year. The escalation, which angered his party’s antiwar base, followed a months-long strategy review to determine how to salvage a flagging war effort.

Since then, public opinion has turned increasingly against the war, except for a now-diminishing boost in approval after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.

As he begins the promised withdrawal, Obama’s challenge will be to provide his generals with the resources to wage the war’s final phase while persuading Congress that, at a time of fiscal strain, maintaining most of a $10 billion-a-month war effort is worthwhile.

“The process [leading to the decisions to be announced Wednesday] was all about the mission that was laid out in December of 2009, the surge in forces that followed from that decision and that mission, and the evaluation of the success that we’ve had since that mission began,” Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, told reporters Tuesday. “Having said that, we are always mindful of the fact that, as powerful and wealthy as this country is, we do not have infinite and unlimited resources, and we have to make decisions about how to spend our precious dollars and, more importantly, how and when to use military force.”

 

Japan Plans Nuclear Regulatory Reform

TOKYO — Responding to criticism that lax oversight played a role in the Fukushima nuclear accident, Japan’s government could give its nuclear regulatory agency more independence as early as next year, the country’s minister of trade and industry said.

The minister, Banri Kaieda, said the government wanted to separate the agency from his ministry, which is in charge of promoting Japan’s nuclear industry. Cozy ties between government and industry are now widely blamed for allowing the Fukushima Daiichi plant to operate despite inadequate backup power systems or protections against large tsunamis before the devastating earthquake on March 11.

Mr. Kaieda made the vague pledge of reform on Monday in Vienna, during a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the global nuclear watchdog. At the meeting, the head of the I.A.E.A., Yukiya Amano, said that nuclear regulators must be “genuinely independent,” echoing a criticism that his agency has repeatedly made of Japan’s nuclear oversight in the past.

There has also been widespread criticism in Japan that the regulators’ lack of independence contributed to the nation’s clumsy handling of the nuclear accident in the early days of the crisis, when the government largely left the response up to the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company. Officials in the prime minister’s office have since complained that they were getting inadequate information from not only Tokyo Electric, but also from the ministry and regulators, who seemed to be shielding the company.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/22/world/asia/22japan.html

Mr. Kaieda said spinning off the regulatory body, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, from the ministry was one of several proposals being considered to strengthen oversight.

The I.A.E.A. has criticized the Japanese agency’s lack of independence several times, most recently in a report completed last week by an investigative team that visited the stricken Fukushima plant in May. In 2007, following an earthquake in another part of Japan that also damaged a different nuclear plant, the international agency called for creating a firewall between regulators and the ministry, which guided the establishment of Japan’s nuclear industry.

pictures

some favorite picture i got off of google

Moroccan King Mohammed VI (R) heads a cabinet meeting at the Royal Palace in Rabat. The king outlined curbs to his wide political powers in proposed constitutional reforms and pledged to build a constitutional monarchy with a democratic parliament

 

VIDEO Residents of Rabat dance in the streets after Moroccan King Mohammed VI outlines curbs to his wide political powers in proposed constitutional reforms.http://beta.news.yahoo.com/moroccos-king-unveils-reforms-curbs-own-power-025217779.html

Moroccan King Mohammed VI outlined curbs to his wide political powers in proposed constitutional reforms and pledged to build a constitutional monarchy with a democratic parliament.

The proposals will be put to a referendum on July 1, the king said. They devolve many of the king’s powers to the prime minister and parliament.

The proposals come in the wake of nationwide pro-reform demonstrations that started in February, inspired by other popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world.

The 47-year-old monarch, who in 1999 took over the Arab world’s longest-serving dynasty, holds virtually all power in the Muslim north African country, and he is also its top religious authority as the Commander of the Faithful.

In future the head of government should come “from the ranks of the political party which comes out top in parliamentary elections,” the king said in a keenly-awaited televised address.

It would mean a “government emerging through direct universal suffrage,” he said.

The prime minister, now to be called the “president of the government” will have the “power to dissolve parliament,” which was hitherto the monarch’s prerogative, the king said.

King Mohammed VI also pledged an independent judiciary and said the proposals would “consolidate the pillars of a constitutional monarchy.”

The king has until now headed the council that has appointed the country’s judges.

Under the proposals, drawn up by a reform panel appointed by Mohammed VI in March, the prime minister will be able to appoint government officials, including in the public administration and state enterprises, taking over an authority previously held only by the king.

The prime minister will also be able to debate general state policy with a government council at weekly meetings to be held in the absence of the king, according to the draft proposals seen earlier by AFP.

Under the current constitution, only the cabinet chaired by the monarch can decide on state policy.

Among the new competencies of the parliament would be declaring a general amnesty, also currently only the king’s domain.

The reference to the king in the constitution as “sacred” would be replaced by the expression: “The integrity of the person of the king should not be violated.”

This is an important change because the word “sacred” has a strong religious connotation, especially in Arabic, analyst Mohamed Darif said.

“The new formula does not try to put a religious dimension to the person of the king but rather highlights political responsibilities,” he said.

Mohammed VI would still hold the title of Commander of the Faithful, which makes him the country’s only religious authority, and remain the head of the military forces and nominate ambassadors and diplomats.

The proposals also provide for indigenous Berber (amazigh) to be considered an official language alongside Arabic in the preamble of the new draft constitution.

A large section of Morocco’s 32 million people use one of the three dialects of the language.

The reforms are expected to transform the kingdom’s political system into a constitutional monarchy, as demanded by the February 20 Movement named after the date of its first nationwide pro-reform protests.

The youth-led group has brought thousands of people onto the streets in unprecedented calls for change, on the back of uprisings that toppled the autocratic rulers of Tunisia and Egypt in January and February.

 

NATO targets Tripoli with daytime raid

http://beta.news.yahoo.com/nato-targets-tripoli-daytime-raid-103459345.html

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — NATO warplanes dashed into the Libyan capital Tripoli at midday Friday, pounding a target in the south of the city and sending a thick cloud of black smoke rising high into the air.

A series of explosions rumbled across other parts of the city as fighter jets could by heard flying overhead. Fire engines raced through the streets, sirens blaring.

It wasn’t clear what was hit or whether there were casualties. Friday is the main day of rest in Libya, with many people off work.

NATO has been ramping up the pressure on Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. Though most airstrikes happen under cover of darkness, daytime raids have grown more frequent.

Friday’s raids follow a barrage that struck multiple targets late Thursday night.

The fresh strikes blasted the capital as renewed diplomatic efforts to halt Libya’s civil war appeared to be gaining momentum, though there are no signs a breakthrough is imminent.

On Thursday, Russia’s envoy to Libya met with senior government leaders in Tripoli, but not Gadhafi himself, in an effort to stop the fighting.

Last week, the envoy Mikhail Margelov visited the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi and said that Gadhafi has lost his legitimacy. However, the envoy also said NATO airstrikes are not a solution to Libya’s violent stalemate.

Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi said the Libyan government has held a number of “preliminary meetings” with officials based in the eastern rebel-held city of Benghazi. He said the talks took place abroad, including in Egypt, Tunisia and Norway, but he did not provide specifics.

A coalition including France, Britain and the United States launched the first strikes against Gadhafi’s forces under a United Nations resolution to protect civilians on March 19. NATO assumed control of the air campaign over Libya on March 31. It’s joined by a number of Arab allies.

Speaking by video link from Naples, NATO Wing Commander Mike Bracken said Gadhafi’s future at the helm of Libya was a what he called a “political decision.” Bracken was speaking to reporters in Brussels, NATO headquarters.

Later, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said there were no indications Gadhafi would stop attacking the opposition.

“It is hard to imagine the end to attacks on civilians while the pro-Gadhafi regime is still in power,” Lungescu said in Brussels. “It is unfortunately still the case that pro-Gadhafi forces continue to show shocking determination to harm the Libyan people.”

What started as a peaceful uprising inside Libya against Gadhafi has grown into a civil war, with rebels now holding a third of the country in the east and pockets in the west.

Libya’s rebels mark Feb. 17 — four months ago Friday — as the start of their revolution against Gadhafi’s more than four-decade rule.

It was on that date that protesters emboldened by Arab uprisings in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt took to the streets in a number of Libyan cities. At least 20 people were reported killed in a crackdown by state security forces.

Fighting between government forces and the rebels had reached a stalemate until last week when NATO launched the heaviest bombardment of Gadhafi forces since the alliance took control of the skies over Libya.

___

AP writer Don Melvin contributed from Brussels.

 

FILE- This March 12, 2009 file photo shows John Walsh, host of the television show "America's Most Wanted," in New York. This week marks the final weekly airing of "America's Most Wanted" on the Fox network after 23 years and 1153 fugitives nabbed. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, FILE)http://beta.news.yahoo.com/amw-ending-run-fox-john-walsh-isnt-done-200526524.html

NEW YORK (AP) — This week marks the final weekly airing of “America’s Most Wanted” on the Fox network after 23 years and 1,153 fugitives nabbed.

“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” said John Walsh, the host and driving force of what he turned into a nationwide crime watch. “Saturday when I see the last show — that’s gonna be painful.”

But that broadcast, which airs at 9 p.m. EDT, is billed as the season finale — not the series conclusion — on the “AMW” website.

Not surprisingly, this is the same attitude voiced by Walsh.

“I’m fighting hard to keep this franchise going,” he said. “It’s a television show that gets ratings AND saves lives, and we’ll find somewhere to keep going. We’re not done.”

Speaking by phone Thursday morning, he had just arrived back in Washington from Brazil. There, he was hunting for a pedophile who has been hiding out in Rio de Janeiro for 14 years.

“He’s a fake minister who molested tons of boys in Florida,” Walsh said. “I was working with Brazilian police, and I think I’ll get this guy.”

The case will be spotlighted on Saturday’s show, and, as he spoke, Walsh was headed to “AMW” headquarters to supervise editing the segment.

He said he will make some parting remarks at the end of the show, with the promise, “We’re going to land somewhere else.”

And after that?

“I’m so used to doing what I’ve done every day for 23 years that I’m still trying to sort it all out,” he said. “But I have many, many offers, a long list I’ve got to wade through and see where we go from here.”

One possibility, he said, is News Corp. sibling Fox News Channel, which that network confirms.

Fox News chairman Roger Ailes “has had preliminary discussions with John Walsh and he’s a fan of ‘America’s Most Wanted,'” said Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti, “but nothing has been decided.”

Walsh said he hopes to have a deal in place, probably with a cable network, within two weeks.

This, of course, is the man who mounted a crime-busting crusade in the aftermath of the abduction and murder of his 6-year-old son Adam in 1981. He became an outspoken advocate for tougher laws against sex offenders, more cooperation among law enforcement agencies, and citizen involvement in flushing out fugitives.

His TV show premiered in April 1988 on the fledgling Fox network and, little more than a year later, it was the first-ever Fox program to rank first in viewership in its time slot. It’s been a fixture on the network ever since, and during the 2010-11 season, was seen by an audience averaging 5 million viewers.

So last month Walsh, 65, was “in shock,” he said, on getting the news that “AMW” had been canceled. The show is too expensive to produce, Fox entertainment head Kevin Reilly explained. The network is planning to air weekly repeats of its prime-time entertainment series in the Saturday slot “AMW” has held for so long.

“AMW” isn’t completely disappearing from the network. There will be four, two-hour specials aired next season, Reilly said in making the announcement in May.

So far, Walsh said, there have been no discussions with Fox about how and when the specials will be produced. And they won’t preserve the current “AMW” operation, with its 70-plus staff.

“I’ve got hotline operators, website guys, reporters, writers, graphic artists, engineers — we’re a full-blown news operation,” Walsh said. “One of the most painful things I’ve got to do is cut everybody loose. Now my first priority is to be sure Fox treats these people fairly, which I think they will.”

Besides offering “AMW” employees what Walsh calls a “really fair” severance package, Fox has agreed to maintain the telephone hotline and website, which are both essential for receiving tips on fugitives from the public.

Then Walsh hopes “AMW” will soon be settled in a new TV home.

“It’s very simple,” he said. “I want to catch bad guys and find missing children — and we’re not done.”

___

Online:

http://www.amw.com

___

EDITOR’S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier

 

<img src=”http://geo.yahoo.com/p?s=7663536&pt=storypage&t=1796192717&sec=MediaInfiniteBrowse&ret=7bf19121-bd93-5906-811b-88065c1975ad%3A6b6d94e5-9e78-5b8a-8d0e-f6826e600a22%3Acc9ed1c7-6d85-505c-88e0-b216ae13839b%3A5d37638f-0131-5c6b-b995-0e8a602e16bf&pstaid=917eae30-4577-3700-ad6a-8d1448e30817&csrcpvid=qxZ6z2KLPnHCwN3OTfp7xAG7Qzxw0036iukAAwCv&#8221; style=”position:absolute;” />

  • jason
    19users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    jason2 hours agoReport Abuse

    This man is a true hero.  We will never know the countless lives that may have been saved over the last 23 years because of his brave actions.  He took an unimaginable tragedy and turned it into something so wonderful! I wish you and your family the best in all you do John!

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  • Diana
    12users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    Diana2 hours agoReport Abuse

    think you need to talk to Oprah!!! She has a new network remember! AMW would make a great add on to the OWN network. Who’s with me on this??

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  • jrab
    11users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    jrab2 hours agoReport Abuse

    I hope he’s not done, he has done wonderful things coming out of a great tragedy. Goodluck to you Mr. Walsh.

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  • SCOTT N
    10users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    SCOTT Nabout an hour agoReport Abuse

    Fox ought to do away with their crude, stupid cartoons in order to make room for “America’s Most Wanted”, a show which actually HAS a purpose for being on the air! This show is a public service in and of itself, and should be a priority! Makes me wonder where Fox’s priorities lie!

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  • Linda
    7users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down1users disliked this comment

    Linda2 hours agoReport Abuse

    America’s Most Wanted has been cancelled from Fox and they are wondering what now.  Why can’t AMW have their own show appearing opposite Fox news? I’d watch it over Fox news any day. They are making a mistake.

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  • DanS
    5users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down1users disliked this comment

    DanS2 hours agoReport Abuse

    Shame on FOX!! To end a show that has proven that it was the leading reason dangerous ppl were caught and FOX cancels the show?? Someone at FOX must have bumped their head, hard!! Bring the show back!!! If not, hopefully John Walsh and AMW can find another station to carry/air the show. Good Luck… More

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  • Red Roses
    4users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    Red Rosesabout an hour agoReport Abuse

    They have to find a new station for this show.  Killers and perverts have to be found.  Walsh is a hero!!!!

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  • Tamara
    4users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    Tamaraabout an hour agoReport Abuse

    This is unbelievable. This show should never end, never! Mr Walsh is a true hero at best for getting the “bad guys and girls” and has done a wonderful job utilizing our true great detectives all over the world. I am astonished that this show would ever die because unfortunately as long as there are… More

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  • Otter
    7users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down1users disliked this comment

    Otter2 hours agoReport Abuse

    I remember being a child when his son was kidnapped. He really has changed TV and is a hero to me. Good luck Mr Walsh!

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  • Ron
    3users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    Ronabout an hour agoReport Abuse

    Well, that’s a real shame. I’ve been watching AMW off and on since I was like 12 years old. I agree that Oprah’s network would welcome him into the fold, but I’m not sure if would be quite as effective on a cable network. In any case, I hope the show is able to find a new home. Heck, this is a show… More

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  • Gail
    3users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    Gail2 hours agoReport Abuse

    what a shame that Fox has done this to AMW. think I will start a boycott of any Fox shows, I know I won’t be watching that station anymore.

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  • Mark
    5users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down1users disliked this comment

    Markabout an hour agoReport Abuse

    Why would you even consider cancelling a show that has actually accomplished something other then destroying brain cells.

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  • Janice R
    5users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down1users disliked this comment

    Janice R2 hours agoReport Abuse

    I can not believe fox has decided to end this show! My God something that is so important to all of us to help apprehend and keep criminals behind bars! All about the money forget safety!

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  • A different Michael
    4users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down1users disliked this comment

    A different Michaelabout an hour agoReport Abuse

    Rupert Murdoch, are you reading these comments? From one Jew to another, put AMW back on the air, you schmuck.

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  • MissDee
    4users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down1users disliked this comment

    MissDee2 hours agoReport Abuse

    Somebody who’s doing something to stop bad guys, when did heros start getting let go?

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  • Gee
    2users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    Gee36 minutes agoReport Abuse

    John Walsh should be proud of the service he has performed for America’s children.
    He turned his personal tragedy into public service. Kudos to both him and his wife.

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  • oz
    2users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    oz44 minutes agoReport Abuse

    If it’s not trash FOX doesn’t want it…John I hope you’re back soon…I agree, OPRAH should pick up this show…fox tries to make good guys look bad…Here’s a good guy who has done great things like “CATCHING BAD PEOPLE”…Not only is FOX racist but stupid…

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  • Kevin
    2users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    Kevinabout an hour agoReport Abuse

    dearfox network i am very up set that you took amw off theair and i willnot watch your new fallshows this fall sign kevin lane

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  • Red Roses
    2users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    Red Rosesabout an hour agoReport Abuse

    I like a lot of shows on Fox, but since they are getting rid of AMW is will boycott them.

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  • ROSE M B
    1users liked this commentThumbs UpThumbs Down0users disliked this comment

    ROSE M B24 minutes agoReport Abuse

    ok Fox you have a lot of people against this. what about your own personal message to the people watching FOX? we do not need more smut. we ned the good shows that solves things.

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White House defends legality of Libya mission

Jay Carneyhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110615/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_us_libya

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press        Julie Pace, Associated Press–    10 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The White House says the cost of U.S. military involvement and humanitarian assistance in Libya is about $800 million as of early June.

Officials estimate the U.S. will spend about $1.1 billion in Libya through the beginning of September.

The administration included those cost estimates in a report on the Libya mission sent to Congress on Wednesday. The report is in response to a House resolution that chastised Obama for failing to provide Congress enough information on the scope and cost of U.S. military campaign in Libya.

The White House also says in the report that President Barack Obama has the authority to continue U.S. military involvement in Libya even without authorization from Congress.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Pushing back against congressional criticism, the White House said Wednesday that President Barack Obama has the authority to continue U.S. military action in Libya even without authorization from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

In a detailed, 30-page report being sent to Congress, the administration argues that the U.S. has a limited, supporting role in the NATO-led bombing campaign in Libya. Because U.S. forces are not engaged in sustained fighting and there are no troops on the ground there, the White House says the president is within his constitutional rights to direct the mission on his own.

The administration’s defense of the Libya mission comes in response to a non-binding House resolution passed earlier this month that chastised Obama for failing to provide a “compelling rationale” for U.S. involvement in Libya.

The resolution gave the administration until Friday to respond to a series of questions on the mission, including the scope of U.S. military activity, the cost of the mission, and its impact on other U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It remained to be seen whether the administration’s reasoning would be enough to quell congressional criticism. House and Senate leaders grew frustrated Wednesday when the White House briefed reporters on the report well before sending it to Congress.

Obama did not seek congressional consent before ordering U.S. airstrikes against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces nearly three months ago. Despite that, the White House has maintained that the president is not in violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which prohibits the military from being involved in actions for more than 60 days without congressional authorization, plus a 30-day extension.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sent Obama a letter this week stating that the 90-day window runs out on Sunday.

However, senior administration officials previewing the report Wednesday said U.S. forces are not involved in the kind of “hostilities” for which the War Powers Resolution says the commander in chief must get congressional approval.

While the U.S. led the initial airstrikes on Libya, NATO forces have since taken over the mission, which is in its third month. The U.S still plays a significant support role that includes aerial refueling of warplanes and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance work.

The White House and Capitol Hill have been at odds throughout much of the three-month campaign over whether the administration has fully consulted Congress on the mission. Congressional leaders and key committee members were only summoned to the White House the day before Obama ordered air strikes against Gadhafi’s forces. Several lawmakers attended in person, others by phone as Congress had just begun a weeklong break.

Obama aides insist they have briefed Congress extensively throughout, citing more than 30 briefings with lawmakers and their staff, and 10 hearings where administration officials have testified on Libya.

The White House has called the House resolution chiding Obama, as well as a similar resolution in the Senate, unhelpful and unnecessary. The administration much prefers a resolution sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., that would signal support for the Libya operation.

However, the fate of that measure is in limbo as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee delayed plans to discuss so lawmakers could review the House report.

A bipartisan group of 10 lawmakers also sued Obama on Wednesday for taking military action against Libya without war authorization from Congress. The lawmakers said Obama violated the Constitution in bypassing Congress and using international organizations like the United Nations and NATO to authorize military force.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that the president expects congressional support for the Libya campaign will continue. With Gadhafi under pressure to leave power, he said now is not the time to send “mixed messages” about U.S. commitment to the campaign.

___

Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.

 

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110615/ap_on_re_mi_ea/cia_pakistan_arrests

By MUNIR AHMED and KIMBERLY DOZIER, Associated Press        Munir Ahmed And Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press–    40 mins ago

ISLAMABAD – The Pakistani army denied Wednesday that one of its majors was among a group of Pakistanis who Western officials say were arrested for feeding the CIA information before the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The New York Times, which first reported the arrests of five Pakistani informants Tuesday, said an army major was detained who copied license plates of cars visiting the al-Qaida chief’s compound in Pakistan in the weeks before the raid.

A Western official in Pakistan confirmed that five Pakistanis who fed information to the CIA before the May 2 operation were arrested by Pakistan’s top intelligence service.

But Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas denied an army major was arrested, saying the report was “false and totally baseless.” Neither the army nor Pakistan’s spy agency would confirm or deny the overall report about the detentions.

Noor Bibi

 

The group of detained Pakistanis included the owner of a safe house rented to the CIA to observe bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, an army town not far from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, a U.S. official said. The owner was detained along with a “handful” of other Pakistanis, said the official.

The Western officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters.

The fate of the purported CIA informants who were arrested was unclear, but American officials told the Times that CIA Director Leon Panetta raised the issue when he visited Islamabad last week to meet with Pakistani military and intelligence officers.

U.S.-Pakistani relations have been strained over the raid by Navy SEALs on Pakistani territory, which embarrassed Pakistan’s military, and other issues.

One of the issues that has caused tension between the two countries is U.S. drone missile strikes targeting militants in Pakistan’s tribal region near the Afghan border.

Three attacks on Wednesday targeted suspected militant compounds and a vehicles in south and north Waziristan tribal areas, killing at least 15 alleged insurgents, according to Pakistani intelligence officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Pakistani officials often denounce the strikes in public, even though many are believed to support them in private. That support has been strained in the wake of the bin Laden raid, especially since the strikes are unpopular with the Pakistani public.

Officials said the arrests of the suspected informants was just the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the two nations.

The Times said that at a closed briefing last week, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Michael Morell, the deputy CIA director, to rate Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism operations, on a scale of 1 to 10.

“Three,” Morell replied, according to officials familiar with the exchange, the newspaper said.

American officials speaking to the Times cautioned that Morell’s comment was a snapshot of the current relationship and did not represent the Obama administration’s overall assessment.

“We have a strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and work through issues when they arise,” Marie Harf, a CIA spokeswoman, told the newspaper. “Director Panetta had productive meetings last week in Islamabad. It’s a crucial partnership, and we will continue to work together in the fight against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups who threaten our country and theirs.”

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, said in an interview with the Times that the CIA and the Pakistani spy agency “are working out mutually acceptable terms for their cooperation in fighting the menace of terrorism. It is not appropriate for us to get into the details at this stage.”

___

Dozier reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Kathy Gannon in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

 

NATO airstrike hits near Gadhafi complex

In this image taken from TV, showing rebel forces on the front line as they repel government troops, Sunday June 12, 2011, in Dafniya, Libya. as fighthttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110614/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_libya

By ADAM SCHRECK and HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press        Adam Schreck And Hadeel Al-shalchi, Associated Press–    16 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya – A NATO airstrike hit an area near Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s compound in the capital again Tuesday, as military leaders voiced concerns about sustaining the operations if the alliance mission drags on.

A column of gray smoke could be seen rising from the area around Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound shortly before dawn Tuesday. The concussion from the blast was felt at a hotel where journalists stay in the capital.

It was not clear what was targeted, and Libyan officials didn’t immediately comment.

East of the capital, alliance aircraft have begun dropping leaflets warning government troops to abandon their posts outside Zlitan, which lies just west of the rebel-held port city of Misrata.

Rebel forces have been advancing along the Mediterranean coast toward Zlitan, but say they have been instructed by NATO to withdraw ahead of expected bombing runs to old front lines in Dafniya.

The 3-by-5 inch leaflets intended for forces loyal to Gadhafi carry the NATO symbol and a picture of an Apache attack helicopter and burning tanks on one side. Green Arabic writing warns: “There’s no place to hide. It’s not too late to stop fighting. If you continue to threaten civilians, you will face destruction.” The message on the reverse urges soldiers to “stop and stay away from fighting now.”

An Associated Press reporter near the front line said NATO fighter jets were be heard overhead.

If the rebels take Zlitan, they would be within 85 miles (135 kilometers) of the eastern outskirts of Tripoli. A rebel official said opposition leaders in Zlitan have been meeting with their counterparts in Misrata, but he acknowledged they face challenges in advancing on the city.

“We need the people of Zlitan to push more courageously forward. They are dependent on our movements, but the problem is only a third of that city is with the rebels,” said Ibrahim Beatelmal, a rebel military spokesman in Misrata.

NATO’s nearly three-month air campaign has grounded Gadhafi’s air forces and weakened his military capabilities. But there are signs the pace of operations has put a strain on the trans-Atlantic alliance.

In London, the head of the Royal Navy warned that the British fleet — a key contributor to the Libya mission — will be unable to maintain the pace of operations if the mission drags on until the end of the year.

Adm. Mark Stanhope told reporters Monday he was comfortable with NATO’s decision to extend the Libya operation to the end of September, but said that beyond that the government would need to make “challenging decisions.”

“If we do it longer than six months we will have to reprioritize forces,” he said.

Elsewhere, a senior NATO official said coalition resources would become “critical” if intervention in Libya continues.

“If additional resources are needed, this of course will need a political decision,” said the official, Gen. Stephane Abrial, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week publicly rebuked the United States’ European allies and said NATO’s operations in Libya have exposed the alliance’s shortcomings. France and Britain have carried most of the load since NATO began the Libya mission March 31.

In western Libya, Gadhafi’s troops were bombarding opposition forces controlling a key border crossing with Tunisia, according to Omar Hussein, a spokesman for rebels in the western Nafusa mountains.

He said government forces were targeting rebels holding the road that leads toward the Dehiba border crossing. Dehiba is a key supply point for the rebels who wrested control of a string of Nafusa mountain towns from Gadhafi’s forces earlier this month.

NATO, meanwhile, reported it had carried out 62 airstrikes on Libya Monday, hitting military targets in Tripoli and four other cities in Gadhafi controlled territory. The alliance has considerably stepped up the pace of air attacks over tjhe past several days.

___

Al-Shalchi reported from Misrata. Maggie Michael in Cairo and Danica Kirka in London contributed reporting.

 

Syrian forces head for second northern protest town

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110613/wl_nm/us_syria

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis        Khaled Yacoub Oweis–    6 mins ago

AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian troops pushed toward the northern town of Maarat al-Numaan on the Damascus-Aleppo highway after rounding up hundreds of people in a sweep through villages near Jisr al-Shughour, fleeing residents said.

Late on Monday witnesses said troops and armored vehicles had reached the village of Ahtam, 14 km (nine miles) from Maarat al-Numaan where there have been large protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

Thousands of residents of Jisr al-Shughour fled to Turkey, some 20 km away, before the army retook the rebellious town on Sunday, the latest step in its drive to crush spreading demands for political reform that pose an unprecedented challenge to Assad’s 11-year rule.

The government says the three-month-old protests are part of a violent conspiracy backed by foreign powers to sow sectarian strife. Syria has banned most foreign correspondents, making it difficult to verify accounts of events.

In measures witnessed in other cities and towns besieged by troops and tanks after protests, fleeing refugees said members of the security forces and Alawite gunmen loyal to Assad, known as ‘shabbiha’ broke into houses and shops in Jisr al-Shughour.

The authorities said 120 security personnel were killed there last week by “armed groups.” Residents and deserting soldiers said those killed were civilians and security personnel who had been killed for refusing to shoot protesters.

Nearly 7,000 Syrians have sought sanctuary in neighbouring Turkey, which has set up four refugee camps for them. Thousands more are living rough in rural areas just inside Syria, where hours of thunderstorms and drenching rain produced miserable conditions.

Syrian rights groups say 1,300 civilians have been killed since the start of the uprising. One group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says more than 300 soldiers and police have also been killed.

Assad, who inherited power when his father died in 2000, has offered some concessions aimed at appeasing protesters, lifting a 48-year state of emergency and promising a national dialogue, but many activists have dismissed those steps.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at Argentina’s Foreign Ministry on Monday, said the Syrian government had responded with “horrific attacks” to people’s desire for change and the situation was “very worrisome.”

“I again urge President Assad to allow humanitarian access to affected areas and to allow a Human Rights Council-mandated assessment mission, which on two occasions I have urged him to accept.”

In New York, France’s U.N. envoy appealed to skeptical Brazil on Monday to support a European draft resolution that would condemn Syria for its bloody crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.

Brazil, like India and South Africa, has expressed reservations about the draft resolution prepared by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal. Russia and China have suggested they might veto the text.

The result, U.N. diplomats said, is a deadlock on the 15-nation Security Council. It remains unclear when, and if, the Europeans will put the draft resolution to a vote.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Hudson in Guvecci, Turkey; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Tim Pearce)

 

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