Christmas in Fallujah

6 12 2007

Billy Joel has come with a new anti-war song, Christmas in Fallujah. But he is not the one who sings it. He gave it to 21-year-old Cass Dillon, a singer from Long Island.

From the AP:
“When someone of that stature, with that history of great songs behind him with such a huge catalogue asks you to sing something he’s written, there’s nothing you can do but be completely honoured to perform,” Dillon said in a statement.

Christmas in Fallujah is on sale on Apple Inc’s iTunes. Net proceeds will be donated to Homes for Our Troops, which builds homes for severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Listen to a live performance below.

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Bin Laden’s driver: guilty or not?

6 12 2007

ahmed.jpgSalim Ahmed Hamdan used to be a driver for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Now, he is in the Guantanamo Bay charged with conspiracy and supporting terrorism. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

But now, Hamdan’s lawyers are trying to prove that their client does not fit the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant.

Hamdan, a Yemeni citizen, worked as bin  Laden’s driver for $200 a month but denies being involved in any terrorist attacks.





No nuclear arms work in Iran, US intel says

3 12 2007

US Intelligence officials have said that Iran seems “less determined” to make nuclear weapons after an intelligence estimate concluded that Iran had halted the weapons program in 2003.

Read the National Intelligence Estimate’s report.

From the New York Times:

The new report comes out just over five years after a deeply flawed N.I.E. concluded that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons programs and was determined to restart its nuclear program. The report led to congressional authorization for a military invasion of Iraq, although most of the N.I.E.’s conclusions turned out to be wrong. The estimate does say that Iran’s ultimate goal is still to develop the capability to produce a nuclear weapon.

Sorry Bush and Cheney, no World War III anytime soon! If the NIE got it right this time.





Extraordinary “Kidnapping”

2 12 2007

The Sunday Times in the UK has reported that America has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States.

A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.

For those who believed that US law allowed kidnapping only in the extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects, or whoever they don’t like, this comes off pretty surprising.

Also in the story, Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said: “This law may date back to bounty hunting days, but they should sort it out if they claim to be a civilised nation.”

I am sure there are more surprises to come. Surprise us, Justice Department!





The case of Muslim journalists in prison

20 11 2007

I have been following up with the news about the detaining of two journalists – Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein who are detained in Guantanamo and Iraq respectively.

sami-bilal.jpgAccording to BBC News, the US military has recommended criminal charges against Bilal Hussein after allegedly finding additional evidence that Hussein is a “terrorist media operative” who infiltrated the news agency.

Hussein was detained after his Pulitzer prize winning pictures were surrounded by controversy.

Read Michelle Malkin’s post on Hussein and his pictures.

However, AP CEO Tom Curley has said that the US military just wants to detain Hussein because they don’t want any news coming out of Anbar province.

“There’s a new leadership in the defence department, but the same callous disregard from justice,” Mr Curley told the BBC.

The AP lawyers working with the case have also said that the charges made against Hussein are not convincing.

“Whenever we ask to see what’s so convincing we get back something that isn’t convincing at all,” said AP’s lawyer Dave Tomlin.

In another case, Sami al-Hajj, aka prisoner 345, was has been detained under charges of being an “enemy combatant” has been on a hunger strike since January 7, 2007.

Columbia Journalism Review had an eye-opening piece this past summer about al-Hajj and his conditions.

In a diary of his hunger strike that he wrote for his lawyers, al-Haj noted that he now weighed 167 pounds after twenty-one days of fasting. Once the weight of a detainee drops to 80 percent of his normal weight, he is required to be “enterally fed,” that is, fed liquids through a tube.

Rep. Keith Ellison, a first-term Democrat from Minnesota, has called for a trial or release of al-Hajj.

“If he’s a bad actor, prove it. If not, let him out,” the congressman told The Associated Press.

The Jurist has a brief piece about of these journalists and reports from the AP and Committee to Protect Journalists.

Tayseer Allouni, another Al Jazeera journalist, was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to seven years in prison after the Spanish court found him guilty of collaboration with al-Qaeda following the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

The police had alleged that Allouni used his status to interview Osama bin Laden.

On whatever grounds these journalists might have been held for, the bottom line is that journalists as well as media agencies have a colossal challenge ahead of them.





Bomb hits the Philippines House of Representatives

14 11 2007

At least two people were killed, one of them a Muslim MP, and ten injured in Manila after a powerful bomb planted in a motorcycle exploded near the Philippines House of Representatives.

The bomb killed Congressman Wahab Akbar and his driver.

According to GMA TV, the police has recovered a cell phone from the blast site, which they believe might have been used as a detonator.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has asked people to avoid baseless accusations on any party but at least some lawmakers have casted a shadow of doubt as the bombing happened just an hour ahead of the opening of the Senate investigation into the distribution of cash gifts in Malacañang.

Updates and video from bloggers at GlobalVoicesOnline.





Money spent on Iraq war could buy…so many things!

11 11 2007

The United States’ expenditure on Iraq war will hit $611 billion if the Bush administration succeeds in getting its latest request for funding approved. Here is an interesting and creative look at what $611 billion could buy. Ethanol, gas, high schools, high rises, and war on poverty.

One of them: Almost 14 million free rides for a year at Harvard University!

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