World Politics - of all kinds

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Sorry for the absolutely massive gap in posts but various things have happend, like i got mysteriously locked out of my account. but anyway, will be making new posts soon.

Monday, September 13, 2004

KEYES ANNOUNCES BIG ENDORSEMENT: JESUS. Controversial, fiery and colorful US Senate candidate Alan Keyes (R-IL) seems to have no problem attracting media attention to his long-shot candidacy. He first accused his African-American opponent -- State Senator Barack Obama (D) -- of espousing "the slaveholder's" view of social issues like abortion. Then, a recent TV interview with Keyes nearly descended into fisticuffs. Last week in a media interview, Keyes denounced the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney as a "selfish hedonist." On Tuesday Keyes did it again, this time by essentially announcing that Jesus would be supporting him (if Jesus, of course, was an Illinois voter). "Christ would not vote for Barack Obama because Barack Obama has voted to behave in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved," declared Keyes. Republican leaders in the state have all been distancing themselves from Keyes in recent weeks so as to not be hurt in their own races by the massive voter backlash they are expecting to befall Keyes.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Traitorous Tory Joins BNP

Conservatives in the English town of Spen have reacted furiously to the news that a Tory councillor has defected to the BNP.

Senior Tories have demanded that he resign his seat and a by-election be held.

Roger Roberts, Tory Party member for 45 years, vice chairman of the constituency association, and former chief-whip of Kirklees Council, made the move as he thought that sine the Thatcher days the Tory party had been moving to the left when it should be moving to the right.

Peruvian and Chilean armies cool situation.

With the background of a growing diplomatic rift born out of border disputes going back to the XIX century, the Peruvian and Chilean armies have helped to cool the situation by committing themselves to “never again war between our countries”, although “history must never be forgotten”.

General Jose Antonio Graham, Commander in Chief of the Peruvian Army was this week the guest of his Chilean counterpart General Juan Emilio Cheyre who was bestowed with the highest honour medal for foreign officials “Victory Cross”.

The motive for the visit was the 226 birth anniversary of Chile’s national hero Bernardo O’Higgins.

During the solemn ceremony General Graham avoided referring to the current diplomatic exchange between both countries and admitted that even when there was a military conflict (1879) “this must be remembered so as not to repeat errors of the past; never again war between Chile and Peru…never again. No war ever, because wars are no good for nobody”.

General Cheyre invited his Peruvian counterpart to be partners in ensuring peace and security.

“We wish together with the Peruvian Army, under your distinguished command to be partners in ensuring peace and security; a commitment of new times and the spirit claimed by our peoples and their legitimate representatives in the framework of the modern concept of security”, said the Chilean Army Commander in Chief.
“Modernity and progress experienced by the peoples of the world should inspire us to strengthen our relations”, added General Graham.

During the 1879 Pacific war, when Chile defeated an alliance of Peru and Bolivia, Chile extended its northern border by keeping Bolivia’ sea outlet and part of Peru’s most southern province.

However in spite of several treaties in 1929 and in the fifties, Bolivia repeatedly insists in a sovereign Pacific access which rings a bell in some extreme nationalist Peruvians. This is particularly true when either or both countries are involved in deep political crisis as happened with Bolivia that ousted its elected president October 2003 and Peru where President Alejandro Toledo has lost control of Congress, had the lowest presidential rating in Latinamerica, 7% and his forced resignation was beginning to be considered.

However following the resurgence of the historical diplomatic dispute, Mr. Toledo’s standing has more than doubled and it’s possible he can end his mandate in 2006.

Military exercises on both sides of the Chilean and Peruvian borders did not help the situation and the official reconciliation of army commanders seems to have cooled the situation.

The latest public opinion poll in Peru shows 64% of interviews supporting a diplomatic solution to the border dispute with Chile, 30% taking the matter to an international tribunal and only 4% favoring the use of force.

As to the creation of a Defence Fund to re-equip the Armed Forces, 72% of Peruvians said the money would be better employed in education and health, although 78% believe the services do not have the sufficient capabilities to defend the country’s borders.


NICOSIA -- Iran and South Africa have agreed to increase defense cooperation in a process that could result in the transfer of Israeli-origin technology to the Islamic republic.Iran and South Africa have signed a memorandum of understanding meant to pave the way for cooperation in defense and other fields. The MoU was signed on Aug. 17 during a visit by South African Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota to Teheran.The visit was the first by a South African defense minister to Iran since 1979. Iranian officials said the two countries discussed a range of proposed projects, including training, exercises and joint development."The event can be considered as a turning point in expansion of defense cooperation between the two sides," Shamkhani said.

GOP CONGRESSMAN SAID HIS SUPPORT FOR IRAQ WAR WAS "MISTAKE." In a surprising open "letter to constituents" released Wednesday, conservative 12-term Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-NE) apologized for his previous support for the Iraq War. "I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action, especially without a broad and engaged international coalition ... The cost in casualties is already large and growing, and the immediate and long-term financial costs are incredible ... Now we are immersed in a dangerous, costly mess and there is no easy and quick way to end our responsibilities in Iraq without creating bigger future problems in the region and, in general, in the Muslim world," he explained. Did the Bush Administration lie or manipulate data to provoke the war? "Left unresolved for now is whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action," he wrote. "He is not an opinion maker or someone who has taken a leadership role. I don't think you can take this as a sign his comments are a barometer of other Republican thinking," a Bush campaign aide told CNN. Bereuter, who is retiring this year, was the Vice Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Mom! Dad! It’s the Feds!!

Various reports have been received about the FBI and other law wnforcement agencies harassing college kids planning to protest at the Republican Convention in New York.

"It is a prodigious waste of time and money for them to harass nonviolent protesters," said Zachariah Artstien, a 20-year-old student at SUNY-Purchase.

Two members of the NYPD/FBI Joint Terrorism Taskforce went to Artstien’s parents’ home and questioned them for over and hour about their son and his relationship with anti-authoritarian protest groups.

<>Although his parents are firm supporters of the Democratic Party, their son however his not a fan of either of the two main parties but is founder of a peaceful protest group in New York and Massachusetts consisting of about 200 members. Its manifesto ‘The Gray Book’ clearly states peaceful intentions and has staged ‘die-ins’ at many recruitment offices for the US military.

The Justice Department is now abusing its powers by targeting protesters with no terrorist ties, said a lawyer from the New York Civil Liberties Union. "The FBI acknowledges it has no indication these people have terrorist ties, and yet they are encouraging the JTTFs to investigate them anyway," said Udi Ofer, director of the Bill of Rights Defence Campaign at the NYCLU. "That's very disturbing."

US State Dept’s 2003 Report on Terrorism

<>I found this on Mario Profaca’s website (link below), so I decided to take a look at it out of curiosity and clicked on the section on Europe. It seemed very well done and extrememly comprehensive, until I realised that of all the countries they had left out they for some reason didn’t include Ireland, which for me anyway would have been an obvious country to include. You might be saying to yourself right now that this is a report on global terrorism but in the section for the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is mentioned along with assistance provided by the Irish government.

The report goes into great detail in describing the very slight contributions of other nations to the war on terror, but doesn’t mention the Republic of Ireland


Christianity and Homosexuality

I had decided to make a post about Chrisitan politics and what shocked me the most when I searched for news stories on NewsNow (link below) was that every story seemed to be about homosexuality and various churches. Surely there are more important issues that orthodox churches (by that I mean established churches) can bang on about instead of focusing on homosexuality. Surely things like abortion are more important, or the argument about female priests, or the War on Terror, War on Drugs. Jesus said ‘Love thy neighbour’ not bicker about his/her choice of lifestyle. My point being, if Jesus was around today would he be condemning AIDS victims or healing them? Established churches like the Catholic church, Methodist, Presbyterian etc seem to be more about institutional control than about faith and when they actually do something about crisises in the world it only seems to be idle talk, “The initiative followed from the South Asia Interfaith Consultation on Children, Young People and HIV/AIDS, organized by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Kathmandu, Nepal, in December 2003. At the meeting, participants pledged to strengthen their cooperation in addressing the pandemic.”

Thankfully I did find two political stories that were related to religion/faith the site for one is just below and the next follows.


Christian Group Call on Dems and Republicans to Stop Claiming to Have God’s Support

Sojourner magazine, a Christian publication, has started a petition to have Democrats and Republicans stop referring to God as being on their side, the site is below and here are some quotes from the site.

These leaders of the Religious Right mistakenly claim that God has taken a side in this election, and that Christians should only vote for George W. Bush.

"It is the responsibility of every political conservative, every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional get serious about re-electing President Bush."
- Jerry Falwell, The New York Times, July 16, 2004

"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk. I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. The Lord has just blessed him.... It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad."
- Pat Robertson, AP/Fox News, January 2, 2004

McGREEVEY SAGA TAKES A TURN FOR THE EVEN MORE BIZARRE. Golan Cipel -- the alleged former lover or sexual harassment victim (depending on who you believe) of New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey (D) -- flew back to Israel this week. "I have had a very difficult time," Cipel told reporters in Hebrew outside his parents' home. He promised to return to the US "in a few weeks" to pursue his lawsuit against McGreevey. Cipel has maintained he is straight and that -- while McGreevey repeatedly hit on him -- that there was no sexual relationship. This is entirely at odds with McGreevey's account that he engaged in a sexual relationship with the man. Cipel was a city tour guide and former Israeli Navy officer in Israel when McGreevey first met him on a trip nearly two years ago, before hiring Cipel to serve as New Jersey's Homeland Security Advisor. On Wednesday, a 47 (or 51)-year-old (he gave differing ages) Jersey doctor named Michael Miller came forward to claim to the media that he was Cipel's ex-gay lover. Miller's credibility, however, is much in question. "I like Golan. He can be very affectionate," Miller told the New York Post. Miller claimed he spoke with Cipel last week and plans to visit him in Israel. Miller said that Cipel is gay and has also been involved with other men in the past. However, as reporters waited outside Miller's house Wednesday night, he emerged with his hair disheveled and wearing only socks and shorts. "At times cursing and erratic, he alternatively told scribes he would talk to them [only] in Hungarian, Spanish or Hebrew," wrote the Post. Miller claimed Cipel was a gold digger. "Out on a date, he would ask me how much money I have, how many properties I own. We were out for a pleasant evening and to have sex. It took away from the moment. Don't you think it's a weird question to ask? Conversations with him always ended up with money," explained Miller. The doctor also told reporters that he spent "$100,000 on therapy" the year before he got divorced, and that he was worth "several million dollars." Miller's interview with the New York Daily News was even stranger. "We love each other. Is that a crime? We're lovers," said Miller of Cipel. The Daily News describer Miller as "manic, disjointed." The newspaper also reported that Miller "also claimed to reporters that he is a CIA operative who takes pills doled out by the intelligence agency to make his skin darker so he can infiltrate unnamed groups" and "insisted on speaking Spanish because, he said, he hates the United States." In response to Miller's tales, Cipel told reporters in Israel that he "never had any relationship with any man, so I don't know what they want from me ... It doesn't bother me that it is said I am gay, but I really am not. I'm straight," said Cipel, who also denied he ever made any attempt to extort money from McGreevey. Cipel added that Miller's account was "ridiculous and laughable ... a blatant lie and manipulation" possibly orchestrated by McGreevey or his allies. The Governor's office said that Miller attempted to contact them a few days ago, but they neither followed-up the contact nor looked into the allegations. Cue up the Twilight Zone music.

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Pennsylvania, a new Pittsburgh Tribune-Review/Franklin & Marshall College poll shows that Kerry is leading Bush in the state. The numbers: Kerry-48%, Bush-42%, Nader-3%. In South Carolina, a new WCSC-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows Bush leading Kerry by a 53% to 42% vote. In California, the new KPIX-TV/SurveyUSA poll has Kerry leading by a surprising close 49% to 46% vote. Wait a minute ... SC and CA ??? ... are we so polarized that every state is becoming a swing state this year or are these two SurveyUSA polls simply weird anomalies?

Bush Releases Cover of “Oops I did it again!” and Switches from K. Harris label to Diebold Records Ltd.

Friday November 20th 2004 8:04pm

WASHINGTON D.C., Usa (Reuters) –

In a surprise move this week, after being declared the winner of the 2004 Presidential Election by the Federal Election Committee under dubious circumstances, President George W. Bush has released a cover of a Britney Spears song called “Oops I did it again!”

Vice President, Secretary of Defence and Press Officer Karl Rove commented, “This is a great move designed by the President to celebrate his victory in the election. Sales already suggest that it will go straight to number one, with 99% of the sales being in swing states and counties like Ohio, Michigan and Florida which used Diebold Ltd’s electronic voting machines. The President would also like to thank his new record label Diebold Records, who have nothing to do with the previous company, for their continued support, especially after being betrayed by the Cheney / Rice/ Katharine Harris Label.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

First Municipal Elections Held in Saudi Arabia

The UN is reportedly monitoring the first ever municipal elections held in Saudi Arabia. The team, which is there at the request of the SA government.

Elections in the Riyadh region will be conducted in the first phase. The second phase, to be conducted before the Haj season, will cover the Eastern Province as well as the Asir, Baha, Jizan and Najran regions.

The third phase of elections in the regions of Makkah, Madinah, Qasim, Al Jouf, the Northern Border Region, Tabuk and Hail will be held after Haj. According to Okaz daily, 15 prominent personalities in Makkah are expected to file their nominations to contest the elections.

They include businessman Abdul Rahman Faqeeh, Dr Rashid Al Rajih, Adel Kaaki, Abdul Rahman Al Subaie, Mansour Abu Rayyash, Turki Ahmed Badr and Ziyad Farsy.

Hopefully this will lead to a greater role for democracy in Saudi Arabia, but the process must
be handled delicately and carefully incase of violence, or it just simply comes off the rails.


Terror suspects to appear in court

Wed 18 August, 2004 08:22

LONDON (Reuters) - Eight British terror suspects charged with conspiracy to commit murder in a plot linked to security alerts at financial targets in New York, New Jersey and Washington make their first appearance in court today.

It seems odd to be that these eight people were arrested two weeks ago and yet this was not announced by the government or on the BBC, Sky or anywhere else, I’m sure that like nearly everyone else arrested under new anti-terrorism powers they will soon be released.

Eastern European MEPs Get Second Rate Jobs

MEPs from the ten new countries that recently joined the EU have been hitting out against the lack of important jobs that they have in the new parliament.

Latvian conservative MEP Aldis Kuskis has called for a change to the way senior positions are allocated. “I – and I suspect a lot of other MEPs from the new Member States – would have liked to see better representation in the new Parliament,” he told the ‘European Voice’.

None of the six main political groups in the EU parliament has chosen a new MEP as group leader or general secretary Also only four of the twenty chairs are held by MEPs from the new states.

However the election of ultra-Conservative Slovak MEP as Chair of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee caused a large amount of controversy in relation to her outspoken views on banning abortion and segregating gay men and lesbians from the rest of the population.


Further European Union Support for the Presidential Elections in Afghanistan

Reference: IP/04/1035 Date: 17/08/2004














Brussels, 17 August 2004

Further European Union Support for the Presidential Elections in Afghanistan

As part of its comprehensive programme of support for Afghanistan’s first ever Presidential elections, the European Commission has today announced the deployment of a European Union Democracy and Election Support Mission (EU DESM) to Kabul. The Mission will assess key aspects of the October 9th Presidential Elections and, upon completion of the process, will make recommendations for the future regarding the electoral and wider democratisation processes. Additionally the Mission will support the work of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and domestic observer groups over the election period. In all 25 elections and field experts will be deployed in centres across Afghanistan for periods of up to three months. The Mission will work in close co-ordination with the EU Special Representative for Afghanistan and the European Commission Delegation in Kabul.

Deployment of an EU Democracy and Election Support Mission comes in addition to the €24 million already committed by the European Commission in support of the running of the elections. When bilateral contributions from EU member states are also included, the EU is the largest single donor to the Afghan elections. According to recent UN figures, the EU accounts for one half of all international support for voter registration and for over 40% of all funds for the organisation of the elections themselves.
As with all its support for reconstruction and stabilisation of Afghanistan, this initiative is being closely co-ordinated with the Afghan authorities, EU member states and the UN.


On 9 October, the Afghan people will vote for the first time in elections to select the country’s President. The election is a crucial step in implementing the Bonn accords adopted in December 2001 with a view to bringing peace and stability to a country ravaged by nearly a quarter-century of violent conflict.

On 11 August, the Afghan/UN Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) announced that 18 eligible candidates had successfully registered as Presidential candidates. If no single candidate secures a majority on 9 October, a second round will be scheduled to select between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes in the first round.

As of mid-August, more than 9 million of the estimated 9.5 to 9.8-million-strong electorate had registered, over 41% of them women.

More information on EU-Afghanistan relations at

Customs Union Between Cyprus and Turkey on the Cards?

<>The government of Turkey is reported to be entering into a Customs Union with Cyprus before December or by early next year<>Turkish Cypriot ‘Prime Minister’ Mehmet Ali Talat flies to Ankara today with ‘Foreign Minister’ Serdar Denktash as discussions get under way on Cyprus with the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Talat, who was summoned to
Ankara at the weekend for a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, will meet Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to work out the next steps to be taken by Turkey and the administration in the north on the Cyprus issue.<>According to the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibris, Ankara is planning to sign up to an EU Customs Union Agreement with Cyprus, it may also lead to the possible opening up of the ghost town of Varosha.

Hopefully this willll lead to a greater hope for peace and reunification on the island, at last. (Cyprus Mail)


Irish Gov urged to acknowledge outcome of Venezuelan referendum - Lab
Wednesday, August 18

President of the Labour Party, Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs
Tuesday, 17 August, 2004

The Labour Party Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Deputy Michael D. Higgins, has urged the government to use whatever influence it had to ensure that the outcome of the referendum in Venezuela was fully respected.

"The referendum in Venezuela was probably the most closely monitored electoral process ever on the American continent. The process has been endorsed by organisations like the Cater Institute, the Organisation of American States, and the EU, all of which have enormous experience in supervising elections and referenda. Their views must be respected.

" It is most disappointing to find that, despite the views of the international observers, the United States is still declining to endorse the outcome. One suspects that they would have no such difficulty in endorsing the result had President Chavez lost by a similar margin.

"Since his original election President Chavez has faced a campaign of obstruction from vested interests within and outside Venezuela who fear that their privileged position is threatened by the social and economic reforms he has introduced.

"The people have now spoken decisively and the outcome must be respected. I would urge the Irish government to say unequivocally that they respect the outcome of the referendum. I also believe that there should be an early meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs to allow us to review the referendum process and consider the current situation in Venezuela."

UK Independence Party to contest Suffolk local elections

THE UK Independence Party is preparing to field candidates across Suffolk and East Anglia in next year's county council elections.

The anti-European Union party, which now has two MEPs in the region following the European Parliament elections in June, has already unveiled plans to put up candidates in all 56 parliamentary constituencies in the region at the General Election.

However, after testing the water in council elections in Waveney earlier this year, UKIP believes it can develop a raft of local policies to attract voters in the council elections. The party has appointed a local election organiser and is now looking for candidates to stand for county polls.

Euro MP Jeffrey Titford, who lives at Frinton-on-Sea, said national membership had gone up from 8,000 to nearly 25,000 and the party was hoping the Prime Minister will decide to hold the General Election and county elections on the same day.

2004+10%3A47%3A02%3A537 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FOXX, McHENRY WIN CONGRESSIONAL RACES IN N.C. In the most watched race in Tuesday's North Carolina primary, volatile Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson lost the GOP run-off for in the open CD-5 race to State Senator Virginia Foxx. Through the primary and run-off, Robinson ran what was likely one of the dirtiest attack campaigns in the nation. Voters rebelled and Foxx won by a 10-point margin. Presumably, based on his earlier conduct, maybe Robinson will blame his defeat on an unholy cabal of homosexuals, abortionists and gun-hating communists. In the open CD-10 race, State Rep. Patrick McHenry edged out Sheriff David Huffman by less than 100 votes in the Republican run-off. A recount is likely. Foxx and McHenry are both very heavy favorites to win in November. Voters also went to the polls on Tuesday in Wyoming -- and we'll post those results in the morning.

<>TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES ... AND DO YOU HAVE A PASSPORT? Yesterday we had one North Carolina poll, and today we have another: the WBTV-TV/SurveyUSA poll. The numbers: Bush-51%, Kerry-45%. Kentucky, meanwhile, is definitely not a battleground state. A new WHAS-TV/SurveyUSA poll found that Bush leads Kerry in the Bluegrass State by a 56% to 39% vote. Finally -- and I know I generally ignore all national polls (and I'm going to do so right now with the overall results of this one, too) -- we noticed this interesting item parsed from the latest national Zogby poll. "Voters with active passports prefer Kerry 58% to 35%, while those without a passport are for Bush 48% to 39%," explained Zogby's report.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Dem Singles Website

I thought I would make a post about this simply because I find it absolutely hilarious that people would look for love or romance based on politically held beliefs. I found this site on and its a dating site for democrats and progressives in America, if you want to look at it, it can be found at:

Apologies to any readers for the delay in updating this but my
computer froze during the last update and it was lost. Feel free to contact me at:

Global Genocide

The spectre of genocide appears to be becoming more and more common across the globe.

After World War 2, all the Earth’s nations pledged that such a thing would never happen again, neglecting of course to acknowledge the genocides that had occurred before world war 2 like the Armenian Genocide, and German atrocities before World War 1 in Namibia.

But despite the best intentions of the global community genocide still continually occurs, in Bosnia, Kosovo, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq and Rwanda. With all these events that have taken place it seems the developed nations of this world were only spouting hollow words of grandeur that would make them look good in the eyes of their electorate or subjects. However even after which was probably the bloodiest century in the history of mankind, genocide and war are still rife.

Recently we have all heard of Darfur and the genocide occurring there which is clearly being orchestrated and managed by the Sudanese government, but still there is more.

The newly formed government of Georgia has warned that war and possibly genocide may break out in the break away region of South Ossetia and yet no one seems to take notice, as no one did with Rwanda, the holocaust and so many others, that is until it was too late.

Flashback to Rwanda – Ten years after the Rwandan genocide ended another massacre has occurred this time in Burundi with as many as 180 dead and 100 injured in an attack on a UN refugee camp.

When will we all wake up and wise up? War can be beneficial, in some circumstances, and I feel that invading the Darfur region would be a war that America should have fought months ago instead of invading Iraq.


Children grow up fast amid horrors of Sudan

Many childhoods have come to a screeching halt in western Sudan during the recent bout of fighting. Some youngsters have been killed. Others, like a baby-faced teenager named Mubarak, have been forced to grow up fast.

The children of Darfur, in this part of Sudan, have seen awful things: burning, looting, rape and death. They have been the targets of violence as well. Aid workers say that sex has been forced on girls as young as 8.

Other children have been shot or otherwise brutalized, and many have gone without adequate nutrition for months.

"A child is supposed to be growing up protected from the world," said Francis Deng, the United Nations representative on internally displaced persons in Nyala. "They should be playing and learning. If your life is interrupted so fundamentally, you are denied the basics needed to grow up healthy."

Take the case of Mubarak, who had been a typical 15-year-old in this part of the world, which meant he worked the fields with his father during the planting and harvesting seasons but ran off to play with his friends whenever he could.

Too poor to afford a real inflatable ball, he and his pals improvised, tying old clothes together with twine to form a rounded clump. Barefoot and energetic, they would kick their ball back and forth in the sand for hours.

His friends are gone now, as are his relatives. Some were killed and others were lost in the mass of more than a million people driven from their villages in Darfur, a region where the government has tried to crush a rebel movement by allowing Arab militias to attack local villagers.

Playing is the farthest thing from his mind these days, says Mubarak, who looks young but speaks of things that make him seem far more like a man than a boy.

Mubarak's village, Kudum, a tiny place with 200 families in the southern part of Darfur, was overrun last August by members of these militias, called Janjaweed. Mubarak recalls the chaos as the men, riding horses and camels and shooting in the air, moved in fast, and he and his family and all the other villagers ran for their lives. Behind him, he says, he remembers fire.Mubarak's father and mother and his four siblings took refuge in a wooded area nearby. But when his father left to scout out their escape route, the Janjaweed reappeared.

Mubarak watched as the militiamen told his mother to take off her clothes. Aid workers who have heard, and vouched for, Mubarak's story said they believed that the men must have raped her, as they have so many other women.

But all Mubarak says is that they told his mother to remove her clothes. He also says that he saw them shoot his little sister, who was 6. When the men left, the family dug a hole and buried her, the boy says.

Mubarak's voice grows quiet when he speaks of these things. But they are only the beginning of his story.

Mubarak's father returned, and both parents took Mubarak to a nearby Koranic school, where they thought he would be safe.

Young men and boys have been targets of the militias, who suspect the local youths of being part of the armed groups in Darfur that have spent the last 18 months fighting the government in Khartoum. Mubarak was especially vulnerable because he is from the Fur tribe, one of the groups that has backed the rebels.

But some time after Mubarak arrived, the school was raided by rebels.

The rebels rounded up several dozen frightened boys, Mubarak said - himself included - and marched them off into the countryside. The heavily armed men asked the boys if any of them wanted to go.

Eight of them raised their hands and Mubarak said the rebels told them they could run away. He said he still remembered the loud bangs when the men shot two of the escaping boys. The remaining boys became rebels.

"I had to join them," Mubarak said. "I was afraid I would be killed, too."

The new recruits were given guns and trained to use them.

They were given plenty of food and water. But being a rebel was dangerous, Mubarak said. Government aircraft would shoot down on them. Terrified that they would die, Mubarak and another boy used one such attack to escape.

The two boys walked so far that they lost all sense of direction. They had no water, and the sun beat down on them. After days of moving, they heard the sound of camels and horses nearby. Mubarak's friend ran. Mubarak said he was too weak to get away.

He was captured by a group of Janjaweed who made him march with them.

They were abusive, he said, and though he is a Muslim like them, they told him that if they saw him praying, they would kill him, he said.

The militiamen debated whether to kill Mubarak. But one of them argued that he ought to be turned over to the authorities. Finally, in Kaliek, a southern town, the Janjaweed took Mubarak to a police station, where he was put in jail.

Darfur's conflict is complicated, involving rebels, militias and government forces. In a matter of months, Mubarak had found himself in the grips of just about every faction.

Later, Ahmed Angabo Ahmed, a local politician, won Mubarak's release and took him to nearby Kas. When foreigners visited Kas, Mubarak was brought forward to tell his account.

Later, aid workers heard of Mubarak and persuaded Ahmed to release Mubarak, one of hundreds of children who have lost track their families. Unlike many others, Mubarak emerged from his trauma as gregarious as can be. But the entire conflict remains a mystery to him - he is uncertain who is fighting whom and why they are so angry.

The only thing he says he is sure of from his ordeal is that he has no interest in becoming a soldier. "Even if I hear the sounds of shooting," he said, "I get nervous."

For children's advocates, the biggest fear is that all the hate seething around Darfur will be passed down from one generation to the next, and that the children will carry on the fighting.

"Imagine a child seeing his father or mother killed or seeing his village burned," said Hashim Zakaria, a relief worker. "That image is not going to go away easily. Unless we do something, they will grow and these things will grow with them. The events of Darfur will never stop."

Manipur threatens to impose anti-terror law

Guwahati: The Manipur government yesterday threatened to re-impose an anti-terror law that was partially lifted last week if the violent protests for repealing the legislation do not die down soon.

“We shall be forced to clamp the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) again if the protests and incidents of violence do not show any let up,” Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh told reporters in the state capital Imphal.

AFSPA was withdrawn on Thursday from parts of the capital and two more districts following a month-long protest by 32 organisations, including an attention-grabbing naked demonstration by some women last month.

The legislation gives sweeping powers to the armed forced to shoot on sight and detain suspects without a warrant.

The chief minister’s statement follows angry protests on the streets of Imphal and other places in the state yesterday, besides a self-immolation bid by a youth in Bishenpur district of Manipur.

“The youth has sustained up to 80 per cent burn injuries and is now battling for survival in a hospital,” a police official said.

Normal life in Manipur yesterday came to a halt following a call by 32 protesting organisations to boycott the Independence Day celebrations demanding withdrawal of AFSPA from the entire state.

Police yesterday fired rubber bullets and burst smoke guns to disperse hundreds of protestors in Imphal in which up to a dozen people were wounded.

“The situation is tense with security forces on high alert,” Manipur Additional Police chief C Peter said by telephone.

Intelligence officials say several rebel groups were trying to instigate the demonstrators to intensify the campaign for removal of the anti-terror law from the state.

“We have reports of militants trying to use the pressure groups to further intensify their agitation and build up pressure on the government to ensure that the act is lifted in its totality from the state,” the official said.

There have been widespread protests in Manipur since July 11 after a 32-year-old woman was allegedly killed in military custody.

More than 10,000 people have died in two decades of violence in Manipur, where at least 19 rebel outfits are fighting for demands ranging from independence to greater autonomy.

Further Censorship in Iraq/Najaf

<>In a move announced only yesterday, it has emerged that the Chief of Police in the Iraqi city of Najaf has issued orders to journalists that are telling them to leave the city, those who did not leave have been threatened with arrest. The organisation Reporters Without Borders has denounced the ‘information blackout’ and called on the government to reverse its decision.

Watchdog Slams British Government Over ID Card Scheme

Information commissioner Richard Thomas has said that the UK could be, “sleepwalking into a surveillance society.” He has commented that one of the major concerns is that the government has failed to spell out what the specific purpose of the scheme is, there is this problem also coupled with the cost of the scheme which would cost an estimated £3bn. However David Blunkett has tried to tell us that it would only cost around £163million. This is true but only for the first three years or so.

GOVERNOR McGREEVEY: OUT, AND OUT OF OFFICE. The once rising star of New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey (D) crashed and burned in a totally unexpected announcement Thursday afternoon. McGreevey -- with his wife at his side -- announced that he was gay, that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with another man, and that he would resign as Governor. McGreevey -- 47 and the father of two young daughters -- said he had struggled with issues relating to his sexuality since he was a child. "At a point in every person's life, one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world, not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is. And so my truth is that I am a gay American ... I am also here today because, shamefully, I engaged in adult consensual affair with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony. It was wrong. It was foolish. It was inexcusable. And for this, I ask the forgiveness and the grace of my wife ... I realize the fact of this affair and my own sexuality if kept secret leaves me, and most importantly the Governor's office, vulnerable to rumors, false allegations and threats of disclosure. So I am removing these threats by telling you directly about my sexuality. Let me be clear, I accept total and full responsibility for my actions. However, I'm required to do now, to do what is right to correct the consequences of my actions and to be truthful to my loved ones, to my friends and my family and also to myself. It makes little difference that as governor I am gay. In fact, having the ability to truthfully set forth my identity might have enabled me to be more forthright in fulfilling and discharging my constitutional obligations. Given the circumstances surrounding the affair and its likely impact upon my family and my ability to govern, I have decided the right course of action is to resign," explained McGreevey. His eloquent words -- and the tone of voice and expression on his face (of almost relief) as he delivered his obviously cathartic remarks live on television -- made for an extraordinary moment of political theater. McGreevey's resignation will take effect November 15, and will avoid the need under state law for a special election had he resigned earlier. State Senate President Richard Codey (D) will become Governor when McGreevey leaves office. Congressman Rob Andrews (D), US Senator Jon Corzine (D), former State Assembly Minority Leader Paul DiGaetano (R), '02 US Senate nominee Doug Forrester (R), Morris County Freeholder John Murphy (R), Washington Township Councilman Robert Schroeder (R), and former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler (R) are all likely to run for Governor next year.

LOUISIANA CONGRESSMAN MAKES LAST MINUTE PARTY SWITCH. On Wednesday, conservative freshman Congressman Rodney Alexander of Louisiana filed for re-election as a Democrat. "I'm not ashamed to be a Democrat, but I vote what I think the people of the 5th District want me to represent," said Alexander at the time. What a difference two days can make. On Friday, with just minutes remaining before the close of filing, Alexander returned to re-file for re-election as a Republican. "I just decided it would be best for me to switch parties, that I would be more effective in the Fifth District in the state of Louisiana as a Republican," he now says. Alexander flirted with changing parties back in March, but announced then that he would not do so. "I'd be letting some people down who worked very hard for me and I would hate to let anybody down ... Although I am flattered by the offers of the Republicans to join their ranks, I am deciding to stay where I am," said Alexander in March. US Senator John Breaux (D) -- who was key in helping Alexander win his first election to Congress two years ago -- quickly denounced Alexander as "a confused politician who has placed loyalty at the very bottom of his priorities." Reaction on the GOP side was much warmer. "I welcome him to the GOP, and I look forward to working with Rodney," said NRCC Chair Tom Reynolds. "Rodney Alexander has betrayed voters in Louisiana ... We have no use for turncoats like Rodney Alexander in the new Democratic majority," said a DCCC spokesperson. Because of the last minute timing of the switch -- a move Breaux called a deceptive move that "effectively prevented the people of his district from a having a choice" -- Democrats, who had been raising money for Alexander, had no viable candidate to place into the race. Alexander is now a safe bet to win re-election this year -- but watch for national Dems to target him for defeat in two years.

REFORM PARTY ON BRINK OF TERMNINATION. In the mid-1990s, billionaire Ross Perot created the Reform Party as a vehicle for his Presidential ambitions and protectionist political views. In 1996, Perot ran as the Reform Party's presidential nominee and captured 8 million votes. After the Jesse Ventura faction grabbed control in 1999, and then the Pat Buchanan faction wrested control in 2000, Perot walked away from the party. The party splintered and rapidly shrank in size since the 2000 election. Earlier this year, the party handed its endorsement and ballot lines in six states to Ralph Nader. Now it appears the party is on the verge of extinction. Reform Party National Treasurer William Chapman last week sent the Federal Elections Commission a formal "request for termination based on guidelines the FEC had established for the Reform Party." Chapman says that the national party has less than $19 remaining in its bank account. Reform Party National Chair Shawn O'Hara -- a gadfly perennial candidate in Mississippi under various party labels -- said that he has suspended Chapman for what he called a "minor coup" attempt. "I love [Chapman] and he's my friend, but he did wrong," O'Hara said. O'Hara acknowledged the party has money troubles, but said the party is "in the process of rebuilding and raising money." None of this will disqualify Nader from any ballots in 2004, but this is probably the death knell of the Reform Party of the US.

OBAMA VERSUS KEYES. So much for any thoughts that this match-up would be competitive. A new WBBM-TV/SurveyUSA poll was released Tuesday on the open Illinois US Senate race. The results: Barack Obama (D) - 67%, Alan Keyes (R) - 28%. Entertaining, yes. Competitive, no.

RACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Florida, the new Quinnipiac College poll shows Senator Kerry leading President Bush in the state by a 47% to 41% vote, with Nader at 4%. In Ohio, the latest ARG tracking poll also has Kerry in front. The numbers: Kerry-48%, Bush-45%, Nader-2%. In other P2004 news, it's official: Ralph Nader will not be on the ballot in California. The executive committee of the California Greens voted 11-7 to not call a special meeting to considering giving their ballot line to Nader instead of party nominee David Cobb. Also, Mike Peroutka (Constitution) was certified for ballot spots this week in Pennsylvania and Washington -- bringing his total thus far to 25 states. Peroutka expects to be on the ballot in 40+ states.

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Michigan, the new Detroit Free Press/EPIC-MRA poll shows that Senator Kerry is leading President Bush in the state by a 49% to 42% vote. In related P2004 news, there will soon be competing attack books on store shelves. On the right will be the book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry -- in which some Vietnam vets attack Kerry as a self-promoting fake who never really earned his medals. The left was clearly prepared for this, as Deserter: George W. Bush's War on Military Families, Veterans and His Past -- which claims Bush went AWOL for a lengthy period while in the Air National Guard -- is also hitting store shelves (along with the DVD of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 arriving in stores in early October). Buckle your seatbelts, folks, as this race is going to get really rough.

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES ... AND THE SENATE RACES. In New Jersey, a new Newark Star-Ledger/Rutgers University poll shows Senator Kerry at 52%, President Bush at 32%, and "Nader/Others" at 3%. In Ohio, a new Columbus Dispatch poll shows Bush leading there with 47%, and Kerry with 44%. We also have some new polls from a few US Senate races. In California, the latest Field Poll shows Senator Barbara Boxer (D) continuing to hold a wide lead. The numbers: Boxer-50%, Bill Jones (R)-33%, Others-8%. That's an improvement for Jones from the huge 23-point deficit he trailed by back in May, but he still has a long way to go just to be competitive. In Colorado, the Denver Post is out with two new polls on Tuesday's Senate primaries. The GOP contest remains very tight: brewery magnate Pete Coors led with 45%, and former Congressman Bob Schaffer had 41%. The Dem primary, by contrast, isn't even close: Attorney General Ken Salazar-67%, former diplomat Mike Miles-21%.

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Florida, the new American Research Group tracking poll shows Kerry-50%, Bush-43%. There is also a new ARG tracking poll out of New Hampshire. The results: Kerry-49%, Bush-42%.

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In New Jersey, the new Quinnipiac College poll shows Senator Kerry leading President Bush in the state by a vote of 49% to 36%, with Nader at 6%. In Michigan, the new WDIV-TV/SurveyUSA poll also shows Kerry at 52% and Bush at 41%.

GOP "SWIFT VETS" LAUNCH ANTI-KERRY TV SPOT. Also in the news today is the harsh anti-Kerry TV spot being aired in three states by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The ad features several other Vietnam vets who say they all served with Kerry and that he cannot be trusted. Others have quickly stepped forward to raise serious doubts about the truthfulness and motives of these Kerry foes. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) -- a Bush supporter and former Vietnam War POW -- quickly attacked the TV spot Thursday as "dishonorable and dishonest" and called on Bush to repudiate it. The Bush campaign quickly responded to the McCain's comments. "The Bush campaign never has and will never question John Kerry's service in Vietnam," said Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt to the AP. The Bush campaign, however, stopped short of calling on the group to yank the spots.

Olympics Underway in Athens

The Olympics have begun in Athens with 205 nations and territories competing in good will competitions in support of the Olympic spirit. However with record amounts of money being spent on security would the ‘Olympic spirit’ not be better upheld if there were no Olympics and the money being spent was given away to those who really needed it?

Another news story I’ve picked up on to do with the Olympics is the story of an Iranian competitor who refused to contest a match with a member of the Israeli team.

Double world champion Arash Miresmaeili was drawn to fight Ehud Vaks in the first round of the under-66kg class yesterday but was quoted by Iran’s official news agency IRNA as saying he refused to face the Israeli in solidarity with the Palestinians.

While I may have sympathies with his views on the Israel/Palestine issue I still think that if he was to honour the ‘Olympic spirit’ he would fight and leave politics behind, and if he refuses to compete he and the Iranian judo team, and probably the entire Iranian Olympic team should be sent home early. Afterall what is the point in the Olympics having principals if they are not upheld?