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Criselda Boyland

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A “trophy” video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.

OAKLAND (FOX) — Abdul Saleh has just one question for the men — suspected by authorities to be Black Muslims — who trashed his corner store late Wednesday, terrorizing his 17-year-old son and another clerk and causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Why?

“I don’t know why they tried to destroy my life,” said Saleh, who has owned San Pablo Market and Liquor in West Oakland since 1986. “We came here for a better living, not to make war with anybody.”

About a dozen African-American men wearing suits, white-collared shirts and bow ties — a trademark of the Nation of Islam — entered the store on San Pablo Avenue and West Street about 11:30 p.m.

One went behind the counter and swept dozens of shelved liquor bottles to the floor. Others smashed glass refrigerator doors with long, slim metal pipes, breaking beer and wine bottles inside the cases. The whole incident from start to finish was caught on surveillance tape.

The men warned the store clerks to stop selling alcohol to African Americans, but they also knocked over display racks containing bread and other food items. Then, almost as quickly as they arrived, they all filed out and headed to another West Oakland liquor store, New York Market at Market and 35th streets, where they did the same thing.

WASHINGTON – A leading Iraq war opponent threatened Thursday to try prohibiting any U.S. military action against Iran without congressional sanction as House Republicans used military veterans within their ranks to oppose a resolution renouncing President Bush’s Iraq troop buildup.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said he would seek to tie future deployments in Iraq to troops meeting high standards of training and getting enough rest between combat tours. Murtha said he believes the Army may have no units that can meet those standards, meaning that Bush’s attempt to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq would be effectively thwarted.

Murtha, who has been among Congress’s foremost opponents of Iraq war policy, also said he is considering attaching a provision to a looming war spending bill that would bar U.S. military action against Iran without congressional approval.

We don’t have the capability of sustaining a war in Iran,” Murtha, chairman of the House panel that oversees military spending, said in a videotaped online interview.

“We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, like many of our senior military leaders, we do not believe that adding more U.S. combat troops contributes to success. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution.”

“Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain.”

“Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror.” The text of the letter follows below. January 5, 2007 President George W. Bush The White House Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President:

The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together on the critical issues confronting our country. No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of the war in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark.

The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they do not believe your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people. We understand that you are completing your post-election consultations on Iraq and are preparing to make a major address on your Iraq strategy to the American people next week.

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KABUL (Reuters) – Taliban fighters used children as human shields to flee heavy fighting this week during an operation by foreign and Afghan forces to clear rebels from around a key hydro-electric dam, NATO said on Wednesday.

The Taliban have used human shields before, but never children, local residents say.

The fighting occurred during Operation Kryptonite on Monday, an offensive to clear insurgents from the Kajaki Dam area in southern Helmand province to allow repairs to its power plants and the installation of extra capacity.

“During this action … Taliban extremists resorted to the use of human shields. Specifically, using local Afghan children to cover as they escaped out of the area,” Colonel Tom Collins, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), told reporters in Kabul.

The Kajaki Dam fighting was in an area where 700 mainly foreign fighters, including Chechens, Pakistanis and Uzbeks, arrived from Pakistan this week to reinforce Taliban guerrillas.

Iraqis are set to head to the polls tomorrow to vote on the constitutional referendum. BKP will have full coverage of the event. The latest news and video will be updated throughout the day with special focus on the Iraqi vote.

Iraq Constitutional Referendum Vote Begins

Via Yahoo News

As the polls opened at 7 a.m., a few people were seen walking down empty streets of Baghdad heavily guarded by Iraqi soldiers and police to schools where polling stations were fortified with concrete barriers against attacks by Sunni-led insurgents determined to wreck the vote.

The Forum is open for discussion.

Reuters: Iraqis vote on constitution
More than 6,000 polling stations have opened
NYT: Baghdad quiet as voting begins
CBS: Polls open in Iraq

Video: Iraqi Ayatollah Al-Sistani calls on Iraqis to vote “Yes” on constitution and amend problematic articles later.

I’m dead serious on this one…
Taipei Times: Should a Humpty-Dumpty Iraq be glued back together again?
Good news: Power returning to Baghdad after sabotage
Bad news:

Minor violence was reported. A roadside bomb exploded near a polling station in western Baghdad as it opened, injuring two policemen, officials said. U.S. troops exchanged fire with insurgents in Ramadi; it wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was injured. South of Basra, three armed men attacked an empty polling station at 3 a.m.; the three were arrested, police said

Hope
Voted

Polls close for vote on Iraq constitution
Insurgent attacks fall flat.

Insurgents attacked five of Baghdad’s 1,200 polling stations with shootings and bombs, wounding seven voters, but there were no major attacks reported as U.S. and Iraqi forces clamped down with major security measures around balloting sites. As polls closed at 10 a.m. EDT, many rounds of gunfire were heard. It was unclear whether the gunfire was celebratory or part of a clash.

Only three reported deaths

So far, a roadside bomb has killed three Iraqi soldiers in northeast Iraq and six people were wounded during attacks by insurgents on four of Baghdad’s 1,200 polling stations in the constitutional referendum, police said.