Nearly 70 Taliban fighters killed in battle

NEARLY 70 Taliban militants were killed in an ambush by US-led forces and Afghan soldiers in eastern Afghanistan, a military commander said today.

The rebels were killed late yesterday in Paktia province near the border with Pakistan, Afghan army general Sami-Ul Haq Badar said.

"We set an ambush, attacked them and killed 67 Taliban. Their bodies were lying on the ground,"
he said.

The general said the soldiers had been tipped off that there were Taliban in the area. No Afghan or foreign soldiers were hurt in the gunfight, which lasted several hours.

Coalition Forces Detain 11 in Iraq, Discover Weapons Cache

Coalition and Iraqi forces nabbed 11 suspected terrorists and seized a cache containing weapons and explosives in Iraq today.

Troops operating in Mosul this morning raided a building and detained an alleged Ansar al-Sunna terrorist group leader. The detainee provided weapons, documents and finances to support the group's criminal activities, military officials said.

In another raid aimed at dismantling the Ansar al-Sunna network in Fallujah today, coalition forces detained six suspected terrorists who allegedly operate in eastern Anbar province.

Northwest of Taji today, coalition forces detained three suspected terrorists with alleged ties to al Qaeda in Iraq senior leadership.

"The information we gain from these successful operations leads us one step closer to dismantling terrorist networks in Iraq and helping the Iraqi people,"
said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

Paratroopers near Musayyib this morning detained a militia member with alleged connections to recent attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces.

Acting on information volunteered by local residents, paratroopers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, raided a house in eastern Musayyib and captured a suspected leader of the group responsible for planting explosively formed projectiles in the area.

At the house, troops found one AK47 assault rifle, a Russian 9 mm pistol, a 9 mm submachine gun, three ammunition bandoliers, a Russian hand grenade, two stun grenades, and six ammunition magazines. Forces also discovered improvised explosive devices, a roll of copper wire used to make explosively formed projectiles and the suspect's militia identification card.

The weapons and ammunition that troops confiscated will be destroyed. The detainee is being held for further questioning.

48 Detained, Weapons Caches Found in Iraq Operations

Iraqi and coalition forces detained 48 suspected insurgents and discovered weapons caches in Iraq over the past three days, military officials reported.

Soldiers of the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, today detained a suspected insurgent wanted in connection with a recent rocket attack on a coalition forces' base near Baghdad. After receiving small-arms fire, troops moved to the suspect's house and quickly secured the area. The suspect had an AK-47 assault rifle, two ammunition magazines and a cell phone.

In the Iraqi capital today, coalition forces detained a man for allegedly conspiring directly with al Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders. Inside the targeted building troops found a cache containing weapons and explosives, including bomb-making chemicals. An explosives disposal team safely destroyed the materials off-site.

Coalition forces detained four suspected terrorists in Ramadi today for having alleged ties to al Qaeda in Iraq leaders. This raid was part of ongoing operations targeting al Qaeda in Iraq's command structure, officials said.

Troops nabbed three individuals in Hit today suspected of supplying foreign fighters and helping them move throughout the region. Coalition forces also detained three suspected terrorists today near Karmah for allegedly aiding foreign fighters.

"We continue to actively target al Qaeda and foreign fighter networks to reduce, and eventually eliminate, their ability to attack people and the institutions of Iraq,"
said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

In other news from Iraq, terrorists killed at least 25 civilians, four Iraqi police officers and wounded about 130 other people yesterday afternoon when a car bomb detonated in Mahkmur.

Iraqi army and coalition force soldiers immediately responded to the attack site, treating victims at the scene and transporting casualties to a local hospital and medical facilities in Mahkmur and Irbil. Most who were wounded suffered minor injuries and were released, officials said.

The explosion destroyed one building and trapped an unknown number of people under the rubble. Both Iraqi security forces and coalition forces are working to remove the rubble and aid living victims the find.

"This is another cowardly and heinous act perpetrated by the anti-Iraqi forces," said Army Col. Stephen Twitty, commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "Their horrific actions are a blatant attempt to intimidate the population and drive a wedge between the people of Iraq.

"We will not let that happen," he continued. "Both the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces are working hard to prevent that."

No Iraqi army or coalition force soldiers were injured. The incident is under investigation.

Also yesterday, Iraqi army soldiers and U.S. Army paratroopers captured 25 suspected terrorists in an operation south of Diyarah. The raid was aimed at suspects who military officials say are responsible for emplacing improvised explosive devices and conducting mortar attacks.

Soldiers from 1st and 2nd Battalions, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, and paratroopers from the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, carried out "Operation Mongoose" to capture individuals responsible for recent attacks against coalition forces and local residents, military officials said.

In addition to nabbing 25 suspects, combined forces also found three 120 mm mortar rounds and various IED-making materials. The suspected terrorists are being held by the Iraqi army for further questioning.

Combined Iraqi and coalition forces launched a major security operation yesterday morning in Basra city, detaining six suspects and discovering a weapons cache.

Led by the Iraqi army and supported by the 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancasters, and assets from the Joint Helicopter Force, the operation targeted high-level insurgents in Basra city's Hyyaniyah district. Combined troops arrested six suspects, and in the Hay Al Mudhara district, troops discovered a significant quantity of weapons and munitions, including components used in making explosively formed penetrator roadside bombs, explosives, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, and militia propaganda.

Following the operation, multinational force soldiers were attacked by an improvised explosive device, small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. A Warrior armored vehicle was immobilized in the attack, but all coalition members safely returned to the contingency operating base. One rogue militia member was shot during the extraction of multinational forces.

"This operation shows the increasing capability of the Iraqi security forces as they take on the rogue militia who are seeking to disrupt the establishment of a secure environment and endanger the lives of the people of Basra," said Army Maj. David Gell, Multinational Division Southeast spokesman. "Once more, our soldiers have shown their selfless commitment in supporting the Iraqi forces as they disrupt the terrorist activities, and move ever closer to provincial Iraqi control in Basra."


Paratroopers detained three suspected insurgents during a raid at the Hateen apartment complex in Iskandariyah May 12.

A local resident tipped off Company D, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division paratroopers to the whereabouts of the men responsible for an explosively formed projectile attack that killed one soldier and wounded another. Paratroopers detained three suspected insurgents and are holding them for further questioning.

Iraqi special operations forces conducted an early morning operation May 12 south of Baghdad, capturing two suspects allegedly responsible for a bomb attack that killed a U.S. soldier earlier in the week. With coalition advisers present for support, Iraqi forces raided a residence in Baghdad's Hillah area, capturing their primary targets without incident.

The suspects also responsible for killing innocent Iraqi civilians, and conducting explosively formed projectile attacks against coalition forces in central Iraq, officials said. No Iraqi or coalition forces were injured during this operation.

Four Terrorists Killed, 30 Suspects Detained

Coalition forces in Iraq killed four terrorists and detained 30 suspected terrorists during operations yesterday and today targeting the al Qaeda in Iraq leadership network.

Late yesterday, coalition forces raided three buildings north of Karmah associated with an individual known to facilitate financial deals for al Qaeda senior leaders. While coalition forces searched the buildings, a truck with its lights off approached the cordon around the targeted building. After issuing multiple visual warnings, coalition forces fired warning shots, but the vehicle continued to approach the checkpoint.

Coalition forces engaged the truck with disabling shots, stopping it. One individual got out of the truck and moved to retrieve items from the back of the vehicle. U.S. officials said coalition forces took appropriate self-defensive measures in response to the hostile threat, engaging the vehicle and killing four men. Meanwhile, coalition forces in the buildings detained 17 suspected terrorists.

An operation in Anbar province targeted individuals allegedly tied to an al Qaeda senior leader responsible for car-bomb attacks and attacks on Iraqi infrastructure. Coalition forces detained seven suspected terrorists in two connected raids there this morning.

During overnight operations in Mosul, coalition forces detained one individual suspected of associating with a known facilitator of enemy fighters with ties to al Qaeda, and three suspected terrorists tied to al Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders. Enemy forces left on the scene fired on coalition forces as they departed the objective.

Coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists this morning in a raid along the Tigris River near Tarmiyah targeting individuals with ties to a known al Qaeda leader.

"We're not waiting for al Qaeda to strike; we're taking the fight to them," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "We're putting pressure on them, hitting their networks over and over, and reducing their ability to operate."

2 missing U.S. soldiers alive ?

U.S. forces broadened their hunt Saturday for three missing comrades beyond the rural area south of Baghdad where they disappeared, and their top commander expressed optimism that at least two of them were still alive a week after their isolated outpost was ambushed.

The search for the missing soldiers involves some 4,000 troops who
"will not stop searching until we find our soldiers,"
said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.
"We're using all available assets and continuing to assault the al-Qaida in Iraq network,"
he said.

Acting on a tip, Garver said troops raided a building in Amiriyah on Saturday morning and captured nine Iraqis suspected of involvement in the attack. Amiriyah is a stronghold of Sunni insurgents with close tribal ties to Quarghuli, where the outpost was overrun.

He said U.S. troops also detained two Iraqis in Baqouba who he said were "associated" with the al-Qaida command network. He did not tie those arrests directly to the missing soldiers. Their outpost in Quarghuli is about 12 miles south of Baghdad and about 50 miles from Baqouba, a violence-wracked city to the north.

A group that claims ties to al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the May 12 attack that resulted in the kidnapping and the deaths of four American soldiers and an Iraqi aide. However, there has been no evidence, such as photos, video or audio, released by that or other groups.

Army Gen. David Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, told the Army Times newspaper in an interview Friday night that U.S. forces were focusing on an insurgent who is "sort of an affiliate of al-Qaida."

He said an informant provided U.S. forces with names of those who took part in the raid and kidnapping but they were still at large. "We've had all kinds of tips down there. We just tragically haven't found the individuals," he said.

Petraeus said he did not know whether the three missing soldiers, from the Army's 10th Mountain Division, were alive. But
"as of this morning, we thought there were at least two that were probably still alive,"
he said.

"At one point in time there was a sense that one of them might have died, but again, we just don't know."

An Iraqi army intelligence officer, who said he helped interrogate two suspects detained in recent days in Mahmoudiya, said they confessed to participating in the raid. Mahmoudiya is the largest town in the search area.

They said 13 insurgents conducted the surprise attack and then escaped in two groups. The leader of the group, along with some gunmen, took the kidnapped soldiers to a destination unknown by the two detainees, he said.

He added that the two detainees gave interrogators the hiding place for weapons used in the ambush and U.S. troops went there and took them.

'Surge' Progress Will Be Evident by September

By September, military officials will have a pretty good feel for whether the "military part" of the president's surge strategy is working, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace said here today.

Pace spoke to about 1,000 students and alumni at the 55th annual management conference of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Following his address on leadership, Pace answered questions from the audience.

On the surge, Pace explained that four of the five brigades of about 3,000 to 3,500 troops each that the U.S. military is "plussing up" are currently in Iraq. The fifth is in Kuwait and will be in Iraq by the beginning of June.

"From June until September," he said, "we'll have the opportunity to watch the increased U.S. presence on the ground, and the increased Iraqi unit presence on the ground, and the effect that it has on security, primarily in Baghdad."

The increase in troops is only one part of a three-pronged approach to ending the war in Iraq, he noted.

"Increased troop strength in and of itself is not going to be sufficient," he stressed. "You must have an increase in governance and an increase in economics."


Success in the war on terrorism, Pace said, is not like the success of World War II. The end state will be much more like the current state of a U.S. city, such as Chicago.

"Is there violence here? Yes," he said. "Is there a police force that keeps that violence below a level at which the government can function and the citizenry can go about their daily business? This is what you're looking at with the war on terror. ...

"You'll never stop all terrorist acts," he said. The goal is to have "the security is solid enough so that the government can provide leadership and so the business world can provide jobs so people can prosper."

Marine Commander Attributes Fallujah Success to Troop Surge

Higher troops levels are a major contributor to the success of operations in Iraq, especially in cities like Fallujah, a U.S. commander of troops in the western city said during a news conference today.

Building on the successes of the combat teams before his, Marine Col. Richard Simcock, commander of Regimental Combat Team 6, said the biggest advantage he has over his predecessors is the number of troops available to secure and stabilize the city.

"We can do more because we have more," Simcock said. "Troop levels have allowed us to go places our predecessors couldn't."

He told reporters that his 6,000 troops have been able to break the "whack-a-mole" cycle of securing an area and then moving on only to have the enemy to come back in afterward.

"We can go into a particular area with a large force, establish security and set conditions for Iraqi security forces to come in behind us to transition into securing the area,"
Simcock said.

He said his troops, with coalition and Iraqi forces, have successfully applied this strategy in four different cycles over the five months they have been deployed to the region.

Progress in Fallujah is "phenomenal," he said, describing how although the 2004 Operation al-Fajr almost destroyed the city, with nearly all the residents being captured or killed, the city today has almost 4,000 residents.
"Fallujah today is an economically strong and flourishing city," Simcock said. "We're making great progress."


He described the progress in Fallujah as having attained an iconic status for both coalition and enemy forces.

"It's not perfect," he said. "The enemy doesn't want to give up, and within (the area of operations), Fallujah will be the last battle we'll have to win."

Terrorists continue to use murder and intimidation to try to hinder progress within the city's government, he said. Within the last year, four of Fallujah's 20 council members have been murdered, but the members were quickly replaced and the council has continued meeting.

The violence isn't stopping forward progress, Simcock said. The people of Fallujah are seeing the benefits of what the government is doing.

"The terrorists fear the city government of Fallujah. They know the only way they can combat it is through murder and intimidation tactics," he said. "I'm proud of the elected mayor and councilmen for not giving in to that tactic."

Simcock said his confidence in the ability of the Iraqi government and forces continues to grow as both refuse to give up when facing enemy threats.

The colonel said coalition forces on either flank, in Baghdad in Ramadi, are having tremendous success, but he doesn't fear the possibility of terrorists fleeing those cities and coming into nearby Fallujah.

"The people we're facing will always go the way of least resistance, and they may be coming here," Simcock said, "and I welcome them, because they are in for an unpleasant surprise."

Al Qaeda Chief Foe of Anbar Residents

Al Qaeda is the chief threat plaguing the residents of Anbar province in western Iraq, a senior U.S. military official said yesterday.

"The main enemy facing the Iraqi people in al Anbar province is al Qaeda,"
Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, told reporters at a Baghdad news conference today.

Al Qaeda possesses a backward, hateful ideology that's been rejected in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, Caldwell said, noting the terrorist group routinely employs murder and chaos to further its aims.

Al Qaeda terrorists operating in Iraq offer Iraqis just two choices: death or submission, the two-star general said.

Conversely, U.S. forces deployed in Iraq are there
"to secure progress and provide hope,"
Caldwell said.

"We want to help the Iraqi people develop a secure, stable and self-governing nation that they can be proud of,"
Caldwell said.

American forces are assisting the Iraqis to achieve that goal by training army and police forces and instituting the rule of law across Iraq's court system, he said.
"We want to help the Iraqis build capable police and courts so that the people can believe in the rule of law instead of fearing the law of the gun,"
Caldwell explained.

The United States shouldn't pull its troop out of Iraq before the job is finished, Caldwell said.
"This is a very complex and challenging fight, but that doesn't mean we should desert the Iraqi people to their enemies,"
he said.

Measurable progress has been made against al Qaeda terrorists and other insurgents operating in Iraq since the surge of U.S. and Iraqi security forces began in mid-February, Caldwell said.

For example, he noted, an al Qaeda member, Abu Nur, who's alleged to have headed the group's Baghdad operations, was caught in December 2006 and is now facing murder charges in a Baghdad court room. The captive terrorist has admitted complicity in 800 to 900 car and roadside bombings in Baghdad and the surrounding area, Caldwell said.

"Abu Nur has claimed that al Qaeda targets everybody. He claims there aren't any innocent people,"
Caldwell said, noting evidence has tied the al Qaeda network to savage bombings of innocent Iraqi men, women and children.

Al Qaeda's and Abu Nur's "absolutely disgusting" beliefs and actions, amply illustrate why the terrorist group is "being increasingly rejected by the Iraqis, particularly out west in al Anbar province," Caldwell said.

For example, the city of Ramadi in mostly Sunni Arab-inhabited Anbar province was formerly a hotbed of violence directed against U.S. and Iraqi security forces, Caldwell explained. Weekly attacks and murders committed against civilians and Iraqi and coalition security forces have decreased from a high of 108 at the end of February to just seven in the week ending May 11, he said.

Anbar province's tribal leaders and citizenry are simply fed up with al Qaeda's murderous agenda, Marine Brig. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, ground forces commander for Multinational Force West, said during the news conference.

The province's tribal leaders
"are on board to get rid of public enemy number one, which is al Qaeda,"
Gurganus said, noting the province's young men are joining Iraqi security forces in record numbers.

Anbar province's tribal leaders
"are bringing their young men to us and saying, 'I will guarantee his behavior; I will guarantee his participation in conjunction with the coalition force to fight as a son of Anbar and to fight for the Iraqi government,'"
Gurganus said.

What is occurring in Anbar demonstrates "a major shift" in residents' thinking, Gurganus said.
"It is clearly a move away from any of the ideological pieces that al Qaeda has to offer, to where they understand now that they're going to be part of a functioning government in Iraq,"
he said.

U.S Military Says It Has Al-Qaeda Kidnap Gang Cornered

Using dogs and helicopters, U.S. forces searching for three soldiers captured by Al-Qaeda on Saturday say the group is cornered in an area near Baghdad.

The three soldiers from Fort Drum's 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division were captured by Al Qaeda after being ambushed on an IED patrol.

"Right now our focus is on searching for the missing soldiers, and we're trying to isolate the areas where we think they could be,"
said Army Maj. Kenny Mintz, the brigade operations officer for the 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain Division in a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.

"The (captors) don't have freedom of movement; if they have the soldiers, they can't move them from where they are. We're doing a deliberate search of the areas for the people responsible for the soldiers we're looking for,"
he said.

Read More Here: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7007355027

IAEA : Big Gain by Iran on Nuclear Fuel

Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency have concluded that Iran appears to have solved most of its technological problems and is now beginning to enrich uranium on a far larger scale than before, according to the agency's top officials.

The findings may change the calculus of diplomacy in Europe and in Washington, which has aimed to force a suspension of Iran's enrichment activities in large part to prevent it from learning how to produce weapons-grade material.

In a short-notice inspection of Iran's main nuclear facility at Natanz on Sunday, conducted in advance of a report to the United Nations Security Council due early next week, the inspectors found that Iranian engineers were already using roughly 1,300 centrifuges and were producing fuel suitable for nuclear reactors, according to diplomats and nuclear experts here. Until recently, the Iranians were having difficulty keeping the delicate centrifuges spinning at the tremendous speeds necessary to make nuclear fuel, and often were running them empty, or not at all.

Now, those roadblocks appear to have been surmounted.
"We believe they pretty much have the knowledge about how to enrich,"
said Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the energy agency, who clashed with the Bush administration four years ago when he declared that there was no evidence that Iraq had resumed its nuclear program.
"From now on, it is simply a question of perfecting that knowledge. People will not like to hear it, but that's a fact."

It is unclear whether Iran can sustain its recent progress. Major setbacks are common in uranium enrichment, and experts say it is entirely possible that miscalculation, equipment failures or sabotage could prevent the Iranian government from reaching its goal of producing fuel on what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasts is "an industrial scale."

President Details Plan to Cut Dependence on Foreign Oil

President George W. Bush rolled out Monday plans to slash US reliance on oil supplied from unstable regions and so boost the energy-hungry country's defenses against extremist attack.

The directive to cut gasoline usage by 20 percent in the next 10 years will make the United States "more secure for generations to come," help economic growth and safeguard the environment, Bush said.

The so-called "20 in 10" plan was first laid out in Bush's State of the Union speech in January, seeking to slash US oil imports from the restive Middle East and make US energy supply less vulnerable to terrorism.

The president Monday presented legislative proposals for Congress and ordered regulatory action from his cabinet members in charge of transportation, energy, agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by end-2008.

"Our dependence on oil creates a risk for our economy because a supply disruption anywhere in the world could drive up American gas (gasoline) prices to even more painful levels,"
he said in the White House Rose Garden.

"Our dependence on oil creates a threat to America's national security because it leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes and to terrorists who could attack oil infrastructure.

"For all these reasons, America has a clear national interest in reducing our dependence on oil."


Bush urged Congress to pass legislation setting fuel economy standards that would result in quintupling the current consumption of renewable and alternative fuels to 35 billion gallons (133 billion liters) by 2017.

The aim is to reduce the reliance on gasoline and slash US oil imports from the Middle East by three-quarters, with a view to boosting the security of the world's top energy-consuming nation.

"The (administrative) steps I announced today are not a substitute for effective legislation,"
the president said, appealing to the Democratic-led Congress to adopt his new energy initiative.

See This Also: Bush Orders First Federal Regulation of Greenhouse Gases

Terror Expert: Iraq a "Terrorist Disneyland" if U.S. Leaves

A U.S. troop pullout from Iraq would leave the country as a potent launchpad for international terrorism and Washington would be forced to go back in within a couple of years, a leading al Qaeda expert said on Tuesday.

Rohan Gunaratna told a security conference at Lloyd's of London insurance market that Iraq, like Afghanistan in the 1990s, would become a "terrorist Disneyland" where al Qaeda could build up its strength unchallenged.

If U.S., British and other coalition troops withdrew from Iraq in the next year, he said,
"certainly the scale of attacks that would be mounted inside Iraq, and using Iraq as a launching pad to strike other Western countries -- countries in Europe, North America - would become such that after two or three years, the U.S. forces will have to go back to Iraq."

The Singapore-based academic and writer said the epicenter of international terrorism had already switched from Afghanistan to Iraq.
"In many ways, the terrorist threat has now shifted 1,500 miles closer to Europe."


A former head of Britain's foreign intelligence service MI6 described Gunaratna's analysis as convincing.

"Clearly al Qaeda are focusing on Iraq now, and focusing on some sort of propaganda victory over the United States,"
Sir Richard Dearlove told reporters.

"Whether that's an actual victory or not, if they can claim in the Muslim world that they've done well, then that puts us in a very difficult position. This is really an aspect of withdrawal that hasn't been properly considered. That's why I think we can't just let Iraq go its own way."

Baquba Salvation Council Formed to Fight Al Qaeda in Iraq

An official in Diyala Province announced that more than 280 prominent personalities and tribal and military leaders have formed a "Baquba Salvation Council" to confront acts of violence in the province, focusing especially on combatting the so-called "Islamic State of Iraq."

Al-Melaf reports in Arabic that Shaykh 'Awad Najm al-Rabi'i, the head of the new "Baquba Salvation Council" announced that around 280 tribal leaders, academics, military leaders, from the full range of sects and ethnicities have formed the council to confront the deteriorating security situation in the province and confront the "gangs" that operate under the organizational rubric of the "Islamic State."

Citing
"resentment and anger among the tribal leaders at the conduct of these gangs,"
al-Rabi'i said the leaders were insistent on
"declaring war against them and expelling them from the province and bringing security back to the citizens"
, the agency writes.

The tribal leader added,
"We are prepared to cooperate with the armed factions that maintain loyalty to a nonsectarian, non-partisan Iraq with the goal of rooting out these terrorist groups," adding that the current situation in the province was "tragic" and saying that it was urgent that the government get involved to deliver the city from the control of "takfiris and tens of Arab and Afghan terrorists that hide in the agricultural areas,"
al-Melaf reports. Takfiri is a term used to refer to extremists who practice takfir, or the pronouncement of other Muslims to be non-Muslims.

Poll: War Is Not Lost / Victory Is Important

Here is a recent IBD/TIPP Poll that will never see the light of day from the main stream news media:

IBD/TIPP Poll: War Is Not Lost, And Victory Is Important

Contrary to the assessment of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, most Americans surveyed in the latest IBD/TIPP Poll do not believe the U.S. has lost the war in Iraq.


In fact, they believe the war is winnable and that victory is important. They are not against a timetable for withdrawal, but feel stabilization of the country should come first. They also believe that conduct of war should be left to generals, not Congress, and Congress' war authorization should not be repealed.




A majority (54%) of the 903 adults surveyed last week disagree with Reid's assessment that the war is lost, with 30% disagreeing "strongly." Meanwhile, 78% say Iraq should be stabilized before troops are withdrawn. Fully 48% believe this is "very important."


In fact, our poll shows this concept appeals not only to Republicans, 91% of whom agree with it, and Independents (80%), but to a solid majority of Democrats (66%). Even those who believe we have lost the war believe stabilization is important.


Stabilization takes on added importance considering that the president does not favor a deadline. Such a deadline, he said recently, would be setting a deadline for failure. But a majority of Americans (54%) do not agree with him on this point. While most Republicans (62%) oppose a deadline, 65% of Democrats and 56% of Independents prefer that one be set.


Staying in Iraq, however, is contingent on our ability to affect a positive outcome. Can we do it? If you ask the president, the answer is "yes," and his optimism that the U.S. will succeed in Iraq is shared by 56% of the public.

But that percentage is down from 58% in February, when we asked the same question, and 60% last December. Only 42% of Democrats and 49% of Independents think we'll succeed, next to 80% of Republicans.

Similarly, 61% of Americans believe victory in Iraq is "important," compared with 65% in February and 66% in December. Independents (61%) align with Republicans (84%) here vs. 44% of Democrats who don't think victory is important.


When moderator Brian Williams asked, "Do you believe there is such a thing as a global war on terror," only four of the eight candidates - Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson and Christopher Dodd — raised their hands. John Edwards, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel kept their hands down.


Americans don't buy that, however. Two-thirds think we're fighting a global war on terror, including 52% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans and 65% of Independents.


Our poll also reveals a potential for backlash if Congress projects its authority on how the war is conducted. In fact, Americans are decidedly against Congress' meddling. Asked whom they'd like to see the president rely on more for advice on the conduct of war, fully 71% preferred field commanders and just 23% favored Congress.

What's more, any meddling may be perceived as motivated by political gain rather than by genuine concern. Sen. Clinton, for example, recently called for a repeal of the authorization the Congress gave the president to go to Iraq. But nearly three of five (59%) of those polled believe that any such proposal would send the wrong signal to our troops.


Talk Show America 5/15/2007

Iran Lawmakers Want U.S. Friendship

Iranian deputies were gathering signatures to try and form an Iranian-U.S. friendship committee in parliament to hold contacts with the U.S. Congress, legislators involved in the effort said Tuesday.

It was the first effort organized by parliament to find a way to bridge nearly three decades of estrangement between the U.S. and Iran. It comes days after the governments of the two countries agreed to hold direct talks on one of the main issues dividing them on the conflict in Iraq.

Darioush Ghanbari, one of at least 10 deputies who has signed the document calling for the establishment of the committee, said Iranian parliamentarians were seeking to reduce tensions with America and "explain Iran's realities to the U.S. Congress."

The document had signatures from both conservatives and reformists and more signatures from the 290-member legislature were expected by the end of the day, Ghanbari said.

"In the absence of formal diplomatic relations, we seek to establish a parliamentary relationship with the U.S. Congress and fill the existing gap of contacts between the two nations,"
Ghanbari, a pro-reform lawmaker, told The Associated Press.

No specific number of deputies is required to form such a committee. The document signed by lawmakers will be presented to the parliament's speaker, who has the right to accept or reject it.

Talk Show America 5/15/2007

55 Taliban Killed in E Afghanistan

Afghan and international troops killed 55 Taliban rebels in two clashes in Paktika province of eastern Afghanistan, provincial governor Akram Khapalwak told Xinhua on Sunday.

Some militants attacked Afghan border troops in Barmal district on Saturday, Khapalwak said.

Afghan and international forces fought back from the ground and in the air, killing 15 insurgents, he added.

Also on Saturday, Taliban rebels attacked Afghan forces in Gilan district, the governor said, adding Afghan and international troops returned fire and killed 40 enemies.

Two Afghan soldiers were injured in the two clashes.

Talk Show America 5/15/2007

60 TALIBAN KILLED IN NATO AIR STRIKE

At least 60 Taliban fighters have been killed in an air strike conducted by NATO forces in southern Afghanistan on Monday night, local authorities say.

According to police chief, Asmatullah Alizai, among the victims of the strike were three important Taliban leaders in the district of Jalai in the southern province of Kandahar. The air raid carried out on Monday night targeted Taliban hideouts that had been identified by some informants.

The three Taliban commanders who were killed, were Mullah Abdul Hanan, Mullah Zekria and Mullah Zarif, according to Alizai.

Talk Show America 5/15/2007

Al-Qaida Claims to Have Missing Troops

An al-Qaida front group announced Sunday it had captured American soldiers in a deadly attack the day before, as thousands of U.S. troops searched insurgent areas south of Baghdad for their three missing comrades.

Troops surrounded the town of Youssifiyah and told residents over loudspeakers to stay inside, residents said. They then methodically searched the houses, focusing on possible secret chambers under the floors where the soldiers might be hidden, residents said. The soldiers marked each searched house with a white piece of cloth.

Soldiers also searched cars entering and leaving the town, writing "searched" on the side of each vehicle they had inspected. Several people were arrested, witnesses said.

The Islamic State in Iraq offered no proof for its claim that it was behind the attack Saturday in Mahmoudiya that also killed four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi translator. But the Sunni area known as the "triangle of death" is a longtime al-Qaida stronghold.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, spokesman for the U.S. military, said 4,000 U.S. troops backed by aircraft and intelligence units were scouring the farming area as the military made "every effort available to find our missing soldiers."

The early morning attack on two U.S. military vehicles outside of Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, left the bodies of the four U.S. soldiers and their translator badly burned.

Caldwell said the bodies of the interpreter and three of the slain soldiers had been identified, but the military was still working to identify the fifth.

Later Sunday, the Islamic State of Iraq posted a brief message on a militant Web site saying it was responsible for the attack and held an unspecified number of U.S. soldiers. The group promised more details later.

The Islamic State is a coalition of eight insurgent groups. Late last month, it named a 10-member "Cabinet" complete with a "war minister," an apparent attempt to present the Sunni coalition as an alternative to the U.S.-backed, Shiite-led administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

U.S. military officials said they had no indication of who was behind Saturday's attack.

"It's difficult to verify anything that al-Qaida in Iraq would say because they lie," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman. However, "it would not surprise us if it were al-Qaida behind this, because we've seen this type of attack, this type of tactic, before."


Talk Show America 5/14/2007

HADITHA- EXONERATE OUR MARINES

HADITHA- EXONERATE OUR MARINES
The Marines and families of the Haditha Marines- Our Marines- need this travesty to end. The higher echelon of the Corps, namely Lt Gen James Mattis, needs to put a swift end to this miscarriage of military justice. These seven brave Marines have endured enough. They were part of one of the finest infantry battalions in the Marine Corps, "The Thundering Third." Two of its members have earned the Navy Cross. Dozens have been awarded Silver Stars and Bronze Stars for heroism. They are all heroes. Their return from Iraq in the spring of 2006 was subdued by the cloud of these baseless charges. It is time to free them of this burden.

The evidence has finally seen the light of day.

The May 17th ramblings of a US Congressman have proven false. John Murtha lied about his briefing by the Commandant of the Marine Corps before his May 17th "in cold blood" statement. Gen Michael Hagee provided a progress update on the Haditha investigations to Congressional leaders, to include John Murtha, on May 26, 2006. A week AFTER Murtha's May 17th murder accusations against Our Haditha Marines. How long will we allow John Murtha to continue to hide in the shadows of HIS lies?

Capt Jeffrey Dinesmore testified "it's fairly well established" there were insurgents in the houses 3rd squad 3/1 Kilo Co assaulted on 19 Nov 2005. An unmanned aerial reconnaissance drone provides undeniable video footage as to the presence of the insurgents. Our Marines did not massacre innocent civilians as Time magazine reported. They reacted to definite threats and followed Rules of Engagement and their training in eliminating these threats. An Iraqi soldier, Sgt Amer Mashoot, who was with the Marines said he thought the attack on the houses was warranted because the entire convoy was taking fire. Investigators noted he believed the Marines "had justification" because they were "defending themselves." When will we hear his testimony?

Maj Dana Hyatt, in his court testimony, further identifies the presence of the insurgents. He testified that four of the men killed inside one of the houses were insurgents. In a previous statement to Andrew Walden on 5 June 2006, Maj Hyatt stated the list of 15 victims deemed noncombatants was put together by intelligence personnel attached to the battalion. 24 minus 15 equals NINE. The Marine Corps knew that NINE insurgents were killed by 3rd squad 3/1 Kilo Co on 19 Nov 2005. One-third of the dead in Haditha were insurgents. Why did the Marine Corps allow this civilian massacre story to perpetuate?

Those of you on Free Republic who have followed this investigation can now better understand the agony and heartbreak we have endured. My family and the six other families of Our Haditha Marines. We knew Our Marines were innocent of these charges. The officers of 3/1 Kilo Co had nothing to investigate. The enlisted men followed their Rules of Engagement in eliminating the threat on the ground. Sharratt, Wuterich, Tatum, Stone, Chessani, Grayson and McConnell, all honorable Marines serving their country. The careers of these seven honorable Marines have been ruined by the false accusations of politicians and the media. How long will we permit this travesty of justice to continue? Lt. Gen James Mattis, it should never have been allowed to begin. EXONERATE OUR HADITHA MARINES

Darryl Sharratt

Talk Show America 5/14/2007

US Doesn't Deserve To Host UN (Works For Me)

A prominent Iranian lawmaker stressed that the Untied States is not a proper host for the United Nations Organization and called on all member states to demand a transfer of the UN headquarters from New York.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an open session of the Islamic Consultative Assembly here on Sunday, chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaoddin Boroujerdi said, "
As the articles of association of the UN state that the United Nations' permanent headquarters is located in New York, transfer of the headquarters requires rectification of the said articles of association."

Considering that the UN is in charge of grave affairs, any transfer of the headquarters should be carried out through a consensus of the member states and rectification of the articles of association, he said.

The legislator said that the plan for the transfer of the UN permanent headquarters from the US should be viewed as a political position taken (by Iran) against the measures adopted by the White House leaders.

"The US has proved that it does not deserve to host the United Nations member states,"
he underlined.

Talk Show America 5/14/2007

Haditha Mayor Asks Marines Not to Leave

Recently, the Mayor of Haditha, Abdul Hakim M. Rasheed , had asked the Marines there not to leave.

The Mayor stated: "The people of Germany and Japan would not have made progress without the Americans," Mayor Abdul Hakim M. Rasheed told the U.S. Marine officers who recently came to his heavily guarded home. "The people of Iraq deserve the same."


The Marines, including three generals, assured Rasheed that they had no plans to abandon him and his city. Don't be distracted by the political debate in Washington, they urged Rasheed, who listened and nodded.

Since 2004, Iraq's western al-Anbar province -- the center of the Sunni-led insurgency -- has been the most dangerous part of the country for U.S. forces. But Marines here have been experiencing a respite in recent weeks. Attacks against Marines and soldiers are at their lowest point in four years.

In the six weeks since his battalion arrived, Lt. Col. James Bierman, commanding officer of the 1st regiment, 3rd infantry, has seen only five of his troops wounded and none killed; the battalion that preceded his suffered 24 killed and 230 wounded in seven months.

As Marine commanders reassure Rasheed and others that they will not be abandoned again, their strategy can be described as "more": more engagement with tribal sheiks, more efforts to train Iraqi security forces, more troops, more patrols to find and rout members of al-Qaida in Iraqi and other insurgent groups, and more positioning of Marines amid the civilian populace. In case fighting spreads along the Euphrates, a Navy river patrol squadron has been moved to the area.

Marine commanders say their success in reducing insurgent violence in Haditha and other areas of al-Anbar is an indication that a "surge" of troops, like that being tried by the Army in Baghdad, can succeed. But they note that a surge is a beginning, not an end.

Talk Show America 5/14/2007

Teachers Stage Fake Gun Attack on Students

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the weeklong trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.

"We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation," he said.

But parents of the sixth-grade students were outraged.

"The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them,"
said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip.

Some parents said they were upset by the staff's poor judgment in light of the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech that left 33 students and professors dead, including the gunman.

During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on locked door.

After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.

"I was like, 'Oh My God,' " she said. "At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out."


Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation "involved poor judgment."

UPDATE:

NEWS RELEASE
MURFREESBORO CITY SCHOOLS
SCHOOL/COMMUNITY RELATIONS OFFICE



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHERYL HARRIS
May 14, 2007 615.893.2313 (OFFICE)
615.668-5138 (CELL)

Disciplinary Action Announced by Director of Schools


Director of Schools Marilyn Mathis has suspended lead teacher, Mr. Quentin Mastin, and assistant principal, Don Bartch, for unprofessional conduct and neglect of duty due to actions taken with Scales Elementary School students on May 10, 2007 at Fall Creek Falls State Park. The suspension is without pay and will commence on May 14, 2007 and continue through the end of this school year ending June 1, 2007.





Talk Show America 5/14/2007

U.S. Divorce Rate lowest Level Since 1970

Despite the common notion that America remains plagued by a divorce epidemic, the national per capita divorce rate has declined steadily since its peak in 1981 and is now at its lowest level since 1970.

Yet Americans aren't necessarily making better choices about their long-term relationships. Even those who study marriage and work to make it more successful can't decide whether the trend is grounds for celebration or cynicism.

Some experts say relationships are as unstable as ever -- and divorces are down primarily because more couples live together without marrying. Other researchers have documented what they call "the divorce divide," contending that divorce rates are indeed falling substantively among college-educated couples but not among less-affluent, less-educated couples.

"Families with two earners with good jobs have seen an improvement in their standard of living, which leads to less tension at home and lower probability of divorce," said Andrew Cherlin, a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University.

America's divorce rate began climbing in the late 1960s and skyrocketed during the '70s and early '80s, as virtually every state adopted no-fault divorce laws. The rate peaked at 5.3 divorces per 1,000 people in 1981.

But since then it's dropped by one-third, to 3.6. That's the lowest rate since 1970.

What's fueling that decline? According to 20 scholars, marriage-promotion experts and divorce lawyers consulted by the Associated Press, a combination of things.

The number of couples who live together without marrying has increased 10-fold since 1960; the marriage rate has dropped by nearly 30 percent in past 25 years; and Americans are waiting about five years longer to marry than they did in 1970.

Other experts, however, are heartened by what they view as the increased determination of many couples to make marriage work. Among them is Bill Chausee of Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, which offers marriage-strengthening programs in a state where divorces dropped more than 25 percent between 2000 and 2005.

"People don't see marriage problems as some sort of stigma any more," said Chausee. "They're really interested in learning how to stay married; a lot of them are realizing they need more skill."

The Bush administration believes such programs have merit -- its Healthy Marriage initiative has disbursed more than $200 million nationwide in the past five years. Bill Coffin, the Department of Health and Human Services' special assistant for marriage education, is convinced the programs are a factor in the declining divorce rate.

CNN Poll: Majority Pro-Life, Abortion Key 2008 Issue

A new poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN earlier this month find that a majority of Americans say they are pro-life when it comes to the issue of abortion. The survey also shows abortion is a key issue for the 2008 presidential campaign and that pro-life voters are more resolute than abortion advocates.

When asked to self-identify as "pro-life" or "pro-choice" on the issue of abortion, 50 percent of Americans call themselves pro-life while just 45 percent say otherwise.

Another two percent said they didn't know what the terms meant and two percent more felt they were a combination of the two.

Asked whether certain political issues were important to their vote for president next year, a majority said abortion was important and abortion was thought to be more pertinent than stem cell research.

Of the 1,028 adults conducted by telephone on May 4-6, 51 percent said abortion was important with 27 percent saying it is extremely important and 24 percent saying it's very important.

Another 24 percent said abortion is moderately important and only 24 percent said abortion is not that important to their vote.

That split was higher than the percentage who said stem cell research is a pertinent issue with 48 percent saying it is important and only 20 percent saying it's extremely important. A higher 28 percent said stem cell research was just moderately important.

CNN's poll also indicated that Americans who are pro-life show more passion and intensity about their views than those who back abrotion -- translating into more support for pro-life canddiates.

"People who describe themselves as pro-life are twice as likely to say the issue will be extremely important to them than people who call themselves pro-choice. Abortion-rights opponents have intensity on their side," CNN said about the intensity question, which it did not post in its poll summary information.

The poll also asked Americans about their thoughts on the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortions.

It found that 66 percent think "government should make this procedure illegal" while just 28 percent favor keeping partial-birth abortions legal.

That compares favorably to a similar question CNN asked in October 2003 when the split on making partial-birth abortions illegal was 68-25 percent.

Talk Show America 5/15/2007

Top Taliban Commander Mullah Dadullah Killed

The Taliban's top operational commander, Mullah Dadullah, has been killed in a clash in Afghanistan, security officials said on Sunday.

"Mullah Dadullah has been killed and his body is in Kandahar," said Saeed Ansari, spokesman for the intelligence department.

Another intelligence official said the one-legged Dadullah was killed in a clash with Afghan troops in the southern province of Helmand on Saturday night.

Apart from leading most Taliban attacks in the south, the notorious Dadullah was also believed to be behind a series of kidnappings of foreigners and Afghans.

There have been several reports over recent years that Dadullah had been killed or captured.

If confirmed, his death would be a heavy blow for the Taliban, fighting to expel foreign troops since they were ousted in a U.S.-led offensive after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

He would also be the most important Taliban killed since then.

In December, U.S.-led forces killed another top Taliban official, Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Osmani, in an air attack in the south of the country after a tip-off by Pakistan.

Talk Show America 5/14/2007