Friday, January 29, 2010

Till I collapse....

'Cause sometimes I feel tired, feel weak, and when I feel weak, I feel like I wanna just give up.

But I gotta search within myself, I gotta find that inner strength and just pull that shit out of me and get that motivation to not give up, and not be a quitter, no matter how bad I wanna just fall flat on my face and collapse.

Adrenaline shots of red-bull could not get the illing to stop.
caffeine is just not real enough.

Till my legs give out
I'ma gone get ripped
till my bone collapse

I will not fall,
I will stand tall,
Feels like no one could beat me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

YO EL HOMBRE DE HOJALATA

Yo era un hombre de hojalata
buscando al mago de Oz
porque no sentía nada
y quería un corazón,

Era más inteligente que el espantapajaros
y era mucho más valiente
que mi amigo el león
pero eso de nada me sirvió
aquél día en que ella se largó

Y ahora soy un tonto
el tonto más cobarde
por no entregarme
por no saber amarle
y que ironía;
su adiós me desbarata
después de ser el hombre fuerte de hojalata.

Por no sentirme vulnerable
ni una lagrima solté
por quererme ver valiente
miedo no le demostré
no fui tan inteligente

Hoy no se que voy a hacer...
el camino amarillo no es el mismo
sin esa mujer...

Y que ironía su adiós me desbarata
después de ser el hombre fuerte de hojalata...

YO ERA UN HOMBRE DE HOJALATA
QUE ANHELABA UN CORAZÓN
SIN SABER QUE LO TENÍA
HASTA QUE ELLA... LO ROMPIÓ CUANDO PARTIO....

Obseto Sesual!!!!

Tal vez suene raro
oir de un pela'o
lo que voy a confesar
a mí me sucede
lo que a la' mujere'
me siento objeto sexual

Me jala de aquí, me jala de allá
me usa y me vuelve a usar (¡sí!)
Me jala de aquí, me jala de allá
y luego ponte a saltar

Oler cafeína, tomar vitamina
no me ha servido de na'a
mi médico opina que con esta mujer
me va a cargar la frega'a

Piernita pa' aquí, piernita pa' allá
el juego va a comenzar
Piernita pa' aquí, piernita pa' allá
y luego ponte a saltar

Su cuerpo no sabe lo que es descansar
termina y vuelve a empezar
Su cuerpo es el cuerpo de nunca acabar
y yo que no aguanto más, más, más...

Esa morena es una amenaza
que nunca se aplaca,
que te pide más, más, más
Esa chamaca es una amenaza
que no te la acabas
y yo digo ya, ya, ya
"L" "L" "A": ¡¡¡LLA!!!

No se qué voy a hacer con ella
la neta es que la sangre se me sube a la cabeza
me abraza, me besa, me estruja y me chupa,
se viene y otra vez quiere su sopa de verdura y dura
no me dura mucho
después de cinco raunds sin descantar ni tres segundos
one, two, tres, cuatro, cinco, ¡Auuuu!

Yo ya no puedo, y eso que soy negro,
pues yo ya no puedo
y ella siempre quiere más
Yo ya no puedo, y eso que soy negro,
un rubio moreno,
alguien que le pueda dar
"L" "L" "A": ¡¡¡LLA!!!

Dos tallas mas!!!

He cambiado mis hábitos, cómo ves?
Ya dejé la cerveza por el café

Me he mudado de vida y de callejón
Te cambié por los ojos de un Bulldog
Que me lame la cara por las mañanas

Te sentiste indispensable
Igual que el agua potable

Hice mi maleta y me largué de ahí
Le pinté este dedo a mi pasado gris
Y hoy ni por error me acuerdo ya de ti

Te mandé al infierno
Me quedaste chica soy dos tallas más
Dos tallas más, dos tallas más

Te mandé al averno porque no me das
Ni el largo ni el ancho soy dos tallas más
Dos tallas más, dos tallas más

Ya cambié de actitud, tengo buen humor
Le quité las telarañas al corazón
En mi closet hay condones y ropa nueva

Poco a poco van sanando mis heridas
Ya cambié de equipo y le voy a las Chivas
Y me vale madre lo que tú me digas


Mi medida son dos tallas más

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Estuve a punto de

Estuve a punto de,
a casi casi nada,
a punto estuve de,
partirme bien la cara.

Pa siempre atarme al pie de,
la perra de tu cama.

Estuve a punto de,
romperme hueso a hueso.

A punto estuve de,
lo que se dice muerto.

Estuve a esto de,
colgar mi vida de un...

¡ay, ay!,
solo a esto,
ay, ay,
por un beso, ¡ay!
-

Y no, nada tiene que ver,
na tiene que ver tu boca.

Tu boca, tu cintura,

que no nos divida el cielo,
en dos mortalidades,

mitad locura y verso,
y a esto de,
me dije stop.

Solo queda un quebranto

Tropezamos con el orgullo
Y nos ahogaba la vanidad
Buscamos algo que no existe
A ciegas y en la oscuridad

Y esta fue una historia de amor
Donde fallamos los dos
Porque no nos comprendimos
Un fracaso fue nuestra relacion

Solo el quebranto!

Y al final ...

Se que fue un error dejarte sola tanto tiempo
Sin pensar lo que sufrias
Esperando que te hablara

Yo no supe valorar todo lo que me dabas
Y llegaba siempre tarde
Cuando mas necesitabas de mi

Y tu
Siempre al final estabas tu,
Esperandome
Y yo tan ciego nunca me di cuenta

Y ahora que no estas
Todo me ha salido mal
Como le pido al cielo que me ayude
Si yo me porte tan mal contigo

Y ahora que no estas
Solo me queda aceptar
Perdido entre silencio triste y frio
Que jamas volveras conmigo

Siempre al final
Estabas tu esperandome
Y yo tan ciego nunca me di cuenta...

Que estabas tan cerca

Y ahora que no estas
Todo me ha salido mal
Como le pido al cielo que me ayude
Si yo me porte tan mal contigo

Y ahora que no estas
Solo me queda aceptar
Perdido entre el silencio
Triste y frio
Que jamas volveras conmigo

Siempre al final
Estabas tu esperandome
Y yo tan ciego nunca me di cuenda...

Que estabas tan cerca

Ahora que no estas lloro...

A veces !!!!

Se que me amas como no imaginaste
y que eres feliz
me lo has dicho tantas veces
que dificil se te hace verme asi

A veces
sabes que para mi eres importante
y que soy feliz
te lo dicho tantas veces
que tambien llegue a tu vida un poco tarde
que me duele y que dificil se me hace verte asi

A veces
cuando esto comenzo sabiamos bien que no era eterno
lo que no imaginamos fue que este amor fuera creciendo
yo no puedo darte mas de lo que te he entregado
y tu merces mas de lo que yo te he dado
no puedo detenerte que tengas buena suerte
recuerdame por siempre y dejame decirte

Que valio la pena conocerte
Que sera imposible olvidarte
Que te deseo muy buena suerte
Que llegues pronto a enamorarte de alguien
Que ante el mundo pueda amarte

Que valio la pena cada instante
Que es irrepetible nuestra historia
que aunque quisiera que no acabe
Es imposible, nuestras vidas, no se entroncan
Que siento un poco de coraje porque no quiero dejarte ir
Por que contigo soy feliz

Que D..S te bendinga!

por todo el daño que me hicisite
y por todos los momentos tristes
que me haces pasar
por lastimarme tantas veces
y por rechazar mi corazon sin tener razon

yo no te guardo rencor
yo te deseo lo mejor

y digo que D..S te bendiga
pero tambien que te enseñe el dolor
para que tu comprendas
y sientas lo mismo que senti yo
que D..S te bendiga
pero tambien que te de una prueba de tristeza y soledad
algo que te enseñe a valorar

por todo el daño que me hisiste
y por todos los momentos tristes
que Dios te bendiga
que Dios te bendiga

Y que esperabas?

nunca me amaste de verdad
casi acabas con mi vida,
y que esperabas
si dejarme solo nada te importó.


y que esperabas?

Y que esperabas?
si dejarme solo nada te importó,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Y sigues aqui...!

Quisiera que no me dolieras
que este amor que siento contigo se fuera

Quisiera no hallarte en todos mis sueños
perder para siempre el calor de tus besos

Quisiera borrarme tu nombre
dejar de extrañar y olvidar que te amo
poder respirar sin que me duela el alma
olvidar como tu y jamas extrañarte

Quisiera olvidar que te amo

Pero sigues aqui
aferrada de mi alma
no te quieres ir
escaparme no puedo
lo impide este amor que pregunta por ti
que me obliga a extrañar
que se niega a olvidarte

Pero sigues aqui
convertida en mi sombra
anclada en mi ser
tu perfume no muere
se esconde en mi piel
no te dejo de amar
vives dentro de mi
convertida en recuerdo


pero sigues aqui...
Pero sigues aqui...

Y TU COMO SI NADA!!!

TAL VEZ NO TE DAS CUENTA
PERO SIENTO QUE ENTRE MAS
PASA EL TIEMPO MAS ME OLVIDAS

AHORA MI PRESENCIA TE FASTIDIAN O TE DA IGUAL

YO SE QUE TENGO MAS DEFECTOS QUE NADA
PERO TAMBIEN ES CIERTO QUE TE AMO

Y HAGO LO IMPOSIBLE POR VERTE FELIZ
ME AFERRO A QUE ESTE AMOR NO MUERA

PERO ME INGNORAS Y ESO ME APUÑALA

Y TU, Y TU COMO SI NADA

MIS LABIOS SE HAN SECADO
Y LA DICHA ME HUYE
NO ME DA LA CARA.

Y TU, Y TU COMO SI NADA

No tiemblas de emocion ...

No se si te das cuenta de la situación
Se nota en tu mirada que te falta la pasion y el fuego
Que se te volvió costumbre compartir la cama
No tiemblas de emoción cuando te beso....

Que no hago falta yo lo se!!!

Que no hago falta yo lo se
Que me haces daño por placer

Por que no te marchas y regresas otra ves
es que te has vuelto no se quien
Por que no me abrazas y me pides que este bien?
Es tan valemadrista tu actidud
\
Yo me reflejo con tantas dudas
Y espero ansioso que me digas ven

Monday, January 11, 2010

Que emane....

Que emane como la sangre
que corra que escurra
que brote que fluya
como emana el llanto y se convierta en río
Que desemboca en la mar del olvido
donde se ahogan el dolor y el grito.

Que emane el dolor el desprecio el rencor
y toda vejación desconsuelos
Que emane sudor y toda humillación
la venganza el desaire y los miedos

Que emane el dolor el desprecio el rencor
y toda vejación de su consuelo
Que emane sudor y toda humillación
la venganza el desaire y los miedos.

Que emane el dolor las descargas de rabia sorda y callada
el terror el rencor y su recuerdo
Que emane ya no el sollozo en la voz
y este llanto que ronca en mi pecho

Que fluya
que siga
que se diluya
que corra
que no se pegue en mi cuerpo
que no me envenene por dentro
que no toque mi corazon y mi alma
que siga

Que emane

Que emane ya no el sollozo en la voz
y este llanto que ronca en mi pecho

Que emane.
Que emane.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Venezuela devalues currency


enezuela has devalued the bolivar, its currency, for the first time in five years in a move to reduce the fiscal deficit.

Hugo Chavez, the president, announced the devaluation to 2.6 against the US dollar from 2.15, in a speech on Friday.

He also established second exchange rate of 4.3 to the dollar.

Chavez said that the new rates have been set to boost the productive economy, "braking imports that aren't strictly necessary and stimulating export policy".

The government-set rates are an attempt to keep the cost of priority imports low in the face of an inflation rate of 25 per cent - the highest in Latin America.

The 2.5 rate will be used for those priority imports - including food, machinery, health care items, supplies for schools and products for economic development - while the second rate will be used for other transactions.

Venezuela's economy is currently in recession.

Source: Agencies

China becomes biggest exporter




China has overtaken Germany as the world's biggest exporter of goods after exports rose for the first time in 14 months, data has shown.

In the last month of 2009 Chinese exports rose 17.7 per cent on the previous year, the state-run Xinhua news agency said on Sunday, quoting figures from the general administration of customs.

That made total exports for the year just over $1.2 trillion, ahead of the $1.17 trillion forecast last month for Germany, according to the BGA foreign trade organisation.

China's new status reflects the ability of its low-cost manufacturers to keep selling abroad despite a collapse in global consumer demand due to the financial crisis.

Huang Guohua, a customs agency economist, said the December rise was an "important turning point".

"We can say that China's export enterprises have completely emerged from their all-time low in exports," Huang said.

The December data broke a long string of contracted export figures stretching back to late 2008.

Trade surplus

China's politically sensitive trade surplus shrank by 34.2 per cent in 2009 to $196.07 billion, Xinhua said.

That reflected China's stronger economic growth, driven by a $586bn stimulus package, and demand for imported raw materials and consumer goods at a time when demand in the US and other foreign markets was weaker.

China's official title of world's biggest exporter is expected to be confirmed when Germany releases full-year trade figures on February 9.

Experts have said a resurgence in Chinese trade will likely bring renewed pressure on China to let its yuan currency appreciate.

The value of the yuan, which has effectively been pegged to the US dollar since mid-2008, has been an issue of contention between Beijing and its Western trading partners, who say it keeps the currency low to boost exports.

Wen Jiabao, China's premier, said last month in an interview with state media that China would not yield to foreign pressure on the yuan.


Source: Agencies

News Middle East UAE sheikh acquitted of torture




Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, the half-brother of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been acquitted of charges of torture, his lawyer has said.

An Emirati court on Sunday acquitted Shiekh Issa despite a video tape of the 2004 incident showing him torturing an Afghan man with whips, electric cattle prods and wooden planks with protruding nails.

"The court acquitted Sheikh Issa after establishing he was not responsible," for the torture, lawyer Habib al-Mulla said on Sunday.

"The court accepted our defence that the Sheikh was under the influence of drugs [medicine] that left him unaware of his actions," al-Mulla said.

Bassam and Ghassan Nabulsi, former business partners of Sheikh Issa, who filmed and kept the video tape, were sentenced in absentia to five years each in prison.

The video tape was handed to the ABC News channel last April.

Sheikh Issa was charged with rape, endangering a life and causing bodily harm, the Gulf National newspaper reported.

Al-Mulla said that Sheikh Issa, who has been in detention for the past seven months, would be released following the acquittal.

'Blackmail'

Sheikh Issa's lawyer said that he was on a high amount of medication and that he was also drugged by the Nabulsi brothers.

Sheikh Issa was in a drugged state when the incident occurred, his lawyer claimed [AFP]

He told the court they had orchestrated the incident and filmed it to use as blackmail, the National reported.

A forensic medicine expert told the court in the previous hearing that the medication Sheikh Issa was on could "cause anger, suicide, violence, depression and loss of memory".

Six other defendants faced charges for the 2004 incident, which took place in the oasis city of Al Ain.

Two of them were ordered to pay a "temporary compensation" of 10,000 dirhams ($2,724) to the Afghan, who can file a new lawsuit to claim full compensation, the lawyer added.

Three others employed at the farm where the torture took place were sentenced to between one and three years in jail. A guard at the farm was acquitted.

Savage beating

The tape shows Sheikh Issa viciously beating a worker in an empty stretch of the desert.

A man in a UAE police uniform is seen on the tape tying the victim's arms and legs, and later holding him down as the Sheikh pours salt on the man's wounds and then drives over him with his Mercedes SUV.

In a statement to ABC News in April, the UAE ministry of the interior said it had reviewed the tape and acknowledged the involvement of Sheikh Issa.

"The incidents depicted in the video tapes were not part of a pattern of behaviour," the interior ministry's statement said.

The government statement said its review found "all rules, policies and procedures were followed correctly by the police department."

Nabulsi is now suing the Sheikh in federal court in Houston, Texas, where he resides, alleging he also was tortured by UAE police when he refused to turn over the tape to the Sheikh following their falling out.

"They were my security, really, to make my case that this man is capable of doing what I say he can do," Nabulsi said in an ABC interview in April.

Nabulsi said Sheikh Issa ordered the recording of the tape because he liked to watch the torture sessions later in his royal palace.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jordan bomber said CIA attack was "revenge"


DUBAI (Al Arabiya, Agencies)

A Jordanian who blew himself up in Afghanistan, killing seven CIA agents and his Jordanian handler, said in a video broadcast on Al Arabiya and other news networks Saturday the act he was planning was for revenge.

"We tell our emir Baitullah Mehsud we will never forget his blood. It is up to us to avenge him in and outside America," Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi said about a Taliban leader killed in a U.S. attack in August.

" We tell our emir Baitullah Mehsud we will never forget his blood. It is up to us to avenge him in and outside America "
Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi

"This is a message to the enemies of the (Muslim) nation -- the CIA and Jordanian intelligence services," said the bearded man in military uniform, identified by as Balawi.

The father of Balawi later confirmed in Jordan that the man shown in the video was indeed his son, and said he had been "manipulated" by several intelligence services which he did not identify.

"My son killed some of those manipulated him," Khalil al-Balawi told AFP in Amman. "He was sucked into the whirlpool of the intelligence services."

"My son was a doctor who saved lives, but he was lured by the intelligence apparatus who changed him enormously," he said of Balawi, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin.

Acquaintances alo said Balawi, known by his online name of Abu Dajana al-Khorasani, had flirted with radical Islam after returning home with a medicine degree from Turkey in 2002, when he began poetic and passionate writings on jihadi websites.

His recent writings before he headed to Afghanistan last year showed a growing impatience with not acting on his beliefs.

"When will my words drink from my blood..I feel my words have expired, and to those who preach jihad, I advise you not to fall into my dilemma and the nightmare I have that I may die one day in my bed... ," he said in a recent web posting.

In the video Balawi is shown holding a weapon and sitting alongside another individual wearing an Afghan headscarf with a black banner bearing a Quranic verse in the background.

Double-agent
" God's combatant never exposes his religion to blackmail and never renounces it, even if he is offered the sun in one hand and the moon in the other "
Balawi

According to the U.S. monitoring group IntelCenter, the man sitting next to Balawi is Hakimullah Mehsud, who succeeded Baitullah Mehsud as head of the Pakistan Taliban.

Balawi blew himself up at a U.S. military base in Khost, near the Pakistani border on December 30, killing seven CIA agents and his Jordanian handler -- a top intelligence officer and member of the royal family.

Jihadist websites have identified Balawi as a double agent who duped Western intelligence services for months before turning on his handlers.

But a senior Jordanian official told AFP on Wednesday that "Jordan has benefited since a year ago from anti-terrorist information provided by Humam Khalil al-Balawi and shared them with other (intelligence) services as part of the fight against terrorism."

Balawi, apparently referring to his claimed role as a double agent, said: "God's combatant never exposes his religion to blackmail and never renounces it, even if he is offered the sun in one hand and the moon in the other."

"We will never forget that he (Mehsud) said Sheikh Osama bin Laden was not on our soil (Pakistan) but that if he should come we would protect him," the man said.

"He kept his promise and paid for it with his life," he added about Mehsud, the Pakistan Taliban chief killed in U.S. drone attacks last August.

On Thursday, Islamist websites quoted the head of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, as saying the bomber left a will saying the Khost attack was revenge for "our righteous martyrs" and named several top militants killed in drone attacks in Pakistan.

Yazid described Balawi's mission as an "epic breakthrough" in penetrating both American and Jordanian intelligence, said Islamist websites.

The slain militant masterminds named in the will included Mehsud, who was blamed for a wave of deadly attacks, notably the December 2007 killing of Pakistan's former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Also named was Abu Saleh al-Somali, described as part of al-Qaeda's core leadership and responsible for plotting attacks in Europe and the United States. He was killed in a drone strike near the Afghan border last month.

The suicide attack at a U.S. military base near the Pakistani border on December 30 was the deadliest attack against the Central Intelligence Agency since 1983.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said on Friday in Washington that Jordan has a counter-terrorism role in Afghanistan and will enhance its operations there in the future.

London police storm Dubai-bound plane, 3 held


LONDON (Agencies)

Armed officers stormed a plane at London's Heathrow airport as it was about to depart for Dubai and arrested three men on suspicion of making a bomb threat, police said Saturday.

The Emirates flight was preparing to take off late Friday when a "verbal threat" was made to staff, London's Metropolitan Police Service said.

"Police were alerted and armed officers boarded the plane," a police statement said.

" The police just swarmed the guy and then rushed him out. I think he was a white male "
Passenger Cameron McLean

"Three men aged 58, 48 and 36 were arrested and are now in police custody. They have been arrested on suspicion of making a bomb threat."

Police were searching the aircraft but media reported no harmful substances were believed to have been found on the plane, which had 331 passengers on board.

Sky News television reported that the men arrested were English and appeared to be drunk.

It broadcast a grainy photograph purportedly taken inside the aircraft, showing police in black overalls, and a passenger said officers brandishing guns in body armor burst onto the plane and hauled the suspects away.

Passenger Cameron McLean, who Sky said supplied them with the photograph, told the broadcaster: "Some special police just came on the plane and arrested these two guys a few rows in front of me.

"The police just swarmed the guy and then rushed him out. I think he was a white male," he said.

The passenger added there were about five armed officers who were wearing helmets, body armor and carrying what appeared to be automatic weapons.

The security scare came after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, allegedly tried to detonate a device stitched into his underwear on a flight from Amsterdam as it landed in the United States on December 25.

In a court in Detroit on Friday, he pleaded not guilty to six charges related to the incident, which has led to security being stepped at airports worldwide.

The Wrestler


By Bruce Springsteen

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free?
If you've ever seen a one trick pony then you've seen me
Have you ever seen a one-legged dog making its way down the street?
If you've ever seen a one-legged dog then you've seen me

Then you've seen me, I come and stand at every door
Then you've seen me, I always leave with less than I had before
Then you've seen me, bet I can make you smile when the blood, it hits the floor
Tell me, friend, can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

Have you ever seen a scarecrow filled with nothing but dust and wheat?
If you've ever seen that scarecrow then you've seen me
Have you ever seen a one-armed man punching at nothing but the breeze?
If you've ever seen a one-armed man then you've seen me

Then you've seen me, I come and stand at every door
Then you've seen me, I always leave with less than I had before
Then you've seen me, bet I can make you smile when the blood, it hits the floor
Tell me, friend, can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

These things that have comforted me, I drive away
This place that is my home I cannot stay
My only faith's in the broken bones and bruises I display

Have you ever seen a one-legged man trying to dance his way free?
If you've ever seen a one-legged man then you've seen me

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Al-Qaeda's influence in Yemen


By Jeremy Bowen
Middle East editor, BBC News, Yemen

To get an idea of the state of mind of the men here in Yemen who run al-Qaeda in the Arabia peninsula, just take a look at what they said about the failed attack on the US airliner on Christmas Day.
Framed photos of Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh in Sanaa
President Saleh's government has been accused of corruption

In a swaggering and ambitious statement, they claimed that they sent the Nigerian student onto the plane, and that he only failed because of a technical fault with the bomb.

For them, getting that close counts as the next best thing to a successful mission.

And take just one look at the terrain of this country to understand why al-Qaeda is feeling so comfortable here, relaxed enough for one of its leaders reportedly to have moved his wife and family down from Saudi Arabia.

Yemen's mountains are rugged, hard to reach, and best of all from a jihadi point of view, they are not controlled by the central government.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula established itself in Yemen after it was forced out of Saudi Arabia, taking advantage of the fact that large swathes of Yemeni territory are controlled by powerful, well-armed tribes, not by a government that is getting closer to the US and its counter-terrorism advisers than ever.

Already there are claims and counter-claims of a kind that are familiar from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

On 17 and 24 December al-Qaeda sites in Yemen were attacked. Reports based on American sources suggested that 60 "militants" had been killed.

Children killed?

It has been reported in the United States that American military forces carried out the attacks.

But local journalists here who say they have visited the sites in question tell a different story.

Abdulelah Hider Shaea, who has close connections with al-Qaeda, told me that people at the places that were attacked insist that dozens of women and children were among the dead.

It is the belief of at least one person there, he said, that the Yemeni government and US President Barack Obama were congratulating each other on killing their children.

Making deals with tribes that have lost large numbers of women and children in government attacks will be very difficult.

Mr Shaea said that al-Qaeda in Yemen believes that American actions will bring it recruits.

And he compared Yemen with Pakistan's tribal areas.

The country's going to hell. The crises are converging with each other
Dr Abdullah al-Faqih
Professor of political science, Sanaa University

"The United States wants to fight al-Qaeda here. It won't work, they'll make this a new Waziristan, exporting fighters all over the world."

A diverse range of observers, in Yemen and abroad, agree that a heavy-handed counter-terrorism strategy will create more problems than it will solve.

But alternatives to military action move slowly and do not guarantee success either.

In Washington, President Obama is under pressure to take action. The Christmas Day attempted attack over Detroit may have failed, but it brought back instant memories of 9/11. Military action will continue.

Numerous problems

Al-Qaeda is not Yemen's only problem.

Saudi Arabia has intervened in the long-running tribal war in the north. A separatist movement in the south wants Yemen to be divided back into two countries.

The poor are getting poorer. Levels of illiteracy are high. The birth rate is the highest in the Middle East.

Its main export, oil, will run out within the next 10 years and new gas fields do not appear to be lucrative enough to replace it.

Yemen's water supply is also running dry, not least because of the amount that is used to irrigate the fields of khat.
Yemenis in Sanaa
Yemen suffers from poverty and illiteracy

Chewing khat leaves, which are a mild stimulant, is the national pastime.

Yemen's President Ali Abdallah Saleh surrounds himself with members of his own clan and adroitly juggles all the other forces in Yemen to stay in power.

It is a strategy that has worked for 30 years. But his government is accused of being not just ineffective, but also riddled with corruption.

So the US, Britain and Saudi Arabia, are looking even more nervous about Yemen and its list of challenges.

They will have a chance to talk about what to do next in a meeting in London at the end of the month.

When I asked Dr Abdullah al-Faqih, professor of political science at Sanaa University about Yemen's position, he was succinct.

"The country's going to hell. The crises are converging with each other."

The risk, he said, was that Yemen would go the same way as Somalia, its neighbour across the Gulf of Aden, which descended into violent and bloody confusion a generation ago and has never emerged.

Yemen is not Somalia, nor Afghanistan. At least not yet. It is not a failed state, but it is failing.

Holding back chaos

It will be very hard to stabilise matters here, but it is not impossible.

Many Yemenis are devout, but that does not make them jihadis. The tribes are powerful and traditionally are open to making deals.

One strategy for al-Qaeda's enemies could be to pay them to ban al-Qaeda from their territory.

The Saudis and the Americans have plenty of money for that. They don't necessarily have the necessary time, luck and judgement that has to go along with cash.

Action is needed, because all the indications suggest that if matters are left as they are, Yemen will slide steadily into chaos.

Egypt Copts killed in Christmas church attack


At least five Coptic Christians have been killed in a drive-by shooting outside a church in southern Egypt, officials say.

The shooting came as worshippers left the church in Naj Hammadi after a midnight mass on Coptic Christmas Eve.

Unidentified gunmen sprayed gunfire indiscriminately into the crowd, officials said.

Two Muslims passing the church were among 10 people reportedly injured in the attack.

Naj Hammadi is 40 miles (64km) from Luxor, southern Egypt's biggest city.

Coptic Christians account for about 10% of the Egypt's population of 80 million.

They have complained of harassment and discrimination, though sectarian violence is unusual.

Turkmenistan opens new Iran gas pipeline


Turkmenistan has opened a second gas pipeline to Iran, further eroding Russia's historical domination of its energy sector.

The new pipeline will eventually more than double Turkmenistan's annual gas exports to Iran to 20bn cubic metres.

With a pipeline to China that opened last month, sales to Russia will be a much smaller proportion of exports.

The EU also wants to build a gas link that bypasses Russia, which for now remains the main buyer of Turkmen gas.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated the new 30km (19 miles) pipeline with Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in a ceremony in the desert near the Iranian border.

The two jointly turned a spigot to symbolically open the link, which will deliver gas from the Dovletabad field to Iran's Khangiran refinery.

"This pipeline will be a good stimulus for energy co-operation between Turkmenistan and Iran, as well as for delivery of Turkmen gas to the Persian Gulf and the world market," Mr Ahmadinejad said.

The new pipelines have given Turkmenistan more power in negotiations with Russian energy giant Gazprom, which has now had to agree to pay higher prices for Turkmen gas.

Previously, the bulk of Turkmenistan's gas was transported along Soviet-era pipelines that went through Russia, giving Moscow the power to dictate prices.

Gas supplies to Russia resumed in December after an eight-month dispute over pricing.

Russia will now buy 30bn cubic metres annually, down from 50bn cubic metres before supplies were cut by a pipeline explosion in April.

Chinese dairy executives charged in tainted milk case



A year on from China's tainted milk scandal, there are allegations that the practice of selling milk contaminated with the chemical melamine continues.

Prosecutors in Shanghai have confirmed to the BBC that three dairy executives are to go on trial for allegedly selling milk tainted with melamine.

Reports suggest the authorities knew about the contamination but failed to inform the public.

Six children died and 300,000 became ill from tainted milk in 2008.

Melamine is an industrial chemical used in the making of plastics and fertilisers. If ingested it can cause kidney failure and kidney stones.

Cover-up?

Some Chinese dairy producers were convicted of watering down their milk to make supplies go further, then adding melamine so that it appeared to have a higher protein content.


MELAMINE SCANDAL
10 Sept 2008: Fourteen babies reported ill in Gansu province
15 Sept: Beijing confirms first deaths from the contamination
22 Sept: Number of ill babies soars to tens of thousands
23 Sept: Other countries start to recall Chinese dairy products
31 Oct: Melamine routinely added to animal feed, say China media
23 Dec: Main dairy firm involved, Sanlu, goes bankrupt
31 Dec: Four senior Sanlu executives go on trial
2 Jan 2009: Firms say sorry in mass New Year text message
22 Jan: Two men sentenced to death and 19 jailed in Hebei
March: Higher courts reject appeals
24 Nov: Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping executed

Timeline: China milk scandal

In late 2008, the government ordered 22 firms implicated in the scandal to pay millions of dollars in compensation to the families affected by the contaminated milk.

The firms' milk products were supposed to have been destroyed.

Two people were executed in November last year for their part in the scheme and 19 other people have been jailed.

Now, prosecutors in Shanghai have told the BBC that three executives from Shanghai Panda Dairy Company are to go on trial within a week.

The company was shut down and the executives arrested for allegedly selling dairy products a year ago that contained melamine.

The BBC's Chris Hogg in Shanghai says it impossible to confirm details of the allegations because the company has been shut down.

Meanwhile, Shanghai government departments connected with the case refer all enquiries to each other.

The state-run China Daily reported that local authorities discovered the contamination at the end of 2008 and launched an investigation in February 2009, but did not tell the public or recall Panda dairy products.

Some commentators in China have suggested that this was because officials were worried another scandal would harm the dairy industry as it tried to recover from the first one, says our correspondent.

China was supposed to have imposed tougher regulations on the dairy industry to protect consumers after children first started falling ill from tainted milk in September 2008.

Government officials have said the Shanghai case is unconnected with the 2008 poisonings and did not involve tainted products that should have been destroyed in the scandal's aftermath.

Japan PM replaces finance minister


Japanese PM Yukio Hatoyama has been forced to replace his experienced finance minister, Hiroshisa Fujii, who has resigned due to ill health.

Naoto Kan has been chosen as the country's new finance minister.

Mr Hatoyama had earlier said he did not want Mr Fujii, one of the few veterans in his Democratic Party-led government, to stand down.

Mr Kan will inherit the job at a time when Japan faces deflation, a fragile economy and huge public debt.

The change of faces in such a key post is being seen as a severe test for Mr Hatoyama - who came into power in September after nearly 50 years of conservative rule and is already suffering from falling ratings.


ANALYSIS
Roland Buerk
Roland Buerk, BBC News, Japan
Once 77-year-old Hirohisa Fujii said he wanted to resign because of ill health, there was little way the prime minister could keep him in office.

Long, gruelling days beckon when parliament convenes the week after next with the budget at the top of the agenda.

The new finance minister, Naoto Kan, has headed a National Strategy Unit that sets fiscal priorities. But he has nothing like the budgetary experience of Mr Fujii.

The question for bond markets is whether he will be able to resist pressure for more government spending, especially if Japan's economy sags towards a double dip recession.

Mr Fujii's departure will add to uncertainty about the new government's ability to handle the economy.

Trusted by the markets for his fiscal restraint, he had been working on a budget which faces a crucial vote later this month, and had resisted pressure from within Japan's governing coalition to spend more on public works.

Mr Kan is unlikely to favour big spending at the moment, either, given that public debt is almost 200% of GDP. But analysts say he may be unable to resist the pressure to release more money if the economy stalls again.

Mr Kan, like Mr Hatoyama, is a founder of the ruling Democratic Party.

He is known for his tough debating skills, and is keen to reduce the political clout of influential bureaucrats.

He previously headed the National Strategy Bureau that sets priorities for fiscal policy, but he is thought by the markets to lack Mr Fujii's extensive experience of budget and tax issues.

Mr Fujii tendered his resignation overnight, after being admitted to hospital last week suffering from high blood pressure.

He had told reporters he was exhausted after weeks of wrangling within Japan's governing coalition to finalise the budget.

Mr Hatoyama then reportedly asked Mr Fujii to stay, to see through his work on the budget. But later the prime minister told public broadcaster NHK: "Problems of health are inevitable... and so I have accepted his resignation."

"Finance Minister Fujii has been exhausted. The doctors' medical certificate said it is difficult for him to execute his official duty as a minister. I have no choice but to take the doctors' diagnosis seriously."

Naoto Kan (archive image)
Naoto Kan is a tough debater, but does he have the necessary experience?

When the DPJ came to power in September, after half a century of conservative dominance, it promised to enlarge the welfare state, assert the power of elected politicians over bureaucrats, and move Japan from what it sees as diplomatic subservience to the US to become a leading power in an integrated Asia.

But the party also started its tenure at a time of deep economic uncertainty, according to the BBC correspondent in Japan, Roland Buerk

Japan's debt is already the largest in the developed world, and for years its sustainability was a distant, if constantly nagging worry - much of it is held domestically.

The Japanese were big savers but now the baby boomers are hitting retirement and they are drawing on their nest eggs.

In recent times the Japanese have been saving less even than Americans, our correspondent says.

Afghanistan CIA suicide bomber 'fooled family'

The Jordanian suicide bomber who carried out the worst attack against the CIA in decades in Afghanistan tricked his family, the BBC has learnt.

Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 36, killed seven US agents and a Jordanian intelligence officer when he detonated himself at the Khost base last week.

But his friends and relatives had believed the doctor was in Turkey.

A relative told the BBC that the family only realised his whereabouts when they heard news of the attack.

'Double agent'

The BBC's Dale Gavlak, in Zarqa, Jordan, spoke to a family member who refused to be identified after being told to remain anonymous by the Jordanian authorities.


ANALYSIS
By Dale Gavlak, BBC News in Zarqa, Jordan
In terms of reaction to the news the bomber was a double agent, there has been very little reporting in the Jordanian press.

When the body of the Jordanian intelligence officer was returned on Saturday, as he was a relative of King Abdullah, the body was received by the royal family.

A wake was held for the man at a royal palace, but there has been almost no news about it in the papers.

The lack of coverage may highlight that the issue of Jordanian intelligence links to the CIA is so sensitive. It would play very badly with Muslims and Arabs.

He said Balawi had fooled them all about his intentions and his beliefs, telling his family he was travelling to Turkey to join his Turkish wife and children and continue his medical studies.

Instead, he went to Forward Operating Base Chapman, in Afghanistan, where he carried out the worst attack against US intelligence officials since the US embassy in Beirut was bombed in 1983.

The relative cried as he spoke about Balawi, our correspondent reports. He described him as a devout - if somewhat aloof - Muslim who cared for the poor.

Balawi was reportedly recruited by Jordanian intelligence officials when he attempted to enter Gaza as part of a medical team last year.

According to US media reports, he was a CIA double agent whose specific mission was tracking down al-Qaeda's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri.


The revelation that the man was a double-agent is embarrassing for both the US and Jordan
Frank Gardner, BBC Security Correspondent

Mystery of CIA bomber

Neither the CIA or the US government has confirmed these reports.

According to the Washington Post, Balawi had lured the CIA officers into a meeting at the base's gym with a promise of new information on al-Qaeda's top leadership.

Google's new phone to protect mobile advertising base


By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Google has said it is defending its online advertising empire with the launch of its own brand mobile phone.

It is the first time Google has designed and sold its own consumer hardware device.

Google said the Nexus One represented the next frontier in the company's $20bn (£12.4bn) core business - selling advertising through search.

"It's all about the mobile web, and advertising is their bread and butter," said analyst Michael Gartenberg.

"It's the latest salvo from Google on the wireless industry. The landmark news here is that Google is now a consumer electronics retail company," added Mr Gartenberg, of Interpret.


The Nexus One means this will be the first time Apple has to be reactive
Robert Scoble
Tech blogger

Google, like many in the industry, recognises that more and more people are accessing the web via their mobile phones rather than through their desktop or personal computers.

In the developing world, the majority of users are going online for the first time using a smartphone.

"The new paradigm is mobile computing and mobility," David B Yoffie, a professor at Harvard Business School, told the New York Times.

"That has the potential to change the economics of the internet business and to redistribute profits yet again."

Apple 'cool' fading?

Google has called the Nexus One a super phone, no doubt to set the device apart from the other players, including the BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone.

Despite its much anticipated arrival on the scene, many industry watchers do not think the Nexus One is an iPhone killer, though they do believe it will force Apple to step up its game.

NEXUS ONE HANDSET
Close-up of Nexus One, Getty
3.7 inch touchscreen
1GHz snapdragon processor
5 Megapixel camera with LED flash
GPS and compass
Accelerometer
Noise cancellation technology
Voice recognition can be used with all applications
Light sensor changes screen brightness to conserve power
512MB Flash memory with SD card slot (expandable to 32GB)

"Google is coming at the mobile industry with a lot of horses and I think 2010 is the first time Apple is going to have to chase something," said technology blogger Robert Scoble of Scoblizer.com.

"For the last three years the iPhone has been way out in front in the mobile space in terms of mindshare. The Nexus One means this will be the first time Apple has to be reactive," Mr Scoble told the BBC.

To date, the iPhone has sold about 30 million units and spawned countless imitators, including this new phone.

The technology blog TechCrunch said that the Nexus One looked more like the iPhone than any other phone on the market.

There is no physical keyboard, it has a removable battery, a 5 megapixel camera, touchscreen, and is driven by Google's Android operating system.

Google says the phone is as thin as a number 2 pencil, at 11.5mm, and as light as a Swiss army knife keychain at 130g.

Google's Eric Tseng demonstrates the vocal command features on the Google phone

"The Nexus One is an important milestone in the smartphone market," said TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington.

"This is a software company frustrated with making compromises with hardware manufacturers, that has taken the product bull by the horns. When combined with Google Voice, there is no phone on the market today that can touch the Nexus One."

Google has voice-enabled all text boxes on the device, which means that users can put together an e-mail message or tweet by speaking into the phone rather than typing text on the touch screen.

Pricing models

As well as going into the hardware business, Google is also trying out something different by offering the phone to users without being tied to a contract with a mobile phone operator.

It is offering the Nexus One through its online store at $179 (£112) if users sign up to a two-year plan with T-Mobile, or $529 (£332) without a plan.
Screengrab of Nexus One page, Google
Google will host a web store that will sell the Nexus One

Some believe Google should have been braver with its pricing options and offered a sweetener by subsidising the phone through its advertising revenue.

"It would have been nice to see them roll out something a bit more unique," Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineLand.com, told BBC News.

"Google has speculated in the past that there one day might be phones that are entirely ad-supported and because Google is this huge ad behemoth, this was a natural opportunity to roll out a phone like that."

The Nexus One was built by Taiwanese electronics manufacturer HTC.

It joins about 20 other devices that already run on the Android operating system.

At the moment, the Nexus One is only available in the US but will be sold in Europe, Hong Kong and Singapore in the spring through Vodafone. Google said it hoped to add other devices and carriers for sale in the future.

Crossover

Google's emergence as a retailer is regarded as an escalation in the budding rivalry between Google and Apple.

But it is not all one way.

Ahead of the launch of the Nexus One, Apple announced a deal to buy mobile advertising service Quattro Wireless. It is seen as an effort to counter Google's planned $750 million acquisition of rival AdMob.

"If there is any doubt that 2010 is the year of Mobile Advertising, Apple just cleared up any speculation," said Paran Johar, chief marketing officer of competing mobile ad network Jumptap.

"For pessimists who thought the Google acquisition of Admob was a fluke, this reinforces that mobile advertising is here to stay," he said.

"Handset manufacturers, software providers, infrastructure vendors, and carriers are all looking to connect the dots and carve out a share of what will be the primary access point of the Internet in five years."

Afro-Cuban priests predict social unrest in 2010


By Michael Voss
BBC News, Havana

Some of Cuba's leading Afro-Cuban priests are predicting social unrest in 2010 and have called on the older generation of leaders to step aside.

The priests are from the influential Santeria religion, a mix of Catholicism and traditional African religions introduced by slaves.

They made their annual forecast after conducting animal sacrifices.

Their prediction is seen as politically contentious in a country still ruled by the aging Castro brothers.

The priests - or babalawos as they are called - made their forecast following a secretive New Year's Eve ritual on the outskirts of Havana.

Their prediction: a year of social and political unrest, struggles for power, and treachery.

They also warned that there could be a coup d'etat or other sudden political change.

Speaking about their findings, one of the leading babalawos, Victor Betancourt, said it was time for a new generation of leaders to take over.

"Times change. The older generations should pass their experience on to young people because they are better prepared," he said.

Followers of Santeria in Santiago, Cuba (4.12.09)
Santeria is a fusion of Roman Catholic and ancient African beliefs

Cuba has been ruled for the past 50 years by the Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul.

Very few here have made such demands for generational change publicly.

Santeria has deep roots in Cuban society, where about a third of the population are of African descent.

Its religious practices have generally been tolerated by the Communist-led authorities, partly because it was heavily repressed before the revolution.

This is by far the most overtly political annual New Year forecast.

The priests believed 2009 would be a year of conflict between neighbouring countries and warned of the necessity to foment respect within families.

In 2008 they failed to predict that Fidel Castro would step down as president.

A rival Santeria group with closer ties to the government came out with its own prediction saying that 2010 would be a year of improving health, possibly referring to Fidel Castro's continuing recovery from major surgery.

Aboriginal Canadians divided over Vancouver Olympics


By Brandy Yanchyk
Vancouver

The Canadian city of Vancouver is gearing up to host nearly four weeks of Winter Olympic and Paralympic sporting action in February and March.

The Games, set to attract international attention, have a particular importance for Canada's aboriginal peoples, as many of the sporting events will take place on their ancestral land.

The peoples involved - the Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations - who live on and share the land, have joined forces.

Together with the Vancouver Olympic Committee (Vanoc), they will be hosting the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games in a partnership that is making Olympic history.

This is the first time that aboriginals have been official partners in the Olympics and have been involved in every aspect of the Games starting from the bidding process.

'Stolen land'

For some aboriginals, this partnership is seen as a unique opportunity for Canada's indigenous peoples to show their culture to the world.

For others, the Vancouver Olympics are a waste of money and resources that could be better spent on serious issues facing aboriginals in Canada.


Rose Henry
Many of our community members are paying with their lives with the inadequate housing and healthcare
Rose Henry
Olympic Resistance Network

Canada's indigenous peoples have suffered a long history of poverty, unemployment, and problems with addiction and high rates of suicide.

Tewanee Joseph, head of the umbrella group known as the Four Host First Nations, sees the Vancouver Winter Olympics as a great time for aboriginals to rebrand themselves in a positive way.

"What people will learn is that we're business people, we're entrepreneurs, we're visual artists and we're performing artists. You know our culture is really living and thriving today and it's been through challenges," says Mr Joseph.

"We no longer want to be seen as just Dime Store Indians, just beads and feathers. I think for us those stereotypes are very important for us to break."

Despite all the potential positive attention on their culture, many of British Columbia's aboriginals still feel that the decision to hold the Olympics in Vancouver (and the resort town of Whistler) was wrong.

"A lot of First Nations considered the land to be stolen," says Josh Anderson from the Lil'wat Nation.

"Our people were actually there to watch the construction of the facilities for the Olympics just in case the lands were desecrated or disrespected in any way."

A number of First Nations continue to be concerned about how the expansion of Whistler for the Olympics is affecting their land and the environment.

'No teepees'

Despite the opposition by some of his people, Mr Anderson welcomes the arrival of the Olympic Games and intends to use the exposure as an opportunity to educate the world about his culture.

He will be teaching Lil'wat history to visitors at the new Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, built with provincial and federal government funding.

Performing at the Squamish Lilwat cultural centre
There are aims to bring the aboriginal culture to a wider audience

"A lot of people think that we, the Lil'wat and the Squamish, are Eskimos and that we live in igloos and that we have teepees here. We don't have teepees and we are not Eskimos," Mr Anderson says.

"We do have cold winters and we used to live in underground dwellings in pit houses. We call them istkens."

For aboriginals like Rose Henry, of Sliammon heritage, and Jayson Fleury, who is Saulteaux-Cree, the idea that Vanoc is spending C$1.7bn ($1.6bn;£1bn) on the Games is upsetting. They both belong to the Olympic Resistance Network (ORN) whose motto is "No Olympics on Stolen Native Land."

They believe that some of that money should be spent on issues like homelessness and addiction.

"If you go to Vancouver's downtown eastside, you will see that most of the homeless are First Nations people and they are from this area," says Mr Fleury. "So their rights, their livelihood are not being honoured in any fashion."

"It is costing us a lot more than just the dollars," adds Ms Henry.

"Many of our community members are paying with their lives with the inadequate housing and healthcare and so the rippling effects go beyond the 17-day party that's going to be happening here that we can't afford."

Snowboarding success

The province of British Columbia, Vanoc, and the Four Host First Nations still believe that the Olympics will have a lasting positive impact on Canada's aboriginals and have set up economic, art and sporting legacy programmes.

One fund has helped to create the First Nations snowboard team which started with 10 members and now has 200 from 13 First Nations across British Columbia.

Afghanistan CIA killings a major blow to US and Jordan


By Frank Gardner
BBC Security Correspondent

The revelation that the man who blew up himself, four CIA officers, three security guards and a Jordanian intelligence officer in Khost, Afghanistan, was a double agent is embarrassing for both the US and Jordan.

For Washington, it risks making a mockery of the CIA's attempts to track down and infiltrate the intimate circle of al-Qaeda's leadership.

One can only imagine how much false intelligence this al-Qaeda double agent had been feeding his handlers, before he killed them.

For Jordan, this is a clandestine relationship it would much prefer to have kept secret.

The idea that Jordanian intelligence officers are working hand-in-glove with the CIA will be deeply resented by many in Jordan.

Fearsome reputation

Jordan's intelligence service, the General Intelligence Directorate (GID), has a fearsome reputation in the Arab world.

Rivalling Egypt's agency in its ability to uncover Islamist extremist networks, it has also been accused of human rights abuses and of colluding with the CIA's programme of extraordinary rendition of al-Qaeda suspects.

The GID failed to prevent al-Qaeda in Iraq's bombings of Jordanian hotels in Amman that killed 60 people in 2005.

The CIA will now have to go through the depressing exercise of re-evaluating everything their supposed mole had told them

But the following year it was patient, painstaking work by Jordanian human intelligence that led the Americans to their most wanted target in Iraq.

In June 2006, US special forces operating near the Iraqi town of Baquba were able to direct an airstrike that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq who had come close to triggering a sectarian war between Iraq's Shia and Sunni Muslims.

But now, following the disastrous blow to the CIA's intelligence gathering delivered by the Jordanian suicide bomber in Afghanistan on 30 December, US intelligence officials will likely be taking a close look at their intelligence-sharing with Jordan.

Expertise lost

It appears that the bomber was, after all, an al-Qaeda "triple agent" who had supposedly been turned against extremism by Jordanian intelligence while in prison, recruited to spy on al-Qaeda, sent to the Afghan-Pakistan border region to try to get close to al-Qaeda's leadership, but who all the while had never abandoned his jihadi affiliations.

CIA DEATHS: 1965-2009
2009: Seven killed in suicide attack on their base in Afghanistan
2003: Two CIA contractors die in Shkin, Afghanistan; CIA officer killed during training exercise in Afghanistan
2001: Officer shot during prison uprising in Afghanistan
1993: Two CIA employees killed at the agency's Virginia headquarters
1989: Six CIA employees die when a plane carrying military equipment from DR Congo to Angola crashes
1985: CIA Beirut station chief killed after having been kidnapped and tortured
1983: Eight CIA employees killed in the US embassy bombing in Beirut
1965: Seven CIA employees die, most of them in Vietnam
Source: Washington Post

Mystery of CIA bomber's identity

Named as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian physician apparently completely fooled his Jordanian handler, named as Capt Sharif Ali Bin Zaid.

He convinced both him and the CIA that he had urgent information to pass on, so a mini-summit of intelligence officers was convened on Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost to hear what he had to say.

Since Jordanian intelligence had vouched for him, the bomber was never properly searched and, early in his bogus "briefing", he detonated the explosives on his body.

For the CIA, this is a blow on many levels.

It has lost some of its most valued officers with expertise at the sharp end, it will now have to go through the depressing exercise of re-evaluating everything their supposed mole had told them, on the basis that it is probably false.

It will have to assume that everything the assassin had been told and taught by his handlers - methods, codes, aliases - will all have been passed to al-Qaeda, who will take a keen interest in such information.

And above all, it shows that far from the growing complacency mouthed by Western government officials - that al-Qaeda was on the run after CIA drone strikes killed 15 senior al-Qaeda leaders and one Taliban leader in Pakistan's tribal belt since January 2008 - the fugitive organisation and its followers are, in fact, capable of striking back hard where it hurts.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dutch court to hear Shell case




A district court in The Hague has agreed to hear petitions filed by four Nigerian men who allege that Royal Dutch Shell was negligent in cleaning up a 2005 oil spill that damaged their farms and fisheries.

The Anglo-Dutch oil company had argued the court should not have jurisdiction over the matter, since the alleged damages were caused by a company which is majority-owned by the Nigerian government and subject to that country's law.

Shell, which has a 30 per cent stake in the subsidiary, said it was disappointed by Wednesday's ruling.

The plaintiffs, supported by Friends of the Earth, said they turned to Dutch courts because it was impossible to get a fair hearing in Nigeria.

'Initial victory'

Geert Ritsema, a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said: "For years, these people have been trying to get Shell to clean up its mess and stop polluting their habitat.

"However, again and again they have come away empty handed. That is why they are now trying to get justice in the Netherlands.

"The court decision is an initial victory for all Nigerians that have been fighting for years for a cleaner habitat and justice."

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Ritsema said that Shell did not want the case heard in The Hague because "they [Shell] think in Nigeria they can get away with polluting the environment without paying compensation".

Ritsema said: "They [Shell] are quite aware that in the Netherlands, in front of a Dutch court, it will be much harder for them to escape liability."

The plaintiffs are farmers and fishermen and come from the villages of Oruma, Goi and Ikot Ada Udo, all three located in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

According to Friends of the Earth Netherlands, the oil spills are not incidents but represent a pattern of systematic and serious pollution and contempt for the rights of the local population that has been going on for decades.

The substantive hearing of the first lawsuit will focus on the village of Oruma.

Still unfit

Friends of the Earth Netherlands said that as a result of an oil spill from a high-pressure oil pipeline in June of 2005, the fish ponds and farm land of Alai Efanga, a plaintiff from Oruma, are still unfit for use today.

Efanga said: "Our village was pleased with the decision of the Dutch court. We hope that Shell will now quickly clean up the oil pollution so that we can resume growing food and fishing."

According to Shell, the leak was caused by "sabotage" and did not result from bad maintenance of the pipeline, as the plaintiffs claim, and the oil firm also says the leak had "a limited impact" on the environment.

Oil firms operating in the Niger Delta have long been subject to attacks and sabotage by local armed movements claiming to want better living standards and a share in the oil wealth for local people.

A spokeswoman for the court said the trial would begin on February 10.


Source: Agencies

Cuba seeks 'sustainable socialism'


By Tom Fawthrop

In 2010, Cuba marks the 51st anniversary of the revolution that transformed the Caribbean nation from a sleazy centre of casinos run by US gangsters, to the only outpost of socialism in the Americas - defying US superpower only 90 miles from the shores of Florida.

That Cuba's defiant brand of socialism has survived so many upheavals in the world and a crippling US trade embargo has surprised most observers.

During the last 50 years the small island nation has impressed with its achievements in education and in creating a comprehensive and free public health system staffed by excellent doctors.

But its citizens are growing increasingly impatient with hard times, suffocating bureaucracy and the badly-run state economy.

Public debate

In 2010, Cuba marks the 51st anniversary of its revolution [EPA]
In 2006, ill health forced Fidel Castro to hand power over to his younger brother, Raul.

The new Cuban president has been encouraging a wide-ranging public debate on how to fix and reform the ailing economy, without abandoning some of the socialist ideals and principles that inspired the revolution.

He has also exhorted citizens to engage in a national dialogue on the future of the country's socialism under the control of the ruling Communist party.

International media usually reports that Raul Castro, suitably impressed by his visit to China and Vietnam where major economic reforms were introduced long ago, favours a similar acceptance of a market-based economy.

However Mariela Castro, the president's daughter, does not believe Cubans want to adopt a foreign model.

"Cuban people are asking for a much more sustainable socialism, not a return to capitalism," she explains. "They want a permanent system of consultation, better mechanisms of participation to work for a democratic socialism."

Hard times

Many observers predicted that the revolution was doomed when the Soviet bloc collapsed; by 1991 Cuba had lost 80 per cent of its trading partners and 100 per cent of all economic aid.

At the same time Washington tightened the screws on its economic embargo hoping to precipitate the regime's collapse.

But, against the odds the revolution survived.

However, the country is now reeling from devastating hurricanes, the US trade embargo - which has been renewed under the Obama administration - and the global economic crisis, with a reported $2bn hard currency trade deficit incurred since 2007.

After a period of recovery during the last decade, hard times and belt-tightening beckon again.

Raul Castro is calling for an overhaul of the system to cut back on imports, and public spending while calling on Cubans to improve efficiency, grow more food and increase productivity.

He has already scrapped free canteen lunches for all state employees as a cost-saving measure.

Soviet legacy

Mariela Castro says Cubans want more sustainable socialism [Tom Fawthrop]
Mariela, who heads the country's national sex education commission and is a prominent gay and lesbian rights activist, is well-known as an independent voice within Havana's ruling elite.

"The Soviet legacy is a problem," she says, referring to the alliance Cuba forged with the former Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.

Inside the Communist leadership, she says "some segments think in very rigid and dogmatic ways".

"Yes they have blocked reforms, [but] they coexist with sectors searching for new ideas and methods."

Rafael Hernandez, the editor of Temas, a critical quarterly journal, says: "The control by the central bureaucracy, this is stupid and it can't run things efficiently."

But like many Cuban intellectuals, Hernandez rejects the simple dichotomy of Western analysts that the only alternative to the state-run command economy is to turn towards capitalism and switch to a market economy.

He argues that there is a place for the market but that "we need socialism with markets not market socialism - more democracy in workplaces, more market mechanisms with social control, otherwise the market will swallow the system".

The world food crisis which has pushed up prices for the import of food has drastically hit Cuba, which imports 70 per cent of its food and fuel.

It is a strange contradiction that the island that has become one of the top 10 countries in biotechnology - exporting vaccines and cutting edge cancer treatments around the world - is strangely unable to feed its 11.5 million population from its own agricultural production.

But despite attempts to liberalise agriculture, provide more land to cooperatives and private farmers, overall agricultural yields are still low and even these modest reforms are stymied by bottlenecks in supply and distribution.

The new leadership is under increasing pressure to deliver higher living standards at a time when revenues have dropped in several sectors, including tourism and exports of nickel.

Driving Cuba's economy

Will Cuba's youth lead the charge for more participatory socialism? [Tom Fawthrop]
Future prospects pinned to Cuba's medical resources are, however, very positive, with biotechnology and vaccine production pharmaceutical exports and medical services contributing an estimated 40 per cent or more to hard currency earnings.

Cuba has international medical teams working in 70 countries, receiving just food and basic accommodation from their host countries

However, in the case of oil-rich Venezuela and a few others, there are reciprocal benefits.

In return for more than 20,000 doctors and other health workers, Venezuela provides subsidised oil and cash payments for the doctors, which has helped to keep Cuba afloat and also sustain their massive commitment to serving the health needs of the poor in the developing world. Although the exact figures have never been made public the total value to the Cuban economy, including the oil supplies and all medical sales and services, is estimated at nearly $2bn.

Cuba's biotech industry has just launched CimaVaX EGF, a lung cancer vaccine, and Germany, Malaysia, China and India have all signed joint venture agreements for the marketing and use of Cuban cancer treatments.

In the future, Cuba potentially stands to earn billions from their medical expertise.

"If we get access to the Western market, then this hi-tech sector could become the locomotive of the entire Cuban economy," says Dr Rolando Perez, a research director at Cuba's Centre of Molecular Immunology (CIM).

But with such vaccines taking many years to pass rigorous international clinical trials, it is doubtful that Cuba can wait for this breakthrough.

In the ongoing debate engaging the nation, it is clear that the small group of US- supported dissidents have no monopoly on criticising policy failures and blunders by the state.

But in demanding political change, economic reform and more participatory socialism, the body of critics attacking the bureaucracy, seeks to enhance the socialist system, not to dismantle it.

The big question for Cuba in 2010 is can the clamour of ordinary Cubans, intellectuals and, above all, the youth of the nation, effect such novel changes?

Hernandez says: "Now the only way to rule Cuba is to allow power to the people."
Source: Al Jazeera

Israeli officers fear UK arrest




A group of Israeli military officers have delayed an official visit to Britain over fears they could be arrested on war crimes charges.

Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister, said on Tuesday that four officers invited to the UK by the British army would not be travelling "as we do not have a 100 per cent guarantee that they will not become objects of criminal lawsuits".

The officers, who hold ranks from major to colonel, are the latest in a string of Israeli politicians and military officials to call off travel to Britain due to fears over possible legal action.

Last month, Tzipi Livni, the leader of Israel's opposition Kadima party and foreign minister during last year's Gaza war, cancelled her UK trip after an arrest warrant was issued by a British court.

The warrant was issued under the concept of universal jurisdiction, which empowers judges to issue warrants for a visitor accused of commiting war crimes anywhere in the world.

'Duty to prosecute'

Pro-Palestinian activists have sought to use the concept to press charges against Israelis involved in military operations in the Palestinian territories, particularly since Israel's offensive on Gaza last year, which killed about 1,400 Palestinians.

"There's no reason why Israel should be singled out for special treatment. If they're accused of war crimes, we have a duty - and legislation - to prosecute"

Inayat Bunglawala, Muslim Council of Britain
Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, has voiced determination to change the law, which has strained relations with Israel.

Ayalon, who discussed the matter with Britain's attorney general on Tuesday, said such warrants "would impede normal bilateral ties".

"This legislation is often misused," he said.

"It initially targeted Nazi criminals, but terrorist organisations like Hamas are today using it to take democracies hostage.

"We have to put an end to this absurdity, which is harming the excellent bilateral relations between Israel and Britain."

But pro-Palestinian groups have condemned moves to change the law, saying Britain has a duty to prosecute those accused of war crimes.

"There's no reason why Israel should be singled out for special treatment. If they're accused of war crimes, we have a duty - and legislation - to prosecute," Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, told The Associated Press news agency.

The threat of arrest has also forced several former security officials to call off trips to London, including a former general who remained holed up on an airplane at Heathrow Airport in order to avoid arrest.

Last year, Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minister, fended off an arrest attempt by successfully arguing he had diplomatic immunity.


Source: Agencies

Iceland leader rejects payout bill




Iceland's president has refused to sign a bill that would compensate the British and the Dutch governments over the failure of Icesave bank, calling a national referendum on the issue instead.

Olafur Ragnar Grimsson said on Tuesday he had decided "to refer this new act to the people," adding that the public must "determine the future course".

"The involvement of the whole nation in the final decision is therefore the prerequisite for a successful solution, reconciliation and recovery," he said.

The Icesave bill calls for the payout of $5.4bn to Britain and the Netherlands after its respective governments compensated more than 320,000 customers who lost money in the collapse of the internet savings bank.

'Domestic distate'

The Dutch government said it was "extremely disappointed" at the decision and called for an explanation.

"The Netherlands maintains that Iceland is compelled to pay back the money," Ruud Slotboom, a Dutch finance ministry spokesman, told the AFP news agency.

"The Netherlands maintains that Iceland is compelled to pay back the money"

Ruud Slotboom,
Dutch finance ministry spokesman
"We expect of the government of Iceland to give us an explanation in the short term of the situation now created and the steps to be taken."

The compensation bill has sparked anger in Iceland, which was hit by a financial meltdown in October 2008.

About 60,000 people - about one-quarter of the country's electorate - have signed a petition protesting against the bill and calling for the issue to be put to a referendum.

Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull, reporting from London, said "the domestic distate for this bill stems from the feeling among many Icelanders that they don't want as taxpayers to be paying for the sins of their banks.

"They feel that their country is in no position .. to pay for the £5bn to Britain and the Netherlands."

Aid fears

Analysts said that Grimsson's rejection of the unpopular bill put aid from international lenders at risk.

"You can't hold a referendum in three days and this issue is pressing. The IMF will have to put on hold payment of any future tranches of aid until we have a 'yes' vote," Lars Christensen, and analyst at Danske Bank, said.

A Finnish official said the decision was likely to delay a loan of $2.6bn from Nordic countries.

It could also put Iceland's aspirations to join the European Union in serious jeopardy, with Britain and the Netherlands having veto power over the membership bid.

US detainees remanded in Pakistan




Five US citizens detained in Pakistan have denied that they planned to carry out attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as a court granted police two weeks to prepare terrorism charges against them.

The young Muslim men from Washington were arrested early last month during a raid on a house in the eastern Pakistani city of Sargodha.

Police officials said emails showed that the detainees had contacted the Taliban, and that the group had planned to use them for attacks in Pakistan.

A lawyer for the the men, who are aged 19 to 25, said that they denied that they had ties with al-Qaeda or other such groups.

Police have said they plan to seek life sentences for the men under the country's anti-terrorism law.

Mohammad Amir Khan, a defence lawyer for the men, said: "The five men denied having been in contact with al-Qaeda, Jaish-e-Mohammad [a Pakistani group] or any other militant group.

"They told the court they wanted to go to Afghanistan to help their Muslim brothers, like those needing medical or financial assistance, and had no plans to carry out any
activity in Pakistan."

'Jihad not terrorism'

Addressing journalists as he entered the courtroom in Sargodha on Monday, Ramy Zamzam, one of the detainees, said: "We are not terrorists. We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism."

The court remanded the men, named in addition to Zamzam as Umar Farooq, Waqar Khan, Ahmed Minni, Aman Hassan Yemer, to prison for 14 days to give police time to prepare their case.

"We have told the court that police have completed their investigation and have enough evidence against the five suspects to try them under anti-terrorism law," Matiullah Shahani, a police officer, said.

Officers have not said what they believe the group's intended target was, but authorities say the men had a map of Chashma Barrage, a complex located in Pakistan near nuclear power facilities that includes a water reservoir and other structures.

It lies in the province of Punjab, about 200km southwest of Islamabad, the capital,

Officials in both countries have said they expect the men to eventually be deported back to the US, though charging them in Pakistan could delay that process.

The US embassy has declined to comment on the potential charges the men face in Pakistan.


Source: Agencies

Iraq to take Blackwater to court


raq will file lawsuits in US and Iraqi courts against Blackwater, a private security firm, after an American court threw out charges against five of its guards accused of killing 14 civilians in Baghdad.

Making the announcement, Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, in a statement on Monday said his government "rejects the ruling issued by the American court acquitting the company of the crime of killing a number of citizens".

Last week, a US federal judge threw out the murder charges against the guards, saying prosecutors violated the defendants' rights by using incriminating statements they had made under immunity during a US State Department probe.

The guards, who had been part of a convoy of armoured vehicles, had been charged with killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others in September 2007 at a busy Baghdad roundabout using guns and grenades.

But the guards claimed they acted in self-defence after a convoy they were protecting near Nisour Square came under attack.

However, witnesses and victims say the guards shot indiscriminately.

The Iraqi government called the US court ruling "unacceptable and unjust" and promised to support a lawsuit in US courts filed by victims of the shooting or their relatives.

Blackwater pulled out of Iraq in May, after the US state department refused to renew its contracts.

The company changed its name to Xe Services last year.

White Power USA




Almost a year ago the inauguration of President Barack Obama was hailed as a turning point in US race relations. The country was said to be entering a new era of post-racial politics, on the path to a future of greater diversity and tolerance.

But while crowds flocked to Washington to witness the swearing in, others were refusing to join the party. Racially motivated threats against Obama rose to new heights in the first months of his presidency, with the US seeing nine high-profile race killings in 2009.

Meanwhile white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups claim their membership is growing and that visits to their websites are increasing.

Is the racial undercurrent that has long structured US politics reasserting itself?

Child soldiers used in Yemen war


Child soldiers used in Yemen war

At first, it is difficult to see the boy sitting behind the rows of microphones, spotlights shining down on him as cameras roll from all sides of the packed hotel conference room.

Above the table where Akram sits hangs a huge poster showing a Yemeni boy dressed in a traditional brown robe, holding a detonator in one hand, while with the other he lifts his gown to reveal packages strapped to his legs.

The Arabic reads: "No to the exploitation of children for destructive operations and terrorism."

Prior to the press conference a text message from the government had alerted journalists and aid workers to the shocking news: A nine-year-old suicide bomber had been arrested carrying a bomb through the Old City of Saada, the north Yemen region that has served as the stronghold of the powerful Houthi clan.

The clan has for the past five years led an armed rebellion against the government in the capital Sanaa.

Strapped up with explosives around his legs and a detonator in his hand, the photograph appeared to embody the cruelty of the increasingly bitter war, a child made into a bomb by rebels who would stop at nothing to inflict casualties and terror.

Propaganda?

A government poster depicting Akram wearing explosives and holding a detonator [Flamand]
The government said Akram had been stopped by police in Saada before he could reach his target. At the police station the boy was photographed and the media was called in to report on the young would-be suicide bomber.

Akram and his father were then driven to Sanaa to tell their story to the assembled crowd of Yemeni officials, children's rights groups and journalists.

Standing, Akram takes a microphone in his small hand and delivers his message: "To use children in war is wrong."

A day after the press conference, Akram's father told Al Jazeera that his son never carried explosives. "Bomb? There was never any bomb. There were thirty detonators, but no explosives," he said.

Akram said he was asked by a distant cousin to deliver a package of wires to a friend in Saada's Old City. "He said, 'This is just wires.' He tied the bags to my legs and put something in my pocket," said Akram.

One local NGO worker, speaking anonymously for fear of reprisal, told Al Jazeera that he had been contacted by the government who asked if he would talk to Akram and persuade him to confess to being a suicide bomber.

"I knew immediately the poster was a fake," he said. "The children need help, not this. We are independent and will not get involved in government propaganda."

Children in conflict

Whatever the truth about what Akram was carrying, his exploitation as a child soldier in Yemen is far from unique. A culture of under 18s carrying arms is ingrained in Yemen's tribal society.

Rights groups estimate that several thousand child soldiers have been involved in armed combat.

"We have a saying here," said Ahmed al-Gorashi, the chairman of Seyaj, a local NGO working to prevent the use of child soldiers. "If you are old enough to carry the jambiya [a curved dagger traditionally worn in the belt of Yemeni men] then you are old enough to fight with your tribe. And children carry the jambiya from the age of 12."

Across Yemen's countryside, it is a common site to see boys of 13 or 14 years old carrying Kalashnikovs as they ride with members of their tribe in the back of pick-up trucks.

The government accuses the Houthi rebels of using children as soldiers and of recruiting young boys from schools in Saada into their 'Believing Youth' movement.

"The Houthis use children to recruit other children from schools. They send the children leaflets and books to read saying joining Believing Youth is a way to become closer to God," said Mariam al Shwafi, the manager of Shawthab, a local children's rights organisation.

Although the official minimum age for joining the army is 18, the tribes which the government arms and finances to fight the Houthis alongside the army also often use children.

"The government is not knowingly recruiting underage soldiers into the army, but the tribal militias they are signing up are using child soldiers," said Andrew Moore, the country director of Save the Children in Yemen. "It's a deep cultural issue, but if we don't talk about it, it's never going to change."

UN investigating

in depth

Profile: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
Opinion: The $30bn pair of underpants
Opinion: Neither wars nor drones
Video: Suspect 'a gentleman, not fanatic'
Video: Yemen - New frontline for US wars?
Riz Khan: Yemen - A failed state?
Inside Story: Yemen - An international quagmire?
Blog: Air security beyond borders
No accurate figures exist for the number of children being used as soldiers in Yemen.

In a country of 25 million people, there are believed to be up to 60 million guns.

Abdul-Rahman al-Marwani, the chairman of the Dar as-Salaam Organisation to Combat Revenge and Violence, a local NGO, reports that as many as 500 to 600 children are killed or injured through direct involvement in tribal combat in Yemen every year.

Seyaj estimates that under 18s may make up more than half the fighting force of tribes, both those fighting with the Houthis and those allied with the government.

The problem of child soldiers in Yemen is now grabbing the attention of the international community and Unicef, the UN's children's rights agency, has been tasked with reporting on the issue.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN's special representative of the secretary-general on 'Children and Armed Conflict', said she is extremely concerned that "large numbers" of teenage boys have been dragged into the fighting.

Yemen is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and ratified in 2007 both its optional protocols which "require states to do everything they can to prevent individuals under the age of 18 from taking direct part in hostilities".

Persistent failure to prevent children taking part in conflict is considered a war crime by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.

Retaliation

The day after his name and face appeared on Yemeni TV, Akram's house in Saada's Old City was targeted by a bomb. Retaliation, so the government said, by the Houthis. Akram's younger brother was at home when the explosion struck and pieces of shrapnel shot into his face and chest.

At the time of our interview, the boy had yet to receive surgery for his injuries and was being cared for by his grandmother, Akram's mother having died last year, while his father had been driven to Sanaa with government officials before he could return home to help.

Though furious with the cousin who used his son as a child soldier, Akram's father said the hurt had been compounded by the government's effort to turn the story into a propaganda campaign.

"The government has put our family in a bad situation. I am too scared to go back to Saada now," he said. "We feel used."

As for Akram, like so many child soldiers manipulated at the hands of adults, he appears to understand little of who or what he was supposed to be fighting for. But as to the consequences of the conflict he has been caught up in, Akram is only too painfully aware.

"I miss my grandmother and I'm worried about my brother," Akram said.

"I'm not together with all my family and I want to see them again, but I can't because of this war."


Source: Al Jazeera