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European Union Moves to End Passport-Free Schengen Travel

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© Corbis
Unfettered travel across Europe, not including Britain or Ireland, was established by the 1995 Schengen Treaty
The European Union has moved toward reversing passport free travel across the continent amid fears of a wave of migrants fleeing unrest in north Africa.

At a special meeting of EU interior ministers in Brussels, a majority of member states backed changes that would allow individual nations to restore controls at their borders.

Unfettered travel across Europe, not including Britain or Ireland, was established by the Schengen agreement and has been a signature accomplishment of the EU for 16 years.

But at the closed meeting of ministers on Thursday, 15 states voted for the temporary return, as a last resort and under strict conditions, of border guards to deal with any sudden surge in migration.

They also supported reintroduction of guards if an EU state fails to control its frontier with non-EU nations. Only four nations were against, according to diplomats.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said: "A very wide consensus, if not near unanimity, was reached on the commission proposals."

Vader

'US Bill to Expand Presidents' War Powers'

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© unknown
The US Congress
The US Congress has introduced a resolution that would give the US president wide latitude of powers to wage war on other countries as part of the "war on terror."

The fiscal 2012 Defense Authorization bill, sponsored by Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee will expand the legal basis for the war on terror and is moving through Congress amid harsh criticism from civil liberties groups, The Washington Times reported on Wednesday.

The proposed legislation clearly states that "the president has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces pursuant to the authorization for use of military force."

The resolution, known as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, comes less than two weeks after the US Navy SEAL commandos reportedly killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in his compound in the city of Abbottabad in Pakistan.

Bomb

Explosions Kill 70 in North West Pakistan

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© unknown
Pakistani police officials examine the wreckage of a police vehicle after a bomb attack site in Peshawar on January 31.
At least 70 people have been killed and 80 others injured in twin blasts at a military training center in Pakistan's northwestern city of Charsadda.

The explosions took place at about 6:10 a.m. local time Friday morning at the Frontier Constabulary training site, AFP reported.

"Seventy people have been killed," said the police chief of the northwestern Charsadda district, Nisar Khan Marwat.

"Sixty-five of them are from the paramilitary police. Five dead bodies of civilians were taken to Shabqadar hospital," the police chief added.

The death toll is still expected to rise since the injured are reported to be in critical condition and medical items at the city's hospital are in short supply.

Marwat said the attacks occurred when newly-trained cadets, wearing civilian clothes, were getting into buses to go on a 10-day leave after the end of their training course.

Vader

How Perpetual War Became U.S. Ideology

Obama, hillary clinton
© Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Since the last realist president, George H.W. Bush, left office, two groups - neoconservatives and liberal interventionists - have overtaken American foreign policy

The United States has found itself in a seemingly endless series of wars over the past two decades. Despite frequent opposition by the party not controlling the presidency and often that of the American public, the foreign policy elite operates on a consensus that routinely leads to the use of military power to solve international crises.

Ideological Domination

Neoconservatives of both parties urge war to spread American ideals, seeing it as the duty of a great nation. Liberal interventionists see individuals, not states, as the key global actor and have deemed a Responsibility to Protect those in danger from their own governments, particularly when an international consensus to intervene can be forged. Traditional Realists, meanwhile, initially reject most interventions but are frequently drawn in by arguments that the national interest will be put at risk if the situation spirals out of control.

In a widely discussed March essay, Harvard international relations professor Stephen Walt wrote of a "neocon-liberal alliance" in support of war, contending, "The only important intellectual difference between neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on U.S. power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance."

The Progressive Policy Institute's Jim Arkedis, who describes himself as a "progressive internationalist," calls this notion of a neocon-liberal alliance "bunk." Neocons, according to Arkedis, "disdain multilateral diplomacy and overestimate the efficacy of military force" in a way that "saps the economic, political, and moral sources of American influence." He adds, "Though our ends are similar, our thresholds for intervention, our military methodology, and our justifications for action could not be more different."

But are neoconservatives and liberal interventionists really so different? Neoconservative bastions like the Weekly Standard, Commentary, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies are passionate advocates of spreading American values. In Iraq, the toppling of Saddam Hussein and discovery that there was no WMD program to speak of were both accomplished in the first weeks of the war and with a relative handful of American casualties. If these had been our chief concerns we would have left immediately; the apparent U.S. goals in staying on so many years were democracy promotion and nation-building, both ideals the neoconservative White House leadership shared with liberal interventionists.

Document

Iran can prove Bin Laden was dead long before US raid - Iranian minister

osama
© RT.com
Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi claims that Osama Bin Laden died from an illness before the US raid on his compound in Abbottabad. Iran has documents to prove it, he said.

­"We have credible information that Bin Laden died some time ago of a disease," Moslehi said on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting on Sunday, as quoted by ISNA news agency.

"If the US military and intelligence apparatus have really arrested or killed Bin Laden, why don't they show him [his body]? Why have they thrown his corpse into the sea?" Moslehi asked rhetorically, FARS news agency reports.

Moslehi labeled the US raid in Abbottabad as a "PR campaign", created to divert the attention of its citizens from domestic problems, such as the "fragile" state of the US economy.

Magnify

US: Widow of Pentagon's Wheeler craves answers on his mysterious death

If former Pentagon official Jack Wheeler was killed in a robbery, why didn't the murderer take his vintage Rolex watch and gold West Point ring? And if Wheeler was targeted by an assassin trying to make it look like a robbery, why would the killer leave behind items a thief would be likely to take?


Those questions, involving previously undisclosed details of the unsolved slaying, tug hard at Wheeler's widow and grown son. No one outside of the official investigation knows more about the case, and no one is more frustrated by what remains unknown.

"There are a lot of unsolved questions," says Katherine Klyce, 67, Wheeler's wife of the past 13 years.

Jack Wheeler, well-known in defense circles and a driving force in creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, served in jobs that gave him access to plenty of government secrets, including a stint from 2005 through 2008 as a top assistant to the secretary of the Air Force. And Klyce, like many, can't help but wonder whether his death could have had some connection to his work. "You want to know what happened," she says.

Stormtrooper

Iraq: US Should Leave By End of 2011

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© unknown
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (L) and his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari give a joint press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, May 11, 2011.
Iraq says the remaining US troops should leave Iraq by the end of 2011 while Washington has embarked on a campaign to extend its military presence in the country.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Wednesday that the United States will withdraw its forces from the Iraqi soil by the previously agreed end-of-2011 deadline, IRNA reported.

On August 31, 2010, the White House declared an end to its combat missions in Iraq but left some 50,000 troops in the country for what it described as advising and training purposes.

There is no secret pact with Washington in this regard, Zebari stressed but noted that Iraq's strategic cooperation with the United States is a long term relation and one should not expect the US embassy and consulates to be removed.

The Iraqi foreign minister made the remarks at a joint conference in Baghdad with his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi, where the two sides said that Tehran and Baghdad share the same concerns regarding the Middle East developments and the political unrest in the region.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has also said that the United States needs to reach a new deal in order to keep its troops in Iraq beyond the year 2011. This new agreement, Maliki said, would need to be backed by all main Iraqi political factions.

Star of David

Israel Remaining Calm Ahead of Nakba Day Protests

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© Kobi Gideon
Demonstrators marking Nakba Day, May 2006.
Top PA officials have evinced irony about the wide-scale preparations now undertaken by the IDF in advance of the days of protest, which will begin on Friday.

Hundreds of stickers were pasted on electricity poles in Ramallah on Wednesday, calling on residents to take part in Nakba parade demonstrations on Sunday. The stickers were written as though they were a letter sent from an exiled Palestinian refugee to the city of Haifa. "My beloved Haifa, I'll be with you soon," the stickers declared. Not surprisingly, the announcements were signed neither by Hamas nor Islamic Jihad, but rather by the PLO's refugee department. In internal Palestinian discourse, the Palestinian Authority still stands by its hard-line ideological stance demanding a right of return for 1948 refugees.

At the same time, voices in Jerusalem and Ramallah urged that passions be kept in check during the three days of Palestinian commemoration of the Nakba - the establishment of the state of Israel regarded by Palestinians as a catastrophe. Despite the media's inherent tendency to foster dramatic expectations, leaders on both sides do not believe that things will spin out of control during the days of protest declared by Palestinians. Top PA officials have evinced irony about the wide-scale preparations now undertaken by the IDF in advance of the days of protest, which will begin on Friday.

Vader

False Inauguration: Uganda's U.S.-backed Tyrant Swims Against The Tide

Museveni
© unknown
Museveni--the General in his labyrinth
Uganda's U.S.-backed dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni is walking around naked nowadays and yet his compatriots in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) ruling party don't dare tell him to put on his clothes and negotiate a graceful exit.

Today, barring a miracle, he will be sworn in again for a five-year presidential term.

The smart money says he won't complete this term. Ugandans, previously cowed, have had enough of Gen. Yoweri Museveni's 26-years dictatorship and they've shown that they are willing to risk their lives.

Ordinary Ugandans have taken to the streets in recent weeks, echoing the "peoples" uprisings in North Africa that have swept away long-term U.S. backed despots in Tunisia and Egypt.

Ugandans aren't asking for Western or NATO intervention. They don't want their revolution to be hijacked and contaminated.

Already scores of Ugandans have paid the ultimate cost, with their lives. Shot to death, in the cities of Kampala, Gulu, Masaka and elsewhere by Gen. Museveni's agents. Even two infants were not spared from Museveni's agents who have fired live bullets at unarmed civilians.

Dollar

Bin Laden's Death Won't End Toll on Taxpayers

Osama bin Laden
© EPA
Osama bin Laden
Even in death, Osama bin Laden will be taking revenge on American taxpayers for years to come.

The U.S. government spent $2 trillion combating bin Laden over the past decade, more than 20 percent of the nation's $9.68 trillion public debt. That money paid for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as additional military, intelligence and homeland security spending above pre-Sept. 11 trends, according to a Bloomberg analysis.

This year alone, taxpayers are spending more than $45 billion in interest on the money borrowed to battle al-Qaeda, the analysis shows.

The financial bleeding won't stop with bin Laden's demise. One of every four dollars in red ink the U.S. expects to incur in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 will result from $285 billion in annual spending triggered by the terrorist scion of a wealthy Saudi family.

Without bin Laden, "we would have accumulated less debt, be spending less on interest and we would be on a lower spending path going forward," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a research organization in Washington.

Along with the dollars-and-cents toll, bin Laden has left behind a less quantifiable imprint on American life. Thousands of families have suffered grievous loss from the Sept. 11 attacks and the two wars. U.S. government buildings in Washington and around the world have grown to resemble fortified bunkers. And the line between government power and individual liberty was redrawn as agencies gained new powers to combat a novel threat.