iNPLACENEWS Blog Has MOVED

September 14, 2008

Hey everyone!  From all the staff to all the readers of our blog and the watchers of our live news programming broadcasted live over the internet directly to your desktop, we want to thank you for all your support and participatiion.  We have relocated our blog to iNPLACENEWS.COM.  There you will find all our blogs, including the old posts, your comments you made, the place to download our free desktop player and all of the current news from around the world.  Stay up-to-date on all the current events by watching our broadcasts, reading our blogs, and watching videos-on-demand.  Again, go to iNPLACENEWS.COM for all the newest blogs and the older posts you love to go back to read.  Thank you again for your time, support, and participation.

-iNPLACENEWS


Blackwater Subject of Justice Department Probe

August 17, 2008

Half a dozen Blackwater Worldwide security guards have gotten target letters from the Justice Department in a probe of shootings in Baghdad that killed 17 Iraqis, The Washington Post reported.

The Blackwater guards are caught up in the investigation of shootings that took place last September when a Blackwater team arrived in several vehicles at an intersection in Baghdad where shooting erupted, leaving numerous Iraqis dead and wounded.

The Post described the six guards as former U.S. military personnel, but did not identify them by name.

Attributing its information to three sources close to the case, the Post said that any charges would be brought against the guards under a federal law used to prosecute cases referred to the Justice Department by the Pentagon for crimes committed by military personnel and contractors overseas.

Target letters often are a prelude to indictment.

The Post story appeared on the newspaper’s Website Saturday night.

The shootings began when a Blackwater convoy, which was responding to a Baghdad car bombing, entered the Nisoor Square traffic circle.

Blackwater says the convoy was ambushed by insurgents, touching off a firefight. Iraqi witnesses, however, described an unprovoked attack in which security guards fired indiscriminately, killing motorists, bystanders and children in the square.

Article by Associated Press

iNPLACENEWS

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


1900 Year Old Chariot Discovered In Bulgaria

August 7, 2008


Archaeologists have unearthed a 1,900-year-old well-preserved chariot at an ancient Thracian tomb in southeastern Bulgaria, the head of the excavation said Thursday.

Daniela Agre said her team found the four-wheel chariot during excavations near the village of Borisovo, around 180 miles east of the capital, Sofia.

“This is the first time that we have found a completely preserved chariot in Bulgaria,” said Agre, a senior archaeologist at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

She said previous excavations had only unearthed single parts of chariots — often because ancients sites had been looted.

At the funerary mound, the team also discovered table pottery, glass vessels and other gifts for the funeral of a wealthy Thracian aristocrat.

In a separate pit, they unearthed skeletons of two riding horses apparently sacrificed during the funeral of the nobleman, along with well preserved bronze and leather objects, some believed to horse harnesses.

The Culture Ministry confirmed the find and announced $3,900 in financial assistance for Agre’s excavation.

Agre said an additional amount of $7,800 will be allocated by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences for an initial restoration and conservation of the chariot and the other Thracian finds.

The Thracians were an ancient people that inhabited the lands of present day Bulgaria and parts of modern Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Romania between 4,000 B.C. and the 6th century, when they were assimilated by the invading Slavs.

Some 10,000 Thracian mounds — some of them covering monumental stone tombs — are scattered across Bulgaria.

Article by VESELIN TOSHKOV

Andre Jetmir for iNPLACENEWS

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


IOC Strips Gold Medals After Admissions of Doping on US Relay Team

August 2, 2008

The International Olympic Committee stripped gold medals Saturday from the U.S. men’s 1,600-meter relay team that competed at the 2000 Olympics in the aftermath of Antonio Pettigrew’s admission that he was doping at the time.

The IOC executive board disqualified the entire team, the fourth gold and sixth overall medal stripped from that U.S. track contingent in the past eight months for doping.

Three gold and two bronze were previously removed after Marion Jones confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs.

Saturday’s decision was almost a formality after Pettigrew gave up his gold medal in June. During a trial involving former track coach Trevor Graham, he admitted in May that he used EPO and human growth hormone from 1997 to 2003.

Five of Pettigrew’s teammates also lose their medals: Michael Johnson and twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison ran in the final; Jerome Young and Angelo Taylor ran in the preliminaries.

It was Johnson’s fifth gold medal of his stellar career. He has already said he was giving it back because he felt “cheated, betrayed and let down” by Pettigrew’s testimony. Johnson still holds world records in the 200 and 400 meters.

Three of the four runners from the relay final have been tainted by drugs.

Alvin Harrison accepted a four-year ban in 2004 after admitting he used performance-enhancers. Calvin Harrison tested positive for a banned stimulant in 2003 and was suspended for two years. Young was banned for life for doping violations.

“We support the action taken today by the IOC,” USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said. “Athletes who make the unacceptable choice to cheat should recognize that there will be consequences. Those consequences can be severe including the loss of medals and results. We’re in full support of this action. In other matters like this in the past we’ve worked with the IOC to make certain medals will be returned, and we’ll do so again.”

The IOC also disqualified Pettigrew from his seventh-place finish in the individual 400 meters in Sydney. And the committee banned him from attending the upcoming Beijing Games “in any capacity,” including as a competitor, coach or technical official. Pettigrew has retired from competition, and the U.S. Olympic Committee said there were no plans for him to be in Beijing.

The IOC had previously tried to strip the relay team after it became known that Young tested positive before the Sydney Games. But a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport said the entire team should not be disqualified, and Pettigrew and the others were allowed to keep their medals.

Saturday’s move came four months after the IOC stripped the gold from the U.S. women’s 1,600-meter relay team and bronze from the women’s 400-meter relay squad because of doping by Jones. She admitted last year that she used drugs at the time and returned her five medals, including gold in the 100 meters and 200 meters and bronze in the long jump.

The IOC has put off any decision on reallocating the U.S. medals until later this year when it takes into account all the files from the BALCO investigation in the United States.

No time frame for a decision on medal redistribution has been set, although an eight-year statute of limitations expires on Oct. 1.

Nigeria finished second in the men’s 1,600-meter relay, with Jamaica third and the Bahamas fourth.

“That’s such a shame, especially for the ones who were clean, and it’s most important for the athletes who were second,” Sanya Richards, who won gold on the 1,600-meter women’s relay in 2004, said from training camp in Dalian. “You lose that opportunity to stand on top of the podium and feel the joy of winning the race. Those are the people who hurt the worst when there are cheaters ahead of them. Giving back the medals is just a technicality because you can’t repair the hurt feelings and the hard work that went into it.”

The IOC is reluctant to hand Jones’ 100 gold to silver medalist Katerina Thanou, a Greek sprinter at the center of a doping scandal at the 2004 Athens Games. She and fellow Greek runner Kostas Kenteris missed drug tests on the eve of the opening ceremony and claimed they were injured in a motorcycle accident. They were forced to pull out of the games and were later suspended for two years.

An IOC disciplinary panel will meet next Thursday to consider whether Thanou can run at the Beijing Games. The 33-year-old sprinter qualified for the Greek team in the 100, but the IOC is reviewing her eligibility.

Thanou’s lawyer has threatened legal action if she is barred from the games.

Article by Stephen Wilson

Andre Jetmir for iNPLACENEWS

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


Five South Koreans Kidnapped in Mexico For Ransom

July 22, 2008

Five South Koreans, one woman and four men, were kidnapped while driving in Reynosa, a Mexican border city across the border from McAllen, Texas, police and embassy officials said Tuesday, and their captors reportedly are demanding a $30,000 ransom.

According to the South Korean Yonhap news agency, the captors falsely identified themselves as police, a common practice among criminals in Mexico. Mexican officials are investigating but had no leads in the case yet. In a statement made by a South Korean Embassy spokesman, the ransom had not been paid. He added that the kidnapped group had been looking into working in Mexico but did not elaborate. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the five were alive, but Kim said officials were still trying to confirm that. Mexico has one of the highest rates of kidnappings for ransom in the world.

Many abductions are never reported to police, in part for fear officials themselves might be involved or that they would bungle a possible rescue.

iNPLACENEWS


Are US and North Korean Relations Improving?

July 22, 2008


The United States has proposed a mechanism for verifying North Korea’s claims about its nuclear past, Washington’s top envoy to the nuclear talks said Monday.

The proposal was made in Beijing last week, and the U.S. is waiting for a response from Pyongyang, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters.

After giving North Korea the proposal “we … asked them to come back with specific comments,” said Hill, who will assist U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in talks between the foreign ministers of the six nations involved in the nuclear negotiations – China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the U.S.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s main nuclear envoy confirmed the proposal was made to the North.

“The ball is actually in the North Korean court because they already received the draft of verification protocol,” Kim Sook told reporters after talks with Hill. Details of the proposal were not known.

Hill said the six-party talks, to be held Wednesday on the sidelines of a regional security conference in Singapore, are likely to discuss the verification issue.

North Korea submitted a long-delayed list of its nuclear programs last month, though it omitted details about nuclear weapons, alleged uranium enrichment program and possible nuclear proliferation.

In return, Washington announced it would remove the North from its terrorism blacklist and relaxed some economic sanctions on the communist nation. That led Pyongyang to blow up the cooling tower at its main nuclear reactor, to demonstrate its commitment to abandoning nuclear weapons.

Six-nation nuclear negotiations were then held in Beijing less than two weeks ago – for the first time in nine months – and produced an agreement on principles for proceeding with verification of North Korea’s claims. One of the principles says the procedure should involve interviews with North Korean nuclear experts.

Hill has said earlier that the U.S. wants to reach agreement with the North on a specific verification protocol by early September. Last week’s proposal offered to the North is believed to be the first draft of the envisioned protocol.

“We’ve always maintained that verification is essential,” Hill said Monday. “We hope to make some progress on that very soon.”

Wednesday’s session would mark the highest-level meeting in the six-country negotiations, which began in 2003 with the aim of convincing North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program.

It would also be the first time Rice has met North Korea’s top diplomat.

China, host of the nuclear talks, praised the planned meeting as a good chance to progress on denuclearization.

“This is the first time that the high-level delegations to the six-party talks have held an informal meeting,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi after talks with his Japanese counterpart. “I think it will be very good for advancing the agenda of the talks.”

Still, Hill played down the meeting’s significance.

“I would not exaggerate its importance,” he said. “I think it’s an opportunity for people to get together and exchange some thoughts informally.”

Article by Jae-Soon Chang
iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Video of Gitmo Interrogation of Teen Released

July 15, 2008

A 16-year-old captured in Afghanistan and held at Guantanamo Bay sobs during his questioning, holding up his wounded arms and begging for help in a video released Tuesday that provided the first glimpse of interrogations at the U.S. military prison.

“Help me,” he cries repeatedly in despair.

The 10 minutes of video – selected by Omar Khadr’s Canadian lawyers from more than seven hours of footage recorded by a camera hidden in a vent – shows Khadr weeping, his face buried in his hands, as he is questioned by Canadian intelligence agents over four days in 2003.

The video, created by U.S. government agents at the prison in Cuba and originally marked as secret, provides insight into the effects of prolonged interrogation and detention on the Guantanamo prisoner.

A Canadian Security Intelligence Services agent in the video grills Khadr about events leading up to his capture as an enemy combatant when he was 15. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. He was arrested after he was found in the rubble of a bombed-out compound – badly wounded and near death.

At one point in the interrogation, Khadr pulls off his orange prisoner shirt and shows the wounds he sustained in the firefight. He complains he cannot move his arms and says he had not received proper medical attention, despite requests.

“They look like they’re healing well to me,” the agent says of the injuries.

“No, I’m not. You’re not here (at Guantanamo),” says Khadr, the son of an alleged al-Qaida financier.

The agent later accuses Khadr of using his injuries and emotional state to avoid the interrogation.

“No, you don’t care about me,” Khadr says.

Khadr also tells his interrogator that he was tortured while at the U.S. military detention center at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, where he was first detained after his arrest in 2002.

Later on in the tape, a distraught Khadr is seen rocking, his face in his hands.

On the final day, the agent tells Khadr that he was “very disappointed” in how Khadr had behaved, and tries to impress upon him that he should cooperate.

Khadr says he wants to go back to Canada.

“There’s not anything I can do about that,” the agent says.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, denied that Khadr was mistreated while in U.S. custody. “Our policy is to treat detainees humanely and Khadr has been treated humanely,” Gordon said.

The video is believed to be the first footage shown of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in action during its 24-year history, offering an unprecedented glimpse into its interrogation strategies. The video was made by U.S. authorities and turned over to Khadr’s defense team, Gordon said. The tapes are U.S. property.

The Supreme Court of Canada in May ordered the Canadian government to hand over key evidence against Khadr to his legal team to allow a full defense of the charges against him, which include accusations by the U.S. that he spied for and provided material support to terrorists.

In June, a Canadian Federal Court judge ordered the Canadian government to release the video to the defense team after the court ruled the U.S. military’s treatment of Khadr broke human rights laws, including the Geneva Conventions.

The video was released by Alberta-based lawyers Nathan Whitling and Dennis Edney a week after intelligence reports made public last week showed Khadr was abused in detention at the U.S. naval base-turned-prison on the tip of Cuba.

A Department of Foreign Affairs report said Canadian official Jim Gould visited Khadr in 2004 and was told by the American military that the detainee was moved every three hours to different cells. That technique, dubbed, “frequent flyer,” was one of at least two sleep deprivation programs the U.S. military used against Guantanamo prisoners. Detainees were moved from cell to cell throughout the night to keep them awake and weaken their resistance to interrogation. The report also says Khadr was placed in isolation for up to three weeks and then interviewed again.

Whitling and Edney released the video with hopes that public reaction to the footage will prompt Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to lobby for his repatriation. Thus far Harper has maintained he will not seek Khadr’s return to Canada.

“We hope that the Canadian government will finally come to recognize that the so-called legal process that has been put in place to deal with Omar Khadr’s situation is grossly unfair and abusive,” Whitling said. “It’s not appropriate to simply allow this process to run its course.”

Khadr’s sister, Zaynab Khadr, who lives in Toronto, said she was pessimistic his situation would improve soon.

She noted that another brother, Abdullah Khadr, now in prison on terror charges in Canada awaiting extradition to the United States, was interrogated by Canadian agents despite having been abused in detention in Pakistan.

“He was tortured for their benefit and he still continues to be in jail and it hasn’t changed much, so I can’t expect it to be any different in Guantanamo,” Zaynab Khadr said.

Story by Charmaine Noronha

Video provided by Al Jazeera

iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


President of Darfur Charged With Crimes Against Humanity

July 14, 2008

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court filed genocide charges Monday against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of masterminding attempts to wipe out African tribes in Darfur with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation.

The filing marked the first time prosecutors at the world’s first permanent, global war crimes court have issued charges against a sitting head of state, but al-Bashir is unlikely to be sent to The Hague any time soon. Sudan rejects the court’s jurisdiction, and senior Sudanese officials said the prosecutor was politically motivated to file the charges.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked a three-judge panel at the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir to prevent the slow deaths of some 2.5 million people forced from their homes in Darfur and still under attack from government-backed janjaweed militia.

“Genocide is a crime of intention — we don’t need to wait until these 2.5 million die,” he told The Associated Press.

“The genocide is ongoing,” he added, saying systematic rape was a key element of the campaign. “Seventy-year-old women, 6-year-old girls are raped,” he said.

Moreno-Ocampo was undeterred by concern that his indictment against al-Bashir might ignite a storm of vengeance against Darfur refugees and spur Sudan to shut out relief agencies and possibly peacekeeping troops. Al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party on Sunday warned of “more violence and blood” in the vast western region if an arrest warrant is issued against the president, state TV reported.

“I am a prosecutor doing a judicial case,” Moreno-Ocampo said. He filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. Judges are expected to take months to study the evidence before deciding whether to order al-Bashir’s arrest.

Al-Bashir “wants to end the history of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa people. I don’t have the luxury to look away. I have evidence,” the prosecutor said in a statement after submitting his case to the judges.

One victim cited by prosecutors said rapes are woven into the fabric of life in Darfur.

“Maybe around 20 men rape one woman. These things are normal for us here in Darfur,” she said. “I have seen rapes too. It does not matter who sees them raping the women — they don’t care. They rape girls in front of their mothers and fathers.”

Moreno-Ocampo said the rapes were producing a generation of so-called “janjaweed babies” and “an explosion of infanticide” by victims.

The head of Sudan’s Bar Association and ruling party stalwart, Fathi Khalil told The Associated Press that Sudan was not a member of the International Criminal Court and was not bound by Moreno-Ocampo’s decision.

“The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court with his announcement demanding the arrest of President al-Bashir has proved that he is playing a political role, not a legal one,” Khalil said.

Khalil said the decision came after international pressure on the court, undermining its reputation and independence. He said neither the ICC nor the U.N. Security Council have the right to refer a country that is not a member to the ICC to the court.

The Sudanese Liberation Movement-Unity, a rebel group in Darfur, offered to help arrest and extradite any war criminals from Sudan.

If judges issue an arrest warrant, they will effectively turn al-Bashir into a prisoner in his own country. In the past, Interpol has issued so-called Red Notices for fugitives wanted by the court, meaning they should be arrested any time they attempt to cross an international border.

In the United States, which is not part of the ICC, American officials said they were examining the indictment.

“We make our own determinations according to our own laws, our own regulations with respect to who should be subject to war crimes, genocide related statutes. The ICC is a separate matter and we are not part of the ICC. All of that said, we certainly stand for accountability,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

Moreno-Ocampo said most members of the three targeted ethnic African groups were driven from their homes by Sudanese forces and the janjaweed in 2004. Since then, the janjaweed have been targeting the camps aiming to starve the refugees.

“These 2.5 million people are in camps. They (al-Bashir’s forces) don’t need gas chambers because the desert will kill them,” Moreno-Ocampo said, drawing comparison’s with Nazi Germany’s most notorious method of mass murder during the Holocaust.

The refugees “have no more water, no more food, no more cattle. They have lost everything. They live because international humanitarian organizations are providing food for them,” he added.

An estimated 300,000 people have died in Darfur since conflict erupted there in 2003 when local tribes took up arms against al-Bashir’s Arab-dominated government in the capital, Khartoum, accusing authorities of years of neglect.

Moreno-Ocampo said the international community needs to act.

“We are dealing with a genocide. Is it easy to stop? No. Do we need to stop? Yes,” he told AP.

“The international community failed in the past, failed to stop Rwanda genocide, failed to stop Balkans crimes,” he added.

There are fears that the fresh Darfur case could spark a backlash against the 9,000-strong U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur.

The prosecutor said it was up to the U.N. Security Council, which asked Moreno-Ocampo in 2005 to investigate crimes in Darfur, to “ensure compliance with the court’s decision.” Achieving unanimous backing for any action will be fraught with problems since two of the council’s members, China and Russia, are Sudan’s allies.

A spokeswoman for the force said it had not suspended any military operations.

“All essential peacekeeping operations are being carried-out by troops,” Shereen Zorba told The Associated Press in an e-mail from Khartoum.

However, she said: “a limited number of operations that carry security risk to civilian staff are temporarily restricted.”

Other international courts have indicted Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Taylor of Liberia while they were in office. Milosevic died in custody in The Hague in 2006 shortly before the end of his trial, while Taylor is on trial for orchestrating atrocities in Sierra Leone.

Article by Mike Corder
iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Miss Venezuela Wins Miss Universe

July 14, 2008

Miss Venezuela was crowned Miss Universe 2008 on Monday in a contest marked by the spectacle of Miss USA falling down during the evening gown competition for the second year in a row.

The new Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, was once kidnapped in her homeland and says the experience taught her to remain poised under pressure.

Tension got under the skin of Miss USA, Crystle Stewart of Texas, who tripped on the train of her bejeweled evening gown as she made her entrance.

During the 2007 Miss Universe contest in Mexico City, Miss USA Rachel Smith also tumbled during the evening gown competition and became an unintended star on YouTube, where the video was shown over and over again.

At a news conference after this year’s event, a beaming Mendoza said she wasn’t yet sure where her upcoming year of whirlwind appearances would take her. But after a quick stop in New York, she wants to see her family again, enjoy some of her mom’s home cooking and give everyone hugs.

“When I go back to Venezuela I will jump on my family and they will jump on me,” said Mendoza.

In the meantime, Mendoza said, she is simply looking forward to taking off her high-heeled shoes and massaging her feet.

She declined to discuss her kidnapping, which occurred a year and a half ago, but took advantage of the occasion to call for global peace.

“I want to raise my voice and tell the world that violence is not the answer,” she said.

Mendoza, 22, is a 5-foot, 10-inch (178-centimeter), green-eyed beauty who enjoys learning languages and photography. She appeared at the news conference in the flowing yellow dress and dangling turquoise earrings that she wore during the evening gown competition in which Stewart took her spill.

Stewart, 26, is a motivational speaker and former track and field star who is working on a book called “Waiting to Win.” The Houston native plans to open a character-development school for young children and has worked with students with autism in the Texas schools.

During a weekend interview with the Associated Press, Stewart said she felt very confident going into the show and couldn’t imagine experiencing the same calamity as her predecessor.

“All I can offer to the world and to America is to do my best,” Stewart said. “Nerves don’t play a part in this.”

The final five contestants included four from Latin America: Miss Mexico, Miss Dominican Republic, Miss Colombia and Miss Venezuela. Rounding out the final five was Miss Russia.

Miss Colombia finished second behind Mendoza.

Miss Thailand won the prize for best national costume and Miss El Salvador was chosen by her peers as Miss Congeniality.

The NBC show was hosted by talk show star Jerry Springer and Spice Girl Melanie Brown and broadcast live to hundreds of millions of viewers in 170 countries.

The tuxedoed Springer made a grand entrance on a motorbike – the vehicle of choice in Vietnam, where the streets are teeming with millions of the speeding two-wheelers.

Eighty contestants gathered in the seaside city of Nha Trang, Vietnam, vying to succeed previous Miss Universe Riyo Mori of Japan.

Sporting yellow, green and orange bikinis, the 15 semifinalists strutted across the stage during the swimsuit competition to the sounds of Lady Gaga, who belted out the pulsating “Just Dance” in a platinum blond wig. Miss Vietnam, Lam Thuy Nguyen, was greeted with a roar from the Vietnamese audience.

The final 10 then competed in the evening gown event.

They performed in front of a panel of judges that included international fashion experts and Donald Trump Jr., whose father, the real estate magnate and TV star, co-owns the pageant with NBC.

This year’s contestants spanned a wide range of experiences and aspirations.

Miss Albania was a professional basketball player. Miss Argentina says she has paranormal experiences. Miss Antigua & Barbuda is fascinated by snakes. Miss Angola was in a plane crash while trying to escape a conflict during her country’s civil war.

Article by Ben Stocking

iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Iranian President Says War with Israel or US Not Possible

July 8, 2008


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that he sees no possibility of a war between his country and the United States or Israel.

“I assure you that there won’t be any war in the future,” Ahmadinejad told a news conference during a visit to Malaysia for a summit of developing Muslim nations.

Ahmadinejad’s comments came less than 24 hours after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced that its forces were carrying out a military drill involving “missile squads” and warned that the country would retaliate against any military strike by targeting Tel Aviv and U.S. warships in the Gulf.

Iranian officials have been issuing a mix of conciliatory and bellicose statements in recent weeks about the possibility of a clash with the U.S. and Israel.

Ahmadinejad also predicted Israel would collapse without Iranian action.

The Israelis “are a complex political group, but you should know this regime will be eventually destroyed and there is no need of any measure by Iranian people,” he said when asked to comment on whether he has called for the destruction of Israel.

Ahmadinejad has in the past called for Israel’s elimination. But his exact remarks have been disputed. Some translators say he called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” but others say that would be better translated as “vanish from the pages of time” – implying Israel would disappear on its own rather than be destroyed.

Ahmadinejad also said Tuesday that the next U.S. administration “would need at least 30 years in order to compensate, renovate and innovate the damages done by Mr. Bush.”

“Today, the government of the United States is on the threshold of bankruptcy – from political to economic,” Ahmadinejad said.

“The greatest threat in the Middle East and the whole world … is the United States’ intervention in other countries,” Ahmadinejad said.

He urged Washington to heal its image by “relying on (the) basis of justice, humanitarian acts and respect for human beings.”

For months, Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials have said they don’t believe the U.S. will attack because of its difficulties in Iraq, domestic worries and concerns over the fallout in the region. At the same time, Tehran has stepped up its warnings of retaliation if the Americans – or Israelis – do attack it, including threats to hit Israel and U.S. Gulf bases with missiles and stop oil traffic through the vital Gulf region.

The Web site of the elite Iranian force posted a statement late Monday quoting guard official Ali Shirazi as saying that Iran would retaliate against any military strike by targeting Tel Aviv and U.S. warships in the Gulf.

“The Zionist regime is pushing the White House to prepare for a military strike on Iran,” Shirazi was quoted as saying.

“If such a stupidity is done by them, Tel Aviv and the U.S. naval fleet in the Persian Gulf will be the first targets which will be set on fire in Iran’s crushing response.”

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev would not comment on Shirazi’s warning other than to say “his words speak for themselves.”

State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said such statements by Iran were “unfortunately…not out of the norm.”

“We continue to stress our desire to resolve this issue diplomatically,” Gallegos added.

Israel’s military sent warplanes over the eastern Mediterranean for a large military exercise in June that U.S. officials described as a possible rehearsal for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, which the West fears are aimed at producing atomic weapons.

The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, headquartered in the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain, is responsible for patrolling the Gulf, the Suez Canal and parts of the Indian Ocean.

Shirazi is a cleric who represents supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the guards’ naval force. Khamenei has the final say over all state matters.

The Guards’ Web site also announced late Monday that forces were carrying out a military drill involving “missile squads,” but did not say where it was taking place.

Iran’s guards and national army hold regular exercises two or three times a year, but the statement did not say whether this drill was one of them or if it was a special exercise.

Article by Vijay Joshi

iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.