Sunday, June 24, 2007

Police station attacked in E Turkey

This ties to Iraq, as well:

Two suspected Kurdish separatists have rammed an oil-filled lorry into a police station in eastern Turkey in a suicide attack, army sources have said.
After the explosion late on Saturday, the station in Tunceli province was attacked by other members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the army counter attacked, the sources said.

The two separatists in the lorry were killed but no other details were available on the death toll.
Hours earlier, thousands of Turks had protested against the PKK on the streets of Istanbul, after a call by the army for a public show of opposition to separatist violence.

Violence in Turkey from Kurdish separatists. Again, how long before Turkey gets dragged into this Iraq conflict? The Kurdish separatists see an opportunity for an independent Kurdish state in Iraqi Kurdistan, and that borders right on Turkish Kurdistan. The Turks have opposed an independent Kurdistan in Iraq for just this reason. Now that their fears have come to fruition, will they make good on their word to use military force to defend their borders?

Lebanon fighting spreads to Tripoli

Lebanese troops have clashed with armed men in the northern city of Tripoli, near the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.
The fighting began after troops raided a house belonging to a suspected member of the Fatah al-Islam group shortly before midnight on Saturday, security sources said.

The Lebanese army has been fighting Fatah al-Islam for more than a month in Nahr al-Bared.

Again, this is why I've started reading Al Jazeera. I've barely heard about this in the American press.

Hospital sources said 12 soldiers from the force that stormed the flat were wounded, including at least one seriously.

Lebanese army units blocked off roads leading to the area and brought in reinforcements, including armoured troop carriers.

The shooting eased some 30 minutes later and sources said the gunmen were holed up inside a building.

It follows a day of more heavy shelling and street to street fighting in the Nahr al-Bared camp.

Four Lebanese soldiers died despite the defence minister's claims of victory two days ago.

At least 176 people have been killed in the fierce fighting between the army and Fatah al-Islam at Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.

This is bad, bad, bad. This kind of in-fighting in Lebanon could easily spill over into Israel, and we could potentially see a repeat of last summer's excitement between the two countries.

More on this as it continues to develop.

FOX News: Former insurgents helping U.S.

BAGHDAD — Two months ago, a dozen Sunni insurgents — haggard, hungry and in handcuffs — stepped tentatively into a U.S.-Iraqi combat outpost near Baqouba and asked to speak to the commander: "We're out of ammunition, but we want to help you fight Al Qaeda."

Now hundreds of fighters from the 1920s Revolution Brigades, an erstwhile Sunni insurgent group, work as scouts and gather intelligence for the 10,000-strong American force in the fifth day of its mission to remove Al Qaeda gunmen and bomb makers from the Diyala provincial capital.

Little so well illustrates the Middle Eastern dictum: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

And as it struggles in the raging heat and violence of central Iraq, the U.S. military appears to have bought into the tactic in its struggle to pull what victory it can from the increasingly troubled American mission in Iraq, under congressional pressure for a troop pullout and a presidential election campaign already in the minds of voters.

Because that's what it's all about, right? Anyway....

The American decision to bring insurgents into the mission has angered Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who told visiting Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week that the tactic — getting too cozy with former enemies — would backfire.

But U.S. officials defend the strategy, first tested in Iraq's once-volatile western Anbar province, where U.S. officials tout success in turning Sunni tribal leaders against Al Qaeda.

"We've given them a little ammo, some flares, but mostly humanitarian aid. We're not arming these guys, we're just changing the direction they're pointing their guns in," said Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the U.S. ground forces commander, who made a one-day visit to the Baqouba battlefield this week.,2933,286408,00.html

One might think that we would be a little skeptical about bringing guys who were shooting at us a few months ago onto our team, but things really have gotten that dire out here. Our leadership is doubtless growing desperate to find something that might help end this conflict, even if it means accepting help from our enemies.

Also, this should outline for those who don't understand that this is a multi-faction conflict, with many different sides pursuing many different ambitions. Clearly, the Sunni insurgents are interested in rooting out Al Qaeda so they can duke it out with the Shi'ites in earnest. And, you know, if they play nice with us re: Al Qaeda, maybe we'll help them out against their Shi'ite enemies. And, you know, maybe if we do that then the eventual ruling Sunni minority (or perhaps majority if we spill enough Shi'ite blood) will let us stick around and keep our hands in the petroleum cookie jar and strategically dominate the region the way the neo-cons have always wanted? I suppose one can dream; it's all the Bush administration has done since the beginning of this conflict.

But I'll give FOX News credit for even running this story, albeit with a positive spin.

Gitmo: Kangaroo courts

Excuse me, but off the record, Gitmo is a complete sham.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- An Army officer who played a key role in the "enemy combatant" hearings at Guantanamo Bay says tribunal members relied on vague and incomplete intelligence while being pressured to rule against detainees, often without any specific evidence.

His affidavit, submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and released Friday, is the first criticism by a member of the military panels that determine whether detainees will continue to be held.

Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, a 26-year veteran of military intelligence who is an Army reserve officer and a California lawyer, said military prosecutors were provided with only "generic" material that didn't hold up to the most basic legal challenges.

Despite repeated requests, intelligence agencies arbitrarily refused to provide specific information that could have helped either side in the tribunals, said Abraham, who said he served as a main liaison between the Combat Status Review Tribunals and the intelligence agencies.

"What were purported to be specific statements of fact lacked even the most fundamental earmarks of objectively credible evidence," Abraham said in the affidavit submitted on behalf of a Kuwaiti detainee, Fawzi al-Odah, who is challenging his classification as an "enemy combatant."

Abraham's affidavit "proves what we all suspected, which is that the CSRTs were a complete sham," said a lawyer for al-Odah, David Cynamon.

But I'm sure FOX News has something to say about that:

A teenage girl who was banned by her school from wearing a "purity ring" is taking her case to the High Court.

Lydia Playfoot, 16, is a member of a Christian group called the Silver Ring Thing and one of a number of students at the Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, who wears a silver ring engraved with a Biblical reference — "1 Thes 434," a reference to St. Paul's Letter to the Thessalonians — as a sign of their belief in abstinence from sex until marriage.,2933,286395,00.html

Or, you know, not (note: I was originally going to just ignore FOX News, but I find it much more gratifying to mock them).

But back to the topic at hand, CNN International has this story:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration is nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and move the terror suspects there to military prisons elsewhere, The Associated Press has learned.

Both the Pentagon and the White House denied Thursday evening there were any plans to close the facility.

President Bush's national security and legal advisers are expected to discuss the move at the White House on Friday and, for the first time, it appears a consensus is developing, senior administration officials said Thursday.

The advisers will consider a new proposal to shut the center and transfer detainees to one or more Defense Department facilities, including the maximum security military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where they could face trial, said the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal deliberations.

This is huge, if true. Moving terror suspects from Gitmo to Leavenworth would eliminate the legal cover for torture and the sort of kangaroo courts we've been seeing from them so far. I'll make sure to keep tabs on this story as it develops.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Kansas City Shuffle

Something has always struck me about "the surge". It's so up front, so brazen, so blatant. Quite simply, any time the Bush administration wants us to be watching something, I immediately question what it is that we're not supposed to be watching. Their forte is the Kansas City Shuffle. While everybody looks left, they move right. Sure enough....

Karzai Decries Civilian Death Toll

The Afghan president has condemned civilian casualties caused by "indiscriminate and unprecise" Nato and US-led operations, which also have resulted in dozens of Taliban deaths in the last 24 hours.

Hamid Karzai said on Saturday that at least 90 civilians had been killed in just over a week, including 52 people in the southern Uruzgan province.

"Attacks causing civilian casualties, as I have said before, is not acceptable for us. It is no longer tolerated," he said in Kabul.

Then there's the Iraq Oil Law pressing ahead that I've only read about on Al Jazeera. Nobody in the west wants us to read about that.

Lesson the first in dealing with international affairs: don't rely on the American press. They're usually the first to fall for the Kansas City Shuffle.

Case in point:

Searchers scour fields, woods, for missing woman

UNIONTOWN, Ohio (AP) -- About 1,000 volunteers turned out to search for a pregnant mother Saturday, the third straight day searchers picked through rural areas of eastern Ohio.

Ned Davis, the father of 26-year-old Jessie Davis, begged volunteers to continue their efforts.

"Please help," he said Saturday in an interview with MSNBC. "Please don't quit. Please don't quit until we find Jessie."

Searching on Thursday and Friday of an area near Davis' home yielded nothing more than a marijuana patch.

My heart goes out to the family of the missing woman, but... honestly. This is local news, not national news. And certainly not the headline story on CNN's main website.

What about FOX News, you say? Glad you asked:

Illegal immigrants are being given Red Bull energy drinks and ephedrine to give them a boost as they scurry across the U.S. border, according to a radio report.

Smugglers are reportedly giving immigrants what is known as a “triple stacker” — an ephedrine pill and aspirin, with a can of Red Bull to wash it all down, U.S. Border Patrol agents told WOAI news radio station in Texas.,2933,286392,00.html

Honestly, I wish I was making this up. But here's the Kansas City Shuffle, right before your eyes.

Look! Over there! It's Paris Hilton!

Paying Paris

We all want to know about the hotel heiress’s time in jail. The question is whether news organizations should give her money to tell us. A media-ethics expert weighs in.

Actually, we don't all want to know. Those of us who are out here in Iraq are all sickened by the obsessive press coverage she and other celebrity-types have received lately. The American press is a joke.

But to the topic at hand: what is Bush concealing from us now? The Iraq Oil Law seems like the most obvious one, given the dearth of coverage in the American press, but that can't be all. I honestly don't think most Americans would think twice about the law. Besides, it's 33 pages long and full of legalese that I haven't even sorted all the way through. No, there has to be something else. Could it be the vote caging issue that Greg Palast has been covering and Rep. Conyers has been inquiring about? Possibly. Could it be upcoming plans to attack Iran, as Sy Hersh has alleged? It almost seems too obvious, too right in front of our faces. But that's how a Kansas City Shuffle works; the answer is right in front of you -- you're just looking the wrong way.

Gen. (ret) Wesley Clark is working to prevent a war with Iran, which I fear may be our next step on Bush's Excellent Adventure. Obviously, I've no desire to see a further loss of life, so avoiding needless war should be a top priority. Wesley Clark's organization is Pay them a visit to learn a bit about the background behind the push to war with Iran, as well as the push back to avoid it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

NATO strike kills 25 civilians

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Suspected Taliban militants attacked southern Afghanistan police posts, triggering clashes and NATO airstrikes that left 25 civilians and 20 militants dead, a senior police officer said Friday.

The militants attacked police and used civilian houses for cover in Helmand province's Gereshk district late Thursday, said provincial Police Chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal.

NATO responded by calling in airstrikes that killed 20 suspected militants -- but also 25 civilians, including nine women, three babies and the mullah of a local mosque, Andiwal said.

Al Jazeera provides a bit more in-depth coverage:

In the afternoon, de Hoop Scheffer privately met Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, in Ottawa, as well as Peter MacKay, the foreign affairs minister and Gordon O'Connor, the defence minister.

Canada has deployed 2,500 troops in southern Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Harper's minority Conservative government has refused to say if it is considering an extension, but managed to scuttle an opposition motion in the House of Commons in April demanding a fixed withdrawal date.

De Hoop Scheffer's request to extend the mission comes one day after three Canadian soldiers died in a roadside blast in the Kandahar region.

Ninety-one foreign soldiers have now died in Afghanistan this year, most of them in combat and about half of them from the US which has the most soldiers in the international operation in Afghanistan.

Wednesday's attack brought Canada's death toll in Afghanistan since 2002 to 60. A senior Canadian diplomat was also killed in an attack.

Things appear to be heating up on both fronts, and this whole two-front war we've been in may be coming to a head. Unless things improve significantly by next year, I don't see these wars dragging on too much longer.

What? Did I just say that? Yeah, I did. I can't see how any President, regardless of party affiliation, can possibly let this continue. It has been a drain on President Bush's legacy, and I know full well that whomever gets elected will want to get re-elected. Regardless of what they think now, once they're in the hot seat, presiding over a war that likely 80% or more of the American public will oppose out-right by the time they get in, they'll want to get this heat off of their backs, no matter what it takes.

The question is: how long will it take said President to realize that it's not salvageable and that we need to cut our losses? Lives depend on the answer to that question.

Maybe I'll feel differently later, but the fact that this is all a complete cluster-fuck has become such a consensus with friggin' everybody that the politicians will have to notice at some point.

Here's hoping.

Discussion at BCF:

Throgg says:
So we'll mark you down for 2 Freidman Units.

All the prominent GOP candidates are pro-war so I don't see how it'll help them to pull out before the election. That would just pull the rug out from under them and leave them scrambling to come up with post war plans on short notice. If anything, Smirk has to stay for thier sake if nothing else. The GOP is locked into this and there's no way out for them before election time.

After that they can do whatever they have to. It won't matter anymore, and if it stands everything they've been saying on it's head so what, it'll be what the people want and they'll be forgiven.

Of course the war itself will make it that much harder for any of them to get elected, but that's the box they've put themselves in.
I clarify my point:
I didn't intend to imply that this administration would pull the plug on it, just that any future administration will have little choice but to withdraw completely within the first two years of their administration. Also, unless "the surge" is the smashing success that none of us expects it to be, Congress is going to incrementally make it more difficult for the President to continue escalating matters. Even a GOP candidate is going to want an "out".

Bush is "staying the course" right now, but I think his intention is to get the oil law passed before he leaves office. That way his potential GOP successor can declare victory and withdraw, and his potential Democratic successor can't screw up his plans for the Big Oil Grab. Naturally, not all of them would screw it up for him, but it's a long primary season and anything can happen.

We're not going to have the strategic military location that this administration wanted, but we can still maintain control of the oil flow. That will constitute victory in of itself.

If a Democrat is elected, I'm sure Bush will do anything he can to piss in the punch bowl before he leaves. Attack Iran, something like that. Legislation putting a leash on him will be necessary to prevent that, but we'll need some significant Republican support in order to pull it off. That or an impeachment if he tries it. Maybe legislation that will give commanders enough wiggle room to refuse the order? They'll know that he's on his way out and that they'll will have to answer to his Democratic successor soon enough. That's our only hope, I think.

But again, maybe I'll feel differently tomorrow.
To add: I don't find any scenario by which the Democrats restrain Bush to be terribly likely, but it's the only way I can envision us not starting something with Iran. Attacking Iran at this point in the game would be stupid, but when has that every stopped these guys?

Draft Iraq oil law makes headway

A draft oil law has been submitted to Iraq's parliament after the government and the Iraqi Kurdistan regional authority resolved differences on the sharing of the country's oil reserves, officials have said.

A spokesman for Iraq's oil minister said he expected politicians to begin debating the draft law in the next few days.

"A deal has been reached and the draft has been delivered to parliament to be discussed... in the coming days. An agreement has been reached covering all disputes," Asim Jihad said.

An official in the Kurdish regional government said an agreement had been made, but did not give further details.

Oil wealth sharing

The draft oil law is crucial in regulating how wealth from Iraq's huge oil reserves will be distributed between sectarian and ethnic groups.

The bill was approved by the cabinet in February but many Kurds opposed it.

The real reason we're still here, naturally.

Article 9: Grant of Rights

A- The rights for conducting Petroleum Operations shall be granted on the basis of an Exploration and Production contract. The contract shall be entered between the Ministry (or the Regional Authority) and an Iraqi or Foreign Person, natural or legal, which has demonstrated to the Ministry or the Regional authority the technical competence and financial capability that are adequate for the efficient conduct of Petroleum Operations according to the guidelines of the Federal Oil and Gas Council and as mentioned in Article 5C Fifth, and in accordance with the mechanisms of negotiations and contracting stated in Article 10 of this Law.


Fourth: All model contracts shall be formulated to honour the following objectives and
1- National control;
2- Ownership of the resources;
3- Optimum economic return to the country;
4- An appropriate return on investment to the investor; and
5- Reasonable incentives to the investor for ensuring solutions which are optimal to the
country in the long-term related to
a- improved and enhanced recovery,
b- technology transfer,
c- training and development of Iraqi personnel,
d- optimal utilisation of the infrastructure, and
e- environmentally friendly solutions and plans.


Sixth: Only pre-qualified companies by the Ministry or the Regional Authority shall be considered in any licensing round. The criteria for prequalification shall be specified in the invitation to bidding according to the regulation and instructions issued by the Federal Oil and Gas Council.

Seventh: Evaluation of pre-qualified applicants shall aim at establishing a short list of successful candidates for negotiations.

Control the flow of oil, get our oil companies a piece of the pie through a rigged bidding process, and let the Iraqi people rot once it's done. We'll stay here until the oil law is passed, and not much longer.

Discussion at BCF:

MadSatyrist says:

Somewhat, yes, somewhat no. Like a lot of things, its mixed.

As far as I'm concerned, the whole Iraq war was about modernizing the oil infrastructure in Iraq. That's why we won't pull out until the country is either peaceful or dead.

Saddam wasn't upgrading, and why should he? He was under low production caps, and the old infrastructure was adequate for that purpose.

So getting rid of Saddam was step one. The second step was putting up a contract process where an outside company would step in and put say 5,000,000,000 up for production and development on a single part of the fields, and that means security of contracts and a guarantee of no nationalization or sudden tax increases. Incremental injections of money over time is different, the huge funds needed to rebuild Iraqi oil fields mean some kind of security. So Bush used the military to provide that security.

France or Russia would have done it under Saddam, and the US would not have controlled the oil. That was intolerable to Bush (and Clinton was ready to invade Iraq several times - this I know for a fact) and to most of our Congress, so they acted on the first excuse for a war.

A nasty business, but not that far outside our common practice in the past. Anyone from South America would recognize the pattern. That we took it on the road to the MidEast is the only unique part of this particular adventure.
More at the link.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

One of the most stupid and pointless endeavors....

...I have ever engaged in. I thought it was stupid before, but now....

The saying by some, that we just "sit around waiting to get attacked" is the best way to describe our current situation. Our big projects tend to be the morale server and a wireless gaming network we're trying to set up. Then, once in a while, we get rockets fired at us. We recover from that, do whatever needs to be done, and go back to our daily affairs.

It is unclear to me what we're fighting for. There was a time I could see that we were fighting to establish a permanent military presence in the region so as to assert military dominance over a resource (oil) that will be key to China's developing economy, but given the on-going and perhaps semi-permanent sectarian violence in the region, I don't see how permanent bases are going to be sustainable without a continued loss of life. Perhaps Bush is simply willing to pay any price in other people's blood to assert dominance over the oil which will eventually be sold to the Chinese at inflated values. Perhaps he is trying to save face. Whatever the case may be, it has become increasingly clear that the price of this occupation is higher than it's worth, never mind the moral reasons for not invading in the first place. That's almost beside the point, now.

The point is that this was our last ditch effort to maintain the dream of the Holy American Empire. Control the oil and you keep a leash on the biggest potential rival in the world. It made sense in an amoral, greed and glory-driven sort of way. We have, however, failed. Our bases in Iraq are under constant attack, even with the ridiculous amount of manpower and resources dedicated to securing them. No one is safe here, and what good is the centralized launching point for operations in the region if we're spending all of our time and money defending our position?

We don't want Iraq to fall into the hands of Islamist extremists. I get that. But there are other ways to ensure that such a government never becomes a threat to us or to its neighbors. Besides, we still have enough carrots left in the garden to entice Syria and Iran to come around and help provide some sense of stability to their ailing neighbor. It certainly couldn't cost us any more money than we've already spent, and we certainly couldn't lose any more face than we already have.

The American Empire has peaked and must now recede in order to survive. Let the Arab states control their own oil. Use whatever economic strength we still have to leverage favorable deals. Work with Chavez to secure a better source to feed our petroleum addiction than this part of the world. GET OFF OF OIL. Let the Chinese fall into the trap that we have (they will need that oil just as badly as we do now) and institute some of the clean tech we've developed. No, it's not enough yet. But we're getting there, and the sooner we become self-sustaining, the sooner we can stop having to bully the entire world.

Here's a thought: the U.S. is capable of producing enough food to feed the entire world. Why don't we? We spend so much money on the military to secure oil to produce... what again? We're importing friggin' food from China, for fuck's sake. Why? Instead of being the world's leading destroyer of nations, why don't we try becoming their grocer? Will people bomb their source of food? I highly doubt it.

Agriculture needs to be big on our next President's priority list. It should be so big that the Secretary of Agriculture will be as important an appointment as the Secretaries of State and Defense.

I got off point, but the absolute stupidity of our current policies has really hit home when I start seeing the costs up close and personal. I also understand why so many troops buy into the propaganda: it's the only way that any of this makes any sense. Who wants to sacrifice themselves for nothing? We're fighting just to fight at this point.

Let the Iraqis sort their shit out themselves. That's how it's going to go down in the end, anyway. Get off the oil addiction; it's the only reason any of this matters to us.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sy Hersh's profile on Maj Gen Taguba

If there was a redeeming aspect to the affair, it was in the thoroughness and the passion of the Army's initial investigation. The inquiry had begun in January, and was led by General Taguba, who was stationed in Kuwait at the time. Taguba filed his report in March. In it he found:

Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees ... systemic and illegal abuse.
Taguba was met at the door of the conference room by an old friend, Lieutenant General Bantz J. Craddock, who was Rumsfeld's senior military assistant. Craddock's daughter had been a babysitter for Taguba's two children when the officers served together years earlier at Fort Stewart, Georgia. But that afternoon, Taguba recalled, "Craddock just said, very coldly, 'Wait here.' " In a series of interviews early this year, the first he has given, Taguba told me that he understood when he began the inquiry that it could damage his career; early on, a senior general in Iraq had pointed out to him that the abused detainees were "only Iraqis." Even so, he was not prepared for the greeting he received when he was finally ushered in.

"Here ... comes ... that famous General Taguba - of the Taguba report!" Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, "I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting."

In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. "Could you tell us what happened?" Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, "Is it abuse or torture?" At that point, Taguba recalled, "I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, 'That's not abuse. That's torture.' There was quiet."

A worthy read. It's a fascinating portrayal of a general officer getting the shaft for doing the job he was assigned to do, as well as our "leaders'" reaction to having the truth exposed.

Iranian crackdown

Iranian students and professors say an unprecedented number of disciplinary cases have been brought against students in the last month.

They say 29 have been arrested in the last two months for political activism and 207 were taken before disciplinary committees in the last 40 days alone.

By comparison, just four students were disciplined a month on average under the last government.

University professors who criticise the government are also losing their jobs.

The right wing fervor sweeping the world isn't going to just end when Bush leaves office. It will take a strong progressive leader to stem that tide. Is anybody up to the task?

Oxfam leaves Darfur refugee camp.

Oxfam is to permanently withdraw from Sudan's largest refugee camp.

The decision is because staff at Gereida in Darfur remain unsafe, the British aid agency announced on Saturday.

In attacks on three aid bases in the camp in December, an aid worker was raped, an Oxfam staff member beaten and others subjected to mock executions.

Since then, most operations have remained suspended in the area controlled by the former rebel faction of Minni Minnawi - the only leader to sign a May 2006 peace deal with the government.

Suicide bombers in Afghanistan; U.S. troops fire on civilians?

A suicide car bomber has attacked a convoy believed to be carrying soldiers and civilians in a busy residential area of Kabul, killing at least three civilians and wounding five others, the interior ministry said.

In another suicide attack in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, a civilian was killed and six others wounded.

Saturday's blast in Kabul was the third suicide bombing targeting the Nato-led forces in Afghanistan in two days.


Following the attack, foreign soldiers shot dead a civilian and wounded three more, police said.

It was not clear why the US soldiers had fired on the crowd that gathered at the site of the suicide car bombing.

Zalmai Oriakhil, Kabul deputy police chief, said the shooting led hundreds of people to mob soldiers before Afghan elders and police intervened.

Nato and the US-led coalition could not confirm the shooting.

CNN makes no mention of the shooting allegations:

BBC alludes to civilian casualties without mentioning specifics:

A US-led coalition service member was also killed during a clash in the east of the country on Friday, the coalition said in a statement.

Correspondents say that the south of Afghanistan has been the centre of the Taleban's insurgency, with daily attacks on Afghan and foreign forces.

Civilians are often caught up in the fighting.

Meanwhile, Nato defence ministers meeting in Brussels have been discussing the high number of civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan.

The BBC's defence correspondent says that although the ministers are concerned about civilian deaths, they are not expected to make any major changes to military tactics.

Around 2,000 Afghans - civilian, military and insurgent - are estimated to have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year.

The defence ministers said they would try to improve co-ordination between Nato, US-led and Afghan forces, but they laid the blame for civilian casualties on the Taleban, who they say deliberately draw fire into civilian areas.

Yes, I've started reading Al Jazeera. They really aren't any more biased than any of the U.S. networks, and they offer a vastly different perspective.

No news is good news, I guess.

From my perspective, I've very little to report. People largely seem to be going through the motions. To hear people talk, it seems the majority think that this is a lost cause not worth fighting, and all they really want is to go home. They still want to do some good, but they know that the window of opportunity for that has long since closed. We sit here, wait to get attacked, strafe the guys that hit us, and wait to get attacked again. That's it. As far as I know, that's our whole reason for being here. Pretty lame, huh?

Given my lack of a huge, compelling story to tell, I'm going to cover news events around the globe. I'll compile from multiple sources to try to pull together something resembling a compelling story of worldwide struggle. I know that my own story is anything but.