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Monday, 31 January 2011

Tax-evading Irish MP Copies the British MP’s Irish MP Michael Lowry loses libel case

A Irish MP at the heart of Ireland's first major corruption scandal lost a libel judgment against the journalist who broke the story of his illicit gifts, a revelation that has inspired mammoth state probes into the scale of under-the-table lobbying in Irish politics it would seem whatever the British MP’s can do? So can the Irish MP’s and this the tip of the Irish iceberg of Irish MP’s corruptions.

A Dublin High Court judge ruled that journalist Sam Smyth had reasonable grounds of evidence to describe MP Michael Lowry as "a liar and a tax cheat."

Lowry's lawyers had sought a judgment that Smyth, one of Ireland's most prominent journalists, had no reasonable defence for his claims and had defamed Lowry as "a thief." They cited Smyth's appearance on an Irish current-affairs show in 2010 during which he described Lowry as the first of many Irish politicians to be caught with his "hand in the till," or cash register very much like the British MP’s.

But Justice Margaret Heneghan said Smyth had provided ample affidavits including of Lowry's initial 1996 denials of any impropriety in parliament, followed by his later exposure as a tax evader to suggest his descriptions were based on well-documented evidence.

In 1996, Smyth revealed in the Irish Independent newspaper that supermarket baron Ben Dunne had provided secret gifts to Lowry and former Prime Minister Charles Haughey. Lowry, a Cabinet minister in the mid-1990s, also owned a commercial refrigeration company that had contracts with Dunnes Stores, Ireland's biggest supermarket chain.

Lowry denies a growing list of allegations from a series of judicial probes since 1997 that he traded favours with businessmen in exchange for secret gifts and investment privileges.

But two taxpayer-financed probes into Lowry's business dealings and personal investments have determined that Dunne did pay, as Smyth reported, for construction of a new €500,000 euros wing on Lowry's family home. Lowry and his company in 2007 paid €1.4 million euros in unpaid tax and high penalties linked to that undeclared gift, which had appreciated in value.

Lowry denies providing any political favours for Dunne, who admits he also gave Haughey — Ireland's prime minister in 1979-82 and 1987-92 — at least €1.65 million euros.

Lowry is continuing to fight a 13-year investigation into his alleged dealings involving Irish telecoms tycoon Denis O'Brien and multimillion property purchases in Ireland and Britain.

Secret gifts to politicians were not explicitly illegal under Ireland's ill-drafted corruption laws until 1997, when the government drafted new rules and restrictions in response to public uproar over Haughey's gross profiteering while in office. Haughey died in 2006 after paying €6.5 million euros in overdue tax and penalties on his 1980s and 1990s gifts from businessmen.

Lowry was forced out of Ireland's Fine Gael party in 1997. But voters in his North Tipperary district have re-elected him to parliament as an independent for the past three elections.

Thousands of Foreigners flee Egypt and Cairo airport is in total chaos

Cairo's international airport was a scene of chaos and confusion as thousands of foreigners sought to flee the unrest in Egypt fearing for their lives with to continuing sometimes violent protests, countries around the world panic to try and send in planes to fly their citizens out in a county that’s going mad and others will soon follow this madness.

Nerves frayed with shouting and shoving matches and fights erupted as thousands crammed into Cairo airport's new Terminal 3 seeking a flight home. The airport's departures board stopped announcing flight times in an attempt to reduce the tension and of course the half-witted plan backfired, fuelling passengers' anger even more.

And making matters worse, check-in counters were poorly staffed because many Egypt Air employees had been unable to get to work due to a 3 p.m.-to-8 a.m. curfew and traffic breakdowns across the Egyptian capital.

"It's an absolute zoo, what a mess," said Justine Khanzadian, 23, a graduate student from the American University of Cairo. "I decided to leave because of the protests; the government here is just not stable enough to stay."

Food was scarce at the airport, with people panic buying up chocolate in the duty free shop. Airport staff shouted at travellers to get in line, but many were in no mood to listen. The scheduling board listed flight numbers without destinations or times of departure it was an utter shambles.

Occasionally and sheepishly, an official emerged and shouted out the destination of a departing flight, triggering a rush of passengers with boarding passes. The process worked smoothly for nationals of countries that had sent planes, But countries like Denmark, Germany, China, Canada others had no such support.

By the time the curfew time came in, some people who had failed to get on a flight out of Egypt very nervously had boarded buses for their frightening ride back into Cairo a city on the verge of exploding into violence.

The US State Department said more than 2,400 Americans had contacted U.S. officials seeking government-chartered evacuation flights from Egypt, and more than 220 had already left the US is now sending in recuse flights with accompany troops to protect US citizens, the British government seems very unwilling to get involved and leaves its British citizens there, six private US transport planes have been charted by the London Times to fly English citizens out of Cairo.

One U.S. military plane landed at Larnaca Airport in Cyprus ferrying 42 people mostly U.S. citizens working at embassies in Cairo. Another plane was expected later in Larnaca carrying about 180 people.

Egypt Air resumed its flights this morning from Cairo after a 14-hour break because of the curfew and its inability to field enough crew. Over 20 hours, and only 26 of about 126 Egypt Air flights operated, airport officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Greek oil worker Markos Loukogiannakis, who arrived in Athens on a flight carrying 181 passengers including 65 U.S. citizens, said confusion reigned at Cairo airport and travellers had to negotiate a string of checkpoints just to get there the country is becoming out of control.

"In a 14-mile route from our suburb to the airport we had to get through 19 checkpoints, including nine manned by civilians," he said. "There were lots of people gathering at the airport and it was very difficult to get in."

He said the security had deteriorated sharply over the past three days in Cairo after police withdrew from the streets because of the violence.

"There was a wave of attacks by criminal elements who engaged in burglaries and wrecked shops and banks. There was a lot of shooting and residents took up the burden of protecting their property," he said it’s all gone mad here.

Jane Travis, an American tourist from Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, who was evacuated to Athens, said she and her husband heard shooting from their hotel.

"We are very concerned that there was no warning from our State Department before we came on this trip," she said. "From our hotel, which was well guarded, we heard the gunshots and it was very terrifying and we are getting out as soon as we can."

In a geopolitical shift, even Iraq decided it would evacuate its citizens, sending three planes to Egypt including the prime minister's plane to bring home for free those who wish to return. Thousands of Iraqis had once fled to Egypt to escape the violence in their own country now it would seem the other way around?

About 800 Iraqis had left Cairo by Monday afternoon, said Capt. Mohammed al-Moussawi, a crew member for the prime minister's office. He said the flights would continue until all those who wished to return had done so.

Nearly 320 Indian nationals arrived in Mumbai on a special Air India flight and another 275 were expected later. An Azerbaijan flight carrying 103 people and the body of an Azeri Embassy accountant killed in the unrest arrived in Baku, and Turkey sent five planes to Cairo and Alexandria, evacuating 1,548 Turkish nationals.

Indonesia was sending a plane to Cairo to start evacuating some 6,150 Indonesians — mostly students and workers and SAS Denmark were flying home some 60 Danes.

China sent four planes to help pick up an estimated 500 Chinese stranded in Cairo and warned citizens not travel to Egypt.

That echoed earlier warnings from England, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and the Czech Republic, which all advised against all nonessential travel to Egypt. Many European tour companies cancelled trips to Egypt until Feb. 23, while others left the cancellations open until further notice.

One big question was what to do with the tens of thousands of tourists in other parts of Egypt. Tour operators say they will fly home all their customers this week when their holidays end, or on extra flights, stressing there has not been any unrest in Red Sea resort cities like Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheik. Still, food shortages were starting to be felt at some Egyptian resorts and some restaurants were refusing to serve foreigners.

All major German tour operators among them TUI AG and Thomas Cook's German subsidiary cancelled day trips to Cairo and Luxor.

Germany, which sends about 1.2 million tourists to Egypt each year, was not officially evacuating its citizens. But Deutsche Lufthansa AG on Monday was operating an additional flight at the request of the foreign ministry to bring more German tourists home. Foreign ministry spokesman Dirk Augustin said thousands more Germans currently live in Egypt, with up to 7,000 around Cairo.

It is estimated there were 30,000 English and British tourists and long-term residents in Egypt but the British government said it had no plans to evacuate them. British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned people against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.

Sir Michael Black-Feather the English first minister said along with the help of London Times six private planes had been charted and will be flying out English citizens and it quite typical of the British to leave their people behind, we the English don’t do that sort of thing leaving our people behind.  

German tour operator Rewe Touristic advised clients booked on a holiday in Egypt through Feb. 7 to cancel their trip and allowed them to switch to another destination without surcharge. The company has 3,100 clients in the country.

Many companies organized their own evacuations for their workers. German utility company RWE said its oil and gas subsidiary RWE Dea repatriated some 90 people employees and their families with a chartered plane that arrived in Hamburg on Monday and have also asked to use the English transport planes if needed for those of its employees that missed the others flight which was agreed with Sir Michael for all RWE employees to use the English flights.

The Danish company shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S chartered a plane to pick up relatives of its Danish employees in Egypt. The company said there were no terminal operations in Egypt on Monday and the Maersk Line, Safmarine and Damco offices were closed.

Air France cancelled its daily flight from Paris to Cairo on Monday and planned to increase its capacity Tuesday by an extra 200 seats.

Portugal sent a C-130 military transport plane to evacuate its citizens. Greece was sending three C-130 military transport planes to Alexandria on Tuesday and Polish airline LOT was flying to Cairo.

Hadjicostis reported from Larnaca, Cyprus. Staff in Associated Press bureaus around the world contributed to this report.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The British Gov not only supports corruption but also with its support? it supports child abuse

                                         Three of the Perverts buying and selling
The British government is well known for its own corruptions, a meant to be a Christen government, has stood by watching the corruption’s in Afghanistan and knowing of the perverted ways of child abuse that goes on there and still supports it’s government WHY,  

When told about the perverted ways going on in Afghanistan; English, British and US soldiers are sickened when they find out just what’s been going on there, and say it’s not what they signed up for protecting F,,king perverts they all need F..king slotting.

The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan, a show that aired in PBS and reported by the London Times recently, explored the horrific tradition of the Bache  bazi, or the ‘boys play’ when it is translated from Urdu.

The show explored the horrors faced by the boys involved in one of the most dirtiest of businesses in the country, in which young boys, some as young as 6, are sold for sex and entertainment of the rich and the powerful in a most pervert and corrupted disgusting country.

Of course all the customers are all men. What comes across as most horrific is the fact that the business, which directly feeds of the heinous practice of paedophilia and child prostitution, thrives in the country which the British are very well aware of.

As was mentioned in the show, the children in bacha bazi are bought by powerful politicians, wealthy businessmen and former warlords, from poverty stricken families. Often, they are also destitute and orphans, who are picked up from the streets.

The most horrific part of the bargain was told by one of the boys present in the show, about 16 years old at present. He had been abused as a child aged 7, and was turned out by his family who blamed him for the incident. Having no other option, he went back to his abuser, and now lives with another man who has taught him to sing and dance.
The story is the same for many others involved in the disgusting perverted practice of bacha bazi. The children are taught to sing and dance, and are then bought by those who can afford to pay their master. Then, they are sold all over again, and the cycle continues to the normal mind you just cannot comprehend it.

British Gutter Tabloid Dismisses it’s Editor Over Hacking Scandal

 British newspaper the News of the World said that it had dismissed its assistant editor for news, Ian Edmondson, after finding “material evidence” linking him to allegations that the newspaper illegally intercepted celebrities’ telephone messages.
The newspaper’s parent company, News International, said in a statement that it had “informed the police, handed over the material it has found and will give its full cooperation.” Mr. Edmondson had already been suspended after a court document surfaced showing that the name “Ian” had been scrawled on notes taken by an investigator convicted in the hacking scandal.
Mr. Edmondson has denied doing anything wrong.
The paper which has said for months that only one of its reporters was involved in the hacking did not say what evidence it was referring to?.
Scotland Yard, which some have criticized for what they called a lax investigation, said it would reopen its own inquiries, saying it had “received significant new information relating to allegations of phone hacking at The News of the World in 2005/06.” The Crown Prosecution Service also recently said it would expand its review of evidence gathered by the police to include any “recent or new substantive allegations.”
The new developments come the week after Andy Coulson, the editor of The News of the World from 2003 to 2007, resigned as Prime Minister David Cameron’s director of communications, saying continued speculation about his alleged role in the affair made it impossible for him to do his job.
In 2007, The News of the World’s royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, and a private investigator named Glenn Mulcaire were convicted and jailed for illegally intercepting phone messages of members of the Royal household. Soon afterwards, Mr. Coulson stepped down as editor, saying that he had known nothing about the hacking but that he took responsibility for it nonetheless.
Mr. Coulson was hired several months later by David Cameron the British prime minister and followed him into government after last spring’s national elections.
Executives at News International and The News of the World have always said that the hacking had been limited to one “rogue reporter” and that the case was closed with Mr. Goodman’s jailing. But those assertions began to unravel eighteen months ago, when the newspaper The Guardian published a series of articles alleging that hacking had been widespread at the newspaper and revealing that a number of politicians, celebrities and other public figures had had their messages intercepted.
Then, last fall, The New York Times Magazine published an article quoting a former reporter and an unnamed former editor at The News of the World saying that Mr. Coulson knew about the hacking. The paper also described how the police had limited their investigation to the role of Mr. Goodman and Mr. Mulcaire, failing to interview other editors and reporters at the tabloid.
The police opened a new investigation, but then closed it, saying that the News International employees they interviewed had denied being involved or given noncommittal answers.
A number of people who believed their phones had been hacked  including the actress Sienna Miller  have sued News International. Much of the new material emerging in the case, culled from Mr. Mulcaire’s notebooks, is coming from court papers connected to those lawsuits.
The police have been criticized over matter the for having failed to conduct a proper inquiry.
“It’s a scandal that it is only through the civil actions that people are bringing that the Met are being forced to act,” using the abbreviation for Scotland Yard’s more formal name.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Child sex abuse; this is what the British Government is currently supporting

                                                                  bacha bazi

Afghans Plan to Stop Recruiting Children as Police sex slaves.

Only now in 2011? is Afghanistan expected to sign a formal agreement with the United Nations  on Sunday to stop the recruitment of children into its police forces and ban the common practice of boys’ being used as sex slaves by police and military commanders, according to Afghan and United Nations officials.

The effort by Afghanistan’s international backers to rapidly expand the country’s police and military forces has had the unintended consequence of drawing many under-age boys into service for sex, the officials conceded.
Stung by Afghanistan’s inclusion on the United Nations’ blacklist of countries where child soldiers are commonly used, like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, government leaders are expected to sign an undertaking with Radhika Coomaraswamy, the secretary general’s special representative for children and armed conflict, during her visit to Kabul on Sunday, the officials told the London Times.
With the agreement on an action plan to combat the problem, the government will for the first time officially acknowledge the problem of child sex slaves. As part of the Afghan tradition of bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” boys as young as 9 are dressed as girls and trained to dance for male audiences, then prostituted in an auction to the highest bidder. Many powerful men, particularly commanders in the military and the police, keep such boys, often dressed in uniforms, as constant companions for sexual purposes we wonder just were in their version of the “Qur’an is says God permits this perverseness.
United Nations officials say they believe that there are hundreds of cases of under-age boys in the police, “mostly because of falsification of papers, also bribes, and there’s been a big push to get the numbers up,” one official said.
Afghanistan hopes that its participation in the action plan will lead to the removal of the Afghan National Police from the list of organizations condemned by the United Nations for using children in armed conflict. The others in Afghanistan also include the Taliban, the Haqqani network and the Islamic Party, insurgent groups that often use children to hide bombs, and in some cases to act as suicide bombers.
In all, 13 countries are on the United Nations list of those with “ perverted and grave violations against children in armed conflict.” In most of those countries, however, the organizations responsible are rebels and insurgents, rather than the national police or military.
NATO officials have been aware of the recruitment problem for some time, and the former military commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, issued an order in 2010 warning troops to be on the lookout for under-age recruits. NATO trainers hope to add an additional 23,000 police officers by next October, part of a planned 42 per cent increase in the country’s security forces by 2012.
When asked about the military’s policy regarding commanders who abuse children, a spokesman for the NATO-led military alliance, Lt. Col. John L. Dorrian, said that if any members of the military encountered such abuse they would be obliged to report it. But in the past year, he said, there have not been any reports but rather covered up.
This perverted custom, at least 300 years old in Central Asia, remains notoriously widespread in parts of Afghanistan. The former governor of Kandahar Province, Gul Agha Shirzai, an ex-warlord and close ally of the Americans who is now the governor of Nangarhar Province, has been seen at many public events with teenaged boys or young men with heavy makeup, although a spokesman for his office has denied that they were bacha bazi.
“The practice of bacha bazi and sexual abuse against boys is also a matter of concern,” Ms. Coomaraswamy said in a report to the Security Council last April. “The general climate of impunity, and the vacuum in rule of law, has adversely affected the reporting of sexual violence and abuse against children.”
Ms. Coomaraswamy found a strong ally in Afghanistan at the influential Ulema Council, the highest religious body in the country, which condemns both the recruitment of children and their sexual abuse as un-Islamic. The head of the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, also lobbied officials about it, after receiving 4,000 petitions condemning the lack of efforts to end child sexual abuse in the security forces, officials said.
The practice of bacha bazi is known throughout Afghanistan but is particularly notorious in Kandahar. The Taliban originally came to prominence in Kandahar when they intervened in a fight between two paedophile warlords over the possession of a coveted dancing boy. The Taliban also oppose the practice, and banned it when they were in power.
“While in many areas of southern Afghanistan such treatment of boys appears to be shrouded in some sense of secrecy, in Kandahar it constitutes an openly celebrated cultural tradition,” a Pentagon consultant wrote in a report on Pashtun sexuality prepared for British and American troops in 2009.
Asila Wardak, the head of human rights issues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and one of the authors of the plan agreed to with the United Nations, said President Hamid Karzai had ordered his government to tackle the issue because he was disturbed to see “Afghanistan put on the black list of the U.N.”
“There are a lot of measures to combat the sexual abuse of children,” she said, including specific provision for the prosecution of commanders found complicit. The problem of bacha bazi, she said, “has existed since time I can remember, but this is the first time the government is taking practical steps against it.”

More Protest as waves of unrest now spread into Yemen

What missing for this photo????
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Yemen, one of the Middle East’s most impoverished countries, and secular and Islamist Egyptian opposition leaders vowed to join large protests as calls for change rang across the unstable Arab world.

The Yemeni protests were another moment of tumult in a region whose aging order of American-backed governments appears to be staggering. In a span of just weeks, Tunisia’s government has fallen, Egypt’s appears shaken and countries like Jordan and Yemen are bracing against demands of movements with divergent goals but similar means where we can expect more unrest with more violent protests.

Protests led by young people entered a third day in Egypt, where Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who has become an outspoken opponent of President Hosni Mubarak, returned in hopes of galvanizing the campaign. The Muslim Brotherhood, long Egypt’s largest organized opposition, ended days of official inaction and said it would join the protests, declaring “a day of rage for the Egyptian nation.”

Dr. ElBaradei called on Mr. Mubarak to step down. “He has served the country for 30 years, and it is about time for him to retire,” he told the London Times. “Tomorrow is going to be, I think, a major demonstration all over Egypt and I will be there with them.”

Though a relative calm settled on Cairo, smoke rose over the city of Suez, as sometimes with very violent protests continued there.

In Yemen, organizers vowed to continue protests and for weeks to come until the 32-year-old American-backed government of Ali Abdullah Saleh either fell or consented to reforms.

At least visually, the scenes broadcast across the region from Yemen were reminiscent of the events in Egypt and the month of protests that brought down the government in Tunisia. But as they climaxed by midday, they appeared to be carefully organized and mostly peaceful at the moment, save for some arrests. Pink be it in the form of headbands, sashes or banners were the dominant colour; organizers described it as the symbol of the day’s protests.

“To Jidda, oh Ali!” some shouted, in reference to the city in Saudi Arabia where Tunisia’s president fled this month. “The people’s demand is the fall of the government!”

“We are telling them either he delivers real political reforms or we’re going to deliver him out of power,” said Shawki al-Qadi, an opposition member and organizer of the Yemeni protests. “He’s closed all the doors of hope. The only glimmer is in the streets.”

Unlike in Egypt, the peaceful protests in Yemen were not led by young people, but by the traditional opposition, largely Islamists. And the opposition remained divided over whether to topple the Saleh government or simply push for reforms.

London Time; new political analyst Sir Michael Black-Feather the English first minister and Archbishop of the reformed Church of England said; Potential for strife in the country is difficult to overstate. Yemen is troubled by a rebellion in the north and a struggle for secession in the once independent, Marxist south. In recent years, an affiliate of Al Qaeda has turned parts of the country, a rugged, often lawless region on the south-western corner of the Arabian Peninsula, into a refuge beyond the state’s reach. Added to the mix are a remarkably high proportion of armed citizens, some of whom treat Kalashnikovs as a fashion accessory it all the ingredients of a very bad recipe of anything really good to come of it.

“I fear Yemen is going to be ripped apart,” said to London Times reporter DD Mohammed Naji Allaw, coordinator of the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedom, which was one of the protests’ organizers. “The situation in Yemen is a lot more dangerous than in any other Arab country. It would be foolish for the regime to ignore our demands and I would have to fully agree with Sir Michael’s statement the recipe of disaster is here.”

He said a phrase often heard these days was that Yemen faced “sawmala”  the Somatization of a country that witnessed a civil war in the mid-1990s.

A portion of Mr. Allaw’s worries sprang from the inability of the opposition to forge a unified message. Some are calling for secession for the south, he said, while others are looking to oust the president. Yet the mainstream, he said, simply wanted Mr. Saleh to agree not to run for another term after 2013 and to guarantee that his son would not succeed him.

“The opposition is afraid of what would happen if the regime falls,” said Khaled Alanesi, who also works with the human rights group in Sana, the capital. “Afraid of the militant groups, Al Qaeda, the tribes and all the arms here.”

The government responded to the protests by sending a large number of security forces into the streets, said Nasser Arrabyee, a Yemeni journalist in Sana. “Very strict measures, anti-riot forces,” he called them. But the government suggested that it had not deployed large numbers of security forces, keeping them peaceful.

What Can the Protests in Egypt Achieve? Will the uprisings change the country’s future?

“The Government of the Republic of Yemen strongly respects the democratic right for a peaceful assembly,” Mohammed al-Basha, a Yemeni Embassy spokesman in Washington, said in a statement. “We are pleased to announce that no major clashes or arrests occurred, and police presence was minimal.”

A pro-government rally, in another district of Sana, organized by Mr. Saleh’s party, attracted far fewer demonstrators, Mr. Arrabyee said.

The protests sprang from political divisions that began building in the country last October, when a dialogue collapsed between the opposition and Mr. Saleh, a 64-year-old strongman who has ruled his fractured country for more than three decades and is a crucial ally of the United States in the fight against the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda. Though Mr. Saleh’s term is supposed to end in 2013, proposed amendments to the Constitution could allow him to remain in power for two additional terms of 10 years.

Opposition party members, an eclectic bloc dominated by Islamists, organized protests that swelled into one of the largest demonstrations during Mr. Saleh’s tenure. But unlike the antagonists in Tunisia and Egypt, both sides seemed at least willing to engage in dialogue over demands that are far less radical.

“Political parties are pushing for reforms more than they are pushing to oust the president,” Mr. Alanesi said. “The slogans say to leave, but we actually want change.”

In a televised speech, Mr. Saleh, a wily politician with a firm grasp of the power of patronage, tried to defuse the opposition’s demands. He denied claims that his son would succeed him as happened in Syria and, some fear, might occur in Egypt. He said he would raise army salaries, a move seemingly intended to ensure soldiers’ loyalty. Mr. Saleh has also cut income taxes in half and ordered price controls.

Yemen’s fragile stability has been of increasing concern to the United States, which has provided $250 million in military aid in the past five years. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a visit to Sana this month, urged Mr. Saleh to establish a new dialogue with the opposition, saying it would help to stabilize the country.

The protests were the latest in a wave of unrest touched off by month-long demonstrations in Tunisia that led to the ouster of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the authoritarian leader who ruled for 23 years and fled two weeks ago. On Thursday, Tunisia unveiled major changes in its interim government in a bid to end the protests.

The anti-government gatherings in Yemen also followed three days of clashes between protesters and security forces in Egypt.

Dr. ElBaradei, the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency who has sought to refashion himself as pro-democracy campaigner in his homeland, is viewed by some supporters as capable of uniting the country’s fractious opposition and offering an alternative to Mr. Mubarak. Critics view him as an opportunist who has spent too little time in the country to take control of a movement that began without his leadership.

Safwat el-Sherif, secretary general of Egypt’s ruling party, called for restraint from security forces and protesters and raised the possibility of a dialogue with the young people who have powered some of the biggest protests in a generation.

“We are confident of our ability to listen,” he said.

“But democracy has its rules and process,” he added. “The minority does not force its will on the majority.”

The London Time with the new world at War?

Friday, 28 January 2011

More Protests in Tunisia in delays Cabinet Reshuffle

TUNIS a standoff between street protesters and the Tunisian authorities deepened on Wednesday as officials first promised and then postponed a reshuffling of the interim government that has been clinging to power since the ouster of the former dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

The interim government, condemned by protesters because of its domination by former officials of Mr. Ben Ali’s administration, continued to move against the former president. The justice minister, one of Mr. Ben Ali’s former lieutenants, said the government had issued an international arrest warrant for the former president and his family on charges of corruption and enriching themselves at public expense. The interim authorities are also bringing to trial six former members of Mr. Ben Ali’s personal security force for inciting violence.

Complying with requests from the interim government, Reuters reported that the Swiss authorities said they had frozen more than $10 million in assets belonging to the Ben Ali family, and Interpol issued a global alert for the arrest of Mr. Ben Ali and six family members. Other governments are moving to freeze the Ben Ali family’s assets as well.

Hundreds of protesters who drove to the capital from the impoverished southern provinces have been camped outside the prime minister’s office since the weekend, sleeping on mattresses and eating food donated by local residents. Hundreds of others join them each day to chant for the dissolution of the interim government, and by Wednesday the protesters were visibly exhausted.

As the crowd exceeded 1,000, some scaled the walls of government buildings, toppled a lamppost and nearly pulled a police officer out of his armored car. In the Old City, the police fired tear gas to clear a street near the Justice Ministry while soldiers closed off side streets. Later, soldiers fired shots in the air to try to calm the crowd around the prime minister’s office.

In a country where public officials have seldom if ever faced a free press, the justice minister, Lazhar Karoui Chebbi, held a news conference that devolved into a shouting match with Tunisian journalists. He sat at the head of a long green conference table surrounded by throngs of journalists who peppered him with questions about the conduct of the old government, the brief closing this week of a television network and other topics. (He said that he was not responsible for prosecuting former officials or police officers, and that the network closing had been a mistake.)

He announced that in the chaos surrounding Mr. Ben Ali’s departure, about 11,000 inmates — a third of Tunisia’s prison population — had escaped. He said nearly 2,500 other prisoners had been released by the interim government, presumably referring to the announced release of political detainees.

As the minister spoke, the chants of protesters calling for the release of still more prisoners resounded in the streets, while the families of prisoners nearly blocked the steps to the ministry and the hall outside the room. At the Education Ministry next door, college graduates lined up to apply for teaching positions, hoping to capitalize on an open-door policy instituted after Mr. Ben Ali’s fall.

Government officials have insisted that only members of the old ruling party have the experience necessary to guide the country to free elections in six months, and they appear to be trying to wait out the protests. Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have suggested they are looking for a protest leader to emerge in order to negotiate an end to the impasse.

The protesters, meanwhile, say history gives them no reason to trust the same people who helped Mr. Ben Ali rule Tunisia for 23 years. “They must all go and let us build this country with our brains and our hands,” said Amina Azouz, a Tunisian graduate student at the Sorbonne and online activist, protesting outside the prime minister’s office. “Please, leave us alone!”

Several said they were eagerly awaiting the prime minister’s expected news conference. But by nightfall, the protesters prepared to bed down once again, surrounded by tanks, barbed wire and dozens of soldiers.

Egypt Cuts Off Internet and Cell Service

Egypt has cut off nearly all Internet traffic into and out of the country in the largest blackout of its kind, according to firms that monitor international data flows.
Cell phone networks were also disrupted. Vodafone said in a statement on its Web site that “all mobile operators in Egypt have been instructed to suspend services in selected areas.” The company said it was “obliged to comply” with the order.

Egypt like many other countries has been trying to contain growing protests that have been fuelled in part by videos and other information shared over social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Renesys, a Vermont-based company that tracks Internet traffic, said that just after midnight Cairo time, or 5 p.m. New York time, Egyptian authorities had succeeded in shutting down the country’s international access points.

“Almost nobody in Egypt has Internet connectivity, and there are no workarounds,” said Jim Cowie, the company’s chief technology officer. “I’ve never seen it happen at this scale.”

“In a fundamental sense, it’s as if you rewrote the map and they are no longer a country,” said Mr. Cowie. “I never thought it would happen to a country the size and scale of Egypt.”

In most countries, the points of access to the global Internet infrastructure are many and distributed. But Mr. Cowie said that Egypt was relatively late in widely adopting the Internet, so it has fewer access points. The government can shut these down with “six, or even four phone calls,” he said.

A Facebook spokesman, Andrew Noyes, said the company had seen a drop in traffic from Egypt since Thursday. “Although the turmoil in Egypt is a matter for the Egyptian people and their government to resolve, limiting Internet access for millions of people is a matter of concern for the global community,” he said in a statement.

In an interview, Mr. Noyes said the company was still seeing some traffic coming in from Egypt, but that it was “minimal.”

An executive at Google, the owner of YouTube, which activists have used to disseminate videos of the protests, spoke out against the shutdown.

David Drummond, the company’s chief legal officer, said Internet access was “a fundamental right, and it’s very sad if it’s denied to citizens of Egypt or any country.”

We are very likely to see more and more of these types of protest; we have already seen such in Ireland, Turkey, and Russia, Romania and Greece and other European countries as the world goes into chaos and disorder and the world war III looks more likely than ever as this world builds up to 2012?   

Thursday, 27 January 2011

A Crime to Shave

Forecast Sees Muslim Population Levelling Off

A new report forecasts that the number of Muslims around the world will grow over the next 20 years at twice the rate of non-Muslims, but that the rapid growth will level off. With more Muslim women now getting educations and jobs, people migrating to other cities, and living standards improving, the report says, the birth-rate in majority-Muslim countries will come to more closely resemble the pattern in other nations.

Predictions that Europe will become a majority-Muslim “Eurasia” are unfounded, according to the report by the Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, a nonpartisan research group.

Muslims in Europe only made up 6 per cent of the population in 2010, and will only grow to around 8 per cent by 2030, In France and Belgium; Muslims will be about 10 per cent of the population in 20 years, and in England, 5 per cent. And only 8 per cent counting in Scotland and Wales

Globally, Muslims only make up a mere 23.4 per cent of the population, and if current trends continue, will still only be 26.4 per cent by 2030. Such growth is not enough to create a drastic shift in the world’s religious balance, experts said. The world’s Christian population has been estimated in other reports to be well over 30 per cent up to 40 per cent and rising at a much higher rate than Muslims.

The London Times speaking with Sir Michael Black-Feather the English first minister and nearly appointed Archbishop to the church of Michael the Archangel England this January said; “There’s this overwhelming assumption that Muslims are populating the earth, and not only are they growing at this exponential rate in the Muslim world, they’re going to be dominating Europe and, soon after, England,” he said. “But the figures don’t even come close. I’ve been looking at all this for some time and wondering, where is all the hysteria coming from?”

I know in the United States, the report found about 2.6 million Muslims in 2010, a number projected to rise to 6.2 million in 20 years. (The 2.6 million figure is far lower than the numbers claimed by some American Muslim groups, but not out of line with some previous studies.) At that rate of growth, Muslims would still be a religious minority in 2030, only 1.7 per cent of the American population about the same equivalent of Jews in the United States today and the Christian faiths out number both by around 3 to1?.

Peter Mandaville, the director of the Centre for Global Studies at George Mason University and the author of “Global Political Islam,” said: “Over time, there will be a diminution of the Muslim youth bulge, but we’re at the crisis level of it now. As events in Tunisia and Egypt have shown, the number of under-30s who are un- or underemployed is still enormous, and the possibility of that youth bulge producing political and economic tension is still very present and is mainly down to unemployment as they have nothing else better to do.”

By 2030, Pakistan will have the largest Muslim population, surpassing Indonesia, and Nigeria will surpass Egypt.

The report suggests that economic and educational factors affect population growth rates among Muslims far more than the religious factor. In Iran, which encourages family planning and birth control, the fertility rate of only 1.7 children per woman resembles that of many European countries. It has the lowest fertility rate of any Muslim-majority nation, while Niger, a poor African nation, has the highest, at 6.9 children per woman. Iranian girls receive 15 years of schooling on average; in Niger, it is four years. The Taliban also have made it a crime to shave a beard which should show you all just what a bunch of nut-cases your dealing with? A Crime to Shave can anyone tell us where it says or ever has that God doesn’t want you to shave?

What happens when a nuke falls into the wrong hands? The beginnings to the End?

The London Times reporters in a recent trip to Pakistan to report on the recent spike in the region's violence and bloodshed,  like other new media have heard over and over the same sentiment from people on the ground; The America's and British war on terror is falling flat on its face and just not working.

The military conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan, repeatedly cited by locals, sends a constant flood of guns, refugees, militants and heroin into Pakistan.

Heroin is now actually cheaper than hashish/pot/weed in cities such as Lahore. The Kalashnikov culture, the foundation of which was laid 30 years ago when the CIA financed the mujahedeen, is all-consuming. According to the Pakistanis we spoke to, it's all taken a devastating toll on the country and created the next generation of militants at the same time.

In Peshawar, we met with Rahimullah Yusufzai, the last person to interview Osama bin Laden and one of Pakistan's most respected journalists.

He emphasized that much of the resulting anti-Western sentiment in the country is because of anger directed at American and the British foreign policies.

"People have suffered, and they are willing to take revenge," he said. "All villages have been attacked; women and children have been killed. So the Taliban can very easily motivate these families to supply suicide bombers."

Today's anti-West tide in Pakistan boils down to reactivity, retaliation and revenge.

"In Pashtun society, taking revenge is very important," Yusufzai said. "You know, there is a saying in Pashto: 'Even if you take revenge after 100 years, it's not too late.' And most of these I believe are retaliation attacks. Suicide bombings and the use of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are the two most effective means of weaponry that the militants can use in this part of the world."

It's important to note that the more people interviewed, the clearer it became that the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan have abandoned the holier pursuit of imposing strict Islamic law on the region. For now, they are simply young, angry and vengeful beyond belief.

More precisely, we were told they are reacting to decades of interventionist and not-so-covert flip-flopping American/British policy dating back to the Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and other administrations.

In Peshawar, we also tracked down Shabir Ahmed Khan, the provincial secretary of Jamaat-i-Islamic, a multimillion-member Islamic movement widely considered in Pakistan to be al Qaeda friendly. As soon as we sat down, we could tell he wasn’t a very happy man.

"The problems surrounding us here are not caused by Taliban or al Qaeda," he said. "It's the Western policies. If Westerners are going to kill and murder us, then we will have to fight back."

He continued, uninterrupted: "There's a saying: 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend.' America and the British are playing the role of an enemy, and al Qaeda is the reaction to it. People need to realize this. No one has the right to dictate over a free country. They force their political and social policies on us, which they have no right to." (This is something the London Times has always said, that each country should worry about what going on in their own back garden rather than interfering with others countries, leave a bees hive alone and you don’t get stung?) The British government should put all of its troops out of Afghanistan and let them get on with it stop all aid and also stop all aid to Pakistan and let them also get on with it, and England’s tax payer would be much better off?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Bin Laden now warns the French to pull out of Afghanistan or start being its next target?

A speaker claiming to be the terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, warned in an audiotape that the release of two French journalists abducted by militants hinges on France's military role in Afghanistan.

"We repeat the same message to you," said the speaker in an audio tape played on the Al-Jazeera satellite news network. "The release of your prisoners from the hands of our brethren depends on the withdrawal of your soldiers from our countries."
The speaker, believed to be al Qaeda chief bin Laden, warns the French government that its alliance with the United States will prove costly.

"The dismissal of your President (Nicolas) Sarkozy to get out of Afghanistan is the result of his subservience to the United States and this (dismissal) is considered to be the green signal to kill your prisoners without delay," the speaker said.

He goes on to say that "we will not do that at the time that suits him (Sarkozy) and this position will cost you dearly on all fronts, in France and abroad."

France, however, said it would not deter from its Afghanistan strategy.

"We are determined to stay in Afghanistan with our allies for the Afghan people," said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.

Taliban militants captured the journalists - Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponnier from France 3 Television - in December 2009 and threatened to kill them if their demands were not met, including the release of some detainees held by France.

France has 3,750 troops in Afghanistan, according to NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

Al Qaeda's North African wing has made the same withdrawal demands pertaining to the safety of five French nationals abducted in Niger.

CAN ANYONE HELP Soldier get married?

Soldier's marriage proposal from Afghanistan goes to wrong number
email the London Times let’s find Samantha


Soldier calling Samantha; Samantha, where are you? Your soldier boyfriend, whos deployed in Afghanistan, wants to marry you. He's proposed, Samantha. But we know you didn't get his phone message, because Diane Potts, a 44-year-old mother of three did. And she's certain she doesn't have a boyfriend in Afghanistan who wants to marry her.

According to media reports, Diane Potts came home last Thursday to her home in England the city of Gateshead, checked her answering machine and heard this:

"I love you so much, I love you with all my heart and I was going to ask you don’t answer, obviously you can’t answer, but will you marry me?"

Listen to the soldier's message

"I could tell he was speaking from a phone booth, the line was quite crackly. I was shocked, and had to listen to it again before the message sunk in," Potts told the Daily Mail. "I think he probably dialled incorrectly, and that his girlfriend’s number is similar to mine."

Unless Samantha or the soldier come forth after reports of the call were splashed across the British press Wednesday, it could be awhile before the soldier can make his pitch again.

"He said he would not be able to ring for another month, and would not be home for another three months," Potts told the Daily Mail.

In the 90-second message, the soldier also talks about losing a comrade in recent fighting.

"One of my guys has just been blown up, so I feel sad, I really feel sad," he says on the tape.

Samantha is also apparently pregnant.

"I can’t wait until you give birth to my baby, my little soldier," the soldier says. "I will do everything in my heart and I will try my hardest to fight to protect you."

Then he's back to the fight.

"I've got to go back out here now. I love you with all my heart, don't ever forget that, I love you, all right Samantha, I love you, bye, bye," the phone message ends.

Potts says she hopes Samantha and the soldier connect soon, according to reports.

So it begins? Iran now starts to accuse the West

Iran has now accused the West of 'nuclear terrorism which was always going to be the case at some point' A leading Iranian official has accused Western nations of "nuclear terrorism" and blamed them (SOG) of being behind the recent assassination of an Iranian scientist, in an internal document obtained by The Associated Press.

The document was drawn up by Egypt as the head of the Vienna chapter of nonaligned nations, and cites another senior Iranian official as pledging to stage further visits to the nation's key nuclear sites to outsiders in the wake of a recent tour by envoys from nonaligned, developing and Arab nations.

The six-page report summarized the Jan. 15-16 visits of the diplomats to two sites of international concern a heavy water reactor and related facilities being built in Arak and Iran's uranium enrichment plant at the central city of Natanz.
Iran insists it needs to build Arak to replace aging research reactors and says enrichment is meant only to make reactor fuel. But because both can contribute to a weapons program Arak by providing plutonium for missile warheads and Natanz by creating weapons grade uranium for the same purpose  Iran has been slapped with four sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions which just don’t wrok.

Iran's nuclear secrecy, refusal to accept fuel from abroad and resistance to IAEA efforts to follow up on suspicions of covert experiments with components of a nuclear weapons program have heightened concerns.

In a killing apparently linked to Iran's atomic strivings, nuclear scientist Majid Shahriariwas was assassinated late last year and fellow scientist Fereidoun Abbasi was wounded. Both were targeted by car bombs that Iranian officials have variously blamed Israel and the United States for, as part of a campaign against Tehran's nuclear programs that included a cyber-attack by the Stuxnet malware on the Natanz enrichment facility.

The document cited Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, as telling the visiting envoys that Western nations "exercise terrorism to liquidate Iran's nuclear scientists."

"Therefore it is important to define a new category of terrorism called 'nuclear terrorism' that aims to prevent developing countries from acquiring nuclear technology," Jalili was cited as saying.

Separately, acting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's nuclear chief, told the visitors that Iran planned further invitations to outsiders to tour its nuclear facilities.

"Iran shall continue to issue invitations to such visits, including to experts, even to those who declined them, in the hope that they shall be able to accept the invitation in the future," he was reported to have said.

The tour went ahead without key invitees Russia, China, the European Union or key allies Turkey and Brazil, blunting Tehran's attempts to gain support from major powers for its nuclear ambitions.

Along with the U.S., the British, France and Germany, Russia and China tried  and failed  to persuade Iran to open its atomic program to more perusal by the International Atomic Energy Agency and engage on international concerns about its enrichment program, with talks collapsing Saturday. Neither the U.S. British nor the three other Western nations that sat at the table opposite Iran at those talks in Istanbul, Turkey, were invited to the tour.

The U.S. has mocked the visit, calling it a "magical mystery tour" and saying it is no substitute for Iran fully cooperating with the IAEA  the U.N. nuclear watchdog  to prove that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes.

In an interview with The Associated Press in the wake of the abortive talks, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano warned Monday that his agency cannot be sure that all of Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful because its oversight is limited.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Afghanistan what is it all about as the fight goes into 2011/12/13/14/15/16/17/18/19/2020? When will it end?

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan said that coalition forces face an even tougher fight in 2011 as they push to extend security gains in the Taliban's southern strongholds and reverse insurgent advances in others.

Gen. David Petraeus offered his latest assessment of the nearly decade of this long conflict in a letter to the troops released hours ahead of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Obama, who is expected in his speech to discuss the Afghan war he has expanded with both troops and funding, has said he hopes to begin drawing down U.S. troops in July,” “””though””” that is dependent on the situation on the ground.
In his letter, Petraeus provides his take on the conflict since he assumed command in July 2010. He said the additional resources poured into the country over the past year have "enabled us to get the 'inputs' right in Afghanistan for the first time."

He called 2010 "a year of significant, hard-fought accomplishments," while warning that "the year ahead is likely to be a tough one, too."
Troops will have to hold onto progress made in the Taliban heartland in the south while working to overturn insurgent gains in the north and mountainous northeast, he said. Violence increased greatly in both of those regions over the past year, apparently because of a Taliban strategy to move forces into less congested areas.
Petraeus praised security gains in the capital, which has seen fewer large-scale attacks over the past six months, but added that this security bubble needs to be expanded into neighboring provinces.
NATO and U.S. officials have repeatedly said they hope the growing Afghan army and police force will be at the forefront of this security push, opening room for international allies to start bringing troops home. However, high attrition rates, ineffectiveness and corruption continue to plague the Afghan forces, even after billions have been poured into programs to bring them up to par.
And gains have come at the cost of higher casualty figures. More than 25 NATO service members have been killed so far this month — more than one a day. The latest death came from a bomb attack in the south on Tuesday.
Coalition fatalities topped 700 last year, making 2010 the deadliest for NATO forces in Afghanistan in the nearly decade-long conflict. Civilian’s deaths have also surged because of an increase in insurgent bombings in markets and along roads.
Turning to the enduring problem of corruption in Afghanistan, Petraeus said the international coalition will have to boost its efforts "to help Afghan officials implement President Karzai's direction to combat corruption and the criminal patronage networks that undermine the development of effective Afghan institutions."
Efforts to root out corruption and cronyism in the Afghan government have been troubled, partly because of a seeming unwillingness from President Hamid Karzai to allow prosecutions that touch his family or allies.
Much of the U.S. debate about troop levels and strategy in Afghanistan has centered on whether U.S. forces should be focusing their energy on a long campaign of nation-building, or simply on targeted strikes against terrorists.
Petraeus stressed that the goal of the fight in Afghanistan is to ensure that the country does not again become a sanctuary for al-Qaida or other extremists, but said establishing a functioning government is key to meeting that goal.
"Achieving that objective requires that we help Afghanistan develop the ability to secure and govern itself," he said
A new constitutional crisis appeared to have been averted this week when Karzai bent to international and internal pressure and agreed to inaugurate the elected parliament he had appeared ready to reject.
Karzai has now committed to convening parliament on Wednesday — three days later than originally planned, but well ahead of the Feb. 23 date he had announced last week. Lawmakers had threatened to start passing laws without his approval if he didn't back down from the one-month delay, which he said was needed to allow a disputed court to reinvestigate charges of electoral fraud.
Afghanistan's Western allies welcomed Karzai's decision, as did parliamentarians, even though Karzai rejected lawmakers' demand to abolish the disputed tribunal.
Long after a wide-ranging probe by official fraud investigators has been completed, the tribunal has threatened to change election results. The tribunal was largely condemned by the international community as unconstitutional.
Karzai met with a group of the losing parliamentary candidates Tuesday to try to assuage their concerns, according to a statement issued by his office.
One candidate suggested that Karzai resign and ask the Afghan people for forgiveness. "I thought you were the president of Afghanistan, but this shows you are not a leader," the statement quoted the candidate as saying.
Karzai told the group that he had endured interference from "foreigners" who questioned the delay. He said he had refused to abolish the special tribunal to ensure that the candidates' charges are thoroughly investigated.

Blair's war crimes

English and British Families reject the disgraced ex British PM Tony Blair’s apology over Iraq, Blair whom should have been an actor, offered a commanding performance in acting the emotional apology for the deaths of soldiers and civilians in Iraq, as he testified to a Britain's inquiry into the war.

The 57-year-old Blair, making a second appearance before the panel to clarify evidence he gave to the same panel a year ago, also urged Western leaders to confront a growing threat posed by Iran, so now he’s not content on starting two wars he now wants to start another third war that without a doubt would lead into a third world war before this world knows it?.

Addressing the five-member panel scrutinizing Britain's role in the unpopular war, Blair acknowledged that in phone calls and messages in 2002 — months before Parliament approved Britain's role in the conflict — he reassured U.S. President George W. Bush and told him: "You can count on us."
Alongside his evidence, the inquiry published a previously unseen 2002 memo from Blair to his chief of staff, in which the leader called for a "gung-ho" approach toward Saddam Hussein's regime.

Critics of the war hope the inquiry will conclude Blair had been determined to back the U.S. invasion, whether or not it was supported by the public, Parliament or legal opinion.

Following his initial hearing, Blair was sharply criticized for suggesting he had no regrets over the decision to join the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

"That was taken as my meaning that I had no regrets about the loss of life," Blair said Friday, his voice faltering with apparent emotion.

"I want to make it clear that of course I regret deeply and profoundly the loss of life, whether from our own armed forces, those of other nations, the civilians who helped people in Iraq or the Iraqis themselves," he said.

Some bereaved relatives heckled the former prime minister as he expressed his remorse.

Members of the audience shouted: "Too late, too late," while two women turned their backs on Blair, and then walked out. An official brought tissues into the hearing for another woman who burst into tears.

"Your lies killed my son, I hope you can live with yourself," Rose Gentle, whose 19-year-old son Gordon Gentle was killed while serving in Basra, southern Iraq, in 2006, shouted as Blair completed about four hours of testimony.

"You're a disgrace to your office and our country," Reg Keys, whose son was killed in 2003, shouted as Blair left.

A note prepared by a senior adviser in December 2001 — and published Friday — warned Blair that the legal case for military action would be "threadbare."

In the newly published March 2002 memo to his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, Blair — aware that the United States was pushing the case for regime change — said Britain "should be gung-ho on Saddam."

But he acknowledged it would be difficult to convince sceptics, and said that Iraq's weapons program — later to become a key justification for military action — didn't "seem obviously worse than 3 years ago."

"The persuasion job on this seems very tough. My own side are worried. Public opinion is fragile. International opinion — as I found at the EU — is pretty sceptical," Blair wrote.

"People believe we are only doing it to support the U.S., and they are only doing it to settle an old score," he wrote.

Blair's administration has been repeatedly criticized for allegedly overstating the case for war. In his note, the ex-leader told Powell "we have to reorder our story and message," in order to sway opinion.

Under questioning, Blair angrily denied the decision to invade Iraq had emboldened neighbouring Iran, or encouraged Tehran to press ahead with its attempts to develop nuclear weapons.

"This is a looming and coming challenge," Blair said, calling for decisive action on Iran. "It is negative, it is destabilizing, it is supportive of terrorist groups. It is doing everything it can to impede progress in the Middle East."

Britain's inquiry won't apportion blame, or establish criminal or civil liability. Its recommendations, expected by the end of year, will focus instead on how better to handle situations like the tense run-up to the war and the bloody attempt at nation-building that followed.

Earlier this week, British authorities refused to publish notes — seen by the panel — detailing discussions between Blair and Bush.

Blair insisted the decision had been made because leaders "have to be able to communicate in confidence," rather than to hide evidence of any pact.

"I was telling Bush, you can count on us, we're going to be with you in tackling this, but here are the difficulties," Blair said.

Blair largely deflected questions over apparent inconsistencies in his earlier evidence.

He stood by claims that France scuppered prospects for a U.N. Security Council resolution specifically authorizing the war — evidence which other officials have questioned. The ex-leader also insisted he was sincere in the belief that Iraq had been harbouring weapons of mass destruction.