The Pentagon is soon expected to announce that it will block another 7,000 U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan from retiring or leaving the service. The Army is expanding on what it calls a “stop loss” order to keep soldiers in uniform. About half of the country’s soldiers are now stationed near Iraq or Afghanistan. The practice of stop loss orders have seldom been used before and critics have complained it amounts to a reinstitution of the draft. The Army also announced on Monday it is offering re-enlistment bonuses of up to $10,000 to soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
Iraq Police Fire on Hundreds of Protesting Ex-Soldiers
In Basra, Iraqi police opened fire today on hundreds of former Iraqi soldiers who were demanding the monthly stipends promised by the U.S.-led coalition.
A police chief near Tikrit said he believes US troops gunned down a family of four in a car on Saturday. The police chief said the car came under fire after it tried to pass a U.S. convoy. The U.S. denies its troops opened fire in the area.
The US military has released three Iraqis working for the Reuters news agency and one employed by the NBC network. They were picked up when they attempted to cover the downing of a US helicopter in Fallujah. The journalists were shot at and detained for three days. The US claimed its troops came under attack by a group of people wearing vests marked “press.”
The U.S. Army has discharged three soldiers after it was determined they abused Iraqi prisoners at a detention center in Iraq. One of the soldiers, Master Sgt. Lisa Marie Girman knocked a prisoner to the ground, “repeatedly kicking him in the groin, abdomen, and head, and encouraging her subordinate soldiers to do the same.”
On Monday the US began fingerprinting and photographing foreign visitors entering at airports and ports of entry. It is estimated 24 million visitors a year will be forced to comply with the new regulations which also require visitors to inform the government when they leave the country. Citizens from all but 27 countries must comply. Civil libertarians have expressed concern that the government will use the data for purposes beyond tracking visas and criminals.
Portugal has joined Britain, Denmark and Sweden in protesting a demand from the U.S. to station armed air marshals on flights from or into the United States. The BBC reports, in Britain, the pilots’ union said that if the security risk to a flight is great enough to warrant an armed guard, the plane should not fly at all.
Bradley To Endorse Dean For President
On the campaign front, Former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley is expected to announce today his endorsement of Howard Dean as president.
Former Republican Congressman John Thune is expected to announce his intent to challenge Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle for his Senate seat representing South Dakota. In 2000, Thune challenged Democratic Senator Tim Johnson and lost by a margin of 524 votes.
The US Agricultural Department announced Monday a herd of 450 calves will be killed because one of the calves was the offspring of the Washington state dairy cow infected with mad cow disease. Meanwhile in China, officials are planning to kill 10,000 civet cats because it is feared the cats helped infect a 23-year-old television producer with SARS
Pakistan and India have agreed to start peace talks next month in order to resolve their differences and to discuss the future of Kashmir.
Afghanistan Blast Kills 15, Mostly Children
In the southern Afghan city of Kandahar at least 15 people, mostly children, have died in a suspected bomb attack. Officials say the blast occurred at lunchtime opposite a military base in Kandahar.
The Gurdian of London is reporting that Israel and Turkey have agreed to a “water for arms” deal. Turkey will send Israel millions of gallons of fresh water. In return Israel will agree to sell Turkey a number of Israeli tanks and share air force technology.
The Guardian of London is reporting that the Pentagon has already sent a team of up to 30 private defense consultants to the former Soviet state of Georgia. The consultants work for the Washington-based security firm Cubic. Among other things the private contractors would work to protect an oil pipeline being built through Georgia and help create military bases for the US.
The Financial Times is reporting that Iran is considering moving its capital away from Tehran because the city lies on a major geological fault line. The Iranian Health Ministry has estimated that 90 percent of the city’s buildings would be destroyed if an earthquake of a 7 magnitude hit the capital.
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