Archive for November, 2007

Youths riot for 3rd night outside Paris

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

VILLIERS-LE-BEL, France – Youths rampaged for a third night in the tough suburbs north of Paris and violence spread to a southern city late Tuesday as police struggled to contain rioters who have burned cars and buildings and — in an ominous turn — shot at officers.

A senior police union official warned that “urban guerrillas” had joined the unrest, saying the violence was worse than during three weeks of rioting that raged around French cities in 2005, when firearms were rarely used.

Bands of young people set more cars on fire in and around Villiers-le-Bel, the Paris suburb where the latest trouble first erupted, and 22 youths were taken into custody, the regional government said. In the southern city of Toulouse, 20 cars were set ablaze, and fires at two libraries were quickly brought under control, police said.

Despite the renewed violence, France’s prime minister said the situation was calmer than the two previous nights. About 1,000 officers patrolled trouble spots in and around Villiers-le-Bel on Tuesday, he said.

The government was striving to keep violence from spreading in what was shaping up as a stern test for new President Nicolas Sarkozy. The unrest showed anger still smolders in France‘s poor neighborhoods, where many Arabs, blacks and other minorities live largely isolated from the rest of society.

The trigger was the deaths Sunday of two minority teens when their motorscooter collided with a police car in Villiers-le-Bel, a blue-collar town on Paris’ northern edge.

Residents claimed the officers left without helping the teens. Prosecutor Marie-Therese de Givry denied that, saying police stayed on the scene until firefighters arrived.

Rioting and arson quickly erupted after the crash. The violence worsened Monday night as it spread from Villiers-le-Bel to other impoverished suburbs north of the French capital. Rioters burned a library, a nursery school and a car dealership and tried to set some buildings on fire by crashing burning cars into them.

Officials have pledged tough punishments for rioters: Eight people were convicted Tuesday in fast-track trials and sentenced to 3-10 months in prison, the regional government said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071128/ap_on_re_eu/france_violence

Bush Administration Blocked Waterboarding Critic

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Former DOJ Official Tested the Method Himself, in Effort to Form Torture Policy

A senior Justice Department official, charged with reworking the administration’s legal position on torture in 2004 became so concerned about the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding that he decided to experience it firsthand, sources told ABC News.

Daniel Levin, then acting assistant attorney general, went to a military base near Washington and underwent the procedure to inform his analysis of different interrogation techniques.

After the experience, Levin told White House officials that even though he knew he wouldn’t die, he found the experience terrifying and thought that it clearly simulated drowning.

Levin, who refused to comment for this story, concluded waterboarding could be illegal torture unless performed in a highly limited way and with close supervision. And, sources told ABC News, he believed the Bush Administration had failed to offer clear guidelines for its use.

Bush Administration Blocked Critic

The administration at the time was reeling from an August 2002 memo by Jay Bybee, then the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, which laid out possible justifications for torture. In June 2004, Levin’s predecessor at the office, Jack Goldsmith, officially withdrew the Bybee memo, finding it deeply flawed.

When Levin took over from Goldsmith, he went to work on a memo that would effectively replace the Bybee memo as the administration’s legal position on torture. It was during this time that he underwent waterboarding.

In December 2004, Levin released the new memo. He said, “Torture is abhorrent” but he went on to say in a footnote that the memo was not declaring the administration’s previous opinions illegal. The White House, with Alberto Gonzales as the White House counsel, insisted that this footnote be included in the memo.

But Levin never finished a second memo imposing tighter controls on the specific interrogation techniques. Sources said he was forced out of the Justice Department when Gonzales became attorney general.

http://www.abcnews.go.com/WN/DOJ/story?id=3814076&page=1

2007 is deadliest year for US in Iraq

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

BAGHDAD – The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of five more soldiers, making 2007 the deadliest year for U.S. troops despite a recent downturn, according to an Associated Press count.

At least 852 American military personnel have died in Iraq so far this year — the highest annual toll since the war began in March 2003, according to AP figures.

The grim milestone passed despite a sharp drop in U.S. and Iraqi deaths here in recent months, after a 30,000-strong U.S. force buildup. There were 39 deaths in October, compared to 65 in September and 84 in August.

Five U.S. soldiers were killed Monday in two separate roadside bomb attacks, said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, director of the Multi-National Force-Iraq’s communications division.

“We lost five soldiers yesterday in two unfortunate incidents, both involving IEDs,” Smith told reporters in Baghdad’s heavily-guarded Green Zone.

Some 850 troops died in 2004, mostly in larger, more conventional battles like the campaign to cleanse Fallujah of Sunni militants in November, and U.S. clashes with Shiite militiamen in the sect’s holy city of Najaf in August.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071106/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq