Georgian exit leaves vacuum near Iranian border

BAGHDAD – The departure of 2,000 Georgian soldiers from Iraq leaves a question mark over the future of a series of checkpoints along smuggling routes near the Iranian border, forcing the U.S. to shuffle units to fill the vacuum.

Three Georgian checkpoints on highways surrounding the area’s main city of Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, were empty on Monday, residents and Iraqi officials said.

But many Iraqis aren’t sorry to see the Georgians go. They say the Georgians were rude, disrespectful and ineffective.

“They never respected us,” 20-year-old college student Saad Hassan complained. He said Georgian soldiers would hold families at checkpoints for hours even in extremely hot or cold weather.

The former Soviet republic was the third-largest contributor of coalition forces after the U.S. and Britain. After Georgia initially sent a group of 70 servicemen to Iraq in August 2003, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili agreed to increase the contingent to 2,000 servicemen as he courted U.S. support to lessen Russian influence.

But Georgia called its forces home after an outbreak of fighting with Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

The U.S. military, which began flying the Georgians home on transport planes Sunday, has acknowledged the decision would have a “near-term impact” but insisted American commanders were making adjustments to minimize the disruption to operations.

Last year, Georgia agreed to move most of its soldiers from the relatively safe Green Zone in Baghdad to a mainly Shiite desert area southeast of the capital. The purpose was to help interdict supplies allegedly smuggled to militiamen from Iran, particularly powerful roadside bombs known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs.

At the time, U.S. commanders said the Georgians would give their strapped forces a boost by helping search vehicles and people along highways as part of stepped-up efforts to stanch the flow of illegal arms and foreign fighters to Baghdad.

The U.S. military said Monday that the Georgian brigade had searched 175,291 vehicles, 792,859 people at checkpoints and traffic control stops and had conducted 2,469 patrols in the area since Oct. 30, 2007.

Citing security concerns, the military declined to give specifics about unit changes to make up for the absence of the Georgians.

“We will make adjustments to ensure sustained operations and don’t anticipate their departure will result in any significant long-term impact on the overall security situation in Iraq,” said Maj. Daniel Elliott, a spokesman for U.S. forces south of Baghdad.

“They were an important and valued partner and contributed quite a bit to the improved security in Wassit province where the bulk of their forces operated with us and our Iraqi security force partners,” Elliott said

But the governor of Wassit province, which includes Kut, said the Georgians provided little real security and that officials were considering removing the posts — long the source of tensions with the locals.

“I do not think that the departure of the Georgian soldiers will have an impact on the situation in the province,” Latif Hamad said in a telephone interview. “There were always language and poor performance problems. Our security forces can fill any vacuum.”

Local Iraqis were happy to see the Georgians leave. They complained that the Georgians, most of who could speak little English or Arabic, were rude and disrespectful.

“They did not try to give us services. Instead, they were a source of annoyance by delaying us at their checkpoints and mocking the simple locals,” said Salim Ali, a 45-year-old farmer.

The Georgians were unavailable for comment. The telephone at the Georgian headquarters in Kut was constantly busy.

The U.S. military gave the Georgians a warm farewell and said it expected to have them all out of Iraq by early Tuesday, despite Russian protests over the flights.

“We want to thank them for the great support they’ve given the coalition and we wish them well,” U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll said Sunday at a news conference in Baghdad.

While the Georgians were primarily based in Wassit province, small contingents remained in Baghdad to help guard the Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices.

The Pentagon has said the Georgians also were helping provide security for important bridges near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, as well as for three coalition forward operating bases.

The U.S. commander in northern Iraq said only about 80 of the Georgian troops had been deployed in his area, and the effect of their departure would be minimal.

“We’ve adapted quite frankly. These were good soldiers but we’ve been able to adapt the battle space to account for their loss,” U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling told a Pentagon press conference, speaking from a U.S. base outside Tikrit.

At least five Georgians soldiers have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

At its height, in the months after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the multinational force numbered about 300,000 soldiers from 38 countries — 250,000 from the United States, about 40,000 from Britain and the rest ranging from 2,000 Australians to 70 Albanians.

*GEE…what do you think THIS means????*


Jews Caught in Crossfire in Georgia-Russia War

( As the Russian offensive against Georgia rages on, 40 Israeli teachers are trying to make their way out of Georgia, via Turkey or Armenia, and some 50 Jews have requested to make Aliyah (immigration to Israel).

The 40 teachers arrived in Georgia’s capital city of Tbilisi on Friday in the framework of a vacation trip organized by the Histadrut Teachers Union. Upon landing, however, they abruptly found themselves in the middle of a war zone, with no way to leave. Arkia, the Israeli airline that flew them in, has already announced the cancellation of its next flight from Tbilisi to Israel, this coming Friday, because of the war situation.

“The airport in Tbilisi has been bombed and radar is not working,” Arkia’s press agency said in a statement, “and we are working on creative solutions to help extricate the Israelis who are stuck there.” The most likely of these solutions is driving them via land-routes to a nearby country – most likely Armenia, but possibly Turkey – and flying them home from there. The Israelis have not yet agreed to avail themselves of this solution, however, nor has Arkia yet been granted Foreign Ministry permission to fly from Armenia.

Jews in Tbilisi and Gori
On another front, over 50 Jews from Georgia – mostly from the cities of Gori and Tbilisi – have filed requests with the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) to immigrate to Israel. The Jewish Agency has opened a situation room in Georgia to help the local Jews. The Foreign Ministry and Jewish Agency have opened a corresponding room in Israel to deal with the many queries by Israelis who are concerned for their relatives in Georgia.

Some 12,000 Jews currently live in Georgia, most of them in Tbilisi and nearby areas in central Georgia. Over the past nearly 20 years, over 23,000 people have immigrated to Israel from Georgia under the auspices of the Jewish Agency.

MK Litinsky and JAFI Official Arrive to Help
Over the past day, Jewish Agency official Alex Katz and Labor MK Leon Litinsky have arrived in Tbilisi to help the Jews in the beleaguered country. The immediate goal is to continue to help Jews to come to Tbilisi, and then to aid those who wish to make Aliyah.

Some Jewish refugee families are living with Jewish families in Tbilisi, including two families living in the home of the city’s Chief Rabbi.

Chabad Efforts
Rabbi Meir Kozolovsky of the local Chabad chapter in the capital has turned to Georgia’s Defense Ministry on behalf of Jewish families vacationing near the Black Sea. He has asked for a special permit to allow the 50 families to return to Tibilis, despite the wartime conditions. The children of the families study in the Ohr Avner network of Jewish schools in the former Soviet Union, founded by the President of the Union of Jewish Communities in Russia and the Commonwealth of Nations, Lev Levayev.

Some of the families, unable to wait for the help, have already escaped to the city of Rostov in Russia.

Minister Yishai of Shas
Eli Yishai, the Minister of Industry and Trade, called upon Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Sha’ul Mofaz – who are running against each other for leadership of the Kadima Party – to “work together for the good of the Jews and Israelis currently in Georgia. In the name of Jewish compasion, Israel must send humanitarian aid to the region, following international coordination.”

“At the same time,” the Shas Party leader said, “the airlines and the air traffic authorities must do everything they can to rescue those who wish to leave as soon as possible. This is a question of life and death, and every delay can cost lives.”

Georgia claims Russians have cut country in half

GORI, Georgia (AP) – Russian forces seized several towns and a military base deep in western Georgia on Monday, opening a second front in the fighting. Georgia’s president said his country had been effectively cut in half with the capture of the main east-west highway near Gori.

Fighting also raged Monday around Tskhinvali, the capital of the separatist province of South Ossetia. Russian warplanes launched new air raids across Georgia, with at least one sending screaming civilians running for cover.

The reported capture of the key Georgian city of Gori and the towns of Senaki, Zugdidi and Kurga came despite a top Russian general’s claim earlier Monday that Russia had no plans to enter Georgian territory. By taking Gori, which sits on Georgia’s only east-west highway, Russia can cut off eastern Georgia from the country’s western Black Sea coast.

“(Russian forces) came to the central route and cut off connections between western and eastern Georgia,” Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told a national security meeting.

The news agency Interfax, however, cited a Russian Defense Ministry official as denying Gori was captured.

Security Council head Alexander Lomaia said Monday it was not immediately clear if Russian forces would advance on Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. At Georgia’s request, U.N. Security Council in New York called an emergency session for later Monday—the fifth meeting on the fighting in as many days.

The two-front battlefield was a major escalation in the conflict that blew up late Thursday after a Georgian offensive to regain control of the separatist province of South Ossetia. Even as Saakashvili signed a cease-fire pledge Monday with EU mediators, Russia flexed its military muscle and appeared determined to subdue the small U.S. ally that has been pressing for NATO membership.

On Monday afternoon, Russian troops invaded Georgia from the western separatist province of Abkhazia while most Georgian forces were busy with fighting in the central region around South Ossetia.

Russian armored personnel carriers moved into Senaki, a town 20 miles inland from Georgia’s Black Sea port of Poti, Lomaia said. Russian forces also moved into Zugdidi, near Abkhazia, and seized police stations, while their Abkhazian allies took control of the nearby village of Kurga, according to witnesses and Georgian officials.

In Zugdidi, an AP reporter saw five or six Russian soldiers posted outside an Interior Ministry building. Several tanks and other armored vehicles were moving through the town but the streets were nearly deserted, with shops, restaurants and banks all shut down.

In the city of Gori, an AP reporter heard artillery fire and Georgian soldiers warned locals to get out because Russian tanks were approaching. Hundreds of terrified residents fled toward Tbilisi using any means of transport they could find. Many stood along the road trying to flag down passing cars.

An APTV film crew saw Georgian tanks and military vehicles speeding along the road from Gori to Tbilisi. Firing began and people ran for cover. A couple of cars could be seen in flames along the side of the road.

Georgia borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia and was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Both provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990s—and both have close ties with Moscow.

Georgia began an offensive to regain control over South Ossetia late Thursday with heavy shelling and air strikes that ravaged South Ossetia’s provincial capital of Tskhinvali.

The Russia response was swift and overpowering—thousands of troops that shelled the Georgians until they fled Tskhinvali on Sunday, and four days of bombing raids across Georgia.

Yet Georgia’s pledge of a cease-fire rang hollow Monday. An AP reporter saw a small group of Georgian fighters open fire on a column of Russian and Ossetian military vehicles outside Tskhinvali, triggering a 30-minute battle. The Russians later said all the Georgians were killed.

Another AP reporter was in the village of Tkviavi, 7 1/2 miles south of Tskhinvali inside Georgia, when a bomb from a Russian Sukhoi warplane struck a house. The walls of neighboring buildings fell as screaming residents ran for cover. Eighteen people were wounded.

Georgian artillery fire was heard coming from fields about 200 yards away from the village, perhaps the bomber’s target.

Hundreds of Georgian troops headed north Monday along the road toward Tskhinvali, pocked with tank regiments creeping up the highway into South Ossetia. Hundreds of other soldiers traveled via trucks in the opposite direction, towing light artillery weapons.

President Bush and other Western leaders have sharply criticized Russia’s military response as disproportionate and say Russia appears to want the Georgian government overthrown. They have also complained that Russian warplanes—buzzing over Georgia since Friday—have bombed Georgian oil sites and factories far from the conflict zone.

The world’s seven largest economic powers urged Russia to accept an immediate cease-fire Monday and agree to international mediation. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her colleagues from the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations spoke by telephone and pledged their support for a negotiated solution to the conflict.

“I’ve expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia and that we strongly condemn the bombing outside of South Ossetia,” Bush told NBC Sports.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin criticized the United States for viewing Georgia as the victim, instead of the aggressor, and for airlifting Georgian troops back home from Iraq on Sunday.

“Of course, Saddam Hussein ought to have been hanged for destroying several Shiite villages,” Putin said in Moscow. “And the incumbent Georgian leaders who razed ten Ossetian villages at once, who ran elderly people and children with tanks, who burned civilian alive in their sheds—these leaders must be taken under protection.”

The U.S. military was flying Georgian troops back home from Iraq and informed the Russians about the flights ahead of time to avoid mishaps, said one military official said Monday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the subject on the record.

Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said Monday morning that U.S. officials expect to have all Georgian troops out of Iraq by the end of the day.

Pentagon officials said Monday that U.S. military was assessing the fighting every day to determine whether U.S. trainers should be pulled out of the country.

The approximately 130 trainers, including a few dozen civilians, had been scattered at a number of sites to work with local units, but officials were working over the weekend to consolidate them in one reasonably safe location, two officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk about the subject on the record. Pentagon officials said Monday that all of members of the American groups had been accounted for.

Saakashvili signed a cease-fire pledge Monday proposed by the French and Finnish foreign ministers. The EU envoys headed to Moscow to try to persuade Russia to accept it.

Saakashvili, however, voiced concern that Russia’s true goal was to undermine his pro-Western government. “It’s all about the independence and democracy of Georgia,” he said.

Saakashvili said Russia has sent 20,000 troops and 500 tanks into Georgia. He said Russian warplanes were bombing roads and bridges, destroying radar systems and targeting Tbilisi’s civilian airport. One Russian bombing raid struck the Tbilisi airport area only a half-hour before the EU envoys arrived, he said.

Another hit near key Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which carries Caspian crude to the West. No supply interruptions have been reported.

Abkhazia’s separatists declared Sunday they would push Georgian forces out of the northern part of the Kodori Gorge, the only area of Abkhazia still under Georgian control.

Before invading western Georgia, Russia’s deputy chief of General Staff Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn demanded Monday that Georgia disarm its police in Zugdidi, a town just outside Abkhazia. Still he insisted “We are not planning any offensive.”

At least 9,000 Russian troops and 350 armored vehicles were in Abkhazia, according to a Russian military commander.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said more than 2,000 people have been killed in South Ossetia since Friday, most of them Ossetians with Russian passports. The figures could not be independently confirmed, but refugees who fled Tskhinvali over the weekend said hundreds had been killed.

Many found shelter in the Russian province of North Ossetia.

“The Georgians burned all of our homes,” said one elderly woman, as she sat on a bench under a tree with three other white-haired survivors. “The Georgians say it is their land. Where is our land, then?”

DISCIPLE…VERY fitting for the time.

Drones since the dawn of time
Compelled to live your sheltered lives
Not once has anyone ever seen
Such a rise of pure hypocracy
I’ll instigate I’ll free your mind
I’ll show you what I’ve known all this time

God Hates Us All, God Hates Us All
You know it’s true God hates this place
You know it’s true he hates this race

Hate heals, you should try it sometime
Strive for Peace with acts of war
The beauty of death we all adore
I have no faith distracting me
I know why your prayers will never be answered

God Hates Us All; God Hates Us All
He Fuckin’ hates me

Pessimist, Terrorist targeting the next mark
Global chaos feeding on hysteria
Cut throat, slit your wrist, shoot you in the back fair game
Drug abuse, self abuse searching for the next high
Sounds a lot like hell is spreading all the time
I’m waiting for the day the whole world fucking dies

I never said I wanted to be God’s disciple
I’ll never be the one to blindly follow

Man made virus infecting the world
Self-destruct human time bomb
What if there is no God would you think the fuckin’ same
Wasting your life in a leap of blind faith
Wake the fuck up can’t ignore what I say
I got my own philosophy

I hate everyone equally
You can’t tear that out of me
No segregation -separation
Just me in my world of enemies

I never said I wanted to be God’s disciple
I’ll never be the one to blindly follow
I’ll never be the one to bear the cross-disciple

I reject this fuckin’ race
I despise this fuckin’ place


Martial law in Arkansas?? IMPORTANT…MSM ignores.

*Little known story not covered in-depth by MSM.*

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. (AP) – Helena-West Helena Mayor James Valley says he ordered a round-the-clock curfew and heavy police patrol in a ten-block section of town because the neighborhood was “under siege with repeated gunfire, loitering, drug dealing and other general mayhem.”

Valley ordered the emergency curfew Thursday, effective immediately. It was still in place today. He said it would remain in place as long as the problems persist or until the city council can come up with a long-term plan at its August 19th meeting.

Thursday night, 18 to 20 police officers carrying M-16 rifles, shotguns and night-vision scopes patrolled the “curfew zone.” They arrested about eight people and confiscated drugs and loaded weapons.

Under Valley’s order, officers do not tolerate loitering or “hanging out.” Officers can stop and investigate all foot traffic, bicycle, horseback, mo-ped, motorcycle, riding mower, golf cart or other means of transportation.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas says the curfew is “blatantly unconstitutional” and has demanded that Valley lift the order immediately.

UFO sightings at peak in Britain

LONDON, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Some 150 unidentified flying objects have already been reported to British authorities this year, making 2008 a bumper year for UFO sightings, officials say.

Just 135 sightings were reported by police and the Ministry of Defense in 2007 and only 97 in 2006, reported The Daily Telegraph Saturday, which obtained the figures under a Freedom of Information Act request.

“Something really bizarre is happening in the skies over the U.K.,” said Malcolm Robinson, founder of the research group Strange Phenomena Investigations. “I’ve been dealing in sightings for 30 years and we currently have something very real which mankind cannot explain.”

But British officials were more non-committal, although a spokesman for the Department of Defense insisted they remained open minded. He said as long as sightings presented no threat to British airspace, they were not investigated further.