The US faces a rapidly closing window of opportunity to create law and order in Iraq or face a possible descent into chaos, experts sent by the Pentagon to assess postwar reconstruction efforts said on Thursday. \nThe team of five policy experts issued a report urging the Bush administration to secure greater international involvement in the reconstruction process and calling the US civil administration leading the efforts "badly handicapped" by a business-as-usual approach during an urgent situation. \nThe report said "the next three months are crucial to turning around the security situation, which is volatile in key parts of the country," but added that the US needs to be prepared "to stay the course in Iraq for several years." \nThe experts recommended that "the entire effort be immediately turbo-charged" by swiftly increasing funding and personnel for reconstruction, involving many more Iraqis in rebuilding and improving communication with Iraqis. It also noted the importance of ensuring the success of the new Iraqi Governing Council. \n"We owe it to our people in the field, and to Iraqis, to provide everything necessary to get this right. US credibility and national interest depend upon it," the report said. \nThe team visited Iraq from June 27 to July 7 at the invitation of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer, chief US civil administrator for Iraq, to provide a fresh assessment of reconstruction efforts. It was led by former Clinton administration Pentagon official John Hamre, who heads the respected Center for Strategic and International Studies Washington-based think tank. \nPentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Hamre briefed Defense Department officials on his findings, and officials will decide "how we might put into practice the elements and findings as appropriate." \nThe US is facing what officials now call a guerrilla-style war spearheaded by remnants of President Saddam Hussein's government that was ousted in the US-led war. Iraq remains plagued by lawlessness and unemployment, with basic services still unreliable. US troops face daily attacks. \n"The window of opportunity that we have here is closing. It's not going to be everlasting," former State Department official and CSIS expert Bathsheba Crocker, one of the five experts, told Reuters. \n"It will be important for Iraqis to start seeing some real changes, both with respect to an improvement in public safety and with respect to getting quality of life issues back up and running, like power and water," Crocker added. "There is a growing potential for real chaos or problems because of the security situation in particular." \nThe report calls for bringing in countries to assist in the reconstruction effort beyond the limited coalition that waged the war, and making greater use of the United Nations. It also said Bremer should employ international experts on his staff.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable