"In the debate about the reliability of electronic voting technology, the South Florida parent company of one of the nation's leading suppliers of touch-screen voting machines is drawing special scrutiny from the U.S. government.are they really preparing to blame a Repug electoral loss on Chavez? Oh well - at least they are preparing to lose.
Federal officials are investigating whether Smartmatic, owner of Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems, is secretly controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, according to two people familiar with the probe."
"The fact that much of Iraq's rugged northern borderlands with Turkey and Iran are under the day-to-day control of a militant organization might come as a surprise to those who thought U.S. forces had handed over authority nationwide to a new Iraqi government.i'm not exactly sure how the LATimes managed to write that article without reference to the $10bn in military aid that the US gave to Turkey last week, in the form of Lockheed Martin fighter jets, or the fact that Ralston is on the board of Lockheed, but there you go. I suspect Mizgin will have something to say on the matter shortly, but I doubt that she will be surprised.
The efforts to rein in the PKK are a new and strategically important front in the Bush administration's campaign to create a new Middle East, and one of the most complicated political problems U.S. forces face in Iraq. Kurdish leaders, for instance, have battled the PKK over the years in various intramural squabbles, but have been reluctant to clamp down on the group because of its popularity among the Kurdish public and out of sympathy for Kurds in Turkey.
America's Kurdish dilemma stems from the fact that more than 20 million Kurds straddle the strategic borders of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria.
Iraq's roughly 4 million Kurds are arguably the United States' strongest allies in the war-torn nation, and U.S. forces would almost surely face a political backlash in Baghdad if they took military action against guerrilla fighters many Kurds see as heroes.
Yet the Kurdish guerrilla force here is battling one of America's bedrock allies in the region — Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and a stable, secular Muslim state in a region trending in other directions. The continuing failure to end PKK violence coming out of Iraq has driven Turkey toward a stronger security arrangement with Iran, which also faces militant Kurds along the Iraqi border, a relationship that can't help but be worrying for Washington.
"How important is the PKK as an issue? Let me tell you that it's important enough that the president of the United States decided that we needed a special envoy to counter the PKK and to try to get all of our efforts in the United States focused in the right direction, along with those of Turkey and Iraq," retired Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, recently appointed the U.S. special envoy to counter the PKK, said after a visit to the region late last month.
"We all believe that the use of force is the last resort, not the first resort," he said. "But having said that, that does not mean that we will not take military action. Quite the contrary: All options are on the table."
After Ralston's visit to the region, Iraqi leaders persuaded the PKK to declare a unilateral cease-fire, an end to the regular cross-border attacks that are claiming the lives of Turkish soldiers on a regular basis.
The PKK agreed, its leaders hoping the expression of goodwill could open the door to significant movement on Turkey's part, starting with an end to what it sees as human rights abuses, recognition of the Kurdish language and possibly amnesty for some PKK fighters who have not been involved in violence.
Ralston has refused to meet with PKK leaders, declaring, "We do not meet with terrorist groups." But Ali said Kurdish leaders hoped to broker a solution in which the PKK would disarm in exchange for guarantees on behalf of Kurds in Turkey.
Recognizing that America's prime aim is to discourage the growing closeness of Turkey and Iran at a time when the U.S. is seeking to isolate Tehran, PKK leaders are arguing that solving the Kurdish question — the main issue that Turkey and Iran have in common — is the best way to accomplish that goal.
"If you cannot solve the Kurdish problem in Turkey, you cannot separate Turkey from Syria and Iran," Bayak said.
"And so without putting Turkey and the Kurds together, you cannot have the fundamental basis for this project of a new Middle East.""