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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Insider Magazine

Inside Magazine

Iraq elections: Parties to watch

The following is a rundown of those parties expected to be the strongest contenders:

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Family Upset Over Marine's Body Arriving As Freight:

In reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners -- stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo

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Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis Issue Declaration for US Pullout

By Cihan, aa

As the presence of foreign troops in Iraq is under debate, the largest Shiite and Sunni groups issued a declaration on Friday demanding a deadline announcement for the US pullout.

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From its very beginning, USLAW has publicly opposed the war in Iraq

USLAW Statement on the Iraq War

Political Affairs Magazine - New York,NY,USA

From its very beginning, USLAW has publicly opposed the war in Iraq. We stated that Bush was lying, that we had no right to invade ...

Iraq war poses problem for both sides of US politics

Correspondents Report - Saturday, 10 December , 2005
Reporter: Michael Rowland
HAMISH ROBERTSON: But first to the United States, where the conflict in Iraq is creating a major political headache - not just for the Republican administration of President George W Bush - but also for the Democrats.

The President made yet another attempt last week to convince an increasingly sceptical US public that the war is winnable - while Democrats tore themselves apart trying to come up with a unified position.

As the military stakes grow higher every day - so too do the political ones in Washington - on the eve of a Congressional election year.

Here's our North America correspondent, Michael Rowland.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: As US soldiers struggle to complete their mission in Iraq, back in Washington their Commander-in-Chief is fighting a grim battle to prevent his presidency being consumed by a war that many Americans now believe has gone horribly wrong.

George W Bush this week fired another salvo in his political counter-offensive to boost sagging public support for the war

In the second of four speeches aimed at outlining his strategy for victory in Iraq, the President was talking up the reconstruction effort.

GEORGE BUSH: In two and a half years, the Iraqi people have made amazing progress. They've gone from living under the boot of a brutal tyrant, to liberation, to free elections, to a democratic constitution. A week from tomorrow they will go to the polls to elect a fully constitutional government that will lead them for the next four years. By helping Iraqis continue to build their democracy we will gain an ally on the war on terror. By helping them build a democracy we will inspire reformers from Damascus to Tehran.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The President is hoping next week's elections will prove to be something of a circuit breaker for proponents of the war.

The Bush administration is leaping on any signs of progress, no matter how tenuous, to show that the invasion and the grinding daily battle against the insurgents will all be worth it in the long run.

Most importantly, every day of progress is one day closer to US troops leaving Iraq.

The issue of when American soldiers should come home may be exercising the President's mind as he reads those depressing opinion polls but it's also a topic that's troubling the Democrats.

At a time when party strategists had been hoping to capitalise on the administration's problems, the Democrats are struggling to come up with a unified position on Iraq.

While senior Democrats are happy to criticise the President's handling of the war, they're very much boxed in because of their earlier votes in favour of the US led invasion.

Very few party figures, particularly those eyeing a presidential bid in 2008, are wary of jumping in behind Democrat congressman and decorated Vietnam veteran, John Murtha, who's calling for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops.

The Democrats' chairman, Howard Dean, created more havoc for his party this week when he declared all hope was lost in Iraq.

HOWARD DEAN: I remember going through this in Vietnam, and everybody kept saying oh, just another year. Yeah, we're going to have a victory. Well we didn't have a victory then and we cost us 25,000 more American troops because people were too stubborn to be truthful. We ought to bring the guardsmen home now, over the next six months. That's the 80,000 National Guard and reserves. Then we ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, where we don't have enough troops to do the job, and where we're welcome. The idea that we're going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is just plain wrong.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: It's a view that stands in stark contrast to the party hawks, such as former vice presidential candidate, Senator Joe Lieberman.

JOE LIEBERMAN: The costs of victory will be high in American lives lost and American resources spent. But the cost of defeat would be disastrous in the collapse of the new Iraqi regime, civil war in Iraq, regional war beyond its borders.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Still, the opinion polls continue to show it's not the Democrats most likely to be punished if the war in Iraq turns uglier and the US death toll continues to rise.

There were signs this week of a siege mentality developing in the Bush administration.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took aim at the media for rushing to report negative stories about the US military.

DONALD RUMSFELD: We've arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press and reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact. Speed, it appears, is the critical determination, the determinant, and less so, context.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The war of words in Washington is becoming just as intense as the fire fights in Iraq and the rhetoric is certain to become much more incendiary as election year approaches.

In Washington this is Michael Rowland for Correspondent's Report.

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UN deal forces climate action

A LAST minute deal at a UN conference on climate change has extended the Kyoto Protocol's deadline on cutting fuel emissions to beyond 2012.


Insider Magazine

Rove: Still in the hotseat

December 10, 2005 -- Viveca Novak is not giving Karl Rove a free pass - she apparently told investigators that in early 2004 she was aware that Rove knew much more about the pre-disclosure identity of Valerie Plame Wilson than either he or his attorney, Robert Luskin, originally indicated to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Informed sources have revealed that not only was Rove well aware of V.P. Wilson's covert identity before her name was disclosed in Robert Novak's column in July 2003 but Rove actively took part in the disclosure of her identity to the media, including Time's Matt Cooper.

Rove: Still in the hotseat

Retiring after 20 years of service for the CIA, yesterday was V. P. Wilson's last day at work. The Viveca Novak story has been engineered to divert attention away from a huge White House scandal that still threatens to see an indictment of Bush's number one adviser. White House sources who are claiming that Viveca Novak is somehow aiding the Rove defense strategy are mistaken according to those close to the case. Novak is not known as a supporter of the Bush administration. For example, she is the co-author of a book, Inside the Wire, exposing the the controversial interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo. That book was hardly welcomed by the Bush administration. Rove is in trouble and he and his attorney have purposely weaved Viveca Novak into their web of deceit. Stay tuned.

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100 dead as lightning downs jet

From correspondents in Lagos
December 11, 2005

MORE than 100 people were feared dead overnight after a jet airliner crashed on landing in the southern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt.

Airport sources and Nigerian media reports said that between four and five survivors emerged from the burning wreckage of a Sosoliso airlines flight carrying 110 passengers and crew.
"Almost everyone was killed. There was a lot of flames," said an airport official reached by telephone from Lagos. "There were many students onboard, returning for the holidays."

An official with an international security consultancy which had staff at the airport said: "What we are hearing is that the plane was struck by lightning about 40 or 50 metres from touching down. The fuel in the wing caught fire and it exploded.

"The plane was carrying 110 people, about four people managed to get out," he added.

The private Nigerian television network also reported that there were 110 people on board and that five were thought to have survived.


The rise of Islamophobia among western societies has to a great extent everything to do with the biased media stance against Muslims

The new holocaust

"I am afraid we have not learned from our history. My main fear is that what we did to Jews we may now do to Muslims. The next holocaust would be against Muslims".

numerous political analysts and most of the Americans themselves have become more doubtful about winning the war.

The U.S. can’t win Iraq war

Bush's admin's statistics prove that the Iraqi resistance is getting tougher and that it’s become increasingly difficult for the U.S. army to beat those fighters.

Saddam’s trial: A comedy show

Saddam’s trial: A comedy show

If Saddam's trial shows anything it is that the past isn't the problem; it's the present, and the replacement of a "dictator" with a criminal government.

The report, entitled "Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran,"

“Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran”: Israel can’t stop Iran’s nukes

12/10/2005 5:00:00 PM The Israeli Air Force is not capable of locating and destroying nuclear facilities on the Islamic Republic soil.

12/10/2005 5:00:00 PM GMT

The U.S. has repetitively claimed that Iran has secretly been trying to acquire nuclear weapons
According to World Tribune.com, the U.S. Army War College has reached the conclusion that there are too many geo-political limitations for Israel, which considers Iran its most dangerous enemy, to carry out a preemptive air strike targeting the Islamic Republic's nuclear sites.

“Liberation of women” is that right Georgie your any different from Sadam?

What has become of the America I thought I knew, after visiting twice on extended holidays I would never visit your shores again if a GOP Administration is in power, they a no better than the terrorists they declare to be fighting. SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME
The latest of U.S. scandals in Iraq

12/10/2005 3:45:00 PM To force an Iraqi man lead them to the place of hiding rebels, the U.S. Marines in Ramadi stripped his wife naked and kept gazing at her body till her husband collapsed.

Life and death of the forgotten

Winter's rain, cold are all tent dwellers can see

By RYAN LaFONTAINEmailto:LaFONTAINErlafontaine@sunherald.com

HANCOCK COUNTY - For months, William Hayes and his wife have been scrounging for food and sleeping in a tent behind a storm-battered doughnut shop in Waveland.

Hayes said his wife, who was more than five months' pregnant, got sick this week when the temperature dipped into the 30s.

Rain poured into their tent, it was cold, and his wife needed a doctor.The couple was expecting a baby girl, but when Hayes got his wife to the hospital, his nightmare got even worse. The baby was dead.

"Nobody cares that we're living in this mud puddle right here," he said. "This ain't living; man, this is one hell of a mess."


Bush-administration officials privately threatened organizers of the U.N. Climate Change Conference

Bush Threatens U.N. Over Clinton Climate Speech(NY)

Bush-administration officials privately threatened organizers of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, telling them that any chance there might’ve been for the United States to sign on to the Kyoto global-warming protocol would be scuttled if they allowed Bill Clinton to speak at the gathering today in Montreal, according to a source involved with the negotiations who spoke to New York Magazine on condition of anonymity.

Bush officials informed organizers of their intention to pull out of the new Kyoto deal late Thursday afternoon, soon after news leaked that Clinton was scheduled to speak, the source said.

The threat set in motion a flurry of frantic back-channel negotiations between conference organizers and aides to Bush and Clinton that lasted into the night on Thursday, and at one point Clinton flatly told his advisers that he was going to pull out and not deliver the speech, the source said. “

It’s just astounding,” the source told New York Magazine. “It came through loud and clear from the Bush people—they wouldn’t sign the deal if Clinton were allowed to speak.” Clinton spokesman Jay Carson confirmed the behind the dustup took place and that the former president had decided not to go out of fear of harming the negotiations, but Carson declined to comment further.

150 Nations Agree to Future Climate Talks

MONTREAL - More than 150 nations agreed Saturday to launch formal talks on mandatory post-2012 reductions in greenhouse gases — talks that will exclude an unwilling United States.

For its part the Bush administration, which rejects the emissions cutbacks of the current Kyoto Protocol, accepted only a watered-down proposal to enter an exploratory global "dialogue" on future steps to combat climate change. That proposal specifically rules out "negotiations leading to new commitments."

The parallel tracks represented a mixed result for the pivotal two-week U.N. conference on global warming, doing little to close the climate gap between Washington on one side, and Europe, Japan and other supporters of the Kyoto Protocol on the other.

"These countries are willing to take the leadership," Swiss delegate Bruno Oberle said of the Kyoto nations. "But they are not able to solve the problem. We need the support of the United States — but also of the big emerging countries," a reference to China and other poorer industrializing nations not obligated under Kyoto.

But the Canadian conference president, Environment Minister Stephane Dion, said the decisions taken here amounted to "a map for the future, the Montreal Action Plan, the MAP."


Four U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq-military (2142)

- Four U.S. soldiers were killed in separate attacks in Iraq on Saturday, the U.S. military said.

Two soldiers were killed when they were fired upon in the Yusufiyah district southwest of Baghdad, while another soldier was killed by small-arms fire while on patrol northwest of the capital, the military said.

A fourth soldier was killed when his patrol struck a makeshift bomb in north Baghdad.


Surveillance Video Shows Alpizar Hours Before Shooting

MIAMI -- A surveillance video released Friday shows Rigoberto Alpizar at the airport in Quito, Ecuador, just hours before he was shot by air marshals after threatening to have a bomb on American Airlines Flight 924 Wednesday

.The tape clearly shows Alpizar acting unstable and aggressive at the airport in Quito, NBC 6's Tom Llamas reported.

*snip*"She told us her husband was diagnosed as being bipolar approximately 10 to 12 years ago. He hadn't been taking his medication," Miami-Dade Police Chief Willie Marshall said Thursday.


Lieberman meets with Rumsfeld amid retirement speculation

(Washington-AP, Dec. 8, 2005 7:49 PM) _ Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld hosted Senator Joe Lieberman for a breakfast meeting today amid speculation that the Connecticut Democrat could be in line to succeed him.

Lieberman, who has emerged as President Bush's staunchest Democratic defender on the Iraq war, has bucked his party as a vocal advocate for Bush's Iraq policies.

He did not talk about the morning meeting with Rumsfeld and General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Lieberman aides provided few details about the breakfast, saying that their boss does not discuss private meetings.

The Pentagon told reporters that Rumsfeld, who routinely meets with members of Congress, wanted to hear Lieberman's impressions of his visit to Iraq over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was the senator's fourth trip to Iraq in 17 months.

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ElBaradei Warns Against Attack on Iran Over Nuclear Dispute

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, today warned against an attack on Iran over allegations the nation is trying to develop an atomic bomb.

``I don't believe there is a military solution to the problem'' at this stage, ElBaradei told reporters in Oslo, where he will receive the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow. ``A military solution could be counterproductive.''

ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged Iran to provide the IAEA with more details of its nuclear program. The U.S. claims Iran is trying to make a nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear program is intended only for the production of electricity.

The Peace Prize was awarded jointly to ElBaradei and the IAEA for their work to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and prevent the spread of atomic weapons and their use by terrorists.

ElBaradei said he hopes Iran will provide UN inspectors with missing information about its atomic program in the next few months to prevent the conflict from accelerating. The 63- year-old Egyptian said he hasn't seen any evidence Iran is developing nuclear arms.

``Iran is cooperating with us but the pace is slow,'' ElBaradei said. ``They are inching forward, but we are asking them to lean forward. We are getting impatient.''

Talks between the European Union and Iran, aimed at ending the standoff over the nuclear program, broke down in August after Iran resumed uranium conversion, an initial step to increase the concentration of the U-235 isotope that starts and sustains a nuclear reaction.

The IAEA board voted in September to refer the dispute over Iran's nuclear program to the 15-nation UN Security Council, without setting a date. The U.S. and its European allies decided last month not to press for such referral immediately, in order to allow more time for an agreement that would permit Iran's uranium enrichment to take place in Russia.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Bunny Nooryani in Oslo at bnooryani@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: December 9, 2005 10:12 EST

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UK 'covered up' Israeli nuke deal

The government has been accused of covering up the sale of 20 tonnes of heavy water to Israel for its nuclear programme in the early 1950s.

The BBC's Newsnight says fresh evidence shows the UK knew the ingredient it sold to Norway would be subsequently sold on to Israel for nuclear weapons.

Government officials insist they knew nothing of Israel's nuclear ambitions or Norway's intentions.

The Foreign Office has declined to comment, amid calls for an inquiry.


Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell is asking Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for clarification.

He said: "The trouble with this cover-up is that this is not a cover-up, it simply flies in the face of the known facts, now that we have access to previously classified documents."

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn wants the Commons' foreign affairs select committee to investigate.

We had no idea at that stage, nobody suspected ... that the Israelis hoped to manufacture nuclear weapons

Donald Cape

He said: "Right back to the late 1950s we were a party to the transfer of nuclear technology to Israel.

"We were party to the development of a nuclear facility in Israel that could and has been used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Norway was always a smokescreen."

New claims

In August, Newsnight uncovered papers which revealed details of the deal.

But Foreign Office minister Kim Howells insisted Britain had simply negotiated the sale of surplus heavy water to Norway.

He said the UK knew nothing of Norway's intentions or Israel's desire to start a nuclear weapons programme.

But Newsnight says it has new evidence that casts doubt on these claims.

It says the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) had written to Foreign Office official Donald Cape, who approved the sale.

In the letter, the energy authority said too much heavy water had been bought from a Norwegian firm and another company from the country wanted to buy it back and sell it on to Israel.

'Sham' denied

Newsnight also has a copy of the company's contract with Israel, which stated it would provide heavy water from the UKAE.

Mr Cape denied the sale back to Norway was a "sham".

But Newsnight says confidential letters he wrote suggest the Foreign Office knew Israel had been trying to buy uranium from South Africa.

One letter quotes CIA reports from 1957 and 1958 that say Israel will try and establish a nuclear programme when it has the means.

Other secret government documents apparently say: "It has been, and remains our opinion, that Israel wanted an independent supply of plutonium so as to be in a position to make a nuclear weapon if she wished."

Mr Cape told Newsnight: "We had no idea at that stage, nobody suspected - not only in Britain but in the US - that the Israelis hoped to manufacture nuclear weapons."

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US warned Saudis about plane attacks

US warned Saudis of plane attacks in '98

From correspondents in Washington

A DECLASSIFIED US cable made public overnight shows that US officials warned Saudi counterparts more than three years before the September 11, 2001 attacks that Osama bin Laden might target civilian aircraft.

The State Department cable was not mentioned by the special commission that investigated the attacks on New York and Washington, according to National Security Archives, the non-profit research group that made the cable public.
The cable reports on a meeting between two US embassy officials in Riyadh with Saudi officials on June 16, 1998 to press for increased vigilance at the King Khalid International Airport.

"We noted that while we have no specific information that indicates Bin Laden is targeting civilian aircraft, he made a threat during the June 11 ABC News interview against 'military passenger aircraft' in the next 'few weeks,"' the cable said.

"Bin Laden also spoke of SAM missiles," the cable said, using the acronym for surface-to-air missiles.

It added that since attacks on US military facilities in the kingdom in 1995 and 1996, Saudi force protection measures had improved.

"Consequently, we could not rule out that a terrorist might take the course of least resistance and turn to a civilian target," it said.

After September 11, senior administration officials explained the unprecedented security failure by saying suicide attacks with civilian airliners could not have been imagined.

But the cable is the latest piece of evidence that US officials had been aware of the threat to civilian airliners well before then.

National Security Archives also released a newly declassified memo from then CIA director George Tenet to his top aides after the attacks calling for a "worldwide war against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations."

"Our unrelenting focus must be on bringing all of our operational, analytical, and technical capabilities to bear, not only to protect the US both here and abroad from additional terrorist acts, but also, more importantly, to neutralize and destroy al-Qaeda and its partners."

The confidential memo, dated September 16, 2001, first surfaced in Bob Woodward's best-selling book "Bush at War," the National Security Archives said.


Face Transplant Patient Signs Movie Deal...

ABC News JOY VICTORY December 9, 2005 at 03:16 PM
READ MORE: Earnings

U.S. doctors and ethicists had mixed feelings after learning that the woman who underwent the world's first partial face transplant had signed a film deal in which she would profit substantially from the movie's earnings.

The London Times reported Thursday that patient Isabelle Dinoire, British documentarian Michael Hughes and Dinoire's doctors signed the deal three months before the operation took place.


Republicans Clashing Over Artic Drilling…

Associated Press ANDREW TAYLOR December 9, 2005 at 04:29 PM
READ MORE: Arctic Wildlife Refuge

A seemingly hopeless divide within the Republican Party over oil drilling in a pristine wildlife refuge in Alaska is threatening to block unrelated budget cuts that are a central pillar of the GOP's plans for this year.

The battle pits about two dozen pro-environment and newly empowered House Republicans against veteran GOP proponents of drilling who say the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may hold up to $500 billion worth of oil vital to the nation's energy needs. Neither side is budging.


German Chancellor Says Rice Admitted US Kidnapping Of German Citizen Was A Mistake…

Financial Times Bertrand Benoit December 9, 2005 at 09:16 PM

Angela Merkel and Condoleezza Rice were doing a good job of healing the rift between Germany and the US last Tuesday, until Germany’s new chancellor made a serious diplomatic gaffe.

The US secretary of state had admitted the kidnap of a German citizen by the American security services was a mistake, Ms Merkel said. As soon as the press conference was over US officials denied Ms Rice has said any such thing.


Bush vs. The World On Global Warming…

New York Times ANDREW C. REVKIN December 10, 2005 at 08:27 AM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Global Warming
From spacetoday.org

MONTREAL, Saturday, Dec. 10 - The United States dropped its opposition early Saturday morning to nonbinding talks on addressing global warming after a few words were adjusted in the text of statements that, 24 hours earlier, prompted a top American official to walk out on negotiations.

At the same time, other industrialized nations that have signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty binding them to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, agreed to start meeting to set new deadlines once the existing pact's terms expire in 2012.


Plame Works Last Day At CIA

Associated Press PETE YOST December 10, 2005 at 08:51 AM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Investigations, CIA, Valerie Plame
AP/Kevin Wolf

Valerie Plame, the CIA officer whose exposure led to a criminal investigation of the Bush White House, spent her last day at the spy agency Friday.

Neither the agency nor Plame's husband would confirm her departure, but two people who have known Plame for a number of years confirmed she was leaving.


Dem. Senator Lieberman Under Fire For Iraq Views

Dem. Senator Lieberman Under Fire For Iraq Views…

New York Times AYMOND HERNANDEZ December 10, 2005 at 08:32 AM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Iraq
AP/Karim Kadim

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 - Five years after running as the vice-presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket and a year after his own presidential bid, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut has become an increasingly unwelcome figure within his party, with some Democrats seeing him more as a wayward son than a favorite son.

In the last few days, the senator has riled Democratic activists and politicians here and in his home state with his vigorous defense of President Bush's handling of the Iraq war at a time some Democrats are pressuring the administration to begin a withdrawal.


FOCUS | Ray McGovern: Cheney in Last Throes

Ray McGovern writes that Vice President Dick Cheney, whose unbridled chutzpah has led him to take public as well as private credit for being the intellectual author of US policy on torture, has become such a glaring liability that his tenure may be short-lived. There is a growing possibility that the vice president will resign at the turn of the year "for reasons of health," and that his partner-in-crime - in what Colin Powell's former chief of staff at the State Department, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, has labeled the "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal" - will choose to retire to his home in Taos early next year.

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General gave OK for Able Danger

Former military chief confirms al-Qaida mission

By James Rosen

Gen. Hugh Shelton, who was the military's top commander during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, confirmed that four years before the tragedy he authorized a secret computer data-mining initiative to track down Osama bin Laden and operatives in the fugitive terrorist's al-Qaida network.

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Protecting The Torturers

By Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith

Thousands of well-meaning people are mobilizing to pressure Congress to pass legislation banning torture. But the Bush Administration is maneuvering to turn it into legislation that would instead protect the torturers by eliminating a basic legal right.

Link here


How America plotted to stop Kyoto deal

By Andrew Buncombe in Montreal

A detailed and disturbing strategy document has revealed an extraordinary American plan to destroy Europe's support for the Kyoto treaty on climate change.

Link Here

Media Matters for America

O'Reilly on Factor jacket he offered to Stern: "I'm not having this on some lesbian somewhere"

On the December 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly offered a Factor jacket to radio "shock jock" Howard Stern. After Stern said, "I won't wear it, but I will give it to a crack whore" and handed it back, O'Reilly told him:

"I'm not having this on some lesbian somewhere. It's not going to happen."



Only on Fox: "Liberals on Iraq: Bad for America & Stocks?"

As a promotion for the December 10 edition of Fox News' Bulls & Bears, the leading program in Fox News' Saturday business lineup -- which the news channel refers to as "The Cost of Freedom" -- Fox aired a screen capture of Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean delivering a speech, superimposed over a stock market ticker. The on-screen text read: "Liberals on Iraq: Bad for America & Stocks?"



Limbaugh defended his and Mehlman's Kerry distortion with falsehood

Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh defended his recent distortion of Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) comments from the December 4 broadcast of CBS's Face the Nation by falsely claiming he "simply rebroadcast what he [Kerry] said." On Face the Nation, Kerry said: "[T]here is no reason ... that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the -- of -- the historical customs, religious customs." Limbaugh, however, went beyond "simply rebroadcast[ing]" Kerry's comments -- he falsely claimed Kerry called American troops in Iraq "terrorists." Limbaugh also defended Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who appeared on CNN's The Situation Room on December 6 and joined Limbaugh in claiming Kerry "compared American troops to terrorists."



Newspapers largely ignored Murtha's revelation that military will request $100 billion for war next year

In their respective articles on President Bush's December 7 speech on U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times all failed to report that Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA), in a press conference that followed the president's address, disclosed that military officials plan to request an additional $100 billion for the Iraq war in 2006. By contrast, the Associated Press article on Bush's speech clearly noted this disclosure.


The Army would rather cut troop numbers than give up its weapons systems

Military Resists Weapons Cuts

More fascinating news on the military budget front. The Wall Street Journal reports today (page A1) that the Air Force is going to cut 30,000 to 40,000 personnel over the next decade in order to save some of its big-ticket weapons programs:

To stay within its expected budget, the Air Force is planning to cut at least 30,000, and perhaps as many as 40,000, uniformed personnel, civilians and contractor-support staff through fiscal 2011, military officials said. The exact composition of the cuts isn't known, though their thrust is clear: "This is one way to pay the bills without messing around with our weapons programs," said one official involved in the Air Force budget.

It looks like the Air Force will use that money to keep both the Joint Strike Fighter program—a costly purchase that was once called "unexecutable" by the GAO—along with a system of "missile-warning satellites" built by Lockheed that has been years late and costing "more than three times as much as its initial $3 billion budget." Both programs were under fire from the Pentagon but it seems the Air Force managed to deflect the axe by going after personnel instead. And yes, in case anyone was wondering, "the shift is good news for the nation's major defense contractors." As I recall, about a month ago, the Army proposed something similar in response to the Pentagon's demands for $11.7 billion in cuts from them: the service offered to reduce its force structure, at a time when the Army is already stretched thin, rather than touch its own procurement budget.

Now perhaps someone knows better than I, and surely there are a lot of ins and outs involved here, but it sure looks like defense contracts are dictating the type of military we have, rather than the other way around...

Posted by Bradford Plumer on 12/06/05 at 11:04 AM

Your UN Ambassador continues to make you proud

Bolton Now Whining About Criticism of War on Terror

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said yesterday that the U.S.-led war on terror has undermined the global ban on torture. Her statement did not go over well with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, who called Arbour's statement "inappropriate and illegitimate." U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's spokesman said that Annan wants to take the matter up with Bolton as soon as possible.

In the meantime, Media Matters for America reports that the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post all reported Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's assertion that the U.S. does not permit or condone torture without placing her statement in the context of our nation's extremely narrow definition of "torture." In fact, the United States' definition of torture is at odds with international standards, and violates the U.N.'s Convention Against Torture.

The Heretik asks "why the Bush administration continues to review its treaty obligations as optional," and also provides us with a good roundup of what is being said by people who are not fooled by Bolton's and Rice's fingers-crossed rhetoric.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Laying Down the Law on Torture

Friday, 09 December 2005

No sleazy Condoleezean weasel-wording from Britain's highest judges on the subject of torture. The Law Lords' ruling yesterday -- striking down the use of any testimony garnered from torture, even if it was produced in foreign dungeons -- was a hard slap at the moral cretinism of Blair and Bush. Try to imagine any figure on the U.S. Supreme Court -- which has thus far allowed unconscionable tyrannies and atrocities to stand -- speaking such rigor and clarity on the subject. The full text can be found here. These excerpts of the ruling are from the Guardian:

Lord Hoffman: "The use of torture is dishonourable. It corrupts and degrades the state which uses it and the legal system which accepts it ... Many people in the United States have felt their country dishonoured by its use of torture outside the jurisdiction and its practice of extra-legal 'rendition' of suspects to countries where they would be tortured. The rejection of torture ... has a special iconic importance as the touchstone of a humane and civilised legal system."

Lord Hope: "Torture is one of most evil practices known to man. Once torture has become acclimatised in a legal system it spreads like an infectious disease, hardening and brutalising those who have become accustomed to its use.

Lord Brown: "Torture is an unqualified evil. It can never be justified. Rather it must always be punished."

Lord Bingham: "The English common law has regarded torture and its fruits with abhorrence for over 500 years ... I am startled, even a little dismayed, at the suggestion (and the acceptance by the court of appeal majority) that this deeply-rooted tradition and an international obligation solemnly and explicitly undertaken can be overridden ... The issue is one of constitutional principle, whether evidence obtained by torturing another human being may lawfully be admitted against a party to proceedings in a British court ... To that question I would give a very clear negative answer."

Lord Nicholls: "Torture is not acceptable. This is a bedrock moral principle in this country. For centuries the common law has set its face against torture ... Torture attracts universal condemnation. No civilised society condones its use. Unhappily, condemnatory words are not always matched by conduct."

Link Here

Sacred Terror: The Global Death Squad of George W. Bush

Friday, 09 December 2005

The much-belated, poll-prompted outcry of a few American elected officials against the widespread use of torture by the Bush Administration – following years of silent acquiescence in the face of incontrovertible evidence of deliberate atrocity – is a welcome development, of course. But it has left an even more sinister aspect of Bushist policy untouched, one that likewise has been hidden in plain sight for years.

On September 17, 2001, George W. Bush signed an executive order authorizing the use of "lethal measures" against anyone in the world whom he or his minions designated an "enemy combatant." This order remains in force today. No judicial evidence, no hearing, no charges are required for these killings; no law, no border, no oversight restrains them. Bush has also given agents in the field carte blanche to designate "enemies" on their own initiative and kill them as they see fit.

The existence of this universal death squad – and the total obliteration of human liberty it represents – has not provoked so much as a crumb, an atom, a quantum particle of controversy in the American Establishment, although it's no secret. The executive order was first bruited in the Washington Post in October 2001. I first wrote of it in my Moscow Times column in November 2001. The New York Times added further details in December 2002. That same month, Bush officials made clear that the dread edict also applied to American citizens, as the Associated Press reported.

The first officially confirmed use of this power was the killing of an American citizen in Yemen by a CIA drone missile on November 3, 2002. A similar strike occurred in Pakistan this month, when a CIA missile destroyed a house and purportedly killed Abu Hamza Rabia, a suspected al Qaeda figure. But the only bodies found at the site were those of two children, the houseowner's son and nephew, Reuters reports. The grieving father denied any connection to terrorism. An earlier CIA strike on another house missed Rabia but killed his wife and children, Pakistani officials reported.

But most of the assassinations are carried out in secret, quietly, professionally, like a contract killing for the mob. As a Pentagon document unearthed by the New Yorker in December 2002 put it, the death squads must be "small and agile," and "able to operate clandestinely, using a full range of official and non-official cover arrangements to…enter countries surreptitiously."

The dangers of this policy are obvious, as a UN report on "extrajudicial killings" noted in December 2004: " Empowering governments to identify and kill 'known terrorists' places no verifiable obligation upon them to demonstrate in any way that those against whom lethal force is used are indeed terrorists… While it is portrayed as a limited 'exception' to international norms, it actually creates the potential for an endless expansion of the relevant category to include any enemies of the State, social misfits, political opponents, or others."

It's hard to believe that any genuine democracy would accept a claim by its leader that he could have anyone killed simply by labeling them an "enemy." It's hard to believe that any adult with even the slightest knowledge of history or human nature could countenance such unlimited, arbitrary power, knowing the evil it is bound to produce. Yet this is what the great and good in America have done. Like the boyars of old, they not only countenance but celebrate their enslavement to the ruler.

This was vividly demonstrated in one of the revolting scenes in recent American history: Bush's State of the Union address in January 2003, delivered to Congress and televised nationwide during the final frenzy of war-drum beating before the assault on Iraq. Trumpeting his successes in the Terror War, Bush claimed that "more than 3,000 suspected terrorists" had been arrested worldwide – "and many others have met a different fate." His face then took on the characteristic leer, the strange, sickly half-smile it acquires whenever he speaks of killing people: "Let's put it this way. They are no longer a problem."

In other words, the suspects – and even Bush acknowledged they were only suspects – had been murdered. Lynched. Killed by agents operating unsupervised in that shadow world where intelligence, terrorism, politics, finance and organized crime meld together in one amorphous, impenetrable mass. Killed on the word of a dubious informer, perhaps: a tortured captive willing to say anything to end his torment, a business rival, a personal foe, a bureaucrat looking to impress his superiors, a paid snitch in need of cash, a zealous crank pursuing ethnic, tribal or religious hatreds – or any other purveyor of the garbage data that is coin of the realm in the shadow world.

Bush proudly held up this hideous system as an example of what he called "the meaning of American justice." And the assembled legislators…applauded. Oh, how they applauded! They roared with glee at the leering little man's bloodthirsty, B-movie machismo. They shared his sneering contempt for law – our only shield, however imperfect, against the blind, brute, ignorant, ape-like force of raw power. Not a single voice among them was raised in protest against this tyrannical machtpolitik: not that night, not the next day, not ever.

Not even now, when the American people's growing revulsion at Bush's bloody handiwork has emboldened a few long-time enablers of atrocity to criticize the "excesses" of his gulag and his "mishandling" of the war of aggression in Iraq. A few nips at the flank of the beast have been permitted. But the corroded heart of Bush's system of state terror – officially sanctioned murder by presidential fiat – remains curiously sacrosanct.


Internet Censorship: The Warning Signs Were Not Hidden

December 9, 2005 -- Internet censorship. It did not happen overnight but slowly came to America's shores from testing grounds in China and the Middle East.>>>cont


December 8, 2005 -- Special prosecutor continues to focus on Karl Rove. Special prosecutor in CIA Leakgate Patrick Fitzgerald today deposed Newsweek reporter Viveca Novak (no relation to columnist Robert Novak who was the first to write about the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson) at the Massachusetts Avenue offices of Janis Schuelke & Weschler.

Of note, Enron's former Treasurer Ben Glisan, a principal of Enron's "LJM" partnership contrivance and colleague of Andrew Fastow, was represented by Viveca Novak's attorney Hank Schuelke. Janis Schuelke & Weschler was also retained by Greenberg Traurig in the Jack Abramoff matter involving Abramoff's shakedown of Indian tribes over casino deals.>>.cont


Washington Brisbane


Dump the Lot in the trash

Congressional Scandals Register With Voters

By Donna Cassata / Associated Press

WASHINGTON - When Republicans seized power in Congress a decade ago, they pledged to sweep out the stench of scandal and restore bonds of trust with the people. Now, the people may be wondering whether the new bosses are the same as the old bosses, or possibly more corrupt.

A House Republican leader has been indicted for money laundering. The Senate GOP leader is under investigation for a financially well-timed stock sale. The probe of a lobbyist threatens to ensnare more than half a dozen members of Congress of both parties and the Bush administration.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Politicians work under an elaborate set of ethical rules, toughened in several waves of change. The public was given reason to expect a tempering, at least, of the abuses of the past — Abscam, Keating Five, Koreagate, high crimes and misdemeanors.

Instead, the climate for wrongdoing has become, if anything, more combustible.

Among the reasons are the colossal amounts of lobbying money in play; the insatiable cash requirement of campaigning; and, as has been seen before regardless of party, the entrenchment of a congressional majority that comes to feel it's immune to the rules.

"It's very dangerous to a democratic society to have a system in which money talks to the extent of American politics," said former Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich.

The steady drumbeat of scandal has registered with Americans. An Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that 88 percent of those surveyed said corruption is a serious problem and 67 percent said a moderate number to a lot of public officials are involved.

Democrats were considered more ethical by 36 percent, while 33 percent cited Republicans — a difference within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Some 40 percent of women said Democrats were more ethical than Republicans, while 32 percent of men offered a similar view.

"Everything seems to be corrupted," said Sylvia Kind, a dietitian from Akron, Ohio, who participated in the survey.

In 2004, federal lobbyists spent $2.1 billion — the equivalent of the gross domestic product of the Republic of Congo. The biggest spender was the health care industry at $325 million; technology and the financial services were not far behind.

In the same year, candidates pursuing the presidency and seats in Congress spent more than $3 billion campaigning.

Years ago, Sen. Humbert H. Humphrey, D-Minn., said a senator paid attention to the government for five years and spent the sixth and last year of his term campaigning, recalled Senate historian Donald A. Ritchie. Today, lawmakers begin raising money non-stop from the moment they take the oath of office.

Faced with those steep expectations, abuses are inevitable, but the recent missteps have been staggering.

"Democrats were in power for 40 years. It's taken the Republicans only 10 years to get as corrupt," said Stanley Brand, a general counsel to the House under the late Speaker Tip O'Neill, D-Mass. "It tends to coagulate around the entrenched majority. They get sloppy, arrogant and inured to the risks of not following the law."

Leaders take the blame for misdeeds that occurred on their watch — and are assailed if their own hands are dirty. The combination of failing to control the malfeasance and contributing to it can be politically fatal.

"Any evidence of skullduggery or foul play reflects much more heavily on the leadership group," said former Rep. Bill Frenzel, R-Minn. "It reflects on the entire Congress, but the ones to pay the price are the leaders."

Caught in the recent wave of investigations and indictments are former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas; Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee. All have denied any wrongdoing.

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., resigned after pleading guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for steering government work to defense contractors.

Scandals aren't limited to Washington.

In Ohio, Republican Gov. Bob Taft was convicted of four misdemeanor ethics violations for failing to report gifts and golf outings. In prison is John Rowland, the former GOP governor of Connecticut, who traded access to his office for vacations and home renovations. Former Republican Gov. George Ryan of Illinois is fending off racketeering charges.

Democrats can't claim they're immune as several in their ranks figure prominently in Justice Department inquiries. The investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff could take down lawmakers from both parties as well as members of the administration.

The cacophony over scandal is still ringing in the ears of Democrats, who lost control of Congress in 1994 after a string of ethical misdeeds. Among them was the House bank scandal in which hundreds of Republicans and Democrats admitted to writing bad checks at the House bank.

Voters had no problem grasping the offense and the familiar notion of writing rubber checks when no money was in the account.

When the House Republicans took over, they imposed stricter limits on gifts to lawmakers and the payment of travel expenses. But the GOP leadership also told lobbyists: If you want access, hire Republicans.

"To some degree it's reaching a new level," said former Rep. Vic Fazio, D-Calif. "The degree in which Abramoff is tightly tied to key members for the Republican Party is something unique. ... This is a guy who took good care of a lot of people in the Republican Party at the same time he abused his relationship with them."

The Abramoff web, however, has caught a few Democrats, including Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who also has denied wrongdoing.

"Compared to Abscam, it's nothing," said William Canfield, a lawyer who has advised Congress on election investigations. "That was systematic of widespread fraud and corruption in the House and Senate. That set the benchmark and I don't think anything has come close. You had members meeting with undercover FBI agents and stuffing cash in their pockets."

One senator and six House members were convicted in Abscam, the FBI corruption investigation that began in 1978. Agents posed as Arab sheiks or their representatives and offered bribes to members of Congress.

"We're really saddened and horrified by what's going on in Guantanamo and the other prisons" where the U.S. military holds terror suspects,

American Anti-War Activists March in Cuba

By Anita Snow / Associated Press

HAVANA - American anti-war activists marched Wednesday from the eastern Cuban city of Santiago toward the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay to protest treatment of terror suspects there.

The 25 members of the Witness Against Torture group had hoped to begin their daylong march a day earlier, but spent Tuesday negotiating with Cuban communist officials about how close they could get to the American military installation, the protesters said by telephone.

Cuba and the United States have had no diplomatic relations for more than four decades, and the American base is surrounded by a miles-wide Cuban military zone peppered with mines.

It seemed unlikely that the marchers would be allowed to cross the military zone to reach the U.S. base's gate and demand that American sentries let them visit the prisoners, as they initially had planned.

"We're really saddened and horrified by what's going on in Guantanamo and the other prisons" where the U.S. military holds terror suspects, said marcher Susan Crane of Baltimore. "Our hope is to get as close as we can (to the base)."

"We want the prisoners to know we care about them," she added.

Most of the marchers arrived Monday in Santiago, about 50 miles southwest of Guantanamo, from the Dominican Republic. Among them was Frida Berrigan, daughter of the late Phil Berrigan, a former Roman Catholic priest whose fight against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons helped ignite a generation of anti-war dissent.

The United States holds about 500 terror suspects at the remote base in Guantanamo. The U.S. government says they are enemy combatants, not prisoners of war, and are not entitled to the same rights afforded under the Geneva Conventions.

Chavez's gift, which arrived on Tuesday and is being distributed this week,

Politics or Not, Bronx Warmly Receives Venezuelan Heating Oil

By Michelle Garcia / Washington Post

NEW YORK -- A green Citgo tanker truck chugged up a hill with a grim view of tenement buildings, elevated subways and treeless sidewalks to deliver Venezuelan heating oil, a "humanitarian" gift from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Moments before the orange-gloved worker snaked the hose to a Bronx tenement, Eartha Ferguson, a manager and resident of a low-income building, said: "I call it a gift of survival. It comes at a good time, a very needed time."

Chavez's gift, which arrived on Tuesday and is being distributed this week, may be nothing more than a chance to tweak the nose of the Bush administration, which has long opposed the South American leader. But few residents in the South Bronx, where 41 percent live on incomes below the federal poverty line, are inclined to worry about international politics.

Citgo Petroleum Corp., which is controlled by the Venezuelan government, signed a deal with three Bronx housing nonprofits to sell 5 million gallons of heating oil at 45 percent below the market rate, an estimated savings of $4 million. The discounted oil will heat 75 Bronx apartment buildings, housing 8,000 low-income working poor and elderly tenants.

Officials with Mount Hope Housing Co., Fordham Bedford Housing Corp. and VIP Community Services -- which have organized tenants and rehabilitated low-income apartments for several decades -- say savings from the cheap oil will allow them to reduce rents temporarily and invest in neighborhood social programs.

"A lot of families are struggling," said Lenice Footman, who hopes her $600 monthly rent will be reduced. Neighbor Dionne Morales agreed, saying she is overlooking the criticism directed at Chavez. "If he can give oil to my country and help the lives of my community, I'm impressed," she said.

Chavez has sold the discounted oil in two U.S. markets, New York and Massachusetts. Citizens Energy Corp., a Boston-based nonprofit cooperative, bought 12 million gallons at a steep discount after U.S. oil companies ignored its written plea for help. Similar oil deals are in the works for other parts of New York and some New England states.

Americans face record prices for heating oil this winter, with a gallon selling for $2.41 -- a 38 percent increase from this time last year. Congress declined to provide additional funding for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Citizens Energy and other housing advocates expect that families, especially in the Northeast, will exhaust their benefits by Christmas.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in a recent briefing that the Bush administration expects the recently passed energy bill and efforts to expand capacity to help address the shortfall. "All of us have a role to do to help address high energy prices," he said. "And we are taking action to do so."

But on the second snow day in the Bronx, where scrawled graffiti warns pedestrians of rats, fleas and maggots, it did not escape the notice of tenants that a foreign government stepped in after Congress did not.

"The government should have done it," said Shirley Manuel, 52, a tenants' rights activist, wrapped up tightly in her wheelchair. "This is their country, this is their people -- they should be taking care of their own."

Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-N.Y.), who brokered the oil deal, brushed aside suggestions that Chavez was playing petro politics.

"To those who say this is to score political points," he told a shivering crowd when the first oil arrived, "I invite any American corporation that wants to score points with my community to start this afternoon."

But, in fact, politics is very much part of this deal. The Bush administration has made no secret of its dislike for Chavez and his populist, left-wing politics, nor of its desire to see him turned out of office. Chavez, in turn, was a featured speaker at a demonstration in Argentina this year, in which he denounced President Bush's policies in Latin America.

Last week, Citgo bought full-page ads in The Washington Post and the New York Times, lauding Venezuela's role in heating the homes of the nation's poor. El Diario/La Prensa, New York's major Spanish-language newspaper, published a front-page photo of Chavez wearing a Santa Claus hat above the words, a "Gift from Chavez to the Bronx."

In September, Chavez traveled to the Bronx and spent several hours with 17 community groups. Flanked by Serrano and Jesse L. Jackson, Chavez proposed selling heating oil at below market rates and laid out plans to invest some of Venezuela's oil revenue in health and environmental programs in the Bronx.

"I fell in love with the Bronx and New York," Chavez said that day. "I have met the soul of the American people."

Iraq casualties sign will stay up near Duluth recruiting office

Recruiters Up in Arms Over Number of War Dead

Associated Press

DULUTH, Minn. - The Steve Kelley for Gov. campaign office in Duluth says it won't take down a sign in its window that keeps a running tally of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

The sign has stirred up some hard feelings because it's right next door to the military recruiting station in downtown Duluth.

The commander of the station says the sign is troubling for some of his recruiters, including one who recently returned from Iraq. He says his recruiters already have to endure the anti-war protesters who gather outside the office every Monday.

But a Kelley campaign spokeswoman says the sign will stay up. It was put up by a campaign volunteer who was wounded in the Vietnam War and says he regrets not speaking out against it then.

Kelley is a D-F-L state senator from Hopkins.

CIA torture program connected Al Qaeda to Iraq for George & Co.

Twist it Further;

Mistakes" aside, George rewards former CIA Directer George Tenet with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor on Dec. 14, 2004.

Qaeda-Iraq Link U.S. Cited Is Tied to Coercion Claim

New Orleans Evacuees and Activists Testify at Explosive House Hearing

New Orleans Evacuees and Activists Testify at Explosive House Hearing on the Role of Race and Class in Government's Response to Hurricane Katrina

Three months after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the southern coast of the United States, decimating communities in Mississippi and Louisiana, we play excerpts of an explosive congressional hearing focusing on race and the government's response to the disaster.


Witnesses heard no talk of bomb: Some passengers dispute the account

Orlando Sentinel

Witnesses heard no talk of bomb

Some passengers dispute the account of a Maitland man's airport shooting.

Mark Schlueb

Sentinel Staff Writer

December 9, 2005

Rigoberto Alpizar may have just been scared.

As more details emerged about Wednesday's anxious moments aboard American Airlines Flight 924, it became increasingly apparent that the Maitland man killed by federal air marshals may have been fleeing in panic as he suffered the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

To grieving relatives, two air marshals acted rashly and an innocent man died -- one whom at least seven passengers said they never heard say anything about a bomb.

"With all the advances that the U.S. has supposedly made in their war against terrorism, I can't conceive that the marshals wouldn't be able to overpower an unarmed, single man, especially knowing he had already cleared every security check," Carlos Alpizar said Thursday of his brother's death, in a telephone interview from Costa Rica.

"I will never accept that it was necessary to kill him as if he was some dangerous criminal. And I want to make this distinction: He did not die. He was killed."

* * *
Link Here

Dredging May Have Doomed New Orleans

Dredging led to deep trouble, experts say
Levee 'blowout' was a concern before project began in 1980s

When the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board developed a plan in 1981 to improve street drainage by dredging the 17th Street Canal to increase capacity for Pump Station No. 6, residents across the city applauded. Increasingly heavy rains were not only flooding streets, but also pushing water into homes. Action was needed. It seemed like a no-brainer.

Today, forensic engineers investigating the levee breach that flooded much of city during Hurricane Katrina aren't so sure. The search for the cause of the failure keeps returning to that dredging project as the probable starting point for a series of mistakes engineers think ultimately led to the breach.

Among other problems, they say, the dredging sharply reduced the distance water had to travel to reach the canal wall, left the canal too deep for sheet pilings that were suppose to cut off seepage, may have removed some layers of clay that sealed the canal bottom, and reduced support for the wall on the New Orleans side.

Link Here


A major hurricane could decimate the region, but flooding from even a moderate storm could kill thousands. It's just a matter of time.

Even though Hurricane Georges was considered a near miss, it made its fury known in New Orleans. The hardest hit areas were the St. Bernard Parish and along Lake Pontchartrain in eastern New Orleans where about two dozen fishing camps were destroyed by the storm in September 1998. HereBlayke Badeaux, 10, walks over a pile oflumber and debris that used to be his uncle's fishing camp.

Link Here

US Delegation Walks Out Of Climate Talks - NYT

MONTREAL, Dec. 9 - Two weeks of treaty talks on global warming neared an end today with the world's current and projected leaders in emissions of greenhouse gases, the United States and China, still refusing to take any mandatory steps to avoid dangerous climate change.

The Bush administration was sharply criticized by other governments and by environmental groups for walking out of a round of informal discussions shortly after midnight that were aimed at finding new ways of curbing gases.

"This shows just how willing the U.S. administration is to walk away from a healthy planet and its responsibilities to its own people," said Jennifer Morgan of the World Wildlife Fund.

American officials declined to comment Thursday afternoon on their actions. They released a printed statement, but it referred only to the expected visit and speech later today by former President Bill Clinton.

Researchers: Alcohol misuse, divorce rates higher among returning troops

Edited on Fri Dec-09-05 03:58 PM by lebkuchen

Bush's legacy, and this is just the tip of the iceberg of the social problems he has wrought upon the US:

WASHINGTON — Army researchers saw alcohol misuse rise from 13 percent among soldiers to 21 percent one year after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, underscoring the continuing stress of deployment for some troops.

In post-deployment reassessment data completed in July, researchers also saw soldiers with anger and aggression issues increase from 11 percent to 22 percent after deployment. Those planning to divorce their spouse rose from 9 percent to 15 percent after time spent in the combat zone.

And that’s just the start of the problems, according to military family support groups.

“At the end of the day, wounded servicemembers have wounded families,” said Joyce Wessel Raezer, government relations director for the National Military Family Association. “More must be done to link servicemembers and families with the services they need and the information about PTSD and other mental health issues.”

The data and other testimony about the effects of deployment stress came at a briefing called by House Democrats on Thursday to look at the issue of mental health care and resources for servicemembers.

But House Democrats at the briefing said more needs to be done to monitor the troops’ health, especially for guardsmen and reservists who may not be under as close observation as active-duty servicemembers.

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