Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, January 07, 2006

How Do We Stop It..?

He Knew.

He told us how.

He showed us all.

Even those of us, not yet born.

Venezuela to Expand Fuel Discounts to US

Go to Original
The Associated Press

Friday 06 January 206

Caracas, Venezuela - Venezuela said Friday it will expand a program to provide discounted home heating oil to low-income Americans, bringing savings to some Indian tribes in Maine.

Venezuelan-owned Citgo Petroleum Corp. has already begun selling cheaper fuel in some areas of Massachusetts and New York City as part of a plan by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to aid poor communities that he claims are neglected by Washington.

Chavez's opponents accuse him of using Venezuela's oil wealth to win friends while trying to one-up President Bush, a frequent focus of his verbal attacks. But Chavez's supporters defend the heating oil program as another example of a generous deed by a president leading a socialist revolution for the poor.

Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuela's ambassador to the US, said he will sign an agreement next week with the Penobscot, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians to provide the cheaper heating oil.

"The Penobscot Nation is very grateful," tribal chief James Sappier said by phone from the reservation near Bangor, Maine. "This is probably one of the greatest decisions for our tribe in years."

Many in the tribe of 2,261 people are facing tough times economically as jobs have moved out of the area, and the discounted fuel could save a family $1,000 or more this winter, he said.

Sappier said heating oil prices have been hovering around $2.40 a gallon in the area recently, and Venezuela estimates participants in will save at least 60 cents a gallon.

Alvarez said Venezuela also will extend the deal next week to some parts of Vermont and Rhode Island.

Alvarez was accompanied by a group of American activists on a tour of a state-funded cooperative in Caracas where the poor receive free health care and hundreds work in textile and shoemaking shops.

The visitors included singer Harry Belafonte, actor Danny Glover, Princeton University scholar Cornel West and farm worker advocate Dolores Huerta.

"It was impressive for everyone to see that progress is being made," said Tavis Smiley, who joined the group and hosts a talk show on PBS television.

Link Here

Take it Back

Bush crosses fingers, issues "signing statement" regarding ban on toruture and inhumane treatment of detainees

From the Boston Globe comes news that after approving a bill outlawing the torture and inhuman treatment of detainees, George W. Bush issued a "signing statement," a document which contains his interpretation of the bill. Not surprisingly, that interpretation is a declaration that he intends to view the torture ban within the context of his "broader powers" to protect national security.

In other words, the ban on torture on cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees means about as much as the law forbidding electronic surveillance without warrants of persons suspected of engaging in terrorism. Bush's signing statement was posted on the White House website; it is not a secret document, merely one--another one--that is floating by unnoticed.

A senior White House official is quoted as saying: "Of course the president has the obligation to follow this law, [but] he also has the obligation to defend and protect the country as the commander in chief, and he will have to square those two responsibilities in each case. 'We are not expecting that those two responsibilities will come into conflict, but it's possible that they will."

Posted by Diane E. Dees on 01/04/06 at 09:46 AM

Link Here

Primal smirk The War God has his eyes on Iran — can we stop him?

Tribune Media Services

I ache with fresh hope and foreboding at this time of year. The time is ripe for an overarching vision of a world without war — a tough, smart vision that can claim headlines and hold its own with the spin machines of government. Without it, we’re doomed to . . . war with Iran?

Link Here

What Year Is This Anyway?

By Nick Turse
Go to Original

Thursday 05 January 2006

What year is this anyway? Rollback to 1214 AD.
What might happen to an "often cruel and treacherous" national leader who "ignored and contravened the traditional" norms at home and waged "expensive wars abroad [that] were unsuccessful"?

On June 15, 1215, just such a leader arrived at Runnymede, England and - under pressure from rebellious barons angered by his ruinous foreign wars and the fact that "to finance them he had charged excessively for royal justice, sold church offices, levied heavy aids," and appointed "advisers from outside the baronial ranks" - placed his seal on the Magna Carta. The document, which was finalized on June 19th, primarily guaranteed church rights and baronial privileges, while barring the king from exploiting feudal custom. While it may have been of limited importance to King John or his rebel nobles (as one scholar notes, "It was doomed to failure. Magna Carta lasted less than three months"), the document had a lasting impact on the rest of us, providing the very basis for the Anglo-American legal tradition.

Over the years, the Magna Carta came to be interpreted as a document that forbade taxation without representation and guaranteed trial by jury. In the US, it is seen as providing a basis for the 5th Amendment to the Bill of Rights that holds: "No person shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..." (The Magna Carta states: "No Freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned... but by lawful Judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land.") While many progressive and democratic understandings of the document, popular from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, have now been dismissed as misinterpretations, the Magna Carta has one absolutely significant feature. As the website of the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) notes, "When King John confirmed Magna Carta with his seal, he was acknowledging the now firmly embedded concept that no man - not even the king - is above the law."

Fast forward 561 years. Says NARA, "In 1776, the Founding Fathers searched for a historical precedent for asserting their rightful liberties from King George III and the English Parliament." They found it in the Magna Carta. Fast forward another 230 years. Their war for independence long since over, Britain's former rebel colonies begin the new year of 2006 on a precipice. During the previous 365 days, they saw, among other shocking displays, their Vice President publicly campaign against Senator John McCain's anti-torture amendment and, as such, essentially offer his support for illegal torture. Then, following a failed attempt by the President to quash a New York Times story on the National Security Agency (which the paper had already suppressed for a year), the people also found out that their President had ordered unlawful spying on American citizens.

After the latter scandal became public, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (who, in 2002 as White House counsel, penned a memo advising the President on how to circumvent the 1996 War Crimes Act) claimed that George Bush had the right to violate the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (which makes it illegal to spy on US citizens in the United States without prior or retroactive - within 72 hours - court approval) due to his "inherent authority as commander in chief under the Constitution." This, despite the fact that in 2004 Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, writing for the court, insisted, "A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens." Bush himself then came out swinging, claiming that he had no need for the courts since he acted as his own agency of oversight, and his acts were legal because he "swore to uphold the laws."

The President's threatened veto of the McCain anti-torture amendment, the Vice-President's pro-torture campaign, the President's illegal spying, which he proudly claimed he had re-authorized many times over, his attempt to squelch the free press (which Thomas Jefferson once called "the only security of all" and about which he stated, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter"), and his own and the Attorney General's defense of all of the above, are not only the latest examples of the administration's quest to shred the US Constitution and expand already vast presidential powers past anything conceivably envisioned by the founders of the United States, but also a direct attempt to overturn nearly 800 years of Anglo-American legal precedent. In other words, the administration has launched nothing short of a bid to invalidate the guiding precepts of what the US government acknowledges to be the Ur document that inspired and provided precedent for America's founders to issue their Declaration of Independence in 1776: the Magna Carta.

In 1957, the American Bar Association erected a monument at Runnymede to "acknowledg[e] the debt American law and constitutionalism" owed to the Magna Carta. Today, the defining tenet of the American legal system is in jeopardy as the Bush administration has attempted to roll back the clock to the 13th century. Such a gambit seeks to do nothing short of shatter and effectively bury the framework for the Anglo-American legal tradition by transforming the chief executive into an unchecked despot and so plunging us into a pre-1215 world. The implications are dire. As Harold Hongju Koh, dean of the Yale Law School, observed, "If the president has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."

During the birth of the United States, John Adams - who also proclaimed that Britain's rule under which "The Law, and the Fact, are both to be decided by the same single Judge" was "directly repugnant to the Great Charter [Magna Carta] itself" - wrote of "a government of laws and not of men." During the Watergate crisis (to hop a couple of centuries) and just after he was fired by a President who wanted to shield his criminal acts by citing the doctrine of executive privilege, Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox warned, "Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people." Just 33 years later, the question again begs answer - is this to be a nation of laws or of men? Is this to be a nation that recognizes nearly 800 years of Anglo-American legal precedent in which even the nation's chief executive is subject to the rule of law, or one that allows that leader to assume the unchecked rights of a sovereign during the Middle Ages? Are we willing to accept the Bush administration's latest rollback campaign and reset the calendar to 1214?

Nick Turse is the Associate Editor and Research Director of TomDispatch.com. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Nation, the Village Voice, and regularly for Tomdispatch. If you have whistles to blow or muck you think Nick should rake, send your insider information to fallenlegionwall@yahoo.com.

Link Here

Subject: Women Say No To War

Hello Women Warriors:

I met with Gael Murphy yesterday of Code Pink and she said they hope to get 100,000 signatures on their Call for Peace by March 8.

HAH, I said. With the internet, we can get there in three days.

Can we?

I am sending you the info because you have lists, and you have places where you post information.

BTW, they are planning some truly historic events in NYC and DC March 5-9. This could be a very large effort. I like that it is international too. Iraqi women will be coming in for it.

What do you say? Will you help?

Here is the Call:

Women's Call for Peace: An Urgent Appeal

We, the women of the United States, Iraq and women worldwide, have had enough of the senseless war in Iraq and the cruel attacks on civilians around the world. We've buried too many of our loved ones. We've seen too many lives crippled forever by physical and mental wounds. We've watched in horror as our precious resources are poured into war while our families' basic needs of food, shelter, education and healthcare go unmet. We've had enough of living in constant fear of violence and seeing the growing cancer of hatred and intolerance seep into our homes and communities.

This is not the world we want for ourselves or our children. With fire in our bellies and love in our hearts, we women are rising up - across borders - to unite and demand an end to the bloodshed and the destruction.

We have seen how the foreign occupation of Iraq has fueled an armed movement against it, perpetuating an endless cycle of violence. We are convinced that it is time to shift from a military model to a conflict-resolution model that includes the following elements:

- The withdrawal of all foreign troops and foreign fighters from Iraq;
- Negotiations to reincorporate disenfranchised Iraqis into all aspects of Iraqi society;
- The full representation of women in the peacemaking process and a commitment to women's full equality in the post-war Iraq;
- A commitment to discard plans for any foreign bases in Iraq;
- Iraqi control of its oil and other resources;
- The nullification of privatization and deregulation laws imposed under occupation, allowing Iraqis to shape the trajectory of the post-war economy;
- A massive reconstruction effort that prioritizes Iraqi contractors, and draws upon financial resources of the countries responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq;
- Consideration of a temporary international peacekeeping force that is truly multilateral and is not composed of any troops from countries that participated in the occupation.

To move this peace process forward, we are creating a massive movement of women - crossing generations, races, ethnicities, religions, borders and political persuasions. Together, we will pressure our governments, the United Nations, the Arab League, Nobel Peace Prize winners, religious leaders and others in the international community to step forward to help negotiate a political settlement. And in this era of divisive fundamentalisms, we call upon world leaders to join us in spreading the fundamental values of love for the human family and for our precious planet.

And here is where you sign:

------ End of Forwarded Message

Axis of Fanatics: Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad

By Norman Solomon
t r u t h o u t Perspective

Friday 06 January 2006

With Ariel Sharon out of the picture, Benjamin Netanyahu has a better chance to become prime minister of Israel.

He's media savvy. He knows how to spin on American television. And he's very dangerous.

Netanyahu spent a lot of his early years in the United States. Later, during the 1980s, he worked at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and then became Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. By the time he moved up to deputy foreign minister in 1988, he was a star on US networks.

The guy is smooth - fluent in American idioms, telegenic to many eyes - and good at lying on camera. So, when Israeli police killed 17 Palestinians at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque in October 1990, Netanyahu led a disinformation blitz asserting that the Palestinians were killed after they'd rioted and pelted Jewish worshipers from above the Wailing Wall with huge stones. At the time, his fable dominated much of the US media. Later, even the official Israeli inquiry debunked Netanyahu's account and blamed police for starting the clash.

Now, with Netanyahu campaigning to win the Israeli election for prime minister in late March, he's cranking up rhetoric against Iran. His outlook seems to be 180 degrees from the world view of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet in tangible political ways, they're well-positioned to feed off each other's fanaticism.

The election that gave the presidency of Iran to Ahmadinejad last summer was a victory for repressive fundamentalism. Results have included a negative trend for human rights in the country and a more bellicose foreign policy.

When Ahmadinejad declared in late October that "Israel must be wiped off the map," he did a big favor to the most militaristic of Israel's major politicians - Benjamin Netanyahu - who demanded that Prime Minster Sharon take forceful action against Iran. Otherwise, Netanyahu said in December, "when I form the new Israeli government, we'll do what we did in the past against Saddam's reactor, which gave us 20 years of tranquillity."

Netanyahu was referring to Israel's air attack on the Osirak reactor in June 1981 to prevent Iraq from developing nuclear weapons. But now the idea of bombing Iran is nonsensical even to many analysts who are enthusiastic about Israel's large nuclear arsenal, estimated at 200 warheads.

"Preemptive military attack is not a strategy for stopping the spread of nuclear weapons anymore; the changes in technology have made it obsolete." That's the current assessment from Larry Derfner, who often writes about Israeli politics for the Jerusalem Post. "Concealing a nuclear start-up is so much easier now than it was in 1981 and it's only going to get easier yet. Throwing fighter jets, commandos and whatnot at Iran is more than risky; it's almost certainly futile if not altogether impossible. Better for Israel and Israelis to forget about it and instead meet the Iranian threat by making this country's deterrent power even more intimidating than it already is."

Derfner added: "A nuclear Iran isn't a cause for indifference but neither is it a cause for dread and certainly not for recklessness. A nuclear Iran is actually acceptable. We can live with it. The truth is we've been living here with threats very much like it all along."

But Netanyahu has repeatedly emphasized that he wants to launch a military strike on Iran. "This is the Israeli government's primary obligation," he said. "If it is not done by the current government, I plan to lead the next government to stop the Iranians."

The specter of Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad fueling each other's madness as heads of state is frightening. In such a circumstance, the primary danger of conflagration would come from nuclear-armed Israel, not nuclear-unarmed Iran.

Candidate Netanyahu is a standard bearer for nuclear insanity. He's also an implacable enemy of basic Palestinian human rights. Many Israelis understand that Netanyahu is an extremist, and polls published on January 6 indicate that the post-Sharon era may not be as hospitable to Netanyahu as initially assumed.

For that matter, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not serve out his full four-year term as Iran's president. Evidently the hardline clerics who dominate the Iranian government got more than they bargained for when they threw their weight behind the Ahmadinejad campaign last June. In recent months, Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has shifted more power to the governmental Expediency Council headed by the shady magnate Hashemi Rafsanjani, a relatively moderate political hack who lost in the presidential runoff last year.

Ahmadinejad is good at making statements that cause international uproars, but he's having a difficult time exercising presidential leverage. "Even in Iran's mostly conservative parliament, the hard-line president has found himself unable to get traction," the Los Angeles Times noted on January 2. "In a first for the Islamic Republic, lawmakers turned down four of the ministers Ahmadinejad asked them to approve. It took him three months and four candidates to seat an oil minister. Some reformist legislators even agitated for hearings on the president's 'lack of political competence.'"

Using religious claims to bolster their quests for power, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Benjamin Netanyahu each stand to gain by pointing to the menacing fanaticism of the other. Yet many Iranians and Israelis recognize the grave dangers of such posturing.

As tensions mount and pressures intensify, the White House might end up acceding to an Israeli air attack on Iran. Or the Bush administration may prefer to launch its own air strike against Iran.

Iran. Israel. The United States. Each country has the very real potential to move in a better direction - away from lethal righteousness. But in every society, that will require more effective grassroots efforts for peace and justice.

Norman Solomon is the author of the new book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. For information, go to: WarMadeEasy.com.

Link Here

Art For Everyone

American Woman, Journalist, Kidnapped In Iraq

Wire Service Reports: American Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq, Translator Killed

By E&P Staff
Published: January 07,

BAGHDAD Gunmen kidnapped a female American journalist and killed her Iraqi translator Saturday in western Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said, according to The Associated Press and UPI.

Maj. Falah Mohamadawi said the translator told police before he died that the abduction took place when he and the journalist were heading to meet Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Sunni Arab Iraqi Accordance Front, in the Adel section of the city.

The woman's name was not released and it appears that this has not yet been confirmed by the U.S.

The neighborhood is dominated by Sunni Arabs and considered one of toughest in Baghdad. Reuters reports: "Immediately after the incident, American and Iraqi troops sealed off the area, witnesses said."

UPI identified the dead translator as Alin Ghazi Jack, an Iraqi Christian.

According to Samir Najim, a guard at al-Dulaimi's office, three armed men in a red Opel four-sedan intercepted the journalist's car and shot the translator before taking her in their car and driving away. The kidnapping took place about 100 yards from al-Dulaimi's office.

UPI, however, adds this somewhat conflicting detail: "They said the driver of the bus in which the journalist and translator were riding managed to escape the incident when he fled and sought the help of a police patrol that happened to be in the same area at the time."

The Paris-based media watchdog group, Reporters Without Borders said it was extremely worried for the fate of the missing reporter, according to UPI.


Three Hours, Three Years

In Other Words

Bob Fertik writes:

"The news media stopped dead in its tracks today over a three-hour lie. In Washington, the biggest political corruption scandal since Teapot Dome was exploding, but it barely got a moment's notice."

Link Here

Bush's Long War with the Truth

Robert Parry writes: "George W. Bush's dysfunctional relationship with the truth seems to be shaped by two complementary factors �" a personal compulsion to say whatever makes him look good at that moment and a permissive environment that rarely holds him accountable for his lies."

Link Here

Dictatorship Is Easier.us: Bush Can Still Bypass Torture Ban

Not only was the McCain amendment neutered in a Senate compromise, but Bush now asserts that he can bypass whatever ban does exist.

Surveillance Court Is Seeking AnswersWashPost:
WashPost: "The members of a secret federal court that oversees government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases are scheduled to receive a classified briefing Monday from top Justice Department and intelligence officials about a controversial warrantless-eavesdropping program, according to sources familiar with the arrangements."
A Cult of Presidential Power: The Unrestrained President
Tom Englehardt writes: "As 2006 begins, we seem to be at a not-completely-unfamiliar crossroads in the long history of the American imperial presidency. It grew up, shedding presidential constraints, in the post-World War II years as part of the rise of the national security state and the military-industrial complex. It reached its constraint-less apogee with Richard Nixon's presidency and what became known as the Watergate scandal -- an event marked by Nixon's attempt to create his own private national security apparatus which he directed to secretly commit various high crimes and misdemeanors for him."
The Bush Family Coup
James Ridgeway writes: "In opening a conference on counterintelligence in March 2005, former president George H.W. Bush, who headed the CIA from 1975 to 1977, said, 'It burns me up to see the agency under fire.' Recent criticism, Bush said, reminded him of the 1970s, when Congress 'unleashed a bunch of untutored little jerks out there' to investigate the CIA’s involvement in domestic spying, assassinations, and other illegal activities, and subsequently passed laws to prevent abuses."

Brain Fever: The Bush Regime's War on American Soldiers

Friday, 06 January 2006

Losing Their Minds:

Mark Benjamin tells an important story of how the Pentagon denigrates, humiliates and misdiagnoses soldiers with brain injuries sustained during their term as cannon fodder for George W. Bush's "war of choice" – as the "muscular liberals" like to call it – in Iraq.

The story illustrates once again the paradox that pervades the Bush Regime: They love war, they love military power – but they hate soldiers, the actual human beings who do their dirty work for them. They regard them as mere biological material to be used then discarded.

They despise and disrespect them, as all overseers despise and disrespect their slaves and coolies (while loudly proclaiming their tender, paternal care for them). It's how these big-time criminals sleep at night – by dehumanizing everyone they harm by their depradations.

Link Here

Patronizing a prostitute is now a specific crime for servicemembers

By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, January 7, 2006

ARLINGTON, Va. ?For the first time, the Department of Defense has specifically made it a crime for a servicemember to patronize a prostitute. The punishment: up to a year in prison, forfeiture of pay and dishonorable discharge.

The formal order came in a presidential executive order signed without fanfare Oct. 14, directing changes in the Manual for Courts-Martial. It is part of an assault the military has been waging against human trafficking.

A Defense Department spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, said in an e-mailed response to questions that 뱎rostitution?and 뱎andering?will now be among the offenses covered by Article 134 of the courts-martial manual.

Paying for sex used to fall under the 밪olicitation of Another to Commit an Offense?listed as part of Article 134, which executes the corresponding section in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Krenke said.

It prohibits 밶ll disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces?and 밶ll conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.?/p>

But the October executive order makes prostitution and pandering specific offenses, she said.

Krenke said that the DOD made the change as part of its effort to combat human trafficking by taking on the sex exploitation industry, as set forth in a December 2002 National Security Presidential Directive that says in part:

밢ur policy is based on an abolitionist approach to trafficking in persons, and our efforts must involve a comprehensive attack on such trafficking, which is a modern day of slavery. In this regard, the U.S. Government opposes prostitution and any related activities, including pimping, pandering, or maintaining brothels as contributing to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons.?/p>

The military needs to change its general mind-set that tolerates prostitution, said Sara Mendelson, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Mendelson, author of a report on human trafficking and peacekeeping in the Balkans, said the military needs to get the word out about the change on prostitution to make it effective.

밫he issues is not whether activists or experts in Washington, D.C., know about it, it뭩 whether the soldier in the field understands; it뭩 whether the commander in the field understands that this is a change from the previous regulation in the Manual for Courts-Martial,?she said.

As early as November 2004, the services began to write online training courses that cover prostitution within the framework of human trafficking, Krenke said.

Krenke said it teaches that 뱘ou don뭪 have to be a professional criminal to contribute to the trafficking industry. You aid and encourage trafficking in persons without engaging in it directly, by hiring a prostitute.?/p>

While the change to the courts-martial manual makes it clearer that prostitution is illegal, Marine commanders from the top down already know that prostitution is a punishable offense and have taken steps to combat it, wrote Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Douglas Powell via e-mail.

밠arines are briefed by their commanders, especially those who are deploying overseas, that they should not engage in prostitution,?Powell said.

Link Here

Number of badly wounded soldiers on rise in Iraq

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Military medical advances are keeping more soldiers alive in the Iraq War but also creating a growing pool of badly wounded veterans who will need expensive, long-term medical care, the U.S. secretary of Veteran Affairs said on Friday.

"We have cut fatalities a great deal and as a result of that we have people who are now seriously wounded who in previous wars would have been dead," Secretary Jim Nicholson in a visit with wounded soldiers at San Antonio's Brooke Army Medical Center."

We need to provide and continue to provide these people with world class health care and we need to be there when they need it in the future."More than 2,000 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq and nearly 9,000 have been wounded, according to the Pentagon.

Nicholson also said post-traumatic stress disorder is becoming increasingly common for returning Iraq veterans, but they are in good hands because the Department of Veterans Affairs "is the world's leading expert on PTSD."

Link Here

15, 955 wounded as of 3-Dec-05

Edited on Sat Jan-07-06 01:36 PM by IndianaGreen

Source:http://icasualties.org/oif /

Here is the story of one of the wounded, badly burned when his Humvee struck an IED:Bush presents the Purple Heart to a true American Hero on New YearsDay

Link Here

The Faces Behind ReBelle Nation..

I'll Leave it to you..

To figure out who is who.

-- Bush summons officials of nine administrations for "re-education" session at the White House.

January 6, 2006 -- Bush summons officials of nine administrations for "re-education" session at the White House. The Gang of Four in the Bush administration -- George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice -- yesterday summoned Secretaries of State and Defense from the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush's first administration for a Roosevelt Room briefing on Iraq by Gen. George Casey, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and U.S. proconsul in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad. The forty- minute briefing was on how well things are going in Iraq. Their comments came on the same day 11 more U.S. troops were killed in Iraq by suicide bombers and road side explosive devices.

The 40-minute propaganda barrage was followed by a 5 to 10 minute interchange between the past cabinet officers and Bush and his troika of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice. The New York Times is reporting today that former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright criticized Bush for allowing Iraq to distract from major problems with Iran, North Korea, Latin America, and China. Bush, who takes to criticism like a GOP congressman does to an ethics hearing, shot back that his administration "can do more than one thing at a time." (With Bush, that may not include walking and chewing gum).

The briefing was followed by an Oval Office photo op of the former secretaries with Bush and his three war hawk colleagues. Bush called the it a "family picture." It was as if Bush used a virtual time machine to entangle eight past administrations in his imperialist neo-con policy net. Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld quickly left the Oval Office for "other meetings." The stunned former secretaries were left to air their opinions to National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, a member of Cheney's neo-con clique in the administration.

Albright and Laird have openly criticized Bush's Iraq war. Powell, who has criticized the war through surrogates, remained silent during the White House meeting.

Bush's "Family Picture" with Harold Brown, Lawrence Eagleburger, James Baker III, Colin Powell, James Schlesinger, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, Rice, George Schultz, Melvin Laird, Robert McNamara, Madeleine Albright, Alexander Haig, Frank Carlucci (chairman emeritus of The Carlyle Group), William Perry, and William Cohen. Caspar Weinberger, Henry Kissinger, and Warren Christopher were unable to attend.

Link Here

Via Think Progress

Abramoff Met With Bush In May 2001


The White House maintains that Bush does not “recall” meeting Abramoff and, if they ever did meet, it was only in passing at a large gathering:

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I said it’s possible that they would have met at a holiday reception or some other widely attended gathering. The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him.

Q But he has the special designation as a Pioneer, as Terry was alluding to, raising more than $100,000. And he attended, as you told us, three events, holiday receptions at the White House. How likely is it that the President would not have met him —

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s why I said it’s possible. But I just told you what I know at this point, and the President doesn’t recall meeting him and he certainly doesn’t know him.

It’s not just possible, it happened.

The Texas Observer reports that Abramoff met with Bush on May 9, 2001, with his clients, the Coushatta tribe. (The chairman of the Coushatta tribe initially denied the meeting occured, but subsequently admitted that it did.) Abramoff charged his client 25,000 to arrange the meeting.

Filed under: Ethics, Administration
Posted by Amanda

DeLay Out As Majority Leader…

New York Times CARL HULSE January 7, 2006 at 08:24 AM
READ MORE: Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 - A rebellious band of House Republicans moved Friday to bar Representative Tom DeLay of Texas from regaining his position as majority leader, demanding a vote to replace him permanently at the top of the party hierarchy.

Acting in the wake of Tuesday's guilty plea to corruption charges by the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, once a close ally of Mr. DeLay, Representatives Jeff Flake of Arizona and Charles Bass of New Hampshire began circulating a petition on Friday to collect 50 signatures needed to call a party leadership election. By midafternoon, they had commitments from about two dozen lawmakers, aides said.


Art For Boys

How Many Different Ways Are There To Say BULLSHIT..??

Washington Times Reins

In Staffers Who Blog

Link Here

The lead on the Dec. 14 story was, "Dozens of Ethiopians yesterday braved the cold to protest a forum on the democratization of their country being held at The Washington Times newspaper's headquarters," but the story did not appear in the Washington Times. It was on the Web site of Washington Times reporter Robert Redding Jr.

It seems just the kind of story that Redding would be barred from posting on his Redding News Review under new guidelines announced yesterday by Wesley Pruden, Times editor-in-chief.

"Employees are not to report on or publish anything concerning The Washington Times itself," the rules say.

Redding, who covers the Washington city government, told Journal-isms he was informed that he was not the target of the memo, and Managing Editor Fran Coombs agreed that the policy was not directed at any particular staff member.

"We realized that more and more reporters were doing their own blog sites and were concerned, like many other newspapers, that this raised potential liability and fairness issues for The Washington Times. No one specific Web site was at issue for us. We were not even sure how many of our editors and reporters had created their own sites," Coombs told Journal-isms.

"Accordingly, we developed a policy that protected the newspaper and at the same time allowed our staff members to express themselves outside the newspaper."

"We intend to follow the letter" of the guidelines, Redding said, noting he had started his Web site before joining the paper. The site features Drudge Report-type headlines mostly linking to stories involving allegations of racism. But in November he ran an "exclusive" that screamed, "Steele included in nude video," about Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. Redding reported that Steele, a black Republican considered a rising star, attended a magazine launch party that featured nude women in body paint. Redding formerly covered Maryland state government.

Even For Wal-Mart, That Is Just Low Down, Foul, and WRONG

Wal-Mart Halts Movie

Suggestions on Web

By MARCUS KABEL, Associated Press Writer
Link Here

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is shutting down the system that creates movie recommendations on its shopping Web site after it linked a "Planet of the Apes" DVD to films about famous black Americans, including Martin Luther King Jr.

Wal-Mart said Thursday it had removed what it called the "offensive combinations" from a walmart.com page advertising a boxed DVD set, "Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series."

Under a "similar items" section, the DVD set's page linked shoppers to four films about the lives of King, actress Dorothy Dandridge, boxer Jack Johnson and singer Tina Turner. Wal-Mart later altered the page to link with television show DVDs.

The world's largest retailer said the software that generates links for shoppers from one movie to others of similar interest would be shut down. All cross references would be removed as soon as technically possible until the system can be fixed, Wal-Mart said.

Bill Wertz, a spokesman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based company, said it wasn't yet clear how or when the technical problem arose. "We're still looking into it," he said.

Wal-Mart moved swiftly after a link to the page for "Planet of the Apes" began circulating on the Internet.


---What a dirty, dirty legacy they are spawning every damn day.

That is just disgusting. Absolutely deliberate and inexcusable.---

CNN...Just now...


Gee, that only took a few felonies.. huh?

Ummmm. Um..Unnngh.. Ummmmm.. Excuse Me...

Meet Matt

Meet Teddy.....


What was it I was gonna ask about again.......???

Oh yeah...

Did you see ANYTHING... ummm, STRANGE... On election day in Iraq..??


Ohhh, Nuthin... Just askin...


As if we just NEEDED another reason to be paranoid...

Homeland Security opening private mail

Link here

Retired professor confused, angered when letter from abroad is opened

WASHINGTON - In the 50 years that Grant Goodman has known and corresponded with a colleague in the Philippines he never had any reason to suspect that their friendship was anything but spectacularly ordinary.

But now he believes that the relationship has somehow sparked the interest of the Department of Homeland Security and led the agency to place him under surveillance.

Last month Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, received a letter from his friend in the Philippines that had been opened and resealed with a strip of dark green tape bearing the words “by Border Protection” and carrying the official Homeland Security seal.

“I had no idea (Homeland Security) would open personal letters,” Goodman told MSNBC.com in a phone interview. “That’s why I alerted the media. I thought it should be known publicly that this is going on,” he said. Goodman originally showed the letter to his own local newspaper, the Kansas-based Lawrence Journal-World.

“I was shocked and there was a certain degree of disbelief in the beginning,” Goodman said when he noticed the letter had been tampered with, adding that he felt his privacy had been invaded. “I think I must be under some kind of surveillance.”

Goodman is no stranger to mail snooping; as an officer during World War II he was responsible for reading all outgoing mail of the men in his command and censoring any passages that might provide clues as to his unit’s position. “But we didn’t do it as clumsily as they’ve done it, I can tell you that,” Goodman noted, with no small amount of irony in his voice. “Isn’t it funny that this doesn’t appear to be any kind of surreptitious effort here,” he said.


Random Moments, Captured In Iraq

US woman journalist kidnapped

From correspondents in Baghdad
January 07, 2006

A US woman journalist was kidnapped in Baghdad today and her translator killed, Iraqi security sources said, in the latest hostage crisis involving Westerners in the war-torn country.

"A Western journalist was abducted by armed men in the Adl district of western Baghdad and her translator found dead," one source said.
An Iraqi defence ministry official said the interpreter was able to tell soldiers before he died that a US journalist had been kidnapped.

The US embassy said it was investigating reports of the kidnapping of one of its nationals.

Officials indicated the journalist was seized as she was on her way to interview prominent Sunni Arab politician Adnan al-Dulaimi.

A guard outside Dulaimi's office told AFP he heard gunshots fired a short distance away and rushed to find the body of a slain man.

US and Iraqi soldiers, along with police, cordoned off the area.

A number of Westerners are already being held hostage by insurgents in Iraq, including an American, a Briton and two Canadians, all members of a Christian peace group.

Link Here

Bush's Long War with the Truth

Robert Parry writes: "George W. Bush's dysfunctional relationship with the truth seems to be shaped by two complementary factors �" a personal compulsion to say whatever makes him look good at that moment and a permissive environment that rarely holds him accountable for his lies."

Jack Abramoff's "Cesspool of Corruption"

Posted on Jan. 3, 2006

By Robert Scheer

Update: links to stories about Abramoff’s funneling of charity funds for inner-city youths to ultra-left-wing Jewish groups fighting the Palestinian uprising.

Or, jump straight to the constantly updated list of Abramoff-related news stories.

Top Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff is set to sing, and his long list of former buddies in Congress and the Bush administration are quaking in anticipation of possible indictments stemming from the consummate Beltway hustler’s crass reign as the king of K Street.

“Casino Jack,” a former head of the College Republicans and a “Pioneer”-grade fundraiser for the Bush 2000 campaign, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion in D.C. yesterday and is set to appear in Florida today to plead guilty to fraud and conspiracy on separate charges. Abramoff and other defendants also must repay over $25 million to defrauded clients and $1.7 million to the IRS.

But most important for the nation is that Abramoff is now detailing the massive web of corruption he spun inside the Beltway which has already snared a top Bush official, procurement chief David H. Safavian, on charges of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation, and reportedly threatens dozens of other D.C. players.

“When this is all over, this will be bigger than any [government scandal] in the last 50 years, both in the amount of people involved and the breadth to it,” Stan Brand, a former U.S. House counsel who specializes in representing public officials accused of wrongdoing, told Bloomberg News. “It will include high-ranking members of Congress and executive branch officials.”

Some of the Wild West feel of this Beltway corruption was captured in Saturday’s Washington Post expose, “The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail.” It documents in chilling detail how, among other scams, Abramoff funneled a portion of the millions he had been skimming from Indian casino operators with a cool million from two Russian energy moguls through a shell organization called the U.S. Family Network—and from there into the coffers of politicians in a position to help his clients.

Ironically touting its commitment to “moral fitness” for the nation, the front group with the multimillion-dollar budget had a single staff member housed in the backroom of a capital townhouse it owned and rented out to other organizations linked to Abramoff and Tom DeLay--the latter’s staffers called it, ominously, DeLay’s “safe house.” This is apparently why DeLay felt the need to tout the U.S. Family Network in a 1999 fundraising letter as “a powerful nationwide organization dedicated to restoring our government to citizen control.”

It was run by Edwin A. Buckham, DeLay’s former chief of staff, whose lobbying firm, the Alexander Strategy Group, carried DeLay’s wife Christine on its payroll. But the moral “fitness” of such cronyism pales in comparison to the scandal of how Abramoff drummed up support for his varied clients under the cover of conservative morality.

For example, in order to block the ambitions of a rival tribe to the Choctaw Indians, who had paid Abramoff millions, the U.S. Family Network sent a mailing to Alabama residents warning shrilly: “The American family is under attack from all sides: crime, drugs, pornography, and one of the least talked about but equally as destructive – gambling. We need your help today to prevent the Poarch Creek Indians from building casinos in Alabama.” The letter conveniently failed to mention, however, that the U.S. Family Network had received at least $250,000 from the gambling proceeds of the Choctaws.

In another scam detailed in the Post story (which could be quickly optioned by Hollywood for a thriller), players in the mafia-dominated Russian energy industry slid a cool $1 million payment through a now-defunct London law firm into the U.S. Family Network’s account – which was, de facto, a slush fund for the Abramoff-DeLay network.

Citing the Rev. Christopher Geeslin, who served as a titular leader of the U.S. Family Network, the Post reported that Buckham told the reverend the payment was intended to secure DeLay’s support on legislation forcing the International Monetary Fund to bail out the faltering Russian economy without demanding the country raise taxes on its energy and other profitable industries. Right on cue, DeLay found his way onto Fox News Sunday to take up the Russian’s viewpoint: “They are trying to force Russia to raise taxes at a time when they ought to be cutting taxes in order to get a loan from the IMF,” he said. “That’s just outrageous.” The IMF backed down.

This is just an initial peek into the sordid world being revealed by Abramoff and two of his key cronies now spilling the beans to federal investigators. But in the bigger picture, what we are witnessing is the death throes of the GOP “revolution” which once promised to restore morality to Washington but instead sank far deeper into the cesspool of corruption.

Link Here

'DeLay Inc.' Lobbying Firm Has Links to Three Capital Scandals

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Representative Tom DeLay's campaign to get Republicans to dominate Washington lobbying may have worked too well for Alexander Strategy Group.

The firm has links to no fewer than three of the scandals convulsing the U.S. capital. One partner, former DeLay aide Tony Rudy, is now a focus of a federal investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The group's founder, former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham, set up a South Korea junket for his old boss that violated ethics rules. And the firm represents a company whose owner, prosecutors allege, bribed former Representative Randy Cunningham.

Alexander Strategy's links to lawmakers are an outgrowth of a decade-long effort by DeLay, 58, to force lobbying firms to hire more Republicans, who can direct corporate money to the party. The system, known as ``DeLay Inc.'' or ``the K Street Project,'' has fueled a surge of money in politics, and critics say it has also created the potential for greater corruption.

``Alexander Strategy Group is really part of DeLay Inc. and Abramoff Inc.,'' said Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who now heads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, an ethics watchdog group. ``There have been some aggressive prosecutors trying to unravel those ties. I am sure that Alexander Strategy is going to have more than Tony Rudy as a problem when this is over.''

Rapid Growth

Alexander's ties to DeLay, a Texas Republican and the former House majority leader, helped it become one of Washington's fastest-growing lobbying firms, with revenue surging 20-fold from 2000 to 2004, according to lobbying- disclosure reports.

Its DeLay ties go well beyond Rudy and Buckham. Jim Ellis, the head of DeLay's political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, also worked for the firm as a lobbyist. Karl Gallant, who preceded Ellis as head of DeLay's political action committee, is currently an Alexander lobbyist. And the firm employed DeLay's wife, Christine, from 1998 to 2002, paying her from $3,200 to $3,400 a month, according to Richard Cullen, a lawyer for the former majority leader.

Another congressional spouse, Julia Doolittle, wife of California Republican John Doolittle, helped Alexander with bookkeeping for one of its clients, according to Justice Department records.

Ellis faces money-laundering charges in Texas along with DeLay, who was forced to give up his leadership post after his September indictment. The case involves his PAC's alleged attempts to steer corporate money to state legislative races.

From 2000 to 2003, the PAC paid at least $388,000 to Alexander in fund-raising fees, FEC and Internal Revenue Service records show.

`Nothing Wrong'

Buckham and Rudy didn't return phone calls seeking comment. Cullen, DeLay's lawyer, denied his client engaged in any wrongdoing. DeLay ``knows that he has done nothing wrong,'' Cullen said on Jan. 3, after Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion in the Justice Department investigation of political corruption.

The DeLay-Buckham connection helped Alexander thrive. The company, whose offices are along the Potomac River in Washington's fashionable Georgetown district, brought in $7.8 million in 2004, an average of $650,000 for each of its 12 registered lobbyists, according to disclosures filed with Congress. That compares with an average of about $250,000 per registered lobbyist last year at Patton Boggs LLP, Washington's biggest lobbying firm by revenue. Patton Boggs had revenue of $30.6 million in 2004.

Giving to Republicans

Some of Alexander's money found its way to the Republican Party. Its lobbyists gave at least $376,608 to Republican candidates and party committees since 2001, according to Federal Election Commission records. The 12 gave a total of $1,000 to Democrats during that period.

``The largest public image of DeLay Inc. would be Alexander Strategy Group,'' said Kent Cooper, a former FEC official who co-founded PoliticalMoneyLine, a Washington-based company that tracks political finance. The firm's relationships with DeLay and other lawmakers and spouses ``might be what prosecutors are looking at.''

Prosecutors are clearly looking at Rudy, 39, DeLay's former deputy staff chief. Abramoff's plea agreement states that in 2000 a DeLay aide the government called ``Staffer A'' helped the lobbyist defeat legislation that would have restricted Internet gambling. People familiar with the case later said the staffer was Rudy. In return, the wife of ``Staffer A'' was paid $50,000 through a charity, according to the plea. Rudy hasn't been charged with a crime.

Measure Defeated

In July 2000, DeLay was one of 44 Republicans who voted against the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, while 165 party members supported it. The legislation, which required 270 votes to pass, fell short by 25 votes.

Alexander was also employed by Abramoff associate Michael Scanlon, a former communications director for DeLay. Scanlon's public-relations company, Capitol Campaign Strategies LLC, paid $120,000 to the firm in 2002, according to records released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in November.

Justice Department records show that Alexander was behind a nonprofit association -- the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council -- that was financed by South Korea's Hanwha Group and that flew DeLay to Korea in August 2001. Congressional ethics rules ban registered foreign agents from funding travel by members of Congress; the trip added to the cloud of controversy surrounding DeLay when it was reported by the Washington Post in March.

Possible Violation

Alexander, whose lobbyists signed the council's tax returns, may be in violation of the law, says the IRS's former head of nonprofit groups. While the council is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization, its business-oriented purpose documented in Justice Department disclosures ``suggests tax-exempt status was not warranted,'' said Marcus Owens, who headed the IRS division of tax-exempt groups from 1990 to 2000.

Kelly Kramer, a lobbyist for the council at Nixon Peabody LLP, didn't return phone calls and e-mails asking for comment.

In the years before the Korea trip, Buckham and Abramoff had a close association. They used their credit cards to help pay for a 2000 trip to the U.K. for DeLay and his wife, the Washington Post reported in April. House rules bar members from accepting travel from registered lobbyists. DeLay's office said it had been told that a nonprofit group sponsored the trip.

``He is someone on our side,'' Buckham said of Abramoff in a 1995 interview with the National Journal. ``He has access to DeLay.''

The Cunningham Connection

One of the biggest clients Alexander landed was Group W Advisors, a San Diego-based defense consultant. The company is owned by Brent Wilkes, a businessman who is one of the four un- indicted co-conspirators in a Nov. 28 criminal complaint for allegedly bribing Cunningham, his lawyer, Michael Lipman, told USA Today. Cunningham pleaded guilty and resigned his House seat on Nov. 28.

Alexander took in at least $525,000 in fees from 2002 to 2004 from Group W to lobby on defense appropriations. Those appropriations are among the legislative favors Cunningham gave to receive his gifts, according to the former lawmaker's plea agreement. It isn't clear what role, if any, Alexander strategists had. Lipman didn't return a call seeking comment.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Michael Forsythe in Washington mforysthe@bloomberg.net

Link Here

The End of One Person One Vote?

Might as well ring in the New Year with a link to the New York Times. Adam Cohen dredges up a little-noticed point about Samuel Alito today: namely, that Sandra Day O'Connor's purported replacement seems to disagree with the "one person one vote" decisions of the Warren Court in the 1960s. Here's Cohen's summary of one of those decisions, which, to the modern eye, look self-evidently correct:

The one-person-one-vote principle traces to the Supreme Court's 1962 decision in Baker v. Carr. At the time, legislative districts had wildly unequal numbers of people, and representatives from underpopulated rural districts controlled many state legislatures. In Maryland, 14 percent of the voters could elect a majority of the State Senate, and 25 percent could elect a majority of the State House. In Alabama, the county that includes Birmingham, which had 600,000 people, got the same number of state senators - one - as a county with barely 15,000 people.

In Baker v. Carr, Tennessee voters challenged their state's unequal legislative districts, which had not been redrawn in 60 years. The Supreme Court had rejected a similar claim out of Illinois in 1946, saying it did not want to enter the "political thicket." But in 1962, the Warren court decided it had to enter the thicket to vindicate the rights of Tennesseans whose votes were being unfairly diluted. It ordered Tennessee's lines redrawn.Those unequal district lines, by the way, were usually arranged so as to water down the voting power of African-Americans in the South, by packing them into a few urban districts. Although the Warren Court decisions were unpopular in certain circles at the time—civil rights advances in general were unpopular in certain circles at the time—nowadays opposing this sort of thing is pretty Paleolithic. In fact, some liberals might say that the Warren Court didn't go far enough on the "one person one vote" score; after all, legislatures are still allowed to include prison populations in the size of an individual voting district, despite the fact that those prisoners can't actually vote.

Meanwhile, if we're dredging up little-noticed facts about Alito—that is, stuff apart from his opposition to abortion and his apparent belief in the theory of the "imperial presidency"—here's another one. In his 1985 application for Assistant Attorney General in the Reagan administration, Alito noted that he disagreed with Warren Court decisions concerning "criminal procedure."

And which decisions might those be, exactly? Was it Gideon vs. Wainright, ensuring that all Americans must be provided a lawyer if they cannot afford one? Mapp v. Ohio, making evidence that was illegally obtained inadmissible in court? Escobedo v. Illinois, doing the same for evidence obtained by improper interrogations? Would Alito rather that citizens not be informed of their Miranda rights? Does he think the Court took a wrong turn in Hernandez v. Texas when it said that Mexican-Americans could not be excluded from juries? Inquiring minds want to know. Questions concerning criminal procedure occupy the vast majority of the Supreme Court's time, and it would be nice to know what manner of "law and order" justice we're dealing with here.

Posted by Bradford Plumer on 01/03/06 at 09:54 AM

Link Here

NA news Items:: Law Enforcement Database to Expand


This was on one of my e-newsletters for those who are searching for ancestors via DNA - often called 'deep ancestry' because it looks for markers on mutations that happened many thousands of years ago (e.g., the last glacial maxim, for instance), and people use that kind of DNA testing as an adjunct to genealogy research for when there are no written records.

I consider this new law with DNA testing to be yet another dangerous thing for the fascist government of The Cretin & his evil minions to dabble in, and another invasion of privacy.

I see nothing good coming of this if the controls to use the data properly are not in place....


New Law Allows for More DNA Samples in Law Enforcement Database
NEW YORK, Jan. 6 (GenomeWeb News)

President Bush signed a bill into law yesterday that expands the use
of DNA profiles and testing in law enforcement.

The law, Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization
Act of 2005, or H.R.3402, can be found here
_http://thomas.loc.gov/_ (http://thomas.loc.gov/)

New US Legislation Could Be Boon for Forensic DNA Testing Shops
By Tien Shun Lee, ProteoMonitor editor

Currently, only convicted felons can be included in the federal DNA database, called the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS. Five states authorize DNA testing of many arrested suspects, but the states are prohibited from uploading the DNA profiles into CODIS.

If the new legislation is passed, states will be allowed to upload DNA profiles from arrested suspects into the CODIS database. This could potentially result in millions of individuals being added to the database in coming years, according to forensics company Orchid Cellmark.

In addition, the new legislation will authorize the US Department of Justice to collect arrestee samples from all federal and military offenders. This could potentially involve an estimated 250,000 new DNA profiles annually.

The new legislation will also allow DNA samples to be taken from immigrants trying to cross the US border illegally. This could potentially affect 300,000 individuals each year.

Under the provisions of the bill, federal DNA grant money authorized under the 2005 President's DNA Testing Initiative, or Justice for All Act, can be used for forensic DNA testing of arrestees.

The bill, which is part of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, or Senate Bill 1197, is now being finalized by Congress.

Thanks NonnyO

Baghdad Burning

... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Here we are in the first days of 2006. What does the ‘6’ symbolize? How about- 6 hours of no electricity for every one hour of electricity? Or… 6 hours of waiting in line for gasoline that is three times as expensive as it was in 2005? Or an average of six explosions per day near our area alone?

The beginning of the new year isn’t a promising one. Prices seem to have shot up on everything from fuels like kerosene and cooking gas, to tomatoes. A typical conversation with Abu Ammar our local fruit/vegetable vendor goes something like this:

R: “Oh nice lemons today Abu Ammar… give us a kilo.”

Abu A: “They are Syrian. You should see the tomatoes- if you think these are nice, take a look at those.”

R: “Hmmm… they do look good. Two kilos of those. How much will that be?”

Abu A: “That will be 3600 dinars.”

R (feigning shock and awe): “3600 dinars! What? That is almost double what we paid a week ago… why?”

Abu A (feigning sorrow and regret): “Habibti… you know what my supplier has to go through to bring me these vegetables? The cost of gasoline has gone up! I swear on the life of my mother that I’m only profiting 50 dinars per kilo…”

R: “Your mother is dead, isn’t she?”

Abu A: “Yes yes- but you know how valuable the dear woman was to me- may Allah have mercy on her- and on us all! The dogs in the government are going to kill us with these prices…”

R (sighing heavily): “You voted for the dogs last year Abu Ammar…”

Abu A: “Shhh… don’t call them dogs- it’s not proper. Anyway, it’s not their fault- the Americans are making them do it… my Allah curse them and their children…”

R (with eyes rolling) and Abu A (in unison): “… and their children’s children.”

A few days ago, the cousin took me to buy a pack of recordable CDs. The price had gone up a whole dollar, which may seem a pittance to the average American or European, but it must be remembered that many Iraqis make as little as $100 a month and complete families are expected to survive on that.

“B. why has the price of these lousy CDs gone up so much???” I demanded from the shop owner who is also a friend, “Don’t tell me your supplier has also pushed the prices up on you because of the gasoline shortage?” I asked sarcastically. No- supplies cost the same for him- he has not needed to stock up yet. But this is how he explained it: his car takes 60 liters of gasoline. It needs to be refueled every 2-3 days. The official price of gasoline was 50 Iraqi dinars before, so it cost him around 3000 dinars to fill up his car, which was nearly two dollars. Now it costs 9000 Iraqi dinars IF he fills it up at a gas station and not using black market gasoline which will cost him around 15,000 dinars- five times the former price- and this every two to three days. He also has to purchase extra gasoline for the shop generator which needs to be working almost constantly, now that electricity is about four hours daily. “Now how am I supposed to cover that increase in my costs if I don’t sell CDs at a higher price?”

People buy black market gasoline because for many, waiting in line five, six, seven… ten hours isn’t an option. We’ve worked out a sort of agreement amongst 4 or 5 houses in the neighborhood. According to a schedule (which is somewhat complicated and involves license plate numbers, number of children per family, etc.), one of us spends the day filling up the car and then the gasoline is distributed between the four or five involved neighbors.

The process of extracting the gasoline from the car itself once it is back at the house was a rather disgusting and unhealthy one up until nearly a year ago. A hose was inserted into the gasoline tank and one of they unlucky neighbors would suck on it until the first surge of gasoline came flowing out. Now, thanks to both local and Chinese ingenuity, we have miniature gasoline pumps to suck out the gasoline. “The man who invented these,” My cousin once declared emotionally, holding the pump up like a trophy, “deserves a Nobel Prize in… something or another.”

I know for most of the world, highly priced gasoline is a common concern. For Iraqis, it represents how the situation is deteriorating. Gasoline and kerosene were literally cheaper than bottled water prior to the war. It’s incredibly frustrating that while the price of petrol is at a high, one of the worlds leading oil-producing countries isn’t producing enough to cover its own needs.

There is talk of major mismanagement and theft in the Oil Ministry. Chalabi took over several days ago and a friend who works in the ministry says the takeover is a joke. “You know how they used to check our handbags when we first walked into the ministry?” She asked the day after Chalabi crowned himself Oil Emperor, “Now WE check our handbags after we leave the ministry- you know- to see if Chalabi stole anything.”

I guess the Iraqis who thought the US was going to turn Iraq into another America weren’t really far from the mark- we too now enjoy inane leaders, shady elections, a shaky economy, large-scale unemployment and soaring gas prices.

Goodbye 2005- the year of SCIRI, fraudulent elections, secret torture chambers, car bombs, white phosphorous, assassinations, sectarianism and fundamentalism… you will not be missed.

Let us see what 2006 has in store for us.

Link Here

Murtha Denies Causing Recruitment Woes

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jan 6, 4:02 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record) says the military is blaming him for a recruitment slump instead of recognizing mistakes that have led to an enlistment shortage.

"They're trying to direct attention away from their problems," said Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine Corps veteran who has become a leading voice in Congress advocating an early withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a news conference Thursday that Murtha's remarks about Iraq are damaging to troop morale and to the Army's efforts to bring up recruitment numbers. Pace, the nation's top general, was asked specifically about an ABC News interview this week in which Murtha, 73, said if he were eligible to join the military today he would not join, nor would he expect others to join.

"That's damaging to recruiting," Pace said. "It's damaging to morale of the troops who are deployed, and it's damaging to the morale of their families who believe in what they are doing to serve this country."

Military officers usually are reluctant to get drawn into political debates, but Pace said Murtha's remarks about recruiting are relevant to his responsibilities as Joint Chiefs chairman.

Pace praised the congressman's record but criticized his remarks.

"When a respected leader like Mr. Murtha, who has spent 37 extremely honorable years as a Marine, ... has served the country extremely well in the Congress of the United States ? when a respected individual like that says what he said, and 18- and 19-year-olds look to their leadership to determine how they are expected to act, they can get the wrong message," Pace said.

In a statement released Thursday, Murtha said: "The military had no problem recruiting directly after 9/11 because everyone understood that we had been attacked. But now the military's ability to attract recruits is being hampered by the prospect of prolonged, extended and repeated deployments, inadequate equipment, shortened home stays, the lack of any connection between Iraq and the brutal attacks of 9/11, and ? most importantly ? the administration's constantly changing, undefined, open-ended military mission in Iraq."

Later Thursday, Murtha said he's spoken with military leaders and "they're frustrated by their mission."

Speaking before a town hall meeting on Iraq in Arlington, Va., hosted by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., Murtha said Pace called him to discuss the war.

"Peter Pace told me this last night: They know militarily they can't win this," Murtha said.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others at the Pentagon, including Pace, have said repeatedly that victory in Iraq will not be achieved by U.S. forces defeating the insurgency militarily but rather by U.S. forces providing the Iraqis the military, political and economic wherewithal to overcome the insurgency.

During the Pentagon news conference Thursday, Pace also predicted that the Saddam Hussein loyalists and other Iraqis who comprise the great bulk of the insurgency will increasingly give up, now that Iraq has approved its own constitution and held elections.

Pace said he believes the violence, which flared anew Thursday on one of the bloodiest days in Iraq in months, will abate as more Iraqis become convinced that the December elections will produce a representative government that will improve their lives.

"As they see their own government providing a way ahead that all of their citizens can understand as progress for their country, ... those who are fighting against the government right now who are Iraqis will more and more lay down their arms and decide to become part of the future of Iraq and not the past," Pace said.


AP Military Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.

Link Here

Why Am I Still Here At 2 A.M.???

I have no idea, but I suddenly DO remember why I had to take serious time outs through the last months.

Blogging is the digital twin of crack. My hair hurts.

Will be back for another fix later...

Party On!!

How Do We Stop It....????

The same way they did then.

I do not JUST recieve hate mail

Sometimes, I recieve quite extraordinary responses.

Not too long ago, I wrote an article
On The Laws I Live By.

A man named Bob, wrote to the site it appeared on MWC News and our first exchanges are here...

Then tonight they informed me he wrote back.

It is a fascinating look into the mind of an American struggling to come to grips with our times...

From Bob;

Thanks for the feedback.

I admit I do feel a little counterfeit trying to draw ironclad parallels between other historic personages and our present age. Nevertheless I sometimes indulge - especially when I hear the founding father’s names taken so in vain by the Christian Right. I think I am accurate however in my comments that the founders were the sort of men who, finally after much agonizing, broke with the Crown and took some pretty violent, radical actions: The Boston Tea Party; I’m sure Tom Pane would have assassinated King George if he had got him in his sights; and the sabotage of the British troops.

Parenthetically, one of the things I remember from my wholly inadequate high school American history class was the British shock at the American rebels not playing by the noble rules of conventional warfare: “They won’t even line up in honest file on a field of battle but choose to fire upon us from behind trees and fences!”

Pushing the parenthesis slightly further - To me this is not unlike the consternation in Washington and Jerusalem when reading reports of suicide bombers. There is a wonderful quote from The Battle of Algiers that I recently viewed (again).

“Journalist: M. Ben M'Hidi, don't you think it's a bit cowardly to use women's baskets and handbags to carry explosive devices that kill so many innocent people?

Ben M'Hidi: And doesn't it seem to you even more cowardly to drop napalm bombs on defenseless villages, so that there are a thousand times more innocent victims? Of course, if we had your airplanes it would be a lot easier for us. Give us your bombers, and you can have our baskets.”

This film is quite past due for a major revival.

The rationalization of the French to justify the use of torture and to “stay the course” in Algiers is so resonant.

Rent it again if you have not seen it recently.

I am not in any way advocating terrorism here. It’s just I can understand the reasons why people resort to it.

I experience a great deal of frustration when I read never-ending page upon page of caterwauling from our beloved left carping endlessly as if even the choir was awake. All these writers (me included) seem such purveyors of empty air. If this were truly just a debating society, it would be great fun – but while we talk, thousands continue to suffer and die. Their agony haunts me. Is it any wonder that occasionally I wish we could break through into the imprudence of pure action? As I said, this is unfortunately not a debating society. Our opponents in this contest are out committing wholesale torture, murder and conspiring to do the same to us. Yes, these “gentlemen and women” who run our government would kill you and me with as little compunction as we would squash a bug. Debating them, writing letters, contributing to worthy causes seem to have no impact on their actions whatsoever.

I, like you, believe in the supremacy of law. If anything sets this country apart from much of the history of past regimes it is that occasionally the law does serve us blindly as the courtroom statue with the scales promises. That is why the wholesale assault of the Bush administration on the Judicial Branch is the scariest of his actions. The Judiciary is all that presently stands between us and the unbridled power madness of this juggernaught.

I have little reason for optimism. I have had so many of my illusions destroyed in the past few years. Whoever said it, was right: “This world will break your heart.” Actually I think I said it. The thing that has done more to cause me to abandon hope than anything else in this struggle is the capitulation on the part of the party of Joseph Lieberman; that and the bald-faced way the last two presidential elections were stolen without so much as a ripple of dissent. These Democrats are in it up to their eyebrows – just as much as the president. There are damn few who aren’t. The result, I think, is that corruption and power has reached an insurmountable critical mass on the federal level. They have come as close to absolute power as has ever existed in this country and by their holy, jealous God they mean to keep it. In fact, we had better pray they don’t even begin to feel even slightly threatened: “Hey Adolph, throw another Reichstag on the fire!” In politics (as with my feelings for our environment)

I seriously doubt that there is any longer anything that can be done to save us.

So where does that leave me (and you)? For the present I don’t think there is any validity in any personal political engagement on the national level. Those few, heroic members of Congress who still labor under the hallucination that there is a role for statesmanship in government will just have to be left to continue to twist in the wind. There may be local pockets of political enlightenment that can develop a modicum of sustainability and autonomy – especially if the economy tanks for the middle and lower classes.

Those of us who still cannot accept what these demagogues are doing to this country (after all, we do so richly deserve the politicians we’ve got) and more important to the world, may yet have a role to play. It may be a dangerous role and it may not be all that clear as to what sort of strategy will be most effective. As I have said, I am firmly committed to non-violence. If I were not, my options would not be so circumscribed or so limited. I am truly amazed that there is no grassroots, American, violent resistance movement that has arisen like the Weathermen of old. Are we all that narcotized

Does al Qaeda have to do all the heavy lifting?! (Just kidding). I’m afraid that I (we?) may sometime come to advocate employment of the horrific Bonhoeffer option:

"If I see a madman driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can't, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Martin Luther King said that if your enemy has a conscience, you act like Gandhi. If your adversary has no conscience, like Hitler, you act like Bonhoeffer. I leave it to you to decide if George W. Bush has a conscience. When we finally decide that violence against a regime that is irredeemably pernicious is justified, I hope that, like the frog in the gradually heating pot, we will be able to act before we’re cooked. Actually, I think we’re probably cooked already. I think Bush (read Neocons) realized before any of the rest of us that a revolution might eventually break out in this country and, long ago, began to take steps to thwart the anticipated resistance. That is really what is behind all the police state crap he has been quietly putting in place while we sleep. One of these mornings you will be awakened by the sound of an iron door slamming shut. If you are lucky you may get to be a trustee and pass out bars of soap.

That’s why nothing of any real consequence will ever come of the investigations of all the high crimes and misdemeanors that Bush has been pulling so flagrantly. Abramoff and Libby will fry like pfc England, but nothing will ever touch these Masters of War (and deceit): Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, Gonzales - even Rove. Probably not even DeLay. I really do hope they get that son-of–a–bitch, DeLay. Down the memory hole will go the Downing Street memo. The Plame leak, Halliburton scammers, Abu Ghraib, torture/ rendition, UN and NSA citizen wiretaps, etc, etc. Flush, flush, flush. By 2008 who will even remember? Will you vote for Hillary?

Actually, when I used the word cowardice I was indulging in provocative hyperbole. It was an indictment of all of us on the left. It’s not a matter of prudence. None of us have the daring or the wit to throw off these scoundrels. I am not a coward; it’s just that I judge my lack of creativity and the resultant impotence harshly. I see others in history who staged revolutions against a foe like the British Empire that was as formidable in its time as the one we face to day. Our founders and countless other “subjects” of the Crown in Ireland, Scotland and India put us to shame. Next to men like Jefferson, Gandhi and even William Wallace we on the left today seem more like toads than actual bipedal primates.

I know that I cannot rest while the struggle persists. I do not have much time left in my life (I’m 69 years old), but I will use what remains in a way that hopefully may be of some benefit to those who come after. For now, it means that I will seek every opportunity to put these ideas out there, to argue and fight with you and others I respect to try to hammer out the issues, the strategies and the revolution that might just save what is left of this country and our planet. I do not want to leave the children of this world I love, to live in chains and deprivation. With Sartre, I believe that every man is responsible for the world. Hyperbole Perhaps, but I intend to live the rest of my life as if that were indeed true.

Peace to you Christy,
Bob Boldt
free hit counter