Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Margin of Error: Thousands Upon Thousands

March 10th, 2006 1:10 pm

Exact Death Toll of Iraqis Remains Murky
By Jim Krane / Associated Press

Three years into the war, one grim measure of its impact on Iraqis can be seen at Baghdad's morgue: There, the staff has photographed and catalogued more than 24,000 bodies from the Baghdad area alone since 2003, almost all killed in violence.

Despite such snapshots, the overall number of Iraqi civilians and soldiers killed since the U.S.-led invasion in spring 2003 remains murky. Bloodshed has worsened each year, pushing the Iraqi death toll into the tens of thousands. But no one knows the exact toll.

President Bush has said he thinks violence claimed at least 30,000 Iraqi dead as of December, while some researchers have cited numbers of 50,000, 75,000 or beyond.

The Pentagon has carefully counted the number of American military dead — now more than 2,300 — but declines to release its tally of Iraqi civilian or insurgent deaths.

The health ministry estimates 1,093 civilians died in the first two months of this year, nearly a quarter of the deaths government ministries reported in all of 2005.

The Iraqi government, however, has swung wildly in its casualty estimates, leading many to view its figures with skepticism.

At the Baghdad morgue, more than 10,000 corpses were delivered in 2005, up from more than 8,000 in 2004 and about 6,000 in 2003, said the morgue's director Dr. Faik Baker. All were corpses from either suspicious deaths or violent or war-related deaths — things like car bombs and gunshot wounds, tribal reprisals or crime — and not from natural causes.

By contrast, the morgue recorded fewer than 3,000 violent or suspicious deaths in 2002, before the war, Baker said. The tally at the Baghdad morgue alone — one of several mortuaries in Iraq — thus exceeds figures from Iraqi government ministries that say 7,429 Iraqis were killed across all of Iraq in 2005.

"The violence keeps getting worse," the morgue director said Feb. 28 by phone from Jordan, where he said he had fled recently for his own safety after he said he was under pressure to not report deaths. Freezers built to hold six bodies are sometimes crammed with 20 unclaimed corpses. "You can imagine what a mess it is," he said.

Baghdad, which has a fifth of Iraq's 25 million inhabitants, has been a main center of the violence, with insurgent attacks and sectarian tensions both high here.

Many of the Baghdad morgue's bodies arrive from the emergency room at Yarmouk Hospital, where Dr. Osama Abdul Wahab said his staff occasionally had to deal with groups of two or three trauma patients before the invasion. Now they must cope with dozens of casualties at a time, he said.

"All of a sudden the doors of hell open and 40 injured patients arrive and you are alone," said Abdul Wahab, a 31-year-old neurologist.

Regardless of the lack of a precise figure on deaths, virtually all studies agree that among Iraqi government security forces, the police are at greater risk than the army. But it is Iraqi civilians who bear the brunt of the deaths.

According to the government's own count, twice as many Iraqi civilians — 4,024 — died last year in insurgency-related violence than police and soldiers.

Part of the reason for the high civilian death toll is that insurgents prefer to strike in the cities, especially Baghdad.

There is no way to verify the Iraqi government death figures independently, as is the case with most statistics in Iraq.

In a dangerous country as large as California, journalists and academics rely on figures provided by police, hospitals, the U.S. military and the Interior Ministry. But reports on casualties from major attacks often vary widely.

Further muddling the issue, some outside estimates of the dead include Iraqi insurgents, while others do not.

Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution who has closely followed the war's casualties, estimates 45,000 to 75,000 Iraqis have been killed, including insurgents and Iraqi soldiers.

O'Hanlon, who teaches a Columbia University course on estimating war casualties, called Bush's figure of 30,000 "on the lower end of the plausible range."

Iraq Body Count, a British anti-war group, put its tally of war dead at between 28,864 and 32,506 as of Feb. 26, but that doesn't include Iraqi soldiers or insurgents. It compiles its estimate of civilian deaths from news stories, corroborating each death through at least two reports.

But if Iraqi officials standardize tallies days later, news organizations have moved on to reporting other violence and may be unaware that early figures have been adjusted.

A United Nations survey conducted almost two years ago — before the deadliest guerrilla warfare began — said 24,000 Iraqi civilians and troops had been killed from the war's beginning in March 2003 through May 2004.

In late 2004, a study published in the Lancet medical journal estimated the war had caused some 98,000 civilian deaths. But the British government and others were skeptical of that finding, which was based on extrapolations from a small sample.

The question of who is to blame for the Iraqi deaths has long been controversial. Some critics argue that with the United States and its allies unable to maintain order, Iraq has become a deadlier place for civilians than it was under Saddam Hussein.

Johnson, the military spokesman, acknowledged that possibility, but said future generations would enjoy better lives because of Iraq's current hardships.

Rand Corp. military analyst James Dobbins, a former Bush administration envoy to Afghanistan, is among those who believe the United States bears some responsibility for the Iraqi dead, even if insurgents actually cause most of the deaths.

"The U.S. has never been able to protect the population, and has thus never won its confidence and secured its support," Dobbins said.

The Middle East Institute's Wayne White, who headed the State Department's Iraq intelligence team until last year, adds that regardless of whether Americans believe they should be blamed for these casualties, "many, many Iraqis hold the U.S. responsible for all of them."
Sarmad Ahmad al-Azami, a 35-year-old engineer, is an example.

His father died of a heart attack suffered during the U.S. bombing of a government palace next to his home in Baghdad. A year later, al-Azami's mother, 59, was killed in a car bombing.
"Our family has been devastated," al-Azami said. "Iraqis were living hard lives before this, but now things are much worse."

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There Are Criminals, and Then There Are CRIMINALS

By Cindy Sheehan

As I lie here in bed recuperating from the injuries that I received from a federal agent and the NYPD in front of the US Mission to the UN (USUN) the other day, I have had time to reflect on the experience, the state of our union and its descent into a fascist state.

When the four of us, Missy Beattie, Rev. Patricia Ackerman, Medea Benjamin, and I, were arrested the other day, I was singled out for federal police brutality. The other three ladies were picked up, both gingerly, though, and I was dragged across the pavement and treated very, very roughly -- having both arms wrenched out from beneath me. I looked to my doctor as if I had been beaten. My daughter, Janey, asked if I had been resisting arrest. I told her if one considers going into a fetal position and saying, "Please don't hurt me anymore!" resisting, then I guess I was.

Why was I targeted for the abuse? Is it revenge for my work at exposing the lies of BushCo, of which John Bolton is a leading co-criminal? Or is it to discourage other activists from taking the same path I have taken: demanding an end to the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq, and demanding that our freedoms be returned to us? I wish the Senate had the courage to stand up to the fascists in our government -- or are the 90 who voted "Yea" to extend the Patriot Act also co-slitherers into fascism?

Neocon John Bolton has had a long and checkered career of lying and doing dirty work for the regime. In 1994 he harassed and terrified whistle-blower Melody Townsel who worked for US AID. She urged the Senate Foreign Relation Committee not to approve Bolton's nomination and she wrote in a letter to them: "John Bolton put me through hell - and he did everything he could to intimidate, malign and threaten not just me, but anybody unwilling to go along with his version of events. His behavior back in 1994 wasn't just unforgivable, it was pathological." Not only has John Bolton not been punished for this incident and other involving harassment and abuse, he was rewarded with a recess appointment to the UN when George Bush, again, circumvented our political processes.

L. Paul Bremer slunk, under the cover of darkness, out of Iraq two months after my son, Casey, was killed there with $8.8 BILLION missing from the Coalition Provisional Authority. Has L. Paul been held accountable for the missing money? No, as a matter of fact, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and is a highly paid speaker on the rubber chickenhawk Republican circuit.

Such war profiteers as Halliburton are raping the American tax payer of billions of dollars as a matter of company policy. A Halliburton whistle blower accused the company of charging us $45.00 per case of soda and ten thousand dollars a night to stay in Kuwait's finest hotels. They charge immoral prices to feed our soldiers who often complain of rotten food. Our young people even have to pay to have their laundry done by these outrageous over-chargers. Have they been punished or monetarily penalized for these crimes? No, as a matter of fact, Halliburton gets awarded more no-bid contracts in America and around the world.

A book could be written about the felonies of the Bush Crime Family and their mafia-style buddies, but I am running out of space. George Bush has committed crimes against humanity and high crimes and misdemeanors in his tenure as (P)resident of the White House. Has he been held accountable for any of this? No, he spends his nights and days comfortable and content in the fact that he is a lame duck, already rich, and knowing that Congress is spineless and he won't be impeached for his transgressions that have caused the deaths of so many thousands of people worldwide.

When we were in the cockroach and feces-decorated jail system in NYC the other night, we met some other women who felt they had to resort to crime to try to survive in BushWorld. We met intelligent young women who felt their last resort was to resort to victimless crimes. Now for their petty thefts, they will have to spend months in institutions where they are stripped of any human dignity or comfort. All of the women we met knew they broke the law and were resigned to their punishment but where is the justice in our system where all people are supposedly equal?

However, we four white, middle-class women were the lucky ones. We only had to spend one night in jail and we knew our lawyers would be there in the morning to spring us. When we were heading for court, we walked by our sisters in the holding cell and our hearts sank, because we know what it is like to spend even one night in jail. Our souls also connected with our sisters and brothers all over the world who are imprisoned in far worse conditions by the policies of BushCo and are being inhumanely tortured by these same medieval and draconian policies.

Even if John Bolton, L. Paul Bremer, George Bush, Halliburton execs, etc. ad nauseum are ever punished, we all know the conditions won't be (but should be) as harsh as those of the other people who live in subhuman conditions because of them. These people operate on the standard of having all the money and all the power and they don't care for anyone who they victimize on their way to obtaining their obscene and ill-gotten gains.

One of our so-called crimes in front of USUN was "Obstructing Governmental Administration." I say "Hell, yes! Anyone with a conscience or any moral courage should be doing everything in his/her power to obstruct the administration of the Bush government. Only massive, peaceful, non-violent resistance to his calamitous policies will be able to stem the dreadful tide!

That is why we need to stand up to the neo-fascists and take our humanity back.
While we are still able. I will stand up to them again and again, I just hope next time that they drag me by my good arm!

Cindy Sheehan is the very proud mother of Casey Sheehan who was KIA in the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq. She is Founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace and author of Not One More Mother's Child available at Koa Books. Cindy is above all the proud mom of her surviving children: Carly, Andy, and Janey.

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White House Launching PR Offensive To Defend Iraq Strategy...

Washington Post Michael A. Fletcher March 10, 2006 at 11:44 PM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Iraq

President Bush plans to begin a series of speeches next week again explaining the administration's strategy for winning the war in Iraq, as the White House returns to a familiar tactic to allay growing public pessimism about the war that has helped keep the president's approval rating near its historic low.

After previewing the upcoming speech in his radio address today, the president is scheduled to make remarks on the war at George Washington University on Monday. The appearance, which will be followed weekly by as many as four other speeches, marks the start of the White House's latest effort to convince skeptical Americans that it has a coherent plan for victory as the war nears its third anniversary later this month.



17004Printable Representations:
Deaths Woundedsource: antiwar.com

source: iraqbodycount.net

Bush's Top Domestic Policy Adviser Arrested For Retail Theft Scheme After Abruptly Resigning...

Washington Post Ernesto Londoño and Michael A. Fletcher March 10, 2006 at 10:36 PM
READ MORE: 2006, Investigations, George W. Bush

Claude A. Allen, who resigned last month as President Bush's top domestic policy adviser, was arrested this week in Montgomery County for allegedly swindling Target and Hecht's stores out of more than $5,000 in a refund scheme, police said.

Allen, 45, of Gaithersburg, has been released on his own recognizance and is awaiting trial on two charges, felony theft scheme and theft over $500, said Lt. Eric Burnett, a police spokesman. Each charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.


-- Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has died in The Hague, independent B-92 radio in Belgrade reports.

Dozens killed in factory attack

DOZENS of suspected Sunni insurgents attacked a small town near Baghdad at dusk yesterday and killed at least 25 people and possibly many more, police and a local politician said today.


US activist 'tortured, shot'

From correspondents in BaghdadMarch 11, 2006

AMERICAN hostage Tom Fox, whose body was found dumped beside a railway line in western Baghdad, was tortured before being shot dead, Iraqi police said today."His hands were tied behind him and he had gunshot wounds.

There were signs of torture," a police source said.

Fox, 54, was abducted along with three fellow activists from the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams in November by a group calling itself the "Swords of Truth". The group had threatened to kill them if all Iraqi prisoners were not freed.

Fears about Fox's fate were raised earlier this week when al Jazeera television aired a video showing only fellow activists Briton Norman Kember, and Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Sooden.

US embassy spokeswoman Elizabeth Colton said Fox's body was on its way back to the United States. She had no comment on the nature of his death.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Rice Extends Good Will to Latin Leftists

As if they give a shit what you have to say, Condi you and your bunch of goons have lost, the majority of the free worlds support. We dont like liars and thieves

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who plans to attend the inauguration of a socialist in Chile this weekend, says the United States has no quarrel with leftist leaders in Latin America as long as they govern well.

"This is a wonderful moment, the inauguration of the Chilean president, a woman president," Rice told a group of Latin American, Asian and Australian reporters Thursday, a day before she began a trip to those places.

She was far less enthusiastic about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who frequently calls President Bush a terrorist. But she said the United States wants good relations with Bolivia's new president, a former coca-growers union boss who once vowed to be "Washington's nightmare."

Rice plans to attend Saturday's inauguration in Valparaiso of Chilean President-elect Michelle Bachelet, a pediatrician who is the first Latin American woman to be elected president without a powerful husband.

Rice will meet with Bolivian President Evo Morales when both attend the Bachelet inauguration. It will be their first meeting, and one closely watched in Latin America, where Bachelet and Morales are the latest leftist politicians to win democratic elections.

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US helicopter crashes in Afghanistan

http://www.chinaview.cn/ 2006-03-09
19:49:58 KABUL, March 9 (Xinhuanet)

-- A U.S. military chopper crashed in a mountainous area between Wardak and Ghazni provinces some 100 km south of here on Thursday, local officials said.

"The incident occurred around noon and it crashed inside Wardak territory," Ghazni's police chief Abdul Rahman Sarjang told Xinhua.

He did not give more details.

Confirming the incident, police chief of Wardak province Pacha Gul Bakhtiary also told Xinhua that personnel of law enforcing agencies had been sent to the area to locate the chopper's wreckage.

"Police have yet to spot the wreckage or identify the reason behind the incident or if there were any casualties," Bakhtiary asserted.

No U.S. military official was immediately available to make any comment on the issue

Link here

AP: Republicans Losing Faith In Bush...

Associated Press RON FOURNIER March 10, 2006 at 08:45 AM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Iraq

More and more people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance, question his character and no longer consider him a strong leader against terrorism, according to an AP-Ipsos poll documenting one of the bleakest points of his presidency.

Nearly four out of five Americans, including 70 percent of Republicans, believe civil war will break out in Iraq -- the bloody hot spot upon which Bush has staked his presidency. Nearly 70 percent of people say the U.S. is on the wrong track, a 6-point jump since February.


Dan Rather: "American Journalism Is In Need Of A Spine Transplant"...

Courier Post JIM WALSH March 10, 2006 at 09:36 AM

TV newsman Dan Rather, who stepped down as CBS anchorman in the wake of a discredited report, on Wednesday night said the press "ought to be doing a better job."

"American journalism is in need of a spine transplant," Rather told about 600 people at the Star Forum at Cherry Hill High School West.


Watch GOP Ad That Attacks African-Americans, Gays, Judges, And More!...

This is isn't a joke or a parody commercial. It's just insane. Robinson is running for Congress in North Carolina and he uses the Twilight Zone theme to attack gays, judges, African Americans and just about anything or anyone else you can think of.


Bush Admin. "Cooking The Numbers" To Award $2.1B A Year To Faith-Based Groups...

USA Today Richard Benedetto March 10, 2006 at 03:15 PM
READ MORE: George W. Bush

Over on North Chester Street, in the heart of the inner city here, some 30 African-American boys and girls ages 6-11 leave school every weekday afternoon and noisily dash to a neighborhood center in a former Lutheran church for two hours of after-school reading and math.

They are just a handful of the tens of thousands of children and adults being served by federally funded faith-based and community programs that President Bush highlighted in Washington on Thursday.


Interior Secy. Gale Norton Resigns As Her Dept. Reveals More Connections To Abramoff Scandal...

Associated Press JOHN HEILPRIN March 10, 2006 at 02:06 PM
READ MORE: Jack Abramoff, George W. Bush

Interior Secretary Gale Norton resigned Friday after five years in President Bush's Cabinet and at a time when her agency is part of a lobbying scandal over Indian gaming licenses.

In a letter to Bush, Norton said she the resignation would be effective at the end of March.


Abu Ghraib Army Reserve Captain Says Higher Ups Responsible For Torture...

Salon Mark Benjamin and Michael Scherer March 10, 2006 at 11:29 AM

A senior staffer to a Republican congressman revealed Thursday that he has been formally reprimanded by the Army for his role in the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal -- and that he is fighting the disciplinary move. He says that higher-ups were responsible for the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Christopher R. Brinson, who in civilian life works as the deputy chief of staff for Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, was directly in charge of some of the military police later prosecuted for abuse at Abu Ghraib during the notorious autumn of 2003. Brinson received the reprimand in January 2005, but it had not been revealed publicly until his attorney, David P. Sheldon, confirmed it to Salon Thursday, noting that Brinson has since submitted a rebuttal to the Army. The attorney would not reveal the exact reason for Brinson's punishment.


Sandra Day O'Connor Warns Of “Beginnings” Of Dictatorship...

You suck big time Lady!!!!!!!

Bit to bloody late now, I would say, seeing that you voted the asshole into the White House, your Supreme Court sucks big time, and is only there for the liars and thieves of this world, as we have come to realise after the 2000 election, After all you put the Bastard and his goons into power, since you would not resign untill there was another republican in the White House.

I hope you live daily with all the death you have been instrumental in causing by that decision in 2000.

NPR March 10, 2006 at 12:00 AM
READ MORE: Tom DeLay, George W. Bush, Al Gore, Supreme Court

NPR's Nina Totenberg aired an amazing story this morning about a talk that just-resigned Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor gave at Georgetown University. The first woman to serve on the High Court wouldn't allow her actual words to be broadcast, and that's a shame, because -- based on Totenberg's report -- every American needs to hear what she said. The Reagan appointee who became a moderate and an American icon -- Bush v. Gore notwithstanding -- all but named names in thinly veiled attacks on former House majority leader Tom DeLay and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, and ended with a stunning warning.

O'Connor told her Georgetown audience that judges can make presidents, Congress and governors "really really mad," and that if judges don't make people angry, they aren't doing their job. But she said judicial effectiveness is "premised on the notion that we won't be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts." While hailing the American system of rights and privileges, she noted that these don't protect the judiciary, that "people do":

Listen here.

Read some of the transcript here.

Check out Buzz Flash Link Here


Murtha to Receive Profile in Courage Award

The Associated Press

Rep. John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran who has denounced the war in Iraq, was named a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Thursday.

Alberto Mora, a former Navy general counsel who warned Pentagon officials that U.S. policies dealing with terror detainees could invite abuse, also will receive the award from the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library Foundation.

Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, was recognized "for the difficult and courageous decision of conscience he made in November 2005, when he reversed his support for the Iraq war and called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the conflict," the foundation said in a statement.

Mora was honored for "waging a 2 1/2-year behind-the-scenes battle with Pentagon brass and civilian leaders over U.S. military policy regarding the treatment of detainees held by the United States as part of the war on terror," the foundation said.

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Report: Only $25m of $2b Katrina relief aid has been spent

RAW STORYPublished: March 8, 2006

Just $25 million of $2 billion in funding designated for states afflicted by Hurricane Katrina has been spent, a new report from the Center for Public Integrity will report late Wednesday afternoon, RAW STORY has learned.

The full report is now available here.

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Faith-based programs flourishing, Bush says

BALTIMORE — Over on North Chester Street, in the heart of the inner city here, some 30 African-American boys and girls ages 6-11 leave school every weekday afternoon and noisily dash to a neighborhood center in a former Lutheran church for two hours of after-school reading and math.

They are just a handful of the tens of thousands of children and adults being served by federally funded faith-based and community programs that President Bush highlighted in Washington on Thursday.

"It used to be that groups were prohibited from receiving any federal funding whatsoever because they had a cross or a star or a crescent on the wall," Bush told religious leaders at the annual White House conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

"That's changed for the better," Bush said. "So now, when the government's making social service grants, money is awarded to groups that get the best results regardless of whether they're a faith-based program. That's all people want."

Who the hell do you think your fooling Georgie, no wonder New Orleans is where it is today nowhere, but I bet your fundamentalist goons will be a hell of a lot richer. over the bodies of the poor people of New Orleans.

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Kurt Vonnegut's "Stardust Memory"

Harvey Wasserman
Columbus Free Press (Ohio)

On a cold, cloudy night, the lines threaded all the way around the Ohio State campus. News that Kurt Vonnegut was speaking at the Ohio Union prompted these “apathetic” heartland college students to start lining up in the early afternoon. About 2,000 got in to the Ohio Union. At least that many more were turned away. It was the biggest crowd for a speaker here since Michael Moore.

In an age dominated by hype and sex, neither Moore nor Vonnegut seems a likely candidate to rock a campus whose biggest news has been the men’s and women’s basketball teams’ joint assault on Big Ten championships.

But maybe there’s more going on here than Fox wants us to think.

Vonnegut takes an easy chair across from Prof. Manuel Luis Martinez, a poet and teacher of writing. He grabs Martinez and semi-whispers into his ear (and the mike) “What can I say here?”

Martinez urges candor.

“Well,” says Vonnegut, “I just want to say that George W. Bush is the syphilis president.”

The students seem to agree.

“The only difference between Bush and Hitler,” Vonnegut adds, “is that Hitler was elected.”

“You all know, of course, that the election was stolen. Right here.”

Off to a flying start, Vonnegut explains that this will be his “last speech for money.” He can’t remember the first one, but it was on a campus long, long ago, and this will be the end.

The students are hushed with the prospect of the final appearance of America’s greatest living novelist. Alongside Mark Twain and Ben Franklin, Will Rogers and Joseph Heller and a very short list of immortal satirists and storytellers, there stands Kurt Vonnegut, author of SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE and SIRENS OF TITAN, CAT’S CRADLE and GOD BLESS YOU, MR. ROSEWATER, books these students are studying now, as did their parents, as will their children and grandchildren, with a deeply felt mixture of gratitude and awe.

Nobody tonight seems to think they were in for a detached, scholarly presentation from a disengaged academic genius coasting on his incomparable laurels

“I’m lucky enough to have known a great president, one who really cared about ALL the people, rich and poor. That was Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was rich himself, and his class considered him a traitor.

“We have people in this country who are richer than whole countries,” he says. “They run everything.

“We have no Democratic Party. It’s financed by the same millionaires and billionaires as the Republicans.

“So we have no representatives in Washington. Working people have no leverage whatsoever.

“I’m trying to write a novel about the end of the world. But the world is really ending! It’s becoming more and more uninhabitable because of our addiction to oil.

“Bush used that line recently,” Vonnegut adds. “I should sue him for plagiarism.”

Things have gotten so bad, he says, “people are in revolt again life itself.”

Our economy has been making money, but “all the money that should have gone into research and development has gone into executive compensation. If people insist on living as if there’s no tomorrow, there really won’t be one.

“As the world is ending, I’m always glad to be entertained for a few moments. The best way to do that is with music. You should practice once a night.

“If you want really want to hurt your parents and don’t want to be gay, go into the arts,” he says.

Then he breaks into song, doing a passable, tender rendition of “Stardust Memories.”

By this time this packed hall has grown reverential. The sound system is appropriately tenuous. Straining to hear every word is both an effort and a meditation.

“To hell with the advances in computers,” he says after he finishes singing. “YOU are supposed to advance and become, not the computers. Find out what’s inside you. And don’t kill anybody.

“There are no factories any more. Where are the jobs supposed to come from? There’s nothing for people to do anymore. We need to ask the Seminoles: ‘what the hell did you do?’’ after the tribe’s traditional livelihood was taken away.

Answering questions written in by students, he explains the meaning of life. “We should be kind to each other. Be civil. And appreciate the good moments by saying ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’

“You’re awful cute” he says to someone in the front row. He grins and looks around. “If this isn’t nice, what is?

“You’re all perfectly safe, by the way. I took off my shoes at the airport. The terrorists hate the smell of feet.

“We are here on Earth to fart around,” he explains, and then embarks on a soliloquy about the joys of going to the store to buy an envelope. One talks to the people there, comments on the “silly-looking dog,” finds all sorts of adventures along the way.

As for being a midwesterner, he recalls his roots in nearby Indianapolis, a heartland town, the next one west of here. “I’m a fresh water person. When I swim in the ocean, I feel like I’m swimming in chicken soup. Who wants to swim in flavored water?”

A key to great writing, he adds, is to “never use semi-colons. What are they good for? What are you supposed to do with them? You’re reading along, and then suddenly, there it is. What does it mean? All semi-colons do is suggest you’ve been to college.”

Make sure, he adds, “that your reader is having a good time. Get to the who, when, where, what right away, so the reader knows what is going on.”

As for making money, “war is a very profitable thing for a few people. Jesus used to be so merciful and loving of the poor. But now he’s a Republican.

“Our economy today is not capitalism. It’s casino-ism. That’s all the stock market is about. Gambling.

“Live one day at a time. Say ‘if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is!’

“You meet saints every where. They can be anywhere. They are people behaving decently in an indecent society.

“I’m going to sue the cigarette companies because they haven’t killed me,” he says. His son lived out his dream to be a pilot and has spent his career flying for Continental. Now they’ve “screwed up his pension.”

The greatest peace, Vonnegut wraps up, “comes from the knowledge that I have enough. Joe Heller told me that.

“I began writing because I found myself possessed. I looked at what I wrote and I said ‘How the hell did I do that?’

“We may all be possessed. I hope so.”

He accepts the students’ standing ovation with characteristic dignity and grace. Not a few tears flow from young people with the wisdom to appreciate what they are seeing. “If this isn’t nice, we don’t know what is.”

Not long ago we spoke on the phone. I asked Kurt how he was. “Too fucking old,” he replied.

Maybe so. But the mind and soul are still there, powerful and penetrating as ever. Just as they’ll ever be in his books and stories and the precious records of his wonderful talks.

Thankfully, Kurt Vonnegut is still possessed by the genius of seeing and describing the world as only Kurt Vonnegut can.

He is still sharp and clear, full of love and life and light. May he be with us yet for a long long time to come.

Harvey Wasserman read CAT’S CRADLE, SIRENS OF TITAN and SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE in college, sought Boku-Maru, and has never been the same.

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Leno On Iran: "If There's One Thing The Bush Admin. Won't Tolerate, It's A Middle Eastern Country That Could Have WMD, That Doesn't"...

The Tonight Show Jay Leno March 9, 2006 at 11:13 AM
READ MORE: George W. Bush

Jay Leno on the Tonight Show last night:

"If there's One thing the Bush Administration won't tolerate, it's a middle eastern country that could have weapons of mass destruction, that doesn't."


Conservative Scholar: Dubai Considering Selling US Operations To Halliburton...

Thinkprogress Judd Legum March 9, 2006 at 11:38 PM
READ MORE: Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Halliburton

Today Dubai Ports World announced it would "transfer fully the U.S. operations...to a United States entity." This evening on the PBS News Hour, AEI scholar Norm Ornstein said that DP World was considering selling its U.S. operations to Halliburton:

If this is done now through the backdoor, where D.P. [Dubai Ports World] has any role at all, Congress is going to go ballistic, and it's going to be a disaster, I think, for the administration.
They have got a dilemma now, because there simply aren't American companies that have the know-how and the breadth to do this. Interestingly, and perhaps ironically, what I had heard earlier in the day, as they were looking at those that have the -- the kind of resources,
Halliburton was a name that came up.


Third elections worker indicted over presidential recount:

Jacqueline Maiden is the third board worker charged with six counts alleging that Ohio laws were not followed in the selection and review of ballots for the recount.

Do you believe this? We are confident that no employee of the Board of Elections would knowingly or negligently engage in any unlawful conduct regarding the 2004 Presidential Recount," the statement read.

Link Here

US has 727,304 homeless people nationwide: report :

Last year, the United States found 727,304 homeless people nationwide, meaning about one in every 400 Americans were without a home, according to the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2005 issued by the Information Office of China's State Council Thursday

Link Here

Thom Hartmann: Illegal Workers: the Conservatives Secret Weapon:

Why Bush & Co. like a cheap and illegal labor force

Link Here

U.S. House panel votes to block Dubai ports deal:

By a vote of 62-2, the House Appropriations Committee approved the amendment to stop the state-owned United Arab Emirates company Dubai Ports World from managing terminals at the American ports.

Link Here

Bye-Bye Dubai?:

In what could be a last-ditch effort to salvage its deal to operate American East and Gulf Coast ports, DP World told Congress that it would agree to transfer control to a "U.S. entity," which could simply mean a subsidiary of the Dubai operation.

Link Here

'They tried to attach themselves to his virtue; then they wiped their feet with him.'--Mary Tillman:

It is time to demand congressional hearings into the way the Bush administration cynically spun the story to serve its political purposes at the expense of the truth.

Link Here

Video: Israel's Secret Weapon :

This film is the story of the bomb, Vanunu and Israel's wall of silence.

Link here

Britain's dirty secret:

Exculsive - Secret papers show how Britain helped Israel make the A-bomb in the 1960s, supplying tons of vital chemicals including plutonium and uranium. And it looks as though Harold Wilson and his ministers knew nothing about it.

Link Here

White House Linked to Mitch Wade Iran Group?:

By Josh Marshall - March 7, 2006, 11:20 AM

Yesterday at TPM we noted the fact that in April 2004 Mitchell Wade -- the guy who paid off Duke Cunningham for help bagging contracts -- registered as the 'registered agent' for an outfit called the "Iranian Democratization Foundation."

That was on April 5th, 2004.

Now, during 2004, the Federal Procurement Data System lists 444 procurement contracts for the Executive Office of the President (that's the official name for what we colloquially refer to as 'the White House'). Most of those contracts are what you'd expect for a large office complex -- computer services, shipping, office supplies, etc.

But three stand out: three contracts, for a total of $254,437, for unspecified "intelligence services."

Those three contracts were awarded to Mitchell Wade's MZM, Inc.

The first contract was signed only about eight weeks after Wade set up the Iranian Democratization Foundation (IDF). The first was on June 16th, the second on July 23rd and the third on September 30th.

We're not the first ones to report these contracts for "intelligence services." On June 28th, 2005, just as the Duke Cunningham scandal was getting underway, the Washington Post wrote ...

Government procurement records show that MZM, which Wade started in 1993, did not report any revenue from prime contract awards until 2003. Most of its revenue has come from the agreement the Pentagon just cut off. But over the past three years it was also awarded several contracts, worth more than $600,000, by the Executive Office of the President. They include a $140,000 deal for office furniture in 2002 and several for unspecified "intelligence services." (italics added)
But given all that's transpired, this odd fact seems worthy of more scrutiny, especially since Wade was setting up shop in the Iran regime-change game right around then.

Jut how many contracts does the White House give out for "intelligence services"?

And were these three tied to Wade's just-discovered work on the Iran regime-change front?

Link Here

Congress of Arab parties voices support for Iran's nuclear right :

Secretary-General of the Congress of Arab Parties Abdul Aziz al-Seyyed told reporters at a press conference held at the end of the three-day session that Iran was being targeted by big powers because it was a regional power with policies that did not please these powers.

Link here

Ex-State Department Security Officer Charges Pre-9/11 Cover-Up:

A former State Department security officer has given CounterPunch a detailed memoir and documents that point to very curious conduct by the CIA, Secret Service and FBI in the Philippines following warnings of an assassination bid on President Clinton during his November 12/13, 1994 visit to Manila.

Link Here

US report blames weak Iraq rule for abuses

Georgie and his band of NeoCons, broke it, now it is up to them to fix it. dont blame anyone else for their lies and mistakes.

The US State Department on Wednesday released a damning report on the state of human rights and the security situation in Iraq, describing a weak and corrupt government with little control over its own murderous security forces in the face of a powerful insurgency.

Link Here

Academics become casualties of Iraq War:

Gunmen have killed some 182 Iraqi university professors and academics since the U.S. invasion in early 2003. Another 85 senior academics have been kidnapped or survived assassination attempts

Link Here

NeoCon allies desert Bush over Iraq :

These are the right-wing intellectuals who demanded George Bush invade Iraq. Now they admit they got it wrong. Are you listening, Mr President?

Link Here

"The Country Has Already Collapsed":

At this point in Iraq, you do not have a central government -- so you don't have a legitimate authority running the country. You don't have a government with the power to establish or maintain order. What you have is a nominal government that can only stay in power because the Americans are there.

Link Here

Iraq executes 13 "insurgents"

Iraq hanged 13 insurgents Thursday, marking the first time militants have been executed in the country since the U.S.-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein nearly three years ago, the government said.

Link Here

Video: Turkey Shoot At Abu Ghraib

Tales of Murder and Torture

Here's Olivia's story. And, as you would expect with this sort of report, be warned - some of what you're about to see is not exactly pretty and could even offend.

Real Video and Transcript.

Link Here

Logic out the window at the White House

By Gwynne Dyer

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton was calmly proposing an illegal attack on a sovereign state, possibly involving nuclear weapons.

Link Here

Steamroller Bolton at the U.N.

By Mike Whitney

American plutocrats and corporate big-wigs are looking for an organization that is more responsive to their needs. The UN provides the legitimacy they need as cover for their “humanitarian interventions” (re: wars of aggression) and reconstruction projects, (Sluicing money to the major corporate players) but it requires fine-tuning to better serve their interests

Link Here

Rose Aguilar | Banned and Gagged

While South Dakota's ban on abortion is a turning point for abortion politics at home, it mirrors what's already been happening overseas where US policies have resulted in increased illegal abortions and maternal deaths. Abortion rights advocates say it's time for Americans to start connecting the dots.

Link Here

My Heartfelt Apology
to South Dakota

It's down to me, yes it is! The way she does just what she's told. Down to me, the change has come, She's under my thumb - Rolling Stones

Seems I owe the Christo-fascist freaks in South Dakota an apology. I said in a previous post titled the "Jesus Beam" that the religious freaks who find it necessary to control every minute detail of a womans life did not allow a stipulation for an abortion in the case of rape or incest in their new "abortion ban." Here, I was wrong. Seems they DO in fact allow for an abortion under a specific set on completely acceptable circumstances. South Dakota state Senator Bill Napoli described a COMPLETELY LEGITIMATE situation in which an exception to South Dakota's ban on abortion may be allowed. Napoli said "A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life." See, I was wrong. I apologize.

Excuse me while I throw the hell up. Let's look at what this zealot just said. First, aren't ALL RAPES brutal and savage? Or is there a kind of "compassionate" rape that I haven't become aware of? Second, the poor women must be RELIGIOUS. For some reason I'm thinking she must be of a PARTICULAR religion (CHRISTIAN) in order for this "exception" to be approved. Jews, atheists, muslims, Buddhists, etc etc are HEATHENS and DESERVED to be raped. Third....she must be a VIRGIN. This is obvious, cuz any SLUT who had DARED had sex in the past obviously wasn't raped. She probably enjoyed it, and more likely than not, she DESERVED IT. She was probably asking for it. There is nothing hotter than some violent, unknown assailant forcing his dick into you. No, this is FUN. FOURTH....vaginal rape isn't bad enough. No. Plain old boring vaginal rape is not deserving of an abortion. Nope. It's not bad enough. Most women can handle the old vaginal rape just fine. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and START ALL OVER AGAIN. She must ALSO be SODOMIZED and brutalized in some OTHER way. Who will decide "how badly" she was brutalized, raped and sodomized? Will each woman have to appear before a "rape determination commission" which will decide if the rape was "serious enough" to be justified as a rape? Will they base their decision on a point system? One point for bruises, three points for vaginal tearing, five points for a damaged spleen, ten points for strangle marks around the girls neck, 50 points for bleeding from the ass and 100 points for permanent brain damage? What will be the required point total in order for this girls "ordeal" to rate as an actual rape? All the others, I suppose, will be rated as "rough sex." the girl will be marked with a scarlet "S" for SLUT and sent on her merry way. But the last sentence of Mr. Napoli's declaration REALLY blows my mind. I guess only a RELIGIOUS VIRGIN would be so messed up by being raped and subsequently impregnated by her assailant that it could "very well threaten her life." Me, I'd like to get raped. Yes I would. In fact, I can't wait. I don't think it would mess me up at all. I might kinda like it. F*** Y**.

Do you people see what we are dealing with here? These religious freaks are completely sick in the head. There is no possible way a normal human being could read the above quotation and interpret it any other way. These are Nazi's whose sole goal in life is to subjugate women to their beliefs. It is my goal to see these people driven into the sea. Is this what is to become of America? Are the people of this country to be governed, to have their LIVES RUN, by these insane religious zombies? Stay the hell away from me. I'm serious, stay.. the.. hell.. away.. from.. me. Subjugate your OWN family and your diseased followers. I want nothing of it. I swear to spend my remaining time on this planet doing everything I can to destroy you freaks. I swear to it. Is this fascist Napoli married? Does he have children? How would he react if one of his DAUGHTERS or his WIFE was raped? Would he tell them to "suck it up", as he is telling every other woman in this country? I doubt it. Where can I hire a rapist? I'm sorry, that wasn't very CHRISTIAN of me, was it?


Link Here

Tennessee Follows South Dakota, Takes First Step To Banning Abortion...

ABC News LUCAS L. JOHNSON II March 9, 2006 at 11:25 PM
-- The state Senate on Thursday passed a proposal to amend the Tennessee Constitution so that it doesn't guarantee a woman's right to an abortion.

The 24-9 vote was the first step of many toward officially amending the state constitution. The measure would go before voters if the General Assembly approves it twice over the next two years.


AP: White House compared overtopping to breaches

Ron Brynaert
Published: March 8, 2006

Although many critics on the right have been harshly criticizing a recent Associated Press article for 'misreporting' that President Bush, despite stating otherwise, had been warned that Hurricane Katrina might breach levees, the A.P. fires back by using the White House's own 'lessons learned' review, RAW STORY has found.

Late Friday night, the Associated Press issued a clarification to their March 1 story, after being attacked by many on the right for initially reporting "federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees" when the released partial transcripts to the leaked video only specifically mentioned "overtopping."

But the A.P. cites a report issued by the White House called "The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned" which compares the two terms.

"Overtopping is a term used to describe the situation where the water level rises above the height of the levee or floodwall and consequently overtops, or flows over the structure. A breach is a break in the levee or floodwall. A prolonged overtopping can actually cause a levee or floodwall breach," the review said.

"In general, a breach can lead to more significant flooding than an overtopping since breaches take time to repair and until repaired continue to allow water to flow until the water level has receded below the height of the breach. Overtopping, on the other hand, will stop as soon as the water level recedes below the top of the levee or floodwall."

"Although the consequences are significantly different, from outward appearances, it is often difficult to differentiate a breach from an overtopping," the report said.

In addition, the A.P. article also refer to interviews with officials from the Corps of Engineers and former FEMA chief Michael D. Brown to show that the debate over the two terms is more of "a matter of semantics."

According to A.P., Brown told a Denver radio station on Monday, "I can tell you everyone involved in that videotape and in my conversations with the president and with the chief of staff, our concern was always the breach of the levees."

Excerpts from the article, "Tapes Refresh Debate Over Katrina, Levees," by Tom Raum:
But civil engineers understand that once a levee is "topped," floodwaters can rapidly erode the structural base of the levee and nearly always result in a breach, according to AP interviews with officials from the Corps of Engineers and others.

The White House's own "lessons learned" review of the federal response issued last month compared overtopping to a breach of a levee.
In a document it called "Setting the Record Straight," the White House said Bush's Aug. 28 videoconference "was open to the press and the full transcript of this videoconference was released to Congress and the public in the fall of 2005."

However, only the opening portion of the conference, where Bush made brief remarks, was witnessed by a small news media pool. And full transcripts of that and other sessions were not released by either the administration or Congress.

Brown said Bush and other top officials knew from those briefings there was a serious chance that New Orleans' levees would be breached. "Everybody else knew and clearly on our conference calls it was being discussed," Brown said in a March 1 interview with The Associated Press.
The federal "Lessons Learned" report can be read at this link.

Link Here

Sidney Blumenthal Bush: A Deaf Man Spouting

Bush listens to disaster officials inform him that the storm will be unprecedented in its severity and consequences. "This is, to put it mildly, the big one," says Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, warns: "This hurricane is much larger than Hurricane Andrew ever was." Bush asks not a single question, says, "We are fully prepared," and departs.

Link Here

FOCUS | GOP Plan Allows Spying Without Warrants

The Republican proposal would give Congressional approval to the eavesdropping program much as it was secretly authorized by Mr. Bush after the 2001 terrorist attacks, with limited notification to a handful of Congressional leaders. The NSA. would be permitted to intercept the international phone calls and e-mail messages of people in the United States if there was "probable cause to believe that one party to the communication is a member, affiliate, or working in support of a terrorist group or organization," The finding of probable cause would not be reviewed by any court.

Link Here

Thursday, March 09, 2006

US trade deficit widens further

The US trade deficit has hit a new monthly high of $68.5bn (£39.3bn), with imports of oil and cars continuing to grow significantly.

January's deficit was 5% higher than a month earlier and exceeded the previous record of $67.8bn seen last October.

The figures make gloomy reading for the Bush administration after the deficit hit an annual high of $723.6bn in 2005.

The value of imports rose 3.5% to $182.9bn, eclipsing a 2.5% rise in US exports to $114.4bn.
Costly oil >>>cont

Link Here

When Would Jesus Bolt?

By Amy Sullivan

Meet Randy Brinson, the advance guard of evangelicals leaving the GOP. >>>cont

Link Here

The Dubai Deal You Don't Know About

Even as one company gives up on U.S. ports, a different Middle Eastern firm remains a major contractor for the Navy


Posted Thursday, Mar. 09, 2006

With midterm elections approaching, no politician wanted to go home and explain to voters why a company controlled by the government of Dubai was taking over operations at six U.S. ports—without so much as a meow of protest from Congress. As it turns out, that won't be necessary. Dubai Ports World, the firm at the center of the controversy, announced today that it would give up its bid to manage U.S. ports, agreeing to transfer the contracts to a “U.S. entity."

Yet while one Dubai company may be giving up on U.S. ports, another one shows no signs of quitting the U.S.—or of giving up a contract with the Navy to provide shore services for vessels in the Middle East. The firm, Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS), is an old British company that last January was sold to a Dubai government investment vehicle for $285 million. ISS has more than 200 offices around the world and provides services to clients ranging from cruise ship operators to oil tankers to commercial cargo vessels. In the U.S., the company operates out of more than a dozen port cities, including Houston, Miami and New Orleans, arranging pilots, tugs, linesmen and stevedores, among other things. The firm is also a defense contractor which has long worked for Britain’s Royal Navy. And last June, the U.S. Navy signed on too, awarding ISS a $50 million contract to be the “Husbanding Agent” for vessels in most Southwest Asia ports, including those in the Middle East, according to an unclassified Navy logistics manual, for the Fifth Fleet, and a press release from ISS.

Why is a Dubai shipping services company doing business with the Pentagon when handing over U.S. port operations to the emirate would supposedly compromise national security? Because it makes sense. Call it the reality of living in a globally connected business world. Your IBM laptop is now manufactured by a Chinese company that may outsource customer support to an Indian firm and the logistics to FedEx. Dubai companies aren't just buying overseas assets like hotels in New York and wax museums in London; they're providing jobs and business for U.S. companies. Boeing, for one, can only hope it doesn't receive a frosty reception the next time it wants to sell airplanes to Dubai's booming airline, Emirates. Rival Airbus would be more than happy to take advantage of Washington's creeping protectionism.

The Navy, for one, has long understood that it would be virtually impossible to rely solely on Western-owned companies for critical services. It simply couldn’t operate without local firms providing logistics support at the 200 ports its ships visit around the world. After the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, the Navy undertook a wide-scale review of contracting procedures, including those involving ship husbanding. As a result of that review, the Navy took several steps to increase the security of ships in foreign ports, but maintained its system of contracting. “We've been doing business in the Persian Gulf for 60 years,” says a Navy official who was unable to confirm the details of the ISS contract. Moreover, Dubai is considered one of the best-equipped ports for the Navy—it’s also a crucial logistical base for operations in the region, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

No question, the husbanding contract provides the potential for mischief. Husbanding agents arrange everything from fuel to spare parts to fresh vegetables for vessels at ports of call. More critically, they often provide security, like erecting concrete barriers and what the military calls “force protection.” Husbanding agents often learn weeks in advance of a ship’s schedule so as to be prepared when the vessel arrives, information that the Navy keeps closely guarded since it could be invaluable in the hands of terrorists. The suicide bombing of the Cole, for instance, occurred less than three hours after the ship had completed mooring in the harbor of Aden, Yemen. “It would have been much more difficult for the bombers to execute the attack without some previous knowledge of the ship's schedule and its intent to pull into Aden,” says a former Navy officer.

Contacted by TIME, an ISS spokesman refused to comment on the U.S. Navy contract. A statement issued by the firm, declared that “ISS has undergone rigorous external security checks” and has “comprehensive internal policies on security.” Regarding its U.S. port operations, the company states that all port staff “are fully vetted and cleared and undergo a background check to enable them to work within the port limits.”

While ISS doesn’t appear eager to discuss its defense work, a press release issued last fall offers some details. The release states that ISS “will be responsible for providing all the logistics requirements of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships in ports throughout the [Middle East] region.” The release also notes that ISS may be asked to provide services for U.S. military training exercises and “contingency operations inland.” ISS’s partner for those services? None other than KBR, the division of Halliburton — Vice President Dick Cheney’s old firm — that has won billions of dollars in contracts for the Iraq war and reconstruction. Ironically, Halliburton's name has come up as a possible candidate to be the "U.S. entity" to take over the U.S. ports management from Dubai Ports World.

ISS, in fact, isn’t the only Dubai company that has won big business with the Pentagon. In December, 2004, another such firm, Seven Seas Shipchandlers, won a $700 million contract to be the prime vendor for maintenance and repair operations for troops in the U.S. Central Command region, which includes the Middle East. Seven Seas has also provided food supplies to U.S. troops in Iraq. Another Dubai-based firm, MAC International, is under contract to deliver $67.2 million worth of police trucks to the Army. Those vehicles, however, will bear a stamp that should please any Washington pol: Made In Detroit —With reporting by Sally B. Donnelly/Washington and J.F.O. McAllister/London

Link Here

Report Cites Rampant FBI Wiretapping Violations...

NY Times ERIC LICHTBLAU March 9, 2006 at 04:01 PM

The Federal Bureau of Investigation found apparent violations of its own wiretapping and other intelligence-gathering procedures more than 100 times in the last two years, and problems appear to have grown more frequent in some crucial respects, a Justice Department report released Wednesday said.

While some of these instances were considered technical glitches, the report, from the department's inspector general, characterized others as "significant," including wiretaps that were much broader in scope than approved by a court and others that were allowed to continue for weeks or sometimes months longer than was authorized.


Shock and Awe; the sequel

By Mike Whitney

Yesterday’s ham-fisted maneuverings reveal the administration’s true objectives. Bush would like to conceal his attack on Iran behind a mask of international legitimacy. But even without Security Council approval the plan will move forward. The current showdown has nothing to do with “noncompliance” or imaginary nuclear weapons programs. It has everything to do with consolidating the vast resources of the Caspian Basin under the Stars and Stripes and fending off future threats to America’s global domination.

Link Here

Challenging the mighty dollar

By Ramin Davoodi

It's becoming increasingly obvious that there is a looming crisis brewing over Iran. The true 'whys' and 'whats' of the issue, however, are clouded to the American public due to our modern press and to the nature of the underlying
stakes involved.

Link Here

Justice Department e-mail on wiretapping

Internal email slams wiretap legality

Email from former national security official says justification 'weak.'

Schumer: “The Devil Is In The Details”

Dubai gives up stake in U.S. ports

Terms of deal not disclosed; Dem sees 'devil in details'

Schumer gave his take on news that Dubai Ports World will transfer operations of U.S. ports to a “U.S. entity.” Watch it:


Let me say this: obviously this is a promising development but, of course, the devil is in the details. I think those of us who feel strongly about this issue believe that the U.S. part of the British company should have no connection to the United Arab Emirates or DP World, which is fully owned by the United Arab Emirates. So therefore, we would have to examine this proposal. The bottom line is, again, if the U.S. operations are fully independent in every way, that could indeed be promising. If on the other hand there is still ultimate control exercised by DP World, I don’t think our goals would be accomplished and obviously we’ll need to study this agreement carefully.

UPDATE: “A source involved in talks between the White House, Congress and DP World told CNN the exact meaning of the UAE firm’s statement is unclear.”

UPDATE II: NBC White House correspondent David Gregory wonders whether the White House coordinated Dubai Ports World’s announcement today:

The White House says they only knew of “rumors” of a deal, but one wonders whether there was coordination between the White House, DPW and Sen. John Warner, R-Va., who announced the agreement. It’s clear the White House knew, especially after meeting with congressional leaders this morning, that Congress was prepared to buck him on this.

Link Here

Dubai-owned company to transfer all U.S. port operations to a U.S. entity, according to Sen. John Warner.

Sources: House, Senate leaders tell Bush deal appears dead

Link Here

U.S. Leaving Abu Ghraib Within 3 Months

U.S. to replaceAbu Ghraib prison

Meanwhile, Rumsfeld says Iraq not in civil war, as Iraq hangs 13 insurgents.

What do you mean Democrats have no ideas?!?!

READ MORE: Iraq, 2006, Harriet Miers, Bill Frist, Washington Post, George W. Bush

I am sick and tired of reading about Democrats in disarray.

There it was again, in the Washington Post yesterday, the headline: "Amid GOP troubles, Democrats have no unified message."

Looking at mid-term elections of 2006, political reporters are incapable of writing about all the monumental screw-ups of George Bush and Republicans, without immediately adding: Yeah, but Democrats are worse.

What a bunch of lazy idiots. They could not be more wrong.

What's this b.s. about Republicans being so united? Bill Frist and Denny Hastert are leading the fight against George Bush's Arab ports deal. Chuck Hagel's the biggest critic of the war in Iraq. Tom Tancredo accuses Bush of doing nothing about illegal immigration. And Republicans shot down Harriet Miers.

Compared to Republicans, Democrats look like Brokeback buddies.

And what do they mean Democrats have no ideas?

Granted, Democrats have published no 50-point plan. After all, they're Democrats.

But, talk to any Democrat running for re-election today. And you'll get the same set of goals:

*Iraq - set a timetable for bringing the troops home.

*Tax cuts - replace Bush's tax cuts for the rich - with tax cuts for the middle class.

*Social Security - make it secure and protect it.

*Health Insurance - provide it for 45 million Americans who don't have any.

* National security - give first responders the tools they were promised by George Bush, but never received.

And that's just for starters.

But, to tell the truth, Democrats don't need a lot of ideas.

In 2006, they've got something even more important going for them.

In 2006, the one big, winning ticket for Democrats is very simple: They're not George Bush!

That's all they need to win.

Link Here

Oh. Dear. God. Please. Send. A. Miracle. Fast.

A Veteran’s Letter to the President

“I Return Enclosed the Symbols

of My Years of Service”

[Joseph DuRocher was for 20 years the elected Public Defender of Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit, covering Orange and Osceola counties. Since retirement, he’s been writing and teaching law at the University of Central Florida and the Barry University School of Law. He was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, serving as a Naval Aviator in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. On Monday, Mr. DuRocher returned his Lieutenant’s shoulder bars and Navy wings to President Bush, and enclosed the following letter.]

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As a young man I was honored to serve our nation as a commissioned officer and helicopter pilot in the U. S. Navy. Before me in WWII, my father defended the country spending two years in the Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Hornet (CV-14). We were patriots sworn “to protect and defend”. Today I conclude that you have dishonored our service and the Constitution and principles of our oath. My dad was buried with full military honors so I cannot act for him. But for myself, I return enclosed the symbols of my years of service: the shoulder boards of my rank and my Naval Aviator’s wings.

Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us. Until your administration, I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to “disappear” them into holes like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Until your administration, in my wildest legal fantasy I could not imagine a U.S. Attorney General seeking to justify torture or a President first stating his intent to veto an anti-torture law, and then adding a “signing statement” that he intends to ignore such law as he sees fit. I do not want these things done in my name.

As a citizen, a patriot, a parent and grandparent, a lawyer and law teacher I am left with such a feeling of loss and helplessness. I think of myself as a good American and I ask myself what can I do when I see the face of evil? Illegal and immoral war, torture and confinement for life without trial have never been part of our Constitutional tradition. But my vote has become meaningless because I live in a safe district drawn by your political party. My congressman is unresponsive to my concerns because his time is filled with lobbyists’ largess. Protests are limited to your “free speech zones”, out of sight of the parade. Even speaking openly is to risk being labeled un-American, pro-terrorist or anti-troops. And I am a disciplined pacifist, so any violent act is out of the question.

Nevertheless, to remain silent is to let you think I approve or support your actions. I do not. So, I am saddened to give up my wings and bars. They were hard won and my parents and wife were as proud as I was when I earned them over forty years ago. But I hate the torture and death you have caused more than I value their symbolism. Giving them up makes me cry for my beloved country.

Joseph W. DuRocher

--God Bless you old soldier.

And Thank You. A true patriot you are.










Bush Creates Faith-Based Initiatives Office Within Homeland Security Dept. To Improve Disaster Recovery...

Scummy Sleezbuckets, more money into the pockets of their fundamentalist jerks pockets, and who gives a shit about the people, that is just right in Georgies America.

Washington Times Eric Pfeiffer March 9, 2006 at 09:34 AM
READ MORE: Hurricane Katrina, Homeland Security, Hurricane

A day before returning to the ravaged Gulf Coast region, President Bush created an office for faith-based initiatives within the Department of Homeland Security to improve disaster recovery efforts.

But the new office also will have some old business -- reimbursing groups that spent millions on recovery efforts. While the new Homeland Security office will give private religious organizations the opportunity to compete for federal dollars and contracts, proponents also say they hope it will streamline efforts to pay back private organizations that already have assisted in Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.


Hill, McGraw Lash Out At Bush For Katrina Failures: "I Fear For Our Country"...

Associated Press March 9, 2006 at 08:35 AM
READ MORE: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw -- two stars who usually stay out of politics -- blasted the Hurricane Katrina cleanup effort, with Hill calling the slow progress in Louisiana and Mississippi "embarrassing" and "humiliating."

The country music artists -- who are natives of the storm ravaged states -- were at times close to tears, and clearly angry when the subject of Katrina came up during a news conference today. They had met with reporters in Nashville to promote their upcoming Soul2Soul II Tour, but when asked about the hurricane cleanup, the stars pulled no punches.


Playing Katrina Catchup, Cont

READ MORE: Hurricane Katrina, Washington Post, 2006

Maybe it's the fact that the engineers inspecting the Corps' work rebuilding the levees in New Orleans are issuing better, or more, press releases. Or maybe the Washington Post is just playing a better game of catchup. In any case, for the second day in a row, the Post follows up on a story reported weeks ago in the T-P: that two different independent engineering groups are finding serious fault with the materials the Corps is using to repair the levee on the east side of New Orleans.

Can Brian and Anderson be far behind? Sure. Meanwhile, as they say on the news, the T-P advances the story yet again: the Corps did not update worst-case storm weather data before it began work on the levees that failed.

UPDATE: Here's what Brian's working on for tonight, from the the Daily Nightly blog: And the story I warned about in this space yesterday because of its emotional impact... Ron Allen's story of rebuilding from the Lakeview neighborhood in New Orleans is airing on tonight's broadcast. It's an emotional look at an unusual case to emerge from the storm.

Emotional enough for you?

Link Here

Katrina deaths: 1100 and increasing in Louisiana, more than 200 in Mississippi and Alabama,1900
unaccounted for in Louisiana.

Senator wants answers on 2,000 missing in Katrina

Privacy policies may be delaying locating peopleWASHINGTON -- Calling it "totally unacceptable" that nearly 2,000 people remain unaccounted for more than six months after Hurricane Katrina, a Michigan senator Wednesday called on federal investigators to determine whether overly rigid governmental policies have made it harder for people to find missing family and friends.

Link Here

Frist Turns His Back On Reporters, Won't Answer Port Questions...

Crooks And Liars March 9, 2006 at 12:39 PM
READ MORE: Bill Frist

HENRY: But the Republican revolt against the president is not yet a full-scale uprising.

While Hastert is pushing to block the port deal, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist wants the 45-day review to go forward before considering any legislation in his chamber. The Republican split was on display in an event celebrating renewal of the Patriot Act. As Hastert answered a question about the port controversy, Frist ignored reporters.

HASTERT: Well, we want to protect Americans. We have a point of view of this ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Frist? Senator Frist?





Bill Frist Ferried Around US On Drug Company Jets For Last Five Years...

The Tennessean BILL THEOBALD March 9, 2006 at 11:03 AM
READ MORE: Bill Frist

Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist has been ferried on corporate aircraft more than most other politicians in Washington over the past five years, according to a study released this week.

The Senate majority leader's travels were ranked seventh by PoliticalMoneyLine, a company based in Washington that tracks money in politics. He reimbursed companies $69,030 for flying on their planes from 2001 to 2005.


Art For My Ladies

Hey Rossi...

On that sidebar thing...

Ummm, never mind then.

I guess sometimes it REALLY IS just me.

Love ya.

Party On.


Suddenly, a Rebellion in the G.O.P. on a Signature Issue

Link Here

WASHINGTON, March 8 — After more than five years of allowing President Bush relatively free rein to set their course, Republicans in Congress are suddenly, if selectively, in rebellion, a mutiny all the more surprising since it centers on the party's signature issue of national security.

In a rebuke to the White House, House Republicans are moving aggressively to put the brakes on the takeover by a Dubai company of some port terminal operations in several large American cities, an effort that moved forward on Wednesday with broad bipartisan support.


More Evidence Of Manipulated Death Tolls.

Official Says Shiite Party

Suppressed Body Count

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post
Link Here

BAGHDAD, March 8 -- Days after the bombing of a Shiite shrine unleashed a wave of retaliatory killings of Sunnis, the leading Shiite party in Iraq's governing coalition directed the Health Ministry to stop tabulating execution-style shootings, according to a ministry official familiar with the recording of deaths.

The official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because he feared for his safety, said a representative of the Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, ordered that government hospitals and morgues catalogue deaths caused by bombings or clashes with insurgents, but not by execution-style shootings.

A statement this week by the U.N. human rights department in Baghdad appeared to support the account of the Health Ministry official. The agency said it had received information about Baghdad's main morgue -- where victims of fatal shootings are taken -- that indicated "the current acting director is under pressure by the Interior Ministry in order not to reveal such information and to minimize the number of casualties."

The U.N. office said it had not confirmed the information about the morgue and had been unable so far to obtain an accounting of the toll from Iraqi authorities.

Spokesmen for the Health Ministry and the Supreme Council -- commonly known by its initials, SCIRI -- denied that any order to alter the tabulation of deaths had been issued.

Abductions and killings of Sunni Arab men, usually by gunshots to the back of the head, have occurred with increasing frequency over the past year and are widely blamed on government-allied Shiite religious militias and death squads alleged to be operating from inside the SCIRI-dominated Interior Ministry. In particular, Shiite militias have been accused of abducting and executing large numbers of Sunni men in the days immediately following the Feb. 22 destruction of the Askariya mosque, a revered Shiite shrine in the northern city of Samarra.

After a lull in recent days, abductions and killings flared again in Baghdad on Wednesday. Police in west Baghdad found a minibus that contained the bodies of 18 bound and strangled men, and 50 employees of an Iraqi security firm were kidnapped on the east side of the city.

The Washington Post reported on Feb. 28 that more than 1,300 shooting victims had been brought to the morgue in the first six days after the Samarra bombing. The figure was provided by a morgue worker who refused to be identified by name.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari denied the account, saying Shiite-Sunni violence had claimed 379 lives in the week following the attack on the shrine. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the U.S. commander in Iraq, called The Post's report exaggerated and inaccurate. An e-mail sent to U.S. military officials this week seeking updated casualty figures went unanswered.

But during the past week, various government ministries declined to give a breakdown of the 379 total, or said they were unable to, and several inconsistencies in their accounts appeared to call the government's tally into question.

In addition to the morgue worker, three sources -- the Health Ministry official, an official with the Interior Ministry and an international official in Baghdad -- involved in tallying or monitoring the mounting deaths also have put the toll at 1,000 or more, though none gave a toll as high as 1,300. Two of the sources said pressure by Shiite leaders not to report execution-style shootings had produced the lower death toll announced by Jafari.

The international official said "Ministry of Health types" were reckoning about 1,000 deaths before Jafari issued his denial. "By February 28th, even the 1st, that was the number being floated, almost acknowledged" publicly, the international official said, referring to March 1. "Then the government announced'' its lower figure.

"They're afraid," the official said.

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