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Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Dumbing Down Of The American Mind

What can you expect, if this can even steal the Presedency and the White House Twice, Says it all.

Diary Entry by Populist Party

...in my opinion, our country is slowly but surely becoming "a nation of near retards," a collective group of individuals who have become so absurdly self-absorbed and disinterested in acquiring knowledge that we, as a nation, are slowly but surely losing touch with the reality of what is actually going on in the world! ...

There is a very dangerous phenomenon that seems to be occurring in the United States of America; something that I refer to as "the dumbing-down of the American mind," a nearly willful tendency for Americans to forgo reality in favor of believing what they want to believe. But how could such a thing have occurred in such a proud nation, one that, according to George Bush, has become known as a bastion of freedom and democracy, a bright light for the whole world to see?

In my opinion, there are five factors that can explain such a phenomenon. First, there is the dumbing-down of education in our country. After having taught psychology at the college level for the past 39 years, I have seen our standards (what we essentially expect our students to accomplish in order to prove that they have learned something of value) go straight to hell! I began my career as an Instructor of Psychology back in 1966 at a very small junior college located only 60 miles south of the Canadian border, one with an enrollment of only 180 students, no doubt, a very cold and humble place in which to begin a teaching career! And can you believe it, I actually required my students to read an entire textbook during the semester. And nobody got upset. Not the administrators, not the parents, nor even the students! However, today, if I were to do such a thing, I would have an extremely difficult time getting enough students to enroll in my classes in order to keep my job. The problem: A very determined standoff between the remaining few teachers willing to maintain standards versus a generation or two of students who are nearly unwilling to learn, students who have "apparently gone on strike" with an attitude of "I dare you to force me to learn!" The result: The fact that leniency (a lowering of academic standards in our country) has won out at the expense of quality education in that of our high schools as well as that of our colleges.

Consequently, in my opinion, our country is slowly but surely becoming "a nation of near retards," a collective group of individuals who have become so absurdly self-absorbed and disinterested in acquiring knowledge that we, as a nation, are slowly but surely losing touch with the reality of what is actually going on in the world! The best example is our population's general sense of ignorance in relation to world history, and especially that of our inability (or perhaps even unwillingness) to understand our own country's complicity in relation to the 9/11 attacks upon our nation.

Second, there has been a tendency for folks in our country to compartmentalize their religious beliefs from that of science and philosophy. Now it is important to understand that religion is based upon faith (knowledge that comes from personal experience). Science is based upon research (knowledge that accrues from the experimental process). And, of course, philosophy is based upon logic (knowledge based upon rational thought). One is no better than the other, and in our search for truth each should be allowed to complement the other. However, within that of the Christian fundamentalist community (one that did so very much to enable Bush-Cheney to be elected), there has been a deliberate attempt to discount what we have learned from science (as in global warming), as well as that of rational thought (that the world was created in a period of one week's time).

These folks believe that their religious beliefs are absolutely independent of anything and everything else in life, that their beliefs about God are more valid, and should be allowed to supersede every other source of knowledge. It doesn't matter to them if what they believe makes no sense at all or if what they believe is in absolute conflict with that of scientific evidence. To them, there is no gray, nothing but black and white, no critical thinking, nor even a willingness to listen to "the other side." There is just us (the good guys) and them (the bad guys), and, regardless of what you say, I am right and your are wrong, and if you do not agree with me, then you are going to go to Hell... and that is that! Probably the best example of such is an abject unwillingness on the part of so many folks in our country to face the mounting evidence that such a Godly country (The USA) led by such a fine Christian man (George Walker Bush) could have led our country into such an atrocious war while, along the way, having perhaps committed an amalgam of crimes against humanity. You see.. to hell with logic and scientific evidence, the truth (reality) is simply a matter of what I want it to be!

Third, in our country, there has been an absolutely inordinate interest in the procurement of freedom (a need for each to protect his or her own rights), at the expense of a reasonable concern for responsibility (an interest in the welfare of others). As a prominent philosopher once indicated... How wonderful it is that we decided to erect a Statue of Liberty on the east coast representing our concern for freedom, but how terribly unfortunate that we failed to erect a statue of responsibility on the west coast representing a corresponding need to be responsible. Such an absurdly disproportionate interest in our own personal rights at the expense of an interest in the needs of others has lead our country to a kind of narcissism rarely seen at any other time in the history of man. Imagine a nation of individuals that represent only four percent of the world's population demanding the right to consume 35% of its wealth. It is almost as if Americans see themselves as having a moral right to plunder the earth and to hell with everyone else. And, of course, one of the best examples of such selfishness is the president's stubborn unwillingness to go along with the Kyoto Accord a world-wide effort to lessen the impact of global warming, much of which has been, and, of course, will continue to be caused by the tremendous polluting power of our own country. It is almost as if we, as a country, believe that we have the right to do whatever we want, and to hell with everybody else in the world. Almost as if might makes right and so... "screw you!"

Fourth, there has been an obdurate tendency for those in our country to become increasingly chauvinistic and bellicose. Chauvinistic in the sense of believing that patriotism, acting the part of a consummate American, is essential in order to be considered a decent human being, and, of course, translated this means, "If you don't like America the way it is, then you can just get the hell out!" And then such a chauvinism paired with a bellicosity that is moving us towards militancy, a willingness to castigate, an insistent urge to go to war against anyone, perhaps even everyone, who happens to simply disagree with us; those inside our borders such as liberals, humanists, democrats, or socialists, as well as those outside our borders such as Moslems, Palestinians, the freedom fighters of other countries, or even those of the Middle East who have the "rather ridiculous" belief that just because the oil is located on their land they seem to think they have the right to control other's access to it!

And finally, there is a tendency for the people of our country to have become increasingly ethnocentric, for our citizens to believe that our way (the American way) is the one best way of doing anything and everything in life.... and that anyone (any nation) that disagrees with us is simply out of step and therefore must be wrong! For example.. the belief that Christianity, fundamentalist Christianity, is the right religion and every other religion in the world is wrong, and will therefore lead people to go to Hell. The belief that capitalism is the one correct way for a nation to distribute its wealth, and any other way of distributing wealth, such as socialism, is unacceptable, if not evil! And, in regards to governance, the belief that democracy is the only acceptable way, and that all others such as that of a Moslem theocracy in Iraq is wholly unacceptable (of course disregarding the rather glaring hypocrisy of the religious right who would certainly not object if they were able to transform the United States government into some kind of "Christian organization")! Unfortunately, such a way of thinking has, no doubt, led far too many of our citizens into becoming the worst kind of scoundrels; bigots believing that we, as Americans, have the right to tell anyone and everyone else in the world how they ought to live their lives!

In conclusion, it is my opinion that such factors as I have enumerated have led our nation into a very dangerous quagmire, one of abject arrogance and ignorance, a very bad combination indeed! Arrogance in the sense of believing that our nation can do no evil, that we can make no mistakes, since our nation has quite obviously received the a priori blessing of God allowing us to do anything and everything we as a nation "feel led" to do. And, of course, such a myth has been compounded by the rather farcical assumption that our president is a man of God. Ignorance in that the people of our nation have, no doubt, allowed themselves to become quite "under-educated," our belief in God tends to restrict honest and rational thought, we have endeared freedom to the point that it has severely inhibited our ability to comprehend our moral responsibility to others, and we have become so terribly ethnocentric that we are nearly incapable of understanding that people around the world have a right to choose what is best for them.

Consequently, as a result of so many things having gone wrong in our nation, our mind, the way that we as Americans think, has become so terribly dumbed-down that we are on the verge of losing nearly everything we have attained over the many years since we became a nation. I have no doubt that pride always cometh before the fall, and given such an arrogant degree of ignorance that has seemingly befallen so many in our country, it is high time that we, as a nation, come to our senses before it is too late or the imperialistic desires of the Bush-Cheney administration will utilize every bit of "our collective dumbness" to take our country to a place that we dare not go... that of a long-standing imperial desire to conquer the world with the unfortunate likelihood of ending up in a world war... something that no sane human being should want regardless of how dumb they just might be!

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Written by Doug Soderstrom, (email - dougsod@wcjc.edu) who is a Psychologist based in Wharton, TX. Doug writes a column at www.populistamerica.com

Prosecutor snuck Powell aide into court in CIA leak probe, paper says

Lawyer asserts focus on coverup, not outing...

Paper: Powell aide is key witness in CIA outing probe
RAW STORYPublished: Saturday May 20, 2006

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has emerged as a key witness in the CIA leak probe, the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS' Ken Bazinet and James Meek report in Saturday editions. Excerpts: Full article here.
Armitage has been questioned several times, but is not expected to be indicted by the federal grand jury investigating who outed CIA spy Valerie Plame to journalists in 2003, sources said.
Armitage's testimony could hurt Vice President Cheney's indicted former chief aide Lewis (Scooter) Libby, or President Bush's political guru, Karl Rove.

Two sources familiar with the case said Armitage, Rove and Libby all had contacts with the press about Plame. Unlike Rove and Libby, Armitage appears to have tried to dissuade reporters from writing about her.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald recently had to sneak Armitage into a Washington courthouse to get past reporters - a sign of his value in the case, according to one source.

The Daily News' story comes just a day after a post by Washington insider Steve Clemons and coverage by RAW STORY which signaled that Armitage's role in the CIA leak investigation had been understated. According to Clemons, Armitage testified three times before the grand jury.
"I have learned from several other sources that Richard Armitage was neck deep in the Valerie Plame story," Clemons wrote Friday. "According to several insiders, as soon as Armitage realized mistakes he had made, he marched into Colin Powell and laid out 'everything' in full detail."


NY Times' Frank Rich deciphers 'The Rove Da Vinci Code'

RAW STORYPublished: Saturday May 20, 2006

The marketing strategy behind the movie The Da Vinci Code is "a perfect Hollywood metaphor for the American political culture of our day," writes Frank Rich in his column slated for Sunday's New York Times, RAW STORY has found.

"Politicians, particularly but not exclusively in the Karl Rove camp, seem to believe that voters of 'faith' are suckers who can be lured into the big tent and then abandoned once their votes and campaign cash have been pocketed by the party for secular profit," Rich writes.
Excerpts from Rich's column The Rove Da Vinci Code:
The Machiavellian mission for the hit-deprived Sony studio was to co-opt conservative religious critics who might depress turnout for a $125-million-plus thriller portraying the Roman Catholic Church as a fraud. To this end, as The New Yorker reported, Sony hired a bevy of PR consultants, including a faith-based flack whose Christian Rolodex previously helped sell inspirational testaments to Hollywood spirituality like "Bruce Almighty" and "Christmas With the Kranks."
But for all these betrayals, Dobson and Co. won't desert the Republicans come Election Day. If Rove steps up his usual gay-baiting late in the campaign, as is his wont, maybe the turnout of those on the hard-core right will eke out a victory for the party that double-crossed them not just on cultural issues but also on secular conservative principles (like fiscal responsibility and immigration-law enforcement). If so, they'll promptly be Da Vinci'd yet again.
Like the Bush era, the cynical Rove strategy of exploiting faith-based voters may be nearing its end. For proof, just take a look at the most craven figure in American politics: the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist. To flatter the far right, this Harvard-trained surgeon misdiagnosed Terri Schiavo's vegetative state from the Senate floor, and justified abstinence-only sex education in AIDS prevention by telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he didn't know for certain that tears and sweat couldn't transmit HIV. But increasingly it's not only liberals who see through him. One of his latest stunts, a proposed $100 gas-tax rebate, provoked Rush Limbaugh to condemn him for "treating us like we're a bunch of whores."

NYT: Bush breaks pledge made in 1999 to veto any tax increases


Published: Saturday May 20, 2006

President Bush appears to have broken a pledge he made in 1999 to veto any tax increase bills, according to an article set for Sunday's New York Times, RAW STORY has found.

"The $69 billion tax cut bill that President Bush signed last week tripled tax rates for teenagers with college savings funds, despite Bush's 1999 pledge to veto any tax increase," reports David Cay Johnston.

In 1999, the conservative group Americans For Tax Reform convinced Bush - and the other candidates seeking the GOP nomination for president at the time - to sign anti-tax increase pledges (link).

"If I were elected president," Bush pledged. "I will oppose and veto any increase in individual or corporate marginal income tax rates or individual or corporate income tax hikes."

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, tells the Times that the increase is "a technical violation of the pledge."

"[Norquist] pledged to immediately begin a campaign to have the tax increases rescinded," Johnston writes.

Excerpt from the Times article:

Under the new law, teenagers age 14 to 17 with investment income will now be taxed at the same rate as their parents, not at their own rates. Long-term capital gains and dividends that had been taxed at 5 percent will now be taxed at 15 percent. Interest that had been taxed at 10 percent will now be taxed at as much as 35 percent.


...In response to a question about the tax increase on teenagers in the new legislation, the White House issued a statement Friday that made no reference to the tax increase, but recounted the tax cuts the administration has sponsored and stated that President Bush had "reduced taxes on all people who pay income taxes."

Challenged on that point, the White House modified its statement 21 minutes later to say that Mr. Bush had "reduced taxes on virtually all people who pay income taxes."


Federal Judge Strikes Down Oklahoma Gay Adoption Law...

Associated Press TIM TALLEY May 20, 2006 at 04:14 PM

A federal judge struck down a 2-year-old law that prohibits Oklahoma from recognizing adoptions by same-sex couples from other states and countries.

U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron ruled Friday the measure violated due process rights under the U.S. Constitution because it attempted to break up families without considering the parents' fitness or the children's best interests.


Voting Continues In Too-Close-To-Call Election New Orleans Election...

Associated Press MICHELLE ROBERTS May 20, 2006 at 04:15 PM
READ MORE: Hurricane, Hurricane Katrina

Voters in this hurricane-stricken city were deciding Saturday whether to allow incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin to continue overseeing what will be one of the largest reconstruction projects in U.S. history or to oust him in favor of Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu.

Whoever wins the too-close-to-call election will take office on May 31, one day before the new hurricane season begins in a city where Katrina continues to dominate nearly every aspect of life.


Student Speaker Jean Rohe Blogs On HuffPost: Why I “Tore McCain's Speech Apart Before He Even Opened His Mouth”…

Out of the mouths of Babes, Good for you young Lady, Thank the Lord America has young adults with the courage to speak out, for what they believe in. And meanwhile the world, have to listen to a dumb illiterate, DISGUSTING

Grads Boo McCain... Senator Says “I Feel Sorry” For Them....

Why I Spoke Up
READ MORE: Iraq, 2006, New York Times, Fox News, Israel, George W. Bush

When I was selected as a student speaker for the New School commencement about two months ago I had no idea that I'd end up on CNN and in Maureen Dowd's column in the New York Times, among other places, when it was all over. One day after the big event I'm still reeling from all the media attention and emails from professors, students, and other supporters from all over the country, so forgive me if my writing is a little scattered.

In my speech yesterday I had hoped to talk about social responsibility in a time of war, but in much more oblique terms. I wanted to speak about communication, and how I have found that one of my strongest and most enjoyable methods of communication is music. I wanted to talk about the New York City public school preschoolers with whom I work each week and how they've been empowered through music, how they've been able to learn linguistic and social skills by singing together. I wanted to talk about my grandfather, who, despite the fact that he has Alzheimer's disease and cannot remember even my name, still knows all the songs he sang in his youth. I wanted to talk about music as a powerful tool for peace. I wanted to encourage everyone to identify his or her talents and to always use them for the greater good.

Unfortunately, a certain not-so-dynamic duo of "centrist" politicians foiled my standard graduation speech and forced me to act. Until just the day before commencement I really hadn't understood the gravity of the situation. I suppose I should tell the story.

On Thursday I attended two graduation ceremonies for my two degrees, one at the New School Jazz Program and one at Eugene Lang College at the New School. The Lang graduation was a pretty raucous affair, owing mostly to the dissenting voices of Elijah Miller, a student award recipient, and Mark Larrimore, a religious studies professor and our keynote speaker. Through the cheers at that event I got a sense of just how widespread the student outrage was. Forgive me now if I seem out of touch with my student body, but as a double degree student who had spent the last month in hibernation working on her recital and her thesis, in addition to working with the preschoolers, I hadn't done anything else for weeks. At some point that day I was introduced to Irene, a student who was involved in organizing pins and armbands for students to wear during commencement the next day. We figured out a way to get me and the other student speaker armbands before the event. This same day all of us in the platform party got an email from the event organizer letting us know that certain media representatives would be in attendance, among them Fox news and National Public Radio. The situation seemed pretty serious.

When I got home Thursday night after a rehearsal, I decided I needed to at least insert a line in my speech about the armbands. And I would've left it there, had the other student speaker, Christina Antonakis-Wallace, not reminded me in a telephone conversation that night that I should read John McCain's speech from his other two speaking engagements which was conveniently posted on his website. Of course! I had to do my research. I checked the schedule for the ceremony and realized that I would be speaking just before the senator got his award. And that's when the idea for a preemptive strike began to brew in my little stressed-out brain. What if I tore McCain's speech apart before he even opened his mouth? After reading his speech a couple of times I picked out a few particularly loathsome sections--and believe it or not, none of these actually came from the extensive section where he defends his position on the war in Iraq--and I began planning an attack against him using his own words.

At two in the morning when my boyfriend came home I hadn't even started writing yet. I was in a terrible state of anxiety. What if it didn't work? Didn't my earlier speech make my position clear enough? I told him my new idea. "Jean, you have to do it. You'll kick yourself later if you don't." "But it's two in the morning. There's no way it's going to be any good." "Jean, do it. You'll have nothing to regret."

So in the wee hours of the morning I set out to revise my speech, re-saving it as "mccain speech subversive.doc". And at three o'clock in the morning I woke up my other roommate as I practiced reading it in our living room. She wasn't upset. "Sounds like you're running for president," she told me. We all agreed that I had no choice. It was the only thing I could do at the commencement. And so, tingling with nerves, I tried to go to sleep.

The morning of the event I shared my speech over the phone with my mother who predictably enough, cried. She gave me her words of encouragement. And moments later, in the driving rain, I set off alone for Madison Square Garden.

The entire afternoon leading up to my speech I imagined that everyone who saw me knew what I was up to. I felt like an infiltrator. I wanted to go home and I was sick to my stomach. But when I heard an organizer on her walkie-talkie speaking nervously with another coordinator about the students outside who had leaflets and armbands, I knew that I would have my supporters. Later, John McCain arrived in the green room, and with the encouragement of Laurie Anderson, another honoree, Christina and I introduced ourselves to him. I almost wanted to warn the guy that I was about to make him look like an idiot so that he would at least have a fighting chance and an extra moment to change his speech to save himself. But he didn't even make eye contact when we shook hands, so I figured I didn't owe him anything.

The rest is a blur. I didn't have a high school graduation, so I was kind of looking forward to the whole ceremony of it, but all I remember is suddenly being in a robe, walking down the aisle of the MSG Theater to the cheers of my friends (who, incidentally, had no idea what to expect) and then I was on stage staring out at thousands of people and trying not to vomit. Eventually I spoke, and everyone loved it. And McCain spoke and we all had a bit of déjà vu. Then some other people spoke and I tried to pay attention but I couldn't stop gawking at the protesters in the audience. And just before the end of the ceremony Bob Kerrey asked if I wanted to walk out with McCain. I said that would be OK. Kerrey led me over to him as the recessional music began, and I took McCain's arm. "I'm sorry, man," I told him, "I just had to do it." He mumbled something about it being alright, but I think he probably would've rather not had me there. It really wasn't his fault that he got invited into a pit of very well-educated vipers, and it really wasn't my fault that I did what I had to do in the situation. Had he been speaking at something other than our graduation, or had he spoken about almost anything other than his life and his position on the Iraq War and Darfur it might have been OK. But what did he expect? Campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination at the New School is like trying to catch fish in a swimming pool. It was just totally out of place. Many thanks go to the people in the audience who managed to capture with a few yelled and widely-quoted phrases, just exactly what was going on there.

I suppose I've written enough already, none of which has been particularly journalistic. But I do feel that I need to respond to a couple of things that have been floating around in the news. It's been noted in several columns that anti-McCain sentiment coming from the left may actually help him to garner support from the conservatives by giving him the opportunity to paint us as extremist liberals, so we should all keep our mouths shut. I say we need some "extremist liberals" if we're ever going to get our democracy back. Others have said that he's a moderate at heart and that we should let him continue pandering to the religious right so he can get the vote. Once he gets into office he'll show his true colors and be the centrist he always was. I don't buy that. People who truly care about human beings don't vote for an unjust war, among other things, simply as a political maneuver. Enough said.

More importantly, I feel obligated to respond to one thing that McCain told the New York Times. "I feel sorry for people living in a dull world where they can't listen to the views of others," he said. This is just preposterous. Yes, McCain was undoubtedly shouted-out and heckled by people who were not politely absorbing his words so as to consider them fully from every angle. But what did he expect? We could've all printed out his speech and chanted it with him in chorus. Did he think that no one knew exactly what he was about to say? And it was precisely because we listen to the views of others, and because, as I said in my speech, we don't fear them, that we as a school were able to mount such a thorough and intelligent opposition to his presence. Ignorant, closed-minded people would not have been able to do what we did. We chose to be in New York for our years of higher education for the very reason that we would be challenged to listen to opposing viewpoints each and every day and to deal with that challenge in a nonviolent manner. We've gotten very good at listening to the views of others and learning how to also make our views heard, even when we don't have the power of national political office and the media on our side.

I think we must remember that as big as this moment may seem to me today and perhaps to other supporters who are reading this article, this is a very small victory in a time when democracy is swiftly eroding under the pressure of the right wing in this country. We all have much work to do, and for the most part the media do not represent us, the small people who don't hold any special titles but who feel the weight of our government's actions on our backs each and every day. I never expected to get the opportunity to speak the way I did yesterday, but I'm so glad that I did. I hope that other people found strength in my act of protest and will one day find themselves in my position, drawing out their own bravery to speak truth.

Here's my commencement speech:

If all the world were peaceful now and forever more,
Peaceful at the surface and peaceful at the core,

All the joy within my heart would be so free to soar,

And we're living on a living planet, circling a living star.

Don't know where we're going but I know we're going far.

We can change the universe by being who we are,

And we're living on a living planet, circling a living star.

Welcome everyone on this beautiful afternoon to the commencement ceremony for the New School class of 2006. That was an excerpt of a song I learned as a child called "Living Planet" by Jay Mankita. I chose to begin my address this way because, as always, but especially now, we are living in a time of violence, of war, of injustice. I am thinking of our brothers and sisters in Iraq, in Darfur, in Sri Lanka, in Mogadishu, in Israel/Palestine, right here in the U.S., and many, many other places around the world. And my deepest wish on this day--on all days--is for peace, justice, and true freedom for all people. The song says, "We can change the universe by being who we are," and I believe that it really is just that simple.

Right now, I'm going to be who I am and digress from my previously prepared remarks. I am disappointed that I have to abandon the things I had wanted to speak about, but I feel that it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge the fact that this ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering that it was intended to be due to all the media attention surrounding John Mc Cain's presence here today, and the student and faculty outrage generated by his invitation to speak here. The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded. Not only this, but his invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all, and to commemorate our achievements.

What is interesting and bizarre about this whole situation is that Senator Mc Cain has stated that he will be giving the same speech at all three universities where he has been invited to speak recently, of which ours is the last; those being Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Columbia University, and finally here at the New School. For this reason I have unusual foresight concerning the themes of his address today. Based on the speech he gave at the other institutions, Senator Mc Cain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our "civic and moral obligation" in times of crisis. I consider this a time of crisis and I feel obligated to speak. Senator Mc Cain will also tell us about his cocky self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others. In so doing, he will imply that those of us who are young are too naïve to have valid opinions and open ears. I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous and wrong, that George Bush's agenda in Iraq is not worth the many lives lost. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, Senator Mc Cain will tell us that we, those of us who are Americans, "have nothing to fear from each other." I agree strongly with this, but I take it one step further. We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet. Fear is the greatest impediment to the achievement of peace. We have nothing to fear from people who are different from us, from people who live in other countries, even from the people who run our government--and this we should have learned from our educations here. We can speak truth to power, we can allow our humanity always to come before our nationality, we can refuse to let fear invade our lives and to goad us on to destroy the lives of others. These words I speak do not reflect the arrogance of a young strong-headed woman, but belong to a line of great progressive thought, a history in which the founders of this institution play an important part. I speak today, even through my nervousness, out of a need to honor those voices that came before me, and I hope that we graduates can all strive to do the same.

Link Here

Afghan violence worries US

THE heaviest outbreak of fighting in years this week underscored a violent shift in Afghanistan as NATO troops gird for an expanded mission there, analysts said overnight. More


Taliban commander 'alive and well'

THE Taliban dismissed charges by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that their insurgency was rooted in Pakistan and described reports that a top commander was captured as "propaganda to hide defeat." More


Turkish PM under pressure

TURKISH Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, under pressure over a deadly Islamist attack on senior judges, called Saturday for the strengthening of the nation's secular system as the police tracked down a man believed to be a key figure behind the shooting. More

Miners need 'urgent' surgery

God Bess these Boys and they deserve everything they get from Cable News exploitation of this story, but what really pisses me off big time is, What about the miners that risk their lives day after day to go down in that same mine to rescue these boys, what recognition do they get what payout do they get, After all if they had not risked their lives all those days, there would not have been any potential stories, and shows for the Cable News. SUCKS BIG TIME

May 21, 2006
MINERS Todd Russell and Brant Webb are suffering from serious health problems requiring surgery following their 14-day ordeal underground.

Despite being released from hospital within hours of being freed on May 9, their injuries are more serious than first thought, according to family members.
Mr Russell and Mr Webb intend to disappear from the spotlight in Australia after tonight's dramatic television revelations.

Mr Webb's father John told The Sunday Telegraph: "Brant spent an hour and a half with an osteopath last week and had MRI scans because of the pain in his legs.

Eddie's Payday: Jackpot hangs in the balance
Emotional: Miner's strength spurred on manager
Mine safety: Laws threaten lives and absolve management
Innovation: Aussie know-how could aid communication

"They will need to operate on his legs and knees. His liver is not well either."

Mr Russell also has leg problems.
"Brant says his injuries are nothing compared to Todd's," Mr Webb said.

The Tasmanian pair are believed to be desperate to spirit their families away from Beaconsfield to escape the new-found demands of their instant celebrity status.

In tonight's two-hour TV special, the men break down in tears as they reveal their fears of dying a lonely death a kilometre underground.

For the first time, the world will learn what went through their minds during the two weeks they spent trapped in the Beaconsfield gold mine.

According to those involved in its production, the tale is worth every dollar of the $2.6 million Nine paid the pair to secure it.

With book and movie deals also expected, the success of their multi-media plan hinges on the strength of tonight's much-awaited story.

Nine CEO, Eddie McGuire, whose reputation is on the line over the deal, says the Beaconsfield saga has "man on the moon qualities" in the way it transfixed a nation.

And he is confident the special will deliver the ratings and revenue needed to justify the biggest cash-for-story payment in Australian media history.

"There is just so much in it, you could do two two-hour shows," he said.

Nine is asking $100,000 for 30-second advertising spots, a 40 per cent premium for Sunday night prime time. Most analysts believe the network will struggle to break even.

Mr McGuire denied he would have done the deal at any cost, but it is clear he believes it is a decisive blow in the arm-wrestle with Seven over leadership in television news and current affairs.

"Nine is back in the news breaking business again," Mr McGuire told The Sunday Telegraph.

"We're not crowing. We are not rubbing Seven's nose in it as Mel and Kochie (Seven's Sunrise hosts) did a great job and were right in it ... but I think we covered it in a tremendously professional fashion."

Shrugging off criticism he paid too much to win a timeslot the network would have won anyway, McGuire said the journalist in him had driven him on.

There was also another factor: the memory of 60 Minutes reporter Richard Carleton who died of a heart attack while covering the story.

"One of our own died down there. And that never left me. Richard went down to do a yarn and I wanted to finish it. We all did."

Mr McGuire and his former manager, Jeffrey Browne, who he recruited to be his number two at Nine, finally clinched the deal after consulting PBL managing director John Alexander.

After the special, Mr Russell and Mr Webb are off to the United States for an interview with the ABC network. They hope it will open the doors for more lucrative deals - and then they will take a break.

But the miners' money has brought pressures of its own with questions about whether they will give some to the family of colleague Larry Knight who was killed in the rock fall.

Their manager, Sean Anderson, said the men had yet to receive a cent, but had made it clear they stood ready to assist Mr Knight's widow.

Link Here

Dead miner's family 'shafted'
By Joe HildebrandMay 20, 2006

THE family of dead Tasmanian miner Larry Knight will receive a lump sum workers compensation payment of just $196,000.

The payout is less than one-tenth the amount his living colleagues will receive for appearing on television tomorrow.

And the company which owns the Beaconsfield mine will not have to pay a cent of the $196,000 - and is refusing to say whether it will provide any direct assistance to Mr Knight's widow Jacqui and her three fatherless children.

The family would have to rely on the generosity of ordinary Australians, who have donated $600,000 to the Australian Workers Union's Beaconsfield Fund.

Brant Webb and Todd Russell - who survived the collapse - have used their one public appearance to date to urge the community to get behind the Knight family.

They used their appearance on The Footy Show to call on Australia to give generously to the Beaconsfield fund, and have promised to do everything they can to help the family of their fallen friend.

The money which Mr Knight's family would receive would be dwarfed by the $2.6 million which Mr Webb and Mr Russell would receive from their deal with the Nine Network.

Their two-hour special screens Sunday night and they stand to gain millions more from US media deals involving TV appearances and possibly even movie rights.

Australian Workers Union secretary Bill Shorten said both the workers compensation laws and Beaconsfield gold mine had let the family down and called on the company to match the workers' and the public's generosity.

Under Tasmania's workers compensation laws, a company has to pay just 369 penalty units of $531 for the death of a worker.

Mrs Knight would also receive the equivalent of her husband's wage for the first 13 weeks after his death, although this gradually drops to 80 per cent and cuts out altogether after two years.

This comes to an extra $150,000 or so over the two years and then runs out. All the money would be paid out of the gold mine's workers compensation insurance, not from the company coffers.

At the same time Mr Webb and Mr Russell had just earned $2.6 million in a television and magazine deal with Channel 9 and other PBL outlets and are flying to the US for a series of television appearances which could earn them millions more.

With US shows from Larry King to Oprah vying for them they are set to become celebrities.

The Australian Workers Union will ensure the bulk of the $600,000 goes to the Knights.

But even that could come under pressure, with the future of the mining company in doubt and no guarantee of wages for the other miners after June 9.

Mine backer Macquarie Bank has contributed $100,000 to the fund but Beaconsfield gold mine has made no public donation.

The AWU has extracted $2.7 million from Macquarie Bank to ensure workers' redundancies are paid if the project goes under.

Link Here

Bush vows to create 'peaceful' Cuba

When you get a JUST AND PEACEFUL elected government committed to advancing the values that sustain liberty in America, Then you can tell the rest of the World Community what kind of Democracy they will have Loser.

PRESIDENT George W. Bush said overnight the United States was committed to helping Cubans create "peaceful" government in a message ahead of the island's independence day. "The United States is committed to advancing the values that sustain liberty and helping establish a just and peaceful government in Cuba," Mr Bush said in a message for the 104th anniversary of Cuban independence, to be celebrated later today.

"On this anniversary of Cuba's independence, we look forward to the day when Cuba embraces democracy and human rights for all her people," he said. Mr Bush's message came after the State Department announced the postponement of a report from the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, an advisory panel created in 2003 to help hasten the demise of Fidel Castro's regime.

Following recommendations from the panel in 2004, Mr Bush tightened the four-decade-old US embargo against the communist-led island.

Link Here

Old Castro Says In your Dreams Georgie, He is going to live till he's 140

Fidel Castro's Doctor: "He Will Live 140 Years"...

AFP May 20, 2006 at 08:21 AM

Cuban President Fidel Castro, who turns 80 this year, enjoys vibrant health and will live to 140, his chief doctor said.

Doctor Eugenio Selman-Housein, who heads Castro's medical team, denied that the longtime leader has Parkinson's disease, as the CIA reportedly believes.


Prosecutors Appeal on DeLay Indictment

AUSTIN, Texas -- Prosecutors in the case against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay have asked the state's highest criminal court to reinstate an indictment accusing the former House majority leader of conspiring to violate election laws.

The appeal filed with the Court of Criminal Appeals Friday had been expected and likely postpones a trial for DeLay on a separate money laundering charge.

A Travis County grand jury indicted DeLay and political consultants John Colyandro and Jim Ellis last year on money laundering and conspiracy charges, stemming from a 2002 campaign finance transaction.

Prosecutors accuse the three of funneling $190,000 in corporate money to the Republican National Committee, which then donated the same amount to Texas candidates. Under Texas law, corporate money can't be directly used for political campaigns.

Link Here

Unlike the Libby case, writing about Rove is like falling into quicksand.


May 20, 2006 -- Yesterday came and passed without an announcement by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in Leakgate. WMR is coming up on its first anniversary (May 27). In our launch edition it was stated, "In the tradition of Drew Pearson's and Jack Anderson's famous Washington Merry-Go-Round syndicated column and I.F. Stone, this online publication tackles the 'politically incorrect' and 'politically embarrassing' stories and holds government officials accountable for their actions. This web site extends a warm open invitation to whistleblowers and leakers. Business as usual for the crooks and liars in Washington, DC, is over."

WMR is as good as our sources and contacts. We vet them, cultivate them, and protect them. If they pass legitimate information, we report it. If situations change and items we report do not pan out, that does not reflect badly on them. Note the term "item." WMR is a political insider publication. Our daily reports are not standard news stories that name sources and quote them but items -- compilations of what we hear and read from our confidential sources. WMR reports what would never be permitted to leave the news rooms of The Washington Post, New York Times, ABC News, or CNN. After all, reporting raw information would get their editors and reporters tossed off every social "A list" and "B list" in Washington.

WMR stands by its report that there was a meeting between Fitzgerald and Rove and his attorneys at Patton Boggs LLC in Washington on Friday, May 12. The meeting was to inform Rove that he would be indicted. The Attorney General had been informed in person by the Grand Jury that they had indicted Rove -- the same courtesy afforded him last October in the Libby case. The Grand Jury was apparently not in session yesterday but that does not mean the Rove matter was off the agenda. According to the daily docket in the Clerk's Office, two US District Court judges were deliberating cases in which there were potentially sealed indictments. Judge Alan Kay heard a case titled "UNITED STATES v. SEALED." Judge Reggie Walton, the presiding judge in the Libby trial, deliberated a number of cases titled "SEALED v. SEALED." With a sealed indictment in hand, the Special Prosecutor could have been negotiating a plea agreement with the Rove camp during the last week. And that may have set off a guerre royale between the Special Prosecutor and White House, with the prosecutor at a severe disadvantage.

Even before WMR reported on Rove's likely indictment yesterday, there were clear signs that something was amiss. Rather than keep Rove out of the public eye, the White House put him out in front of the neocon American Enterprise Institute on Monday, had him arm twisting GOP members of Congress during the week, and had him fly to Lake County, Illinois Friday night for a GOP fundraiser and pep talk. Washington insiders report that if the White House were confident that Rove would soon be indicted, they would refrain from having him out among GOP ranks taking part in future embarrassing photo ops. Which brings us back to yesterday's item about the power of the Special Counsel as opposed to that of an Independent Special Counsel. Even Watergate independent counsel Archibald Cox was not immune enough to prevent him from being fired by Richard Nixon. (Although the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General refused to fire Cox and resigned, the dirty work was carried out by the Solicitor General, Robert Bork). Fitzgerald is merely protected by a series of Justice Department administrative directives and not by anything even close to an Independent Counsel Statute. In taking on the most powerful and unconstitutional administration in the history of the United States, Fitzgerald's brief is certainly vulnerable to pressure from the White House. And it is clear that something drastic followed the May 12 meeting at Patton & Boggs.

First, a small number of journalists who were writing about the Rove indictment found themselves being spun by Rove's media machine and his paid spokesperson, former Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo, a longtime GOP hack. Some questionable information about two of the journalists were posted anonymously on a blog. The blog information made claims that Corallo was involved in telephone conversations with two journalists and deceptive practices were brought up. WMR refused to get drawn into this circle of intrigue and we reported on it on May 16 (see below). Mid-week, WMR received an email form someone claiming to be a reporter for a major TV news network. It claimed that Gonzales was no where near the US Courthouse on May 12 and insinuated that the reporter was able to see the members of the secret Grand Jury come and go, that the same Grand Jury deliberating the Rove matter was also hearing a drug case, and that the reporter had somehow been given inside information into the secret Grand Jury proceedings. The "reporter" failed to mention the well-armed, multi-vehicle motorcade that arrived at the Courthouse from the Justice Department at the rear garage of the courthouse, placed the Attorney General's personal security detail throughout the courthouse annex, and returned to Justice some 30 minutes later. WMR's report on the Rove matter became the subject of ridicule by the typical right-wing network in Washington, including shills for the National Review, other neocon outlets, and the Rove camp.

Unlike the Libby case, writing about Rove is like falling into quicksand.

Nevertheless, Friday, May 19, came and went without an announcement of an indictment. The "news" last week was about journalists who wrote about the impending indictment, exactly the focus Rove and the White House enjoy. Meanwhile, a jovial Rove and an even cockier Rove spokesman reveled in the mini-media storm they helped to create -- Rovian manipulation at its best. WMR has been on Leakgate since 2003, from talking to principals in the case, to staking out the Federal Courthouse in the Libby and Rove grand jury proceedings, to talking to those aware of the damage done to the CIA's counter-proliferation work. However, the Kabuki dance between the Special Counsel, Rove and his lawyers, and certain media are becoming a huge distraction. WMR apologizes to its loyal and supportive readers for being led, along with our sources, down the Rove rabbit hole of media mirages and public relations B.S. Until an actual announcement is made by the Special Prosecutor regarding Rove, we will concentrate our limited resources on other, more important, stories, including continuing CIA rendition flights, NSA eavesdropping, and Iraq war atrocities.

Happy Saturday...!

Are Wheaties God's gift to man or what?

Here are the .pdf's of yesterday's filings made to Judge Walton - you can read them over breakfast. ;)

My brief

Libby's brief

PS: Scooter really needs to see a doctor about that memory problem of his and also consider eating a big bowl of Yellowcake Reality every morning.

"Mr. Libby may have been confused or may have misrecollected facts in good faith, and did not act with a specific intent to give false testimony. Only with such context will the jury appreciate that Mr. Libby did not need to attack Mr. Wilson personally to rebut his allegations, because the administration had clear factual support for its position that Mr. Wilson’s criticisms were wrong."


Libby lawyers oppose Cheney notes as evidence

Defense attorneys argue vice president’s ex-aide hadn’t seen documentMy guess is that everyone slept in today.

***Patrick J. Fitzgerald***

Loosen Your Drag...

History will absolve Wayne Madsen and other hard charging journalists, but for now I have caught the smaller fish and am using him to catch a real lunker - if I strike too soon the hook won't set.Remember, a fish rots from the head and Official "A" stands for a**.

Link Here

(UK) Soldiers to get life in jail for refusing to act as occupiers

by Gerri Peev, The Scotsman

May 19, 2006

Soldiers who object to taking part in a military occupation of a foreign country will face life in prison under measures due to be rubber-stamped in the House of Commons on Monday.

The little-noticed Armed Forces Bill will have its third reading in the Commons on Monday and left-leaning MPs are alarmed that it will legitimize pre-emptive military strikes.

It will change the definition of desertion to include soldiers who go absent without leave and intend to refuse to take part in a "military occupation of a foreign country or territory".

Under the current Army Act, desertion is defined as "going absent intending not to come back, going absent to avoid any service overseas, or going absent to avoid service when before an enemy".

Campaigners have seized on the inclusion of "military occupation" as evidence that ministers are trying to scare soldiers from objecting to future preemptive strikes -- a charge denied by the Ministry of Defense.

The move comes as tensions escalate with Iran and follows a reported rise in soldiers absconding from the British Army since the invasion of Iraq.

Ben Griffin, a former SAS soldier who quit the army without facing punishment after being "appalled" at what was happening in Iraq, accused the government of changing the law ahead of any possible action in Iran.

Link Here

Grads Boo McCain... Senator Says “I Feel Sorry” For Them....

Law and Disorder Misjudgments Marred U.S. Plans for Iraqi Police

Published: May 21, 2006

As chaos swept Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Pentagon began its effort to rebuild the Iraqi police with a mere dozen advisers. Overmatched from the start, one was sent to train a 4,000-officer unit to guard power plants and other utilities. A second to advise 500 commanders in Baghdad. Another to organize a border patrol for the entire country.

Three years later, the police are a battered and dysfunctional force that has helped bring Iraq to the brink of civil war. Police units stand accused of operating death squads for powerful political groups or simple profit. Citizens, deeply distrustful of the force, are setting up their own neighborhood security squads. Killings of police officers are rampant, with at least 547 slain this year, roughly as many as Iraqi and American soldiers combined, records show.

The police, initially envisioned by the Bush administration as a cornerstone in a new democracy, have instead become part of Iraq's grim constellation of shadowy commandos, ruthless political militias and other armed groups. Iraq's new prime minister and senior American officials now say that the country's future — and the ability of America to withdraw its troops — rests in large measure on whether the police can be reformed and rogue groups reined in.

Like so much that has defined the course of the war, the realities on the ground in Iraq did not match the planning in Washington. An examination of the American effort to train a police force in Iraq, drawn from interviews with several dozen American and Iraqi officials, internal police reports and visits to Iraqi police stations and training camps, reveals a cascading series of misjudgments by White House and Pentagon officials, who repeatedly underestimated the role the United States would need to play in rebuilding the police and generally maintaining order.

Before the war, the Bush administration dismissed as unnecessary a plan backed by the Justice Department to rebuild the police force by deploying thousands of American civilian trainers.

Current and former administration officials said they were relying on a Central Intelligence Agency assessment that said the Iraqi police were well trained. The C.I.A. said its assessment conveyed nothing of the sort.

After Baghdad fell, when the majority of Iraqi police officers abandoned their posts, a second proposal by a Justice Department team calling for 6,600 police trainers was reduced to 1,500, and then never carried out. During the first eight months of the occupation — as crime soared and the insurgency took hold — the United States deployed 50 police advisers in Iraq.

Against the objections of Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, the long-range plan was eventually reduced to 500 trainers. The result was a police captain from North Carolina having 40 Americans to train 20,000 Iraqi police across four provinces in southern Iraq.

Throughout Iraq, Americans were faced with the realization that in trying to rebuild the Iraqi force they were up against the legacy of Saddam Hussein. Not only was the force inept and rife with petty corruption, but in the wake of the invasion the fractious tribal, sectarian and criminal groups were competing to control the police. Yet for much of last year, American trainers were able to regularly monitor fewer than half of the 1,000 police stations in Iraq, where even officers free of corrupting influences lacked basic policing skills like how to fire a weapon or investigate a crime.

While even a viable police force alone could not have stopped the insurgency and lawlessness that eventually engulfed Iraq, officials involved acknowledge that the early, halting effort to rebuild the force was a missed opportunity.

Frank Miller, a former National Security Council official who coordinated the American effort to govern Iraq from 2003 to 2005, conceded in an interview that the administration did not put enough focus on the police.

"More attention should have been paid to the police after the fall of Baghdad," said Mr. Miller, one of the officials who objected to the original proposal to deploy thousands of advisers. "That is obvious. Iraq needed law and order established."

What attempts there were to train the police were marred by poor coordination, civilian and military officials said. During the first two years of the war, three different government groups developed three different plans to train Iraq's police, all without knowing of the existence of the other.

Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner sent to Iraq in 2003 to lead the police mission, said Pentagon officials gave him just 10 days notice and little guidance.

7 Link Here

Documentary Highlights Growing Trend Of Homeless Iraq War Vets...

Reuters Daniel Trotta May 20, 2006 at 08:55 AM

By Daniel Trotta
Fri May 19, 3:05 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The nightmare of Iraq was bad enough for Vanessa Gamboa. Unprepared for combat beyond her basic training, the supply specialist soon found herself in a firefight, commanding a handful of clerks.

"They promoted me to sergeant. I knew my job but I didn't know anything about combat. So I'm responsible for all these people and I don't know what to tell them but to duck," Gamboa said.

The battle, on a supply delivery run, ended without casualties, and it did little to steel Gamboa for what awaited her back home in Brooklyn.

When the single mother was discharged in April, after her second tour in Iraq, she was 24 and had little money and no place to live. She slept in her son's day-care center.

Gamboa is part of a small but growing trend among U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- homelessness.

On any given night the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) helps 200 to 250 of them, and more go uncounted. They are among nearly 200,000 homeless veterans in America, largely from the Vietnam War.

Advocates say the number of homeless veterans is certain to grow, just as it did in the years following the Vietnam and Gulf wars, as a consequence of the stresses of war and inadequate job training.

Homeless veterans have remained in the shadows of the national debate about Iraq, although the issue may gain traction from the film "When I Came Home," which won an award this month for best New York-made documentary at the city's Tribeca Film Festival.

The documentary tells the story of Iraq war veteran Herold Noel as he lived in his car. It will get a screening in June at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Bob Filner (news, bio, voting record), a California Democrat, calls it a "national disgrace" that homelessness among veterans has not been solved and held an informal hearing on Thursday to highlight the issue.

"We've seen the same thing with Agent Orange and Gulf War syndrome," Filner said of ailments from prior wars. "The bureaucracy is denying that there's anything wrong. First it's deny, deny, deny. Then they admit it's a small problem. And later they admit it's a widespread problem.

"We're not talking about a lot of money (to solve the problem) compared with overall spending on the war in Iraq. We're spending a billion dollars every two and a half days," he told Reuters.


One theme of the documentary is that veterans who risked their lives in war are too easily discarded by society once they are out of the military. The film shows Noel being denied housing by New York City's housing agency.

Gamboa had a similar experience.

"They put me in this roach-infested hotel. I was there for 10 days," Gamboa said. "Then they said I wasn't eligible to stay in a shelter because I could stay with my sister, who lives in a studio apartment with her husband. And I haven't spoken to her in six years."

Now her luck is improving.

Unlike many low-ranking soldiers, Gamboa received army training with civilian applications -- logistics -- and started a job with a fancy Fifth Avenue clothing store this week.

And despite an Army snafu that nearly denied her U.S. citizenship, the Guatemalan-born Gamboa, who moved to Brooklyn as a child, took her oath before the U.S. flag on Friday.

Military recruiters target poor neighborhoods like Gamboa's Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Young adults with few job skills join the Army. When they get out, many have fallen behind their contemporaries, experts say.

The stresses of combat and military life contribute to post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and mental illness, which are especially taboo subjects to soldiers trained not to admit failure easily.

About half of all homeless veterans suffer from mental illness, and more than two-thirds suffer from alcohol or drug abuse problems, the VA says.

Gamboa has avoided those pitfalls, but female veterans are three times more likely to become homeless than women in the general population, the American Journal of Public Health reported.

Repeated deployments -- a hallmark of the Iraq war -- and separation from family can also portend future problems.

"Then the downward spiral begins with substance abuse and problems with the law," said Amy Fairweather of Iraq Veteran, which helps war veterans in San Francisco.

"If you wanted to put together all the repercussions that put people at risk for homelessness, you couldn't do better than the Iraq war."

Thousands Of Katrina Victims In FEMA Trailers Receive Eviction Notices...

LA Times Richard Fausset May 20, 2006 at 08:55 AM

READ MORE: Hurricane, Hurricane Katrina, FEMA
The mail carrier brought the registered letter to Jessica Lessard's tiny trailer, along with a sour and foreboding comment: "I hope you got better news than I got," she said.

Lessard, 24, tore open the envelope and felt like crying. The letter was from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It said she and her family had 30 days to leave the flimsy, government-issued box that has been their home since Hurricane Katrina.

Three weeks later, Lessard; her fiance, George Courtney; and their 3-year-old son are still worried, though they have appealed their case. The house they once shared with Courtney's stepfather was ruined by the storm, and they can't afford the Gulf Coast's post-Katrina rents. Nearby relatives are also in trailers or in homes with no room for them.

Lessard's family is one of about 3,000 in Mississippi that have been deemed ineligible for a trailer as FEMA weeds out those Katrina victims who do not meet the qualifications for its emergency housing program.

Read the whole story here.

Katrina Death Toll Raised By 281 To 1,577...

And how many more are still lying dead under debris or in houses not yet checked out

Associated Press BRETT MARTEL May 20, 2006 at 11:19 AM
READ MORE: Hurricane, Hurricane Katrina

Louisiana raised its Hurricane Katrina death toll by 281 Friday to 1,577 after including more out-of-state evacuees whose deaths were deemed related to the storm or its grueling aftermath.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals decided that if residents' deaths were hastened by the stress and trauma associated with relocating -- or even an accidental injury during travel -- those deaths should be counted in the toll.


Iraq's new PM: 'historic day'

I bet the 24 Iraqi workers that died outside, so loved the democracy Georgie and his gang of thugs, Bestowed upon them.

By Mariam Karouny in BaghdadMay 20, 2006

Democracy and bloodshed ... Iraqi civilians watch the new PM IRAQ'S Parliament finally approved a new national unity government on Saturday, ending months of deadlock as bomb attacks that killed 24 people served a grim reminder of the security challenges it will face.Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet was approved by a show of hands, minister by minister, after a turbulent start to the parliamentary session, when some minority Sunni leaders spoke out against the last-minute deal and several walked out.

Eleventh-hour battles over the key posts of interior and defence left those jobs vacant for now, filled respectively by Maliki, a tough-talking Shi'ite Islamist, and his Sunni deputy premier, Salam al-Zobaie.

The main Sunni Arab leadership, which controls the bulk of the Sunnis' 50-odd seats in the 275-member chamber, held firm after the walkout by the dissidents. Washington hopes their presence at last in a full, sovereign government can draw Saddam Hussein's once dominant minority away from revolt into politics.

"We will work within a framework that will preserve the unity of the Iraqi people," Maliki told parliament as he listed 34 policy priorities highlighting security and the economy.
The chamber then approved the program clearing the way for the Government to be formally sworn in.

Sectarian wrangling has delayed formation of a government since an election in December. Faction fighting over cabinet jobs within the main groups, Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds, added to Maliki's difficulties since he was nominated a month ago.

Link Here

Labourers killed in Baghdad blast
Saturday 20 May 2006, 11:25 Makka Time, 8:25 GMT

The scene of the explosion in the poor district of al-Sadr City

A bomb has exploded in a Shia district of Baghdad, killing at least 19 people and wounding up to 56.

Police Major Hashim al-Yasir said the blast occurred at about 6.30am near a food stand in Sadr City where men gather for jobs as day labourers. Such spots have been hit in the past.

Witnesses and police said the bomb appeared to have been planted in a spot where the attackers knew large crowds of men would gather shortly after dawn, hoping to be hired for a day's casual work.

One witness, Muhammad Hamid, who works in a bakery nearby, said: "It was a huge explosion. We carried many of the injured to ambulances and helped remove the bodies."

Many of the injured were taken to the Imam Ali hospital nearby, where hallways were filled with doctors and nurses treating the wounded.

A dozen bodies, their faces covered with cardboard, lay in the hospital garden.

Meanwhile, a bomber killed at least five people and wounded 10 after detonating his explosives' belt in a police station in the town of Qaim, close to the Syrian border, police and hospital officials said on Saturday.

Fifteen corpses were also discovered in the town of Musayib, south of Baghdad, showing signs of gunshot wounds and torture, a defence ministry source said.

The violence occurred ahead of a planned meeting of Iraq's parliament which was to approve the new Cabinet of Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister-designate.

Link Here

Religious liberals gain new visibility

I hope it's not too little, too late

By Caryle Murphy and Alan Cooperman, Washington Post

The religious left is back.

Long overshadowed by the Christian right, religious liberals across a wide swath of denominations are engaged today in their most intensive bout of political organizing and alliance-building since the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s, according to scholars, politicians and clergy members.

In large part, the revival of the religious left is a reaction against conservatives' success in the 2004 elections in equating moral values with opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Religious liberals say their faith compels them to emphasize such issues as poverty, affordable health care and global warming. Disillusionment with the war in Iraq and opposition to Bush administration policies on secret prisons and torture have also fueled the movement.

Read more

A Twofer,(cause I lost track of whos turn it was) Art For Girls And Boys

From Our Comments Section..

This is so good I had to put it front and center..

Our beloved Kangaroo... AKA Rossi:

"Welcome to Rebelle.

I think that you can try to live a Christian life though Rachel, without the so called Christian Church, that molests our children, it is the friking Fundamentalist Christians that are the twin of the Fundamentalist Islam Church.

And it sure as hell does mimic battered wives sydrome, If you are about to stand there and accept it.I tell them go to hell, the lot of them.

19/5/06 3:25 PM

--- HELL YEAH, that is my baby!!!!---

Vexed to Nightmare: The Unholy Union Behind the War on Terror

Written by Chris Floyd
Friday, 19 May 2006

Will Bunch has a good story on Attywood about how the New York Times – and the Bush Administration – had information in the summer of 2001 that specifically foretold of an impending, spectacular attack by al Qaeda "perhaps to be visited on the continental United States." The story has rightly drawn much attention for the new light it throws on the years-long decline of the Times – and on the surpassingly curious inaction on the part of the Bush Administration during that fateful summer, despite an intelligence system "blinking red" with warnings of an impending attack. No doubt all of this will be chewed over, to good effect, by many analysts in the days to come.

But there is another very important part of the story that seems in danger of being overlooked. In an interview with Alternet, former NYT reporter (and Bush Regime misinformation conduit) Judith Miller tells how an intelligence source told her, during the 2001 July Fourth holiday weekend, about an intercept of a conversation of two al Qaeda members. As Miller recounts it: "And they had been talking to one another, supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what had happened to the Cole. And one Al Qaeda operative was overheard saying to the other, 'Don't worry; we're planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond.'"

What is the key fact here? Not really that al Qaeda operatives were planning a big operation against the United States; they'd been trying to do that for years, including one thwarted spectacular involving the mass hijacking of airplanes. No, what is truly significant, I think, is this passage: "They had been….supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what happened to the [USS] Cole," a destroyer hit by a deadly suicide bomb attack in a Yemen harbor the previous October.

Al Qaeda's entire strategy was aimed at drawing the United States into a worldwide "war on terror," a massive campaign of retaliation that would doubtless see the American military charging into Muslim lands, killing civilians, wreaking havoc. The benefits of this to al Qaeda would be two-fold. First, it would fuel anti-American sentiment throughout the Islamic world, radicalizing many Muslims who would see the retaliation as proof of bin Laden's charges of a "Crusader-Zionist" war on Islam. It would be, in other words, the greatest recruiting tool al Qaeda could ever have, bringing more recruits, arms and money to their cause.

Second, a U.S. "war on terror" would elevate al Qaeda to the status of a world power – not a fringe group capable of little more than the occasional deadly jab or suicidal outburst, but a fearsome enemy that threatened the very existence of Western civilization. Osama bin Laden would be raised up on the world stage, ranked with presidents and kings, the leader of an overwhelmingly powerful movement that could only be confronted by the full might of America's military forces.

That's why al Qaeda was disappointed that the United States had generally treated previous provocations as criminal matters best dealt with through vigorous law enforcement and the courts. (Bill Clinton's mindless lobbing of missiles at an aspirin factory in Sudan in 1998 in retaliation for an earlier al Qaeda attack on US embassies in Africa was a particularly stupid exception to this prudent course.) After all, the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center had been caught, tried in open court and convicted.

Then came September 11 – and the strange symbiosis of the long-held geopolitical strategies of al Qaeda and the Bush Administration. >>>cont

Link Here

Democratic Rival Forces Lieberman Into a Primary (NYT)

Published: May 20, 2006

HARTFORD, May 19 — A businessman with little political experience has forced Senator Joseph I. Lieberman into an August primary, surprising even his own supporters by winning more than twice the number of delegates he needed at the State Democratic Party's nominating convention Friday night.

Ned Lamont, a cable television executive from Greenwich who has opposed Senator Lieberman largely over the senator's support for the war in Iraq, won 505 of the 1,509 delegates who cast votes — about 33 percent, compared with the 15 percent required to force a primary.

Mr. Lieberman, by winning two-thirds of the vote, however, easily won the party's endorsement.

Cheers erupted as Mr. Lamont swept several small towns, where he typically fared better than he did in larger cities like Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven, which have entrenched Democratic establishments. Some supporters of Mr. Lamont said they had hoped to win only the necessary 15 percent of the vote and many said they were thrilled to have won more.

In an appearance after the vote, Mr. Lamont said his showing would resonate beyond Connecticut. "Thirty-three percent is telling the people in Washington, we want change," he said.

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MP to investigate Dr Kelly's death

Hélène Mulholland
Friday May 19, 2006

A backbench MP is to investigate the "unanswered questions" from the official inquiry into the death of weapons scientist Dr David Kelly.

The former Liberal Democrat environmental spokesman Norman Baker today revealed his decision to stand down from the shadow cabinet two months ago was based on a quest to establish the "truth" behind Dr Kelly's death. Mr Baker said he wanted to return to the issue because the 2003 Hutton inquiry had "blatantly failed to get to the bottom of matters".

He vowed to question ministers and to unearth new facts in a bid to establish the "truth" of the case.

Dr Kelly was found dead on July 18 2003 after being named as the possible source of a BBC story on the government's Iraq dossier.

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The David Kelly Story: Turning Murder into Suicide
29 November 2003

by Rowena Thursby


What is striking in Nicholas Hunt's account of Dr Kelly's death is the impression he creates of blood everywhere: blood on Kelly's jacket, on his trousers, on his left wrist, on the palm of his right hand, on the right side of his neck, and on the right side of his face. But actually he is not talking of large amounts - only of small patches smeared on the body and clothing.

Contrast this with the paramedics' assertion that, in their professional view, there was very little blood around for an arterial bleed. Normally an artery (which Hunt says was "completely severed") would produce copious amounts of blood spurting from the wound. Yet to quote paramedic Vanessa Hunt:

"....the amount of blood that was around the scene seemed relatively minimal and there was a small patch on his right knee, but no obvious arterial bleeding. There was no spraying of blood or huge blood loss of any obvious loss on the clothing."

PC Franklin, one of the police constables at the scene, reported blood being "puddled around". However, this was not what the paramedics saw contemporaneously. Vanessa Hunt and David Bartlett worked much closer to the body than the two police constables; had there been blood puddled around when they unbuttoned Kelly's shirt to put the electrodes on his chest, they would have been practically kneeling in it. Vanessa Hunt also commented "On his left arm...there was some dry blood"....." - only some blood, while Bartlett expressed surprise there was not more blood on the body itself, suggesting that is what he would expect to have found with an arterial bleed.

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Kelly spoke of dying in the woods
August 23, 2003

British weapons expert David Kelly predicted he would be "found dead in the woods" five months before he apparently committed suicide in a forested area, an inquiry into his death has been told.

A senior British diplomat, David Boucher, told the Hutton inquiry that Dr Kelly had predicted his own death if Britain invaded Iraq, in a conversation with him in February, about a month before the war started.

Mr Boucher, Britain's permanent representative to the UN Conference on Disarmament, said that, at the time, he believed Dr Kelly was concerned about being seen as a "liar" by Iraqi contacts, whom he had encouraged to co-operate with UN weapons inspectors before the war.

"I thought he might have meant that he was at risk of being attacked by the Iraqis in some way," Mr Boucher said. But, after Dr Kelly's death, he realised the scientist "may have been thinking on different lines".

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Kelly 'warned of dark actors' games'
19 July, 2003

Iraq weapons expert Dr David Kelly reportedly warned of "many dark actors playing games" in an e-mail sent hours before he bled to death from a slashed wrist.

The message, sent to a journalist (Judith Miller), appeared to refer to officials within the Ministry of Defence and British intelligence agencies with whom he had sparred over interpretations of weapons reports, according to the New York Times.

Dr Kelly disappeared two days after being questioned by the Commons foreign affairs select committee.

But his e-mail gave no indication he was depressed and said he was waiting "until the end of the week" before judging how his appearance before the committee had gone, the newspaper said.

What Happened at Rumsfeld's House

by David Swanson

Account of May 18th Action

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Chavez: “Bush is a terrorist, a drunkard, and a donkey.”

Well some people are not afraid to speak their mind

Mike Whitney:

Chavez says, “The worst genocidal leader in history is the President of the United States. Hitler would be like a suckling baby next to George W Bush… He is a terrorist, a drunkard, and a donkey”. Ouch...rip off the band-aid!

Iraq is disintegrating as ethnic cleansing takes hold

Across central Iraq, there is an exodus of people fleeing for their lives as sectarian assassins and death squads hunt them down. At ground level, Iraq is disintegrating as ethnic cleansing takes hold on a massive scale.

By Patrick Cockburn in Khanaqin, North-East Iraq
Published: 20 May 2006

The state of Iraq now resembles Bosnia at the height of the fighting in the 1990s when each community fled to places where its members were a majority and were able to defend themselves. "Be gone by evening prayers or we will kill you," warned one of four men who called at the house of Leila Mohammed, a pregnant mother of three children in the city of Baquba, in Diyala province north-east of Baghdad. He offered chocolate to one of her children to try to find out the names of the men in the family.

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