Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, November 25, 2006

How many more were poisoned?

As the deadliest poison known to man was revealed to have killed Russian exile Alexander Litvinenko, the question last night was: How many more lives could it claim?

The 43-year-old former KGB officer was the victim of polonium 210, a radioactive element used as a trigger in nuclear weapons.

It is so powerful that a lethal dose can be passed on through the body in sweat or saliva.
So his widow Marina, 44, and ten-year-old son Anatole could have been contaminated just by kissing him as he fought for life in hospital. They are said to be at greatest risk.

But up to 100 other contacts will be tested among hospital staff, family members and restaurant workers who came into contact with him.

Chillingly, traces of polonium 210 have been detected at Itsu, the London sushi bar where Mr Litvinenko ate with a contact on November 1, at the four-star Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, where he met another associate that day, and at the family home in North London.

A large quantity of radiation from polonium 210 was detected in Mr Litvinenko’s urine, apparently a few hours before his death. But last night a post-mortem had yet to be carried out because of fears that the body presented too much of a danger.

Detectives and scientists expressed open astonishment that such an elaborate and evil Cold War-style hit could happen Britain, describing the murder as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘mind-boggling’.


Leaders Pledge to Track Iraqi Insurgents

Associated Press Thomas Wagner November 25, 2006 10:26 PM

Iraq's Shiite prime minister, struggling to prevent sectarian violence from sending Iraq into full-fledged civil war, is facing strong criticism from top Shiite and Sunni Arab leaders alike as he prepares for a summit with President Bush next week.

On Saturday, a prominent Sunni religious leader warned that Iraq's escalating sectarian violence will spread throughout the Middle East unless the international community withdraws support for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government.


Ex-employee says FAA warned before 9/11


From 1995 to 2001, Bogdan Dzakovic served as a team leader on the Federal Aviation Administration's Red Team. Set up by Congress to help the FAA think like terrorists, the elite squad tested airport security systems.

In the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Dzakovic says, the team was able to breach security about 90% of the time, sneaking bombs and submachine guns past airport screeners. Expensive new bomb detection machines consistently failed, he says.

The team repeatedly warned the FAA of the potential for security breaches and hijackings but was told to cover up its findings, Dzakovic says.

Eventually, the FAA began notifying airports in advance when the Red Team would be doing its undercover testing, Dzakovic says. He and other Red Team members approached the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General, the General Accounting Office and members of Congress about the FAA's alleged misconduct regarding the Red Team's aviation security tests. No one did anything, he says.

Then came 9/11.

Police kill groom on day of wedding, reports say

NEW YORK (AP) -- Police shot three young men who had just left a bachelor party at a strip club early Saturday, killing one man on the day of his wedding, according to police and witnesses. One of the survivors was in critical condition.

There was no immediate explanation for what sparked the shooting, which produced an outcry from family members and the Rev. Al Sharpton. The Police Department's chief spokesman, Paul Browne, declined to comment.


Sunnis Gun Down 21 Shiites in Iraq

Gunmen broke into two Shiite homes and killed 21 men in front of their relatives in an Iraqi village, police said Saturday, as Vice President Dick Cheney sought Saudi Arabia's help in calming Iraq after an especially violent week of sectarian violence. US and Iraqi forces also killed 58 insurgents during fighting north of the capital, they said. Baghdad remained under a 24-hour curfew two days after suspected Sunni insurgents killed 215 people in Baghdad's main Shiite district with a combination of bombs and mortars.


Whistleblowers Say US Government Ignored Their Warnings

He knew there were problems. He didn't think he was one of them. At the time, Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who had raised concerns about how the pre-9/11 arrest of al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was handled, was being hailed as a national hero. FBI Special Agent Mike German says he had also just received a mass email from FBI Director Robert Mueller, urging other whistleblowers to come forward. "I was assuming he'd protect me," German says. Instead, German says his accusations were ignored, his reputation ruined and his career obliterated.


Report: Iraqi Insurgency Now Financially Self-Sustaining… Raising $70-$200 Million A Year By Smuggling, Kidnapping, Other Illegal Activities…

The New York Times John F. Burns November 25, 2006 02:23 PM

The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.

The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that armed groups responsible for many of the insurgent and terrorist attacks across Iraq are raising between $70 million and $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says that between $25 million and $100 million of the total comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry that is aided by "corrupt and complicit" Iraqi government officials.


Iraq Study Group Adviser: Baker “Treating The President Just Like He Is Every One Else, As Somebody To Be Co-Opted”...

The New York Times SHERYL GAY STOLBERG November 25, 2006 02:23 PM

These days Mr. Baker refers to that son as "Mr. President." The president calls Mr. Baker, 16 years his senior, "Jimmy." Aides to both insist Mr. Baker has not used his private Oval Office meetings to tip the president off to the commission's work. But then, Mr. Baker would never be that unsubtle.

"He's treating the president just like he is everyone else, as somebody to be co-opted, and brought into the process," said one outside adviser to the study group, who was granted anonymity to talk about the process.

Read the entire article here.

“Make Sure This Is Accomplished”:

Reuters November 25, 2006 01:19 PM

Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday.

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation.


Iraq War Now Longer Than US Involvement In WWII...

Accusations fly over poison death

By Sophie Walker in London
November 26, 2006 09:21am
Article from: Reuters

BRITISH officials sought overnight to allay public health fears following the killing by radiation poisoning of a former Russian spy who blamed his death on President Vladimir Putin.

Police were scrutinising security camera footage taken when Alexander Litvinenko, a Kremlin critic who became a British citizen last month, met contacts in a sushi restaurant and a London hotel before falling ill.

Mr Litvinenko died on Thursday night after a three-week illness that saw his hair fall out, his body waste away and his organs slowly fail. In a statement read out after his death, he accused Mr Putin of what would be the Kremlin's first political assassination in the West since the Cold War.

"You may succeed in silencing one man. But a howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life," he said.

The British government said overnight that Mr Litvinenko's body had been moved from the hospital where he died to a London mortuary.

"All the necessary health and safety precautions were taken after a full risk assessment by the Health Protection Agency. The body is now the responsibility of the coroner."

Asked whether a post-mortem would be conducted, a government source said: "The question ... is being considered against the difficulty there may be in opening him up." >>>cont


ABC News JIM SCIUTTO November 25, 2006 04:04 PM

One by one, police are retracing the last steps of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB spy turned Kremlin critic who officials determined was fatally poisoned by a rare radioactive substance.
Police are carefully testing all the places and people he came into contact with after his poisoning with radioactive polonium 210 -- his home, the hospital where he died, the sushi restaurant where a friend warned him his life was in danger.


...Saad’s dreams were dashed a long time ago

Martin Fletcher, Ali Hamdani, Ned Parker, The Time
...Saad’s dreams were dashed a long time ago. "We always say, 'Inshallah, there will be a solution’, but realistically we can’t see any hope." Would he like Saddam back? "Yes," he says.
"For many reasons. During Saddam's time I never saw a friend killed in front of my eyes, I never saw neighbours driven out of their homes just for their sect, and I never saw entire families being slaughtered and killed."...

Here is the complaint filed against Rumsfeld and others in Germany


The November 14, 2006, criminal complaint is a request for the German Federal Prosecutor to open an investigation and, ultimately, a criminal prosecution that will look into the responsibility of high-ranking U.S. officials for authorizing war crimes in the context of the so-called “War on Terror.” The complaint is brought on behalf of 12 torture victims – 11 Iraqi citizens who were held at Abu Ghraib prison and one Guantánamo detainee – and is being filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Republican Attorneys' Association (RAV) and others, all represented by Berlin Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck. The complaint is related to a 2004 complaint that was dismissed, but the new complaint is filed with much new evidence, new defendants and plaintiffs, a new German Federal Prosecutor and, most important, under new circumstances that include the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense and the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 in the U.S. granting officials retroactive immunity from prosecution for war crimes.

Executive Summary of the Complaint’s Allegations:

From Donald Rumsfeld on down, the political and military leaders in charge of ordering, allowing and implementing abusive interrogation techniques in the context of the “War on Terror” since September 11, 2001, must be investigated and held accountable. The complaint alleges that American military and civilian high-ranking officials named as defendants in the case have committed war crimes against detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the U.S.-controlled Guantánamo Bay prison camp.

The complaint alleges that the defendants “ordered” war crimes, “aided or abetted” war crimes, or “failed, as civilian superiors or military commanders, to prevent their commission by subordinates, or to punish their subordinates,” actions that are explicitly criminalized by German law. The U.S. administration has treated hundreds if not thousands of detainees in a coercive manner, in accordance with “harsh interrogation techniques” ordered by Secretary Rumsfeld himself that legally constitute torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, in blatant violation of the provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the 1984 Convention Against Torture and the 1977 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – to all of which the United States is a party. Under international humanitarian treaty and customary law, and as re-stated in German law, these acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment constitute war crimes.

The U.S. torture program that resulted in war crimes was aided and abetted by the government lawyers also named in this case: former Chief White House Counsel (and current Attorney General) Alberto R. Gonzales, former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, and General Counsel of the Department of Defense William James Haynes, II. While some of them claim to merely have given legal opinions, those opinions were false or clearly erroneous and given in a context where it was known and foreseeable to these lawyers that torture would be the result. Not only was torture foreseeable, but this legal advice was given to facilitate and aid and abet torture as well as to attempt to immunize those who tortured. Without these opinions, the torture program could not have occurred. The infamous “Torture Memo” dated August 1, 2002, is the key document that redefined torture so narrowly that such classic and age old torture techniques as water-boarding were authorized to be employed and were employed by U.S. officials against detainees.


US sabotaged Australian wheat deal in Iraq

At Last finally Australia is about to wake up, We are there fighting in Georgies filthy unalateral war and occupation, only to have a farmers innocent of any crime being stabbed in the back as usual by our good friends America. Welcome To Georgies Foreign Policy Australia, To bad you did not use your brains and understand what was happening 5 years earlier.

Richard Baker
November 25, 2006

THE United States intervened to sabotage a huge wheat contract agreed upon by AWB and Iraq during a series of secret meetings in Cairo last year, less than two years after Australia joined America to topple Saddam Hussein.

Senior US officials in Baghdad complained to Iraqi Government ministers in January last year - 10 months before the United Nations exposed AWB's kickbacks to Saddam Hussein - after learning Australia had landed a $900 million wheat deal with Iraq.

Sources familiar with the AWB trip to Cairo last year said the US learnt of the deal after representatives from America's foreign agriculture service followed AWB executives around Cairo. In response to the US complaints, Iraq cancelled the AWB deal and called off a planned visit to Canberra by Iraq's then trade minister, Muhammed al-Jabouri, in February last year.

Details of the American's wheat intervention come as Commissioner Terence Cole, QC, handed his five-volume report into the Iraq wheat scandal to Governor-General Michael Jeffery at Admiralty House in Sydney yesterday.

The report is expected to say there was "no evidence" ministers or the department knew about AWB's corrupt payments to Saddam. The report will be made public early next week.

Link Here

Poisoned spy was the victim of state terror

Michael Evans, David Charter and Daniel McGrory

Intelligence services blame foreign agents
Dissident died from radioactive polonium

Britain's intelligence agencies last night claimed that the poisoning of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko bore the hallmarks of a "state-sponsored" assassination.

A senior Whitehall official told The Times that confirmation that the former Russian spy, who had become a British citizen, had been poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 and other evidence so far not released pointed to the murder being carried out by foreign agents.

Last night the Foreign Office said that officials had met with the Russian ambassador in London and had asked the Kremlin to hand over any information that it had which could help the Scotland Yard investigation.

Defense Secy. Nominee Recommended Nicaragua Airstrikes While At CIA...

Associated Press November 25, 2006 10:00 AM

In 1984, Robert Gates, then the No. 2 CIA official, advocated U.S. airstrikes against Nicaragua's pro-Cuban government to reverse what he described as an ineffective U.S. strategy to deal with communist advances in Central America, previously classified documents say.

Gates, President Bush's nominee to be defense secretary, said the United States could no longer justify what he described as "halfhearted" attempts to contain Nicaragua's Sandinista government, according to documents released Friday by the National Security Archive, a private research group. .



The Los Angeles Times Solomon Moore November 25, 2006 08:55 AM

Iraq's civil war worsened Friday as Shiite and Sunni Arabs engaged in retaliatory attacks after coordinated car bombings that killed more than 200 people in a Shiite neighborhood the day before. A main Shiite political faction threatened to quit the government, a move that probably would cause its collapse and plunge the nation deeper into disarray.

The massacre Thursday in Sadr City -- a stronghold of Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr and his Al Mahdi militia -- sparked attacks around the country, reinforced doubts about the effectiveness of the Iraqi government and U.S. military and emboldened Shiite vigilantes.


Laurie David: Science Teachers Omitting Global Warming Because Of Exxon Mobil Funding…

Washington Post Laurie David November 25, 2006 11:16 AM

At hundreds of screenings this year of "An Inconvenient Truth," the first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie.

The producers of former vice president Al Gore's film about global warming, myself included, certainly agreed. So the company that made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use in their classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer.


Maureen Dowd: Bush Should Go On Fox News To Confess: “If I Did It--Here's How The Civil War In Iraq Happened”...

Editor & Publisher November 25, 2006 09:04 AM

With a timely reference to the rise and fall of the O.J. Simpson tell-some book -- and what she's calls the "Thanksgiving Day Massacre" in Iraq -- Maureen Dowd in her Saturday column for The New York Times suggests that President Bush goes on Fox News and declares, "If I did it -- here's how the civil war in Iraq happened."

Bush, she writes, "could describe, hypothetically, a series of naïve, arrogant and self-defeating blunders, including his team's failure to comprehend that in the Arab world, revenge and religious zealotry can be stronger compulsions than democracy and prosperity."


GOP Sen. Hagel: “There Will Be No Military Victory Or Military Solution For Iraq”...

Washington Post Chuck Hagel November 25, 2006 10:37 AM

There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis -- not the Americans.

Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.


The US Empire –Beginning of the End Game

K Gajendra Singh

...News stories are appearing about the US contacts with the Iraqi Resistance , including Baker telling a Saddam Hussein lawyer that Tariq Aziz, former deputy prime minister, would be released from detention by the end of this year, hoping that he will negotiate with the US on behalf of the Baath Party leadership. Condi Rice has appealed to the Gulf Cooperation Council to serve as intermediaries between the US and armed Sunni resistance groups (...) Leaks of talks with the Resistance have been common since even 2003, There is no reason to disbelieve that these US measure are nothing more than the historic tactics of divide-and-rule...

continua / continued

“America’s moment in the Middle East is about to end”

Mike Whitney

There are no "accidents" in Middle East politics. This week’s assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister, Pierre Gemayel can only be understood in the context of the ongoing struggle between the competing political forces in the region. Presently, the United States is the big loser in this regard due to its failed campaign in Iraq. The war has severely damaged the perception of US military invincibility and triggered a stunning rejection of Bush’s policies in the in the midterm elections. Now, the political-paradigm in America has shifted and a phased withdrawal of American troops could begin in a matter of months. Needless to say, this is not the outcome that the hawks in Washington or Tel Aviv had in mind. Could the assassination of Gemayel be an attempt to forestall the impending withdrawal of American forces? Yes...

continua / continued

Stuck at a Red Light.

Layla Anwar

...I saw the Red Zone and the Green Zone in Baghdad. The red zone was very red. As red as the sun that sets on the Tigris. Red as blood, red as fire. The green zone was a green as the palm trees that embrace the river, as green as spring. The red zone is filled with limbs , scorching heat, immolated bodies with Iraqi kerosene (oil). The green zone has healthy men and women walking about, playing bowling and billiard. The red zone is screaming with burns,pain and anguish. The green zone is playing disco music and drinking beer and whiskey. The red zone is bursting into flames , its markets reduced to ashes, its women pulling out their hair. The green zone is where secret love affairs flourish, where three meals a day are served and where electricity is available. The red zone has demolished houses , mosques and targeted churches. The green zone with its palaces is bathing in blessings handed out by the American parish priest. The red zone is burning in flames...

continua / continued

Just One U.S. Soldier Outweighs 'Tens of Thousands' of Iraqis

Basaer News - Iraq

The life of an American soldier is more important than the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis. This is not a personal opinion, but one based on facts and truth. Simply put, everyone knows what was done by American forces after one of their soldiers was kidnapped in central Baghdad's Karada district (...) But that's just one side of the equation we are discussing. The other side is the issue of the kidnapping of tens of thousands of Iraqis over the past few months. They are tortured and killed, and their corpses are thrown into waste dumps, rivers and onto sidewalks. And although the occupation forces know the areas where the kidnappings take place and know that torture and murder is occurring, they take no action. Out of the tens of thousands of Iraqis that have been affected by this blind violence, the Americans haven’t moved a muscle to search for a single one. But when one U.S. soldier is at stake, the Americans mobilize all of their energies and resources to find him, since he is more important, better and more refined than all of the Iraqis who died and are still dying from the wave of kidnapping and murder that is claiming Iraqis by the thousands...

continua / continued

GOP’s Specter On Wiretapping Program: “For Every Day That Passes, There’s An Invasion Of Privacy That Could Be Cured”…

The New York Times ERIC LICHTBLAU November 24, 2006 11:40 PM

When President Bush went on national television one Saturday morning last December to acknowledge the existence of a secret wiretapping program outside the courts, the fallout was fierce and immediate.

Mr. Bush's opponents accused him of breaking the law, with a few even calling for his impeachment. His backers demanded that he be given express legal authority to do what he had done. Law professors talked, civil rights groups sued and a federal judge in Detroit declared the wiretapping program unconstitutional.


Friday, November 24, 2006

New savage twist to violence in Baghdad

By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer Fri Nov 24, 7:04 PM ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Revenge-seeking Shiite militiamen seized six Sunnis as they left Friday prayers, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive, and Iraqi soldiers did nothing to stop the attack, police and witnesses said

The fiery slayings in the mainly Sunni neighborhood of Hurriyah were a dramatic escalation of the brutality coursing through the Iraqi capital, coming a day after suspected Sunni insurgents killed 215 people in Baghdad's main Shiite district with a combination of bombs and mortars.

The attacks culminated Baghdad's deadliest week of sectarian fighting since the war began more than three years ago.

Police Capt. Jamil Hussein said Iraqi soldiers at a nearby army post failed to intervene in the burnings of Sunnis carried out by suspected members of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia, or in subsequent attacks that torched four Sunni mosques and killed at least 19 other Sunnis, including women and children, in the same northwest Baghdad area.

Imad al-Hasimi, a Sunni elder in Hurriyah, confirmed Hussein's account. He told Al-Arabiya television he saw people who were soaked in kerosene, then set afire, burning before his eyes.

Two workers at Kazamiyah Hospital said the bodies from the clashes and immolations had been taken to the morgue at their facility. They refused to be identified by name, saying they feared retribution.


UK Paper: US Interference Allowed UK Liquid Terror Plot Suspects To Escape...

The Independent Jason Bennetto November 24, 2006 07:26 PM

A team of suspected terrorists involved in an alleged UK plot to blow up trans-atlantic airliners escaped capture because of interference by the United States, The Independent has been told by counter-terrorism sources.

An investigation by MI5 and Scotland Yard into an alleged plan to smuggle explosive devices on up to 10 passenger jets was jeopardised in August, when the US put pressure on authorities in Pakistan to arrest a suspect allegedly linked to the airliner plot.



Associated Press THOMAS WAGNER, QAIS Al-BASHIR November 24, 2006 03:06 PM

Shiite militiamen doused six Sunni Arabs with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by, and killed 19 other Sunnis in attacks on their mosques Friday, taking revenge for the previous day's attack on a Sadr City slum.

The mosque attacks came after the government, in a desperate attempt to avert civil war, imposed a sweeping curfew on the capital, shut down the international airport and closed the country's main outlet to the shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf.


Tom Hayden: Documents Reveal Secret Talks Between U.S. and Armed Iraqi Resistance…

Failures on the battlefield and in the recent American elections are propelling the Bush Administration to consider significant changes in Iraq policy. Having placed the Shiite majority in power, the Administration now wonders if the country is being delivered to Iran. Having fought the Sunni-led insurgency for three years, the Administration wonders if negotiations are the only way to reduce American casualties.

It is not for holiday purposes that George Bush and Condoleeza Rice are meeting next week with Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman while Dick Cheney rushes to Saudi Arabia. The only question being kept from the American people is what the high-level talks are about.

On November 21 on the Huffington Post, I revealed that American officials have contacted Sunni nationalist insurgents to explore a cease-fire and even the possible replacement of the al-Maliki government with an interim one. This plan would reduce US casualties against the Sunni-led insurgency [recently one hundred deaths per month], while consistent with the Pentagon desire to focus firepower on the Shiite Mahdi Army, led by "radical cleric" Moktada al-Sadr, the most prominent Shiite leader calling for an American withdrawal from Iraq. The current obstacle to an all-out American offensive against al-Sadr's stronghold in Sadr City happens to be Prime Minister al-Maliki, whose governing coalition includes al-Sadr. >>>cont


Phantom military bases in Iraq

Sometimes, when trying to cut through a veritable fog of misinformation and disinformation, it helps to focus on something concrete. In the case of Iraq, nothing could be more concrete - though less generally discussed in our media - than the set of enormous bases the Pentagon has long been building in that country.

Quite literally, multibillions of dollars have gone into them. In a prestigious engineering magazine in late 2003, Lieutenant-Colonel David Holt, the army engineer "tasked with facilities development" in Iraq, was already speaking proudly of several billion dollars being sunk into base construction ("the numbers are staggering"). Since then, the base-building has been massive and ongoing.

In a country in such startling disarray, these bases, with some of the most expensive and advanced communications systems on the planet, are like vast spaceships that have landed from another solar system. Representing a staggering investment of resources, effort and geostrategic dreaming, they are the unlikeliest places for the Bush administration to hand over willingly to even the friendliest of Iraqi governments....

Link Here

Traces Of Radioactive Material Found At Sushi Bar Where Ex-KGB Met Other Spies...

Associated Press JILL LAWLESS November 24, 2006 10:46 AM

A former Russian spy turned Kremlin critic who died in a London hospital was poisoned with a radioactive substance, the British government said Friday, calling the attack, reminiscent of a Cold War thriller, an "unprecedented event."

In a statement dictated on his deathbed, Alexander Litvinenko blamed a "barbaric and ruthless" Russian President Vladimir Putin for his fatal poisoning. Putin said he deplored the former spy's death but condemned his statement as a political provocation.



Thursday’s Sunni Led Attacks Deadliest Since War Began: Toll At 215…Shiite Militiamen Retaliate Today: Burn Six Sunnis Alive, Kill 19 Others, Attack Mosques… Moqtada al-Sadr's Political Party Urges PM Not To Meet With Bush….Demand US Withdrawal Or Timetable…
Associated Press THOMAS WAGNER, QAIS Al-BASHIR November 24, 2006 03:06 PM

Shiite militiamen doused six Sunni Arabs with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by, and killed 19 other Sunnis in attacks on their mosques Friday, taking revenge for the previous day's attack on a Sadr City slum.

The mosque attacks came after the government, in a desperate attempt to avert civil war, imposed a sweeping curfew on the capital, shut down the international airport and closed the country's main outlet to the shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf.


UN shares blame for Iraq kickbacks

Caroline Overington
November 25, 2006

THE UN shares the blame for the Iraqi kickbacks scandal because it approved AWB's contracts with the regime of Saddam Hussein that "disclosed payment(s) ... to Iraq" in breach of the international body's own sanctions.

The Weekend Australian understands that the final Cole commission report, delivered to Governor-General Michael Jeffery by commissioner Terence Cole during a ceremony at Admiralty House in Sydney yesterday, will say that AWB included a vague reference to the kickbacks in four contracts submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the UN in July and October 1999.

It is understood that senior counsel John Agius concluded in his final submission that the UN should not have approved "any contract that disclosed on its face, a payment ... to Iraq".

AWB dropped the reference to trucking fees from its contracts in 2000, but kept paying the fee, ultimately funnelling $290million to Saddam's regime in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Mr Agius's final submission, which remains confidential, is believed to say that the UN "understood that such transport fees would have to be paid from the Iraq escrow account".

The Weekend Australian also understands that federal ministers, officials and bureacurats have escaped formal sanction, and that Mr Cole has concluded that the evidence does not support "an inference of actual knowledge" on behalf of DFAT.

The report will not be made public until it is tabled in federal parliament on Monday.

John Howard would not confirm yesterday that his Government had been cleared, telling Southern Cross Broadcasting that he was "obliged not to say anything about its contents until it is tabled in parliament early next week".


Militiamen burn 6 Sunni worshippers alive, army does not intervene

The Associated Press

Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left worship services today, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by, and seven Sunni mosques came under attack as Shiites took revenge for the slaughter of at least 215 people in the Sadr City slum. Members of the Mahdi Army militia burned four mosques and several homes while killing 12 other Sunni residents in the once-mixed Hurriyah neighborhood until American forces arrived, said police Capt. Jamil Hussein. Gunmen loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began taking over the neighborhood this summer and a majority of its Sunni residents already had fled. The gunmen attacked the four mosques with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and automatic rifles. Residents said the militiamen prevented them from entering the burned buildings to remove the dead, and they and Hussein said Shiite-dominated police and Iraqi military stood idly by...

continua / continued

The New York Times and the Gemayel assassination

Chris Marsden

The November 23 editorial of the New York Times, "Another Killing in Lebanon", begins with the assertion: "It is too early to know who ordered this week’s assassination of the Lebanese cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel, but there are many reasons to suspect Syria." Indeed, there are many reasons to suspect all sorts of people for being responsible for Gemayel’s death—and quite a few of them enjoy the editorial support of the New York Times. He was killed amidst an intense internal and international conflict to decide who controls the Lebanon. The assassination took place in the aftermath of a multi-million dollar military offensive by Israel that was fully backed by the United States, and which cost more than 1,500 lives. When such high stakes are involved, there will be many parties for whom the life of a relatively insignificant government minister is small change...

continua / continued

Guantanamo prisoner alleges botched medical procedures

The Rumsfeld-Mengele connection: Guantanamo prisoner alleges botched medical procedures 21 Nov 2006 A detainee at Guantanamo Bay who needs a medical procedure on his heart said Tuesday he doesn't want it performed there because operations on other detainees have been botched — an accusation the base commander denied. Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani businessman held at Guantanamo, "believes that two prisoners have lost their vocal cords after routine tonsillectomies, that a prisoner lost part of his leg because of a surgical sponge left in him which became infected, and that a prisoner lost a testicle from similar neglect," said Gaillard T. Hunt, his attorney.

Lori Price
More news here.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled Monday in Washington that the U.S. military is not required to send Paracha to a civilian hospital. Friedman said the government regularly decides how best to treat civilian prisoners inside the United States and judges rarely intervene.

Paracha last week was chained to a hospital bed, his attorneys said. A visiting cardiologist said Paracha must walk around for twenty minutes, four times a day, but security personnel refused to allow it, Hunt said. Paracha told Hunt that instead, he was transferred back to his cell, where he cannot be medically monitored and would be unable to quickly summon assistance in a medical emergency.

This whole out of country detainment program is going to end up biting the entire country in the ass. The Geneva Convention has been circumvented to allow free range for "black-ops" read too many Tom Clancy and Len Deighton books types.

Today in Jerusalem....Tonight at the House of Commons....

Thanksgiving morning USA

Aussie PM horrified by killings in Iraq

Well Mr. Howard, you and blivet and tony and berli are who we have
to thank for this incredible turn of events. You boys decided to attack a defenseless country for your own selfish, greedy, criminally motivated reasons.I really don't give a damn what those bastards say anymore. I only want to know what the hell the civilized world is going to do about them
Georgies Parrot You Decide

SYDNEY, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard says "nobody is other than horrified" at the latest wave of violence Iraq.

Commenting on the deaths of at least 202 people in a wave of Baghdad car bombings in the past 24 hours, Howard said the permanent solution to the conflict in Iraq lay in giving Iraqi military forces as much day-to-day security responsibility as possible.

"Iraq is certainly going through a very bad phase ... and nobody is other than horrified at the continued loss of life," he told Southern Cross Radio.

"The question arises, what to do? I think that the path ahead lies in a greater assumption of responsibility by the Iraqi military forces themselves."
But wasn't he saying just yesterday that Iraq is not a catastrophe?
Good Christ! This is WORD FOR WORD the script from Vietnam!

That's EXACTLY the thing they started saying when the Vietnam War began to going badly--turn it over to the South Vietnamese puppet army, which was riddled with corruption and told to kill their own people for greed and power, whereas the motive of the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong was SELF-DETERMINATION. Do the geezers here REMEMBER? It was called "Vietnamization" of the conflict--the Nixon-Kissinger scam. I can hardly believe my eyes that I'm reading this ALL OVER AGAIN. Are these warmongers stupid? Or do they think WE'RE stupid? Or is it just that getting fat on war profits makes you lazy, so we can't even think up new lies?
Peace Patriot

He is truly as out of touch as Bush
Consider this statement

"Iraq is certainly going through a very bad phase ... and nobody is other than horrified at the continued loss of life," he told Southern Cross Radio.

Brilliant, right? "A very bad phase" is what my kids went through from time to time as teenagers. Iraq is in the middle of an unnecessary catastrophe. "Nobody is other than horrified at the continued loss of life," he says. What did you expect? Did you expect Iraq to just surrender everything to the invading forces, and say, "Ok, guess we need to become a democracy now, because Bush and his buddies Blair and Howard say so. Let's all just turn our weapons in until the rich white guys have sucked every drop of wealth from our country. Then we can sit around and talk to people who have been our enemies for ages, and follow a script that somebody else has written. No need to try to determine for ourselves what kind of a country we want. The main thing is to make Bush a WAR PRESIDENT, and let our destruction add a special luster to his legacy. What's more important anyway, our lives, or his legacy?"

How on earth do these morons get elected? It is only possible with the cooperation of their country's citizens, who at one time blind to everything but their own lives, and well-being. Then, after the people woke up, the so-called leaders are still calling the shots, and the world is imploding around us. But cheer up, Bush is a WAR PRESIDENT, and everybody knows that's more important than the lives and well-being of millions of other humans. Just in case


-- Six to eight explosive devices defused at N.Irish parliament, police say, hours after man detained for breaching security.

BELFAST, N. Ireland (CNN) -- Hours after a militant threw a bag saying it contained a bomb, police said Friday they had discovered and defused between six and eight devices at the Northern Ireland assembly building.

The building -- the site of political talks of renewing a self-rule government for Northern Ireland -- had been evacuated earlier after a well-known militant, Michael Stone, threw a bag at a security checkpoint shouting that it contained a bomb.

"A man pushed his way through the revolving doors. He had a bag with him. He threw the bag into the security search pointed and shouted it was a bomb," said Stephen Hird, a photographer for the Reuters news service.

In the video shot by Hird, Stone was wrestled to the floor by security officers, who said they were treating his bag as a "live device."

Stone was arrested. In the past, Stone has served a prison term opening fire on mourners at an IRA funeral, killing three people.

Politicians were meeting inside the parliament building to discuss restoring self-rule government for the province in which pro-British and pro-Irish opponents would share power.

Stone is staunchly opposed to such a power-sharing government and supports British rule in Northern Ireland.

From Journalist Peter Taggart (Posted 11:47 a.m.)

US helicopter fires on Iraqi funeral party-ministry

A U.S. helicopter fired on a funeral party in Baghdad, one of dozens taking place after Thursday's devastating bombings in Sadr City, in response to ritual shooting, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.

A ministry official said two people were wounded in Friday's air strike, which came after mourners fired into the air.

Earlier, some residents and a Shi'ite lawmaker reported clashes between gunmen and U.S.-led forces in Sadr City, a stronghold of the Mehdi Army militia in the Iraqi capital.

A U.S. military spokesman said he could not comment on specific operations but U.S. forces were helping Iraqi army and police enforce a curfew imposed after the Sadr City attacks on Thursday which killed more than 200 people.


President-elect of Christian Coalition resigns

Associated Press
Nov. 23, 2006

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Reverend elected to take over as president of the Christian Coalition of America said he will not assume the role because of differences in philosophy.
The Rev. Joel Hunter, of Longwood's Northland, A Church Distributed, said Wednesday that the national group would not let him expand the organization's agenda beyond opposing abortion and gay marriage.

This is the latest setback for the group founded in 1989 by religious broadcaster the Rev. Pat Robertson. Four states - Georgia, Alabama, Iowa and Ohio - have decided to split from the group over concerns it's changing direction on issues like the minimum wage, the environment and Internet law instead of core issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

Hunter, who was scheduled to take over the socially conservative political group Jan. 1, said he had hoped to focus on issues such as poverty and the environment.

"These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about," Hunter said.

"They pretty much said, 'These issues are fine, but they're not our issues, that's not our base,'" Hunter said.

The organization, headed by President Roberta Combs, claims a mailing list of 2.5 million.

"To tell you the truth, I feel like there are literally millions of evangelical Christians that don't have a home right now," Hunter said.


Axis of Evil or Axis of Allies re 9/11?

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan
You Decide

College Republican Group Offers Scholarship For Whites Only...

Congratulations America you've come a long way since 1960

Reuters November 24, 2006 12:40 PM

A Boston University student group is offering a scholarship for white students to protest financial aid programs in the United States that select by ethnic background, university officials said on Tuesday.
The group, Boston University College Republicans, told campus publications the $250 Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship was intended as a statement and they had raised funds privately for the award, which does not have the backing of the university.


Ruby Bridges: 'Each and every one of us is born with a clean heart. Our babies know nothing about hate or racism.' (Staff photo by Jon Chase)

Ruby Bridges evokes tears, smiles as she tells her tale
By Eileen McCluskey Special to the Gazette

Grownups and children filed quietly into the Memorial Church on April 18, their faces bright with expectation. A group of teenagers with the letters YMCA emblazoned across their sweatshirts looked for a pew where they could sit together as the church quickly filled.

They all came to hear Ruby Bridges tell her story. Bridges was one of the first black children, in 1960, to attend an all-white public elementary school in the South. And she was the only black child to enter the William Frantz school that year, the year that elementary and secondary school integration began in Louisiana and four other Southern states that had been resisting school integration.

A few minutes before the talk, Claudia Highbaugh stood at the front of the church, surveying the growing crowd. "This is really emotional for me," said the Divinity School chaplain, who wasn't expecting such a turnout. "Finally, I get to be with one of my icons, a black woman-child whose truth becomes part of our historical record. The children's stories were buried for so long," she said, her eyes brimming.

The talk was co-sponsored by the Divinity School, the Memorial Church, the Graduate School of Education, Harvard Children's Initiative, Adams House, and the Division of General Pediatrics at Children's Hospital. Highbaugh delivered the opening remarks.

Because Bridges is only in her mid-40s, it may seem strange to think how central her story is to the history of civil rights. She stood quietly on the altar while a brief videotape showed her at 6 years old entering the William Frantz school in New Orleans, clutching her mother's hand.

They're surrounded by four white men wearing yellow armbands. These were the federal marshals sent to protect Bridges from the jeering mobs of segregationists, who threatened her and held aloft a small coffin with a black doll inside.

"I remember that morning, I saw lots of people standing in the streets," Bridges said. "They were shouting and throwing things." She recalled thinking, "'Today is Mardi Gras, and I am in a parade.'" Members of the audience smiled at this poignant misinterpretation in the mind of a 6-year-old.

Bridges' story inspired Norman Rockwell's famous painting, "The Problem We All Live With," depicting a small black girl in starched white dress marching resolutely, flanked by federal marshals. Rockwell had learned of Bridges' ordeal through author John Steinbeck, who wrote about it in his book "Travels With Charley."

It wasn't just the first day that was difficult and strange for the little girl. Bridges was lonely that year in school, because most whites pulled their children out of the William Frantz to protest integration. For a while, Bridges was the only child in her first-grade class. Luckily, her teacher provided a nurturing and stimulating environment.

When she initially met her instructor, Barbara Henry, Bridges must have felt apprehensive. "I had never seen a white teacher before," she said, "but Mrs. Henry was the nicest teacher I ever had. She tried very hard to keep my mind off what was going on outside. But I couldn't forget that there were no other kids." When she looked out the window at the playground, empty except for the federal marshals, the first-grader thought to herself, "Maybe they're looking for the kids."

In her 6-year-old mind, Bridges couldn't understand why there were no other children in her class. Finally, her beloved teacher upbraided the principal, threatening to report him for supporting the white parents' boycott. One day soon after that, other children came to school.

But no one would play with her. Bridges recalled, "One boy said to me, 'My mom said not to play with you because you're a nigger.' Then I finally understood. I finally knew it was about me and the color of my skin. But I was never angry with that boy. In my mind, he was just explaining to me why he couldn't play with me."

She underlined her classmate's words, "My mother said," and urged those gathered to remember that racism is taught. "Each and every one of us," she said, "is born with a clean heart. Our babies know nothing about hate or racism. But soon they begin to learn - and only from us. We keep racism alive. We pass it on to our children. I think that is very sad.

"You cannot look at a person and tell whether they are good or bad," Bridges continued. "It's time to get past our racial differences. We owe it to our children to help them keep their clean start." As one, the crowd rose to its feet. Black and white, young and old clapped for the woman who had brought them a message they all seemed hungry to hear.


BBC: Dollar Weakens

"The dollar has plunged to its lowest level against the euro since April 2005 amid concerns for the US economy. The euro surged to $1.30 against the dollar, with many other currencies following suit.""Analysts have voiced concerns about the US economy after the White House downgraded its growth forecasts amid a sharp slowdown in the housing market."


Moscow dossier embarrasses US and Britain ahead of Riga summit

November 24, 2006

In a move likely to inflame tensions ahead of next week's Nato summit in Latvia, Russia's foreign intelligence service, the SVR, yesterday declassified documents claiming that Britain and the US had approved of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states a year before Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

Received wisdom has it that the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, was deeply ambivalent about Moscow taking control of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1940. But the editor of the 400-page dossier, Major General Lev Sotskov, told the Guardian it demonstrated that the UK and US "perfectly understood" that the region was needed as a buffer zone for the inevitable moment when Nazi Germany would break its non-aggression pact with Moscow and attack the Soviet Union.

Gen Sotskov said the documents proved that American and British leaders were often divided over their position on Soviet troop movements and their "public declarations clashed with internal assessments". But Soviet intelligence showed that Churchill decided it was a pragmatic move not to confront Moscow's occupation of neighbouring territory, which ended with the Nazi invasion of the Baltics in 1941. "Churchill realised this was the only way," he said. "He saw it as a not very pleasant but necessary step to prevent Germany from further intrigues and advance."


IRAQ: Medical System Becomes Sickening

Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily

After three and a half years of occupation, Iraq's medical system has sunk to levels lower than seen during the economic sanctions imposed after the first Gulf war in 1990. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said Iraqis are now extremely vulnerable in their health needs. "Several wars and 13 years of economic sanctions left a heavy toll on the nutrition of the population, on the social structure, on the economy and on the health infrastructure and services," according to a statement on the WHO website (...) The health situation in Iraq has been in constant decline since the beginning of the U.S.-backed UN-imposed sanctions in 1990. Iraqi doctors were reputed to be the best in the Middle East during the 1980's, but now they are short of medicines, medical equipment and funding to maintain the hospitals. Saddam Hussein's regime managed to keep basic medical services free of charge for most Iraqis until the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. There was a hospital in almost every town. Surgeries were carried out free of charge. Medicines were imported by the government and sold at affordable prices to those going to private clinics and hospitals...

continua / continued

233 Dead in Civil War Carnage, Health Ministry Besieged, 3,000 Widows Created Each Month

Juan Cole, Informed Comment

How bad the situation is in Iraq is suggested by this email I just got from a professional who used to be in Iraq but now is in a nearby country: ' It is desperate in Iraq, worse then ever and there is no end in sight. I had lunch with [a former high ranking medical educator in Iraq] two days ago. [He]noted that Iraq no longer has neuro-surgeons, no cardiac surgeons, few pediatric doctors - they are all gone, killed or fled to neighboring countries like him. He was given seven days to get out or be killed. He is one of the lucky ones. He and his family have an opportunity for a new life in the US. But what about all the others. Where are they to go? Another friend, a Sunni sheikh of the Shammar tribe noted to me that thousands of former officers are prepared to assault the G[reen] Z[one]. It is no longer a matter of can they do it, they are only mulling over the timing. The breach of the Green Zone security the other day was a test of their ability to get in, and not a real attempt at a coup, though it is reported as such. Every Iraqi I talk to says unambiguously that the resistance attached to the former regime would take out the Shiite militias with barely a fight, but that the resistance will not commit wholesale revenge against the Shiite population. They just want to get rid of the "carpet baggers" from Iran. '...

continua / continued

Thanksgiving a Time of Remembrance

John Calvin Jones, www.virtualcitizens.com

...And so today, Bush has ordered the invasion and conquest of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands killed by American bombs and bullets – some burned alive with chemical weapons like white phosphorous and bunk busting bombs. On the 2006 campaign trail, Bush openly celebrated the fact that now Iraqi oil was not in the hands of people who might raise the price on Americans – implying that record profits for his friends in the oil business are now acceptable as the petroleum economy is safely in the hands of Americans instead of, oh God no, the indigenous peoples of the world. Instead of sowing salt into the fields of Iraq, Bush’s bounty has irradiated the fertile land between two rivers with depleted uranium … now cancers grow and babies are deformed in record numbers. What will the future hold?...

continua / continued

Iraq's Leaders Appeal for Unity After Attacks Claim 161 Lives in Baghdad's Bleakest Day

Airport closed and curfew imposed after bombings
A barrage of car bombs and mortar rounds aimed at three street markets in Sadr City, Baghdad's biggest Shia district, brought carnage to one of the most densely populated suburbs of Iraq's capital yesterday and the heaviest loss of life on a single day in the country's sectarian war. At least 160 people were killed when at least five cars packed with explosives were detonated in rapid succession. The authorities imposed an immediate curfew throughout the capital to prevent revenge attacks, and late last night closed the international airport to all commercial flights. Leaders of Iraq's three main communities stood side by side on national television appealing for calm. President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, was grim-faced as he and his Sunni and Shia vice-presidents asked for unity and self-restraint...

Giving Thanks in the Shadow of the Terror War

Chris Floyd

The "War on Terror" represents a horribly, monstrously wrong turn for the United States, Britain, and the world. Like its offshoot, the aggression in Iraq, the Terror War is a strategic disaster of mind-boggling proportions, a moral, political and cultural failure so immense as to be almost unfathomable, an all-corrupting, counterproductive policy of resounding stupidity.

We have not even begun to comprehend the scope and depth -- and duration -- of the harm that this reckless, witless, ignorant campaign has wrought. Tyranny, bankruptcy, decay, division, murder, cowardice and deceit -- these have been the hallmarks and the products of the Terror War launched by George W. Bush and Tony Blair, in supposed reaction to the criminal acts of a small gang of cranks...

continua / continued

Bob Novak: Rumsfeld's Firing “Connotes Something Deeply Wrong” With Bush's Presidency...

Washington Post Robert D. Novak November 23, 2006 09:42 PM

Donald Rumsfeld, one week after his sacking as secretary of defense, was treated as a conquering hero, accorded one standing ovation after another at the conservative American Spectator magazine's annual dinner in Washington. The enthusiasm may have indicated less total support for Rumsfeld's six-year record at the Pentagon than resentment over the way President Bush fired him.

Rumsfeld had recovered his usual aplomb as he basked in the Spectator's glow. But the day after the election he had seemed devastated -- the familiar confident grin gone and his voice breaking. According to administration officials, only three or four people knew he would be fired -- and Rumsfeld was not one of them. His fellow presidential appointees, including some who did not applaud Rumsfeld's performance in office, were taken aback by his treatment.


Retiring GOP Rep. Kolbe Milking Last Days In Office: Has Spent $40,000 On Overseas Trips Since June...

Associated Press Jennifer Talhelm November 23, 2006 07:34 PM

U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe may be retiring at the end of the year, but that hasn't kept him from racking up free trips abroad.

Kolbe, a Tucson Republican who announced his retirement plans a year ago, reported visiting Turkey, Italy, Poland, England, Canada, Spain and Belgium since June -- all on the dime of private groups including the Aspen Institute and the German Marshall Fund.


Grandmother Blows Herself Up Near Israeli Troops...

Associated Press November 24, 2006 10:05 AM

A 64-year-old Palestinian grandmother blew herself up near Israeli troops sweeping through northern Gaza on Thursday, and eight other Palestinians were killed in a day of clashes and rocket fire.

The militant Hamas, which is in charge of the Palestinian government, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack and identified the bomber as Fatma Omar An-Najar. Her relatives said she was 64 - by far the oldest of the more than 100 Palestinian suicide bombers who have targeted Israelis over the past six years.


Senate Dems Want Access To Classified Terror Documents: “People Are Hiding Their Mistakes. And That's No Excuse”...

NY Times DAVID JOHNSTON November 24, 2006 09:54 AM

Seeking information about detention of terrorism suspects, abuse of detainees and government secrecy, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are reviving dozens of demands for classified documents that until now have been rebuffed or ignored by the Justice Department and other agencies.

"I expect real answers, or we'll have testimony under oath until we get them," Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, who will head the committee beginning in January, said in an interview this week. "We're entitled to know these answers, and in many instances we don't get them because people are hiding their mistakes. And that's no excuse."


Shiites burn 6 Sunni worshippers alive

Associated Press STEVEN R. HURST November 23, 2006 08:54 PM

Sunni Muslim insurgents blew up five car bombs and fired mortars into Baghdad's largest Shiite district Thursday, killing at least 161 people and wounding 257 in a dramatic attack that sent the U.S. ambassador racing to meet with Iraqi leaders in an effort to contain the growing sectarian war.

Shiite mortar teams quickly retaliated, firing 10 shells at Sunni Islam's most important shrine in Baghdad, badly damaging the Abu Hanifa mosque and killing one person. Eight more rounds slammed down near the offices of the Association of Muslim Scholars, the top Sunni Muslim organization inIraq, setting nearby houses on fire.


Saddam And Officers Display “Medieval” Weapons To Rally Iraqis Against US...

NY Times SCOTT SHANE November 24, 2006 10:42 AM

As the world worried about Saddam Hussein's quest for nuclear and biological weapons, he took time out to discuss with his top advisers the merits of a decidedly more primitive arsenal: slingshots, Molotov cocktails and crossbows.

In a previously undisclosed video, apparently shot in the months before the American-led invasion in 2003, Mr. Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, beams as military officers display and demonstrate low-tech weapons spread on a table in a ceremonial room. Whether the episode shows genuine preparation for an insurgency or was merely a bizarre propaganda exercise is unclear.


More Than 16,000 Single Mothers Have Served In Iraq And Afghanistan...

Welcome to Georgies War, Deplorable, Deplorable, Deplorable, no other words for it, save the fetus, who gives a friking darn about the children, these so called fundamentalist christians could care less as long as its not their kids.

Washington Post Donna St. George November 24, 2006 10:05 AM

When they called her name, she could not move. Sgt. Leana Nishimura intended to walk up proudly, shake the dignitaries' hands and accept their honors for her service in Iraq-- a special coin, a lapel pin, a glass-encased U.S. flag.

But her son clung to her leg. He cried and held tight, she recalled. And so Nishimura stayed where she was, and the ceremony last summer went on without her. T.J. was 9, her oldest child, and although eight months had passed since she had returned from the war zone, he was still upset by anything that reminded him of her deployment.


Leaked Drug Company Memo: Santorum Loss “Creates A Big Hole We Will Need To Fill”...“We Now Have Fewer Allies In The Senate”...

Washington Post Jeffrey H. Birnbaum November 23, 2006 08:38 PM

Drug companies are particularly hungry for Democratic help, including the industry's trade association. "We woke up the day after the election to a new world," said Ken Johnson, spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. "We're going to have tough days ahead of us."

A post-election e-mail to executives at the drug company GlaxoSmithKline details just how tough. "We now have fewer allies in the Senate," says the internal memo, obtained by The Washington Post. "Thus, there is greater risk over the next two years that bad amendments will be offered to pending legislation." The company's primary concerns are bills that would allow more imported drugs and would force price competition for drugs bought under Medicare.

The defeat of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) "creates a big hole we will need to fill," the e-mail says. Sen.-elect Jon Tester (D-Mont.) "is expected to be a problem," it says, and the elevation to the Senate of Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) "will strengthen his ability to challenge us."

Read the entire article here.


Washington Post November 24, 2006 09:05 AM

A barrage of car bombs, mortar attacks and missiles battered the Shiite Muslim slum of Sadr City on Thursday afternoon, killing around 200 people and injuring as many more in the single deadliest assault on Iraqi civilians since the start of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
The highly orchestrated attacks on the stronghold of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to unleash yet another cycle of reprisal killings and push the country closer to all-out civil war. The attacks, targeting the heart of Baghdad's Shiite community, seem designed to stoke the sectarian rage gripping Iraq.


Radioactive substance in ex-spy's body

JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press Writer
8 minutes ago

LONDON - A former KGB agent turned Kremlin critic who blamed a "barbaric and ruthless" Russian President Vladimir Putin for his fatal poisoning had a toxic radioactive substance in his body, the British government said Friday.

In the statement dictated from his deathbed, Alexander Litvinenko accused the Russian leader of having "no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value." In his first public response to the allegations, Putin said he deplored the former spy's death but called the statement a political provocation.


Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died after being poisoned by radiation, UK health officials say.

Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died after being poisoned by radiation, British health officials say. The 43-year-old was a longtime critic of the Russian government, which he and his friends blamed for his illness this month. Russian authorities have denied any role in the matter.


Iraq a moral blunder: war hero

I think you are 5 years to late, to be giving Australia this kind of news now 655000 dead Iraqi people to late.
By Patrick Walters
November 25, 2006 12:00am

THE former SAS officer who devised and executed the Iraq war plan for Australia's special forces says that the nation's involvement has been a strategic and moral blunder.

Peter Tinley, who was decorated for his military service in Afghanistan and Iraq, has broken ranks to condemn the Howard Government over its handling of the war and has called for an immediate withdrawal of Australian troops.

"It was a cynical use of the Australian Defence Force by the Government," the ex-SAS operations officer told The Weekend Australian yesterday.

"This war duped the Australian Defence Force and the Australian people in terms of thinking it was in some way legitimate."

As the lead tactical planner for Australia's special forces in the US in late 2002, Mr Tinley was in a unique position to observe intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program and the coalition's military preparations in the lead-up to the war.

Mr Tinley, 44, who retired from the army last year after a distinguished 25-year career, said the US-led coalition had been naive in its thinking about what it could achieve after a quick military invasion of Iraq.

"They never had enough troops to fully lock down the major centres and infrastructure or the borders," he said.

In Iraq in 2003, Mr Tinley served as deputy commander for the 550-strong joint special forces task group that took control of western Iraq.

Part of his command was 1 SAS Squadron, which was awarded a US Meritorious Unit citation for its "sustained gallantry", contributing to a comprehensive success for coalition forces in Iraq.

He served 17 years with the elite SAS regiment, leaving the army as a major last year. In 2003 he was appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for "dynamic leadership and consistent professional excellence".

His comments came as Baghdad experienced its deadliest day of sectarian violence since the coalition's March 2003 invasion, with 160 killed and 250 injured by five powerful car bombs in the Shia district of Sadr City.

In recent weeks, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has conceded Iraq has become a "disaster", while the Iraq quagmire contributed to the swing against US President George W.Bush in this month's congressional elections.

Britain has set a tentative timetable this week for withdrawing some of its troops, while the US and coalition forces consider options to end the conflict, which could include a short-term lift in troop numbers.

John Howard said yesterday that despite all Iraq's problems, he still believed he had made the right decision to take Australia to war in 2003.

"Everybody back in 2003, including Kim Beazley and particularly Kevin Rudd and even (French President) Jacques Chirac, were all saying Iraq had weapons of mass destruction," the Prime Minister said.

He said Australia had not agreed to take on any new responsibilities in Iraq and any changes to Australia's 750-strong military presence would depend on a possible withdrawal of British forces.

During war planning with US and British special forces at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in 2002, Mr Tinley says he never saw any hard intelligence that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction.

"When I pressed them (US intelligence) for more specific imagery or information regarding locations or likely locations of WMD they confessed, off the record, that there had not been any tangible sighting of any WMD or WMD enabling equipment for some years," he said.

"It was all shadows and inferenced conversations between Iraqis. There was an overwhelming desire for all of the planning staff to simply believe that the Iraqis had learned how to conceal their WMD assets away from the US (surveillance) assets."

Coalition special forces troops were charged with hunting down Scud missiles and Saddam's suspected WMD arsenals, operating from just west of Baghdad all the way through to the Jordanian border, and between the Syrian and Saudi frontiers.

After the initial invasion, the search for WMD became something of a "standing joke" with neither coalition troops nor the Iraq Survey Group turning up anything of consequence.

"The notion that pre-emption is a legitimate strategy in the face of such unconvincing intelligence is a betrayal of the Australian way," he said.

Mr Tinley told The Weekend Australian he was now speaking out having expected people "far more capable and more senior than me" to have expressed serious reservations about Australia's involvement in Iraq.

"During our preparations for this war I remember hearing (ex-defence chief) General Peter Gration's misgivings and assumed he did not possess all the information that our Prime Minister did," he said.

"I now reflect on his commentary with a completely different view and am saddened that other prominent people in our society didn't speak louder at the time and aren't continuing to speak out in light of what we now know."

He said the Government had broken a moral contract with its defence force in sending it to an "immoral war".

The Government's stance on Iraq and later on issues such as the Tampa had gradually allowed fear to become a motivating factor in the electorate, he said.

Mr Tinley said the Howard Government had failed to be honest with Australians about Iraq and "you can't separate the sentiment of the defence force from that of the people".

He advocates an immediate pullout of Australia's 500-strong task force in southern Iraq but accepts that security forces must be kept to guard the embassy in Baghdad. "Our 500 troops are in the south-west of Iraq under British tactical command while our US partners are doing all the heavy lifting in the remainder of the country," he said.

A more meaningful contribution could be through providing defence and security force training in a safer neighbouring country, such as Kuwait. "This is no slur on our soldiers. (Brigadier) Mick Moon and his men have been doing a fantastic job."

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