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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Iraq civil war will 'burn everyone': Shiite leader

Fri Dec 1, 9:56 AM ET

AMMAN (AFP) - Powerful Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim has warned that civil war in Iraq would "burn everyone" and threaten security across the region, during a religious sermon delivered in Jordan.

"The eruption of a sectarian war will not only burn everyone but it will also undermine the security of the entire region and lead to the unknown," Hakim told worshippers at Jordan's largest mosque.

"We are attached to unity for Iraq and its people and we are opposed to any attempt to divide Iraq because our strength is in our unity," said the head of the powerful Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

During his sermon before hundreds of worshippers, including many Iraqi citizens, at the Sunni Muslim King Hussein Mosque, the Shiite cleric and politician stressed his support for a national unity government in Iraq.

"We do not want a Shiite government that sidelines the Sunnis and we don't want a Sunni government that marginalises the Shiites," said Hakim, whose SCIRI is a key part of Iraq's ruling coalition,

"We want a government in which everyone takes part and that is at the service of all the citizens," Hakim added Friday.

The sermon by Hakim, a rare event in Jordan, came two days after confusion over alleged remarks attributed to him after talks Wednesday with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman.

Saudis Threaten to Back the Baathists (Again) in a New Iraq Proxy War

Never mind the report of James Baker’s Iraq Study Group, whose primary purpose appears to be achieving national unity in Washington, and whose broad recommendations for a slow drawdown of American troops and a new focus on regional diplomacy may already have been eclipsed by events, and will almost certainly be mangled by an Administration still wedded to too many of its most damaging illusions. The most important documents to surface in Washington this week were, instead, the memo by Bush’s national security adviser Stephen Hadley leaked to the New York Times, and an extraordinary op-ed in the Washington Post by a well-known senior adviser to the Saudi regime that threatened, among other things, that the Saudis would provide financial and military support to the Sunni insurgency if the U.S. begins a phased withdrawal from Iraq.

Both documents reflect the extent to which Iraq has been plunged into chaos, although the media may have misjudged the relative significance of each: It was generally reported that it was a fit of pique at the contents of the Hadley memo that prompted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to snub Wednesday night’s scheduled dinner in Amman with Bush and King Abdulla. But, as my colleague Bobby Ghosh reports from Baghdad, Maliki was snubbing Abdullah rather than Bush:

Analysts say the Iraqi Prime Minister, a Shi’ite, doesn’t trust Jordan’s Sunni monarch and did not want to discuss sensitive issues with Bush in Abdullah’s presence.
Indeed, and that sentiment may have more to do with what is revealed in the Saudi op ed than in Hadley’s memo.

The most remarkable thing about Hadley’s memo is its spectacular naivete. Much of the media has focused on the fact that the document shows the Administration’s real assessment of Maliki is far removed from Bush’s public show of support for him. No question that to anyone who’s read Hadley’s report, or is familiar with the thinking of U.S. officials, Bush’s claim that “Maliki is the right guy for Iraq” sounds almost sarcastic. But even more alarming are the steps Hadley recommends Maliki should be pressed to take — break his alliance with Moqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite sectarian politician on whose support Maliki rode into power, appoint a cabinet of technocrats and abandon his Dawa party circle of advisers in favor of a more “representative” one, make more overtures to the Sunnis and Baathists, etc. Hadley warns

[Maliki] may simply not have the political or security capabilities to take such steps, which risk alienating his narrow Sadrist political base and require a greater number of more reliable forces. Pushing Maliki to take these steps without augmenting his capabilities could force him to failure — if the Parliament removes him from office with a majority vote or if action against the Mahdi militia (JAM) causes elements of the Iraqi Security Forces to fracture and leads to major Shia disturbances in southern Iraq. We must also be mindful of Maliki’s personal history as a figure in the Dawa Party — an underground conspiratorial movement — during Saddam’s rule. Maliki and those around him are naturally inclined to distrust new actors, and it may take strong assurances from the United States ultimately to convince him to expand his circle of advisers or take action against the interests of his own Shia coalition and for the benefit of Iraq as a whole…

Iraqi police may have murdered British sergeant, Army admits

By Terri Judd
Published: 02 December 2006

Army officials have admitted that Iraqi police may have been implicated in the death of a British sergeant, but no one is likely to be brought to justice.

Just weeks into his second tour of Iraq, Sgt John Jones, 31, of the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was killed by a roadside bomb as he commanded a routine patrol in Basra. Four other soldiers were injured.

A charismatic, compassionate man with a sharp sense of humour, Jonah, as he was known to his friends, was killed in what John Reid, who was Defence Minister at the time, described as a "barbaric act of terrorism".

It was revealed yesterday, however, that Sgt Jones was one of several British soldiers murdered by Iraqi police. Just a week after the anniversary of his death, his parents received a report from the Army that appeared to suggest his killer or killers may have been among the same Iraqi security forces the British have been training.

Describing the moment of Sgt Jones's death on 20 November 2005 as his patrol was heading back to the Shatt al-Arab base, it read: "It was observed at this point that there were a number of unknown Iraqi males wearing Iraqi Police Service and military uniforms and that they were observing the scene from the Port Authority area. An Iraqi Police Service car was seen to turn around and head away from the scene, back the way it had come."

Sgt Jones's mother, Carol, 60, said she was devastated by a covering letter from the Army's directorate of personal services, which added: "The jurisdiction for the case was handed over to the Iraqi Police. As yet, no one has been detained in connection with your son's death.

"However, as a cautionary note, I would say that, based on other similar circumstances, there is not a hugely realistic chance of this happening."

Mrs Jones, from Tamworth in Warwickshire, added: "A lad who was with John told us it was definitely Iraqi police. There was nobody else in the street. It was uncannily quiet. At his inquest, they said no one was investigated because they had got ID on them. One of the policemen had a mobile phone or remote [which could set off a roadside bomb] but he had ID on him so he just walked away. CONTINUED


Iraq Civilian Deaths Mount as Violence Rages

by Jay Deshmukh
Fri Dec 1, 2:13 PM ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least 1,847 Iraqis were slaughtered last month, officials said as embattled premier Nuri al-Maliki vowed that local forces could take over the battered nation's security in June 2007.

The unabated violence left at least 27 people dead on Friday, including 14 Kurdish farmers from the town of Sinjar near the Syrian border who were found massacred in a field.

The November casualty figures, released by Iraq's interior and defence ministries, showed civilian deaths up 43 percent on October as the brutal sectarian conflict and the anti-US insurgency showed no signs of letting up.

The government figures are roughly half of those presented by the United Nations in its monthly reports -- last week the UN said the death toll in October had reached a new high of 3,709.

But whichever set of figures is the most accurate, both show a clear upward trend in civilian casualties as Shiite militias and Sunni extremists continue to kill thousands of people across Iraq, mostly in Baghdad.

The security ministries said that the number of insurgents killed had also more than doubled over the same period, with 423 rebels killed in November compared with 194 the month before.


Triple Car Bombing Kill At Least 51 In Iraq...

Associated Press QAIS AL-BASHIR December 2, 2006 11:23 AM

Three parked car bombs exploded in central Baghdad on Saturday near a predominantly Shiite area packed with vendors, killing at least 43 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

The bombs were about 100 yards apart in the busy al-Sadriyah shopping district and exploded nearly simultaneously, according to police Lt. Ali Muhsin. At least 10 other parked vehicles were destroyed in the area, where vendors sell fruit, vegetables and other items such as soap.


Reyes Nomination Sends “Strong New Signal” That Pelosi-Led Congress Will Confront Bush On Iraq...

The New York Times MARK MAZZETTI and JEFF ZELENY December 2, 2006 02:58 PM

Representative Nancy Pelosi, the incoming House speaker, sent a strong new signal on Friday that Democrats intend to confront the White House by naming a Texas congressman who opposed the war in Iraq as the next chairman of the House intelligence committee.

This choice, of Representative Silvestre Reyes to head one of Congress's most important committees, ended weeks of closed-door lobbying and public posturing among Democrats who had been competing for the post. By choosing Mr. Reyes, a former Border Patrol agent and Vietnam combat veteran, Mrs. Pelosi passed over the panel's top Democrat, Representative Jane Harman of California, a more hawkish figure who voted to authorize the war in Iraq and a political rival with whom Mrs. Pelosi has long had a stormy relationship.


“I Have Never Seen Anything As Egregious"...

Associated Press MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN December 2, 2006 09:39 AM

A leader of the new Democratic Congress, business travelers and privacy advocates expressed outrage Friday over the unannounced assignment of terrorism risk assessments to American international travelers by a computerized system managed from an unmarked, two-story brick building in Northern Virginia.

Incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record) of Vermont pledged greater scrutiny of such government database-mining projects after reading that during the past four years millions of Americans have been evaluated without their knowledge to assess the risks that they are terrorists or criminals.


Hundreds mourn NYPD shooting victim

By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 3 minutes ago

NEW YORK - As a man killed in a hail of police bullets was buried Saturday, several hundred people observed a moment of silence near the strip club where he and two friends were shot after leaving a bachelor party.

The gathering near the strip club Kalua was held in memory of Sean Bell, who died a week ago just hours before he was to have been married. Undercover officers fired a total of 50 times at the car he was driving.

"Fifty shots from the New York cops!" the crowd chanted before the moment of silence.

"We didn't come here to start any violence," said Malik Zulu Shabazz, a black nationalist leader. "The New York police started the violence."

The rally was peaceful, although some in the crowd held signs reading "Death to the pigs" and "Shoot back." It began after the 23-year-old Bell was buried in Port Washington on Long Island.

On Friday, hundreds of tearful mourners paid their respects to Bell in the same church where he was to have married his high school sweetheart and mother of his two children. >>>cont

Link Here

FLASHBACK Nov. 18, 2005:Rep. John Murtha: US Forces “Have Become A Catalyst For Violence… It’s Time To Bring Them Home”…

Charles Babington December 2, 2006 04:38 PM

The top House Democrat on military spending matters stunned colleagues yesterday by calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, while many congressional Democrats reacted defiantly to President Bush's latest attack on his critics.

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said many of those troops are demoralized and poorly equipped and, after more than two years of war, are impeding Iraq's progress toward stability and self-governance.


Rumsfeld Memo Proposed ‘Major Adjustment’ in Iraq

Read The Full Memo Here…

The New York Times MICHAEL R. GORDON and DAVID S. CLOUD December 2, 2006 03:48 PM

Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction.

"In my view it is time for a major adjustment," wrote Mr. Rumsfeld, who has been a symbol of a dogged stay-the-course policy. "Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough."


Helicopter missing in south Afghanistan

KABUL, Dec 2 (Reuters) - A search is under way for a civilian helicopter that went missing in bad weather on Saturday while ferrying supplies for foreign forces in southern Afghanistan.

The chartered helicopter was headed from the capital of Kandahar province, Kandahar city, to the neighbouring province of Uruzgan when it went missing, a NATO spokesman said in Kabul.

There were no NATO personnel on board.

No further details were immediately available, including the type of helicopter or the number of people on board.


Bush 'verbally swamped' al-Maliki


Puppetry of the Persians:

Of course Geppetto wanted Pinocchio to be a real boy. The old puppetmaker was tired of plucking splinters out of his fingers, tongue, and cock. For no matter how much you sand the pine sphincter of a marionette, it's still just an asshole made of wood. But flesh, god, how Geppetto dreamed of young, tender boy flesh, even as he pulled Pinocchio to him tight and wept about how wonderful it was just that he had been cut from his strings. When that Blue Fairy finally granted the wish, when she made his sticks supple and changed his sap to blood, Pinocchio knew that he had to try, once again, to run away, even if it meant becoming a donkey. Better an ass than just a piece of ass for an old man whose breath stunk of Lambrusco. So, on his pudgy new boy legs, Pinocchio ran, with that vile cricket constantly pimping for Geppetto, whispering in the boy's ear that he would be better off home.

Geppetto, though, wasn't about to let Pinocchio free, oh, no. He'd faced the belly of a whale to bring him back last time. Pinocchio may have thought he was a real boy, just like he had wished for, but Geppetto was never going to let him forget that he wouldn't have existed without the hammer, nails, and cloth he was first constructed from by Geppetto.

Exactly how much did Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kanal al-Maliki speak at his joint press conference with President George Bush yesterday in Amman, Jordan? 'Cause even a quick scan of the transcript of the event reveals that not only did al-Maliki not have equal time with Bush, but that he was verbally swamped by the flailing Commander-in-Chief, who was making damned sure that everyone knew that puppet strings don't have to be visible to be very much present. >>>cont


DHS official admits taking bribes to fake documents

POSTED: 4:46 p.m. EST, December 1, 2006

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal immigration official pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving more than $600,000 in bribes for falsifying documents for illegal immigrants.

Robert Schofield, 57, could face 25 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in February.

He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, to issuing fraudulent documents to at least 184 illegal immigrants who falsely received U.S. citizenship.

Schofield, a former supervisor for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, was arrested in June.

He had served as a supervisory district adjudications officer at the Washington district office of agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security.

According to court documents, Schofield illegally helped Asian immigrants obtain U.S. citizenship in return for payments of $30,000 or more.

Under terms of the plea agreement Schofield has agreed to surrender his home, his bank accounts and his government retirement account.>>>cont


Corruption: the 'second insurgency' costing $4bn a year

One third of rebuilding contracts under criminal investigation

Julian Borger in Washington, David Pallister
Saturday December 2, 2006
The Guardian

The Iraqi government is in danger of being brought down by the wholesale smuggling of the nation's oil and other forms of corruption that together represent a "second insurgency", according to a senior US official. Stuart Bowen, who has been in charge of auditing Iraq's faltering reconstruction since 2004, said corruption had reached such levels that it threatened the survival of the state.

"There is a huge smuggling problem. It is the No 1 issue," Mr Bowen told the Guardian. The pipelines that are meant to take the oil north have been blown up, so the only way to export it is by road. "That leaves it vulnerable to smuggling," he said, as truckers sell their cargoes on the black market.

Mr Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Sigir), cites Iraqi figures showing that the "virtual pandemic" of corruption costs the country $4bn (£2.02bn) a year, and some of that money goes straight to the Iraqi government's enemies. A US government report has concluded that oil smuggling abetted by corrupt Iraqi officials is netting insurgents $100m a year, helping to make them financially self-sustaining.

"Corruption is the second insurgency, and I use that metaphor to underline the seriousness of this issue," Mr Bowen said. "The deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, told Sigir this summer that it threatens the state. That speaks for itself."

The Bush administration's strategy in Iraq hinges on the survival of the government run by Nuri al-Maliki, despite US reservations about the prime minister's readiness or ability to confront extremists in his own Shia community.

But Mr Bowen's office has found that the insurgents and militias have also been abetted by US incompetence. A recent audit by his inspectors found that more than 14,000 guns paid for out of US reconstruction funds for Iraqi government use could not be accounted for. Many could be in the hands of insurgents or sectarian death squads, but it will be almost impossible to prove because when the US military handed out the guns it noted the serial numbers of only about 10,000 out of a total of 370,000 US-funded weapons, contrary to defence department regulations.

Jim Mitchell, a Sigir spokesman, said: "The practical effect is that when a weapons cache is found you're deprived of the intelligence of knowing if they were US-provided, which might allow you to follow the trail to the bad guys."

Mr Bowen's inspectors are among the few US civilian officials who still venture beyond the fortified bounds of the Green Zone in Baghdad into the rest of Iraq, to see how $18bn of American taxpayers' money is being spent. Much of the money has been wasted. Sigir officials have referred 25 cases of fraud to the justice department for criminal investigation, four of which have led to convictions, and about 90 more are under investigation.

A culture of waste, incompetence and fraud may be one legacy the occupiers have passed on to Iraq's new rulers more or less intact. Mr Bowen's office found that nearly $9bn in Iraqi oil revenues could not be accounted for. The cash was flown into the country in shrink-wrapped bundles on military transport planes and handed over by the ton to Iraqi ministries by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) run by Paul Bremer, a veteran diplomat. The money was meant to demonstrate the invaders' good intentions and boost the Iraqi economy, which Mr Bremer later insisted had been "dead in the water". But it also fuelled a cycle of corruption left over from Saddam Hussein's rule.

"We know it got to the Iraqis, but we don't know how it was used," Mr Bowen later told Congress. >>>cont

Huge Beirut rally demands change

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian allies have held a mass rally in Beirut to protest against Lebanon's government.

As night fell, several thousand set up tents outside PM Fouad Siniora's office for an open-ended sit-in.

The opposition says it will keep up the pressure until the government resigns.

The protest follows weeks of rising tension in Lebanon, with the killing of a leading anti-Syrian politician and resignations from the cabinet. >>>cont


Report: U.S. military equipment worth billions wearing out in Iraq, Afghanistan

About 2 billion U.S. dollars' worth of U.S. Army and Marine Corps equipment, from rifles to tanks, is wearing out or being destroyed every month in Iraq and Afghanistan

Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons


It’s terrible to watch some of the videos and realise that you’re not only seeing torture in action but, in the most extreme cases, you are witnessing young men dying.

Click to view

Bob Gates & Locking You Up Forever

By Robert Parry

As the next Defense Secretary, Robert M. Gates will be in charge of a new star-chamber legal system that can lock up indefinitely “unlawful enemy combatants” and “any person” accused of aiding them. Yet, despite these extraordinary new powers, his confirmation is being treated more like a coronation than a time for tough questions.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Terrorist case against Denver family ended

By Bruce Finley Denver Post Staff Writer11/30/06 "Denver Post "

Family members whose lives were turned upside down simply wept. "We've lost everything," longtime Colorado restaurateur Abdul Qayyum said.

Chief U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock accepted plea deals with federal prosecutors who dropped and reduced immigration charges they pursued after their terrorism case fizzled against Qayyum, his daughter Saima Saima, wife Chris Warren and nephew Irfan Kamran.

Now only Haroon Rashid, Saima's husband, is jailed. Federal prosecutors dropped all charges against him, too. But Rashid, jailed for more than two years, still faces deportation after a misdemeanor assault on a gang member who hassled his family.

A federal appeals court on Nov. 20 temporarily blocked Rashid's deportation pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

FBI agents targeted this family of naturalized U.S. citizens from the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands based on secret evidence after the 9/11 attacks. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft trumpeted the case as aggressive action against terrorists.

"When the attorney general of the United States declares your family terrorists," the result is damage "far beyond anything this court can do," defense attorney Ray Moore told Babcock during one of two emotional hearings Wednesday.


Sadr Followers Target Assyrian School Girls in Baghdad

Assyrian International News Agency

Followers of Moqtada al-Sadr have issued a fatwa (1) concerning school girls, according to an Assyrian priest in Baghdad. The fatwa requires all girls to wear the veil while attending school. In an unusual twist of logic, the fatwa implies that failure to wear the veil would be tantamount on the girls' part to complicity in the death of the Imam Husayn ibn Ali (killed in 680 A.D. in Karbala in a battle with the army of the Caliphate.) The priest indicated the fatwa was at least for the New Baghdad neighborhood, where many Christians live, and that he feared for the safety of the Christian girls in the area...

continua / continued

El Salvador-style "death squads" to be deployed by US against Iraq militants

Roland Watson, Global Research, Global Research

This article first published in The Times in early 2005 acknowledges Washington's strategy of US sponsored death squadrons in Iraq. With John Negroponte now at the helm of the US intelligence apparatus, this strategy is now coming to fruition. While the "death squadrons" were intended by the Bush adminstration to target "the leaders of Iraq's insurgency", they have been largely involved in the of killing of innocent civilians, with a view to creating conditions of ethnic strife and social conflict within Iraq. The El Salvador-style death squadrons have served to create a US sponsored "civil war"...

continua / continued

Iraqi Shiite with Iran ties to visit Bush


Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a top Iraqi Shiite leader with close ties to Iran, will meet with President Bush next week, the White House confirmed Friday. Al-Hakim leads the powerful Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, a rival group to the political movement led by firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the meeting was set for Monday. "President Bush looks forward to an exchange of views and a discussion of important issues facing Iraq today," Johndroe said. Also, a senior administration official said Bush will meet with a Sunni leader -- Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi -- in January at the White House...

continua / continued

Defense Dept.'s Top Intelligence Official To Resign...

1 hour, 34 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Defense Department's top intelligence official will resign at the end of the year, the Pentagon announced.

Stephen Cambone, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, is the most senior Pentagon official to announce he is leaving since US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tendered his resignation last month.

Cambone, who came to the Pentagon with Rumsfeld in January 2001, has been a key player in his efforts to transform the US military into a lighter, high tech force and in carving out a larger role for US military intelligence.

The Defense Department expanded espionage and other covert intelligence gathering activities under Cambone, drawing criticism from some in Congress that it was intruding on turf traditionally dominated by the CIA.

General Michael Hayden, the CIA director, said in a radio interview November 22 that reports of tension between the CIA and the Pentagon over its intelligence gathering programs were exaggerated. >>>cont


The Iraq Study Group: Official damage control and cover-up

by Larry Chin
Global Research, November 27, 2006

The Iraq Study Group (ISG) is a "bipartisan task force" created by the US Congress in response to the failure of the Bush administration to better manage the occupation of Iraq. Mainstream media reporting and official statements from Washington have characterized the ISG as proof of a "shift towards diplomacy" in the Middle East. These same reports cite the sponsorship of the so-called US Institute for Peace as evidence that the ISG represents a "change of course". In fact, the ISG is another official damage control apparatus, spearheaded by notorious Western political and corporate elites, former military-intelligence officers, and "experts" from right wing and intelligence-connected Western think tanks---one of which is the US Institute for Peace itself.

What is the US Institute for Peace?

The sponsor of the ISG is the US Institute for Peace (USIP). USIP’s directors and members feature prominently throughout the ISG’s panels.

Despite its insistence that it is an independent and non-partisan body, the USIP itself is a policy group that functions as an arm of the US government, and as a US intelligence/propaganda apparatus. The USIP appointed by the President of the United States, and confirmed and funded by Congress. The rotating membership of the USIP consists primarily of elites, including "retired" Washington politicians and Pentagon officials.

Named in true Orwellian fashion, the US Institute for Peace is a harbor for elite managers of global warfare. Its former members have included the most notorious war criminals in modern history, among them Dick Cheney, Frank Carlucci, Caspar Weinberger, and Stephen Hadley.
Headed by former Iran-Contra officials The Iraq Study Group is charged with bringing "fresh eyes" to the Middle East conflict. However, one glance at the directors of the ISG should remove any illusions. The ISG’s leaders are world-renowned American elites and Cold Warriors, each of whom played major roles in the crimes of the Reagan-Bush and Clinton administrations.

These are very old eyes, on very blood-soaked globalists who seek to fine-tune, perfect, and expand the war, not end it:

Its co-chairs are James A. Baker III and Lee Hamilton. The chairmanship by this tag-team of war criminals itself promises more of the same.

Former secretary of state Baker’s deep and extensive political and business connections to the Bush family, and high-level role in the Bush and Reagan-Bush administrations is well known. It was Baker who personally intervened to install George W. Bush as president in 2000. It was Baker, member of the Carlyle Group, who laid the groundwork behind 9/11 and the "war on terrorism". It is James A. Baker Institute for Institute for Public Policy pushing many aspects of on oil and petrodollar conquest. Now it is Baker coming to George W. Bush’s aid again, with "better ideas", by way of George H.W. Bush, Brent Scowcroft and Henry Kissinger.

Hamilton is co-chair of the infamous 9/11 Commission, a blatant cover-up. Hamilton’s role with the ISG marks his third chairmanship of official cover-ups: Iran-Contra, 9/11, and now Iraq.

Edwin Meese is the former Reagan administration attorney general. In addition to facilitating many aspects of the Iran-Contra/CIA drug trafficking operations of the 1980s and early 1990s, Meese is implicated in the crimes related to PROMIS software, including the Inslaw scandal, and the murder of Danny Casolaro.

Lawrence Eagleburger is a former Reagan-Bush secretary of state, and another Iran-Contra insider. In line with the ideas of Baker, Scowcroft, Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, Eagleburger has been a blunt and outspoken critic of the "bungled" Bush-Cheney occupation.

Note: Eagleburger replaced former CIA Director Robert Gates, who has been nominated to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.

William Perry, Clinton administration secretary of defense, is a legendary proponent of all-out military force, and even nuclear confrontation.

Vernon Jordan is the legendary Jimmy Carter-Clinton family confidant, advisor and Washington insider and damage control specialist, now a senior managing director of the investment firm Lazard Freres & Company.

Sandra Day O’Connor, former Supreme Court justice, was a driving force behind the stolen election of 2000 that installed George W. Bush. (Recall that when informed of Al Gore’s potential victory, O’Connor gasped "oh, that’s terrible", and promptly headed to the Supreme Court chambers to illegally stop it.) Given her lack of expertise on foreign policy and military-intelligence matters, there is no explanation for O’Connor’s role on the ISG---except as the legal advisor who will facilitate law-bending and the destruction of more Constitutional and international laws.

Other directors include former US senator, Republican Alan Simpson (classic obstructionist who provided political cover for a host of Reagan-Bush era scandals, and a spearhead for many Reagan-Bush judicial and cabinet appointments), the scandalized former Virginia senator, Chuck Robb, and the ubiquitous Democratic Party insider and former White House chief of staff, Leon Panetta.

Think Tank Assets The ISG is structured around "working groups" which deliberate on four aspects of the Iraq occupation: military and security, economy and reconstruction, political development, and strategic environment.

The membership of the working groups is thoroughly dominated by figures from neoconservative, military-intelligence related Western think tanks, and outright intelligence fronts, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the RAND Corporation, the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the James Baker Institute for Public Policy and National Defense University (NDU). There are also officers with Bechtel and Citigroup.

The working groups are as follows: >>>>cont

Given its despicable leaders and unsavory composition, the Iraq Study Group does not represent a "change of course", but an extension of a very old and familiar map of war and conquest, across the Middle East and Eurasian subcontinent; a very old Cold War agenda to head off the perceived threats posed by China and Russia.

There is not one member of the Iraq Study Group who represents alternative viewpoints or opposition to Anglo-American geostrategic policy. There are no Iraqis; no one from the Middle East or Central Asia (not even intelligence plants). There is not one member who represents the views of the people whose lives and nations are being "managed".

It is, like the 9/11 Commission, a cover-up. It is a damage control apparatus designed to salvage the disastrous and politically embarrassing and untenable Bush-Cheney stewardship of the war, by putting the "war on terrorism" back on what the American Empire’s elites view to be its originally planned course: the bipartisan "consensus" reached immediately after 9/11.

It is elites and political criminals, talking to each other, hatching new schemes among themselves. This constitutes "study".

The ISG’s report, due to be released next month, will likely recommend Bush rear-end saving compromises, which may include troop redeployment, but no end to the war and no end to the permanent US presence in Iraq. There will be calls for greater "international cooperation" (covert deals and UN-led multinational warfare, "nuance"), and new, and perhaps more aggressive, counter-terrorism (to better destroy "insurgencies").

It is no surprise to note that the Iraq Study Group agenda comes at the same time that one of its original members, former CIA Director Robert Gates, has been tapped by Bush-Cheney as the new Secretary of Defense, and new Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in one of her very first act as the new Speaker, consults with Zbigniew Brzezinski.

There is no guarantee that the Bush-Cheney hardliners will abide by the recommendations of this cover-up commission.

In any case, the world must brace for what could be a future that is more insidious, worse than what has already transpired. The world must oppose the legitimacy of the Iraq Study Group as fervently as it opposes the Bush administration’s continuing criminal war.

The Anglo-American Empire’s rampage across the Grand Chessboard has stumbled and derailed under the management of George W. Bush. The Iraq Study Group will restore it. That spells increasing danger for the world.


I know a metaphor when I see one

From Where I Stand by Joan Chittister, OSB

Nhe movie "Everest," now showing at the local IMAX theater, sent chills down my spine. There, in the middle of the Himalayas, a group of climbers found themselves blocked on their way to the summit by a fracture in the snow 90 feet deep. The crevasse was too wide to jump, but at the same time too narrow to simply accept as the end of their 30,000-foot attempt to conquer the highest mountain in the world. So they opened up a telescoped pole ladder, laid it across the icy ravine and in large, clunky, steel-clawed boots walked across the open spaces between its rungs, toes on one rundle, heels on the other.

I know a metaphor when I see one. I felt like I had just been part of a similar climb myself, sure of the need to go on, not sure that the passage was safe.

In Lebanon the week before, spiritual leaders from every side of the religious crevasse -- Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Orthodox -- met in the first-ever Middle East-Asian Spiritual Dialogue to discuss the role of religion and the road to peace. They were sheikhs and monks and archbishops and patriarchs and judges and theologians.

They were leaders of religious groups who had long been at odds with one another. And they were now trying to take the first steps across the historical fissures that were keeping them from uniting a globe where borders were fast disappearing, where cultures were all becoming polyglot, where no one was safe from having to deal with the others any more.

No doubt about it: This was not one more routine academic convention.

This meeting was happening in a city where the marks of bombs were frighteningly fresh. Bridges were still out in the center of the city. Makeshift steel beams creak and groan under the traffic they carry from one side of the overpass to the other. One whole section of the city lies in rubble. The apartment buildings that remain standing are hung with canvass. Why? Because families with nowhere else to go have crept back into the condemned buildings and live their still. The sheets of canvas cover the gaping holes left by the missiles and keep out the cold and rain from the children who peek around the corners of the scars.

This was a meeting where the participants, religious figures all, spoke across the great divides of time and tradition, of place and peoples, to heal the wounds of division and prejudice that threaten the very globe again. They shared their spiritual traditions with one another. They got to know one another. They defined their moral values. They talked about the sacredness of life and the need for compassion. They talked about how they saw God, how they prayed, what they knew to be the purpose of life.

Where I grew up, something like that was impossible. Catholics hardly spoke to Protestants; Protestants barred Catholics from public life, never mind Hindus or Buddhists, Muslims or Orthodox.

But the problem is that even now, even here in the United States, we still do far too little to bridge our own divides while those very differences are being exploited everywhere. Here imams cannot board a plane without being eyed with suspicion, and children cannot carry stuffed toys on board without being screened and searched and half undressed at checkpoints. Muslims are changing their names in order to get jobs and we, too, are building barbed-wired walls on our border.

Instead of launching great spiritual conferences and study groups and social projects together so that we can come to understand and respect one another's spiritual beauty, we are strengthening the walls of our own spiritual ghettoes.

For our part, we are worrying about stamping out feminine images of a God already called rock, tree, light, fire and dove. But this God, the very womb of the universe, must never ever be called "mother" in the hymns of the church.

We are worrying about keeping the gay community invisible, warning them not to talk about their sexual identity in their parishes, reaching out to them in one sentence, explaining their theological disorders to them in another.

We are tidying up our rituals and reclaiming our "identity" while "identity" -- if we mean the old WASP paradigm or White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant USA -- gets more mulatto, more Eastern, more "other" every day.

This conference, under the auspices of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen, founder of Dharma Drum Mountain in Taiwan, called for a great deal more. As Master Sheng Yen put it, we must "focus on the shared needs of humankind as a whole. … We must find a common path that reflects a set of global ethics which transcends religion, ethnicity and culture."

Let's put it this way: Bombs and bullets are not doing it. The world is more dangerous now than when we invaded Iraq. Iraq itself is worse off now than it was when we first went there. The Middle East is less stable now than it was before we sent all our weapons in to stabilize it. And we ourselves are poorer for it: Poorer in international relations. Poorer in social development here. Poorer in moral stature around the world.

From where I stand, it seems to me that it's time for all of us to put a pole ladder over the fissures we have created between us and the rest of the world and start walking. Awkward as we are. Dangerous as it is. Unsure as we may be. There is no other way to get to the other side now because there is no "other side."

We are all in this one together and we are surely too close to the summit now to quit.


CIA Agent Stole Jewelry, Panties

POSTED: 3:14 pm EST December 1, 2006

FAIRFAX, Va. -- A CIA employee for nearly 20 years admitted breaking into 10 homes near the spy agency's headquarters about a year ago and taking valuables and other items.

George C. Dalmas III, 48, pleaded guilty Wednesday to the burglaries, which each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Dalmas, who had no prior criminal record, has been fired from his CIA job as a mid-level administrator.

During the daylight burglaries in the McLean area, Dalmas took valuable items including Camp David cuff links, Cartier hoop earrings, a Tiffany gold scarab ring and a sapphire-diamond necklace. But the most curious objects from Dalmas' burglary expedition were less valuable -- women's panties.

Search warrants list 1,074 pairs of women's undergarments that he stole. Many were stuffed in shopping bags and a filing cabinet at his home in Falls Church.


Local (GOP) political operative busted in Internet (sex) sting

SEATTLE - An arrest is sending shockwaves through the halls of local political power.

Larry Corrigan has worked on a number of Republican campaigns, but now he's in jail after he was caught in an Internet sting, accused of trying to solicit sex from young girls.

Corrigan's orange jail uniform he was wearing in court Thursday is a far cry from the business suit he wore at the King County Prosecutor's Office for 25 years.

Until last year, Corrigan was the Director of Operations and Budget. Now he's suspected of attempted child rape and communicating with a minor for sex.

"The suspect was communicating online with someone whom he believed was a 13 year old girl." said Debra Brown with the Seattle Police Department. "In fact, that person was a detective from our Internet Crimes Against Children unit."


WP: Webb's Icy Exchange Might Diminish Effectiveness

Dump the Dead Beat who wrote this peace in the trash, where he belongs. I say!!!!!!!

The icy exchange between President Bush and James Webb at the White House, made public this week, has turned Virginia's senator-elect into something of a folk hero among critics of the president who have longed for someone to challenge his bravado.

At the same time, Webb's refusal to play the gentlemanly political games so common in Washington has angered some conservatives and could raise questions about how the new Democratic senator -- not even sworn into office yet -- can be an effective lawmaker in a sharply divided Congress.

"He already has become what Washington did not need another of, a subtraction from the city's civility and clear speaking," conservative columnist George Will wrote on Thursday.

On the campaign trail, Webb rarely minced words about Bush, repeatedly calling the Iraq war "a blunder of historic proportions." At the White House reception early last month, Webb said he tried to avoid interacting with the president. But when Bush walked up to Webb to ask about his son, a Marine serving in Iraq, Webb hinted at the campaign criticism.


L.A. archdiocese settles 45 sex abuse cases for $60m

RAW STORYPublished: Friday December 1, 2006

The Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese has agreed to pay $60 million to settle 45 sex abuse lawsuits.

According to the Associated Press," this will make it "the largest payout yet by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and among the biggest resulting from the molestation crisis that's plagued the church."

"Sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests has cost the U.S. church more than $1.5 billion since 1950," notes the Associated Press, in a summary of some of the largest payouts by the church over the last five years.

"I pray that the settlement of the initial group of cases will help the victims involved to move forward with their lives and to build a brighter future for themselves and their families," Cardinal Roger Mahony said in a statement.

Mahony told the Los Angeles Times that the settlement represented a "major effort at healing and reconciliation."

Excerpts from Associated Press report:
The claims settled Friday involve 22 priests and include allegations from two periods when the archdiocese had limited or no insurance against sexual abuse claims - prior to the mid-1950s and after 1987.

Mahony said $40 million of the payment would come from the archdiocese, while $20 million would be from religious orders plus a small amount of independent insurance coverage.

Negotiations on the deal had been in progress for at least a year but were held up because attorneys for the plaintiffs wanted the church to release the accused priests' private personnel files.

Disgraced CEO Behind Report Calling For Weakening Post-Enron Corporate Governance Reforms

Corporate titans are salivating over the propect of weaking the post-Enron corporate governance reforms known as the Sarbanes-Oxley law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told the media she is open to some changes and a new report out today is supposed to provide the substantive reasons for softening the rules.

It turns out, though, that former AIG insurance executive Maurice Greenberg, who was ousted because of accounting manipulations and misrepresentations, runs the foundation that funded the report calling for weakening the corporate governance and accounting standards that helped uncover AIG's misconduct.

Earlier this year, AIG acknowledged intentionally misleading regulators, investors and policyholders and agreed to pay $1.6 billion in reparations to settle a suit brought by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The company also restated its earnings by more than $3 billion. A civil suit accusing Greenberg of fraud and other sham accounting maneuvers is still pending. The charges include false transfers of reserves and the creation of offshore entities to prop up AIG's performance.

"The power given to prosecutors and the personal responsibility of CEOs created under Sarbanes-Oxley were key contributors to Greenberg's ouster from AIG," says my colleague Carmen Balber at the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. "This proposal is an attack by a discredited CEO against the corporate governance laws that ended his 37 year reign at the helm of AIG."

The committee's proposals would undermine existing investor and consumer protections. They include:

-- Substantially diminished shareholder rights, such as a proposal to eliminate shareholder class-action lawsuits before a jury, replacing them with arbitration or non-jury trials.

-- Give federal regulators precedence in enforcement matters, effectively curtailing activities by states attorneys general, like Eliot Spitzer in New York.

-- Not hold directors responsible for corporate malfeasance.

-- Limit an accounting firm's liability if they certify false financial information enabling corporate executives to cheat their shareholders and the public.

-- Weaken accounting requirements concerning what information must be reported as having an impact on financial statements and loosen the standard by defining it related to annual statements rather than interim ones.

Speaker Pelosi might want to re-consider her reported support for weakening Sarbanes-Oxley's standards now that it's clear it is the fox who wants to lessen the standards for trespassing in the chicken coop.


Reading The Pictures: Bush And Maliki Have Each Other For Breakfast

The Happy Couple

The reality of what transpired this week between George Bush and Iraqi President Maliki is one sorry picture. And for once, that's not a metaphor.

The objective facts, served on a platter by every news outfit in the business, are as follows:
After an hourlong breakfast meeting with aides at the Four Seasons Hotel, followed by a 45-minute one-on-one session, Maliki and Bush appeared together at a joint news conference.
Those facts, however, don't do justice to the poverty of the encounter.

Recall first, the ill fare already digested by Thursday. Setting the table was the leak, just two days before, of a classified White House memo doubting Maliki's leadership. In response, Maliki humiliated Bush by failing to honor his reservation for day one of the two day get-together.

Often tin-eared when it comes to these details, the MSM wasn't completely oblivious to the atmospherics. In this unvarnished behavioral observation regarding yesterday's press briefing (link), the NYT related the following:

The two leaders barely looked at one another during the news conference. And when Mr. Bush, at one point, asked the prime minister if he wanted to continue taking questions from reporters, the prime minister swiveled his head toward the president and shot Mr. Bush an incredulous look. "We said six questions, now this is the seventh - this is the eighth - eight questions," Mr. Maliki said.

To understand how slight and tortured this affair was, however, take a look at this photo which the White House actually dared post to its photo gallery on Thursday. Among my questions:
...Were these two men really so out-of-step with each other, they couldn't move more than twenty feet to a formal meeting room?

..Was the possibility of finding a more suitable spot so remote that Maliki's translator had to put his papers on the floor?

...Was the White House so desperate to show these (distant) heads together that they were willing to profile breakfast remains?

..And, do the presence of the flags and the placement of the chairs (I mean the two cushy orange ones, not the two that seemed dragged from the table) suggest the White House knew in advance (patience being what it is) that it was this or nothing?

I know that the Administration's credibility on Iraq is near bankruptcy, but this photo seems no better than dirty laundry.

For more of the visual, visit BAGnewsNotes.com.

Axis Of Evil Thinking

Nov 28, 2006

How much longer will the U.S. media -- anesthetized by the past six years of U.S. foreign policy -- continue to consider Arab countries and predominantly Muslim countries as one big "them?"

Beyond the written and spoken word, this tendency is radically dramatized and reinforced through pictures. Take this shot that ran last week with a NYT Week In Review article titled: Envisioning U.S. Talks With Iran and Syria.

The feature sketches the pros and cons of the U.S. opening a dialogue with Damascus and Tehran. Although the two countries are mostly discussed separately, the article's point of departure is the fact that, up to now, those countries have been seen in the same constrained terms: as bad boys that can't be reasoned with.

Toward the end of the write-up, the article cites "diplomatic analysts" who suggest "that this is a good time to recognize that differences [exist] between Iran’s and Syria’s positions...." Some advise that the U.S. play one country against the other, especially as their interests depart in relation to Hezbollah.

... Wait, what was that? The interests of Syria and Iran actually depart at some point in relation to Hezbollah!

Congratulations to The Times for indicating, if only briefly, that Assad, Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah aren't triplets, separated at birth, who spend weekends together playing dominoes behind the mosque. But then, how unfortunate the picture (which, along with the headline, is about as far as many viewers will get) still reinforces the diplomacy-vanquishing notion that "they're all the same" and "in it together."

To the same end, you've got to love the caption:

Syria and Iran feel emboldened; their leaders appeared with Hezbollah’s on a poster. What would they want, and what possible areas of agreement could there be?
Oops, there's that they again. And then, what's with the impression (given the ambiguous language) that the leaders appeared together, as opposed to the fact they came together on the screen of a poster-maker?


(image: Shawn Baldwin/The New York Times. Damascus. June 2006. nytimes.com)

Socialist Senator to Push Congress From Left

Go Gettem Bernie

From pressing for hearings on Iraq to probing no-bid contracts awarded to Halliburton, America's first socialist senator aims to give Congress a hard tilt to the left. Bernie Sanders, a 16-year veteran of the House of Representatives who swept 65 percent of the vote in Vermont running as an independent in the November 7 elections, says Congress owes voters an exhaustive probe into the White House.

Huge Hezbollah - Led Rally Demands Lebanon Govt Quit

Published: December 1, 2006
Filed at 3:03 p.m.

Skip to next paragraph BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah-led protesters rallied on Friday at the doorstep of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to force the resignation of his U.S.-backed government.

``We want a clean government,'' one banner read. ``Siniora out, we want a free, free government,'' the crowd chanted. Some set up tents to begin a sit-in on roads leading to the government headquarters.

Saad al-Hariri, a prominent anti-Syrian Sunni Muslim leader, said the protests would not bring down the government.

``No matter how long they stay in the street...this will not bring down the government of Fouad Siniora,'' he told Al Hurra television. >>>cont


Outcry Over Congressional Pensions for Convicted Members

Is committing a unalateral war and occupation of Iraq based on lies, and killing 655000 innocent Iraqis a feloni can anyone tell me? dont forget the innocent dead in Afganistan and the 3000 American troops that are dead because of lies, lies and more lies.

The new Democratic leadership faces pressure to end taxpayer-funded pensions to misbehaving members of Congress. Over 20 civic organizations claiming to have millions of members sent a letter to the new Democratic leadership demanding that they immediately pass a law taking away pensions from members of Congress who've been convicted of a felony.


-- Wife of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko tests positive for same radioactive substance that killed him, family source says

The wife of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has tested positive for traces of polonium-210, a family source says. Earlier, Britain's Health Protection Agency said a "significant quantity" of the deadly substance ingested by Litvinenko before his death has been found in a person who had "very close contact" with him. Italian Sen. Paolo Guzzanti confirmed that it was Italian security expert Mario Scaramella.


Russian begins shipments of fighter planes to Venezuela

RAW STORYPublished: Friday December 1, 2006

"Russia has shipped the first two Su-30MK2 multi-role fighters to Venezuela under a contract signed in July 2006, an aircraft manufacturing industry official said Thursday," Russia's RIA Novosti reported in a little noticed article Thursday. Excerpts:
Russia signed $1-billion contracts on supplies of 24 Su-30MK2 Flanker fighters and 30 helicopters to Venezuela prior to this year's visit to Russia by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, triggering criticism from Washington, which regards the Venezuelan regime as a potential security threat in the region.

"The first Su-30MK2 fighters for the Venezuelan air force have been transported to Moscow by an An-124 Condor transport plane, and later they will be shipped to Venezuela," the official said, adding that two more fighters will be delivered to the Latin American country by the end of 2006.

Russian-made fighters will substitute American F-16 and French Mirage fighters currently deployed by the Venezuelan air force.


CHARGES WERE DROPPED against the Granny Peace Brigade.

Nicholas Joy

Eleven members of the Granny Peace Brigade/Philadelphia are set to go on trial on Dec. 1.

The grandmothers were arrested June 26 and charged with defiant trespass for their role in a protest involving an attempt to enlist in the U.S. armed forces to fight in Iraq.

The Peace Brigade was formed to oppose the war in Iraq.

The trial will take place at 9 a.m. in the Municipal Court at 1401 Arch St.

The Peace Brigade is planning to hold a demonstration before the trial and sent out a newsletter which "cordially invites" interested parties to attend.


FOCUS | Security of Electronic Voting Is Condemned by Federal Agency

Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country "cannot be made secure," according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the US Election Assistance Commission. The assessment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the government's premier research centers, is the most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency.


United States v. George W. Bush et al.

By Tom Engelhardt TomDispatch.com
Monday 27 November 2006

Keep in mind, I've run Tomdispatch.com for only a few years, but I've been a book editor in mainstream publishing for over 30 years. Sometime last spring, I was on the phone with former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega talking about books she might someday write, when she suddenly said to me, "You know what I'd like to do?" When I asked what, she replied, "What I've done all my life."

"What's that," I wondered innocently enough.

"I'd like to draft an indictment of President Bush and his senior aides, and present the case for prewar intelligence fraud to a grand jury, just as if it were an actual case of mine, using the evidence we already have in the public record. That's the book I'd like to do."

With those three decades of publishing experience, I never doubted that this was an idea whose time should come - and now it has. De la Vega has drawn up that indictment - a "hypothetical" one, she hastens to add - convened that grand jury, and held seven days of testimony. Yes, it's a grand jury directly out of her fertile brain and the federal agents who testify are fictional, but all the facts are true. She understands the case against the Bush administration down to the last detail; and she's produced, to my mind, the book of the post-election, investigative season: United States v. George W. Bush et al.

Man tests positive for radiation (Scaramella - Italian contact)

Italian Mario Scaramella, a contact of dead ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, has tested positive for polonium-210.

Mr Scaramella is not thought to be suffering symptoms but significant amounts of the substance are understood to have been found in the academic.

He met Mr Litvinenko at sushi restaurant Itsu in central London on the day he fell ill.

Meanwhile, the post-mortem examination on Mr Litvinenko, a former KGB agent, has started.

Those present at the examination at the Royal London Hospital, in east London, will wear protective clothing to avoid contamination by traces of the polonium-210 isotope.


Facing turmoil, Calderon opts for midnight swearing-in

Dec. 1, 2006, 2:18AM
Facing turmoil, Calderon opts for midnight swearing-in
Analysts argue about significance of unusual move

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

MEXICO CITY — With opponents threatening to block today's inauguration before Congress, Mexico's incoming president took power in an unusual midnight ceremony behind the closed doors of the presidential palace.

In a symbolic act lasting less than 15 minutes and broadcast on Mexican television, Mexican President Vicente Fox took off the red, white and green presidential sash, and said it had been an honor to serve.

Fox embraced incoming leader Felipe Calderon, who swore in his security Cabinet, including the secretaries of national defense, public security, government and the navy.

Minutes later, Calderon made a few brief remarks, vowing to bring change to Mexico.

"I'm not unaware of the complexity of the political moment ... but I believe it's time to put an end to the differences," he said. "I accept the responsibility to be president of all Mexicans, without distinction.
Brawl Breaks Out in Mexico Congress

Dec 1, 10:50 AM ESTBy IOAN GRILLOAssociated PressMEXICO CITY (AP)
-- Leftist lawmakers threw punches and chairs at their conservative colleagues and some tried to block the doors of the congressional chamber Friday just an hour before incoming President Felipe Calderon was to take the oath of office there.
Ruling party lawmakers, chanting "Mexico wants peace," seized the speaker's platform where Calderon was supposed to appear, while leftist opponents blocked most of the chamber's doors.
The brawl was shown on live television across Mexico.
Carlos Navarette, Senate leader for leftist Democratic Revolution, or PRD, said his party would do everything it could to keep Calderon out.

Italy pulls last troops out of Iraq

"Italy pulled its last remaining troops out of Iraq on Friday, lowering the tricolour flag at its base in the south of a country where 32 of its soldiers have died since the contingent arrived in June 2003.

Defence Minister Arturo Parisi read out the names of each of the Italian fallen, including secret serviceman Nicola Calipari who was shot dead by U.S. soldiers in March 2005 as he escorted a freed hostage to Baghdad airport.

"Your sacrifice has not been in vain," Parisi said of the military dead. "We will always remember you."

Under former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a close ally of U.S. President George W. Bush, Italy deployed the fourth largest contingent in the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq, around 3,000 soldiers, based in the south of the country.

But the mission was widely unpopular in Italy and opposition leader Romano Prodi said if elected he would pull the troops out by the end of the year. Prodi won a close-run election in April."


Conservative Blasts Muslim Congressman For Wanting To Take Oath On Koran: “Don't Serve In Congress”...

USA Today Andrea Stone December 1, 2006 12:48 PM

The first Muslim elected to Congress hasn't been sworn into office yet, but his act of allegiance has already been criticized by a conservative commentator.

In a column posted Tuesday on the conservative website Townhall.com, Dennis Prager blasted Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison's decision to take the oath of office Jan. 4 with his hand on a Quran, the Muslim holy book.


Secret Operation: Americans Assigned Terror Scores For Airplane Meal Choices, How They Paid For Tickets, DMV Records….

Well that certainly takes America of the travel list for the next 40 years, when I commit a crime, then I will be treated like a criminal, certainly not before by the likes of Georgie and his gang of thugs.
sa la vie America, at least I had my 2 trips in a relatively free America
sick, sick, sick, perverts only in America land of the free
Associated Press MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN December 1, 2006 08:18 AM
Without their knowledge, millions of Americans and foreigners crossing U.S. borders in the past four years have been assigned scores generated by U.S. government computers rating the risk that the travelers are terrorists or criminals.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years.

86 corpses found across Iraq

Agence France-Presse

IRAQI and US forces have found at least 86 corpses across Iraq over the past 24 hours, the US military and local security officials said today. A security official said that 58 corpses were recovered in Baghdad, while the US military said 28 bodies were found in a "mass grave" in the northeastern Diyala province. The military said the 28 bodies found south of Baquba, the provincial seat of Diyala, were first taken to Nahrwan for possible identification by family members and then transported to Baghdad...

continua / continued

GI Special 4K28: Abandoned On The Killing Fields - November 30, 2006

Thomas F. Barton

Abandoned On The Killing Fields: No Medevac Coming;"ALL Soldiers Need To Know That Unless They Are At A FOB, The MEDIVAC Will Not Be Launched"Imagine that you were in the convoy, had just endured the death of two comrades & the wounding of one more (and the Iraqi interpreter), only to find out that you had been abandoned on the killing fields! For however the PAO monkeys try to spin this, the reality is that this group of Soldiers were, at the moment of maximum emotional trauma, told that you are there alone.

continua / continued

Baker To Bush: Game Over

Robert Dreyfuss

...It is a war that has alienated America’s allies, emboldened its adversaries and rivals, inflamed its enemies and eviscerated its prestige. With each day that U.S. occupation of Iraq continues, each one of those effects is amplified. By supporting an end to the war, the Iraq Study Group has decided, at least, to stop the bleeding. It is, however, too late to stop the bleeding in Iraq. Six hundred thousand dead Iraqis later, the United States will depart from Iraq leaving behind a nation whose citizens will be struggling to rebuild their society for decades. The U.S. invasion of Iraq is a war crime of the first magnitude, an illegal war that destroyed a nation that had never attacked the United States, that did not have any weapons of mass destruction, that did not have any ties to al-Qaida, that had no connection to the September 11 attacks, and which—at the start of the war—was a small, impoverished country with a decimated army. The civil war in Iraq may indeed get worse, and it may last for years. Each and every one of those deaths will be on George W. Bush’s conscience—if, in fact, the Bible-thumping hypocrite has any conscience left...

continua / continued

Kissinger to Serve As Papal Adviser?:

Make you want to puke?give you any faith in the church of God here on earth today? not me I am sorry to say.

War criminall to advise pope: Kissinger to Serve As Papal Adviser?: Pope Benedict XVI has invited Henry Kissinger, former adviser to Richard Nixon, to be a political consultant and he accepted.

In case you missed it: Video: The Trials of Henry Kissinger: The Making Of A War Criminal: "A fascinating, bombshell documentary that should shame Americans, regardless of whether or not ultimate blame finally lies with Kissinger. Should be required viewing for civics classes and would-be public servants alike."

Pope, Measuring Words, Praises Islam's `Benevolence' : Pope Benedict XVI, picking his words carefully on his first visit to a Muslim nation, spoke of the ``great benevolence'' of Islam, a shift from a two-month-old citation that said the rival religion was ``evil and inhuman.

The "Gaza-Solution" and the Ongoing War on Islam By Mike Whitney The central tenet of American foreign policy hasn’t changed since the early 1980s when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger summarized our involvement in the Iraq-Iran War saying, “I hope they kill each other.” Kissinger’s dictum reveals the basic racial and religious odium which animates the current policy and has become the organizing principle for maintaining the global empire. Continue

UPDATE: AP Replies to New Claims Against Disputed Story -- Iraqis Say They Will Now Monitor Media

By E&P Staff

Published: November 30, 2006 10:40 AM ET updated 1:20 PM, 11:30 PM

NEW YORK The U.S. military and Iraqi officials continue to question a source for a widely publicized Associated Press story about six Iraqis being set on fire last Friday -- and AP continues to stand by it, with new developments today.

The latest: A spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Interior at a press conference today claimed that a key source in the original AP report was not a Baghdad police officer, as AP had declared.

He also denounced press accounts based on alleged rumors. Hours later, Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of The Associated Press, responded in a statement sent to E&P, stating, "We are satisfied with our reporting on this incident. If Iraqi and U.S. military spokesmen choose to disregard AP's on-the-ground reporting, that is certainly their choice to make, but it is a puzzling one given the facts."

Meanwhile, Iraq's Interior Ministry also said Thursday it had formed a special unit to monitor news coverage and vowed to take legal action against journalists who failed to correct stories the ministry deemed to be incorrect. >>>cont


Chavez On “Devil” Comment:

“It Occurred To Me Right There...
I Went Out To Say What My Heart Told Me”...
Reuters November 30, 2006 08:35 PM

Venezuela's president calling his U.S. counterpart Satan in a U.N. speech seemed a devilish gambit in the nations' war of words -- but Hugo Chavez says he was shooting from the hip.

Chavez earned headlines worldwide and sparked U.S. outrage in September with a sulfurous harangue at the U.N. General Assembly that branded George W. Bush Lucifer -- and contributed to Venezuela's loss in a bid for a Security Council seat.


WSJ: Kerkorian Sold Entire Stake In GM...

Reuters November 30, 2006 09:23 PM

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's investment firm on Thursday said it had cut its stake in General Motors Corp.(GM.N) by half with a second large sale, prompting speculation about whether the activist investor had moved to sell his entire stake in the automaker.

In a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tracinda Corp. said it had agreed to sell 14 million shares in a private transaction for $28.75 a share, cutting Kerkorian's stake in the automaker to 4.95 percent -- half of what he had owned earlier this year.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Iraq Study Group To Recommend Withdrawing Combat Troops By Early '08...

Washington Post Peter Baker and Thomas E. Ricks November 30, 2006 10:32 PM

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units from Iraq by early 2008 while leaving behind troops to train, advise and support the Iraqis, setting the first goal for a major drawdown of U.S. forces, sources familiar with the proposal said yesterday.

The commission plan would shift the U.S. mission in Iraq to a secondary role as the fragile Baghdad government and its security forces take the lead in fighting a Sunni insurgency and trying to halt sectarian violence. As part of major changes in the U.S. presence, sources said, the plan recommends embedding U.S. soldiers directly in Iraqi security units starting as early as next month to improve leadership and effectiveness.


Washington Post Robin Wright November 30, 2006 10:54 PM

The Bush administration is deliberating whether to abandon U.S. reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead give priority to Shiites and Kurds, who won elections and now dominate the government, according to U.S. officials.

The proposal, put forward by the State Department as part of a crash White House review of Iraq policy, follows an assessment that the ambitious U.S. outreach to Sunni dissidents has failed. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that their reconciliation efforts may even have backfired, alienating the Shiite majority and leaving the United States vulnerable to having no allies in Iraq, according to sources familiar with the State Department proposal.

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