Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thursday: 31 Iraqis, 2 GIs Killed; 84 Iraqis, 1 GI Wounded

As millions of Muslims began the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, 31 Iraqis were killed and another 84 wounded in violent attacks throughout Iraq today. Also, two American soldiers were killed, bringing the December total of U.S. dead in Iraq to 100 servicemembers.

A roadside bomb blasted a pair of American soldiers conducting a security patrol on foot; one soldier was killed, the other injured. A Marine was killed in action in Anbar province as well. And in Hit, U.S. forces rescued two kidnap victims. Also, witnesses reported seeing a U.S. helicopter crash in Baquba, but no casualties have been reported.

Twelve people were killed and 26 wounded when a car bomb exploded at a petrol station near the Shaab stadium. A pair of car bombs killed nine and wounded 43 in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Bab al Sharji. Also, a bomb targeting a police patrol in western Baghdad killed two civilians instead.

In Kirkuk, gunmen wearing army uniforms shot dead a policeman and wounded a second officer.

Two Iraqi soldiers were gunned down and another wounded in Tikrit.

Gunmen in Baquba killed a police captain and wounded two other officers in a drive-by shooting.

A roadside bomb wounded three Hawija policemen.

Near the Iranian border at Qazaniya, a bomb killed an Iraqi soldier.

At a police checkpoint in Balad, gunmen killed three three Iraqi troops and wounded eight people, including three civilians.

In Mosul, the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party came under attack from suicide bomber in a minibus; the number of casualties is unknown.


FBI Says Files In Leak Cases Are ‘Missing'

Staff Reporter of the Sun
December 27, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO — The FBI is missing nearly a quarter of its files relating to investigations of recent leaks of classified information, according to a court filing the bureau made last week.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the FBI said it identified 94 leak investigations since 2001, but that the investigative files in 22 of those cases "are missing" and cannot be located...

"That's an amazing number," an academic who has studied the FBI's record-keeping procedures, Athan Theoharis of Marquette University, said in an interview yesterday. "These are very sensitive investigations. ... They could be called to account for whether they are monitoring reporters. These are records that should be handled very well."

Last month, a federal judge in San Francisco, Maxine Chesney, ordered the FBI and other agencies to respond by Friday to this reporter's requests for information on the frequency and outcome of leak probes. The requests followed a spate of high-profile federal investigations into press leaks, including a special prosecutor's inquiry into the leak of a CIA operative's identity, as well as a separate case in which two pro-Israel lobbyists and a Defense Department analyst were indicted for trafficking in classified information.

The Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Defense told Judge Chesney last week that they will be unable to meet the court-imposed deadline and need as many as 120 additional days to complete work on the requests, which were filed in March.

A spokeswoman for the FBI, Catherine Milhoan, said she could not comment on the ongoing litigation, but noted that the records search is continuing and has been complicated by procedures for handling classified materials. She also said all hope for recovering the missing files is not lost. "It doesn't mean there aren't other avenues in place to locate those documents," she said.

Mr. Theoharis, a professor emeritus of history, said that in the 1960s the FBI used procedures known as "do not file" and "summary memoranda" to avoid placing files in the central records system. As a result, he said, the bureau would tell judges or members of Congress that searches turned up no records, when files actually existed in a secondary system.

"There's no reason to think they're not doing the same thing today," Mr. Theoharis said. "I don't want to sound conspiratorial but I don't think one can discount this."


Dismounted Security Patrol Struck by Roadside Bomb (101 US Killed in Dec, 2990 T...

I wonder how many Iraqi also Dead this month? 2000? 3000?....
Thursday, 28 December 2006
Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342

RELEASE No. 20061228-20
Dec. 28, 2006

Dismounted Security Patrol Struck by Roadside Bomb
Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO
BAGHDAD – An improvised explosive device detonated near a dismounted Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier north of the Iraqi capital Dec. 28.

The unit was conducting a dismounted security patrol on a well-traveled route when a roadside bomb exploded near them, killing one Soldier and wounding another.

One day prior to this attack, the unit responded to a tip from a resident in a nearby village. The resident informed the unit that insurgents were seen emplacing a rocket aimed at the main road in the area.

The unit sent a patrol to investigate the area and successfully found the emplaced bomb. Four insurgents responsible for setting up the roadside bomb were found in a nearby house and were detained by the unit. The insurgents are being held for questioning.

The deceased Soldier’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Iraqis are entering U.S. through Mexico

Most are Chaldeans; smuggling probed
By Sandra Dibble
December 28, 2006

TIJUANA – U.S. and Mexican immigration agencies are investigating the arrival of small groups of Iraqis at the border in the past week and their possible connection to smuggling organizations.
Baja California agents and Mexican federal immigration officers found a group of four Friday night at a Tijuana hotel. In addition, two groups of about two or three Iraqis turned themselves in earlier this week to U.S. inspectors at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry, asking for political asylum.

“We've continued to see a steady trickle of Iraqis coming into the United States through Mexico, requesting asylum once they're in the United States,” said Lauren Mack, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego.

The vast majority of Iraqis who show up along the California border are members of the Chaldean Christian minority who are drawn by San Diego's sizable Chaldean community. Their numbers today are nowhere near those of six years ago, when Tijuana was a major transit point for Chaldeans trying to get to the United States.


Financial Times: Euro notes cash in to overtake dollar

Euro notes cash in to overtake dollar
By Ralph Atkins in Frankfurt
Published: December 27 2006

The US dollar bill’s standing as the world’s favourite form of cash is being usurped by the five-year-old euro.

The value of euro notes in circulation is this month likely to exceed the value of circulating dollar notes, according to calculations by the Financial Times. Converted at Wednesday’s exchange rates, the euro took the lead in October.

The figures highlight the remarkable growth in euro notes since their launch on January 1 2002, three years after the start of Europe’s monetary union, which in January welcomes its 13th member – Slovenia, the former Yugoslav republic.

“After the launch, we expected growth to stabilise – but it has continued over five years,” Antti Heinonen, head of the European Central Bank’s bank notes directorate, told the Financial Times.

Although the ECB does not deliberately promote the international use of the euro, it has become popular in official foreign exchange reserves – even if it is far from challenging the dollar’s lead as the most popular reserve currency....


Uncle Sam wants US Muslims to

The Pentagon builds Islamic prayer rooms and hires imams to make military life more appealing.

WASHINGTON – As US troops battle Islamic extremists abroad, the Pentagon and the armed forces are reaching out to Muslims at home.
An underlying goal is to interest more Muslims in the military, which needs officers and troops who can speak Arabic and other relevant languages and understand the culture of places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The effort is also part of a larger outreach. Pentagon officials say they are striving for mutual understanding with Muslims at home and abroad and to win their support for US war aims. Among the efforts to attract and retain Muslim cadets:

• West Point and the other service academies have opened Muslim prayer rooms, as have military installations.

• Imams serve full- and part-time as chaplains at the academies and some bases.

• Top non-Muslim officers and Pentagon officials have taken to celebrating religious events with Muslims overseas and here in the US.

"There is a message here, and that is that Muslims and the Islamic religion are totally compatible with Western values," says Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England in an interview.


AP Poll: Bush both a villain and a hero

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Bad guy of 2006: President Bush. Good guy of 2006: President Bush. When people were asked in an AP-AOL News poll to name the villains and heroes of the year, Bush topped both lists, in a sign of these polarized times.

Among entertainment celebrities, Oprah Winfrey edged out Michael J. Fox as the best celebrity role model while Britney Spears outdistanced Paris Hilton as the worst.

Bush won the villain sweepstakes by a landslide, with one in four respondents putting him at the top of that bad-guy list. When people were asked to name the candidate for villain that first came to mind, Bush far outdistanced even Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader in hiding; and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who is scheduled for execution.

The president was picked as hero of the year by a much smaller margin. In the poll, 13 percent named him as their favorite while 6 percent cited the troops in Iraq.


Paper: Gates “Privately Opposing” Troop Escalation In Iraq...

The New York Sun Eli Lake December 28, 2006 11:46 AM

With President Bush leaning toward sending more soldiers to pacify Iraq, his defense secretary is privately opposing the buildup.

According to two administration officials who asked not to be named, Robert Gates expressed his skepticism about a troop surge in Iraq on his first day on the job, December 18, at a Pentagon meeting with civilians who oversee the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines.


VIDEO | Army Targets Truthout for Subpoenas in Watada Case

In a case that cuts right to the heart of the First Amendment, a US Army prosecutor has indicated he intends to subpoena Truthout Executive Director Marc Ash, a Truthout reporter, and two of the nonprofit news organization's regular contributors, to authenticate news reports they produced and edited earlier this year that quoted an Army officer criticizing President Bush and the White House's rationale for the Iraq War.


US Government Pressures Banks to Stop Dealing With Iran

Dozens of banks have stopped or scaled back their businesses with Iran and other "rogue states" after informal pressure from the US government aimed at sidestepping the need for international sanctions.


Ex-Gitmo Detainee Held Again After Book Critical of Pakistan

In his chronicle of life as an inmate at Guantanamo Bay, Afghan writer Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost describes his three years of humiliating detention for alleged ties to al-Qaeda. Now, he has lost his liberty again - this time believed jailed by the Pakistani intelligence service for the book's fierce criticism of the agency's role in the US-led war on terrorist groups.


No More Victims Group Continues to Aid Iraqi Children

Editor's Note: Ashley Severance spearheaded a medical relief project in Orlando. Due to her efforts and the assistance of No More Victims, a three-year-old, war-injured Iraqi child was spared a life of permanent blindness. Ashley recounts below what the experience has meant for her. As a 22-year-old law student with two children of her own, she demonstrated that people with hectic lives can secure medical treatment for victims of the US aggression in Iraq. Ashley's efforts are the latest in a string of successful humanitarian efforts launched by No More Victims. - smg/TO

Ashley Severance writes about her experiences spearheading a medical relief project in Orlando. Due to her efforts and the assistance of No More Victims, a three-year-old, war-injured Iraqi child was spared a life of permanent blindness.


Bombs Rock Baghdad as Saddam Judgment Published

An Iraqi court has published its formal written condemnation of Saddam Hussein, putting in motion the legal machinery which will lead to his execution, while dozens of civilians were killed and the military confirmed the deaths of three more soldiers. This brings December's toll to 99, keeping it on course to be the bloodiest month for US troops this year.


Prosperity's Potholes

How lack of public transit investment forces more suburban families to struggle.

Judith Bell writes: "Doubled and tripled up in cramped studios. Scrunched into uninsulated garages disingenuously dubbed 'family apartments.' Sneaking a few hours of sleep between shifts cleaning hotel rooms and slinging fast food. The realities of poverty in America are far from our minds as we primp for our neighbors' New Year's party or watch our kids play with their new Nintendo Wiis. The sobering truth just doesn't carve a place in polite conversations over celebratory champagne. But as a new report by the Brookings Institution shows, poverty is now increasingly a major problem on the brightly lit lanes of our nation's suburbs, not just in the urban areas. For the first time ever, there are now more people living in poverty in America's suburbs than in her cities."


Ford Pardon Sealed Watergate Shut

On a September Sunday in 1974, President Gerald Ford told the nation it was time to "shut and seal this book" of Watergate by pardoning his predecessor, Richard Nixon. Ford's stunning announcement may also have sealed his political fate, since the nation's only president never elected to nationwide office - a Republican - lost the 1976 election to Democrat Jimmy Carter. Many said the unpopular pardon was a cause of Ford's defeat. But years later, Ford's act of conscience was viewed differently.


The GOP's $3 Billion Propaganda Organ http

Robert Parry writes: "The American Right achieved its political dominance in Washington over the past quarter century with the help of more than $3 billion spent by Korean cult leader Sun Myung Moon on a daily propaganda organ, the Washington Times, according to a 21-year veteran of the newspaper."


- Islamic forces are withdrawing from Somalia's capital of Mogadishu, news services report.

Triumphant Somali government forces march into Mogadishu after Islamist rivals abandon the war-scarred city they held for six months before an Ethiopian-backed advance. Islamists and residents says order has collapsed with their departure. "Mogadishu is now in chaos," Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed telss Al Jazeera television.


Bush Meets For “Non-Decisional” Gathering On Iraq...

Associated Press DEB RIECHMANN December 28, 2006 09:16 AM

Already weeks in the making, President Bush's new war plan is being burnished with the assistance of top military and diplomatic advisers as critics of the war urge the Democratic Congress to resist any call for a large military buildup in Iraq.

It's unclear whether Bush will signal his desires or just seek further consultation when he meets at his Texas ranch on Thursday with Vice President Dick Cheney and other members of the National Security Council.


Never-Released Interview With Fmr. Pres. Ford: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld Made “A Big Mistake”…

Washington Post Bob Woodward December 27, 2006 09:50 PM

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush had launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.


Edwards Announces For President: “It Would Be A Huge Mistake To Put A Surge Of Troops Into Iraq”...

Associated Press Nedra Pickler December 28, 2006 09:04 AM

Two years after his hopes for a Democratic takeover of the White House were narrowly dashed, former vice presidential nominee John Edwards said Thursday that he is making another run at the presidency.

Edwards -- who is calling for cuts in poverty, global warming and troops in Iraq -- scheduled his kickoff in New Orleans, still devastated from last year's Hurricane Katrina. He chose the site to highlight his signature concern of the economic disparity that divides America.


Live reports from Beirut

Roads to Iraq

- 20 members of Mahdi Army killed by Iraqi resistance today in the ravage for the 3 raped and killed student girls. - Reported right now on Al-Sharqyia TV that Mahmoud Othman [Talabani advisor..he is aKurd also] said that there are documents against the Iranians arrested few days ago by the Americans prove they are involved in terror operations. The strange thing about this announcement is: Talabani advisor saying this while Talabani said he himself invited them...

continua / continued

GI Special 4L21: Wosing - December 26, 2006

Thomas F. Barton

A previously unpublicized assessment generated by the Republican staff of the House Armed Services Committee and obtained by the Globe effectively accused the generals of hedging the truth when Congress asks what they need to protect the troops.The 2005 congressional report said that on numerous occasions, generals assured lawmakers that they have "complete (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) coverage over the respective theater battlespace; and in effect, 'they get everything.' " That has repeatedly been proven wrong, it said.

continua / continued

A CNN opinion poll conducted in mid-December showed only 11 percent of respondents supported the plan of boosting the US contingent in Iraq.That was down from 17 percent, who supported the "surge" in a similar survey conducted jointly by ABC News and The Washington Post just two weeks earlier.

continua / continued

Tariq Aziz 'I want to testify'

Gulf Daily News

Former Iraqi deputy premier Tariq Aziz wants urgently to testify in the genocide trial of Saddam Hussein before the toppled dictator is executed. "Aziz has told me he has very important information that he wishes to explain to the world," lawyer Badih Aref Ezzat said yesterday. "This information will cause as much embarrassment inside the country as outside," he added. Saddam, due to be hanged within 30 days, said in a letter released yesterday that his execution should be seen as a sacrifice for the nation and called on Iraqis to unite and fight US forces in the country. His Baath Party threatened to retaliate if he is executed...

continua / continued


Malcom Lagauche

...I challenge all journalists who advocate the hanging of Saddam Hussein to take a few hours and research reality. * The standard figure of deaths attributed to the Ba’ath regime during the Anfal campaign is 182,000. Why have there not been any bodies found? If 182,000 people were killed, there must be piles and piles of bodies, yet none has appeared. * If 148 people were sentenced to death in 1982 for attempting to assassinate the president of Iraq, why are at least 24 still alive? And, those who were executed received a lengthy and fair trial that lasted about three years. They were fighting on the side of Iran while Iraq was engaged in a war with its eastern neighbor. In the U.S., this would be considered high treason. With Saddam Hussein, it was called mass murder. George Bush himself signed off more execution orders while the governor of Texas than did Saddam in the Dujail case. * If Iraqi military personnel gassed and killed 5,000 Kurds in Halabjah, why were only 300 bodies found? And, why was the gas used to kill the citizens cyanogen, a gas that Iraq did not possess but Iran did? Why have the CIA, the U.S. Army War College, Greenpeace, the main CIA analyst in 1988 (Stephen Pellitiere), the late Jude Waniski, the U.S Marine Corps Historical Report, and various other individuals and organizations blamed Iran for the gassing of the Kurds?...

continua / continued

Bush's Great Leap Forward

by Chris Floyd

The outlines of Bush's "New Way Forward" or "Great Leap Forward" or "Long Walk Off a Short Pier" in Iraq is now fairly clear. It has three general thrusts: a large increase in troop numbers; a direct assault on the forces of Motqada al-Sadr; and, if possible, an expansion of the war beyond Iraq's borders through a military strike on Iran.

The troop increase is now certain (if indeed it had ever been in doubt). In the past few days, with the nation distracted by the Christmas holidays (and by the ever-phony and genuinely idiotic "Christmas Wars" eating up media airtime), the Bush Faction has carried out a quiet coup – or perhaps a counterrevolutionary purge – in the military ranks. Top generals who openly opposed increasing the U.S. occupation force in Iraq have either announced their retirements or else have been compelled to crawl and eat their words in public recantations. (This moral cowardice is even more remarkable when you consider how weak, stupid – and deeply unpopular – is the "commander-in-chief" who has somehow overawed these stalwart soldiers. One can only imagine that some sort of blackmail must be involved.)

The generals were the last possible obstacle to the war's precipitous escalation; the national Democrats have already signaled their willingness to countenance a "surge" (the Orwellian propaganda term that has been adopted wholesale by the corporate media to describe the vast expansion of the war). Even those Democrats who have appeared to speak out against it have, almost invariably, couched their objections in weasel-wording terms devoid of any actual oppositional content. "I won't support a surge unless it's part of an overall plan to bring our troops home sooner," is the standard formulation, although the "boldest" among them will sometimes tack on a specific date: "bring our troops home by 2008" or some such. But of course, any escalation of the war will be presented precisely as a strategy to bring the conflict to a speedier end; thus most Democrats will latch onto that spin and – grudgingly or enthusiastically – go along. In any case, it's certain that the Congressional Democrats will not put up a concerted, united effort against an escalation.

And so in the coming weeks, we will see anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 more troops sent to Iraq – despite the overwhelming public sentiment against such a policy: only 11 percent of Americans support the idea of escalation, as a new CNN poll reports. This is an astounding level of public opposition to any government policy; I can't recall anything like it in almost 40 years of observing American politics and studying American history. The fact that the Bush Regime is willing to undertake an action that 89 percent of the American people oppose – and what's more, an action that is guaranteed to cost the lives of many Americans and many billions from the public treasury – is a glaring indication of how completely anti-democratic the Bush Faction is, and how utterly dysfunctional the U.S. political system has become.

So the "surge" will come. It will be used to support an all-out assault on the militia of Iraqi nationalist cleric Motqada al-Sadr. A brief attempt by the Bush Faction to isolate Sadr politically – by creating a bloc of so-called "moderates" in alliance with the death squad leaders of the violent extremist Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq – has, as usual, failed miserably. And it has foundered on the same stone that has wrecked most of the Administration's political boats in Iraq: the refusal of the leading Shiite cleric in the country, the Iranian-born Ayatollah Sistani, to cooperate with American wishes. Sistani refused to bless any attempt to ease out Sadr and thus split the Shiite alliance.

His refusal is one of those "clarifying moments" that the Bushists like to speak about in their degraded political jargon. What they mean by that is any action that minimizes the possibility of a non-violent solution to a political problem that is preventing them from getting whatever they want. They love to be thwarted diplomatically – which is why all their diplomatic efforts are so lame-brained, half-hearted, and transparently geared toward ultimate failure; they want to leave open at all times an excuse for military action, which is the only way of "projecting power" that these primitives understand. (Yet they and their sycophants endlessly repeat the racist trope that it is the Arabs who "only understand force." Here, as in so much else – such as their constant condemnations of "terrorist violence" by these state terrorists who have murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people – we see the principle of projection at work, on a massive and sinister scale.)

Sistani's refusal gives the Bushists the "justification" they have craved for launching the attack on Sadr's forces. In the past months, we have seen them slowly and methodically build up Sadr as the new embodiment of all evil in Iraq. Get rid of Sadr, and the milk and honey (and oil leases) will flow at last in the beleaguered land. We have of course heard this storyline before; in fact, it is the only storyline we ever hear. Get rid of Zarqawi, and the insurgency will die; conquer Fallujah and the insurgency will die; capture Saddam and the insurgency will die; kill Uday and the insurgency will die. If Sadr is killed or captured, there will no doubt be another embodiment of all evil in Iraq coming down the PR pike in short order. (Perhaps Sistani himself will eventually be fitted for the horns.)

Sadr is no sweetheart, of course; he is entirely representative of the violent, obscurant, religious extremism that Bush has empowered throughout most of Iraq with his war of aggression. Yet he is also supported by millions of Iraqis for whom his organization provides many of the social support function and basic human needs that the Bush-installed government cannot provide. He has an army of tens of thousands, which can no doubt be overcome militarily, eventually, but only in a Pyrrhic victory that will leave even more of Iraq a moonscape of ruin and raging hatred.

An assault on Sadr could also trigger Shiite uprisings across the Middle East. But here we must realize that this is not a black mark against the plan in the Bush Faction's eyes. For it seems clear that an expansion of the war is very much part of the "New Way Forward." Indeed, many of the most rabid neocons have long talked openly of their hopes for a Shiite uprising in Saudi Arabia that would split the kingdom and – in their fantastical dreams – give the US direct control over the Saudi oil fields, that now lie primarily in Shiite regions. (Yes, these stunted intellects actually believe that grateful Saudi Shiites will turn over the world's richest oilfields to their American "benefactors.") >>>cont


With Israeli Blessing, Egypt Transfers Arms, Ammunition to Fatah

By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service

Amos Gilad, Head of political military policy at the Defense Ministry, on Thursday told Israel Radio that the assistance provided to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Presidential Guard is aimed at reinforcing the forces of peace in the area.

"The assistance is aimed at reinforcing the forces of peace in the face of the forces of darkness that are threatening the future of the Middle East," Gilad said, commenting on the news of an arms transfer from Egypt to Palestinian security forces, first published in Haaretz Thursday morning.

Gilad added that the assistance to the Presidential Guard comes from the Arab world and that Israel is not dealing the matter directly.

Egypt transfered a large quantity of arms and ammunition to PA security organizations in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, with Israel's approval.

The Palestinian security forces are largely allied with Abbas, and draw their numbers from his Fatah movement.

The move was carried out in an effort to bolster Fatah affiliated groups, following recent clashes with paramilitary organizations belonging to the ruling Hamas movement.

Salim Abu Sufiya, head of the Palestinian border control, on Thursday refused to confirm or deny the report. >>>cont


General 'unrepentant' over Iraq station raid

27/12/2006 - 1:32:12 PM

The demolition of a notorious Iraqi police station marked a turning point in the battle with Basra’s death squads, the British commander in the province said today.

Major General Richard Shirreff insisted he was “completely unrepentant” about the Christmas Day operation, despite criticism from provincial council leaders.

More than 1,000 troops, accompanied by Iraqis, swooped on the Jameat station in the early hours raid amid rumours that dozens of prisoners were about to be executed.

There had been fears of repercussions against the captives after leading members of the Serious Crimes Unit were arrested on suspicion of corruption and leading a death squad.

Maj Gen Shirreff said today: “I’m completely unrepentant about Operation Thyme. It was a brilliantly-executed, brilliantly-run operation by 19 Brigade.

“It was a really important operation because this was the moment where we, together with the Iraqis, are seen to be confronting the Serious Crimes Unit (and) the death squad organisations in Basra, making it absolutely clear that there is no room for these people in the future Iraq.

“And we will continue to hunt these people down and eradicate them.” >>>cont



Unfrikingbelievable Georgie must be getting a friking hard on about now, its getting close Georgie, Revenge feel good Georgie, another suvanier to go with Saddams friking gun, what a deviate.

December 27, 2006 -- WASHINGTON - A bit of good old American craftsmanship will bring about Saddam Hussein's end - a specially constructed gallows that might as well be stamped "Made in the U.S.A."

The custom-made gallows for Saddam is located in a highly secure U.S. military prison at Baghdad airport called Camp Cropper, where the former Iraqi dictator is currently imprisoned.

One morning, sometime between today and 30 days from now, Saddam will be awakened by his American guards and told it's judgment day.

There will be no prior public notification of Saddam's date with the executioner.

Shortly after he is hanged, an announcement will be made to the world that the brutal killer is dead.

Like other Iraqi death-row prisoners, Saddam will be dressed in an orange uniform, and a hood will be placed over his head before his execution. He will be allowed prayers, and a last meal, according to U.S. officials. Then the ex-tyrant will be taken to the American-made gallows, where a handful of Iraqi government officials, U.S. military officers and human-rights officials will be witnesses.

Also likely to be present are some relatives of the victims of the 1982 Dujail massacre, for which Saddam and two henchmen were convicted on Nov 5.

No decisions have been made on who will be the hangman, officials said last night.

Saddam will not be permitted to make a final speech, an American lawyer who advised the special tribunal that tried him told The Post.

Only a still photograph will mark the occasion of the death of the dictator.

"There's a very good chance that this will all come very quickly - that we will wake up in the next day or two and find out Saddam has already been executed and we will see nothing but a photograph marking the end of Saddam," said Michael Scharf, a professor at Case Western University in Cleveland who advised the tribunal. Link Here


US tries to assure allies that extraordinary renditions are over

By Guy Dinmore in Washington

Published: December 27 2006 02:00 Last updated: December 27 2006 02:00

The US is telling its overseas allies that it has stopped "extraordinary renditions" and needs their help to empty Guantánamo's prison cells. But human rights groups dispute this assertion and a question mark hangs over 200 "war on terror" detainees who could be held indefinitely without trial.

European diplomats say Washington is reacting to pressure from parliamentary investigations, lawsuits from former prisoners, and calls by friendly governments, including the UK, to close Guantánamo, the prison camp at a US naval base in Cuba.

However, the administration's response is seen as confused and inadequate. Analysts attribute this to internal divisions over how far to roll back controversial counter-terrorism practices - including torture, secret prisons, detention without trial, and renditions - as the price for rekindling transatlantic relations.

Washington was particularly stung by a report last month by a committee of the European parliament that condemned the alleged complicity of governments in the CIA's illegal detention and transportation of prisoners.

It concluded that there were at least 1,245 overflights or stopovers by CIA aircraft in Europe, and that some probably involved prisoner transfers. Several highly publicised cases were documented. >>>cont


Boomeranging Sanctions on Iran

by Hossein Askari

The UN Security Council resolution to sanction Iran certainly is the foreign-policy coup for the Bush Administration it has been trumpeted to be—at least in the narrowest sense and in the short term. But it also undermines U.S. interests and is a liability for the United Nations and its fragile credibility.

In the run-up to the Iraq War, some ideologues charged that the United Nations consigns itself to irrelevance by failing to cooperate with and harness the clout of the world’s only superpower. But America’s continuing bleeding in Iraq has attenuated that argument by graphically demonstrating the potential cost of acting virtually alone and without legitimacy. The superpower, therefore, has its own interest in harnessing the cooperation of the Security Council and key allies—something it achieved, at least nominally, with the Iran sanctions. But what the United Nations, including the Security Council, needs to bolster its own credibility is a demonstrated independence from the United States—a phenomenon underappreciated within the confines of the Beltway.

The United Nations therefore should tow closely to the rule of law and act with consistency. By approving the sanctions on Iran, the Security Council has failed in this regard, and the resolution will surely prove counterproductive.

A Paper Treaty?

The Non-Proliferation Treaty is clear in the rights and obligations of its signatories. Signatories that were not nuclear powers when the treaty was adopted have the right to peaceful nuclear power development, including: enrichment, research and light- and heavy-water reactors. Moreover, signatories would receive technological and safety related support in their quest to develop peaceful nuclear power. In return the signatories agreed to forego nuclear weapons and to open up their facilities to IAEA inspection and safeguards. In turn, the nuclear powers agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenal and, in time, to eliminate all such weapons.

In the case of Iran, the United States has argued that Iran has lost its rights and privileges under the NPT for the following reasons: in the past it did not fully disclose its nuclear program, it is pursuing nuclear weapons, it has so much oil and gas that it does not need nuclear power and the regime in Tehran cannot be trusted and is dangerous.

It is true that Iran in the past did not disclose all of its nuclear facilities but Iran gives a credible reason for its non-disclosure: its facilities may have been attacked before they were constructed—a justification supported by Iran’s experience with international duplicity (more on this below). There is not a shred of hard evidence to support the assertion that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Further, Iran has now opened up its facilities to IAEA inspection that go beyond legal IAEA requirements and IAEA inspectors have found traces of highly enriched uranium, which seems to have come from secondhand equipment bought by Iran.

And in wake of the Iraq War, the world cannot again believe U.S. assertions on the basis of hard evidence “that cannot be disclosed for fear of harming confidential sources.” Iran’s reserves of oil and gas are indeed expansive but this is totally irrelevant to the legal interpretation of the NPT. Interestingly, the United States did not criticize and threaten the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)—consisting of six countries with one-third of Iran’s population and about three times Iran’s oil and gas—for its announcement earlier in December to develop peaceful nuclear power. This naturally leads to the fourth U.S. justification for taking away Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear power: that the regime in Tehran is dangerous. But that rationale would, again, contravene the treaty, which does not disqualify certain regimes from its provisions.

Proliferation Posturing

Why was Iran’s nuclear program under the Shah acceptable, but not under the current regime? Doesn’t the right of peaceful nuclear power belong to a people, Iran, as opposed to a particular regime, a shah or a mullah? Moreover, do not regimes change over time, for good or for bad? Would the United Nations allow peaceful development with a regime subjectively considered “good” and then approve of the destruction of facilities when a “bad” regime comes to power? Is Saudi Arabia’s regime a “bad” regime? If so, on what grounds? What should the world community do about a country (say, Pakistan) that has nuclear weapons and some consider to be ruled by a “bad” regime? Does a so-called bad regime become, by virtue of some policy alchemy, an accepted nuclear power once it has acquired the weapons and a delivery system?
Finally, have the nuclear powers kept up their end of the bargain to reduce and eventually eliminate their nuclear weapons as called for in the NPT? The simple answer is no. While that standard was upheld during the Reagan era—as both the United States and the Soviets reduced their nuclear arsenals—under the Bush Administration the United States is building new classes of nuclear warheads; China is still increasing the number of its nuclear weapons; Britain recently announced a new nuclear weapon program; and France has been building new weapons. The United States is affording India, a non-signatory to the NPT, all the privileges of signatories, although India has developed nuclear warheads outside the NPT and will not have to open all of its nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection.

In short, the nuclear powers clearly have not adhered to the NPT and the treaty did not grant the Security Council, or any of its members, the right to deny non-nuclear signatories their rights and privileges on the basis of their oil, gas or coal reserves—or on the acceptability of their regimes.

If the Bush Administration is sincere in its quest for global non-proliferation, and is not simply trying to leverage legitimate concerns on proliferation to single out a regime it dislikes, then why did it vote against two resolutions, introduced by Arab countries, at the IAEA annual meeting on September 21? The resolutions, both of which were supported by Iran, called for converting the Middle East into a nuclear-free zone, and for all Middle East countries to accept IAEA safeguards. The United States and its allies defeated the first resolutions by a vote of 45 to 29, in favor of taking no action. The second resolution passed by a vote of 89 to 2, with the U.S. and Israel being the odd couple.

A Gang of Nations

Given Washington’s clear double standards when it comes to nuclear issues, the United Nations stands to further undermine its credibility and relevance by obliging arbitrary and contradictory U.S. policy. Indeed, the United Nations has already damaged itself in this regard in recent history. Certainly, there is a strong sense of that damage in Iran.

When Iraq invaded Iran in September of 1980, violating the most sacred chapter of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council was largely silent, glaringly demonstrating the council’s inadequacy in terms of defending international law—not to mention decency. When the West supplied Iraq with internationally outlawed chemical weapons and these weapons were used to kill and disable tens of thousands of Iranians, the Security Council, again, did very little. The memory of the Iran-Iraq War and the attendant inaction of the U.N. and the actions of the U.S. are still an open wound in the minds of Iranians over the age of thirty-five.

The United Nations, including the council, would bolster its legitimacy and effectiveness by demonstrating a willingness to break with the past—and Washington. This is the U.N.’s pragmatic and moral imperative.

And in examining the U.N. sanctions recently leveled on Iran, it is important to look at their pragmatism. Certainly, the sanctions are purely symbolic. The freezing of the assets of a few individuals and corporations does not exactly handcuff the regime. The banning of trade in nuclear materials, exempting that associated with the Russian reactor under construction in the south of Iran, reflects only the status quo. In the final analysis, the adopted sanctions will have little or no effect on Iran. More importantly, economic sanctions rarely force regimes to change their objectionable policy.

Interestingly, the effectiveness of sanctions is directly tied to their perceived legitimacy. At a minimum, in order for sanctions to have any prospect of being effective, the general population of the sanctioned country must oppose the policy that is deemed objectionable by the sanctioning parties; the adopted sanctions must cause sufficient pain on the population of the sanctioned country to cause them to force a change in policy or a regime change; or the adopted sanctions must cause sufficient pain directly on the regime until it changes its objectionable policy. The adopted U.N. sanctions on Iran do not even remotely fulfill any of the above conditions, which in turn do not guarantee the success of sanctions. And the council’s actions against Iran’s nuclear program will serve to bolster the Iranian people’s support for the program and regime.

Whether Iran has had its heart set on enriching uranium to weapons grade, I don’t know. But what is clear is that Iran feels insecure after the U.S.-led support of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War (resulting in the death of about 500,000 Iranians, or over 1 percent of the population), the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the expansion of U.S. bases surrounding Iran from all sides and the constant rhetoric calling for regime change in Iran. Even if the mullahs wanted to suspend enrichment, they have been politically backed into a corner by Washington and could not possibly do so now.

The only conceivable peaceful solution is granting Iran’s full legal rights under the NPT to develop a peaceful nuclear program, in return for the most intrusive inspections that go beyond anything that any other country has a agreed to up to now. This system could, in turn, be used for all other countries that pursue peaceful nuclear programs, in turn re-enforcing nuclear non-proliferation—Washington’s articulated goal, after all.

Hossein Askari is Iran professor of International Business and International Affairs at George Washington University.


Bombs kill 23 civilians in Baghdad; U.S. military announces 3 troop deaths

BAGHDAD (AP) - Three bombs killed 23 Iraqis in Baghdad on Thursday, and the U.S. military announced the deaths of three American soldiers.

Two bombs exploded shortly after 10 a.m. opposite a park in the South Gate area, killing nine civilians and wounding 43, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. South Gate is often crowded with commuters and shoppers. A bomb planted under a car killed 12 civilians and wounded 26 others near al-Sha'ab stadium in eastern Baghdad, police said. The bomb exploded among a group of people lining up to buy kerosene.

Another blast targeted a police patrol in western Baghdad but missed, killing two civilians instead, police said. Four others were wounded and taken to Yarmouk Hospital.

The U.S. military said three U.S. soldiers died in roadside bombs on Wednesday. Two soldiers were killed when a bomb exploded near their foot patrol southwest of Baghdad, and one died in a bombing in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital.


U.S. soldiers divided over Saddam’s execution

Christian Bible unequivocal: Thou Shalt Not Kill

Commander AWOL Bush & Republicon cronies decide to ignore the Bible.

As usual."

What the hell, it's only the Bible." - Commander AWOL
U.S. soldiers divided over Saddam’s execution
On patrol in Baghdad, some cheer, some worry about insurgent backlash

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Some U.S. soldiers patrolling Baghdad’s dangerous streets Wednesday cheered news of the execution order for Saddam Hussein, but others worried his trip to the gallows could spark a surge of insurgent attacks.


“I think personally that things might get heated up around here then,” said Petersen, a 22-year-old native of Pensacola, Fla., in the battalion’s Company A. “There’s still a lot of people who support him.”

Another A Company soldier, Sgt. Stuart Fowler of Badger, Calif., hopes the execution weakens the insurgency by Saddam’s fellow Sunni Arabs.

“As long as he’s alive, there’s still some power and people still rise up,” said Fowler, 30. “Once the execution goes through, I think it will be a relief for a lot of Iraqis.”


American soldiers acknowledged many aspects of Iraqi life have gotten worse since the U.S. led-invasion.

“When (Saddam) was here a lot of people were better off, especially with the basics like water and sewage,” said Spc. Will Tucker, 22, of Fort Worth, Texas. “We are working on improvement programs, but they are taking awhile.”

Britons apply to army in Australia

By Ben Quinn
Last Updated: 1:18am GMT 28/12/2006

Up to 2,000 Britons a year are applying to join the Australian Army rather than the British Armed Forces because they get a more attractive lifestyle as well as better pay and conditions.

Figures supplied by the Australian Army show that it receives as many as 1,800 applicants from the UK every year, of which 200 are recruited.

Col Tim Collins, a former commanding officer of the Royal Irish Regiment who fought in the 2003 Iraq war, said that there had been a tradition of Australians joining the British Army, often because they would not have been able to get operational experience if they joined their own army.

But he added that the "tide had turned", and the Australian Army had become an increasingly attractive proposition, mainly because of the conditions and the open-air lifestyle that Australia could offer.

In addition, recruits could also now expect to see active service overseas because Australian troops were being deployed in conflict zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Col Collins added: "In the British Army, the leadership is poor and continues to be poor. There has been a selfishness at the top, while jealous civil servants have eroded the conditions of troops serving in the Army.

"Payment for being away from home for long periods has become intolerable. The Ministry of Defence, famously, could not give a toss about servicemen."

He added that the contempt British servicemen reserved for their political masters was illustrated by their reaction to a Christmas message from Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, who thanked servicemen and women for their hard work and support in what had been a "busy and challenging year".

In a series of messages posted on a website used by soldiers, Mr Browne and the Government were lambasted.

"A fatuous message from a fatuous minister in a fatuous government," said one posting on the Army Rumour Service website.

Elsewhere, Mr Browne was described as a "second rate advocate, acting as a third rate minister in a fourth rate government."


13 Turkish Villagers Acquitted in Attack on US Troops

Wed Dec 27, 6:08 PM ET

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Thirteen villagers were acquitted Wednesday of attacking U.S. troops with stones and eggs after an errant U.S. Tomahawk missile fell near their village three years ago.

The Turkish court ruled the villagers' actions did not constitute a crime. Defense lawyer Seyhmus Ulek said the incident was "a democratic reaction against American soldiers."

Some 75 villagers from the southeastern town of Sanliurfa hurled eggs and stones at a group of about a dozen U.S. soldiers going to retrieve pieces of Navy-fired missile, which was intended for Iraq but crashed into an empty Turkish field in March 2003.

The villagers broke the windows of four Humvees and injured one soldier, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Turkey said at the time.

The Tomahawk missile was the third U.S.-fired missile to crash into Turkey that week.

Tomahawk missiles are fired from warships and submarines and have a range of nearly 1,000 miles. The soldiers who went to retrieve the missile came from Incirlik Air Force Base, a major base in southern Turkey that had been used by the U.S. to launch operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.


IRAQ: Stress of violence leads to more suicides

BAGHDAD, 27 December (IRIN) - The number of suicides in war-ravaged Iraq is increasing due to psychological stress caused by relentless violence, medical experts said.

"We see more cases of suicide each month and all evidence shows that the main reason for the suicides has been the stress and pressure caused by the continuing violence," said Dr. Muhammad Hamza, a specialist in suicide medical investigation at the Ministry of Health.

Hamza said that he found that 70 percent of suicide victims chose to poison themselves using rat and cockroach poison. Others either shot or hanged themselves.

"Some of them leave letters to their parents and the most common excuse given for their act is that they can no longer bear the violence," Hamza said.

"This week I had two cases of suicide. One person committed suicide because of the daily threats to his life which he had been receiving, and the other one because her husband had been killed and she became so desperate that she killed herself too," Hamza added.

Based on statistics from the Baghdad mortuary and hospitals in five regions, the Ministry of Health said that about 20 people have been committing suicide each month since January. Thirty others attempted suicide but were saved.

"The numbers are high when compared to those during Saddam Hussein's regime when we used to have one or two suicide cases a month," said Ahmed Fatah, a member of the suicide investigation department at the Ministry of Health.

According to the Ministry of Health, the country's continuing violence has had more psychological effect on the less privileged segment of society – those with little education or who are poor. "They are at their wits' end in dealing with threats or the pressure of violence. They do not have the wherewithal to protect themselves from violence and for economic reasons they cannot leave the country," a Ministry of Health official said on condition of anonymity.

"Today it is the adults who are committing suicide but it will not be long before children too start taking their own lives," said Fatah.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) office in Amman, Jordan, has said that it does not have statistics on suicide cases in Iraq, but that it was not surprising to see such high suicide numbers considering the circumstances the country is living under


U.S. Scolds Israel on Plan for West Bank Settlement

Ahhhhhh shoot they scolded them, do you believe it, no doubt they will still build their illegal settlements, what do you want to bet.


WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 — In a rare public rebuke to Israel, the Bush administration said Wednesday that an Israeli plan to construct a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank for the first time in 10 years could violate the terms of an American-backed peace proposal.

“We are aware of reports about the Maskiot settlement,” said Gonzalo Gallegos, director of the State Department’s Office of Press Relations. “The establishment of a new settlement or the expansion of an existing settlement would violate Israel’s obligations under the road map.”
The road map is the shelved plan that is supposed to lead to peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Under the plan, Israel is not supposed to build more settlements in the West Bank.

“The U.S. calls on Israel to meet its road map obligations and avoid taking steps that could be viewed as pre-determining the outcome of final-status negotiations,” Mr. Gallegos told reporters.

For the Bush administration, which has shied away from criticizing Israel, the rebuke was so unusual that State Department officials took pains to assure reporters that it represented official policy and had been cleared by senior members of the administration.

The criticism was made as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected to go to the Middle East early in 2007 to try to shore up support for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president.

On Tuesday, Israel’s Defense Ministry and settler groups announced plans for the construction of about 30 houses at Maskiot. Israeli officials said the settlement was not new, but a revival of a 1982 settlement, which had become a military training site by the mid-1990s.

“This was set up by the Israeli government nearly 25 years ago,” said David Siegel, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington. “It’s not a new settlement.” >>>cont


Bush's Support for Death Penalty Opens Rift With UK

By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
Published: 28 December 2006

The Bush administration welcomed the confirmation of the death penalty against Saddam Hussein, reopening the divide with the European Union and the United Nations, which are opposed to execution.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, said Saddam should not be hanged for crimes against humanity because his trial had been flawed and was marred by political interference by the Iraqi government.

A spokeswoman for Amnesty said: "We are against the death penalty as a matter of principle but particularly in this case because it comes after a flawed trial."

Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Programme at Human Rights Watch, said: "Imposing the death penalty, indefensible in any case, is especially wrong after such unfair proceedings. That a judicial decision was first announced by Iraq's National Security Adviser underlines the political interference that marred Saddam Hussein's trial."

Iraq's US-appointed interim government reinstated the death penalty in August 2004, causing friction with its coalition partner, Britain. The former top British representative in Iraq, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said the UK would not participate in a tribunal or legal process that could lead to execution.

A Foreign Office spokesman said yesterday that while the execution of Saddam was "a matter for the Iraqis", Britain remained opposed to the death penalty, and had made representations to the government on that score.

The outgoing UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, has expressed opposition to imposing the death penalty on Saddam on principle.

But the deputy White House press secretary, Scott Stanzel, struck a different note. "Today marks an important milestone in the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law," he told reporters aboard Air Force One. "Saddam Hussein has received due process and legal rights that he denied the Iraqi people for so long."

I bet it is an important milestone, Georgie covers papies ass, all those Skeletons about to come out hmmmmmm? But Georgie you think Saddam wont get the information out there. I wouldn't hold my breath.


Tensions Boil in Najaf After GI Kills Sadr Aide

'This escalation is meant to drag us into a confrontation'

Tensions were mounting in the Iraqi city of Najaf Wednesday after the death of a senior aide to Moqtada al-Sadr during a US-led raid on his home. Nassar al-Rubaie, head of the Sadrist bloc in Parliament, accused "occupation forces" of storming the home of Saheb al-Amery at dawn and killing him in front of this family.

"We call on the government to launch an investigation," Rubaie told a news conference in Baghdad.

The US military said Iraqi Army troops with US advisers raided the home of Amery, who was accused of a role in a bomb attack on a police chief in October. A US statement said an American shot the man dead after seeing him point his rifle at an Iraqi soldier during the raid.

"The coalition soldier observed the man's hostile intent against the Iraqi soldier and shot the man, neutralizing the threat and resulting in his death," the US headquarters said in the statement.

Hundreds of mourners marched from Sadr's office in Najaf to the revered Imam Ali Shrine chanting anti-American slogans and denouncing Iraq's Premier Nuri al-Maliki as a traitor for working with US officials.

The Sadr bloc, which comprises 30 members of Parliament and six Cabinet ministers, has been boycotting the government after Maliki met with US President George W. Bush last month in Jordan. >>>cont


Who is the worse Criminal, who has more blood on his hands Sadam or Georgie and his administration of Ghoules.

Ike Was Right

1944 named Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe.

Robert Scheer

Many critics of the war suggest that the U.S. remains in Iraq because it wants that nation's petroleum. But oil is not the primary reason. Instead, look to the military-industrial complex.

As Eisenhower warned: "We should take nothing for granted, only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. ... We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."


You ready to eat cloned beef and bi products.

Cloned Meat, Milk Like Real Thing
WASHINGTON, April 11, 2005

"All parameters examined for the clones in this study were within the normal range of beef and dairy products approved for human consumption."Xiangzhong YangUniversity of Connecticut
AP) Meat and milk from cloned animals is essentially identical to that from animals that reproduced normally, a new study says.
The findings should ease safety concerns by both the public and regulators about eating cloned animals, said researcher Xiangzhong Yang of the Center for Regenerative Biology at the University of Connecticut. The study was published in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Food and Drug Administration has asked the food industry to keep products from cloned animals out of the food chain while it considers their safety.
Cloning, the creation of an animal from the DNA of a single parent, should produce an animal identical to that parent. But as the technology has developed, many cloning attempts have ended in birth defects.
"All parameters examined for the clones in this study were within the normal range of beef and dairy products approved for human consumption," Yang said in a telephone interview.
Two beef clones were studied that had been produced in Japan from a famous Japanese Black breeding bull with superior meat marbling traits.
The 10 dairy clones were produced at the University of Connecticut from a Holstein cow that produced a lot of milk.
The researchers from Connecticut and the Kagoshima Prefectural Cattle Breeding Institute in Japan analyzed milk for a variety of factors including protein, fat, lactose and solids and studied more than 100 components in the beef, concluding that both were within the range of standards for milk and meat now consumed.
The FDA declined to comment on the findings but said it will include the report in the material it is reviewing on food from cloned animals. The agency said it expects its own safety assessment of these products to be released soon.
Asked for comment, Carole Tucker Foreman, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, questioned whether the researchers had looked at the problem of stress in the animals.
Stressed animals are known to produce pathogens, she said, and there has been evidence that the offspring of cloned animals suffer increased stress. She said this study seems to avoid that question.
She also questioned whether the researchers, who specialize in reproductive biology, were a truly disinterested source of information, and suggested that the small number of animals in the study might not be enough to produce definitive data.
The study compared meat from two bulls and milk from four cows with the products from similar animals that had been produced by normal methods and raised in similar conditions to the clones.
The meat from the clones had a slightly higher marbling content than that of the comparison animals but that was the only significant difference, the researchers said.
Increased marbling is considered a benefit in beef and the researchers noted that the clones were produced from an animal renowned for its quality. The comparison animals were produced by inseminating cows with semen from the son of that bull, meaning that the offspring had only one-fourth the genes of their champion, while the clones had all of them.
No other significant differences were found in the meat or the milk.
The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kagoshima Prefecture and the National Institute of Agrobiological Research of Japan.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld Made "A Big Mistake

Washington Post Bob Woodward December 27, 2006 09:50 PM

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush had launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.


White House To Biden: Iraq Not Open For Discussion Yet…

Editor and Publisher December 27, 2006 01:40 PM

At today's press gaggle in Crawford, Texas, Scott Stanzel, pinch-hitting for White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, described the president's reaction to the death of Gerald R. Ford and his upcoming meetings to discuss his next moves in Iraq.

Stanzel said the government would shut down for a full day next week, as traditional, when a former president dies. Asked about the president's reaction to Sen. Joseph Biden's outright rejection of Bush's rumored plan to escalate the conflict in Iraq by sending 30,000 or more new troops therre, Stanzel replied, "Well, I hope that Senator Biden would wait to hear what the President has to say before announcing what he's opposed to. President Bush will talk soon to our troops, to the American people and to the Iraqi people about the new way forward in Iraq that will lead to a democratic and unified country that can sustain, govern, and defend itself.


The Enduring Legacy of Gerald R. Ford

Chris Floyd
Wednesday, 27 December 2006

I believe that the picture below tells us all we need to know about the lasting impact the presidency of Gerald R. Ford has had on the United States of America, the nation he so proudly led for a couple of years after pardoning the man who was at that time the biggest criminal ever to occupy the Oval Office:

Yes, it was Gerald R. Ford who took those famously amoral and criminally incompetent backroom operators, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, out of the lower quadrants of the twisted bowels of the Nixon White House and raised them to the highest levels of American government, where, in one form or another, overtly and covertly, they have inflicted their primitive ideology and violent psychodramas on the nation, and the world, for more than three decades.

But Ford's enduring legacy is in no way exhausted by the glories of his bloodthirsty political progeny. For the sad occasion of the statesman's death is certainly a most appropriate time to recall what is probably his greatest geopolitical masterstroke: the green-lighting of Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor -- an act of state-sponsored terrorism that killed more than 200,000 people. True, George W. Bush has now far surpassed that genocidal benchmark, setting new standards of pointless and barbaric mass murder in Iraq -- but only with the help of Fordians Cheney and Rumsfeld!

I first wrote about the pivotal role that Ford, along with Henry Kissinger (currently the chief outside adviser to the White House, according to Cheney -- hey, it's like the Nixon-Ford era never ended!), back in 2001, just after the release of declassified documents which had been gathered and published by the invaluable National Security Archive (see their report East Timor Revisited for more). As I noted in a follow-up report in May 2006: >>>cont


Loose Talk: Bush Redefines His Global War to Encompass a New Range of Enemies

Chris Floyd,
Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Wise man Robert Parry, who has been a light shining in the darkness for decades now , identifies an important – and entirely sinister – change in Bush's description of the "Long War" that he has initiated around the world. This semantic shift portends an even greater level of bloodshed, state terrorism and tyranny than we have yet seen, as it indicates another stage in the inexorable expansion of the "enemies" that the "forces of civilization" must crush by violence.

As Parry notes, this declension into madness has moved from very specific targets (“terrorist groups of global reach") to the more generalized and already impossibly vague "global war on terrorism" to the new formulation: a war against "radicals and extremists" – wherever they might be, however you decide, arbitrarily, to define them, and whether or not they engage in violence against the United States.

And make no mistake: the American Establishment as a whole has bought into the "war on terror" package in one form or another, i.e., viewing the murderous actions of a few bands of criminals not as a law enforcement problem to be tackled within the traditional systems of law and representative politics but as some wholly new, ludicrously overblown existential crisis of civilization that can only be "solved" by indiscriminate military force abroad and the gutting of civil liberties at home. In the Establishment, you will find almost no voice of any substance, reach or power that contests the latter view, although a few might quibble on how best to prosecute this endless war. Thus, the benchmarks that Bush is setting today, the way he is defining the "Long War" and establishing the patterns of executive power to deal with it will have a very large and continuing impact even when he is out of office. Why? Because as Parry shows here, Bush's expanding definitions of this endless war are being accepted by the Establishment – even now, when he is at one of the lowest ebbs of popular support that any president has ever faced.

So you should read Parry's whole piece. It's important not only as a description of what is happening today, but also as a guideline for where we will be heading in the future.

Bush's 'Global War on Radicals' (consortiumnews.com) >>>cont


Baquba under Al Qaeda/Sunni control

Born at the Crest of the Empire

"They (the Sunni insurgents) took me in one of their cars, and drove me around the areas of Baqouba under their control. There were no police on the streets. They had just killed a policeman. His body was still in the car where they shot him. "There are no more journalists working in Baqouba," he told me. For three months, or so, up through mid-November, about 40% of the pictures I put up from Iraq were from Baquoba. It was the main sectarian conflict point outside of Baghdad, and now there are no more pictures. The Sunnis have won. This battle for Baquba is part of a larger significant strategic effort by the Sunni insurgents. While the Shia are attempting to clear neighborhoods inside Baghdad, it seems the Sunnis are attempting to control the highways and access points to the city...

continua / continued

The US government serves, protects and encourages ...

Truth About Iraqis

... its criminal proxies in Iraq. This blog has ALWAYS highlighted how quickly the so-called Iraqis who came from abroad to rape and pillage the country of its wealth would leave with their foreign passports. Et voila! A former Iraqi Cabinet minister who escaped from a Baghdad prison this month has arrived in Jordan, Jordan's prime minister said Tuesday. "Ayham al-Samaraie who escaped from his jail in Baghdad arrived in Amman as an American and on an American plane," Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit told reporters....

continua / continued

Shiite Militias and Iran in Iraq

Juan Cole, Informed Commentnd

...The US military conducted raids against the Badr Corps militia of the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, in the course of which it arrested four Iranian officials. It had to let two of them go when it transpired that they were diplomats invited into Iraq by President Jalal Talabani, a close US ally. SCIRI and Badr were in exile in Iran for over two decades and have close ties to the Iranian regime. Nevertheless, the Bush administration hosted SCIRI leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim recently. (...) That Badr had close ties to Iran was well known, so it is a little unclear what new developments could have provoked this raid...

continua / continued

While Iraq Burns

By Bob Herbert
The New York Times

Monday 27 November 2006

Americans are shopping while Iraq burns.

The competing television news images on the morning after Thanksgiving were of the unspeakable carnage in Sadr City - where more than 200 Iraqi civilians were killed by a series of coordinated car bombs - and the long lines of cars filled with holiday shopping zealots that jammed the highway approaches to American malls that had opened for business at midnight.

A Wal-Mart in Union, N.J., was besieged by customers even before it opened its doors at 5 a.m. on Friday. "All I can tell you," said a Wal-Mart employee, "is that they were fired up and ready to spend money."

There is something terribly wrong with this juxtaposition of gleeful Americans with fistfuls of dollars storming the department store barricades and the slaughter by the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including old people, children and babies. The war was started by the U.S., but most Americans feel absolutely no sense of personal responsibility for it.

Representative Charles Rangel recently proposed that the draft be reinstated, suggesting that politicians would be more reluctant to take the country to war if they understood that their constituents might be called up to fight. What struck me was not the uniform opposition to the congressman's proposal - it has long been clear that there is zero sentiment in favor of a draft in the U.S. - but the fact that it never provoked even the briefest discussion of the responsibilities and obligations of ordinary Americans in a time of war.
With no obvious personal stake in the war in Iraq, most Americans are indifferent to its consequences. In an interview last week, Alex Racheotes, a 19-year-old history major at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, said: "I definitely don't know anyone who would want to fight in Iraq. But beyond that, I get the feeling that most people at school don't even think about the war. They're more concerned with what grade they got on yesterday's test."

His thoughts were echoed by other students, including John Cafarelli, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, who was asked if he had any friends who would be willing to join the Army. "No, definitely not," he said. "None of my friends even really care about what's going on in Iraq."

This indifference is widespread. It enables most Americans to go about their daily lives completely unconcerned about the atrocities resulting from a war being waged in their name. While shoppers here are scrambling to put the perfect touch to their holidays with the purchase of a giant flat-screen TV or a PlayStation 3, the news out of Baghdad is of a society in the midst of a meltdown.

According to the United Nations, more than 7,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in September and October. Nearly 5,000 of those killings occurred in Baghdad, a staggering figure.

In a demoralizing reprise of life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, the U.N. reported that in Iraq: "The situation of women has continued to deteriorate. Increasing numbers of women were recorded to be either victims of religious extremists or 'honor killings.' Some non-Muslim women are forced to wear a headscarf and to be accompanied by spouses or male relatives."

Journalists in Iraq are being "assassinated with utmost impunity," the U.N. report said, with 18 murdered in the last two months.

Iraq burns. We shop. The Americans dying in Iraq are barely mentioned in the press anymore. They warrant maybe one sentence in a long roundup article out of Baghdad, or a passing reference - no longer than a few seconds - in a television news account of the latest political ditherings.

Since the vast majority of Americans do not want anything to do with the military or the war, the burden of fighting has fallen on a small cadre of volunteers who are being sent into the war zone again and again. Nearly 3,000 have been killed, and many thousands more have been maimed.

The war has now lasted as long as the American involvement in World War II. But there is no sense of collective sacrifice in this war, no shared burden of responsibility. The soldiers in Iraq are fighting, suffering and dying in a war in which there are no clear objectives and no end in sight, and which a majority of Americans do not support.

They are dying anonymously and pointlessly, while the rest of us are free to buckle ourselves into the family vehicle and head off to the malls and shop.

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