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Saturday, April 14, 2007

NJ Gov Surgery Successful, "Special Needs" Driver Who Caused Crash Won't Be Charged

AP MARYCLAIRE DALE April 14, 2007 02:14 PM
Surgery on Gov. Jon S. Corzine's injured leg was successful Saturday, while a state official said the driver blamed for the wreck that critically injured the governor had been found but would not be charged.

Corzine's recovery was progressing better than doctors expected, said Dr. Steven Ross, head of trauma at Cooper University Hospital. Doctors cleaned a 15-centimeter wound during surgery on his left thigh.


Human Rights Commission Reports US Marines Opened Fire On Afghan Civilians

The New York Times CARLOTTA GALL April 14, 2007 01:33 PM

American marines reacted to a bomb ambush with excessive force in eastern Afghanistan last month, hitting groups of bystanders and vehicles with machine-gun fire in a rampage that covered 10 miles of highway and left 12 civilians dead, including an infant and three elderly men, according to a report published by an Afghan human rights commission on Saturday.

Families of the victims said this week that they had demanded justice from the American military and the Afghan government, and they described the aftermath of the marines' shooting, in Nangarhar Province. One 16-year-old newly married girl was cut down while she was carrying a bundle of grass to her family's farmhouse. A 75-year-old man walking to his shop was hit by so many bullets that his son did not recognize the body when he came to the scene.


Bin Laden's Favorite President

Paul Abrams

Who could be happier than bin Laden? Western boots occupying a Moslem country! Perfect for recruiting, perfect for enraging young people to sacrifice for Allah.



Associated Press April 14, 2007 04:54 PM

The fight over documents has gone to red alert. The White House acknowledges it cannot find four years' worth of e-mails from chief political strategist Karl Rove. The admission has thrust the Democrats' nemesis back into the center of attention and poses a fresh political challenge for President Bush.

The administration has acknowledged that some e-mails missing from Rove's Republican party account may relate to the firing of eight U.S. prosecutors last year. The Democratic-run Congress is investigating whether the firings resulted from political pressure by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the White House.


McCain Sees ‘No Plan B’ for Iraq War

The New York Times MICHAEL R. GORDON and ADAM NAGOURNEY April 14, 2007 02:47 PM

Senator John McCain said that the buildup of American forces in Iraq represented the only viable option to avoid failure in Iraq and that he had yet to identify an effective fallback if the current strategy failed.

"I have no Plan B," Mr. McCain said in an interview. "If I saw that doomsday scenario evolving, then I would try to come up with one. But I cannot give you a good alternative because if I had a good alternative, maybe we could consider it now."


Terror War III: U.S. Forces Capture, Render Refugees From Somali "Regime Change

Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque

Here's how George W. Bush treats refugees fleeing from the carnage wrought by his "War on Terror": he has them captured at gunpoint and "rendered" to torturers in his pay, where they are chained, blindfolded, beaten, stuffed into cages then "disappeared" into secret prisons notorious for their vile abuses. These captures of people trying to escape from the terrors of "regime change," from the ravages of foreign armies invading their homes, include women and children, as attested by the story of 17-year-old Safia Benaouda, a pregnant Swedish woman who was grabbed – by American troops – as she fled from the bloodbath following the Bush-backed Ethiopian assault on Somalia, AP reports...

continua / continued

Four Years of Invasion Are Enough

Alarab Online, via AMSI

...Four years have now elapsed since the fall of Baghdad into the hands of the new Moguls, but the Iraqi people still have not gone out holding roses and waving white flags as in the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair dream. Instead of roses and signs of surrender, Baghdad – from the first days of occupation –prepared itself for the decisive battle that cannot be settled by military force alone with its warplanes raining down a torrent of internationally-prohibited bombs; it is rather settled by patience, faith in the just cause and confidence in victory. Iraq has made many sacrifices: hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries, and an even larger number of displaced people. The country’s infrastructure has been destroyed and the standard of living has deteriorated, thus transforming a once rich country into one ravaged by disease and poverty, where basic services and commodities are lacking, such as electricity, drinkable water and fuel. In addition, new phenomena have emerged like the expanding number of the street children and beggars. But despite the dear price paid, Iraq has defied the cruelty of the American, British and Iranian occupation with much dignity. And despite the success of the occupiers in fuelling sectarian conflicts, the national resistance has not been dragged into sectarian killings or siding with one party against the other. The Iraqis have now started to realise the fact that many sectarian figures are tied to occupiers who intend to divide the country and loot its riches...

continua / continued

Top Wolfowitz Postings Went to Iraq War Backers

Emad Mekay and Jim Lobe, IPS

Of the top five outside international appointments made by embattled World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz during his nearly two-year tenure, three were senior political appointees of right-wing governments that provided strong backing for U.S. policy in Iraq. The latest appointment came just last month when former Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher was named senior vice president for external affairs. Muasher served as King Abdullah's ambassador here in Washington in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002 and reportedly played a key role in ensuring Amman's co-operation in the March 2003 invasion...

continua / continued

GI Special 5D14: "Why Don't We Just Go?" [ April 14, 2007 ]

Thomas F. Barton

"Why Don’t We Just Go?" "I Don’t Want To Be Here" "If You’ve Been Here Four Years And The Country Ain’t Straight, Why Extend Another Three Months?"From Texas to Baghdad and Baqubah to the Beltway, the reaction Thursday among U.S. soldiers and their families to the news of the mass extension was akin to a collective groan.

continua / continued

Corporate Media Focuses On Wolfowitz’s Girlfriend, Not his World-Class War Crimes

Kurt Nimmo, Another Day in the Empire

Leave it to the corporate media to make a big deal out of Paul Wolfowitz’s shameless promotion of his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, while ignoring the larger story—the fait accompli fusion of neoliberal and neocon policies at the World Bank and the IMF. "The neolib-neocon fusion is personified by Wolfowitz, close ally of the exceptionally corrupt, brutal Indonesian dictator Suharto during the 1980s and more recently, as deputy Pentagon leader, architect of and apologist for imperial theft and US corporate patronage associated with the illegal Iraq War," writes Patrick Bond...

continua / continued

The Final Act of Submission

AP Photo / Petros Karadjias
A guard stands watch on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower after it docked outside Limassol, Cyprus, last October.

By Scott Ritter

In the months leading up to President Bush’s ill-fated invasion of Iraq, I traveled around the world speaking to various international groups, including many parliamentary assemblies. I spoke about democracy and the need of any nation or group of nations espousing democracy as a standard to embrace the ideals and values of justice and due process in accordance with the rule of law. I spoke of international law, especially as it was manifested in the charter of the United Nations (a document signed and adopted by all of the countries I visited).

Invariably, my presentation focused on the nation in question, whether it was Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan or Great Britain, and the status of its relationship with the United States. As an American, I said, I appreciated each nation’s embrace of the United States as a friend and ally. However, as a strong believer in the rule of law, I deplored the trend among America’s so-called friends to facilitate a needless confrontation which would severely harm the U.S. in the long run. These nations were hesitant to stand up to the United States even though they knew the course of action planned for Iraq was wrong.

Such permissive submission was deplorable, and invariably led to a comment from me about the status of genuine sovereignty in the face of American imperial power. If a nation was incapable of defending its sovereign values and interests, then it should simply acknowledge its status as a colony of the United States, pull down its disgraced national flag and raise the Stars and Stripes.


God help us all, with deviates the likes of these holding so much power.

The fact that The Weekly Standard lies at the center of our mainstream political spectrum -- Bill Kristol's endless series of falsehoods throughout the Bush presidency and his endless calls for new wars against more countries was rewarded with a featured column in Time -- by itself explains political developments over the last six years which were previously unthinkable.
The Bill Kristols are those who exert the most influence over this administration, and they simply do not believe in the defining political principles of this country.

A Combat Mission Two Decades in the Making

By Renae MerleWashington Post Staff WriterSaturday, April 14, 2007; D01

After more than 20 years in development at a cost of billions of dollars, the long-troubled V-22 Osprey will head to Iraq in September for its first combat missions, the Marine Corps said yesterday.

The tilt-rotor Osprey, a helicopter-airplane hybrid, has survived attempts by the Pentagon leadership to cancel it, criticism of its rising cost and unique design, and three fatal accidents since 1992. The aircraft, made by Bell Helicopter and Boeing, can take off, land and hover like a helicopter, then turn its rotors to fly straight ahead like a conventional plane. It will operate out of al-Asad air base in central Iraq for seven months.

"The story of how we got here is a long one," Gen. James T. Conway, the Marine Corps commandant, said at a morning news conference at the Pentagon. "I'll just say that the quantum leap in technology that this aircraft will bring to the fight has been a road marked by some setbacks, lots of sacrifices and the success of these Marines standing before you today."

A report in 1983 by the Pentagon's office of program analysis and evaluation concluded that the plane's concept was flawed. In the late 1980s and early '90s, Dick Cheney, the Defense secretary at the time, tried to cancel it. The aircraft's three fatal crashes -- one in 1992 and two in 2000 -- killed 26 Marines and four civilians. In 2001, allegations emerged that maintenance records for the aircraft had been falsified, which the commander of the Osprey's maintenance squadron later admitted was done to make the aircraft appear more serviceable than it was. The Osprey fleet was briefly grounded this year after the military found a glitch in a computer chip that could cause the aircraft to lose control. >>>cont



Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Is Dead at 84
Published: April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died last night in Manhattan. He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.

Mr. Vonnegut suffered irreversible brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago, according to his wife, Jill Krementz.

The rest can be read HERE....

'God Bless You Mr. Rosewater'
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’"
Vonnegut's Blues for America
I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

But I am now 82. Thanks a lot, you dirty rats. The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon.

One, of course, is ethyl alcohol. And President George W Bush, no less, and by his own admission, was smashed, or tiddley-poo, or four sheets to the wind a good deal of the time from when he was 16 until he was 40. When he was 41, he says, Jesus appeared to him and made him knock off the sauce, stop gargling nose paint.

Gates: Use Navy, AF Funds for War

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Apr 13, 2007 17:10:53 EDT

With a showdown coming between the White House and Congress over funding for the war in Iraq, the Pentagon has tried to raise the ante by threatening to raid the Air Force and Navy personnel budgets to help cover Army operating costs.

The transfer of $800 million from each the Air Force and Navy into the Army operating budget is aimed at giving the Bush administration and congressional leaders more time to work out a compromise over $105 billion in emergency funding to cover war-related expenses for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The main obstacle is language — insisted upon by Democratic leaders in Congress — that would set a timetable for withdrawing most U.S. troops from Iraq.

If Congress approved the money shift, the Air Force and Navy could have to delay reassignment moves, withhold or reduce bonuses and incentive pays, and delay promotions so the Army could continuing carrying out military operations, congressional aides said. How dire the situation might get would depend on when and if the money is replaced.

In an April 11 letter to Congress, first reported by Congress Daily, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the transfer is needed by mid-May to avoid drastic consequences for the Army, to include slowing or stopping training rotations for deploying units, depot maintenance on equipment and even the formation of transformed brigades.

Already, the Army is canceling supply orders, freezing civilian hires and releasing temporary employees, postponing new contracts, and canceling nonessential travel — including conferences, Gates said in the letter.

The $1.6 billion transfer, combined with other cost-cutting moves, would buy the military another two months for an agreement to be worked out on the supplemental funding bill.

A Navy spokesman, Lt. Bashon Mann, said Gates’ proposal would take money that the Navy would have spent in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, which begins in July. The Navy would get the money back once a supplemental is approved, he said, noting the same process was used last year to pay for tsunami relief operations in Asia.

The request to take money from the Navy and Air Force to pay for ongoing operations is one of two reprogramming proposals before Congress. Already pending is a proposal to shift another $1.7 billion between various accounts.

Staff writer Mark Faram contributed to this report.

GOP Drops Pelosi Copyright Accusation

Source: International Business Times

Republicans quickly retracted a news release that accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of violating copyrights of C-SPAN, the cable channel that televises House and Senate proceedings.

The GOP took Pelosi to task because her new blog used video of this week's Iraq war debate, but then backtracked Thursday after learning C-SPAN had no copyright for the footage.

The Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative House members, contended in an afternoon news release that Pelosi's Web log violated copyright and trademark law by pirating "for partisan purposes" clips of members speaking on the House floor.

"As of noon today, the speaker had posted at least 16 videos that are copyrighted C-SPAN material from the House floor," according to the release from RSC spokesman Brad Dayspring. He cited an unnamed C-SPAN employee responsible for answering copyright questions from congressional employees. Not so, said C-SPAN spokeswoman Jennifer Moire. The videos on Pelosi's blog, called The Gavel, came from the House chamber, where the footage is shot by cameras owned by Congress, not C-SPAN.


Poison DUst : Video:

Poison DUst tells the story of young soldiers who thought they came home safely from the war, but didn't.


Uranium dust :

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories has applied for a permit to blow up as much as 450 pounds of depleted uranium in explosives tests west of Tracy this year.


Dollar slide accelerates:

The dollar's slide against most of the world's currencies gained pace today as dealers worried over the outlook for the US economy.


Chavez: Troops to Escort Oil Takeovers :

President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that soldiers will accompany government officials when they take over oil projects in the Orinoco River basin next month.


Swedish teen: U.S. troops led operation :

A Swedish teenager who was imprisoned for weeks with alleged terror suspects in Ethiopia said in an interview published Thursday that Americans in military uniform directed the Kenyan soldiers who took her into custody on the Somali-Kenyan border.


Buried in the middle of the NYT article headed "Pressure Builds Over Plan for Troop Increase" is the following report:

Mr Levinson disappeared on March 8 after a six-hour meeting on the Iranian island of Kish with Dawud Salahuddin, an American who converted to Islam and was recruited by revolutionaries to assassinate an Iranian opposition activist near Washington in 1980


The True Face Of This Administration Fully Revealed :

The article quoted a comment by a senior administration official that was outrageous. - I cannot imagine in any other democracy that the person who made this statement would not immediately be told to resign from his non-elected high office of influence.

Buried in the middle of the NYT article headed "Pressure Builds Over Plan for Troop Increase" is the following report:

Mr. Bush's National Security Adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, said in an interview on "Meet the Press" on NBC that the White House has sufficient money under its control to deploy the troops as planned, and he suggested that once the troops are in place, Congress would be reluctant to cut off funding.

"I think once they get in harm's way, Congress's tradition is to support those troops," Mr. Hadley said.

Just in case the meaning of this is not instantly clear, let me spell it out with as much objectivity as I can muster.

Hadley is saying that the opposition of the recently elected majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate to the escalation of troop numbers in Iraq can be circumvented by using existing money, unallocated and unapproved for the purpose, to put young American women and men under fire, in "harms way", to force the continuation of such funding.

There are no words that I can bring to bear to express my disgust. This is not just an ugly and cynical piece of political exploitation but it has to be the sickest and most repugnant manipulation that has ever been publicly acknowledged by any administration of any Western Government.

Like the worst atrocities of the very insurgents, whose vile acts have fuelled so much hatred amongst our people, Hadley is saying that the White House will use the military men and women of its own nation as hostages in return for a demand that Congress pays a ransom in the form of approving the Iraq appropriations bill.

There is not a mother or father in the United States who hears this and who at this very moment is witnessing the notification, assembly and redeployment of their children that cannot but weep for them. And weep for the state of their nation.

It is not simply that these young men and women will be deliberately exposed to what has been called the cross fire of a brutal civil war to extract money from Congress. It is not simply that this is being done despite the knowledge that the majority of lawmakers are opposed to it. It is not simply that it disregards the wishes so clearly expressed by the people of the United States.

It is that it is done so blatantly, so arrogantly, so imperiously without sense of shame, embarrassment or guilt at it being known that their lives are being used to blackmail Congress.
Is this the service that our troops signed up for when they took their oath of allegiance to the flag of their nation? Is this the level to which the nation that they have sworn to defend is sunk?

Who is this man Stephen Hadley, who so despicably and carelessly is prepared to reveal the intentions of the White House?

He is a lawyer, who has served the Republicans and Bush diligently. His biography can be read here and here. Here you can read not just of his rise through the ranks of full-time servants of the Bush administration that led to him replacing Condoleezza Rice as National Security Advisor, after having been part of that amorphous group known as "The Vulcans", but you can also read of those activities in which he has played a central part that have put to question the whole basis on which our nations were taken to war.

What you will not read is that he ever served in the military, that he ever faced the bullets and the mortar bombs and the IED's of an enemy determined to kill him. In other words, that he has never been in what he casually, and thereby callously, terms the "harms way" in which he would place young men and women to force the majority of Americans to capitulate to the demands of the few.

If you want to know what this has to do with a British contributor to an American Internet site, then I would simply refer you to the latest death of one of your allies, Kingsman Alexander Green, from 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, who died after being shot by small arms fire whilst on a task in Basra City. Let this be the photograph of a twenty-one year old that I place alongside that of the smiling war planner Stephen Hadley, who tonight will sleep easy in his bed as he contemplates with satisfaction how he has overcome the opposition to more of America's young being exposed in harm's way .


Troops angry at extended tours:

Troops in Iraq were visibly angry when they found out they were being forced to spend an extra three months in the country, said U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston), who was in Iraq yesterday.


Marines Used "Excessive Force" in Afghan Civilian Deaths

A platoon of elite Marine Special Operations troops reacted with "excessive force" after an ambush in Afghanistan last month, opening fire on pedestrians and civilian vehicles along a 10-mile stretch of road and killing 12 people, an investigation by an Afghan human rights commission alleges. US officials familiar with the report by the constitutionally mandated Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said its findings are "troubling" and consistent with the US military's preliminary investigation.


Justice to White House: Let's "muddy the coverage" on firings

New prosecutor purge documents just released by the House Judiciary Committee provide more reason to believe that the White House was involved not just in the decision to fire federal prosecutors last year but in the way it was spun to Congress.

On March 6, 2007, several of the ousted U.S. attorneys testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. One day before that meeting, Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos e-mailed Dan Bartlett and Cathie Martin to provide her advice on how the administration should "muddy the coverage up a bit" by switching the discussion from the reasons for why the prosecutors were fired to the way in which they were informed.

Bartlett holds the title of White House counselor. Martin was a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney before becoming a communications assistant for the president. It's not clear to us yet whether Bartlett or Martin responded to Scolinos' e-mail message, but here's the advice she provided them:

"In preparation for tomorrow's hearing where six of the dismissed U.S. attorneys will be testifying, we have drafted some talking points that we were going to insert into Will Moschella's testimony (the DOJ witness) that get out the message that although we stand by the decision to remove these folks the process by which they were informed was not optimal. Right now the coverage will be dominated by how qualified these folks were and their theories for their dismissals. We are trying to muddy the coverage up a bit by trying to put the focus on the process in which they were told -- I suspect we are going to get to the point where DOJ has to say this anyway. First, it is true. Second, we are having morale problems with our other U.S. attorneys who understand the decision but think that these folks were not treated well in the process. I think from an internal management perspective it needs to be said. We are also discussing internally if we can/should release more information about why these folks were let go if we can address the privacy act aspects. I think it cuts both ways -- it does prolong the story in a sense because I suspect that the U.S. Attorneys will just go away at some point when they feel they have vindicated their reputations. On the other hand, I don't know if the Senate Dems will let this go until it is all out in the open. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks."

-- Tim Grieve

Rove In The Middle Of Another Scandal

Fitzgerald Asked To Re-Open Plame Case
The New York Times SHERYL GAY STOLBERG April 14, 2007 09:03 AM

WASHINGTON, April 13 -- Karl Rove, the chief political strategist for President Bush, did not intentionally delete e-mail messages to avoid creating a paper trail detailing his work, his lawyer said on Friday. Rather, he mistakenly thought that the messages were being preserved by the Republican National Committee.

"Karl has always understood that his R.N.C. e-mails were being archived," the lawyer, Robert Luskin, said in an interview. "He has never asked or sought any kind of special treatment to permit him to delete anything."


Bush's Yearly Income Less Than Half Of Cheney's $1.6 Million

Reuters April 14, 2007 09:33 AM

President George W. Bush may be commander in chief, but his total income was less than half of Vice President Dick Cheney's in 2006, according to tax information released by the White House on Friday.

Bush and his wife Laura paid $186,378 in federal taxes on income of $642,905 for 2006, similar to the previous year, according to returns released by the White House.


Schwarzeneger Admin Kept New Execution Chamber Quiet

The San Francisco Chronicle Mark Martin April 14, 2007 11:19 AM

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration has quietly built a new execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison, prompting angry lawmakers who learned about the construction just this week to accuse the governor of hiding the project from the Legislature and the public.

Prison officials began construction in January after concluding it would cost $399,000 -- just under the $400,000 that would have required legislative approval, according to an administration document obtained Friday by The Chronicle.


Hybrid Aircraft With Questionable Safety Record To Serve Marines In Iraq

The New York Times LESLIE WAYNE April 14, 2007 09:45 AM

The Marine Corps said yesterday that the V-22 Osprey, a hybrid aircraft with a troubled past, will be sent to Iraq this September, where it will see combat for the first time.

But because of a checkered safety record in test flights, the V-22 will be kept on a short leash.
The Pentagon has placed so many restrictions on how it can be used in combat that the plane -- which is able to drop troops into battle like a helicopter and then speed away from danger like an airplane -- could have difficulty fulfilling the Marines' longstanding mission for it.


Canada Offers Forum for Lecturer Barred From U.S.

By Jonathan Woodward

Unable to travel to the University of Washington, Riyadh Lafta -- best known for a controversial study that estimated Iraq's body count in the U.S.-led war in Iraq at more than half a million -- will arrive at Simon Fraser University in B.C. this month to give a lecture and meet with research associates.


The Baghdad Gulag

By Pepe Escobar

There were hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than a million Iraqi nationalists, waving Iraqi flags - with no room for a religious divide - responding to Muqtada's call for "Occupation out!" The Shi'ite million-man march proved once again Sadrists rule the Shi'ite street - and are the most powerful political force among Iraqi Shi'ites.


A Paradigm Shift: America as Proxy

By Ramzy Baroud

While the US was the major power that often orchestrated proxy wars through clandestine tactics, as it did in Central America and various parts of Asia, Israel is now adopting a similar scheme. In most instances in the past, Israel managed to sway US administrations to behave according to the misleading mantra: "What's good for Israel is good for America." But a clash of interests here is unavoidable.


Dark of Heartness

A Journey Into The (Reputed) Soul of Conservatism
By David Michael Green

I have been haunted this last quarter-century, and especially this last decade, by the darkness that has descended over the American political landscape, a long shadow unlike any I remember from the first half of my life.

Suicide bombers slaughter Iraqis

Shocked ... residents pour through the rubble of a bombed market in Karbala. Picture: AFP

A CAR bomb slaughtered 47 people in Iraq's pilgrimage city of Karbala on Saturday, the latest brazen attack to undermine a security crackdown exactly two months after it began in Baghdad.
In the capital, 10 people died in a suicide attack while other attacks around the country killed another nine people, pushing the death toll to 66 before lunchtime.

The latest carnage comes two days after a suicide bombing in parliament's cafe stunned the world for its massive breach of security.

The Karbala bomb exploded in an area cluttered with popular market stalls around 200 metres from the Imam Hussein shrine, where hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims flock every March during the Ashura commemorations.

At least 47 people were killed and another 62 wounded, said an Iraqi army source. Local security spokesman Rahman Mushawi earlier confirmed 40 people killed in the blast outside a bus station, car park and market stall complex.

Debris from smashed stalls was strewn on the ground as civilians helped ferry the wounded into ambulances. Shocked and dazed men wiped tears from their eyes, turning away from the bombing site engulfed in thick grey smoke.

Women and children were among the casualties, and four Iranians were counted among the wounded at hospital on the second day of the Iraqi weekend.

In Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated his car next to a security checkpoint at the edge of the Jadiriyah bridge, killing 10 people and leaving another 15 wounded, most of them civilians, a security official said. >>>cont


Since November (#7): Mrs. Speaker

The first image is Vanity Fair's portrait of Nancy Pelosi in its February '07 "Power Facebook" article showcasing D.C.'s "new ruling class." This photo, more than any other in the article, keys to the article title: Blue Is The New Red." The second photo -- a picture Pelosi clearly intended to broadcast -- fronted the NYT after the ceremonial family-centered first day of the latest Congress.

With Pelosi's ascension to Speaker, followed by Hillary Clinton's entrance into the Presidential race, we have had a lot of discussion here at The BAG about gender politics. One theme of the conversation is that the Democrats, and Democratic women, in particular, must necessarily project power and toughness on one hand, and compassion, even nurturance, on the other other.
In the first shot, which I've spent a lot of time looking at, I can't help seeing the red scarf -- dragging on the ground -- as a kind of trophy, as if the skin of the old right-wing conservative majority. In the second photo, which I originally had all kinds of problems with, I appreciate how Pelosi framed a new tone and agenda in one scene.

I was interested in your take on Pelosi four months into the power shift; how you now read these key images; and how you assess Pelosi and the Democrats -- especially the leading Democratic women -- as they manage the balancing act.

This eight day series, titled "Since November," looks at images that have caught The BAG's attention over the past four months. Many are inspired by the change in political landscape following the Democratic Congressional victory in November. In this stretch, I am taking some time off, leaving the site -- and the conversation -- in your hands.

(image 1: Jonas Karlsson. Washington. Vanity Fair. February 2007. image 2: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times. Washington. January 5, 2007. nyt.com)


Reading The Pictures: The George And Nancy Show

Over the past few weeks, Nancy Pelosi has been on a mission to contest the Bush/Rove authority over media space, and to damage, if not cripple, the Bush PR machine.


Financial Times: Wolfowitz Must Be Told To Resign Now

Financial Times April 13, 2007 11:51 AM

The president of the World Bank has one asset: his credibility. The Bank's capacity to make a difference lies not in its money and ideas but in its ability to be the world's voice for development. This includes, as Paul Wolfowitz, the current president, has insisted, being the voice for good governance. Recent revelations have, however, demonstrated such serious failures that the Bank's moral authority is endangered. If the president stays, it risks becoming an object not of respect, but of scorn, and its campaign in favour of good governance not a believable struggle, but blatant hypocrisy.

It is important to understand what is not at issue here. It is not Mr Wolfowitz's unpopularity, even though his role as an architect of the Iraq war made him disliked from the start. It is not failures of management, even though his reliance on a group of outside appointees made him mistrusted by many inside and outside the Bank. It is not disagreements over development doctrine, where some convergence of views has occurred. It is not a romantic relationship with a subordinate, itself hardly a rarity in today's world.


64-Year-Old California Grandmother Blogs From Baghdad

Associated Press April 13, 2007 10:41 PM

Jane Stillwater is an unlikely war correspondent. She is 64, a self-described Berkeley "flower child, 40 years later."

So how did she end up in Baghdad, churning out commentary ranging from shock at Thursday's bombing of the Iraqi parliament cafeteria, to the weirdness of touring Saddam Hussein's bathroom?


Bush Asks Congress For More Power To Spy

Associated Press April 13, 2007 06:23 PM

The Bush administration asked Congress Friday to allow monitoring of more foreigners in the United States during intelligence investigations.

The plan is one of several proposed changes, which have been in the works for more than a year, that go to the heart of a key U.S. surveillance law.



New York Times April 13, 2007 08:22 PM

A Justice Department e-mail message released on Friday shows that the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales proposed replacement candidates for United States attorneys nearly a year before they were dismissed in December 2006. The department has repeatedly stated that no successors were selected before the dismissals.

The Jan. 9, 2006, e-mail message, written by D. Kyle Sampson, who resigned last month as the top aide to Mr. Gonzales, identified five Bush administration officials, most of them Justice Department employees, whose names were sent to the White House for consideration as possible replacements for prosecutors slated for dismissal.


Removing Embarrassing Emails Wouldn't Have Been Easy For White House Staffers

McClatchy April 13, 2007 06:04 PM

If Karl Rove or other White House staffers tried to delete sensitive e-mails from their computers, experts said, investigators usually could recover all or most of them.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating whether the White House or the Republican National Committee erased "a large volume of e-mails" that may be related to the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.


Millions Of Emails May Be Missing

Friday, April 13, 2007

April 2007: The deadliest month of the Iraq occupation


We're more than a third of the way through April now, and I haven't seen this actually reported in the media anywhere, but unfortunately this has been the deadliest month for the U.S.-led coalition forces -- on an average daily basis -- of the four-year occupation of Iraq. So far, according to icasualties.org, 47 American troops and six British soliders have died in the 11 days of April so far -- an average of 4.82 coalition deaths every day. And -- looking at the month to month statistics -- no month has been that high since Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003...

continua / continued

Leahy: Bush aides lying about e-mails

Source: Associated press

Leahy: Bush aides lying about e-mails By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer
15 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - President Bush's aides are lying about White House e-mails sent on a Republican account that might have been lost, a powerful Senate chairman said Thursday, vowing to subpoena those documents if the administration fails to cough them up.

"They say they have not been preserved. I don't believe that!" Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record) shouted from the Senate floor.

"You can't erase e-mails, not today. They've gone through too many servers," said Leahy, D-Vt. "Those e-mails are there, they just don't want to produce them. We'll subpoena them if necessary."

With that, Leahy headed to his committee, which approved — but did not issue — new subpoenas to compel the administration to produce documents and testimony about the firings of eight federal prosecutors over the winter.


Gonzales Aide Made Picks to Replace Attorneys

Source: New York Times

Published: April 13, 2007

WASHINGTON, April 13 — A Justice Department e-mail released on Friday shows that the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales proposed replacement candidates for seven United States attorneys nearly a year before those prosecutors were fired, in contrast to testimony last month in which the aide said that no successors were considered before the firings.

The e-mail written by D. Kyle Sampson, who resigned last month as the top aide to Mr. Gonzales, provides the first evidence that the Justice Department wanted to appointed its own candidates, despite the insistence of Justice Department officials in recent weeks that the eight prosecutors, with one exception, were removed in December 2006 for performance reasons, without regard to who might succeed them.

Two of the replacement candidates named in the e-mail were later named to fill vacancies created by United States Attorneys who stepped down, suggesting that Mr. Sampson had a roster of preferred candidates to place in United States Attorneys’ jobs. The e-mail seemed to provide new evidence that the Justice Department removed the prosecutors, at least in part, to make room for other candidates.

The January 9, 2006 e-mail was sent by Mr. Sampson to Harriet Miers, the former White House Counsel, and William Kelley, another White House lawyer. In the e-mail, Mr. Sampson proposed the dismissal of a total of seven United States Attorneys and named at least one replacement candidate for each prospective vacancy.


CREW Writes Patrick Fitzgerald Asking to Re-Open Rove Case in Light of Missing Emails

Source: PRNewswire-USNewswire

WASHINGTON, April 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Citizens for
Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked Special Counsel
Patrick Fitzgerald to reopen his investigation of Karl Rove's role in
disclosing Valerie Plame Wilson's status as a covert CIA operative in light
of recent revelations about missing White House emails.

Press reports indicate that Mr. Rove uses a Republican National
Committee (RNC) email account for 95% of his communications. In addition,
the RNC's counsel has admitted that all of Mr. Rove's emails prior to 2005
have been destroyed. Moreover, the White House has admitted that -- as CREW
reported yesterday -- five million emails are missing from the White House
servers. All of this raises serious questions about whether Mr. Rove
knowingly destroyed evidence relevant to the Special Counsel's inquiry and
whether Mr. Fitzgerald received all relevant documents.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, said today, "It looks like
Karl Rove may well have destroyed evidence that implicated him in the White
House's orchestrated efforts to leak Valerie Plame Wilson's covert identity
to the press in retaliation against her husband, former Ambassador Joseph
Wilson." Sloan continued, "Special Counsel Fitzgerald should immediately
reopen his investigation into whether Rove took part in the leak as well as
whether he obstructed justice in the ensuing leak investigation."

CREW serves as legal counsel to Joe and Valerie Wilson in their civil
suit against Karl Rove, Vice President Dick Cheney, I. Lewis "Scooter"
Libby and Richard Armitage.


3 soldiers killed near Baghdad

Source: Associated Press

3 soldiers killed near Baghdad

Updated 1h 30m ago

BAGHDAD (AP) — Three U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi translators were
killed in two attacks south of Baghdad, the military said on Friday.
Eight soldiers were wounded.

In the worst of the two attacks Thursday, two soldiers were killed
and seven wounded in an attack on their base south of the capital.
The two Iraqi interpreters died in that attack.

The military statement said U.S. forces dispatched a quick reaction
force and attack helicopters to relieve the unit.

In a second attack Friday, the military said, one soldier was killed
and one wounded in a roadside bombing, also south of Baghdad.

The names of those killed and wounded were withheld until family
could be notified, the military said.


Experts say recovery of missing White House e-mail may be possible, but not trivial

Source: AP
Although a top Senate Democrat believes even a teenager could recover missing White House e-mails, experts said Friday that doing so could be tough _ but not impossible.

On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont disputed the Bush administration's claims that e-mails sent on a Republican Party account might have been lost, insisting that e-mail is never fully deleted and "I've got a teenage kid in my neighborhood that can go get 'em for them."

"I read that and I laughed," said Mark Rasch, managing director for technology at FTI Consulting Inc. "Senator Leahy is wrong when he says it's a trivial matter, but it's also not correct to say they cannot be recovered."

"I would not say that any teenager could do it, but I would say there are many, many highly qualified computer forensics experts," he said. "Whether they will find every deleted message is doubtful but they should find quite a bit."


Lawyer: Rove didn't mean to delete email

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer
8 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Karl Rove's lawyer on Friday dismissed the notion that President Bush's chief political adviser intentionally deleted his own e-mails from a Republican-sponsored server, saying Rove believed the communications were being preserved in accordance with the law.

The issue arose because the White House and Republican National Committee have said they may have lost e-mails from Rove and other administration officials. Democratically chaired congressional committees want those e-mails for their probe of the firings of eight federal prosecutors.

"His understanding starting very, very early in the administration was that those e-mails were being archived," Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said.

The prosecutor probing the Valerie Plame spy case saw and copied all of Rove's e-mails from his various accounts after searching Rove's laptop, his home computer, and the handheld computer devices he used for both the White House and Republican National Committee, Luskin said.

Russia, Saudi Arabia sign $100m contract to build oil pipeline:

A Russian company signed Saturday the first ever contract, worth more than $100 million, to build an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia with a Saudi company.


UN envoy on children says Israel broke international law in 2006 war in Lebanon

A UN envoy for children in conflict said Thursday she had been horrified by the destruction of a Lebanese village besieged by Israeli troops last year, and that many of Israel's actions during the war against Hezbollah had violated international law.


Hizbullah accuses US of secret war and arming opponents:

Cheney sanctioned covert operations, says leader

Afghani mass grave hides 400 dead:

The grave was found by local farmers in a desert just outside Faizabad, the capital town of the remote Badakhshan province, deputy governor Shams-ul Rahman Shams said.


Afghan Massacre : The Convoy of Death:

In Afghanistan, filmmaker Jamie Doran has uncovered evidence of a massacre: Taliban prisoners of war suffocated in containers, shot in the desert under the watch of American troops.
Afghan Massacre
The Convoy of Death
UK: Five, Germany: ARD, Italy: RAI, Australia: SBS, Canada: CBS

‘AFGHAN MASSACRE – the convoy of DEATH’ tells of the horrific forced journey undertaken by thousands of prisoners who surrendered to America’s Afghan allies after the siege of Konduz.

Bundled into containers, the lucky ones were shot within minutes. The rest suffered an appalling road trip lasting up to four days, clawing at the skin of their fellow prisoners as they licked perspiration and even drank blood from open wounds.

Jamie Doran & Andy Mc Entee at Dasht-i-Leili

Up to 3,000 now lie buried in a mass grave, but this was NOT a simple matter of Afghans killing Afghans.

‘AFGHAN MASSACRE – the convoy of DEATH’ tells of how American special forces took control of the operation, re-directed the containers carrying the living and dead into the desert and stood by as survivors were shot and buried.

And it details how the Pentagon lied to the world in order to cover up its role in the greatest atrocity of the entire Afghan War. This is the documentary they did not want you to see.

‘AFGHAN MASSACRE – the convoy of DEATH’ was produced over ten months in extremely dangerous circumstances: eyewitnesses were threatened, the film crew went into hiding and our researcher was savagely beaten to within an inch of his life.


Media obscures Iran's nuclear program with 'Fog Facts':

Yesterday, the AP ran a story about Iran's nuclear program that was a perfect example of the phenomenon. Consider the opening four paragraphs


Troops accused of killing suspects:

Corpses lay unclaimed in deserted streets of central Baghdad yesterday and accusations of extrajudicial execution hung over the US-trained Iraqi Army after the most intensive gun battle in the capital since the American military launched its last-ditch security plan to prevent the collapse of the city.


Custodians of Chaos

By Kurt Vonnegut

In this extract from his memoirs, Kurt Vonnegut is horrified by the hypocrisy in contemporary US politics
"Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." A lot of people think Jesus said that, because it is so much the sort of thing Jesus liked to say. But it was actually said by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, five hundred years before there was that greatest and most humane of human beings, named Jesus Christ.

"What kind of victory is it when someone is left defeated? What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy. What is a war criminal? Was not war itself a crime against God and humanity, and, therefore, were not all those who sanctioned, engineered and conducted wars, war criminals? The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. Non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty."


Creating a Market for Security

By Paul Craig Roberts

The War on Terror is a marketing campaign for security industries and terrorism experts. The latter are pulling in the consulting fees, and the former are rapidly inventing new products that enable "our" government to watch our every move and to know our location at every moment.

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