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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Two Who Got It Right: Scott Ritter in Conversation With Robert Scheer

The former U.N. weapons inspector, who was scorned for saying there were no WMD in Iraq, speaks with Robert Scheer about American ignorance, the lies that led us to war, Iran’s nuclear program and more. Update:

Transcript now available.

Scott Ritter: Calling Out Idiot America

The former weapons inspector and military intelligence officer plumbs the depths of American ignorance and offers this history of Iraq, the Mideast and Islam. When so few of our politicians, and even fewer of the citizens who elect them, understand the forces at work in Baghdad and beyond, is it any wonder the occupation has been a disaster?

Surge Stalls, Fear Builds in Baghdad

The BBC’s Andrew North gives a sobering analysis of the facts on the ground in Baghdad, where frustration, desperation and fear abound among Iraqi civilians as U.S. troops struggle to contain the violence that has only grown since the surge began.

From Iraq to the Supreme Court A New Dark Ages for Women


In an act of perverse dishonesty, Bush claimed the war on Iraq would liberate women. In reality, it has visited the stench of death upon the birth wards, the bedrooms of children, and the daily routines of women as well as men throughout Iraq. In the post-Sadam central power vacuum, Sharia law is flourishing, forcing women under the hijab, fostering "honor killings" and filling the morgues with growing numbers of women's bodies bearing signs of rape, sexual mutilation and torture. A dark curtain is being curtain being pulled over the schools that once served girls and dreams of equality are being snuffed out...

George W. Bush claims that high moral principles guide his "war on terror" as he brings to justice those who kill innocent civilians to advance a political cause. But the only real consistency to Bush's policy is the hypocrisy. If a killer is a Bush enemy, one harsh set of rules apply; if the killer is an ally of Bush and his family, the kid gloves are put on. That continues to be the case with the Bush family's favorite terrorists, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch. A Special Report. April 21, 2007

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales saw nothing unusual about White House complaints last fall that U.S. Attorneys weren't pushing out "voter fraud" indictments of Democrats fast enough. Nor did he resist firing some of those prosecutors a month after Republicans lost the Congress. After all, Gonzales had been White House counsel when former policy adviser John DiIulio revealed that politics trumped everything in a Bush administration run by the "Mayberry Machiavellis." April 20, 2007

Iraqi doctor denied visit to U.S. conference

An Iraqi doctor who concluded that more Iraqi civilians have died in the war than has been reported has been prevented from attending a medical conference at the University of Washington. Riyadh Lafta had been scheduled to give a lecture this evening at the Seattle campus but his visa to the United States has not been approved. The State Department cited miscommunication as the reason for the delay. Lafta is an epidemiologist who teaches at Al-Mustansiriya University College of Medicine in Baghdad. He co-wrote an October 2006 article that concluded nearly 655,000 Iraqis have died since the war began in March 2003. The article appeared in the British medical journal, The Lancet. The School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the UW asked Lafta to discuss the study, as well as elevated cancer levels in southern Iraq. Last July, Lafta applied for a visa with the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan. Officials there tried contacting the doctor twice by e-mail, but never received a response, State Department spokesman Steve Royster said. Incomplete visa applications can be held. "This is a matter of a simple but unfortunate miscommunication," Royster said. Amy Hagopian, a UW acting assistant professor who is conducting research with Lafta, believes the reason is more political. "My hypothesis is the Bush administration was extremely threatened by The Lancet study," Hagopian said...

VIDEO | Depleted Uranium: Poisoning Our Planet

On April 14, an event was held at Portland State University that was titled, "Our Poison Planet." One of the main focuses of the event was the effects of depleted uranium. Truthout's Geoffrey Millard and Lance Page were there and filed this story.

Soldier Says He Was Deployed With Head Injury

Army Specialist Paul Thurman stepped forward Friday as one of the 18 soldiers whose cases were cited by six senators in a letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting a review of alleged improper handling of traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and ungrounded personality disorder discharges.


US lawyer due in Fiji over Iraq killing testimony:

United States lawyers will arrive in Fiji next month to take evidence from a former Fijian soldier who claims to have witnessed American private security guards shooting Iraqi civilians for target practice.


Insurgents unveil alternative cabinet and first minister for Iraq:

AN INSURGENT coalition yesterday announced an "Islamic Cabinet" for Iraqi as it attempted to provide an alternative to the country's US-backed administration.


US Engineer Accused Of Giving Iran Nuclear Reactor and Control Room Codes

AP April 21, 2007 10:30 AM

A former engineer at the nation's largest nuclear power plant has been charged with taking computer access codes and software to Iran and using it to download details of plant control rooms and reactors, authorities said.

The FBI said there's no indication the plant employee training software had any terrorist connections.


US General Issues Scathing Report On Haditha Marines

Report On Haditha Condemns Marines
Signs of Misconduct Were Ignored, U.S. General Says

The Washington Post Josh White April 21, 2007 08:24 AM
The Marine Corps chain of command in Iraq ignored "obvious" signs of "serious misconduct" in the 2005 slayings of two dozen civilians in Haditha, and commanders fostered a climate that devalued the life of innocent Iraqis to the point that their deaths were considered an insignificant part of the war, according to an Army general's investigation.


Waxman Threatens Subpoenas For Secy Rice and Frmr Bush Chief Of Staff Card On Plame Case

AP LAURIE KELLMANAP April 21, 2007 09:01 AM

If President Bush's former chief of staff can chat about the identifying ofCIA agent Valerie Plame on Jon Stewart's comedy show, he can talk about it to the House oversight committee, the panel's chairman said Friday. If Andy Card refuses, the panel will vote Wednesday on whether to compel his testimony with a subpoena, said Rep. Henry Waxman.

White House Counsel Fred Fielding has declined to let Card testify.


No Child Left Behind Initiative Workers Under Investigation: Profited From Textbook And Test Deals

Hmmm, wonder where Georgies brother come into this little bit of information?
The Washington Post Amit R. Paley April 21, 2007 01:13 PM

The Justice Department is conducting a probe of a $6 billion reading initiative at the center of President Bush's No Child Left Behind law, another blow to a program besieged by allegations of financial conflicts of interest and cronyism, people familiar with the matter said yesterday.

The disclosure came as a congressional hearing revealed how people implementing the $1 billion-a-year Reading First program made at least $1 million off textbooks and tests toward which the federal government steered states.


Pentagon Preparing For Further "Surge" Of Troop Levels

AP ROBERT BURN April 21, 2007 09:30 AM

The Pentagon is laying the groundwork to extend the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq. At the same time, the administration is warning Iraqi leaders that the boost in forces could be reversed if political reconciliation is not evident by summer.

This approach underscores the central difficulty facing President Bush. If political progress is not possible in the relatively short term, then the justification for sending thousands more U.S. troops to Baghdad -- and accepting the rising U.S. combat death toll that has resulted -- will disappear. That in turn would put even more pressure on Bush to yield to the Democratic-led push to wind down the war in coming months.


Sunni Leader: Baghdad Wall Will Only Feed Strife

BBC News April 21, 2007 11:08 AM

A senior Sunni politician has condemned a US military project to build a concrete wall around a Sunni enclave in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

US forces say the wall, which will separate Adhamiya from nearby Shia districts, aims to prevent sectarian violence between the two communities

Sunnis, Shiites unite to oppose divisive wall:

A US military brigade is building a five-kilometre concrete wall to cut off one of Baghdad's most restive Sunni districts from the Shiite neighbourhoods that surround it, raising concern about the further Balkanisation of Iraq's most violent city.

Now why would we be surprised at the savagery in Iraq, Abu Grahib, Guantanamo

I just watched Torture, Americas Brutal Prisons
This is what is called a civilized society.
No wonder there is still 37% of America's Society, that still bow down to the Garbage in the White House.

A Hierarchy of Death

By Roy Greenslade

Why do 32 deaths in Virginia receive blanket coverage while nearly 200 fatalities in Iraq are barely reported?

By David Michael Green

Imagine our shock at Paul Wolfowitz's shock. He not only masterminded humanity's greatest current catastrophe, the US invasion of Iraq, but he did so by fabricating and marketing a complete mythological cosmology of Good versus Evil (Bush good! Saddam bad!), the likes of which might have left even Jim Jones envious and amazed. And he did so in a fashion that no doubt brought a posthumous smile to the face of his graduate school mentor, Leo Strauss.

By William A. Cohn

As US attorney general (AG) Alberto Gonzales testifies before Congress this week, let's understand the reasons why the dismissal of 8 well-respected US attorneys is a matter of grave public concern.

Video of James Yee - Islam, Guantanamo and his Ordeal

Charles Jenks, Traprock Peace Center

Chaplain James Yee, former US Army Muslim Chaplain and Captain at Guantanamo, discusses how he became a Muslim and then goes into detail about psychological and physical at Guantanamo and his own arrest and solitary confinement while a US army chaplain. He reveals Guantanamo's shocking interrogation technigues (such as sexual taunting from naked female interrogators), physical and psychological abuse, and desecration of the Koran by guards. He also discusses his own arrest, solitary confinement with sensory deprivation, and eventual total exoneration. All charges were dropped again him. He was returned to duty and given a commendation. He resigned his commission and received an honorable discharge. Mr. Yee spoke on April 14, 2007 at the 3rd Annual Midwest Peace and Justice Summit held on the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis, IN...

continua / continued

A "Recovery" Dream...

Layla Anwar - An Arab Woman Blues

I really do not wish to bother you with my unconscious processes, but maybe you can help me with this "strange" dream I had the other night... I dreamt that I was ushered into some "Recovery" group, so I can heal... The rules were that I had to be myself and everyone else had to be too. We were all supposedly "equal" on the path. A collective "unmasking" on our way towards "Healing and Recovery". I introduced myself and some English parish priest asked me to speak up with no barriers...Remember that was a place of healing... The minute I opened my mouth to give my name to the group, which was comprised of many nationalities and "faiths", I burst out into tears...

In the Ghetto: Bush Begins Forced Ethnic Partition of Baghdad

Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque

Taking a cue from Cold War Soviet policy in Berlin – not to mention the enlightened approach of the Israeli government in the West Bank – the Bush Regime has begun walling off a Sunni enclave in Baghdad, driving a stake into the heart of the flickering reconciliation efforts among the Iraqi grassroots and solidifying the nation's deadly sectarian divisions -- thus abetting the aims of the violent extremists operating both within and outside the Bush-backed Iraqi government. The Sunnis of Adhamiya are being sealed into a ghetto by three miles of concrete, 12 feet high, made up of giant 14,000-pound slabs being installed by monstrous cranes and heavy machinery in the dead of night, the Los Angeles Times reports. When the enclosure is finished, Adhamiya will be an open-air prison, with access into and out of the ghetto controlled by U.S. and, presumably, Iraqi government forces...

continua / continued

Lawmakers Rail Against Halliburton Unit for Alleged Abuses

US lawmakers on Thursday railed against senior Army officials and defense contractor KBR Inc. over persistent allegations of fraud and contract abuse on a multibillion-dollar deal to provide food and shelter to US troops in Iraq.


Gun-Toting 82-Year-Old Miss America 1944 Shoots Out Tires Of Fleeing Thief

Associated Press April 20, 2007 08:44 PM

Miss America 1944 has a talent that likely has never appeared on a beauty pageant stage: She fired a handgun to shoot out a vehicle's tires and stop an intruder. Venus Ramey, 82, confronted a man on her farm in south-central Kentucky last week after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves had previously made off with old farm equipment.

Ramey said the man told her he would leave. "I said, 'Oh, no you won't,' and I shot their tires so they couldn't leave," Ramey said.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Congress should demand that a special prosecutor get to the bottom of why the U.S. attorneys were fired.

By Joe Conason

Republicans and Democrats alike pummeled Alberto Gonzales in a daylong hearing that left the future of his job in doubt

By Michael Scherer

PRINCE Harry's tour of duty in Iraq was being urgently reassessed after two British soldiers were killed in a bomb blast doing the same job as the young royal will.

Toilet fight turns to murder

Hmmmmm, felt like doing a little strangling of my own, sometimes guys.
After 48 years of marriage sir, you should have just walked, out the door, that would have been the best solution, all round.
From correspondents in Hong Kong
April 21, 2007 12:58pm

AN elderly Hong Kong man was jailed today after he was found guilty of killing his wife of 48 years in a row over whose turn it was to use the toilet.
In June last year, Cho Pui-kee, 77, allegedly strangled his wife, 73-year-old Chan Nui-oi after she would not let him use the toilet.
Her body was found rolled up in a quilt after two of the couple's six children became concerned and called the couple at their flat.
Yesterday Cho was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for five years, the South China Morning Post reported.
The court was told Cho became increasingly frustrated at his wife's habit of using the bathroom to was clothes when he wanted to use the toilet in their high-rise Hong Kong apartment.
During the trial, Chan was described by one of her children as a woman who "nagged a lot" and could be "quite stubborn.


Rove: ‘I Wish The Iraq War Never Existed,’ It Was ‘Osama Bin Laden’s Idea’

Now it's Bin Laden's fault, darn what happened to it was Clintons fault.

On a visit to Ohio yesterday, White House senior political adviser Karl Rove claimed he never wanted the war in Iraq:
“I wish the war were over,” Rove said. “I wish the war never existed... History has given us a challenge.”
History shows Rove was exceptionally eager in 2002 for the upcoming Iraq war, anxious to reap what he viewed would be the political gains for conservatives leading another military conflict:
In January 2002, Rove told conservatives, “Americans trust the Republicans to do a better job of keeping our communities and our families safe…We can also go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America’s military might and thereby protecting America.”
In June 2002, Rove was giving PowerPoint presentations candidates advising them to “focus on the war” in their fall campaigns.
In August 2002, Rove was chairing the White House Iraq Group, whose mission was to “develop a strategy for publicizing the White House’s assertion that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States.”
In September 2002, Time reported that when friends asked whether Bush planned to invade Iraq, Rove was been known to reply, “Let me put it this way: If you want to see Baghdad, you’d better visit soon.”
Former White House counterterrorism director Richard Clarke later wrote that the Iraq “crisis was manufactured, and Bush political adviser Karl Rove was telling Republicans to ‘run on the war.’”
Rove also claimed yesterday that it was bin Laden, not President Bush, who decided to launch the Iraq war:
In a question-and-answer period after his speech, Rove was asked whose idea it was to start a pre-emptive war in Iraq.
“I think it was Osama bin Laden’s,” Rove replied.
Rove’s comments are part of re-emerging tactic by the Bush administration to associate the ongoing war in Iraq with 9/11. Rove and company appear to have forgotten that President Bush said 9/11 had “nothing” to do with the war in Iraq.


House Speaker Pelosi: Attorney General 'must resign'

Published: Friday April 20, 2007
A US Congress leader called Friday for the resignation of embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, questioning his candor over the controversial dismissal of eight top prosecutors.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Gonzales to step down one day after President George W. Bush's longtime aide was grilled by a key Senate panel over his role in the firing of the US attorneys.
"By his actions and with his testimony yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has lost the trust of the American people," Pelosi said.
"The nation cannot have a chief law enforcement officer whose candor and judgment are in serious question," the Democratic leader said in a statement.
"The president should restore credibility to the office of the attorney general. Alberto Gonzales must resign," the California lawmaker said.
Pelosi had called for his resignation in March, when documents and witnesses emerged that indicated that the firings of eight federal prosecutors last year had been politically motivated.
But her latest demand followed a day after Gonzales testified in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to defend his actions as the country's top law enforcement official and fend off calls for his resignation.
In his highly anticipated testimony Thursday, Gonzales tried to explain that the decision to fire the prosecutors had not been tainted by an abuse of power, and that he had been scarcely involved in the process.
Senator Tom Coburn, an influential Republican, joined calls for Gonzales to step down, telling the attorney general at the hearing that "the best way to put this behind us is your resignation."
The White House, however, issued a statement after the hearing saying that Bush was "pleased" with his longtime aide's performance before the committee.
Bush has "full confidence" in Gonzales, who "again showed that nothing improper occurred," Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino said.


8:37am: A GUNMAN who barracaded himself inside the NASA space centre in Houston with two hostages has reportedly killed one male hostage before shooting himself in the head with a revolver.

Waxman to ex-Bush chief: It's okay to talk to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, but not to a congressional committee?

Michael RostonPublished: Friday April 20, 2007

Rep. Henry Waxman announced today that he'll consider issuing four subpoenas in a meeting this coming Wednesday, April 25. In a letter to one subpoena target, the Oversight Committee Chairman complained that a former White House Chief of Staff appeared on Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show,' but has so far refused to testify before his committee.

"On April 16,2007, you appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and discussed the leak of [former covert CIA Agent Valerie Plame] Wilson's identity," Waxman (D-CA) wrote to Andrew Card, the former White House Chief of Staff. "[White House Counel Fred] Fielding's position appears to be that it is appropriate for you to discuss these matters on The Daily Show, but not before a congressional committee. You will not be surprised to learn that I take a different view of this matter."


Army Started Lock Down On Tillman Story Within Hours Of His Death

AP SCOTT LINDLAW April 20, 2007 05:06 PM
Within hours of Pat Tillman's death, the Army went into information-lockdown mode, cutting off phone and Internet connections at a base in Afghanistan, posting guards on a wounded platoon mate, and ordering a sergeant to burn Tillman's uniform.

New investigative documents reviewed by The Associated Press describe how the military sealed off information about Tillman's death from all but a small ring of soldiers. Officers quietly passed their suspicion of friendly fire up the chain to the highest ranks of the military, but the truth did not reach Tillman's family for five weeks.
AP ALLEN G. BREED and AARON BEARD April 20, 2007 04:00 PM

The family of Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho told The Associated Press on Friday that they feel "hopeless, helpless and lost," and "never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence." "Our family is so very sorry for my brother's unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us," the family said.

The statement was issued by Cho's sister, Sun-Kyung Cho, on her behalf and that of her family. She works as a contractor for a State Department office that oversees billions of dollars in American aid for Iraq.

Iraqis turn to tattoos as indelible IDs

Source: L. A. Times

Iraqis turn to tattoos as indelible IDs
With violent deaths all around them, some Shiites opt for distinctive marks so loved ones could identify them.

By Christian Berthelsen, Times Staff Writer
April 20, 2007

BAGHDAD — The ghastly procession of decapitated corpses and mutilated bodies that has defined death in Iraq drove Firas Adil Saadi to do something that was once the province of convicts and degenerates here: He got a tattoo.

The 28-year-old Shiite Muslim now has a marking on his right shoulder so his family may avoid the despair of not being able to identify his remains. In ornate Arabic calligraphy, it says "My brother Husam," after a cousin who suffered such a fate. Saadi also carries paper identification, but he believes it would be burned beyond recognition in a bombing.

"The idea came to me after seeing these daily incidents during which some corpses are mutilated and distorted, some were even headless, and the fact that the identity cards are either lost or destroyed," said Saadi, a trader who works in Baghdad's Shorja market, which has suffered numerous bombings. "Even the water of the firefighting equipment is destroying them, so I thought about an irremovable identity card, which is the tattoo."

Death trumps taboo

In Iraq, it has come to this: Faced with the omnipresent specter of death, an increasing number of people, mainly Shiite men, are willing to contravene social taboo to accommodate it.

World Bank board delays decision on Wolfowitz

Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) - The World Bank's board on Friday delayed a final decision on bank chief Paul Wolfowitz's role in a promotion he arranged for his girlfriend and referred some issues to a committee for further investigation.

After a late-hour meeting, the 24-nation board said it had agreed on a procedure to deal quickly with the issue.

"The executive directors agreed on a process to deal with the situation urgently, effectively and in an orderly manner," the board said in a two-page statement, written in complex bureaucratic language.

In the statement, the board said it had discussed issues related to conflict of interest and a possible violation of staff rules during a meeting.

The United States is the World Bank's biggest shareholder, holding 16.4 percent of total board votes, followed by ally Japan which has 7.9 percent. A major decision by the board requires an 85 percent majority, with the U.S. holding enough votes to block any major decision.


Va. Tech Professor, Holocaust survivor, buried in Israel

Source: WP/AZ Central

RA'ANANA, Israel - Liviu Librescu, the 76-year-old professor and Holocaust survivor who died protecting his students from the Virginia Tech gunman, was eulogized Friday in a cemetery surrounded by citrus groves as a quiet hero unfailingly devoted to his students and his work.

"I believe you are looking at us from above, at this gathering, and saying, What? don't you have anything to do?', " said Aryeh Librescu, one of the professor's two sons. Librescu said his father would not have understood the fuss over his willingness to block a classroom door so students could escape Cho Seung-Hui's murderous rampage.

The well-liked professor, his son imagined, would say simply, "I did what I had to do."

Internationally known for his work in aeronautical engineering, Librescu survived many great evils before Cho shot him to death in Blacksburg on Monday. He lived through the Holocaust as a teen-ager and fought against Communist dictatorship in his native Romania, eventually losing his government aerospace job when sought to emigrate to Israel.


McCain Sings: 'Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran'

For God sake America, where has all the sanity gone. Unplugged McCain Sings 'Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran'

Bush: Be Sure to Question Odd Behavior

You have got to be friking joking Georgie, I have been screaming it from the rafters, and raising the red flag since 2000, when the supreme court elected the president of the USA against the vote of the people.
It doesn't work

Source: Associated Press

TIPP CITY, Ohio (AP) -- President Bush said on Thursday that mass shootings are a reminder that people must be willing to raise a red flag about others' disturbing behavior.

"One of the lessons of these tragedies is to make sure that when people see somebody or know somebody who is exhibiting abnormal behavior, you do something about it, to suggest that somebody take a look," the president said during an appearance at a high school here.


"If you are a parent and your child is, you know, doing strange things on the Internet, pay attention to it and not be afraid to ask for help and not be afraid to say `I am concerned about what I am seeing," Bush said. "I think it's very important for us not to comment until it's all said and done, but that other cases there have been warning signals - that if an adult for example had taken the signals seriously, perhaps tragedy could have been avoided."


Bush Orders Probe Into the Mentally Ill

Maybe he should start the probe with himself, Hmmmmmm?

Bush muses on marriage, chicken-plucking factories

NYCALIZ comments

George about your killing frogs with firecrackers...
that was strange behavior.

Your inability to recognize your own errors, thats strange behavior.

Inability to see reality, thats strange behavior.

Can you please turn yourself in.

Kangaroo says Amen to that.

Pentagon prevents military officers from testifying before House panel

Source: Congress Daily
By Megan Scully, CongressDaily

Pentagon lawyers abruptly blocked mid-level active-duty military officers from speaking Thursday during a closed-door House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee briefing about their personal experiences working with Iraqi security forces.

The Pentagon's last-minute refusal to allow the officers' presentations surprised panel members and congressional aides, who are in the middle of an investigation into the effort to train and organize Iraqi forces.

Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Martin Meehan, D-Mass., called the Pentagon's move "outrageous" and left open the possibility of issuing subpoenas. "We have the power and the authority to subpoena whoever we want," Meehan said

."The Pentagon does not make our rules," Meehan said.

GOP Responds To FBI Raids Of Two Of Its Congressmen

CQ Staff Susan Ferrechio April 20, 2007 03:36 PM

With the sting of the November election losses not far behind them, House Republicans say they are demonstrating a new level of intolerance toward potential legal wrongdoing.

The Republicans moved quickly to evict John T. Doolittle of California, a former member of the House leadership, from the Appropriations Committee on Thursday, less than 24 hours after revelations that the FBI had recently raided his home.


Vermont State Senate Votes To Impeach Bush

AP ROSS SNEYD April 20, 2007 12:09 PM

Vermont senators voted Friday to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, saying their actions have raised "serious questions of constitutionality."

The nonbinding resolution was approved 16-9 without debate -- all six Republicans in the chamber at the time and three Democrats voted against it.


Johnson Space Center Evacuated Over Reports Of Gunman Inside

AP April 20, 2007 03:52 PM

A Johnson Space Center building was evacuated Friday after reports of a gunman inside, Houston police said.

Police were called about 1:40 p.m. for building 44, which houses communications and tracking development laboratory, news reports said.


White House: Heckuva Job Gonzales

AP April 20, 2007 01:19 PM

The Bush White House called embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "our No. 1 crime fighter" Friday, a day after Gonzales' often halting explanations for the firings of eight federal prosecutors brought additional demands for his resignation.

"He has done a fantastic job in the Department of Justice," deputy press secretary Dana Perino told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One as President Bush headed for a speech in Michigan.


Senior White House Aides: Gonzales "Going Down In Flames"

cnn.com April 20, 2007 10:55 AM

White House insiders tell CNN that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales hurt himself during testimony before a Senate committee Thursday on the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

The sources, involved in administration discussions about Gonzales, told White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux that two senior level White House aides who heard the testimony described Gonzales as "going down in flames," "not doing himself any favors," and "predictable."


Bush Off Script

Associated Press April 19, 2007 06:27 PM

Strange things sometimes come out of President Bush's mouth. "Polls just go poof." "Remember the rug?"

When Bush went to Ohio on Thursday to talk about terrorism, he ended up musing about marriage and chicken-plucking plants, the agony of death and his Oval Office rug, which resembles a sunburst.


Georgies Surge Working? You Decide

US To Build Wall Around Baghdad Sunni Neighborhood

Los Angeles Times April 20, 2007 01:03 AM

A U.S. military brigade is constructing a three-mile-long concrete wall to cut off one of the capital's most restive Sunni Arab districts from the Shiite Muslim neighborhoods that surround it, raising concern about the further Balkanization of Iraq's most populous and violent city.

U.S. commanders in northern Baghdad say the 12-foot-high barrier will make it more difficult for suicide bombers, death squads and militia fighters from sectarian factions to attack one another and slip back to their home turf. Construction began last week and is expected to be completed by the end of the month.


Carniverous mice could threaten island

By Glenn Cordingley
April 20, 2007 05:24pm
INFRA-red footage showing a "superbreed" of giant flesh-eating house mice chewing into an albatross chick has been used as a stark warning of what awaits pest-infested Macquarie Island. Tasmanian Conservation Trust (TCT) spokesman Alistair Graham said the rodents on British-controlled Gough Island off South Africa in the South Atlantic had evolved to become predators, growing to three times their normal size.
“The evidence that normal house mice on Gough Island have evolved to become predators gives us very serious concern the same thing is happening on Macquarie Island,” he said.
More than 100,000 grazing rabbits and plagues of rats and mice are threatening endangered species on World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island, 1500km southeast of Tasmania.
Rabbits are devastating the island's indigenous fauna, causing landslips to crash into penguin rookeries and destroy albatross breeding sites. Exploding rat and mice numbers are also causing huge concern.
The island is considered part of Tasmania, but the federal government has responsibility for World Heritage areas.
A political row has erupted over who will pay for its pest eradication program estimated at $16.5 million.
The Federal Government has offered to pay half, but the State Government is refusing to pay a cent, saying the Commonwealth has a massive budget surplus.
The footage was released today by the TCT and the Tasmanian Greens.
Mr Graham said the time had come for the Lennon Labor Government to hand the island over to the Commonwealth before an “international environmental catastrophe” takes place.
“It is obvious that Tasmania neither has the means or the will to manage this remote tiny speck and it would be much better off if it were in the hands of the Federal Government,” he said.
“We are really hoping that the Tasmanian Government, in recognition of the serious plight of these animals, will do the honourable thing and agree to hand over the island to the Federal Government.”
Mr Graham said it was “simply not politically feasible” to expect the Federal Government to pay 100 per cent of the cost when the State Government has a major responsibility.
“By tradition and convention the Federal Government will offer a portion, usually 50-50...but they always expect the State Government to pay something in recognition it is state responsibility, which is true of Macquarie Island.”
Mr Graham said that the study on Gough Island was undertaken because of declining numbers of the endangered Trisan albatrosses.
“What we have discovered was quite shocking,” he said.
“This type of thing has been going on under the noses of researchers for some time and it wasn't until infra-red night footage set-up with remote control cameras that it was discovered.”
He said the albatross chicks on Gough Island had no behavioural response to mice attacks and it was simply “death by 1000 cuts” for the fledgling species.

The Honor of Alberto Gonzales

David Bromwich

As Gonzales understands his position, he is essentially an emanation of the will of the president. And our boyish president never developed morally beyond the aristocratic reprobate who divides the world into friends and enemies and who thinks the rules don't apply to him.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

VA Tech English Dep Tried To Intervene After Killer's Grotesque Writings

New York Times April 19, 2007 10:33 PM

Where the Virginia Tech police only heard scattered reports of his harassing behavior, and mental health professionals knew of his suicidal tendencies, it was the English department -- where he was a major -- that read his writings and saw the images of persecution, revenge and anger that they revealed, many months before he erupted into violence on Monday and killed 32 people, as well as himself.

And those English professors and students appear to have worked harder than anyone to intervene in his life. Trying to balance the freedom needed to be creative against the warning signs of psychosis, as many as eight of his teachers in the last 18 months had formed what one called a "task force" to discuss how to handle him, gathering twice on the subject and frequently communicating among themselves.


Wolfowitz A No-Show

Reuters April 19, 2007 10:49 PM

The 24-nation board is trying to determine how to proceed given the unprecedented nature of the situation, board sources said.

They said there appeared to be divisions among the board members, with the United States leading a bloc of countries, including some from Asia, who supported Wolfowitz in the face of calls for his resignation.


Iraq is not part of war on terror, says top UK diplomat:

You don't say, your just 5 years to late in calling it like it is.

Former cabinet minister Helen Liddell sparked a diplomatic row today, as she rejected the idea that the Iraq invasion was part of the "war on terror" - despite being high commissioner to Australia, whose prime minister believes Iraq is the frontline of the war on terror.


Patrick Cockburn: Hundreds killed on Baghdad's day of bombs and blood:

Yesterday will go down as a day of infamy for Iraqis who are repeatedly told by the US that their security is improving.


BBC Video
:Aftermath of the car bomb attacks in Iraq :

Is The CIA Trying to Kill Hugo Chávez?

By Chris Carlson

In recent weeks, Hugo Chávez has increasingly warned that the United States has plans to kill him and is stepping up its activity against him and his government. Chávez has also claimed that the CIA is working with associates of the famous Cuban terrorist and CIA agent Posada Carriles, designing plans for his assassination. But could there be any truth to all of this?


Declassified Documents Confirms U.S. Killed Civilians During 'Korean War

By The Associated Press

A declassified U.S. Navy document confirms that on Sept. 1, 1950, the destroyer USS DeHaven, at the Army's request, opened fire on a refugee encampment on a beach near the southern South Korean port of Pohang. Survivors say 100 to 200 refugees - mostly women and children - were killed.


Back Bush's War Strategy? Then Bring Back The Draft

By Joseph L. Galloway

Here's a question for those who still support President Bush's strategy to stretch out the Iraq War until after he's left office, and for those who think we should be prepared to continue our bloody occupation of Iraq for five or 10 more years:

Hail and Farewell: the End of the American Empire

By Gore Vidal

Obviously, our weird little emperor is incapable of moral reflection, thus inviting us to reflect morally upon him as he has gone about his systematic wrecking of our common empire.

A U.S. Military Dictatorship?

Audio-A fascinating interview with Chalmers Johnson.

From the democracy that it celebrates to the military might that it wields, some argue that the U.S. is less of a Republic these days and more of an empire. And that, says Charlmers Johnson, means Americans have some decisions to make if they don't want their country to go the route of fallen empires.

Click to listen.
By Steve Bhaerman

It's a bit of a mixed feeling to realize that millions and millions of people who didn't get this distinction two, four or six years ago now understand that the "political' issues we now face aren't about right and left, they're about right and wrong.

Thousands of Workers From US-Run Mine in Indonesia Protest

Thousands of workers from a giant US-run mine in Indonesia's remote Papua province staged a noisy but peaceful protest Wednesday amid tight security, demanding better wages and welfare.


Payoffs to Colombian Terrorists by US Corporations Scrutinized

Chiquita Brands International's recent admission that it paid off a Colombian group on the US terrorist list has spotlighted a practice once hush-hush in Colombia, Washington's closest ally in Latin America. Several other US-based corporations, including Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and the Alabama-based coal company Drummond Co., face civil lawsuits alleging their Colombian operations worked with the same group to kill several trade unionists.


NOW | Did America's Mistakes Create the Iraqi Insurgency?

NOW's David Brancaccio speaks with two very different men who allege that US bungling in Iraq created and fueled the deadly insurgency. Paul Hughes, a retired Army colonel, was part of the transition team after the US invasion of Iraq, and Omar Fekeiki was a Washington Post reporter and translator who risked his life to help US journalists.


A part of the Imus issue is not yet finished

From Where I Stand by Joan Chittister, OSB
Some things are not over when they're over. It's important not to forget that.
Everything that can be written about the behavior and fate of Don Imus has already been said. As host of a radio-television talk show, he reduced the Rutger's women's basketball finalists to "nappy-headed ho's." It never even crossed his mind, apparently, that there might be something wrong with that. There's nothing to be gained by piling on -- and I don't intend to. In fact, strange as it may seem, I almost feel sorry for the man because there is a great deal more to be concerned about in terms of the Imus issue than Imus alone.
The real truth of the Imus affair is that the whole tawdry incident has more than enough victims to go around: African-Americans, women, the U.S. Constitution and Don Imus himself. You see, however monstrous Imus may now be seen, in retrospect it is clear that such monstrosity is of our own making.
African-Americans were certainly victimized, of course. By a strange amalgam of old put-downs that were once the lingua-franca of a more overt white racist world, we were taken back almost 50 years to a moment when some of us were really human and the rest of us just played at it. "Nappy-headed" went right along with "honkie," "mick" and "dago" to separate some of us from the majority of the rest of us who had made ourselves the "norm." But in the twisted economy of prejudice, "nappy-headed" said more than "culturally different," as the other labels did. It said, rather, "essentially unlike us." Something other than we are -- in color, in humanity, in a quality of being that rested on the nature of a person's hair.
It makes a person gasp at the very lunacy of it.
The ignorance of racism is a breathtaking thing to watch. It emerges out of domination, maintains itself with structures of power and ends with diminishment, not simply of the "other" but, as we have seen with crystal clarity, of the so-called "norm" itself. It is a fungus that grows across the face of society with such deadly invasiveness that it gets to be taken for granted, to be considered normal, to be called truth.
The tomes of "scientific" data, for instance, used to prove the inferiority of African-Americans -- and of women -- would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic. Racism and sexism were protected and legalized in our Constitution. And the reams of theology spun to insist that dominance of blacks -- and of women -- was God's will and so immutable, would fall into the category of religious superstition, if it weren't so theologically embarrassing.
In one breath, "nappy-headed" and "ho" managed to do both at one time. It caught in its web half the black the population and all the female population of the world. All simply sex objects. "Ho's," in fact. Not moral. Not rational. Not worthy of respect. Any of them. All of them.
And, furthermore, it did it on a national broadcast. For all to see and hear. At great expense to the sponsors, great pay checks for the speaker and great attention to the program. Which is precisely where the other victims come in.
Talk shows debated whether or not the statement was really as bad as the black community said it was. After all, this is a country founded on "freedom of speech," isn't it?
The idea gives us all pause. When did "freedom of speech" begin to mean that civility of expression had no place in public discourse? When did "freedom of speech" begin to imply that personal insults and inflammatory talk were inconsequential, were to be protected in the public arena, were without meaning in the civic community? When did the Constitution begin to be used as a shield for name-calling, for insidious and uncivilized insult?
The concept of freedom of speech is tested over and over again in the American legal system. And the courts are pretty clear about it. Freedom of speech, they tell us, covers the subject matter of speech, not the quality of the speech. As a result, it is acceptable to talk or write or show sexual content or religious content or social content in the public domain. But the way we discuss sex or preach in public or promote monarchy or have conferences on white nationalism in the U.S. social system is another thing entirely. The cases are always tendentious, always difficult, always problematic. But one thing is clear: None of these subjects are protected by law when they stir up hostility against another group.
Nevertheless, for years we have, as a nation, been flirting with the dangerous edge of such talk. We have stretched the boundaries of such conversation. We have defended the indefensible on the grounds of free speech when what we really meant was that we wanted the right to engage in hate radio, to attack public figures on a personal level with impunity and to speak anonymously on the internet without accountability for it.
African-Americans began to call a halt to their public demeaning in the Civil Rights Movement. We finally discovered a difference between being an "African American" and a "nigger." Women's groups have made it clear that defining women sexually -- as "ho's" -- would simply not be tolerated anymore. Women and blacks made it clear that they were fully human, fully rational and to be regarded as fully respectable at all times and by everyone.
So Don Imus was fired for acting otherwise. But that's the problem. Was he really fired because as a nation we simply will not put up with that kind of racist, sexist put-downs? Was he fired because we have higher standards for public speech? Or was he fired simply because a few sponsors withdrew their support from the program? Was he really fired more for economic reasons than for moral reasons? Would CBS really have fired Imus if African-Americans and women had not responded so quickly, so firmly, if the national media had not made it a major story, if sponsors had not withdrawn from the show, if the public had simply laughed and let the whole thing go?
From where I stand, that's the part of the Imus issue that is not finished yet. Are we yet principled enough as corporations to refuse to permit hate radio, to refuse to create the Imus's of the world, or do we only make the kind of business decisions that refuse to support what doesn't sell?

Bloomberg: "We're Fighting Criminals And Illegal Guns. Why Is Congress Fighting Us?"

WCBS TV Marcia Kramer April 19, 2007 02:15 PM

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a coalition of 214 mayors are using the Virginia Tech massacre to pressure Congress to give local cops the information they need to trace illegal guns used in crimes.

CBS 2 has also learned that they're also launching a TV ad campaign starting Sunday.
"We're fighting criminals and illegal guns. Why is Congress fighting us?" Bloomberg said Wednesday.


The President's Veto Threat Does Not Dictate the Law of Our Land

The old boys got it right there, for sure

Members of Congress are elected to make laws based on sound public policy, not to capitulate to presidential threats. Let the president issue his veto threats, but also let the Congress dutifully represent the will of the people.

Bush In Bizarre Appearance: "Polls Just Go Poof," "If You've Got A Chicken Factory," "Remember The Rug..."

Associated Press April 19, 2007 06:27 PM

Strange things sometimes come out of President Bush's mouth. "Polls just go poof." "Remember the rug?"

When Bush went to Ohio on Thursday to talk about terrorism, he ended up musing about marriage and chicken-plucking plants, the agony of death and his Oval Office rug, which resembles a sunburst.

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