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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Commerce Inspector General Broke Whistleblower Law, Report Finds

The Commerce Department's inspector general, who is supposed to look into complaints of wrongdoing by government officials, committed "egregious violations" of the federal law that protects whistleblowers by retaliating against two subordinates, a government investigation has concluded.


Hang In There, America: Competent Leadership Is Just 600-Plus Days Away

The question is: How did such ordinary-looking men - seemingly unable to carry out even the smallest non-political tasks of governing - succeed in doing such extraordinary and lasting damage to our country, our military and our body politic in so few years?
The Country thought he was a man you could be comfortable having a beer with, Unfrikingbelievable you decide the Leader of the Free World, not on Diplomacy, Dignity, Honesty, and Education they don't count.

Columnist Joseph Galloway writes, "As of May 17th, there were 613 days left until Jan. 20, 2009 and the end of our long national nightmare as President George W. Bush and his Rasputin, Vice President Dick Cheney, shuffle off to their necessarily well-guarded retirement homes and onto the ash heap of history."


In Closed Meeting With Gonzales, Prosecutors Express Their Dismay

Even as he came under renewed political pressure in Washington this week, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales faced sharp criticism from many of his own US attorneys at a private meeting in San Antonio, prosecutors who were there said.


Carter: Blair-Bush ties 'tragic'

• Carter: Britain's support for war in Iraq was "major tragedy"
• Former president described Blair's support for Bush as "abominable"
• Criticism came as Blair was making last trip to Iraq as prime minister

One Hitler Per Customer

Chris Kelly
Wasn't Saddam 'Hitler?' Once you've called someone Hitler and had a war with them, what do you call the next guy? Giant Hitler? Space Hitler? Hitler EXTREME? The problem here is dictator inflation.

917 Contractors...

At Least 917 Private Contractor Fatalities… Watchdog Group Says 104 Media Member Deaths

The New York Times JOHN M. BRODER and JAMES RISEN May 19, 2007 09:34 AM
Casualties among private contractors in Iraq have soared to record levels this year, setting a pace that seems certain to turn 2007 into the bloodiest year yet for the civilians who work alongside the American military in the war zone, according to new government numbers.
At least 146 contract workers were killed in Iraq in the first three months of the year, by far the highest number for any quarter since the war began in March 2003, according to the Labor Department, which processes death and injury claims for those working as United States government contractors in Iraq.


FOCUS Death Toll for Contractors Reaches New High in Iraq

Casualties among private contractors in Iraq have soared to record levels this year, setting a pace that seems certain to turn 2007 into the bloodiest year yet for the civilians who work alongside the American military in the war zone, according to new government numbers.

The Awful Truth

Death bed ... hear what the critics have to say after US documentary maker Michael Moore's expose of the US health system, Sicko, made its celebrated debut at the Cannes Film Festival today / Reuters More

Friday, May 18, 2007

Gonzales today at the National Press Club. He could not "recall" who his Deputy was in February 2005.

May 15, 2007 -- Gonzales finally "recalls" something, but gets it wrong. Speaking at a National Press Club breakfast this morning, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, who announced yesterday that he would resign, was involved in preparing the list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired in the wake of George W. Bush's re-election in 2004.
There is only one problem with Gonzales' attempt to shift blame to McNulty. The preparation of the U.S. Attorney "hit list" began in February 2005 by Gonzales' Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson. McNulty did not take over as Deputy Attorney General until March 17, 2006, long after the list was prepared and the first of the U.S. Attorneys were fired. James Comey was the Deputy Attorney General at the time the "hit list" was developed and McNulty was the US Attorney for Eastern Virginia. Gonzales also spoke about McNulty's departure and said that the department would "probably not" find a qualified candidate to replace him.
There is over a year and a half left for the Bush administration. Either Gonzales meant that the position would remain vacant or he would find an unqualified candidate to replace McNulty. If an unqualified candidate is selected for such an important position, it will be in concert with the lowest standards exhibited thus far by the Bush administration in its political appointments.

Gonzales today at the National Press Club. He could not "recall" who his Deputy was in February 2005.

Wayne Madsen Report

Rejecting Reality in Iraq

Chatham House, a well-respected British think tank, has thrown down a challenge to leaders in Washington and London to begin "accepting realities in Iraq." The new report paints a grim picture of an Iraqi society coming apart and warns that George W. Bush's military "surge" will fail to achieve any lasting security improvements. But the idea that Bush must accept reality goes against his longstanding confidence that he and his friends can shape how many Americans perceive reality. May 18, 2007


House Democrats Join Senate For Gonzales No-Confidence Vote

Associated Press May 18, 2007 07:27 PM
Rep. Artur Davis, a Democrat from Mobile, said Friday he is pushing for a "no confidence" vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Davis and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., both former federal prosecutors, said they would introduce the symbolic resolution urging Gonzales' resignation on Monday. Two Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California, said earlier this week they would offer a similar resolution stating that Gonzales was too weakened to remain on the job.

US Nuke Official: I Was A Government Assassin

Detroit News May 18, 2007 06:23 PM
Federal nuclear watchdogs and members of Congress are seeking answers after a former security director at a western Michigan nuclear plant gave a bizarre series of interviews to Esquire magazine in which he claimed to be a hired assassin.
William E. Clark, who until recently was security chief at the Palisades nuclear power plant near South Haven on Lake Michigan, told the magazine for an article in its June edition that he had worked as a government assassin, killing people in Vietnam, New Orleans and Iraq.


General 'Troubled' That Americans Won't Accept a Decade of Iraq War

Question is, Was it LIBERATION from Sadam, or was it War and Occupation for oil
By Kristin Roberts
WASHINGTON, May 17 (Reuters) - The U.S. military needs more time in Iraq than the American public is willing to invest and that difference is "troubling," the top U.S. Marine Corps official said on Thursday.
"The difference in the time we in uniform need for success in Iraq and the amount of time our countrymen are prepared to invest is a disconnect that's troubling," Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said.
Conway said military operations against insurgencies can last as long as nine to 10 years.
"I think there is less of an appetite in our country than we, the military, might think we need to sustain that kind of effort over that period of time," he said.
Conway would not comment on how long U.S. troops might stay in Iraq, or how long he thinks they should stay to secure the country and help Iraq build its military.
But he said the United States is operating on a time frame far shorter than that of al Qaeda.
"You know, the bad guys' timeline's 100 years. Ours is probably somewhere short of two at this point," he said.
The U.S. force now totals about 147,000 and will reach 160,000 in June as the Pentagon increases troop levels for a security crackdown focused on Baghdad.
That operation is seen as a last-ditch effort to halt Iraq's descent into full-scale civil war, but it has had little impact on the level of violence in the capital city.


Fort Drum Soldiers, Families Mourn Their Dead and Missing GIs in Iraq

Imagine this Comment, "If this is a scare tactic to undermine our resolve, they need to realize our soldiers are trained killers and don't scare," Trained killers to liberate Iraqi Citizens? Finish what Job, there where no WMDs, Iraq was no Threat to America, And Occupation is Liberation?
Truely one of Georgies Miscreants

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
FORT DRUM, N.Y. — Fort Drum soldiers said an ambush in Iraq that left four of their comrades dead and three missing will only work to unite America and strengthen the military's determination.
"If this is a scare tactic to undermine our resolve, they need to realize our soldiers are trained killers and don't scare," said Spc. Dorothy Drake of Los Angeles. "This is more incentive to finish the job.
"The Army is family. This will bring us together. It will bring the country together."
The Pentagon identified the seven soldiers, including naming three of the four killed in the weekend attack near Mahmoudiya, but it was waiting for more testing before the identity of the fourth dead soldier could be confirmed. All were members of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif., was among them.
Three weeks earlier, Anzack's family had gotten a scare when rumors began circulated that he had died in Iraq. His high school even posted a message outside the campus reading: "In Loving Memory Joe Anzack Class of 2005." >>>cont


Dog Tags of Soldier Killed in Brutal Iraq Attack Missing

Friday, May 18, 2007
BAGHDAD — As the massive search for three U.S. soldiers feared captured by Al Qaeda entered its sixth day Thursday, the military said the ambush on their convoy apparently confiscated the dog tags of one of the four American soldiers who died in the attack.
An explosion also rocked the Green Zone on Thursday in the third attack in three days on the heavily fortified area in central Baghdad where the U.S. Embassy is located and Iraq's government and parliament meets.
Maj. Webster Wright, a spokesman for the Second Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division the unit that was attacked and that is leading the search for the three missing soldiers, said Saturday's assault in an insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad apparently used rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire to severely damage the two Humvees in the stationary U.S. convoy.
He said the dog tags of one of the four American soldiers who died were missing and apparently had been taken from the scene by the attackers. That could explain why the military has only been able to identify three of the four dead U.S. soldiers.
About 4,000 U.S. troops and 2,000 Iraqis are searching for the three U.S. soldiers feared captured by Al Qaeda during the ambush, which also killed one Iraqi soldier.

Death in Iraq spawns grim subcultures

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer Thu May 17, 5:34 PM ET
BAGHDAD - Abdullah Jassim expected ambulances and security forces to arrive first after a blast last month near his clothing shop. Instead, it was thieves.
"I saw them with my own eyes," said Jassim, who has survived a string of suicide bombings in Baghdad's well-known Shurja market. "Young men between 20 and 30 years old stole mobile phones, money and wrist watches from the dead and badly hurt."
The consequences of sudden and violent death — so commonplace in
Iraq' relentless turmoil — have spawned their own macabre subcultures: the human vultures, grave markers with serial numbers for unidentified victims, tattoo artists asked to etch IDs on people afraid of becoming an unclaimed body amid the carnage and killings.
It's more than just another grim tableau in a nation brimming with sad stories. It points to how deeply war and sectarian bloodshed have reordered the way Iraqis live — and confront the constant possibility of death.
"As a society, we are finished," said Jassim, whose store is only several dozen yards from the site of a car bomb that killed at least 127 people and wounded 148 on April 18. "We may have hit rock bottom.">>>cont

McClatchy's Iraqi Staffers: Please, America, Just Go

By E&P Staff

Published: May 17, 2007 8:00 PM ET
NEW YORK For several weeks, we have been featuring the postings of McClatchy's Iraqi staffers and correspondents in its Baghdad bureau, from the blog Inside Iraq. The writers' full names are not given for security reasons.
Here is the latest from one of the regular posters, "Dulaimy." It is a message to Americans titled simply "Leave." It concludes: "We had enough, let our country go free. By staying, you are forcing people to join Al Qaeda and militias."
We are happy that we got rid of Saddam but we will never be happy to give away our country in return.
Sorry if our flesh harmed your knives... is that what they want us to say? Is this what they came for?
The failure of this invasion is a victory for FREEDOM and a defeat for radicals in U.S. and later in Iraq.
Order the troops to leave Mr. President. Afraid for the safety and the future of this place? Leave 20 thousands of your soldiers on both Iranian and Syrian borders and let us take over our own country. THIS COUNTRY WILL BE FREE... whether you take your troops out now or by the efforts of the good people of Iraq and America. Sooner or later they will leave, and Al Qaeda will be defeated by the efforts of the good sons of Iraq....
After the troops leave, the Iraqis who were more divided by the invasion will realize that the only way to live in this country will be through accepting the other (as our people did through more than 1400 years), we had our own civil wars and we lived through....

Wolfowitz: Bases in Arabia Motivated al Qaeda

Thursday, May 17th, 2007 in News, Iraq, Ron Paul, 9/11, al-Qaeda by Scott Horton

I hate to give away the introduction to my next article, but this can’t wait. –Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to Sam Tannenhaus Vanity Fair, May 9th, 2003:

“There are a lot of things that are different now [that the U.S. occupies Iraq], and one that has gone by almost unnoticed – but it’s huge – is that … we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It’s been a huge recruiting device for al Qaeda.
“In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina. I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things.
“I don’t want to speak in messianic terms. It’s not going to change things overnight, but it’s a huge improvement.”

But Who Was Right – Rudy or Ron?

Dumb Ass, they are finally waking up to what a loser you are

by Patrick J. Buchanan
It was the decisive moment of the South Carolina debate.
Hearing Rep. Ron Paul recite the reasons for Arab and Islamic resentment of the United States, including 10 years of bombing and sanctions that brought death to thousands of Iraqis after the Gulf War, Rudy Giuliani broke format and exploded:
"That's really an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of 9/11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I have ever heard that before, and I have heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11.
"I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that."
The applause for Rudy's rebuke was thunderous – the soundbite of the night and best moment of Rudy's campaign.
After the debate, on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes," came one of those delicious moments on live television. As Michael Steele, GOP spokesman, was saying that Paul should probably be cut out of future debates, the running tally of votes by Fox News viewers was showing Ron Paul, with 30 percent, the winner of the debate.
Brother Hannity seemed startled and perplexed by the votes being text-messaged in the thousands to Fox News saying Paul won, Romney was second, Rudy third and McCain far down the track at 4 percent.

Mortar Rounds Destroy Helicopters at US Base

Reuters Photo: A U.S. soldier fixes a helicopter at the military base in Taji May 17, 2007....

By HAMID AHMED, Associated Press Writer
Thu May 17, 10:00 AM ET
BAGHDAD - Mortar rounds hit a U.S. Air Force base north of Baghdad on Thursday, destroying one helicopter and damaging nine others, police said.
The attack at Taji, a major Air Force on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, occurred about 2 a.m., the police said.
"There was an indirect fire attack on the base at Taji which resulted in damage to some aircraft," the military said. Indirect fire is a term the military generally uses to describe rocket or mortar attacks.
The attack destroyed one helicopter and damaged nine others, the police said.
An Iraqi civilian who works at the base said he saw about 16 damaged helicopters, some of them set on fire by the attack. The worker spoke on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Many U.S. Black Hawk helicopters are based at Taji, including some equipped with medical equipment and manned by medics to rescue wounded U.S. and Iraqi soldiers in the Baghdad area.
Sunni insurgents have long been active in the area around Taji.

Five U.S. soldiers killed, ten wounded during 24 hours-army

Source: Voice of IraqBaghdad, May 18, (VOI) –
The U.S. army said on Friday five service members were killed and ten others wounded in separate incidents in southern Baghdad."While conducting combat operations two MND-B Soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded in separate attacks in the southern section of the Iraqi capital May 17. Three Soldiers have been returned to duty," the U.S. army said in a statement received by the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).In another statement, the army said earlier that three U.S. soldiers were killed and another wounded in a landmine explosion that targeted their military vehicle while patrolling southern Baghdad on Thursday evening.The U.S. army had acknowledged on Monday the death of five soldiers in four separate incidents.

Update: Ex-EPA Chief Whitman Agrees to Testify

Source: ABC News BlotterEx-EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman abruptly reversed herself Friday and agreed to testify before Congress on her agency's response to the environmental fallout of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.Two days ago, Whitman's lawyer Joel Kobert had denied a request from a House panel chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., for his client to testify, noting she was named in two lawsuits related to the issue.But today, Whitman herself told Nadler in a hand-delivered letter that she was willing to participate in a hearing "if you insist."Nadler had originally invited Whitman to testify at a May 22 hearing. In a press release today announcing Whitman's decision, Nadler said he would reschedule Whitman's hearing to a date "in the near future."

Rumsfeld To Start Foundation To Teach Engagement In World Affairs

Think Progress May 18, 2007 12:27 PM
The world's next generation of Donald Rumsfelds will soon have a place to study and grow.Former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld "is working on setting up a new foundation" to "remain engaged in public policy issues" and offer "teaching and research fellowships for graduate and post-graduate students."


Doctors busted in $30m surgery scam

Insurance scheme involved hundreds of patients nationwide
Updated: 1:12 p.m. ET May 17, 2007
SANTA ANA, Calif. - Three doctors were charged with billing insurers for $30 million of unnecessary surgery performed on hundreds of patients recruited from around the country.
Authorities said the patients received money or low-cost cosmetic procedures for participating in the “rent-a-patient” scam at Unity Outpatient Surgery Center.
More than $5 million of the insurance claims were paid, authorities said.
Arrested Wednesday were Dr. Michael Chan, an obstetrician; Dr. William Hampton, a surgeon; and Dr. Mario Z. Rosenberg, a gastroenterologist.
Each was charged with 47 felony counts including conspiracy after billing 19 insurance companies for what authorities said were unnecessary colonoscopies and surgeries on 940 patients. Bail ranged from $1 million to $2.3 million.
Each doctor could face nearly 50 years in prison. The California Medical Board was also pursuing suspension of their licenses.
Fourteen other people — five administrators and nine recruiters — have been charged as part of a four-year investigation.
“Doctors need to know if they commit insurance fraud, they may be trading in their scrubs for prison jumpsuits,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

Padilla fingerprint match questioned

By Curt Anderson
Associated Press
MIAMI - Seven fingerprints on a purported al-Qaeda training-camp application came back as matches to alleged terrorist operative Jose Padilla, a government expert testified yesterday.
But Secret Service fingerprint specialist John Morgan also acknowledged under defense questioning that there was no way to be certain when the fingerprints were placed on the "mujahedeen data form" recovered by the CIA in Afghanistan.
Defense lawyers theorize that Padilla, 36, a U.S. citizen and former Chicago gang member, may have touched the form during his confinement at a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. He was held for 31/2 years as an enemy combatant before his indictment in late 2005 in the Miami terrorism-support case.
Although the form was one of dozens found in a binder in late 2001, it was not analyzed for Padilla's fingerprints until August 2006, Morgan said. The fingerprints appear only on the front of the first page and back of the last page, possibly indicating that the form had been simply handed to Padilla at some point, defense lawyers say.
"Is it also possible that these prints were made by someone who was writing on the document?" prosecutor John Shipley asked.
"Yes, that is possible," Morgan answered, adding that fingerprints were not always left behind when someone touched a paper. "It can go both ways."
Prosecutors have opened the trial of Padilla and two codefendants by focusing on the form, which they contend Padilla completed in July 2000 to attend the al-Farooq training camp. The form is critical because it potentially links the three defendants to al-Qaeda as one of the Islamic extremist groups they are accused of conspiring to support.
Earlier this week, a CIA officer testified that the form was brought in December 2001 to an agency installation in Kandahar, Afghanistan, by a man who said he had found thousands of documents from what he believed was an al-Qaeda safe house after its occupants fled.
The partially completed five-page form includes Padilla's birth date, Oct. 18, 1970, and lists the nickname Abu Abdallah Al Muhajir, which prosecutors say was an alias for Padilla. The applicant wrote that he was a native speaker of English and Spanish, with carpentry skills, who studied Arabic and the Koran, made a hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and went to Yemen "as a way to go through for Jihad."

False Tips Slow Searches For Missing Soldiers

The New York Times DAMIEN CAVE May 18, 2007 02:53 PM
The stories have come in by the dozens.
One man swore that he had personally buried two Americans. As soldiers quickly began digging, another man came up and asked why they were unearthing his cousin.
Other Iraqis have said they saw the Americans walking, encircled by their captors, and still more have fingered people who they thought might have something to do with the ambush on Saturday that killed four American soldiers and one Iraqi.


White House On Iraq: Bush Way Or The Highway

AP ANNE FLAHERTY May 18, 2007 01:16 PM
Democratic congressional leaders on Friday offered their first major concessions in a fight withPresident Bush over a spending bill for Iraq, but the White House turned them down.
In a closed-door meeting with Bush's top aides on Capitol Hill, Democrats said they'd strip billions of dollars in domestic spending out of a war spending that Bush opposed if the president would accept a timetable to pull combat troops out of Iraq. As part of the deal, Democrats said they would allow the president to waive compliance with a deadline for troop withdrawals.

The George and Tony show

In the course of defending George W. Bush during a White House press conference this morning, Tony Blair said that it's easy to get a "round of applause" by attacking America. "You attack the president," he said, "and you get ..."
"A standing ovation," Bush interjected.
It was a brief moment of gallows humor shared by two politicians whose better days are behind them. >>>cont
-- Tim Grieve

The secret Iraq documents my 8-year-old found

POOL/REUTERSU.S. Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer, left, greets Jacab Kirk of Cusick, Wash., in Baghdad during a meeting with the 3rd Squadron 2nd ACR, February 3, 2004.
The secret Iraq documents my 8-year-old found

With a couple of keystrokes, you too can read the hidden history of the Coalition Provisional Authority, America's late, unlamented occupation government in Iraq.
Editor's note: The document discussed in this story can be viewed
here, both with and without its hidden text.
By Pete Moore

Staffers should have deleted some revealing notes from the Coalition Provisional Authority's official reports about Iraq, but didn't -- now see them for yourself.By Pete Moore

Bush on Comey: I'm not talking about it

At a White House press conference, George W. Bush was just asked if he sent Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales to John Ashcroft's hospital room to get him to reauthorize the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The president's response: "There's a lot of speculation about what happened and what didn't happen, and I'm not going to talk about it."
We'll take that as a yes.
-- Tim Grieve

Margaret Lazarus Documents Human Rights Violations

Cate Woodruff interviews Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Margaret Lazarus, who has been confronting issues and encouraging social consciousness in documentary films for over 25 years, about her film "Rape Is...."

Senators Want CIA to Release 9/11 Report

A bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation that would force the CIA to release an inspector general's report on the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Lawyers for Cheney and Rove Tell Judge, Leak Was Part of "Policy Dispute"

Attorneys for Vice President Cheney and top White House officials told a federal judge yesterday that they cannot be held liable for anything they disclosed to reporters about covert CIA officer Valerie Plame or her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Climate Change Despair and Empowerment

He forgot ooooppps, now that is Nimbin

Kelpie Wilson writes: "In Australia a few weeks ago, I had hoped to connect with my old friend John Seed, but learned that he would be traveling in the US doing a road show on climate change despair and empowerment until May 20.... I would miss seeing John at his home, but he connected me with his partner, Ruth Rosenhek, who was doing their workshop tour in Australia. Ruth met me at a café in the small town of Nimbin in the beautiful hinterlands of northeast New South Wales where we were surrounded by rainforests, macadamia nut orchards and permaculture gardens. What follows is my interview with Ruth about her climate change workshop."


47 Palestinians Killed In Six Days Of Infighting And Gunfire Exchange With Israel

AP IBRAHIM BARZAK May 18, 2007 10:19 AM
Israeli planes pounded Hamas targets and rival Palestinian factions exchanged bursts of automatic weapons fire outside Gaza City's Islamic University on Friday, as a volatile mix of Israeli strikes and Palestinian infighting plunged Gaza deeper into chaos.
Five Palestinians were killed in a single airstrike by Israel. Israel said the strike was in response to Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel -- a campaign that persisted on Friday with Hamas firing three rockets at the town of Sderot. Three people in the town were injured by shrapnel and several others were treated for shock.

War Candidate McCain Skips 10 Out Of 14 Latest Iraq Votes

The Hill Sam Youngman May 18, 2007 08:58 AM
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is the only presidential candidate in Congress to have missed a major vote on the Iraq war this year, and his absences are not sitting well with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Liz Oxhorn, a spokeswoman for Reid, told The Hill, "Sen. McCain has spent considerable time defending the president on Iraq and catering to the Republican base on immigration, but has only managed to show up for four of the last 14 Iraq votes and parachute into [yesterday's] immigration press conference at the last minute. Who is the real John McCain?"

Two Journalists Working For ABC In Iraq Killed

AP May 18, 2007 08:58 AM
Two Iraqi journalists working for ABC News were ambushed and killed as they drove home from work, the television network announced Friday.
The attack took place Thursday afternoon when unknown assailants attacked the car carrying cameraman Alaa Uldeen Aziz, 33, and soundman Saif Laith Yousuf, 26, from the network's Baghdad bureau, ABC News President David Westin said in a statement posted on the ABC News Web site.

YouTube Founders Challenge Pentagon's Ban On Websites

AP SCOTT LINDLAW May 17, 2007 06:49 PM
YouTube's co-founders on Thursday challenged the Pentagon's assertion that soldiers overseas were sapping too much bandwidth by watching online videos, the military's principal rationale for blocking popular Web sites from Defense Department computers.
"They said it might be a bandwidth issue, but they created the Internet, so I don't know what the problem is," Chief Executive Chad Hurley said with a hearty laugh during an interview with The Associated Press.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

General Batiste: "Protect America, Not George Bush"

Submitted by davidswanson on Wed, 2007-05-09 17:24. Video and Audio

Iraqi Police Fire Shots to Keep Journalists From Covering Bombing

May 16, 2007
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Police prevented press photographers and camera operators from filming the scene of a bombing yesterday under a new policy limiting coverage of the devastating explosions that have become a hallmark of the violence in the country.
To enforce an order that a group of Iraqi journalists leave Tayaran Square, where the bombing occurred, police fired several shots in the air, reporters said.
Brig. Gen. Abdel Karim Khalaf, the operations director at the Interior Ministry, said this weekend that Iraq's government has decided to bar press photographers and cameramen from the scene of bombings.
The order was aimed at preventing journalists from inadvertently tampering with evidence needed for investigations, protecting the privacy and human rights of those wounded and keeping insurgents and militias from keeping track of their success rate, Gen. Khalaf said.
He denied that the new regulation was aimed at curtailing press freedoms, saying other countries have similar restrictions. >>>cont

As in Vietnam, Casualties Rise in Iraq While US Dithers

The Wall Is A Reminder That It’s Costly to Keep Troops In Combat While We Hope Another Idea Comes Up.

Ron Paul to Benito Giuliani: Apologize!

Ron Paul is everywhere — Here he is on CNN, with Wolf Blitzer, who can always be counted on to give out the “conventional wisdom” — and is put to rights by Ron. Blitzer blithers “He [Giuliani] really had some supporters in that auditorium. Are you ready to back away now?” Ron’s answer (I’m paraphrasing): NO way, says Ron: I found two passages in the 9/11 commission report that back up what I say. Blitzer: That [the bombing of Iraq by Clinton] was the reason they came over and blew us up? No, I said that was part of it. There’s also the presence of US troops on Saudi Arabian soil, which Muslims consider sacred soil. Here he is, mayor of New York, bragging about the security, and he hasn’t even read the 9/11 report. Blitzer presses him on this point, and Ron says that he couldn’t say everyting in a sound bit. Talks about the sanctions, hundreds of thousands killed: what if someone did that to us? And then the important part:
“He’s hiding behind “patriotism” and saying I’m ‘un-American’ if I dare to question the policy. But if policy is detrimental and provokes blowback then we have to change it. I don’t blame the American people, I blame bad policy” I think he [Giuliani] needs to back down and read the report, and come back and apologize to me.”
It’s so typical of Wolf Blitzer, one of the major gate-keepers of elite opinion, to try to enforce political correctness — and so typical of Ron Paul that he proudly and articulately rejects this nonsense, and turns the tables on the would-be enforcers.

The Anticlimactic Trial of Jose Padilla

JURIST Guest Columnist Stephen Vladeck of the University of Miami School of Law says that for all the attention being paid to the trial of Jose Padilla, the proceeding will not address the critical legal question of whether the US government can subject one of its own citizens to indefinite military detention...
The central problem with the federal criminal prosecution of one-time alleged “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla, now underway in Miami, is that the trial itself will not provide any resolution to the real question that the Padilla case has always raised: Whether the U.S. government can subject U.S. citizens arrested on U.S. soil to incommunicado military detention (and, allegedly, to mental and physical abuse while in military custody).
The reason why the Padilla trial will provide no resolution of this fundamental question is simple enough: Federal district judge Marcia Cooke, who is presiding over the trial of Padilla and his two co-defendants, has made clear over a series of pre-trial rulings that Padilla’s military detention is completely irrelevant for purposes of his criminal trial, so long as the government does not introduce any evidence obtained in conjunction with that detention. All too willing to comply, the government itself has embraced this bifurcated understanding of Padilla’s confinement, going so far as to argue that the Justice Department cannot be held responsible for any unlawful actions of the Department of Defense — that the right hand simply can’t be called to account for the actions of the left.
Legally, Judge Cooke may well be correct. The government is not attempting to introduce evidence obtained from Padilla during his 1307-day stay in a South Carolina Navy brig, and so the question whether that detention (or any of the government’s actions toward Padilla during it) was unlawful would not seem to implicate any aspect of the criminal charges Padilla now faces. In effect, then, the criminal case against Padilla has proceeded upon the theory that his “incarceration” began the day he was transferred to the custody of the Department of Justice in January 2006.
But what about the previous three and a half years?
The question of the legality of Padilla’s military detention as an “enemy combatant” divided the four courts to consider it. In the first round of litigation, the Southern District of New York held in December 2002 that Padilla’s detention was authorized, a decision reversed by the Second Circuit one year later. After the Supreme Court vacated the Second Circuit’s decision on jurisdictional grounds and ordered Padilla to re-file his habeas petition in South Carolina, the South Carolina district court held that Padilla’s detention was unlawful, only to be reversed by the Fourth Circuit in September 2005. And it was just before the merits of Padilla’s case returned to the Supreme Court that the government indicted Padilla and sought to transfer him to civilian criminal custody, leading to the Supreme Court’s divided decision to deny certiorari last April. As Justice Kennedy wrote for himself, Chief Justice Roberts, and Justice Stevens,>>>>cont

Leadership failures found in GIs' murders

2 officers lose commands for not properly protecting slaughtered soldiers
Updated: 11:08 a.m. ET May 17, 2007
WASHINGTON - Three U.S. soldiers slaughtered in a grisly kidnapping-murder plot south of Baghdad last June were not properly protected during a mission that was not well planned or executed, a military investigation has concluded.
Two military officers have been relieved of their commands as a result of the litany of mistakes, but neither faced criminal charges, a military official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
A report on the investigation said the platoon leader and company commander — whose names were not released — failed to provide proper supervision to the unit or enforce military standards.
A seven-page summary of the investigation provided to the AP also said it appears insurgents may have rehearsed the attack two days earlier, and that Iraqi security forces near the soldiers’ outpost probably saw and heard the attack and “chose to not become an active participant in the attack on either side.”
“This was an event caused by numerous acts of complacency, and a lack of standards at the platoon level,” said the investigating officer, Lt. Col. Timothy Daugherty, in the summary.
Three 101st Airborne Division soldiers were killed in the June 16 attack. Spc. David J. Babineau, of Springfield, Mass., was found dead at the scene. Pfc. Kristian Menchaca of Houston and Pfc. Thomas Tucker of Madras, Ore., were abducted; their mutilated bodies were found three days later, tied together and booby-trapped with bombs.>>>cont

Iraq: The Web of Lies

Patrick Foy
Who knows what to believe about the bloody catastrophe that is Iraq? Faced with the serial deceptions of Richard Cheney and George W. Bush, layer upon layer, we tend to become inured. We do know now that what we were told back then by the White House was hogwash. Yes, I am referring, once more, to the run-up, to the origins, and to the actual reason for the fraudulent enterprise, resulting in a full-blown fiasco, code-named "Operation Iraqi Freedom". This is not beating a dead horse. The issue could be grounds for impeachment. It is already the reason why Cheney’s former chief-of-staff is a convicted felon. By promoting his memoir, At The Center of the Storm, ex-CIA supremo George Tenet has forced the public to reconsider this amazing and disgraceful episode in America’s recent history. In the process of trying to justify himself, Tenet digs not just a bigger hole for himself, but an even bigger one for Cheney and Bush. Tenet can’t help it. What he has been saying does not add up...
continua / continued

War criminals praise each other:

Bush-Blair summit yields no regrets over Iraq tie:
Shoulder to shoulder at the White House for the last time before Blair steps down on June 27, the two leaders heaped praise on each other and defended themselves against critics of a war that is increasingly unpopular in both countries
Iraq's government has lost control of vast areas to powerful local factions and the country is on the verge of collapse and fragmentation, a leading British think-tank said on Thursday.
Iraq is facing several civil wars between a number of rival communities struggling for power and has ``fractured'' into regional power bases, a report by an adviser to the U.K. government said.

Das Boot: Mad Max Goes Mondo on Iraq

Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque
Max Boot, the morally cretinous pom-pom boy for imperial war, has long loomed unaccountably large in our political discourse, commanding national media platforms -- and backroom rubbings with the shoulders of thuggish power -- for his crude and deeply ignorant misreadings of history. He draws upon these puddles of mental vomit in making his dim analyses of current events and offering policy advice to the wearers of the boots he so assiduously shines with his eager spittle. And now this hale and hearty young man -- under 40, well within the ever-increasing age range of military service in the imperial wars he promotes -- has graced us with his views on improving the effectiveness of the "surge" that he and his fellow stay-behind warriors successfully urged upon the pom-pom boy in the White House. You will not be astonished to learn that young Max finds that the only thing wrong with the brilliant surge plan is that it is not savage and draconian enough in practice....

Scores of fuel tankers set on fire

Unidentified armed groups attacked a convoy of 51 fuel tankers and set them on fire on the highway between Baiji and Samarra.... more 04/05/2007

Armed groups ‘breeding like mushroom’ in Baghdad despite U.S. campaign

Baghdad inhabitants say the presence of armed groups has intensified since the start of U.S. military operations to pacify the city more than two months ago.... more 09/05/2007

Iran to build four refineries in southern Iraq

Ohhhhhhh Shit Georgie will be pissed out of his little mind
Prime Miniter Nour al-Maliki has given Iran preferential treatment in winning contracts in southern Iraq.... more 17/05/2007

Missing occupation soldiers probably killed ??????

Have not been able to find this post reported elsewhere at the moment.
Roads to Iraq
Reported on nahrainnet few minutes ago:
Locals in Al-Yousfiya city found two human heads on the side of a small river in a farm in the region. Although the faces are badly deformed and unrecognizable, but the appearances shows that they are non-Iraqis, it is believed to be two of the three missing soldiers, the third is still missing...
continua / continued
Source: Department of Defense
The Department of Defense announced today the identities of four soldiers listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN) while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They have been unaccounted for since May 12 in Al Taqa, Iraq, when their patrol was attacked by enemy forces using automatic fire and explosives. They are assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Reported as DUSTWUN are:

Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nev.

Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.

Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.

Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich.

Friends Reunited: Back to Bipartisan Business on the Slaughter in Iraq

Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque
Whew! Thank God that's over! The mighty wind you hear coming from Washington today is the huge sigh of relief from Democratic leaders, glad that they can now drop all the political posturing about ending the war in Iraq and get back on board with the imperial program. With the crushing defeat yesterday of what was purported to be a bill to "end" the war, Senate Majority Leader Harry "Give 'Em Mild Heck" Reid moved quickly to give the Dear Leader all the money he needs to keep feeding the Babylonian inferno with the dead bodies of Iraqi citizens and American soldiers. In fact, the bill in question, the Feingold Plan, would not have actually ended the illegal occupation of Iraq -- God forbid!...


Layla Anwar - An Arab Woman Blues
I feel terribly sad today. A grey kind of sadness that is enveloping me, shutting out any rays of light, any rays of hope.. Two things are weighing heavily on my heart today. And in no order of priority, the first is the in killing, in fighting between the Palestinians. I have always prayed that it will never come to this. Hoping against hope that reason will prevail. But it seems that reason has no place in the Middle East. Palestinians killing each other is a Nakba. A true Nakba. What will happen next? Will they divide what remains of the West Bank into statelets, to be shared amongst the tribal chieftains? Israel is behind all of this (...) Which brings me to the second thing that feels like a stone on my chest. A report just came out stating that Iraq is on the verge of total collapse. The report mentions civil war, several of them, taking place in different parts of the country. And more statelets are in the making. This is what Israel wants, this is what Iran wants, this is what America wants.I knew that the country is on the verge of collapse. I believe it has already collapsed. But seeing it black on white, confirmed by some British think tank (as if the Brits were not behind it too) drives that factual reality even deeper. Iraqis killing Iraqis, Palestinians killing Palestinians, Lebanese killing Lebanese...

The new Aljazeera, an American

Roads to Iraq
Reported today the board members of Aljazeera were removed [including Chief director Wadah Khanfar] and a totally new board was established appointed by the Emir of Qatar directly. This sounds a normal news but one the new members is: "Abdul Aziz Al Kuwari" the former Qatar ambassador in Washington to supervise the political and administrative line of the new Aljazeera, Al Kuwari has strong links with most American Republican and Democratic politicians...

The Iraqi government has asked its Qatari counterpart to interfere with the Arabic Aljazeera satellite channel to halt what it described as its anti-Iraqi rhetoric.... more 06/05/2007

Educating Ron Paul

Kurt Nimmo, Another Day in the Empire
...I will find it difficult to vote for a presidential candidate who is either unaware or unwilling to level with the American people about the true nature of the events that transpired on September 11, 2001. Indeed, on other issues, particularly in relation to the tyrannical nature of government and the Constitution, Ron Paul is spot on. However, it will be difficult to enter a voting booth on Election Day, 2008, and pull the lever for Ron Paul. I expect nothing less than the truth, and the whole truth, from candidates courting my vote...

Ron Paul on Blowback

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Now, I know this is a lot for the tender ears of Americans to take, who like to think that their government reflects their own values of faith, freedom, and friendliness. But here is the point that libertarians have been trying to hammer home for many years: the US government is the enemy of the American people and their values. It is not peaceful, it is not friendly, it is not motivated by the Christian faith but rather power and imperial lust.

Michael Moore wants to investigate Treasury Dept.

Wed May 16, 7:04 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -
Maverick filmmaker Michael Moore took the first step on Wednesday in launching his own probe into the U.S. government's investigation of him for making an unauthorized trip to Cuba to film scenes for his latest movie "SiCKO."
Moore's attorney David Boies sent the U.S. Treasury Department' a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents in its possession regarding its civil investigation of Moore which was launched by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control told Moore earlier this month that it was conducting a civil investigation to see if he violated the U.S. trade embargo restricting travel to Cuba. The office said Moore did not apply for the license required for Americans visiting Cuba.
Moore took a group of 9/11 survivors to Cuba to see if their ailments could be helped under the Cuba medical system.
His film about the weaknesses of the American health care system opens at the
Cannes Film Festival this week.

Book Excerpt: The Assault on Reason

While America slept a Presidency was stolen, The world was given a loser, instead of a leader of the Free World

No, he hasn't given up his global warming crusade, but he has returned to the fundamental ailments that face America -- particularly in regards to our current rogue government.

By Al Gore

Not long before our nation launched the invasion of Iraq, our longest-serving Senator, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, stood on the Senate floor and said: "This chamber is, for the most part, silent—ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing. We stand passively mute in the United States Senate."
Why was the Senate silent?
In describing the empty chamber the way he did, Byrd invited a specific version of the same general question millions of us have been asking: "Why do reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions?"
The persistent and sustained reliance on falsehoods as the basis of policy, even in the face of massive and well-understood evidence to the contrary, seems to many Americans to have reached levels that were previously unimaginable.
A large and growing number of Americans are asking out loud: "What has happened to our country?" People are trying to figure out what has gone wrong in our democracy, and how we can fix it.
To take another example, for the first time in American history, the Executive Branch of our government has not only condoned but actively promoted the treatment of captives in wartime that clearly involves torture, thus overturning a prohibition established by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
It is too easy—and too partisan—to simply place the blame on the policies of President George W. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes. We have a Congress. We have an independent judiciary. We have checks and balances. We are a nation of laws. We have free speech. We have a free press. Have they all failed us? Why has America's public discourse become less focused and clear, less reasoned? Faith in the power of reason—the belief that free citizens can govern themselves wisely and fairly by resorting to logical debate on the basis of the best evidence available, instead of raw power—remains the central premise of American democracy. This premise is now under assault.
American democracy is now in danger—not from any one set of ideas, but from unprecedented changes in the environment within which ideas either live and spread, or wither and die. I do not mean the physical environment; I mean what is called the public sphere, or the marketplace of ideas.
It is simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know I am not alone in feeling that something has gone fundamentally wrong. In 2001, I had hoped it was an aberration when polls showed that three-quarters of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on Sept. 11. More than five years later, however, nearly half of the American public still believes Saddam was connected to the attack.
At first I thought the exhaustive, nonstop coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial was just an unfortunate excess—an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media. Now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time: the Michael Jackson trial and the Robert Blake trial, the Laci Peterson tragedy and the Chandra Levy tragedy, Britney and KFed, Lindsay and Paris and Nicole.
While American television watchers were collectively devoting 100 million hours of their lives each week to these and other similar stories, our nation was in the process of more quietly making what future historians will certainly describe as a series of catastrophically mistaken decisions on issues of war and peace, the global climate and human survival, freedom and barbarity, justice and fairness. For example, hardly anyone now disagrees that the choice to invade Iraq was a grievous mistake. Yet, incredibly, all of the evidence and arguments necessary to have made the right decision were available at the time and in hindsight are glaringly obvious.
Those of us who have served in the U.S. Senate and watched it change over time could volunteer a response to Senator Byrd's incisive description of the Senate prior to the invasion: The chamber was empty because the Senators were somewhere else. Many of them were at fund-raising events they now feel compelled to attend almost constantly in order to collect money—much of it from special interests—to buy 30-second TV commercials for their next re-election campaign. The Senate was silent because Senators don't feel that what they say on the floor of the Senate really matters that much anymore—not to the other Senators, who are almost never present when their colleagues speak, and certainly not to the voters, because the news media seldom report on Senate speeches anymore.

The Hospital Room Showdown: Former Deputy A.G. James Comey tells tale.

Source: Salon
COMEY: David Ayers. That he had gotten a call from Mrs. Ashcroft from the hospital. She had banned all visitors and all phone calls. So I hadn't seen him or talked to him because he was very ill. And Mrs. Ashcroft reported that a call had come through, and that as a result of that call Mr. Card and Mr. Gonzales were on their way to the hospital to see Mr. Ashcroft.
So I hung up the phone, immediately called my chief of staff, told him to get as many of my people as possible to the hospital immediately. I hung up, called Director Mueller and -- with whom I'd been discussing this particular matter and had been a great help to me over that week -- and told him what was happening. He said, "I'll meet you at the hospital right now."
Told my security detail that I needed to get to George Washington Hospital immediately. They turned on the emergency equipment and drove very quickly to the hospital. I got out of the car and ran up -- literally ran up the stairs with my security detail.
COMEY: I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the attorney general was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that.
Everyone Must Read!! Article Shows * Attempts to Circumvent Law!!
Ashrcroft and Coomey had reviewed and decided that the wiretapping provision * wanted was not legal -it was ILLEGAL - and the AG was not going to sign off on it. One week later, when Ashcroft was in Intensive Care, Gonzales and Card tried to pull a fast one and events began unfolding as explained ined in the article:
And it was only a matter of minutes that the door opened and in walked Mr. Gonzales, carrying an envelope, and Mr. Card. They came over and stood by the bed. They greeted the attorney general very briefly. And then Mr. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there -- to seek his approval for a matter, and explained what the matter was -- which I will not do.
And Attorney General Ashcroft then stunned me. He lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact, which stunned me -- drawn from the hour-long meeting we'd had a week earlier -- and in very strong terms expressed himself, and then laid his head back down on the pillow, seemed spent, and said to them, "But that doesn't matter, because I'm not the attorney general."
The article goes on at great length to describe the circus events as they unfolded throughout the evening and next day; Comey continued to refuse to sign off, and * ultimately decided to authorize the program anyway, ie; yest another act in a long list fo criminal actions by the * maladministration:
COMEY: The program was reauthorized without us and without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality. And I prepared a letter of resignation, intending to resign the next day, Friday, March the 12th.

Responding to questions by Senator Chuck Schumer, former Deputy Attorney General Comey said Justice Department officials had concerns about the legality of the warrantless wiretapping and that the DOJ had refused to certify the practice even when White House officials attempted to coerce John Ashcroft in his hospital room. Members of the committee have stated that comments in Comey's testimony were shocking.

Out By June 30

ABC News JENNIFER PARKER May 17, 2007 06:23 PM
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has resigned his post, effective June 30.
An internal panel tasked with investigating the lucrative pay and promotion package Wolfowitz arranged in 2005 for girlfriend Shaha Riza found him guilty of breaking bank rules.

Specter Predicts Gonzales Will Quit

New blows for Gonzales: Dems seek no-confidence vote; 5th GOP senator urges resignation

Gravel: Bush should be jailed.

Jail is to good for this Loser
RAW STORYPublished: Wednesday May 16, 2007
Former Sen. Mike Gravel, the longshot presidential candidate who has generated buzz in the liberal blogosphere following a dramatic and heated performance during the first Democratic presidential debate, reaffirmed his belief that President Bush should be jailed for going to war in Iraq and that all drugs should be legalized during an interview with the Iowa Independent blog.
Responding to why he seemed to display anger at the debate, Gravel asserted it was the growing casualty list in Iraq that fueled his passion.
"How would you feel if you were over there (Iraq) getting shot at, getting crippled, because your leaders didn’t exercise proper judgment?" said Gravel. "What about the people who are going to die between now and Christmas because we don’t end the war? That's a reason to get angry."
Gravel went on to reaffirm his support for his signature campaign issue, a national initiative process, as well his support for a national sales tax, a traditionally conservative position.
When asked whether he believed marijuana should be available next to beer in liquor stores, Gravel replied, "Go get yourself a fifth of scotch or a fifth of gin and chug-a-lug it down and you'll find you lose your senses a lot faster than you would smoking some marijuana."
He asserted that all drugs should legalized and regulated. "The drug problem is a public health problem. It's not a criminal problem. We make it a criminal problem because we treat people like criminals."
Gravel continued, "You take a drug addict, you throw him in jail, you leave him there, and he learns the criminal trade so that when he gets out you have recidivism."
When pressed on his earlier statement that President Bush should be jailed for his manipulation of pre-war information, Gravel reaffirmed that belief.
"If you had an FBI agent knock at your door today and you lie to that agent, you commit a felony and you go to jail," Gravel said.
"If that's the way it is for ordinary citizens, what about the president of the United States who lies to the American people, fraudulently sells them on a war that 50 million Americans don't want and over 3,000 Americans get killed as a result of that, and thousands and thousands of Iraqis gets killed... do you not think that's a felony? It's criminal."

Internet game of Virginia massacre sparks outrage

Published: Wednesday May 16, 2007
An Australian man has sparked a storm of protest after creating an online computer game based on the murderous shooting spree at Virginia Tech in the United States last month.
Players control an image of Korean-born gunman Cho Seung-hui, who killed 32 people before turning a gun on himself, and screams can be heard on the soundtrack as shots are fired at the other characters.
The creator of "V-Tech Rampage", 21-year-old Ryan Lambourn, said he made the game "because it's funny," the Sydney Morning Herald reported Thursday.
The unemployed Lambourn responded to outraged calls for him to remove the game from the Internet by demanding 1,000 US dollars for each of the two sites it is on and said that for another 1,000 dollars he would apologise.
But he said later that was a joke to "make more people angry" and he would not remove the game from his own website or seek to have it removed from amateur game sharing site Newgrounds.com.
The game, described as offering "three levels of stealth and murder" is set on a facsimile of the Virginia Tech campus and can be freely downloaded from either site.
"I've done offensive things before but they're not usually this popular," he said.
Lambourn said that while he had sympathy for those who had lost friends and relatives in the massacre, he also had sympathy for the gunman.
"No one listens to you unless you've got something sensational to do. And that's why I feel sympathy for Cho Seung-Hui. He had to go that far."
Lambourn told the national AAP news agency that he would not take down the game under any circumstances, even if he received a request from the victims' families.
"I'm afraid not," he said, but added: "I hope they'd never do that."
He said he empathised with the killer and that he, like Cho, had been a victim of abuse and bullying at high school.
Lambourn was born in Australia but grew up in the United States before returning to Australia when he was 14.
He said he left school in the eighth grade having been bullied and abused at several institutions in Texas, Maine, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina.
He described himself as a self-taught animator supported financially by his mother, who still lives in the United States.

White House opposes military pay raise. UNFRIKINGBELIEVABLE

Go out and die for us, but don't expect a pay rise, that is only for the contractors who are a law unto themselves. They obey no rule of law.
RAW STORYPublished: Thursday May 17, 2007
The White House has come out in opposition to a proposal by Congress to raise military pay by 3.5 percent, according to a report by Army Times.
The administration had originally asked for only a 3 percent increase in pay, equal to private sector pay increases, effective January 1, 2008. The House Armed Services Committee raised the increase to 3.5 percent for 2008, and also recommended increases in 2009 through 2012 that would be 0.5 percent higher than private sector raises.
"The slightly bigger military raises are intended to reduce the gap between military and civilian pay that stands at about 3.9 percent today," according to the report. "Under the bill, HR 1585, the pay gap would be reduced to 1.4 percent after the Jan. 1, 2012, pay increase."
The report continues, "Bush budget officials said the administration 'strongly opposes' both the 3.5 percent raise for 2008 and the follow-on increases, calling extra pay increases 'unnecessary.'"
The White House's policy statement opposed several other Congressional provisions as well, including a death gratuity for civilians who die in support of military operations and benefits for disabled retireees and their survivors.
Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) sharply criticized the administration for its opposition.
"We ask our troops to risk their lives for our nation," said Emanuel. "We ask their spouses to raise families and make ends meet without them as they serve. The President is a lot of talk when it comes to supporting the troops and their families."
Emanuel continued, "It’s easy to say you support our troops, but actions matter and when it comes to the treatment of our troops and their families, our resources must match our rhetoric." LINK TO FULL ARMY TIMES ARTICLE
All hail the king
Under Bush, loyalty has reigned supreme. But as his presidency unravels, his obligation to his faithful servants -- from Gonzales to Wolfowitz -- has become perilously relative
By Sidney Blumenthal
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