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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Iraq forced to pay $10 billion per year for WMD search

Press Esc
Friday June 22, 2007
Iraq has been forced to pay US$10 billion a year to the US-led team searching for weapon's of mass destruction, even after it emerged that such stockpiles did not exist, a US Congressional report has found.
The Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security report by the Congressional Report Service notes that The formal US-led WMD search ended December 2004 but the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) is still formally active.
A draft resolution was only circulated this month to end UNMOVIC's work, which costs US $10 billion per year drawn from Iraqi revenues.
The report notes that The primary theme in the Bush Administration’s public case for the need to confront Iraq was that Iraq posted a “grave and gathering” threat that should be blunted before the threat became urgent.
How is that for an obscenity? Talk about adding insult to injury...
Jack Abramoff's major client surfaces in post-9/11 "Air Bin Laden" flights from US
publication date: Jun 21, 2007
Released FBI documents reveal Gabon charter flight involved in exodus of Bin Ladens and other Saudis.
Angela Merkel, tired of Polish obstinance, threatened to move on EU Constitution without an agreement from Polish Prime Minister, one of the two "evil twins" who governs Poland along with his brother, the Polish President.
Giuliani childhood friend and business partner is "Priest F" in grand jury report.
"Priest F," aka, Monsignor Alan Placa, ia an accused child molester. Placa joins Bernard Kerik, Ed Norris (convicted of using Baltimore police money in paying for escorts), and other gangsters as "FORs" -- Friends of Rudy. Giuliani's future Cabinet?
Wyoming will be the only state in the country in 2008 to have two Senate seats up for grabs, those of Mike Enzi and the new Senator Dr. John Barrosso. Wyoming will be a key battleground for the Democrats to obtain 60 seats in the Senate. But with Harry Reid at the helm, those prospects diminish every day.

Israeli authorities to provide up to $1Billion to President Abbas to continue domestic fight against Hamas movement

The Israeli authorities have announced that Israel intends to transfer between 400 million and one billion US Dollars to the Palestinian Authority within the next few weeks. Israeli Channel Two reported late on Friday evening that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "has the intention to start final status negotiations in the coming months, on the condition that [President] Abbas must fight Hamas." Israeli political analysts claimed that "there are many steps under preparation, agreed upon by [US President] Bush and [Israeli Prime Minister] Olmert, including a joint plan against the Hamas movement on the political, economic and security levels"...
continua / continued

Iraq Deaths Don't Mean Failure, Pace Says

Josh White, Washington Post Staff Writer
The recent rise in U.S. troop deaths in Iraq is the "wrong metric" to use in assessing the effectiveness of the new security strategy for Baghdad, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday in a news conference with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Despite military reports to Congress that use numbers of attacks and overall levels of violence as an important gauge of Iraq's security status, Gates and Pace told reporters at the Pentagon yesterday that violence is not a useful measure of progress. Setting the stage for mandatory reports to Congress in September, both officials said violence could go up in the summer months as troops try to give the Iraqi government time to set the country on the right track...
continua / continued

Abu Ghraib Cover-up About to Explode

Brent Budowsky, Smirking Chimp
Gen. Antonio Taguba is one of America’s most respected senior officers, was put in charge of the Abu Ghraib investigation, and has now leveled a series of powerful public charges that will soon blow this case sky-high. Gen. Taguba went public early this week in long on-the-record interviews with Sy Hersh reported in his New Yorker piece now on newsstands. Among other things, Taguba says: 1. He was ordered not to investigate higher-ups in the chain of command, which means there was (is) a cover-up protecting the highest-ranking Bush administration officials who might have criminal liability...

Slap Doesn't Stick: Corrupted Congress Will Help Bush Escape Court Ruling

Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque

Sidney Blumenthal adds a worthy comment to the recent ruling by the arch-conservative federal court that struck down George W. Bush's outrageous claims to tyrannical power. The court recognized what we have been saying here (and elsewhere) for years: that Bush's claims, if accepted, mean the end of even the pretense of a constitutional republic in the United States. However, Blumenthal also notes that the ruling has changed nothing "on the ground." Bush has not altered his policies in the light of this stinging rebuke from his own side of the ideological divide. In fact, just last week, one of his mouthpieces strenuously defended Bush's abuse of "signing statements" -- his regular declarations that he is not bound by the laws passed by the people's representatives in Congress...

APR - 8 Dead, 18 Kidnapped and 30 Houses Burned

Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI)

...Sectarian Militas belonging to so-called Mahdi Army with police forces attacked Dora village 7 km northeast Baquba, killed 8 people, arrested 18 people and burned 30 houses forcing the residents for migration. This crime comes in coordination with the occupation and the government’s large military attacks targeting the residents of Diyala Province. The sectarian militias started these attacks against the civilians under this large military offense. The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) condemns this heinous crime, carries the occupation, the current government and the leaders of sectarian militias fully responsible...

A river of corpses

Adnan Abuzaid, Azzaman

For centuries the Tigris River has provided Baghdadis with a rare delicacy: the famous Iraqi Samak mazkouf, a grilled fish. The Tigris was the main source of the fish, kept alive in a tank and you only needed to pick one for the restaurant owners to grill it for you on open fire. But a recent fatwa, or religious decree, issued by Muslim scholars in the city, forbids eating fish from the Tigris River. It is not because of pollution as the Tigris was, before the 2003 U.S. invasion, one of the cleanest rivers in the world. The decaying human corpses dumped into the river, according to the Fatwa, make eating its fish inhuman, unethical and anti-religious. Thanks to U.S. invasion, the Tigris River has turned into a cemetery of floating bodies. The murderous militias and death squads – which the invaders brought with them and nurtured – see the depths of the Tigris as a perfect place to hide their sectarian killings of innocent Iraqis by dumping the bodies of their victims there....

continua / continued

Lieberman asked to resign from his own party

The Wanker crossed the line when he ran, he was voted out by the people of Connecticut, You LOSERS, Handed him, his seat in the Senate with finance from the GOP.
Source: WTNH-TV
(WTNH) _ The Connecticut for Lieberman Party is calling on Senator Joseph Lieberman to resign from the U.S. Senate following his remarks made Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation regarding military action against Iran.
Lieberman said on the national television program that, "we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians."
The Connecticut for Lieberman Chair, Dr. John Orman, called for Lieberman's resignation saying that he "crossed the line" and "no longer represents the views of the citizens of Connecticut."
Orman, a longtime critic of Lieberman, took control of the minority party back in January.

Gov't Struggles to Cope with Wounded GIs ("signature wound: traumatic brain injury")

Source: Associated Press
Gov't struggles to cope with wounded GIs
46 minutes ago
More than 800 of them have lost an arm, a leg, fingers or toes. More than 100 are blind. Dozens need tubes and machines to keep them alive. Hundreds are disfigured by burns, and thousands have brain injuries and mangled minds.
These are America's war wounded, a toll that has received less attention than the 3,500 troops killed in Iraq. Depending on how you count them, they number between 35,000 and 53,000.
More of them are coming home, with injuries of a scope and magnitude the government did not predict and is now struggling to treat.
"If we left Iraq tomorrow, we would have the legacy of all these people for many years to come," said Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and an adviser to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "The military simply wasn't prepared for its own success" at keeping severely wounded soldiers alive, he said.
Survival rates today are even higher than the record levels set early in the war, thanks to body armor and better care. For every American soldier or Marine killed in Iraq, 15 others have survived illness or injury there. Unlike previous wars, few of them have been shot. The signature weapon of this war — the improvised explosive device, or IED — has left a signature wound: traumatic brain injury.

"They don't stay and fight."

Eight more US troops died in Iraq on Saturday, mostly in roadside bombings in Baghdad, as the American military battled suspected Al-Qaeda insurgents in other parts of the country.
On Saturday, the military reported deaths of eight troops, including four in a single roadside bomb attack near their vehicle northwest of Baghdad during combat and in which their Iraqi interpreter was wounded.
An airman and three other soldiers were also reported dead on Saturday, taking US losses this month alone to 68, with 3,545 servicemembers killed since the March 2003 invasion, according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures.
The latest deaths came just days after US commanders deployed a recently completed "surge" of troops to a ring of Al-Qaeda strongholds around the capital.
"We are beyond a surge of forces, and we are now into a surge of operations," Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, the number two US commander in Iraq, told reporters on Friday.
In the biggest operation, around 10,000 US and Iraqi forces backed by helicopters and other aircraft have poured into the town of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, in one of the largest single assaults in nearly three years.
But as with previous attempts to quash the insurgency with major offensives, Odierno said most senior Al-Qaeda leaders fled ahead of the operation.
"I think that they knew an operation was coming in Baquba," said Odierno. "They watched the news. They understood we had a surge. They understood Baquba was designated as a problem area. So they knew we were going to come sooner or later."
He said he believed around 80 percent of the senior insurgent leaders based in the city left ahead of the incursion. "They always do this," Odierno said. "They don't stay and fight."

House votes to ban aid to Saudi Arabia

Opppppppps, Trouble in paradise, Georgie will certainly VETO, this bill, it is definitely not in his best interests to allow this bill to pass.
By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to prohibit any aid to Saudi Arabia as lawmakers accused the close ally of religious intolerance and bankrolling terrorist organizations.
The prohibition, reflecting persistent tensions with the kingdom after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, was attached to a foreign aid funding bill for next year that has not yet been debated by the Senate.
It also faces a veto threat from the White House because of an unrelated provision.
A spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington declined to comment on the legislation.
In the past three years, Congress has passed bills to stop the relatively small amount of U.S. aid to Saudi Arabia, only to see the Bush administration circumvent the prohibitions.
Now, lawmakers are trying to close loopholes so that no more U.S. aid can be sent to the world's leading petroleum exporter.
"By cutting off aid and closing the loophole we send a clear message to the Saudi Arabian government that they must be a true ally in advancing peace in the Middle East," said Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat. Continued...

World's ugliest dog

Absolutely not, my son Tonys, mate Brads dog BONES, IS ABSOLUTLY THE WORLDS UGLIEST DOG, but he still contends that he is a mans best friend. Got to get a pic today
Update Later You Decide?
Petaluma, CaliforniaJune 24, 2007
Here he is, up-close and personal.Photo: AP
Elwood, a two-year-old Chinese Crested and Chihuahua mix, has been crowned the world's ugliest dog, a distinction that delighted the mutt's owners.
Elwood, dark coloured and hairless - save for a mohawk-like puff of white fur on his head - is often referred to as Yoda or ET, for his resemblance to those famous science fiction characters.
"I think he's the cutest thing that ever lived," said Elwood's owner, Karen Quigley, a resident of Sewell, New Jersey.
Quigley brought Elwood out to compete for the second year at the annual ugly dog contest at the Marin-Sonoma County Fair today. Elwood placed second last year.
Most of the competing canines were also Chinese Crested, a breed that features a mohawk, bug eyes and a long, wagging tongue.
Quigley said she rescued Elwood two years ago. "The breeder was going to euthanise him because she thought he was too ugly to sell," said Quigley.
"So ha ha, now Elwood's all over the internet and people love him and adore him."
Beyond the regal title of ugliest dog, Elwood also earned a $US1,000 ($A1,200) reward for his owner.
General denies arming insurgents
Odierno: US not arming Sunnis; Last weekend: Petraeus discusses plan.
Ex-EPA head blasts Rudy on 9/11 handling

Giuliani blocked efforts to get 9/11 workers to wear respirators: Whitman.

DC madam says she may announce decision to distribute phone records

John ByrnePublished: Saturday June 23, 2007
In an email sent to supporters Friday, former DC madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey says she's considering releasing all the phone records provided to ABC News -- from 1993 to 2006.
[My lawyer] "Mr. Sibley and I will be guests on "Geraldo," Saturday, June 23rd, Palfrey wrote in an email acquired by RAW STORY. "The interview will be my first in a nationwide setting, since the 20/20 piece aired on May 4th."
"I hope to discuss my displeasure with the ABC broadcast and why I believe the network held back names at the last moment," she added. "I hope to announce my decision to distribute the phone records (all years 1993 to 2006) to as many responsible media, press and bloggers as possible, once the current injunction prohibiting me from releasing the invoices is lifted -- and my reasons for doing so. Furthermore, it is Mr. Sibley and my hope we will be able talk about the fact that the Government, with the intentioned/unintentional assistance of the Courts has been able to seize and hold my property for 9 months now, without a hearing on the matter."
She says that she will pursue her own press strategy of mass mailings "with the blessings of my legal team."
"I am embarking upon my own informational and update mailings, along side those of Mr. Sibley," she wrote. "I am doing this in large measure because of the excellent data and evidence which is being brought to my attention piecemeal, by sundry investigators, journalists and bloggers interested in my case. It is becoming increasing difficult for me to relay such information onto individual recipients. Ergo, my decision here to forward pertinent info en masse."
"Make no doubt about it," she concludes. "My case is political in nature."

Democrats plan to cut Cheney out of executive funding bill

Josh CatonePublished: Saturday June 23, 2007
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Following Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that his office is not a part of the executive branch of the US government, Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) plans to introduce an amendment to the the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill to cut funding for Cheney's office.
The amendment to the bill that sets the funding for the executive branch will be considered next week in the House of Representatives.
"The Vice President has a choice to make. If he believes his legal case, his office has no business being funded as part of the executive branch," said Emanuel in a statement released to RAW STORY. "However, if he demands executive branch funding he cannot ignore executive branch rules. At the very least, the Vice President should be consistent. This amendment will ensure that the Vice President's funding is consistent with his legal arguments."
At a press briefing yesterday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said that Cheney's assertion that he operates outside of the executive branch of government was "an interesting constitutional question that people can debate" and a "non-issue."
On Thursday, Emanuel suggested that if Cheney feels his office is not part of the executive branch "he should return the salary the American taxpayers have been paying him since January 2001, and move out of the home for which they are footing the bill."
Emanuel also released the following graphic satirizing the situation:

How low can Bush go?

Thursday June 21, 2007 17:49 EST
"Here ... comes ... that famous General Taguba -- of the Taguba report!" That's my favorite line in Seymour Hersh's great New Yorker piece this week, quoting -- guess who? -- former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sneering at Gen. Anthony Taguba, the Abu Ghraib investigator whose career would ultimately end because of his integrity. Can't you just hear Rummy saying that? Doesn't it sound a little like Uncle Rummy, the cantankerous darling of the Pentagon press corps after 9/11, before he got totally cranky when the Iraq war went bad and everyone turned against him?
I started to blog about Hersh's piece the night I read it, but it got a ton of attention right away, which it deserved, and I moved on. Days later I'm still thinking about what it all means. Of course Salon has been reporting on the evidence that administration higher-ups, not just a few "bad apples," were to blame for Abu Ghraib -- Mark Benjamin and Michael Scherer's great work on "The Abu Ghraib files" laid out some of what's known, and both have followed up on the story all year long. In fact, my second-favorite Rumsfeld quote in Hersh's piece already ran in a story by Scherer, "What Rumsfeld Knew," last April. Scherer laid out Rumsfeld's role in the harsh Guantánamo interrogation of alleged al-Qaida detainee Mohammed al-Khatani, which featured "degrading and abusive" treatment, according to Army investigators. Rumsfeld monitored al-Khatani's interrogation closely, but later claimed he didn't know about abusive treatment. Scherer and Hersh both used a memorable quote from Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, an investigator who interviewed Rumsfeld in 2005. "He was going, 'My God, you know, did I authorize putting a bra and underwear on this guy's head?'" And Mark Benjamin continues to break new ground on the torture front (I wish there wasn't one) with today's feature on "The CIA's Torture Teachers," the psychologists who have been training military and CIA investigators in cutting-edge interrogation techniques.
The Taguba revelations might seem like old news since Rumsfeld's gone, but obviously torture continues, in our name. And while generals and even defense secretaries come and go, the commander in chief holds onto his job. Eminent McClatchy military columnist Joe Galloway writes that he hopes the Hersh piece forces Congress to reopen its Abu Ghraib investigation, as I do. What makes Taguba stand out is that ... Taguba really shouldn't stand out. He was a career military officer following orders; he was told to do a job, and he did it. While he deserves praise for his integrity and sympathy for his forced retirement, it's worth remembering that Abu Ghraib critics like Mark Danner noted at the time that Taguba's investigation didn't go nearly far enough. While acknowledging that the general was "following orders," Danner and others complained that Taguba concentrated only on military police, and thus his report did nothing to shed light on the Pentagon higher-ups or intelligence officials who were to blame for creating the conditions for torture. But for the Bush administration, he went too far, and he was forced out.
There are few clearer examples of the many ways this administration has undermined the military than the Taguba story, but is Congress paying attention? Another loyal general gone, another 14 soldiers dead in Iraq today. Bush's poll standing continues to drop -- he's down to 26 percent, lower than Jimmy Carter ever fell -- in the Newsweek poll released today, largely because more Americans than ever disapprove of his handling of the war. More than 3,500 Americans dead, generals like Taguba and Eric Shinseki on the trash heap, and still too many Congress members lack the courage to put the brakes on the war, let alone on torture.
-- Joan Walsh

The forgotten colatoral damage of Georgies Illegal war and occupation, Wonder what the true death tolls are?

Sandoval was and is an inspiration to all of those he has touched along the way. But since he was injured in 2005, the media and America at large may not give him the honor and respect he's due, simply because he didn't die on the battlefield.
Sandoval didn't die in Baghdad or Fallujah; he died in a hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. But as of Thursday, Sandoval has not been included in the official tally by the Department of Defense.
Veterans of the Iraq war, including heroic Army Cpl. Frank Sandoval, are dying here in America too.
By L. Okey Onyejekwe Jr.
A grand jury accused Alan Placa of molestation and his diocese has suspended him, but the presidential candidate continues to employ his lifelong best friend as a consultant
By Alex Koppelman and Joe Strupp

Cheney Under Fire for Stance on Secrecy

The House Oversight Committee is demanding that Vice President Cheney explain himself. Is his office part of the executive branch? Part of the legislative branch? Or is Cheney suggesting that as far as federal rules are concerned, his office essentially doesn't exist? The issue at hand is Cheney's insistence that his office is exempt from an executive order issued by President Bush in 2003 requiring all federal agencies or "any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information" to report annually on its activities regarding the classification, safeguarding and declassification of national security information.

| Bush's Mafia Whacks the Republic

Robert Parry writes: "In years to come, historians may look back on US press coverage of George W. Bush's presidency and wonder why there was not a single front-page story announcing one of the most monumental events of mankind's modern era - the death of the American Republic and the elimination of the 'unalienable rights' pledged to 'posterity' by the Founders."

FBI's 9/11 Saudi Flight Documents Released

Matt Renner reports: "Newly released documents reveal that the FBI suspected that a plane hired to transport members of the bin Laden family from the United States back to Saudi Arabia might have been chartered by Osama bin Laden himself. These new documents raise new questions about the FBI investigation into the 9/11 attacks."
By Martin Chulov
June 23, 2007 06:41am
HAMAS has angrily denied Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's allegation that its militants plotted to kill him with a giant bomb, making the statement in front of Mr Abbas's Gaza home.
In a provocative step, the militant group's military wing staged a press conference at the front door of Mr Abbas's Gaza home, before leading journalists through the house in a bid to prove it had not been damaged, as exiled Fatah officials had claimed.
A spokesman for the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Ubaidah, said documents recovered from the Fatah-run spy headquarters and police base proved that the Palestinian Authority in Gaza was providing Israel with precise details on Hamas positions and had deployed teams to tail key militant cells.
Displaying documents under the banner of the intelligence service, he said: "This is part of the proof that Preventative Security was providing security information to the Israeli enemy."
Mr Abbas's speech on Wednesday, in which he described Hamas as "murderous terrorists" and vowed not to deal with them again, has left Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip outraged and calling the Fatah leadership collaborators.
A post on the Hamas website replicated the US Army's deck of cards by labelling four Fatah leaders as wanted criminals and superimposing their faces on playing cards.
Among them was strongman and Abbas confidant Mahmoud Dahlan, whose house in Gaza was ransacked. Death threats were spray-painted on the perimeter walls.
Hamas denied another claim on seized documents - and used as evidence against them by Israel - that 25 per cent of its military wing received training in Iran.
Meanwhile, the embattled Islamic group received some support at the UN Security Council yesterday, with four nations defying a UN-sponsored bid to support the regime of Mr Abbas and the newly appointed Prime Minister, Salaam Fayyad. >>>cont
GERMANY'S Nazi past sensationally came back to haunt the EU summit yesterday when Poland claimed it had 28 million fewer people thanks to Germany.
Aussie cleric supports Hezbollah
"Our opinion is that Hezbollah is not a terrorist group.
"We consider Hezbollah a resistance group.
"Put those words down, we are not afraid to say that."
THE nation's most senior Shia Muslim cleric has attacked John Howard for backing Israel and openly declared his allegiance to terrorist group Hezbollah.

Embattled AG plots out next 18 months; not planning early departure.

Bush joins Cheney in declaring self exempt from his own executive order on secrecy

President Bush claims he's exempt from security oversight too, Los Angeles Times to report
RAW STORYPublished: Friday June 22, 2007
"The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is exempt from a presidential order requiring government agencies that handle classified national security information to submit to oversight by an independent federal watchdog," the Los Angeles Times will report Saturday, RAW STORY has learned. Excerpts:
"The executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 covers all government agencies that are part of the executive branch and, although it doesn't specifically say so, was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said.
The issue flared up Thursday when Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., criticized Cheney for refusing to file annual reports with the National Archives and Records Administration, spelling out how his office handles classified documents, or to submit to an inspection by the archives' Information Security Oversight Office.
The archives, a federal agency, has been pressing the vice president's office to cooperate with its oversight efforts for the past several years, contending that by not doing so, Cheney and his staff have created a potential national security risk.
Bush issued the directive in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a way of ensuring that the nation's secrets would not be mishandled, made public, or improperly declassified.

'MISTAKE:' NATO chief vows to probe airstrike that killed 25 civilians.

Published: Friday June 22, 2007
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Friday called for an investigation into the killing of 25 civilians in a NATO air strike in Afghanistan's Helmand province, saying it was "a mistake."
And in the wake of the deaths, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he would seek consensus with opposition foes on whether Canada should continue its mission beyond 2009.
"It's always a mistake (when civilians are killed)," the NATO chief told reporters during a visit to Quebec City, where the next wave of Canadian soldiers are preparing to depart for Afghanistan.
"Each innocent civilian victim is one too many," he said. "Unfortunately it happens."
"It's important to avoid these mistakes because we must keep the support of the large majority of the Afghan population," he said, calling for "a serious investigation" of the incident by NATO and local authorities.
Earlier, a NATO air strike in southern Afghanistan killed 25 civilians, local police chief Colonel Mohammed Hassan told AFP.
A US air strike in southern Afghanistan has killed up to 25 civilians, a local police chief said today. The victims included women, children and a cleric, as well as 20 suspected Taliban militants, according to Mohammad Hussein Andiwal, the Helmand province police chief.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Confessions on a Sunday...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues - Reflections in a sealed bottle...
I must be somewhat of a masochist.
Whenever I feel a kind of " blah" pervading me, I watch these "religious" TV stations, with the secret hope for a " pick me up" kind of feeling.
The "pick me up" has to do more with a few giggles rather than a "moment of Grace" even though I would not refuse the latter.
I have no particular preference. I zap from the depressing shia al-Forat channel to the equally depressing sunni Iqra channel and to the even more depressing "born again" Christian channels. And each time I do that and watch what these guys (and most of them are guys) have to say, I feel like flagellating myself afterwards.
No, no, it is not due to some secret hidden desire to become a "sect martyr". It has more to do with a sense of guilt for having put my poor mind through so much torture.
What is torturing about it is the way I feel afterwards...
The subliminal message is almost always identical : " You are not good enough, you are sinful, repent..." I am sure all religions are guilty of this and inflict that guilt on their followers.
Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Religion per se. As a matter of fact, I have spent considerable time studying comparative religions because this is a subject that greatly interests me. And I do not dismiss the concept of Transcendence either. In fact religion from latin (relegare) means to re-connect. And am all for re-connections...
And by the way, I do not discount the fact that evil and sin exist but somehow these T.V programs seem to misplace the evil/sin equation away from the real source.
For me the real source is Injustice. Injustice is the source of all evil and all sin. >>>>cont

Iraqis to Bush: “You have left us with nothing”

Mike Whitney
Here’s something you won’t read in the mainstream news: The real disposition of the war changed more than two years ago when it became apparent that the Iraqi resistance would not simply throw down their weapons and give up. That’s when the assassination of teachers and intellectuals went into high-gear. That’s when archeological sites, museums, and anything else connected to Iraqi cultural and historical identity—began to come under relentless and withering attack. The attacks on holy sites and mosques have persisted to this day. There is a conscious effort to destroy all the religious symbols and monuments which bind the people together in the shared experience of a common faith. The same sinister forces which are inciting the sectarian violence are trying to remove all sense of kinship, brotherhood, nationalism and spirituality. Their objective is to "wipe the slate clean" and rebuild the entire society according to their neoliberal model. If that is not genocide; then what is? Here is the story of one victim of the US occupation. It is a story of great personal loss and suffering. It’s really the tale about all of Iraq; a nation that never threatened the United States, but which has been crushed by evil, ambitious men who care nothing about the death and suffering they have produced. The story is called "My Shrine" and it is by poet and author Layla Anwar... We have destroyed Iraq and left the people with nothing. The American people need to know this.....
As I was staring out of the window, I noticed the full moon.
I remember when I was a child, I associated the full moon with my love for my grandmother.
I used to tell her: " Bibi, every time I see the full moon, I see you. You are my moon."
I absolutely adored my grandmother. She loved me kindly, warmly, with no strings attached...
As benevolently and as gently as the moonlight.
So naturally on a full moon, I remember her.
As a matter of fact, I remember all my departed ones, members of my family, my great grand parents, my ancestors...Everyone I have ever heard of, even those remotely related to me.
Remembering them gives me a sense of continuity...A sense of belonging.
And now that Iraq is in pieces, their rememberance is even more of a priority for me.
As a matter of fact, I dream of them often, or more like they visit me in my dreams ... rather too often, these days.
And true to our traditions, every time they visit me in my dreams, I make it a point to offer food or alms to any worship place (be it mosque or church) in their souls name.
Another thing that reminds me a lot of my departed ones is Sheikh al Gaylani(Gilani) mosque and shrine in downtown Baghdad.
Sheikh AbdelKader Al Gilani was a sufi and a good number of my family followed his teachings.
Some even say that we are related to him and can trace our roots right back to 13th century Baghdad through the Gaylani school.
So when I heard that Al Gaylani mosque and shrine was bombed, something in me snapped.
I felt it physically, something around my heart...
I have often visited this mosque, with members of my family, one of which was my grandmother.
We would sometimes go in the morning and sometimes in the early evenings.
In the mornings, women (sunnis and shias - we never thought of these terms before the occupation) would congregate, pray and pay their tributes.
Some would distribute candies because a secret vow or wish had come true.
So whilst praying, sweets would fall around me and it was always a good omen.
In the evenings, you could hear after the muezzin's call to prayer, the chanting -Dhikr - of the sacred Divine names, repeated over and over until they mingled with the sunset and became One.
This shrine is more than just a place of worship for me.
Every time I walked in there, I would draw strength, feeling it infusing my roots with a new breath...
Everytime I sat there, I connected with all those who sat there before me, all the way back to the 13th century...
This place symbolized for me, my sense of belonging, my sense of being.
In my mind, this place was my point of reference, like some lieu that my inner compass recognized, gravitated towards, affiliated and identified with...
An attachment beyond time, space and geography. An attachment like some invisible rope handed down through generations of worshippers and contemplators. All the way back...
When it got bombed , I asked Aziz who knows this mosque better than anyone else, who was behind it. He replied matter of factly as if he knew it all along :" Mahdi of Iran, Mossad and the Americans."... And I believe Aziz for he knows.
And instead of sweets falling as a good omen, falling debris buried the wounded...And instead of sacred chants uniting with the sunset, the cries of mourning...
What have you done?
Not only have you smashed my country into tiny pieces.
Not only have you slaughtered my people.
Not only have you snatched my loved ones, my family, my friends, away from me.
Not only have you destroyed our homes.
Not only have you exiled thousands of us.
But you have also managed to shatter my memories, pull them out from their roots, like some unwanted weed.
You have managed to reach the only sacred place I had left.
The only place I had jealously safeguarded, secretly held in silence, lest you should find out about it.
But you even managed to penetrate that too.
Leaving me with nothing...
Leaving me with absolutely nothing but this pen and paper and a full moon staring coldly back at me.
Painting: Iraqi artist, Salman Shalhoob.

Arrest Made in Death of Denton Activist

How truely sad it is, Brother kills Brother in Georgies America today
04:27 PM CDT on Friday, June 22, 2007
By MATTHEW HAAG / The Dallas Morning Newsmhaag@dallasnews.com
A man involved in opening a premier shooting range has been arrested in connection with the death of his brother, a Denton peace activist who was found slumped over the front seat of his truck with a gunshot wound to the head, Flower Mound police said.
Mark Francis Honish, 44, was taken into custody Friday morning in front of his Trophy Club home and charged with murder, Officer Paul Boon said.
A Flower Mound officer on routine patrol found David Honish, 52, in his Ford F-150 pickup truck around 11:30 p.m. Thursday. The vehicle, with its engine still running, was about 25 feet off the roadway on U.S. 377 just north of FM1171.
"The way he was parked appears that he was there to meet someone," Officer Boon said.

firearms expert, Mark Honish was president of Tactical Advantage, which plans to open the nation's largest indoor shooting range in Roanoke in the fall. The City Council voted in 2003 to approve the construction of the 40,000-square-foot Tactical Edge Performance Shooting Centers.
On the Web site Aubreyturner.org, David Honish wrote in 2003 about the pair's plan to start the gun range. "Long story short, we need $400K in private investment to qualify for the loans to make this happen," he wrote. "Will work out the details with my brother & have info on it in the near future for you."

An Army veteran, David Honish wrote in a recent letter to the Denton Record-Chronicle that he worked in stateside hospitals during the Vietnam War. He was a licensed vocational nurse, according to the state Board of Nurse Examiners.
Mr. Honish was the "main motivator" for the North Texas Veterans for Peace, which often gathered on an overpass near the University of North Texas campus, said Bernie Jezercak, the group's financial officer.
"He was a very fine individual," said Mr. Jezercak, who had known Mr. Honish for about six years. "He was usually our front man."

The group last met Memorial Weekend, and Mr. Honish was there as always, he said.
"He was his usual jovial and insightful self," said Mr. Jezercak, who added that Mr. Honish was known to be opinionated.
"He wasn't afraid to shock people into paying attention to what's going on," he said. "He wasn't disrespectful or aggressive. But he was willing to make a statement."
Dan Burnam, the coordinator for Peace Activist Denton, said Mr. Honish was not a member of the Denton group, but that they met for the first time in 2003 at a demonstration and had reconnected at several "peace actions" in the past few years.
In October, Mr. Honish was among about 40 people who took part in a demonstration against torture and the war in Iraq outside the office of U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess in Lewisville. They were part of the local version of "The World Can't Wait" campaign, a North American movement protesting the policies of the Bush administration.
Mr. Burnam said he received an e-mail from Mr. Honish on Wednesday with the subject line "Reasons not to re-enlist" and that had talked about opening the gun range with his brother.
"I don't know that much about David's personal, private life," Mr. Burnam said. "It's kind of bizarre he died in a gun accident."
Mark Honish had owned a company called Blackhawk Air Services between 1997 and 2002, according to state records. He recently worked for Basin Aviation, a Midland-based company that provided charter flights. A company official who declined to give his name said Mr. Honish worked sporadically.
Staff writer Emily Tsao contributed to this report.

LAT: Tourists aren't flocking to the U.S.

I cringe with anger, just thinking of those words, spoken by such a contemtable little man, Whom the American public felt, they would be comfortable having a beer with, as the media and cable were so happy to inform the world.
Such an important requisite, for the World Leader of our times. Don't you think
After enjoying two extended visits to the USofA with my family, I would consider myself dirty, to even consider visiting a Country, that stood by and allowed a rogue govt, to steal two elections, declare an illegal war and occupation of a Soveriegn Nation, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The world, I think had America in their prayers and hearts, after 9/11, to bad they had a rogue govt in the White House, who threw it all away with such arrogance, and disdain, and that goes across the board, having students from all over the world staying in my home, including Muslim students, I get the feelings of what the world is saying, in our discussions of world events while relaxing at the dinner table.
Sorry Christy still luv ya, but you are going to have to visit Down Under, where you will be very much welcomed.
Source: L.A. Times
By Kimi Yoshino, Times Staff Writer
June 22, 2007
Troubled by steep declines in international tourism, U.S. mayors are urging the federal government to spend more money on marketing the United States and to make the entry process friendlier and faster.
Responding to a survey by the Travel Business Roundtable, mayors from the country's top travel destinations said tourism — a driving force of the U.S. economy — needed to be a top priority.
The number of overseas visitors to the U.S. has dropped 17% since its peak in 2000 — and 20% in the top 15 cities — costing more than $100 billion in lost visitor spending through 2005, according to the Commerce Department.
In Los Angeles, tourism is expected to add $13 billion in direct cash to the economy this year. But from 2000 to 2005, the number of overseas travelers declined 27%. In Anaheim, home of Disneyland, the number of overseas visitors dropped 21% in the same period, Commerce Department statistics showed.

Analysis: Iraq oil law changes irk author

The role of Iraq's central government as a guiding hand over the country's vast oil reserves has been so altered in the current version of the controversial draft oil law that two of the document's authors now oppose it.
"The judgment of many is if the oil and gas is the property of the whole nation, it should be managed by whom? The custodian of the whole nation, and that's the federal government," said Tariq Shafiq, a London- and Amman, Jordan-based consultant and director of Petrolog & Associates. Shafiq, who just last summer was crafting the legislation, told UPI during a recent Washington visit that subsequent revisions have watered down the central government's role with political bartering that will lead to mismanagement of the world's third-largest oil reserves. Shafiq also warned of overdevelopment of the country's oil and gas resources, especially if the undiscovered reserves are developed or Kurdistan or other regions develop their fields outside of a central oil strategy.
The law, which was approved by the council of ministers in February, is now stalled in a power struggle between the central government and Kurdistan Regional government over how much of the 115 billion barrels in proven oil reserves each side will control. Various factions, including the powerful oil unions and Sunni political parties, have warned against allowing international oil companies too much access.
And the Iraqi Parliament likely won't be able to overcome political friction, let alone the deteriorating security situation in the country, to move forward soon on the oil law.
"The pledge by some Iraqi politicians to pass the new oil law by the end of June is not likely to be fulfilled, and Iraqi lawmakers are not expected to tackle this issue until after the parliamentary recess scheduled for the end of July," Greg Priddy, global energy analyst at the business risk consultant Eurasia Group, wrote Tuesday in the firm ' s Energy Trendwatch. "By then, all branches of the Iraqi government will come under tremendous pressure from the U.S. administration, which has listed the new hydrocarbon law as a major priority to be addressed by mid September, when it is expected to submit a full report to the U.S. Congress." The roots of the Baghdad row -- which highlights the future of Iraq: how strong the central government will be and how much power the regions and provinces will wield -- are seeded in the 2005 constitution. Key issues of federalism and control over oil were left vague to shore up enough support for passage. Nearly two years later, there is no political consensus.
Police Academy 8: Iraqi Edition
By Jonathen SteinIt takes seven days of training to become a Starbucks barista. It takes just eight to become an Iraqi cop.
From the MoJo Blog
Dick Cheney: Check and Balance This!

By Dave GilsonForget everything you learned in 5th-grade social studies (or Election) about the three branches of government.
From the MoJo Blog

Bin Laden may have helped family flee US

OSAMA bin Laden may have chartered a plane that carried his family members and Saudi nationals out of the US after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the FBI says.
The papers, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, were made public by Judicial Watch, a Washington-based group that investigates government corruption.
One FBI document referred to a Ryan Air 727 airplane that departed Los Angeles International Airport on September 19, 2001, and was said to have carried Saudi nationals out of the US.
"The plane was chartered either by the Saudi Arabian royal family or Osama bin Laden,'' according to the document, which was among 224 pages posted online.
The flight made stops in Orlando, Florida; Washington, DC; and Boston, Massachusetts and eventually left its passengers in Paris the following day.
In all, the documents detail six flights between September 14 and September 24 that evacuated Saudi nationals and bin Laden family members, Judicial Watch said.
"Incredibly, not a single Saudi national nor any of the bin Laden family members possessed any information of investigative value,'' Judicial Watch said.

Shocker: Desperate soldiers abandon 'unsafe' tanks, Humvees

In desperation, military suggests foot patrols can be safer than Humvees, tanks
RAW STORYPublished: Friday June 22, 2007
Top US commanders in Iraq have been encouraging soldiers in Baghdad to "get out and walk."
In fact -- they've been using those very words. According to Friday's LA Times, a counterinsurgency guidance memo "released last week by Army Lt. Gen Raymond T. Odierno, the commander of day-to-day military operations, urges Iraqi and American troops to 'get out and walk.'
"I would rather go out without any armor or gear," one soldier told the Times. "If an EFP hits the vehicle, you are dead anyway no matter how much armor you have. It can take out an Abrams tank; these 1114 [armored Humvees] are nothing."
The paper notes that the memo argues that although Humvees offer protection, "they also make units predictable and 'insulate us from the Iraqi people we intend to secure.'"
More to the point, according to soldiers interviewed for the article, walking is safer: "U.S. troops working the streets of the capital fear one Iraqi weapon more than others -- a copper-plated explosive that can penetrate armor and has proved devastating to Humvees and even capable of severely damaging tanks," writes the LA Times Julian Barnes. >>>cont
Applying normal accounting rules, US ran $1.3 trillion loss last year.

Secret Service: Retired Bush will be 'high value terrorist target'

David Edwards and Muriel KanePublished: Thursday June 21, 2007
CNN reported Thursday that the Secret Service expects President Bush to be "a high value terrorist target after he leaves office." They then showed the Secret Service practicing to deal with everything from James Bond-style stealth weapons to roadside IED's in order to meet that challenge.
Retired agent Terry Samway told CNN, "We have the mandate to make sure that whatever they did during their presidency, they are still safe from any of those lingering issues after their presidency."
Even before 9/11, the cost of protection for former presidents was estimated as $24 million a year, and Bush will be guarded by an unprecedented 103 full-time agents starting in January 2009. However, a 1997 law limits the duration of Secret Service protection for former presidents to just 10 years.
"But before they can protect a president or former president," concluded CNN, "the new recruits are drilled in the basics, including target practice at 100 yards and then a sprint to load and fire again -- this time much more up close and personal."
The following video is from CNN's News Room, broadcast on June 21.

Documents To Show CIA's "Illegal" And "Scandalous" Activities During 1970s

AP Jennifer C. Kerr June 22, 2007 10:16 AM
WASHINGTON -- Little-known documents made public Thursday detail illegal and scandalous activities by the CIA more than 30 years ago _ wiretappings of journalists, kidnappings, warrantless searches and more.
The documents provide a glimpse of nearly 700 pages of materials that the agency has declassified and plans to release next week.

AP Story Forces White House To Cancel Meeting On Closing Gitmo

AFP June 22, 2007 12:51 PM
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House on Friday cancelled a planned meeting on the Guantanamo Bay military prison after media reports that it was close to a decision to shut the Cuba detention center.
White House spokesman Dana Perino denied that a decision on whether to close the controversial camp was "imminent" but reiterated President George W. Bush's avowed aim to shut the center "as soon as possible."


Yesterday, a U.S. military vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Another was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. We hear reports like these coming out of Iraq almost every day. But what happens to the soldiers who survive these attacks? Are those who suffer the psychological wounds of war getting all the care they need?
Not according to the Department of Defense. Not even close. According to a disturbing new report1, troops are still reluctant to seek counseling because of the stigma of mental health care, and the military's mental health professionals are often inaccessible to service members and their families. That means the troops who need help most aren't asking for it, and the military isn't reaching out to make sure they get treated.
There is no excuse for failing to provide soldiers suffering from PTSD and other mental issues with all the care they need. This month, IAVA has been focusing on Mental Health issues in Washington and in the media. And with your support, we'll continue the fight. But in order for real change to happen, people need to understand the problems.
This is where you can help, by spreading awareness of these crucial issues. Check out "Without a Scratch" - a two-part series published in the Washington Post this week, authored by the same reporters who wrote the watershed articles on Walter Reed. The series gives detailed and deeply personal accounts of soldiers trying to seek out mental health care, and shows how the DoD and VA failed to account for this long-term cost of the war.
Then take a minute to tell three of your friends about these articles. You can forward this email or use our Tell-A-Friend tool.
Thank you for your continued support.
Paul RieckhoffIraq VeteranExecutive DirectorIraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
1. You can get the full report here: http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?key=368175037&url_num=11&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ha.osd.mil%2Fdhb%2Fmhtf%2FMHTF-Report-Final.pdf

House To Bush Admin: Comply With Subpoenas Or Face Contempt

The Hill Susan Crabtree June 22, 2007 08:27 AM
House Judiciary Committee Democrats warned yesterday they would pursue a contempt of Congress motion if the White House fails respond to subpoenas for testimony and documents related to the firings of U.S. attorneys last year.
The deadline for a response is Thursday, June 28. If the White House does not comply, it opens the possibility of a constitutional showdown between the two branches. In an ironic twist, the Department of Justice (DoJ) would be called on to enforce the contempt motion.
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