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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Worldwide Live Earth Concerts Draw Massive Crowds »

Live Earth Makes Going Green Global
AP D'ARCY DORAN July 7, 2007 01:14 PM
Aboriginal elders, virtual-reality performers, a holographic Al Gore and more than 100 of the biggest names in music -- including Madonna, the Police and Kanye West -- were taking to the stage on seven continents Saturday to fight climate change.
The Material Girl was flaunting her eco-friendly side as the headliner of an eclectic show at London's newly rebuilt Wembley Stadium that included the Beastie Boys, the Pussycat Dolls and the Black Eyed Peas.

The real precedent(s)

Swopa, Needlenose
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has scheduled hearings Wednesday on Bush's commutation of Libby's 2 1/2-year sentence. "Well, fine, knock himself out," [White House spokesliar Tony] Snow said of Conyers. "I mean, perfectly happy. And while he's at it, why doesn't he look at January 20th, 2001?" In the closing hours of his presidency, [Bill] Clinton pardoned 140 people, including fugitive financier Marc Rich. If Dubya wants to point fingers at previous presidents who acted just as corruptly as he did, he should look at a family portrait...

Iraqi lawmaker quits energy panel over oil law

Sat Jul 7, 2007 10:04AM EDT
BAGHDAD, July 7 (Reuters) - A member of Iraq's parliamentary
energy committee quit on Saturday in protest over a draft oil law,
which Washington hopes will help ease violence between Iraq's
warring Shi'ite and Sunni Arabs.
Usama al-Nujeyfi told a small news conference that the proposal
would cede too much control to global companies and "ruin the
country's future". He vowed to work to defeat the draft in
"I announce my resignation and distance myself from delivering this
draft before this parliament and I will carry out my obligation to
repeal it inside parliament with all fellow nationalists," al-Nujeyfi
The draft was passed by the cabinet of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki on Tuesday and must be debated and agreed by parliament
before it can become law.

Its called LIBERATION?

Mortar kills seven family members in Baghdad
From correspondents in Iraq
July 07, 2007 06:53am
A MORTRAR has killed seven members of the same family in central Baghdad today as they slept on their roof, an interior ministry source said.
Two neighbours were also wounded in the attack in the mostly Sunni neighbourhood of Fadhil in central Baghdad, the ministry source said.
Fadhil, which borders several Shi'ite districts, had been relatively quiet in recent weeks. But a resident who lives near the area said clashes broke out after the attack.
The fighting died down after about 30 minutes, although sporadic firing could still be heard, the resident said.
Sleeping on the roof is common in Iraq, as frequent electricity blackouts prevent air-conditioning from functioning and summer temperatures often remain well above 40 degrees Celsius even at night.
US and Iraqi forces have launched a major security clampdown in and around the capital to stem sectarian violence between majority Shi'ite and minority Sunni Arabs that has pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.

We almost forgot!

We feel like such heels: here it is almost 6 EST, and we just now realized that we almost forgot about the significance of today -- it's George W. Bush's 61st birthday!
Fortunately, if you're like us and neglected to get that card in the mail early enough for it to have arrived today, the GOP has a solution. You can sign their e-card here. According to e-mails sent to their mailing lists, "To make this an extra special birthday on July 6, Mrs. Bush will be presenting our President with this birthday wish from supporters like you."
And if you just so happen to want to make a donation to the Republican National Committee while you're at it, well, they've been nice enough to provide a sizable donation form before getting you to the e-card signature itself. Now if only they'd make a form like this for our dear Aunt Gladys' next birthday.
-- Alex Koppelman

Afghan Civilians Caught in Crossfire

"The men told the same story, of how foreign troops bombed their villages long after the Taliban fighters had left, how the bombs killed women and children, goats and sheep, and how if they had one wish, it would be for the foreigners to leave," the Chicago Tribune's Kim Barker reports.

Whistle Blower Who Challenged Cheney Seeks Federal Aid

"From a cramped motor home in a Montana campground where Internet access is as spotty as the trout, Richard Barlow wakes each morning to battle Washington," reports Lyndsey Layton in Saturday's Washington Post. "Once a top intelligence officer at the Pentagon who helped uncover Pakistan's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, Barlow insisted on telling the truth, and it led to his undoing."

SEVEN US SOLDIERS reported dead today; 73 Iraqis killed in bombings.

Lawsuit Over Secret Wiretaps Dismissed On Technicality

Associated Press July 6, 2007 06:01 PM
A divided federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit Friday challenging President Bush's domestic spying program without ruling on the issue of whether warrantless wiretapping is legal.
In a 2-1 decision with Republican-appointed judges in the majority, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the plaintiffs had no standing to sue because they couldn't prove their communications had been monitored by the government.

Newly naturalized US Marines raise their hands during a ceremony at Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq,

One way to get the troops for Georgies Illegal War and Occupation
Newly naturalized US Marines raise their hands during a ceremony at Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July 4, 2007, at which troops reenlisted and some were naturalized as United States citizens. Around 160 troops from 52 countries were given US citizenship during the ceremony. (AP Photo/Ali al-Saadi, Pool)

Iraq Watch List: GOP Senators Likely To Defect »

AP ANNE FLAHERTY July 6, 2007 03:36 PM
After the recent defection of prominent Republicans on the Iraq war, the big question in Washington is who might be next.
More than a dozen Republican senators who are running for re-election next year head the list of lawmakers to watch. But others, too, have expressed concerns that the GOP has grown increasingly vulnerable on the issue. As the clock ticks toward Election Day, voter pressure is building against any lawmaker still standing with President Bush on the war.

Multiple Suicide Bombs Rip Through Shiite Villages

AP News YAHYA BARZANJI July 7, 2007 08:20 AM
A string of suicide bombings killed at least 73 people and wounded dozens in Shiite villages north of Baghdad, including a large truck bombing Saturday that ripped through an outdoor market and buried victims in rubble, officials said.
The quick succession of blasts within hours of each other suggested that Sunni militants are regrouping to launch their deadliest form of attack -- suicide explosions, often against Shiites -- in regions further away from Baghdad, beyond the edges of a three-week old...

Thompson's Younger Wife Becomes Campaign Issue »

Will the so-called values voters accept this union?
The New York Times SUSAN SAULNY July 7, 2007 08:55 AM
AS the election of 2008 approaches with its cast of contenders who bring unprecedented diversity to the quest for the White House, the voting public has been called on to ponder several questions: Is America ready for a woman to be president? What about a black man? A Mormon?
Now, with the possible candidacy of Fred D. Thompson, the grandfatherly actor and former Republican senator from Tennessee, whose second wife is almost a quarter-century his junior, comes a less palatable inquiry...
Will the so-called values voters accept this union?

Military: 6 U.S. troops killed in Iraq

1 hour, 35 minutes ago
BAGHDAD - The U.S. military Saturday announced the deaths of six more American service members in combat operations in Iraq, most of them in the Baghdad area.
Two soldiers died Friday and three others were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in east Baghdad, the military said.
A U.S. soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were killed Friday when an explosively formed penetrator exploded near their patrol in southeastern Baghdad, the military said. Three soldiers were wounded.
Explosively formed penetrators are high-tech bombs that the U.S. believes are provided by Iran. The Iranians deny the charge.
Three other service members were killed Thursday — two Marines in western Anbar province and a soldier in Baghdad, the command said.

Welcome Home Your Country Thanks You?

Source: Star Tribune
DULUTH - While serving an 18-month tour of duty in Iraq, Staff Sgt. Adam Sheda started a MySpace page that revealed interests from the unusual -- Russian language and literature -- to the more typical daydreams of a young, homesick soldier: women, cars and beer.
"All my friends better throw me one hell of a party when I get home," wrote Sheda, 26, of Cloquet, Minn. "My plans when I get back are to drink until my heart stops."
Early Saturday, less than a week after returning from Iraq, Sheda was fatally shot with his own pistol in Duluth after he crashed a backyard party of strangers while apparently intoxicated, according to court papers filed Thursday.
The complaint alleges that Hogan, a lumberyard laborer from Duluth who has no serious criminal record, severely beat Sheda, wrestled away his pistol, and shot him in the head while yelling "187" followed by an expletive.He later told police that the number 187 is a reference in certain rap music to the California penal-code number for murder, the complaint said.

Plans For US Border Station, Other 'Sensitive' Gov Documents Found In TV Station Dumpster

KXAN-TV July 6, 2007 11:07 PM
Sensitive government documents turned up in KXAN Austin News' Dumpster in Central Austin. Included in the bound 189-page document were preliminary plans for the expansion of a U.S.-Mexico border crossing station in El Paso.

Prison Video Of Ex-Priest's Slaying Shown On YouTube

Associated Press July 6, 2007 05:54 PM
State prison officials were investigating how the 10-minute video, shot from outside former Roman Catholic priest John Geoghan's cell during his slaying, made it onto YouTube.
The video was posted last month and may have been brought to the Boston Herald's attention by Joseph Druce, who was convicted in January of killing Geoghan at the Souza-Baranowski maximum security prison in August 2003.

Leader Puts Religious Group's Attempt To 'Take Over' South Carolina On Hold »

Greenville News July 6, 2007 10:59 PM
The co-founder of a movement to get conservative Christians to move to South Carolina so they can take over the government through the ballot box has delayed his own move to the state.
Christian Exodus co-founder Cory Burnell planned to relocate from California to Anderson County sometime this week. But he said the publicity surrounding the move caused his would-be employer to take away its offer. He wouldn't name the company.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Europe's last haven for Iraqi refugees starts shutting the door :

Sweden, which has welcomed far more Iraqi refugees than has the U.S. or the rest of Europe, said Friday that it is tightening its asylum rules and will forcibly deport Iraqis who are denied refuge.

Reparations - World War I:

Versailles Treaty War Guilt Clause
Let us learn from history:
Germany was required to sign a treaty that assigned full responsibility to them for causing the conflict (Article 231, the "war guilt clause") and called for the creation of an international reparations commission to determine the amount of damages

Strike The Root

By Sheila Samples
The U.S. Constitution is the greatest perception of Liberty ever conceived. It was hammered out by men determined to prevent imperial presidencies, shadow governments and seizures of power by any one branch. It was conceived precisely to thwart efforts to destroy the republic by those whose only allegiance is to power and money. We must rid ourselves of the traitors in our midst, starting with Dick Cheney.
Sheila Samples, thepeoplesvoice.org
...Both Democrats and Republicans are branches of the same tree of corruption. When hacked off, a branch is instantly replaced by another, and another, each one stronger than the last. George Bush is but a snarled twig, waving at us with a frog in one hand and a firecracker in the other. As bodies of American citizens pile up in funeral homes and cemetaries across the nation; as more and more bodies of innocent men, women and children are strewn across the Middle East, it is becoming increasingly obvious the madness will not stop until we fell this tree -- dig into the darkness and strike the root. We must expose -- and impeach -- Dick Cheney... continua / continued

Madeleine Brown

Madeleine Brown was a businesswoman who worked for Glenn Advertising. Later she claimed she had an affair with Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1988 she told Jack Anderson that: "In the fall of 1963 I was in the Carousel Club with other advertising people and Jack Ruby was saying that Lee Harvey Oswald had been in the club and he had been bragging that he had been bragging that he had taken a shot at Major General Edwin Walker".
On 24th February, 1992, Brown gave an interview on the television show, A Current Affair. Brown claimed that on the 21st November, 1963, she was at the home of Clint Murchison. Others at the meeting included J. Edgar Hoover, Clyde Tolson, John J. McCloy, Richard Nixon, Harvey Bright and Haroldson L. Hunt. At the end of the evening Lyndon B. Johnson arrived: "Tension filled the room upon his arrival. The group immediately went behind closed doors. A short time later Lyndon, anxious and red-faced, re-appeared. I knew how secretly Lyndon operated. Therefore I said nothing... not even that I was happy to see him. Squeezing my hand so hard, it felt crushed from the pressure, he spoke with a grating whisper, a quiet growl, into my ear, not a love message, but one I'll always remember: "After tomorrow those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me again - that's no threat - that's a promise."
Brown claimed that Lyndon B. Johnson was the father of her son, Steven Mark Brown. Barr McClellan later confirmed that Madeleine Brown received regular payments from Johnson via his Brazos-Tenth, his money-laundering corporation.
In 1987 Steven Mark Brown filed a lawsuit against the estate of his father. This was unsuccessful and in 1990 he died of cancer.
Brown published her autobiography, Texas in the Morning: The Love Story of Madeleine Brown and President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1997. In the book she claimed that Johnson was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Madeleine Brown died on June 22, 2002.

On a Journey for Humanity

By Cindy Sheehan
The longer BushCo are in office the less chance we have of recovering the heart and soul of our nation, saving our soldiers and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and saving the planet from corporate and individual waste and pollution. Impeachment, removal from office, and in a perfect world: incarceration for the criminals against humanity, are urgent and necessary steps that need to be taken today.

The Real Scooter Libby-Marc Rich Connection

This is, um, rich: Guess who pardoned financier Marc Rich's lawyer was, circa 1985-2000.
March 2, 2001Web posted at: 3:15 a.m. EST (0815 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff testified Thursday he believes prosecutors of billionaire financier Marc Rich "misconstrued the facts and the law" when they went after Rich on tax evasion charges.
The testimony from Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who represented Rich dating back to 1985 but stopped working for him in the spring of 2000, came during a contentious, hours-long House committee hearing into former President Bill Clinton's eleventh-hour pardons.
Earlier in the day, three former White House advisers all said they recommended that the Rich pardon be denied, but that they supported Clinton's decision-making process.
Facing intense questioning from Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pennsylvania, Libby hedged on whether he thought Clinton's pardon was justified, infuriating the congressman.
"Did you represent a crook who stole money from the United States government, was a fugitive and should never have been given or granted a pardon by the facts that you know?" snapped Kanjorski.
"No, sir," Libby responded. "There are no facts that I know of that support the criminality of the client based on the tax returns."
Libby then said prosecutors from the Southern District of New York "misconstrued the facts and the law" when they prosecuted Rich.
"(Rich) had not violated the tax laws," said Libby.
At a later point, Libby said he thought Rich was a traitor for his company engaging in trades with Iran at a time when that country was holding U.S. hostages. "I did not condone it, I didn't advise it, I don't admire it," he said.

Secrecy Shrouds Accident at Nuclear Plant

The New York Times reports that Nuclear Fuel Services of Erwin, Tennessee, "a factory that makes uranium fuel for nuclear reactors had a spill so bad that it kept the plant closed for seven months last year and became one of only three incidents in all of 2006 serious enough for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to include in an annual report to Congress. After an investigation, the commission changed the terms of the factory's license and said that the public had 20 days to request a hearing on the changes. But no member of the public ever did. In fact, no member of the public could find out about the changes. The document describing them, including the notice of hearing rights for anyone who felt adversely affected, was stamped "official use only."
Link Here

Liberties Lost

The Baltimore Sun Editorial
Wednesday 04 July 2007
Besides all his other gifts, Thomas Jefferson appears to have been prophetic.
In his first presidential inaugural address in 1801, he ticked off a long list of essential principles of government, featuring highlights of the Bill of Rights, and called preservation of the government "in its whole constitutional vigor" the "anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad." These principles "should be the creed of our political faith," he said. "Should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety."
Such moments of error or alarm have sent the government off on dangerous tangents from time to time over the years - but rarely with more wide-ranging consequences than the course embarked upon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. On this 231st anniversary of Jefferson's eloquent Declaration of Independence from British rule, the United States is desperately in need of restoring the rights and freedoms surrendered in a false bid for security that has perversely put the nation at greater risk.
Consider what has been lost.
Sweeping federal measures, most of them heavily cloaked in secrecy, have robbed Americans of privacy, due process of law, even freedom of movement. Warrantless wiretaps, e-mail surveillance, national security letters secretly demanding information on thousands of citizens and, soon to come, the equivalent of national ID cards - all would be abominations to Jefferson.
America's suspected enemies have fared worse. They have been tortured, held indefinitely without charge and spirited away to secret prisons abroad so no one knows who they are or what has happened to them.

Here We Go Again, The Same Old Players At It Again, When Do You Stop Them America?

Mahtaub "Mattie" Hojjati is a government and business consultant who is leading a new think tank, known as the the Institute for Persian Studies, devoted to pushing the Iranian regime over the abyss, reports Spencer Ackerman of TPM Muckraker.
Ready to roll ... Aboriginal elders have officially opened Live Earth in Sydney, as the worldwide concerts featuring hundreds of stars is predicted to be the longest and most viewed in history. Picture: Charles Brewer

Hilariously delirious...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues - Reflections in a sealed bottle...
...When 9.11 happened, I was watching ZE CNN as Hosny Mubarak calls it.The commentator and the cameraman showed the rubbles and the pile of dust covering screaming bloody faces. And in the middle of tons of rubbles, what did they find unscathed, untouched, in perfect mint condition? Mohammed Atta's passport. The commentator flashed it to the camera lenses. I saw it with my own eyes on ZE CNN . At that point, I was gripped with a hysterical laughter...Mohammed Atta's passport was found in perfect condition. And just by chance they also found some flying manuals in Arabic...I laughed even harder.I know Arabic speaking pilots who confirmed to me that flying manuals in Arabic do not exist. Of course at that point, I could not be bothered to ask what happened to the third plane in Pennsylvania (...) Bad scripts and bad plots and Iraqis have paid their price with a million deaths in just 4 years...

When the Crimes of the White House are Unpunishable Scooter Libby and Mordechai Vanunu

On the day that Scooter Libby's prison sentence was lifted by President Bush, Mordechai Vanunu was sentenced to prison, again, in Israel. In both cases, the underlying offense was the same: speaking to journalists. In each case, the nominal charges were otherwise. For Libby, lying under oath about the circumstances, thereby obstructing justice. For Vanunu, it was breaking a restriction laid upon him when he emerged from prison three years ago, after serving an earlier full sentence of eighteen years, also for speaking to journalists: he was ordered not to speak, at all, to journalists or foreigners. Like a free man, he did both, openly and repeatedly...
continua / continued

Iraq Watch List: GOP Senators Likely To Defect Next

AP ANNE FLAHERTY July 6, 2007 03:36 PM
After the recent defection of prominent Republicans on the Iraq war, the big question in Washington is who might be next.
More than a dozen Republican senators who are running for re-election next year head the list of lawmakers to watch. But others, too, have expressed concerns that the GOP has grown increasingly vulnerable on the issue. As the clock ticks toward Election Day, voter pressure is building against any lawmaker still standing with President Bush on the war.

Ready To Rock, Ready To Roll

Live Earth hopes for two billion audience
Ready to roll ... Live Earth is just hours away from kicking off in Sydney, with the worldwide climate-awareness concerts featuring hundreds of stars predicted to be the biggest, longest and most viewed in history.

David Shuster dismantles Fouad Ajami’s comparison of Libby to our fallen soldiers

By: Logan Murphy @ 3:10 PM - PDT
David Shuster filled in for Chris Matthews this evening on “Hardball” where he interviewed neo-con author, Fouad Ajami, and absolutely shredded him over his Wall Street Journal OpEd comparing Scooter Libby to fallen U.S. Soldiers in Iraq. Shuster was relentless, never letting Ajami off the hook and blasting him with the truth and hard facts.

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Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans Of America joined Shuster on the phone to mop up, tearing the Libby apologist a new one for using the troops as props and for his absurd assertion that Libby has anything in common with our fallen soldiers. This is what Hardball should really look like; you don’t want to miss this clip…

Chris Matthews has Clenis envy over Libby

WANKER Check out this idiotic cross examination of Melanie Sloan (she’s representing the Wilsons in a suit against Cheney) by Chris Matthews. He’s usually interested in Hillary’s underwear, but this time he’s trying to equate Clinton’s pardons to the Bush/Libby fiasco.

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Sloan came on to talk about the commutation, but Chris launches an attack on her that has no relevance on Libby’s situation. What difference does it make what feelings Sloan had over the Clinton impeachment, Chris? None. He was really nasty to her for no reason. If I was Melanie, I would have pulled a Cheney on him. (take your pick)
(h/t Digby) If Matthews wants to go back in time, then he might look at Bush’s dad and his pardon of Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger who was linked to him and the Iran-Contra scandal:
Mr. Weinberger was scheduled to stand trial on Jan. 5 on charges that he lied to Congress about his knowledge of the arms sales to Iran and efforts by other countries to help underwrite the Nicaraguan rebels, a case that was expected to focus on Mr. Weinberger’s private notes that contain references to Mr. Bush’s
endorsement of the secret shipments to Iran.

Your just 7 years to late, count the body bags of the innocent Iraqi citizens, killed in Georgies illegal war and occupation

Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered In America's War On Iraq - At Least 655,000 + +

Georgie and his gang of thugs, committed all transgressions with impunity, against the citizens of Iraq
U.S. Rep Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, joined a dozen members of Congress in calling on the Conference of Catholic Bishops to mobilize church members against the war in Iraq.
The group Tuesday released a letter sent to the bishops last week asking for a meeting to discuss strategy. Several Catholic leaders, including Peter A. Rosazza in New Haven, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Hartford, said they could not recall a similar request from members of Congress.
The letter bases its appeal on church tradition rather than statecraft or politics.
“If we understand the Catholic tradition correctly, thoughtful church leaders around the world do not believe that the war in Iraq meets the strict conditions for a just war or the high moral standards for overriding the presumption against the use of force. Our concerns are rooted in both the political realm and in our faith and manifest in our efforts to enact legislation that will bring an end to this war,” the letter says.

| By the Grace of Bush

Le Monde Editorial
Thursday 05 July 2007
George W. Bush is no ingrate. Even though he has always professed that offenders must be punished by the courts with the greatest possible severity, he has just granted his "clemency" to a close collaborator of his vice president. That person had been sentenced to thirty months in prison for obstruction of justice, false statements and perjury. It's true that the individual in question is not just anybody. He's I. Lewis - a k a "Scooter" - Libby, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff and a hard-core neoconservative who played a role in American policy against Saddam Hussein and in favor of the invasion of Iraq.
And it's precisely the war in Iraq that is the source of his legal troubles. Scooter Libby was accused of having leaked to the press, against all rules of prudence, the name of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame-Wilson. He wanted thus to punish her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, whose principal fault was to have cast doubt on the arguments advanced by Team Bush to justify the Iraqi adventure. Interrogated by the police, Mr. Libby lied to FBI agents, then to a grand jury - undoubtedly to protect his boss.
"Clemency" is not "pardon." Mr. Bush deemed the prison sentence "excessive," but he did not release the convict from the $250,000 fine he must pay. Mr. Bush was nonetheless hotly criticized by the Democratic majority in Congress for his "arrogance" and his propensity to place himself above the laws. If the president did not exceed his powers in this instance, he had not, up until now, made inordinate use of his right to pardon.
This case is exemplary. Lewis Libby was a faithful executor of a policy that failed. By sparing him prison, Mr. Bush seems to seek to symbolically save his whole Iraq policy from shipwreck. To allow Libby to be imprisoned would have been to admit that the Iraq policy was based on lies.
Mr. Bush's popularity is at its lowest point, at historic records for any American president, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon at the moment of the Watergate scandal. But he seems to care less. He has eighteen more months in the White House and cannot run again. Consequently, he feels free to do as he likes, without worrying about any sarcasm. All the more so as he is convinced history will vindicate him.
By flying to the aid of Scooter Libby, he pleases all his neoconservative friends, from among whom he drew the arguments for his crusade for democracy in the Middle East - the first stage of which was to have been Iraq. The time is not yet for piercing revisions. Certain of his own right, Mr. Bush sees no contradiction between flouting a legal decision that targets one of his intimates and the legal desert he maintains around the Guantanamo detainees.
Go to Original

Afghanistan: US and NATO Killed More Civilians Than Taliban

Laura King of the Los Angeles Times reports, "After more than five years of increasingly intense warfare, the conflict in Afghanistan reached a grim milestone in the first half of this year: US troops and their NATO allies killed more civilians than insurgents did, according to several independent tallies.

Appeals Court Reinstates Warrantless Wiretapping of Americans

Friday, a federal appeals court ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging President Bush's domestic spying program, saying the plaintiffs had no standing to sue.

Bush's Real Message: Unprintable

Elizabeth de la Vega writes: "President Bush has again made it as clear as a Wisconsin lake that he has nothing but contempt for equality and the 'rule 'a law' he is so fond of championing. Yes, a president has the constitutional power of clemency. He may pardon a criminal defendant, thereby wiping out the entire conviction and its consequences, or commute the sentence, thereby lessening it to some degree or entirely. But even this power, broad as it is, can be abused and, in the case of United States v. Libby, President Bush has done just that."

Plague of Bioweapons Accidents Afflicts the US

12:07 05 July 2007
NewScientist.com news service
Debora MacKenzie
Deadly germs may be more likely to be spread due to a biodefence lab accident than a biological attack by terrorists.
Plague, anthrax, Rocky Mountain spotted fever - these are among the bioweapons some experts fear could be used in a germ warfare attack against the US. But the public has had near-misses with those diseases and others over the past five years, ironically because of accidents in labs that were working to defend against bioterrorists. Even worse, they may be only the tip of an iceberg.
The revelations come from Ed Hammond of the Sunshine Project, a biosafety pressure group based in Austin, Texas, US, who after persistent requests got the minutes of university biosafety committees using the US Freedom of Information Act. The minutes are accessible to the public by law.
There are now 20,000 people at 400 sites around the US working with putative bioweapons germs, says Hammond, 10 times more than before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Some scientists have warned for years that more people handling dangerous germs are a recipe for accidents.
Unreported incidents?
The fears have been borne out by publicised infections of lab workers with tularemia, brucellosis and Q fever.
The Q fever incident took place at Texas A&M University, which has now been ordered to stop research into potential bioweapons while an investigation takes place.
However, Hammond’s minutes contain further, previously unreported, slip-ups:
• At the University of New Mexico, one worker was jabbed with an anthrax-laden needle, and another with a syringe containing an undisclosed, genetically engineered microbe.
• At the Medical University of Ohio, workers were exposed to and infected with Valley Fever.
• At the University of Chicago, there was another puncture with an undisclosed agent normally requiring heavy containment, probably anthrax or plague.
• At the University of California at Berkeley, workers handled deadly Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which spreads in the air, without containment when it was mislabelled as harmless.
• At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, workers were exposed to TB when containment equipment failed.
As yet, none of the accidents have been serious in outcome. But, Hammond fears, more such accidents may go unreported. "Instead of a 'culture of responsibility', the federal government has instilled a culture of denial" he says. "Labs hide problems, and think that accident reporting is for masochists"
Reporting essential

A Bloody Media Mirror

by Norman Solomon
Many of America's most prominent journalists want us to forget what they were saying and writing more than four years ago to boost the invasion of Iraq. Now, they tiptoe around their own roles in hyping the war and banishing dissent to the media margins.
The media watch group FAIR (where I'm an associate) has performed a public service in the latest edition of its magazine Extra. The organization's activism director, Peter Hart, drew on FAIR's extensive research to assemble a sample of notable quotations from media cheerleading for the Iraq invasion.
One of the earliest quotes to merit special attention came from ace New York Times reporter – and chronic Pentagon promoter – Michael Gordon. In a CNN appearance on March 25, 2003, just a few days into the invasion, Gordon gave his easy blessing to the invaders' bombing of Iraqi TV.
Gordon cited "what I've seen of Iraqi television, with Saddam Hussein presenting propaganda to his people and showing off the Apache helicopter and claiming a farmer shot it down and trying to persuade his own public that he was really in charge, when we're trying to send the exact opposite message" – and so, the Times reporter went on, Iraqi TV was "an appropriate target."
Let's unpack Gordon's rationale for a military attack on Iraqi broadcasters: They presented propaganda to viewers, aired triumphal images, and touted the authority of the top man in the government, while an adversary was "trying to send the exact opposite message." By those standards, Iraqis would have been justified in targeting any one of the American cable news networks, most especially Fox News Channel.
Hart – who is author of the book The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly – includes some quotes from Fox in his collection of war-crazed statements from media. For instance, soon after the invasion began, Fox News commentator Fred Barnes declared: "The American public knows how important this war is, and is not as casualty sensitive as the weenies in the American press are." (Unsurpassed bravery is a common denominator of rabid hawks in stateside TV studios.) But many of Hart's examples are from U.S. media outlets with reputations for judicious professional journalism.
On NBC News, Brian Williams was singing from the choir book provided by U.S. officials. "They are calling this the cleanest war in all of military history," Williams said on April 2, 2003. "They stress they're fighting a regime and not the people, using smart bombs, not dumb, older munitions. But there have been and will be accidents. … And there's a new weapon in this war: Arab media, especially al-Jazeera. It's on all the time, and unlike American media, it hardly reflects the Pentagon line. Its critics say it accentuates civilian casualties and provokes outrage on the Arab street."
The next day, on the same network, Williams' colleague Katie Couric was more succinct in her fawning. Viewers of the Today program listened as she interviewed a U.S. military official and exclaimed: "Thank you for coming on the show. And I want to add, I think the Special Forces rock!"
A week later, on MSNBC, the hardballer Chris Matthews was swept up in beach-ball euphoria as America's armed forces toppled the Saddam regime. "We're all neocons now," Matthews exulted.
At the start of May 2003, when President Bush zoomed onto an aircraft carrier and stood near a "Mission Accomplished" banner, Lou Dobbs was quick to tell CNN viewers: "He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star, and one of the guys."
On the same day, journalist Matthews assumed the royal "we" – and, in the opportunistic process, blew with the prevailing wind. "We're proud of our president," he said. "Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple." All too simple.
Perhaps no journalist was more shameless in echoing President Bush's fatuous claims about the invasion than Christopher Hitchens.
"Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them: If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you," Bush said on March 17, 2003.
The next day, Hitchens came out with an essay declaring that "the Defense Department has evolved highly selective and accurate munitions that can sharply reduce the need to take or receive casualties. The predictions of widespread mayhem turned out to be false last time – when the weapons [in the Gulf War] were nothing like so accurate." And, Hitchens proclaimed, "it can now be proposed as a practical matter that one is able to fight against a regime and not a people or a nation."
More than four years – and at least several hundred thousand Iraqi civilian deaths – later, the most reliable epidemiology available confirms that those claims were more than misleading. They were fundamentally out of touch with human reality.
If you had engaged in such cheerleading for the launch of the Iraq war in early 2003, by now you might also be eager to change the subject and argue about God.

Bush duplicity hinders battle against extremism

Jul 05, 2007 04:30 AM Haroon Siddiqui
So, it is the terrorist Hamas that gets the kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston released. That's just one of many ironies of the American-Israeli – and Canadian – approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
George W. Bush "invested the heart of my presidency" to bring democracy to the Middle East. Yet he rejected the result of the Palestinian election won by Hamas, and browbeat the allies into starving the Palestinian people.
The West has swung its support for Mahmoud Abbas now that he has replaced the Hamas government with a handpicked prime minister. As Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator, suggests, the West has helped impose one-party rule on the Palestinian body politic.
Hamas is a terrorist organization because it uses violence. Yet in the last 18 months, the U.S. and its allies have helped Abbas's security forces use violence and goon tactics to create anarchy and undermine Hamas.
Since taking over Gaza June 15, Hamas has restored order, banning even the firing of celebratory gunfire, that revolting Arab custom. And it has secured Johnston's release from a clan close to Abbas's security chief.
Similarly, America's other allies across the Middle East – in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc. – continue their authoritarian rule. Yet Bush singles out Iran and Syria as oppressor states. He said last week that the Iranian and Syrian peoples "yearn for freedom and liberty" and wish to "say what they think (and) travel where they wish." So do the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Kuwaitis and, of course, the Palestinians. But there's nary a mention of them.

Mike Gravel - Rock -


The Libby lesson for Iraq

From the Los Angeles Times
If President Bush disregards critics on pardoning Scooter, why would you think he'll budge on his war strategy?
July 4, 2007HIS APPROVAL rating has cratered. His legislative agenda, after the collapse of immigration reform, is in ruins. So many longtime aides have departed that he may need name tags for Oval Office meetings. And yet with his decision to spare I. Lewis Libby from prison, President Bush sent his critics a clear signal that he will not concede an inch of ground that they lack the strength and determination to take from him.

Commuting Libby's sentence fits within a flurry of recent administration decisions that directly confront the president's opponents. Bush is defying subpoenas for documents and testimony from the House and Senate Judiciary committees. He's drawn a line in the sand (box) against Democratic proposals to provide health insurance for millions more children in working-poor families. His vice president recently claimed to have discovered, Atlantis-like, a previously uncharted fourth branch of government with himself as the sole known resident.

Minneapolis man raises ransom for 4 Americans kidnapped in Iraq

Mark Koscielski
By Patrick Condon, Associated Press
Last update: July 05, 2007 – 6:06 PM
A Minneapolis man who went on his own intelligence-gathering trip to the Middle East after his friend and three other American security contractors were kidnapped said Thursday he has a plan to secure their release.
The four Americans, along with an Austrian colleague, were kidnapped Nov. 16 in southern Iraq when their truck convoy was ambushed.
Mark Koscielski, a Minneapolis gun-shop owner who is friends with Paul Reuben, one of the contractors, said Thursday in a radio interview that he, other friends, and family members of the four Americans had raised about $150,000 they hope to use as a ransom to obtain their release.
Reached later by phone, Koscielski refused to divulge any details of his plan, which he's dubbed "Save 5." He said he and family members of several of the contractors would release further details at a July 14 press conference in a Minneapolis suburb.
"We may have a way to get these guys back in a peaceful way," Koscielski told The Associated Press. Koscielski traveled on his own to Kuwait in March in what he has described as an intelligence-gathering trip, and on his personal Web site he's been highly critical of efforts by the U.S. government to rescue the hostages, who were employees of Crescent Security Group Inc.

LIAR, LIAR, You call what we are giving the People of Iraq Democracy, Then your a Brain Dead Thug, just like Georgie and his Goons

Jailed conscientious objector hits out against Libby clemency

Source: Canada IFP
A veteran who spent 14 months in prison for filing a conscientious objector application against redeployment to Iraq has spoken out against the commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence by President Bush.
"I was imprisoned for 14 months after trying to apply for conscientious objector status after seeing the reality of the Iraq war," Kevin Benderman, who had to serve his sentence at a prison 3,000 miles from home, said.
Kevin Benderman had served as an army mechanic for 10 years when he developed moral and religious objections to the war in Iraq, after serving there in 2003, and refused to deploy there again. After seeing scenes of devastation in Iraq, and through his readings of both the Bible and the Qu’ran, Kevin Benderman filed an application for conscientious objector status on 28 December 2004.
He was then sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment at a court martial.

Gore gets last-minute D.C. venue for Live Earth

Good For the Native American Museum, Down with Mitch McConnell and Inhofe "Well, instead of the cavalry riding to the rescue, the American Indians came to the rescue."
Source: Reuters
WASHINGTON, July 6 (Reuters) - Initially rebuffed by Washington, former Vice President Al Gore's Live Earth concerts found a last-minute home in the U.S. capital on Friday after Native Americans offered their museum for the worldwide event.
A few blocks from the U.S. Capitol where some Republican lawmakers had tried to prevent the Washington concert from taking place, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian will host one of several Saturday concerts highlighting climate change.
"A couple of global warming naysayers used parliamentary tricks in the Congress to block that," Gore said on CNN. "Well, instead of the cavalry riding to the rescue, the American Indians came to the rescue."
Concert promoters initially sought the expansive National Mall as its U.S. venue, but two groups already had permits for that space, forcing Live Earth to find another location.

Bad Luck, No one wants to listen to your whining, WANKER

Fox News: NBC airing Live Earth a political gift to Gore

David Edwards and Josh CatonePublished: Thursday July 5, 2007
Fox News Host John Gibson today slammed NBC for its scheduled airing of the 'Live Earth' concerts this weekend that intend to raise awareness about global warming.
Gibson argued that because former Vice President Al Gore, who is behind the concerts, is a prominent political figure who some believe might run for president in 2008, NBC was actually giving Gore what amounted to an in kind political donation if he decides to run.
He asked why Democrats aren't objecting to NBC's "gift of unequal time for just one side of a controversial issue."
Gibson's guest, Clay Waters of the Media Research Center, agreed with him. "You cannot get away from the politics here," said Waters. "I wish NBC had thought about this. NBC seems proud to be pushing [the concerts], and like you said, if Gore does run, I mean this could be the largest in kind contribution in American political history."
In an editorial on the Fox News web site on Tuesday, Gibson argued that the Live Earth concerts were a calculated move by Gore to gain political capital.
"Does anybody think the Live Earth concerts are not a political statement by Gore's supporters that will end up benefiting Al Gore?" he asked. "Does anybody think Al Gore isn't running for president? I know he's said he's not, and every time I get a Democrat analyst sitting next to me, he or she says he's not. But it sure looks like he's running to me."
The following video is from Fox's Big Show, broadcast on July 5.

Boo Hoo

Well Done
Washington DC FM talk radio station 106.7 WJFK yesterday announced it was dropping Bill O’Reilly’s nationally syndicated show, and replacing it with a sports-talk program. The Washington Post reports today that O’Reilly’s cancellation is a “case in point” of how poorly conservative radio programs have fared in DC:
With the exception of Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk-radio hosts have struggled for years to find a wide audience on the local dial. While Limbaugh’s afternoon program remains popular on WMAL (630 AM), not many other conservatives’ programs have.
Yet despite their underwhelming performance, numerous right-wing radio hosts have been given repeated opportunities to succeed in DC. “Such radio stars of the right as Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage at times have literally had no ratings in Washington, as measured by Arbitron.”
In its diagnosis of conservative talk’s failures in the DC region, the Post points to a host of factors including the weak signals of some stations, weak programming, and the unique culture of the area that is resistant to political talk radio. One factor that went unmentioned, however, is the impact media consolidation has had on the local market.
In the Center for American Progress’s recent report on the “structural imbalance of political talk radio,” it noted that Washington DC had 65 percent conservative content and only 35 percent progressive. In this region, the market is dominated by only five owners:
French official: Bush possibly behind 9/11

Sarkozy cabinet member featured on website 'ReOpen 9/11.'

New poll shows majority of Americans think Cheney should be impeached

RAW STORYPublished: Friday July 6, 2007
A new video released Friday morning makes a three-part case for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films released the short film at their website ImpeachCheney.org.
The video comes the same day that a polling firm found a majority of Americans supporting impeachment of the Vice President. American Research Group, in a poll of 1,100 respondents taken from July 3-5, found that 54% of Americans favored impeachment. Only 17% of Republicans in the poll favored the impeachment of Cheney, while 76% of Democrats supported the move in the House of Representatives. However, of independents polled, a slight majority of 51%, also supported impeaching the Vice President.
The poll also reflected deep disapproval of President George W. Bush's commutation of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
The Brave New Films video, which is presented below, selects key Cheney media appearances
and speeches that correspond with the three allegations of 'high crimes and misdemeanors' that are identified in H. Res. 333. The bill was introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and accuses the Vice President of promoting false intelligence about the danger of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs as well as the relationship between the Saddam Hussein regime and al Qaida terrorists. It also accuses the Vice President of saber-rattling against Iran.
The film ends with Greenwald's usual message of "pssst...Do Something!"

Op-ed: In Bush's world, only the little people make sacrifices

Sacrifice Is for Suckers
Nobody has asked the obvious question: “What sacrifices have you and your friends made, Mr. President?”

Go to Original

By Paul Krugman The New York Times
Friday 06 July 2007
On this Fourth of July, President Bush compared the Iraq war to the Revolutionary War, and called for “more patience, more courage and more sacrifice.” Unfortunately, it seems that nobody asked the obvious question: “What sacrifices have you and your friends made, Mr. President?”
On second thought, there would be no point in asking that question. In Mr. Bush’s world, only the little people make sacrifices.
You see, the Iraq war, although Mr. Bush insists that it’s part of a Global War on Terror™, a fight to the death between good and evil, isn’t like America’s other great wars — wars in which the wealthy shared the financial burden through higher taxes and many members of the elite fought for their country.
This time around, Mr. Bush celebrated Mission Accomplished by cutting tax rates on dividends and capital gains, while handing out huge no-bid contracts to politically connected corporations. And in the four years since, as the insurgency Mr. Bush initially taunted with the cry of “Bring them on” has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans and left thousands more grievously wounded, the children of the elite — especially the Republican elite — have been conspicuously absent from the battlefield.
The Bushies, it seems, like starting fights, but they don’t believe in paying any of the cost of those fights or bearing any of the risks. Above all, they don’t believe that they or their friends should face any personal or professional penalties for trivial sins like distorting intelligence to get America into an unnecessary war, or totally botching that war’s execution.
The Web site Think Progress has a summary of what happened to the men behind the war after we didn’t find W.M.D., and weren’t welcomed as liberators: “The architects of war: Where are they now?” To read that summary is to be awed by the comprehensiveness and generosity of the neocon welfare system. Even Paul Wolfowitz, who managed the rare feat of messing up not one but two high-level jobs, has found refuge at the American Enterprise Institute.
Which brings us to the case of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr.
The hysteria of the neocons over the prospect that Mr. Libby might actually do time for committing perjury was a sight to behold. In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal titled “Fallen Soldier,” Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University cited the soldier’s creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” He went on to declare that “Scooter Libby was a soldier in your — our — war in Iraq.”
Ah, yes. Shuffling papers in an air-conditioned Washington office is exactly like putting your life on the line in Anbar or Baghdad. Spending 30 months in a minimum-security prison, with a comfortable think-tank job waiting at the other end, is exactly like having half your face or both your legs blown off by an I.E.D.
What lay behind the hysteria, of course, was the prospect that for the very first time one of the people who tricked America into war, then endangered national security yet again in the effort to cover their tracks, might pay some price. But Mr. Ajami needn’t have worried.
Back when the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity began, Mr. Bush insisted that if anyone in his administration had violated the law, “that person will be taken care of.” Now we know what he meant. Mr. Bush hasn’t challenged the verdict in the Libby case, and other people convicted of similar offenses have spent substantial periods of time in prison. But Mr. Libby goes free.
Oh, and don’t fret about the fact that Mr. Libby still had to pay a fine. Does anyone doubt that his friends will find a way to pick up the tab?
Mr. Bush says that Mr. Libby’s punishment remains “harsh” because his reputation is “forever damaged.” Meanwhile, Mr. Bush employs, as a deputy national security adviser, none other than Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty to unlawfully withholding information from Congress in the Iran-contra affair. Mr. Abrams was one of six Iran-contra defendants pardoned by Mr. Bush’s father, who was himself a subject of the special prosecutor’s investigation of the scandal.
In other words, obstruction of justice when it gets too close to home is a family tradition. And being a loyal Bushie means never having to say you’re sorry.

Iraq Costs Soar To $12 Billion A Month

Wired Noah Shachtman July 6, 2007 11:22 AM
It's not just the troops that are surging. War costs are up for American operations in Iraq -- way up, more than a third higher than last year. In the first half of this fiscal year, the Defense Department's "average monthly obligations for contracts and pay is running about $12 billion per month, well above the $8.7 billion in FY2006," says a new report, obtained by DANGER ROOM, from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.
Additional war costs for the next...
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