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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Last of Iraqis

Random Thoughts of Life
I have taken this from the blog 'Last of Iraqis' ... It is a blog I often read, he writes, of all things it is about his cat. A small thing, but one of the last attachments he has to his home. He is returning to Iraq from Syria. He grieves that no one will be waiting for him and his wife. There is no one for him to call to say he has arrived. He finds his cat. (...) "this animal was the only creature waiting for us to get back to Baghdad , it was the only one I had in Baghdad......" I've read his posts about, car-bombs, curfews, lack of water, cholera, shelling, war, no electricity, fear, but it was this post about his cat, that caused me despair, anger, heartbreaking impotence... I sometimes think everyone is over hearing of the war, my views, but if I can just make people understand that these are souls, just like us. No religion, no gender, no race. Just humans trying to survive. This is what America has inflicted. This is their F*king democracy. I'm tired of people saying, 'Oh its the American government, not the people'.... don't say that,I can't hear those words anymore, its a cop out. The people are just as responsible! they cant hide behind ignorance. This is genocide...
Last of the Iraqis blogsite

The war on Gaza's children

Saree Makdisi, The Los Angeles Times
An entire generation of Palestinians in Gaza is growing up stunted: physically and nutritionally stunted because they are not getting enough to eat; emotionally stunted because of the pressures of living in a virtual prison and facing the constant threat of destruction and displacement; intellectually and academically stunted because they cannot concentrate - or, even if they can, because they are trying to study and learn in circumstances that no child should have to endure. Even before Israel this week declared Gaza "hostile territory" - apparently in preparation for cutting off the last remaining supplies of fuel and electricity to 1.5 million men, women and children - the situation was dire. As a result of Israel's blockade on most imports and exports and other policies designed to punish the populace, about 70% of Gaza's workforce is now unemployed or without pay, according to the United Nations, and about 80% of its residents live in grinding poverty....

US report on Iraq corruption made public

A damning report by the US embassy detailing corruption in the Iraqi government was made public on Friday, days ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and US President George W. Bush. The draft report, posted on the IraqSlogger.com website, paints a grim picture of graft in all government departments, many of which, it says, are controlled by criminal gangs and militia. Maliki's office, it says, has shown an "open hostility" to allowing independent investigators to probe corruption cases. Government corruption is expected to be on the agenda when Maliki and Bush, who has frequently urged the Iraqi government to do more to effect political reconciliation and rein in graft, meet in New York next week at the United Nations General Assembly....
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Blackwater: Hired Guns, Above the Law

Jeremy Scahill, The Nation
This is an edited transcript of the prepared testimony of Jeremy Scahill before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, September 21, 2007. My name is Jeremy Scahill. I am an investigative reporter for The Nation magazine and the author of the book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. I have spent the better part of the past several years researching the phenomenon of privatized warfare and the increasing involvement of the private sector in the support and waging of US wars. During the course of my investigations, I have interviewed scores of sources, filed many Freedom of Information Act requests, obtained government contracts and private company documents of firms operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. When asked, I have attempted to share the results of my investigations, including documents obtained through FOIA and other processes, with members of Congress and other journalists....
By John Nichols
The private military contractor's war-for-profit program, which has been so brilliantly exposed by Jeremy Scahill, may finally get a measure of the official scrutiny it merits as the corporation scrambles to undo the revocation by the Iraqi government of its license to operate in that country.

A Misanthrope in Ramadan - Act I

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues - Reflections in a sealed bottle...
I longed for the Sea. The sea represents to me the primal waters, the " Prima Mater ", the womb of the earth, the origins of every living thing.And the sea cannot be tamed. It imposes itself with its tranquility, waves and under currents... So, when a friend kindly arranged for a short day trip to the seaside, I jumped to the occasion and with great anticipation, hit the road. I thought to myself, this is the Ramadan season, the place will be at best empty or at worst will only host another "odd tourist" like myself... I could not wait to feel the sand beneath my feet and immerse myself, like in a baptism in the salty waters, as in a purification ritual. A purification of the body, the senses and the soul from the " negative energies " I have been carrying around like some excess luggage. And true to my expectation, the shore was virtually empty (...) . A news flash bulletin came up. - A disabled Palestinian from Nablus was shot dead by Israeli soldiers as he was standing by his window. The man was disabled in 2001, following an Israeli incursion. - A 12 years old Palestinian boy was run over by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. - 15 killed and several wounded in various parts of Iraq... And as I was listening to the news bulletin, I received two text messages. The first one from Radhee and it said : " Three have been killed by them (meaning U.S and militias in his neighborhood.) But don't worry we are still alive." The second one from Zayd : " This evening, 9 sharp, visit, condolences to X. Nephew shot dead in his home by Mahdi guys. Don't be late. Enjoy ! "....

Are you taking notice Georgie?

The only thing wrong is. he is 5 years to late saying it.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Democratic societies have the right to defend themselves against terrorism but must respect laws and human rights in their struggle — or risk endangering the very freedoms they seek to protect, Pope Benedict XVI said Friday."In democratic systems, the use of force in a manner contrary to the principles of a constitutional state can never be justified," the pope said at an audience with members of the Centrist Democrat International, an association of center-right parties from around the world.
"Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God's name and harbor an inexcusable contempt for human life," Benedict said.
The pope said that some terrorist networks justify their actions by "shamelessly" exploiting the charge that society has forgotten God, and said that a greater respect for religion could help counter that accusation.
"Society naturally has a right to defend itself," but the struggle against terrorism must respect moral and legal norms, the pope told the politicians gathered at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.

U.S. DoD To Outsource $15B War on ‘Narcoterror’

The U.S. Defense Department has invited five contractors to bid on elements of a new multibillion-dollar effort to combat the global flow of illegal drugs allegedly used to finance terrorism.
Awarded by the Pentagon’s Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office (CNTPO), Dahlgren, Va., the contract vehicle has a potential value of $15 billion over five years. One participant is ARINC, a Maryland-based provider of airline communications systems.
“This gives us the opportunity to bid on this work,” said Linda Hartwig, an ARINC spokeswoman. “We don’t have a lot of details yet, but we do know that this is an expansion of what [the United States] is already doing to fight drug trafficking, and that 80 percent of the work will be overseas.”
Hartwig said the other participating vendors are defense giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, and security contractor Blackwater USA. Blackwater confirmed its participation, but the other three vendors did not respond to inquiries.
The vendors will compete for a series of task orders covering a wide range of products and services. These could include anti-drug technologies and equipment, special vehicles and aircraft, communications, security training, pilot training, geographic information systems and in-field support.

U.K. Firm Awarded Largest Iraq Security Contract

by Jackie Northam
Morning Edition, September 21, 2007 · At a time when intense scrutiny has fallen on Blackwater USA, the U.S.-contracted security firm in Iraq, new questions are being raised about another firm — British-based Aegis Defense Services — with a checkered past.
Aegis has been granted a two-year $475 million contract, the largest-single security contract in Iraq. The deal is raising concern among some members of Congress — in part, because of the reputation of the company's CEO, Lt. Col. Tim Spicer.
In Britain, and in the private security contracting world, Spicer has a larger-than-life reputation for his involvement in several controversial incidents. In the mid 1990s, he helped launch a company called Sandline, which provided armed military services to sovereign nations. >>>cont

Head of firm paid to track Iraq spending investigated

By Matt Kelley, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Robert Raggio quit his $97,000-per-year government job as a financial manager for the Iraq reconstruction effort in September 2005. He said in his resignation form that he wanted to "pursue other opportunities."
That same day, Raggio's newly formed company, Reviewer Management International (RMI), received a U.S. contract to audit $7.3 billion in Iraqi reconstruction spending, according to Army documents obtained by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.
The $1.5 million contract was designed to help investigators fight fraud in Iraq. Now, Raggio is under investigation.
Before he quit his government position, Raggio wrote the requirements for the federal contract at the same time he negotiated to obtain it for RMI, according to the documents. The Army's Suspension and Debarment Office suspended Raggio and his consulting firm from getting new government contracts in August amid an ongoing investigation into whether he violated conflict of interest laws.
The laws, which bar government officials from benefiting from their official actions, carry penalties of up to five years in prison. Civil penalties can include fines equal to the amount of the contract, Army documents say.

Iraqi forces take lead in only 8 percent of Baghdad: US general

I never forget these words from the thugs mother, before the commencement of Georgies Shock and Awe War on Iraq

Please remain seated for landing …

I would say someone upstairs was watching over him.
Ani MartinezSeptember 23, 2007
IT WAS like a scene out of a movie. A small cargo plane, flying over a busy highway, began losing steam and doing cartwheels in the sky over Florida.
Then it struck a warehouse, clipping its right wing, and crashed into a grassy swale on the side of the road — just metres from oncoming traffic.
The pilot of the fixed-wing twin-engine Beech 18, Robert Robertson, survived, with only minor injuries. The only person on board, Mr Robertson broke his left leg, left arm and nose and has a gash on his forehead.
"It was his lucky day," said witness Stewart McLeod. "The entire front of the plane was gone, and he was left sitting in his seat with his seatbelt on."
Mr Robertson, 34, had taken off from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to deliver a plane full of cargo — shoes, clothing, nonperishable items and tyres — to Nassau, Bahamas.
Within minutes he issued a mayday to air traffic control.
"The aircraft wasn't gaining altitude," said a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. "Then, it went down."
The 43-year-old plane's cockpit was destroyed in the crash. Fire rescue crews were amazed to find Mr Robertson alive, said sheriff's office spokesman Mike Jachles. "There was no cockpit when they arrived on scene," he said. "He was breathing and conscious. He told the medics the engine cut out on take-off."
Charles Jules, a witness, said: "I was scared half to death. It was the scariest thing I ever saw. I mean it's a plane coming at you … Everyone thought he was dead. He was slumped over not moving. Then he slowly woke up, touched his head. He was disoriented."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rumsfeld Appointment Draws "Fierce Protests" At Stanford University »

Rumsfeld Appointment Draws "Fierce Protests" At Stanford University »
New York Times September 21, 2007 01:00 PM
The appointment of Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, as a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution is drawing fierce protests from faculty members and students at Stanford University and is threatening to rekindle tensions between the institution, a conservative research body, and the more liberal campus.
Some 2,100 professors, staff members, students and alumni have signed an online petition protesting Mr. Rumsfeld's appointment, which will involve advising a task force on ideology and terrorism. Faculty members say he...New York Times September 21, 2007 01:00 PM
The appointment of Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, as a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution is drawing fierce protests from faculty members and students at Stanford University and is threatening to rekindle tensions between the institution, a conservative research body, and the more liberal campus.
Some 2,100 professors, staff members, students and alumni have signed an online petition protesting Mr. Rumsfeld's appointment, which will involve advising a task force on ideology and terrorism. Faculty members say
Rumsfeld Speech Canceled After "Too Many People Objected"
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was supposed to speak to the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in Kansas on Dec. 4. But today the Wichita Eagle reports that his appearance was quietly canceled last month after “too many people objected.” The Chamber, which is traditionally conservative, is now expecting to hear from former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, who recently joined the speaker’s circuit.

Bush's 'Rangers', CEOs, Switching Sides To Dems in '08 Race »

Bloomberg Michael Janofsky September 21, 2007 08:19 PM
Dozens of corporate executives who backed President George W. Bush for re-election in 2004, including some of his top fund-raisers, are now helping Democrats running for president.
John Mack, chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., and Terry Semel, chairman of Yahoo! Inc., are among some 60 executives writing checks to Democrats such as Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, a review of U.S. Federal Election Commission records shows.

Feds Probing Iraq Arms Smuggling By Blackwater Guards

MATTHEW LEE September 21, 2007 11:13 PM EST
WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh, N.C., is handling the investigation with help from Pentagon and State Department auditors, who have concluded there is enough evidence to file charges, the officials told The Associated Press. Blackwater is based in Moyock, N.C.
A spokeswoman for Blackwater did not return calls seeking comment Friday. The U.S. attorney for the eastern district of North Carolina, George Holding, declined to comment, as did Pentagon and State Department spokesmen.
Officials with knowledge of the case said it is active, although at an early stage. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, which has heightened since 11 Iraqis were killed Sunday in a shooting involving Blackwater contractors protecting a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Baghdad.
The officials could not say whether the investigation would result in indictments, how many Blackwater employees are involved or if the company itself, which has won hundreds of millions of dollars in government security contracts since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is under scrutiny.

Bush's Mandela gaffe 'out there'

THE Nelson Mandela Foundation has confirmed that the former South African leader is still alive, after President Bush alluded to his death in a bizarre comment.

Blackwater: In Iraq to Stay?

All Things Considered, September 21, 2007 · The U.S. security firm Blackwater USA has come under a great deal of fire from Iraqi authorities after some of its operatives were blamed for a shooting that cost civilian lives. But the truth is, the company will be needed even more if a drawdown of U.S. troops occurs. And a move to revoke Blackwater's license might ultimately undermine Iraqi government authority.

The Age of Irresponsibility

Blackwater Iraq

As anyone who has been in Iraq (like me) knows, on the ground the unspoken rule of Bush’s counterinsurgency efforts over the past four years has been that almost all Iraqis, at least the males, are guilty until proven innocent. Arrests, beatings and sometimes killings at the hands of security firms and sometimes U.S. military units are arbitrary, often based on the flimsiest intelligence, and Iraqis have no recourse whatever to justice except in a few cases like Haditha. Imagine the sense of helpless rage that emerges from this sort of treatment. Apply three years of it and you have a furious, traumatized population. And a country out of control.
And now we have the awful absurdity of U.S. diplomats going out to make allies among Iraqis and build civil society—winning “the battlefield of the mind,” Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone told The Washington Post—surrounded by security guards who operate in an amoral universe and are hated by Iraqis. The Blackwater phenomenon undermines the Petraeus surge, which applies counterinsurgency principles that require winning over the local population, and isolating the bad guys from them. Instead, Blackwater is seen by Iraqis as the face of a malignant occupation. Remember the scene at the beginning of the movie “Braveheart,” when the evil English lord claims droit du seigneur—the right to deflower Mel Gibson’s bride—over the powerless Scots? Well, that medieval reality is something like what Iraqis are living with today. This is the “model” George W. Bush will bequeath to the world.
Morality begins when people take responsibility for their actions. But no one in the Bush administration has taken responsibility for one disaster after another in Iraq. Nor does anyone seem to care. As Maureen Dowd has pointed out, so passé is the concept of taking responsibility that people who do bad things are even skipping the usual stage of shame, or “slinking away.” Instead they are “slinking back” into public life.
The Bush administration’s lack of concern about holding its employees responsible for their actions extends to obstructing civil suits against rogue contractors under the False Claims Act. “None of the lawsuits has been successful,” says lawyer Alan Grayson. “In a couple of the cases the government has said the case has to be shut down because it involves state secrets.” (The Justice Department has said it is carefully looking at the suits.) Who has been in charge of this? None other than Peter Keisler, the former head of Justice’s civil division who is now acting attorney general, says Grayson, who is involved in several cases against Blackwater and other contractors. “They run people off the road. They treat the local population like it’s some big shooting gallery. It’s not just Blackwater; it’s everybody.” No, that’s letting the responsible party off too easily: it’s the Bush administration.
<> 1 2

Let It Be Known That Keith Olbermann’s Not Havin’ It

Nope, he’s not havin’ it, and neither is his snazzy purple tie: Olbermann announced on his show that the “annual Republican witch-hunting season is underway.”
Posted on Sep 21, 2007
Nope, he’s not havin’ it, and neither is his snazzy purple tie: Olbermann announced on his show that the “annual Republican witch-hunting season is underway.”
President Bush’s criticism of MoveOn.org’s “General Betray Us” ad and the “Democrat party” provoked this barrage of verbiage from MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who slams Bush for “behaving a little bit more than usual like we’d all interrupted him while he was watching his favorite cartoons on the DVR. ... “
Watch the video clip here.

Making a killing: how private armies became a $120bn global industry

Daniel Howden and Leonard Doyle, Independent
In Nigeria, corporate commandos exchange fire with local rebels attacking an oil platform. In Afghanistan, private bodyguards help to foil yet another assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai. In Colombia, a contracted pilot comes under fire from guerrillas while spraying coca fields with pesticides. On the border between Iraq and Iran, privately owned Apache helicopters deliver US special forces to a covert operation. This is a snapshot of a working day in the burgeoning world of private military companies, arguably the fastest-growing industry in the global economy. The sector is now worth up to $120bn annually with operations in at least 50 countries, according to Peter Singer, a security analyst with the Brookings Institution in Washington....
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Video: Baghdad Hospital Children's Ward - Alive in Baghdad - Iraq


In war and peace children are always amongst the most vulnerable of communities. Iraq has been no exception. In this episode, Alive in Baghdad takes you to the children's ward of Baghdad Hospital, to make visible the plight of some very sick children, stricken with cancer by the presence of Depleted Uranium munitions, left over from the last to US wars in Iraq. Despite official claims that so-called "Depleted" Uranium is mostly harmless, evidence continues to mount to the contrary. Rates of cancer and deformities in Iraq's children have sky-rocketed since 1991. Here are just a few of their stories... continua / continued

Military Recruiters Raping Our Kids - No Child Left Behind

ORB Survey And 1.2 Million Iraq Deaths Ignored By Australian And Anglo-American Media

Dr Gideon Polya
What we continue to see is sustained, remorseless, simultaneous Holocaust Commission and Holocaust Denial by the racist US-UK-Australian Coalition, Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. What can decent people do? In short, vote with your feet, oppose Anglo-American "democratic Nazism". There must be ZERO TOLERANCE for mass murder, racism, genocide, media lying, politician lying and holocaust denial. Don’t vote for the racist liars and mass murderers, don’t buy their newspapers, don’t watch their TV, don’t listen to their radio stations and don’t buy the goods and services of their racist supporters. Decent people are obliged to (a) inform others about horrendous human rights abuses (such as the Iraqi Holocaust, the Iraqi Genocide) and (b) to act ethically in all their dealings with individuals, corporations and countries complicit in such atrocities (e.g. through individual and collective, inter-national and intra-national Sanctions and Boycotts). Of course, you can do YOUR bit in the Bush War on Terra and Humanity - the Bush War on Asian, Arab, Muslim and Non-European Women and Children - by simply transmitting this message to everyone you know....

George W. Bush's Thug Nation

Robert Parry, Consortium News
It’s said that over time Presidents – especially two-termers – imbue the nation with their personalities and priorities, for good or ill. If that’s true, it could help explain the small-minded mean-spiritedness that seems to be pervading the behavior of the United States these days, both at home and abroad. On a global level, the world reads about trigger-happy Blackwater "security contractors" mowing down civilians in Baghdad, the U.S. military killing unarmed people under loose "rules of engagement" in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the CIA "rendering" suspected Islamists to secret prisons or to third-country dungeons where torture is practiced...
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U.S. military cemetery running out of space

Source: Reuters
OVERLAND PARK, Kan., Sept 20 (Reuters) - A Kansas military cemetery has run out of space after the burial of another casualty of the Iraq war, officials said on Thursday.
"We are full," said Alison Kohler, spokeswoman for the Fort Riley U.S. Army post, home of the 1st Infantry Division.
U.S. Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, both Kansas Republicans, on Thursday sent a letter to William Tuerk, the under secretary for memorial affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, urging for full funding for a new cemetery for Fort Riley.
"While a new cemetery would not be completed in time to alleviate this situation immediately, it is vitally important," Roberts and Brownback, a Republican presidential candidate, said in their letter.

Blackwater resumes limited work in Baghdad

Al-Maliki Georgies Puppet, You decide, bet the Iraqi citizens are happy, with that little bit of news.
An Iraqi traffic policeman on Thursday inspects a car destroyed four days earlier by a Blackwater security detail in al-Nisoor Square in Baghdad. Eleven Iraqis were killed in the incident.
View related photos
Updated: 9:59 a.m. ET Sept. 21, 2007
BAGHDAD - American convoys under the protection of Blackwater USA resumed on Friday, four days after the U.S. Embassy suspended all land travel by its diplomats and other civilian officials in response to the alleged killing of civilians by the security firm.
A top aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had earlier conceded it may prove difficult for the Iraqi government to follow through on threats to expel Blackwater and other Western security contractors.
The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation into Sunday's shooting was ongoing, said a way out of the Blackwater crisis could be the payment of compensation to victims' families and an agreement from all sides on a new set of rules for their operations in Iraq.

Supreme Court author: Justice Souter wept when he thought of Bush v. Gore

I hope they friking live with guilt until their dying days, because I hold the BASTARDS complicit in the deaths of 1,60,494 Iraqis Slaughtered In Georgies illegal war and occupation and the deaths of 3,792 US military,not including all the wounded.
Toobin had to admit he wasn't aware of any secrets of that kind, but did confide that "Justice Souter was so upset about the result in Bush v. Gore that not only did he almost resign the Court because he was so upset, but there were times when he thought about the case and he wept."
"You say the justices have tried to put the decision of Bush v. Gore behind them and move on," Colbert said. "That sounds like one of those movies where a bunch of frat brothers inadvertently kill a prostitute and then later she comes back and haunts them and kills them one by one. Is that it? Are they haunted by that decision?"
"I think some of them are," Toobin responded. "Some of them, I think, the Bush presidency hasn't quite worked out as they had hoped."
"But they weren't making the decision based on wanting Bush. They were making the decision based upon the clear law," suggested Colbert.
"Well, that's that they said," replied Toobin.
"Are you calling them liars?" asked Colbert.
"Not liars, but I think sometimes political motivations do play a part," Toobin conceded.

Gold Star Father Who Lost Son In Iraq Allegedly Beaten By Members Of Pro-War Group

Republican Hypocracy
We brought you Adam Kokesh’s incredible speech from last Saturday’s Iraq protests in Washington D.C., and unfortunately, there was an incident that occurred that day that was so disgusting it defies description.
Via After Downing Street:
Here are photos of members of “Gathering of Eagles” who assaulted gold star father Carlos Arredondo in broad daylight in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2007, throwing him to the ground and kicking him.
Account of what happened from Arredondo’s wife By Mélida Arredondo:
Carlos Arredondo, 47 year old father of two sons, arrived in the nation’s capitol on Monday, 09/10/07 to share a memorial he has made to honor for his eldest son, Alex. Carlos has visited thirty of the United States with the traveling memorial to his son Alexander. Lcpl. Alexander S. Arredondo, USMC was killed on 08/25/04. He was 20 years and 20 days old. The memorial consists of a casket, poster- size photographs of Alex when he graduated from boot camp, before his second tour in Iraq, lying in state at his wake, and a photo of Alex with his younger brother Brian.
Saturday, September 15, 2007 consisted of first a rally, a march towards the capitol and then a die-in. Carlos pulled the memorial along the march route approaching the rotunda near the capitol building. Several of the marchers requested for him to speak about the memorial where a crowd gathered around him. After finishing, several people walked with Carlos as he pulled the memorial. Several pictures of Alex dressed in his blues were attached to the display.
As Carlos passed counter protesters, one man ripped a picture of Alex from the memorial. Carlos leaped on the man to retrieve the picture. It was at that point that approximately five others all began to attack Carlos by kicking him in the head, legs, stomach and back.
This hateful group has a website, and while I have reservations about linking to them I feel that the depths of their hatred and ignorance must be seen to be believed and it must be beaten back. Please take the time to go look at the comments being made about Carlos at their site. No matter how enraging it may be, they must be exposed for who and what they really are.
(Read the rest of this story…)

Rumsfeld Speech Canceled After "Too Many People Objected"

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was supposed to speak to the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in Kansas on Dec. 4. But today the Wichita Eagle reports that his appearance was quietly canceled last month after “too many people objected.” The Chamber, which is traditionally conservative, is now expecting to hear from former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, who recently joined the speaker’s circuit.

Democrats Should Attack Bush, Not MoveOn

Posted September 20, 2007 01:18 PM (EST)
Breaking Politics News
Before a single Democrat condemns MoveOn's ad, they should insist that George W. Bush and the Republican Party repudiate the anti-military smears on war heroes that have been the hallmark of Mr. Bush's political career.
Too many Democrats still think Mr. Bush's presidency is on the level. Let's be clear. Mr. Bush is not leading a serious, sober discussion about public discourse during a war. He wants to divide progressives and score political points. We should not let him. Throughout his career he's been willing to tolerate and benefit from vicious lies about military men. We should not concede that he is legitimately angry now.
Mr. Bush is, as he likes to say, a loving guy. But by golly the MoveOn.org ad criticizing Gen. David Petraeus has him madder than Larry Craig in a pay toilet.
When a "reporter" asked him a loaded question about the MoveOn ad (not mentioning, for example, that Petraeus wrote an op-ed in support of the Bush Iraq policy a few weeks before the 2004 election), Bush swung for the fences. But then again, he's always been pretty good at T-Ball - and this was definitely teed up for him.
He slammed MoveOn, repeating language he used Wednesday in a meeting with right-wing columnists, saying that criticizing Petraeus is tantamount to attacking the entire US military, and expressing astonishment that leading Democrats have not attacked MoveOn as courageously as Bush has.
Before Democrats fall all over themselves to agree with a president whose trust and honesty rating from the American people is even lower than his IQ, let's look at the real record of Bush's cowardice when it comes to speaking out against attacks on military heroes:
In the 2000 South Carolina primary, George W. Bush stood next to a man described as a "fringe" figure - a man who had attacked Bush's own father - at a Bush rally. With Bush applauding him, the man said John McCain "abandoned" veterans. McCain, who was tortured in a North Vietnamese POW camp, was incensed. Five U.S. Senators who fought in Vietnam, including Democrats John Kerry, Max Cleland and Bob Kerrey, condemned the attack and called on Bush to repudiate it. When pressed on it at a debate hosted by CNN's Larry King, Bush meekly muttered that he shouldn't be held responsible for what others say. Even when he's standing next to them at a Bush rally.
In the 2002 campaign, draft dodger Saxby Chambliss ran an ad with pictures of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, then said Sen. Max Cleland lacked courage. Max Cleland left three limbs in Vietnam as an Army captain. Mr. Bush's political aide, Karl Rove, later refused to disavow the ad, saying, "President Bush and the White House don't write the ads for Senate candidates."
Also in the 2002 campaign, the PAC for the Family Research Council, a close Bush ally, ran an ad in South Dakota that pictured Sen. Tom Daschle and Saddam Hussein. "What do Saddam Hussein and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle have in common?" the ad asked. Apparently, they both opposed drilling in the Arctic wilderness. First, I had no idea that supporting drilling in the wilderness is a family values issue. Second, I have seen no reporting on the late Iraqi dictator's position on Alaska drilling. But I do know Tom Daschle is an Air Force veteran. Mr. Bush never disavowed the smear.
But perhaps the worst was what was done to John Kerry. Kerry earned five major medals in combat: the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. And yet supporters of Bush and Cheney decided to smear his war record. The despicable, dishonest Swift Boat attacks alleged that Kerry fabricated reports that earned him the Bronze Star. The Swifties also suggested that Kerry's wounds were insignificant - and that one was even self-inflicted. Kerry's wounds were certainly more serious than Mr. Bush's, who suffered a cut on his finger from popping a beer can while avoiding his duty in the Alabama National Guard. At the 2000 GOP convention, rich, white Republicans were photographed gleefully putting Band-Aids with purple hearts on their chubby cheeks. Mr. Bush refused to condemn the attack - blandly noting he didn't like 527 groups generally - and later nominated one of the men who financed the smear to be Ambassador to Belgium.
Mr. Bush is a coward and a bully. He knows he'll never be the kind of hero his father was. He knows he lacks the heroism of John Kerry or Max Cleland, so he overcompensates with bluster and bravado. In fact, he told bloggers recently that he wishes he were fighting in Iraq. The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin reported that Bush told a blogger in Iraq that he'd like to be carrying a 50-pound pack and an M-16, but, "One, I'm too old to be out there. And, two, they'd notice me."
So Mr. Bush is too old to fight in Iraq, and he was too rich and well-connected to fight in Vietnam. But he's itchin' for a fight with a progressive interest group. Does anyone believe he'd have the same outrage if a right-wing group were attacking war heroes? Of course not.

Genral Betrayus General Betrayus General Betrayus

Feeling down about the trumped up vote against moveon today--even though I wasn't a rabid supporter of the whole "betrayus" until I read at Kos that it was the troops that gave him that nick...
Anyways, so Mike Stark has put up a nice piece at Kos and registered some new website. I sort of like it. CHeck it out:
"In preparation, I registered the domain names, "WeAreYourBase.com", "SpeakWithOneVoice.org[and] .net" and I've researched the cost of purchasing NotOneRedCent.com.....
We are forming a donors' union and going on strike.
If I can raise the money, we will build a site that allows people to donate $10 to any non-elected progressive candidate or progressive organization that has an account at ActBlue. I am confident that we will be able to recruit 10,000 $10 donors (some will contribute more). repeating: each donor will promise to give NotOneRedCent to elected Democrats or organizations that give money to elected democrats. Instead, they will promise to use their money to contribute to progressive organizations and candidates that, as proved by their record, support the furtherance of progressive ideals."
PS..... Please join moveon or donate to a fringe group just in protest of this icky vote.

Bush Declines to Lift Veil of Secrecy Over Israeli Airstrike on Syria

New York Times September 21, 2007 12:34 AM
President Bush pointedly declined on Thursday to discuss an Israeli airstrike in northern Syria on Sept. 6 that Israeli officials say hit a nuclear-related facility that North Korea was helping to equip.
Mr. Bush did, however, warn North Korea that the United States expected it to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs and to stop selling weapons or expertise abroad, as it promised to do this year. He emphasized that he was speaking generally, not specifically, about whether North Korea provided assistance...


New York Times September 21, 2007 12:18 AM
Military officials said Thursday that contracts worth $6 billion to provide essential supplies to American troops in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan -- including food, water and shelter -- were under review by criminal investigators, double the amount the Pentagon had previously disclosed.
In addition, $88 billion in contracts and programs, including those for body armor for American soldiers and matériel for Iraqi and Afghan security forces, are being audited for financial irregularities, the officials said.

"Body of War" a Disturbing Iraq War Critique

By John DeFore Reuters
Tuesday 18 September 2007
Toranto - A matter-of-fact but pointedly critical commentary on the Iraq War, "Body of War" focuses on how soldiers got sent to Iraq and the shape in which they're coming back, leaving the rest to the nightly news.
A crowded marketplace makes box office unpredictable, but identification with a single protagonist gives "Body" something to set it apart from other antiwar documentaries.
Like men of another generation who enlisted after Pearl Harbor, Tomas Young joined the Army on September 13, 2001, after seeing President Bush stand in front of Ground Zero rubble and promise to hunt down those who attacked us. He expected to go to Afghanistan in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, but eventually found himself shipped off to Iraq. For about five days - after which his unarmored vehicle was attacked, and an AK-47 round pierced his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed.

Why Iraqi Farmers Might Prefer Death to Paul Bremer's Order 81

By Nancy Scola, AlterNet. Posted September 19, 2007.
Heard about the thousands of farmer suicides in India? Well, Iraqi farmers may be next thanks to the work of U.S. diplomat Paul Bremer and his Monsanto friends.

Odor of Corruption Over Saudi "Contract of the Century"

By Pierre Haski Rue89
Tuesday 18 September 2007
Justice or jobs? Moral principles or contracts? The British Labor government gave a great lesson in cynicism, but efficacy, Monday, when it signed a contract to supply 72 Typhoon Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia for 4.43 billion pounds (6.3 billion euros), the "contract of the century" for British Aerospace (BAE) and its partners.
Reminder of previous episodes: Last year, Tony Blair, then still prime minister, blocked an investigation of financial embezzlement involving the Saudi royal family in the negotiation of this fabulous contract. The investigation had begun in 2004 and established that BAE had transferred a billion pounds sterling (1.4 billion euros) to the private account of Prince Bandar, who was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington for twenty years, and another billion pounds to the Swiss accounts of other royal family members. The British Serious Fraud Office (SFO), a theoretically independent agency, was not authorized to pursue its investigations.
[Image of Dr. Martin Luther King]

Pine Gap's wider missile role

The joint Australian.-US defence facility at Pine Gap, in central Australia
Sarah Smiles and Brendan NicholsonSeptember 21, 2007
THE Pine Gap spy base in central Australia could become part of the Bush Administration's controversial plan for a global anti-ballistic missile system.
In a speech to Parliament marking the 40th anniversary of the joint Australian-US facility, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said it contributed to global security, helped inhibit the spread of ballistic missiles and provided information on ballistic missile launches of interest to Australia. And, information from Pine Gap on missile launches could be used in any US missile defence system.

A Little Scoop on Bush, Chirac, God, Gog and Magog

By Jacques Sterchi Rue89 in partnership with La Liberté, Fribourg
Monday 17 September 2007
In 2003, University of Lausanne theology professor Thomas Römer received a telephone call from the Elysée. Jacques Chirac's advisers wanted to know more about Gog and Magog ... two mysterious names pronounced by George W. Bush while he was attempting to convince France to enter the war in Iraq at his side. In its September edition, the University of Lausanne's review, Allez savoir, reveals this story that could seem fantastic did it not, as Allez savoir's Editor-in-Chief Jocelyn Rochat emphasizes, reveal the religious underpinnings of Bush's policy.
Apocalyptic prophecy: Bush would have declared to Chirac that Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and that the Biblical prophecies were in the process of being fulfilled. That was several weeks before the intervention in Iraq. The French president, to whom the names of Gog and Magog meant nothing, was stupefied.
In Allez savoir, Thomas Römer details: Gog and Magog are two creatures who appear in Genesis, and especially in the most arcane chapters of the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel. An apocalyptic prophecy of a global army giving final battle in Israel.
"This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people's enemies before a New Age begins," continues Thomas Römer.
According to him, George W. Bush is not the first to look for an incarnation of Gog and Magog on earth. Ronald Reagan had deemed that the cold war and the atomic bomb's existence made Ezekiel's prophecy realizable....
If today the University of Lausanne reveals these explanations Thomas Römer supplied to Jacques Chirac, it's because the latter has left the Elysée. For Jocelyn Rochat, this little international policy professional secret raises a vast question: our lack of religious education, our ignorance of Scriptures at a time when religious foundations are far more crucial than we'd like to believe in political and military decisions. Religion is not confined to the private sphere, Jocelyn Rochat concludes. A parameter to take into account "at the risk of no longer understanding the way the world works today."
Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.
The Great Battle of the End Times

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gates ... the scene of today's fire-bomb attack on the Prime Minister's residence, Kirribilli House / Photo by Jeremy Piper
A MAN has been arrested by Australian Federal Police after a burning object was thrown into Prime Minister John Howard's Sydney residence, Kirribilli House, starting a fire and sparking a security scare.

Canadian Newsmag: How Bush Became The New Saddam

COVER STORY: Its strategies shattered, a desperate Washington is reaching out to the late dictator's henchmen.
Macleans Patrick Graham September 20, 2007 11:28 PM
It was embarrassing putting my flak jacket on backwards and sideways, but in the darkness of the Baghdad airport car park I couldn't see anything. "Peterik, put the flak jacket on," the South African security contractor was saying politely, impatiently. "You know the procedure if we are attacked."
I didn't. He explained. One of the chase vehicles would pull up beside us and someone would drag me out of the armoured car, away from the firing. If both drivers were unconscious—nice euphemism—he said I should try to run to the nearest army checkpoint. If the checkpoint was American, things might work out if they didn’t shoot first. If it was Iraqi . . . he didn’t elaborate.

The President Of Hypocrisy

Countdown Special Comment:
So the President, behaving a little bit more than usual, like we’d all interrupted him while he was watching his favorite cartoons on the DVR, stepped before the press conference microphone and after side-stepping most of the substantive issues like the Israeli raid on Syria in condescending and infuriating fashion, produced a big-wow political finish that indicates, certainly, that if it wasn’t already — the annual Republican witch-hunting season is underway.
“I thought the ad was disgusting. I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus, but on the U.S. Military.
“And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad.
“And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like Move-On-Dot-Org — or **more** afraid of irritating them, than they are of irritating the United States military.”
“That was a sorry deal.”
First off, it’s “Democrat-ic” party, sir.
You keep pretending you’re not a politician, so stop using words your party made up. Show a little respect.
Secondly, you could say this seriously after the advertising/mugging of Senator Max Cleland? After the swift-boating of John Kerry?
But most importantly… making that the last question?
So that there was no chance at a follow-up?
So nobody could point out — as Chris Matthews so incisively did, a week ago tonight — that you were the one who inappropriately interjected General Petraeus into the political dialogue of this nation in the first place!
Deliberately, premeditatedly, and virtually without precedent, you shanghaied a military man as your personal spokesman — and now you’re complaining about the outcome, and then running away from the microphone?
Eleven months ago the President’s own party — the Republican National Committee — introduced this very different kind of advertisement, just nineteen days before the mid-term elections.
Bin Laden.
And Zawahiri’s rumored quote of six years ago about having bought “suitcase bombs.”
All set against a ticking clock, and finally a blinding explosion… and the dire announcement:
“These are the stakes - vote, November 7th.”
That one was ok, Mr. Bush?
Terrorizing your own people in hopes of getting them to vote for your own party has never brought as much as a public comment from you?
The Republican Hamstringing of Captain Max Cleeland and lying about Lieutenant John Kerry met with your approval?
But a shot at General Petraeus — about whom you conveniently ignore it is you who reduced him from four-star hero to a political hack — that merits this pissy juvenile blast at the Democrats on national television?
Your hypocrisy is so vast, sir, that if we could somehow use it to fill the ranks in Iraq you could realize your dream — and keep us fighting there until the year 3000.
The line between the military and the civilian government is not to be crossed.
When Douglas MacArthur attempted to make policy for the United States in Korea half a century ago, President Truman moved quickly to fire him, even though Truman knew it meant his own political suicide, and the deification of a General who history suggests had begun to lose his mind.
When George McClellan tried to make policy for the Union in the Civil War, President Lincoln finally fired his chief General, even though he knew McClellan could galvanize political opposition - as he did… when McClellan ran as Lincoln’s presidential opponent in 1864 and nearly defeated our greatest president.
Even when the conduit flowed the other way and Senator Joseph McCarthy tried to smear the Army because it wouldn’t defer the service of one of McCarthy’s staff aides, the entire civilian and Defense Department structures — after four years of fearful servitude — rose up against McCarthy and said “enough” and buried him.
The list is not endless — but it is instructive.
Air Force General LeMay — who broke with Kennedy over the Cuban Missile Crisis — and was retired.
Army General Edwin Anderson Walker — who started passing out John Birch Society leaflets to his soldiers.
Marine General Smedley Butler — who revealed to Congress the makings of a plot to remove FDR as President — and for merely being approached by the plotters, was phased out of the military hierarchy.
These careers were ended because the line between the military and the civilian is… not… to… be… crossed!
Mr. Bush, you had no right to order General Petraeus to become your front man.
And he obviously should have refused that order and resigned rather than ruin his military career.
The upshot is — and contrary it is, to the MoveOn advertisement — he betrayed himself more than he did us.
But there has been in his actions a sort of reflexive courage, some twisted vision of duty at a time of crisis. That the man doesn’t understand that serving officers cannot double as serving political ops, is not so much his fault as it is your good, exploitable, fortune.
But Mr. Bush, you have hidden behind the General’s skirts, and today you have hidden behind the skirts of ‘the planted last question’ at a news conference, to indicate once again that your presidency has been about the tilted playing field, about no rules for your party in terms of character assassination and changing the fabric of our nation, and no right for your opponents or critics to as much as respond.
That, sir, is not only un-American — it is dictatorial.
And in pimping General David Petraeus, sir, in violation of everything this country has been assiduously and vigilantly against for 220 years, you have tried to blur the gleaming radioactive demarcation between the military and the political, and to portray your party as the one associated with the military, and your opponents as the ones somehow antithetical to it.
You did it again today, sir, and you need to know how history will judge the line you just crossed.
It is a line — thankfully only the first of a series — that makes the military political, and the political, military.
It is a line which history shows is always the first one crossed when a democratic government in some other country has started down the long, slippery, suicidal slope towards a military junta.
Get back behind that line, Mr. Bush, before some of your supporters mistake your dangerous transgression, for a call to further politicize our military.

Good night, and good luck.
Jerry Says: ‘First off, it’s “Democrat-ic” party, sir.
You keep pretending you’re not a politician, so stop using words your party made up. Show a little respect.’
LMAO!!! I loved it. When I heard that, I knew it was going to be good one. K.O. is the only commentator who has the balls to scold the WarPig like the emotionally and mentally disturbed adolescent in a man’s body that Bush is.
MY thoughts exactly

Bush: No Democracy In Iraq

Flashback: Cheney Wanted Mandela Arrested As "Terrorist"Mandela On War: "It Is A Tragedy, What Is Happening, What Bush Is Doing"
ThinkProgress September 20, 2007 02:36 PM
In a press conference this morning, President Bush tried to assert that Saddam's brutal rule over Iraq wiped the country clean of potential democratic reformers -- individuals who may have possessed leadership skills like former South African President Nelson Mandela. In doing so, Bush inartfully suggested Saddam killed Mandela:
I thought an interesting comment was made -- somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, "Now, where's Mandela?" Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.

The Age of Irresponsibility

Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP / Getty Images
Blackwater USA contractors secure the site of a roadside explosion in central Baghdad in 2005. The U.S. Embassy said a Blackwater convoy accused of killing eight civilians during a shootout in the capital Sunday had come under fire, and some local Iraqi television stations reported an exchange of gunfire at the scene.
How Bush has created a moral vacuum in Iraq in which Americans can kill for free.
Sept. 20, 2007 -
Imagine a universe where a man can gun down women and children anytime he pleases, knowing he will never be brought to justice. A place where morality is null and void, and arbitrary killing is the rule. A place that has been imagined hitherto only in nightmarish dystopian fiction, like “1984,” or in fevered passages from Dostoevsky—or which existed during the Holocaust and Stalinist purges and the Dark Ages. Well, that universe exists today. It is called Iraq. And the man who made it possible is George W. Bush.
The moral vacuum of Iraq—where Blackwater USA guards can kill 10 or 20 Iraqis on a whim and never be prosecuted for it—did not happen by accident. It is yet another example of something the Bush administration could have prevented with the right measures but simply did not bother about as it rushed into invading and occupying another country. With America’s all-volunteer army under strain, the Pentagon and White House knew that regular military cannot be used for guarding civilians. As far back as 2003, then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld convened a task force under Undersecretary of Defense David Chu to consider new laws that might be needed to govern the privatization of war. Nothing was done about its recommendations. Then, two days before he left Iraq for good, L. Paul Bremer III, the Coalition Provisional Authority administrator, signed a blanket order immunizing all Americans, because, as one of his former top aides told me, “we wanted to make sure our military, civilians and contractors were protected from Iraqi law.” (No one worried about protecting the Iraqis from us; after all, we still thought of ourselves as the “liberators,” even though by then the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib and other places were known.)
Nor can these private armies even be prosecuted in America under U.S. law. The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000, which permits charges to be brought in U.S. courts for crimes abroad, apparently applies only to Defense Department contractors (and even then the administration has rarely used it). Blackwater and other security firms work for the State Department. Even today, despite the crucial role of Blackwater and other private security firms—who employ up to 30,000 operatives in keeping the civilian side of the U.S. occupation going—Iraqis can do nothing if they are abused or killed by them. While many Blackwater operatives are brave and honorable—the company has lost some 30 of its employees in Iraq—many of these paramilitaries have long been known to be cowboys who act as if they are free to commit homicide as they please. And according to numerous Iraqi witnesses, they sometimes do.

The Statue of Liberty Should Weep.

Felicity Arbuthnot
New York based Judith Karpova risks losing everything she has, or going to jail for a long time. Her crime? She went to Iraq in February 2003 as a Human Shield. She was prepared to risk her life to attempt to avert an illegal war, invasion and illegal occupation. 'The charges (are) that I violated the travel ban against Iraq' states Ms Karpova: 'No hearing was ever held. The strangest part of the decision involves the fact that the Director of OFAC changed between 2004 and 2005. Most oddly, the court resolves the issue of whether OFAC violated impartiality, by both bringing the charges and finding me guilty.' The charge was not alone violation of the travel ban, but boosting the Iraqi economy. It is shocking to read of the plight of Ms Karpova at the hands of the U.S. 'Justice' system. I was in Iraq and Baghdad at the same time as the Human Shields. Did they break the US/UK driven UN embargo (which was to force Saddam to give up the weapons of mass destruction they knew he did not have) did they aid Iraq financially? Well if you call going to the local soukh to buy local produce, aiding Iraq, yes. If you call giving a few Dinars to children as young as five, forced out of school to sell cigarettes, clean shoes, as a result of the embargo (in a country which valued education above all and with Palestine had the highest PhD's per capita on earth) yes, they put a little extra food on a family table, a miniscule amount more money circulated in the soukh, in a country where many families often ate in rota, one giving up food for a day, to give a little more for the others...

Why Is the Dollar Losing Value?

A Closer Look at the Dollar and the Euro and What the Dollar's Drop Means for You

Rather: 'The Only Punishment They Understand Is Money'

In Interview, Former Anchor Explains Reasons for Lawsuit
By Howard KurtzWashington Post Staff Writer Thursday, September 20, 2007; 5:36 PM
He's not giving up. He feels he has been wronged. He wants to prove it. And he is determined to stick it to CBS executives in the process.
"The only punishment they understand is the money," Dan Rather said yesterday, explaining why he filed a $70 million lawsuit this week against the network he called home for 44 years.
He said he hired "a team of people," with "money out of my own pocket," to investigate CBS's handling of the story that led to his downfall as anchor. And he still believes in the accuracy of that story -- that George W. Bush received favorable treatment from the National Guard -- even though CBS concluded it could not authenticate the 30-year-old documents involved.
"I'm surprised someone in government hasn't said, 'We have a wartime president whose military records are missing, can't be found. Let's use the power of government to find out exactly what happened,' " Rather said.

Thousands 'march for justice' in Jena, court orders hearing on teen

The story
Thousands of protesters clogged the tiny town of Jena, Louisiana, Thursday to show their indignation over what they consider unjust, unequal punishments meted out in two racially charged incidents.
They swarmed over the grounds of Jena High School, where nooses were hung from a tree in early August 2006, about three months before six black teens known as the "Jena 6" were accused of beating a white classmate.
While the tension was palpable, news broke Thursday afternoon that the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal ordered a hearing within 72 hours to determine if the only one of the six still behind bars can be released.
The order has "got to be good," Mychal Bell's attorney, Bob Noel, told CNN. "It means we have a day in court. Any day in court is going to be a good day."
Earlier, there was an aura of a The story
Thousands of protesters clogged the tiny town of Jena, Louisiana, Thursday to show their indignation over what they consider unjust, unequal punishments meted out in two racially charged incidents.
They swarmed over the grounds of Jena High School, where nooses were hung from a tree in early August 2006, about three months before six black teens known as the "Jena 6" were accused of beating a white classmate.
While the tension was palpable, news broke Thursday afternoon that the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal ordered a hearing within 72 hours to determine if the only one of the six still behind bars can be released.
The order has "got to be good," Mychal Bell's attorney, Bob Noel, told CNN. "It means we have a day in court. Any day in court is going to be a good day."
Earlier, there was an aura of a pilgrimage at the site where the controversial tree once stood before school administrators had it removed. Read full article »

American Mercinaries in Iraq

A US private security officer with his face covered against dust, sits in a Chinook helicopter as they accompany Iraq's US civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer on a visit to the southern marsh areas of Iraq in this Thursday, Sept 18, 2003 file photo near the southern Iraqi city of Basra. The Iraqi Interior Ministry said Monday Sept. 17, 2007that it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad. Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight people were killed and 13 were wounded when security contractors working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad. The spokesman said witness reports pointed to Blackwater involvement but said the incident was still under investigation. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo, File)
U.S. security firm Blackwater remains in Iraq under a State Department contract while a joint commission investigates a shooting incident in Baghdad on Sunday that left 11 Iraqis dead, the U.S. embassy said on Thursday.
The U.S. military confirmed yesterday that it awarded the largest security contract in Iraq to a private British firm, Aegis Defence Services, in a deal worth up to $475 million over two years.
In case you missed it: :
The video of Aegis Defence Services, shows security guards opening fire with automatic rifles at civilian cars. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on "route Irish", a road that links the airport to Baghdad.
The United States has assembled an imposing industrial army in Iraq larger than its uniformed fighting force and responsible for a such a broad swath of responsibilities the military might not be able to operate without its private-sector partners.
$333 million a day, $14 million an hour, $231,000 a minute and $3,850 a second. Even for the world's richest country, this is serious money.

How Dare You!

When we try to untangle this web of accusation and innuendo, Giuliani appears to be suggesting that it is unacceptable for a Senator to express skepticism about anything said by a general in uniform. If he believes that, he does not understand democracy. I am shocked by this. In fact, if Giuliani doesn't apologize, and if the other Republican candidates don't condemn this commercial, I think I'm going to faint.

Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2007 By MICHAEL KINSLEY
Goodness gracious. oh, my paws and whiskers. Some of the meanest, most ornery hombres around are suddenly feeling faint. Notorious tough guys are swooning with the vapors. The biggest beasts in the barnyard are all aflutter over something they read in the New York Times. It's that ad from MoveOn.org — the one that calls General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. forces in Iraq, general betray us. All across the radio spectrum, right-wing shock jocks are themselves shocked. How could anybody say such a thing? It's horrifying. It's outrageous. It's disgraceful. It's just beyond the pale ... It's ... oh, my heavens ... say, is it a bit stuffy in here? ... I think I'm going to ... Could I have a glass of ... oh, dear [thud].
Welcome to the wonderful world of umbrage, the new language of American politics. You would not have thought that the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly would be so sensitive. Sticks and stones and so on. Yet they all seem to have taken one look at that ad and fainted dead away. And when they came round, they demanded — as if with one voice (or at least as if with one list of talking points) — that every Democratic presidential candidate must "condemn" this shocking, shocking document.
The ad is pretty tough, and the pun on the general's name is pretty witless. You could argue that since the verb betray and the noun traitor have the same root, the ad is accusing the head of American forces in Iraq of treason. The ad can also be interpreted — more plausibly if you consider the rest of the text — merely as questioning the general's honesty, not his patriotism. But whatever your interpretation of the ad, all the gasping for air and waving of scented handkerchiefs among the war's most enthusiastic supporters is pretty comical.
It's all phony, of course. The war's backers are obviously delighted to have this ad from which they can make an issue. They wouldn't trade it for a week in Anbar province (a formerly troubled area of Iraq that is now, thanks to us, an Eden of peace and tranquillity where barely a car bomb disturbs the perfumed silence — or so they say). These days, mock outrage is used by every side of every dispute. It's fair enough to criticize something your opponent said while secretly thanking your lucky stars that he said it. The fuss over this MoveOn.org ad is something else: it is the result of a desperate scavenging for umbrage material. When so many people are clamoring for a chance to swoon that they each have to take a number and when the landscape is so littered with folks lying prostrate and pretending to be dead that it starts to look like the end of a Civil War battle re-enactment, this isn't spontaneous mass outrage. This is choreography.

American-style casino opens in Iraq

Kalashnikovs checked at door
By Burke Hansen in San Francisco Published Thursday 20th September 2007 02:29 GMT
Not to be outdone by the establishment of the American University of Iraq in the northern Iraqi city of Suleimaniya, a ballsy Russian businessman, Vitaly Kouznetzov, has helped bring another, sexier, slice of American life to the Iraqi Kurds: he's brought a touch of Las Vegas to that same Kurdish cultural capital with the launch of an American-style casino. Take that, al-Qaeda.
Suleimaniya is located near the border with Iran, and has long been considered a bastion of liberalism in a part of the world known more for intolerance and chaotic bloodshed. Public Radio International (PRI) interviewed Mr. Kouznetov today, and in it he explains to his bemused interviewer, Lisa Mullin, just how he has managed to open a casino in a Muslim country riven by civil strife and religion-inspired killing.
Money to be made?
Very good customers, he notes - just look at their cars.
Not at all worried about security, huh?
Actually, security is quite good, he says, much to Mullin's surprise. Of course everyone is armed. Everyone carries Kalashnikovs, but we have a room by the door where they can check them, one hour, two hours, however long they need.
Booze? Just beer. Well, that's better than nothing. We hear it's hot there.
The full interview, including Mr. Kouznetov’s description of gambling and the Koran, can be found here

Al Qaeda to declare war on Musharraf

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Osama bin Laden will release a new message soon declaring war on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, al Qaeda announced Thursday.
The announcement of the upcoming message came as al Qaeda released a new video in which bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, boasted that the United States was being defeated in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places.
Officials in Pakistan confirmed Thursday that Musharraf, who also is Pakistan's military chief, would seek a second five-year term as president.
Speakers in the video promised more fighting in Afghanistan, North Africa and Sudan's Darfur region.
The messages are part of a stepped-up propaganda campaign by al Qaeda around the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Earlier this month, bin Laden released two messages -- including his first new appearance in a video in nearly three years.
A banner posted on an Islamic militant Web site on Thursday advertised that another message would be released, though it did not say whether bin Laden would appear in video or speak in an audiotape.
"Urgent, al Qaeda declares war on the tyrant Pervez Musharraf and his apostate army, in the words of Osama bin Laden," it read.
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