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Saturday, October 13, 2007

FRONTLINE | Cheney's Law Oct 16 @ pbs.org/frontline

Tuesday, October 16 [9:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 p.m. Central; check your local listings.]Frontline: Cheney's Law
For three decades, Vice President Dick Cheney has waged a secretive, and often bitter battle to expand the power of the presidency. Now in a direct confrontation with Congress, as the administration asserts executive privilege to head off investigations into domestic wiretapping and the firing of U.S. attorneys, FRONTLINE meticulously traces the behind-closed-doors battle within the administration over the power of the presidency and the rule of law.

U.N. Pushes For War Crimes Probe Of U.S. Contractors In Iraq

Reuters Via Yahoo:
The United Nations wants probes to determine whether private security contractors in Iraq have committed war crimes and for governments to ensure that the rule of law is applied, U.N. officials said on Thursday.
Ivana Vuco, the U.N.’s senior human rights officer in Iraq, told a news conference that private security contractors were still subject to international humanitarian law and that meant there were specific consequences for any breach.
“Investigations as to whether or not crimes against humanity, war crimes, are being committed and obviously the consequences of that is something that we will be paying attention to and advocating for,” she told a news conference. Read more…
Here’s hoping the world body speaks up and makes these probes a reality. Congress is finally stepping up with legislation to hold these contractors liable for their crimes, but they need to be condemned world wide.
Sat Oct 13, 2007 at 10:13:52 AM PDT
Right before the Congress makes updates to the FISA law and determines whether or not to give retroactive immunity to telecom companies who assisted in the efforts to wiretap Americans without a warrant, there's a lot of information coming out about just how pervasive Bush Administration surveillance has become, and how long they have sought these expansive surveillance powers.
We learned about Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio's contentions that his company was targeted by the NSA for refusing to participate in the wiretapping program back on Thursday. Today we learn more from the Washington Post:

Torture: What's in a Name?

Writing for Truthout, Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III says, "For months, President Bush has tried to defend the extreme tactics being used by the CIA to interrogate individuals suspected of terrorist activities. This, in spite of recently released documents from the Justice Department indicating that in 2005, then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales issued a secret opinion authorizing physical abuse to extract information."

FOCUS | After the Riots, Burma Returns to an Unspoken Terror

Kevin Doyle, reporting for The Guardian UK newspaper, writes, "With the killing of an unknowable number of peaceful protesters and the imprisonment of thousands more during the pro-democracy demonstrations [in Burma] last month, many people fear reprisals by the military."

Bush, aides 'grossly misjudged Putin'

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration's failure to win Russia's consent to install U.S. missile defenses in its European backyard and a growing list of other disputes suggest that President Bush and his aides have misread the man whose "soul" Bush thought he'd divined when they first met six years ago.
Bush's strategy on Russia assumed that Russian President Vladimir Putin embraced democracy, wanted integration with the West and sought a "strategic partnership" in which Moscow would acquiesce to U.S. policies such as NATO expansion. Feuds could be resolved through the close personal relationship that Bush believed he had with his Russian counterpart.
Instead, fueled by record oil and natural gas prices and resentment of what he lambasted in February as Bush's "almost uncontained hyper use of force," Putin has led global opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq, hosted Palestinians on the U.S. list of terrorist groups, sold anti-aircraft missiles and other arms to Iran and stymied Bush's drive to tighten U.N. sanctions on the Islamic republic for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.
The Kremlin has steadily increased spending on defense modernization and revived symbolic long-range aerial reconnaissance patrols toward U.S. and European airspace.
Putin also has threatened to re-target Russian nuclear missiles at Europe if Bush deploys U.S. missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic, declared his intention to trash treaties that eliminate a class of nuclear missiles and limit conventional military forces in Europe and compared the United States under Bush to Germany under Hitler.

War Without End, Amen: The Sanguinary Vision of Robert Gates

Chris Floyd , Empire Burlesque
...The day after his speech brought yet another example of how the war of the future will be fought: an American airstrike on a town north of Baghdad that killed nine children and six women, according to the Pentagon's own admission. (This massacre must have been a most glaring one indeed, if Bush's brass were willing to own up to such a death toll so quickly; usually, they simply deny that any civilians have been killed in their "precision airstrikes," or obscure the reality behind bromides about the "fog of war," despite the testimony of survivors and officials of the American-backed Iraqi government, and the dead bodies pulled from smoldering ruins.) The Pentagon claimed that the insurgents they were targeting had chosen "to surround themselves with civilians and then fire upon U.S. forces." (Naturally it would have been more sporting of the miscreants to gather themselves out in the open desert and wait for the Americans who are occupying the civilian centers to come out and kill them; but we all know the Arab mind is low and devious.) Here again, we see the militarist mindset at work, the inability to process any reality that falls outside the presumption that America has the right to apply "all elements of national power" anytime and anywhere it so chooses. They cannot grasp this simple question; Why are there insurgents firing on U.S. soldiers in the civilian areas of Iraq? Because the U.S. military has invaded and occupied Iraq, filling its civilian areas with more than 160,000 troops (and tens of thousands of mercenaries). If the U.S. soldiers were not there, then there would be no insurgents, and they would not be firing on U.S. soldiers...

Flying Kites....

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
...Today's children in Iraq are either too scarred or will not live to remember or... are already dead. Only two days ago, 11 little ones were severly wounded by a mortar attack. Yesterday, 9 little ones were killed in a so called counter-insurgency attack by your brave boys. Today, at least 2 little ones were blasted away when a bomb placed in a toy cart exploded in their curious little faces...on the day of the Eid. Our little ones are nothing but appetizers for you. Your anti-pasti, your hors d'oeuvres...The more, the merrier... In the name of Liberty. In the name of Democracy. In the name of Freedom. In the name of the o' so civilized West that you are. For 13 years, our little ones suffered, our little martyrs...Over half a million died as a result of your o' so civilized sanctions, while you were watching... Thirteen fucking years and you watched, in silence, tasting your hors d'oeuvres in front of your TV screens. Thirteen years of a deafening, utter silence. Silence from the so called left and anti-war clowns. Silence from the international community. Silence from the so-called Islamic Ummah. So silent, that the silence turned into a lullaby of agonies that you can still hear in the mass graves of our little ones. So silent, that they have slept, never to wake up again...A murderous lullaby. The little ones who survived, experienced their final liberation in 2003. God damn you. God damn you. That is all I can repeat for now (...) Come and see... The other day, I overheard a 6 years old saying to her mother, "I want to die." Just in case one of your bullets does not get to her, you have ensured that she will finish it off herself... Come and see them stutter, hear them shout at night during their sleep and see their wet beds... This is no lost innocence. This is a raped innocence, a murdered innocence... Raped and murdered by you..
America's greatest crime against humanity is radioactive genocide particularly against the children of Iraq who are the innocent victims of our illegal war, occupation and economic rape of Iraq ~ We have the blood of countless innocent children on our hands and it will take generations to remove the stain of our illegal and inhumane transgressions. Currently, more than 50 percent of Iraqi cancer patients are children under the age of 5, up from 13 percent. Children are especially vulnerable because they tend to play in areas that are heavily polluted by depleted uranium. ...
Source: NY Daily News
Bernard Kerik's legal nightmare is about to get worse, with federal prosecutors expected to file charges against the former police commissioner that will likely include allegations of bribery, tax fraud and obstruction of justice, the Daily News has learned.
The indictment, expected next month, could prove to be an embarrassing obstacle for Kerik's former mentor Rudy Giuliani, who is cruising at the top of the polls heading into the presidential primary gauntlet.
The bribery allegations against Kerik stem from a secret meeting at a bar in Tribeca, according to two sources familiar with the federal probe.
Kerik's lawyers recently agreed to waive the statute of limitations on the tax charges until Nov. 17, which will allow them to make one last plea to try to ease the pain.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's the Oil

Jim Holt, writing in the London Review of Books, says:
"Iraq is 'unwinnable', a 'quagmire', a 'fiasco': so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be 'stuck' precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no 'exit strategy.'"

Israeli Army Orders Confiscation of Palestinian Land in West Bank

Conal Urquhart reports for The Guardian UK, "The Israeli army has ordered the seizure of Palestinian land surrounding four West Bank villages apparently in order to hugely expand settlements around Jerusalem, it emerged yesterday."

US Contractors in Iraq Rely on Third-World Labor

Guy Raz for NPR's "All Things Considered" reports: "If you thought all contractors in Iraq were gun-toting American mercenaries, think again. Only a fraction of the estimated 180,000 contractors working on behalf of the US government are security contractors - and the overwhelming majority aren't even from the US."

Who's Afraid of Sick Kids?

Joe Brewer writes for Truthout: "When is a twelve-year-old boy with brain damage a threat? When he exemplifies the good a government program can do when it provides health security to middle-class Americans."
Sliming Graeme Frost
Krugman, of The New York Times, writes: "All in all, the Graeme Frost case is a perfect illustration of the modern right-wing political machine at work, and in particular its routine reliance on character assassination in place of honest debate. If service members oppose a Republican war, they're 'phony soldiers'; if Michael J. Fox opposes Bush policy on stem cells, he's faking his Parkinson's symptoms; if an injured 12-year-old child makes the case for a government health insurance program, he's a fraud."

Turkey Threatens Repercussions for US

Christopher Torchia reports for The Associated Press, "Turkey, which is a key supply route to US troops in Iraq, recalled its ambassador to Washington on Thursday and warned of serious repercussions if Congress labels the killing of Armenians by Turks a century ago as genocide."

11th House Republican Announces Plans To Retire

ANDREW TAYLOR October 11, 2007 07:45 PM EST
WASHINGTON — Rep. Ralph Regula, an Ohio Republican who has served in the House for 35 years, has decided not to seek re-election, GOP operatives said Thursday.
The congressman was expected to announce Friday that he will retire at the end of his current two-year term in January 2009. He will be the 11th Republican to forgo a re-election bid next year, further complicating the GOP's efforts to retake control of the House.
Regula, 82, is the dean of Ohio's congressional delegation and the No. 3 Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee. He has held his seat since 1973.

CIA Legal Official Quit In Protest Over "Enhanced Interrogations"

Ken Silverstein
October 12, 2007
Well over a year ago I reported on a brewing revolt within the CIA over the Bush Administration’s use of renditions, “enhanced interrogation” techniques (otherwise known as torture) and other tough tactics employed in the “war on terrorism.” One former official with whom I spoke at the time told me, “There are people who fear that indictments and subpoenas could be coming down, and they don’t want to get caught up in it.” This person went on to describe a split at the CIA, saying, “There’s an SS group within the agency that’s willing to do anything and there’s a Wehrmacht group that is saying, ‘I’m not gonna touch this stuff’.”
Since then, it’s become clear that dissent within the agency on these matters has become even more intense. As I’ve also previously reported, some of the in-house critics have taken their complaints to CIA Inspector General (IG) John Helgerson. Today’s New York Times reports that CIA director General Michael Hayden
has ordered an unusual internal inquiry into the work of [Helgerson], whose aggressive investigations of the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation programs and other matters have created resentment among agency operatives…The review is particularly focused on complaints that Mr. Helgerson’s office has not acted as a fair and impartial judge of agency operations but instead has begun a crusade against those who have participated in controversial detention programs. Any move by the agency’s director to examine the work of the inspector general would be unusual, if not unprecedented, and would threaten to undermine the independence of the office, some current and former officials say.

Craig ethics complaint backfires on GOP

Craig ethics complaint backfires on GOPWASHINGTON - Larry who?Now that scandal-tinged Idaho Sen. Larry Craig has reneged on a pledge to resign this fall, his fellow Republican senators act as though they hardly know him. They want voters to forget him, too.
But they privately acknowledge that an earlier strategy to drive Craig from office has backfired, sticking them with an open-ended ethics investigation likely to keep the issue before the public for months.
Senate Republicans demanded the Ethics Committee inquiry into his sex-sting conviction last summer in hopes of forcing Craig to resign. He essentially called their bluff this month when he reversed his decision to resign Sept. 30 unless a court let him drop his guilty plea.
Now Republicans are powerless to stop a process almost certain to do more political damage to the party in general than to a retiring senator.

Ex-Commander Blasts Iraq 'Nightmare'

By Robert ParryOctober 12, 2007
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq for the first year of the occupation, blamed “incompetence” by President George W. Bush’s national security team for creating a “nightmare” that could last far into the future.
Sanchez, who led coalition forces from June 2003 to June 2004, used an Oct. 12 speech to a conference of Military Reporters and Editors in Arlington, Virginia, to castigate nearly everyone connected to the Iraq War, including the U.S. news media, Congress, the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon.
Read on.

Haditha massacre defendant pursues defamation suit against US congressman

Naomi Spencer, WSWS
Last month, a federal judge ordered US Representative Jack Murtha (Democrat of Pennsylvania) to testify in a defamation suit brought against him by a Marine facing murder charges for his involvement in the 2005 massacre in Haditha, Iraq. The lawsuit, a transparent attempt to silence opposition to the war and criticism of the military, has become a cause célèbre within right-wing circles. Frank Wuterich, a Marine sergeant who was squad leader during the incident, sued Murtha for libel and invasion of privacy last year for saying the murder of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha was a killing carried out "in cold blood." Wuterich is currently charged with 17 counts of unpremeditated murder and is among the last of 12 Marines involved in the killings to face the possibility of court martial...
continua / continued

Unguarded Moment: Another Brake on Tyranny Stripped Away

Chris Floyd , Empire Burlesque
October 12, 2007Who will guard the guardians? Why, the guardians, of course.
CIA Director Michael Hayden has launched an investigation of the agency's Inspector General -- who, in our brave new authoritarian state, where Congress has long abandoned its oversight of a regime which brazenly disregards all legal restrictions on its arbitrary power, is one of the few remaining checks on the torture squads, rendition ops and assassination teams of the security apparat. Yes, we have sunk so low; like the subjects of the old Soviet Union, we can only cringe before the Chekists and hope wanly that some slightly more enlightened KGB officer will restrain the goons. But as we know – for we have seen it demonstrated daily for almost seven years now – the goons of the Bush Regime will not be restrained, not even by one of their own.
And the sins of the inspector, John Helgerson, are indeed heavy. He apparently has had the temerity to question the Leader's personally approved torture program, carrying out what the Times calls "aggressive investigations of the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation programs and other matters." (Those "other matters" are most intriguing. Perhaps they have something to do with this?) It seems that Helgerson's has "created resentment among agency operatives" doing the Leader's bidding by subjecting his captives to beatings, psychological torments, waterboarding and strappado. And so CIA chief Hayden – the usual "straight shooter," "moderate," "safe pair of hands" whose appointment was hailed by most of the Democratic "opposition" – has ordered an unprecedented probe of the probers. The intent is clear: to chill any effort to dilute the cruelty and lawlessness so beloved by the Leader.

(Iraqi) Father dies after failing to stop playground bomb attack

Source: SMH
KIRKUK, Iraq: A suicide bomber exploded a cart of sweets on a crowded playground in the northern Iraq town of Tuz yesterday, killing a child and a father and wounding at least 20 children.
The father, who had come to the playground with his children for the Eid al-Fitr festival tried to prevent the suicide bomber from setting off his explosives but failed, police captain Hiwa Abdullah said.
A spokesman at the hospital in Tuz, about 200 kilometres north of Baghdad, confirmed it had received the bodies of a man and a child.
Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan and which began in Iraq for Sunni Arabs yesterday, is traditionally a day when families visit relatives and head to public parks for picnics and relaxation.

Jesus Must Be Weeping

Posted October 12, 2007
If ever there was a misnomer in the political lexicon, surely "values voters" is the all-time champ. The use of this term to describe the so-called base of the Republicans' so-called party mainly refers to an extremist, ultra-conservative, strain of so-called Christian conservatives. And what are their so-called "values"? Mostly an irrational hatred of gays, a suppression of women's rights, the assertion that only they are going to heaven and that all those that don't embrace their particular permutation of Christianity will burn (among other things) in Hell!
By their logic, if Hitler accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior in the bunker, he would be in Heaven while Einstein burns in Hell! What logic! As someone recently said, most of the Republican candidates are claiming Jesus Christ as their running mate and are implicitly working the most intolerant elements of their party who are neither a majority in that party or the country.
So this small, mostly shrill and evil bunch of millionaire preachers and their minions are spreading everything but love, compassion, charity and fairness and they now are, sadly, the most important element of the party of Abe Lincoln.
Jesus must be weeping.

Torture, starvation and death: how American boot camps abuse boys

Tim Reid in Washington
Thousands of teenagers sent to American boot camps have suffered horrific abuse and some have paid with their lives, according to a shocking new report by the US Congress.
The report, presented with harrowing testimony from parents of three teenagers who died at boot camps, comes as a Florida manslaughter trial opened into the death of Martin Lee Anderson, 14. He was filmed being beaten by camp guards minutes before he died, footage seen not only inside the courtroom but on television screens across America.
The Government Accountability Office, the US Congress investigative arm, identified 1,619 incidents of child abuse in 33 states in 2005. It selected ten deaths since 1990 for special investigation in boot camps and “wilderness programmes”.
Parents send their children to the privately run camps in the hope that their strict regimes and outdoor pursuits will instil discipline. But the findings suggest that instructors often go too far in trying to teach them good behaviour.
“Examples of abuse include youths being forced to eat their own vomit, denied adequate food, being forced to lie in urine or faeces, being kicked, beaten and thrown to the ground,” Gregory Kutz, a GAO investigator, told a congressional committee.
Eight cleared by white jury in 90 minutes, despite videotaped beating.

Rudy Giuliani campaign funded by vulture funds,

Rudy Giuliani, the Republican front-runner in the presidential race, is receiving policy advice and money from a billionaire investor in “vulture funds”, the activities of which have been condemned as “nothing short of scandalous” by Gordon Brown.
In an early sign of the attacks that will be made against the former New York Mayor if he wins the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Democrats are highlighting the role being played in his campaign by Paul Singer, the chairman and founder of Elliott Associates - which is worth around $8 billion.
The Democratic National Committee is citing reports describing Mr Singer’s firm as operating the world’s biggest “vulture funds”, so-called because they feed on weakened economies, including those of developing countries.
Mr Brown, shortly before becoming Prime Minister this year, urged rich nations including the US to stop such funds undermining his own efforts to eradicate Third World debt.

Pro-Life" GOPers Blasted For Opposing Children's Health Care Bill

The following members of Congress have voted against SCHIP, which provides high-quality health coverage to more than six million children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford insurance. Radio ads will air on local radio stations in their congressional districts.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, Florida (listen)
Rep. Joseph Knollenberg, Michigan (listen)
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Michigan (listen)
Rep. Tim Walberg, Michigan (listen)
Rep. Steve Chabot, Ohio (listen)
Rep. Gene Taylor, Mississippi (listen)
Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota (listen)
Rep. Sam Graves, Missouri (listen)
Rep. Thelma Drake, Virginia (listen)
Rep. John Peterson, Peterson (listen)

Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize »
AP DOUG MELLGREN October 12, 2007 07:38 AM
Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and lay the foundations for counteracting it.
"I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize," Gore said. "We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Israeli Army Orders Confiscation of Palestinian Land in West Bank

Conal Urquhart reports for The Guardian UK, "The Israeli army has ordered the seizure of Palestinian land surrounding four West Bank villages apparently in order to hugely expand settlements around Jerusalem, it emerged yesterday."

Gwynne Dyer: Afghanistan - A war won and lost:

It was a very clever politico-military operation, and by December of 2001 all of Afghanistan was under the control of the United States and its local allies for a total cost of 12 American dead. Then, for no good reason, it fell apart, and now the war is lost.
Battle against terrorism in Fata is lost, US Congress told:
The US pressure on President Pervez Musharraf to do more in the war against terror has been counter-productive and the battle against extremists in the tribal areas has been lost, a key congressional panel was told on Wednesday.

Turkey mulls cutting military ties with U.S. over genocide vote :

Turkey is considering the suspension of military cooperation with the U.S. after a House of Representatives committee adopted a resolution classing the 1915 massacre of some 1.5 million Armenians as genocide.

Baghdad shooting victims sue Blackwater in U.S:

The Centre for Constitutional Rights, a legal advocacy group, said it filed the suit charging that Blackwater and its affiliates violated U.S. law in committing "extrajudicial killings and war crimes."

Daughters' anguish at funeral of mother killed by mercenaries:

Three Christian sisters, beating their mother’s coffin in grief, wailed and hugged each other at her funeral in Baghdad yesterday as their rapidly shrinking religious community vented anger at the foreign security guards who killed her.
Marou Awanis, a part-time taxi driver, and one of her women passengers became the latest victims to die at the hands of a foreign private security team in Iraq after they were shot dead in the centre of the capital on Tuesday.

Six Iraqi resistance groups announce formation of a "political council" to liberate Iraq

The Associated Press
Six main Iraqi insurgent groups announced the formation of a "political council" aimed at "liberating" Iraq from U.S. occupation in a video aired Thursday on the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera.

Turkey Bombs Kurdish Rebels, Military Declaration Anticipated

Selcan Hacaoglu, reporting for The Associated Press, writes, "Turkish warplanes bombed positions of suspected Kurdish rebels Wednesday, and the prime minister said preparations for parliamentary approval of a military mission against separatist fighters in Iraq were under way."

The United States Attorneys Scandal Comes to Mississippi

Adam Cohen writes for The New York Times: "Paul Minor is the son of Bill Minor, a legendary Mississippi journalist and chronicler of the civil rights movement. He is also a wealthy trial lawyer and a mainstay of Mississippi's embattled Democratic Party....Mr. Minor's political activity may have cost him dearly. He is serving an 11-year sentence, convicted of a crime that does not look much like a crime at all. The case is one of several new ones coming to light that suggest that the department's use of criminal prosecutions to help Republicans win elections may go farther than anyone realizes."

Carter Says US Tortures Prisoners

CNN reports: "The United States tortures prisoners in violation of international law, former President Carter said Wednesday....Carter also said President Bush creates his own definition of human rights." Reuters reports that Carter also "denounced Vice President Dick Cheney as a 'disaster' for the country and a 'militant' who has had an excessive influence in setting foreign policy."

U.S. attack kills 15 civilians — including 9 kids

Updated: 7:32 p.m. ET Oct. 11, 2007
BAGHDAD - A U.S. attack killed 19 insurgents and 15 civilians, including nine children, northwest of the capital Thursday — one of the heaviest civilian death tolls in an American operation in recent months. The military said it was targeting senior leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Six-figure bonuses retain US commandos

By RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press Writer
44 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has paid more than $100 million in bonuses to veteran Green Berets and Navy SEALs, reversing the flow of top commandos to the corporate world where security companies such as Blackwater USA are offering big salaries.
The retention effort, started nearly three years ago and overseen by U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., has helped preserve a small but elite group of enlisted troops with vast experience fighting the unconventional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Defense Department statistics.
Overall, more than 1,200 of the military's most specialized personnel near or already eligible for retirement have opted for payments of up to $150,000 in return for staying in uniform several more years.

Top court won't hear appeal in CIA torture case (el-Masri)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A German citizen who says he was kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA lost his appeal on Tuesday when the Supreme Court refused to review a decision dismissing the case because it would expose state secrets.
Attorneys for Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese descent, argued in the high court appeal that his lawsuit did not depend on the disclosure of state secrets and that it should be allowed to go forward in U.S. court.
His case has drawn worldwide attention to the CIA's extraordinary rendition program in which terrorism suspects are sent from one foreign country to another for interrogation. Human rights groups have strongly criticized the program.
Masri's case sparked outrage in Germany and prompted a parliamentary inquiry to find out what authorities might have known about U.S. renditions.
Masri's attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union challenged what they called the Bush administration's increased invoking of national security secrets to prevent any judicial inquiry into serious allegations of misconduct.
The administration also has asserted the so-called state secrets privilege in an effort to dismiss the lawsuits over the warrantless domestic spying program that Bush created after the September 11 attacks.

Iraq's displaced people nightmare

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS UN spokesman on the plight of Iraqi displaced
Magdi Abdelhadi, BBC Arab affairs analyst
The huge displacement of people inside Iraq appears to be contributing to the further fragmentation of the country. The scale of the overall displacement is unprecedented in the modern history of the Middle East. There are now an estimated four million Iraqis who have been forced to flee their homes, and the numbers continue to rise, according to the UN refugee agency. Neighbouring Jordan and Syria, which have borne the brunt of the problem after receiving some two million refugees over the past few years, have now restricted access because they can no longer cope with the influx. The plight of those who have fled their homes but have not been able to leave the country is dire, says the UN refugee agency...

Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq

The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials. The idea by the Marine Corps commandant would effectively leave the Iraq war in the hands of the Army while giving the Marines a prominent new role in Afghanistan, under overall NATO command. The suggestion was raised in a session last week convened by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and regional war-fighting commanders. While still under review, its supporters, including some in the Army, argue that a realignment could allow the Army and Marines each to operate more efficiently in sustaining troop levels for two wars that have put a strain on their forces....

Pink and Red Clouds...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
...From being one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East in gender matters, Iraq has been turned in the space of 4 years into one of the most oppressive countries for women. From being a secular state that allowed and encouraged women in all walks of life, it has become a sectarian prison state that targets and murders women... From being a country that respected its women and their contributions to society in arts, politics, literature, poetry, music, science...it has become a country that tortures, imprisons, rapes, mutilates its women and send them to the gallows. From what used to be a civil society, emerged the monsters of Freedom and Democracy, destroying our families, our parents, our children, our lovers, our husbands, our friends...and us. Look at the current ideological atmosphere that reigns over Iraq. It is a disaster of monumental proportions. All the laws pertaining to gender equality have been changed. Everything that Iraqi women struggled for since the 1920’s, everything that the previous governments tried to establish in matters of gender equality, has been ripped apart....

US Army Lowers Recruiting Standards

Aamer Madhani, reporting for The Chicago Tribune, writes, "The US Army met its recruiting goals for the last year but enlisted thousands of new soldiers with criminal records and fewer who have earned high school diplomas, according to figures released Wednesday."
Link Here

Federal Judge to Consider Releasing Ex-Alabama Governor

Bob Johnson of The Associated Press reports:
"A federal appeals court has asked a federal judge in Montgomery to decide if former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman should be released from prison while his conviction is being appealed."


Email Reveals GOP Senate Staffer Fueled Smear Campaign Against 12-Year-Old

Think Progress October 11, 2007 01:49 PM
Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported that there was mounting evidence that a staffer for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may have been involved in the right-wing campaign to smear Graeme Frost and his family.
ABC News reported earlier in the week that an e-mail sent to reporters by "a Senate Republican leadership aide" in McConnell's office suggested that "GOP aides were complicit in spreading disparaging information about the Frosts." A McConnell spokesman refused to deny the office's involvement in the affair.

NSA Retaliated Against Qwest Telcom For Refusing Phone Spying Program

Documents: Qwest was targeted
'Classified info' was not allowed at ex-CEO's trial
Rocky Mountain News Sara Burnett And Jeff Smith October 11, 2007 02:19 PM
The National Security Agency and other government agencies retaliated against Qwest because the Denver telco refused to go along with a phone spying program, documents released Wednesday suggest.
The documents indicate that likely would have been at the heart of former CEO Joe Nacchio's so-called "classified information" defense at his insider trading trial, had he been allowed to present it.
By Dean Powers
"Government transparency" was not intended as a window into my private life for Republican Homeland Security perverts like Brian J. Doyle.

AP Exclusive: Afghanistan cracks down on private security; 2 companies closed

By FISNIK ABRASHI and JASON STRAZIUSO,Associated Press Writers AP - Thursday, October 11
KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan authorities this week shut down two private security companies and said more than 10 others _ some suspected of murder and robbery _ would soon be closed, Afghan and Western officials said Thursday.
Authorities on Tuesday shut down the Afghan-run security companies Watan and Caps, where 82 illegal weapons were found during the two raids in Kabul, police Gen. Ali Shah Paktiawal said. A Western security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said some major Western companies were on the list of at least 10 others tapped for closure, but would not give names.
State Dept Considers Phasing Out Private Security Guards In Iraq
AP MATTHEW LEE October 10, 2007 09:59 PM
The State Department may phase out or limit the use of private security guards in Iraq, which could mean canceling Blackwater USA's contract or awarding it to another company in line with an Iraqi government demand, The Associated Press has learned.
Such steps would be difficult given U.S. reliance on Blackwater and other contractors, but they are among options being studied during a comprehensive review of security in Iraq, two senior officials said.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
I remember an old joke, I heard sometime ago...It goes like this. "How many Californians does it take to change a light bulb ?" "10. One to change it and 9 to share the experience." I guess this joke was invented, because Californians are known to be into sharing and caring experiences. You know, burn some incense, light a candle, and talk about your chakras...Candle meditation kind of gatherings. Deep, very deep. In Iraq, we have candle meditation gatherings too. It's called NO electricity. A popular joke going around in Baghdad. "Child: Mother, mother! Daddy was electrocuted! "Mother: "We have power?" Radhee yells daily his favorite mantra, "For God sake unplug it." Radhee in Adhamiya gets a total of 3 hours of electricity per day. 1 in the morning, 2 in the early evening. These are considered lucky days. In the morning, his wife unplugs the fridge so they can plug in the air cooler. And in the evening, she plugs in the fridge, before all the food thaws, and unplugs the air cooler...

Gonzales Hires Criminal Defense Lawyer

Gonzales Hires a Top Gun
Web exclusive
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Updated: 2:12 p.m. ET Oct. 10, 2007
Still under investigation by Congress and Justice Department lawyers who once worked for him, the former attorney general has turned to a leading Washington attorney to help him beat the rap.

Grass-Roots Movement Urges Gore To Run In Full-Page NY Times Ad

The question is? are Americans ready to stand up and fight for honest elections, or are they going to accept more stolen elections for President, like they did in 2000, 2004.
AP October 10, 2007 01:01 PM
Draftgore.com, which describes itself as a group of grass-roots Democrats, underwrote a full-page open letter to Al Gore in Wednesday's New York Times, imploring the former vice president to enter the presidential campaign.
The ad, which says 136,000 people have signed Draftgore's online petition, was published two days before this year's Nobel Peace Prize is expected to be announced. Gore has been nominated for the prize because of his campaign to bring attention to global warming.
Investigation could lead to General David Petraeus. Col. Ted Westhusing was investigating this fraud in Iraq when he was said to have committed "suicide." His superior officer at the time was Petraeus. The "Surge" may be a bunch of senior Army officers being locked up at the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks.
Company headed by right-wing Christian lunatic supports Bush administration's torture program. Very Christian. It's what "Jaysus" would do.
Backstory of article is a link between SITE, the White House, and Fox News Channel. The non-story is that a fake Osama Bin Laden videotape was leaked by White House to cable news channels.

U.S. Military Returns Tape It Seized from AP in Iraq

Published: October 08, 2007 5:05 PM ET
BAGHDAD The U.S. military returned a videotape and digital camera memory card Monday that American soldiers had seized last week from an AP Television News cameraman.
The tape and card were taken without explanation from Ayad M. Abd Ali at the scene of an insurgent attack against the Polish ambassador in Baghdad. The ambassador, Gen. Edward Pietrzyk, suffered burns and was evacuated by helicopter.
After photographing the attack's aftermath and the rescue activities, Abd Ali was detained by U.S. troops for about 40 minutes in spite of having shown the soldiers a valid U.S.-issued press credential and identification.
He says he was never told why he was handcuffed, blindfolded and put in a Humvee, or why the tape and film were taken. Subsequent contact with the U.S. military also has failed to produce a clear explanation for the military's actions.

As Mideast Realigns, US Favors Sunnis

The Christian Science Monitor's Howard LaFranchi writes: "Americans are hearing much less from the Bush administration about democracy for the Middle East than they did a year ago. As Shiite Iran rises, the White House has muted its calls for reform in the region as it redirects policy to reembrace Sunni Arab allies - who run, to varying degrees, authoritarian regimes."

Religious Extremists Killing Women in Basra, Iraq

Jay Price and Ali Omar Al-Basri, McClatchy Newspapers, report: "Women in Basra have become the targets of a violent campaign by religious extremists, who leave more than 15 female bodies scattered around the city each month, police officers say."

Israeli Terrorism

Above and Beyond
this is ali daqdouq .. ali is barely six years old .. a few days ago he was killed by an israeli cluster bomb in southern lebanon .. When Ali Daqdouq returned home after school, in his Southern village of Sultaniyyeh, he was so excited about the adventures of his first day of school this year that he could barely catch his breath while telling his mother about them. He threw his old school bag aside and took off his used school uniform. He had his lunch and went to his neighbor and friend, Amal, to play videogames, just as he used to do in the afternoons of the summer break. Little did the six-year-old Ali know that this would be his first and last day of school. Little did he know that he would not make it to the date with Amal. One of the couple of millions unexploded cluster bomblets, the ones Bush and Rice supplied to Israel and the IDF in turn salted the South with during the summer of 2006, took Ali’s life.

Pipe Dreams: War Profiteers Plow Under the Poor

Chris Floyd , Empire Burlesque
A.C. Grayling nails the stupendous – and literally murderous – folly of the Bush Regime's decision to launch a war of economic destruction against the Afghan people: Opium of the People (Guardian). The Regime is pressing its satrap in Kabul to step up the eradication, at gunpoint, of the nation's only cash crop – opium – with American-made herbicides. Thus both the land and the agrarian-based economy that most Afghans depend upon will be blighted, and multitudes will be plunged into further despair: ripe fruit for the Taliban and other extremists. Since the American invasion, Afghan's world-leading poppy production has shot even higher through the roof. (It had been virtually eradicated under the Taliban...)

In Baghdad, elusive electricity is rare delight

Jay Price and Jenan Hussein McClatchy Newspapers
It was October, but still too hot to sleep inside, so the eight members of the Faekh family climbed onto the roof of their house for another night of torment. It wasn't just the nagging fear of a bomb on their road and the thumping passage of U.S. helicopters. It wasn't just the clatter and exhaust from generators all over the neighborhood. It was impossible to sleep well when they had to keep constant watch on a light by the front gate, a light that wasn't even on. Then, suddenly, it was. "God bless Prophet Muhammad," said the mother, Akhbal. She and her teenage daughter, Abeer, leaped up. No matter that it was after 2 a.m. The power was on and so was the race to harness it. They had an hour to wash clothes and iron them so that Akhbal's husband, Haidar, and the six children could be presentable at work and school. It was the second of two hours of electricity they get each day from the state-run power grid. Four and a half years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, it's never certain when the power will arrive, just that one electrified hour will come in the morning, another at night. U.S. reconstruction officials say that on average, electricity is available 10 hours a day, but Akhbal, a small woman whose face is worn beyond her 48 years, doesn't know anyone who gets close to that much...

Lieberman Has No Plans To Investigate Blackwater, Corrupt Iraq Contractors

Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who chairs the Senate committee responsible for government oversight, says he has no plans to investigate Blackwater and other Iraq war contractors accused of potentially criminal wrongdoing. Roll Call reports

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Legal interventions

By Conor Foley
Bush and Blair's unilateralism failed and it is time for a new approach to foreign policy based on respect for international law.

Torture Endorsed, Torture Denied

By Marjorie Cohn
Torture is a war crime. Those who commit or order torture can be convicted under the U.S. War Crimes Statute. Techniques that don't rise to the level of torture but constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment also violate U.S. law. Congress should provide for the appointment of a special independent counsel to fully investigate and prosecute all who are complicit in the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody.

Oil, Israel, and America: The Root Cause of the Crisis

By Scott Ritter
There are many factors involved in what one might term the "root cause" of Iranian-US animosity. But the reality is all of the points of friction between Iran and the US could be readily resolved with viable diplomacy save two: Israel's current level of unflinching hostility towards Iran, and America's addiction to global energy resources.

Youth detention facility adds to Iraqis’ misery

Emma Sabry
As if it’s not enough that the Iraqis lost their homes, family members, jobs and in general their lives, the U.S. is now creating a new dilemma; an Iraqi youth detention facility. The children jailed there are aged between 11 and 17 years old and are detained over allegations ranging from theft to murder.
According to an ABC report, there has been a huge increase in the number of Iraqi detainees since the U.S. troop surge began earlier this year. Recent reports say detainees’ numbers increased from 250 in May to 800 now. Those imprisoned are said to be mostly Sunnis.
Ali Mohammed is a teenager among thousands of detainees kept in an overcrowded prison in Western Baghdad who has no idea what his crime is. “They told me they would only question me for five minutes and I have been here since the 25th of April," Mohammed told Reuters. "I suffer from epilepsy, a weak spine and a speech defect”, he added, expressing his surprise that he is considered a security threat.

35% of US Americans Still Support Bush: Diagnosing the Insanity

Jason Miller
October 9, 2007
Cluster B Personality Disorders
1776.0 Americanistic Personality Disorder
A pervasive pattern of greed, selfishness, and lack of empathy, beginning the moment he or she begins to intellectualize and presented in nearly all contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. lacks empathy due to an excessive degree of self-absorption
2. believes that he or she is exceptional and morally superior
3. frequently engages in exploitative behaviors
4. requires frequent acquisition of goods he or she doesn’t need
5. usually resorts to some form of overt or covert violence, coercion, or extortion to resolve conflicts
6. perceives others as obstacles to his or her "success"
7. disregards laws and rules except as a means to achieve his or her agenda
8. demonstrates deep hypocrisy by projecting a righteous, benevolent image while committing reprehensible acts
9. refuses to accept the consequences of his or her actions


By Ivan Eland
Most Americans don’t think of their government as an empire, but in fact the United States has been steadily expanding its control of overseas territories since the turn of the twentieth century. Now, through political intimidation and over 700 military bases worldwide, the U.S. holds sway over an area that dwarfs the great empires of world history.
In The Empire Has No Clothes, Ivan Eland, a leading expert on U.S. defense policy and national security, examines American military interventions around the world from the Spanish-American War to the invasion of Iraq.
Eland shows that the concept of empire is wholly contrary to the principles of both liberals and conservatives and that it makes a mockery of the Founding Fathers’ vision for a free republic. Eland also warns that in recent years, “blowback” and the enormous expansion of domestic federal power resulting from this overextended empire have begun to threaten the American homeland itself and curtail the very liberties these interventions were supposed to protect.
Public debate of the United States’ role in the world has finally begun in earnest, and Ivan Eland delivers a penetrating argument in this landmark book, exposing the imperial motives behind interventionist U.S. policy, questioning the historical assumptions on which it is based and advocating a return to the Founding Fathers’ vision of military restraint overseas.
Detailed Summary

Los Angeles Times | Even the British Are Leaving Iraq

The editors of the Los Angeles Times write: "The 'coalition of the willing' is over. One by one, its members have ceded the bloodstained ground to the battling Iraqis and the unyielding US president. Prime Minister Gordon Brown's decision Monday to halve the vestigial British military force in Basra was inevitable; backing the US in Iraq has become a political albatross for governments all over the world."

Anti-Terror Spy Network Wrecked by White House Leak

Joby Warrick, reporting for the Washington Post, writes that a small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month and notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release. The founder of the company says the White House's premature disclosure of the tape tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group's communications network.
The 2600 members of a National Guard unit that returned from Iraq in July after serving there longer than any other were shocked to be told that their total time overseas of 729 days was one day short of the number needed to be eligible for expanded educational benefits under the GI Bill. Now the 'best minds' of the Pentagon are looking into it.

Australian dollar hits 23-year high against US

By Virginia Marsh in Sydney
Published: October 8 2007 19:14 Last updated: October 8 2007 19:14
The Australian dollar reached its strongest level against the US dollar in nearly a quarter of a century on Monday, some commentators predicting it could reach parity in the coming months.
The Aussie jumped by more than one US cent, passing through the 90 US cent barrier to reach $0.9033 in trading in Asia, before ending the session in Sydney at $0.9016, its highest level in 23 years.
Yesterday’s rise marks an extraordinary run for the Aussie, which dipped to $0.77 in August on subprime fears.

Democrats to Unveil Wiretapping Bill

Dem Bill Forces Justice Dept To Reveal All Wiretapping Done Without Court Order
AP October 8, 2007 08:48 PM
The Justice Department would have to reveal to Congress the details of all electronic surveillance conducted without court orders since Sept. 11, 2001, including the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program, if a new Democratic wiretapping bill is approved.
The draft bill, scheduled to be introduced to Congress Tuesday, would also require the Justice Department to maintain a database of all Americans subjected to government eavesdropping without a court order, including whether their names have been revealed to other government agencies.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 — Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency.
Administration officials say they are confident they will win approval of the broadened authority that they secured temporarily in August as Congress rushed toward recess. Some Democratic officials concede that they may not come up with enough votes to stop approval.

Iraqi Authorities Seek Blackwater Ouster

STEVEN R. HURST and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA October 8, 2007 11:10 PM EST Compare
BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities want the U.S. government to sever all contracts in Iraq with Blackwater USA within six months. They also want the firm to pay $8 million in compensation to families of each of the 17 people killed when its guards sprayed a traffic circle with heavy machine gun fire last month.
The demands _ part of an Iraqi government report examined by The Associated Press _ also called on U.S. authorities to hand over the Blackwater security agents involved in the Sept. 16 shootings to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.
The tone of the Iraqi report appears to signal further strains between the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the White House over the deaths in Nisoor Square _ which have prompted a series of U.S. and Iraqi probes and raised questions over the use of private security contractors to guard U.S. diplomats and other officials.
Al-Maliki ordered the investigation by his defense minister and other top security and police officials on Sept. 22. The findings _ which were translated from Arabic by AP _ mark the most definitive Iraqi positions and contentions about the shootings last month.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Worse than Slimebags. The so called party of morals value or moral perversions. You decide?

Diocese of Orange settles 4 abuse cases
SANTA ANA, Calif. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said Friday that it will pay nearly $7 million to settle four sexual abuse lawsuits, including one for which the bishop faces contempt of court proceedings for sending a monsignor out of the country before he could testify.

Forbes: 26-year-old woman is China's richest person

By Joe McDonald, AP Business Writer
BEIJING — A 26-year-old Ohio State University graduate worth $16.2 billion is mainland China's richest person, the business magazine Forbes said Monday, topping a list of tycoons whose wealth has soared amid a boom in stock and property prices.
The fortune of Yang Huiyan — also Asia's richest woman — is based on shares in Country Garden Holdings, a real estate developer founded by her father, Forbes said. It said the company's Hong Kong stock market debut this year made billionaires of Yang and four other people.
In second place was another developer, Hui Wing Mau, with a net worth of $7.3 billion. No. 3 was Guo Guangchang, chairman of a manufacturing, retailing and real estate conglomerate, with a fortune of $4.85 billion.
Their rise reflects a sharp increase in Chinese real estate prices over the past year despite government efforts to restrain a boom that it worries could ignite a debt crisis or leave the country's poor majority without affordable housing.
Yang also represents an unusual case of second-generation wealth in China, most of whose richest people are self-made entrepreneurs still in their 30s and 40s.

'If you haven't looked into this, it is worse than you can possibly imagine'...

VIDEO INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVE: Steve Freeman, Author Of 'Was The 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?' Says Explanations of the Exit Polls Still Fail to Support Contention That Bush Won in Either Ohio or the Rest of America
University of Penn. Professor on Electronic Voting: 'If you haven't looked into this, it is worse than you can possibly imagine'...

What should have been, the stolen election of 2004
Bring Me To Life

Activists Stop GOP Election System Changes in CA

Carla Marinucci reports for The San Francisco Chronicle: "They called themselves 'The Lincoln Brigade.' Even as Democrats feared having to spend as much as $40 million for a bruising, bloody fight expected to drag on for months, this makeshift group of California Democratic operatives needed just weeks to pummel a Republican-funded push for a ballot measure that threatened to change the outcome of the 2008 presidential election."

VIDEO | The Warrior Writers Project

Geoffrey Millard writes for Truthout: "Many veterans of the Iraq war are returning home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and turning to writing for their healing. More than 15 years ago Maxine Hong Kingston began working with Vietnam veterans in order to help them deal with their PTSD through writing. Now Lovella Calica, a staff member with Iraq Veterans Against the War is helping today's era of veterans process their PTSD with the Warrior Writers Project."


Halliburton: The People vs. the Profiteers

David Rose reports for Vanity Fair: "Americans working in Iraq for Halliburton spin-off KBR have been outraged by the massive fraud they saw there. Dozens are suing the giant military contractor, on the taxpayers' behalf. Whose side is the Justice Department on?"

Cheney's Oil Law For Iraq Is Neocolonial Theft

Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Global Research,
...It should come as no surprise that the infamous oil law, which will effectively hand over the country's national resources to private foreign interests, was not an Iraqi invention. Rather, it was concocted in the U.S. and long before the bombs started falling on Baghdad. Dick Cheney, in his incarnation as executive of Halliburton, back in 1999, told the Institute of Petroleum in London: "By 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is this oil goin to come from? ... While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost is still where the prize ultimately lies." (quoted by Muttitt, p. 7). Soon therafter Cheney became head of the Energy Task Force, whose secretive meetings put Iraq and its oil on their agenda. As documented in an article by Ed Spannaus, in Executive Intelligence Review (September 12, 2003), Cheney and co. had detailed plans for seizing Iraqi oil after the war...

Women prisoners languish in jail without trial

Kareem Zair, Azzaman
A visit to a women prison in a Baghdad neighborhood has revealed that Iraqi authorities are paying lip service to human rights and rule of law. The visit by Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi found the jail over crowded with many women afflicted with contagious diseases due to lack of medicine and medical care. "The tour has exposed a difficult and tragic situation in the whole process, starting with detention and ending with the horrific conditions of the prison," a statement by Hashemi’s office said (...) Many of the prisoners, the statement said, were detained because their husbands or sons were suspected of having links to forces resisting U.S. occupation. "This means if anything that the women are taken hostages to exert pressure on their husbands who are wanted by the authorities," the statement said. There were teenage women among the prisoners some of whom had spent several years behind bars, the statement added....

US media continues to shortchange Iraqis - massacres are now called accidents of perception

Massacres are now called accidents of perception
Zaidan, The Future of Iraq
In our continuing series examining some of the glaring mistakes and biases perpetrated by US media in covering the Iraq war, we came across an interesting article which in the aftermath of the Blackwater controversy highlights the impunity and free rein US armed forces have in Iraq and how the free press in America covers for them. The article, "Knowing the enemy difficult in Iraq" by Katarina Kratovac for the Associated Press marks a turning point in what is now being referred to as armchair journalism and a failure to investigate and dig deeper for the truth. It is also yet another example of the propaganda war conducted by so-called wire agencies....

Bush Awards Congressional Medal to IBC Czar Truth or Fiction?

E.B. Patton, Dissident Voice
WASHINGTON (AEP) – President Bush announced today he was awarding Iraq Body Count (IBC) co-founder John Sloboda the Congressional Medal of Honor. Bush said, "It’s very important to every person in America that we continue to minimize the true costs of the Iraq War. Mr. Sloboda has done important work in this regard, by giving us tolerable Iraqi casualty figures to promote, instead of the Godless crap you see in the Lancet or Opinion Business Research. Every single one of the American people owes Mr. Sloboda a debt of gratitude, which is why I’m awarding him this medal." In October 2004, the British medical journal Lancet published a study in which lead author Les Roberts estimated 100,000 excess civilian deaths in Iraq as a result of the Western military presence there. In October 2006, Roberts and the Lancet updated the estimate to 655,000. In September 2007, Opinion Research Business (ORB), an independent polling agency based in London, estimated 1.2 million excess Iraqi deaths....

Go And See the Truth For Yourself, I Did

I have been following the debate in these columns with a mixture of interest and incredulity. I wonder how many of those who accuse Tom Hickey and Derek Summerfield of 'anti-Israel bias' and 'anti-Semitism' have actually visited the West Bank or Gaza to see the facts for themselves. I had the good fortune to visit Israel and the West Bank for two weeks in August. What I saw there changed my life forever. We spent a lot of time at checkpoints in the West Bank. Unfortunately, the word 'checkpoint' sounds so benign that it hardly conveys the horror of the place. Have you seen a cattle shed crammed full of animals? With only one gate to get out, guarded by a farmer with a stick?....

US considered radioactive poisons for assassinations

Robert Burns, AP Military Writer
In one of the longest-held secrets of the Cold War, the U.S. Army explored the potential for using radioactive poisons to assassinate "important individuals" such as military or civilian leaders, according to newly declassified documents obtained by The Associated Press. Approved at the highest levels of the Army in 1948, the effort was a well-hidden part of the military's pursuit of a "new concept of warfare" using radioactive materials from atomic bombmaking to contaminate swaths of enemy land or to target military bases, factories or troop formations. Military historians who have researched the broader radiological warfare program said in interviews that they had never before seen evidence that it included pursuit of an assassination weapon. Targeting public figures in such attacks is not unheard of; just last year an unknown assailant used a tiny amount of radioactive polonium-210 to kill Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London...
continua / continued

Thou Shalt Not Kill, Except in a Popular Video Game at Church

Just like for Georgie, anything goes. So for the Church, anything goes.
Kevin Moloney for The New York Times
Teenagers gathered recently for a game of Halo at the Colorado Community Church in Denver.
Published: October 7, 2007
First the percussive sounds of sniper fire and the thrill of the kill. Then the gospel of peace.
Kevin Moloney for The New York Times
Some churches have rented more TVs for Halo nights.
Across the country, hundreds of ministers and pastors desperate to reach young congregants have drawn concern and criticism through their use of an unusual recruiting tool: the immersive and violent video game Halo.
The latest iteration of the immensely popular space epic, Halo 3, was released nearly two weeks ago by Microsoft and has already passed $300 million in sales.
Those buying it must be 17 years old, given it is rated M for mature audiences. But that has not prevented leaders at churches and youth centers across Protestant denominations, including evangelical churches that have cautioned against violent entertainment, from holding heavily attended Halo nights and stocking their centers with multiple game consoles so dozens of teenagers can flock around big-screen televisions and shoot it out.
The alliance of popular culture and evangelism is challenging churches much as bingo games did in the 1960s. And the question fits into a rich debate about how far churches should go to reach young people.
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