Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Have any been found guilty, except for those covering Georgie and Co's Asses for Abu G

Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:05am ESTBAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. solider has been acquittedof three murder charges after investigations into theunlawful killings of three Iraqis earlier this year, theU.S. military said on Saturday.
A U.S. court martial, however, found Staff SergeantMichael Hensley, a sniper from the 1st Battalion, 501stAirborne, guilty of wrongfully placing an AK-47 riflebeside the body of an Iraqi man.
Hensley was one of three U.S. soldiers charged with thekillings of three Iraqis in separate incidents during U.S.operations between April 14 and May 11 near the townof Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad.
The charges stemmed from complaints made by otherU.S. soldiers to authorities.

The uninvited guest: Chinese sub pops up in middle of U.S. Navy exercise, leaving military chiefs red faced.

Uninvited guest: A Chinese Song Class submarine, like the one that sufaced by the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk
When the U.S. Navy deploys a battle fleet on exercises, it takes the security of its aircraft carriers very seriously indeed.
At least a dozen warships provide a physical guard while the technical wizardry of the world's only military superpower offers an invisible shield to detect and deter any intruders.
That is the theory. Or, rather, was the theory.
American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk - a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board.
By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier.
According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.
The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.
One Nato figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik" - a reference to the Soviet Union's first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age.
The incident, which took place in the ocean between southern Japan and Taiwan, is a major embarrassment for the Pentagon.
The lone Chinese vessel slipped past at least a dozen other American warships which were supposed to protect the carrier from hostile aircraft or submarines.
And the rest of the costly defensive screen, which usually includes at least two U.S. submarines, was also apparently unable to detect it.
According to the Nato source, the encounter has forced a serious re-think of American and Nato naval strategy as commanders reconsider the level of threat from potentially hostile Chinese submarines.

DOD's Claim Of 30,000 Wounded In Iraq , Why Have 202,000 Vets Filed Claims?

By Michael Bailey
November 9, 2007 at 14:53:22
The Pentagon claims only 30,000 wounded in Iraq war, why have over 200,000 filed and been approved for compensation claims?

Palestinian Folklore Dancing Banned in a US School

Sabbah's blog
Photo by: El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe
Associated Press November 9, 2007
Palestinian dance troupe performances in Old Saybrook canceledOLD SAYBROOK, Conn. - Officials in Old Saybrook have canceled performances by a Palestinian dance troupe after getting a complaint that it is offensive to Jews and Israel.

Eyewitness report: Another kangaroo court hearing at Gitmo

Mary Shaw, Nov 10 2007
They're still bumbling around trying to figure out what to do with all our so-called enemy combatants. Yesterday, November 9, was their third attempt at arraigning Omar Khadr. My friend Jumana Musa, an attorney who serves as Advocacy Director for Domestic Human Rights and International Justice for Amnesty International USA, was there to observe and report on the proceedings. Some of her findings were disturbing, to say the least....

Cheney Pursuing Nuclear Ambitions of His Own

Jason Leopold, reporting for Truthout, writes, "While Dick Cheney has been talking tough over the years about Iran's alleged nuclear activities, the vice president has been quietly pursuing nuclear ambitions of his own."

White House Decides Aid to Pakistan Should Continue

Matthew Lee, reporting for The Associated Press, says "The Bush administration has concluded it is not legally required to cut or suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan despite President Pervez Musharraf's imposition of a state of emergency and a crackdown on the opposition and independent media."
David Rohde and Jane Perlez report in Saturday's New York Times that Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf, "thwarted a protest rally against his emergency decree by the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto," and deployed "thousands of police officers and other security personnel" who "threatened to beat groups of pedestrians who failed to disperse on command."
Like its alliance with the shah, the U.S. is relying too heavily on Musharraf -- and it isn't working.

Army Spending $2.6 Billion on Choppers That Overheat

Aaron C. David, reporting for the Associated Press, says "The Army is spending $2.6 billion on hundreds of European-designed helicopters for homeland security and disaster relief that turn out to have a crucial flaw: They aren't safe to fly on hot days, according to an internal report obtained by The Associated Press."

In an editorial, The New York Times says that "many Americans believe that the nation's veterans have ready access to health care, that is far from the case. A new study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School has found that millions of veterans and their dependents have no access to care in veterans' hospitals and clinics, and no health insurance to pay for care elsewhere."
Kelly Puente of the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports that a Veterans Day parade committee rejected the applications of two veterans groups that oppose the war in Iraq from participating in Saturday's parade honoring US soldiers because committee organizers don't want "groups of a political nature, advocating the troops' withdrawal from Iraq."
The Army Times' Rick Maze reports that "six percent of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans seeking treatment at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries, according to preliminary data released Friday."
Kevin Fagan, Zachary Coile and Peter Fimrite report in Saturday's San Francisco Chronicle that Coast Guard officials "acknowledged they had erred in waiting more than four hours on Wednesday to issue an advisory that 58,000 gallons - not just 140 - had spewed into the water after a ship rammed the base of a Bay Bridge tower, but they insisted their response was appropriate."

Author Norman Mailer Passes Away

Norman Mailer - Iraq and the American Right

Wake Up America!

Oil Price Rise Causes Global Shift in Wealth
Iran, Russia and Venezuela To Benefit

System of a Down: Powers, Principalities and the Sacred Right to Torture

Chris Floyd , Empire Burlesque

November 9, 2007
At his Harper's blog, Scott Horton demonstrates how the architects of George W. Bush's filthy torture regimen are now holding positions that allow them to protect themselves and their masters from the legal consequences of their actions.
Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Crouch, a former military prosecutor, was due to testify to a Congressional subcommittee about the Administration's attempt to suppress evidence of torture in "Military Commission" trials of alleged terrorists. But at the last minute, he was blocked from testifying by the Pentagon's general counsel, William J. Haynes II, on specious grounds that Horton blows out of the water.
And who is William J. Haynes II? As Horton notes, Haynes was:
Donald Rumsfeld’s lawyer, who continues to serve as general counsel after the Senate Judiciary Committee gave a thumbs-down to his nomination for a federal judgeship in the Fourth Circuit ("Over my dead body," in the words of one Fourth Circuit Republican). Mr. Haynes is one of the prime torture conspirators, and the author of a December 2002 memorandum endorsed by Rumsfeld that has already provided the basis for two criminal indictments of the former Defense Secretary. Haynes is one of the Bush Administration officials most likely to be indicted for his role in the torture scandal when he steps down from office. Mr. Haynes has a strong reason to prevent Col. Couch from testifying, since almost anything he would have to say would be embarrassing to, and might even incriminate,
Mr. Haynes.Horton continues:

Feinstein backs legal immunity for telecom firms in wiretap cases

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday that she favors legal immunity for telecommunications companies that allegedly shared millions of customers' telephone and e-mail messages and records with the government, a position that could lead to the dismissal of numerous lawsuits pending in San Francisco.
In a statement at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering legislation to extend the Bush administration's electronic surveillance program, Feinstein said the companies should not be "held hostage to costly litigation in what is essentially a complaint about administration activities."
She endorsed a recent statement by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that companies assured by top administration officials that the surveillance program was legal "should not be dragged through the courts for their help with national security."

Sibel Edmonds Case: the untellable story of AIPAC

Last week, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, announced that she was willing to tell everything that she knows if any of the major networks are willing to give her airtime, without airbrushing the essence of her case. Bradblog will have an update on the progress, or lack of it, next week.
Of course, Sibel would prefer to testify under oath in congress, but apparently our Democratic Congresscritters (I'm looking at you, Waxman) don't care about the treason, bribery, and corruption that has hijacked US foreign policy.
Meanwhile, last week we learnt that the judge in the AIPAC case has allowed subpoenas to be issued to 15 current and former high-level officials. Many of us are excited about the prospect of the trial - but Sibel assures us that the case, as it stands, is just the tip of the iceberg.
'AIPAC' is at the core of Sibel's case, and Sibel’s story needs to be heard - either in Congress, or in the media.

Friday, November 09, 2007

US: Iran Attack Plans Ready if Needed

By ROBERT BURNS – 1 day ago
U.S. defense officials have signaled that up-to-date attack plans are available if needed in the escalating crisis over Iran's nuclear aims, although no strike appears imminent. The Army and Marine Corps are under enormous strain from years of heavy ground fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, the United States has ample air and naval power to strike Iran if President Bush decided to target nuclear sites or to retaliate for alleged Iranian meddling in neighboring Iraq (...)At the moment, there are few indications of U.S. military leaders either advising offensive action against Iran or taking new steps to prepare for that possibility. Gates has repeatedly emphasized that while military action cannot be ruled out, the focus is on diplomacy and tougher economic sanctions. Asked in late October whether war planning had been ramped up or was simply undergoing routine updates, Gates replied, "I would characterize it as routine."...

Iraq: Call an air strike

Pepe Escobar
...The Pentagon - via Major General Joseph Fil, commander of US forces in Baghdad - is relentlessly spinning there's now less violence in the capital, a "sustainable" trend. This is rubbish. Fil cannot even admit to the basic fact that Baghdad has been reduced to a collection of blast-walled, isolated ghettos in search of a city. Baghdad, from being 65% Sunni, is now at least 75% Shi'ite, and counting. Sunni and Shi'ite residents alike confirm sectarian violence has died down because there are virtually no more neighborhoods to be ethnically cleansed...

Bush: “If You Lived In Iraq–You’d Be Saying, God, I Love Freedom”

Another delusional answer by Bush at a joint presser with France’s President Sarkozy yesterday. It’s getting to the point that when I hear someone mention the word “freedom,” I cringe because he has perverted it. You don’t invade a country that has not attacked us and then talk about freedom to the rest of the world. Bush does his best not to talk about reconciliation in Iraq either at the presser, but then came this question.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. My question is on Iraq. Mr. President, this morning you talked at length about Afghanistan, Iran, but not Iraq. And I wanted to ask both of you, is France reconciled with the United States, the United States is reconciled with France? So what about Iraq? Can France, for instance, help to get out of the Iraqi quagmire? And President Bush, where do you stand on Iraq and your domestic debate on Iraq? Do you have a timetable for withdrawing troops?
BUSH: I don’t — you know, “quagmire” is an interesting word. If you lived in Iraq and had lived under a tyranny, you’d be saying, god, I love freedom — because that’s what’s happened. And there are killers and radicals and murderers who kill the innocent to stop the advance of freedom. But freedom is happening in Iraq. And we’re making progress.

Bush's Favorite Lie

Robert Parry
... my personal favorite Bush lie is when he insists that the United States invaded Iraq to enforce a United Nations resolution and that Saddam Hussein "chose war" by barring U.N. weapons inspectors. Bush dusted off that old canard on Nov. 7 while standing next to French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a press conference at George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon in Virginia. Responding to a question from a French journalist about Bush’s dispute with France over the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. president said: "We had a difference of opinion with your great country over whether or not I should have used military force to enforce U.N. demands. … I just want to remind you that [U.N. Resolution] 1441 was supported by France and the United States, which clearly said to the dictator, you will disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. Now, I'm the kind of person that when somebody says something, I take them for their word." Bush has made this same false argument scores of times dating back to July 2003, several months after the invasion when it was becoming clear that Saddam Hussein had told the truth when his government reported to the U.N. in 2002 that Iraq’s WMD stockpiles had been eliminated....

U.S. Congress approves $155 million weapons package for Israel

Thursday November 08, 2007 03:26 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to approve $155 million worth of weapons for Israel, in an addendum to a $460 billion military spending bill that was approved on October 1st in the U.S. Congress.
The gift of more weapons to the U.S. ally comes at a moment when tensions are high and diplomacy is delicate between Israel and the Palestinians, and analysts point out that the gift of additional weapons to Israel at this particular moment could have an effect on the Summit planned for the end of November between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The bill still needs to be approved by the full bodies of the House and Senate before going to the president for approval, but it is unlikely that lawmakers would make changes before a vote.
Most of the money, $98 million, would go to the development of a 'Hetz' missile defense system, which would be built in a US factory (Boeing) by an Israeli firm (Israel Aerospace Industries).


Desert Peace
The Bush administration has made the tortures used during the 'dark ages' in Europe look like child's play. But, an administration that backs every evil move made by Israel, a country many times condemned by UN resolutions apparently has the same lack of morals. The latest method of torture is one known as 'water boarding'.. The name sounds like a water sport... nothing is further than the truth. To add insult to injury, so to speak, a new Attorney General was confirmed last night in the United States... one that refuses to denounce torture, water boarding in particular. This appointment in effect is an official endorsement of same....

Now their worried?

And the families of Katrina, What about them? they are not toxic for those families.

FEMA to Workers: Stay Out of Trailers
Source: Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is barring employees from entering thousands of stored travel trailers over concerns about hazardous fumes, while more than 48,000 other trailers continue to be used by hurricane victims in Louisiana and Mississippi.
FEMA is advising employees not to enter any of the roughly 70,000 trailers in storage areas across the country, but the directive does not apply to other trailers still in use, agency spokeswoman Mary Margaret Walker said Thursday.
"It's common knowledge that formaldehyde emission levels rise when they are closed in the heat and humidity without any ventilation," Walker said.

Fuel spill closes San Francisco beaches

Four picturesque beaches on both sides of the landmark Golden Gate Bridge -- Baker, Fort Point, China, and Crissy Field -- were closed, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Bush plays video games with recovering war veterans

Fri Nov 9, 10:25 AM ET
WACO, United States (AFP) - US President George W. Bush had a shoot-out with the "bad guys" in Iraq on Thursday, playing a computer game with war veterans that simulates a firefight in Baghdad, the White House said.
Bush tried his hand at the game with two soldiers during a visit to a rehabilitation center in Texas that treats veterans wounded in Iraq.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush helped "shoot the bad guys" in a Baghdad neighborhood, albeit virtually.

Oil discovery rocks Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- A huge offshore oil discovery could raise Brazil's petroleum reserves by a whopping 40 percent and boost this country into the ranks of the world's major exporters, officials said.
A gas station worker refuels a taxi with natural gas at a Petrobras gas station Thursday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The government-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, said the new "ultra-deep" Tupi field could hold as much as 8 billion barrels of recoverable light crude, sending Petrobras shares soaring and prompting predictions that Brazil

Welcome to Georgies War of Liberation

100 more children were wounded,
Kids and teachers had gathered to welcome Afghan parliamentarians.

Dollar Slumps to Record on China's Plans to Diversify Reserves

Source: Bloomberg.com
Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar fell the most since September against the currencies of its six biggest trading partners after Chinese officials signaled plans to diversify the nation's $1.43 trillion of foreign exchange reserves.
The dollar fell against all 16 of the most-active currencies, declining to the weakest versus the Canadian dollar since the end of a fixed exchange rate in 1950, a 26-year low against the pound and a 23-year low versus the Australian dollar. The New York Board of Trade's dollar index dropped to 75.21 today, the lowest since the gauge started in March 1973.
``Further weakening of the dollar is very likely,'' said Teis Knuthsen, the Copenhagen-based head of foreign-exchange, fixed-income and derivative research at Danske Bank A/S, the Nordic region's second-biggest lender. China may ``diversify out of dollar holdings.''
``We will favor stronger currencies over weaker ones, and will readjust accordingly,'' Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of China's National People's Congress, told a conference in Beijing. The dollar is ``losing its status as the world currency,'' Xu Jian, a central bank vice director, said at the same meeting.

Five dead in U.S. helicopter crash in Italy: report

swedish online newspaper Svenska Dagbladet:
"Five people are thought to have died and others were injured when a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter crashed on Thursday in northern Italy, Italy's ANSA news agency reported, without citing sources.
The crash took place in the countryside near the city of Treviso, it said. It was not clear whether the helicopter had taken off from the nearby U.S. military base in Aviano.
No one at the U.S. embassy could be immediately reached for comment."
UPDATE: 6-six dead, 5 wounded (one of them badly injured) Source ANSA (Italian News Agency)
"TREVISO- Sei morti e cinque feriti, di cui uno grave,"

War Objector's 2nd Court-Martial Blocked (Watada)

Source: Associated Press
Nov 8, 9:35 PM EST
War Objector's 2nd Court-Martial Blocked
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) -- The Army cannot hold a second court-martial for an Iraq war objector until the resolution of the soldier's claim that it would violate his right against double jeopardy, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
The first court-martial for 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is charged with missing his unit's deployment to Iraq in June 2006, ended in a mistrial in February. U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle wrote that the military judge likely abused his discretion in declaring the mistrial.
Watada contends that the war in Iraq is illegal and that he would be party to war crimes if he served there. He is also charged with conduct unbecoming an officer for denouncing President Bush and the war. If convicted, he could be sentenced to six years in prison and be dishonorably discharged.
"This is an enormous victory, but it is not yet over," Watada attorney Kenneth Kagan said in a statement. The federal judge did not indicate what the next steps would be.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Game, set, match: Bush, Mukasey and Schumer.

One reason that Republicans can get away with whatever they like is that, in the end, they always stick together. Some call it lockstep, others call it goose step, but whatever you call it, they don't break ranks. Democrats do - regardless of the consequences. In this case, Mr. Schumer played the role of the powerbroker fatale. It was Schumer who assured the White House that, if nominated, Mukasey would be confirmed. So Schumer promised, and so he delivered.
Congress, the Democrats and the Nation be damned.

Ousted Chief Justice in Pakistan Urges Defiance

David Rohde and Jane Perlez of The New York Times report: "In a telephone address to lawyers in Pakistan's capital, the ousted chief justice of the Supreme Court urged them today to continue to defy the state of emergency imposed by the president, General Pervez Musharraf."
Dozens of Pakistani security forces policing a former tourist haven surrendered to militants yesterday, raising the stakes in the country’s political crisis. The police officers and troops, outnumbered and demoralised, laid down their arms before hundreds of pro-Taleban extremists who are imposing Islamic law in an area beloved of Western hikers.
The surrender, in the scenic Swat Valley, was deeply symbolic at a time when President Musharraf is pleading for continued Western support as a key regional ally.
General Musharraf argued last week that he was imposing martial law to help the fight against extremists. Yesterday’s cave-in illustrated the limits of Pakistan’s efforts to combat the spread of militancy. And the unwillingness of those in uniform to fight allies of al-Qaeda in northern Pakistan contrasted with the brutal repression by the security forces of lawyers on the streets of the capital.
“The security forces and intelligence agencies are fighting the people instead of the militants,” Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister, said yesterday.

WHO CARES!!!!!!!!Once you’re no longer of any use to them, the Army just don’t want to know.”

Lucy Bannerman
A soldier whose army career was cut short by serious injury in Iraq was put in fear of becoming homeless when he was given less than 30 days to leave the army house where he lives with his wife and three children.
Carl Tarry is still awaiting compensation more than three years after his leg was shattered during a clash with insurgents in Basra.
Last week he received a letter from the Ministry of Defence informing him that the family had until November 23 to move out or he would become liable for damages.
The former chef with the 6th Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers had expected at least three months’ notice after being medically discharged four weeks ago.
Unable to afford a mortgage or rent in the private sector until his compensation comes through, Mr Tarry feared that his family would be homeless over Christmas if they were evicted from the four-bedroom house in Tidworth, Wiltshire.
He said that the order to leave their home, which is in a street filled with empty army houses, was the final insult after 18 years of dedicated service.

“Every generation needs a new revolution.”

Someone needs to explain to me, why the republicans will not vote for Paul above Independants or Democrats

The Media's Plan to Ambush Ron Paul

Headzup: Ron Paul Raises 4.2 Million In 24 Hours
By Mike Whitney
First we stop the killing, and then we restore the Constitution. These are our two main priorities. And that's why I'm voting for Ron Paul. He is the only candidate (with a chance to win) who's promising to do either. And he'll keep his word. That makes him the only truly American candidate running for president.
7 Countries Considering Abandoning the US Dollar
By Jessica Hupp
It's no secret that the dollar is on a downward spiral. Its value is dropping, and the Fed isn't doing a whole lot to change that. As a result, a number of countries are considering a shift away from the dollar to preserve their assets. These are seven of the countries currently considering a move from the dollar, and how they'll have an effect on its value and the US economy.

A Vote for Mukasey Is a Vote for Torture

By Amy Goodman
If a U.S. citizen, soldier or official were waterboarded somewhere overseas, would Americans hesitate for a moment to call it torture? A filibuster might give the Mukasey supporters like Schumer and Feinstein pause to reconsider.

Our Man in Pakistan

AP photo / J. Scott Applewhite
By Robert Scheer
So, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, treated ever so respectfully by George Bush throughout his administration, in which he became the first Pakistani leader to visit Camp David, has turned out to be just another crummy dictator. But he was our dictator, kind of a modern, even westernized one who could stand up to all those bearded Islamic terrorists.
Well, not exactly. Not that anyone bothered to remember, but Musharraf seized power in Pakistan, ending democratic rule, two years before the 9/11 attacks and did nothing to end his nation’s support of the Taliban rulers next door, who were harboring Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida. Before that he was part of a military elite that had, as the 9/11 Commission report would later conclude, been one of the main sponsors of the Taliban. Nor did Musharraf as dictator-president do anything to undermine the nut cases that he continued to diplomatically recognize as the legitimate rulers of the neighboring country. “On terrorism, Pakistan helped nurture the Taliban,” the 9/11 Commission reported, adding: “Many in the government have sympathized with or provided support to the extremists. Musharraf agreed that Bin Laden was bad. But before 9/11, preserving good relations with the Taliban took precedence.”

Blair 'Knew Iraq Had No WMD'

By David Cracknell, Political Editor
TONY BLAIR privately conceded two weeks before the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein did not have any usable weapons of mass destruction, Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, reveals today.

FOX Attacks Decency... with Bill O'Reilly Leading the Way

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"Wiped Off The Map" - The Rumor of the Century

by Arash Norouzi
Global Research, January 20, 2007
The Mossadegh Project
Across the world, a dangerous rumor has spread that could have catastrophic implications. According to legend, Iran's President has threatened to destroy Israel, or, to quote the misquote, "Israel must be wiped off the map". Contrary to popular belief, this statement was never made, as the following article will prove.

Musharraf opponents charged with treason

Source: By ASHRAF KHAN, Associated Press Writer 15 minutes ago
KARACHI, Pakistan - Three politicians and a union activist were charged with treason for making anti-government speeches in the southern port city of Karachi, a court official said Thursday.
The four were arrested Monday and were interrogated by police before being formally charged Wednesday, said a court official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
If convicted, the charge carries a maximum sentence of death.

God, I love freedom, "Is that Wanker for Real?"

Think Progress Amanda November 7, 2007 05:15 PM
This afternoon, President Bush held a joint press conference with French President Nicholas Sarkozy. A reporter asked Bush where he stood "on Iraq and your domestic debate on Iraq," and whether he had a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. In response, Bush insisted that "freedom's happening" and Iraq isn't in a "quagmire":
I don't -- you know quagmire is an interesting word. If you lived in Iraq and had lived under a tyranny, you'd be saying: God, I love freedom,...

Iraq Authorizes Raids By Security Forces On Blackwater, Other War Contractors

New York Times JAMES GLANZ November 8, 2007 09:18 AM
The Iraqi interior minister said Wednesday that he would authorize raids by his security forces on Western security firms to ensure that they were complying with tightened licensing requirements on guns and other weaponry, setting up the possibility of violent confrontations between the Iraqis and heavily armed Western guards.
The tightening of the requirements followed a shooting in September by one of those firms, Blackwater, that Iraqi authorities said left 17 Iraqis dead.
Wall Street Journal JESS BRAVIN November 8, 2007 09:40 AM
The Bush administration blocked a Marine Corps lawyer from testifying before Congress today that severe techniques employed by U.S. interrogators derailed his prosecution of a suspected al Qaeda terrorist.
The move comes as the administration seeks to tamp down concerns about detainee policies that flared up after attorney general-designate Michael Mukasey declined to tell senators whether he believes that waterboarding, or simulated drowning of prisoners, constitutes torture. The debate has focused on whether severe interrogation practices, some of which critics consider...

Did China just fire a warning shot at the Fed?

Source: MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- The full faith and credit of the United States are under a lot of stress these days, so much so that the public comments of an obscure Chinese official -- obscure to most Americans, at least -- are enough to spark big jumps in commodities, and equally big slides in stocks and the dollar to boot.
Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of the standing committee of the National People's Congress, reportedly suggested Wednesday that China might need to diversify its $1 trillion-plus holdings of foreign reserves because of the precipitous slide in the value of the dollar.
It's hard to know what Siwei, a UCLA-educated economist, hoped to accomplish by choosing this particular juncture to make his comments. Perhaps it was just an innocent academic observation on the rapid decline of the U.S. currency and the fact that any entity stuck holding huge levels of dollars would have to rethink their approach in such circumstances.
However, Siwei's position and previous history suggest otherwise. After all, his comments about the dubious quality of equities on the Shanghai Stock Exchange earlier this year helped spark a temporary swoon that hit U.S. markets at the end of February.
So a more realistic reading, perhaps, is that China wanted to send a warning shot across the bow of the Federal Reserve. The message: the U.S. central bank shouldn't think about cutting interest rates again. In a sense, it's a game of economic "chicken" played on a geopolitical scale.

California electoral vote initiative backers revealed: Supporters of GOP candidates

By Dan Morain, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
November 7, 2007
Backers of a proposed initiative that would change the way California's electoral votes are awarded disclosed Tuesday that they had received $538,000 from a list of donors who have contributed to a variety of presidential candidates. The required disclosure to the California secretary of state helps to dispel the notion that Republican candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani is behind the measure. The initiative received its initial $175,000 from a top Giuliani backer, Wall Street mogul Paul E. Singer. Others involved in the effort also have ties to the former New York City mayor. It could not be (seen as) a Giuliani effort," said Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who is overseeing the campaign. "It can't be tainted by any presidential campaign."
The campaign is expected to file more reports in coming days as backers raise $2 million to place the measure on the June 2008 ballot. With one exception, the donors disclosed Tuesday are Californians. Federal election records show they have given to each of the major GOP presidential candidates. One has donated the maximum to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner -- even though Democrats fiercely oppose the initiative. (NOTE: THIS DONOR, ROBERT DAY, HAS CONTRIBUTED TO MCCAIN, CLINTON AND DODD -- NOT JUST TO CLINTON.)
If it is placed on the ballot and wins voter approval, the initiative would help the Republican presidential nominee in California. Instead of the current winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, they would be awarded based on the winner in each of the state's congressional districts. With Republicans holding 19 congressional seats, the GOP nominee would presumably win at least that many districts, giving them almost as many electoral votes as the state of Ohio, with 20.
The largest single donor revealed in Tuesday's filing was the California Republican Party ($80,000), followed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) at $59,700. Issa has not yet endorsed a presidential candidate. Former Univision chairman Jerrold Perenchio, who is backing Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, donated $50,000, as did Silicon Valley venture capitalist E. Floyd Kvamme, a Giuliani backer....Newport Beach investor Duane R. Roberts gave $50,000 to the effort. Hehas has given $2,300 to McCain, Giuliani and ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Letter Calling for Action Sent to Constituents After Kucinich Resolution to Impeach Cheney is Referred to Committee
Says 'Vice President Cheney must answer for his deceptive actions in office'
As reported in full by David Swanson, in the wake of yesterday's wild ride (and game of chicken) on the House floor concerning the privileged resolution filed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), calling for the Impeachment of Dick Cheney.
The following is from a letter sent to constituents today by Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where the matter has been sent again. Wexler is calling for the committee "to schedule impeachment hearings immediately and not let this issue languish as it has over the last six months."...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How to create an Angry American

ACLU 'shocked' US defying UN torture committee's recommendations

A civil liberties and human rights group says the US has failed to correct policies that violate international conventions on torture and cruel treatment, and it accuses the US of continuing to violate international treaties.
“With the debate over waterboarding front and center, it is shocking to see the U.S. government continue to defend its shameful record of sanctioning secret and indefinite detention and its lack of accountability for torture and abuse,” said Jamil Dakwar, Advocacy Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program. “The torture committee attempted to give the U.S. government a chance to correct its wrongs, but unfortunately the Bush administration responded with nothing more than empty gestures and hollow words.”
Responding to concerns from the United Nations' Committee Against Torture, the US government questioned the authority of the UN's Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its applicability against US forces operating during wartime.
The US resists attempts to document all of the prisoners in its custody, and flat-out refuses to shut down the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or grant habeas corpus rights to its detainees. The government's defense insisted detainees get access to a "judicial process," which reviews whether a detainee was properly classified as an enemy combatant but does not have to level specific charges to justify the detention.
The UN demanded an end to interrogation techniques including "sexual humiliation, 'waterboarding,' 'short shackling' and using dogs to induce fear." The US repeatedly insists that "torture" is a violation of US law, but it does not renounce the listed techniques. News reports have indicated that US interrogators have engaged in those practices.
A copy of the 13-page document can be downloaded here.

Everything he touces he corrupts

Using a questionable, unprecedented maneuver President Bush has installed a solid Republican majority on a supposedly bipartisan civil rights panel, leading it to abandon racial justice and civil rights cases in favor of arguing against school integration and affirmative action.
The eight-member US Commission on Civil Rights has served for half a century as the nation's watchdog against racism and discrimination. Neither party is meant to have more than four members, but Bush effectively "installed a fifth and sixth Republican on the panel in December 2004, after two commissioners, both Republicans when appointed, reregistered as independents," Charlie Savage reported in the Boston Globe Tuesday.
"I don't believe that [the law] was meant to be evaded by conveniently switching your voter registration," Commissioner Michael Yaki, one of the two remaining Democrats, told the paper.
The administration's argument? Because the Republicans all-of-a-sudden decided to 'abandon' their party, Bush's appointment of two more Republicans to the panel didn't violate the letter of the law, which only required no more than half the panel be affiliated with one party. Alberto Gonzales, then White House counsel, received Justice Department approval of the maneuver.
Few noticed the unusual circumstances at the time, and presidents previously have been able to create majorities of like-minded commissioners, Savage reports, but Bush's commission has essentially made an about-face in its view of what civil rights cases to pursue.
Savage reports:

Veterans make up 1 in 4 homeless in US

Homeless Veterans
By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer 1 minute ago
WASHINGTON - Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.
And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.
The Veterans Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars and says 400 of them have participated in its programs specifically targeting homelessness.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education nonprofit, based the findings of its report on numbers from Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau. 2005 data estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans.
In comparison, the VA says that 20 years ago, the estimated number of veterans who were homeless on any given night was 250,000.

CIA Rendition: The Smoking Gun Cable

November 06, 2007 2:33 PM
By Stephen Grey
Sometimes the music was American rap, sometimes Arab folk songs. In the CIA prison in Afghanistan, it came blaring through the speakers 24 hours a day. Prisoners held alone inside barbed-wire cages could only speak to each other and exchange their news when the music stopped: if the tape was changed or the generators broke down.
In one such six-foot-by-10-foot cell in February 2004, equipped with a low mattress and a bucket as a toilet, sat a man in shackles named Ibn al Sheikh al Libi, the former al Qaeda camp commander described by former CIA director George Tenet in his autobiography last year as "the highest ranking al-Qa'ida member in U.S. custody" just after 9/11.
In this secret facility known to prisoners as "The Hangar" and believed to be at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, al Libi told fellow "ghost prisoners," one recalled to me for a PBS "Frontline" to be broadcast tonight, an incredible story of his treatment over the previous two years: of how questioned at first by Americans, by the FBI and then CIA, of how he was threatened with torture. And then how he was rendered to a jail cell in Egypt where the threats became a reality. In his book, officially cleared for publication, Tenet confirms how the CIA outsourced al Libi's interrogation. He said he was sent to a third country (inadvertently named in another part of the book as Egypt) for "further debriefing."
The Bush administration has said that terrorists are trained to invent tales of torture.

U.S. Army sniper on trial in Baghdad

The sergeant's lawyer says three deaths were justified. The military denies planting weapons to draw Iraqi targets.
By Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer November 7, 2007
BAGHDAD -- The murder trial of an Army sniper has begun days after the military court rejected a request from the soldier's lawyer to use classified material as part of his defense.The trial of Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley started Tuesday amid denials from the military that his unit had been involved in a "baiting" program in which soldiers allegedly planted weapons and other material and shot Iraqis who tried to pick them up.
The focus on Hensley's unit has raised questions about whether his team had run amok or whether their commanders had bent rules to push them to rack up more "kills" in spring as a new U.S.-led security plan took hold.Hensley's lawyer said the sniper was not guilty of fatally shooting three Iraqis in separate incidents in April and May. His attorney said the incidents, in a violent area south of Baghdad, were legitimate shootings.

The Values of a Dysfunctional Family

Truthout contributor Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III says that "In today's political lexicon, the term family values has been hijacked by the Christian political right as a way to define an ambiguous set of moral beliefs and standards that they use to further a morally defenseless political agenda. In the early 1980's, individuals such as Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson, through The Christian Coalition, began to target the Republican Party as the vehicle through which they could promote their conservative religious agenda and inject that religious agenda into mainstream American politics. They successfully combined their moral conservatism with political conservatism, resulting in a politics that is neither morally nor ethically based."

Bhutto Call for Protest Sets Up Confrontation

David Rohde and Jane Perlez, reporting for The New York Times, write, "Escalating political tensions in Pakistan, the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, announced today that her party would carry out a mass demonstration on Friday and a protest march next week if the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, refuses to end a state of emergency and hold elections in January."

CNN: 'The price for backing dictators' may be to box America in

David Edwards and Muriel KanePublished: Wednesday November 7, 2007
Since Pakistan's President Musharraf suspended constitutional government over the weekend, the United States has been urging him to restore the rule of law but has stopped short of applying any real pressure that might force him to do so.
Pakistan's chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who was ousted and then placed under house arrest after the Pakistani Supreme Court refused to ratify Musharraf's actions, spoke by phone to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, telling him that "of course" Musharraf is a dictator and that greater pressure by the United States might force him to reverse his actions.
"Musharraf isn't the first hardline leader to put Washington in a rather awkward position," Blitzer noted, turning to CNN correspondent Brian Todd for background.

Topping Nixon, Bush disapproval soars to highest level ever recorded in Gallup poll

RAW STORYPublished: Wednesday November 7, 2007
For the first time, George W. Bush has surpassed Richard M. Nixon in unpopularity in the Gallup Poll, receiving the highest "strongly disapprove" rating for a president in Gallup's history. The little noticed statistic -- publicly noted on Gallup's poll writeup -- made a single headline in Google News. The story, at Editor and Publisher, was titled "GALLUP: Bush Finally Tops Nixon -- In Unpopularity -- As Call for Iraq Pullout Hits New Peak."
Gallup details Bush's falling numbers in a series of graphs that appear below. They note that Bush's "strongly disapprove" rating is the highest Gallup has ever measured for a US president, though the category is not polled in every survey.

Canadian dollar passes US$1.10 mark

SINKING FAST: Dollar continues massive decline; Euro hits $1.47.
Wed Nov 7, 5:40 AM
By Neena Chowdhury, The Canadian Press
TORONTO - How high will the loonie go?
The Canadian dollar's meteoric rise accelerated this week, rising two cents in less than 24 hours. The loonie broke through the US$1.10 barrier in overseas trading Wednesday, initially hitting the 110.02 cents US mark. It dropped back down to 109.6 cents US, before taking off again and landing well above US$1.10. This comes on the heels of Tuesday's rise of 1.34 cents US and modern-era record close of 108.52 cents US.
Analysts say it doesn't appear that the loonie will be returning to earth anytime soon.
The Canadian dollar is regarded as a resource-dependent currency and analysts credit the loonie's latest tear can be linked to the huge jump in oil prices, which soared to a new trading record above $98 US a barrel Wednesday overseas.
Chart shows dollar drop 35% since 2002; Dollar hits 26 yr low vs pound.

Judge Allows Abu Ghraib Lawsuit Against Private Iraq Contractor...Debate Over Forced Iraq Service Continues

By Josh WhiteWashington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, November 7, 2007; Page A13
A federal judge in Washington ruled yesterday that a civil lawsuit alleging abuse and torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq can go forward against a U.S. military contractor, setting the stage for what could be the first case in a U.S. civilian court to weigh accountability for the notorious abuses in 2003.
U.S. District Judge James Robertson denied CACI International's motion to dismiss a civil lawsuit on behalf of more than 200 Iraqis who at one time were detained at the Abu Ghraib prison. The Iraqis allege that the contracted CACI interrogators took part in abuses and that the company should be held liable for the harm inflicted on the detainees.
Attorneys for the Arlington-based CACI have argued the company should be immune from such a lawsuit because it worked at the behest of the U.S. military, but Robertson said he believes a jury should hear the case, in part because CACI had its own chain of command and might not have answered directly to the military.
Legal experts said the decision could affect other U.S. contractors alleged to have harmed Iraqi civilians, even if the U.S. government is unable or unwilling to prosecute individuals in U.S. criminal courts. The decision could set a precedent for how the courts deal with cases such as the Blackwater shootings of Iraqi civilians in September.
Little-noticed court case in Florida threatens to undermine the arrangement under which some 150,000 private contractors provide security and backup for the U.S. in war zones. Representatives of Blackwater and other U.S. private contractors operating in Iraq and Afghanistan tell TIME that the Bush Administration has just missed a deadline to put its views on record in the case. As a result, they say nothing is being done to protect their interests in the Florida lawsuit, which could eventually end up in the Supreme Court. This despite President Bush's public encouragement for the what he has described as the indispensable role of U.S. contractors overseas.
The Florida case concerns three American servicemen killed in the crash of an aircraft owned by Blackwater Aviation in Afghanistan. Relatives of the men are suing the company for what could amount to millions of dollars in damages. Many of the issues raised by the case could have important implications for all contractors at work in Iraq. The Blackwater aircraft, designated "flight 61," had been transporting U.S. personnel and munitions when it went down on Nov. 27, 2004, killing the three servicemen as well as the company-provided flight crew. A series of U.S. government reviews has said that errors committed by the staff of Blackwater Aviation were responsible for the deaths, a conclusion that the company disputes.
The Bush administration has taken no position on the Florida case, something that has caused dismay among Blackwater and its defenders. "After the President has said that, as Commander-in-Chief, he is ultimately responsible for contractors on the battlefield it is disappointing that his administration has been unwilling to make that interest clear before the courts," Erik Prince, Blackwater's chairman, told TIME after a Tuesday deadline passed for comments on the case. "And this is happening even as our professionals risk their lives every day in support of vital US priorities, while Congress and several federal agencies publicly discuss the issues at stake in this particular lawsuit."

Hail Georgies America Today.

from Juan, in Chicago:
Parents Urge High School to Reverse Expulsions for Students Who Held ‘Day of Dead’ Iraq War Protest
Petition in support of students draws signatures from Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, peace activist Kathy Kelly, antiwar veterans, teachers, parents and students across the nation.
School administrators say they will expel dozens of students who took part in peaceful school cafeteria sit-in to voice opposition to Iraq War – and routine presence of military recruiters.
Berwyn – Parents of Morton West High School students will gather for a press conference at 9:30 AM Tuesday, November 6 in front of the school, to urge school administrators to reverse their decision to expel dozens of children who marked All Saints Day last week by staging a peaceful, non-violent sit-in at the school cafeteria to voice opposition to the Iraq War.
The November 1 school cafeteria event served in part as a counterpoint in the school setting to military recruiters on campus, who routinely visit the high school cafeteria seeking to enlist young people into military service. Dozens of students participated in the anti-war protest through the course of the day. All Saints Day -- November 1 – is a revered holiday in the Latino community, when families and friends traditionally gather to honor dead loved onesloved ones.
Students complied with an administrator's request to move the action outside the cafeteria after initially being assured that the only disciplinary action they would face was citation for cutting classes. But administrators have since issued formal expulsion notices to dozens of students, suspended many more, and threatened to bring criminal charges against students age 17 and older who participated in the anti-war action.
School administrators also put the school on lockdown briefly during the All Saints Day protest. That action stands in stark contrast to administrators’ response to a report of a student with a gun on campus last month. In that incident, administrators chose not to lock down the school.
At the press conference, parents and students will read a letter to the superintendent demanding complete amnesty for the students before delivering the letter to the School District 201 office. Administrators have said they’ll issue final decisions on appeals of the suspensions, on Tuesday – but also say expulsion orders still stand. The District 201 School Board will meet at 7PM at Morton East High School on Wednesday evening, located at 2423 S. Austin in Cicero.
The students are marshalling national support through the blogosphere, the Illinois Coalition for Peace & Justice (www.ilcpj.org) and a national petition circulated by a local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Signers include Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, anti-war activist Kathy Kelly, authors Jeffrey St. Claire and Joshua Frank, a growing number of anti-war military veterans, local Berwyn residents and teachers, and supporters from New York to Oregon.
To view the national petition in support of the students, see this link: www.petitiononline.com/mortonw/petition.html
For more information on the case, go to chicago.indymedia.org.

ACLU learns of third 'secret' torture memo from Gonzales Justice Department

Published: Tuesday November 6, 2007
Legal papers filed in federal court Monday in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations disclose that the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued three secret memorandums relating to interrogation practices of detainees -- one more than has been publicly revealed.
The New York Times revealed two memoranda authored in 2005 relating to "harsh interrogation" of prisoners held by the CIA. One explicitly authorized interrogators to use combinations of psychological “enhanced” interrogation practices including waterboarding, head slapping, and stress positions. The second declared that none of the CIA’s interrogation methods violated a law being considered by Congress that outlawed “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment.
More details in a press release sent by the ACLU Tuesday afternoon follow.

Austin Energy gives client data to police

Confidentiality agreement gave cops right to search info without a warrant.

Didn't you know we're winning in Iraq, Lieberman says so.

Lieberman Declares ‘The Tide Has Turned In Iraq,’ ‘We Are Winning’
The U.S. military announced the death of six soldiers yesterday, “taking the number of deaths this year to 851 and making 2007 the deadliest year of the war for American troops.”
While the violence rages in Iraq, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is ready to declare mission accomplished. Yesterday, speaking to an audience who greeted him with “warm applause,” Lieberman declared that the U.S. was turning the corner in Iraq:
“I’m proud to say that the tide has turned in Iraq and we’re winning that war,” Lieberman said. “And if we don’t let down our troops, they’re going to bring home a victory that will protect us here at home from today’s threat — totalitarian terrorist Islamism that’s trying to take our liberty from us.”

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Overturned: House GOP And Democrats Join Against Bush Veto

House Steps Up Confrontation With Bush Over Spending
New York Times Carl Hulse November 6, 2007 10:50 PM
A majority of House Republicans joined Democrats this evening in escalating a confrontation with President Bush over federal spending as the House overrode Mr. Bush's veto of a popular water projects measure.
House Democrats also readied a $215 billion bill to pay for health, education, labor and veterans programs despite a veto threat.

US grounds F-15 jets after crash

The US Air Force has grounded its entire fleet of F-15 fighter jets after a jet crashed on a training mission in Missouri last week.
Use of the planes will be restricted until a possible structural failure in the aircraft has been investigated, an air force spokesman said.
The Air Force has 676 F-15s in service, including a number in Afghanistan.
F-15s have had several accidents this year, although the current suspension is linked only to last week's crash.
Preliminary inquiries suggest that the F-15 may have been affected by a mechanical failure.

Euro sets new record against the US dollar:

Euro climbs to fresh dollar peak
The euro has hit a fresh high against the dollar, as negative views of the US economic outlook continue to take their toll on the US currency.
A steady sell-off of the dollar meant that one euro was worth $1.4571 at one point, while the pound hit $2.09 for the first time since the 1980s.
A steady stream of bad news coming from the US mortgage sector has sparked fears for the health of the economy.
These fears have prompted investors to sell dollars and buy euros or pounds.

Unelective Affinities: A Curious Coincidence in Pakistan Coup

Written by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 06 November 2007
Via Angry Arab comes this report from the Asia Times:
Admiral William Fallon, commander of the US Central Command, was on a visit to Pakistan, and he actually happened to be in the general headquarters of the Pakistan armed forces in Rawalpindi when Musharraf was giving the final touches to his proclamation on emergency rule. The political symbolism was unmistakable.
Yes, wasn't it though? It seems that the long waltz (or is it a bump and grind?) between the military-security apparats of the United States and Pakistan continues. Top brass of one country always somehow happen to be on hand when major upheavals occur in the other. Who doesn't remember the remarkable coincidence of Pakistan's chief of Military Intelligence, Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad, holding meetings with top American officials -- including the future head of the CIA, Porter Goss -- on September 11, 2001? Ahmad of course, was later hustled quietly out of his post after being accused of directing a payment of $100,000 to accused 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta.
And now Admiral Fallon, the military satrap of the all-important Central Command -- which directs the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was directly involved in the Terror War "regime change" invasion of Somalia, and will of course direct the war on Iran -- pops up just as Musharraf declares martial law, and begins to wage internal war on...not terrorists, not extremists...but lawyers and judges standing up for the last rags of Pakistan's much-shredded Constitution. Not only was Fallon in the country, he somehow just happened to be in Pakistan's military headquarters when the decree for emergency rule by, er, Pakistan's military was being put together.
Curious, ain't it?

Annals of Journalism: A Worthy Innovation From the NY Times

Chris Floyd
November 6, 2007A Taliban spokesman has denied the accusation that the group was behind the horrific suicide bombing in northern Afghanistan yesterday. In reporting on the attack, the New York Times twice made careful mention of the fact that the spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, "has been unreliable" and "often made erroneous claims" in the past. No doubt this is true. We commend the Times for putting Mujahid's comments in the proper perspective, so that informed readers can decide how much credibility his statements may or may not have. However, we recommend that this rigorous but fair journalistic standard be applied across the board. Why not try it the next time an Administration official or a White House spokesperson – or indeed, a White House resident – makes a public statement? For instance: "General David Petraeus, whose claims of progress in Iraq have often proved erroneous in the past, said today that the new security measures in Baghdad are bringing a sense of stability to the city, etc. etc." Or: "President Bush, whose unreliable claims of great danger from Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction led the nation into one of the longest, most costly and divisive wars in its history, said today that Iran poses a dire threat to America's freedom and must be prevented etc., etc."See? Rigorous but fair. It could be a whole new trend in corporate journalism!
Let's hope it catches on.

Pope meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

(Pool photo by Chris Helgren via Reuters)
VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI lauded the contributions of Christians in Saudi Arabia — a country that embraces a strict version of Islam, restricts worship by other faiths and bans Bibles and crucifixes — in the first meeting ever between a pope and reigning Saudi king.

The agonizing truth about CIA renditions

The fate of prisoners secreted away under the Bush administration is in some ways worse than even Hollywood has portrayed.
By Stephen Grey
At 3:44 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2004, a luxury Boeing 737 business jet operated by the Central Intelligence Agency landed at Kabul Airport in Afghanistan. Onboard were its flight crew, eight members of a CIA rendition team and a blindfolded prisoner who was shackled by his wrists and feet.
The behavior of the prisoner, a German citizen named Khaled el-Masri, concerned the CIA team leader onboard. According to an agency insider, the leader sent word to Washington that "there was something strange about el-Masri. He didn't behave like the others they'd captured. He was asking: Is he the right guy?"
Within days it emerged that el-Masri was indeed the wrong man. It was a "100 percent case of mistaken identity," said another former agency official. Yet, despite this discovery, el-Masri spent 18 weeks in solitary confinement in a CIA "black site," or secret prison used by the United States in its war on terror. He is still waiting for an apology or an explanation.
by Ahmed Ali
BAQUBA - At least 5 million Iraqis have fled their homes due to the violence under the U.S.-led occupation, but half of them are unable to leave the country, according to well-informed estimates.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are more than 4.4 million displaced Iraqis, an estimate that many workers among refugees find conservative.
The UNHCR announced last week that at present 2,000 Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. Most of them have received direct threats from death squads or militias.
The provinces that have suffered the greatest displacement are the largely Sunni Baghdad, Diyala, al-Anbar, and Salahadeen in central Iraq.
Members of many families who have not fled told IPS they have stayed on because they had no choice.
"We could not leave our city despite the security situation because we don't have the money to travel and live outside Iraq," Ali Muhsin, an official with the directorate general of education and a father of five told IPS in Baquba, 40 km northeast of Baghdad.

Judge Allows Abuse Lawsuit Against Firm (CACI - torture case)

Source: AP
A federal judge allowed a lawsuit to proceed Tuesday against private defense firm CACI International Inc., whose interrogators are accused of abusing detainees at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
A similar civil suit against a second contracting company, Titan Corp., was dismissed under the order by U.S. District Judge James Robertson of the District of Columbia.
The firms provided interrogators or linguists to assist U.S. military guards at the prison that served as the backdrop for pictures of grinning U.S. soldiers posing with detainees, some naked, being held on leashes or in painful and sexually humiliating positions. Military investigators later concluded that much of the abuse happened in late 2003 — when CACI and Titan's interrogators were at the prison.
In a 24-page ruling, Robertson said Titan's interrogators generally were supervised and under control of military officials — thereby freeing the company of blame. But he found that "a reasonable trier of fact could conclude that CACI retained significant authority to manage its employees," and he allowed the civil lawsuit against the company to continue.

Maverick Paul sets one-day, GOP fundraising record

Ron Paul's unconventional presidential campaign has regularly broken the mold of politics as usual and has set new records in the process. On November 5, Paul's supporters raised over $4 million -- breaking the one-day record of any other Republican -- and they did it by exploiting the anarchistic associations of Guy Fawkes Day and the movie V for Vendetta. Although coordinated by an independent website, the campaign has been endorsed by Paul.

Kucinich not stopping with Cheney, plans Bush impeachment resolution too

When will the Dems ever learn?
(Update at bottom: House Republicans vote against Democratic-led motion to end debate on impeachment measure)
House Republicans vote against Democratic-led move to table Cheney impeachment measure
In an unexpected move, Republicans in the House of Representatives on Tuesday voted against a measure to table debate on an impeachment measure brought by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).
The motion had been brought by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who sought to effectively kill the resolution.
"Impeachment is not on the agenda," Rep. Hoyer had told Fox News earlier."We have some major priorities. We need to focus on those."
Although the roll call vote had initially appeared to favor Hoyer's motion to table, Congressional Quarterly's Ed Epstein told CSPAN that Republicans had switched their votes at the last minute in an attempt to embarrass the Democratic leadership, who is not keen on seeing further action on the impeachment resolution.
The final vote count on the measure was 251-162. Another vote is now underway as to whether the resolution should be forwarded to the House Judiciary Committee.

This weeks toll, of dead and wounded in Iraq

Tuesday: 6 GIs, 17 Iraqis Killed; 8 Iraqis Wounded

Tue Nov 6, 11:39 AM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Seven U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq on Monday, the U.S. military said, making 2007 the deadliest year for U.S. forces in the country.
The deaths, one of the highest daily tolls in weeks, took the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq this year to 853. The worst previous year was 2004, when 849 deaths were recorded.
In total, 3,856 U.S. soldiers have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.
"We lost five soldiers yesterday in two unfortunate incidents, both involving IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)," U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral Greg Smith told reporters in Baghdad on Tuesday.
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