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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Jordan's Spy Agency: Holding Cell for the CIA

Craig Whitlock, The Washington Post, reports: "Over the past seven years, an imposing building on the outskirts of this city has served as a secret holding cell for the CIA."

Don't say we didn't warn you.

*(For more on just what H. Clinton and the Democrats are supporting, see "Eyes Wide Open," and Rich Kastelein's indispensable War Gallery.)*UPDATE: Jon Schwarz has more on this theme, with a look at Lee Feinstein, the man who will most likely be Clinton's national security adviser if she is elected. Do read the whole thing, but here's an apt passage that Jon found in a NY Daily News story:
Another Foreign Affairs essay, co-written in 2004 by Feinstein, is also drawing scrutiny. It argues Bush's controversial doctrine of "preemptive" war - attacking an enemy before it attacks the U.S. - "does not go far enough."Feinstein, a former Defense and State department official, supported ousting Saddam in 2003 and believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Since then he has championed the concept of a "duty to prevent," which justifies preemptive strikes. He said the U.S. should try to build coalitions, but that it can attack without allies' support.

A Change Ain't Gonna Come: Democrats Openly Embrace Aggression and Torture

Chris Floyd , Empire Burlesque
Friday, 30 November 2007
It was a remarkable display even by the hideous standards that the Democrats have already set for themselves. Over the past week, the party's leaders have put forward not one but two architects of Bush Regime war crimes as standard-bearers for Democratic policies and principles. In so doing, they have aligned themselves as completely and publicly as possible with the Hitlerian war crime of military aggression in Iraq and the Stalinist filth of deliberate, calculated and brutal torture, as exemplified by (but in no way limited to) the sickening atrocities at Abu Ghraib.
First, the party leadership picked retired General Ricardo Sanchez to give the Democratic response to the president's weekly radio address last Saturday. Then, just three days later, frontrunning presidential candidate Hillary Clinton singled out Colin Powell as one of the personal emissaries she would send out to tell the world that "bipartisan foreign policy is back."
But as these incidents display so nakedly, "bipartisan foreign policy" has never gone away. It has continued to operate smoothly at the highest levels throughout the Bush imperium, greased by the blood money flowing to both parties from the spoils of war (H. Clinton now receives more legalized bribery from military-related industries than any of the Republican candidates), and by their shared vision of armed American hegemony over world affairs. (The latter is well-limned by Arthur Silber here.)
As Amy Goodman notes at Alternet, Sanchez was neck-deep in the blood-flecked slime where Pentagon brass and White House officials devised the torture regimens that were briefly exposed at Abu Ghraib. In addition to urging his troops to "go to the outer limits" in extracting information from the thousands of Iraqis they were sweeping up at random, and ordering prison officials to violate the Geneva Conventions by hiding designated prisoners from the Red Cross, Sanchez gave "detailed orders" for the infliction of carefully calibrated tortures used by CIA-trained, Reagan-backed Latin American tyrannies and death squads in the 1980s. As Alfred McCoy told Goodman:
In September of 2003, General Sanchez issued orders, detailed orders, for expanded interrogation techniques beyond those allowed in the US Army Field Manual 3452, and if you look at those techniques, what he's ordering, in essence, is a combination of self-inflicted pain, stress positions and sensory disorientation. And if you look at the 1963 CIA KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual, you look at the 1983 CIA Interrogation Training Manual that they used in Honduras for training Honduran officers in torture and interrogation, and then twenty years later, you look at General Sanchez's 2003 orders, there's a striking continuity across this forty-year span in both the general principles: this total assault on the existential platforms of human identity and existence, OK, and the specific techniques, the way of achieving that, through the attack on these sensory receptors.
There is much more in Goodman's excellent piece, which should be read in full.

Two Rescued Iraqi Orphans Die

Troops Rescued Mistreated Boys From Special Needs Orphanage; Two Dead Of Cholera

...As first reported on CBS News, the boys were found naked, bound and starving to death, while the kitchen down the hallway was packed with unopened food and piles of brand new clothing sat unused, CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports. One boy, Saddam Ali Abbas, was the first to die shortly after his rescue. Now, some five months later, two more boys are dead from cholera they contracted while under state care: # Thirteen-year-old Ismail Garib, who loved to show-off and interact with the soldiers. # And Omar Thanoon, whose name is the only detail orphanage officials have for him. Staff Sgt. Mitchell Gibson - part of the original rescue team - was shocked at the deaths and condition of the boys today...

A tribe of Indians in Ecuador is suing Chevron for $12bn for polluting their homes in the Amazon rain forest.

China barred 3rd Navy visit to Hong Kong

The Chinese rejection of U.S. ship visits into Hong Kong is broader than initially reported, the Pentagon said Friday, revealing for the first time that a third incident had occurred last week.
According to a defense official, a request for the USS Reuben James, a Navy frigate, to make a New Year's holiday stop in Hong Kong was formally denied by the Chinese last Thursday. The denial came the same day the Chinese turned away the USS Kitty Hawk and five ships accompanying it for a Thanksgiving port call.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the denial has not been publicly announced, said the Reuben James, based in Pearl Harbor, had made the port visit request in October.
Link here

Nonstop Theft and Bribery Are Staggering Iraq

Jobless men pay $500 bribes to join the police. Families build houses illegally on government land, carwashes steal water from public pipes and nearly everything the government buys or sells can now be found on the black market. Painkillers for cancer (from the Ministry of Health) cost $80 for a few capsules; electricity meters (from the Ministry of Electricity) go for $200 each and even third-grade textbooks (stolen from the Ministry of Education) must be bought at bookstores for three times what schools once charged....
continua / continued

Bush handed blueprint to seize Pakistan's nuclear arsenal

· Architect of Iraq surge draws up takeover options
· US fears army's Islamists might grab weapons

Estimates of U.S. HIV cases rise 50 percent: reports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The government is raising its estimate of how many Americans are becoming infected with the AIDS virus every year by 50 percent, according to newspaper reports on Saturday.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now believes the number of new HIV infections each year is between 55,000 and 60,000 -- up from the 40,000 figure used for the past decade, The Washington Post reported.

Impeach Impeach Impeach them all for war crimes.

Guantanamo Lawyers Say Work is Life-Changing
Listen Now [6 min 45 sec]
Weekend Edition Saturday, December 1, 2007 · On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases that could determine whether Guantanamo Bay detainees can go to U.S. civilian courts to challenge their confinement. Two corporate lawyers for whom work at Guantanamo has been a life-changing experience talk with John Ydstie.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Catch 22 in Iraq: Why American Troops Can't Go Home

by Michael Schwartz and Tom Engelhardt TomDispatch
Whoa, let's hold those surging horses in check a moment. Violence has lessened in Iraq. That seems to be a fact of the last two months – and, for the Iraqis, a positive one, obviously. What to make of the "good news" from Iraq is another matter entirely, one made harder to assess by the chorus of self-congratulation from war supporters and Bush administration officials and allies, as well as by the heavy spin being put on events – and reported in the media, relatively uncritically.
An exception was Damien Cave of the New York Times, who had a revealing piece on a big story of recent weeks: The return of refugee Baghdadis – from among the two million or more Iraqis who had fled to Syria and other countries – to the capital. This has been heavily touted as evidence of surge "success" in restoring security in Baghdad, of a genuine turn-around in the war situation. In fact, according to Cave, the trickle of returnees, which had actually been lessening recently, has been heavily "massaged by politics. Returnees have essentially become a currency of progress."
Those relatively modest returnee numbers turn out to include anyone who crossed the Syrian border heading east, including suspected insurgents and Iraqi employees of the New York Times on their way back from visits to relatives in exile in Syria. According to a UN survey of 110 families returning, "46 percent were leaving [Syria] because they could not afford to stay; 25 percent said they fell victim to a stricter Syrian visa policy; and only 14 percent said they were returning because they had heard about improved security." And that's but one warning sign on the nature of the story under the story.
A recent Pew Research Center poll of American reporters who have been working in Iraq finds that "[n]early 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit" and many believe that "coverage has painted too rosy a picture of the conflict." In an on-line chat, the reliable Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post (and author of the bestselling book Fiasco), just back from Baghdad himself, offered his own set of caveats about the situation. He suggested that, in addition to the surge of U.S. troops into the capital's neighborhoods, some combination of other factors may help explain the lessening violence, including the fact that "some Sunni neighborhoods are walled off, and other Sunni areas have been ethnically cleansed. In addition, the Shi'ite death squads, in addition to killing a lot of innocents, also killed some of the car bomb guys, I am told." Of the dozens of American officers he interviewed, none were declaring success. "[T]o a man, they were enormously frustrated by what they see as the foot-dragging of the Baghdad government." And he points out that violence in Baghdad "is only back down to the 2005 level – which to my mind is kind of like moving from the eighth circle of hell to the fifth." In 2005, or early 2006, of course, such levels were considered catastrophic.
Robert Parry of Consortium News points out that, while "good news" dominated front pages here, "the darker side" of "success" has "generally been shoved into brief stories deep inside the newspapers." He adds that "the harsh repression surrounding the 'surge' has drawn far less U.S. press attention," even as "Iraq steadily has been transformed into a more efficient police state than dictator Saddam Hussein could have ever imagined."

Fake FEMA Reporters Promoted

You Messed Up. Now Here's Your Promotion.
Friday, November 30, 2007; 1:53 PM On Oct. 23, the day of FEMA's now infamous phony news conference, the agency's former external affairs chief, Pat Philbin, announced plans to promote a number of people in the shop as part of an effort to build a "new FEMA."
Cindy Taylor, deputy director of public affairs, was to become head of a new Private Sector Office, Philbin said in his e-mail to staff members. And Mike Widomski would move up to replace Taylor as deputy director of public affairs.
Loop Fans might recall that both of them, posing as reporters, asked questions of acting Deputy Administrator Harvey Johnson. After our item, and an investigation of what Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called "one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government," we're happy to announce that Taylor and Widomski appear to have been disciplined, FEMA-style.
They've received the promotions they were in line to get. So, according to the External Affairs Weekly report for this week, Taylor is director of the Private Sector Division, and Widomski is deputy director of public affairs.


AP November 30, 2007 01:12 PM
A man claiming to have a bomb walked in to Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign offices Friday and took hostages, police and witnesses said.
The man had what appeared to be a bomb strapped to himself, said Bill Shaheen, a top state campaign official. He took two hostages, both volunteers, and released others, Shaheen said.

Lest We Forget

Bush Iraq 9/11 Lies

I Am Become Death - The Destroyer of the Worlds

Anwaar Hussain
As November 2007 draws to a close, it will be full three years since American forces razed the Iraqi city of Fallujah to ground. It was in November 2004 that George Bush’s forces played havoc with that city and its unfortunate inhabitants in the name of God. While the American media chose to remain blind to the utter horror of it all, busy as it was with keeping a close watch over the life and death of Terri Schindler Schiavo, Dr. Hafidh al-Dulaimi, the head of "the Commission for the Compensation of Fallujah citizens" reported the destruction that American troops inflicted on Fallujah. According to the report, there were some 7000 totally destroyed, or nearly totally destroyed, homes in all districts of Fallujah. 8400 stores, workshops, clinics, warehouses, etc. were completely destroyed. 65 mosques and religious sanctuaries were demolished. 59 kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools and technical colleges were flattened. 13 government buildings leveled. Four libraries, that housed thousands of ancient Islamic manuscripts and books, were gutted completely. The number of human beings slaughtered in those buildings, of course, is any body’s guess....
continua / continued

Jonathan Stephenson on November 30th, 2007 11:16 am

There are a number of simple facts for Americans to come to grips with, No.1 The information about what is truly happening in Iraq is available for all Americans to see if they will look, most won’t, their guilt is on their own heads. No.2 When your leader is a monster and you are in a free society a lot more than prayer and fasting is required to get the message accross “Not in my name”, our guilt is on our own heads. No. 3 OK we can say the deed is done and what can we do about it now, “We can demand the impeachment, removal, and permanent incarceration of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and a host of other civilian and military leaders” their guilt is on their own heads! No. 4 Look at Myanmar, look at the Ukraine, when their people spoke and their governments ignored them, they took to the streets by the millions and in Myanmar some died, well until we “Americans” are willing to fight our own government to make it do as we wish, our guilt is on our own heads. No. 5 We are facing economic catastrophy due to the actions of these monstrous men, and when the shoe drops do we expect a world which we have ignored, brutalized, threatened, bankrupted, murdered their leaders, sold their people into slavery; do we really think this world will be merciful to us, will care about our loses, no, our guilt will be on our own heads! These are facts for the Citizens of the Great Satan, as the Iranians call us with good reason, do we still have time, can we be saved? Your actions will speak for you, will you act, or will your guilt remain on your own head!

Christy Questions

'Ok, then. Let's talk about God.'

Dear Republicans,
You seem most eager to bring God into our political discourse, so let's totally go there. But, fair warning, we will also be speaking of the Devil. And Hell. I must assume if you believe in God, you must also then believe in hell.
How dare I, a liberal hawk (sometimes democrat), speak to your beliefs? Well that is simple, for 1. I also believe in God, and for 2, I was in the past one of you who justified my political beliefs with my interpretation of God. And just like you, somehow I even used it to justify supporting the death penalty.
But, God is no longer twisted just to support the death penalty, is He? Somehow the overwhelming support for our current wars, is ultimately justified among our Christian population using God and morality as the ironic excuse to kill and torture people. Somehow Saddam was 'evil' therefore, killing him, and violently overthrowing and occupying his country can be justified because it was the 'right' thing to do. 'Right' by whom? Right by GOD, ofcourse. That is what you mean by 'right'...right? Right.
Except, no Iraqi sees it that way and niether does 99% of the rest of the world. Instead, they see just the opposite. You can say it is because they just 'hate God', but no, they just hate evil people that start wars for lies that gets over a million people killed while expecting everyone else to clean up the mess.
Did she dare say we are evil? What am I suppossed to call people that invade countries that have never threatened them and violently overthrow and occupy people who have never done anything to any of US...? Don't worry, I fully count myself among the evil bastards that did do that very thing. FOR NOTHING we did this, except that God was on our side and it was 'the right thing' to do'. Led by The Son oF Providence, himself, George W. Bush. But, we all know it was his lies that started it, so what if he was lying about Providence too?
What if he is actually the son of the devil instead...? Would the spawn of Satan have acted any differently at all than George Bush has? If the Devil actually wanted to start Armegeddon, he would use a foolish tool EXACTLY like George Bush to do so. And he would have been spouting lies and the the word Providence. With fake preachers bought off with faith based welfare there to vouch for him all along the way.
When ever once has George Bush followed the teachings of Jesus Christ? Not one single time I can remember seeing. Just because the man sits in church does not make him a holy man. It does not even make him a GOOD man. Any fool can sit on a pew without falling off.
I keep wondering why we just can not as a nation confront all this corruption and wars for lies and bring back the moral center that is suppossed to guide us. It has slowly dawned on me that all of these things are not happening because we can not confront and deal with our problems. It is happening because of our own individual inability to look into the mirror and confront the evil that glares back.
Ask yourselves, why is it Bush has never truly been confronted with anything at all he has done or caused ? No real dissent is allowed at all, even from other republicans. He is not exactly a big scary man. They do not avoid confronting him because he is smarter than they. It is because NO ONE wants to see the evil that lies behind his rightous facade. No one here wants to admit that kind of evil has infected us all. If we know we will see evil in the mirror, why look in the mirror?
What happens to evil bastards like me, and you, who violently overthrew and occupied people for lies? People who continue to justify and hide those lies and then use GOD as thier ultimate excuse to trump any suggestion of accountability, what will become of those people once God gets them?
Oh, and God will get them, He will get us alllll. But what do you think will happen to those people that dare stand before Him and say they supported it all, in His name? Because it was the right thing to do by Him. Do you think God will be amused?
As I said, if you believe in God, you most certainly believe in hell, too. Except you republicans always seem to leave that part out when trying to justify political beliefs that require people die. All God, no mention of hell. As someone raised with southern baptists I find that quite extraordinary. It has to be deliberate, so no one will remember there are consequences if God really wasn't on your side after all.
How exactly will you use God to justify attacking Iran? When we bomb their people, will we be told because it is the 'right thing' to do? That is right, we are already being told exactly that. That we must bomb them, because it is the right thing to do. And if it isn't what God would want us to do?
As a Christian myself, I will no longer let any of us pretend bombing people is the 'christian' thing to do. Because it so obviously is not. We could say 'The Devil made us do it!', but only if the Devil is now named George W. Bush. And he very well could be. They don't call him the Great Pretender for nothing.


Stuart Littlewood
...Gaza is just 365 sq km - 45 km long, up to12 km wide and entirely sealed from the outside world by an Israeli fence guarded by watchtowers, snipers and tanks. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace, coastal waters and airwaves. A vast prison with air-strikes, beach shelling, troops, tanks, armoured bulldozers, uncaring of civilian casualties. Whilst much has been blasted into rubble or skeletal remains, this was once an attractive place and many fine buildings survive. So does the defiant community, though wearied by years of humiliation and occupation. Gaza could easily blossom into a coastal paradise; a prosperous, independent trading state. But Israel's hatred of Gaza and its people is terrifying. The economy is strangulated and for 1.5 million souls, life is hell. Fuel and candles are running out. Supplies of basics are exhausted, so even hygiene is fast becoming impossible. Power cuts disrupt hospital treatment and what few drugs there are cannot be kept refrigerated. Many look death in the face as medi-care collapses. Flour to make bread has doubled in price; cement for concrete to repair damaged homes and infrastructure has gone up 1,000 percent! Some schools are having to teach three shifts a day. It is truly a humanitarian crisis, as the UN and various charities have repeatedly warned western governments. A friend emailed: "Today in Gaza ... we have no cement to build graves for those who die."...

"A Crude War Of Revenge"

Tariq Ali on Afghanistan
The United States is on its way to losing the war in Afghanistan. The eventual defeat will be political not military. Public sentiment is shifting in Europe. The people have had enough. They want to get out. When European troops withdrawal from Afghanistan; NATO will gradually unravel and the Transatlantic Alliance will collapse. That will be a disaster for America. The US will again be isolated by two great oceans. But not by choice. America's days as an empire will be over. That's why the US perseveres in Afghanistan even though there is nothing to gain. Pipelines corridors will continue to be blocked by enemy fighters for the foreseeable future. The guerrilla war will intensify. American fatalities will mount. Political opposition at home will grow. The Taliban can't be beaten. They've already taken over more than half the country and they are steadily advancing on the Capital....

Aid shrinks as Iraq's internal refugee tally grows

Sam Dagher Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
...Mr. Hussein and his family – he is a father of eight who is also caring for the 10-member family of his brother, killed in Ghazaliya at the height of sectarian bloodshed last year – are among the 2.3 million Iraqis considered internally displaced as of the end of September. That number is 16 percent higher than August, according the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization (IRCO). And as the number of the internally displaced is growing, aid workers say the conditions they are living in is growing worse. They say it is becoming especially tough for children 12 and under, who make up 65 percent of the total number of internally displaced Iraqis. Aid agencies say the situation is getting harsher because of dwindling aid from international agencies and an overwhelmed central government in Baghdad. Hussein and his family have been living with 2,000 other people in the camp for more than a year now....

Journalists follow other Iraqis into exile

Khaldoun Zein Eddin
Their names are Najah, Nassim, Bakr, Dina and Awas. All five are Iraqi journalists who have spent the last four years covering the war in their home country. Today they are in Lebanon. Ironically, they came to attend a conference about war coverage and the safety of journalists at the American University of Beirut (AUB). But the conference effectively ended their careers as war journalists because none of them has gone back to Iraq. "We must cover what is happening but who covers us? We are in danger. We have carried the coffins of our colleagues on our shoulders. If we are killed, who will give compensation to our families? Our society has no mercy. Why should we throw ourselves into such a volcano? Why?" They recall the actual conference back in September. How some of the speakers had seemed to belong to another world from the one they had just come from...

Iraqi Contractors Frozen Out of U.S.

MATTHEW LEE November 29, 2007 11:05 PM EST WASHINGTON —
Thousands of Iraqis whose support for the U.S. war effort in Iraq has put them and their families in grave danger at home are being excluded from a new fast-track system aimed at speeding up refugee resettlement in the United States for American allies, officials said Thursday.
The Bush administration within the next month will begin accepting refugee applications directly from the about 100 Iraqi employees of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and their relatives, letting them bypass an often-lengthy U.N. referral process in third countries where they must travel at great expense, they said.
But possibly tens of thousands more at-risk Iraqis _ those who worked for private contractors, aid agencies or media outlets and their relatives _ won't be eligible due to objections from the Homeland Security Department, which fears that terrorists might use it to slip into the country, the officials said.
Homeland Security is effectively blocking contract employees, like drivers, translators, technicians, from benefiting from the initiative by insisting they provide official U.S. references and sponsors before applying for resettlement, a more stringent standard than for direct hires and even those in the U.N. system, according to the officials
Meeting that higher bar will be almost impossible for many whose work for private U.S. employers in Iraq ended months or years ago, the officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations between Homeland Security, which must vet all would-be Iraqi refugees, and the State Department, which wants to widen resettlement opportunities for Iraqi refugees.
The two agencies have been unable to reach a compromise and the issue has been referred to the National Security Council, although the matter may be resolved before that happens through legislation pending in Congress

Thursday, November 29, 2007

OUTFOXED: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism -- Trailer

Giuliani's Ties to a Terror Sheikh

Wayne Barrett reports for The Village Voice: "In retrospect, Giuliani's embrace of the emir appears peculiar. But it was only a sign of bigger things to come: the launching of a cozy business relationship with terrorist-tolerant Qatar that is inconsistent with the core message of Giuliani's current presidential campaign, namely that his experience and toughness uniquely equip him to protect America from what he tauntingly calls 'Islamic terrorists' - an enemy that he always portrays himself as ready to confront, and the Democrats as ready to accommodate."

The shameful thing is, that anyone should have to Seek US Clarity on Torture

Top State Dept Lawyer Seeks U.S. Clarity on Torture
Torture is illegal under the U.S. criminal code as well as under a international treaty that prohibits it under all circumstances, which the United States has ratified

Rejected: Iraq Refuses US Invitation To Mideast Peace Conference

Think Progress Amanda November 29, 2007 11:30 AM
During his first term, President Bush repeatedly promised that an invasion of Iraq would set off a rush for democracy in the Middle East. From a speech on Nov. 6, 2003:
Iraqi democracy will succeed -- and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran -- that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic...

REPORT: The Right Wing Domination Of Talk Radio And How To End It

The Center for American Progress and Free Press today released the first-of-its-kind statistical analysis of the political make-up of talk radio in the United States. It confirms that talk radio, one of the most widely used media formats in America, is dominated almost exclusively by conservatives.
The new report — entitled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio” — raises serious questions about whether the companies licensed to broadcast over the public radio airwaves are serving the listening needs of all Americans.
While progressive talk is making inroads on commercial stations, right-wing talk reigns supreme on America’s airwaves. Some key findings:


President Bush has not fired any of the architects of the Iraq war. In fact, a review of the key planners of the conflict reveals that they have been rewarded — not blamed — for their incompetence.

Hagel on Bush WH: ‘most arrogant, incompetent’ ever.

Yesterday in an address to the Council on Foreign Relations, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) stepped up his rhetoric against the Bush administration, calling it one of the most “incompetent” in history:
Hagel, who considered running for the GOP presidential nomination as an antiwar candidate, told the foreign policy experts that he would give the Bush administration “the lowest grade of any I’ve known.”
“I have to say this is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I’ve ever seen or ever read about,” Hagel said, according to our colleague Robert Kaiser, who attended the speech. In case his audience didn’t get the point, Hagel also said: “They have failed the country.”

Iraqi Lawmakers Protest 'Humiliating' US Treatment

Dozens of Iraqi lawmakers walked out of parliament Wednesday to protest what they view as overly aggressive and humiliating treatment by U.S. soldiers as representatives enter Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, where the legislature is located.
"I and many of my colleagues who live outside the Green Zone face a lot of problems," said Feryad Rawandozi, a high-ranking official with the Kurdish parliamentary bloc. U.S. soldiers "are very arrogant and impolite when they talk to us, especially with those who don't speak English."
Read more here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Female suicide bomber wounds 7 U.S. troops in Iraq

Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:57am IST
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A female suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest blew herself up in a city north of Baghdad, wounding seven U.S. soldiers and five Iraqi civilians, the U.S. military said on Wednesday.
The attack occurred on Tuesday in Baquba, 65 km from Baghdad and capital of the ethnically and religiously mixed Diyala province.

Bush Commits Troops to Iraq for the Long Term

Deal to provide mandate for military beyond 2008. US oil companies likely to benefit from proposals.
The Bush administration formally committed America yesterday to a long-term military presence in Iraq, pledging to protect the government in Baghdad from internal coup plots and foreign enemies (...) The military, economic and diplomatic agreement would commit US forces to defending the government of Iraq from internal and external threats as well as fighting al-Qaida and "all other outlaw groups regardless of affiliation", according to the declaration of principles released by the White House yesterday. In return, Iraq pledged itself to "encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments, to contribute to the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq". The promise was immediately seen as a potential bonanza for American oil companies....

We own Iraq: The Shock Doctrine perfected

It's time to add another star to the flag. We're never leaving Iraq. Ever. The Sun will go red giant in about five billion years, and we'll still be in Iraq (...) The the disaster Bush has wrought in Iraq is perfect; and TPM Muckraker also points out, Iraq "war czar" General Douglas Lute claims the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq does not even require Senate approval. That, of course, would involve democratic processes, and we know that democratic processes are a hindrance to the effective exploitation by corporatists. Meanwhile, the military is getting ever more inventive in its construction of military bases: a recent Wall Street Journal article even revealed that we're now building them literally on top of Iraq oil platforms! So, wake up tomorrow, go to work, and work hard. As earlier stated, a good chunk of the tax dollars you're paying to our "government" will really be spent for our own military to provide personal protection to the corporatists to whom Iraq is now becoming a wholly owned subsidiary....
continua / continued

Reporters say Baghdad too dangerous despite surge

David Morgan, Reuters
Nearly 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit, despite a recent drop in violence attributed to the build-up of U.S. forces, a poll released on Wednesday said. The survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center showed that many U.S. journalists believe coverage has painted too rosy a picture of the conflict. A separate Pew poll released on Tuesday showed that 48 percent of Americans believe the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going very or fairly well, up from 34 percent in June, amid signs of declining Iraqi civilian casualties and progress against Islamist militants such as al Qaeda in Iraq. But most journalists said they believe violence and the threat of violence have increased during their tenures....
continua / continued

Georgies Liberation of Iraq, You Decide?

....Basra, the largest city in southern Iraq, has been witnessing an increase in violence against women according to local police sources. "The city is witnessing an innovated kind of terrorism: At least 2-3 corpses of women are daily found dumped near the city garbage gathering places, mostly beheaded or mutilated!" a senior authorized spokesman for Basra police told reporters in November. He also added, "It is obvious that these women have been killed on skeptic bases or for other incomprehensible reasons with the least legal justification." A humanitarian activist from the predominantly Shiite Basra blamed militiamen and Muslim extremists for the wave against women allover the city. "The executors seemingly belong to the same bands ideologically and politically linked to the dominating fanatic parties and militias," the young activist who completely refused his name be mentioned told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI)...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lawsuit Alleges Blackwater Guards Pumped On "Judgment-Altering Substances"

CNN November 27, 2007 09:28 PM
A quarter of Blackwater security guards in Iraq use steroids and other "judgment-altering substances," according to a lawsuit filed by the families of several Iraqis killed or wounded in a Baghdad shooting in September.
Blackwater denies the charges.

James Hardie's final insult to Bernie Banton

SHAMED multinational James Hardie made one last effort to rob dying asbestos victim Bernie Banton, using a doctor's report it had hidden for seven years to claim it didn't have to pay him compensation.
As Mr Banton lost his battle with mesothelioma yesterday, The Daily Telegraph can reveal that the building company and its former subsidiary used the critical report on a 34-year-old X-ray to try to again rort the 61-year-old.
The latest dirty trick came in Mr Banton's final battle for compensation for the deadly asbestos cancer, which claimed his life yesterday. Tributes flowed across Australia yesterday for a man who fought for justice for asbestos victims literally until his last breath.
Mr Banton will be farewelled in a state funeral next Wednesday and the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute at Concord Hospital will be named the Bernie Banton Centre.
Mr Banton's last legal fight with Hardie's Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund finally settled late last week after it was revealed the AICF's courtroom manoeuvrings were likely to stretch the matter out until his dying day.
But even before the AICF was dragged to the settlement table, it performed the ultimate insult to Mr Banton in an effort to thwart his bid for aggravated and exemplary damages. The fund produced a 2000 doctor's report revealing that a 1973 X-ray showed Mr Banton had asbestos-related health problems long before he was diagnosed with mesothelioma this year. However the move backfired. When Mr Banton made his original claim for asbestosis in 2000 - which was settled two weeks after the report had been completed - James Hardie hid the document and did not reveal its contents. Hardie's asbestos fund this month claimed that the 2000 case - in which it sat on the medical report - was so thorough that Mr Banton should not receive aggravated or exemplary damages for his mesothelioma condition. Referring to changes in his lungs, the report said: "These changes are subtle but in my view definite ... a very early reaction to asbestos exposure is possible." Before he died, Mr Banton said he was never told of the X-ray and had continued to work in Hardie's asbestos-caked factory for another 1½ years after it was taken. His lawyer Tanya Segelov said the company's behaviour was nothing short of disgraceful. James Hardie yesterday put out a terse statement offering condolences to Mr Banton's family. "The company acknowledges the significant contribution Mr Banton made to raising awareness of asbestos-related diseases in Australia and his role in the implementation of the Final Funding Agreement to compensate Australians with asbestos-related personal injury claims," it said. Mr Banton's son Adam said during the latest legal wranglings that words could not express the family's bitterness towards the two companies. A James Hardie spokesman yesterday declined to comment, saying: "These matters are settled, I have no further comment".

Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd pays tribute to Bernie Banton

Watch Here
ABC News
Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd paid tribute to asbestos-disease campaigner Bernie Banton, who died early this morning at home at the age of 61. Mr Rudd also answered questions on plans to abolish WorkChoices and a promised apology in Parliament to the Stolen Generations.


The Associated Press reports, "Service members seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan after they received a $10,000 bonus for enlisting are being asked by the Pentagon to repay portions of the incentive money, says a U.S. senator who calls the practice an example of military policy gone wrong."

Four Days in Iraq: And this Means the Surge is Working?

Larry C. Johnson
If fourteen car and roadside bombs in four days is your idea of success then I give up. You should immediately sign up for the Joe Lieberman fantasy tour. While you are at it, keep those eyes on the skies because I bet the rapture is imminent. (Please remember to tell Joe that since he is a Jew that Jesus will not be favorably disposed to catch him up with the rest of the saved. Unless he accepts Jesus he is getting left behind, no matter how deeply he believes things are swell in Iraq.) Yes it is true that the level of violence is down in Iraq. But that is like saying that the explosions on Omaha Beach were not as bad as the fire bombing of Dresden. Truth is no sane person would want to be in either locale. We also need to be honest with ourselves. If we were experiencing one terrorist bombing a day in America would Bush or any member of Congress have the balls to tell the American people that things are better?...

What they don't show you on FAUX and CNN, Georgie makes sure of that.

Gaza residents stage demonstration against Annapolis
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on Tuesday took to the streets of Gaza city in protest against the Annapolis peace summit, currently taking place in the United States.

Gaza rally, in protest of Annapolis Summit/ photo by IMEMC staff
The rally, the largest, since Hamas established power in the region in in June, was called for by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements.
Protesters chanted slogans against the Washington-sponsored conference, saying, "we wont recognize Israel, we never concede the right of return, we never give up an inch of our lands."
One of the protesters told IMEMC that "we don’t care about our conditions, we need no more alleged peace conferences."
Dr. Ahmad Bahar, speaker of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council, told the crowds, "today, the Palestinian people tell those meeting in Annapolis that they refuse to concede their inalienable rights."
Bahar also revealed that the PLC had recently passed a new bill prohibiting concession of the Palestinians' right to return to Palestine as well as the right to Jerusalem and resistance, stating that, "This bill is intended to protect Palestinian rights from those who collaborate with the Israeli entity."
Palestinians and Israelis have, so far, failed to come to an agreement regarding to core issues such as the problem of refugees, the borders of a Palestinian state and the status of Jerusalem.
Israel insists that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, while Palestinians want a specific timetable for peace talks that follow the Annapolis summit.

Update from Annapolis

.Tense negotiations continue to focus on the American request for a joint Palestinian/Israeli declaration. The Palestinian team – before coming to Annapolis and since arriving – has been pushing for three major issues to be included in any statement: 1) a timeline for implementation; 2) guarantees of international involvement; and 3) clearly stated terms of reference, including international law, United Nations resolutions and the Roadmap to Peace. Israel has rejected all three...



November 27, 2007
I’m not sure that I’ve read a more sickening document than the one that was released by the White House yesterday entitled 'Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America’. Encapsulated in this document is the geo-political reality of what the Bush/Cheney administration and their neoconservative and Likudnik supporters had set out to achieve since the day George W. Bush became President of the US.
Far from 'liberating’ the Iraqi people from the 'yoke of tyranny’ for them to become a 'free and democratic’ model to which all other Middle Eastern states could aspire, which was the propaganda and rhetoric used by the neoconservatives that convinced the Coalition of the Willing that Iraq was a 'noble and righteous cause’, the declaration instead condemns Iraq to an endless occupation designed to enhance the power of the elite puppets of Iraq, and to ensure that Iraq’s resources remain firmly under American control and enriching American controlled oil companies. In short, the document is the instrument by which Iraq has effectively become a colony of the US.
There are several iniquitous points made in the document that betray the real intent of the administration but, in particular, point five of the second principle relating to 'the economic sphere’ which says: "Facilitating and encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments, to contribute to the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq," and point eight which says: "Supporting the Republic of Iraq to obtain positive and preferential trading conditions for Iraq within the global marketplace including accession to the World Trade Organization and most favored nation status with the United States," says it all.
Iraq’s puppet leaders have signed over Iraq to the US.
LinkHereDeclaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America
White House News
In Focus: Iraq
As Iraqi leaders confirmed in their Communiqué signed on August 26, 2007, and endorsed by President Bush, the Governments of Iraq and the United States are committed to developing a long-term relationship of cooperation and friendship as two fully sovereign and independent states with common interests. This relationship will serve the interest of coming generations based on the heroic sacrifices made by the Iraqi people and the American people for the sake of a free, democratic, pluralistic, federal, and unified Iraq.
The relationship of cooperation envisioned by the Republic of Iraq and the United States includes a range of issues, foremost of which is cooperation in the political, economic, cultural, and security fields, taking account of the following principles:
First: The Political, Diplomatic, and Cultural Spheres
1. Supporting the Republic of Iraq in defending its democratic system against internal and external threats.
2. Respecting and upholding the Constitution as the expression of the will of the Iraqi people and standing against any attempt to impede, suspend, or violate it.
3. Supporting the efforts of the Republic of Iraq to achieve national reconciliation including as envisioned in the Communiqué of August 26.
4. Supporting the Republic of Iraq's efforts to enhance its position in regional and international organizations and institutions so that it may play a positive and constructive role in the region and the world.
5. Cooperating jointly with the states of the region on the basis of mutual respect, non-intervention in internal affairs, rejection of the use of violence in resolving disputes, and adoption of constructive dialogue in resolving outstanding problems among the various states of the region.
6. Promoting political efforts to establish positive relationships between the states of the region and the world, which serve the common goals of all relevant parties in a manner that enhances the security and stability of the region, and the prosperity of its peoples.
7. Encouraging cultural, educational, and scientific exchanges between the two countries.
Second: The Economic Sphere
1. Supporting Iraq's development in various economic fields, including its productive capabilities, and aiding its transition to a market economy.
2. Encouraging all parties to abide by their commitments as stipulated in the International Compact with Iraq.
3. Supporting the building of Iraq's economic institutions and infrastructure with the provision of financial and technical assistance to train and develop competencies and capacities of vital Iraqi institutions.
4. Supporting Iraq's further integration into regional and international financial and economic organizations.
5. Facilitating and encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments, to contribute to the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq.
6. Assisting Iraq in recovering illegally exported funds and properties, especially those smuggled by the family of Saddam Hussein and his regime's associates, as well as antiquities and items of cultural heritage, smuggled before and after April 9, 2003.
7. Helping the Republic of Iraq to obtain forgiveness of its debts and compensation for the wars waged by the former regime.
8. Supporting the Republic of Iraq to obtain positive and preferential trading conditions for Iraq within the global marketplace including accession to the World Trade Organization and most favored nation status with the United States.
Third: The Security Sphere
1. Providing security assurances and commitments to the Republic of Iraq to deter foreign aggression against Iraq that violates its sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, or airspace.
2. Supporting the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to combat all terrorist groups, at the forefront of which is Al-Qaeda, Saddamists, and all other outlaw groups regardless of affiliation, and destroy their logistical networks and their sources of finance, and defeat and uproot them from Iraq. This support will be provided consistent with mechanisms and arrangements to be established in the bilateral cooperation agreements mentioned herein. 3. Supporting the Republic of Iraq in training, equipping, and arming the Iraqi Security Forces to enable them to protect Iraq and all its peoples, and completing the building of its administrative systems, in accordance with the request of the Iraqi government.
The Iraqi Government in confirmation of its resolute rights under existing Security Council resolutions will request to extend the mandate of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter for a final time. As a condition for this request, following the expiration of the above mentioned extension, Iraq's status under Chapter VII and its designation as a threat to international peace and security will end, and Iraq will return to the legal and international standing it enjoyed prior to the issuance of U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 661 (August, 1990), thus enhancing the recognition and confirming the full sovereignty of Iraq over its territories, waters, and airspace, and its control over its forces and the administration of its affairs.
Taking into account the principles discussed above, bilateral negotiations between the Republic of Iraq and the United States shall begin as soon as possible, with the aim to achieve, before July 31, 2008, agreements between the two governments with respect to the political, cultural, economic, and security spheres.
President of the United States of AmericaGeorge W. Bush
Prime Minister of the Republic of IraqNouri Kamel Al-Maliki

Army fails to discharge convicted GI

DRUNKEN DRIVER: Court was told sergeant would leave service in plea deal.
By JAMES HALPIN Published: November 27, 2007
A Fort Wainwright soldier convicted of felony assault after drunkenly plowing through three fences and blinding his passenger in one eye was sentenced Monday to serve only one month in jail as part of a deal he reached with prosecutors.
Sgt. Joseph Zochert, 23, now a convicted felon, will be allowed to remain in the Army despite being legally banned from handling firearms, said District Attorney Adrienne Bachman.
Bachman said she agreed to accept a plea to reduced charges and a lesser sentence because she was told Zochert would be discharged.
"He lost his career; he got a deal," Bachman said. "It seemed like it was an equitable solution."
The discharge never happened and apparently isn't going to, said Zochert's attorney, Jamie McGrady.
"He's going to stay in the Army despite this conviction today," McGrady said.
Judge John Suddock, who accepted the deal Bachman agreed to when she thought Zochert was being discharged, sentenced him to a total of five years in prison, with all but one month suspended.

The permanent Republican majority: Daughter of jailed Democratic governor sees hand of Rove

Larisa AlexandrovnaPublished: Tuesday November 27, 2007
Part two of a Raw Story Investigates series on the architects and the execution of backroom Republican politics
In Part II of the RSI special investigation, The Permanent Republican Majority, the daughter of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman sits down for an exclusive interview about the family’s ordeal and her father’s case.
To fully understand what the Don Siegelman case is about, please see “Part I – The Political Prisoner” of this series.

Abu Dhabi To The Rescue: Country Invests Billions In America's Largest Bank

Citigroup said late Monday that the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority will invest $7.5 billion in the nation's largest bank, offering needed capital to offset big losses from mortgages and other investments.
The cash from the sovereign investment fund of the Gulf Arab state, which has been a beneficiary of this year's surge in oil prices, will be convertible into no more than 4.9 percent of Citigroup Inc.'s equity. Citigroup characterized the investment as passive and said the fund will not be...

Didn't ya know Congress pushed Georgie to war and occupation in Iraq, so says Rove.

Wanna Puke keep reading
Rove: "Congress Pushed Bush to War in Iraq Prematurely"
You are not going to believe this, well, actually you will... According to Karl Rove (on Charlie Rose), the Bush Administration did not want Congress to vote on the Iraq War resolution in the fall of 2002, because they thought it should not be done within the context of an election. Rove, you see, did not think the war vote should be "political".
Moreover, according to Rove, that "premature vote" led to many of the problems that cropped up in the Iraq War. Had Congress not pushed, he says, Bush could have spent more time assembling a coalition, and provided more time to the inspectors.
If you are like me, you have stopped reading/listening, and are rushing to get your anti-emetic.
What's That Sound? Why It's the Further Lowering of the Bar on IraqIn Sunday's New York Times U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker was quoted as saying Iraq is "going to be a long, hard slog."
It should, because here was then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld -- four years and one month ago:
"It will be a long, hard slog."
This thing has been going on for so long, the administration is reusing excuses. But hey, at least the administration can now claim it's no longer hostile to recycling, right?
Even more staggering was the rest of the Times piece, which was part of the administration's quarterly Lowering Of Expectations. It's like clockwork: if there's a piece in the Times quoting unnamed "leaders" in "both capitals" who "continue to hold out hope", an "elated" White House, and mention of "positive signs" all around, you know the seasons have just changed. It's sort of like the solstice, only profoundly depressing.
What else did we learn this time out? That "with American military successes outpacing political gains in Iraq, the Bush administration has lowered its expectation of quickly achieving major steps toward unifying the country..."
Really? So we can all stop holding our breath about "quickly" unifying the country? I'd say the "quickly" ship sailed four years ago. Now it's no longer about quick or not-so-quick, it's about ever or never, as in: will we ever leave Iraq?

Australia ranked world's third most livable nation

November 28, 2007 01:00am
AUSTRALIA is the third most desirable country to live in, according to an annual United Nations report that looks at wealth, life expectancy and educational levels.
Australia came in behind top-ranking Iceland and Norway in second spot.
The top three nations have not changed since last year's report, when Australia was again third but Norway was on top and Iceland second.
AIDS-afflicted sub-Saharan African states occupied the lowest rankings of the UN Human Development Index.
As expected, rich free-market countries dominate the top places.
Behind Iceland, Norway and Australia come Canada and Ireland.
But the US has slipped to 12th, from eighth last year.

Ahmadinejad Offers To Be US Election Observer

He denounces it as the "Great Satan" and frequently dismisses its power, but the overtures of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to the US seem to grow ever more extravagant.
Having failed to win a response with an 18-page letter to President George Bush or to a request to visit the site of the September 11 2001 attack on New York, Ahmadinejad has offered himself as an observer in next year's presidential election.
The proposal came in a speech to volunteers with the Basij, a pro-regime militia. He said he was prompted by a belief that Americans would vote against the current administration in a truly free poll.

Bush Won't Be Sticking Around Mideast Peace Conference

McClatchy Newspapers Warren P. Strobel and David Lightman November 27, 2007 12:05 AM
President Bush, who's largely ignored the risky business of Middle East peacemaking throughout his nearly seven years in office, will take center stage Tuesday at the international peace conference he's hosting in Annapolis, Md.
He won't remain there for long, however. Bush plans to head back to the White House after delivering his opening speech to the diplomats and dignitaries at the U.S. Naval Academy, and while surprises are always possible, White House aides said he wasn't planning to offer new new American proposals to resolve the conflict.
Nor is Bush expected to jump into extended post-Annapolis negotiations or head off to the Middle East to pursue peace in the waning days of his tenure.

Emails Show State Dept Blocking Probe Into Blackwater Iraq Shootings

Blackwater Probe Stifled by Conflicts
RICHARD LARDNER November 26, 2007 05:57 PM EST
WASHINGTON — The State Department's acerbic top auditor wasn't happy when Justice Department officials told one of his aides to leave the room so they could discuss a criminal investigation of Blackwater Worldwide, the contractor protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
The episode reveals the badly strained relationship between Bush administration officials over the probe into whether Blackwater smuggled weapons into Iraq that could have gotten into insurgents' hands.
As a result of the bureaucratic crosscurrents between State's top auditor and Justice, the investigation has been bogged down for months.
A key date was July 11, when Howard Krongard, State's inspector general, sent an e-mail to one of his assistant inspector generals, telling him to "IMMEDIATELY" stop work on the Blackwater investigation. That lead to criticisms by Democrats that Krongard has tried to protect Blackwater and block investigations into contractor-related wrongdoing in Iraq.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Good for you Rudd, first signing Kyoto, now apologising to the Aborigines, Well done

23 hours ago
SYDNEY (AFP) — Australia's prime minister elect Kevin Rudd on Monday pledged his government would make an early formal apology to Aborigines for the "stolen generation" of indigenous children snatched from their parents.
Rudd, 50, who came to power in a general election landslide Saturday, said his would become the first federal administration ever to apologise for the policy.
"It will be early in the parliamentary term," Rudd told reporters in Brisbane after receiving a rock star welcome from screaming school children elated by the centre-left Labor Party leader's election.
"We will frame it in a consultative fashion with communities and that may take some time," he said two days after sweeping conservative Prime Minister John Howard from power.
Howard, like previous Australian leaders, had refused to say sorry to the Aboriginal community for the policy in which children were removed from their families in a bid to force ethnic assimilation between the 1930s and 1970s.
Aborigines have pressed for such an apology, saying it is the only way to recognise historical injustices and abuses they have suffered at white hands and to pave the way forward for the nation's most disadvantaged group.
Thousands of Aboriginal children were taken from their families and put into foster care over the four decades. Some of them never saw their families again.
The Aboriginal community, which dominated the continent until the first British settlers arrived in 1788, now numbers only about 470,000 out of a population of 21 million and is heavily socially disadvantaged.
As Rudd prepares to make good his campaign pledge to say sorry, a leading activist said Monday the country had moved closer to reconciliation with Aborigines with the election of the new government.

White House Releases "Principles" for Permanent Iraqi Presence

White House, Iraq Agree On "Principles" For Permanent US Presence
TPM Muckraker Spencer Ackerman November 26, 2007 02:25 PM
So it begins. After years of obfuscation and denial on the length of the U.S.'s stay in Iraq, the White House and the Maliki government have released a joint declaration of "principles" for "friendship and cooperation." Apparently President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed the declaration during a morning teleconference.
Naturally, the declaration is euphemistic, and doesn't refer explicitly to any U.S. military presence.
Read Whole

11 relatives of Iraqi journalist killed

Nov 26, 2007 11:23 EST
Masked gunmen stormed the family home of a pro-Baath journalist and killed 11 of his relatives, colleagues said Monday, as Shiite legislators denounced a proposal to ease curbs on former members of Saddam Hussein's ruling party, dimming hopes for the U.S.-backed measure aimed at national reconciliation
Dhia al-Kawaz, editor of the Jordan-based Asawat al-Iraq news agency, was in Jordan when his sisters, their husbands and children were reportedly killed in Baghdad. According to the news agency's Web site, witnesses said more than five masked gunmen broke into the home and opened fire, then planted a bomb inside.
"Sectarian militias killed 11 family members of Dhia al-Kawaz," the agency's statement said, apparently referring to Shiite death squads that frequently target minority Sunnis and their supporters.
Mohammed Salman, a colleague of al-Kawaz in the Jordanian capital of Amman, confirmed the attack in the northern neighborhood of Shaab, a Shiite militia stronghold. Al-Kawaz, his wife and children live elsewhere.
Another colleague, who refused to be named because he feared reprisal, said al-Kawaz has received threats for his stance against the U.S. occupation and sectarian strife in Iraq.
That colleague said an SUV without license plates stopped at the gate of the house and threw two bombs on Sunday, killing al-Kawaz' two sisters, their husbands and seven children aged 5 to 10 while they were eating breakfast.
Al-Kawaz, who declined to comment Monday, has rejected the U.S. occupation and accused majority-Shiite Iran of seeking to dominate the Iraqi government.

From the Stephanie Miller show:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Steph read this list this morning on the show. Thanks to Listener Marc in Phoenix for sending this along!
You are a Republican, if you believe..............
1. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals, and Hillary Clinton.
2. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's Daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
3. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
4. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational drug corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.
6. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.
7. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.
8. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
9. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMO's and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.
10. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
11. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
12. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
13. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.
14. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.
15. Supporting "Executive Privilege" for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born (in perpetuity).
16. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of national interest, but what Bush did in the '80's is irrelevant.
17. Support for hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

The permanent Republican majority

The permanent Republican majority:Part one: How a coterie of Republican heavyweights sent a governor to jailLarisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane
Part one of a Raw Story Investigates series on the architects and the execution of backroom Republican politicsFor most Americans, the very concept of political prisoners is remote and exotic, a practice that is associated with third-world dictatorships but is foreign to the American tradition. The idea that a prominent politician -- a former state governor -- could be tried on charges that many observers consider to be trumped-up, convicted in a trial that involved numerous questionable procedures, and then hauled off to prison in shackles immediately upon sentencing would be almost unbelievable.
But there is such a politician: Don Siegelman, Democratic governor of Alabama from 1999 to 2003. Starting just a few weeks after he took office, Siegelman was targeted by an investigation launched by his political opponents and escalated from the state to the federal level by Bush Administration appointees in 2001.
Siegelman was ultimately charged with 32 counts of bribery and other crimes in 2005, just as he began to attempt a political comeback. He was convicted the following year on seven of those charges. Last summer, Siegelman was sentenced to seven years in prison and immediately whisked off to a series of out-of-state jails, not even being allowed to remain free on bond while his appeal was under way.
Shortly before the sentencing, however, suspicions expressed by Alabama observers that there was something "fishy" about the case -- as Scott Horton of Harper's Magazine would later put it -- began to reach the national stage. What initially appeared to be merely a whiff of possible political corruption became something stronger, with allegations that Karl Rove and the Bush Justice Department had been operating behind the scenes. And yet, despite these suspicions and the attempts of a few journalists to bring them to greater notice, Siegelman's case remains virtually unknown to most of America.
As a result, RAW STORY Investigates has decided to focus a series of reports, interviews, and investigative pieces over the next several weeks on Siegelman’s case. At the very least, the investigation will illuminate an incestuous pool of corruption in Alabama, with government officials, lobbyists, attorneys, and even judges behaving in ways that breach the public trust.
Part one: Don Siegelman, political prisoner
Governor Don Siegelman was a popular Democratic politician in a largely Republican state and was the only person in Alabama history to hold all of the state's highest posts. He served as Attorney General, Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor and finally as Governor from 1999 to 2003.
On Election Day in November 2002, when the polls had closed and the votes were being counted, it seemed increasingly apparent that Governor Siegelman had been victorious in his re-election bid against Republican challenger Bob Riley. But then -- just as in the infamous Florida election of 2000 -- something strange happened in the tallying of the votes.
- Click here to see a timeline of the case.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Levin Says Democrats Won't Block Iraq Troop Funding

Source: Bloomberg News
Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said Democrats won't cut funding for U.S. troops in Iraq even as attempts to set a goal for a withdrawal are blocked by Republicans.
``We're going to fund the troops,'' Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said today on the ``Fox News Sunday'' program. ``No one's trying to undercut the military.''
Two Republican supporters of the current strategy in the war, Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona, accused Democrats of ignoring military commanders and the success brought about by the addition of about 30,000 U.S. troops earlier this year.
Democrats on Nov. 16 fell seven votes short of the 60 necessary to move forward with a $50 billion funding measure that would have set goals for removing U.S. troops from Iraq. With President George W. Bush threatening to veto any legislation that would put restrictions on the U.S. presence there, Democratic leaders said they may wait until next year to act on military funding requests. Bush is seeking about $190 billion to pay for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ron Paul Supporters Promise To Terrorize The Skies With Scary, Scary Blimp »

November 25, 2007 01:51 PM
The Ron Paul campaign is gearing up to escalate its battle to destroy the U.S. Constitution in order to save it and to otherwise bugger our imaginations with rampaging insanity by taking the fight to the skies! Pictured, at right, is the Paulites latest atrocity: an artist's concept of what would be the Ron Paul Blimp! The Dread Zeppelin! La dirigible unintelligible! It will float from town to town, and, if the description the Paul supporter behind this idea...
The Feds raid a private coin/certificate manufacturer. Of course this business supports Ron Paul who is getting lots of free advertising. I am not quite sure what crime was committed: the owner of the business was not counterfitting U.S. money - he was just making his own money and private coins...
FBI Raids Liberty Dollar Evansville Indiana 2of3 (Ron Paul)

How can you disagree with these votes when compared to Hillary Clinton?
PATRIOT ACT 1.. RP NO ..........HC YES
PATRIOT ACT 2. .RP NO ..........HC YES.
IRAQ WAR.. .RP NO.........HC YES
WORLD BANK....RP..NO...........HC..YES
NATIONAL ID....RP..NO..........HC..YES
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