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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bush Rejects Another Iraq War Spending Bill

Wonder when America will finally reject Georgie and his criminal Associates.
Fri Dec 28, 7:13 PM ET
CRAWFORD, Texas (AFP) - President George W. Bush clashed again with Congress over the Iraq war Friday, rejecting a US military spending bill on the grounds it would throw up legal obstacles to reconstruction money.
"The aggregate financial impact of these provisions on Iraq would be devastating," Bush said in a memo released by the White House, outlining his reasons for rejecting the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Vermont town seeks to arrest Bush, Cheney for 'war crimes'



President Bush may soon have a new reason to avoid left-leaning Vermont: In one town, activists want him subject to arrest for war crimes.
A group in Brattleboro is petitioning to put an item on a town meeting agenda in March that would make Bush and Vice President Cheney subject to arrest and indictment if they visit the southeastern Vermont community.
"This petition is as radical as the Declaration of Independence, and it draws on that tradition in claiming a universal jurisdiction when governments fail to do what they're supposed to do," said Kurt Daims, 54, a retired machinist leading the drive.
As president, Bush has visited every state except Vermont.
The town meeting, an annual exercise in which residents gather to vote on everything from fire department budgets to municipal policy, requires about 1,000 signatures to place a binding item on the agenda.
The measure asks: "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictment for consideration by other municipalities?"

2007 POISED TO BE the hottest year on record in the Northern Hemisphere.

While drought continues to affect much of south-eastern Australia, how has 2007 shaped up globally compared to other years?
To coincide with the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) release of preliminary global information for 2007 in Bali, the AusSMC has brought together a group of experts who will discuss the latest information in an Australian context.
While 2005 was the world’s 2nd hottest year on record how does 2007 compare to other years? In Australia, 2007 followed an extremely dry and very warm latter half of 2006, what does the preliminary data for 2007 tell us about Australia’s current climate?
This new data will reveal Australia was not alone in experiencing some extreme weather events in 2007 with several records broken in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
2005 and 2006 saw record declines in Arctic sea ice. This latest data will also reveal the latest information on how the Arctic has fared in 2007 and what effect global warming is having on sea levels.
To read the WMO release, click here.
To view the WMO press conference in Bali, click here. (RealPlayer required)

Revealed: Pakistan hosed away scene after Bhutto attack

May have violated law by skipping autopsy
Anger over Bhutto death dispute
PAKISTAN is gripped by division after the burial of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, as her supporters angrily reject a Government explanation of her death.

Friday, December 28, 2007

We Are All Prisoners Now

By Paul Craig Roberts
“They’re locking them up today
They’re throwing away the key
I wonder who it’ll be tomorrow, you or me?”
The Red Telephone (LOVE, 1967)

12/26/07 "ICH" -- - At Christmas time it has been my habit to write a column in remembrance of the many innocent people in prisons whose lives have been stolen by the US criminal justice (sic) system that is as inhumane as it is indifferent to justice. Usually I retell the cases of William Strong and Christophe Gaynor, two men framed in the state of Virginia by prosecutors and judges as wicked and corrupt as any who served Hitler or Stalin.
This year is different. All Americans are now imprisoned in a world of lies and deception created by the Bush Regime and the two complicit parties of Congress, by federal judges too timid or ignorant to recognize a rogue regime running roughshod over the Constitution, by a bought and paid for media that serves as propagandists for a regime of war criminals, and by a public who have forsaken their Founding Fathers.
Americans are also imprisoned by fear, a false fear created by the hoax of “terrorism.” It has turned out that headline terrorist events since 9/11 have been orchestrated by the US government. For example, the alleged terrorist plot to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower was the brainchild of a FBI agent who searched out a few disaffected people to give lip service to the plot devised by the FBI agent. He arrested his victims, whose trial ended in acquittal and mistrial.
Many Europeans regard 9/11 itself as an orchestrated event. Former cabinet members of the British, Canadian and German governments and the Chief of Staff of the Russian Army have publicly expressed their doubts about the official 9/11 story. Recently, a former president of Italy, Francesco Cossiga, said in an interview with the newspaper, Corriere della Sera (November 30, 2007), that “democratic elements in America and Europe, with the Italian center-left in the forefront, now know that the 9/11 attack was planned and executed by the American CIA and Mossad in order to blame the Arab countries, and to persuade the Western powers to undertake military action both in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
It is unclear whether Cossiga was being sarcastic about the opinion of skeptics or merely reporting what people think. I have written to him asking for clarification and will report any reply that I receive. Apparently, the Italian media has not offered a clarification.
Cossiga’s statement has not been reported by a US newspaper or TV channel. Raising doubts among Americans about the government is not a strong point of the corporate media. Americans live in a world of propaganda designed to secure their acquiescence to war crimes, torture, searches and police state measures, military aggression, hegemony and oppression, while portraying Americans (and Israelis) as the salt of the earth who are threatened by Muslims who hate their “freedom and democracy.”

Fallujah, the Information War, and U.S. Propaganda:

The U.S. Army's Intelligence Analysis of the April 2004 Fallujah Attack
By Stephen Soldz
"During the first week of April, insurgents invited a reporter from Al Jazeera, Ahmed Mansour, and his film crew into Fallujah where they filmed scenes of dead babies from the hospital, presumably killed by Coalition air strikes. Comparisons were made to the Palestinian Intifada. Children were shown bespattered with blood; mothers were shown screaming and mourning."
Abruzzese reports for The New York Times, "Top editors at the military newspaper Stars and Stripes are asking for full disclosure of the paper's relationship with a Department of Defense publicity program, called America Supports You, after disclosures that money for the program was funneled through the newspaper."
Bush in Your Bedroom: Top Ten Worst Appointees for Reproductive Rights (so far.)
"On September 11, we saw clearly that evil exists in this world, and that it does not value life ... Now we are engaged in a fight against evil and tyranny to preserve and protect life." - George W. Bush in 2002, linking abortion rights with terrorism, as he declared the 29th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to be "National Sanctity of Human Life Day."
Bush has used his Oval Office years to limit reproductive freedom and stack critical posts with rightwingers bent on rolling back the clock.
And now it appears yet another reactionary Bush appointee is on track to get a lifetime position as a federal judge...
Bush nominated Wyoming lawyer and former state representative Richard Honaker to the US District Court back in March, but the reproductive rights group NARAL believes he may soon get a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Honacker authored a 1991 bill which would have outlawed most abortions, and has said that abortion is "wrong, and no one should have the right to do what is wrong."
If the nomination goes through, Honacker will stay on the bench long after Bush is out of office, and he'll join a growing list of appointees eager to regulate your sexuality.
A Top Ten list, so far.
1. Patricia Funderburk Ware
In 2001, Bush named abstinence-only proponent Patricia Funderburk Ware to be Executive Director of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). Ware's qualifications for the job of promoting "effective prevention of HIV disease" included criticizing condom use and lobbying against HIV/AIDS being in the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Two years later, Ware recommended that a controversial character named Jerry Thacker join the PACHA panel. Thacker has called AIDS a "gay plague" and homosexuality a "deathstyle." Amid public protest, Thacker soon withdrew his nomination and Ware left her PACHA post.
2. Tom Coburn
Bush nominated then-Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to be PACHA co-chair in 2003. Coburn supports mandatory reporting to public authorities of the names of those testing positive for HIV/AIDS.
He favors "the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life."
According to Coburn, the gay community "has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power ... That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That's a gay agenda."
Who else would you want advising the Bush administration on AIDS?
3. David Hager
Hager was one of three religious conservatives that Bush put on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in 2002 and only public outcry prevented him from becoming its chairperson. Critics argued that in his gynecology practice, Hager had refused to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women and had recommended Scripture readings to alleviate headaches and premenstrual syndrome.
A memo which Hager wrote helped persuade the FDA to overrule its own advisory panel in 2004, thus preventing the emergency contraceptive "Plan B" from being made more easily available. Critics assailed the FDA's decision as ignoring scientific evidence, but in Hager's assessment: "Once again, what Satan meant for evil, God turned into good."
A downright criminal side of Hager emerged when his former wife went public with the fact that he had been emotionally, physically and sexually abusive during their 32-year marriage, forcibly sodomizing her on a regular basis. As Hager's ex-wife told The Nation magazine in May 2005, "it was the painful, invasive, totally nonconsensual nature of the [anal] sex that was so horrible."
Hager left the FDA committee soon after The Nation article was published.
4. & 5. Lester Crawford and Norris Alderson
As Acting Commissioner of the FDA, Lester Crawford was notorious for blocking over-the-counter access to emergency contraception (EC).
Democratic senators initially halted Crawford's confirmation to head the FDA, but gave approval in June 2005 after he promised to take action on EC by September 1, 2005. Once sworn in, however, Crawford stalled yet again, despite the FDA Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee's having voted 23 to 4 in favor of making EC available over-the-counter.
Dr. Susan Wood, the well-respected head of the FDA Women's Health Office, soon resigned in protest - and that's when things got really bizarre. Weeks after Wood stepped down, the FDA Women's Health Office sent out a mass email announcing that she would be replaced by Dr. Norris Alderson, who was duly listed on the FDA site as: "Acting Director, Office of Women's Health, Associate Commissioner for Science."
One small problem. Alderson is a veterinarian.
The administration appointed an animal doctor to be in charge of women's health. Speaks volumes, doesn't it?
After predictable outcry, the FDA tried to pretend that Alderson had never been appointed in the first place. Recipients of the initial mass emailing, of course, knew otherwise.
To make things even weirder, Crawford himself suddenly resigned as head of the FDA in September 2005 (just months after having been confirmed), amid allegations of not having properly disclosed his financial holdings to the Senate.
In August 2006, the FDA finally approved making the EC "Plan B" available over-the counter to consumers 18 years and older.
6. John G. Roberts
Progressives balked in September 2005 when Bush put forward far-right extremist John G. Roberts to head the US Supreme Court. In Robert's illustrious career, he had fought against minority voting rights, argued against women's educational rights, and tried to limit the rights of women prisoners. A legal brief Roberts contributed to said that Roe vs. Wade was "wrongly decided and should be overruled."
Roberts became Chief Justice within weeks of his nomination, and as expected, has dragged the Supreme Court to the right. In the past two years, for example, the Roberts' court upheld the constitutionality of a federal anti-abortion law (the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Act) and decreased public school students' rights to free speech.
7. Samuel Alito
In January 2006, the stridently anti-choice Samuel Alito was sworn in to the US Supreme Court. Alito had previously argued that the strip-search of a mother and ten-year old girl without a warrant was constitutional and that women should be required to tell their husbands before getting an abortion.
Alito stated in a 1985 application to be Deputy Assistant Attorney General: "I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion." For good measure, he added, "I am and always have been a conservative."
Alito replaced the moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the nation's high court. The obvious shift to the right caused by the addition of Roberts and Alito led Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to observe: "It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much."
8. Paul Bonicelli
In October 2005, Paul Bonicelli was appointed as Deputy Assistant Administrator for the US international development agency's Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA). Bonicelli's main prior claim to fame was being Dean of Academic Affairs at the fundamentalist Patrick Henry College, where the Student Honor Code mandates: "I will reserve sexual activity for the sanctity of marriage." Patrick Henry College also has a 10-part Statement of Faith which says that hell is a place where "all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."
Bonicelli's current office at DCHA is responsible for: "strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights; promoting more genuine and competitive elections and political processes; increasing development of a politically active civil society; and implementing a more transparent and accountable governance."
In other words, a guy who thinks that non-believers "shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity" has been put in charge of promoting human rights across the world.
9. Eric Keroak
In 2006, Bush tapped Eric Keroack to be Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs at the Health and Human Services Department. Keroack opposes contraception, has described premarital sex as "modern germ warfare," and espouses the bizarre, unscientific belief that casual sex depletes "bonding" hormones. He was previously medical director of a Christian pregnancy counseling service which described contraception as "demeaning to women."
And that's who the Bush administration chose to oversee the distribution of $283 million in family planning funds for the nation.
Keroack resigned in March 2007, after state Medicaid officials began taking action against his private medical practice.
10. Susan Orr
Keroack was replaced by Susan Orr, who had been "Senior Director for Marriage and Families" at the anti-gay, anti-reproductive rights Family Research Council. In her prior career, Orr had opposed the emergency contraception RU-486 and gushed that Bush was "pro-life . in his heart" for withholding funds from international family planning groups which even discussed abortion.
Orr has claimed that contraception is "not a medical necessity." Yet she now is in charge of facilitating access to both contraception and sex education for low-income families across the nation.
While presidential candidate George W. Bush insisted that he would put "competent judges on the bench, people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and will not use the bench to write social policy," his judicial and other appointments have proven otherwise. And these appointees will not leave office when Bush does.
Take Action
1. Oppose the nomination of Richard Honaker
NARAL Pro-Choice America has made it easy for you to urge your Senators not to support a lifetime judgeship for Richard Honaker. Check it out at:

Who Benefits from Bhutto's Killing?

Musharraf, Who else?
With her murder Musharraf has had his chief rival removed and he can resume his authoritarian rule with the Americans off his back. Musharraf has played America brilliantly.

U.S. brokered Bhutto’s return to Pakistan

Secret diplomacy yielded deal seen as only way to save ally against terror
ANALYSISBy Robin Wright and Glenn Kesslerwashingtonpost.comFri., Dec. 28, 2007
For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy — and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan's most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington's key ally in the battle against terrorism.
It was a stunning turnaround for Bhutto, a former prime minister who was forced from power in 1996 amid corruption charges. She was suddenly visiting with top State Department officials, dining with U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and conferring with members of the National Security Council. As President Pervez Musharraf's political future began to unravel this year, Bhutto became the only politician who might help keep him in power.
"The U.S. came to understand that Bhutto was not a threat to stability but was instead the only possible way that we could guarantee stability and keep the presidency of Musharraf intact," said Mark Siegel, who lobbied for Bhutto in Washington and witnessed much of the behind-the-scenes diplomacy.
But the diplomacy that ended abruptly with Bhutto's assassination yesterday was always an enormous gamble, according to current and former U.S. policymakers, intelligence officials and outside analysts. By entering into the legendary "Great Game" of South Asia, the United States also made its goals and allies more vulnerable — in a country where more than 70 percent of the population already looked unfavorably upon Washington.
Bhutto's assassination leaves Pakistan's future — and Musharraf's — in doubt, some experts said. "U.S. policy is in tatters. The administration was relying on Benazir Bhutto's participation in elections to legitimate Musharraf's continued power as president," said Barnett R. Rubin of New York University. "Now Musharraf is finished." >>>cont
Hicks family eyes lucrative deals
DAVID Hicks's family is looking at opportunities to skirt proceeds-of-crime laws, with publishers advising them of loopholes that would allow the confessed terrorism supporter to sell his story.

Sand Blasting: Throwing Grit in the Gears of the Machine

Written by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
It's very good that this week's filibuster by Senator Chris Dodd forced Democratic "leader" Harry Reid to withdraw -- temporarily -- the Cheney-written amnesty for telecom companies who worked with the Bush Regime to blatantly break the laws against spying on Americans in exchange for fat government contracts worth tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money. For the moment, I'll skip the obvious caveats that bristle all around this minor victory, and just make this observation: look how very little it takes to throw some sand in the wheels of the vast authoritarian machine created by Bush and his very willing Democratic partners (and predecessors). All it took to turn aside the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of the amnesty bill was a single senator who refused, this once, to go along for the ride, and the slightest bit of heat on Reid for his deceitful kowtowing to the presidential tyrant.
Yes, the bill will be back. It may well be even more virulent when it returns. And those who supported Dodd -- and Dodd himself -- will doubtless be subjected to savage attack by the Regime's apparatchiks (including backroom backstabbing from embarrassed Democratic "leaders"). An amnesty bill absolving the telecoms' bribe-givers and bootlickers may yet be forced through, taking us even further down the lawless roads.
But even so, that doesn't alter the sand-throwing significance of this episode. It not only shows how little it actually takes to gum up the works for the poltroons -- it also shows, heartbreakingly, how completely supine and complicit the "opposition" has been all these years (including Dodd). Where were the filibusters before now? On the Military Commissions Act, for example, which essentially ended even the semblance of a republic in the country and acknowledged the virtually unlimited power of the "unitary executive" to act as he sees fit? Where were the filibusters and holds and all the other parliamentary maneuvers to stop or delay the nomination of the torture-enabling minion Alberto Gonzales, to take just one of literally hundreds of examples? Where are the "holds" and filibusters on the spending bills for the war crime in Iraq? (Or on the "Authorization to Use Military Force" in the first place, for God's sake?) Where are the impeachment bills? >>>cont

Whited Sepulchre: Huckabee's Hook-Up With Reagan-Bush Crimes

Written by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
If you've not been reading Robert Parry over the years, then you have been robbing yourself of one of the age's great sources of information and insight into how the American system really works.
Parry helped uncover the truly sinister Iran-Contra scam, where the Reagan-Bush administration sent missiles and other war material to the Shiite extremists in Iran, in exchange for loot which they then used to provide guns and terrorist training for the Contra militia in Nicaragua. (While this was going on, Reagan and Bush were also arming and funding Osama bin Laden and his Sunni extremists in Afghanistan, and secretly giving Saddam Hussein copious support for his war against Iran – including supplying him with U.S. military intelligence data to help him target chemical weapons attacks on the Iranians.)
For his services to the truth in exposing the depredations of these blood-dripping thugs, Parry was pushed out of the mainstream media, into the margins where the blazing revelations of the Iran-Contra story were also cast, to flicker out from neglect – and a heavy dousing of whitewash. Instead, the media barons hastened to bury reality by squeezing the story into the usual narrative hauled out by our rulers when their crimes come to light: the whole thing was just a "rogue operation," run by a "loose cannon," Col. Oliver North, without the knowledge of any higher-ups. And anyway, it was all done with the best intentions; good old Ollie might have been a tad too enthusiastic in his righteous zeal for the "freedom fighters" in Nicaragua – the "moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers," as Reagan himself called them – and maybe he forgot to cross a few t's and dot a few i's for the nit-picking pinkos in Congress, but his heart was in the right place, gosh darn it, and that's all that counts.
That was the only story that the corporate media was willing to accept, and any truth – or truth-teller – that conflicted with the script was flushed away. Bill Clinton – who would one day come to be regarded by the Bush family as one of their own – dutifully killed the last vestiges of the Iran-Contra investigation when he became president, quashing it before it reached one of the scam's central figures: his predecessor, George Herbert Walker Bush. (Perhaps this deal was brokered by the man who, curiously enough, was the chief campaign donor to both Clinton and Bush during the 1992 race: the mysterious Arkansas magnate, Jackson Stephens. For more on all this, see A Tale of Two Houses: How the Clintons and Bushes Took Us to Hell.)
Some of the figures involved in Iran-Contra went on to powerful positions in the next Bush Administration. (If we can really divide administrations in this way anymore, with the melding of the House of Bush and the House of Clinton over the years.) These include John Poindexter, convicted of lying to Congress about Iran-Contra, who later laid the foundations of Little Bush's gargantuan domestic spying network, and Elliott Abrams, another convicted liar and covert operator who now oversees American policy in the Middle East. >>>cont

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Blues...

I think last Christmas and this one are the worst I have ever experienced...
I did not celebrate the Eid, and will not be celebrating Christmas either. There is nothing to celebrate.
Thousands of lambs have been slaugthered, and the blood of Jesus has not stopped dripping by the gallons.
I did not even dare call the Christian side of the family and wish them anything.
I just sent a message with "God protect us all."
I know that Christmas is a difficult time for a few people. Different reasons.
Family gatherings are not always pleasurable, they may bring back memories of a family one had always wished was different...Some people don't even have a family to celebrate with. And some have been in grief for what seems like an eternity, and they no longer have the heart for anything, anymore...
I belong to the last category. Not only me, but most of the people I know, at least most of the people that surround my little world.
My little world that has shrunk to the computer and minimal contact with the outside. The mental and physical ghetto like existence...where all the bridges have been burned and where we are all hanging by a thread...
Frankly, even writing this is too difficult for me...my fingers force themselves on that keyboard, only because the words have been knocking wanting to get out...

And the "Show" goes on...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
Conquer, divide, split and fragment. Pit one against the other and one against the same... Yesterday’s foes are today’s friends, and today’s friends are tomorrow’s enemies... And the show goes on... I have been reading extensively about the Sunni Awakening Council, the new Sunni- Kurdish rapprochement, the Sunni–Sunni tensions, the Shia–Shia conflicts... I have also been reading the so-called analyses circulating. A lot of them are bullshit, as usual... They all seem to miss the essential crucial point, the core essence, the crux of the matter and you don’t have to be a wiz in sociology and politics to figure that one out. Namely, that: - in the absence of a functional representative State, - following the dismemberment of all political and civil institutions, - in the wake of over 5 years of a condensed, concentrated, violence that has totally DESTROYED the country, - with a massive exodus and a massive death rate - with a continuous, debilitating, provoked poverty, and an unemployment rate of over 70% and over 50% of the population cannot afford to eat, - with over 100’000 in jails, and a X number of disappeared - with the total destruction of all the infrastructural system – the DELIBERATE destruction. - when basics like water, electricity and fuel are still not available, - when hospitals are non functional, when universities are ransacked and closed, when corruption is contagiously rampant... With all of the above – it is simply not possible to talk of a FAILED STATE, what you need to address is the real issue – a NON-EXISTENT STATE in a country with no boundaries and no more structures...

Lobbyist hired by India on US arms dealers’ payroll

Source: Daily Times/Pakistan
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Indo-US N-deal headed for more political turmoil: Lobbyist hired by India on US arms dealers’ payroll
* Lobbyist employed to influence US lawmakers is on the payroll of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in for yet another major political row over the Indo-US nuclear deal. It has surfaced that a former US ambassador to India, who has been engaged as a star lobbyist to influence US lawmakers, is also on the payroll of two American firms to acquire fat defence orders for them from the Indian government.
The link that has emerged between the 123 Agreement signed in July and a multi-billion dollar fighter aircraft contract floated soon thereafter may become a major embarrassment for the government in power — Robert Blackwill, US ambassador to India during the previous governmentt’s tenure, happens to be associated with both. Legal experts here are surprised that the government has hired a lobbyist in Washington who works for the arms dealers. Blackwill’s firm, Barbour Griffith & Rogers, was hired by India in 2007 on a contract worth over $1.2 million, which has been renewed for 2008.
His firm provides lobbying services for two arms companies — Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The first is vying for a $10 billion contract from the Indian Air Force, for the provision of 126 fighters. Similarly, Northrop Grumman is trying to acquire contracts for supplying high-end radars and other equipment to India..“The government has no business appointing an agent of American arms companies as their own agent, especially when those companies are vying for Indian contracts,” said Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan.
The practice of employing agents in defence deals was banned after the Bofors scandal, which led to the downfall of the Rajiv Gandhi government in the late eighties. Consequently, many Indian arms agents are still facing trials in various courts.

Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2007

10. Myth: The US public no longer sees Iraq as a central issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.
In a recent ABC News/ Washington Post poll, Iraq and the economy were virtually tied among voters nationally, with nearly a quarter of voters in each case saying it was their number one issue. The economy had become more important to them than in previous months (in November only 14% said it was their most pressing concern), but Iraq still rivals it as an issue!

Killed on Christmas Day in Iraq

Another Suicide?
The Pentagon revealed today that a soldier from suburban Detroit died on Christmas Day in Iraq. Sgt. Peter Neesley, 28, was from Grosse Pointe Farms. The military says he died of an undetermined cause in a "noncombat environment" in Baghdad. The military, as usual in these (far too many) cases, says it's investigating the circumstances surrounding his death. As some may know, I have written often about "noncombat" deaths in Iraq for over four years.

Destiny’s daughter

Benazir Bhutto’s life has been a rollercoaster of high political drama, acute personal loss, early triumph followed by downfall and charges of corruption. Ginny Dougary meets her in exile in Dubai, as she plans her return to power in Pakistan >>>cont
PAKISTAN put its paramilitary forces on "red alert" across the country after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto sparked violent protests by her supporters. Read more -->
PAKISTAN put its paramilitary forces on "red alert" across the country after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto sparked violent protests by her supporters.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

There really is a War on Christmas- in Iraq!

Turkana, Daily Kos
...Christianity took root here near the dawn of the faith 2,000 years ago, making Iraq home to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. The country is rich in biblical significance: scholars believe the Garden of Eden described in Genesis was in Iraq; Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees, a city in Iraq; the city of Nineveh that the prophet Jonah visited after being spit out by a giant fish was in Iraq. Both Chaldean Catholics and Assyrian Christians, the country’s largest Christian sects, still pray in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. They have long been a tiny minority amid a sea of Islamic faith. But under Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s million or so Christians for the most part coexisted peacefully with Muslims, both the dominant Sunnis and the majority Shiites. One of the oldest Christian communities in the world, for the most part peacefully coexisting with its Muslim neighbors. And then came Bush (...) For tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians- those lucky enough to have survived the carnage- there will be no Christmas at home, this year. They are the victims of the real war on Christmas, and the man singularly responsible for having launched it and prosecuted it is none other than George W. Bush....

‘Israel has megaton nuclear bombs’

The News
...a Washington-based military think tank has revealed that the Zionist regime has produced nuclear weapons with 'a yield of one megaton’. A new report complied by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) claims Israeli nuclear warheads have both air and sea capabilities. The study, authored by former US Defence Department strategist Anthony Cordesman, disclosed that Israel is currently 'in possession of 200 nuclear warheads’. Megaton nuclear bombs are about twice the size of MK 18, the most powerful US-made fission bomb, which used 60kg of enriched uranium....

CIA Torture and other War Crimes

Philip Giraldi, Huffington Post,
...Looking for war crimes committed by members of the Bush administration is a complicated exercise because there are so many to go around. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo come immediately to mind. The Nuremburg Tribunals at the end of the Second World War defined an aggressive war against another country if that country has not attacked you first or threatened to do so as "essentially an evil thing...to initiate a war of aggression...is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." A number of leading Nazis were executed for their unprovoked attack on Poland....

Growing Number Of Military Families Call Iraq War Mistake

USA Today Gregg Zoroya December 26, 2007 11:17 AM
Close family members of U.S. troops are split on whether the Iraq invasion was a mistake, and 55% disapprove of President Bush's job performance, according to USA TODAY/Gallup Polls focusing on immediate relatives of servicemembers.
"They've maxed out on the troops. You've got guys who are over there on their fourth or fifth tours. It's ridiculous," says Jeanette Knowles, 40, of Mountain Home, Idaho, whose brother, Jeff, served a tour in Iraq with the Oregon National Guard.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Israeli Cluster Bombing Ruled Within the Law

Source: Associated Press
JERUSALEM, Dec. 24 -- Israeli military prosecutors have determined that Israel's use of cluster bombs during last year's war in Lebanon did not violate international humanitarian law, the army said Monday, closing an investigation into a practice that has drawn heavy criticism from the United Nations and international human rights groups.
The investigation determined that Israel's use of the weapons, which open in flight and scatter dozens of bomblets, was a "concrete military necessity." No legal action would be taken against anyone in connection with use of the weapons, it said.
The United Nations and human rights groups have accused Israel of dropping about 4 million cluster bomblets during its 33-day war against the Hezbollah guerrilla movement. As many as 1 million bomblets failed to explode, according to the United Nations and the rights groups, and now endanger civilians. More than 30 people have been killed by cluster-bomb and land-mine explosions in Lebanon since the 2006 summer war.
Amnesty International has harshly criticized Israel for bombing civilian areas and using cluster bombs during the fighting. It also has criticized Hezbollah for firing nearly 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities and towns.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Vote for Endless War:

On Tuesday, December 18, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate combined to give President Bush $70 billion to carry the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into next summer. Only 23 Democrats and one independent supported an amendment by Senator Feingold that would have required the safe redeployment of troops from Iraq. Here are the senators who voted to end the war:
Akaka (D-HI)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
Next summer, when the money runs out, a cutoff of funds will be unimaginable. The election will be too close. So our troops are committed till the end of the president's term; after all the talk, the Democrats have ended by obeying him. This capitulation marks the climax of one of the most extraordinary displays in history of a complex phenomenon: power wielded in the face of popular rejection, and power surrendered in spite of overwhelming public support. A president whose policy was disapproved by more than half of the American people chose to defy a majority whose midterm victory he himself had called "a rout." And the majority, saying they wished things were different, pleading the necessity of 60 rather than 50 votes, but never exacting reprisals or driving a hard bargain against defectors from their own ranks--the majority, again and again, backed down.
This definitive result of the 110th Congress will confirm the popular feeling that George W. Bush believes in his disaster more than the Democrats believe in anything.

Rudd Says Australian Troops to Leave Iraq by June:

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, on an unannounced visit to Iraq, said Australian combat troops will be withdrawn from the nation by the middle of next year, making good on a manifesto commitment that helped him win the election.

All Iraqi groups blame the U.S. invasion for discord :

According to a focus group conducted for the U.S. military last month, Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of "occupying forces" as the key to national reconciliation

Putin: US made big mistake in Iraq :
The Russian president said the Iraqi people, though a small population, are proud, and took the US-UK military occupation as a particular offense to their country, creating problems never seen in that country before.
The truth behind the Surge:
The so-called 'Surge', and its alleged success, are based on two fundamental tactics: the first one is the so-called 'Redirection' which consists of buying off the Sunni resistance, including all those groups who only yesterday were called 'terrorists'; the second new tactic is massive increasing in the use of airpower.
Saudis biggest group of al Qaeda Iraq fighters: study :
Most al Qaeda fighters in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia and Libya and many are university-aged students, said a study released on Wednesday by researchers at the U.S. Army's West Point military academy.

9/11 Truth Manifesto

By Joel S. Hirschhorn
We confront more than power elites. There is psychological resistance of millions of Americans to painful 9/11 truth - a shameful, "unthinkable" truth about their elected government.
Freedom may not be easy for Hicks:
A Melbourne forensic psychiatrist, Professor Paul Mullen, who assessed Hicks at Guantanamo Bay in February 2005, said Hicks would be suffering psychological damage from his severely traumatic experiences. These included being imprisoned in a container in the hot sun in the belief he had been left there to die.
Israel has dispatched an unscheduled delegation of intelligence officials to the U.S. to try to convince it that Iran is still trying to develop nuclear weapons - contrary to the findings of a recent U.S. intelligence report, security officials said.
Israel unveiled plans on Sunday to build hundreds of new homes illegally on occupied land near Jerusalem next year, drawing protests from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the eve of renewed peace talks.

Giuliani: It Would Have Been 'Impossible' To Give 9/11 Firefighters Working Radios »

Think Progress December 24, 2007 09:20 AM
Today on ABC's This Week, host George Stephanopoulos pushed former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani on why the radios for the 9/11 firefighters didn't work. Giuliani dodged the question, claiming that it would have been "impossible" to have given them working radios:
STEPHANOPOULOS: They make two main charges. Number one, that those firefighters in the north tower, many of them lost their lives because their radios didn't work. They also say you ended the recovery efforts too soon.

Bush Admin Ignored Numerous Warnings About Blackwater

Despite Shootings, Security Companies Expanded Presence
By Steve FainaruWashington Post Foreign ServiceMonday, December 24, 2007; A01
The U.S. government disregarded numerous warnings over the past two years about the risks of using Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms in Iraq, expanding their presence even after a series of shooting incidents showed that the firms were operating with little regulation or oversight, according to government officials, private security firms and documents.
The warnings were conveyed in letters and memorandums from defense and legal experts and in high-level discussions between U.S. and Iraqi officials. They reflected growing concern about the lack of control over the tens of thousands of private guards in Iraq, the largest private security force ever employed by the United States in wartime.
Neither the Pentagon nor the State Department took substantive action to regulate private security companies until Blackwater guards opened fire Sept. 16 at a Baghdad traffic circle, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and provoking protests over the role of security contractors in Iraq.

Bush Seeks to Restore Tattered U.S. Image With Heavy '08 Travel

Darn it all America can't you keep the pervert at home.

The World does not need his presence.

The damage he has done in 8 years is astronomical.

Merry Christmas, from Down Under

Many are left to wonder why it is that people who proclaim the United States to be a "Christian nation," can find neither the time nor the inspiration to be morally and vocally outraged when they learn "If you are uninsured, and diagnosed with cancer, you have a 60 percent greater chance of dying from cancer than if you were insured and diagnosed with cancer," said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the cancer society.
The Democrats don't know how to operate like a party; the Republicans do. The Democrats lost the energy bill by one vote because they couldn't get Mary Landrieu, the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate who's going to need every bit of help she can get from the party next year not to lose her seat, to toe the line.
Three Republican operatives, including consultant Allen Raymond, eventually ended up in jail for their involvement in the phone jamming scheme. In his new book, Raymond alleges that the scandal goes "to the top of the Republican Party" because "the Bush White House had complete control of the RNC" and there was no way such a risky tactic wouldn't have been "vetted by" Tobin's "high-ups."


“Nuclear, nuclear, nuclear. The word has been around for decades, and for the longest time, was at the center of American foreign policy and the deepest fears of the American people. Nuclear brinkmanship. Nuclear winter. Nuclear holocaust. Etc. It's a great, big, fat, important, and serious word. Its very existence has changed the face of the planet.” -William Rivers Pitt [truthout.com May 5/06]
As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists jumped the minute hand of their Doomsday Clock forward two minutes to seven minutes to midnight, White House fundamentalists eagerly sought ways to test their new "baby nukes" against real-world targets. Those buried nuclear targets were specifically located in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Ohio’s top election official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, announced Friday that the voting systems that decided the 2004 election in Ohio were rife with “critical security failures.” We speak with Harvey Wasserman, author of “What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election.”
Once-Great,Now-Disgraced American Company Also Facing SEC Probe, Lawsuits,Upcoming 2008 Election Meltdowns.Yesterday,the reason for the inexplicable get-out-of-jail card they received in CO may have become a bit clearer:As it turns out,the Republican Secretary of State who oversaw the new certification testing,Mike Coffman,is running for Congress, and his campaign shares the same consultants as Diebold/Premiere in the state.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Iraq's Shiite-Led Government Vows To Disband US-Backed Sunni Militias

Iraq's Shiite-led government declared Saturday that after restive areas are calmed, it will disband Sunni groups battling Islamic extremists because it does not want them to become a separate military force.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel targets, the military said, in the third confirmed cross-border offensive by Turkish forces in less than a week.

Lawyers Stepping Up

Submitted by davidswanson on Sat, 2007-12-22 17:10. Activism
By Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation
We are lawyers in the United States of America. As such, we have all taken an oath obligating us to defend the Constitution and the rule of law…. We believe the Bush administration has committed numerous offenses against the Constitution and may have violated federal laws…. Moreover, the administration has blatantly defied congressional subpoenas, obstructing constitutional oversight …. Thus, we call on House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to launch hearings into the possibility that crimes have been committed by this administration in violation of the Constitution…. We call for the investigations to go where they must, including into the offices of the President and the Vice President. -- American Lawyers Defending the Constitution
Over one thousand lawyers – including former Governor Mario Cuomo and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein – have signed onto the above statement demanding wide-ranging investigative hearings into unconstitutional and potentially criminal activity by the Bush administration.
In a conference call with reporters yesterday, Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and winner of the 2007 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, said: "The majority of lawyers in this country understand that the Bush administration has really gone off the page of constitutional rights and off the page of fundamental rights, and is willing to push the Congress to restore those rights." Ratner said he was "dismayed" that a Democratic majority has failed "to push on key illegalities… the torture program, and now the destruction of the tapes involving the torture program; the warrantless wiretapping, the denial of habeas corpus, the secret sites/rendition program, special trials, and of course what we now know is the firing of US Attorneys scandal…. The minimal that absolutely is needed to get us back on the page of law is to have serious investigative hearings that go up the chain of command and figure out who is responsible for what."
Ratner noted that even with regard to the US attorney's investigations, where Congressional committees held Harriet Miers, Josh Bolten, and Karl Rove in contempt, leadership has failed to enforce these actions by bringing the resolutions to a vote. "Just announcing that investigations will be held and subpoenas will be issued is terribly insufficient unless Congress is willing to enforce the subpoenas by issuing contempt citations," Ratner said. "Congress has a constitutional duty to oversee the activities of the executive branch and our entire system of government is threatened when Congress simply folds before an obstinate executive. Issuing contempt citations against Bolten, Miers, and Rove should be Congress's first order of business in 2008."
Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild, discussed the administration's torture program violating three US-ratified treaties and the US torture statute; the illegal War in Iraq violating the US-ratified UN Charter as a war of aggression; and Attorney General Michael Mukasey's conflict of interest in overseeing investigations into the torture program and the destruction of the CIA interrogations tapes.
Also speaking with reporters was Jesselyn Raddack, a former Justice Department ethics lawyer who served as an advisor during the interrogation of John Walker Lindh (the "American Taliban"). Raddack said, "My e-mails documented my advice against interrogating Lindh without a lawyer, and concluded that the FBI committed an ethics violation when it did so anyway. Both the CIA videotapes and my e-mails were destroyed, in part, because officials were concerned that they documented controversial interrogation methods that could put agency officials in legal jeopardy…. " Raddack pointed to the Department of Justice's investigations of Enron and Arthur Anderson for obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence, and the need for the same aggressive oversight and legal proceedings in these scandals.
This is a vital effort by those charged with defending our constitution, as Ratner said, "This lawyers' letter and the growing number of signatures we'll have on it, and prominent people – it's a way of saying to Congress, ‘You need some backbone. You need to have a serious investigation, wherever it might go, on these issues that really have taken the United States out of the mainstream of human rights.' It's absolutely critical… We've opened up the door to illegality…. Unless we have accountability on those illegalities, we're going to be facing a very bleak future in which fundamental rights will not really be obeyed."
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