Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Wesley Snipes Acquited Of Tax Fraud, Still Faces Misdemeanor Charges

My, My, My, Georgie seems like Germany is telling you where to shove it.

Germany: US Demand To Increase Afghanistan Deployment "Impertinent"
Germany rejects US demand to increase Afghan deployment
By Tony Paterson in BerlinSaturday, 2 February 2008 A bitter diplomatic row between Germany and the United States deepened yesterday after Berlin flatly rejected demands from Washington that it deploy troops in war-torn southern Afghanistan and angrily dismissed the request as "impertinent" and a "fantastic cheek".
Germany currently has some 3,200 soldiers stationed in comparatively tranquil northern Afghanistan and the capital Kabul as part of the current Nato peacekeeping mission. It has been urged to deploy troops in the south before but has consistently refused. Yesterday however, it became clear that Washington had stepped up pressure on Berlin to commit troops to the south.
The move followed increased Taliban attacks and threats from Canada that it would withdraw its Afghanistan contingent completely unless more Nato troops were sent south. Canada has lost 77 combat troops in the region.
Two US non-governmental studies released this week warned that Afghanistan could once again become a failed state and terrorist haven.
Details of what was described as an "unusually stern" letter written by Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, to Franz Josef Jung, his German counterpart, were leaked to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper yesterday.
The letter described Germany's performance as "disappointing" and asked it to consider a new Afghanistan mandate which would enable its paratroopers and helicopter units to be sent to the south of the country. It said the US wanted German soldiers to help replace an American contingent of 2,200 troops which is to be withdrawn this autumn.
Germany's response was a mixture of outrage and surprise. Initial comments leaked from an unnamed defence ministry source described the Gates' letter as "impertinent", and as a "fantastic cheek". One official accused Mr Gates of trying to inflict "psychological torture" on Germany. >>>cont

Friday, February 01, 2008

Press Release: Act Against Iraq Poverty

Iraq Solidarity Campaign (Baghdad section)
The Baghdad section of the Iraq Solidarity Campaign is calling upon the international anti-occupation movements to mobilise in an act of unity and defiance, against the planned elimination of the Iraqi food rationing system. We are making this call, in response to the outcry by the Iraqi media, which has informed the international community, that the regime of Jalal Talabani, The Dawa Party and SCII, plan to eliminate the food rations by June of 2008, a system which was first put in place under the UN Sanctions and have since helped to save millions of Iraqi’s from starvation. Under the rule of Al Ba’ath Party, the United Nations praised the ration system as being "the world’s largest and most effective relief effort" but since the introduction of the US protected death squads in 2003, the Iraqi peoples welfare has been subjected to corruption, hatred, abuse and a deluded form of vengeance... continua / continued

The Great Credit Unwind of '08

By Mike Whitney
The financial system has been handed over to scam-artists and fraudsters who've created a multi-trillion dollar inverted pyramid of shaky, hyper-inflated, subprime slop that they've sold around the world with the tacit support of the ratings agencies and the US political establishment. (wink, wink) Now that system is about to collapse and there's nothing that the Federal Reserve can do to stop the Great Credit Unwind of '08.

Qaeda controls town in wake of U.S. troops withdrawal

Mohammed Fadhel, Azzaman
Members of al-Qaeda group have retaken a strategic town, some 70 kilometers south of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, members of parliament said.The MPs said Tuz Khormato, a predominantly Shiite town, was now in the hands of 'al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia’, the group’s official appellation. The MPs gave no reason for the unexpected withdrawal of U.S. Marines from the town... continua / continued

This must be Love.

Layla Anwar, Uncensored Arabwomanblues
I am not a politician, am not a poet, nor am I a writer...Am just a survivor. And like every survivor, we seek little things... Sentences here and there. Maybe a poetry line, a piece of music, a work of art, the eyes of a stranger that bring on a sense of familiarity, a memory, a song, an embrace or a heartbeat...A heartbeat and the heart breaks open and says "finally".And the heart breaks open and sighs...or sheds a few silent tears. Let your heart breathe - Open it. I have to keep the lid on most of the time, because am a survivor. Am a survivor of many things I will not share with you. I can't afford to unlock the bolted door. I need to keep going...but occasionally...There is a popular saying that goes - you will never realize how much you love something/someone until you lose it, her, him. This is very true. This is why I believe it is important not to take anyone or anything for granted. Especially, not those you love. And I absolutely love Iraq. I never realized how much I loved Her until I lost Her... continua / continued

British-Iraqi survey confirms one million deaths as a result of US invasion

David Walsh, WSWS
Even as the Bush administration, virtually unchallenged by the Democrats or any significant voices in the media, claims 'success’ in Iraq and makes clear its intention to establish permanent bases there, further polling data has emerged that underscores the dimension of the US war crimes in that country. The British polling agency ORB (Opinion Research Business) issued survey results January 28 that confirm its earlier estimate that more than one million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the American-led invasion and occupation (...) The ORB findings vindicated the study published in the Lancet, the British medical journal, in October 2006, which put the Iraqi death toll then at approximately 655,000... continua / continued

The U.S. military isn't ready for a catastrophic attack on the country,

19 hours ago -
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military isn't ready for a catastrophic attack on the country, and National Guard forces don't have the equipment or training they need for the job, according to a report.
Even fewer Army National Guard units are combat-ready today than were nearly a year ago when the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves determined that 88 percent of the units were not prepared for the fight, the panel says in a new report released Thursday.
The independent commission is charged by Congress to recommend changes in law and policy concerning the Guard and Reserves.
The commission's 400-page report concludes that the nation "does not have sufficient trained, ready forces available" to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons incident, "an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk."
"Right now we don't have the forces we need, we don't have them trained, we don't have the equipment," commission Chairman Arnold Punaro said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Even though there is a lot going on in this area, we need to do a lot more. ... There's a lot of things in the pipeline, but in the world we live in _ you're either ready or you're not."

woz Down Under said:

February 1, 2008 12:24 PM
I'm wondering. Can the president, under all his new laws, simply veto his own impeachment?

Or perhaps issue a signing statement to unimpeach himself. Or to make himself immune to prosecution for anything at all.

Ally McRepuke said:
He could, by suspending the Constitution.
The Constitution explicitly says the House of Representatives will draft the articles of impeachment by a simple majority, and the Senate will approve it by a 2/3 majority.
A means of impeaching the President is built into the Constitution to check the power of a wayward President. The President cannot veto this, without suspending the Constitution.
Three Presidents have been impeached in the House. Andrew Johnson (who succeeded Abe Lincoln) survived by one vote in the Senate. Nixon resigned before the Senate could vote on him. Clinton's impeachment didn't get even a simple majority in the Senate.

U.S. casualties rise in Iraq after falling for 4 months

US military casualties rise in Iraq
WASHINGTON — The U.S. death toll in Iraq increased in January, ending a four-month drop in casualties, and most of the deaths occurred outside Baghdad or the once-restive Anbar province, according to military statistics.
In all, 38 American service members had been reported killed in January by Thursday evening, compared with 23 in December. Of those, 33 died from hostile action, but only nine of them in Baghdad or Anbar.
A total of 3,942 American service members have been killed in Iraq as of Thursday, according to icasualties.org, an independent Web site that tracks the statistics.
U.S. officials in Iraq said the death toll had risen because the military was targeting armed groups that had been driven out of Baghdad and Anbar by the increase in American troops.

Ann Coulter: I'll Campaign For Hillary If McCain Is The Nominee

Mentally Retarded Women Used To Set Off Massive Iraq Attacks

AP KIM GAMEL February 1, 2008 at 01:53 PM
BAGHDAD — Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on Baghdad pet bazaars Friday, Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital last spring.
The chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, said the female bombers had Down syndrome and that the explosives were detonated by remote control _ indicating they may not having been willing attackers in...

Exxon shatters profit records

Oil giant makes corporate history by booking $11.7 billion in quarterly profit; earns $1,300 a second in 2007.
February 1 2008: 10:03 AM EST
Exxon Mobil booked the biggest quarterly and annual profits in U.S. corporate history Friday, helped by higher oil prices. Eye on oilHigh gas prices: Recession-proof Americans may see falling stock markets and employment rates, but worldwide demand and OPEC should keep the heat on oil and gas prices. (more)Oil prices: OPEC's high wire act The cartel struggles to keep oil prices high, but not high enough to kill the economy. Long term, are they investing enough to meet worldwide demand? (more)VideoMore video New combat videogame depicts a world at war over rapidly dwindling crude supplies. But what's the message players walk away with?Play video
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Exxon Mobil made history on Friday by reporting the highest quarterly and annual profits ever for a U.S. company, boosted in large part by soaring crude prices.
Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, said fourth-quarter net income rose 14% to $11.66 billion, or $2.13 per share. That's up from $10.25 billion, or $1.76 per share, in the year-ago period.
That topped Exxon's previous quarterly profit record of $10.7 billion, set in the fourth quarter of 2005, which also was a record for a U.S. corporation.
"Exxon can put out some amazing numbers and this is one of those cases," said Jason Gammel, senior analyst at Macquarie Securities in New York.
Exxon also set an annual profit record by earning $40.61 billion last year - or nearly $1,300 per second in 2007. That exceeded its previous record of $39.5 billion in 2006. In the fourth quarter, revenue rose 29.5% from a year ago to $116.64 billion.

Bush fights move to rein in war contractors

President hints he may ignore anti-fraud provisions in defense bill

Fri., Feb. 1, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawmakers say they will push ahead with a presidential commission designed to root out waste and fraud in military contracts despite President Bush's concerns that it could usurp his authority.
Bush signed into law on Monday a wide-ranging defense bill that includes instructions to create a commission to investigate defense contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is modeled after a similar commission that was headed by Harry Truman in the 1940s to uncover abuse in military contracts during World War II.
Along with his signature, Bush singled out the commission and three other provisions that could "purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the president's ability to carry out his constitutional obligations."
A White House spokeswoman said parts of the contracting provision could be read to require the Justice Department to report whether or not they are prosecuting individuals.
"Under longstanding constitutional principles, the executive branch may protect from disclosure certain sensitive information, including national security information, as well as information about decisions whether to file criminal charges," the spokeswoman, Jeanie Mamo, said late Tuesday. "The signing statement provides notice that the commission's requests for information, if they are too broad, may run afoul of the Constitution."
Such "signing statements" are controversial tools in which the president signs a bill into law but notes portions he may ignore.
Congress rebuffs Bush's moveHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush can't just pick and choose.
"His job, under the Constitution, is to faithfully execute the law — every part of it — and I expect him to do just that," she said.
Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who sponsored the military contracting provision with fellow Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, said Congress intends to move forward with setting up an eight-member commission.
The commission would be bipartisan, with four members appointed by Democratic congressional leaders, two by Republican leaders, one by the president and one by the defense secretary. Panel members would be professionals with expertise in government contracting.
"We don't quite know what the administration intends with this sort of language, but I want all my colleagues to be aware of it and to be aware that it potentially is an infringement on the rights of this legislative body, in effect saying that the president has the authority to ignore a law that is now passed, a law that he has now signed," Webb said on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Bill prohibits permanent bases in IraqIn the signing statement, Bush also reserved the right to ignore expanded whistleblower protections for government contract workers, requirements that U.S. intelligence agencies respond quickly to congressional requests and a prohibition on federal dollars for permanent military bases in Iraq.
U.S. officials have said repeatedly that their policy is not to have permanent bases in Iraq, but anti-war groups reacted quickly to the presidential statement.
"This signing statement raises further suspicions that President Bush seeks to establish a permanent presence in Iraq," said John Isaacs, executive director of Council for a Livable World. "If Bush is allowed to negotiate a treaty with Iraq that binds the United States under international law, the next president will be handcuffed."
Supporters of the contracting commission say that because of the many reports of fraud and mismanagement in wartime contracts since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, contractors need more federal oversight. McCaskill on Tuesday said Bush should welcome the bipartisan effort.
"It would be devastating for any president to stand in the way of true accountability for war profiteering while men and women are losing their lives," she said.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Libyan Detainee Infected with AIDS

Horror at Guantánamo ANDY WORTHINGTON
It really doesn't get any worse than this. Candace Gorman, lawyer for Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi, a Libyan detainee at Guantánamo, reports that her client has been infected with AIDS. Mr. al-Ghizzawi explained to his lawyer in a letter that he was told about his infection by a doctor at Guantánamo, adding that he believes that the infection took place in 2004, when he was given a blood test, which "resulted in alarm amongst the hospital staff," although he was not given any explanation for the alarm at the time.mOn January 28, Candace Gorman filed an emergency motion with the US Supreme Court, asking for the US military to provide urgent medical treatment to Mr. al-Ghizzawi, and also asking for access to her client's medical records. Yesterday morning, however, Chief Justice John Roberts denied the motion...continua / continued

Iraq to scrap subsidized food rations by June

Ali Jawad, Azzaman
The government has decided to end the rationing food program which has staved millions of Iraqis from starvation. The decision, the government said, was in line with the obligations it has made to the World Bank. The food rationing system was started by former leader Saddam Hussein to offset the hardships emanating from U.N. trade sanctions. For nearly 13 years, the program continued without hiccups with the United Nations praising it as the world’s largest and most effective relief effort. But the program run into serious trouble since U.S. troops landed in Baghdad. The volume of rations was slashed several times and food failed to reach many beneficiaries... continua / continued


Again, when am working I have the radio one, an Arabic channel broadcasting from Europe.
And this is the latest. An NGO, could not catch the name, it had "relief" in it, just came out with a report from Iraq.
- 47% of Iraqis live in ABJECT POVERTY.
- 4 MILLION Iraqis are in urgent need of FOOD ASSISTANCE NOW
- 2/3 of Iraqi children have NO ACCESS to DRINKING WATER.
continua / continued
....Today,HRW, issued another report, stating that it is " very concerned" by the gross violations of human rights in Iraq, namely - The SECTARIAN nature of the human rights abuses. - The imprisonment of over a 1000 below legal age children i.e aged 11-17, being held by both the Iraqi and American forces, with NO CHARGES and NO TRIAL. These children have been detained for what seems to be an endless time. The rep for HRW added that they are waiting for those in the 16-17 age range to reach legal age to transfer them to an adult's prison. Reports came out through different NGO's that these kids were tortured, sexually abused, raped, sodomized... They are suspected of helping the "insurgency" against the American occupation forces and the Iraqi government.... continua / continued
OK, it's finally out in your mainstream media. Agence France Press (AFP) finally wrote a piece on the 1 million Iraqis massacred since 2003. Add to that the 1.5 million during 13 years of sanctions and add to that an unknown number of missing persons and add to that 4.5 million in exile or displaced and add to that all those who were tortured, raped, maimed, and crippled by your liberation. Bravo Americans, you won the jackpot. You won over 2.5 million Iraqi corpses. And you may share the 4.5 million in exile or displaced as as bonus. As for the missing persons and the maimed - well that is your joker for your next game. Next time anyone tells me that Americans are a kind, honest, peace loving people, I will spit and vomit these figures in his or her face... continua / continued

Berkeley gives Marines the boot

Source: Oakland Tribune
BERKELEY — Hey-hey, ho-ho, the Marines in Berkeley have got to go.
That's the message from the Berkeley City Council, which voted 8-1 to tell the U.S. Marines that its Shattuck Avenue recruiting station "is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders."
In addition, the council voted to explore enforcing its law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against the Marines because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. And it officially encouraged the women's peace group Code Pink to impede the work of the Marines in the city by protesting in front of the station.
In a separate item, the council voted 8-1 to give Code Pink a designated parking space in front of the recruiting station once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week from noon to 4 p.m.

Shaima, a 29-year-old artist, proudly displays her latest work in progress.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Shaima, a 29-year-old artist, proudly displays her latest work in progress. White streaks stand out against a bright, burnt orange background -- an abstract painting that she says signifies the reality of life in Baghdad for the last five years.
"I am trying to show scattered body parts flying around," she says.
Dressed in a sleek gray shirt and spiked heels, Shaima looks like she belongs at an art gallery in Paris, not a run-down studio with no power in Baghdad.
Her art used to be as lively as her persona, but since the U.S.-led war began, she only expresses tragedy. It's the reality inside her, the death and destruction she has witnessed firsthand.
"Ruins of a city, a memory of a city only," the artist says as she describes what she sees when she looks at the streets of Baghdad. "I only see it full of sorrow -- the city that had such a busy past -- but now it's just a memory."
Shaima could have left Iraq, but she chose to stay out of love for her homeland. She's fighting to keep going, opening a small studio with two friends.
She says her paintings are not meant to be political -- just a reflection of the mood in Baghdad.
"We see the violence daily, the killing, the conflict among the people. It's affected me and my students, especially the students when they see their colleagues kidnapped or killed."
The increase in U.S. troops in Baghdad over the last year has sharply reduced such violence. But the effects of the war on ordinary Iraqis go on and on. They're still haunted by the violence of the past, and almost everyone knows someone -- a family member or friend -- who has been killed or kidnapped.
Almost all of the Baghdad residents who spoke to CNN said the surge has reduced violence, but they also said their capital is barely recognizable. Baghdad is largely chopped into sectarian blocks, each guarded by its own armed force, most supported by the United States. And many Iraqis still don't dare cross sectarian lines.
The power across Baghdad in many neighborhoods only stays on for one to four hours a day, with many residents saying it's worse now than ever before.
At a home in central Baghdad, the mere mention of electricity angers a 65-year-old grandmother named Nawal.
"Don't even get me started about the electricity," she says. "I went yesterday to get gas. I was freezing, shaking, and I hadn't slept. I went to the gas station, and I said just give me 5 liters of gas. They refused and yelled at me to get out." Watch this family's struggles »
She adds, "Why would they say this? I am an old woman. Respect me."
Nawal eventually bought gas from a person who was hawking it for triple the price.
Nearby, her 16-year-old granddaughter, Ahad, speaks with a maturity beyond her years. She has known nothing but war since elementary school.
"Here, there are no guarantees that you will be alive in the future, whether you are old or young," she says.
Huddled on the bed with her two older siblings and her little cousin, Ahad says the war has created a layer of nightmares, each different from the next.
"It's impacted our psychological state," she says. The children's room is kept warm by a space heater running off the family's generator; they only get city power for about an hour a day.
Another family member -- Mohammed, Nawal's son-in-law -- will never shake the memory of four friends who were killed in a two-week period in 2006. "Two, we found hanging from power poles. One was found with three bullets to his head. The other had his eyes gouged out."
Although Mohammed acknowledges that security is getting better, he has no faith that Iraq's current government can do anything to capitalize on the hard-earned military gains.
"This isn't a government," he says, his voice shaking with anger. "It's a mob that came to govern a palace called the Green Zone, and it can't even govern that."
The lack of basic services isn't just impacting Baghdad's households. At the capital's Yarmouk Hospital, Dr. Mohammed, a surgeon, says he has seen improvements in some areas, but he believes the government puts "us last on the list."
The bulk of Baghdad's casualties come through the doors of the hospital's emergency room. These days, he says, they aren't treating as many emergency cases, but the lull in violence hasn't translated into the basic equipment and medicine the hospital needs. Watch health care hopes in Iraq »
And, he adds, it's too soon for the hospital staff to begin to hope that the worst is behind them.
"We always tell our people that you must always be ready for a flare-up in the situation," says Dr. Hakki, the hospital director. He says the problems are being dealt with by the Ministry of Health, but he'd like to see improvements made more quickly.
"I told my friends once that we must all go to heaven -- us Iraqis -- because we have already been to hell," Dr. Mohammed adds.
Back at the art studio, Shaima says she longs for the vibrancy of Baghdad's past, but knows that'll never happen. "Even if it does return, the spirit and the memories of the past have all changed."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mike Soraghan, reporting for The Hill, writes, "Frustrated House Democrats will try to subpoena several Food and Drug Administration officials Tuesday as part of an investigation into whether FDA criminal investigators sought to prosecute a drug company in connection with a flawed drug that killed several people."
Daphne Eviatar, reporting for The American Lawyer, writes: "Increasingly, private contractors who aren't trained to work in battlegrounds are paying the price. But whether their employers will ultimately be held accountable for their own actions will depend on the circumstances, on their lawyers, and in some cases, on the judge."
William Rivers Pitt, writing for Truthout, says: "If Bush's lips are moving, it means he must be lying; so it has been for all those days, and so it was again on Monday evening. Some 75 percent of the citizenry believe this country to be 'on the wrong track,' and since the gomer giving the speech last night is seen as being largely responsible for putting us all on this 'wrong track' to begin with, a vast American majority pretty much didn't give a fig about what he had to say. All that most people cared about was the historic significance of the night itself. It was The Last Bush SOTU Speech Ever."

By Allen L Roland
George W Bush just doesn't get it ~ His last State of the Union speech was the tired ramblings of a lame duck President still in resolute denial while stoking the fires of fear and completely oblivious of the fact that he will go down in history as the most inept and morally corrupt president in our proud nation's history:
How Much Is Senator Lieberman Worth -- To John McCain?
By Laurence A. Toenjes
If Joseph Lieberman can persuade his past supporters to donate even half as much to John McCain as they did to him in 2006 he would merit a handsome reward from McCain. But if the McCain candidacy fails and the Democrats gain just one more member in the Senate, Lieberman will lose his catbird seat in that body and will look more like a lame duck. That will be bad for Joe, bad for AIPAC, but good for America.

Conyers on Impeachment

Conyers Tells Rob Kall: Impeachment Not Off The Table; A You Tube Video

Rob Kall interviews John Conyers-- and uber blogger Matt Stoller video recorded it. Youtube link, transcript included. And Conyers says, on tape, Impeachment is NOT off the table, and more.

An American Builder's Failures in Iraq Are Found to Have Been More Widespread

Published: January 29, 2008
Rebuilding failures by one of the most heavily criticized companies working in Iraq, the American construction giant Parsons, were much more widespread than previously disclosed and touched on nearly every aspect of the company’s operation in the country, according to a report released Monday by a federal oversight agency.

Acquitted terror defendant can't speak publicly about trial

By The Associated Press
MIAMI — A man facing deportation to Haiti despite his acquittal on terrorism conspiracy charges can speak publicly about his immigration situation but not about the underlying criminal case, a federal judge ruled yesterday.
U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard said that Lyglenson Lemorin, 33, is likely to be a defense witness in the retrial of six remaining members of the so-called “Liberty City Seven” and that she wants to prevent publicity about the first case from influencing potential jurors this time.
Jury selection for the retrial began last week. Prosecutors decided to try the remaining six a second time after jurors in the first case could not agree on their guilt or innocence.
“The court has a duty to make sure that the defendants are tried by a fair and impartial jury,” Lenard said at a hearing.
Lemorin’s attorneys say he is seeking to publicize what he considers an injustice: that is, to be found not guilty by a jury of plotting to destroy Chicago’s Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices and yet be put into deportation proceedings based on the same allegations.

Karl Rove Withdraws From Conn. Prep School Commencement Speech After Students Protest

Well what do you know, they finally grew some balls

Guantanamo Detainee Lawyers Endorse Obama

Wonder if there will be any commitment to the occupation of Palistine and its citizens.

Justice Department Accused of Blocking Gonzales Probe

Richard B. Schmitt and Tom Hamburger report for the Los Angeles Times, "The government agency that enforces one of the principal laws aimed at keeping politics out of the civil service has accused the Justice Department of blocking its investigation into alleged politicizing of the department under former Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales."

Blackwater Trying To Run Democrat Out Of Congressional Race

By Bruce Falconer January 28, 2008
"They are guns for hire; No more, no less… Private Armies represent the very things we despise as a people. Servants to the highest bidder with true allegiance to no-one."

Obama, Edwards, Obama Edwards

Can you feel a change coming on.

US mortgage crisis creates ghost town

The streets are empty. Trash rustles down the road past rusted barbecues, abandoned furniture, sagging homes and gardens turned to weed.
This is Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland and a town ravaged by the subprime mortgage crisis roiling the United States.
Faded "for sale" signs sit in front of deserted houses. The residents are gone, either in search of new jobs after the factories shut down, or in shame after being evicted for missing their mortgage payments.
A red, white and blue American flag flies over windows and doors which have been boarded up to keep the drug dealers away.
Thieves have stripped many homes of the plumbing, the doors, the windows, the aluminum siding.
The police station parking lot is full. The officers, who have seen their numbers triple since 2006, are coming back from their rounds. They speak of installing alarms in some of the homes claimed by squatters.
At 9422 Chagrin Street, a hand-scrawled sign attached to a window indicates someone lives there: "Please Used."

Australia Iraq Departure Not Aimed at US:

Australia's new foreign minister said Monday that his government's pledge to pull combat troops out of Iraq will not hurt its relationship with the United States, which he called indispensable to Australian security.

'Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy'

A Documentary Film By John Pilger

Pilger uncovers the shocking complicity of the US and Great Britain governments in the East Timor genocide - the same governments who were willing to go to war with Saddam Hussein for his invasion of Kuwait, but who stood aside as Indonesia broke the exact same UN regulations to rape and pillage East Timor using Western arms.

The Power of Nightmares

Must See Video Documentary

In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now they promise to protect us from nightmares. The most frightening of these is the threat of an international terror network. But just as the dreams were not true, neither are these nightmares.

Kennedys Pass The Torch

Former Spy Chief Confirms US Waterboarded Detainees

Former Spy Chief Confirms US Waterboarded Detainees

Cold war ... the frosty relationship between White House rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was obvious when they came within 30cm of each other today - and managed to totally ignore each other / AP
Barack Obama Respond to Bush's State of The Union

not my president said:

some post SOTU videos at http://www.silencedmajority.blogs.com

To bad it's not for real.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The First Bank Failure of 2008

Source: US News & World Reports
The First Bank Failure of 2008
Bad commercial real estate loans sink a small financial institution in Kansas CityBy Luke Mullins
A tiny bank in Kansas City, Mo., has become the first bank in the country to fail this year—but it's unlikely to be the last.
Federal regulators on Friday shuttered Douglass National Bank, an African-American-owned bank with $59 million in assets that was named in honor of the 19th-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The bank, which has roots stretching back to the 1940s, had struggled of late, losing $1.3 million in 2007 and $4.3 million in 2006.
Although its recent losses were tied to bad commercial real estate loans, not residential mortgages, the bank's problems are nonetheless linked to the global mortgage crisis that has ripped through the financial services industry, says William Michael Cunningham of Creative Investment Research. "It's this secondary and tertiary impact of the crisis in the subprime market that's beginning to impact smaller institutions mainly through consumer spending," Cunningham says.
Douglass is the first bank to fail in 2008 and the fourth since February of last year. Before that, federal regulators hadn't shuttered a bank since June 2004.

5 more soldiers won't be returning home,


They say, if you believe them, and their numbers.

5 US Soldiers Killed In Iraq By Roadside Bomb

American Liberty Teetering on Edge of Abyss

by Paul Craig Roberts
"Your papers please" has long been a phrase associated with Hitler's Gestapo. People without the Third Reich's stamp of approval were hauled off to Nazi Germany's version of Halliburton detention centers.
Today Americans are on the verge of being asked for their papers, although probably without the "please."
Thanks to a government that has turned its back on the U.S. Constitution, Americans now have an unaccountable Department of Homeland Security that is already asserting tyrannical powers over U.S. citizens and state governments. Headed by the neocon fanatic Michael Chertoff, the Orwellian-sounding Department of Homeland Security has mandated a national identity card for Americans, without which Americans may not enter airports or courthouses.
There is no more need for this card than there is for a Department of Homeland Security. Neither are compatible with a free society.
However, Bush, the neocons, Republicans, and Democrats do not want America to any longer be a free society, and they are taking freedom away from us just as they took away the independence of the media.
Free and informed people get in the way of power-mad zealots with agendas.
It is the agendas that are supreme, not the American people, who have less and less say about less and less.
George W. Bush, an elected president, has behaved like a dictator since Sept. 11, 2001. If "our" representatives in Congress care, they haven't done anything about it. Bush has pretty much cut Congress out of the action.
In truth, Congress gave up its lawmaking powers to the executive branch during the New Deal. For three-quarters of a century, the bills passed by Congress have been authorizations for executive branch agencies to make laws in the form of regulations. The executive branch has come to the realization that it doesn't really need Congress. President Bush appends his own "signing statements" to the authorizations from Congress in which the president says what the legislation means. So what is the point of Congress? >>>cont

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Why Jose Padilla's 17-Year Prison Sentence Should Shock and Disgust all Americans

By Andy Worthington
The news that US citizen Jose Padilla has received a prison sentence of 17 years and four months should provoke outrage in the United States, although it is unlikely that there will be much more than a whimper of dissent.

This "Brutal World"

By Paul Craig Roberts

How did Western Civilization get a monopoly on "moral conscience" when it has no morality?

Backlash behind a Veil...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
...Yes, I am very fed up. I am fed up of listening to sermons 24/7 about how women should dress, what they should wear, not wear, how thick your veil should be, how long your dress, coat, colors or black...sick and tired of this shit.Thousands of us women have fought only to see walking tents, clad in black covering their faces come and teach us about our religion.Scrap beyond the surface, beyond the appearances, and you will find out that 75% of these women used to walk around in miniskirts not too long ago. Enough ! But suddenly piety has fallen on them, and now they think they have to teach everyone what religion is all about. They read a couple of free pamphlets and they have become experts. This is not Islam, this is pamphlet Islam. A big difference (...) You are anti-people, anti-women, anti any form of liberation. But the worst part is that you are anti-Muslim. And because I LOVE Islam and what it stands for, I have to keep on denouncing you, your degenerate theories and your intellectual decadence.... continua / continued

Iraq: The forever treaty

With the clock ticking on our "commitments" in Iraq -- the international mandate expires in less than a year -- the Bush administration is left in an interesting position. It could create a plan for a troop withdrawal; instead, the plan being negotiated with the Iraqi government focuses on reasons to stay there, something The New York Times reports is seen by Democrats as a plan that would "bind the next president by locking in Mr. Bush's policies and a long-term military presence." And we're starting to learn about the byzantine tactic being employed to get this done. Senior administration officials will say they're not interested in permanent bases in Iraq. They use terms like "long-term" and "enduring" (U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said as much on Thursday). It's all a matter of slyly edited statements, woven to obscure their true meaning and aim: What's being crafted is a treaty... continua / continued

Secretary Rice, Please Send Rice to Gaza

Mohamed Khodr
Dear Honorable Secretary Condoleezza Rice: For the first time in decades Gazans broke out of the world’s largest prison to experience the minutest of freedom when they tore down a part of the Israeli wall that has imprisoned them and deprived them of the dignity, honor, and humanity of their existence. By the tens of thousands they entered bordering Egyptian towns to buy the most basic of life’s sustenance, like fuel, food and medicines for their sick and injured family members. For the first time they saw family members they’ve not seen for years which has been the plight of Palestinians and Syrians on the Golan Heights. Since the world has ignored their strangulation by Israel they took the initiative to breathe free air, to walk freely without checkpoints, beatings, harassment, and humiliation, to feel the free warmth of the sun on their smiling faces wrinkled by decades of fear, desperation, and stress...



Burning Conscience: Israeli Soldiers Speak Out


Twilight Zone / Born in the shadow of a checkpoint

Gideon Levy, Haaretz

January 26, 2008"You'll never walk alone." It's doubtful that a slogan used by the Israel Defense Forces has been read in such a macabre context. The slogan, in the name of the 92nd Auxiliary Unit, appears on the sign next to the checkpoint that blocks off the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron. True, Kifah Sider did not walk there alone. Her husband and brother-in-law were with her. In fact, she did not exactly walk. Groaning with contractions, she was carried by her husband. The young woman of 23 was in labor.The soldiers held her up at the checkpoint for 20 critical minutes, the family says. In any case, she had to proceed on foot because this neighborhood, where evil stalks - a place ruled by a handful of sometimes-violent settlers who have forced out half the inhabitants - is barred to Palestinian vehicles. Including ambulances that can rush a woman in labor to the hospital in the dead of night. Evildoing resides here. The windows are barred because unruly settler children throw stones. Cars are forbidden entry, and the way home passes through the checkpoint, with the message "You'll never walk alone" on the gate. But the 92nd Auxiliary offered no support that night. Its soldiers only delayed the pregnant woman until her screams finally persuaded them to let her through. On foot, of course. That was 20 minutes too late. It was no longer possible to rush the woman to Aliyah Hospital, a five-minute drive away. Kifah lay on the road, the neighbors brought a mattress, the husband took off his jacket, and in the subzero cold another checkpoint birth took place, delivered by the Israeli occupation. It wasn't the first, it won't be the last. >>>cont

Iraqi Reinforcements Rush to Mosul

Jan 25, 2008 16:54 EST
Shaken by two days of deadly bombings, the government said Friday it would dispatch several thousand more security forces to Mosul in a "decisive" bid to drive al-Qaida in Iraq from its last major stronghold.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave no details on troop strength or when the additional police and soldiers would arrive in Iraq's main northern city. But it added to growing signs that Mosul could represent a pivotal showdown with insurgents chased north by U.S.-led offensives.

Question I am asking is, who will John Edwards give his delegates to?

Victory Speech in South Carolina

Clinton Camp Says Obama Is Now "The Black Candidate"

Following Barack Obama's primary win in South Carolina Saturday, members of the Clinton campaign continued to inject issues of race in the contest. From the Associated Press:
Published: January 27, 2008
IN the wake of George W. Bush, even a miracle might not be enough for the Republicans to hold on to the White House in 2008. But what about two miracles? The new year’s twin resurrections of Bill Clinton and John McCain, should they not evaporate, at last give the G.O.P. a highly plausible route to victory.
Amazingly, neither party seems to fully recognize the contours of the road map. In the Democrats’ case, the full-throttle emergence of Billary, the joint Clinton candidacy, is measured mainly within the narrow confines of the short-term horse race: Do Bill Clinton’s red-faced eruptions and fact-challenged rants enhance or diminish his wife as a woman and a candidate?
Published: January 26, 2008
Joseph P. Riley Jr. has been mayor of this historic and often tense city since the mid-1970s. He’s a Democrat, highly respected and has worked diligently to heal racial wounds that have festered in some cases for hundreds of years.
He has endorsed Barack Obama in today’s Democratic primary. But what struck me during an interview in his quiet office in an exquisitely restored City Hall was not the fact of the endorsement, but the manner in which the mayor expressed it.
He went out of his way to praise the Democratic field, including some of the candidates who have dropped out, like Senators Joseph Biden and Chris Dodd. He talked about his fondness for Bill and Hillary Clinton and said: “It’s tough when you have to choose between friends.”
The mayor’s thoughtful, respectful, generous assessment of the field echoed the tone that had prevailed until recently in the Democratic primary campaign. That welcome tone has been lost, undermined by a deliberate injection of ugliness, and it would be very difficult to make the case that the Clintons have not been primarily to blame.
SENATOR Hillary Clinton has based her campaign on experience — 35 years of it by her count. That must include her eight years in the White House.
Some may debate whether those years count as executive experience. But there can be no doubt that her husband had the presidential experience, fully. He has shown during his wife’s campaign that he is a person of initiative and energy. Does anyone expect him not to use his experience in an energetic way if he re-enters the White House as the first spouse?
Mrs. Clinton claims that her time in that role was an active one. He can hardly be expected to show less involvement when he returns to the scene of his time in power as the resident expert. He is not the kind to be a potted plant in the White House.
Which raises an important matter. Do we really want a plural presidency?

The siege of Gaza has failed

By Haaretz Editorial
While politicians and the media are waiting with bated breath for publication of the Winograd report on the Second Lebanon War, a new situation is taking shape on the Egyptian border that might eventually result in a new investigative committee. The diplomatic and security situation that arose on the Israeli-Egyptian border once the Egypt-Gaza border was flung wide open has apparently not yet penetrated the Israeli consciousness. But it is time to start asking pointed questions about the events of this week instead of about those of July 2006. The border with Egypt was breached in a single moment, with no warning. It is impossible to refrain from asking whether any of our decision makers, or any of those who whisper in their ears, foresaw this scenario and prepared for it. When Vice Premier Haim Ramon boasts of the impressive decision-making process that preceded last fall's military operation in Syria, his words sound bizarre in light of what is happening in the South. While hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are streaming into Egyptian Rafah and Hosni Mubarak is having trouble reestablishing the border, while Hamas has succeeded in ending the siege of Gaza via a well-planned operation and simultaneously won the sympathy of the world, which has forgotten the rain of Qassam rockets on Sderot, Israel is entrenching itself in positions that look outdated.

3 US workers face investigation over Obama e-mail

Allegedly spread discredited rumor
By Bryan Bender
Globe Staff / January 26, 2008
WASHINGTON - Three federal employees are being investigated for unlawful political activities after they allegedly sent an e-mail falsely accusing Barack Obama of being a "radical Muslim," the Globe has learned.
more stories like this
The US Office of Special Counsel - the independent federal agency responsible for enforcing a law banning civil service workers from engaging in political activism while performing their official duties - has launched investigations of two employees at one agency and one employee at another agency. All three are believed to have forwarded the erroneous chain e-mail about Obama from their government e-mail accounts.
Doing so would be a violation of the Hatch Act, a 1939 law designed to help protect career government employees and the government workforce from the influence of partisan politics. The act bans civil servants from taking "any active part" in political campaigns while on the job.
If a special oversight board finds the three employees in violation of the act, punishment could range from suspension from work without pay to termination from their jobs and disqualification from any future government employment.

Obama Online Donations At Rate Of $500,000 Per Hour After SC Win

A Quick Fundraising Spike Online
By Matthew Mosk and Jose Antonio VargasA source inside the Obama campaign says the candidate's web site has seen one of its best hours tonight, raising $525,000 in one hour. A senior aide inside the Obama campaign said the candidate's site saw its "highest peak" tonight in both online donations and traffic, "bigger than after Iowa, bigger than after New Hampshire."
The Obama campaign measures online donations every 15 minutes, and the source said that online money was pouring in at the rate of more than $500,000 per hour.

Caroline Kennedy Endorses Obama
Caroline Kennedy has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama in a Sunday op-ed in the New York Times, the first time she has weighed in on a presidential race since her uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, sought the White House in 1980. --Shailagh Murray ( 8:50 PM ET) -->
More »
To read "A President Like My Father" in full click HERE.

'Liberal Lion' Ted Kennedy To Endorse Obama

Hillary unleashes pit bull Bill

From The Sunday Times
January 27, 2008
The ex-president has rushed to the rescue of his wife, raising fears about how the double act would play out in the White House should Hillary triumphSarah Baxter, Charleston

Brattleboro to vote on arresting Bush, Cheney

January 26, 2008
By Susan Smallheer Herald Staff BRATTLEBORO — Brattleboro residents will vote at town meeting on whether President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be indicted and arrested for war crimes, perjury or obstruction of justice if they ever step foot in Vermont.
The Brattleboro Select Board voted 3-2 Friday to put the controversial item on the Town Meeting Day warning.
According to Town Clerk Annette Cappy, organizers of the Bush-Cheney issue gathered enough signatures, and it was up to the Select Board whether Brattleboro voters would consider the issue in March.
Cappy said residents will get to vote on the matter by paper balloting March 4.

Defunct Spy Satellite Falling From Orbit

Defunct Spy Satellite Falling From Orbit, Could Hit Earth in Late February or MarchThe Associated Press By EILEEN SULLIVAN Associated Press WriterWASHINGTON Jan 26, 2008 (AP)
A large U.S. spy satellite has lost power and propulsion and could hit the Earth in late February or March, government officials said Saturday.
The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it is unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret.
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