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Friday, July 11, 2008

The Bush administration is denying reports in German newspapers that officials expressed opposition to a possible Obama speech at the Brandenberg Gate, TPM reports:
Der Spiegel cited another German press report quoting Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt saying this about the idea: "It would be nice if the German government would focus on strengthening its contacts to us rather than already beginning to look for our successors."
But Kimmitt's spokesperson Brookly McLaughlin . . . says that the quote from Kimmitt was not a reference to the battle over the speech.
"He was meeting with some folks in Germany last week and was asked a question regarding U.S. policy after the election," she continues. "This was before the issue of the Obama speech had even arisen so in no way was it a comment on that."
She adds that Kimmitt didn't say that the German government shouldn't engage with Obama, saying that he merely said "that he hoped the German government would stay engaged with the current administration even as it began outreach to potential

Report: Bush Privately Told Germany He Had Misgivings About Obama Speech

German papers find more evidence that the Bush administration voiced strong opposition to an Obama speech at the Brandenberg Gate.
Ben Smith reports:
Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt told the tabloid Bild -- the biggest paper in the country -- that "it would be nice if the German government would focus on strengthening its contacts to us rather than already beginning to look for our successors."
Also, a few readers wrote in with more precise translations of the word "angeblafft" in that Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung piece, which -- beyond the point previously translated -- said Merkel's foreign policy adviser Christoph Heusgen was "taken to task," "snapped at," or "berated" by a Bush aide.
On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel
expressed unease about a possible Obama speech at the Brandenberg Gate. A spokesman said Merkel felt "great skepticism as to whether it is appropriate" for a U.S. election candidate to speak at "a place with a particular exclusivity, intensity and symbolism."
Der Spiegel reported that Bush administration officials privately told the German government that they don't like the idea:

Rove avoids subpoena by fleeing the country.»

This morning, Karl Rove refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about the politicization of the Justice Department, despite a subpoena. During the hearing, Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) revealed that Rove had not only skipped out of the hearing, but had skipped out of the entire country. Watch it:
Rove fails to appear on subpoeana, leaves country

When ThinkProgress contacted Rove’s lawyer, his office confirmed that Rove was out of the country “on trip scheduled long before the subpoena was sent.” Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) said Rove’s attorney “never mentioned” this trip to the committee. Rove’s bogus claims of executive privilege were rejected by the Committee as “not valid” by a 7-1 vote. The committee gave Rove five days to comply with the subpoena.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


The Hill reports that Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman is considering legislation that would prevent future administrations from having Karl-Rove type advisors:
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who has primary jurisdiction over the executive branch, is considering legislation to eliminate Karl Rove-type advisers in future administrations.
The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hints broadly that such a bill could ban the use of federal funds to finance such a politically partisan office.
"Why should we be using taxpayer dollars to have a person solely in charge of politics in the White House?" Waxman said in an interview. "Can you imagine the reaction if each member of Congress had a campaign person paid for with taxpayer dollars?"
Keep reading here.
Rove has ignored a subpoena from Congress to testify under oath for the second time this year. The
American News Project tracked Rove down to see if they could find out why.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Army medic made famous in Iraq photo dies

Source: AP
PINEHURST, N.C. - A former Army medic made famous by a photograph that showed him carrying an injured Iraqi boy during the first week of the war in March 2003 has died of an apparent overdose, police said.
The photograph of Joseph Patrick Dwyer running to a makeshift military hospital while cradling the boy appeared in newspapers, magazines and television broadcasts worldwide.
Dwyer died late last month at a hospital in Pinehurst, according to the Boles Funeral Home. He was 31.
After the photo was published, Dwyer laughed when a reporter told him of its widespread circulation and tried to deflect focus to his entire unit. His mother, Maureen, said then that the photo embarrassed her son because it singled him out while other soldiers were doing the same thing.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Climate change report like a disaster novel, says Australian minister

Source: The Guardian
Climate change report like a disaster novel, says Australian minister
· Scientists predict 10-fold increase in heatwaves
· Greenhouse gases blamed for half of rainfall decrease
Barbara McMahon in Sydney
The Guardian,
Monday July 7, 2008
A new report by Australia's top scientists predicts that the country will be hit by a 10-fold increase in heat waves and that droughts will almost double in frequency and become more widespread because of climate change.
The scientific projections envisage rainfall continuing to decline in a country that is already one of the hottest and driest in the world. It says that about 50% of the decrease in rainfall in south-western Australia since the 1950s has probably been due to greenhouse gases.
Yesterday, Australia's agriculture minister, Tony Burke, described the report as alarming and said: "Parts of these high-level projections read more like a disaster novel than a scientific report."
The analysis, commissioned by the government as part of a review of public funding to drought-stricken farmers, was published days after another report, by Professor Ross Garnaut, warned that Australia had to adopt a scheme for trading greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 or face the eventual destruction of sites including the Great Barrier Reef, the wetlands of Kakadu and the nation's food bowl, the Murray-Darling Basin.

Obama will accept the Democratic nomination at Denver's Invesco field -- which can hold over 75,000.

It's Official: Obama Will Give Convention Speech At Stadium
"The Democratic Party is nominating a true change candidate this August, and it is only fitting that we make some big changes in how we put on the Convention," DNC Chairman Howard Dean says. "By bringing the last night of the Convention out to the people, we will be able to showcase Barack Obama's positive, people-centered vision for our country in a big way."
"Barack Obama's campaign for change has inspired millions of Americans and brought people into the political process who might never have been involved," said Convention Co-Chair Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. "This change in the Convention program will allow thousands of first-time participants a chance to take part. I can't think of a better Convention finale for our nominee who has made reaching out to voters a hallmark of his campaign."

Ex-Prosecutor Accuses Bush Of Murder In Book

July 7, 2008 08:53 AM
A book arguing that President Bush could be held criminally responsible for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq is thriving despite a near total lack of mainstream media attention, the New York Times reports:
As a Los Angeles county prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi batted a thousand in murder cases: 21 trials, 21 convictions, including the Charles Manson case in 1971.
As an author, Mr. Bugliosi has written three No. 1 best sellers and won three Edgar Allan Poe awards, the top honor for crime writers. More than 30 years ago he co-wrote the best seller "Helter Skelter," about the Manson case.
So Mr. Bugliosi could be forgiven for perhaps thinking that a new book would generate considerable interest, among reviewers and on the broadcast talk-show circuit.
But if he thought that, he would have been mistaken: his latest, a polemic with the provocative title "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder," has risen to best-seller status with nary a peep from the usual outlets that help sell books: cable television and book reviews in major daily newspapers.
Read Bugliosi's case

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Was It Worth It, I Wonder? I Dont Think So

Source: Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO - Pfc. Dawid Pietrek became a U.S. citizen on the day he was laid to rest.
The 24-year-old Marine, who immigrated from Poland, became the seventh immigrant from Illinois and the 116th nationwide to receive U.S. citizenship posthumously while serving in the armed forces.
"There's something very American about Immigration and about these young people who come and serve in the armed forces," said Jonathan Scharfen, a director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and retired Marine.
Pietrek, of Bensenville, was killed June 14 when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. He was buried Tuesday. "He told me several times that everything he's doing over there (in Afghanistan), it's his job, and he was trying to do it in the best way," said his mother Dorota Pietrek, who flew from Poland for the funeral. "He was proud of what he was doing, and I was proud too."
Pietrek and the six other immigrants from Illinois have received citizenship since 2001 when wars began in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They were from the Philippines, Mexico, India, Lithuania and Poland.
Among them was Sgt. Uday Singh, 21, who immigrated from India.


McCain Adviser Plans Casino on the Tigris

Hat tip to Raed Jarrar and to Rick B at Ten Percent:
A 'liaison to the Jewish community' and 'foreign policy adviser' to the McCain campaign was interviewed last February on television in Baghdad about plans for a Las Vegas-style five star hotel and casino smack dab in the middle of the Green Zone in Baghdad. He promises a trickle down effect of wealthy gamblers' losses helping Iraq's poor. He promises Iraqi women jobs as maids in the hotel rooms. He promises Thai and Russian masseuses. He reduces Iraqis to being like Native Americans on reservations.
Actually, casinos are always socially regressive, hurting the poor disproportionately. The Green Zone is like a stone's throw away from Sadrist-dominated Sadr City. Why does he think the religious Shiites will put up with all this? The Iraqi maids will be viewed as violating norms of gender segregation. The other activities would attract . . . sanctions under the sharia. In fact, that wonderful Iraqi constitution that the US Republican Party was so enthusiastic about forbids parliament to pass any law contrary to Islamic canon law. Since gambling is forbidden in the Qur'an, it is unlikely that the Iraqi parliament can legalize it.
The 'foreign policy adviser's' comments are particularly tasteless in light of the actual conditions under which most Iraqis live.
But, well, if McCain does plan to turn Iraq into sort of a big Las Vegas, at least that would explain his odd desire to be there for a hundred years.

FARC leaders were paid millions to free hostages: Swiss radio

Source: Thomsom Financial
PARIS (Thomson Financial) - Leaders of the Colombian FARC rebel movement were paid millions of dollars to free Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages, Swiss radio said on Friday, quoting "a reliable source".
The 15 hostages released on Wednesday by the Colombian army "were in reality ransomed for a high price, and the whole operation afterwards was a set-up," the radio's French-language channel said.
Saying the United States, which had three of its citizens among those freed, was behind the deal, it put the price of the ransom at some $20 million.
The radio said its source was "close to the events, reliable and tested many times in recent years."
The report added said the wife of one of the hostages' guards was the go-between, having been arrested by the Colombian army. She was released to return to the guerrillas, where she persuaded her husband to change sides.
Switzerland, along with France and Spain, has been mediating with the FARC on behalf of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.


5 Years Ago Today: Fateful 'NYT' Op-Ed Kicked off Plame Outing and 'CIA Leak Case'

Source: Editor&Publisher
NEW YORK So much has been said and written about the outing of former CIA operative Valerie Plame -- and the cast of characters that swirled around it, from Judith Miller to Karl Rove -- that today, on the fifth anniversary of how it all began, it seems proper to quote the first lines of the fateful Joseph C. Wilson IV op-ed in the July 6, 2003 edition of The New York Times:
"Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq? Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." Remember its title? "What I Didn't Find in Africa."...
The following day the Bush administration admitted that accusations included in the president's 2003 State of the Union address had turned out to be inaccurate....Within another day, Powell's assistant Richard Armitage had provided the first -- but by no means last -- leak to columnist Robert Novak about Wilson's wife Valerie Plame and the CIA. On July 14, 2003, Novak identified "Wilson's wife" publicly as "an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction" named "Valerie Plame" in his syndicated column. This effectively ended her CIA career....
Two days after that, David Corn at The Nation suggested that the leak was a crime....
Of course, as we learned much later, Cheney's aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby had learned about the Wilson/Plame connection the previous month and had already blabbed about it with numerous officials and journalists such as Judy Miller and Matt Cooper. He talked to Miller about Plame as early as June 23, 2003. He mentioned her to White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on July 7, 2003. (Libby would claim that he first heard about Plame from Tim Russert three days after that.) Then Libby chatted about Plame with Karl Rove on July 11, 2003.
And the rest is legal, and political, history....

'Smoking gun' 9/11 mystery 'solved'?
NIST prepares to release long-awaited report on collapse of WTC 7.

Declassified records show 'permission' to machine-gun 3,500 political prisoners.

Well He Certainly Got His Wish, Didn't He?

In a 1998 interview, Osama bin Laden — the terrorist organizer of 9/11 who still roams free — listed as one of his many grievances against the U.S. that Americans “have stolen $36 trillion from Muslims” by purchasing oil from Persian Gulf countries at low prices. The real price of a barrel of oil should be $144, bin Laden demanded.
Ten years ago today, the price of a barrel of oil
was just $11. Heading into this holiday weekend, the price of a barrel of oil rested at $144 — a thirteen-fold increase.
One month after 9/11, the New York Times wrote of
possible “nightmare” scenarios that would deliver bin Laden’s goal. Neela Banerjee warned that among the “misguided decisions” that would put oil supplies at risk would be “that the United States attacks Iraq.” The Times included this quote in its story:
“If bin Laden takes over and becomes king of Saudi Arabia, he’d turn off the tap,” said Roger Diwan, a managing director of the Petroleum Finance Company, a consulting firm in Washington. “He said at one point that he wants oil to be $144 a barrel” — about six times what it sells for now.
Bin Laden didn’t have to become king of Saudi Arabia to achieve his goal; in fact, Bush’s policies delivered it for him. The Bush administration’s catastrophic decision to invade Iraq, sink the nation into debt to pay for that war, and consequently, weaken the dollar have all
caused oil prices to soar astronomically.
Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last May, Anne Korin, the co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security,
reminded Congress about bin Laden’s goal:
[A]bout ten years ago, Osama bin Laden stated that his target price for oil is $144 a barrel and that the American people, who allegedly robbed the Muslim people of their oil, owe each Muslim man, woman, and child $30,000 in back payments. At the time, $144 a barrel seemed farfetched to most. […]
I would like to impress upon this Committee that $144 a barrel oil will be perceived as a victory for the Jihadist movement and a reaffirmation that the economic warfare component of its campaign against the West is a resounding success. There is no need to elaborate on the implications of such a victory in terms of loss of U.S. prestige and our ability to prevail in the Long War of the 21st century.
Indeed, ten years later, a mission accomplished for bin Laden.
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