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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thus Sprach Barack: Pouring Acid on Gaza's Wounds

Chris Floyd
Yesterday, we wrote of our eager anticipation of Barack Obama's long-suppressed opinion on the mass slaughter in Gaza. As we all know, the most eloquent, forthright and morally concerned orator of the age kept a demure silence on this subject for weeks, because, he said, "we have only one president at a time," who alone should speak about foreign policy. Of course, that didn't keep the morally concerned orator from speaking freely on almost every other aspect of foreign policy -- Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. But consistency, as they say, is the hobgoblin of small minds, and the brain of the new president -- who has set the world aflame with rhetoric that has never been heard in Washington before, soaring phrases of penetrating uniqueness about freedom, hope, peace, and the enduring greatness of the American people -- is famously large. Anyway, we have waited, and at last Obama has spoken. Here's what he had to say today, while welcoming Hillary Clinton to the State Department and appointing Establishment grandee George Mitchell as his special envoy to the Middle East: Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel's security... continua / continued
We return to the heart-wrenching tale of Amer Shurrab, who lost two of his brothers on the same day in an Israeli attack in Gaza. Amer is a Palestinian from Khan Yunis living in the United States. He recently graduated from Middlebury College. On Friday, his father and two brothers were fleeing their village when their vehicle came under Israeli fire. Twenty-eight-year-old Kassab died in a hail of bullets trying to flee the vehicle. Eighteen-year-old Ibrahim survived the initial attack, but Israeli troops refused to allow an ambulance to reach them until twenty hours later...

In Pictures: Gaza in ruins

As Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters hold fire in Gaza, civilians are trying to return home. But what many Palestinians find are rubble and devastation... About 100,000 Gazans lost their homes in the three-week war ...

Out of the rubble

Mouin Rabbani
...There is no longer anything Abbas can say or do to remain in power. The only relevant question is if he will jump before he is pushed – with the coup de grace almost certain to come from within the Fatah movement or the ranks of the public rather than Islamist circles. No less importantly, there is now also nothing his sponsors and allies can do to save his skin. Utterly cynical initiatives like that by the Europeans promising aid to a national unity government – which, when formed in 2007, served as a pretext for them to continue to boycott the PA – will achieve nothing. Bribes, threats, even wars or peace conferences can no longer prevent the emergence of a new Palestinian national movement. We do not yet know its shape, nor how it will emerge. At this point the only certainty is that unless it can more authentically represent the will and aspirations of its people – by challenging rather than accommodating the status quo – and thereby make more effective progress toward basic objectives, it will not last long...
continua / continued

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama Tells GOP: "You Can't Just Listen To Rush Limbaugh And Get Things Done"

Hell Yeah about friking time, someone told the Wankers the truth for a change
WASHINGTON -- President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.
"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.
One White House official confirmed the comment but said he was simply trying to make a larger point about bipartisan efforts.

Palestinian children described how their parents had been "executed" by Israeli troops.

By Murray WardropRawya Borno, a Jordanian doctor, said civilians, including children, were rounded up and killed by Israeli troops.

Right On

By Robert Fisk
There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he's the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the "full partnership"
John McQuaid, 01.22.2009
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist on Science and the Environment
Obama (correctly, I think) sees the press representing two things that are clear obstacles to his ambitious plans: official Washington and a trivia-obsessed media culture.

Change Gaza Can Believe In

by Tony Karon and Tom Engelhardt
Yes, we now know the ever grimmer statistics: more than 1,400 dead Gazans (and rising as bodies are dug out of the rubble); 5,500 wounded; hundreds of children killed; 4,000 to 5,000 homes destroyed and 20,000 damaged – 14% of all buildings in Gaza; 50,000 or more homeless; 400,000 without water; 50 U.N. facilities, 21 medical facilities, 1,500 factories and workshops, and 20 mosques reportedly damaged or destroyed; the smashed schools and university structures; the obliterated government buildings; the estimated almost two billion dollars in damage; all taking place on a blockaded strip of land 25 miles long and 4 to 7.5 miles wide that is home to a staggering 1.4 million people.
On the other side in Israel, there are a number of damaged buildings and 13 dead, including three civilians and three soldiers killed in a friendly-fire incident. But amid this welter of horrific numbers, here was the one that caught my eye – and a quote went with it: Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of staff of the Israeli Army, told Parliament on January 12th, "We have achieved a lot in hitting Hamas and its infrastructure, its rule and its armed wing, but there is still work ahead."
Work? The "work" already done evidently included a figure he cited: more than 2,300 air strikes launched by the Israelis with the offensive against Hamas still having days to go. Think about that: in a heavily populated, heavily urbanized, 25-mile-long strip of land, 2,300 air strikes, including an initial surprise attack "in which 88 aircraft simultaneously struck 100 preplanned targets within a record span of 220 seconds." Many of these strikes were delivered by Israel's 226 U.S.-supplied F-16s or its U.S.-made Apache helicopters.
In addition, the Israelis evidently repeatedly used a new U.S. smart bomb, capable of penetrating three feet of steel-reinforced concrete, the bunker-busting 250-pound class GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb. (The first group of up to 1,000 of these that the U.S. Congress authorized Israel to buy only arrived in early December.) In use as well, the one-ton Mk84 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and a 500-pound version of the same. These are major weapons systems. Evidently dropped as well were "Dime (dense inert metal explosive) bombs designed to produce an intense explosion in a small space. The bombs," reported Raymond Whitaker of the British Independent, "are packed with tungsten powder, which has the effect of shrapnel but often dissolves in human tissue, making it difficult to discover the cause of injuries."

The Israelis say is evidence that on many occasions when civilians were killed their troops had been responding to incoming fire.
There are reports of the neighbourhood where the family lived, known as Ezbat Abed Rabbu, had been used by militant fighters in the past. During an incursion in the spring of 2008 the Israelis took over Khalid's house for two days.
But Khalid insists he is not Hamas, he is not a fighter. He said he worked for the Palestinian Authority and is a member of Fatah, Hamas's political rivals.
"There were no fighters here," he added, picking up crisp bags printed with Hebrew lettering that the soldiers seemed to have left behind. "Do you think soldiers eat crisps sitting on their tanks when there is incoming fire?"
Samar's father and her uncle have not spoken to each other since she left Gaza for treatment in Egypt, yet in separate interviews they told us the three girls were outside the house, in plain view, when they were shot.
We toured the part of Jabaliya where the Abed Rabbus lived. In an area that must cover at least a square mile, there are no houses left - no mosques, no factories and no orchards. The entire neighbourhood has been devastated.
It may be true that fighters were hiding in the alleys of Jabaliya. It is possible that rockets were being fired from here towards Israel.
But for the people who lived here, this is a story of wanton destruction. The world must now decide whether the Israeli action here was justified under the rules of war.

'A Lot of the Gaza Story Is Being Left Out'
by Miren Gutierrez
ROME - The war of words continues in Gaza, in spite of the ceasefire. Nancy Snow, propaganda expert, talks to IPS about information spin strategies and whether we, the public, have learned any lessons from Iraq.Snow is a writer and a Huffington Post blogger. Her latest book is Persuader-in-Chief, about public diplomacy and persuasion in the Age of Obama. She is also Associate Professor at the Newhouse School of Communications, Syracuse University.
IPS: The Israeli propaganda effort is being directed to justify their attack. The sight of Hamas rockets streaking into Israel has been helpful in this respect. But do you think Israel's effort has achieved anything?

Captive Nation

How Gaza became a Palestinian prison
By Avi Shlaim
The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On June 2, 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders.” I used to think that this judgment was too harsh, but Israel’s assault on Gaza and the Bush administration’s complicity have reopened the question.
I served loyally in the Israeli army in the 1960s and have never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the 1967 War had little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic, and military control over the Palestinian territories.
With a population of refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza’s prospects were never bright. Yet this is not an instance of economic underdevelopment but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into hewers of wood and the drawers of water—a source of cheap labor and a captive market for Israeli goods. Local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination and establish the economic underpinnings essential for independence.
By John J. Mearsheimer
Wrecking Gaza won’t make Israel more secure.
By Glenn Greenwald
Israel acts, Congress applauds.

Pak warns US, says will review options if Obama not patient

Source: Times of India
WASHINGTON/NEW DELHI: President Barack Obama's Day One in office turned out to be more than eventful for South Asia, and Pakistan in particular.
Obama made it clear to Pakistan on Wednesday that there were no free lunches US non-military aid to it would go up, but all of it depends on its performance in the fight against terror.
Even as New Delhi paused to analyse this new message contained in Obama's policy agenda, a rattled Pakistan hit back by warning the US that "if the Obama administration didn't adopt a positive policy" towards it, Islamabad would "review all options", which was seen as a thinly-guarded threat to pull out of the fight against Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan.
Obama's strong view on Pakistan's less-than-honest approach towards terrorists both within its boundaries and outside is not unknown. In his campaign speeches, he had said that the US must be willing to strike al-Qaida targets inside Pakistan if Islamabad didn't act against them. The threat in the policy agenda is a follow-up to this.
The message was not lost on Islamabad. Pakistan's ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani told Geo TV, "Pakistan hopes that Obama will be more patient while dealing with Pakistan. We will review all options if Obama does not adopt a positive policy towards us. Bush was more inclined to Pakistan. Obama should hear us out. He must pay attention to other factors in the region."

Obama Picks Critic of Warrantless Wiretapping for Slot at Justice Dept.

Source: New York Times
President Obama announced the nomination on Thursday of a former government lawyer, who had been critical of the legal rationale for the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, to lead the Justice Department’s national security division.
The lawyer, David Kris, served as a senior Justice Department official in both the Clinton and Bush administrations from 2000 to 2003, and is widely respected in Washington for his knowledge of intelligence law. He is deputy counsel for Time Warner Inc. and adjunct law professor at Georgetown University, and he worked on the Obama transition team at the Justice Department.
The selection offers yet another indication of sharp changes in policy at the Justice Department by the incoming leadership.
In late 2005, following the public disclosure of the N.S.A. wiretapping program approved by President Bush, Mr. Kris wrote a 23-page legal analysis that described as “weak’’ and likely unsupportable some of the Bush administration’s key legal arguments in justifying the program.
And when he was still at the Justice Department, he advised his boss, who was at the time Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, not to sign a mysterious batch of wiretapping warrants — which grew out of the program — because intelligence officials would not reveal how the information in the wiretaps was obtained.
If he is confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Kris will not only oversee intelligence and national security law but may also be responsible for assessing how and whether detainees now held at Guantanamo Bay can be tried in American criminal courts.

Obama slams companies for squandering bailout funds

Source: CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama had harsh words Friday for
companies that have engaged in lavish, frivolous spending while receiving
taxpayer dollars from the $700 billion federal bailout package.
During a White House meeting with the joint congressional leadership, the
president said he had seen reports “over the last couple of days about
companies (receiving) taxpayer assistance (and) then going out and renovating
bathrooms or offices or in other ways not managing those dollars
Moving forward, the president said, it would be necessary to pass reforms
ensuring the kind of “oversight, transparency, accountability that’s going to
be required in order for the American people to confidence in what we’re

Former U.S. President George W. Bush's administration had left a "sickening legacy" in the Middle East

LONDON (Reuters) - A member of Saudi Arabia's royal family warned U.S. President Barack Obama Friday the Middle East peace process and U.S.-Saudi ties were at risk unless Washington changed tack on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel had come close to "killing the prospect of peace" with its offensive in Gaza, Prince Turki al-Faisal wrote in an article published on the Financial Times's website.
"Unless the new U.S. administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the U.S.-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk," said Turki, a former Saudi intelligence chief and former ambassador to the United States and Britain.
About 1,300 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed and 5,000 wounded during the 22-day offensive, which ended with a ceasefire Sunday.
Israel said the campaign was designed to root out Hamas militants who fired rockets into the Jewish state. Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians, hit by cross-border rocket fire, were killed.
Obama, sworn in as president Tuesday, named former Senator George Mitchell Thursday as an envoy with the brief to try and jump-start moribund Arab-Israeli peace talks.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush's administration had left a "sickening legacy" in the Middle East, Turki wrote, singling out the Iraq war.
The Bush administration had also contributed to the "slaughter of innocents" in Gaza, said Turki, who currently holds no official government position in the world's top crude oil exporter.
"If the U.S. wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact -- especially its 'special relationship' with Saudi Arabia -- it will have to drastically revise its policies vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine," Turki wrote. He said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had written to Saudi King Abdullah last week urging Saudi Arabia to lead a "jihad," or holy war, against Israel.
This call for jihad would, if pursued, create "unprecedented chaos and bloodshed" in the region, said Turki. Continued...

US to carry out first human stem cell trials

US biotech firm Geron Corp. announced on Friday it had been cleared to carry out the first human trials using embryonic stem cells, testing the therapy on patients paralysed by spinal-cord injury.
The Menlo Park, California firm said in a statement that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had cleared it for the first phase of trials of a novel therapy called GRNOPC1.
Embryonic stem cells are highly versatile, primitive cells capable of developing into any tissue of the body.
The goal is to inject cells into the spines of paralysed volunteers in the hope that this will prompt damaged nerve cells to regrow, enabling the patients to eventually recover feeling and movement.
"The clearance enables Geron to move forward with the world's first study of a human embryonic stem cell based therapy in man," Geron said.
The company hailed the step as "the beginning of what is potentially a new chapter in medical therapeutics."
There was no immediate confirmation of Geron's announcement on the FDA website early Friday.
Stem cells are a source of huge interest in medical research.
Supporters point to the vision of material that can be grown in a lab dish and then transplanted, regenerating tissues destroyed by disease, accident or war.
Published: January 23 2009 08:13 Last updated: January 23 2009 08:13
US regulators have approved the first use of embryonic stem cells in humans.
The move raises the prospect of a groundbreaking approach to medical treatment that had been blocked since 2001 by George W. Bush as president. Just two days after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, who opposed his predecessor’s ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, the Food & Drug Administration authorised Geron, a US biotech company, to begin clinical trials for patients with severe spinal cord injuries.
Thomas Okarma, president and chief executive of Geron said: “This is the dawn of a new era. This goes beyond pills and scalpels to achieve a new level of healing.” He said there could be setbacks. Geron would need to recruit at least eight patients, and follow their progress for at least a year but “if we can turn a quadriplegic into someone who can walk with a cane, this will go fast-track like lightning”.

Visitors may soon be allowed back inside Lady Liberty's crown.

Visitors to Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty will once again be able to climb the 354 steps from the base of the Statue of Liberty to the iconic crown that overlooks New York Harbor, the Obama administration is expected to announce Friday.
After Sept. 11, access to the crown was closed as a security measure, along with the rest of the Statue and Liberty Island.

Army report released to newspaper says Smith College graduate shot herself in Iraq

A U.S. Army investigation has concluded that Capt. Roselle M. Hoffmaster, a 2000 graduate of Smith College in Northampton, took her own life by shooting herself in the head while alone in her room in Iraq. The voluminous report was released to The Republican this week, 16 months after the Army announced that the 32-year-old Hoffmaster, an Army surgeon, had died while on deployment in Kirkuk on Sept. 20, 2007. The investigation includes numerous interviews with military colleagues and family members, many of whom attested to Hoffmaster's positive attitude and expressed disbelief that she would commit suicide. As the report describes it, Hoffmaster was found dead on her cot by one of her roommates, the M9 Beretta pistol that delivered the fatal shot still in her hand. The highly redacted report deleted the names of virtually everyone involved in the investigation, but several witnesses said that Hoffmaster had broken down in tears previously that day after being berated by a supervisor for failing to carry out one of her medical duties.

"Dream Ticket"

Obama Ready To Cut Afghan Prez Karzai Adrift
Barack Obama's arrival in the White House and the wind of change sweeping through Washington could lead to the ousting from power of Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, The Independent has learnt.
International support for Mr Karzai, who was once the darling of the West, has waned spectacularly, amid worsening violence, endemic corruption and weak leadership. But until very recently, diplomats insisted there were no viable alternatives even as fighting has intensified and the Taliban insurgency in the south has grown. But four key figures believed to be challenging Mr Karzai have arrived in Washington for meetings with Obama administration officials this week. There is now talk of a "dream ticket" that would see the main challengers run together to unite the country's various ethnic groups and wrest control away from Mr Karzai.
"The Americans aren't going to determine the outcome of the election, but they could suggest to people they put their differences aside and form a dream ticket," said a senior US analyst in Kabul.
Mr Obama has already started getting to grips with the challenge of Afghanistan; he received a briefing on the coming American troop "surge" from General David Petraeus on Wednesday, his first full day in the Oval Office. Last night, Mr Obama appointed the veteran US diplomat, Richard Holbrooke, as his new special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

Thursday, January 22, 2009

UK Jewish MP: Israel acting like Nazis in Gaza

Gerald Kaufman, the veteran Labour MP, yesterday compared the actions of Israeli troops in Gaza to the Nazis who forced his family to flee Poland.
During a Commons debate on the fighting in Gaza, he urged the government to impose an arms embargo on Israel.
Sir Gerald, who was brought up as an orthodox Jew and Zionist, said: "My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town a German soldier shot her dead in her bed.
"My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploits the continuing guilt from gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians."
He said the claim that many of the Palestinian victims were militants "was the reply of the Nazi" and added: "I suppose the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants."
He accused the Israeli government of seeking "conquest" and added: "
They are not simply war criminals, they are fools."

Gaza doctor's tragedy caught on Israeli TV - 17 Jan 09

Who and what is Hamas?
Eric Margolis: Hamas is more of a threat to corrupt Arab regimes than to Israel

The man was immediately arrested on the scene for aggravated assault.
Obama nom. gets by, 18-5;

Caroline Kennedy pulls Sen. bid, cites 'personal reasons.'

Where was Libby pardon?

George W. Bush was widely expected to grant a large number of pardons during his final days in office, but almost none were forthcoming. The non-pardon of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for his role in revealing the identity of former CIA officer Valerie Plame may prove to be be the most controversial of these omissions -- at least if former Vice President Dick Cheney and his supporters have anything to say in the matter.
According to conservative columnist and Cheney biographer Stephen F. Hayes, writing in the Weekly Standard, "Bush's decision not to pardon Libby has angered many of the president's strongest defenders. One Libby sympathizer, a longtime defender of Bush, told friends she was 'disgusted' by the president. Another described Bush as 'dishonorable' and a third suggested that refusing to pardon Libby was akin to leaving a soldier on the battlefield.
"Hayes quotes Cheney himself as saying, "Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and honorable men I've ever known. He's been an outstanding public servant throughout his career. He was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice, and I strongly believe that he deserved a presidential pardon. Obviously, I disagree with President Bush's decision."

'Negligent Homicide'

Army accuses KBR contractors of 'negligent homicide' for electrocution
United States Army investigation has accused former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, along with contractors the company used and two of the firm's supervisors, of 'negligent homicide' in the electrocution of a soldier, according to a published report.
"[A]n Army criminal investigator says the manner of death for Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, has been changed from accidental to negligent homicide because the contractor failed to ensure that 'qualified electricians and plumbers' worked on the barracks where Maseth died," reports the Associated Press.
Little justice for victims of China milk scandal
A bereaved family in Gaza shares its pain
But he cautioned that the new US president might be raising "hopes too high".

First Presser Packed:

First Presser Packed: "New Press Secretary Trumps The Old President"
Robert Gibbs' first briefing as White House press secretary offered almost as much insight into the media as the newly installed administration.
Well before Gibbs entered, the room was filled beyond its normal capacity. An overflow of press stemmed down the aisles and into the back. Roughly 120 journalists were in attendance. A week earlier, at Bush's final press conference as president, the briefing room held approximately 40 such reporters.
"The new press secretary trumps the old president," said one bemused reporter.
"I've never seen this, not even for Bush's first press conference," offered another, before a colleague cut him off with a single word: "Impeachment."

Whistleblower Tells Olbermann NSA Spied On Journalists

On Keith Olbermann's show Wednesday night, former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice said that reporters were spied on inside the United States.

President Obama's Rejection of American Cowardice

Bob Cesca
President Obama made it clear on Tuesday that America is no longer in the business of selling-out the legacy of our Founders and the mandates of the Constitution for the sake of a little bit of extra security. Patriotism should never again be defined as the speed and vigor by which our liberties are abandoned. Rather, the perpetual rejection of the "false choice between our safety and our ideals" is the sort of heroic patriotism our Founders intended. At long last, we finally have a president who's smart enough and wise enough to get it.

A Great Start to Restoring the Rule of Law

Sen. Russ Feingold, 01.22.2009
President Obama has shown us how we can strengthen our national security without undermining our ideals. On Tuesday we witnessed history, and now we are witnessing fundamental change.


AFTER shelling out $2 million, ABC brass is seething - and claims the cable news networks stole its "exclusive" footage of Barack and Michelle Obama's first dance at Tuesday night's Neighborhood Inaugural Ball.
The network had originally attempted to keep the entire affair exclusive, including Obama's speech.
But after intense complaints by other news organizations over the restrictions, ABC agreed to allow Obama's speech to be shared by the pool - but nothing else.
Then at 8:35 p.m., all three cable news channels aired at least a portion of the dance (CBS aired clips of the dance and Obama's comments minutes later.)
ABC officials declined to comment yesterday, but a network insider told the popular TV news Web site TV Newser, "I'm disappointed people break the rules, but not surprised."

Elisabeth Hasselbeck Tells Media: Lay Off Michelle Obama

David Hicks may fight Guantanamo Bay conviction

LONG-TIME Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks is considering challenging his conviction by a US military commission following President Barack Obama's directive that all prosecutions be suspended and the controversial prison be shut.
Hicks's father, Terry Hicks, told The Australian yesterday he had spoken to his son after Mr Obama's inauguration to discuss how the former kangaroo-skinner might have his 2007 conviction overturned. "If it turns out that the challenge can be made, I believe it should be made, and of course David will go along those lines as well," Mr Hicks said. "But it could end up being that you can't challenge it. We don't know yet" Hicks was sent to Guantanamo Bay in January 2002 following his capture by Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan shortly after the US-led invasion. In 2007, he signed a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to providing material support to a terror organisation. He was returned to Australia, where he served seven months in Adelaide's Yatala prison before being released. But advocates for Hicks have long expressed concerns about the conditions under which he signed the agreement.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Muhammad Saad Iqbal is a free man afterserving more than six years at the U.S. military’s detention facility inGuantanamo Bay, Cuba — without any charge.
Now, Iqbal is suing the U.S. government for unlawful detention.
“I am angry in my heart,” Iqbal said in a recent interview. “It’s easyfor the U.S. government to say, ‘There are no charges found and he’s free.’“But who will be responsible for seven years of my life?”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A military judge Wednesday ordered the suspension of the trial of a Canadian held at Guantanamo Bay, in what could be the first step toward closing the controversial prison.
The judge agreed to a request by President Barack Obama to suspend, for 120 days, the trial of Omar Khadr for allegedly killing a US soldier in Afghanistan.
Khadr was arrested at the age of 15 and transferred to the US war-on-terror prison camp on Cuba's parched southeast coast.
Late Tuesday, Obama made a swift break with the previous administration and ordered prosecutors to seek a suspension of military trials at the Guantanamo "war on terror" prison camp.
"In the interests of justice, and at the direction of the president of the United States and the secretary of defense, the government respectfully requests the military commission grant a continuance of the proceedings," said prosecution documents.
On Wednesday Judge Patrick Parrish, who is overseeing the case of Khadr, agreed.
"The defense did not oppose the motion and the judge has granted the motion," spokesman Jo Dellavedova told reporters.

'Voice Of Hope'

Revered international statesman Nelson Mandela led a near-global welcome for new US President Barack Obama but China censored Obama's inauguration speech to cut references to dissent.
World divisions over the United States were also shown in North Korea's failure to tell its strictly controlled people about Obama's accession. The foreign minister of Iran -- another member of President George W. Bush's "axis of evil" -- said his country was reserving judgment on the new US leader.
But most countries gave overwhelming approval to Obama, whose swearing-in inspired parties and commemorations from London to Sydney.
Mandela, who led the fight against South Africa's apartheid regime and is probably the world's most respected human rights advocate, called the first black US president a "new voice of hope".
"We believe that we are witnessing something truly historic not only in the political annals of your great nation, the United States of America, but of the world," the Nobel Peace Prize winner wrote in a letter to Obama.
"Your presidency brings hope of new beginnings in the relations between nations, that the challenges we all face, be they economic, the environment, or in combating poverty or the search for peace, will be addressed with a new spirit of openness and accommodation," wrote Mandela.
Underscoring the international show of faith in Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: "We are eager for him to get to work so that with him we can change the world."
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed Obama as a "man of great vision" and his arrival as a "new chapter in both American history and the world's history."
China's uneasy relationship with the United States was shown in its censorship of Obama's landmark inauguration speech.
State-run China Central Television broadcast the speech live, but when the translator mentioned communism, the channel suddenly cut to an awkwardly smiling news anchor.
Censors cut Obama's declaration that "earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions."
The People's Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, published a translated text on its website, omitting the word communism. The line about dissent was cut entirely.

Gaza Doctor Who Lost Daughters Demands Explanation

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Gaza doctor who recounted live on Israeli television how his three daughters and niece had just been killed by shelling demanded on Wednesday that Israel's defense minister explain their deaths.
Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, a 55-year-old gynecologist who speaks Hebrew after training in two Israeli hospitals, sobbed as he reported the deaths shortly after an Israeli shell struck his home in the northern town of Jebaliya on Friday. His account captivated viewers on Israel's Channel 10 TV.
The well-known peace activist who was involved in promoting joint Israeli-Palestinian projects returned Wednesday to inspect his destroyed Gaza home and to reunite with his five surviving children. His wife died recently of cancer.
"I was well known to the Israelis even more than the Palestinians. They know me. Why they kill my children?" he sobbed in an APTN interview Wednesday as he looked at pictures of his dead daughters amid the rubble in his home.
He said he wanted to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hear firsthand why his children were killed.
Obama retakes oath, gets to work
BARACK Obama orders withdrawal plan for Iraq as he retakes the oath of office.
Gallery: Obama's first day in office

Hope he breaks every rule and law the DECIDER ever had.

Obama Breaks Bush Jacket Rule In Oval Office
Following the release of the Oval Office photograph from Obama's first day, many observers have noted a distinct change from the Bush years: the new president is not wearing his jacket.
As Taegan Goddard writes, "It was a rule during the Bush administration that no one ever enter the Oval Office without a jacket."
And Politico's Ben Smith muses, "Still unclear which press staffer will be the first to show up in flip-flops."

Barack Obama announces sweeping rules limiting involvement of lobbyists in his White House.

Source: APDeveloping.Read more: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ijDA5...
Obama's first executive orders target ethics and transparencyby Ed Duffy, Denver News ExaminerPresident Obama introduced his first executive orders today. In addition to a senior staff pay freeze, he imposed tough new restrictions on lobbying within his administration. The new rules are aimed at stopping the "revolving door" of lobbyists into and out of the administration. Senior staff will have to recuse themselves from working on anything they've lobbied for in the past two years and may not work in departments they've lobbied in the past two years. In addition, staff members who leave the administration will not be allowed to lobby the administration for as long as President Obama is in office. The president also stated that the administration will err on the side of transparency with regard to Freedom of Information Act requests. Requests to withhold information will be subject to review and approval by the Justice Department and administration legal counsel. He also implored staff to take advantage in any way they could, of input and information from the general public. He didn't give specifics, but emphasized the need to get people more involved and more connected to government and to get away from the idea that government has all the answers.
Vowing transparency, Obama OKs ethics guidelinesWASHINGTON (CNN) -- Promising "a new era of openness in our country," President Barack Obama signed executive orders Wednesday relating to ethics guidelines for staff members of his administration."Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency," Obama said.
AP: WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's first public act in office Wednesday was to institute new limits on lobbyists in his White House ==snip==Obama's new lobbying rules will not only ban aides from trying to influence the administration when they leave his staff. Those already hired will be banned from working on matters they have previously lobbied on, or to approach agencies that they once targeted.The rules also ban lobbyists from giving gifts of any size to any member of his administration. It wasn't immediately clear whether the ban would include the traditional "previous relationships" clause, allowing gifts from friends or associates with which an employee comes in with strong ties.The new rules also require that anyone who leaves his administration is not allowed to try to influence former friends and colleagues for at least two years. Obama is requiring all staff to attend to an ethics briefing like one he said he attended last week.Obama called the rules tighter "than under any other administration in history." They followed pledges during his campaign to be strict about the influence of lobbyist in his White House."The new rules on lobbying alone, no matter how tough, are not enough to fix a broken system in Washington," he said. "That's why I'm also setting rules that govern not just lobbyists but all those who have been selected to serve in my administration."

They have cleaned out the White House, Alleluia

Experts: Obama Should Retake Oath After Justice Roberts Flubs Line

Several constitutional lawyers said President Obama should, just to be safe, retake the oath of office that was flubbed by Chief Justice John Roberts.
The 35-word oath is explicitly prescribed in the Constitution, Article II, Section 1, which begins by saying the president "shall" take the oath "before he enter on the execution of his office."

Banks face insolvency, crisis predictor says

Bloomberg News
Published: January 20, 2009
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who predicted the 2008 economic crisis, said Tuesday that U.S. financial losses from the credit crisis might reach $3.6 trillion, suggesting that the banking system in the United States was "effectively insolvent."
"I've found that credit losses could peak at a level of $3.6 trillion for U.S. institutions, half of them by banks and broker-dealers," Roubini said at a conference in Dubai. "If that's true, it means the U.S. banking system is effectively insolvent, because it starts with a capital of $1.4 trillion. This is a systemic banking crisis."
Losses and write-downs at financial companies worldwide have risen to more than $1 trillion since the credit crisis began in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank by assets, posted a quarterly loss of $1.79 billion last week, its first since 1991, and has received $138 billion in emergency government funds.
Citigroup posted an $8.29 billion fourth-quarter loss, completing its worst year, and plans to split in two under the plan by its chief executive, Vikram Pandit, to rebuild a capital base eroded by the crisis. cont.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Once in a lifetime ... within hours Barack Obama will be sworn in as the United States' 44th president. Join us as we bring you this historic event as it unfolds Crowds gather in Washington Video: Watch live Great inauguration speeches More

Obama Inauguration: History In The Making
Barack Obama Inauguration Speech, Part 1 of 3, After Being Sworn In January 2009
Barack Obama Inauguration Speech, Part 2 of 3, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama Inauguration Speech, Part 3 of 3, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hero Pilot And Family Invited To Inauguration

DANVILLE, Calif. — US Airways pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger and his family are going to the presidential inauguration, the mayor of his California hometown said Sunday.
Mayor Newell Arnerich said the town of Danville is also planning a welcome home for the pilot who landed his crippled aircraft safely in the Hudson River last Thursday.
An aide to President-elect Barack Obama said Sunday evening that all five members of the Flight 1549 crew have been invited to the inauguration Tuesday. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because details were still being worked out.
The Danville mayor said Lorraine Sullenberger told city officials that the family would leave for the East Coast on Sunday. The pilot's wife and daughters haven't seen Sullenberger since he's been hailed as a hero for saving the lives of all 155 on board.
Danville has scheduled a celebration Saturday for Sullenberger. Arnerich said the event is tentative because he is not sure when the pilot will return home.

Gay Bishop Left Out Of HBO Coverage Of Lincoln Memorial Concert

Sunday's big Lincoln Memorial show was billed as the "We Are One" concert, intended to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama with a spirit of unity. But for those of us watching at home, one participant was excluded -- Gene Robinson, the "first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination." Robinson was on hand to deliver an opening prayer to the event, but this prayer went unseen by anyone watching on HBO, who provided and sponsored the coverage.

Black Iraqis Make Obama A Model To Follow

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Their faces and darker skins make them look different. They are routinely called "slave" by the majority, whatever their profession. But Iraq's black population hopes that Barack Obama's rise to the White House will mark a turning point for minorities not just in the United States, but also in their country.
Jalal Thiyab Thijeel, general secretary of the "Movement of Free Iraqis," followed every detail of Obama's election campaign. "Inspiring," he calls it. Inspiring politically, and personally. Like Obama, Thijeel has family roots in Africa.
"We told our people, Inshalla, God willing, Obama is going to win, and if he wins, it will be a victory for all black people in the world," he recalls. "We're going to make him a model to follow. Even our old women were praying for him to win."
When news broke that Obama had won the election, it was early in the morning of November 5 in Basra -- but Thijeel excitedly called a fellow member of his political party.
It was a moment, he tells me as we talk on a street in Baghdad, that he'll never forget. "Now we, the dark-skinned people, feel even closer to the American people because Obama is one of us."

Bush Protest: Shoes Thrown At White House

Aim Well aim well my hearties, Give him one for Down Under

President Bush was given an Iraqi-journalist-style sendoff on his last full day in office Monday, as tourists and demonstrators lobbed shoes, pumps, boots, sandals and Crocs from Pennsylvania Avenue onto the White House lawn.
Before launching the operation live, the shoe-chuckers took target practice in Dupont Circle on a 20-foot-tall blow up doll of the outgoing president, decked out in the flight suit he wore aboard the "Mission Accomplished" aircraft carrier.


Dr. King Discusses America's First Black President In Unearthed BBC Clip

BBC World News America has unearthed a fascinating clip of Dr Martin Luther King speaking to the BBC's Bob McKenzie in 1964 in which Dr King predicts an African-American president "in less than 40 years."

4 Hrs 55 Min 23.7 Sec Left, Then Welcome President Obama The World Awaits You.

The Official George W. Bush
"Days Left In Office"
5 Hrs 0 Min 12.3 Sec
Obama's Speech at the Lincoln Memorial

"Farewell to a flawed and unpopular commander-in-chief."

Newspapers around the world skewer Bush on eve of departure
Rancor for President almost universal
The Sydney Morning Herald complained about Bush's "singular lack of curiosity in international matters" in an editorial titled "Farewell to a flawed and unpopular commander-in-chief."
But it also praised Bush for improving U.S. relations with China and India, his efforts to fight AIDS in Africa. It predicted historians might one day rank Bush in the mid range.
Le Monde disagreed.
"It's hard to find a historian who won't say that Bush was the most catastrophic leader the U.S. has ever known," the French daily wrote. "One success: since Sept. 11, 2001, there was no attack on U.S. soil. But this sits alongside an interminable list of failures, starting with the war in Iraq."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Olbermann | Bush Years: 8 in 8 Minutes

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