Tuesday, July 31, 2007
"BAGHDAD, Housekeeper and mother of three Anisah Kaseb, 58, says the relentless violence in Iraq has damaged her family psychologically: Her younger son committed suicide and her daughter now requires psychological help.
"Widowed and dependent on her deceased husband’s pension, Kaseb tries to make some extra money by cooking for marriage parties or washing laundry at home. Her plight has worsened of late.
“'My son Muhammad, who was only 28 years old, was desperate: He had no job for the past two years and couldn’t marry because we didn’t have enough money. He was out on the streets one day looking for a job when a car bomb exploded near him. The incident affected him badly and he committed suicide, leaving us a letter saying that he couldn’t bear life in Iraq any more and felt useless because he could not help his family economically.
“'It was the most terrible day in my life. He killed himself on the day of his sister’s birthday on 14 May and since than my daughter Alia’a, 32, has tried to commit suicide twice, firstly by cutting her wrists and then by jumping in front of a car - which left her with a broken leg that required hours of surgery.
“'The violence pushed my son to suicide, and sometimes I think that if Alia’a kills herself, I would rather die too. I don’t have any other person to live for as my eldest daughter, Juan, is married and lives in Syria with her husband.
“'I thought many times of taking poison after my son died, and I prayed to God for hours to dispel these thoughts.
“'My sister-in-law got desperate after my brother was killed in an explosion: She poisoned her two children and then herself, leaving a letter saying she wasn’t able to support them and that she would rather they all died together than see them killed like her husband.
“'People in Iraq are living in constant fear of violence, unemployment, hunger and displacement. We are tired and many aren’t able to flee the country and, like my son, end their lives.”
Found on Meanwhile in Palestine and Iraq
"HANAHAN, S.C. (AP) -- Two young children who had been left in a hot car while their mother was at work were later found dead, their bodies wrapped in trash bags under an apartment sink, authorities said Tuesday.
"Autopsies were scheduled Tuesday to determine what killed 1-year-old Triniti Campbell and her 4-year-old brother, Shawn Campbell Jr., Berkeley County Deputy Coroner George Oliver said.
"The children's mother, Sametta Heyward, 27, had taken them to work Monday in downtown Charleston and left them in her car all day as the temperature outside rose to 88 degrees, Oliver said.
"Officers investigating a report of a disturbance at Heyward's apartment Monday night found her crying and yelling, '''Oh, my babies,''' according to a police report.
"A man holding Heyward told officers ''the kids were in trash bags and under the cabinet.'' The police report said Heyward tried to bite and kick the officers, had to be restrained, and was taken to a hospital because medics thought she could be having seizures.
'''She stated she wanted to die and asked officers to kill her,'' the report said.
"Neighbor Brandon Coving said he saw Heyward and the children on Sunday. ''They were running around, and she had a big smile on her face, and it seemed like a regular day,'' he said.
Hanahan is about 15 miles north of Charleston.
Monday, July 30, 2007
"Initially billed as wonder drugs with few significant side effects, evidence is mounting that they can cause rapid weight gain, diabetes, even death.
"They're also expensive. On average last year, it cost Medicaid nearly $1,800 for each child on atypical antipsychotics. In the last seven years, the cost to taxpayers for atypical antipsychotics prescribed to children in Florida jumped nearly 500 percent, from $4.7-million to $27.5-million.
"Medicaid and insurance companies have fed the problem, encouraging the use of psychiatric drugs as they reimburse less and less for labor-intensive psychotherapy and occupational therapy.
"Another factor: Doctors have been influenced by pharmaceutical companies, which have aggressively marketed atypicals.
"Whatever the reasons for the soaring use of psychiatric drugs in children, things have gotten out of whack, according to Dr. Ronald Brown. Last year he headed an American Psychological Association committee that looked into the issue.
"'The bottom line is that the use of psychiatric medications far exceeds the evidence of safety and effectiveness," Brown said.
"'What people need to do is what's in the best interest of children instead of what's in the best interest of people's pocketbooks. But children don't vote."
Found on Whateverhappened.com
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
I miss my son
I miss my home
I miss green grass and beautiful flowers in my garden
I miss my extended family, we can't visit any more
I miss our gatherings on Thursdays
I miss walking to the roundabout, with my kids, for exercise every evening
I miss Mutanebbi Street on Friday mornings, where I bought countless second-hand books – the only kind there are.
I miss al-Ilwiya Club lunches on Fridays and Bingos on Tuesday evenings
I miss going to the swimming pool and being emmersed in water
I miss shopping around midnight
I miss my life
I thank God for my daughter and my son
I thank God that I am able to support them through my job and needn't beg a living from my male relatives (as is customary if I am jobless)
I thank God for good health and strength …… But I still miss my life – and I know that the life I knew here in Baghdad is gone forever and all that remains is a tale to tell… to those who don't know the Baghdad that I knew.
"She [an adviser] has been urging Democrats to embrace programs aimed at helping women in crisis keep their pregnancies, in an effort to show voters that "pro-choice" does not mean "pro-abortion." The leading Democratic presidential candidates are increasingly making that more nuanced case.
"At a recent presidential forum, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York decried the failure of activists on both sides to work together to bring down the number of abortions. She repeated a mantra her husband made famous more than a decade ago: Abortion, she said, should be "safe, legal and rare."Then Clinton paused and added deliberately: "And by rare, I mean rare."
"At another forum, this one sponsored by Planned Parenthood, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois called a woman's right to abortion "one of the most fundamental freedoms we have in this country." But he also urged alliances across ideological lines to promote initiatives that value motherhood, such as paid maternity leave."
"If the argument is [too] narrow, oftentimes we lose," Obama said.Democrats first began field-testing this message in 2006. Candidates for governor in Ohio and Michigan made a point of talking about abortion reduction even as they supported abortion rights.
"In one mailer, Ohio candidate Ted Strickland spoke of his desire to give all children "every opportunity to reach their God-given potential. This includes working together, across our differences, to reduce the need for and numbers of abortions."
"Both Strickland and Michigan incumbent Jennifer Granholm won their campaigns. Exit polls showed they did better than national Democrats among weekly churchgoers — and much better among white evangelicals, who tend to be conservative on abortion.
"'This approach is not going to all of a sudden bring the pro-life crowd over to the Democrats, but it creates an opening," said Eric Sapp, a political consultant who helped craft the Michigan and Ohio campaigns. With the nation so closely split, even a small boost in support for the Democrats "could reshape the political landscape," Sapp said.
"'Thank you, sir," he [girl's father] managed to say, and when he was unable to say anything else, he bowed his head, and then sat, and then wiped his eyes, and then followed the doctor into the treatment area, where his Iraqi daughter was surrounded by American doctors and medics.
"The injuries to the girl were serious. There was a deep cut across her cheek, and, worse, something that had gone into the left side of her forehead and was embedded in her skull.
Her father held her hand until the doctors swaddled her in a sheet, making sure to wrap her arms tightly. Her mother closed her eyes. The doctors leaned in.
"It took a while, and at the worst of it the little girl couldn't remain quiet, but then the doctors were showing her what they had found — a solid piece of glass that was nearly 2 inches long — and soon after that she was smiling.
"The glass was part of an apartment that no longer existed, in a part of Baghdad where the sounds Thursday night were of mourning.
"But in this part of Baghdad, the sounds were of a mother who no longer had a home kissing her Iraqi daughter's cheek, and a father who no longer had a home kissing his Iraqi daughter's hand, and a little girl who no longer had a home saying something in Arabic that caused her parents to smile, and Cummings saying quietly in English, "Man, I haven't felt this good since I got to this hellhole."
"On the clandestine side, the human costs were much higher. The CIA's incessant, almost always misguided, attempts to determine how other people should govern themselves; its secret support for fascists (e.g., Greece under George Papadopoulos), militarists (e.g., Chile under Gen. Augusto Pinochet), and murderers (e.g., the Congo under Joseph Mobutu); its uncritical support of death squads (El Salvador) and religious fanatics (Muslim fundamentalists in Afghanistan) -- all these and more activities combined to pepper the world with blowback movements against the United States.
"Nothing has done more to undercut the reputation of the United States than the CIA's "clandestine" (only in terms of the American people) murders of the presidents of South Vietnam and the Congo, its ravishing of the governments of Iran, Indonesia (three times), South Korea (twice), all of the Indochinese states, virtually every government in Latin America, and Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The deaths from these armed assaults run into the millions. After 9/11, President Bush asked "Why do they hate us?" From Iran (1953) to Iraq (2003), the better question would be, "Who does not?"
Found on Information Clearinghouse
"Meanwhile, parliament postponed its summer recess, but it has no plans to discuss thorny issues for the moment. The oil and de-Baathification laws will be debated after the recess, now scheduled for August. Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki has urged the cabinet to cancel, or at least shorten, the recess so as to "help the government resolve outstanding issues", according to a statement from his office.
"President Bush and his administration are still pushing for a speedy promulgation of the controversial oil law. Former oil minister Essam Shalabi denounced the oil law as an attempt to partition Iraq. The Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) issued an edict prohibiting the implementation of that law. The edict, claimed AMS spokesman, prompted the Americans to raid Um Al-Qura Mosque, the AMS headquarters in Baghdad, early this week. US troops arrested 18 AMS officials and wrecked AMS offices during the raid.
"The US administration says that violence is likely to escalate in August. But Operation Imposing Law in Baghdad and Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Diali, 75 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, are still in full swing. US statements speak of the arrest and death of dozens of "terrorists". Resistance forces claim in Internet statements that they are inflicting significant losses on occupation forces. Baquba inhabitants say that relative calm has been restored in their city, but they complain of food and fuel shortages.
"In separate news, US helicopters strafed Al-Huseiniya in north Baghdad, believed to be a stronghold of the Mahdi army, killing 18 civilians and wounding dozens. Nassar Al-Rubiei, spokesman for the Sadr Group, called on parliament to denounce the US shelling. US forces searched Al-Adhamiyah neighbourhood of Baghdad following an attack on a US patrol. Al-Adhamiyah has for the past few months been surrounded by a five-metre high cement barrier.In Kirkuk, 100 civilians were killed in a suicide attack mounted by a truck laden with explosives. The attack comes one week after the bombings in Amirli, considered to be the worst since April 2003. US Ambassador Ryan Crocker visited Kirkuk for talks with local officials following the attack. Once the ambassador left, the northern Kurdish administration announced plans to deploy 6,000 peshmerga, or Kurdish fighters, around vital institutions to pre-empt acts of "terror".
"Oil-rich Kirkuk is a multi-ethnic city that has a strong Turkomen presence, but Kurdish political forces have been trying to incorporate it into their region. Their decision to deploy peshmerga in Kirkuk angered local Arab and Turkomen communities. Aydin Aksu, a key figure in the Iraqi Turkomen Front, told Al-Ahram Weekly that, "the presence of 6,000 peshmerga would increase tension and deepen the rift in this town. It would generate resentment among other communities in the city, for it is unconscionable for one community to have all the power. The protection of vital institutions is just an excuse."
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
- The basic human right of being allowed to feed oneself
- The environmental threats imposed by illegal military actions
"Also, this illegal restriction of the current fishing zone gives access only to a shallow coastal zone. Hence, a spawning and nursing zone that normally would be protected from most fishing activities and serve to populate the surrounding waters has become overexploited.
"Over almost thirty years, the fishing area available to Palestinian fishermen has been systematically reduced from a gigantic 75,000 sq km (before 1978, it included waters off the Sinai coastline), to 1,100 sq km (after 1978) to a mere 300 sq km today.
"Today, there are about 3,000 registered fishermen along with 2,000 people who are indirectly dependent upon the fishery industry. Another 35,000 Palestinians (assuming a seven person family size) depend upon the income of fishing and its related industry. The fishermen's catch could be one of priceless value for the 1.4 million struggling Palestinians.
"The Israeli boats are now fishing under Israeli navy protection in the area legally owned by the Palestinian fishermen. They are the ones that have access to high-priced species such as tuna and mackerel that are found only out in the twenty-mile zone and beyond. Fish are now caught by Israeli fishermen, who then turn around and sell back to the Palestinians for high prices to anyone who can afford them.
"What is the Michael Vick/George Bush thing, you ask?
"Under what rock have you been living?
"The big issue in the sports world this week has been Michael Vick-the star quarterback for the
"Vick was indicted last week for dog fighting.
"The particulars are not pretty.
"They include executing dogs who didn't perform well in the dog fights.
Execution by hanging, drowning, or just slamming them to the ground.
"The media is in an uproar.
"Animal rights groups are picketing the NFL demanding that Vick be suspended from pro football.
"Far more big radio air time had been spent in the last week on Vick's alleged killing of dogs than on--you guessed it--than on George Bush's killing of human beings.
"Unlike Vick, Bush has not been indicted.
"That's because the Democratic Party--the party in control of the House of Representatives, the House that could bring the indictment (aka articles of impeachment)--was in on the human killing--actually approved of killing.
Monday, July 23, 2007
"July 22, 2007
"Let’s face it, the Palestinians are at a major decision point and the reality today is not what it was just a month ago. The forces amassed against them are preparing a major push to liquidate Palestinian rights, once and for all. There is nothing new in seeing the U.S., the E.U., the U.N. and the puppet Arab regimes conspiring for a final solution.
"What is new is the formation of a Vichy, collaborationist "government" that is working openly with the occupier to formalize this liquidation of Palestinian rights. It is true that the main quislings in this open collaboration are old faces who have been preparing for this day for sometime. What is new is their emergence in the open as a tool of the occupation, with no apologies or shame. Some of the collaboration used to take place quietly, behind closed doors, and if found out, used to be denied; no more. When the "old man" Arafat was around, this vermin did not dare to go this far in their collaboration and treason, and that is why they conspired with the Mossad to poison him.What is to be observed is that the Vichy forces of Abbas and Fayyad are not just collaborating with USrael in occupied Palestine. They are now solidly a part of the hegemonic U.S. axis in the region, which primarily revolves around Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, the so-called Arab quartet. After Siniora in Lebanon, Abbas is the latest addition to this kennel.
"Therefore, it was not a surprise to read a week ago that Fatah’s representative in Lebanon was urging the Palestinians in the refugee camps in Lebanon to fight with the Siniora army, the same army which was still shelling and destroying their refugee camp in Nahr El-Bared after expelling 35,000 Palestinian refugees. If we put the events in Nahr El-Bared in perspective, we realize that the USraeli goal is to amass forces in Lebanon to fight Hizbullah and to Iraqize Lebanon by spreading the same creative destruction that Iraq enjoys today to Lebanon. Abbas’ assigned role is to be on the side of Siniora and to join the fight against Hizbullah. After all, the Arab quartet was cheering for Israel last summer hoping that Israel would vanquish Hizbullah. It is no secret that the goal of eliminating Hizbullah as the most effective Arab fighting force has not been abandoned, and this time Abbas wants to join the fight against the Lebanese resistance just as he is fighting the Palestinian resistance.
"There is a bigger plan being contemplated to settle Palestinian refugees in surrounding countries, using Arab oil money, since the right of return will be forfeited by Abbas and his "government." Part of the price of settlement in Lebanon is that the Palestinians fight for the U.S. stooge, Siniora. Credible news from Lebanon indicate that the destroyed Nahr El-Bared will not be rebuilt; is this the prototype for other Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon? Is Fath Al-Islam or another "Islamic" group created by Siniora and Hariri getting ready to repeat the same scenario of Nahr El-Bared in other camps as a prelude for their destruction in the coming civil war? All these are distinct possibilities. The important thing to keep in mind is that Abbas and what is happening in Lebanon are elements in a much bigger picture to engineer a "new" Middle East.
"Given this background and the seriousness of the Palestinian condition, it is not adequate for the Palestinian organizations (primarily Hamas) that are determined to oppose this liquidation of Palestinian rights and continue with the resistance to just keep repeating calls for Abbas for dialog. What dialog, and for what purpose? It is a disservice to all Palestinians to keep pretending that nothing has changed. I was one of the people who wrote against the so-called unity government. I opposed it and said that it would not last. Of course I did not have a crystal ball, but the contradictions involved were too many and were impossible to overcome.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
From a post on Middle East on Line: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=21508
CAMP PENDLETON, California - A US Marine convicted of plotting to murder an Iraqi civilian outside Baghdad last year has escaped a jail sentence for his crimes, the military said on Friday.
Trent Thomas, who was found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap and murder Hashim Ibrahim Awad in Hamdania on April 26, 2006, hugged his family after receiving a reduction in rank and bad conduct discharge.
"I can't wait to start spending time with my family, get a job and get on with my life," Thomas said. "It was God's will that I'm here today."
The 25-year-old former lance corporal, who has been held in detention since the allegations first surfaced last year, could have faced a life prison sentence for his role in Awad's killing.
On Thursday prosecutors had recommended Thomas be jailed for 15 years in order to send a message to other Marines during a hearing at the Camp Pendleton base
"July 20, 2007
"Occupied Jerusalem: "Please destroy the wall and let me get through to see my children before I die. I can't stand it." These were the last words of Sana' Shanan, a 27-year-old woman from the Jabalyah camp who has been stuck at the Rafah passage, which has been closed for almost two months.
"Her 35-year-old husband, Salim, told Gulf News that he called to check on her health and heard her desperation. He recounted her words, "Nobody cares about the Palestinians' suffering ... nobody can live for 38 days under the burning sun."
"She asked God to help her and the many other sick people who are threatened by death. Salim who was trying to suppress his tears added that "Sana' left me and three children: the eldest Jamal Salim Shalhah is four, Mohammad is three and the youngest is six months old and never stops crying for his mother who has not been able to give him her love."
"Sana' had fallen sick with hepatocirrhosis (a chronic disease due to degeneration of the liver cells) and had travelled to Cairo for treatment. After her successful treatment, she headed back to the Rafah passage to return home, but instead she found herself waiting for her death.
"She is one of more than 28 Palestinians who have died at the Rafah passage since its closure after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip.
Friday, July 20, 2007
July 19, 2007
In the Qandil Mountains.
"Hiding in the high mountains and deep gorges of one of the world's great natural fortresses are bands of guerrillas whose presence could provoke a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq and the next war in the Middle East.
In the weeks before the Turkish election on Sunday, Turkey has threatened to cross the border into Iraq in pursuit of the guerrillas of the Turkish Kurdish movement, the PKK, and its Iranian Kurdish offshoot, Pejak.
"The Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, warns that there are 140,000 Turkish troops massed just north of the frontier.
"'Until recently, we didn't take the Turkish threat that seriously but thought it was part of the election campaign," says Safeen Sezayee. A leading Iraqi Kurdish expert on Turkey and spokesman for the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Mr Dezayee now sees an invasion as quite possible.
"The Iraqi Kurds are becoming nervous. The drumbeat of threats from Turkish politicians and generals has become more persistent. "The government and opposition parties are competing to show nationalist fervour," says Mr Dezayee. Anti-PKK feeling is greater than ever in Turkey.
"Most menacingly, Turkey is appalled that the Kurds are key players in Iraqi politics and are developing a semi-independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq.
"After the election, Ankara may find it impossible to retreat from the bellicose rhetoric of recent weeks and will send its troops across the border, even if the incursion is only on a limited scale.
Found on Uruk.net
"In both countries, even the proxy governments want the superpower to stop killing their people. In Afghanistan, according to the Observer — where the new head of NATO operations, American Gen. Dan McNeill, is nicknamed “Bomber McNeill” — President Hamid Karzai has condemned the coalition’s careless use of extreme force and its attitude that Afghan lives are “cheap.” And a British officer, commenting on the carnage of the Helmand Province air strike, said, “Every civilian dead means five new Taliban.”
"In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the U.S. had no business raiding Sadr City and, as AP reported, declared: “The Iraqi government totally rejects U.S. military operations ... conducted without a preapproval from the Iraqi military command. Anyone who breaches the military command orders will face investigation.”
"And here we are, back at home with our poll numbers and our consciences. The political process is broken; the war and the undisclosed agenda — permanent U.S. occupation of a strategic region — have, if not complete political immunity, then at least what seems like indefinite opportunity to pursue a failed strategy. Maybe things will turn around!
"On the same day that coalition bombers were pummeling the Afghan village for three hours, children in nearby Zabul Province added another dimension to the drama. Three were killed and a fourth was injured when an old rocket they were playing with exploded. Their deaths reminded some of us, perhaps, that wars never end and that the reality TV show that’s “going very badly” for us is going a lot worse on location.
Found on Iraq Today
"This is a tale about politics, influence, money and murder. It began more than 40 years ago with a bloodletting so massive that no one quite knows how many people died. Half a million? A million? Through four decades, the story of the relationship between the United States and the Indonesian military has left a trail of misery and terror. Last month it claimed four peasants, one of them a 27-year-old mother. Unless Congress puts the brakes on the Bush administration's plans to increase aid and training for the Indonesian army, there will be innumerable victims in the future as well.
"Speaking alongside Indonesia's defense minister in Singapore last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the White House intends "to deepen the strategic partnership" between the two countries.
"Given what that partnership has led to over the past four decades, it was a profoundly disturbing statement.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
"When a political heavyweight, like Henry Kissinger, jets-off on a secret mission to Moscow; it usually shows up in the news.
"Not this time.This time the media completely ignored---or should we say censored—Kissinger’s trip to Russia and his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, apart from a few short blurps in the Moscow Times and one measly article in the UK Guardian, no major news organization even covered the story. There hasn’t been as much as a peep out of anyone in the American media.
"Nothing. That means the meetings were probably arranged by Dick Cheney. The secretive Veep doesn’t like anyone knowing what he’s up to.
"Kissinger was accompanied on his junket by a delegation of high-powered political and corporate big-wigs including former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, former Special Representative for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr., former Senator Sam Nunn and Chevron Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David O'Reilly.
"Wow. Now, there’s an impressive line up.
"The group was (presumably) sent to carry out official government business as discreetly as possible. The media obviously complied with White House requests and kept their mouths shut.
"Isn’t the First amendment great?
"The array of talent in Kissinger’s delegation suggests that the US and Russia are engaged in sensitive, high-level talks on issues ranging from nonproliferation and Missile Defense, to energy exploration and development, to the Iranian "enrichment" program and partitioning of Serbia (Kosovo), to the falling dollar and the massive US current account deficit. The US and Russia are at loggerheads on many of these issues and relations between the two countries has steadily deteriorated.
"No one really knows what took place at the meetings, but judging by Kissinger’s parting remarks; things did not go smoothly. He said to one reporter, ``We appreciate the time that President Putin gave us and the frank manner in which he explained his point of view."
"In diplomatic phraseology, "frank" usually means that there were many areas of strong disagreement. Presumably, the main "bone of contention" is Putin’s insistence on a "multi-polar" world in which the sovereign rights of other nations is safeguarded under international law. Putin is ferociously nationalistic and he will not compromise Russia’s independence to be integrated into Kissinger and Co.’s wacky the new world order.
Haugh said the law on which the charges were based was concerned with traffic, while the police orders were issued for purposes of crowd control. He rejected arguments by Assistant City Attorney Charles Lee that officers were directing traffic by trying to keep streets clear for Army trucks.
There are more cases coming up in August (the 17th to be exact). Come out and support the folks who have heavier charges against them.
And here is better coverage from Mark Jensen:
Thanks to Dorli for forwarding the Jena petition. It was jarring to then see this story in the PI that notes that disproportionate imprisonment of Blacks is much higher in the northern states than it is in the South. See portion of story below and whole story here: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/324226_prisons19.html
"DES MOINES, Iowa -- Blacks in the United States are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites, and Hispanics are locked up at nearly double the white rate, according to a study released Wednesday by a criminal justice policy group.
"The report by the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based think tank, found that states in the Midwest and Northeast have the greatest black-to-white disparity in incarceration. Iowa had the widest disparity in the nation, imprisoning blacks at more than 13 times the rate of whites.
Such figures "reflect a failure of social and economic interventions to address crime effectively," as well as racial bias in the justice system, said Marc Mauer, the group's executive director.
"Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut and Wisconsin incarcerated blacks at more than 10 times the rate of whites, the group said, citing Justice Department statistics from 2005. Vermont had a ratio of 12.5, followed by New Jersey with 12.4 and Connecticut with 12.
"States with the lowest black-to-white ratio were Hawaii with 1.9, Georgia with 3.3 and Mississippi with 3.5.
"In Iowa, blacks are imprisoned at a rate more than double the national average.
"For every 100,000 people, Iowa incarcerates 309 whites and 4,200 blacks, the study said.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
"As critics of the U.S. missile defense program have long noted, it is a system that doesn’t work aimed at a problem that doesn’t exist.
"This is doubly true for the Bush administration’s plan to put missile interceptors in Poland and anti-missile radar in the Czech Republic.
"By optimistic projections, the European-based system would cost $3.5 billion, and would be ready to go by 2013. U.S. officials involved with the project argue that this is early enough to deal with the highly touted Iranian threat, since they believe that Tehran will not be able to develop a nuclear weapon and mount it on a ballistic missile until at least 2015. If this is so, there is much more time available to negotiate a cap on Iran’s nuclear program than Bush administration officials have officially acknowledged. Negotiations would be more effective, and would save billions of dollars that could be used for far better purposes than missile defense.
"And what kind of system would exist by 2013, if – in a first for the missile defense program – it was actually developed on schedule? Most likely one that is no more effective than current missile interceptors, which have given no evidence that they can stop an incoming warhead under realistic conditions.
"If the proposed system only wasted money, that would be outrageous enough. But it is also provoking a three-way political crisis among Europe, Russia, and the United States. Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn of Luxembourg has raised one common objection: “We don’t want to be a political football between Russia and the United States. We want the United States, Russia, and Europe to play together in a common defense project.”
"The US president and his Polish counterpart have said parts of a missile defence system will be built in Poland despite Moscow's objections. George Bush and Lech Kaczynski, meeting at the White House, said that the system was not aimed at Russia but at smaller countries such as Iran or North Korea that US officials say pose a missile threat.
"Bush said on Tuesday the deployment "would provide a security for Europe from single- or dual-launch regimes that may emanate from parts of the world where leaders don't particularly care for our way of life and/or are in the process of trying to develop serious weapons of mass destruction".
"'There's no better symbol of our desire to work for peace and security than working on a missile defence system."Defence instrument
"Kaczynski said: "So it is really a defence instrument, missile defence instrument. And so I do hope that all this project, the whole project will be completed successfully."
"In Poland, a survey by a publicly funded institute in Warsaw, said that 55 per cent of Poles oppose putting the base on Polish territory - a drop from the previous month, when 60 per cent were opposed." An article I saw from July 5th said 68% were opposed.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Nancy and the dungeon
http://counterpunch.com/bacher06252007.htmlNow that's crossing the aisle for empire! Can you beat it? Our Latin academy of electric blue mangling, saved by the cross-aisle voting of alg those stout donks.
42 Democrats ... voted to keep the world's foremost torture school, the School of the Americas, open during a House vote on June 21.
And they were needed, too -- it was a close call; the endsville bill missed passing by 6 votes only.
Note well: several leading house humanists among the missing in action, including Charles Rangel of New York and who else, her worship madame Speaker.
Found on Stop Me Before I Vote Again
"Four Marines and the corpsman, initially charged with murder in the April 2006 killing, have pleaded guilty to reduced charges and been given jail sentences ranging from 10 months to eight years. Thomas, 25, from St. Louis, pleaded guilty but withdrew his plea and is the first defendant to go to court-martial.
"'We were told to crank up the violence level," said Lopezromo, who testified for the defense. He indicated that during daily patrols the Marines became much rougher with Iraqis. Asked by a juror to explain, he said, "We beat people, sir."
"Lopezromo said he believed that officers knew of the beatings, and he suggested that the order to get tough soured him on the Marine Corps.
"Lopezromo, who was not part of the squad on its late-night mission, said he saw nothing wrong in what Thomas and the others did."I don't see it as an execution, sir," he told the judge. "I see it as killing the enemy."
"He added that Marines, in effect, consider all Iraqi men as part of the insurgency. "Because of the way they live, the clans, they're all in it together," he said.
"In August, Lopezromo and two other Marines were charged with assaulting an Iraqi two weeks before the killing that led to charges against Thomas and the others. Charges against all three were dropped.
"Thomas' attorneys have portrayed him as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury from his combat duty in Fallouja in 2004. Also, they have sought to convince the jury that Thomas believed he was following a lawful order to get tougher with suspected insurgents.
The reason for their reluctance is this:
"Congressional sources said Reyes and other Democrats had initially voted to let other members of Congress see the document, but reversed course after a fierce protest by the panel's ranking GOP member, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan."They are so nervous about this report being out," said one congressional official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Members oppose putting this thing out because you read this and the natural question is: 'Did you know this, and what did you do about it?' I don't think any members wanted that scrutiny."
MORE OF THE ARTICLE:
"WASHINGTON — An internal investigation that the House Intelligence Committee has refused to make public portrays the panel as embarrassingly entangled in the Randy "Duke" Cunningham bribery scandal.
"The report, a declassified version of which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times, describes the committee as a dysfunctional entity that served as a crossroads for almost every major figure in the ongoing criminal probe by the Justice Department.
"The document describes breakdowns in leadership and controls that it says allowed Cunningham — the former congressman (R-Rancho Santa Fe) who began an eight-year prison term last year for taking bribes and evading taxes — to use his House position to steer millions of dollars to corrupt contractors.
"When the committee's investigation was completed last year, the Republican-controlled panel would not release the results; now that the committee is controlled by Democrats, it still will not release the findings.
Found on Cursor.org
Sunday, July 15, 2007
"Here's an update on the previous post. The NYT has now followed up on the killing of their reporter, Khalid Hassan, in Baghdad. He was apparently gunned down by militiamen after his car had been diverted into the backstreets by an American roadblock. It was a two-stage hit; he was forced off the road by a black Mercedes and shot, but survived. As he was calling his mother to say that he was OK, a second car came along, carrying a gunman who shot Hassan twice more and killed him.
"The impenetrable murk which covers the atrocities on all sides in Iraq will almost certainly make it impossible to determine just who killed Hassan, and why. As the NYT's John F. Burns reports:
With a police force that barely functions because of the bludgeoning it has taken from Sunni insurgents — and that has spawned Shiite death squads — families can rarely hope to see killers tracked down. Now, that may be the fate of Mr. Hassan’s family, for whom he was the principal breadwinner. After his parents separated during his teenage years, Mr. Hassan supported his mother and four sisters, all under 18, by selling cosmetics door to door and, for the last four years, using a polished colloquial English learned through movies, for The New York Times.
"Hassan's neighborhood is riddled with the virulent sectarian strife that Bush's rape of Iraq has unleashed -- and which the "surge" is ostensibly designed to quell. But as we've often noted here, the United States -- and tag-along Britain -- have themselves been waging a relentless "dirty war" in the country since the first months after the invasion, arming some violent groups, infiltrating and steering others, throwing in with murderers, torturers, thieves, extremists and provocateurs, setting in motion a multitude of deep-delving plots whose ultimate consequences are far beyond the control of their begetters.
"Hassan's family -- Palestinians who came to Iraq in 1948, fleeing Israel's takeover there -- believe that Hassan was most likely killed by operatives of the Mahdi Army, loyal to cleric Motqada al-Sadr, who, as we noted yesterday, has been one of the mainstays of the Bush-backed Maliki goverment. If so, then Hassan was killed by the very forces that Bush has empowered in the conquered land. Burns notes that Shiite extremists have been entering Hassan's district in police uniforms, then changing into mufti to carry out their killings. Thus they are almost certainly Iraqi policemen who have been trained, armed and paid by American forces.
"Hassan's death is just one more of the "excess deaths" caused by Bush's war. The number of such deaths -- i.e., in excess of the ordinary death rate under Saddam's regime -- was estimated at some 650,000 last year by The Lancet, the authoritative medical journal whose findings on the death count were upheld by Tony Blair's own experts (although Blair himself mendaciously derided the figures, as did Bush). Follow-up studies using the Lancet's rigorous methodology have advanced that figure to almost a million by now -- more than were killed in Rwanda. An equivalent death toll in the United States would be roughly 12 million people -- twice the size of the Holocaust.
"We know about Hassan's killing because he worked for a Western news organization. But most of these "excess deaths" are just tiny droplets in a vast and spreading swamp of blood. They fall without notice in the wider world -- but their echoes will still be reverberating in the lives of our children and grandchildren. ***
Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) via Uruk.net
Aljazeera.net, translated by Palestinian Pundit
July 14, 2007
"This important news item appears only in Arabic. I will translate and will try to put it in perspective.
"'The Fatah official in Lebanon, Sultan Abu Al-Ainain, stated that the time has come for the various Palestinian organizations in Lebanon to take part in military operations, side by side with the Lebanese army, to finish off the "gang" of Fatah Al-Islam which still has tens of fighters inside Nahr El-Bared refugee camp in north Lebanon.
"In a press conference, the Fatah official said that from the beginning some Palestinian organizations (not including Fatah) have insisted on limiting the Palestinian contribution to trying to find only a political solution to end the crisis.
"According to Abu Al-Ainain, it is the duty of the Palestinian organizations in Lebanon to take part in the military operations after the failure of political efforts to convince the "gang of Fatah Al-Islam" to surrender. He stated that the shelling of Lebanese villages close to the camp by this "gang" was a flagrant and unacceptable attack on the Lebanese people......"
"The significance of this news item is that it hints of a strategic alliance between Fatah and the American-Israeli-Saudi project in the area. Just as Fatah's thugs under Dahlan, with arming and financing by Elliott Abrams and Condoleezza Rice, were intended to spread "creative destruction," chaos and division in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, Fatah is now intent on doing the same in Lebanon.
"By clearly taking sides with the Siniora army, which for two months has been shelling and destroying the Nahr El-Bared camp resulting in scores of Palestinian dead and wounded and the forced destitution of over 35,000 Palestinian refugees Fatah, again, puts itself not on the side of the Palestinian people.
Whole Story here on Uruk.net http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=34490&s2=15
How do you keep down U.S. casualties in an occupation? By dropping bombs on the country you occupy, rather than fighting insurgents on the ground. This article (portion below) outlines what most of us already suspected. Runways have been reinforced for "for five to seven years' more hard use." As this kind of use is hard on equipment, look for request$ to the arm$ manufacturer$ for more and better bombing machine$. Oh, and they are also doing reconnaissance from the air. I can imagine how accurate that info is. Whole article here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070714/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_air_surge_i&printer=1;_ylt=AuXyIzGDFbTnpTuZvISwmZkUewgF
"Away from the headlines and debate over the "surge" in U.S. ground troops, the Air Force has quietly built up its hardware inside Iraq, sharply stepped up bombing and laid a foundation for a sustained air campaign in support of American and Iraqi forces.
"Squadrons of attack planes have been added to the in-country fleet. The air reconnaissance arm has almost doubled since last year. The powerful B1-B bomber has been recalled to action over Iraq.
"The escalation worries some about an increase in "collateral damage," casualties among Iraqi civilians. Air Force generals worry about wear and tear on aging aircraft. But ground commanders clearly like what they see.
"'Night before last we had 14 strikes from B-1 bombers. Last night we had 18 strikes by B-1 bombers," Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said approvingly of air support his 3rd Infantry Division received in a recent offensive south of Baghdad.
"Statistics tell the story: Air Force and Navy aircraft dropped 437 bombs and missiles in Iraq in the first six months of 2007, a fivefold increase over the 86 used in the first half of 2006, and three times more than in the second half of 2006, according to Air Force data. In June, bombs dropped at a rate of more than five a day.
"Inside spacious, air-conditioned "Kingpin," a new air traffic control center at this huge Air Force hub 50 miles north of Baghdad, the expanded commitment can be seen on the central display screen: Small points of light represent more than 100 aircraft crisscrossing Iraqi air space at any one time.
"The increased air activity has paralleled the reinforcement of U.S. ground troops, beginning in February, to try to suppress the insurgency and sectarian violence in the Baghdad region. Simply keeping those 30,000 additional troops supplied has added to demands on the Air Force.
Found on Antiwar.com
Saturday, July 14, 2007
A NYTimes article with the above title, outlines erosion of support for the war among the soldiers fighting it and their families. A portion is below; whole article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/15/us/15protest.html?_r=1&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all
"On Tuesday, the Army chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., said the Army would soon announce plans to give more money to programs that help family members of deployed soldiers cope with the long deployments.
"For some, the Army’s efforts have come too late. Penny Preszler, 46, a furniture refurbisher in Phoenix, said she had stopped wearing red on Fridays as she had done for the past year to honor the war effort. “It was when my son started saying he wished he could be injured so he could come home,” Ms. Preszler said.
“'There was no pride left in his voice, just this robotic sense of despair,” she said, describing a telephone conversation with her son, Skyler, 24, an infantryman on his second tour of duty in Iraq. “Mom, we killed women on the street today. We killed kids on bikes. We had no choice,” she recounted his saying.
"The same week, she said, her son told her he thought he had seen the worst when he had to pick up the body parts of his dead buddy, but then he saw an Iraqi boy picking up what was left of his dead father.
"Jaine Darwin, a psychologist and a director of Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists, said many families she counseled said they felt trapped.
“'Some of them say they fear we can’t leave Iraq because the job isn’t done,” said Ms. Darwin, whose organization, which is apolitical, offers free mental health therapy to military families. “But they still feel like it’s time to get out.”
"Their frustrations have led some soldiers to take drastic steps.
"Iraq Veterans Against the War, started in July 2004, has grown to 500 members, with 100 joining in the past two months. The Appeal for Redress Project, which since last September has been advising active duty military members and reservists on how to write to their representatives in Congress expressing their opposition to the war, has about 2,000 members, almost half of whom have joined in the past six months.
"Michelle Robidoux, an organizer with the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto, which advises Americans who have deserted or crossed the border to avoid military service, said in recent months the group has received calls that included two Army sergeants and a Navy chief petty officer.
"In the 2006 fiscal year, the Army reported that 3,196 soldiers had deserted, compared with 2,543 in fiscal year 2005 and 2,357 soldiers in fiscal year 2004. In the first quarter of the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 871 soldiers deserted.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
"Anyone with a rag on his head is fair game."
Wonder if this will cause any of those "Support the Troops" stickers to come off any of those SUVs.
NO! ALL US PERSONNEL (including mercenaries) OUT OF IRAQ NOW!
"When asked about the details of the Reed-Levin amendment, Reid said he did not know how many troops would be left in Iraq after combat troops would be pulled by April 30, 2008.
"'I don't know how many troops will be there," Reid said. "I've heard anywhere from 20,000 -- and now I've got, this is the highest number I've heard -- to 70,000." Whatever troops remain in Iraq, he said, can "only be involved in special operations, counterterrorism activities, training the Iraqis and protecting our assets that we have in Iraq."
"Reid said he would vote against the amendment offered by Sens. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to express the sense of the Senate that the president should implement the Iraq Study Group recommendations.
"'They started doing the study well more than a year ago," he said. "It's been seven months since the report was given to us. And it calls for a lot of diplomatic measures. There's not a single tooth in that proposal. No, I can't vote for it."
"In the Senate, all eyes are focused on Leahy. According to observers, Leahy last week attempted to introduce a 0.1 percent levy on defense grants that would be spent monitoring how the allocations were spent.
"The concern: Making certain that the United States does not end up funding human rights abuses, a cause Democrats, particularly Leahy, have favored since the Iran-Contra scandals of the 1980s.
"The problem: Even 0.1 percent amounts to a considerable chunk - $2.4 million - of the $2.4 billion Israel receives in defense cash from the United States.
"The outcome: Israel, Egypt and Colombia were exempted from the across-the-board levy. Pro-Israel lobbyists made sure committee members knew that oversight was already written into Israel funding, suggesting that any additional spending on monitoring would be gratuitous.
Democrats involved in the back-and-forth said Leahy was receptive to exempting Israel from the levy and other changes that strengthened Israel's bid, and that the exchanges were always amicable.
This is from the Anderson Cooper show. I didn't cross-check the figures, but they actually mention that Seattle is building a $10,000,000 high school somewhere and use that as an example of where these war funds COULD be used.
Found on Informed Comment
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
"Over 6000 (six thousand) Palestinian refugees from Gaza, including children, babies, pregnant women, the sick, the elderly, and unarmed civilians have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border of Gaza for over one month now.
"Stranded in the scorching heat, they are without adequate shelter, food, or money with which to solicit help because the Zionist Israeli military regime decided to close the border passage between Gaza and Egypt. The Zionists had earlier built an enormous wall between Gaza and Egypt, destroying hundreds of Palestinian homes without notice in the process. The wall is a wall that is too high to be scaled, and those now trapped on the other side of it are being denied by Zionists reentry into Gaza. The Palestinians of Gaza cannot go home. (1)
"In addition to this sadistic and prolonged torture of the innocent, according to Gush Shalom, (Gush Shalom is a Jewish peace movement- true Judaism is opposed to Zionism) "services of Western Union and DHL in the Gaza Strip were discontinued under Israeli and American pressure, making it impossible for families to send money to their trapped relatives." On July 2, 2007, Gush Shalom sent "a strong protest to Prime Minster Olmert and Defence Minister Barak, and also a letter to representatives of the European Union. (2) (3)
Stranded now in what former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya describes as "appalling conditions," the death toll of the tormented has begun. Twenty-eight have died. In what should be causing flags of great concern to be raised, the EU personnel who monitor the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt are being sent home because it appears the border is going to remain closed. Chillingly, one must quickly ask if this is tantamount to removing potential foreign witnesses from a scene where a plan of torture and murder by the deliberate acts of withholding food and water from a civilian population could be underway. (4) (5)
Found on Whatreallyhappened.com
"The small village of Azun Athma is located in the southeastern part of the West Bank, not far from Qalqilyah and too close to Israel and the Jewish settlements of Etz Efraim, Elkanah, Sha'are Tikva and Oranit, which surround it in all directions. To ensure the security of the residents of Israel and for the sake of the settlers' convenience, the Palestinian village has been encircled by a fence and has become an enclave closed on all sides. In order to partake of essential services in the West Bank, the inhabitants of Azun Athma pass through a gate controlled by the Israel Defense Forces. They undergo physical searches each time they exit and enter. At 10 P.M. the soldiers close the gate and only open it again the next morning at 6 A.M.
"It is common knowledge that the Palestinians suffer from a serious lack of discipline, which starts in their mother's womb. There are fetuses that insist on coming into this world right at the time when the Israeli soldiers go to sleep. What is to be done with these babies when Azun Athma only has a clinic providing the most basic services for two hours, twice a week? To make sure they will receive proper medical care during the birth, pregnant women (in an average year about 50 babies are born in the village) tend to leave their homes and move in with relatives, who reside in places where one can obtain accessible and good medical services. Thus, of the 33 babies that were born to inhabitants of the village between January of this year and the beginning of June, 20 were born outside the village. The others were born in their mothers' homes without the aid of a doctor or a qualified midwife.
"According to a report published yesterday by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the publication of which coincided with the third anniversary of the ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague concerning the security fence, the 10 Palestinian communities surrounded by the fence have no access to 24-hour emergency services. The authors of the report estimate that when construction of the fence is completed along the planned route, about 50,000 people will find themselves in a similar situation.
Found on Angry Arab Newservice blog.
SEATTLE -- The family of a woman killed trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in 2003 asked a federal appeals court panel Monday to reinstate its lawsuit against Caterpillar Inc., saying the company knew bulldozers it sold to the Israeli government were being used to commit human rights violations.
"Caterpillar sold this product knowing - or it should have known - it would cause exactly this harm," one of the family's lawyers, well-known Duke University law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, told the three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old peace activist from Olympia, was crushed by a 60-ton Israeli bulldozer as she stood before a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip. Her parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, sued Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar, which manufactured the bulldozer, seeking to hold the company civilly liable for aiding and abetting human rights violations - the destruction of civilian homes.
Four Palestinian families whose relatives were killed or injured when the Israeli Defense Forces flattened their homes joined the Corries in filing suit.
A U.S. District Court judge in Tacoma dismissed the lawsuit in 2005, agreeing with the company's argument that it wasn't responsible for how the Israeli army used its product. The family's request to have the case reinstated drew dozens of protesters to the courthouse, some carrying black silhouettes of Corrie and others holding a painting of a diminutive figure standing before an oncoming bulldozer.
Chemerinsky insisted that the judge applied the wrong legal standard, and that as long as the company knew how the bulldozers were being used, it can be held liable under common law dating back centuries. The case should be sent back to the lower court for further proceedings to determine what Caterpillar executives knew, he said.
But lawyers for Caterpillar and the U.S. Justice Department, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Caterpillar's behalf, argued that letting the case proceed would require U.S. courts to improperly intervene in political issues reserved for the president and Congress. It would also require American judges to pass judgment on Israel's practice of demolishing Palestinian homes - "you can't aid and abet a legal activity," Caterpillar attorney Robert Abrams told the judges.
Abrams also said Israel purchased the bulldozers with U.S. aid, further complicating the issue.
"If your honors did look at the U.S. as paying for the bulldozer, the U.S. would be an aider and abettor as well," he said. "There is no conclusion that can be reached other than, it presents a political question."
Judge Michael Hawkins asked Justice Department lawyer Robert Loeb to consider the hypothetical case of a U.S. oven manufacturer during World War II: If the company continued selling ovens to Germany, knowing they were being used to kill Jews, would there be legal grounds to go after the company?
Yes, Loeb replied - treason, for starters.
AP article can be found on the Corrie's website: http://www.rachelcorriefoundation.org/
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Whole great CorpWatch article is here (portion below): http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14552
A 28-mile stretch of the Sonoran desert that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border west of the city of Nogales, Arizona, is a sun-baked battleground. Pronghorn antelope, javelina, rattlers, a few pigmy owls, and even jaguars compete for scarce resources amidst the saguaro, mesquite, and prickly pear.
Also struggling for survival in the parched landscape are hundreds of migrants who hike the miles of uncharted northbound trails and roads pursued by border patrol officers, security contractors, and law enforcement agents. Many of the would-be immigrants are captured, processed and deported; some are identified as criminal aliens and detained; others make it into the U.S. to take low-wage jobs; and hundreds more die every year in the searing desert heat.
A new predator is on the horizon. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued task orders to physically and electronically seal this stretch of the desert under a multi-billion dollar contract named the Secure Border Initiative Net (SBInet) to curb the flow of undocumented immigrants, drugs, and potential terrorists by 2013. This first $20 million pilot phase, which is named Project 28 after the length of this part of the desert that it is supposed to cover, was to be completed by mid-June 2007.
The SBInet contract was awarded in September 2006 to Boeing of Seattle, the company best known for its wide-bodied aircraft that dominate the world's airline fleets. The company is also a major military contractor, manufacturing warplanes like the F-18 Hornet, the F-22 Raptor and the Joint Strike Fighter/F-35 as well as the Brimstone, Hellfire and Tomahawk missiles.
****Later in Article
Over Budget, Behind Schedule
"These first 28 miles of virtual fencing are key to gaining effective control of the border region," U.S Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson Michael Friel told CorpWatch. "(This) is the first task order of what is expected to be multiple task orders."
"Almost a month after the initial deadline of June, 2007, this first phase is yet to come on-line. DHS attributes the initial delays to poor integration of communication technology between U.S. Border Patrol and Boeing's team of private contractors.
"Right now, the project is variously described as a work-in-progress or a boondoggle in the making - by assorted U.S. governmental investigators, the Mexican government, as well as citizens on both sides of the border, who note that, in addition to being behind schedule, it is also already over-budget.
"In Washington, U.S. Congressional representatives are already bristling at the skyrocketing costs of SBInet. Since Boeing won the contract last year, the estimated cost of securing the southwest border has gone from $2.5 billion to an estimated $8 billion just a few months later. When Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter asked SBInet Director Giddens for the real costs at a February 2007 hearing of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, Giddens replied: "I wish I could answer that with greater clarity."
"At the same Congressional hearings, Boeing vice president and SBInet program manager, Jerry McElwee, took heat from Congressman William Lacy Clay who demanded information about the ballooning costs and the extension of the contract period. "You bid on these contracts and then you come back and say, 'Oh we need more time. It costs more than twice as much.' Are you gaming the taxpayers here? Or gaming DHS?" the Missouri Democrat asked.
"DHS's own inspector general, Richard Skinner, says that the Boeing contract is in the "high-risk" category for waste and abuse because of its scope, its dollar value, and "the vulnerabilities stemming from the lack of acquisition management capacity."
"The most startling passage of the document concerns the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), which the minutes themselves note was a "body created by Leaders in 2006 to give the private sector a formal role in providing advice on how to enhance competitiveness in North America." The idea that business interests are really in control of the process is suggested in the following passage:
Exchanges following a formal presentation of the [NACC's]
report uncovered frustration relating to the private sector's
seeming inability to influence the pace of regulatory change
"from the bottom up."[...]The subtext was clear: in the
absence of ministerial endorsement, bureaucracies are
unlikely to act on the more challenging recommendations.[...]
The complex and far-reaching nature of the recommendations
suggest that governments will need ample time to review and
consult internally — and trilaterally — but it seems clear that
the NACC will be looking for an early commitment to moving
"This shockingly candid passage makes it clear that the business interests are actually in charge of the process, giving the politicians marching orders and demanding that these orders are followed, and followed quickly. Perhaps this is not surprising when one discovers that the SPP in fact did not start life as a governmental "dialogue" at all, but rather as an initiative launched by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCOCE) in January 2003. According to the CCOCE's own documents Council members comprise the CEOs of 150 leading Canadian businesses which "administer in excess of C$2.1 trillion in assets, have annual revenues of more than $500 billion" and, it seems, have a number of ranking governmental officials from all three North American nations in their back pocket.
"The other worrying news to come out of the meeting minutes is the revelation that Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day proposed at the meeting "the establishment of a coordinating body on Emergency Management" which like all other SPP initiatives will drastically curtail democracy in each of the three countries by leaving vital matters of national security in the hands of unelected foreign nationals and bureaucrats. The effects of such initiatives have already been felt in other areas, as Canada has already announced plans to lower pesticide standards in order to bring Canada's comparatively high standards in line with America's standards, which rank among the lowest in the developed world. One can only imagine what will result of this three-way race to the bottom in this "body on Emergency Management" which will presumably be tasked with coordinating disaster response.
Found on Whatreallyhappened.com
"'They are also strongly opposed both to the terrorist forces of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and to the growing influence of Iran in Iraq," Robert Dreyfuss wrote of the opposition in The Nation.
Found on Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog. Another portion below. Whole article here: http://www.upi.com/Energy/Analysis/2007/07/09/analysis_iraq_near_united_in_opposition/8192/
"The oil law already faced opposition from Iraq oil experts -- including two of the law's three original authors -- as well as the powerful oil unions. The unions say they're willing to stop production and exports if the law gives foreign oil companies too much access to or ownership of the oil. "
"The last four years have witnessed repeated attempts at dismantling the basis for any well planned resources management for the whole nation, only to replace it with market oriented destabilization and fragmentation policies that are at variance and in competition with each other and the national interest," said Tariq Shafiq, an Iraqi now living in Amman and London, tasked last spring by the Iraq oil minister to co-write the law. It was subsequently altered in negotiations and he now opposes it.
"'Would this law really optimize the management of the oil and gas? Would it really unite the country?," Shafiq said. "I believe sincerely it is naive to think it would."
"'It's really important to challenge the notion that the law is going to unite 'warring factions,'" said Ewa Jasiewicz of the London-based campaigner Platform. "The language in which the law is being couched and reported is incredibly sectarian and is creating de facto Sunni, Kurdish and Shiite regional power blocks in the imagination and political landscape and, in the process, the conditions for the creating of these kinds of facts on the ground."
"Many political parties opposed Maliki's government before the oil law. As security in Iraq diminishes, so does the political strength of Maliki's coalition of Shiites -- many backed by Iran -- and Kurds.
"The ministerial council just barely had quorum last week because of boycotts of key Shiite allies and Sunni parties. Parliament was supposed to take up the oil law Wednesday but boycotts and chronic absenteeism scrapped that.
"The Sadr Movement and the Iraqi Accord Front now say they may end the boycott specifically to challenge the law. The former held mass rallies over the weekend in opposition to Maliki. IAF says it will call for a vote of no confidence in him.
Monday, July 09, 2007
SEATTLE -- Dozens of protesters have gathered outside the federal courthouse in Seattle for an appeals hearing on the lawsuit brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie against the Caterpillar company.
They carry signs that say "Stop destroying Palestinian homes." The number of protesters overflowed the courtroom, and some people will watch video of the hearing in another room.
Cindy and Craig Corrie accuse the company of human rights violations for selling bulldozers to Israel to destroy Palestinian homes, like the machine that killed their daughter.
Twenty-three-year-old Rachel Corrie of Olympia was run over in 2003 while trying to save a home in Gaza.
Israel said the death was an accident. Caterpillar has said it can't be held responsible for how its bulldozers are used.
The lawsuit was dismissed two years ago in district court in Seattle.
Whole speech here: http://www.bradblog.com/?p=4786#more-4786
"Think about what that would do for our economy, for our foreign policy, for our global leadership, it would dramatically improve our balance of payments, reduce our national debt and make all of us more prosperous and more independent and spare us from wars in the Mid-East that are costing us, already, a trillion dollars and from entanglements with Mid-Eastern dictators who despise democracy and are hated by their own people.
"Now you've heard today a lot of people say that there are many little things that you all can do today to avert climate change on your own. But I will tell you this, it is more important than buying compact flourescent light bulbs or than buying a fuel efficient automobile. The most important thing you can do is to get involved in the political process and get rid of all of these rotten politicians that we have in Washington D.C. --
"Who are nothing more than corporate toadies for companies like Exxon and Southern Company, these villainous companies that consistently put their private financial interest ahead of American interest and ahead of the interest of all of humanity. This is treason and we need to start treating them now as traitors.
"And they have their slick public relations firms and their phony think tanks in Washington D.C. and their crooked scientists who are lying to the American people day after day after day. And we have a press that has completely let down American Democracy. That's giving us Ana Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton instead of the issues that we need to understand to make rational decisions in a democracy - like global warming.
"And so I am going to tell you this, that the next time you see John Stossel or Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity --- these flat-earthers, these corporate toadies, lying to you, lying to the American public, and telling you that global warming doesn't exist --- you send an email to their advertisers and tell them that you are not going to buy their products anymore.
"And I want you to remember this, that we are not protecting the environment for the sake of the fishes and the birds, we are protecting it because nature is the infrastructure of our communities. And if we want to meet our obligation as a generation, as a civilization, as a nation, which is to create communities for our children that provide them with the same opportunities for dignity, and enrichment, and good health, and prosperity, and stability as the communities that our parents gave us, we've got to start by protecting our environmental infrastructure.
The air we breathe, the water we drink, the wildlife, the public lands, the things that connect us to our past to our history that provide context to our communities and that are the source, ultimately, of our values and our virtues and our character as a people and the future of our children.
"And I will see all of you on the barricades.
Found on The Progressive Undernews
"Environmental consultant Robert Kavanaugh has filed an ethics complaint against Gregoire and Fish and Wildlife Director Jeff Koenings because he said they gave favors to the Cattlemen's Association that no other citizen could have.
"'The ethics code is very clear: A state official cannot give away state resources or do favors for others. The wildlife habitat down there is not theirs to give to the Cattlemen's Association," he said.
"Tom Fitzsimmons, Gregoire's chief of staff, said circumstances and motives that led to the pilot project are consistent with the governor's style, which is to seek out solutions that are mutually beneficial for all parties.
"'It was very typical of the governor," Fitzsimmons said. "In the spirit of reaching out to people, she reached out to the Cattlemen's Association and said, 'How can the state be involved in your issues?'"
"Fitzsimmons said the results have not been proved one way or the other and he said the governor is also taking into consideration the view of those who think it's not a good idea.
"There are differing views of whether it is really working or not," he said. "The jury's still out but that didn't keep us from experimenting and getting into the pilot a little bit."
"Last week, State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, assumed the role of voice of the world when he said, "I don't think the world views Hamas any differently as a result of this" -- this being Hamas's success in securing the release of Alan Johnston. McCormack may be right, but I'd say the jury is still out. What might shift global opinion however, is the claim that one of America's closest Palestinian allies, Mohammad Dahlan, had his representative, Samir Musharawi, intervene three times to prevent Alan Johnston's release.
This has been known to Conflicts Forum since June 19 but could not be made public at that time. The information was disclosed during a meeting in Beirut, in which the following exchange took place between senior British Member of Parliament, Michael Ancram, and Hamas's representative in Lebanon, Usamah Hamdan:
Michael Ancram: You mentioned that Alan Johnston's captors
were a family...
Usamah Hamdan: The Dagmoush family.MA: That they were
associated with Dahlan.
Would Dahlan have known? UH: Yes. He knew this, he does.
And for three times we came to the point to release
Alan Johnston and by telephone call from [Samir Musharawi],
who is Dahlan's man, they stopped that.
While Dahlan's motives are a matter of speculation -- he may have felt that postponing Johnston's release would undermine Hamas's ability to provide effective security in Gaza -- the fact remains that Johnston remained captive for as long as Mohammad Dahlan's Preventative Security Services remained in operation in Gaza.
"Nearly half of the US public wants President George W. Bush to face impeachment, and even more favor that fate for Vice President Dick Cheney, according to a poll out Friday.
"The survey by the American Research Group found that 45 percent support the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Bush, with 46 percent opposed, and a 54-40 split in favor when it comes to Cheney.
"The study by the private New Hampshire-based ARG canvassed 1,100 Americans by telephone July 3-5 and had an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points. The findings are available on ARG's Internet site.
"The White House declined to comment on the poll, the latest bad news for a president who has seen his public opinion standings dragged to record lows by the unpopular war in Iraq.
The US Constitution says presidents and vice presidents can be impeached -- that is, formally charged by the House -- for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" by a simple majority vote.
"Conviction by the Senate, which requires a two-thirds majority, means removal from office.
Just two US presidents have been impeached: Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 and acquitted in 1999; Andrew Johnson was impeached and acquitted in 1868. Disgraced president Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 when a House impeachment vote appeared likely.
"In late April, left-wing Representative Dennis Kucinich, a long-shot Democratic presidential hopeful, introduced a resolution calling for Cheney's impeachment. To date, the measure has nine listed co-sponsors and a 10th set to sign on when the House returns to work next week.
"But Democratic leaders appear unlikely to pursue such a course.