Sunday, December 17, 2006

Picks of the Week

Climate scientist says "Kyoto' barred

"A federal climate scientist in Boulder says his boss told him never to utter the word Kyoto and tried to bar him from using the phrase climate change at a conference.

"The allegations come as federal investigators probe whether Bush administration officials tried to block government scientists from speaking freely about global warming and attempted to censor their research."

What the government won't say about global warming will hurt us all

"But to manufacture this doubt in the face of a remarkable consensus in the scientific community about the probable causes and effects of global warming, the government has had to take a further dangerous step: It has muzzled its own scientists and censored their reports."

By 2040, greenhouse gases could lead to an open Arctic Sea in summers

"The projections come from computer simulations of climate and ice and from direct measurements showing that the amount of ice coverage has been declining for 30 years.

"The latest modeling study, being published on Tuesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, was led by Marika Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo."

Baker-Hamilton's fine print: stay in Iraq

"Most commentators have interpreted the report of the Iraq Study Group as a well-crafted admission of defeat. Predictably, that was exactly how President Bush himself reacted to it. 'I … believe we're going to succeed,' he told reporters Thursday. 'One way to assure failure is just to quit.' Addressing one of the report's key recommendations, he bluntly declared that Iran and Syria 'shouldn't bother to show up' for negotiations about Iraq if they don't understand their 'responsibilities to not fund terrorists' and if the Iranians don't 'verifiably suspend their [uranium] enrichment program.'

"Yet anyone who bothers to read the report carefully — as opposed to skimming the executive summary — can see that it neither proposes 'quitting' Iraq nor pins serious hope on Iranian or Syrian assistance. Quite the reverse."

A procrastination policy

"'[President Bush] decided, frankly, that it's not ready yet,' White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said yesterday of the White House's promised Iraq plan. '[It] is not going to happen until the new year. We do not know when, so I can't give you a date, I can't give you a time, I can't give you a place, I can't give you a way in which it will happen.' As the administration dawdles, the 'grave and deteriorating" situation in Iraq continues to worsen. Yesterday, 70 Iraqis were killed in a truck-bomb attack, five U.S. soldiers died, and a grim milestone was reached: 25,000 U.S. soldiers have now died or been wounded in the war. Seventy-one percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of the conflict, an all-time high. (Only 16 percent agree with Bush and Cheney that we're winning.) A change in strategy is desperately needed, yet the 'search for a new plan for Iraq seems to be taking place with as much urgency as the deliberations over a new color for the dollar bill.' The White House initially promised a new plan 'before Christmas,' but that has been pushed until January at the earliest. The decision to delay may be an attempt to'blunt the effect of the publicity' of the Iraq Study Group's report, or a way to keep a possible increase in troop levels under wraps until after the holidays. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) called the delay 'unpardonable.' "Every day that goes by,' Hagel said, 'we are losing ground.' 'The nation is in a crisis, and Americans need to hear how he plans to unwind the chaos he has unleashed in Iraq,' the New York Times writes. 'Americans need to see that he is prepared to choose among the undesirable alternatives, and clear the way for a withdrawal of American troops that does not leave even more killing and mayhem behind.' (The Center for American Progress has a way: Strategic Redeployment.)"

Some Gitmo detainees freed elsewhere

"Decisions by more than a dozen countries in the Middle East, Europe and South Asia to release the former Guantanamo detainees raise questions about whether they were really as dangerous as the United States claimed, or whether some of America's staunchest allies have set terrorists and militants free."

The quality of mercy is not strained . . . in other countries.

Army, Marine Corps to ask for more troops

"The Army and Marine Corps are planning to ask incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Congress to approve permanent increases in personnel, as senior officials in both services assert that the nation's global military strategy has outstripped their resources.

"In addition, the Army will press hard for 'full access' to the 346,000-strong Army National Guard and the 196,000-strong Army Reserves by asking Gates to take the politically sensitive step of easing the Pentagon restrictions on the frequency and duration of involuntary call-ups for reservists, according to two senior Army officials."

US staying the course for Big Oil in Iraq

"Instead, the ISG is explicitly in favor of privatizing Iraq's oil industry - to the benefit of Anglo-American Big Oil - after the impending passage of a new oil law that was initially scheduled to be passed this month by the Iraqi Parliament.

"For Big Oil, the new oil law is the holiest of holies: once the exploitation of Iraq's fabulous resources is in the bag, 'security' is just a minor detail. Enter the ISG's much-hyped provision of US troops remaining in Iraq until an unclear date to protect not the Iraqi population, but Big Oil's supreme interests. This is really what ISG co-head James Baker means by 'responsible transition'."

Perhaps Big Oil should pay for the war. I don't mean help pay for the war -- pay for the war.

Iraq unions against oil privatisation

"Five Iraqi trade union federations have condemned federal oil law negotiations for being too corporation-friendly.

"The leaders of the five federations meeting in Amman released a statement Thursday urging a pause in negotiations over a law to govern Iraq's 115 billion barrels of oil reserves, the third largest in the world."

European disillusionment over the Baker-Hamilton report

"The initial enthusiasm evoked by the US Iraq Study Group report in official European political circles has rapidly subsided. The first feelings of relief have been replaced by scepticism and reserve, with tensions simmering beneath the surface. What the European elites regarded as a possible light on the horizon has dissipated and now the prevailing view is that the report and its reception in America could prove to be the starting point for fresh inter-European and transatlantic tensions."

John McCain's shameless call for escalation in Iraq

"These opinioneers are either lying or stupid. Mainstream journalists are loath to engage in 'straight talk' about McCain in deference to his heroic legend. In the simplistic, shorthand narrative of American political coverage, McCain's flashcard has the word 'integrity' on it in big red letters. It's as if a few years of torture and imprisonment renders one immune to ambition, vanity or dishonesty for a lifetime. That may sound callous, but the truth is that McCain has time and again proven willing to change his tune on issues of conscience for maximum convenience, and has even admitted as much. In May, McCain told Fox News' Chris Wallace all about it: 'I've found in my life that when I do what I think is right... it always turns out in the end OK. When I do things for political expediency, which I have from time to time, it's always turned out poorly.'"

Being a prisoner of war doesn't make one a hero. In Japan, it makes one a coward. It's certainly not evidence of ability. It's like being in a car wreck and surviving . . . stuff happens.

Washington looks to 'blame Iraqis and run'

"'You could call it ‘blame and run’, said Zbigniew Bzrezinski, a former national security adviser now at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. 'It is based on a pervasive illusion that there is such a thing as an Iraqi government. The more we blame it for doing things it cannot do, the more impotent it will become. ‘Blame and run’ is self-fulfilling.'"

Iraq PM reaches out to Saddam supporters

"Opening a national reconciliation conference, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urged former soldiers from the ousted dictator's defeated army to join Iraq's new security forces to fight the armed factions tearing the country apart."Gulf states announce nuclear plan

"Officials from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also urged a peaceful settlement to the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme.

"The six Arab states said they were exploring the possibility of creating a shared nuclear programme.

"They stressed their right to nuclear energy and emphasised that any programme would be peaceful."

One would think this destroys the flimsy BushCo rationale to bomb Iran. Cancel that, it would give him a rationale to attack other oil bearing nations, including Iran.

Arabs want action on Israel nukes

"IRAN and Arab states today seized on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's statement implying that Israel has nuclear weapons, calling it proof of a regional threat and demanding UN action.

"Yesterday Mr Olmert appeared to admit - in breach of the Jewish state's decades-long policy of ambiguity - that Israel possessed such weapons."

Saudi ambassador abruptly resigns, leaves Washington

"Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, flew out of Washington yesterday after informing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his staff that he would be leaving the post after only 15 months on the job, according to U.S. officials and foreign envoys. There has been no formal announcement from the kingdom.

"The abrupt departure is particularly striking because his predecessor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, spent 22 years on the job. The Saudi ambassador is one of the most influential diplomatic positions in Washington and is arguably the most important overseas post for the oil-rich desert kingdom."

Is something going on? Recently, The Dick was summoned to Saudi Arabia, probably to explain the collapse of the GOP in the elections.

Saudis say they might back Sunnis if US leaves Iraq

"Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq’s Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats.

"King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia conveyed that message to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago during Mr. Cheney’s whirlwind visit to Riyadh, the officials said. During the visit, King Abdullah also expressed strong opposition to diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran, and pushed for Washington to encourage the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, senior Bush administration officials said."

Interesting how Israel and the Saudis tell the US what to do.

Bush administration conspires to replace Iraqi government

"Having rejected the findings of the Iraq Study Group, the Bush administration is publicly engaged in a series of high-level consultations in preparation for a policy shift. Evidence is emerging, however, that, behind the scenes, the White House is already implementing an alternative strategy, which includes the removal of the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The political realignment would exclude the Shiite movement led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and be accompanied by a build-up of US troops and a crackdown on the Sadrist Mahdi Army militia."

Hmmm! The Dick goes to Saudi Arabia to get his orders from the Sunnis. Next thing you know, Shia oriented al-Maliki will be history.

In the preceding article, there is this item: "Mr. Obaid also suggested that Saudi Arabia could cut world oil prices in half by raising its production, a move that he said 'would be devastating to Iran, which is facing economic difficulties even with today’s high oil prices.' The Saudi government disavowed Mr. Obaid’s column, and Prince Turki canceled his contract."

Randi Rhodes spent a lot of time discussing this on Wednesday; her gist was this: Saudi Arabia will take up fight in Iraq if US leaves and will cut oil prices by half? "Go for it!" said Randi. Perhaps the Saudis could form a coalition with Israel.

Saudi Arabia tests potential for unlocking heavy-oil reserves

"If it succeeds in overcoming the technical hurdles, the effort could significantly increase Saudi Arabia's oil reserves over the next several years, potentially adding some slack to tight energy markets. It would also be a blow to so-called peak-oil theorists who have forecast that world oil production is on the brink of peaking."

A way forward, a look back

"In other words, Bush is now confronting a region-wide crisis that largely resulted from the neocon strategy that he embraced in 2001. Instead of dealing narrowly with bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorists after the 9/11 attacks, Bush chose to invade Iraq and shake up the entire region."

About face: Soldiers call for Iraq withdrawal

"For the first time since Vietnam, an organized, robust movement of active-duty US military personnel has publicly surfaced to oppose a war in which they are serving. Those involved plan to petition Congress to withdraw American troops from Iraq. (Note: A complete version of this report will appear next week in the print and online editions of The Nation.)"

The bubble boy in the oval office: Try to mend Iraq all you want; just don't tell Bush the war was a mistake.

"THERE IS a famous 'Twilight Zone' episode about a little boy in a small town who has fantastical powers. Through the misuse of his powers, the little boy has ruined the lives of everybody in the town — for instance, teleporting them into a cornfield, or summoning a snowstorm that destroys their crops. Because anyone who thinks an unhappy thought will be banished, the adults around him can do nothing but cheerfully praise his decisions while they try to nudge him in a less destructive direction.

"This episode kept popping into my head when I was reading about President Bush and the Baker-Hamilton commission. Bush is the president of the United States, which therefore gives him enormous power, but he is treated by everybody around him as if he were a child."

"Today is better than tomorrow": Iraq is a living hell (Scroll down)

"The next day he wrote:

"Today, while I was arranging for the car to be sold at the highest price I could find, explosions burst almost 50 meters from the place where I was standing. I was forced to hide under the car I was selling for over 2 hours. There were ongoing clashes between the Iraqi Army and resistance fighters in broad daylight in the middle of the capital!"

Democrats vow to continue funding Iraq war

"Having acknowledged their surrender to Bush over the funding, the various Democratic leaders in Congress claimed that their capitulation came with a price. Pelosi asserted that 'the days of the rubber stamp are over.' And Hoyer argued that 'There may well be attached to this $160 billion various parameters that the Congress expects to be met.'"

Just as I feared, they'll continue to dance to the same tune.

Despite a $168B budget, Army faces cash crunch

"At Fort Knox, Ky., the cash crunch got so bad this summer that the Army ran out of money to pay janitors who clean the classrooms where captains are taught to be commanders. So the officers, who will soon be leading 100-soldier units, clean the office toilets themselves."

Pentagon eyes $468.9 bln budget for fiscal 2008

"The White House has approved a $468.9 billion budget for the Pentagon in fiscal year 2008, a six-percent increase over last year's request, according to a Defense Department document obtained by Reuters."

Incoming chairmen ready to investigate

"Incoming Democratic committee chairmen say they will hold a series of hearings and investigations early next year to build the case for their call for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and for possible action against defense contractors found to have wasted billions in federal funds.

"The emerging plans to grill administration officials on the conduct of the war are part of a pledge for more aggressive congressional oversight on issues such as prewar intelligence, prisoner treatment at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and the government's use of warrantless wiretaps."

Presidential tyranny untamed by election defeat

"Like the two entwining strands of the double helix, law and power form the genetic structure of government. Law is nothing but empty verbiage without power to back it up, enforce it, embody it. And power without law is nothing but a mad ape, baring its teeth, thumping its chest, raping and beating where it pleases, taking what it wants: a bestial thing, born in the muddy swamp of our lowest, blindest, rawest biochemical impulses. Disconnect these strands and things fall apart, as Yeats says; the center literally cannot hold, and the blood-dimmed tide is loosed upon the world."

Bush administration preparing to boost US troop strength in Iraq

"Political initiative in Washington, however, has clearly shifted to those who are advocating a significant increase of US troops, accompanied by a violent assault on the Iraqi population."

Looks like the new way forward is staying the course. While doing a line of coke, The Moron says, "F**k the will of the people.!"

Government seeks new ruling in Cheney case

"The Bush administration asked an appeals court Wednesday to overrule a federal judge and allow the White House to keep secret any records of visitors to Vice President Cheney's residence and office."

US subpoena is seen as bid to stop leaks

"The novelty in the government’s approach is in its broad use of a grand jury subpoena, which is typically a way to gather evidence, rather than to confiscate all traces of it. But the subpoena issued to the A.C.L.U. seeks 'any and all copies' of a document e-mailed to it unsolicited in October, indicating that the government also wants to prevent further dissemination of the information in the document."

A gag on free speech

"The Bush administration is trampling on the First Amendment and well-established criminal law by trying to use a subpoena to force the American Civil Liberties Union to hand over a classified document in its possession. The dispute is shrouded in secrecy, and very little has been made public about the document, but we do not need to know what’s in it to know what’s at stake: if the government prevails, it will have engaged in prior restraint — almost always a serious infringement on free speech — and it could start using subpoenas to block reporting on matters of vital public concern."

America's shame: Brought low by a gang of cretins

"This tells you pretty much all you need to know about the American debacle in Iraq. Imagine the arrogance and stupidity of conquering, occupying and trying to run a country without being able to speak its language. A nation of 26 million people – and your embassy has only six people who can actually understand what is being said, written, and broadcast there. This is a folly that amounts to a monstrous crime in itself, aside from the inherent evil of launching an unprovoked war of aggression."

Bush's sinking ship of fools

"Iraqi soldiers fighting in the service of a puppet government will seem like puppets even to themselves, and their very association with the US occupation limits their effectiveness. They will be branded as collaborators in the pay of infidels. I am haunted by the remark Iraqi soldiers made to the Washington Post's Anthony Shadid. We know we are bad Muslims, they said, but we need the money.

"The president says he is disappointed at the slow progress of success. But there isn't going to be a success in Iraq, and the job now is to manage and mitigate failure. The Iraq Study Group understands that, but there is little evidence that Bush does. He has commissioned other internal reviews to lessen the impact of the study group's conclusions. He apparently finds it difficult to comply with so many distinguished, bipartisan Americans and senior statesmen, several of whom served his father, who understood what would happen if we occupied Iraq."

Full speed ahead, with menace

"Bush has stepped up the bellicose talk directed at Iran and is massively reinforcing US military power in and near the Persian Gulf and also doing likewise within operational range of North Korea. Furthermore, he has reassured top Israeli leaders that they need not fear that his resolve to deal forcibly with Iran has been weakened one iota. Israeli leaders exited jubilant from their recent meeting with Bush.

"As Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney asserted before the election, they were not up for re-election and no matter what the voters said, the two would continue to do what they believed were the right things for the national security of the United States."

Rice rejects engaging Iran, Syria on Iraq

"The 'compensation' required for any such deal might be too high, Rice told the paper in an interview.

"Rice said she did not want to trade away Lebanese sovereignty to Syria or allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon as a price for peace in Iraq, the Post reported."

In my experience, the side that's in the wrong is less likely to want to talk directly with their adversary than the side in the right.

Diplomat's suppressed documents lays bare the lies behind Iraq war

"A devastating attack on Mr Blair's justification for military action by Carne Ross, Britain's key negotiator at the UN, has been kept under wraps until now because he was threatened with being charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act.

"In the testimony revealed today Mr Ross, 40, who helped negotiate several UN security resolutions on Iraq, makes it clear that Mr Blair must have known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction. He said that during his posting to the UN, 'at no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq's WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests.'"

Full text: Tony Blair's speech

"This is a tough choice. But it is also a stark one: to stand British troops down and turn back; or to hold firm to the course we have set.

"I believe we must hold firm."

The Moron and The Dick have told The Poodle to stay the course.

No. 10 secret memo: We are seen as a shambles

"Labour has no chance of winning the next Election because voters think the Government is a shambles - and there is little Gordon Brown can do to stop David Cameron becoming Prime Minister.

"That is the devastating verdict of a secret Downing Street memo drawn up for Tony Blair by his senior advisers and obtained by The Mail on Sunday. "

Rice hints Baker report to be snubbed

"Rice stressed that the administration will continue to push for a democratic Mideast, insisting it is a 'matter of strategic interest,' this as opposed to the Baker-Hamilton report which made a point of underplaying that goal."

The vultures are circling (Afghanistan)

"In the plains of southwestern Afghanistan, confident Taliban move around openly with their weaponry, to the frustration of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Afghan National Army (ANA) troops who can see them, but seem helpless in containing them.

"Indeed, foreign troops are mostly held hostage in their bases, and their alternatives are stark: conduct aerial bombings in which civilians would surely be heavy casualties, or pull out.

"The mood on the ground in Afghanistan is that the latter option will prevail.

"'It was really fun to fight with the Soviets [in the 1980s], but not so with the Americans. I remember once, three Soviet soldiers were besieged by mujahideen. They were injured and they had the chance to retreat and be airlifted. But they refused and fought till their last. They had a certain level of conviction. The Americans do not have this,' Khuda-i-Rahim told Asia Times Online."

Lebanon's army captures Israeli Mossad 'terrorist ring'

"Last Saturday, the army said it had arrested Mahmoud Rafeh, a 59-year-old Lebanese citizen and retired police officer, for a May 26 car bombing that killed Mahmoud Majzoub, a senior Islamic Jihad official, and his brother in front of their home in the southern city of Sidon. Rafeh 'had links to Israeli intelligence,' a statement said."

US to double emergency equipment stored in Israel

"Within the next two years the Americans will fill the military emergency stockpiles in Israel with double the equipment they now hold.

"In addition, the US will allow Israel to use the remainder of the US's monetary guarantees given to them that have not been used yet, and add up to USD 4.5 billion, by 2011.

"The emergency stockpiles are meant to store American military equipment in the Middle East in case of an emergency. However, in case of an emergency, Israel is allowed to use the stockpiles."

In case Israel wants to rebomb Lebanon and/or bomb Iran?

Israeli spy ring probe widens: Investigation focuses on ranking congresswoman

"While two executives of the powerful Israeli lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) await trial on charges of spying against the United States, the FBI has now broadened its investigation to look at whether the group tried to strike a deal with a leading member of Congress. In particular, federal investigators wish to know if AIPAC tried to reach a shady arrangement with Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee."

A rogue 51st state: Israel already looks to be intent on scuppering the Iraq Study Group plan for Middle East peace

"Accept that American attachment to the Israeli cause is total - as Baker himself makes clear. Bring on more peacekeeping American troops. The hinge and the question, though, is how far that attachment should wreck everything else? Israel could be propelled into regional talks. It floats on a sea of US subsidy. It is, in many ways , the real 51st state. But it does not agree with Baker that there are 'no military solutions' here. Nor will it commit to the necessary level of 'political engagement'. Does more 'violence on the ground' follow automatically, then? It's a sad, sad way to 'abandon' hope."

Routine and systematic torture is at the heart of America's war on terror: In the fight against cruelty, barbarism and extremism, America has embraced the very evils it claims to confront

"After thousands of years of practice, you might have imagined that every possible means of inflicting pain had already been devised. But you should never underestimate the human capacity for invention. United States interrogators, we now discover, have found a new way of destroying a human being."

Torture, impeachment and a Vietnam vet's tears

"I can't count how many times I have read comments, or even heard them in person, from jingoistic Americans who have said they aren't bothered at all by the idea of American troops or CIA agents torturing 'terrorists' or other captives. They typically will say that the victims of the torture are evil people intent on killing Americans, and so who cares?

"In fact, however, aside from the fact that torture is illegal under international law, and that it is illegal in the U.S. as a signatory of the Geneva Conventions, since the torture is being conducted upon captives who have never had their cases examined to determine if they are indeed terrorists or legitimate combatants or just innocents picked up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is inevitable that many of those who are being tortured with the president's approval and in our names are simply innocents. Some of those innocents have died at the hands of their tormentors. Others have been driven insane."

Judge upholds detainee rights terror law

"A federal judge upheld the Bush administration's new terrorism law Wednesday, agreeing that Guantanamo Bay detainees do not have the right to challenge their imprisonment in U.S. courts."

'Merica!

Federal judge issues split decision on new Military Commissions Act

"In the first legal decision on a federal law that denies access to U.S. courts to detainees in the war on terrorism, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that foreign prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, could not sue for freedom.

"But, in a split decision, U.S. District Judge James Robertson also ruled that the law's denial of that right to the more than 12 million legal immigrants living in the United States was unconstitutional."

Bush 'privacy board' just a gag

"The first public meeting of a Bush administration 'civil liberties protection panel' had a surreal quality to it, as the five-member board refused to answer any questions from the press, and stonewalled privacy advocates and academics on key questions about domestic spying." . . . .

"The three-hour meeting, held at Georgetown University, quickly established that the panel would be something less than a fierce watchdog of civil liberties. Instead, members all but said they view their job as helping Americans learn to relax and love warrantless surveillance."

Living in the land of BushCo would've given Kafka and Orwell so much more to write about.

Showdown looms over domestic spying

"Federal agents continue to eavesdrop on Americans' electronic communications without warrants a year after President Bush confirmed the practice, and experts say a new Congress' efforts to limit the program could trigger a constitutional showdown."

Even if they're off, cellphones allow FBI to listen in

"Authorities won't reveal how they did this. But a countersurveillance expert said Nextel, Motorola Razr and Samsung 900 series cellphones can be reprogrammed over the air, using methods meant for delivering upgrades and maintenance. It's called 'flashing the firmware,' said James Atkinson, a consultant for the Granite Island Group in Massachusetts."

Mourning for Pinochet - US establishment shows its affinity for fascism

"If the political events of the past six years have demonstrated anything, it is that there exists within America’s ruling establishment no genuine commitment to democratic rights or democratic forms of rule. In the relatively short period since 2000, the US ruling elite has overseen the theft of a national election, the launching of an illegal war, the abrogation of the most basic constitutional rights and the legalization of torture.

"This week’s death of the aged former US-backed Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has provided one more verification of this general political trend."

Pinochet's death spares Bush family

"Although Chilean investigations against other defendants may continue, the cases against Pinochet end with his death of a heart attack at the age of 91. Pinochet’s death from natural causes also marks a victory for world leaders, including George H.W. and George W. Bush, who shielded Pinochet from justice over the past three decades."

History will not treat us kindly

"History will not treat us kindly. We will be remembered as the Americans who insulated themselves from reality and remained self-absorbed, concerned with their own personal comfort and privilege while our government wrecked havoc on the world and destroyed our own culture. It will not be difficult for future generations to understand what happened and the sequence of events. The evidence is abundantly clear. The only question will be why Americans didn’t rise up and save themselves."

Neil Cavuto giddy that Tim Johnson had a stroke

"Um, again, keep in mind as well that the Governor of South Dakota is a Republican, Michael Round. Should the senator's condition worsen, ah it will be up to the Governor to find a replacement. We're not nearly at that stage. I only raise the issue because this senate is that close and these things are that important. Reaction now from former congressman Tom DeLay. Congressman, what do you make of this?"

From comments by experts, it appears Mr. Johnson will recover. My biggest concern is for his safety. Hopefully, he has bodyguards at the hospital 24/7. He'd be particularly vulnerable to a Wellstoning.

Southern California fence company, executives plead guilty in immigration probe

"The two men admitted hiring at least 10 illegal immigrants.

"Among the company's projects was also the construction of part of a 14-mile (22.5-kilometer) border fence in San Diego in the late 1990s."

If you made this stuff up, no one would believe you.

North American Union leader says merger just crisis away

"Robert Pastor, a leading intellectual force in the move to create an EU-style North American Community, told WND he believes a new 9/11 crisis could be the catalyst to merge the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

"Pastor, a professor at American University, says that in such a case the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP – launched in 2005 by the heads of the three countries at a summit in Waco, Texas – could be developed into a continental union, complete with a new currency, the amero, that would replace the U.S. dollar just as the euro has replaced the national currencies of Europe."

$20bn gas project seized by Russia

"Shell is being forced by the Russian government to hand over its controlling stake in the world's biggest liquefied gas project, provoking fresh fears about the Kremlin's willingness to use the country's growing strength in natural resources as a political weapon.

"After months of relentless pressure from Moscow, the Anglo-Dutch company has to cut its stake in the $20bn Sakhalin-2 scheme in the far east of Russia in favour of the state-owned energy group Gazprom."

Meanwhile, the US has become a third world country.

Americans back price negotiations on Medicare drugs

"A new poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans favor allowing the government to negotiate prescription drug prices for the Medicare program, suggesting there will be considerable political pressure on the next Congress to do so."

Senator wants universal health care

"Wyden said his new plan would allow workers to carry their health insurance from job to job without penalty. More efficient administration and more promotion of competition for health care plans, he said, would allow greater coverage while costing no more than the government is paying today for health insurance coverage."

Outbreaks reveal food safety net's holes

"Consumer advocates think that tougher mandatory food safety standards and stepped-up enforcement are the answer. The country's largest food distributors and restaurants are pursuing self-regulation, arguing that government rules can take years to put in place. Produce growers and packers have suggested a voluntary system with elements of mandatory oversight. But even the industry proposals are months away from taking effect."

It's time to embrace regulation to protect the public from corporate greed and malfeasance.

Renowned cancer scientist was paid by chemical firm for 20 years

"While he was being paid by Monsanto, Sir Richard wrote to a royal Australian commission investigating the potential cancer-causing properties of Agent Orange, made by Monsanto and used by the US in the Vietnam war. Sir Richard said there was no evidence that the chemical caused cancer."

In the US it's accepted that FDA officials are on the payrolls of corporate interests.

US income figures show staggering rise in social inequality: 60 million Americans living on less than $7 a day

"It is often noted that 3 billion of the world’s poorest people live on less than $2 a day. In the US, where the cost of living is far higher, $7 a day is only enough to guarantee a life of destitution. The fact that 60 million people live in such dire poverty—and tens of millions more could face the same fate if they lost their jobs or confronted some other financial catastrophe—is a damning indictment of American capitalism and the free market model it touts around the world.

"The levels of social stratification and inequality in the US are incompatible with genuine democracy. Political life in America is completely subordinated to the needs of a financial aristocracy whose pursuit of ever greater levels of personal wealth constantly collides with the social needs and democratic rights of the broad masses of people in the US and internationally. The needs of this elite—for further wars of conquest, tax cuts, the elimination of social programs and a drastic reduction of living standards—cannot be imposed, in the final analysis, without recourse to authoritarian means."

Americans see widening rich-poor income gap as cause for alarm

"Almost three-quarters of Americans believe inequality is a major issue, versus 24 percent who don't think so, according to a new Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll. Most of the concern is among Democrats and independent voters, though a majority of Republicans -- 55 percent -- also called the situation serious."

US moves to restrain prosecutors

"The new guidelines will help companies defend themselves by 'making it easier for corporations to say no, and not having to worry about that decision being held against them,' said Andrew Weissmann, who headed the Justice Department’s Enron task force and is now in private practice."

GOP = tighter controls on individuals, freedom for corporations.

A free choice

"A critical step to helping poor and middle class Americans get ahead is to remove barriers that prevent employees from joining unions. Workers represented by unions earn 28 percent more than nonunion workers, are 62 percent more likely to have medical insurance through their jobs, and are four-and-a-half times as likely to have guaranteed pensions. The most important legislative step to smashing these barriers is passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which AFL-CIO President John Sweeney last month called the labor movement's 'top priority.' According to work site surveys, 42 million non-union employees in America would like to have representation at work but don't. A 2005 survey found '53 percent of nonunion workers - that's more than 50 million people - want to join a union, if given the choice.' But according to Human Rights Watch, 'Legal obstacles tilt the playing field so steeply against freedom of association that the United States is in violation of international human rights standards for workers.' Clearly, the system is broken. Congress needs to fix it. (Tell your members of Congress to support the Employee Free Choice Act.)"

More Americans hungry, homeless in 2006

"More Americans went homeless and hungry in 2006 than the year before and children made up almost a quarter of those in emergency shelters, said a report released on Thursday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

"'The face of hunger and homelessness right now ... is young children, young families,' said the conference's president, Douglas Palmer, the mayor of Trenton, New Jersey."

Greenspan sees more declines in dollar

"Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said the dollar will continue to drift downwards on growing signs that OPEC nations are shifting their assets out of the US dollar towards the euro and yen."

Rogers: Sell US dollar, buy real and yuan

" It's only a matter of time before the beleaguered U.S. dollar loses its status as the world's reserve currency and medium of exchange, U.S. fund manager and author Jim Rogers told Reuters in an interview.

"'The dollar is a terribly flawed currency,' said Rogers, who co-founded the Quantum hedge fund with billionaire investor George Soros in the 1970s.

"He urged investors to switch to the Brazilian real and Chinese yuan instead."

US, China clash on currency

"'Some American friends are not only having limited knowledge of, but harboring much misunderstanding about, the reality in China,' Wu said, according to a copy of her remarks provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For example, Wu noted that China needed to create enough jobs to absorb an estimated 300 million rural workers -- equal to the entire population of the United States -- into its urban economy in the next two decades."

How dangerous is the dollar drop?

"Experts have been predicting for some time that the dollar would eventually go into a nosedive, and now that time seems to have come. The US currency has lost five percent of its value against the euro since late October, and 13 percent since the beginning of the year. The euro is currently fluctuating around a value of $1.33, which is only 3 cents away from its all-time high in 2004. And yet Trichet's counterpart Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, has done nothing but look on as the dollar plunges."

In St. Paul, Ford workers say their goodbyes

"United Auto Workers officials in St. Paul spent Thursday saying goodbye and setting up new telephone lines and peer support services in their union hall for the 900 workers whose careers at Ford ended Thursday and today with the elimination of the night shift."

I'm not sure, but I think this is the same auto plant I used to live near as a kid. They made passenger cars then. The plant was situated overlooking the Mississippi, and my buddies and I would hike through the woods to the plant to take the visitors' tour. I was in awe of the continuous three foot sheet of white hot glass that was always in production. And I was depressed by the mind numbing jobs the workers labored at.

Quotes from www.bartcop.com and others:

"I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume." -- America's no-conscience murderer, Link

"We have made a conscious effort not to be a body-count team." -- Dubya, http://thinkprogress.org

"The Iraq Study Group is a nice group of people... that doesn't mean it is now the policy of the U.S. government." --Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Warmonger), Link

"In some ways, he had enormous potential and political gifts. But, they didn't arise because of his lack of discipline." -- former presidential spokesman Mike McCurry, who seems to think eight years of peace and prosperity have little or no value. Link

"I think what happens is, people have come back with answers, and he said, 'I want more. And he's not going to move before its ready." -- Tony Snow, on Bush's plan to stonewall his Iraq changes, and allow more soliders to die and lose their limbs until time goes by and people forget about the Baker Commission, Link

"Sometimes, issues come up that you consider so big and so important that you've got to do the right thing, and that can make you unpopular." -- Tony Blair, ...at 27% approval, Link

"Such unmitigated gall. Your principles Order, Justice, and Freedom' obviously don't include Honesty, Integrity, or Ethics. The House Ethics Committee chairman, Joel Hefley, was removed after rebuking you 3 times. Yes, he was replaced by Delay groupie Doc Hastings, with a couple other groupies connected with your PAC... the stench of the 109th Congress will take a long time to fix." --Wilbur, posting on, surpisingly, DeLay's blog, Link

Tony Blair Resigns

Associated Free Press and Guardian– December 16, 2006(London)

As the scandal deepened about bribes associated with military procurement, in a surprise move Tony Blair tendered his resignation to the Queen today. This sudden move caught Parliament by surprise and leaders expect Parliament to go into special session on Monday to name an interim successor. With deepened popular resentment toward his international policies, Mr. Blair had previously announced that he would call for elections and step down in 2007.

“This could not come at a worse time,” said Angus Brown, a member of Parliament. “However, I can see the futility of Mr. Blair’s quandary. He came into leadership a decade ago and promised a government ‘whiter than white.’ But, he fell into bad international company that seemed to alter his view of morality and good government. He was too eager to support his newfound buddy, Mr. Bush, and overextended England’s ability to meet its international commitment, especially in the Middle East.”

When Mr. Blair was contacted, he was quite forthcoming. “Yes, I made errors. I sought the counsel of my friend, Mr. Bush, on how to cover the costs of the Iraq War, since it was draining our coffers, and he and Mr. Cheney related stories of how they were able to pull in companies, such as Halliburton, who bankrolled their campaigns in exchange for lucrative contracts. They assured me it was legal, but I guess Scotland Yard may have a different opinion, when it comes to proper government in England.”

In a rare public statement the Queen accepted Mr. Blair’s resignation, expressed her disappointment in Mr. Blair and stated that England is “not the Wild West.”

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hagel is the way to go in 2008. His foreign policy sense is just what this country needs.

12:38 PM  

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