Monday, May 21, 2007
Israel Bombs Home of Hamas Lawmaker; 8 Killed
Eight Palestinians have died after the Israeli Air Force bombed the home of a leading Palestinian lawmaker on Sunday. It was the deadliest strike since Israel began bombing Gaza last week. The home belonged to Khalil al-Haya - a Hamas representative in the Palestinian parliament. Seven of his relatives died including three of his brothers. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the bombing marked the first time in two years that an Israeli air strike targeted a member of Hamas' political wing. Israel has killed at least 40 Palestinians in Gaza since last week. Earlier today Israel bombed the Jebaliya refugee camp killing four members of Islamic Jihad. Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti condemned Israel's actions.
Mustafa Barghouti said, "This Israeli government has no shame. What they are doing in Gaza is killing people by airplanes, by F-16 jet fighters, and what they do here is also killing people by destroying their economy."
Meanwhile Hamas is continuing to fire crude rockets into southern Israel. Four rockets were reportedly launched on Monday morning. Israel's Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog defended Israel's escalating use of violence.
Isaac Herzog said, "We cannot accept the fact that women, children, and Israeli citizens are attacked by terrorists, day-in, day-out by missiles from Gaza, and the world is expecting us not to do anything. It is impossible, and we will defend our citizens forcefully."
The Times of London reports Israel might be preparing another ground invasion of Gaza. Three Israeli divisions comprising 20,000 troops are on standby near the Gaza border ready for a full-scale invasion.
40 Die in Lebanon In Heaviest Internal Fighting Since Civil War
In Lebanon, at least 40 people have died in some of the country's heaviest internal fighting since the end of Lebanon's civil war. Lebanese troops have clashed with Palestinian militants tied to the group Fatah al-Islam. The Lebanese government claims the group has ties to al Qaeda and Syria. Most of the fighting has been in Tripoli and in a nearby Palestinian refugee camp. Earlier this morning Lebanese forces sealed off entrances to the camp and then shelled the camp which is home to 40,000 refugees. Fatah al-Islam has denied links to al Qaeda and claimed the Lebanese government was trying to make it a scapegoat.
15 US Troops Killed in Iraq
In Iraq, at least 15 US troops have died since Friday. The deadliest incident occurred in western Baghdad on Saturday when a roadside bomb killed six US soldiers and an interpreter.
Number of Private Contractors Killed in Iraq Soars
The New York Times reports the number of private contractors killed in Iraq is soaring. At least 146 contractors and mercenaries were killed in the first three months of the year. Another 3,400 filed claims for injuries suffered in Iraq. At least 917 contractors working for the US government have now died in the war.
Iraq's VP al Hashemi Criticizes Proposed Iraqi Oil Law
Iraq's vice president Tariq al Hashemi is publicly criticizing a proposed Iraqi oil law, because it is too favorable to foreign oil companies. The Bush administration and Congressional Democrats are pushing the Iraqi parliament to pass the oil law, which would open up Iraq's oil reserves to foreign companies. Al Hashemi said Iraq wants foreign oil companies to invest in Iraq, but he said the current bill gives the companies too many privileges.
Jimmy Carter: Bush's Foreign Policy "Worst in History"
Former president Jimmy Carter has criticized outgoing British prime minister Tony Blair for being subservient to president Bush. Carter made the comment in an interview with the BBC.
A BBC reporter asked, "How do you judge these days Mr. Blair's support for Mr. Bush?"
President Carter said, "Abominable. Loyal, blind, apparently subservient. I think that the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of president Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world."
In a separate interview this weekend Carter described the Bush administration's foreign relations as "the worst in history." The White House responded by describing Carter's comments as "sad" and said the statements prove that the former president is becoming "increasingly irrelevant."
He is actually becoming more relevant. The current White House knows it, and it worries them.
Red Cross: US Bombing Leaves 2,000 Homeless in Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross is estimating 2,000 people were left homeless last month after US bombings in western Afghanistan. The Red Cross said the bombing raids destroyed 173 houses and killed at least 50 civilians.
Suicide Bombing Kills 14 In Afghanistan
A suicide bomber killed 14 people in southeastern Afghanistan on Sunday. The bombing was meant to target a US convoy but it killed only local residents. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
David Hicks Released From Guantanamo
An Australian man has returned to his home country after being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay for over five years. David Hicks was the first prisoner at Guantanamo to be tried by a US military tribunal. He pleaded guilty to giving "material support" to al-Qaeda. He is scheduled to spend the next seven months in an Australian prison and then be freed.
Terry Hicks, his father, said, "Good, he is feeling better than I am. I hope he is. It is a bad time—five and a half years. It has taken a while. I think we are going to another phase. We going to speak with David if he wants to any sort of appeal, because he hasn't faced a proper court and yet he is still in jail."
US Commander Sentenced for Leaking Names of Gitmo Detainees
A US lieutenant commander at Guantanamo has been sentenced to six months in a military prison because he disclosed the names of the prisoners at the base. Lieutenant commander Matthew Diaz sent the names of the detainees to Barbara Olshansky, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. At the time, the Bush administration was trying to keep secret who was being held at Guantanamo. Diaz defended his actions. He told the Dallas Morning News, "I felt it was the right decision, the moral decision, the decision that was required by international law." Diaz went on to say, "No matter how the conflict was identified, we were to treat them in accordance with Geneva, and it just wasn't being done."
Scientists: Last Month Was Third Warmest April Ever
The National Climatic Data Center says last month was the globe's third warmest April on record and the warmest April ever over land. The temperature in Siberia was nine degrees above average.
Costa Rica Stops Sending Officers to US Military School
Costa Rica has announced it will stop sending police officers to train at the US military institution formerly known as the School of the Americas. Over the past three years, Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay have also ended training at the school, which is now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Costa Rican president Oscar Arias said he made the decision after meeting with activists from the group School of the Americas Watch.
Anti-War Activists Shut Down Part of Port of Oakland
In California, anti-war activists shut down part of the Port of Oakland on Saturday in a protest against war profiteering and war shipments. Scores of protesters gathered with picket signs outside the terminal of Stevedoring Services of America. The terminal had to be shut down when union dockworkers refused to cross the picket lines.
Michael Moore Debuts Sicko At Cannes
And filmmaker Michael Moore's new documentary Sicko has debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. The film critiques the US health care system and insurance industry. The Treasury Department is investigating Moore for possibly breaking the US embargo on Cuba after he took ailing ground zero workers to the island for medical treatment. Moore discussed the investigation on Sunday.
Michael Moore said, "I've been put on notice by the federal government, by the Bush administration, that they are investigating me for possible violations of the law. Simply because I took a group of 9/11 rescue workers not to Cuba, but to the American naval base, in Cuba, in the island of Cuba and then when we couldn't get help there, I figured we are in Cuba, you know, we might as well see what the Cubans can do for these people."
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Lebanese Army Continues To Shell Palestinian Refugee Camp
The Lebanese Army is continuing to shell a refugee camp near Tripoli that houses over 40,000 Palestinians. For the past three days, the camp has been under siege as Lebanese troops have battled with gunmen from the group Fatah al Islam. At least 79 people have died since Sunday in the bloodiest internal fighting since the end of Lebanon's civil war. Palestinian sources in the camp said the number of civilian deaths could rise, as rescue workers have not been able to reach some of the wounded. Food, water and aid supplies are running out inside the camp. The fighting began after members of Fatah al Islam robbed a bank on Sunday. The Lebanese government accuses the group of having ties with Al Qaeda and the Syrian government but the group denies the accusations. On Monday, Palestinian leaders in Lebanon called for a ceasefire. This is Ali Shaaban of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Ali Shaaban said, "Palestinian groups and factions call on the Lebanese Army to halt its policy of chaotic shelling which has destroyed houses and killed and wounded 50 civilians."
Meanwhile in Washington State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said the Bush administration supports the actions of the Lebanese government.
Sean McCormack said, "The Lebanese armed forces are doing an admirable job on behalf of the Lebanese government and the Lebanese people to bring law and order back to this area of Lebanon, and it's well within their rights to do so."
There has also been sporadic violence in Beirut. Last night a bomb exploded injuring 10 people.
Report: Democrats to Fund War Without Timetable for Withdrawal
Congressional Democrats have reportedly decided to make a major concession to President Bush over the war in Iraq. According to the Associated Press, Democrats intend to draft an Iraq war-funding bill without a timeline for the withdrawal of US troops. It would provide funds for military operations in Iraq through September 30. The bill also includes the first federal increase in the minimum wage in over a decade. The Democrats made the concession on the war funding after President Bush vetoed an earlier bill because Democrats included a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. Presidential candidate John Edwards criticized congressional Democrats for compromising with President Bush. Edwards said in a statement, "Congress should send him the same bill back to him again and again until he realizes he has no choice but to start bringing our troops home."
25 Die in Car Bombing in Iraq
In Iraq, at least 25 people died earlier today when a car bomb exploded in a packed outdoor market in southwestern Baghdad. Another 60 people were injured.
US Considers Fallujah-Style Attack on Sadr City
The US military is planning to make a major push into the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City that houses two million Shiites. The Washington Post reports that the US military is considering a wholesale clearing of the neighborhood if political avenues fail. One military officer said "A second Fallujah plan exists, but we don't want to execute it."
Revealed: US Plotted to Assassinate Moqtada al Sadr
The British journalist Patrick Cockburn has revealed explosive details about a secret US plan to kill or capture one of Iraq's best known Shiite leaders, Moqtada al Sadr. According to Cockburn, the US Army tried to carry out the plan two and a half years ago by luring al Sadr to peace negotiations at a house in the city of Najaf. Iraq's National Security Adviser said the effects of the US plan is still being felt because it lead to Sadr losing all confidence and trust in the US
Senate Pushes Back Vote on Immigration Proposal
On Capitol Hill, the Senate has voted to move ahead with a debate to overhaul the nation's immigration laws but the proposal is already facing widespread criticism. Last week a bipartisan group of Senators outlined a proposal that quickly received the support of president Bush. The Senate leadership had hoped the bill would be passed this week but it has been met by unexpected opposition from both the left and right. The actual vote on the immigration proposal has now been pushed off until June. The Senate proposal calls for increased border security, a temporary guest-worker program and a provision that would give legal status to some of the undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The proposal would also create a point system for future immigration to de-emphasize family ties in favor of educational attainment and work skills.
US Fights Global Warming Efforts Ahead of G8 Meeting
In environmental news, the United States is battling to stop world leaders at next month's G8 meeting from pushing for urgent talks on a new deal to fight global warming. Reuters is reporting the Bush administration wants to delete references in G8 documents that describe the urgency of the climate crisis and that call for a new UN conference on the issue. The United States is trying to get the following paragraph deleted from G8 documents. It reads, "We firmly agree that resolute and concerted international action is urgently needed in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and sustain our common basis of living." The Bush administration has also objected to most references to targets and timetables to cut climate warming carbon emissions. This includes an effort by Germany to get rich nations to agree to cut energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020 and raise energy efficiency in transport and power generation by the same amount over the same period.
The Bush administration is evil. Can anyone doubt that?
Scientists: CO2 Emissions Unexpectedly Soared Since 2000
A team of international scientists reported on Monday that worldwide carbon dioxide levels have taken a sudden and alarming jump since the year 2000. The scientists found that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are increasing at three times the rate experienced in the 1990s.
Israel Threatens to Assassinate Hamas Leadership
Israel is threatening to intensify its attacks on the Hamas leadership following a rocket attack on Monday that killed an Israeli woman. Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni said, "The Palestinian government headed by Hamas terrorist organization responsible for this situation and this unacceptable situation must be stopped."
High-ranking Israeli officials are now threatening to assassinate members of the Hamas political leadership. Deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh hinted today that Israel might even target Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh as part of an effort to stop the rocket attacks. Earlier today the Israeli military sealed off Gaza and the West Bank ahead of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.
UN Urges International Community to Help Somalia
The United Nation's humanitarian chief John Holmes is urging the international community not to turn its back on Somalia at a time of desperate need. Holmes said the US-backed Somali government appears to be seriously underestimating the humanitarian suffering in the country. Holmes testified before the UN Security Council on Monday. He said that almost 400,000 Somalis fled Mogadishu following the US-backed Ethiopian invasion and that the vast majority of people have not returned home. Newsweek has reported some refugees have resorted to renting trees for shelter. Meanwhile aid workers in Somalia have described a dire situation inside the few medical clinics set up.
Mathias Frese, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said, "We are doing distribution of food for displaced families from Mogadishu. We are addressing about 800, 900 families in this town. The families, the people fled from Mogadishu recently because of the heavy fighting and here they are seeking protection by their clan."
The head of one Somali Red Crescent clinic said many of the refugees are suffering from malnutrition.
Nassra, head of the Somali Red Crescent Clinic, said, "There are 25 to 30 people who come every day, mainly displaced people from Mogadishu. Their main problem is watery diarrhea and malnutrition. Our medical stock is decreasing faster than usual and this affects our supply chain."
Blackwater Succeeds in Preventing Lawsuit from Going to Court
The Virginian-Pilot newspaper is reporting the private security company Blackwater USA has succeeded in partially derailing a landmark lawsuit brought by the families of four Blackwater employees killed in Fallujah, Iraq three years ago. A federal judge has ordered the lawsuit be decided behind closed doors in arbitration. This will allow Blackwater to avoid public examination of its practices in Iraq. The outcome of the arbitration will be confidential. One of the three arbitrators is William Webster. He served as head of the FBI and CIA under President Reagan and has personal and business ties to several Blackwater lawyers.
This is fascism at work. This is the out-and-out favoritism of the Bush administration toward evil, self-styled Christians who are just false Christians.
Consider the name of the organization, "Blackwater." There is no light in it. There is only blackness, falseness, evil.
Our initial reaction concerns the contracts for employment and their arbitration provisions. Do the provisions include the family members of the employees, and if so, can such provisions be binding upon such family members?
The plaintiffs in this case are the family members of the dead Blackwater employees. Those plaintiffs did not contract with Blackwater. The contractual wishes of the dead employees should not bar their family members from suing Blackwater. Without seeing the contracts, we can't say more.
We assume at this point that the family members will appeal the ruling to a higher court rather than go forward (without a fight) under arbitration.
This whole movement toward Blackwater-type privatization needs to stop and be reversed. It is sheer evil. Absolutely nothing good can come of it.
Iran Charges US Scholar with Trying to Topple Government
Iran has charged a prominent American scholar of trying to topple the Iranian government. The scholar, Haleh Esfandiari, was imprisoned in Iran on May 8 after more than four months under virtual house arrest. She is the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Wilson Center said the charges against Esfandiari had no foundation. Esfandiari is a dual US and Iranian citizen. She went to Iran last year to take care of her 93-year-old mother. Her arrest has been widely condemned in the academic world.
Governor Richardson Formally Launches Presidential Campaign
In political news, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson officially declared his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential nomination. He is attempting to become the nation's first Latino president. Richardson made the announcement in both English and Spanish during a speech in Los Angeles.
Governor Richardson said, "We need a president who is not dismissive of diplomacy, but someone who embraces it as the primary instrument of our foreign policy, because he has practiced it and knows how to and gets results."
Bill Richardson served as secretary of energy and ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration.
Financial Aid Directors at John Hopkins and Columbia Resign
There are new developments in the student-loan industry scandal. The financial aid directors at John Hopkins and Columbia universities have been forced out of their posts amid revelations that they received payments or gifts from loan companies they recommended to students. Columbia's David Charlow is said to have held more than $100,000 in stock from the company Student Loan Xpress. The same lending company paid Ellen Frishberg at John Hopkins $65,000.
UK Prosecutors Charge Ex-KGB Agent with Murder of Litvinenko
British prosecutors have announced they are charging a former KGB agent in the poisoning death of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko. The British government said Andrei Lugovoi met with Litvinenko at a London hotel only hours before Litvinenko became ill with polonium-210 poisoning. Litvinenko was a former spy and prominent critic of the Russian government. The Russian prosecutor-general's office has announced it will not turn Lugovoi over to Britain to be tried.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Democrats Drop Timetable Demand in War Funding Bill
In a major victory for the Bush administration, Democrats have officially abandoned their effort to include a non-binding timetable for withdrawal from Iraq in the war spending bill. On Tuesday, Democrats said they would accept a Republican plan to fund the war through the end of September. The measure would also establish benchmarks for the Iraqi government. The Democrats made the concession after president Bush vetoed an earlier bill that included a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. Democrats say they do not have enough votes to override a veto and want to avoid accusations of denying funding for US troops. House speaker Nancy Pelosi says she may even vote against the bill because it doesn't include a timeline. As many as one hundred-twenty Democrats are also expected to oppose the bill. Democratic leaders plan to divide the measure into two votes so that domestic spending is separated from war voting. The domestic provisions include a federal increase in the minimum wage. In a statement, senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said, "There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action."
Report: Pentagon Plans Near Doubling Iraq Troop Size
Hearst news bureau is reporting the Pentagon is quietly planning to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq this year. A new deployment order shows plans are in place to boost the number of combat troops from fifty-two thousand to ninety-eight thousand. With support troops included, the number of US troops in Iraq could top two-hundred thousand by the end of the year.
Thousands Flee Lebanon Refugee Camp as Ceasefire Holds
Thousands of people have fled a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon where a ceasefire between Lebanese troops and Islamic militants has taken hold. Residents have been trapped as Lebanese forces shelled the Nahr al Bared camp in a battle with the group Fatah al Islam. At least eighty people have died with dozens more wounded since Sunday. An unknown number of civilians are feared buried beneath the rubble. A UN relief convoy was forced to turn back after coming under fire. The situation in the camp is said to be dire and worsening.
An unidentified resident said, "We need water, we need to eat, look at the children. Please, God keep you. Our house was destroyed. Have mercy on us. May God have mercy on you."
In the United States, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice continued to voice support for the Lebanese government.
Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said, "The Siniora government is fighting against a very tough extremist foe. But Lebanon is doing the right thing to try to protect its population, to assert its sovereignty, and so we are very supportive of the Siniora government and what it is trying to do."
Several Wounded in Ongoing Israeli Strikes on Gaza
In the Occupied Territories, a truce between the two main Palestinian factions continues to hold after days of fighting that left at least fifty people dead. Israel has continued to carry out airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. On Tuesday, several people were injured in an Israeli attack on Northern Gaza. Children were reported among the wounded. Around two dozen Palestinians were also detained in Israeli raids on the West Bank.
Senate Rejects First Challenge to Immigration Bill
The Senate has rejected the first major challenge to the bi-partisan immigration deal reached last week. On Tuesday, Senators voted down an amendment that would have eliminated a controversial guest-worker program. The program would grant temporary residence to up to six hundred thousand foreign workers but bar them from the US at the end of their permits. Critics say the plan would decrease wages and create a new underclass of workers. Meanwhile in Mexico, workers-rights advocates criticized the new legislation.
Human-rights activist Edgar Cortez said, "The conditions that caused migration are still there, migration will continue to exist, more persons will consider that option and for them the conditions will be worse, a more restrictive policy by the US, that could possibly result in more human-rights violations, more risks and costs."
Senators Set Deadline for Wiretap Disclosure
The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee are accusing attorney general Alberto Gonzales of "consistent stonewalling and misdirection" about the administration's warrantless spy program. On Tuesday, senate judiciary chair Patrick Leahy of Vermont and senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania set a deadline of June 5th for Gonzales to turn over key documents. The Senators say they are prepared to block legislation re-authorizing the spy program if Gonzales fails to comply. Gonzales remains under scrutiny for his role in the firing of nine US attorneys.
Ex-Gonzales Aide to Testify on Attorney Firings
Former Gonzales aide and White House liaison Monica Goodling is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee later today.
Report: Administration Approves Iran Destabilization Program
ABC News is reporting the White House has approved a covert CIA program to destabilize the Iranian government. The plan is said to include a coordinated effort of propaganda, disinformation, and interference with Iran's currency and financial dealings.
This has been no secret.
Bush claims he's a Christian. Christians are supposed to be about being good neighbors, as the Good Samaritan was a good neighbor; however, Bush is a deliberately bad neighbor. Therefore, he's deliberately no Christian.
US Warships Enter Gulf Off Iran Coast
The news comes as the US is engaging in its largest daytime assembly of warships in the Gulf since the invasion of Iraq. Earlier today, nine US warships carrying 17,000 servicemembers entered the waters off Iran's coast.
Iran Urged to Release Jailed American Scholar
Family, friends, and colleagues of Haleh Esfandiari, the prominent American scholar imprisoned in Iran, are appealing for her release. This is former congressmen and Wilson Center director Lee Hamilton.
Lee Hamilton said, "The Wilson Center's plea to the Iranian government is simple. Let Haleh go. Let her return to her husband, her family, and her work."
Ex-KGB Denies Charges of Poisoning Russian Dissident
In Russia, a former KGB agent has denied British allegations of murdering the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko. Britain is demanding the extradition of Andrei Lugovoy for Litvinenko's poisoning death. On Tuesday, Lugovoy proclaimed his innocence.
Andrei Lugovoy said, "I want to stress once again that I don't consider myself guilty. Moreover, I find myself a victim. Myself and my family members came under radioactive attack while in Britain. I have already said this once, and I am repeating it firmly and with all responsibility. I find the charges inadequate and groundless."
The British government said Andrei Lugovoi met with Litvinenko at a London hotel only hours before Litvinenko became ill with polonium-210 poisoning. Litvinenko was a former spy and prominent critic of the Russian government.
British prosecutor Ken McDonald said, "I have today concluded that the evidence sent to us by the police is sufficient to charge Andrei Lugovoy with the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, by deliberate poisoning. I have further concluded that the prosecution of this case would clearly be in the public interest. In those circumstances, I have instructed CPS lawyers to take immediate steps to seek the early extradition of Andrei Lugovoy from Russia to the United Kingdom, so that he may be charged here with murder and brought swiftly before a court in London to be prosecuted for this extraordinarily grave crime."
The Russian prosecutor-general's office says it won't turn Lugovoi over to Britain to be tried.
Putin is protecting him. He is protecting the KGB.
US Refuses to Attend Meeting on Cluster Ban
In Peru, dozens of countries are meeting in Lima this week to sign a declaration banning the use of cluster bombs. The declaration came out of a conference in Norway earlier this year. The US is among several leading nations that have refused to attend.
Marine Transfered After Criticizing Military Ban on Openly-Gay, Lesbians
And finally in military news, a Marine officer says he's being punished for publishing an editorial supporting the right of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. Captain Josh Gibbs published the article in the Marine Corps Times last month. Just one week later, Gibbs was told he was being relieved of duty due to a loss of confidence from his commanding officers. Gibbs will be reassigned to a US base in Japan, after which he plans to end his service. He said, "I'm standing up for what I think is right... If I want to make a change, I need to be someplace else."
The Real Liberal Christian Church isn't for homosexuality or militarism. They are both wrong.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
More Than 100 Dead in Iraq Attacks
More than one hundred Iraqi civilians were killed and another one-hundred and thirty injured in attacks Wednesday around Iraq. Twenty people died in a suicide attack in the northeast town of Mandali. Meanwhile, the US military announced the death of nine US troops. Military officials confirmed a body found in the Euphrates River was that of a US soldier captured by Iraqi insurgents last month. With eight days left in the month, May caps the deadliest six-month period for US troops since the start of the war, with five-hundred and forty killed.
Bush Administration Declassifies Iraq Intelligence
The Bush administration has declassified intelligence it says proves links between Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq. The 2005 report says bin Laden ordered former al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to attack US targets outside Iraq. President Bush discussed the charges at a speech for Coast Guard graduates in Connecticut.
President Bush said, "Al Qaeda knows that a democratic Iraq is a threat to their ambitions to impose their hateful ideology across the Middle East. Al Qaeda knows that our presence in Iraq is a direct threat to their existence in Iraq. Our security depends on helping the Iraqis succeed and defeating Iraq, Al Qaeda in Iraq."
White House aides later denied accusations of releasing selective intelligence and repeating its false linkage of bin Laden to Iraq before the US invasion.
This is old news. Bin Laden was hoping that Zarqawi had the wherewithal to stimulate attacks outside Iraq. It was public news at the time. It wasn't classified. Bin Laden made the call openly. He was criticized at the time for it. It was claimed that it showed bin Laden's own weakness.
UNICEF Launches New Appeal for Iraqi Children
The United Nations agency for children, UNICEF, has launched a new appeal amidst what it calls a worsening crisis for Iraq's youth. UNICEF says most Iraqi children have suffered trauma since the US invasion. Only thirty percent have access to safe drinking water.
UNICEF Special Representative to Iraq Roger Wright said, "It's obviously going to be a troubled generation. As the children are growing up, if they've not been directly exposed to the violence, they've seen it and have witnessed it, and are suffering psycho-socially from the experience."
Israel Arrests 30 Palestinian Officials
In the Occupied Territories, Israeli troops have arrested more than thirty officials in the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Those detained include the Palestinian education minister, three lawmakers, and three mayors. Israel says it made the arrests because the officials had supported the firing of rockets into Israeli territory. The raids followed a series of Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip that wounded several people, including a pregnant woman and a teenage boy.
Ex-Gonzales Aide Testifies on Attorney Firings
On Capitol Hill, a former senior aide to attorney general Alberto Gonzales has testified in the ongoing investigation into the firing of at least eight US attorneys. Monica Goodling served as the Justice department's liaison to the White House up until last month. On Wednesday, Goodling said Gonzales had asked her to compare notes on the chronology of the firings just as scrutiny intensified. Gonzales has denied discussing the firings with other officials during the investigation. Goodling also accused former deputy attorney general Paul McNulty of giving inaccurate testimony to Congress on the firings. Goodling denied having a major role in the scandal but indicated she had broken the law.
Representative Bobby Scott said, "Were there any laws that you could have broken by taking political considerations into account, quote, on some occasions?"
Monica Goodling said, "The best I can say is that I know I took political considerations into account on some occasions."
Scott said, "Was that legal?"
Goodling said, "Sir, I'm not able to answer that question. I know I crossed the line."
Senate Backs Limit on Guest-Worker Provision
The Senate has voted to limit the number of guest-workers that would be allowed in the United States under the proposed immigration bill. On Wednesday, senators approved an amendment that would cap the program at 200,000 workers. The original bill proposed as many as 600,000 workers but only until the expiration of their permit. Critics say the provision will depress wages and create a new under-class of workers. The overall bill has come under intense criticism from immigrant-rights advocates.
Maywood, California resident Maribel Nunez said, "This is nothing new because Mexicans are the only ones doing any work. Nobody does any work but the Mexicans, and now they do not want them? If it was a war, they would call them to fight, but not to work? I don't know. I don't know what to say. It makes me mad."
US Among Nations Highlighted in Amnesty Human Rights Report
Amnesty International is accusing the United States of turning the world into a global battlefield in the so-called war on terror. On Wednesday Amnesty issued its annual report on the state of human rights. The criticism of the United States was multifold. Amnesty called for Guantanamo to be shut down, for senior government officials to be held accountable for authorizing torture, and for an end to the practice known as extraordinary rendition. Amnesty's report also highlighted human-rights abuses in many other areas including Iraq, Russia, Zimbabwe, and Sudan.
Amnesty International secretary general Irene Khan said, "Darfur is a bleeding wound on the world's conscience. The US government has been outspoken on the need to protect civilians in Darfur and we welcome that very much. But nothing proves more clearly the loss of US moral authority than its failure to persuade the Sudanese government to accept UN peacekeepers."
As for Israel and the Occupied Territories, Amnesty says Israel killed more than 650 Palestinians last year—three times the number of Palestinians killed in 2005. Half of the Palestinians killed last year were unarmed civilians. The Palestinian death toll included 120 children. During the same period, Palestinian militants killed 27 Israelis including 20 civilians and one child.
The US and Israel are fascist regimes. They are greedy, violent, and sexually depraved. They are very nearly godless.
Greenpeace Builds Model Noah's Ark to Spotlight Global Warming
In Turkey, activists with the environmentalist group Greenpeace have built a model of Noah's Ark to raise awareness on global warming ahead of next month's G-8 Summit.
Greenpeace campaign leader Wolfgang Sadik said, "The answer in this myth was a flood, a climate catastrophe, and that is what is going to happen now. And the sins of the human beings are sins against the environment and nature. And if we don't stop that immediately and do everything against that, it could happen that we get another flood or a new climate catastrophe."
Pope Refuses to Apologize for Saying Conquerors "Purified" Americas
Pope Benedict XVI is refusing to apologize after claiming the Catholic Church purified indigenous peoples during the colonization of the Americas. On Wednesday, the Pope said he would only acknowledge that injustices were committed.
Pope Benedict XVI said, "The memories of a glorious past cannot ignore the shadows that accompanied the process of evangelization of the Latin American continent. It is not possible, in fact, to forget the suffering and injustices that were inflicted on the indigenous peoples, when often their fundamental human rights were trampled upon."
Pope Benedict has come under intense criticism from Latin American leaders, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who accused him of ignoring a holocaust.
He's the pope, the head bishop of the Roman Empire of Constantine. What pope is going to admit that Roman Catholicism was an evil? What that so-called church did in Latin America was abominable. It was not Christian. It didn't purify anything. It added to the pollution. That's why it never brought forth and never will. It is still a church of half-truths.
Colombian Teachers Strike Over Education Cuts
In Colombia, nearly three hundred thousand teachers walked off the job Wednesday in a strike against planned cuts to education. Protest organizers have linked the cuts to a pending US trade deal.
Protester Martin Rios said, "The reason for the strike is to protest against the national development plan that cuts down the resources for public education and for the universities because of the cuts in education and health care that are going to cause more children to die of hunger."
Environmentalist Jailed for 13 Years After Ruled a Terrorist
In Oregon, an environmental activist involved in a series of arsons has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after a judge ruled the man should be considered a terrorist. Stanislaus Meyerhoff was arrested in 2005 and admitted to being a member of the Earth Liberation Front. Meyerhoff faced up to 30 years in prison, but his sentence was decreased because he had become a government informant. Nine other environmental and animal-rights activists will be sentenced on similar charges in coming weeks. Federal prosecutors have requested all of them be considered terrorists even though their actions caused no injuries. The Oregon-based Civil Rights Outreach Committee said the activists should not be considered terrorists. The group said the court's decision sets a dangerous precedent that could be exploited by the federal government to seek greater prison time for political activists engaged in acts of civil disobedience.
There is no doubt that what Meyerhoff did, did in fact cause terror or fear in people. Where though is the consistency? Bush/Cheney has terrorized more people lately than anyone else has. This ruling against Meyerhoff is hypocritical, of course. All harm causes fear. All evil is terrorism.
For First Time, New York Links Death to 9/11 Dust Exposure
Here in New York, the city's chief medical examiner has, for the first time linked a death to dust exposure from the attack on the World Trade Center. In a letter released Wednesday, doctor Charles Hirsch says he's certain "beyond a reasonable doubt" that toxic dust from the debris contributed to the death of forty-two year old civil-rights lawyer Felicia Dunn-Jones. Dunn-Jones was engulfed as she fled the attacks from her office just one block away from the trade center. She developed respiratory problems and died five months later. Doctor Hirsh's decision could have a major impact on how the city deals with the growing number of illnesses and deaths linked to toxic exposure from the 9/11 attacks. New York congressmember Carolyn Maloney said, "The city medical examiner has now accepted what thousands of people with 9/11-related illnesses and their doctors have long understood: That ground zero dust was harmful and even deadly."
Common sense told one that the dust at ground zero was harmful.
Prosecutors: GSA Head Broke Law
The US Office of Special Counsel has determined a top government official violated federal law by instructing employees to help Republicans win the 2008 elections. During a meeting in January, General Services Administration chief Lurita Alexis Doan is said to have asked employees how they could "help our candidates." Investigators say Doan has violated the Hatch Act, which restricts top officials from using their positions for political motives.
This is what being a Republican is all about.
Ethiopia Releases 3 Detained Journalists
The Ethiopian government has released three journalists with The New York Times after a five-day detention. The New York Times says the journalists were interrogated at gunpoint and stripped of all of their equipment — including cameras, phones and notebooks.
Israeli Sociologist Baruch Kimmerling Dies at 67
In Israel, the sociologist Baruch Kimmerling has died after a long battle with cancer. He was sixty-seven years old. Kimmerling was an outspoken critic of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. He was identified as one of the "new Israeli historians" who helped challenge the dominant views of Israel's history and its treatment of Palestinians.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Congress Passes War Funding Bill
Congress has approved nearly $100 billion in war spending through September without a timeline for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Thursday's vote capped months of wrangling that saw president Bush veto an earlier bill setting a non-binding timetable for withdrawal. In the House, the final vote was 280 to 142. House speaker Nancy Pelosi was among Democrats voting against the measure.
Speaker Pelosi said, "We have lost thousands of Americans. The number is hard to measure but everyone agrees, easily over 100,000 Iraqis. The cost to our reputation and our military readiness is incalculable, but it is huge. We think there needs to be a new direction. We think what we should be talking about here today is a different vision for stability in the Middle East and how our role in Iraq contributes to that."
Across the aisle, Republican minority leader John Boehner broke down as he called on lawmakers to fund the war.
Boehner said, "I came here to do something, and I think at the top of our list is providing for the safety and security of the American people. That's at the top of our list and after 3,000 of our fellow Americans died at the hands of these terrorists, when are we going to stand up and take them on? When are we going to defeat them? Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, if we don't do it now, if we don't have the courage to defeat this enemy, we will long, long regret it."
The final Senate vote was 80 to 14. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama both voted against the bill.
We all know who was responsible for 9-11. It was the Empire. It was an inside job. It was a neocon job. It was Machiavellian.
Bill Includes First Minimum Wage Increase in Decade
The measure also includes several domestic provisions sought by Democrats. The minimum wage was increased for the first time in a decade, rising from five dollars and fifteen cents to seven dollars and twenty-five cents over a two-year period.
The real rate of inflation has already eaten this increase. Frankly, many Republicans would be happy to have out-and-out slavery back. Wage slavery really isn't enough to suit them.
Bush Defends War Record, Urges Iran Sanctions
Earlier at the White House, Bush urged lawmakers to approve the money to continue the war. He was later questioned by NBC reporter David Gregory.
David Gregory said, "Can you explain why you are still a credible messenger on the war?"
Bush said, "I'm credible, because I read the intelligence, David; and, it's abundantly clear in plain terms that if we let up, we'll be attacked."
Bush also said the US would push for new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activities.
He reads the intelligence? But the intelligence is fixed around the policy. Everyone knows that. He's not credible. He has zero credibility. He's a liar. He's an unrepentant liar responsible for the death of millions — yes millions. Millions of people would be alive who are dead now on account of Bush's policies. That's the truth.
Gates: Gulf Exercises Not Intended as "Show of Force"
The call came as the US denied claims a massive display of aircraft in the Gulf Coast is meant to intimidate Iran. The ships are set to conduct a series of drills over the two weeks.
Defense secretary Robert Gates said, "It's not intended as a show of force. It patently is a show of force just because that is a lot of ships and clearly a lot of military power. But the intent is pure and simple, an exercise, where we saw the opportunity to take advantage of the confluence of these three ships, two carriers and the MEF, to have the opportunity to exercise together."
60 Killled in Iraq Violence
In Iraq, more than sixty people were killed in a series of attacks Thursday. At least twenty-seven died in a suicide bombing on a funeral procession in the city of Fallujah. Meanwhile, the US military announced the deaths of six more US troops. Around ninety US soldiers have been killed in Iraq this month.
Baghdad Residents Protest US Raids, Mortar Attacks
In Baghdad, hundreds of residents took to the streets of the Amil district to protest a series of US-led raids and a spike in bombing attacks.
Demonstrator Sayyid Nefea al-Bakhati said, "(We are here) to protest against the daily raids in the Amil district, Bayaa, and all areas of al-Karkh by US troops, and against the mortar attacks against all areas of al-Karkh. We called on substituting the peshmerga forces with other army commando forces, because they will do their job better. There is no means of communication."
Sadr Returns to Iraq Following Months in Hiding
In other Iraq news, the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has made a public appearance for the first time in four months. Sadr went into hiding in Iran at the start of the US-led crackdown on Baghdad. Earlier today Sadr delivered a sermon before thousands of worshippers in Najaf and called for a withdrawal of US troops.
Israeli Missiles Strike Near Home of Palestinian PM
In the Occupied Territories, Israel has carried out an airstrike near the Gaza home of the Palestinian prime minister Ismael Haniyeh. Residents say a missile hit a caravan guarding a nearby street. Israel says Haniyeh was not the target of the attack. The strike was one of eleven to hit Gaza over a twenty-four hour period — the most intense barrage since Israel began attacking last week.
Palestinians, UN Criticize Arrests of Hamas Officials
The strikes followed Israel's arrest of more than thirty officials in the Hamas government.
Palestinian information minister Mustafa Barghouti said, "The arrest of the minister in President Abbas's government, doctor Naser al-Shaer, the minister of education and the destruction of an unlimited number of civil society and charitable institutions, all of this, we consider, as a government, represents an attack and assault on the president, his government and the institutions, the elected institutions of the Palestinian people."
The arrests have also drawn international criticism.
UN Middle East envoy Michael Williams said, "What worries me, is that in most cases as I understand it, there haven't been any charges, let alone trials. That is something that disturbs me, and is something that I want to look at in the coming days and weeks."
Democrats Introduce Gonzales No-Confidence Measure
Democrats have introduced a measure calling for a no-confidence vote on attorney general Alberto Gonzales. The vote is scheduled for mid-June.
McClatchy Claims Pentagon Retaliation for Pre-War Coverage
In media news, staffers at McClatchy Newspapers say the Pentagon has effectively frozen them out over their pre-war coverage questioning the Bush administration's claims on Iraq. McClatchy's Pentagon correspondents have not been allowed to travel on the defense secretary's plane for at least three years. Washington, D.C. bureau chief John Walcott said, "The idea of public officials barring coverage by people they've decided they don't like is at best unprofessional, at worst undemocratic and petty."
Privacy Concerns Raised Over US-Funded Mexican Wiretapping
In Mexico, the Los Angeles Times is reporting the Mexican government has expanded its surveillance of telephone calls and e-mails using money from the US government. The State Department has paid for a new three million dollar surveillance system designed by the New York-based company Verint Systems. The funding has raised concerns the monitoring could be shared with US law enforcement. Both US and Mexican officials declined comment on whether intelligence sharing could take place.
Of course they share the information. They share to keep the needy downtrodden.
Chagos Natives Win Court Ruling to Return
Natives of the Chagos Islands in the Indian ocean have won a new legal victory in their long-term battle to return home. British forces expelled the islanders 40 years ago to make way for a US military base at the archipelago's largest island, Diego Garcia. The base has been used to launch bombing missions on Iraq and Afghanistan. This week a British court criticized the British government's "abuse of power" and ruled Chagos inhabitants should be allowed to return to every island except Diego Garcia. The US has long campaigned to deny inhabitants the right to return to any of the sixty-five islands.
Frankly, they have a right to Diego Garcia and to kick the US military out of their country that was stolen from them by imperialists.
When they say, "the US has long campaigned to deny inhabitants the right to return to any of the sixty-five islands," they are only speaking of the fascist, capitalist, militarist rulers of the US and not all of the people of the US.
Many Americans, if told the whole story openly, would vote to pull the US from Diego Garcia.
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)