Tuesday, May 29, 2007
US, Iran Hold Talks in Baghdad
The US and Iran have held their first face-to-face talks in nearly thirty years. On Monday, the US and Iranian ambassador to Iraq met in Baghdad to discuss the Iraq war. The talks did not touch on other issues, including the standoff over Iran's nuclear activities. US officials say they pressed Iran on supporting Shiite militias inside Iraq.
Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, "We definitely believe that the withdrawing of foreign troops (Americans) and the cooperation of regional countries with the elected government of Iraq are the main keys and final solution for solving the problems in Iraq."
The talks came as the US continued a series of naval-exercises in the Persian Gulf off Iran's coast. The fleet of nine US military ships includes two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
US Navy commander Kevin Quinn said, "We are conducting operations in support of our coalition troops on the ground in Iraq right now. Our aircraft are flying missions up there on a daily basis in support of 'Operation Iraqi Freedom." We are also doing training operations. We're here along with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group. We are doing a series of defensive oriented training events, such as defending against simulated air threats, surface threats, subsurface threats."
23 Killed in Baghdad Car Bombing; 3 Germans Kidnapped
Back in Iraq, at least twenty-three people have been killed and sixty-eight wounded in a car bombing in Baghdad today. An earlier car bombing killed fifteen people. Meanwhile, three German contractors have been kidnapped from the Iraqi Finance Ministry.
Blackwater Guards Kill Iraqi Driver
The private security firm Blackwater USA is facing more scrutiny following the disclosure its guards were involved in at least two shooting incidents last week. According to the Washington Post, a Blackwater employee shot and killed an Iraqi driver on Thursday. Blackwater employees say they fired to avoid a possible attack after the driver ignored repeated warnings. Witnesses said the shooting was unprovoked. The attack led to a standoff with Iraqi police after the Blackwater guards refused to divulge their names or provide details. One day earlier, Blackwater guards traded gunfire with Iraqi insurgents after their convoy came under attack in Baghdad.
UN: Remaining Nahr al Bared Refugees at Risk
In Lebanon, aid groups are warning of an ongoing humanitarian crisis in a Palestinian-refugee camp where Islamic militants have been fighting the Lebanese army.
UN refugee agency director Richard Cooke said, "We have been extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation of the refugees, obviously, ever since Sunday morning; but, particularly we are concerned about those that remain in Nahr al Bared camp. We have been seeing a continuous flow of people out of the camp since Tuesday evening. And so now we have, we believe in the region of 24,000 or 25,000 of the inhabitants have left the camp."
Some ten thousand people remain behind amidst shortages of vital supplies. Sporadic clashes have resumed since both sides reached a truce last week.
Hezbollah Leader: Army, Refugee Camp "Red Lines"
Most Lebanese groups have supported the military, but on Friday Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah offered criticism of both sides.
Hassan Nasrallah said, "The army is a red line and should not be trespassed, and whoever killed its officers and soldiers should be tried and have a fair trial and should not be forgiven; but, at the same time, Nahr al Bared camp is a red line with Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. We cannot accept or cover a camp war of this kind."
Supporters, Opponents Rally as Venezuelan Network Goes Off Air
In Venezuela, thousands of supporters and opponents of the television network RCTV took to the streets this weekend in counter-demonstrations during the station's final hours on air. The Venezuelan government decided not to renew RCTV's television license earlier this year. Supporters like Caracas resident Mercedes Ramirez say Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is silencing the network over its criticism of his government.
Mercedes Ramirez said, "These are the voices of the people who have risen to be against a decision that is arbitrary and which we cannot accept. Channel 2 (RCTV) is the heritage of all Venezuelans and we are going to rescue it for the Venezuelans."
Venezuela says it cancelled RCTV over its support for the coup that briefly overthrew Chavez five years ago. RCTV broadcast footage falsely blaming Chavez supporters for violence, applauded coup leaders as they overthrew the government, and then refused to report that Chavez had returned to power following mass-protests. Venezuela says it will create a new public-service network in its place.
Caracas mayor Juan Barreto said, "Finally this frequency will return to the people, and we are going to bring forth a television station with a social character. What does this mean? A television station produced by independent producers."
Administration to Impose Darfur Sanctions, Seek Embargo
The Bush administration is expected to announce new economic sanctions against Sudan over the violence and humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The White House is also preparing to seek UN Security Council approval of an arms embargo on the Sudanese government and a ban on Sudanese military flights over Darfur. The Washington Post reports the announcement could anger UN diplomats who have reported progress in talks with Sudanese President Omar al Bashir. Sudan's state news agency is reporting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has agreed to visit Sudan to negotiate a deal on a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force. More than two hundred thousand people have been killed and two and a half million displaced since the conflict broke out in 2003.
Intelligence Warned Iraq Would Spark Conflict, Boost Jihadists
A new report shows US intelligence agencies warned top White House officials invading Iraq would likely spark a deadly sectarian conflict and provide al Qaeda with new opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Intelligence analysts also warned an attack on Iraq would likely lead Iran to increase its regional influence and encourage a surge of political Islam and increased funding for militant groups.
That's what the neocons wanted: To stimulate war, to divide and conquer.
Ex-Aide: Kerry Voted for Iraq War Based on Electoral Advice
Meanwhile a former senior advisor to Senator John Kerry has disclosed Kerry voted for the 2002 Iraq war measure based on the election advice of his future campaign manager. In a forthcoming book, veteran Democratic Party strategist Robert Shrum says the campaign manager, Jim Jordan, warned Kerry he wouldn't win the presidency unless he sided with President Bush.
UN Investigator: US Violating International Law
A leading UN investigator says the US practice of interrogating prisoners and using counter-terrorism laws to limit immigration are both likely violations of international law. In a new report to the UN Human Rights Council, the UN rapporteur on rights in countering terrorism Martin Scheinin says US interrogation practices amount to a form of torture or inhumane treatment. Scheinin also criticised US laws including the 2001 Patriot Act for what he says is an untenable expansion of the definition of a terrorist act.
School President Recommends Dismissal of Ward Churchill
In education news, the University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill is facing a new threat to his job after the school's president recommended his dismissal. Churchill became the center of a debate over free speech and academic freedom over controversial comments he made on the 9/11 attacks. Churchill has been accused of research misconduct and plagiarism in his writings on Native American history. Churchill has vigorously denied the charges and maintains he is being punished for his outspoken views.
Ex-Deputy Goes on Trial for 1964 Civil-Rights Murder
In Mississippi, a former sheriff's deputy is set to go on trial in a civil rights murder case dating back more than forty years. James Ford Seale has been charged in connection with the 1964 murders of nineteen-year old African-American hitchhikers Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore. The two were beaten and dumped alive into the Mississippi River. Their bodies were not found for another two months. Seale's family claimed he was deceased after investigators reopened the case seven years ago. But efforts by one of the victim's brothers revealed Seale was alive and still living down the road from where the kidnappings occurred.
Sheehan to Step Down as Anti-War Leader
The peace activist Cindy Sheehan has announced she is stepping down from her role as a leading campaigner against the Iraq war. Sheehan rose to prominence after staging a camp-out to pressure President Bush to meet her as he vacationed at his Crawford estate in August of 2005. Sheehan named it Camp Casey in honor of her son who was killed in Iraq the previous year. In a letter released on Memorial Day, Sheehan said she is stepping down in part because of hostility from Democrats who she's criticized for supporting the war. Sheehan also cited repeated threats on her life, strains on her health and family, and divisions inside the peace movement. Writing of her son, Sheehan says, "I have tried ever since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months." Sheehan goes on to write, "I will never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the [US]… but I am finished working in, or outside of this system…. I am getting out before it totally consumes me or any more people that I love and the rest of my resources."
The Real Liberal Christian Church understands why someone would stop working within the system. We don't know what Sheehan means, however, by not working outside the system. To never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed and not work within the system means working outside the system. We want the context straight.
Israel Continues Gaza Attacks
Israel is continuing its nearly two-week assault on the Gaza Strip. On Monday, Israeli aircraft destroyed a Hamas-run sports club in Northern Gaza. Four people were wounded including a woman and a child. Israeli strikes have killed at least thirteen civilians and thirty-five militants. Two Israeli civilians have been killed and twenty wounded in Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza. Meanwhile in Israel, the former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak will square off in a run-off vote with former internal security chief Ami Ayalon in the race for leadership of Israel's Labor Party. Ayalon has backed a full Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories while Barak has supported Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank. Defense minister Amir Peretz was a distant third with twenty-two percent.
Stop Funding War
What happens when you stop paying for war? War stops. What would happen if the US stopped funding the War in Iraq and the lead-up to the hot war against Iran? Would the US troops not be supported?
Their return home would be funded.
Would the terrorists be emboldened? Well, it would depend upon the future policy of the US.
If the US stayed the course of fascistic, greedy world domination, then the resistance would continue and increase, of course. If, on the other hand, the US were to embark upon a new "Good Neighbor" policy, sincere Good Samaritanism, the terrorists would not be emboldened to attack the US. Their complaints against the US would lose steam. They would not find support for attacking the US.
The powers that be in the US (Bush/Cheney, et al.) just lie and lie and lie about what would happen if funding for the war stopped. They do this for the sake of the capitalists who make their millions and billions off war-profiteering and exploiting the people in a war-torn world: The world they selfishly tare apart and devour, as demons do.
What are the so-called leading Democrats doing? They are doing everything they can to raise money from big business. They are following in the misguided footsteps of Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council who turned away from egalitarianism toward greater selfishness.
What must be done? People need to be educated about all the deception down through the millennia. People must be called out of selfishness. People must be shown how the selfish twist the truth. They must be told to loathe torture. They must be told to be considerate and not to get back at others. They must be expected not to be demonic.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Supreme Court Limits Job Discrimination Complaints
The Supreme Court has issued a ruling imposing new limits on employment-discrimination complaints brought mostly by women and people of color. In a five to four opinion, justices ruled discrimination complaints cannot be filed after more than six months. In a rare move, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench and urged Congress to overturn the decision. Business groups like the US Chamber of Commerce are welcoming the judgment while women's advocates are voicing criticism. Marcia Greenberger of the National Women's Law Center said, "[This] essentially says tough luck to employees who don't immediately challenge their employer's discriminatory acts, even if the discrimination continues to the present time."
This certainly tells one where the hearts lie of those five so-called justices. They are in favor of discrimination. They are against those who oppose corporate discrimination.
We understand the reasoning behind having a statute of limitations, especially where sexual discrimination or other practices have ceased. Where illegal discrimination continues, however, what excuse is there for protecting corporations other than the greed in the hearts of the five justices?
Bush Administration Taps Zoellick to Head World Bank
The Bush administration has announced plans to name former deputy secretary of State Robert Zoellick to replace Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank. Zoellick spent four years as the US trade representative until 2005. He went on to the State Department before leaving to join the financial firm Goldman Sachs last year. Zoellick previously served as a paid advisor to the energy company Enron before its collapse. He was an early backer of the US invasion of Iraq and a co-signatory of the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century letter calling for Iraq regime change. Public-health advocates are criticizing the appointment. Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance called Zoellick "a terrible choice," saying, "He has been a close friend to the brand-name pharmaceutical industry, and the trade agreements he has championed block patients access to generic medication… As a market fundamentalist he is also much less likely to stand up for a strong and effective public sector."
What could one expect from the Bush/Cheney White House?
5 British Citizens Kidnapped in Baghdad
In Iraq, US and Iraqi forces are carrying out a series of raids around Baghdad in an effort to find five British citizens abducted from a government building. Forty-heavily armed men in police uniforms seized the five Tuesday in broad daylight from an office in the finance ministry. The kidnap victims were initially reported to be German citizens. Britain now says the four are British security contractors while the fifth is a British employee of the US consulting firm BearingPoint.
April-May Deadliest 2-Month Period of Iraq War for US
The Pentagon has announced ten US troops were killed in Iraq Monday. Their deaths make this month the third-deadliest for the US military of the Iraq war. April and May now also mark the deadliest two-month period since the invasion, with at least two hundred nine servicemembers killed.
Top US General Undercounts US War Deaths
The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is coming under criticism for significantly undercounting the number of US war dead. General Peter Pace was interviewed by CBS News on Memorial Day.
General Peter Pace said, "When you take a look at the life of a nation and all that's required to keep us free, we had more than 3,000 Americans murdered on 11 September, 2001. The number who have died, sacrificed themselves since that time is approaching that number. And we should pay great respect and thanks to them for allowing us to live free."
As General Pace spoke, the US toll had reached at least three-thousand four hundred and fifty-five.
Court Martial Begins for Highest-Ranked Marine Charged in Haditha Massacre
A new court-martial begins today in the killings of twenty-four Iraqis in Haditha in November of 2005. Lieutenant colonel Jeffrey Chessani is the highest ranking of the seven Marines charged in the massacre.
American al Qaeda Member Warns of More US Attacks
An American member of al Qaeda has warned the US will face an attack worse than 9/11 unless it ends all involvement in Muslim lands. In a video released Tuesday, California native Adam Yehiye Gadahn, known as Azzam al Amriki, calls on president Bush to withdraw all US military and spies from Islamic countries, free all Muslims from US jails, and end support for Israel. Gadahn is wanted in the US on charges of treason.
US Speeds Military Aid to Lebanon
A bi-partisan Congressional delegation is in Lebanon to back the Lebanese government in its fight against an Islamic militia. The US has expedited military aid to Lebanon since the clashes broke out last week.
Repersentative Nick Rahall said, "As we speak, we are delivering more military assistance to the Lebanese army quicker than what would normally be delivered because of the circumstances that exist in the north. Our country is supportive of whatever actions the Lebanese army, not militia, army, may take to impose order and justice upon terrorists that exist within the Lebanese borders."
Putin Denounces "Powder Keg" US Missile Plan
Tension is increasing with Russia over US plans for a new missile shield in Eastern Europe. On Tuesday, Russia says it had successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile designed to overcome missile-defense systems. The test came as Russian president Vladimir Putin warned a US missile deployment would have consequences.
Russian president Vladimir Putin said, "Our point is clear, we consider it harmful and dangerous to turn Europe into a powder keg and to stuff it with new weapons."
US Imposes New Sanctions on Darfur
President Bush has imposed new sanctions on the Sudanese government over the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The US will bar at least thirty Sudanese companies from the US, and impose sanctions on two government officials and a rebel leader.
Bush said, "I call on president Bashir to stop his obstruction and to allow the peacekeepers in and to end the campaign of violence that continues to target innocent men, women, and children. And I promise this to the people of Darfur: The United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world."
The administration also says it will seek tougher actions at the UN Security Council, including an arms embargo on the Sudanese government. Some two-hundred thousand people have been killed and two and a half million displaced in what the Bush administration calls a genocide. The Chinese government is leading calls against sanctions on its major oil partner.
China Darfur envoy Liu Guijin said, "The essence of the Darfur issue is not the so-called genocide. It came from the conflicts among different parties for water and land, which originated from poverty and a less developed status. It's because of the shortage of resources. So it is a problem of development. If the international community sincerely hopes to help resolve the Darfur issue the same as other issues in Africa, it should provide more development assistance along side with humanitarian aid."
The truth is that religion is also at the heart of the matter. The Muslims are attacking the non-Muslims in the area for the sake of reconstituting the Islamic Empire.
Guantanamo-Imprisoned Cameraman Calls for Release of Kidnapped BBC Journalist
An al Jazeera cameraman jailed at Guantanamo without charge is calling for the release of the kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston abducted in Gaza two months ago. Sami al Hajj has been jailed for more than five years. In a letter released by his lawyer, Hajj says, "While the United States has kidnapped me and held me for years on end, this is not a lesson that Muslims should copy."
He has a good attitude. He's reachable. His lack of bitterness is admirable.
Drug Giant Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Nigeria
In Nigeria, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is facing criminal charges for its alleged role in the deaths of children given an unapproved drug in a clinical trial. State authorities have charged the company on eight counts and are seeking more than two billion dollars in damages. The lawsuit alleges Pfizer gave around one hundred children an untested drug called Tovan known to have life-threatening side effects and without the consent of their families. Nigeria says the testing led to an unspecified number of deaths and left others deaf, paralyzed, blind or brain-damaged.
If this is true, it's disgusting. If the decision goes to the top, how can this company continue existing? What is this company doing?
Iran Charges 3 US Citizens with Espionage
In Iran, three American citizens have been charged with espionage and endangering national security. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, has been jailed since earlier this month. Also charged are urban planning consultant Kian Tajbakhsh and journalist Parnaz Azima. All three face the death penalty if convicted. On Tuesday, Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice called the charges "a perversion of the rule of law."
What is the evidence? Regardless, they should not face the death penalty. No one should face the death penalty anywhere.
US Isolates Passenger over TB Strain
The US government has isolated a man who may have exposed passengers to a deadly strain of tuberculosis on two recent transatlantic flights. Officials are trying to notify passengers who traveled on Air France from Atlanta to Paris or to the US on Czech Air earlier this month.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, "We are well aware of the fact that taking a measure such as issuing an order of isolation is unusual. In fact, people at CDC don't recall us doing this since 1963. So, we always want to balance personal liberties with the requirement to protect people's health."
The decision marks at least the second confinement of a TB-carrier. Twenty-seven year-old Robert Daniels is being held against his will in a Phoenix hospital ward reserved for sick prisoners.
Jailed in 3 East African Nations, US Citizen Returns Home
An American citizen has returned to the US after an ordeal that saw him imprisoned in three East African countries. Twenty-four-year-old Amir Mohamed Meshal was detained in Kenya, transferred to Somalia, and then sent to Ethiopia where he was jailed for three months without charge. Questions have been raised over whether Meshal was held as part of the secret CIA program to jail detainees in foreign prisons. The FBI had accused him of fighting for a radical Islamic movement but is now declining to press charges.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
25 Killed in Fallujah Suicide Attack
At least twenty five people have been killed and more than fifty wounded in a suicide bombing in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Ten police officers are among the dead. Meanwhile in Baghdad US and Iraqi forces are continuing a series of raids following the abduction of five British contractors.
Hundreds March for Elderly Victims of US Airstrike
Hundreds of people marched through Sadr City today carrying the coffins of two victims of a US airstrike. The victims were said to be an elderly couple who were bombed as they slept on the roof of their home.
Administration Cites South Korea Model for US Troop Plans
The Bush administration has announced it expects to maintain a massive troop presence in Iraq as it has in South Korea since the Korean War. The US currently has thirty-thousand troops in South Korea in a presence dating back more than fifty years. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said the US would remain in Iraq as it has in South Korea — what he called "a force of stability."
The US has been destabilizing. Everyone knows that. It is plain stupid to call the US continued occupation "a force of stability." This sort of propaganda isn't working anymore. Those days are gone. The people are too aware now. There is no turning back from that either.
Killing of 3 Iraqi Journalists Ties Iraq War High
At least three Iraqi journalists have been killed in the last week. National Iraqi News Agency correspondent Abdul Rahman al Isawi was dragged from his home and shot. Nazar Abdul Wahid, a reporter with the Aswat al Iraq news agency, was shot outside a hotel. And newspaper editor Mahmoud Hakim Mustafa was shot dead near his home in northern Iraq. Their deaths bring this month's toll for journalists in Iraq to nine — equaling the worst monthly total of the Iraq war.
5 US Troops Killed in Afghan Helicopter Downing
In Afghanistan, five US troops were among seven killed when their helicopter went down during clashes with Taliban fighters.
NATO spokesperson major John Thomas said, "Last night a little after 9:00pm local time a Chinook helicopter went down in Helmand province near Kajaki area. There were seven people on board. They were all ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) soldiers, all of them died in crash."
Israel Dismisses Truce Talks, Launches Attacks
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, Israel has dismissed the prospect of a truce with Palestinian militants and continued its bombing attacks on Gaza. On Wednesday, two Hamas militants were killed in an Israeli strike. Meanwhile, the quartet of Middle East peace mediators urged support for the ceasefire at a meeting in Berlin.
UN secretary general Ban-Ki Moon said, "Looking ahead, the quartet discussed the calendar for the coming months to support and encourage progress on the bilateral and regional tracks. The quartet principles agree to meet in the region in turn with the Israelis and Palestinians to review progress and discuss the way forward. The quartet also agreed to meet in the region with members of the Arab League to follow up on the Arab peace-initiative and efforts to advance the regional track."
The appeal came as Israeli forces carried out what is being described as an extrajudicial execution in the middle of a crowded Palestinian street. Witnesses say undercover Israeli troops ambushed an off-duty Palestinian security officer in broad daylight in Ramallah. The officer, Mohamed Abdul Halim, was shot twenty-four times. Halim was reportedly carring a weapon but never attempted to open fire. Palestinian information minister Mustafa Barghouti was present on the scene and had shots fired at his vehicle.
How long will it be before the tables are turned on these false Zionists?
UN Approves International Tribunal in Hariri Killing
At the United Nations, the Security Council has voted to establish a special court to prosecute the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Five of the fifteen Security Council members abstained from the vote. The US backed the measure in a move widely seen as a challenge to Syria.
US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said, "We have heard many voices warn of the risk to peace and stability in Lebanon. In the days ahead, we urge all parties to act responsibility and abide by their obligations to support Lebanon's sovereignty and political independence."
The court's establishment has highlighted Lebanon's internal divisions. Members of Hariri's coalition have voiced support while pro-Syrian politicians say the proceedings will be controlled by the White House. Members of the Hezbollah-led opposition coalition have said they back a tribunal but have warned against imposing it through unilateral action.
Pentagon: Guantanamo Prisoner Commits Suicide
A Saudi Arabian prisoner at Guantanamo Bay has been found dead in his cell in what the Pentagon is calling an apparent suicide. The unidentified captive's death comes nearly one year after the suicides of three other Guantanamo prisoners. Further details have not been released.
ACLU Sues Boeing Subsidiary for CIA Rendition Flights
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against a Boeing Company subsidiary for allegedly helping the CIA transport three captives to overseas prisons where they were tortured. The suit was filed on behalf of the three prisoners. The ACLU says Jeppesen International Trip Planning has been a main provider of flight and logistical support services for the secret CIA program of jailing and transporting prisoners known as "extraordinary rendition." Jeppesen is said to have aided at least fifteen aircraft for a total of seventy rendition flights. ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said, "American corporations should not be profiting from a CIA rendition program that is unlawful and contrary to core American values. Corporations that choose to participate in such activity can and should be held legally accountable."
Supreme Court Asked to Review Masri Suit Dismissal
Meanwhile the ACLU has also brought a new challenge on behalf of the German citizen Khaled el Masri. Masri was held and tortured for five months in a secret CIA jail in Afghanistan after being kidnapped in Macedonia. A lawsuit against the CIA has been dismissed twice on the grounds it could reveal so-called "state secrets." The ACLU is now asking the Supreme Court to review the case.
What are the "state secrets" other than more evil doings?
The Empire is corrupt to the core. There is no salvaging it. It must, and will, die. It will be replaced by a new nation bringing forth the fruits of the kingdom of God on earth.
Bush Seeks Doubling of AIDS Funding
President Bush has asked Congress to double US spending on the global AIDS crisis to thirty billion dollars over five years. The President spoke Wednesday from the White House.
President Bush said, "This money will be spent wisely through the establishment of partnership compacts with host nations. These compacts would ensure that US funds support programs that have the greatest possible impact and are sustainable for the future. America will work with governments, the private sector, and faith- and community-based organizations around the world to meet measurable goals, to support treatment for nearly 2.5 million people, to prevent more than 12 million new infections, and to support care for 12 million people, including more than 5 million orphans and vulnerable children."
While the request drew praise, some advocacy groups offered criticism the US is both under-spending and maintaining a misdirected emphasis on abstinence education. The Health Global Access Group says the US would need to spend at least fifty billion dollars to keep a promise for universal access to treatment for HIV victims. The administration is also extending its controversial requirement that one-third of HIV-prevention spending go to promoting abstinence before marriage. Jodi Jacobson of the Centre for Health and Gender Equity, said, "No amount of money will make up for the ideologically driven prevention policies now promoted by [the US]."
The opposite of abstinence is promiscuity. Of course, nothing good comes of that. Uncontrolled appetites caused the crisis to begin with. Self-control through submission to God's will is the right path, eternally. The Bush people need to be consistent. If they are going to promote abstinence, let them abstain from all greedy and violent behavior.
US Food Companies Sign Trade Deal with Cuba
American food exporters have signed a new round of trade deals with the Cuban government. More than one hundred companies and twenty-five states are taking part in the deal. The sales are allowed under an exception to the US embargo on Cuba.
James Sumner, head of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, said, "It's a tremendous relationship that we have. Cuba is a very important market to us. We feel we're doing each other very well. We're helping your consumers, you're helping our industry, and we recognize that when the embargo is lifted, which we hope is very soon, that these purchases will be much greater and help all of our people even more. So you've been a good friend. Thank you for all of your support."
Justice Department Expands Probe to Focus on Hirings
The Justice Department has announced it's expanding its internal investigation to look into whether senior officials hired applicants based on their Republican ties. The new probe will look into hirings in the Civil Rights Division, which oversees voting rights.
US Attorney Fired after Opposing Restrictions on Native Voting ID's
The news comes as the Los Angeles Times reports a former federal prosecutor could have lost his job because he stood up for voting rights for Native Americans. Republican Tom Heffelfinger resigned last year after fifteen years as the US attorney for Minnesota. His name appeared on the list of attorneys in danger of losing their jobs just three months after he challenged a state directive that would have barred tribal ID cards as a valid form of voting identification. Native voters in the Minnesota area have turned out in relatively large numbers and are known to generally vote Democratic. In testimony last week, former Justice Department liaison Monica Goodling said Heffelinger's superiors had criticized him for spending "an excessive amount of time" on Native American issues.
This just points to the inherent racism of the Republicans.
Study: Asylum Rulings Depend on Location, Judge Background
A new study shows rulings on asylum cases face wide disparities depending on factors including the location of the court and background of the judges. The study looked at one-hundred forty-thousand rulings on cases involving the fifteen countries that have produced the most asylum seekers. In one court in Miami, Colombians had a nearly nine in ten chance of winning asylum from one judge while just a five percent chance from another. Chinese asylum seekers had a seventy-six percent success rate in a court in Orlando while just a seven-percent chance in Atlanta. Female immigration judges were also found to approve asylum requests at a forty-four percent higher rate than male judges. Georgetown professor and study author Philip Schrag said, "It is very disturbing that these decisions can mean life or death, and they seem to a large extent to be the result of a clerk's random assignment of a case to a particular judge."
The Clintons have done more to set back the Democratic Party than any other couple within the Party. Bill Clinton pulled the Party toward selfishness. He pulled it toward global, corporate capitalism. He promoted Empire within the Party. He caused the Party to turn its back on educating the people to the evils of Empire and greedy capitalism. He caused the Party to turn its back upon the plight of the people around the world in favor of big-business exploitation.
Hillary Clinton is doing more of the same. She is building upon the network her husband and she built up while he was in office and since, while she has been a US senator.
This is not where the American people should be headed. They should not be accepting the lesser of evils (choosing Hillary over the torture advocates of the insane Republican presidential field).
The American people need to turn to God, who is righteousness, generosity, peace, and sexual purity. That way, and that way only, lies salvation. All other paths lead to damnation that is ruination in hell.
What people need to understand is that those Republicans and Hillary-types are not for the people or the environment. They are for the rich first and foremost. They suck up to them and want to be more a part of them.
If you care about the people in general and the environment, which is where we all live, then you will not follow either those Republicans or the Clintonites or anyone remotely like them. You will rather work to bring forth the promise of heaven on earth that only real Christianity can bring forth.
Where are the calls for full employment, free graduate education, universal healthcare, a total ban on greenhouse gases, and similar positions?
You might be interested in the following article: Ari Berman. "Hillary Inc." The Nation. May 17, 2007. Last accessed: Saturday, June 09, 2007.
Friday, June 1, 2007
Kidnapped BBC Reporter Appears in New Video
In the Occupied Territories, a video has been released showing the first new images of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston since his March 12th kidnapping in Gaza.
Alan Johnston said, "First of all, my captors have treated me very well, they've fed me well, there has been no violence towards me at all, and I'm in good health. In three years here, in the Palestinian territory, I've witnessed the huge suffering of the Palestinian people, and my message is, that their suffering is continuing and it's unacceptable. Every day there are Palestinians arrested, imprisoned for no reason. People are killed on a daily basis. The economic suffering is terrible, especially here in Gaza (audio unclear). People here are in absolute despair after almost 40 years of Israeli occupation, which has been supported by the West."
Johnston went on to criticize the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. It's unclear whether his comments were coerced. The undated video was posted by a group calling itself the Army of Islam. On the tape, the group repeats its demand that Britain free Muslim prisoners, including the Islamist cleric Abu Qatada. Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Johnston should be released unconditionally. Johnston is the only Western reporter permanently based in Gaza.
Gates, General Push South Korea Model for US Troop Presence
The Bush administration appears to have settled on a new talking points strategy to promote a long-term troop US presence in Iraq. On Thursday, both defense secretary Robert Gates and a senior US commander in Iraq said they favor a protracted stay in Iraq similar to the US force in South Korea. The US currently has thirty-thousand troops in South Korea in a presence dating back more than fifty years. The comments mark the second time this week the administration has invoked South Korea to discuss its long-term plans for Iraq, following White House press secretary Tony Snow on Wednesday. These developments come as Iraqi president Jalal Talabani visited the White House and said the Iraqi government was prepared to meet US-backed goals.
Iraqi president Jalal Talabani said, "I must tell you that I am committed, as the president of Iraq, to benchmarks and to do our best to achieve some progress forward for national reconciliation, for passing the new oil law, de-Baathification, investment, and other laws which are now under discussion."
US Embassy in Iraq Plans Posted Online
In what the State Department is calling a breach of security, the architectural firm designing the new US embassy in Iraq has posted its designs online. The firm, Berger Devine Yaeger, says the $600 million dollar project will include "two office buildings, six apartment buildings, a gym, a pool, a food court and its own power generation and water-treatment plants." The US ambassador's residence will be 16,000 square feet. The embassy will be the size of nearly eighty football fields. The plans were removed after US officials complained.
These people just go on dreaming. They are talking about occupying Iraq the way the US has occupied South Korea. They are planning a palatial US embassy; however, the attacks aren't going to lessen. They are going to increase. Just as with the Green Zone, this embassy is going to represent a great and easy target.
Report: Embassy Construction Workers Face Poor Conditions
Meanwhile, reports are emerging of coerced labor and poor conditions for workers involved in the embassy's construction. Journalist David Phinney reports, foreign construction workers contracted by the construction firm First Kuwaiti are living in overcrowed trailers, served low-quality food, abused by managers, and subjected to unsafe conditions. A former medical technician says workers were deprived of basic medical needs. The technician, Rory Mayberry, was dismissed just days after he complained to First Kuwaiti and US officials.
Sadr Rejects Talks With US
In other Iraq news, the US military says its seeking talks with one of its most prominent opponents, the Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr. Sadr's aides say they've been approached but won't sit down with "occupation forces."
Clashes Resume at Palestinian Refugee Camp in Lebanon
In Lebanon, fighting has resumed at a Palestinian refugee camp where the Lebanese military has squared off against the Islamic militant group Fatah Islam. Dozens of Lebanese military vehicles have fired artillery shells from around the Nahr el Bared camp, setting off clouds of smoke inside. More than twenty-five thousand residents have fled the camp since fighting began two weeks ago. The death toll has now topped eighty people, including civilians.
Bush Rejects Emissions Caps in New Climate Change Plan
President Bush has unveiled a new climate change strategy that says leading nations should agree on a "long-term goal" to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions but explicitly rejects setting mandatory caps.
Bush said, "By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases. To help develop this goal, the United States will convene a series of meetings of nations that produce most greenhouse-gas emissions, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China."
An international accord would mark the first time the Bush administration agrees to a target on reducing gas emissions. But the new strategy continues the White House policy of rejecting mandatory emissions limits as called for by the Kyoto Accords. Germany, which is hosting the G8 summit next week, has called for a fifty-percent emission cut by the year 2050. Critics say the president made the announcement with the global warming divide in mind.
Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress, said, "He made the announcement today to preempt the criticisms that he is sure to get at the G8 summit next week when our allies like Germany and Britain say don't talk, cut."
US, Russia Trade Barbs over Missile Plan
The standoff over US plans for a missile shield in Eastern Europe continues to intensify. On Thursday, Russian president Vladimir Putin said the US policy was akin to "diktat" and "imperialism."
Russian president Vladimir Putin said, "Some members of the international community have a desire to dictate their will to everyone on any issue without coordinating their actions with common norms of international law."
Meanwhile secretary of state Condoleezza Rice responded to Putin during a visit to Germany.
Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said, "Democratic institutions and an open society are not a source of weakness. Nor is freedom of speech and freedom of the press a nuisance. They are pillars of modern society. When we differ with Russia, we will consult, we will address their views seriously, and we will express our own views candidly. In that regard, I have to tell you that I find Russia's recent missile diplomacy difficult to understand, and we regret Russia's reluctance to accept the partnership of missile defense that we have offered."
Hundreds Protest Guantanamo and Iraq War in Madrid Ahead of Rice Visit
Rice is expected to visit Spain later today. On Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators rallied outside the US Embassy in Madrid calling for an end to the Iraq war and the closure of the US prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Eva Suarez-Llanos of Amnesty International said, "We demand the immediate closure of Guantanamo Bay prison, which has become the symbol of the war against terror but it is only the tip of the iceberg. We also demand the release of all information regarding the secret centers operated by the CIA in different places around the world which are kept secret."
4 US Oil Workers Freed in Nigeria
In Nigeria, four American oil workers have been released following three weeks in captivity. The men were seized at gunpoint from an oil barge operated by the oil giant Chevron.
British Teachers, South African Trade Union Back Israel Boycott
In Britain, the main union of British college teachers has endorsed a call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The measure calls Israeli academia "complicit" in Israel's forty year occupation of Palestinian lands. The congress of the University and College Union represents more than 120,000 British teachers.
The move comes as South Africa's largest trade union federation is preparing its own campaign to call for a national boycott on Israeli products and an end to diplomatic ties with Israel. Willy Madisha, president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), said, "The best way to have Israel comply with United Nations resolutions is to pressure it by a diplomatic boycott such as the one imposed on apartheid South Africa."
If it was right against South African apartheid, it would be right against Israel. We don't believe in coercion however. We believe in asking people to see the light and turn out of developing a good, working conscience. If they refuse, then they will place themselves at Satan's mercilessness.
Dow Jones Considers Murdoch Bid for WSJ
In media news, Dow Jones has announced it's now open to talks on selling the Wall Street Journal. The news comes just one month after Dow's controlling family, the Bancrofts, rejected a takeover bid from News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch. Dow now says its open to Murdoch's offer.
Ex-Rove Aide Resigns as Arkansas US Attorney
The former top aide to chief White House strategist Karl Rove has stepped down as US attorney for Arkansas. Tom Griffin's resignation came just hours after Congressmember John Conyers had asked for information about Griffin's role in a scandal first reported by the journalist Greg Palast for both the BBC and Democracy Now. Palast obtained internal Republican emails showing Griffin had sent so-called voter "caging-lists" designed to challenge voters from casting ballots. The caging lists were skewed towards targeting people of color, predominantly African-Americans.
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)