Monday, June 11, 2007
US Arming Sunni Insurgents
The New York Times is reporting the US military has begun secretly supplying arms, ammunition, and cash to Sunni-insurgent groups in Iraq in an effort to fight al Qaeda. Some of the Sunni groups are suspected of having carried out deadly attacks on American troops and have strong ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party. Critics of the strategy say it could amount to the US arming both sides in a civil war. The United States has already spent more than $15 billion in building up Iraq's largely Shiite army and police force.
"...could amount to the US arming both sides in a civil war." Of course that is exactly what they are doing. It's what the money changers have been doing since the beginning. It is well known in history that the bankers have made their fortunes by financing all sides in conflicts. It's how they can decide who will win too. We've written about it at length, especially in Supplement: There Is No Such Thing as a Conservative-Republican Christian: Jesus is a small-c communist
Six Iraqi Prisoners Die in Mortar Attack
Six Iraqi prisoners died on Saturday when mortar fire hit the US-run Bucca prison. The US is holding 16,000 Iraqi prisoners at Bucca. In Mahmoudiya, a suicide bomb blew up part of a main highway bridge south of Baghdad on Sunday. Several US soldiers guarding the bridge were injured.
US Accused of Attacking Shiite Mosque
In eastern Baghdad, local witnesses have reported US warplanes fired shells and flares on houses in a largely Shiite neighborhood. Four houses were burnt in the attack. Residents also said US forces raided an office of Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr and shot dead four men. One eyewitness accused the US troops of attacking a Shiite mosque.
An Iraqi eyewitness said, "They [US troops] gathered in front of the mosque. People were praying when the US soldiers opened fire on them. Some fell down, others were arrested, and many were killed. The reason was unknown."
Turkey Shells Northern Iraq
Tension remains high on the border of Iraq and Turkey. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has accused Turkey of intensively shelling Kurdish areas in northern Iraq. The shelling reportedly caused wide fires and large amounts of damage. Four Turkish soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb 45 miles north of the border.
Iraqi Journalist Killed in Mosul
Another journalist has been murdered in Iraq. On Thursday, Sahar al Haydari was assassinated by unknown gunmen in Mosul. Haydari worked for Voices of Iraq, the National Iraqi News Agency and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in Iraq. Prior to Thursday, she had received 13 death threats. Mosul is now considered to be the second most dangerous city in the world for journalists, behind Baghdad. A group linked to al Qaeda called Ansar al Sunnah has claimed responsibility for her killing.
Senate to Hold No-Confidence Vote on Alberto Gonzales
On Capitol Hill, the Senate is preparing to vote today on a no-confidence resolution on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales has been widely criticized for his role in the politicization of the Justice Department, the firing of eight US attorneys, for authorizing warrantless domestic surveillance, and for his role in justifying the use of torture. On Sunday, White House spokesperson Tony Snow said that the vote would have no effect on Bush's confidence in Gonzales.
GOP Loyalists Often Get Immigration Judgeships
The Senate vote comes as another Justice Department scandal appears to be on the horizon. The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration has increasingly emphasized partisan, political ties over expertise in recent years in selecting immigration judges who decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of immigrants. At least one-third of the immigration judges appointed by the Justice Department since 2004 have had Republican connections or have been administration insiders, and half lacked experience in immigration law. All of the appointments were made by Alberto Gonzales or former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The Bush administration has been practicing the spoils system since it came into office.
Anti-Occupation Rallies Held in Tel Aviv, DC, London
Major rallies were held in Washington, London, and Tel Aviv this weekend to protest 40 years of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In Tel Aviv, thousands of Israeli peace activists and Palestinians marched to mark the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, when Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank have lived under Israeli military occupation ever since.
Israeli peace activist Dr. Dalit Baum said, "Well we have organized here a very, very wide coalition of organizations from all different spectrums of Israeli political left, and we are going to march in Tel Aviv in order to remind people that this is forty years to the '67 war and the occupation of the territories in the West Bank and Gaza and the Golan Heights. And we are thinking that we need to walk around town - this very quiet, very, very content city -, and remind people that the occupation goes on. And it needs to stop."
Organizers said more than 5,000 people rallied against the occupation in Washington, and more than 20,000 people marched in London.
Palestinian Gunman Attack Prime Minister Haniyeh's Home
In Gaza, at least six Palestinians have died since Saturday in fighting between Fatah and Hamas. It was the deadliest internal fighting in Gaza in about a month. Earlier today gunman attacked the home of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, of Hamas. There were no reports of casualties.
Palestinian Militants Criticized for Using TV Truck in Attack
International-press groups are criticizing Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad for storming an Israeli-border checkpoint in a vehicle designed to look like a truck carrying journalists.
Simon McGregor Wood, head of the Foreign Press Association, said, "This is a disaster for legitimate working journalists who work very hard with the Israeli authorities to import these vehicles so they can offer protection to journalists in hostile environments. Yesterday's incident will undermine that whole process and will make any journalist traveling in a real armored vehicle, in a conflict area, worthy of the suspicion of the Israeli army or whomever else."
Mali Hold People's Summit to Counter G-8
About a thousand anti-corporate globalization and anti-poverty campaigners gathered in Mali to hold a forum to counter the G8 meeting. The people's summit was aimed at tackling debt, food security, and immigration problems, as well as the creation of an alternative to the World Bank. Makafing Konate from the group Coalition of African alternatives on debt and development said, "Our states must have agriculture development. If we have to go to the global market, we must guarantee our farmers they'll be able to produce at competitive costs. This means that our states should be able to help our farmers.''
Domestic Workers March for Rights in New York City
Domestic workers marched on Saturday to call for state lawmakers to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. This bill would set a minimum wage of $12 for caregivers and require employers to provide health insurance or pay an additional $2 an hour. It would also guarantee days off, vacation time, and other worker standards.
Saturday's march came a month after federal prosecutors arrested a Long Island, New York, couple for essentially enslaving their domestic workers.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Court Rules US Can't Hold Residents as Enemy Combatants
A federal appeals court has dealt a major setback to the Bush administration over its power to jail US citizens and legal residents without charge. The court ruled the Bush administration can not label US residents "enemy combatants" and jail them indefinitely without charge. The ruling came in the case of the only person still held as an enemy combatant on US soil, Ali al Marri, who was arrested five years ago at his home in Peoria, Illinois. Writing for the majority, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz said authorizing indefinite military-detention "would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution - and the country." She continued, "We refuse to recognize a claim to power that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our Republic."
Some judges are not fascists at heart.
GOP Blocks No Confidence Vote on Gonzales
US Senate Republicans blocked a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday, but more than a majority of the Senate indicated that they no longer had confidence in the Attorney General. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer from New York said, "There is no liberal or conservative or Democratic or Republican position on the Attorney General's lack of independence or commitment to rule of law. It is virtually unanimous."
Seven Republicans, including Arlen Specter, joined Democrats in allowing the vote to go forward. But the Democrats failed to get the needed 60 votes to end debate and have the vote take place. Independent Joe Lieberman voted with the Republicans. Bush said he still has confidence in Gonzales.
Bush said, "They can try to have their vote of no confidence, but it's not going to determine, make the determination, who serves in my government."
Joe Lieberman is a Republican at heart, and Arlen Specter is a Democrat at heart.
US Forces Kill Seven Afghan Police Officers
US forces have killed seven Afghan police officers and wounded four others. Afghan officials say the US ground forces mistook the police officers as Taliban fighters.
Red Cross: Violence is Worsening throughout Afghanistan
This comes as the International Red Cross is warning that violence is intensifying throughout Afghanistan. The Red Cross blamed the increased fighting on Taliban militants as well as US-led troops. One official said, "Civilians suffer horribly from mounting threats to their security, such as increasing numbers of roadside bombs and suicide attacks and regular aerial bombing raids." The Red Cross said it has become increasingly challenging to carry out humanitarian work outside major cities. Meanwhile, Afghan police have arrested 11 men suspected of being involved in an attempt to kill Afghan President Hamid Karzai. On Sunday, rockets were fired at a school in the Ghazni province where Karzai was visiting.
Al Qaeda Targets Iraqi Infrastructure
In Iraq for the second time in two days, al Qaeda fighters have blown up a bridge near Baghdad. Iraqi officials say al Qaeda is now mounting a campaign to destroy key transportation arteries and other parts of Iraq's infrastructure.
Iraqi Lawmakers Vote to Remove Speaker of Parliament
Iraqi lawmakers have voted to replace the speaker of parliament, Mahmoud al Mashhadani. He was removed after one of his bodyguards beat up another lawmaker. Last year, Mashhadani praised Iraqi militants who killed US forces. He said, "I personally think whoever kills an American soldier in defense of his country would have a statue built for him in that country."
Iraq Oil Workers End Strike
Oil workers in southern Iraq have stopped their week-long strike after Prime Minister Maliki pledged to form a government committee to address their complaints. The oil workers went on strike to protest wages and the planned privatization of Iraq's oil resources.
Study: Rate of Suicide for War Veterans Twice as High as for Civilians
A new study has found that the suicide rate of US war veterans is double the rate of ordinary civilians. The study examined data on over 300,000 men dating back to World War II. Disabled veterans or those who had experienced emotional or psychological trauma during their service were identified as the highest risk group.
Satan is the destroyer of worlds.
Army Recruiting in May Falls Short
The US Army has fallen short of its May recruiting goal. The Army signed up 5100 soldiers last month - 400 fewer than expected.
Two Red Cross Workers Killed in Lebanon
In Lebanon, fighting is also continuing between Lebanese troops and Sunni militants holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp. On Monday, two Red Cross aid workers were killed and a Palestinian mediator was wounded. At least 132 people have been killed in the past three weeks.
International Attorneys Criticize Treatment of Lawyers in Zimbabwe
A group of international judges criticized the treatment of lawyers in Zimbabwe. The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists said it was "shocked" by the extent of government abuse of the legal and judicial system.
Claire L'Heureux-Dube of the ICJ said, "The mission is disturbed that the unjustifiable harassment, detention, and beating of lawyers has only increased tensions between the law society and the government. Such treatment is interfering with the proper functioning of the administration of justice, the role of lawyers and their independence, and is making it difficult for lawyers to act for clients viewed by the government as dissidents."
Nixon Nyikadzino of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition praised the findings of the International Commission of Jurists.
Nixon Nyikadzino said, "What the report is basically doing is to prove what we have always said as Zimbabweans who are concerned that the situation back home is actually deteriorating and getting into an extent whereby we really need a quick and fast intervention particularly through the initiative that are taking place when President Thabo Mbeki is going to negotiate."
Georgia Judge Orders Release of Teen Jailed for Consensual Sex
A Georgia state judge has ordered the release of a young African-American man who has been serving a 10-year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with another teenager. At the time, Genarlow Wilson was 17 years old and the girl was 15. Wilson was convicted of felony aggravated child molestation. He has already spent two years behind bars. Since Wilson was convicted, Georgia changed its law on teenage sex. After the judge ordered Wilson's release on Monday, Georgia's Attorney General Thurbert Baker surprised many by appealing the judge's order. Civil-rights leaders condemned the state's appeal. The Rev. Joseph Lowery wrote a letter to Baker asking, "Where is your conscience that you would allow this travesty to occur on your watch?"
At 17, Wilson was still a minor. Regardless, sex is something that ought not to be left up to the discretion of minors. They are too emotionally and sexually immature to make wise choices.
Fox News Barely Covers Iraq War
A new study on media coverage of the Iraq War has found that Fox News has spent far less time covering the war than CNN or MSNBC. The Project for Excellence in Journalism examined the news coverage in the first three months of the year. It found that during daytime news shows, Fox spent only 6 percent of the time discussing the war. CNN spent 20 percent and MSNBC spent 18 percent.
What did they say in that 6 percent? It isn't the percentage of coverage alone that matters. It's the type and quality too. Some other things that matter very much are what was the other 94% spent on and what was said concerning issues covered during that time as well.
We have been given to understand that Fox News spends an inordinate amount of time covering what are thought of as vacuous people with an exaggerated interest in sex.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
UN Mideast Envoy: US Hampering Peace Efforts
The fighting comes as the Guardian newspaper reports the highest ranking UN official in Israel and the Occupied Territories has issued a scathing denunciation of the US role. In a confidential report, Alvaro de Soto condemns the international boycott on the Palestinian government and says US pressure has "pummeled into submission" the UN's role as an impartial broker. De Soto also says Israel has adopted what he calls "an essentially rejectionist" stance towards Palestinians that precludes any chance at meaningful negotiations. De Soto also criticized the Palestinian record at stopping violence against Israel. De Soto submitted the report before stepping down last month.
Bombing of Iraqi Shiite Shrine Raises Fears of Escalation
In Iraq, there are fears of a new escalation in sectarian fighting following a bombing of a major Shiite shrine. Earlier today, supposed militants destroyed the two minarets of the Askariya Shiite shrine in Samarra. The shrine was already badly damaged from a bombing more than one year ago that set off a wave of ongoing sectarian violence.
Was it militants or a US operation designed to stir up more trouble—to weaken and divide the prey to make them easier to conquer?
Iraqis Face Water, Power Shortages Amid Summer Heat
Iraqis are struggling with dwindling water supplies and frequent power losses as summer temperatures soar.
Baghdad resident Allawi Eneed said, "The country is in a really difficult situation. It's suffering. They do not supply us with water. Why? Are we different from the rest of the people to be treated like animals and drink water like animals? The water is not clean. We are getting sick. People from the whole area are getting sick. Women are getting sick. Children are getting sick. We walk about five kilometres to get a pot of water."
That's the neocon plan. They want them sick. They like it that they are sick. They really want them all dead and out of the way so they, the neocons, false-Zionists, false-Jews, can have all the resources and land. Of course, the Anglo-Saxon imperialist ambitions in the US haven't died out yet either.
Commander: Iraq Will Need Long-Term US Military Ties
On Capitol Hill, the former commander in charge of training the Iraqi army said Iraq is years from achieving its goals and will require a long-term military relationship with the United States. Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey testified Iraq needs at least twenty-thousand more soldiers to handle security in the country and at least five more years before it can control its own airspace.
Hogwash. This is just propaganda for a continuing US occupation to steal Iraqi oil.
Red Cross Urges NATO on Afghan Strikes
In Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross says the US-led NATO force is failing to protect civilian life during its military strikes. On Tuesday, Red Cross head Pierre Kraehenbuehl urged NATO to take further precautions to avoid more deaths.
ICRC chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl said, "I mean, when you have 2,000 civilians that have to move out of the region, 170 homes destroyed, and several dozen people killed, there was both exposure of civilians to risk by the presence of armed actors on the ground, but also concerns about the measures of precaution. And again, I've highlighted earlier, we know how difficult it is to take all those measures. This is clear. But again, it is a responsibility to do that. And yes, in such instances, we think that clearly much more must be done to preserve and spare civilians when these types of military operations are underway."
UN, Labor Groups Form Coalition on Child Labor
A coalition of UN agencies and labor unions have formed a new effort to fight child exploitation. The announcement came as the UN marked the World Day for the Elimination of Child Labour.
UN Food and Agriculture Organization director Jose Maria Sumpsi said, "Let this day mark the beginning of our joint efforts to give children back their childhood. From this day forward, we shall work together to break the cycle of poverty and allow children the opportunity for a future in which their own children will be free from the worst forms of child labor in agriculture."
White House: Iran Supplying Taliban Insurgents
The Bush administration is stepping up its war of words with Iran. On Tuesday, Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Burns accused Iran of transferring weapons to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has previously said Iranian weapons are turning up in Afghanistan but had stopped short of putting direct blame on Tehran.
This is why they had to get Peter Pace out of the way. Pace doesn't want war with Iran. He should say it. He'll be out of the military after his term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is up.
Nuremberg Prosecutor Criticizes Guantanamo Trials
A US prosecutor who took part in the Nazi war-crimes trials at Nuremberg has criticized the US military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. Henry King Jr. said this week Nuremberg chief prosecutor Robert Jackson would "turn over in his grave if he knew what was going on at Guantanamo."
ACLU Files Suit over Deported US Citizen
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against government officials for deporting a mentally disabled US citizen who's now missing in Mexico. The ACLU says Pedro Guzman was serving a four-month jail sentence for trespassing when he was deported to Tijuana on a supposed immigration charge. He was deported despite telling officers he was born in California. He was born in Los Angeles and lives in a nearby town with his mother. Immigration officials say the deportation was justified, because they had reason to believe Guzman was an undocumented immigrant. Members of his family have searched shelters, jails, and hospitals in Tijuana to track him down. ACLU Southern California legal director Mark Rosenbaum said, "This is a recurring nightmare for every person of color of immigrant roots."
The US government deported a US citizen. How much effort did the racists put forth to try to find out whether or not Pedro was telling the truth about being an American-born citizen? Probably none.
Officer Accused in New Orleans Beating Commits Suicide
In New Orleans, an officer charged in the videotaped beating of an unarmed man shortly after Hurricane Katrina has committed suicide. Lance Schilling was set to go on trial next month for beating sixty-four year old retired teacher Robert Davis. Davis was walking in the French Quarter when officers hit him at least four times in the head, dragged him to the ground, and kneed him in the back. He was left bleeding on the ground.
Was the suicide a direct result of Schillings remorse? The news stories aren't informative about whether he left a note or what.
Moore, California Nurses Rally Call for End to For-Profit Health Care
In Sacramento, the filmmaker Michael Moore joined up with the California Nurses Association on Tuesday for a rally and hearing at the state capitol. Moore is promoting his new film "Sicko" which critiques the US health-care system and insurance industry. Moore spoke on the capitol steps.
He said, "There's no room for the concept of profit when it comes to taking care of people when they're sick. That question of how will this effect our bottom line, how will this effect our profits, that's an immoral question, and it should never be asked."
He is absolutely correct.
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 says he's sent a master copy of his film to Canada to safeguard against potential government interference.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Seizing Key Fatah Posts, Hamas Nears Full Control of Gaza
Hamas appears to have taken control of nearly the entire Gaza Strip as its battle with rival Palestinian faction Fatah continues to escalate. At least twenty-one people were killed in internal violence Wednesday, bringing this week's toll to eighty. Hamas forces continue to seize key Fatah positions in Gaza. Earlier today, gunmen took control of the headquarters of the Preventive Security forces. Witnesses say Fatah guards were pulled from the compound and executed in the street. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has for the first time ordered members of his elite guard to strike back.
Gaza Civilians Suffer Worsening Crisis
Gaza's civilian population is bearing the brunt on top on of the dire humanitarian situation brought on by Israeli attacks and closures. Hospitals are operating without water, electricity, and functioning blood units - some even coming under attack.
An unidentified woman said, "He was in the hospital when they shot him. Look see his head. They were doing a surgery for him, here inside the hospital. They killed you. They killed you."
Ceasefire March Ends in Killing of 2 Demonstrators
More than one thousand people emerged from their homes to hold a peaceful rally calling for an end to the violence.
Islamic Jihad leader Khaled Albatsh said, "We are demonstrating today in the Gaza Strip to say one word to Hamas and Fatah to stop the clashes, to stop the violence, between the brothers, and to end all kind of clashes between Fatah and Hamas, because this violence destroys and demolishes our dream to be in a free Palestine."
The marchers, including women and children, converged on a beachfront neighborhood that has been a daily site of fighting. The marchers stood in the crossroads separating gunmen from both sides. But they were forced to disperse when unidentified attackers opened fire, killing two people.
Palestinian FM: Resume Talks, End Boycott
Palestinian foreign minister Ziad Abu Amr, a political independent, said the fighting could be calmed by a resumption of peace talks and end to the international boycott on the Palestinian government.
He said, "In order to salvage the situation, perhaps we need to go back to peace negotiations immediately. We need to resume economic assistance for the Palestinian people. We need to engage the Palestinians constructively. We need to end a political siege. So this is the way to help the Palestinians solve that internal violence and problems instead of locking them into this cage, putting them under siege, having them live under the most adversarial conditions."
UN Relief Agency Suspends Gaza Operations Following Employee Slayings
The United Nations relief agency has suspended most of its operations in Gaza following the shooting of two of its employees.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency representative John Ging said, "We hope that the situation will calm down and that we will be able to resume our services. And we will resume our services imminently when it does. But in the meantime, we call on those, everybody who can help, to calm the situation down locally regionally and internationally to help. Palestinians, the decent, civilized people of the Gaza Strip, have lived in misery for far too long, and this is just too much."
Ex-UN Envoy Chides Quartet, US, on Israel-Palestine Stance
The turmoil in Gaza comes as new details emerge about criticism from a former top UN envoy on the US and UN role in Israel and the Occupied Territories. In a confidential report disclosed earlier this week, Alvaro de Soto condemns the boycott on the Palestinian government and says the US and Israel have virtually neutralized prospects for peace. De Soto said the Bush administration had relied on a small group of Palestinian contacts who "tell them what they want to hear." De Soto also faulted the Middle East Quartet of the UN, US, European Union, and Russia for abandoning pressure on Israel. He writes, "With all focus on the failings of Hamas, the Israeli settlement enterprise and barrier construction has continued unabated." De Soto also says the UN should consider dropping out of the Quartet unless its policies are changed.
Barak Wins Labor Leadership Race
In Israel, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has won the race for leadership of Israel's Labor Party. Barak beat out former intelligence chief Ami Ayalon. Ayalon has been one of the few Israeli leaders to call for negotiated peace based on a near-complete withdrawal from the Occupied Territories.
They'll get the leaders they collectively deserve. Those who turn to Christ and separate themselves along spiritual lines will find heaven waiting.
Sunni Mosques Attacked Following Samarra Bombing
In Iraq, several Sunni mosques came under attack within hours of Wednesday's bombing of the Askariya Shiite shrine in Samarra. At least five people were killed in bombings of four mosques in Basra. Another four mosques were attacked or burned around Baghdad. The Iraqi government has imposed a national curfew amid fears of a repeat of the violence that followed the first attack on the Askariya mosque last year. Speaking at the United Nations, Iraqi imam Sheik Majid Ismail Mohammed al Hafeed warned of the attack's significance.
Hafeed said, "If it was another mosque in another place, maybe it would be different from this special mosque because it is not a memento of Shiites only. It is a Sunni area. It is a symbol of unity for the whole area for the past thirteen centuries."
Anti-Syrian Lawmaker Killed in Lebanon
In Lebanon, an anti-Syrian lawmaker was among ten people killed in a car bombing Wednesday in Beirut. It was the sixth attack to hit the Lebanese capital in the last month. Walid Eido was an ally of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al Hariri, who was killed in a car bombing two years ago. Hariri's son, Saad al Hariri, blamed Syria for the latest attack.
Saad al Hariri said, "The martyrs Walid Eido and his son, the flower of martyrs, the lawyer Khaled, and others have joined the trail of martyrs for freedom in the battle to turn Lebanon into a submissive country and hijack its decision .... It's the same hands which assassinated Rafik al Hariri and other martyrs. It's the hands of evil and its apparatus."
South African Unions Strike for Wage Boost
In South Africa, tens of thousands of union workers and supporters filled streets across the country yesterday amid a continuing strike for better wages.
Thulas Nxesis of the South African Democratic Teachers Union said, "Well the anger, the frustration, and the militancy which we saw today, is demonstrating that the workers in their thousands, they are ready to fight for what they are looking for. We are definitely are satisfied with the turnout. The turnout on its own says a lot, and it speaks for itself."
Chavez: Castro Nearing Full Recovery
In Cuba, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez emerged from a lengthy meeting with his Cuban counterpart, Fidel Castro, to predict Castro was near a full recovery from intestinal surgery.
Chavez said, "Yesterday, Fidel and I were like baseball players warming up before a game, warming up for six hours. And I want to tell you that Fidel is ninety miles down the road of recovery, a very long way."
Sudan Agrees to UN-AU Peacekeeping Force
The Sudanese government has announced it will accept a new deal on a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. The accord would put at least twenty-thousand troops and police on the ground. Critics say Sudan is likely to backtrack or impose new conditions, but Sudanese envoy Mutrif Siddig said this is not the case.
He said, "So we have full understanding we are not now posing or setting any conditions for the operations. It will operate according to the agreed understanding between the three parties."
White House Aides Subpoenaed in Attorney Probe
On US Capitol Hill, two former White House aides have been subpoenaed in the ongoing probe into the firing of nine US attorneys. The House and Senate judiciary committees want to question former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor over their roles in the scandal.
GOP Lobbyist Named New White House Counselor
A veteran Republican operative and lobbyist has joined the White House as Bush's new chief counselor. Edward Gillespie will replace Dan Bartlett, who steps down this month. Gillespie is one of Washington's top corporate lobbyists. His firm Quinn Gillespie pulled in nearly seventeen million dollars last year. Don Simon, a former general counsel with the watchdog group Common Cause, said, "Someone who is at the top of the corporate lobbying world is going into the top of the White House staff, and it shows the sometimes incestuous relationship between lobbyists and government."
Iraq War Veteran Discharged for Protesting in Uniform
An American Iraq war veteran has been given a general discharge with honorable conditions after he was reprimanded for wearing his uniform during an anti-war protest. Adam Kokesh is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The military began investigating him after the Washington Post published a photograph of him at an anti-war protest in March to mark the fourth anniversary of the war.
DePaul Students, Faculty Respond to Controversial Tenure Denials
In Chicago, students and faculty at DePaul University are taking action over an academic-freedom controversy that is drawing increasing national attention. Last week, the university announced it would deny tenure to Norman Finkelstein, one of the most prominent critics of the Israeli government in American academia. The political science department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recommended tenure for Finkelstein, but the college's dean and the University Board on Promotion and Tenure recommended against it. In another controversial move, DePaul also said it was denying tenure to professor Mehrene Larudee, who was set to become chair of her department. Larudee had the unanimous support of her department, the college personnel committee, and the Dean. Critics say she was targeted, because she supported Finkelstein's case. On Wednesday, more than fifty people turned out for a demonstration in support of the two professors. Student-supporters have held a twenty-four hour sit in at the DePaul president's office.
DePaul student Evan Lorendo said, "We've all had these professors, and they're great people. They're great members of society. They try so hard for social justice. The way DePaul has totally overlooked them for tenure is absolutely terrible. There's been outside influence, especially in Professor Finkelstein's case. Alan Dershowitz, from Harvard, has been actively lobbying against him. We're fighting for their tenure and their right to teach and academic freedom."
The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting DePaul's faculty association is considering taking votes of no confidence in the school president and other administrators in light of the tenure denials.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Abbas Dissolves Palestinian Government as Hamas Takes Gaza
Hamas is in full control of the Gaza Strip following days of bloody clashes with rival Palestinian faction Fatah. Hamas militants have seized the presidential compound in Gaza City following a week of fighting that's left more than one hundred dead. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has dismissed the Hamas-led government and declared a state of emergency.
Senior Abbas advisor Tayeb Abdel-Rahim said, "We are declaring a state of emergency in all the Palestinian territories, because of the criminal war in the Gaza strip and the occupying of the Palestinian Authority security headquarters and the military coup of the armed militias that are working outside the law of the Palestinian legislation."
Abbas says he will rule by presidential decree until conditions allow for early elections. But Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said his government will carry on.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said, "This evening, Mr. President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] took hasty decisions, and some of the people surrounding the President did not read the consequences on the public Palestinian arena… The existing government will carry out its duties and tasks in the best possible way. And will not give up on its national and ethical responsibilities towards the Palestinian people."
Administration to Increase Gaza Isolation to Weaken Hamas
The Occupied Territories are effectively split into two separate entities with Hamas in charge of Gaza and Fatah controlling the West Bank. The Bush administration appears to have settled on the outcome. There are reports today the White House will boost aid to Abbas while allowing Gaza to slip into further despair in order to weaken Hamas' popular standing. On Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave her backing to Abbas.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "President Abbas has exercised his lawful authority as president of Palestinian Authority and as leader of the Palestinian people. I'd remind everyone, he was elected in 2005 by a large margin, and we fully support him in his decision to try and end the crisis for the Palestinian people and return to peace and a better future."
Iraq Avoids Repeat of Mass Violence Following Shrine Attack
In Iraq, at least thirteen Sunni mosques have come under fire since Wednesday's attack on the Askariya shrine in Samarra. Despite the attacks, Iraq has avoided a surge in violence that followed the first bombing of the Shia shrine last year. Thirty-three bodies were found in Baghdad Thursday - a relative low for the past several months. Insurgents fired a barrage of rockets into the Baghdad Green Zone, hitting a street Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte had visited just minutes before. Meanwhile the US military has announced five US troops have been killed over the last day.
Iraqi Journalist Killed in Diala
Another Iraqi journalist has been killed. Voices of Iraq correspondent Aref Ali died Monday while on assignment in Diala province. Ali is the third Voices of Iraq correspondent slain in two weeks.
Judge Rejects Delaying Libby Jail Sentence
Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff Lewis Scooter Libby could be behind bars within two months. On Thursday, a federal judge denied Libby's attempt to delay the start of his sentence. Libby was convicted in March on four felony counts of making false statements to the FBI, lying to a grand jury, and obstructing a probe into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity. Administration officials outed Plame after her husband, former US Ambassador Joe Wilson, publicly challenged the Bush administration's case for going to war on Iraq.
Judge Reggie Walton said he had received several threatening letters after handing down Libby's two-and-a-half year sentence. Walton also criticized a brief from twelve law professors, including Harvard's Alan Dershowitz that argued Libby should avoid jail time. Walton said, "The submission was not something I would expect from a first-year law student." Libby could still avoid prison if Bush grants him a pardon.
Does he mean "not something I would expect from a first-year law student" because of its inappropriateness or poor quality?
Ex-Klan Member Guilty in 1964 Killings
In Mississippi, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan has been found guilty of kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with the murder of two black teenagers in 1964. James Ford Seale was first arrested shortly after the killings, but the charges were thrown out after the FBI turned the case over to local authorities. The Justice Department reopened the case two years ago. During the trial Seale's cousin Charles Marcus Edwards testified he and Seale had abducted and attacked the black teenagers. Edwards said Seale and other Klansmen then drove the teenagers across the Louisiana border. They put duct tape over their mouths and dumped them into the Mississippi River alive. The victims, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, were both 19 years old. Their bodies were found about two months later when authorities were conducting an intensive search for slain civil-rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner. Seale could face life in prison.
Lebanese Mourn Slain Lawmaker
In Lebanon, thousands of people observed a national day of mourning for the killing of ten people, including the lawmaker Walid Eido. Eido was the sixth leading anti-Syrian campaigner slain in the last two years. Syria denies involvement in the attack. UN Envoy Michael Williams emerged from a meeting with Syria's Vice-President who condemned the bombing.
Williams said, "I did discuss with the Vice-President the situation in Lebanon, and I was very pleased to know that the Syrian government issued a very strong condemnation of the tragic assassination which took place in Beirut yesterday."
US Rejects Russian Offer on Missile Shield
The US has rejected a Russian offer to host a jointly-run missile shield in Azerbaijan as an alternative to sites in Eastern Europe. Speaking at a NATO meeting in Belgium, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the US will continue with plans in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Gates said, "Yes I was very explicit in the meeting that we saw the Azeri radar as an additional capability, that we intended to proceed with the radar, the X-band radar, in the Czech Republic."
Oaxacans Mark 1-Year of Uprising
In Mexico, thousands of people marched through Oaxaca City Thursday to mark the first anniversary of a bloody crackdown on striking school teachers that sparked last year's popular uprising. At least fifteen people were killed in the months of protests against state governor Ulises Ruiz.
Teachers union spokesperson Daniel Rosas Romero said, "We can still remember the arrest warrants, the investigations prior to the arrests. We are demanding the cancellation of these arrests and the total freedom of political prisoners who were arrested during that time, on May 22, 2006, when the camps were set up."
Mexican Reporter Investigating Will-Murder Shot
A reporter for the Mexican newspaper Tiempo is in stable condition after being shot by unknown assailants. Misael SÃ¡nchez Sarmiento had received death threats over his investigative reporting on the shooting death of the US journalist Brad Will. Will was killed while covering the Oaxaca uprising last October.
Senate Agrees to Resume Immigration Debate
On US Capitol Hill, Senate leaders have reached an agreement that puts the immigration bill back on the table. Lawmakers have agreed to consider eleven new amendments from Democrats and Republicans.
Justice Department Expands Probe to Alleged Gonzales Interference
The US Justice Department has announced it will expand its internal probe into the firing of nine US attorneys to look at whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to influence the testimony of his former senior aide, Monica Goodling. Goodling has told lawmakers Gonzales made her uncomfortable when he tried to compare notes on how the firings occurred.
2007 Ties Warming Record
The US National Climatic Data Center has announced global temperatures this year have tied with the warmest period on record set in 1998.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration continues to delay and delay in taking any action. Why? Their behavior is demonic.
Judge OK's Suit Against FBI, AG on Post-9/11 Arrests
A former prisoner swept up in the post-9/11 crackdown on Arab and Muslim males in the United States has won a motion to continue a lawsuit accusing several government officials of ethnic and religious discrimination. Javaid Iqbal says he suffered physical and verbal abuse while spending more than one-hundred fifty days in solitary confinement without a hearing. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller are among those accused in the case.
FBI Violated Laws, Regulations on Data Monitoring
An internal probe has concluded the FBI may have committed more than one thousand breaches of the law or agency rules while gathering data on phone calls, emails, and financial transactions in the United States. The probe covers just ten percent of FBI investigations, meaning the actual number of violations could be much higher. Most of the breaches came in cases where agents retained phone and email records provided by service providers.
NY Judge Vacates Order Limiting Police Surveillance
In New York City, a federal judge has reversed his own order that had put strict limits on police spying on protests and events. In February, Judge Charles Haight ruled that police must stop the routine videotaping of people at public gatherings unless there was an indication that unlawful activity may occur. Judge Haight had cited two events that the police videotaped, a march in Harlem and a demonstration by homeless people in front of the Upper East Side home of Mayor Michael Bloomberg; however, this week, Haight said he was vacating the order after city lawyers told him new information on the gatherings. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say they'll challenge the reversal.
Charges Dismissed for Anti-War Port Activists
In Washington State, a judge has dismissed charges against sixteen people who took part in an anti-war protest at the Port of Tacoma. The accused were arrested as they tried to block the military from shipping Stryker armored vehicles to Iraq.
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)