Monday, June 25, 2007
12 US Troops Die in Iraq on Saturday
It's been another bloody weekend for US troops in Iraq. At least 12 soldiers died on Saturday bringing the week's death toll to at least 31.
Report: Pakistan May Be Expanding Its Nuclear Arsenal
A Washington think tank says satellite photos show Pakistan is close to completing a third, previously unknown, plutonium-production reactor. David Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, said the plant would give Pakistan the ability to build a new generation of lighter, more powerful weapons that can more easily be launched via missiles. Pakistan is believed to already have 50 nuclear weapons. The disclosure comes at a tumultuous time in Pakistan. Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid recently wrote that growing opposition to Pakistan's military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, could lead to a civil war or the unraveling of the country.
Six UN Peacekeeping Troops Killed in Lebanon
Sunday was a particularly bloody day in Lebanon. Six United Nations peacekeepers died in a car bombing just north of the Israeli border. Three Colombian and two Spanish peacekeepers were among the dead. It's not known who carried out the attack.
11 people died after Lebanese troops raided a house in the northern city of Tripoli. The Lebanese army said foreign militants were using the house as a hideout.
Ex-Head of EPA Testifies About 9/11 Response
On US Capitol Hill, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman, will testify today about how the EPA handled air-quality issues at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks. In the days after the Twin Towers collapsed, Whitman assured New York City residents the air was safe to breathe. Over the weekend, Whitman claimed that former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani blocked her efforts to force workers at the World Trade Center to wear respirators.
Rudolph Giuliani is being outed by the Holy Spirit.
Number of Black Military Recruits Drops 38%
In military news, the number of African-Americans joining the armed forces has declined by 38 percent since 2001. Six years ago, the military had over 51,000 new black recruits. Last year, the number dropped to 32,000.
There are many reasons for this. The Blacks have seen the racism of the US Military increasing domestically and internationally. They also know that people are dying in vain around the World for the sake of Empire.
Military Forced to Pull Misleading Recruiting Ad
ABC News is reporting the US Army has been forced to pull a television recruitment ad aimed at African-American recruits, because it inaccurately claimed the Army can train recruits to become pharmacists. David Work, the former president of The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, accused the Army of purposely lying in an attempt to recruit teenagers. A new version of the ad replaces the word "pharmacist" with "health-care technician." The commercial was produced by the advertising agency Casanova Pendrill.
House OKs $10M for US Government Radio Broadcasts in Venezuela
The Democratic-controlled House has passed a series of funding bills dealing with Venezuela, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. The House voted to spend $10 million to bolster Voice of America broadcasts to Venezuela and Latin America. Venezuela responded by accusing the US of escalating its media campaign against the Chavez government.
How true. What a waste of money. What is the matter with the Democrats in the US House? Well, they're neoliberals for the most part. That means they're beholden to the capitalists going about the world destroying the earth for the sake of the capitalists.
Democrats Back Giving $46 Million to Cuban Dissidents
The Democrat-controlled House also agreed to give Bush $46 million to back Cuban dissidents in Cuba. This marks a fivefold jump over last year's budget. A recent congressional study found previous allocations to Cuban dissidents had been spent on such items as Godiva chocolates and cashmere sweaters.
US House Votes to Prohibit Aid to Saudi Arabia
The US House also voted on Friday to prohibit any foreign aid to Saudi Arabia — one of the Bush administration's closest allies in the Middle East. The vote is largely symbolic, since the US sends little aid to the Saudis.
Cheney's Daughter Joins Fred Thompson's Campaign
Vice President Cheney's daughter, Elizabeth, has become an advisor to possible Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson. Up until recently, Elizabeth Cheney was a top official in the State Department's Near East and South Asia department.
Thousands of Web-Radio Stations Protest New Royalty Rates
Thousands of online-radio stations are planning to participate in a national Day of Silence on Tuesday to protest new royalty rate increases that threaten the future of many internet-radio stations. As part of the protest, many radio stations, including Pacifica Radio's KPFA, plan to shut off their Internet streams for the day. In March, the Copyright Royalty Board ordered online-radio stations, including non-commercial stations, to pay drastically increased royalty rates for every song. The new rates go into effect July 15th. Some stations will see their rates increase by 1200 percent. Last week, members of the Save Net Radio Coalition urged Congress to pass the Internet Radio Equality Act, which would vacate the rate increase and set the royalty rate at the same level paid by satellite-radio services.
The new rates are the result of monopolistic forces. They are selfish.
New York Police Arrest and Beat Prominent Civil-Rights Attorney
In New York, a prominent civil-rights attorney was arrested and beaten by police officers in Brooklyn after he tried to stop the police from hitting a handcuffed teenager. The attorney, Michael Warren, said a police officer punched him in the head and hit his wife in the jaw. Several city officials have urged the police department to drop charges against Warren and his wife. Warren has been a leading critic of police abuse in New York City.
If the officer was hitting a handcuffed teenager and then punched and hit Warren and his wife, why was the officer not arrested by other officers?
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
US Supreme Court Tosses Campaign-Finance Law
The US Supreme Court has dealt a blow to campaign-finance reform by throwing out part of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law that placed restrictions on corporations and unions from buying television ads close to elections. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 5 to 4 decision. He said that the prohibition against corporate ads mentioning a candidate's name in the days before an election was an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of corporations.
The ruling is expected to affect the 2008 presidential election and will likely encourage a financial arms-race between special-interest groups. Mary Wilson of the League of Women Voters said, "This is a big win for big money. Chief Justice Roberts has reopened the door to corruption." Voting with Roberts were Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy.
Court Rules Against Student in Free-Speech Case
The same majority of the high court also ruled on Monday that public schools can prohibit student expression that can be interpreted as advocating drug use. The case centered on a high school student in Alaska who was suspended for holding a sign that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" at a parade during a school trip. In his dissent, John Paul Stevens criticized the majority of the court for inventing out of whole cloth a special First Amendment rule permitting the censorship of any student speech that mentions drugs.
This is a prime example of why the US is a "house divided against itself."
Four Pro-US Sunni Sheiks Killed in Baghdad Bombing
In Iraq, four pro-US Sunni sheiks were killed Monday in a suicide bombing in a Baghdad hotel. All four sheiks were meeting to discuss their alliance with the United States to fight al Qaeda in Anbar province.
GOP Senator Lugar Splits with Bush on War
Another prominent Republican Senator has split with Bush over the war. Senator Richard Lugar said the president's so-called surge is failing and that the number of troops in Iraq should be cut.
Olmert and Abbas Meet to Bolster Fatah
Special envoys of the European Union, Russia, United Nations, and United States are meeting today at the US consulate in Jerusalem to discuss the situation in the Occupied Territories. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas in Egypt to discuss how Israel could bolster Fatah forces aligned with Abbas. Olmert agreed to release 250 Palestinian prisoners who are tied to Abbas' Fatah faction. Many Palestinians criticized Olmert for not freeing more of the 11,000 Palestinians being held in Israel.
A mother of a Palestinian Prisoner said, "I wish for my son and all the prisoners an immediate release for both Fatah and non-Fatah. What does 250 prisoners out of many thousands of prisoners mean? I hope they will release all the prisoners"
A Hamas spokesperson dismissed Monday's talks and accused Fatah of partnering with Israel.
Sami Abu Zuhri said, "Sharm el Sheikh summit only represents going in circles and bypassing mirage solutions. This summit did not present or offer anything new to our Palestinian people except empty promises like the discussion about the release of some of the money that rightfully belong to our Palestinian people. Also, the discussion about the release of 250 prisoners all from the Fatah faction means that they are talking about a partnership that is not between Hamas and Fatah but unfortunately between the leaders of the authority and the Israeli occupation."
The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat of Fatah, called on Israel to take more steps to help Fatah.
Erekat said, "We need to see the settlement activities stopped, and this was discussed thoroughly. And we hope to see [results] on the ground. Secondly, restoring the situation to that which existed prior to September 28, 2001 in the West Bank, meaning restoration of the political status of area A and B, meaning the fugitives' files and the deportees and then the release of Palestinian prisoners. We need genuine moves, and we hope to see the results of what was discussed and what was agreed and what was put under consideration."
Opium Production Soars in Afghanistan
A new United Nations report has found opium production in Afghanistan has jumped by nearly 50 percent over the past year. Afghanistan now accounts for 92 percent of the world's illicit opium production. Much of the opium is converted into heroin and morphine and distributed around the world.
This benefits Turkey too (a US NATO ally), and there are those in the US government and global oligarchy who get their cut as well. Meanwhile, heroin is used as a tool by the power elite against the middle and lower classes.
North Korea Moves toward Closing Main Nuclear Reactor
UN inspectors are in North Korea today to discuss plans to shut down the country's main nuclear reactor. On Monday, the State Department's Christopher Hill said North Korea has agreed to address questions over its highly enriched uranium program. Hill spoke in Washington after returning from a surprise visit to Pyongyang.
Christopher Hill, assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said, "So we have a long way to go. What we are looking for in terms of shutting down this reactor, shutting down this complex in Yongbyon, is just the first step of many steps. But if all goes well, we would hope that by the end of the calendar year '07 we will have the facility shut down and disabled [and] we would have a peace process, a peace mechanism, [and] talks underway in the Korean peninsula."
Report: 54 Million People in US Had No Health Insurance Last Year
New US government statistics show over 54 million people had no health insurance for at least part of last year in the US. Texas had the largest percentage of uninsured people: Nearly a quarter of the state's population has no health insurance.
This is shameful. Universal healthcare is the only way of following the Golden Rule. The Good Samaritan didn't ask to see the person's insurance card before aiding him.
Insurance Industry Prepares Counteroffensive against Moore's "Sicko"
The New York Sun is reporting the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are readying a multifaceted counteroffensive against Michael Moore's new film "Sicko." Several think tanks and front groups are being bankrolled to attack Moore's critique of the health-care industry. According to the Sun, the groups involved in the campaign include the CATO Institute, Manhattan Institute, Galen Institute, Pacific Research Institute, Heritage Foundation, and FreedomWorks, which is run by former House Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey.
The capitalists don't want to fail to make a profit off other people's disease. They are against socialized medicine, because they can't get rich and stay that way off it. It's too fair.
Germany Requests Extradition of 13 CIA Agents
German prosecutors are requesting 13 CIA agents be extradited from the United States to stand trial for the kidnapping of German citizen Khaled el Masri. El Masri was seized in Macedonia and flown to Afghanistan where he was held in a secret prison and tortured. He was released. He was an innocent man.
Are CIA agents accountable? What responsibilities do they have? Are they legal? Are they moral or ethical? Are they godly or satanic?
World Bank Board Appoints Zoellick to Be Bank President
The World Bank's board has unanimously approved Robert Zoellick to become the bank's next president replacing the outgoing Paul Wolfowitz. Bush personally handpicked Zoellick for the job. Under an informal agreement, the United States always selects the head of the World Bank. Zoellick's record as former US trade negotiator has been criticized. David Waskow of Friends of the Earth said, "When he was the US trade czar, Zoellick was known for repeatedly rejecting developing countries" concerns on issues like agriculture, access to medicines, and protecting biodiversity."
He won't be any better for the poor than was Wolfowitz.
Giuliani's Campaign Faces New Setback
Rudolph Giuliani's campaign team in South Carolina is facing another setback. Last week, the chair of Giuliani's state campaign, Thomas Ravenel, stepped down after he was indicted for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. On Monday, Giuliani named Ravenel's father, Andrew Ravenel, to serve as the state's new campaign co-chair. The elder Ravenel is no stranger to controversy. In 2000, he called the NAACP the "National Association For Retarded People." When asked about the comment Ravenel claimed he had misspoken. He said, "I made a rhetorical slip, and they want to lynch me for it."
Was it a revealing slip? Was it a Freudian slip?
The series of slips by the Rudolph Giuliani team is a sign about how his White House would be run.
Students at DePaul Begin Hunger Strike to Protest Tenure Decision
Students at DePaul University have begun a hunger strike to protest the school's decision to deny tenure to Norman Finkelstein and Mehrene Larudee.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Poll: Support for Iraq War at New Low
A new poll shows support for the Iraq war has reached an all-time low of thirty-percent. According to CNN, nearly two-thirds of Americans favor an immediate withdrawal. More than half say US action in Iraq is not morally justified.
GOP Senators Call for Change of Course on Iraq
Criticism of the war is growing within Republican ranks. On Tuesday, Senator George Voinovich called on Bush to develop a plan for an eventual US withdrawal from Iraq warning, "We are running out of time." His comments come one day after Republican Senator Richard Lugar gave an un-announced speech on the Senate floor calling for the reduction of US troops in Iraq.
Lugar said, "In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved. Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term."
Richard Lugar is the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Israeli Attack on Gaza Kills 10
In the Occupied Territories, at least ten Palestinians were killed in an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces say at least five of the dead were Palestinian militants. The attack comes just two days after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Egypt. Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh, who has not recognized his dismissal as Palestinian Prime Minister by Abbas last week, said Israel is trying to further divide Palestinians.
Haniyeh said, "We want to alert the Palestinian and Arab leaderships to the luring policy of Olmert, which aims to divide our people and cause internal problems."
Blair Steps Down After Decade in Office
In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair steps down today after ten years in office. He is to be replaced by Treasury chief Gordon Brown. Blair is expected to begin working as Middle East envoy for the Quartet of the US, Russia, the UN, and the European Union.
Brown's policies will not be a radical departure from what Blair was doing. The choice of Blair as Middle East envoy for the Quartet is terrible news.
2 US Oil Giants Miss Deadline for Venezuela Oil Deal
Two major US oil firms have moved closer to ending operations in Venezuela. On Tuesday, the Venezuelan government announced ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips have failed to meet a deadline on new terms that would see Venezuela take majority control in oil operations there. Four other companies, including Chevron and BP, have agreed to deals that will see Venezuela hold a minimum sixty-percent stake in the projects.
Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said, "To the companies that have taken a stake in our country, a stake in our future, welcome! You can count on support from the Venezuelan government, on the support of our national company Petroleos, to jointly develop the immense businesses and opportunities that we have shaped in our national design for the development of the Orinoco petrol belt."
US Rebuffed on Africa Military-Base Plans
US plans for a military-command based in Africa have met a new setback. The Guardian of London reports a State Department delegation was rebuffed in several meetings with African nations earlier this month. Morocco, the Bush administration's closest northern African ally, indicated it would reject a permanent US presence on its soil. A state department official said the US has "a big image problem [in Africa]," adding, "Public opinion is really against getting into bed with the US."
Is it any wonder?
Ex-Bush-Administration Official Given 10-Month Prison Term
Bush's former Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Steven Griles, has been sentenced to ten months in prison. Griles pleaded guilty earlier this year to lying about his relationship with Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Griles is the highest-ranking Bush-administration official convicted in the Abramoff lobbying scandal. Abramoff's clients paid more than five hundred thousand dollars to a non-profit environmental group run by Griles' girlfriend who was a former aide to then-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton.
FDA Rejects Aspartame Review; Study Shows Possible Cancer Link
The Food and Drug Administration is rejecting calls for a review of the sweetener aspartame despite a new study suggesting links to cancer. The study found that rats eating high doses of aspartame over their lifetime developed a higher likelihood of leukaemia, lymphoma, and breast cancer. Aspartame is widely used in products including diet soft drinks. It was approved in the early 1980's after intense lobbying efforts by Donald Rumsfeld when he worked as CEO for the pharmaceutical company GD Searle. Rumsfeld is said to have engineered the firing of the FDA commissioner who had held up aspartame's release following studies showing possible links to brain cancer.
We have always maintained that aspartame is a bad idea. It was developed in selfishness. Nothing good ever comes out of selfishness.
The FDA has been nothing more than a revolving door to the supposedly regulated companies.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
White House Subpoenaed for Domestic-Spying Documents
The Senate Judiciary Committee has issued subpoenas ordering the Bush administration to turn over key documents on the National Security Agency program of spying on Americans without court warrants. On Wednesday, subpoenas were delivered to the offices of Bush, Cheney, the national security adviser, and the Justice Department. The Judiciary Committee is seeking internal discussions on the program's legality and the text of agreements with telecommunications companies that have aided the spying.
Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy said, "We've had a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection. In some ways it would have been better if they just ignored it. Instead they've evaded, and they've tried misdirection. It's unacceptable. It is stonewalling of the worse kind, and I think the reaction is spreading to both parties in the senate."
The subpoenas could set off a new legal showdown with the White House, which has until July Eighteenth to comply.
20 Killed in Baghdad Bombing
In Iraq, at least twenty people have been killed and dozens wounded in a car bombing in Baghdad. The blast tore through crowds of people waiting to ride buses during the morning rush hour.
At least twenty headless bodies have been found near the Tigris river around Baghdad.
Residents of the Iraqi village of Khalis are calling for an apology and compensation for a US attack that killed eleven people and injured eight others last week. The Pentagon says the victims were al Qaeda members, but villagers say they were local guards.
Israeli Attack on Gaza Kills 13, Wounds 45
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, the toll from Israel's attack on Gaza Wednesday has reached thirteen dead with another forty-five people wounded. The dead includes a twelve-year old boy. Israeli tanks backed by warplanes pushed at least a mile into the Gaza Strip in the largest operation since Hamas seized full control earlier this month. The attacks came after Palestinian President Mahmound Abbas ordered the disbanding of all Palestinian armed groups. Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo said the Israeli attack will guarantee Palestinian militants reject Abbas' order to put down their arms. Hamas has offered a long-term truce with Israel in return for a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli parliament member Ephraim Sneh said the attacks will continue until Hamas renounce violence and recognize Israel's "right to exist."
Sneh said, "We don't need to look for a reason to confront. Hamas is there to attack Israel, and it is our right, if not our duty, to carry out preventive measures to forestall the measure and to preempt it. And this is what we are doing, and we will keep on doing it as long as Gaza is a base for terror organizations."
Where are the peacemakers? Blessed are the peacemakers.
Blair to Hold Limited Role as Mideast Envoy
The quartet of the US, Russia, European Union, and the UN has formally named Tony Blair as their new Middle East envoy. The Bush administration immediately announced Blair will be limited to narrow, technical issues around reforming Palestinian institutions. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will continue to handle all matters relating to a final-status peace agreement.
State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said, "Well, Mr. Blair's focus will be on building those Palestinian institutions, which will form the basis of a Palestinian state, and I would say that without those institutions and without those institutions being developed, you're not going to have a Palestinian state. So, the idea of the political negotiations and the building of the institutions within the Palestinian state are really of almost equal importance, because you are not going to have a Palestinian state in the absence of either one of those, success in one of those two areas."
Blair's role is already drawing criticism. Aaron David Miller, a former senior State Department advisor on Arab-Israeli peace talks, said, "Unless he has the authority to deal with the Israelis on the issue of movement and lifting of barriers, he's not going to get very far…. Without the authority to help change the situation on the ground, this isn't going to work." While Israeli leaders praised Blair's appointment, Palestinians offered criticism.
Hamas spokesperson Ghazai Hamad said, "We expect that Tony Blair will not be a good man in this position, because according to our experience at the time he was the prime minister of Britain, that he was not honest and was not helpful in solving the conflict in the Middle East. And all the time, he adopts the American and the Israeli position, so we don't expect good news from putting Blair in such a position."
Blair Steps Down as British PM
The announcement of Blair's appointment came after he delivered his final address to the British parliament.
Tony Blair said, "If it is on occasions the place of low skulduggery, it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes, and I wish everyone, friend or foe, well, and that is that, the end."
South African Unions End Strike
In South Africa, trade unions have called off a four-week strike that shut down much of the country's schools and hospitals. The Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU, has accepted the government offer of a seven and a half percent pay raise. The strike was also called to draw attention to the ruling African National Congress' economic policies that have favored privatization over social programs. South African President Thabo Mbeki said those policies would come under review at an ANC meeting this week.
Mbeki said, "Necessarily, therefore, the policy conference will have to assess the policy positions that have informed our activities since 1994, focussed on the growth and development of our economy, the more equitable sharing of the national wealth, the reduction of the inherited and persisting racial, gender, and class disparities in the distribution of income and wealth, employment creation, and poverty eradication."
Privatization is only selfishness.
European Lawmakers: Compensate CIA Prisoners
Europe's top human-rights body has approved a report concluding the CIA ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania from 2003 to 2005. On Wednesday, lawmakers at the Council of Europe voted to back investigator Dick Marty's findings that prisoners were detained with the full cooperation of leaders of the countries involved. The lawmakers also called for compensation to the victims of the secret imprisonment.
Ex-US Attorney: Gonzales Overzealous in Death-Penalty Cases
One of the nine US attorneys fired in a wave of administration-backed ousters last year is accusing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales of overzealously pursuing the death penalty in several cases across the country. On Wednesday, former Phoenix US attorney Paul Charlton said Gonzales had ordered him to seek capital punishment in a case in which no body had been found. Charlton said Gonzales has often disregarded both the evidence and the local prosecutor's opinion.
Bush was a recent death penalty record-setter as governor of Texas, wasn't he? Gonzales was Bush's legal choice in Texas, wasn't he? These guys get into the White House, and they can't wait to start a war with somebody to torture and kill people, so they create the perfect pretext with a semi false-flag operation where they aid and abet terrorists and turn a blind eye so the death and destruction would rile the nation to go along with striking out at the world. The greedy, violent, and depraved neocons stay coolly focused on getting an invasion of Iraq to grab the prize, the oil.
US Mayors Call for Iraq Withdrawal
The nation's body of city mayors has called on the Bush administration to begin planning for a quick withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. In a measure passed this week, the US Conference of Mayors says, "[the Iraq war] is reducing federal funds ... for needed domestic investments in education, health care, public safety, homeland security and more." The resolution was passed by a vote of fifty-one to forty-seven.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Immigration Bill Fails to Advance in the US Senate
On US Capital Hill, the Senate has dealt what is likely a fatal blow to the bi-partisan immigration bill. On Thursday, Senate supporters fell fourteen votes short of the sixty needed to move towards a final debate. Despite support from Bush, two-thirds of Republican Senators voted against the measure. They were joined in opposition by fifteen Democrats. The bill would have brought the most comprehensive overhaul of the nation's immigration laws in two decades, but it drew criticism from all sides of the immigration debate. It included new provisions increasing militarization of the US-Mexican border, legalizing a limited number of immigrants through increased fees and new restrictions, and putting time-limits on the stays for hundreds of thousands of guest workers. Bill proponent Senator Edward Kennedy lamented the defeat but vowed to continue efforts toward immigration reform.
Kennedy said, "This is the issue Mr. President, whether we are going to have a constructive and positive resolution of this issue, or are we going to be naysayers, naysayers, bumper-sticker solutioners. Let's just say, 'Oh we are amnesty, with or against amnesty, and therefore, we are against this bill.' America deserves better. This issue is too important. Now is the time. This is the place, and the senate is the forum where we have to take this action."
Immigrant-rights groups said the defeat shouldn't end efforts to act on immigration. John TrasviÃ±a of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said, "We now call upon the House of Representatives to address, and not ignore, our immigration policies so they can serve our families, our security, and our economy." In Mexico, President Felipe Calderon also criticized the Senate failure.
Calderon said, "The US Senate has made a serious mistake by not recognizing a problem which is there and to avoid with today's decision to give a sensible, rational, and legal solution to the immigration problem that cannot be solved simply with speeches."
Calderon spoke alongside visiting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Ortega said US immigration woes should reinforce the importance of regional integration in the southern hemisphere.
Ortega said, "It's a world with a sense of solidarity, of justice, of identity, of love of one's neighbor. As Christ says, 'love your next-door neighbor as you would yourself'. If we want a world like that, we want more importantly a unified Latin America, Caribbean. Unity is not bad for anyone."
Now, that's exactly right, provided it's the real unity. Forced unity will never work.
Two other things ought to be said here though.
One is that Jesus didn't say "next-door" neighbor. Jesus deliberately taught that every human being is your neighbor for purposes of the commandment.
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. Luke 10:25-37
The second thing to mention here about Daniel Ortega appealing to the teachings of Jesus is in the form of a question for Daniel. Have you renounced all violence, since that is consistent with loving your neighbor as yourself? It is requisite.
Five US Troops Killed in Iraq
In Iraq, the Pentagon has announced the deaths of five US troops in a coordinated attack in southern Baghdad. Ninety-nine servicemembers have been killed this month. The toll for the last three months has reached three-hundred twenty nine making it the deadliest quarter for the US military in Iraq since the invasion. On Thursday, Bush told officers at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, that Operation Phantom Thunder is having a positive impact in Iraq.
He said, "In Baghdad, our military reports that, despite an upward trend in May, sectarian murders are now down substantially from what they were in January. We're finding arms caches at more than three times the rate a year ago. Although the enemy continues to carry out sensational attacks, the number of suicide attacks has been down in May and June. And because US and Iraqi forces are living among those who they are secure, many Iraqis are now coming forward with information about where the terrorists are hiding."
The President went on to say he views Israel as a model for what Iraq should become. Bush said Israel is able to carry out its democratic functions despite the constant threat of attacks.
In response, the Middle East analyst Juan Cole writes, "These words may be the stupidest ones ever uttered by a US president. Given their likely impact on the US war effort in the Middle East, they are downright criminal."
Israel Expands Assault into West Bank
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, Israel has expanded its assault on Gaza into the West Bank. On Thursday, the Israeli military imposed a curfew on the city of Nablus sending in fifty armored vehicles and conducting house-to-house searches. The raid follows Wednesday's attack on Gaza that killed at least eight Palestinian militants and a twelve-year old boy. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad denounced the operations.
He said, "All this aims to undermine what we are trying to do to end the security chaos and promote safety for the citizens. Moreover, we condemn this, what happened, and what's going on. We still insist that this is an attempt to undermine our effort to spread security and safety."
Tutu Criticizes ANC Economic Policies
In South Africa, the anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu has leveled some of his strongest criticism to date of the ruling ANC government. In an interview with the Financial Times, Tutu says the ANC's economic policies are widening the gap between rich and poor in South Africa, because apartheid's economic legacy has been kept mostly in place. He said, "I'm really very surprised by the remarkable patience of people. [It's hard] to explain why they don't say to hell with Tutu, [Nelson] Mandela, and the rest and go on the rampage." Tutu's comments follow a nearly month-long strike by South Africa's public-sector workers. The strike ended Thursday after their unions agreed to a pay raise.
Noluthando Sibiya, President of South Africa's National Health and Allied Workers Union, said, "It is winning situation, the fact that also members on the ground have been united irrespective of which union they came from, you know, in their resolve to ensure that they support the demands that were on the table. So we think that it is a strength. It is also a win for us as unions."
FARC: 11 Hostages Killed in Military Crossfire
In Colombia, the rebel group FARC has announced eleven lawmakers abducted five years ago have been killed during a military raid on the camp where they were being held. FARC said the hostages died in the crossfire during fighting last week. The group expressed its regret to the families of the victims and said it would try to return their remains. Family members have criticized both the government and the rebels for failing to reach agreements that could have set the hostages free.
Wall Street Journal Reporters Protest Murdoch Talks
Reporters at the Wall Street Journal staged an early-morning walkout Thursday to protest a rumored sale to News Corp.'s owner Rupert Murdoch and proposed cuts to their health benefits. In a statement, Wall Street Journal staffers said the prospect of Murdoch ownership threatens the paper's "long tradition of independence" and "editorial integrity."
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)