August 16th, 2008


McCain and his mother don't recall old lawsuits

By MATTHEW BARAKAT - Associated Press Writer 

Published 2:53 am PDT Saturday, August 16, 2008 

Republican presidential candidate John McCain's divorce was amicable enough that he and his ex-wife jointly brought a lawsuit 10 years later to recover damages for lost mementos, but it wasn't amicable enough to prevent McCain's mother from suing his ex-wife to get back some personal property.

Both lawsuits were settled out of court decades ago and before they went to trial, but records of them are kept in the archives of the city courthouse in Alexandria. 



Czech President: Russians not villains, Georgians not victims

Czech political scene split over Georgia 

[15-08-2008 14:34 UTC] By Daniela Lazarová 

Listen 16kb/s ~ 32kb/s "This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten its neighbours, occupy a capital, overthrow a government, and get away with it. Things have changed," US secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said ahead of her trip to Georgia. She is not the only politician to have drawn that comparison. In an exclusive interview for Czech Radio on Thursday President Klaus publicly rejected it, saying that both sides were equally to blame in the conflict over South Ossetia. 

Condoleezza Rice and Michail Saakasvili, photo: CTKOnce again a burning foreign policy issue has split the Czech political scene down the middle. While the Czech Foreign Ministry released a statement fully supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and indirectly blaming Russia for causing the crisis, the Speaker of the Lower House Miloslav Vlček lays the blame at the door of Georgian President Michail Saakasvili and, indirectly those countries which acknowledged the independence of another breakaway province – Kosovo – earlier this year, setting what he calls a dangerous precedent. After several days of silence, during which he was criticized for not taking a stand, President Klaus made his views clear in an interview for Czech Radio: 

“Once again people are closing their eyes to the reality – and creating myths. I did not make a strong statement because I refuse to accept this widespread, simplified interpretation which paints the Georgians as the victims and the Russians as the villains. That is a gross oversimplification of the situation and I would have to write a lengthy article to explain why I do not share this view” 

Moyers: The Imperial Presidency

How One Party--the Incumbents Party--Runs This Country

Bill Moyers Interviews Andrew J. Bacevich

August 15, 2008

As campaign ads urge voters to consider who will be a better "Commander in Chief," Andrew J. Bacevich — Professor of International Relations at Boston University, retired Army colonel, and West Point graduate — joins Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL to encourage viewers to take a step back and connect the dots between U.S. foreign policy, consumerism, politics, and militarism. 

Bacevich begins his new book, THE LIMITS OF POWER: THE END OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM, with an epigraph taken from the Bible: "Put thine house in order." Bacevich explained his choice to Bill Moyers:

I've been troubled by the course of U.S. foreign policy for a long, long time. And I wrote the book in order to sort out my own thinking about where our basic problems lay. And I really reached the conclusion that our biggest problems are within. 



FISA Redux: The Slippery Slope Becomes A Mine Shaft

By: bmaz Saturday August 16, 2008

Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

With the utterance of those words and placement of quill to paper, by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, so began the half life decay of his wisdom. The surveillance state we occupy today is the festering, mature result of the acts of cloying politicians and barons of power to serve their own political and financial goals by declaring themselves the protectors of law and order. The daddy state. They spread fear of isolated, and ultimately inconsequential, yet publically hyped acts of crime and terror in order to supplicate the nation at large.

It has been a singularly effective scheme. 


So it began with characterization of hideous and substantive Fourth Amendment violations of fundamental search and seizure law as "mere technicalities". Soon judges and prosecutors, being elected or politically appointed officials themselves, started shading their duties, principles and morals under the law to find creative ways around Constitutional protections in order to avoid results that would be unpopular. Then the officials ran again for reelection proudly proclaiming how they protected the "law and order for the citizens" by "clamping down on criminals" and "elimianting the criminal's use of technicalities". The more they talked the talk, the more they walked the walk. Down the slippery slope.

And that is where we find ourselves today. From Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson in today's Washington Post:


Pelosi Invests In Energy Scheme and Water Grab By T. Boone Pickens

August 11, 2008

Pickens Pelosi

UPDATE 8/13/08 9:28 AM While the media continues to ignore this issue, the blogosphere is starting to pick up on it and get the word out! What we are witnessing my friends is the new media burying the old media!! KEEP COMING HERE to read more!

UPDATE 8/12/08 2:16 PPM
The initial offering may have been only 22,000 or so shares, but according to a Yahoo news item: Item 8.01. Other Events.

On June 19, 2007, the Company issued a press release announcing that the underwriters of the Company’s initial public offering have elected to exercise in full their option to purchase an additional 1,500,000 shares of the Company’s common stock to cover over-allotments. A copy of the press release is attached as Exhibit 99.1 to this report and is incorporated herein by reference.  



From the people who brought you the Iraq war comes . . . The ALL NEW Cold War

 August 15, 2008 | 4:09 pm

 Wait a minute: I thought the greatest threat to the American way of life was Saddam Hussein?  OK, he’s dead. 

Then the greatest threat must be leaving Iraq.  But now President Bush seems ready to adopt Barack Obama’s withdrawal timetable.  Hold it, it’s Iran.  We have to be ready to fight them right now. 

And isn’t “global militant Islam” the greatest threat ever?  Aren’t there new Hitlers everywhere?

Hold’s actually Russia.  It’s a new cold war.  The Russian attack on Georgia, following Georgia’s incursion into its disputed provinces means that now Russia is our mortal enemy again.  Now Putin is Hitler.  But how can there be so many Hitlers? 



Did Washington waste millions on faulty voting machines?

Posted on Fri, Aug. 15, 2008

Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers 

last updated: August 15, 2008 08:13:15 PM

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding that have gone to upgrade the nation's voting machines since 2003 were used to purchase touch-screen systems that many states are now scrapping because of concerns about their security and reliability.

State governments in Alaska, California, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Tennessee and New Mexico have decided to replace their touch-screen electronic machines. While some states have completed the switch, others won't finish replacing the machines until 2010. Nationwide, the federal government spent $1.2 billion on new voting machines between 2003 and 2007.

Optical scanning equipment is becoming the preferred replacement because, unlike touch-screens, it preserves each voter's original paper ballot in the event of a recount. 



The War We Don't Know

By Mark Ames

August 13, 2008 

Five days after Georgia invaded and seized the breakaway separatist region of South Ossetia, sparking a larger-scale Russian invasion to drive Georgian forces back and punish their leaders, Russia surprised its Western detractors by calling a halt to the country's offensive. After all, the mainstream media, egged on by hawkish neocon pundits and their candidate John McCain, had everyone believing that Russia was hellbent on the full-scale annihilation and annexation of democratic Georgia.

But then came Tuesday's cease-fire announcement--and we're now forced to ask ourselves serious questions about the recent conflict: what really started it, how dangerous was it and what, with serious careful consideration, could be done to prevent it from turning into a worst-case scenario?

Up until now, this war was framed as a simple tale of Good Helpless Democratic Guy Georgia versus Bad Savage Fascist Guy Russia. In fact, it is far more complex than this, morally and historically. Then there are two concentric David and Goliath narratives here. The initial war pitted the Goliath Georgia--a nation of 4.4 million, with vastly superior numbers, equipment and training thanks to US and Israeli advisers--against David-Ossetia, with a population of between 50,000-70,000 and a local militia force that is barely battalion strength. Reports coming out of South Ossetia tell of Georgian rockets and artillery leveling every building in the capital city, Tskhinvali, and of Georgian troops lobbing grenades into bomb shelters and basements sheltering women and children. Although true casualty figures are hard to come by, reports that up to 2,000 Ossetians, mostly civilians, were killed are certainly believable, given the intensity of the initial Georgian bombardment, the wanton destruction of the city and surrounding regions and the generally savage nature of Caucasus warfare, a very personal game where old rules apply. 


Cyanide Found With Body of Somali Man in Denver

Terror Probe in Case of Somali-Born Man Found Dead of Cyanide Poisoning in Denver Hotel

Friday , August 15, 2008

FBI terrorism experts are investigating whether the death of a Somali-born Canadian citizen — whose body was found Monday in a Denver hotel room with about a pound of extremely toxic sodium cyanide — is connected to the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

The Denver coroner said the man died of cyanide poisoning.

The cause of death was announced Thursday, but authorities haven't determined whether 29-year-old Saleman Abdirahman Dirie committed suicide.

An FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force has been sent to Denver, although Special Agent Kathy Wright said there's no information to conclude that Dirie had terrorist ties, the Rocky Mountain News reported.


Spanish government cuts short holiday as economy collapses

Spain's cabinet ministers took the unprecedented step of interrupting their summer holidays to hold an emergency meeting on the nation's deepening economic crisis.

By Fiona Govan, Madrid Correspondent

Last Updated: 4:48PM BST 14 Aug 2008

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, sought to address the "stagnation and slowdown" of the economy when he announced a package of 24 measures designed to lessen their effect.

Spain is among the European countries that, like Britain, have been hardest hit by the kock on effects of the economic downturn and credit crunch in the United States.

Mr Zapatero made the rare move of convening his cabinet during August, when Spaniards traditionally take their annual leave and Madridrelos escape the stifling summer heat of the capital. He called the meeting to approve a raft of measures that include the elimination of inheritance tax and the injection of finance into state housing projects.



Non-Nuclear Warhead Urged for Trident Missile

By Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 16, 2008; A03

A National Research Council blue-ribbon panel of defense experts is recommending development and testing of a conventional warhead for submarine-launched intercontinental Trident missiles to give the president an alternative to using nuclear weapons for a prompt strike anywhere in the world.

In critical situations, such an immediate global strike weapon "would eliminate the dilemma of having to choose between responding to a sudden threat either by using nuclear weapons or by not responding at all," the panel said in a final report requested by Congress in early 2007 and released yesterday.

Congress has delayed funding the conventional Trident program for two years while providing more than $200 million for research and development of additional, longer-term concepts for quick global strikes. One major congressional concern was that to other countries, such as Russia or China, the launch of a conventional Trident missile could not be distinguished from a nuclear one and could be mistaken for the start of a nuclear war.


Attack on Georgia Gives Boost To Big US Weapons Programs

One of the reasons the US provoked Russia.

Conflict With Russia

Bolsters the Case For More Funding


August 16, 2008; Page A6

Russia's attack on Georgia has become an unexpected source of support for big U.S. weapons programs, including flashy fighter jets and high-tech destroyers, that have had to battle for funding this year because they appear obsolete for today's conflicts with insurgent opponents.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has spent much of the year attempting to rein in some of the military's most expensive and ambitious weapons systems -- like the $143 million F-22 Raptor jet -- because he thinks they are unsuitable for the lightly armed and hard-to-find militias, warlords and terrorist groups the U.S. faces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been opposed by an array of political interests and defense companies that want to preserve these multibillion-dollar programs and the jobs they create.

When Russia's invading forces choked roads into Georgia with columns of armored vehicles and struck targets from the air, it instantly bolstered the case being made by some that the Defense Department isn't taking the threat from Russia and China seriously enough. If the conflict in Georgia continues and intensifies, it could make it easier for defense companies to ensure the long-term funding of their big-ticket items.



Georgia: Israel's Home Sweet Home

By Hesham Tillawi, PhD

The Israeli Georgian Connection is more than a thousand years old. Most of the Jewish residents of Israel are of the same stock as of the Jews of Georgia. None should be shocked to discover the depth of Israel’s involvement in the Georgian/Russian conflict. Once examined, the historical blood relation between Israeli Jews and Georgian Jews, it all becomes clear. Let us take a look first at the current relationship after which we will prove the historical connection between them a little later.

“The Israelis should be proud of themselves for the Israeli training and education received by the Georgian soldiers,”

The Jerusalem Post on August 12, 2008 reported: “Georgian Prime Minister Vladimer (Lado) Gurgenidze(Jewish) made a special call to Israel Tuesday morning to receive a blessing from one of the Haredi community’s most important rabbis and spiritual leaders, Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman.” The Prime Minister of Georgia, principally a nation of Orthodox Christians called Rabbi Steinman saying ‘I’ve heard he is a holy man. I want him to pray for us and our state.’


US may ease police spy rules

More federal intelligence changes planned

By Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson

The Washington Post

updated 10:23 p.m. MT, Fri., Aug. 15, 2008

The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.

The proposed changes would revise the federal government's rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation's 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants.

Quietly unveiled late last month, the proposal is part of a flurry of domestic intelligence changes issued and planned by the Bush administration in its waning months. They include a recent executive order that guides the reorganization of federal spy agencies and a pending Justice Department overhaul of FBI procedures for gathering intelligence and investigating terrorism cases within U.S. borders.


"DC Madam" so-called-suicide crime scene photos to be hidden from public

Aug 15 19:26

By: Webmaster Tags:

A judge ordered Friday that crime scene photographs taken by police during their investigation of the suicide of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, also known as the D.C. Madam, are part of the public record.

But Sixth Circuit Judge Linda Allan prohibited the duplication or publication of the photos taken by Tarpon Springs police, citing a need to balance the public’s right to know with the privacy rights of Palfrey’s mother, Blanche Palfrey."

Webmaster's Commentary: 

This is the same excuse used by the United States Supreme Court is refusing the FOIA act request for the crime scene photos of Vincent Foster.


Don't forget what happened in Yugoslavia

Even as Blair the war leader was on a triumphant tour of "liberated" Kosovo, the KLA was ethnically cleansing more than 200,000 Serbs and Roma from the province

John Pilger

Published 14 August 2008

Even as Blair the war leader was on a triumphant tour of "liberated" Kosovo, the KLA was ethnically cleansing more than 200,000 Serbs and Roma from the province

The secrets of the crushing of Yugoslavia are emerging, telling us more about how the modern world is policed. The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, this year published her memoir The Hunt: Me and War Criminals. Largely ignored in Britain, the book reveals unpalatable truths about the west's intervention in Kosovo, which has echoes in the Caucasus.

The tribunal was set up and bankrolled principally by the United States. Del Ponte's role was to investigate the crimes committed as Yugoslavia was dismembered in the 1990s. She insisted that this include Nato's 78-day bombing of Serbia and Kosovo in 1999, which killed hundreds of people in hospitals, schools, churches, parks and tele vision studios, and destroyed economic infrastructure. "If I am not willing to [prosecute Nato personnel]," said Del Ponte, "I must give up my mission." It was a sham. Under pressure from Washington and London, an investigation into Nato war crimes was scrapped.



Out Damn Blot: A Letter to Colin Powell

By Ray McGovern

August 15, 2008

Dear Colin,

You have said you regret the “blot” on your record caused by your parroting spurious intelligence at the U.N. to justify war on Iraq. On the chance you may not have noticed, I write to point out that you now have a unique opportunity to do some rehab on your reputation.

If you were blindsided, well, here’s an opportunity to try to wipe off some of the blot. There is no need for you to end up like Lady Macbeth, wandering around aimlessly muttering, Out damn spot…or blot.

It has always strained credulity, at least as far as I was concerned, to accept the notion that naiveté prevented you from seeing through the game Vice President Dick Cheney and then-CIA Director George Tenet were playing on Iraq.


Israel's war by water

Ron Taylor

Published 24 July 2008

Observations on Palestine

Eight tankers are parked on the rough ground at the filling point. The drivers look anxiously at a metal box attached to a large water-pipe that carries a trickle of water into the nearest tanker. Dr Hassan of the Palestinian Hydrology Group explains: "They are looking at the pressure gauge. Pressure is very low and the drivers are worried. No water deliveries, no pay." This is the Dhahiriya water filling point, a few miles south of Hebron in the West Bank. Many nearby Palestinian communities - the "unconnected villages" - rely on this water.

"When the pressure is good," says Dr Hassan, "a tanker can be filled in 20 to 30 minutes. But now it takes about three hours. At this rate it will take two months to supply all the people on this list. But new names are being added every day." There is no immediate solution.

Israel controls 80 per cent of West Bank groundwater, an arrangement that would have been addressed under the Oslo peace process. Because the process unravelled, little has changed: Palestinians bear the brunt of the area's water shortages.

Under Oslo, the West Bank was divided into three areas, with 60 per cent of it, known as Area C, under full Israeli military control. About 70,000 Palestinians, mainly farmers and shepherds, live in this area, eking out a precarious living in circumstances that deteriorate year on year.



Apartheid revisited

: the assault on health and other war crimes:  Derek Summerfield, honorary senior lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry, London

When is the doctor a doctor? And when is he a citizen?

Derek Summerfield

It's been more than a decade since British psychiatrist Derek Summerfield called for a medical academic boycott of Israel. Growing up in South Africa during apartheid, the child of a Zimbabwean Afrikana mother and British father, he knows all too well what racial discrimination and segregation means. He lived it.

Even before visiting the Palestinian territories towards the end of the first Intifada (1987-1992), where he saw for himself Israel's systematic and institutionalised torture of Palestinians, Summerfield "had always been angry at Israel".

"Watching the behaviour of young Israeli soldiers towards an elderly Palestinian man on my first day in Jerusalem at a checkpoint felt very familiar," he says. "I'd seen this in South Africa where I grew up."


Israel predicted Georgia and Russia headed for war in 2007

Source: Secret IDF material went unguarded in Georgia

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 08:29 14/08/2008

By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

Israel decided to scale back its arms deals with Tblisi in late 2007 because it believed Georgia was heading toward an armed conflict with Russia.

The defense and foreign ministries started ordering military exports to Georgia be cut last year, thwarting a major deal for Israeli-made Merkava tanks.

Privately-owned Israeli military contractors, like those operated by Major General (Res.) Yisrael Ziv and Brigadier General (Res.) Gal Hirsch, continued training Georgian security forces, though they had reduced their activities over the past few months.


Yet the Georgian President tells us a different story,

'Israeli military aid still flowing in': Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili denied last night that Israel has suspended its military aid to the country.

Head of World Congress of Russian Jewry accuses Georgia of genocide

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m

Last update - 19:01 16/08/2008

By Lily Galili, Haaretz Correspondent

Russian-speaking Israeli figures have expressed dismay at a statement made by the chairman of the World Congress of Russian Jewry, Russian Senator Boris Spiegel, calling for the establishment of a tribunal that would investigate Georgia's "war crimes" during the past week's round of fighting.

Spiegel, a prominent Jewish oligarch boasting close ties with the Kremlin, accused Georgia of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

"We, as historic victims of genocide, cannot stand aloof," the statement said on behalf of the umbrella organization of the worldwide Russian-speaking Jewish community.

In the statement, which was widely published in Russia, Spiegel also accused the Georgian Army of inhumane behavior towards the citizens of South Ossettia, mass killings, and the destruction of the enclave's capital Tskhinvali, which he called "The capital of the republic.


Dreaming of paradise

Joy Ellison writing from al-Tuwani, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 15 August 2008

Joy Ellison is an American activist with Christian Peacemaker Teams, an organization that supports Palestinian nonviolent resistance. She lives in al-Tuwani, a small village in the South Hebron Hills that is nonviolently resisting settlement expansion and violence. She writes about her experiences on her blog, "I Saw it in Palestine."

A Palestinian shepherd watches over his sheep in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem, August 2008. (Luay Sababa/MaanImages)

"I had a dream last night," Sami (not his real name) told my teammates and me while we sat munching sliced tomatoes and olives one hot afternoon. Sami told us that in his dream he had climbed to the top of one of the pine trees at the edge of Havot Ma'on, an illegal Israeli settlement outpost. Below him, Sami could see Israeli settlers stealing the fodder that he uses to feed his sheep.

"Come down here," one of the settlers called up to Sami. "No, no," he said. "I'll up stay here." But the settler reached up into the tree and pulled Sami down to the ground. "They tried to kill me," he explained. He wrapped his hands around his throat to show how the settlers in his dream had choked him. "And then I woke up."

Sami says that his children often have nightmares like the one he described. They used to have even more, he told us, but now his village is more organized and more successful in nonviolently resisting the attacks of Israeli settlers. Still, to get to school in al-Tuwani Sami's children must walk between an Israeli settlement and its outpost, along a road where adult settlers have attacked them with chains and stones. Because the violence against the children has attracted media attention, they are now escorted by the Israeli military. Seeing Sami's children greet me with smiles and laughter is a delight, but also it feels strange, like a dream.


What really happened in South Ossetia? Who did Karl Rove meet on his sweet vacation in Crimea?

Karl Rove, Crimea, Condi, Randy Scheunemann, Georgia

by Karen Hedwig Backman

Thu Aug 14, 2008

What really happened in South Ossetia?

August 8, 2008
MOSCOW - Georgian troops launched a massive assault on the breakaway province of South Ossetia on Friday, taking control of much of the region and bringing Georgia's U.S.-allied government closer to the brink of full-scale conflict with Russia.

Just hours after Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili declared a cease-fire with South Ossetian separatist troops, Georgian military forces unleashed a barrage of shelling on the province's capital, Tskhinvali, late Thursday and early Friday. By the morning, Georgian tanks had entered the South Ossetian capital.

Who did Karl Rove meet on his sweet vacation in Crimea?

Hmm, it turns out he wasn't on vacation. Karl Rove never takes vacations!

10-13 July, 2008
Richard Haass [CFR], Karl Rove, Bob Shrum, Mikhаil Saakashvili, William Taylor...



John McCain Facing Felony Charges for Violating the Logan Act

What really happened in South Ossetia? Who did Karl Rove meet on his sweet vacation in Crimea?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Apparently the President of Georgia has been paying John McCain for months via a lobbyist. McCain's chief foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, has received hundreds of thousands from the President of Georgia.

And McCain's declaration back in April that Russia was undermining Georgia's sovereignty gave the President of Georgia a false sense of security. Now he probably wants his money back.

This seems like US Ambassador April Glaspie telling Saddam that oh we don't care if you invade Kuwait right before we invaded him.


Yao Ming: Successful Eugenics Experiment

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Olympics are always a festival of human biodiversity, with each sport having its ideal body-type.

The Chinese Olympic team flagbearer Yao Ming, the enormously tall Houston Rockets center who memorably led the Chinese in during the Opening Ceremonies next to the tiny hero boy who rescued two classmates buried in the recent earthquake, is the product of a more or less arranged marriage between the centers on the Chinese national men's and women's basketball teams. Colby Cosh points out the 2005 book Operation Yao Ming by Brook Larmer, which begins:

The faint whispers of a genetic conspiracy coursed through the corridors of Shanghai No. 6 Hospital on the evening of Sept. 12, 1980. It was shortly after 7 p.m., and a patient in the maternity ward had just endured an excruciating labor to give birth to a baby boy. An abnormally large baby boy. The doctors and nurses on duty should have anticipated something out of the ordinary. The boy's parents, after all, were retired basketball stars whose marriage the year before had made them the tallest couple in China. The mother, Fang Fengdi, an austere beauty with a pinched smile, measured 1.88 m—more than half a foot taller than the average man in Shanghai. The father, Yao Zhiyuan, was a 2.08-m giant whose body pitched forward in the kind of deferential stoop that comes from a lifetime of ducking under door frames and leaning down to listen to people of more normal dimensions. So imposing was their size that ever since childhood, the two had been known simply as Da Yao and Da Fang—Big Yao and Big Fang.


Did Karl Rove Chat to Saakashvili about South Ossetia Too?

By emptywheel Wednesday August 13, 2008

The White House has started to panic over a July 9 meeting between Condi Rice and Mikheil Saakashvili, desperate to suggest they didn't encourage Georgia's crack-down in South Ossetia. Given that panic, I wonder whether Karl Rove had any similar chats with Saakashvili when they were in Yalta together just days later?
Now, there's been a lot of justified chatter about the role of Randy Scheunemann, who appears to be advising the Republic of Georgia at the same time as he provides campaign advice to John McCain.
Sen. John McCain's top foreign policy adviser prepped his boss for an April 17 phone call with the president of Georgia and then helped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee prepare a strong statement of support for the fledgling republic.
The day of the call, a lobbying firm partly owned by the adviser, Randy Scheunemann, signed a $200,000 contract to continue providing strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington.


More "nuances" in the Georgia - Russia conflict

Steve Clemons of the Washington Note invited Dmitri Simes, president of The Nixon Center, to do a guest post. Mr. Simes' credentials are impressive and the post he wrote offered both background and questions that are not being seen in the traditional media which is totally focused on the "Russia is the aggressor" theme.

It is remarkable, but probably inevitable, that so many in Washington have reacted with surprise and outrage to Russia's response to President Mikheil Saakashvili's attempt to reestablish Georgian control over South Ossetia by force.

Some of the angriest statements come from those inside and outside the Bush administration who contributed, I assume unwittingly, to making this crisis happen. And like post-WMD justifications for the invasion of Iraq, the people demanding the toughest action against Russia are focused on Russia's lack of democracy and heavy-handed conduct, particularly in its own neighborhood, and away from how the confrontation actually unfolded. Likewise, just as in the case of Saddam Hussein, these same people accuse anyone who points out that things are not exactly black and white, and that the U.S. government may have its own share of responsibility for the crisis, of siding with aggressive tyrants - in this case, in the Kremlin. [...]



Iran gambles over Georgia's crisis

Iran, itself under threat of military action by the United States and or Israel, has remained conspicuously silent over Russia's offensive in Georgia. Tehran shares Moscow's fears over the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the US's plans for anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe. But the Iranians may have blundered by not criticizing Moscow, and the "Iran Six" diplomacy over Iran's nuclear program is now in jeopardy

Aug 16, 2008

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Georgia is one of Iran's "near neighbors" and as a result of geographical proximity and important political and geostrategic considerations, the current Russia-Georgia conflict is closely watched by Tehran, itself under threat of military action by the US and or Israel, which may now feel less constrained about attacking Iran in light of Russia's war with Georgia.

So far, Tehran has not adopted an official position, limiting itself to a telephone conference between Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, expressing Iran's desire to see a speedy end of the conflict for the sake of "peace and stability in the region". Tehran's dailies have likewise refrained from in-depth analyses of the crisis and from providing editorial perspectives, and the government-owned media have stayed clear of any coverage that might raise Moscow's objection.

Behind Iran's official silence is a combination of factors. These range from Iran's common cause with Moscow against expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), interpreting this crisis as a major setback for NATO's "eastward expansion" in light of the unabashed pro-West predilections of Tbilisi's government, to Iran's sensitivity to Russia's national security concerns. The latter are heightened by the US's plans to install anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe, not to overlook Iran's concern as not to give the Kremlin any ammunition that could be used against it in Tehran's standoff over its nuclear program.


Time's up: Health and safety tells fifth generation clockwinder it's too dangerous

London, Saturday 16.08.08

Last updated at 00:07am on 14.08.08

Every week for the past 150 years, David Rees and his ancestors have wound the local market hall clock.

But now council officials have called time on the practice - because they say it might cause an injury.

Mr Rees, 68, is the fifth generation of his family to keep the clock ticking in the market town of Llandover, Carmarthenshire.

David Rees clock winder

Hands tied: David Rees, whose family have been winding the market hall clock in Llandover for 150 years, can no longer carry out his labour of love



Activists Slam DNC Arrest Facility

DENVER, Aug. 16, 2008
(CBS/AP) The secret is out and for activists planning to protest at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, they are none too happy.

Authorities have set up a temporary jail facility to house those arrested during the convention - a city-owned warehouse on Denver's northeast side.

The jail is filled with chain-link cells that measure about five feet by five feet and have razor wire surrounding the top openings.


'We Are All Georgians'? Not So Fast.

By Michael Dobbs

Sunday, August 17, 2008; B01

It didn't take long for the "Putin is Hitler" analogies to start following the eruption of the ugly little war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia. Neoconservative commentator Robert Kagan compared the Russian attack on Georgia with the Nazi grab of the Sudetenland in 1938. President Jimmy Carter's former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said that the Russian leader was following a course "that is horrifyingly similar to that taken by Stalin and Hitler in the 1930s."

Others invoked the infamous Brezhnev doctrine, under which Soviet leaders claimed the right to intervene militarily in Eastern Europe in order to prop up their crumbling imperium. "We've seen this movie before, in Prague and Budapest," said John McCain, referring to the Soviet invasions of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Hungary in 1956. According to the Republican presidential candidate,"today we are all Georgians."

Actually, the events of the past week in Georgia have little in common with either Hitler's dismemberment of Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II or Soviet policies in Eastern Europe. They are better understood against the backdrop of the complica ted ethnic politics of the Caucasus, a part of the world where historical grudges run deep and oppressed can become oppressors in the bat of an eye.


Bush protesters get $50000 settlement

Associated Press

6:47 PM CDT, August 15, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa - State records show that a $50,000 judgment has been awarded to two retired school teachers who were strip-searched during a 2004 campaign stop by President Bush.

The State Appeal Board recently approved the out-of-court settlement for Alice McCabe and Christine Nelson.

They brought a claim against the Iowa Department of Public Safety after two state troopers arrested them at a rally in Cedar Rapids in September 2004. The charges were later dropped.


Guns for Texas school's teachers

Page last updated at 01:06 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 02:06 UK

Teachers in one part of the US state of Texas are to be allowed to carry concealed firearms when the new school term opens this month.

The school superintendent in Harrold district said the move was intended to protect staff and pupils should there be any gun attacks on its sole campus.

Teachers would have to undertake crisis management training first, the superintendent, David Thweatt, said.


US must share power in 'new world order', says Turkey's president

Exclusive interview

In his first interview with a foreign newspaper since becoming head of state, Abdullah Gül tells Stephen Kinzer of his vision for his country as a bridge between nations

Turkey's president Abdullah Gul

Turkey's president Abdullah Gul watches the 'Youth and Sports Day' ceremonies at 19 May stadium in Ankara. Photograph: Ates Tumer/EPA

Days after Russia scored a stunning geopolitical victory in the Caucasus, President Abdullah Gül of Turkey said he saw a new multipolar world emerging from the wreckage of war.

The conflict in Georgia, Gül asserted, showed that the United States could no longer shape global politics on its own, and should begin sharing power with other countries.

"I don't think you can control all the world from one centre," Gül told the Guardian. "There are big nations. There are huge populations. There is unbelievable economic development in some parts of the world. So what we have to do is, instead of unilateral actions, act all together, make common decisions and have consultations with the world. A new world order, if I can say it, should emerge."



US Town Turned Into An Open-Air Prison

Religion or criminal enterprise?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Charles Lewis, National Post
Published: Friday, August 15, 2008

The town of Postville, Iowa, population 2,000, has been turned into an open-air prison. Jerry Johnson, who works at nearby Luther College, called it something out of a bad science-fiction movie or the kind of thing a 1930s totalitarian regime might have cooked up.

"This was not only a grievous injustice but a shame on the state of Iowa and the federal government," said Mr. Johnson. "These were good, decent people who were also the most defenseless."

On May 12, immigration officials swooped in to arrest 400 undocumented workers from Mexico and Guatemala at the local meat-packing plant, a raid described as the biggest such action at a single site in U.S. history. The raid left 43 women, wives of the men who were taken away, and their 150 children without status or a means of support. The women cannot leave the town, and to make sure they do not they have been outfitted with leg monitoring bracelets.


Michael Ledeen Leaves AEI

Is the American Enterprise Really War in the Caucasus?

Neoconservative historian and writer Michael Ledeen has left the American Enterprise Institute, his intellectual base for well over a decade, Mother Jones has learned. The decision for Ledeen, a veteran of the Iran contra affair, and AEI to part ways "has been in the works for a while" an associate who confirmed the recent departure describes. (Ledeen is no longer listed among the think tank's scholars).

For those who follow foreign policy events at the think tank, one might have noticed that Ledeen has been absent for the most part from many of AEI's public events for the past several months. From afar, one sensed that Ledeen may be too controversial for AEI's other scholars to want him to be the public face of the think tank in particular on Iran issues, an observation the associate described as reasonable. (See this and this for background). Ledeen did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

And yet, while AEI's in house team of foreign policy hands (Frederick Kagan, Danielle Pletka, etc.) has noticeably restrained itself from as aggressively publicly promoting a military option on Iran as might be expected, still it is home to those such as former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton who says whatever he wants -- almost always predictably disparaging of a diplomatic solution to any crisis from North Korea to Iran. And as a longtime loyal home for many who were associated with the most hawkish positions of the Bush administration (Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Lynn Cheney and formerly her husband), it's hard to imagine that it was any extreme ideological position which would have prompted the departure. And Ledeen was described as always a good fundraiser for the think tank. So his departure is somewhat perplexing.



Superpower swoop

Misha Glenny

Published 14 August 2008

What Russia and America are really doing in Georgia and who set the trap? Vladimir Putin and his thuggish FSB pals or Dick Cheney and his equally unflappable neocon friends?

Georgia's decision to seize large parts of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, on the evening of 7 August was a disastrous political miscalculation, even in an era that is increasingly defined by spectacularly poor judgement.

Within three days of the assault, Russian forces had responded by in effect neutralising Georgia's military capacity, which President Mikhail Saakashvili's government in Tbilisi had spent several years and considerable sums of money building up.

Clearly, Russia has been goading and provoking the Georgian government for several years into making the big mistake. The parastates of Abkhazia and, above all, South Ossetia, have been under the control of a toxic coalition of criminals and both former and serving FSB officers. Russian soldiers have been acting as their protectors under the guise of a peacekeeping mission, preventing Georgia's attempts to seek a negotiated reintegration of the two areas. The Georgian crisis has benefited the standing of hardliners in Moscow, still aggrieved at Vladimir Putin's decision to place the moderate, business-friendly Dmitry Medvedev in the Kremlin.


Fla. gov. declares emergency as tropical storm approaches

Forecasters: Floridians should prepare for hurricane

9 minutes ago

Florida's governor declared an emergency for the state Saturday due to the threat of Tropical Storm Fay, which forecasters say could bring hurricane-force winds to the Florida Keys as soon as Monday.

Fay could hit as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane, with winds perhaps reaching more than 100 mph, forecasters said, stressing that it was too early to tell how intense the storm would become.

In anticipation, Gov. Charlie Crist declared the emergency to help protect communities from the storm, which "threatens the state of Florida with a major disaster," the executive order said.


The precedent was set in the Balkans


August 15, 2008

In April 1999, just after the United States and NATO launched their air war to punish Yugoslavia for sending troops into Kosovo, its independence-minded province, the Star Tribune published my op-ed piece under the headline "NATO action unwisely undercuts U.N."

The article warned that the well-established principles of national sovereignty, upon which the U.N. Charter and international law are based, were too important to be set aside when it suits powerful nations, no matter how well-intended. All powerful nations can protect their own sovereignty; it is smaller, weaker nations that need its protection. The article warned that U.S. and NATO aggression against Yugoslavia established a precedent that "regional super-powers" could (and would) use to invade their neighbors, notwithstanding the U.N. system.

Russia's response to Georgia's invasion of its own independence-minded province, South Ossetia, shows that Russia learned the lesson taught by the U.S./NATO precedent in Yugoslavia.


Behind politics, a philosophy of fear

Eliot J. Chandler

Friday, August 15, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

George Orwell, in his novel "1984," described Oceania, a society in which the prime motivating force for controlling the populace was fear, both fear of its own government and its enemies. He wrote of continual war, of enemies so horrendous that the public was constrained to rigid compliance with its rulers in order to demonstrate its patriotism. Much of Orwell’s description is found again in the teachings of University of Chicago Professor Leo Strauss, who died in 1973.

Strauss's political philosophy contains many subtle and not-so-subtle effects evident in the Bush administration's activities since Sept. 11. And remarkably, taken as a whole, they resemble the fictional world of Oceania. For instance, there's the perpetual political deception between rulers and ruled, a necessity according to Strauss. There's the obsession with secrecy and the Machiavellian conviction that stability among the populace requires an external threat, that if no such threat exists one must be manufactured. John Foster Dulles fully understood this when he recommended that, "In order to bring a nation to support the burdens of great military establishments, it is necessary to create an emotional state akin to psychology. There must be the portrayal of external menace. This involves the development of a nation-hero, nation-villain ideology and the arousing of the population to a sense of sacrifice."

Strauss and today's neocons believe that our nation must maintain the appearance of continuous war. As Vice President Dick Cheney said, "This war may last for the rest of our lives." The government can thus sustain a continued state of war hysteria to keep the population motivated. Through this creation and control of mass paranoia they can maintain an intense nationalism with complete loyalty and total subservience to the "national interest."


Is the American Enterprise Really War in the Caucasus?

Michael Ledeen Leaves AEI

by Karen Kwiatkowski

Years ago, I optimistically read AEI fellow Jeane Kirkpatrick’s defense of our foreign policy hypocrisy, entitled Dictatorships and Double Standards. Even as a Cold War conservative at the time, I recall feeling that she protested too much. The American Enterprise Institute’s sustained role in propagandizing American wars, including the creative and carelessly contrived 2003 invasion of Iraq, certainly belies the organization’s moniker.

Paying attention to the real work of the AEI is almost enough to turn a person into an anti-American world socialist… but perhaps that’s precisely the point, given the ideological backgrounds of so many of the neoconservatives there.

Yet, the AEI remains, posing as an organization that advocates for freedom of individuals rather than the state. It continues to shill for war, global conquest, and to promote a kind of fantastic Washington mastery-of-the-planet idea. The most recent case in point is this week’s AEI policy panel entitled "The War in the Caucasus.


Entire settlement in southern Bethlehem comprised of former residents of Brooklyn, NY

Settlers come and settlers go as reported by the Israeli Bureau of Statistics

15.08.08 - 11:39

ImageJerusalem / PNN – The Israeli government continues to give incentives to settlers willing to come from throughout the world and colonize the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

An entire settlement in southern Bethlehem is comprised of former residents of Brooklyn, NY, reports the Freedom Tent campaign whose owner is trying to keep hold on his family land.

However, there are many who have left in recent years. The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics announced that the number of people with Israeli citizenship living abroad registered in 2006 rose from the previous year. The office said in a report published that the number of Israelis who left the country in 2006 rose to 22,400 people versus 21,500 in 2005.



On Board Bulletin, from the FreeGaza: Psychological Terrorism

Lauren Booth Date : 08-15-2008

(Friday 15th August) Today I was going to write about about practical developments, here in the waters of the Greek islands. Of setting sail again, of bumpy seas and equally churning stomachs.

However, the suject of today's bulletin is psychological terrorism. Over the the past 72 hours almost a dozen aggressive messages have been received by members of the groups both on board the ships and in Cyprus. In Nicosia, where twenty human rights campaginers including Hedy Epstein await to board the Freegaza and the Liberty, anonymous callers have been making threats to the general well being of all concerned.

Some of these texts, calls and answer messages focus on the ships being 'blown up' or 'destroyed, killing all on board.' Unnerving enough. But today I can reveal even more pernicious acts of psychological violence on those both reporting and supporting this effort to ease the blockade of Gaza by Israel.


Amnesty: Army's so-called inquiry into cameraman's killing in Gaza a scandal

15 August 2008

Amnesty International has described as scandalous the Israeli army's account of firing a tank shell that killed Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana as a "sound" decision. The army reached the conclusion as part of a so-called investigation into the killing of the journalist and three other unarmed civilians, including 2 children, on 16 April 2008.

The army’s so-called investigation lacked any semblance of impartiality and Amnesty International called for an independent and impartial investigation into the killing. The organization said that the army's conclusion can only reinforce the culture of impunity that has led to so many reckless and disproportionate killings of children and other unarmed civilians by Israeli forces in Gaza.

Fadel Shana worked for Reuters press agency and was in a car clearly marked as Press. He and his colleague left the car, wearing visible Press flak-jackets and he was killed by an Israeli tank he was filming. The tank fired a shell at Shana, which also hit the civilians, including children, and injured his colleague and others around him.


Sixty Minutes Becomes Israeli-Occupied Television

16:41 08/15/2008

The Sixty Minutes segment is not a news report, but a paean to 'The Israeli Air Force'.

By Ira Glunts, NY, US

As Philip Giraldi points out in his article "America’s Israeli-Occupied Media,"(1) the Israeli government is continuing its campaign to get the U.S. military to attack Iran or at least give a “green light” for a massive Israeli bombing strike.  In pursuit of this reckless and ill-conceived plan Tel Aviv has a willing co-conspirator in the mainstream American media, who will present the Israeli world-view without criticism or qualification.
The recent CBS broadcast (2) of the Sixty Minutes segment "The Israeli Air Force" (3) provides a rather startling example of how the American news media will permit the Israelis to present their point of view to the exclusion of any competing narrative. The report, which is presented by correspondent Bob Simon, first aired on April 27 and was rebroadcast on August 10.

The message of "The Israeli Air Force" is clearly and succinctly communicated by the CBS report as: Iran is a threat to Israel’s existence and to the rest of the world; Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon soon; when it does it will use it to destroy Israel. Thus it is apparent that if Iran does not quickly agree with the demands of Western powers to cease its uranium enrichment program, the Israeli Air Force can and will attack and incapacitate the Iranian nuclear facilities.



Iraq's Sadr calls for followers to sign blood pact against occupiers

Fri Aug 15, 9:51 AM ET

Anti-US Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr on Friday called on his followers to "sign with their blood" a pledge to resist occupying forces in Iraq and other Muslim countries.

Sadr urged "believers to sign with their blood an oath of allegiance to the imam Mahdi," in a statement read during Friday prayers by Sheikh Assaad al-Nasseri in the Shiite holy city of Kufa, south of Baghdad.

The pact commits believers to "take part in resistance in all the Muslim countries and especially Iraq, militarily and ideologically, to the occupiers, colonisers and secular Western thought," the radical Shiite cleric said.



Blocking a Gazan's path to San Diego

By Fidaa Abed

August 15, 2008

As a young Palestinian from Gaza, I had been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to study at the University of California San Diego on a Fulbright scholarship. The chance to escape Gaza's confines and immerse myself in an American education was deeply thrilling. With Israel controlling Gaza's border exits, air space and sea access – notwithstanding its “pullout” of 2005 – I imagined the long, open roads of the United States and its people's unchallenged freedom of movement.

I love my people and my homeland, but a young person needs opportunities. These are far more abundant in the United States than in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Last week, I landed in Washington, D.C., brimming with optimism. Upon arrival, I was whisked into a separate room. An American official informed me that he had just received information about me that he could not reveal. However, it required him to put me on the next plane home. I was shocked. And I was taken aback at the cruelty of snatching away my educational dreams at the last possible moment.


Obama ... a softer imperialism?


By Serge Halimi

Barack Obama is a lucky man: young, of mixed race, thought likely to make it to the White House, to succeed one of the most unpopular presidents in US history. He appears better equipped than anyone else to “renew American leadership in the world” (1) – restore the US image and win acceptance and support for US action abroad, rendering it more effective.

That includes military action, notably in Afghanistan: “I will build a 21st-century military and 21st-century partnerships as strong as the anticommunist alliance that won the cold war to stay on the offensive everywhere from Djibouti to Kandahar” (2). To anyone who still supposes a multicultural president with a Kenyan father would signal the start of a new era with everyone holding hands, the Democratic candidate has already said that, with all respect to Pink Floyd and George McGovern, his foreign policy is actually a return to the “traditional bipartisan realistic policy of George Bush’s father, of John F Kennedy, of, in some ways, Ronald Reagan” (3).

Multilateralism is not on the agenda, but imperialism will be softer, subtler, more inclusive and perhaps not quite so murderous. But the eight-year embargo imposed by President Bill Clinton killed a lot of Iraqis.



"After all, they’re just rag heads, aren’t they Mr. Bush?"

Mr. Bush, Enough!!


14/08/08 -- - So you have the colossal audacity, Mr. Bush, to “warn” Russia to pull back? As the wanton, perverse war criminal under whose watch the world saw the crime known as “shock and awe” committed, I’d say you were well out of your mind to suggest that Russia should pull back.

What’s a little shock and awe among inferior people we want to rob and destroy, eh?

What do human beings need an infrastructure for?



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02:53 pm: Is the American Enterprise Really War in the Caucasus?
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03:18 pm: On Board Bulletin, from the FreeGaza: Psychological Terrorism
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03:27 pm: Sixty Minutes Becomes Israeli-Occupied Television
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