August 18th, 2008


Musharraf announces his resignation

Musharraf resigns as Pakistan president

1 hour, 36 minutes ago

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf resigned on Monday, bringing down the curtain on a turbulent nine years in power to avoid the first impeachment in the nuclear-armed nation's history.

The key US ally, who seized power in a 1999 coup, announced the move in a lengthy televised address, rejecting the charges against him but saying he wanted to spare Pakistan a damaging battle with the ruling coalition.

The departure of the former general set off wild celebrations at home, yet it was far from certain what would come next for a nation whose role in the "war on terror" has been increasingly questioned by Washington.



Food crisis? Try rats, says Indian state government

2 hours, 39 minutes ago

PATNA, India (Reuters) - A state government in eastern Indian is encouraging people to eat rats in an effort to battle soaring food prices and save grain stocks.

Authorities in Bihar, one of India's poorest states, are asking rich and poor alike to switch to eating rats in a bid to reduce the dependence on rice. They even plan to offer rats on restaurant menus.

"Eating of rats will serve twin purposes -- it will save grains from being eaten away by rats and will simultaneously increase our grain stock," Vijay Prakash, an official from the state's welfare department, told Reuters.

Officials say almost 50 percent of India.


Cable Firms Admit To Tracking Consumers’ Online Activity

MSOs Admit To Tracking Consumers’ Online Activity

Cable One, Bresnan and Others Have Tested 'Tailored Ads'

By Ted Hearn -- Multichannel News, 8/17/2008 5:03:00 AM

Cable One last fall conducted a six-month trial of a network-based technology that tracks consumers' Internet movements in an effort to amass refined data on Web-surfer habits that can be sold to advertisers at premium rates.

The Phoenix, Ariz.-based MSO revealed the trial in an Aug. 8 letter to the bipartisan leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a group of lawmakers who have expressed concern that Internet-access providers are experimenting with technologies that invade consumers' privacy. With about 700,000 cable subscribers, it's the biggest cabler thus far to say it tested the technology, with the aim of providing “more relevant advertising” to online customers.

Bresnan Communications, a cable operator with about 300,000 video customers, also told the committee officials it had conducted a similar trial (limited to about 6,000 broadband subscribers in Billings, Mont.) this year from April 1 until June 26.


China's Olympics Protest Approval Rate: 0 For 77

China has not approved Olympic protest requests

By AUDRA ANG – 1 hour ago

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities have not approved any of the 77 applications they received from people who wanted to hold protests during the Beijing Olympics, state media reported Monday.

The official Xinhua News Agency said all the applications were withdrawn, suspended or rejected. Rights groups and relatives have said some applicants were immediately taken away by security agents after applying to hold a rally, prompting critics to accuse officials of using the plan as a trap to draw potential protesters to their attention.

The Xinhua report provided the first details about Beijing's plan to allow strictly regulated protests in three designated areas during the Aug. 8-24 games. The plan was intended to deflect criticism over China's poor human rights record, which came under increased scrutiny in the run-up to the Olympics. But there has not been one demonstration in any of the three venues since the games began.


South Ossetia: A Gaza of Their Own?

Russian troop withdrawal from Georgia is underway, official says

Image © 

DetainThis | August 16, 2008

Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is directly responsible for supreme war crimes of aggressive war and genocide within a larger campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Russians and ethnic Ossetes of South Ossetia — a secessionist region of Georgia that has declared its independence, once by war and more recently by landslide referendum.

Emboldened by U.S. and Israeli support, the Caucasian champion of freedom and democracy isn't bothered by liberty-based phenomena like republican self-government, secession, and the like. In fact, according to his masters in the United States, Israel, NATO, the U.N., and the E.U., South Ossetia is Saakashvili's own private Palestine.

As sadistic and over-simplified as that sounds, upon review of the recent Georgian-U.S.-Israeli aggression it is arguably true. (Of course, in terms of illegality and duration, there is no contemporary comparison to the oppression endured by the Palestinians; but the conflict in the Caucasus — and the Georgian aggression that sparked it — do reveal many parallels and downplayed connections to Israeli aggression against the peoples it attempts to own.)



Quebec Workers Form Sole N. American Wal-Mart Union

Quebec Wal-Mart Workers Unionize

Pact Ordered By Labor Board Covers 8 Employees

By Ylan Q. Mui

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 16, 2008; D01

A small group of employees at a Wal-Mart store in Canada secured yesterday the only union contract with the company in North America, a victory for labor groups that have campaigned for years to organize the world's largest retailer.

The three-year contract covers eight workers in the tire and lube department of a Wal-Mart in Gatineau, Quebec, and increases starting wages from $8.40 to $10.89 an hour. The contract was imposed by the Quebec Labor Relations Board after negotiations between the company and employees fell apart. In its decision, the board called the contract "reasonable, realistic and equitable."

"I think the employees at that particular location should be congratulated," said Michael Forman, a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada, which organized the employees. "I think no doubt what's happening at Gatineau will be encouraging."


RIAA's misguided pursuit of an innocent, disabled Oregon woman costs them $107,951

RIAA Pays Tanya Andersen $107,951

Posted by kdawson on Friday August 15, @08:33AM
from the grinding-gears-as-it-goes-into-reverse dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Well, Phase I of the RIAA's misguided pursuit of an innocent, disabled Oregon woman, Atlantic v. Andersen, has finally drawn to a close, as the RIAA was forced to pay Ms. Andersen $107,951, representing the amount of her attorneys fee judgment plus interest. But as some have pointed out, reimbursement for legal fees doesn't compensate Ms. Andersen for the other damages she's sustained. And that's where Phase II comes in, Andersen v. Atlantic. There the shoe is on the other foot, and Tanya is one doing the hunting, as she pursues the record companies and their running dogs for malicious prosecution. Should be interesting."


NY Times: McCain Is Lying About Being In "The Cone of Silence"

The New York Times

August 18, 2008

Despite Assurances, McCain Wasn’t in a ‘Cone of Silence’


ORLANDO, Fla. — Senator John McCain was not in a “cone of silence” on Saturday night while his rival, Senator Barack Obama, was being interviewed at the Saddleback Church in California.

Members of the McCain campaign staff, who flew here Sunday from California, said Mr. McCain was in his motorcade on the way to the church as Mr. Obama was being interviewed by the Rev. Rick Warren, the author of the best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life.”

The matter is of interest because Mr. McCain, who followed Mr. Obama’s hourlong appearance in the forum, was asked virtually the same questions as Mr. Obama. Mr. McCain’s performance was well received, raising speculation among some viewers, especially supporters of Mr. Obama, that he was not as isolated during the Obama interview as Mr. Warren implied.


Navy to repel Free Gaza Movement boats

Aug. 18, 2008


The navy has been ordered to turn back two boats carrying 44 pro-Palestinian foreign activists who are attempting to "break the siege of Gaza," The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Officials said the navy had a number of options in dealing with the boats, which have set out from Crete, en route to Gaza, via a stop-over in Cyprus. The boats are due to approach the Strip in the second half of this week.

Israeli officials said Sunday that the Mediterranean waters around Gaza fell under Israeli sovereignty due to an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Gaza has also been declared a combat zone, giving the navy the legal right to patrol the sea around the Strip, the officials said.


Arab world fears an Iran war may be impending

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

August 18, 2008, 1:05 PM (GMT+02:00)

USS Ronald Reagan

USS Ronald Reagan

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that the Iranian satellite carrier space launch Sunday, Aug. 17, was prompted by a joint caution to Tehran from Saudi King Abdullah and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

After their meeting Saturday, the spokesman of the presidential palace in Cairo, Suleiman Awwad, said: Iran should not present on a silver platter the “justifications and pretexts for those [US and Israel] who want to drag the region down a dangerous slope.”

This warning was interpreted by the London Arabic daily Al Quds as a warning to Tehran that an attack is impending by the US, some European nations and Israel.



FBI Probing Business Man In Olmert Corruption Case

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

Last update - 10:12 18/08/2008

Israel Police: FBI decision to probe Talansky is no surprise

By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the conduct of Jewish American businessman Morris Talansky, a key figure in the corruption probe currently underway against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, came as no surprise to Israel's police investigators.

Senior police officials said Sunday that it is customary for the FBI to become involved in Israeli investigations being conducted within the U.S.

Olmert is being investigated for allegations that he accepted illicit funds over many years from Talansky. In his preliminary deposition in Jerusalem on May 27, Talansky testified that he gave Olmert $150,000, mostly in cash, for political campaigns and travel expenses. He denied receiving anything in return for the cash, which was allegedly conveyed in envelopes through third parties.

Superintendents Tzachi Havkin and Lior Rice, who set out some two months ago to conduct parts of the investigation in the U.S., personally met with FBI representatives during their stay. The police have classified the investigators' activities in Washington, New York and Las Vegas as top secret, though most of the material they gathered has already been handed over to the prosecution and to Olmert's attorneys.


"Patriot Act II" analysis. Goodbye, Constitution

EFF Analysis of "Patriot II,"

Provisions of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 20031 that Impact the Internet and Surveillance

Read the bill

With the full effect of the USA Patriot Act (USAPA) on civil liberties in the United States still unknown, and without a shred of evidence that USAPA was required to help fight terrorism, the Bush Administration has been preparing a second piece of legislation. Tentatively titled the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003," it was instantly dubbed Patriot II or Son of Patriot. For purposes of this report, it's called USAPA II. Recently Attorney General Ashcroft denied that a bill was in the works, although he admitted that the leaked document is "what we've been thinking."2

Whether or not USAPA II is introduced, it's clear that the Patriot Act is casting a long shadow in Washington, D.C. For instance, Attorney General John Ashcroft recently told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had authorized more than 170 "emergency" FISA searches since 9/11. In the previous 20 years, attorneys general had only authorized a total of 47 emergency FISA searches.

The first Patriot Act assumes that lack of information caused by laws that restricted government information-gathering was a major reason for the September 11 terrorist attacks. But nothing could be further from the truth. The most objective analysis -- that of the congressional joint inquiry committee focused on the government's failure to "connect the dots."3 It noted poor coordination between the many government agencies responsible for intelligence and counter-intelligence and poor sorting of the information it did have.



The Goldsmiths

Dollar surge will not stop America feeling the effects of a global crunch
U.S. likely to recapitalize Fannie, Freddie: report
Morgan Stanley Says Financial Crisis Will Last
California nightmare for the global economy?

Monday, 18 August 2008

Part I

By R.D. Bradshaw

In March 2008, gold hit a high of around $1030 per ounce. By mid-August, it had collapsed to $772. Similar falls happened to most of the commodities and foreign currencies. Wheat went from a high of $13-15 to $7-8 per bushel; Silver, soybeans and corn all crashed as well. Even the EURO currency went from almost $1.60 to $1.46 and oil fell from $149 to $111.

Here, the question must be asked--how is it possible that these prices can collapse in just a matter of days? For the answer, one must address the subject of the historic goldsmiths and how they are still around today and still making money--like never before. This article and two succeeding ones will broach this theme.

As a backdrop on this topic, here are a couple of quotes. Per Thomas Jefferson, in 1800, “Everything predicted by the enemies of now coming to pass. We are to be ruined by a deluge of bank paper” (Dec 2002, “Radio Liberty,” p. 1). In 1850, Thomas Webster added: “Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effective than that which deludes them with paper money” (ibid, p. 1).

Some History



AP's Iran-Trained Hit Squads Story: Iraq News Nadir?

by Gareth Porter

Monday, August 18, 2008

In covering the story of Iran's role in Iraq, far too many reporters have passed on blatant propaganda without the slightest effort to point out its inconsistency with documented facts, much less to try to uncover the truth. But a story by Pamela Hess of Associated Press distributed Aug. 15 sets a new standard for abetting official disinformation.

In the story, she acts as an enthusiastic megaphone for a patently phony story from an anonymous "senior intelligence officer."

Hess' hit-squad training story should be assigned to journalism classes for the next generation to open a discussion about what went wrong with American journalism before and during America's overtly imperial war in the Middle East. And Hess should be seen as a stunningly clear illustration of what happens when a reporter gives up any pretense of independence from the national-security state.


Turkey urges Iran to accept incentives, warns on U.S. attack

August 16, 2008

Turkish President Abdullah Gul urged his Iranian counterpart to accept the new incentives package of the Western countries and warned on a possible U.S. military operation, Hurriyet daily reported on Saturday.

Turkey urges Iran to accept incentives, warns on U.S. attack Gul and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met on Thursday to discuss the international row over Tehran's nuclear works and bilateral relations.

Two leaders, however, failed to sign agreements on multi-billion dollars energy agreement, a move came after the U.S. pressure who seeks to increase the isolation of Iran, some media reports earlier suggested.


Spokesman Admits McCain Broke His Forum Promise

Sun Aug 17, 7:23 PM Pacific

Spokesman Admits McCain Broke Forum Rules

Updated with video (8:13PM).

Via the McCain Report blog, McCain Deputy Communications Director Michael Goldfarb now concedes that John McCain was not in a "cone of silence" at the Saddleback Church as Rick Warren, and therefore the nation, had been led to believe:
The facts are that Senator McCain was in a motorcade led by the United States Secret Service and held in a green room with no broadcast feed.
(Edit: Note that it is totally irrelevant that McCain was with the Secret Service. They go with him wherever he goes. Goldfarb is just mentioning to make it seem like there was a good reason for McCain to break his pledge.)

Goldfarb doesn't expand on those details, but it turns out that McCain finally arrived about thirty minutes into the event. (As Nate Silver reports, Rick Warren confirmed this on CNN. I've posted the video at the bottom of this entry.)

Goldfarb makes a big point of saying the green room had no broadcast feed, but that is beside the point.

McCain had agreed to be in a cone of silence. He broke his promise.


FBI files "formal complaint" with Sunday Times RE Sibel Edmonds Case

Monday, August 18, 2008

Last week, Scott Horton interviewed (audio) investigative journalist Joe Lauria. Lauria was one of the co-authors of the three-part (1, 2, 3) series on the case of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds for the UK's Sunday Times.

In the interview Lauria discusses the Sibel Edmonds case, the state of the US media, and the Military Industrial Complex in the context of his new book with presidential candidate Mike Gravel: "A Political Odyssey: The Rise of American Militarism and One Mans Fight to Stop It"

In the interview, Lauria says that he spoke at length to the three FBI agents who were Sibel's immediate bosses at the FBI and that they "corroborated in general terms, that this story is true."


McCain loses Colorado, suggests raiding its water

McCain suggests raiding Colorado's water

By Bob Ewegen

The Denver Post

Article Last Updated: 08/15/2008 08:44:49 PM MDT

Memo to: John McCain.

From: Five million thirst-crazed Coloradans.

Subject: Forget about winning our nine electoral votes next November. We don't vote for water rustlers in this state; we tar and feather them!

Yes, fellow citizens of the state whose official motto is "Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting," John McCain has thunk the unthinkable — and proposed renegotiating the 1922 Colorado River Compact.


At center of conflict, South Ossetians direct bitterness at Georgia  

By Peter Finn, Washington Post  |  August 18, 2008

TSKHINVALI, Georgia - The windows were blown out of the old synagogue here, and the wooden bimah splintered and partly collapsed. Shattered glass covered the floor, and parts of the ornately painted walls were torn off.

But the old building held, and it protected 40 people who took shelter in its spacious basement as the neighborhood above them was reduced to rubble.


Here in Tskhinvali, residents have no doubt that Georgia started the war with Russia and there is much bitterness about the rain of artillery and rockets that the government of President Mikhail Saakashvili used in its efforts to capture the city.



McCain lifts POW story from Russian novelist

"Cross in the Dirt" story stolen from Solzhenitsyn

by rickrocket

Sun Aug 17, 2008

I was watching the forum last night and decided that since I hadn't eaten yet, I would try to listen to John McCain speak. I was doing OK with the "my friends" and the evil chuckle when I heard him talk about his POW story of the cross in the dirt. That was when I couldn't take it anymore.

It just sounded so fake and so contrived, so I did a little research about it. Someone on here said it sounded like a scene from Ben-Hur, so I did a google search about Ben-Hur and cross in the sand and such. No dice. But I searched around a little bit more and here is what I found. A story about Alexander Solzhenitsyn from his times in the Soviet Gulags.


Calouste: No "cross in the sand" for McCain in 1973
Throwing Stones: McCain lies, contradicts himself on Cross story


McCain Story On "Pure Evil" Largely Discredited

McCain Claims POW Status as Proof He Did Not Cheat at Evangelical Forum

August 17, 2008
Categories: John McCain

McCain cites questionable story on 'evil'

A reader points out that John McCain's example of pure evil yesterday rests on a story asserted by Iraqi officials, but since cast into doubt.

"Not long ago in Baghdad, Al Qaeda took two young women who were mentally disabled and put suicide vests on them, sent them into a marketplace, and by remote control, detonated those suicide vests," McCain told Rick Warren. "If that isn't evil, you have to tell me what is."

The horrifying story that terrorists used two women with Down Syndrome to carry bombs was a sensation in February, but The New York Times later suggested it hadn't happened that way:

Psychiatric case files of two female suicide bombers who killed nearly 100 people in Baghdad this month show that they suffered from depression and schizophrenia but do not contain information indicating they had Down Syndrome, American officials said Wednesday.



Six Questions about the Anthrax Case

Double Standards in the Global War on Terror

Anthrax Department

By Tom Engelhardt

Oh, the spectacle of it all -- and don't think I'm referring to those opening ceremonies in Beijing, where North Korean-style synchronization seemed to fuse with smiley-faced Walt Disney, or Michael Phelp's thrilling hunt for eight gold medals and Speedo's one million dollar "bonus," a modernized tribute to the ancient Greek tradition of amateurism in action. No, I'm thinking of the blitz of media coverage after Dr. Bruce Ivins, who worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, committed suicide by Tylenol on July 29th and the FBI promptly accused him of the anthrax attacks of September and October 2001.

You remember them: the powder that, innocuously enough, arrived by envelope -- giving going postal a new meaning -- accompanied by hair-raising letters ominously dated "09-11-01" that said, "Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is great." Five Americans would die from anthrax inhalation and 17 would be injured. The Hart Senate Office Building, along with various postal facilities, would be shut down for months of clean-up, while media companies that received the envelopes were thrown into chaos.

For a nation already terrified by the attacks of September 11, 2001, the thought that a brutal dictator with weapons of mass destruction (who might even have turned the anthrax over to the terrorists) was ready to do us greater harm undoubtedly helped pave the way for an invasion of Iraq. The President would even claim that Saddam Hussein had the ability to send unmanned aerial vehicles to spray biological or chemical weapons over the east coast of the United States (drones that, like Saddam's nuclear program, would turn out not to exist).



The $5 Million Bribe: How Bush Ordered CIA To Fake An Iraq-9/11 Link

Added: August 15, 2008

John Conyers learns of Bush crimes on Democracy Now! Part 1
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers joins Democracy Now for a Ron Suskind interview revealing high crimes of the Bush administration.

Originally aired August 14, 2008.

Sign the petition to impeach @ before September 10th


At JFK Airport, Denying Basic Rights Is Just Another Day at the Office

By Emily Feder, AlterNet

August 18, 2008

I was recently stopped by Homeland Security as I was returning from a trip to Syria. What I saw in the hours that followed shocked and disturbed me.

I arrived at JFK Airport two weeks ago after a short vacation to Syria and presented my American passport for re-entry to the United States. After 28 hours of traveling, I had settled into a hazy awareness that this was the last, most familiar leg of a long journey. I exchanged friendly words with the Homeland Security official who was recording my name in his computer. He scrolled through my passport, and when his thumb rested on my Syrian visa, he paused. Jerking toward the door of his glass-enclosed booth, he slid my passport into a dingy green plastic folder and walked down the hallway, motioning for me to follow with a flick of his wrist. Where was he taking me, I asked him. "You'll find out," he said.

We got to an enclosed holding area in the arrivals section of the airport. He shoved the folder into my hand and gestured toward four sets of Homeland Security guards sitting at large desks. Attached to each desk were metal poles capped with red, white and blue siren lights. I approached two guards carrying weapons and wearing uniforms similar to New York City police officers, but they shook their heads, laughed and said, "Over there," pointing in the direction of four overflowing holding pens. I approached different desks until I found an official who nodded and shoved my green folder in a crowded metal file holder. When I asked him why I was there, he glared at me, took a sip from his water bottle, bit into a sandwich, and began to dig between his molars with his forefinger. I found a seat next to a man who looked about my age -- in his late 20s -- and waited.

Omar (not his real name) finished his fifth year in biomedical engineering at City College in June. He had just arrived from Beirut, where he visited his family and was waiting to go home to the apartment he shared with his brother in Harlem. Despite his near-perfect English and designer jeans, Omar looked scared. He rubbed his hands and rocked softly in his seat. He had been waiting for hours already, and, as he pointed out, a number of people -- some sick, elderly, pregnant or holding sobbing babies -- had too. There were approximately 70 people detained in our cordoned-off section: All were Arab (with the exception of me and the friend I traveled with), and almost all had arrived from Dubai, Amman or Damascus. Many were U.S. citizens.


Man says homeowners' association won't let him park pickup on driveway

Frisco man says HOA won't let him park pickup on driveway

12:17 PM CDT on Sunday, August 17, 2008


If there's one thing Texans are serious about, it's pickups.

But a Frisco man says his truck is being targeted simply because his homeowners association doesn't think it's classy enough.

Jim Greenwood said he never dreamed his HOA would have a problem with his new Ford F-150 pickup. Then he received the first of three notices threatening him with fines.


Pain lingers for wrongfully convicted man

Posted on Sun, Aug. 17, 2008


The last time John Michael Harvey was in Fort Worth, he couldn’t wait to get away.

Pale, his head shaved and weighing a bony 130 pounds, Harvey had just been released from a Texas prison after spending 12 years there for a crime he didn’t commit. Everything he owned was in two small bags.

"I just came out of a terrible place," Harvey said as he walked away from the courthouse where he had been wrongfully convicted of child molestation. His immediate plans? He didn’t know, except to say, "I’m leaving Texas."


The Border Fence is a Scam

Who made money?
Week of 8.15.08

In 2006, Congress authorized the Secure Fence Act - a multi-billion dollar plan to build hundreds of miles of fencing along the southern border of the United States to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants and provide security from potential terrorism. But what was built to fight illegal immigration has turned into a nightmare for many Americans living along the U.S.-Mexico border. The fence, which will cover less than half of the actual border, inexplicably cuts through the middle of some properties, while leaving others untouched. Many question if it can keep people from sneaking in at all.

Clip: The Wall
Video iconVideo: 'The Wall'
Arizona residents share what's wrong with the fence built in their yard.
(From The Border Wall, a film by Wayne Ewing)
This week, NOW senior correspondent Maria Hinojosa travels to Texas to meet border families who fear losing their property, their safety, and their way of life. We also follow an investigative reporter who questions whether certain landowners are getting preferential treatment.

Is America's border fence working, or an utter waste?

Related Links:

Texas Border Coalition: Hurricanes and Border Fences Don't Mix


Boy, 15, abused by a woman, 19, ordered to pay child support to her for his son

Boy's parents sue to get his baby from mom, 21

Saturday, August 16, 2008 3:12 AM

By Mary Beth Lane


LANCASTER, Ohio --- A Pickerington couple and their son are fighting for custody of a baby born to a Lancaster woman charged with having unlawful sex with the boy, who was 15 at the time of conception.

A paternity test shows that the teen is the father of the baby born April 7 to Jane C. Crane, who was 19 when she became pregnant. Now, a judge has ordered him to pay $50 a month in child support and set visitation at seven hours a week.

Crane, meanwhile, faces criminal charges. A Fairfield County grand jury indicted her last month on two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a fourth-degree felony. Conviction carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a requirement to register as a sex offender for 25 years.


Security officials to scan D.C. area license plates

August 18, 2008 - 10:24am

WASHINGTON (AP) - Homeland security officials in the Washington area plan to dramatically expand the use of automated license plate readers to prevent possible terrorist attacks.

Officials from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia have agreed to install 200 license plate readers on police vehicles, at airports and along roads. The plan announced Friday will be funded by federal homeland security grants for the area.

Britain used the readers in the 1990s to deter Irish Republican Army attacks. But in the United States, the devices have mostly been used to regulate parking or catch car thieves.



EI study refutes CAMERA media bias accusation

Shervan Sardar, The Electronic Intifada, 18 August 2008

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) is a media monitoring organization with a large database of supporters known for its staunch support for Israeli policies and its ability to influence media coverage. While CAMERA claims to be objective and interested in holding the media accountable to its own "self-professed standards," [1] the terminology and views of the organization are largely consistent with those of the Israeli government itself. [2]

Earlier this year, an Electronic Intifada investigation brought CAMERA under scrutiny for its efforts to secretly take control of the administrative structures of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia in order to influence content relating to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. [3] The information obtained by EI indicated that CAMERA sought more than 50 volunteers to participate in the plan and had "set its sights on creating dozens of new editors and administrators over a long period of time." [4]

In yet another realm of the public discourse on the Arab-Israeli conflict, a study of newspaper opinion pieces (op-eds), CAMERA's efforts to influence the debate are once again called into question.


It’s the Economy Stupor

Who owns Obama?

The New York Times

August 18, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist


By rights, John McCain should be getting hammered on economics.

After all, Mr. McCain proposes continuing the policies of a president who’s had a truly dismal economic record — job growth under the current administration has been the slowest in 60 years, even slower than job growth under the first President Bush. And the public blames the White House, giving Mr. Bush spectacularly low ratings on his handling of the economy.

Meanwhile, The Times reports that, according to associates, Mr. McCain still “dials up” Phil Gramm, the former senator who resigned as co-chairman of the campaign after calling America a “nation of whiners” and dismissing the country’s economic woes as nothing more than a “mental recession.” And Mr. Gramm is still considered a top pick for Treasury secretary.


Israel's Identity Theft Ring

I'm sure they have a million of them!

Also see:
U.S. Secret Service Asset at Heart of Identity Theft Probe

"The breach; A loose-knit ring of hackers stole credit card data from unsuspecting US retailers. Though 11 people have been indicted, experts say the case shows how sophisticated identity-theft schemes have become." by Ross Kerber, Globe Staff | August 17, 2008

Five years ago, Albert Gonzalez allegedly used an unsecured radio link to tap into the computers of a BJ's Wholesale Club store in Miami and access customer credit-card numbers.

It was a simple trick, but it was only the beginning.



Doubts over the anthrax case intensify -- except among much of the media

Glenn Greenwald
Monday Aug. 18, 2008 08:04 EDT
(updated below)

The more that is revealed about the FBI's still largely-secret case against Bruce Ivins, the more doubts that are raised about whether their accusations are true. A particularly vivid episode illustrating how shoddy the FBI's case seems to be occurred in the last several days.

Ever since the FBI accused Bruce Ivins of being the sole anthrax attacker, one of the most glaring of the many deficiencies in the FBI's case is the complete lack of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, placing Ivins at the New Jersey mailboxes (the proverbial "scene of the crime") on either of the two dates on which the anthrax letters were sent. To respond to criticisms pointing out that huge flaw, the FBI, on August 7, leaked -- and the news media then dutifully and uncritically trumpeted -- what was supposedly a highly incriminating fact: namely, that Ivins, on September 17, the day before the first batch of anthrax letters were postmarked, took administrative leave from work in the morning and did not return until 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. that day. This time period during September 17, according to The Washington Post (which was fed the leaked scoop), was the window in which Ivins drove to New Jersey and mailed the anthrax letters:

Anthrax attack suspect Bruce E. Ivins took several hours of administrative leave from his Fort Detrick, Md., laboratory on a critical day in September 2001 when the first batch of deadly letters was dropped in a New Jersey mailbox, government sources briefed on the case said yesterday. The gap recorded on his time sheet offered investigators a key clue into how he could have pulled off an elaborate crime that involved carrying letters packed with lethal powder to a distant location for mailing, the sources said. . . .


The Anthrax Files

August 25, 2008 Issue


The FBI claims to have caught the killer. But so much evidence has been neglected or mishandled that many experts still have doubts.

By Christopher Ketcham

Seven years after the anthrax attacks shut down Congress, sowed panic nationwide, killed five, sickened 17, and allowed neocon propagandists to variously blame al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, the FBI claims to have gotten its man. But the official story doesn’t fully accord with the facts. Any reasonable assessment of the evidence suggests that the same powerful interests that might have been served by prolonging the investigation would have had a stake in finally bringing it to a tidy conclusion. That doesn’t mean that the killer was caught.

The acknowledged certainty is that the anthrax letters weren’t the work of Islamists or Iraqis. The attacks were perpetrated by someone with high-level access to U.S. government supplies of the deadly bacteria. Ground zero of the investigation has long been the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland. But the lab had dropped from the headlines until recently, much as the FBI had seemingly allowed its investigation to languish.

The first week of August, the popular press got back in the game, reporting the apparent suicide of USAMRIID scientist Bruce E. Ivins, alleged to be the sole operator behind the anthrax letters. The Associated Press reported that Ivins, who is said to have killed himself on July 29 with an overdose of prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine, was “one of the government’s leading scientists researching vaccines and cures for anthrax exposure.” According to the AP, he was “brilliant but troubled.” His lawyer, Paul Kemp, says that Ivins passed a pair of polygraph tests and that the grand jury investigating the case was weeks from returning an indictment. Yet within days of his death, the bureau announced that it was beginning the shutdown of its “Amerithrax” investigation. “Anthrax Case a Wrap,” blared the Daily News on Aug. 4.



Jewish World / We should stop hugging Israel and start wrestling

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 16:03 17/08/2008

The recent row over a U.S. art installation illustrates that our blanket embrace of Israel is outdated.

By Robbie Gringras

An exhibition in Chicago's Spertus Museum features Israeli and Palestinian artists engaging with the subjectivity of maps, and all falls apart. After a short struggle, the exhibition is closed down. The curation is described by the Jewish Federation as "anti-Israel," and one commentator goes so far as to describe the closed exhibition as "a cultural crime scene,", no less. Articles are written about "freedom from censorship" on the one hand, and "Jewish communal commitments" on the other.

But the huge elephant in the room has once again been stepped around.

The truth is that we don't fundamentally disagree about freedom of expression, or about the need for Jewish cultural institutions to relate to their audiences. We just haven't fully worked out how American Jewry can relate to Israel.

We have become used to only one way of relating to Israel: "hugging." We give Israel warmth, love, and support - with our eyes closed. This hugging was once entirely appropriate. The fledgling state was in need of support - immediate, instinctive, even blind support. But can hugging alone be a sufficient response to all of Israel's current complexity? Will a hug help us past Israel's attitudes to progressive Judaism? How much can a warm embrace move us beyond the nature of the Iranian threat?


US Missiles in Poland: A Catastrophe in the Making

From The Times
August 16, 2008

A catastrophe in the making

Richard Beeston: Analysis

Donald Tusk, Poland’s Prime Minister, could not have chosen his words better when he told his countrymen: “We have crossed the Rubicon.” He was speaking after the signing of an agreement with America to base ten US interceptor missiles on Polish soil, ostensibly to protect the West against rogue states such as Iran. To clinch the deal, the US also agreed to boost Poland’s defence with Patriot missiles and to conclude a mutual defence treaty “in case of trouble”.

Trouble came hours later in the form of a direct threat from General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the Russian deputy chief of staff, who warned the Poles that they should now regard themselves as potential nuclear targets. The Russians believe that the interceptors have nothing to do with Iran but are part of a Western defensive shield that could one day make the Kremlin’s huge stockpile of ballistic missiles obsolete.

Moscow has used apocalyptic language before, and no one is seriously suggesting that Warsaw or Crakow will become smoking ruins any time soon. But the Polish move, and the Russian threat, provide the clearest evidence yet that the six-day Georgian war has spread to Eastern Europe’s ancient fault-lines.


British Papers Paid Hundreds Of Thousands in Settelments To Families Of Alleged Liquid Bombers: Why?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Winter Patriot

  Mistakes were made when the so-called "Liquid Bombers" were arrested, and in two instances, British national dailies reported information which turned out to be false. These false reports led to claims of defamation which have cost the publishers hundreds of thousands to settle out of court.

In the first instance, it was reported that a British man had been arrested, held overnight, and released without charges. But later a consortium of newspapers published an apology saying he had never been arrested at all, and they paid £170,000 (about $330,000) to settle a claim filed on his behalf.

The second instance concerned a man about whom many different reports were published. Thus it was variously reported that he had been arrested or detained for questioning, in Britain or in Pakistan. But later a group of newspapers apologized, saying that he had not been arrested or detained or even questioned by any police, anywhere. Again a substantial settlement was paid, but in this instance the amount was not disclosed.


Knights Templar 'heirs' sue pope for billions

An image of Pope Clement V absolving the Knights Templar of heresy charges.

Plinio Lepri

An image of Pope Clement V apparently absolving the Knights Templar of heresy charges 700 years ago, from the book Processus Contra Templarios. The book is a compilation of documents found in the Vatican's secret archives in 2001. AP

All Things Considered, August 17, 2008 · A group of people claiming to be the heirs of the legendary Knights Templar are suing Pope Benedict XVI, seeking more than $150 billion for assets seized by the Catholic Church seven centuries ago.

They also want to restore the order's good name. Founded in 1119, the Knights Templar was a secretive order of Christian warriors who protected pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem during the Crusades. They fell out of favor years later, and members were accused of denying Christ, worshipping the devil and practicing sodomy. Many Templars were tortured and burned at the stake.

In 1307, Pope Clement V accused the order of heresy and officially dissolved it.



Anatomy of A(nother) Fiasco

by billmon

Mon Aug 18, 2008

Georgia, Georgia
No peace can I find.
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind.

Hoagy Carmichael

It’s not like I really wanted to spend the weekend thinking about last week’s small war between Russia and the Caucasian republic of Georgia – not when I could have been watching women’s beach volleyball at the Olympics instead.

But ever since the obscure dispute over the breakaway province of South Ossetia suddenly flared into a good old fashioned Cold War crisis (putting the US – or at least John McCain – toe-to-toe with the Russkies) I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how America found itself obligated to defend the security and territorial integrity of a place name most Americans probably associate with peach trees and Scarlett O’Hara.

I’m no foreign policy maven, but I’m also not completely oblivious to what our government has been up to in the Caucasus (unlike, say, about 99.99% of the rest of the American population). I knew the Cheney Administration had taken a shine to Michael Saakashvili, the purportedly democratic, allegedly peaceloving president of Georgia, and I knew the Cheneyites were also big supporters of his demands for a Russian withdrawal from those bits of territory that rejected Georgian authority when the old USSR broke up in 1991. I also knew the administration has been trying, both overtly and covertly, to break the Russian stranglehold on the export of oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea basin (democratic freedom and access to petrocarbons being fairly synonymous terms in the American diplomatic dictionary).



Afghan women jailed 20 years for being victims of rape

British troops kill Afghan civilians

In Lashkar Gah, the majority of female prisoners are serving 20-year sentences for being forced to have sex. Terri Judd visited them and heard their extraordinary stories

Monday, 18 August 2008

Beneath the anonymity of the sky-blue burqa, Saliha's slender frame and voice betray her young age.Asked why she was serving seven years in jail alongside hardened insurgents and criminals, the 15-year-old giggled and buried her head in her friend's shoulder.

"She is shy," apologised fellow inmate Zirdana, explaining that the teenager had been married at a young age to an abusive husband and ran away with a boy from her neighbourhood.

Asked whether she had loved the boy, Saliha squirmed with childish embarrassment as her friend replied: "Yes."


Judiciary Committee To Investigate Plot To Paint Plane In UN Colors And Provoke Shootdown Over Iraq

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Conyers conducting examination into intelligence fixing and forgery

As part of a major examination into the evidence that the Bush administration forged intelligence documents to justify the invasion of Iraq, the House Judiciary Committee will also look into various considerations, plots and attempts to provoke war, including the idea of goading Saddam Hussein to shoot down a mock UN plane.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has announced that he and his staff will investigate the evidence most recently collated and presented by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind in his book The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism.

According to a press release earlier this week, Conyers' office will examine:



The 72 Pandering Policy Reversals of John McCain: He Will Say Anything to Get Elected

Jukebox John keeps changing his tune

It’s obvious that the McCain campaign and the RNC have decided to go after Barack Obama as a flip-flopper. What’s equally obvious, though, that Republicans couldn’t have chosen a worse narrative.

McCain & Co. seemed to stumble on this line of attack almost by accident. They’d experimented with a variety of memes in recent months, none of which had any real salience. The right settled on “flip-flopper,” in large part because it’s the closest available, already-written Republican narrative, and in part because McCain staffers haven’t been able to think of anything else.

The irony, of course, is that the McCain campaign couldn’t have picked a more hypocritical line of attack. Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of reversals from the Republican nominee, numbered and organized by category for easier reference.



NT Times Lets Bill Kristol Quietly Revise Column On 'Cone Of Silence'

August 18, 2008

Jason Linkins

The New York Times' Kit Seelye is backing up NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who reported on Sunday the contention that John McCain may not have been in the "cone of silence" before Saturday's Saddleback Chuch forum. But even as Seelye advances the story for the Times news pages, over in the opinion section, backtracking has begun.

We speak, naturally, of Bill Kristol, who has "tweaked' the online version of his latest column. In the print version, we get these paragraphs:

NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported on "Meet the Press" that "the Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context. ... What they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama."


When government suspends 'rights', tyranny inevitably follows

History proves that there is always advance warning when governments enter the final stages of transitioning from freedom to tyranny. The three most obvious warnings are sounded when government begins openly spying on people, publicly punishing opinions and raising up standing armies. The U.S. government and its state, county, municipal and corporate minions have legalized unwarranted surveillance, searches and seizures; those who speak and write in opposition to government policies are subject to punishments ranging from character assassination and harassment to prison sentences and sudden, suspicious deaths and; police at all levels are being militarized in dress, weaponry, demeanor and tactics. What Thomas Jefferson pointed out as historical fact over 200 years ago is supported in contemporary experience as described by Ron Paul. The truth is plain to see: The U.S. government has become obsessed with surveillance and the enforcement of its increasingly unpopular policies with militarized police authority.

Read full story

Posted by A. Peasant

Cheney Using Government Plane To Fundraise

Et Tu, Wall Street Journal?

By Dan Eggen

Monday, August 18, 2008; A09


Oh, No -- Not the Small Jet Again

When the State Department scrambled to put together Condoleezza Rice's trip last Wednesday to Georgia's capital of Tbilisi, officials quickly realized they had a problem -- and his name was Vice President Cheney.

That same day, Cheney was flying on Air Force Two on a fundraising trip to Colorado and California. The plane is one of three C-32s -- a military version of the Boeing 757-200 -- shared by the vice president and the secretary of state, officials said.

But one of the remaining jets was in for maintenance, and the last is always kept as an emergency backup for Air Force One, officials said. That meant Rice had to settle for a smaller Air Force C-40, with limits on staff, security and media. That did not go over well with reporters, who wanted to accompany Rice and questioned why she was not afforded a bigger plane for such an important journey.

Lea Anne McBride, a Cheney spokeswoman, said the vice president's office has no role in assigning the use of airplanes.




Documenting the Obvious: American Public Wildly Uninformed about Current Affairs

One-in-three Americans struggle badly with current events

Posted August 18th, 2008 at 10:45 am
The latest Pew Survey on News Consumption, which is conducted every other year, was released yesterday, and is chock full of interesting tidbits and results. Most notably, there was a great section of the report on news-consumer knowledge and sophistication.

About half of Americans (53%) can correctly identify the Democrats as the party that has a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. In February 2007, shortly after the Democrats gained control of the House after a dozen years of GOP rule, many more people (76%) knew the Democrats held the majority.

The public is less familiar with the secretary of state (Condoleezza Rice) and the prime minister of Great Britain (Gordon Brown). About four-in-ten (42%) can name Rice as the current secretary of state. The public’s ability to identify Rice has not changed much over recent years: In April 2006 and December 2004, shortly before she was sworn in, 43% could correctly identify her.



This is the power of the Internet and why our corporate governments are trying to control it

As was previously stated, there is a very good possibility that the World War III option is an attempt to control the Internet by eliminating Net Neutrality and online free speech. It appears that the boundaries set between countries through treaties are vanishing due to the exponential dissemination of information through the Net. This is in conflict with the wishes of the oligarchy who are willing to do anything to maintain control.

With the advent of the Internet we have seen unfiltered information travel at light-speed across the globe. This global community, functioning as the only true free society, is reshaping our world. Where this interaction and connectivity will lead us is yet to be determined however the changes are and continue to be unprecedented.

The information contained and conveyed through this medium is what will shape our future, hence once the wrap-up of politics and economics is completed, a major portion of the energy that was spent writing directly about our political and economic metamorphosis will now be spent on numerous other topics, one of which will be about the power of the Internet and how it may bring about positive changes to our world if we are able to keep the oligarchy at bay.



69 % of foreign policy experts favor redeployment from Iraq

Center for AmericanProgress

The Terrorism Index


By FOREIGN POLICY and the Center for American Progress | August 18, 2008

Download the full article (pdf)


Survey Experts

Experts available for comment

Complete survey results (pdf)

Time series: index results over time (pdf)

Signs of progress in Iraq have left America’s top foreign-policy experts experiencing a rare sensation: optimism. For the first time, the national security establishment appears more positive about the war in Iraq, U.S. efforts in fighting global terrorist networks, and the security of the United States and its people. But these experts are increasingly critical of the U.S. government's approach to the world—from Iran and Pakistan to U.S. energy policy and addressing failed states.

graph one

For the first time since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, issues of national security no longer dominate political discourse. Rising energy costs, the subprime mortgage implosion, and other domestic imperatives now monopolize the national conversation. In a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, Americans ranked terrorism as the country’s 10th-most important priority—behind healthcare, education, and the federal budget deficit. But even as attentions shift, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have become the longest U.S. military engagements in a century, with the exception of Vietnam. Around the world, terrorists have continued to strike with deadly effect—from Athens and Paris to Beirut and Baghdad. The upcoming presidential election presents the United States with a choice about how it will seek to combat this threat, even as, somewhere, terrorists might be plotting their next attack. Wherever the war on terror may exist in the public’s consciousness, there is no doubt that it rages on.

But is it making the United States safer? To find out, each year Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress survey the very people who have run America’s national security apparatus during the past half century. Surveying more than 100 top U.S. foreign-policy experts—Republicans and Democrats alike—the Foreign Policy / Center for American Progress Terrorism Index is the only comprehensive, nonpartisan effort to poll the highest echelons of the country’s national security establishment for its assessment of how the United States is fighting the war on terror. First released in July 2006, then again in February and September 2007, the index attempts to draw definitive conclusions about the war's priorities, policies, and progress. Its participants include people who have served as national security advisor, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, senior White House aides, top Pentagon commanders, seasoned intelligence professionals, and distinguished academics.

Although most of these experts still see a world with considerable dangers, this year’s index revealed a new trend: signs of progress. For the first time since the index was launched in 2006, the experts have become more optimistic. A year ago, 91 percent of the experts said they believed the world was growing more dangerous for Americans and the United States. This year that figure fell to 70 percent, a 21-point drop in 12 months. Similarly, when asked in 2007 if they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “The United States is winning the war on terror,” just 6 percent of the experts agreed. Today, 21 percent of the experts say the United States is making headway in fighting terrorism. Overall, the percentage of experts who see the threat of global terrorist networks as increasing dropped from 83 percent last year to 55 percent today. Such assessments, broadly speaking, represent the most positive scores in the two-year history of the index.



Taxpayers to pay for damaged Georgian economy

INTERVIEW-US Treasury considers help for Georgia's economy

Lesley Wroughton

Reuters North American News Service

Aug 15, 2008 17:48 EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is exploring ways to assist Georgia's economy including how global financial institutions can help limit economic damage caused by the conflict with Russia, a senior U.S. Treasury official said Friday.

Assistant Treasury Secretary Clay Lowery said the situation in Georgia was "fluid" and it was hard to know how much harm was done to the economy and investor confidence since the crisis erupted over the breakaway South Ossetia region.

"We want to be supportive of the Georgia economic situation going forward and that includes bilateral and multilateral needs," Lowery said in an interview with Reuters.


McCain Claims Credit for the GI Bill He Violently Opposed

McCain Steals Credit For GI Bill By Heralding His Own Proposal That VFW Called ‘Very Partisan’»

mccain-market.jpgSpeaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) once again tried to steal credit for the 21st Century G.I. Bill, which McCain had vigorously opposed, even submitting his own proposal to undermine the chances of success for the main bill. Today, McCain told the audience of veterans that he “sought a better bill” and declared the final passage of the GI bill “the result” of his efforts:

As a political proposition, it would have much easier for me to have just signed on to what I considered flawed legislation. But the people of Arizona, and of all America, expect more from their representatives than that, and instead I sought a better bill. I’m proud to say that the result is a law that better serves our military, better serves military families, and better serves the interests of our country.

It is audacious for McCain to go before the VFW and claim credit for a bill he nearly destroyed, considering the VFW was one of the bill’s strongest backers. It first endorsed the proposal in June 2007, and continued to press for the bill this year, rejecting McCain’s supposed concerns about military retention and stridently criticizing his alternative proposal:



UK: Take Fat Kids Away From Parents

UK: Take Fat Kids Away From Parents
August 18, 2008, 6:19 am

Filed under: Uncategorized

Times Online

August 16, 2008

Grossly overweight children may be taken from their families and put into care if Britain’s obesity epidemic continues to escalate, council chiefs said yesterday.

The Local Government Association argued that parents who allowed their children to eat too much could be as guilty of neglect as those who did not feed their children at all.

The association said that until now there had been only a few cases when social services had intervened in obesity cases. But it gave warning that local councils may have to take action much more often and, if necessary, put obese children on “at risk” registers or take them into care. It called for new guidelines to be drawn up to help authorities deal with the issue.

There have been some reported cases where children under 10 have weighed up to 14st (89kg) and a three-year-old has weighed 10st – putting them at a high risk of diabetes and heart disease. Only last week a 15-year-old girl in Wales was told by doctors that she could “drop dead at any moment” after tipping the scales at 33st.

Read Full Article Here


In Rural New York, Windmills Can Bring Whiff of Corruption

The New York Times

August 18, 2008


BURKE, N.Y. — Everywhere that Janet and Ken Tacy looked, the wind companies had been there first.

Dozens of people in their small town had already signed lease options that would allow wind towers on their properties. Two Burke Town Board members had signed private leases even as they negotiated with the companies to establish a zoning law to permit the towers. A third board member, the Tacys said, bragged about the commissions he would earn by selling concrete to build tower bases. And, the Tacys said, when they showed up at a Town Board meeting to complain, they were told to get lost.

“There were a couple of times when they told us to just shut up,” recalled Mr. Tacy, sitting in his kitchen on a recent evening.


Why Are We Spending $3000 per ft On A Border Fence?

A reader responds to, "The Border Fence is a Scam",

Aug. 18th, 2008

Border Fence

I had written an article on this subject on Saturday, mine was more on the amount of money the taxpayers are spending on it, but I like to see other bloggers not scared to step up and speak out, that is what it takes.

Would you mind if I link to this article or if you could comment on mine with a link here to help keep conversation going.

My Article Here [Below].




Raleigh Fence Contractors Asks: Why Are We Spending $3000per ft On A Border Fence

It is a Saturday morning here in western North Carolina, where I am enjoying a long weekend with my wife and kids taking in the breathtaking views from Beech Mountain, North Carolina. As I read news feeds this morning, I can’t help but dig into the reports I am reading on the Border Fence near San Diego which started construction yesterday. It is a 3.5 mile section that the work has begun on, costing taxpayers $16 million.

Since I am the owner of Raleigh Fence Contractors, LLC in the Triangle area of North Carolina, I immediately pulled my calculator out to see the CPF (cost per foot) on this fence. My first problem is that my ProjectCalc Plus doesn’t hold enough digits to calculate past 7 figures! I guess I never knew that since my projects never go over 5 figures. Of course, I haven’t ever landed one of those government projects either! So, after using a different calculator, I determined that we are paying over $3000.00 per foot for a border fence. Is this another version of our government paying $300 for staplers? Why does it cost so much to build this fence? It is a 15′ tall steel mesh fence. So, more research was in order.

I found that the bulk of this contract is to fill in a canyon with dirt, 1.9 million tons of dirt! Again, WHY! If there is already a fence in place, then the terrain must allow for it, so why spend millions of our tax dollars to fill in the canyon. Now I am not aware of all the research that must have gone into engineering this fence, nor am I familiar with the area it is being built. In the short amount of time I spent researching the fence, all I found on the specifications is that is a 15′ tall steel mesh fence. I also found that the rest of the over 1900 mile of fence will cost $2-$3 million per mile which is between $400 - $600 per foot.


US citizens detained and/or deported by immigration enforcement

Immigration Is Snaring U.S. Citizens In Its Raids

By Darryl Fears

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

Marie Justeen Mancha was at home alone when she heard strange voices inside the house. As she crept down a hallway to make sure she wasn't hearing things, the voices erupted into shouts.

" 'Police! Illegals!' "

Testifying in a House subcommittee hearing, Mancha recalled the words she said the immigration agents shouted during the September 2006 raid on her home. She was 15 at the time, a Mexican American, born in Texas but living in Reidsville, Ga.

"I walked around the corner from the hallway and saw a tall man reach toward his gun and look straight at me," Mancha, now 17, said in a thick Southern accent. "My heart just dropped."


Georgia rebel region sacks govt, declares emergency


Reuters North American News Service

Aug 18, 2008 00:45 EST

MOSCOW, Aug 18 (Reuters) - The president of Georgia's separatist region of South Ossetia fired his government on Monday and declared a month-long emergency to cope with the aftermath of an armed conflict with the central government.

President Eduard Kokoity has sharply criticised his cabinet for their performance during the crisis which started on Aug. 8.

"A civil servant is supposed to work for the people, and not use his position for his own benefit," Kokoity said in remarks shown on Russia's state Vesti-24 news channel.


Iraq attacks rebels US paid off to support surge

Iraq moves against some US-backed Sunni fighters

By HAMZA HENDAWI – 2 hours ago

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Shiite-led government is cracking down on U.S.-backed Sunni Arab fighters in one of Iraq's most turbulent regions, arresting some leaders, disarming dozens of men and banning them from manning checkpoints except alongside official security forces.

The moves in Diyala province reflect mixed views on a movement that began in 2007 among Sunni tribes in western Iraq who revolted against al-Qaida in Iraq and joined the Americans in the fight against the terrorist network.

U.S. officials credit the rise of such groups, known variously as Awakening Councils, Sons of Iraq and Popular Committees, with helping rout al-Qaida.


Bangladesh Police to Monitor Political Parties

Monday, August 18, 2008

DHAKA: Bangladesh police launched a special intelligence unit on Sunday to monitor the activities of political parties, one of which branded the move as “unfortunate and undemocratic”.

Bangladesh’s main political parties have been mounting pressure on the military-backed interim government to end 19-month-old emergency powers. “We created the Political Intelligence Operation (PIO) to gather advance reports of what they (political parties) plan to do,” police commissioner Naim Ahmed told reporters.

“The PIO will not only keep track on activities by political parties and allied organisations but also have an overall responsibility to help ensure a peaceful public life,” he said.

Suranjit Sengupta, a former lawmaker and senior leader of the Awami League party, described the unit’s launch as “unfortunate, undemocratic and unconstitutional”.


Do we want a democracy or a pantomime?

Johann Hari

Monday, 18 August 2008

The next general election is hurtling towards us with the force of a damp sponge. We have, at most, 20 months until Decision Day– but who expects there to be a great fizzing debate? Who thinks we, the people, will have a chance to dig deep into our country's problems and tell our leaders how to put them right? Nobody. Instead it will be like an X-Factor final in a bad, bad year: which empty shell sounds sweetest? It's a bleak thought: in one of the world's oldest democracies, none of us expects democracy to work as it should.

But elections do not have to consist of the airless circulation of soundbites, bike-riding photo-ops and ignorance. We can do better than this. While we still have time, the three main parties can together table a Democracy Bill before parliament – to make sure we can make an informed choice between them. I would put at the very top of this bill public funding of political parties, and proportional representation. But Cameron's Tories have combined with a weird coalition of Labour Party Blairites and Bennites to thwart both. So let's stick here to simple measures all three parties could swiftly agree on before the looming election.

Item One: Deliberation Day. The American political scientists Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin have come up with a simple democracy-deepener. Declare every general election a national holiday, and offer every citizen £150 to take part, there and then, in a day of debate, modelled on jury service. In the morning you watch a televised debate between the main political leaders, and then you divide into groups of 15 who go off for an hour to discuss what you've seen. Together, you figure out a series of questions you want to put to local representatives of the political parties – about any issue on earth. Then, when all the groups come together, the "foreman" of your "jury" puts your questions. After lunch, you reassemble to debate what you've heard. Then you vote, and take your cheque.


States Still Have Voting Machine Concerns

by Paul Kiel - August 18, 2008 11:06 am EDT

Tags: Election Assistance Commission, Ohio, Voting, Voting Machines
Voters use touch-screen machines in Florida for the 2004 election. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Voters use touch-screen machines in Florida for the 2004 election. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)
After the 2000 election, the nation that first sent a man to the moon set for itself what seemed an attainable technological goal: ensure that states had efficient and reliable voting machines. In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which allocated nearly $3 billion to the states for election administration. But eight years later, with an election fast approaching, the system is still characterized by the same panicked improvisation.

At least $1.2 billion went towards new voting machines between 2003 and 2007, McClatchy reports. But many states (Alaska, California, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Tennessee and New Mexico) that bought touch-screen machines have decided to replace them due to concerns about their reliability. In a number of places, that process won't be completed until long after the 2008 election.

Ohio's secretary of state recently sued to recover the $83 million in state funds spent on touch-screen machines, yet the machines will nevertheless be used in November. The machines will still be widely used in dozens of other states, but the trend, McClatchy reports, is apparent:



An Israeli Strike on Iran, a Plan That Just Doesn't Fly

'War And Peace' And Indignation

By Bernard Avishai and Reza Aslan

Sunday, August 10, 2008; B03

The Bush administration seems less and less likely to launch a parting strike on Iran's nuclear installations -- but Israel isn't sounding nearly so tranquil. The talk from Jerusalem will almost certainly grow more strident as the competition to replace the country's scandal-plagued prime minister, Ehud Olmert, intensifies. Former Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz is running hard against the less hawkish Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to succeed Olmert as leader of the governing Kadima Party; he recently told Israel's dominant daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, that an attack on Iran was "unavoidable." And Binyamin Netanyahu, the right-wing opposition leader who might well beat either Livni or Mofaz in a general election, is also likely to think seriously about a preventive Israeli raid.

Meanwhile, prominent Israeli military analysts, officials and writers are insisting that Iran constitutes a mounting "existential threat." Take one of the country's most important historians, the erstwhile dove Benny Morris, who recently predicted in the New York Times that "Israel will almost surely attack Iran's nuclear sites in the next four to seven months" -- roughly (and not inconveniently) the period between the U.S. presidential election and the departure of the Bush administration. Morris claimed that his view that Israel's existence was on the line is shared "across the political spectrum." In Israel today, anyone who resists such talk risks becoming an appeaser amid a chorus of Churchills.

Leave aside the possibility that the threat of an Israeli attack may be designed to give leverage to U.S. and European diplomats pressuring Iran to abandon its nuclear efforts. Leave aside the question of whether, if you believed that such a strike was truly imminent, you'd predict it in a major newspaper. Leave aside the fact that no Israeli strike could happen without a U.S. green light and permission to fly over Iraq. And leave aside the perennial suspicions that Israel's military elite, which sees the Jewish state as the West's foremost strategic asset in the region, also tends to see the Middle East through the prism of the "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West. Could Israeli threats be serious?


Police seize War on Terror board game because its ski-mask 'could be used in a criminal act'

A War On Terror board game designed in Cambridge has been seized by police who claim the balaclava in the set could be used in a criminal act.

The satirical board game was confiscated along with knives, chisels and bolt cutters, from climate protesters during a series of raids near Kingsnorth power station, in Kent, last week.

The game's creators, Andrew Sheerin and Andy Tompkins, web designers from Cambridge, have expressed total shock at the inclusion of their toy among "criminal" items.


Town launches its own currency

Small UK Town Creates Own Currency to Beat the Credit Crunch

By Charlotte Cardingham

Published on 18 Aug 2008

Sussex town launches its own local currency as it attempts to strengthen its economy and buffer the effects of the credit crunch.

Residents of East Sussex town, Lewes, are taking the credit crunch head on and ploughing ahead with plans to launch their own local currency.

The Lewes pound, due to be launched on 9th September this year, will be counted as legal tender and will match its sterling equivalent in value. What's more, as over 10,000 notes are expected to be printed in the first run off, it makes this the largest scale launch of a local currency since 1895.


Britain's terror laws have left me and my family shattered

I am innocent yet was detained without charge in solitary confinement for days on end. It was a devastating experience

The UN's committee on human rights has just published a report criticising Britain's anti-terror laws and the resulting curbs on civil liberties. For many commentators the issues raised are mostly a matter of academic abstractions and speculative meanderings. For me, it is anything but. These laws have destroyed my life.

On May 14 I was arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act - on suspicion of the "instigation, preparation and commission of acts of terrorism": an absurdly nebulous formulation that told me nothing about the sin I had apparently committed. Once in custody, almost 48 hours passed before it was confirmed that the entire operation (involving dozens of officers, police cars, vans, and scientific support agents) was triggered by the presence on my University of Nottingham office computer of an equally absurd document called the "al-Qaida Training Manual", a declassified open-source document that I had never read and had completely forgotten about since it had been sent to me months before.

Rizwaan Sabir, a politics student friend of mine (who was also arrested), had downloaded the file from the US justice department website while conducting research on terrorism for his upcoming PhD. An extended version of the same document (which figures on the politics department's official reading list) was also available on Amazon. I edit a political magazine; Rizwaan regularly sent me copies of research materials he was using, and this document was one.


Merrill, Wachovia in Danger of Failing: Strategist

Bracing for Double Digit Inflation
Precious Metals Price Disconnect: Manipulation To Avoid Billions of Bank Losses?
A fabrication bottleneck, or something more?
Twenty-eight years brokering bullion have not prepared me for what I met this morning
Big funds embrace dollar as crisis mutates into global slump

Topics:Europe | Subprime Lending | Credit | Stock Market | Banking
By | 18 Aug 2008 | 02:37 PM ET
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Merrill Lynch, Wachovia and other financial companies are at risk of failure as the cost of raising capital soars at a time when the banks need to pay settlements over auction rate securities, David Kotok, chairman & chief investment officer from Cumberland Advisors, told CNBC Monday.

"I think the financial problem is half way through the cycle … there's another shoe to drop ahead of us and it could be more severe," Kotok told "Worldwide Exchange." (Watch the video at the left to hear Kotok's views on where oil and the dollar are heading.)

The cash companies need to shore up bad investments, "is up to about $50 billion and will probably top $100 billion before it's over," he added.

"Those firms -- Merrill,


24.74 -1.55 -5.9%
[MER 24.74 -1.55 (-5.9%) ] Wachovia

14.96 -0.61 -3.92%
[WB 14.96 -0.61 (-3.92%) ]
and others -- are going to have to raise that cash," he said. "They are either going to have to get it from the Federal Reserve, through some direct or indirect means, which means more leverage, more Fed balance sheet, more regularly oversight or they're going to have to get it in the capital markets."



Washington's hypocrisy

International Herald Tribune
By Dmitry Rogozin
Dmitry Rogozin is Russia's ambassador to NATO.

Monday, August 18, 2008

BRUSSELS: The U.S. administration is trying to stick the label of "bad guy" on Russia for exceeding the peacekeeping mandate and using "disproportionate force" in the peace-enforcement operation in Georgia.

Maybe our American friends have gone blind and deaf at the same time. Mikheil Saakashvili, the president of Georgia, is known as a tough nationalist who didn't hide his intentions of forcing Ossetians and Abkhazians to live in his country.

We were hoping that the U.S. administration, which had displayed so much kindness and touching care for the Georgian leader, would be able to save him from the maniacal desire to deal with the small and disobedient peoples of the Caucasus.



Why the west has got it so wrong over Georgia

IAIN MacWHIRTER August 18 2008

One minute you're looking for South Ossetia on a map; the next everyone's talking about nuclear confrontation. The escalation of the conflict in the Caucasus into a kind of post-modern Cold War has been breathtaking. But great international conflicts have a habit of starting in "far-away places of which we know nothing": Sarajevo, Poland, Pearl Harbour and now South Ossetia.

Fortunately, our diplomatic mechanisms are rather better at handling international crises than they were in 1914. But that doesn't mean we are out of the woods yet in the Caucasus. It's a sobering thought that, if George W Bush had had his way and Georgia had been a member of Nato, we would now be at war with Russia.

Nato is an alliance which, in theory at least, commits its signatories to react collectively to a military threat to any one of its members. Would we really have been prepared to lay waste to Europe in support of the unstable and unreliable Georgian leader, Mikhail Saakashvili, who launched a cowardly, brutal assault on the South Ossetian town of Tskhinvali under the cover of the opening night of the Olympic Games? I hope not, but we can't be sure. With someone like George W Bush supposedly leading the "free world", we can't be sure of anything, except that it will be a mess.


Price-fixing: it's baaaack (and perfectly legal, too)

By Kathy G.

One of the most sweeping yet little noted changes that has occurred in American life over the past several decades, and especially within the last couple of years, has been the ever rightward drift of the nation's highest courts on economic issues. Nathan Newman recently noted that in recent rulings by the Supreme Court, "in almost every case where corporations challenged state regulations or taxing powers this term, the corporations won and state power lost." Yet few people seem to have taken notice.

The scant attention these rulings have received is in stark contrast to their potentially dramatic effects. Take, for example, last year's ruling in the case of Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS. By a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court overturned a 1911 precedent and, in the words of a front page article in today's Wall Street Journal, ruled that manufacturers could "set minimum prices on their products and force retailers to refrain from discounting."

The result? According to the Journal, retailers say that many manufacturers "now require them to abide by minimum-pricing pacts, or risk having their supplies cut off." And, as is to be expected when a regulatory regime is replaced by a tort regime, there are lawsuits galore; it's yet another example how, in Tom Geoghegan's words, "the right made America a lawsuit nation."


A Call For 'Revolution' To Counter The Middle-Class Collapse

Isaiah J. Poole's picture


By Isaiah J. Poole

August 18th, 2008 - 11:02am ET

On "Meet the Bloggers" Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said that there is a "collapse" of the middle class and that nothing short of a revolution will be needed to reverse it.

"What we really need is a political revolution in this country," Sanders said, beginning with countering the corporate media spin on what is happening in the economy.

Sanders indicted the media for not probing what is happening to working people on a consistent basis. "We need to raise the consciousness of the public" so that more Americans will ask such basic questions as why America is the only industrialized nation without universal health care or why the disparity between working-class families and the wealthy are at record levels.

Sanders, in the Meet the Bloggers interview, cited these statistics as evidence of what he's calling the middle-class collapse since President Bush has taken office:

  • 5 million people in middle-class households have slipped into poverty

The Personification of the Military-Industrial Racket

Joe Lauria

Posted August 14, 2008

If you didn't know who Randy Scheunemann was until the New York Times wrote about him Thursday morning I bet he and John McCain preferred it that way. He is a lot more than just a former lobbyist for Georgia.

After being a Capitol Hill staffer from the mid-1980s (working on the use of American military power abroad, NATO expansion and defense projects), Scheunemann became the national security adviser for Bob Dole's 1996 disastrous presidential campaign.

In 1997 Scheunemann was one of the founding members of the Project for a New American Century, the premier neo-con outfit that said America needed a new Pearl Harbor in order to violently remake the world in its image.


The perfect storm leading to a global recession

Monday, 18th August 2008

Nouriel Roubini

The probability is growing that the global economy - not just the US - will experience a serious recession. Recent developments suggest that all G7 economies are already in recession or close to tipping into one. Other advanced economies or emerging markets (the rest of the eurozone; New Zealand, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, and some Southeast European economies) are also nearing a recessionary hard landing. When they reach it, there will be a sharp slowdown in the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and other emerging markets.

This looming global recession is being fed by several factors: The collapse of housing bubbles in the US, UK, Spain, Ireland and other euro-zone members; punctured credit bubbles where money and credit was too easy for too long; the severe credit and liquidity crunch following the US mortgage crisis; the negative wealth and investment effects of falling stock markets (already down by more than 20 per cent globally); the global effects via trade links of the recession in the US (which still counts for about 30 per cent of global GDP); the US dollar's weakness, which reduces American trading partners' competitiveness; and the stagflationary effects of high oil and commodity prices, which are forcing central banks to increase interest rates to fight inflation at a time when there are severe downside risks to growth and financial stability.

Official data suggest that the US economy entered into a recession in the first quarter of this year. The economy rebounded - in a double-dip, W-shaped recession - in the second quarter, boosted by the temporary effects on consumption of $100 billion (€68 billion) in tax rebates. But those effects will fade by late summer.


How Georgia – Russia war connected to the Iraq’s oil and gas law

Aug 18,2008

In this article on Al-Watan, Al-Bishiti explains the connection between the Georgia - Russia war connected to the approval of the Iraqi gas and oil law.

The writer argues that the approval with this law is now not only an American demand but also a European essential question.

Georgia’s borders on the Black Sea, surrounded from the north, east and south, by four countries Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia and Turkey.


Obama, McCain oblivious to 20% Americans in private HOA governments

Republican McCain and Democrat Obama preach democracy to the world, while 20% of Americans live under authoritarian HOA regimes


Both parties and presidential candidates are oblivious to the changing landscape of America that extends beyond the physical to cultural, social and political landscapes.  Homeowners associations are protected, encouraged and supported by the state legislatures who are active participants in establishing the New America of privatized local governments.


“Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers  from the consent of the governed.” — Dec. of Independence.


The only defense offered by the special interest promoters and legislators has been one specious argument based on “a consent to be governed” based on an unsigned contract,  and by ascribing de jure government attributes to the HOA. Attempts at reform legislation are met with the outcry of “contract interference”.  More specifically, on Art 1, Sec 10, of the Constitution, the disjointed clause 1, which states:  “No state shall . . . pass any . . . law impairing the obligations of contracts.”  Now there are certain implicit assumptions underlying this restriction to make this provision a fair and just restriction.  The equivalent statement in the Northwest Treaty Ordinance of 1787, adopted just months before the creation of the Constitution, makes an explicit statement of these fair and just understandings,



Think Your Internet Provider Might Be Spying On You? Just Check Our List

Michael Learmonth | August 15, 2008 7:21 AM


Ever wonder which ISPs and portals are collecting and storing your surfing data? Thanks to a Congressional committee, you can find out.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent 34 letters to ISPs and portals last month to find out if any were tracking the Web activity of users, and if they had disclosed to users they were being watched.

As of Thursday, they'd received 33 responses. They've found that seven ISPs have quietly started testing a service from ad-targeting firm NebuAd, which tracks surfers' Web use, with little or no notice to subscribers. The only company that hasn't yet responded to Congress is Microsoft (MSFT), but a source close to the committee said Redmond will be filing its letter in the next few days.

How do ISPs and portals measure up? Check the list below and click on the link to read their response to Congress.

Quietly used NebuAd to track Web surfing:



Blockades: Acts of War

Monday, August 18, 2008

by Stephen Lendman

From July 21 - 31, Joint Task Force (mostly US, but also UK, Brazil and Italy) "Operation Brimstone" large scale war games were conducted off the US East coast in the North Atlantic. Its purpose may have been to prepare for a naval blockade of Iran. Initial reports after its completion were that participating ships were deployed to Persian Gulf and Arabian and Red Sea locations to join up with the present American strike force in the region. The major media cover none of this, and US Navy sources deny it. So precise information is unclear. From what's known, however, redeployment may be planned, and a blockade may ensue. The situation remains tense and worrisome.

Under international and US law, blockades are acts of war and variously defined as:

-- surrounding a nation or objective with hostile forces;



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