August 20th, 2008


Officials: Man died after hospital workers ignored him for 22 hours

18 California Hospitals Fined for Healthcare Violations
Two-thirds of the working-age population are uninsured, underinsured
When the bottom line overrides the Hippocratic oath

NC man dies after waiting 22 hours at hospital

By WHITNEY WOODWARD, Associated Press WriterTue Aug 19, 11:39 PM ET

A mental patient died after workers at a North Carolina hospital left him in a chair for 22 hours without feeding him or helping him use the bathroom, said federal officials who have threatened to cut off the facility's funding.

The state sent a team Tuesday to help Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro draft new procedures to ensure patients receive proper care.

An investigator's report released Monday found that 50-year-old Steven Sabock died in April after he at one point choked on medication and had been left sitting in a chair for close to a day at the facility about 50 miles southeast of Raleigh. Surveillance video showed hospital staff watching television and playing cards just a few feet away.


Mortgage application volume hits lowest level in six years

Mortgage application volume hits multiyear low

By STEPHEN BERNARD, AP Business Writer1 hour, 6 minutes ago

Mortgage application volume fell last week to its lowest levels in nearly eight years, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday.

The fall in application volume is the latest sign of a struggling housing market. On Tuesday, a Commerce Department report showed construction of homes and apartments fell in July to the lowest level in more than 17 years.

And while fewer new homes are being built, fewer customers are also refinancing existing mortgages. A sharp drop in refinance volume in recent weeks has been the leading driver of declining application volume.


How the neocons bought Dick

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

One of the facts hurled your way if you attempt to assert that the attack on Iraq was one of the Wars For The Jews is that Dick Cheney isn't Jewish. No, he was a Shabbat goy,a gentile enlisted to do what the Jewish Billionaires couldn't do, not for religious reasons, but for the practical reason that they needed a non-Jew to do the dirty work or else the Zionist nature of the attack on Iraq would have been too obvious. Dick Cheney had to be bought in order to betray the Old American Establishment he had so faithfully served for decades (one of the main reasons the Old American Establishment was so blindsided by the Zionist neocons is that the Old Boys trusted Cheney to look after their interests, not realizing he had been bought and paid for). Once the Jewish Billionaires had bribed the Republicans to put the Clean Breakers in charge of American military policy, they had the same group pay off Dick (my emphasis in red):
"A March 6, 2003 internal Pentagon e-mail sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official says 'action' on a multibillion-dollar Halliburton contract was 'coordinated' within Cheney's office.

The e-mail says Douglas Feith, the former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, received authorization from then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to 'execute' the Restore Iraqi Oil contract to Halliburton in 2002.


One Teacher’s Cry: Why I Hate No Child Left Behind

By Susan J. Hobart, August 2008 Issue

I’m a teacher. I’ve taught elementary school for eleven years. I’ve always told people, “I have the best job in the world.” I crafted curriculum that made students think, and they had fun while learning. At the end of the day, I felt energized. Today, more often than not, I feel demoralized.

While I still connect my lesson plans to students’ lives and work to make it real, this no longer is my sole focus. Today I have a new nickname: testbuster. Singing to the tune of “Ghostbusters,” I teach test-taking strategies similar to those taught in Stanley Kaplan prep courses for the SAT. I spend an inordinate amount of time showing students how to “bubble up,” the term for darkening those little circles that accompany multiple choice questions on standardized tests.

I am told these are invaluable skills to have.



Pentagon, White House at odds over aid to Georgia

Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2008
By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The Bush White House and the Pentagon are at odds over whether to station a Navy ship in the Black Sea to demonstrate U.S. support for the embattled Georgian military and government, two defense officials told McClatchy Tuesday.

The White House thinks that deploying a vessel such as the hospital ship USNS Comfort would showcase the Bush administration's support for Georgia and signal U.S. concern that Russia has sparked a humanitarian crisis in Georgia.

The Pentagon officials, who both spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss internal policy deliberations, said the move is unnecessary. Last week, the U.S. military sent a 12-member assessment team to determine how much humanitarian aid Georgians need.



GORBACHEV: West pushing Georgian region toward war

The New York Times

August 20, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

Russia Never Wanted a War



THE acute phase of the crisis provoked by the Georgian forces’ assault on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, is now behind us. But how can one erase from memory the horrifying scenes of the nighttime rocket attack on a peaceful town, the razing of entire city blocks, the deaths of people taking cover in basements, the destruction of ancient monuments and ancestral graves?

Russia did not want this crisis. The Russian leadership is in a strong enough position domestically; it did not need a little victorious war. Russia was dragged into the fray by the recklessness of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili. He would not have dared to attack without outside support. Once he did, Russia could not afford inaction.

The decision by the Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, to now cease hostilities was the right move by a responsible leader. The Russian president acted calmly, confidently and firmly. Anyone who expected confusion in Moscow was disappointed.



CSTO starts next stage of Rubezh-2008 joint exercises in Armenia [Translated for S

CSTO starts next stage of Rubezh-2008 joint exercises in Armenia [Translated for Stop NATO]

-[i]ssues of providing military and military-technical assistance to Armenia in case of aggression against that country will be worked out.

Earlier, representatives of the CSTO reported that the training is conditional, but it takes into account the emerging regional political-military and military-strategic situation.

Moscow - The third phase of the joint command and staff exercises of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), "Rubezh-2008," will begin on August 18 in Armenia, the CSTO Secretariat told Interfax-Military.


Declassified Old Documents Shed New Light on AIPAC Espionage Prosecution


Posted on Wed, Aug. 20, 2008

Declassified Old Documents Shed New Light on AIPAC Espionage Prosecution - IRmep

Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

More than one thousand documents released under Freedom of Information Act filings reveal details of a secret battle that raged between founders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and top US law enforcement officials. The new book "America's Defense Line: The Justice Department's Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government" reproduces and analyzes these files and their troubling implications for rule of law in the United States. "America's Defense Line" also reveals stunning details of a preferential deal engineered within the highest levels of the US Department of Justice over the course of three years and implemented in 1965 -- but kept secret from the American public until today. Old documents and new analysis from the Center for Policy and Law Enforcement raise many questions about the upcoming October 2008 AIPAC espionage trial.

In 2005, Colonel Lawrence Franklin was indicted alongside two executives of AIPAC for allegedly violating the 1917 Espionage Act. Franklin later pled guilty to passing AIPAC a classified presidential directive and other secrets concerning America's Iran policy. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman of AIPAC allegedly forwarded the highly sensitive information to Israeli government officials and select members of Washington's media establishment. This covert leaking appears to be one of many AIPAC tactics designed to encourage tougher U.S. policies toward Iran, from financial boycotts to naval blockades and possibly even military strikes.

On October 28, 2008, government prosecutors are scheduled to appeal the ruling judge's order that they must prove the alleged AIPAC leaks of national defense information actually harmed the United States. The 1917 Espionage Act actually requires a much lower standard of proof: "the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign country."


FBI Admits It Has No Case Against Ivins

Parallels Between the Anthrax and 9/11 Investigations

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The FBI has admitted that it has no case against Ivins.

As summarized in an article today in the Washington Post:

The FBI has had a difficult time making its case to a skeptical public and scientific community. A hair sample snagged from a Princeton, N.J., mailbox linked to the attacks turned out not to match that of Ivins. Some Congressional critics have questioned whether one man could really have carried out the elaborate attacks.
But FBI officials continue to press their case.
"I don't think we're ever going to be able to put the suspicions to bed," said Vahid Majidi of the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. "There's always going to be a spore on the grassy knoll."
This is very telling.


Lieberman speaking at RNC

Today on the presidential campaign trail

By The Associated Press – 13 minutes ago


Joe Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000, to speak at GOP convention ... Adviser says Obama to campaign with newly named running mate Saturday ... Text message approach in vice presidential announcement could help Obama with turnout ... AFL-CIO jabs McCain on his economic record in new mailer ... Obama makes unannounced stop in Greensboro, NC


Sen. Joe Lieberman to speak at GOP convention

WASHINGTON (AP) — Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party's vice presidential candidate in 2000 and now an independent who is one of John McCain's strongest supporters, will speak at the Republican National Convention, an official said.

Lieberman will deliver a speech when Republicans gather in St. Paul, Minn., to nominate McCain for president, a party official told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The official requested anonymity because a formal announcement had yet to be made.


Ex-Border Patrol agent pleads guilty to civil rights violations

Former officer admits he used pistol in incidents with immigrants


Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Aug. 19, 2008, 10:52PM

A former U.S. Border Patrol agent on Tuesday pleaded guilty in federal court in Houston to violating the civil rights of two undocumented immigrants, admitting he pistol-whipped an unarmed man and forced another to his knees and held a gun to his head, authorities said.

Court records documenting the arrest and conviction of 28-year-old Santiago Perez of Edinburg were not available Tuesday night, despite being ordered unsealed earlier in the afternoon by U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston, Perez faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $500,000 at his November sentencing. He has been released on a $50,000 bond.


Privatizing Foreign Policy: The Road to Iran

Lawrence Davidson writes in a guest op-ed for IC:

Americans' penchant for paying little attention to their nation's foreign policies has powerful and disastrous effects on national politics and policy-making. Here are two important implications:

1. Popular disinterest in foreign affairs means that the vast majority of Americans abrogate their say in foreign policy formulation to a small number of citizens who do care about specific foreign policies and, constituting themselves as lobbies, are organized to make their influence felt. This can be seen clearly in the case of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The war was planned and launched by small groups of Americans with specific, ideologically based, perceptions of the world. These ideologically motivated lobbies, whether ethnically oriented or neoconservative in nature, have little connection to the local concerns of the majority of Americans. Yet the consequences of their actions have impacted all of us.

2. Because most Americans pay little attention to foreign affairs they lack the knowledge necessary to accurately contextualize the situation when foreign events do seem to intrude upon their lives. The assertion that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction that were to be used on American targets was an example of such a situation. Having no objective knowledge to assess this claim, Americans had to rely on the information given to them by others, most of the time government spokesmen and media “pundits.” The average citizen had no way of knowing if these alleged experts did or did not know what they were talking about, and if they had reasons to present a biased picture of events. However, the consistent supplying of what turned out to be less than objective information to millions of citizens who were otherwise ignorant, created a “thought collective” capable of moving the entire national population to war. Millions of lives have been lost or ruined as a consequence. This story is not a unique one. It has happened before and could soon happen again with the alleged threatening nation now being Iran.

Iran is a nation that has never invaded another country in modern times. Its civilian nuclear research activities are legal under international law and the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency has reported no evidence of nuclear weapons development. Yet, the same lobbies and politicians who led the United States into Iraq now insist that Iran is also worthy of sanctions and attack. Once again, the vast majority of Americans have no major sources of information on this issue apart from those which have already failed them in the case of Iraq. Nor are our elected officials behaving in ways that might prevent a compounding of the disaster of Iraq with another disaster in Iran. Why is this so?

--MORE (Scroll Down)--

Obama's long lost brother found in Kenya: Vanity Fair

Barack Obama's 'lost' brother found in Kenya

Senator Barack Obama's long lost brother has been tracked down for the first time living in a shanty town in Kenya, reports claimed.

By Nick Pisa in Rome

Last Updated: 3:54PM BST 20 Aug 2008

George Hussein Onyango Obama
George Hussein Onyango Obama, Senator Barack Obama's long lost brother was tracked down living in a hut on the outskirts of Nairobi Photo: Guy Calaf, Vanity Fair, Italy

The Italian edition of Vanity Fair said that it had found George Hussein Onyango Obama living in a hut in a ramshackle town of Huruma on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Mr Obama, 26, the youngest of the presidential candidate's half-brothers, spoke for the first time about his life, which could not be more different than that of the Democratic contender.

"No-one knows who I am," he told the magazine, before claiming: "I live here on less than a dollar a month."



Posted 4 hours ago

A joke is sometimes defined as the juxtapositioning of the incongruous. This is exactly what I experienced when reading Two Solitudes Break Their Isolation Together in the Globe and Mail July 31.

In the article, Phil Fontaine (national chief, Assembly of First Nations) and Rabbi Rouven Bulk and Sylvain Abitol of the Canadian Jewish Congress wax eloquently about their journey of peace and reconciliation, and experiencing persecution, discrimination and attempted genocide in common.

In order for the "two solitudes" to learn more about each others common history and daily lives a journey to Israel of 20 First Nations' chiefs jointly led by the congress and the assembly was necessary.


A Nation-Fulfilled Prophecy?

First Published 2008-08-20

The main reason the US is fighting the Global War On Terror and occupying the Middle East is not even directly related to al Qaeda. It has always been about encircling and eradicating Russian-Soviet style Communism which actually no longer exists in the world, says Dallas Darling.

I can still see and hear the members of the 9-11 Committee questioning then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice over why she and the Bush II Administration ignored al Qaeda and “focused heavily on Russia.” (1) Despite al Qaeda’s assault against a US warship in January 2000 and the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 killing and wounding 57 servicemen (2); despite Chief Counter-Terrorism Advisor Richard Clarke’s numerous warnings and memos about imminent terrorist attacks (3); despite over 40 Presidential Daily Briefings concerning “Bin Ladin is determined to strike the US” (4); despite information about terrorist sleeper cells in the US (5); despite the Yemenis’ surveillance of federal buildings in New York (6); and despite al Qaeda bombing US embassies around the world and that the “light was blinking red”; President George W. Bush and Rice did not consider al Qaeda “a first order threat.” In fact, a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union the “US Government and its institutions were still constructed to win the Cold War.” (7)

In psychological terms, a “self-fulfilled prophecy” is when an individual acts in such a way as to make his/her beliefs come true. If this be the case, a “nation-fulfilled prophecy” is when a people and their leaders collectively live and behave in such a way as to make their thinking and expectations-even when they contradict the facts-a reality. For this very reason, when the US backed Georgian Republic invaded South Ossetia and fired on Russian peace keepers, it was a nation-fulfilled prophecy (including the current US-Russia tensions over several disputed provinces). In other words, it is what the US has long dreamed of, hoped for, and desired.

Starting in 1867, US Secretary of State William H. Seward purchased Alaska for fear of Russian expansionism. Out of concern for growing Russian nationalism in Asia, President Theodore Roosevelt brokered a peace accord ending the Russo-Japanese War. President Woodrow Wilson sent troops to occupy northern Russia after World War I in hopes of defeating the Red Army. At the end of World War II, George Kennan’s 1946 Long Telegraph wrongly assumed Joseph Stalin had embraced Marx’s ideology: Global peace would come only after capitalism had been destroyed. In reality, Russia had been attacked twice by the West and sought isolation by using Eastern Europe as a buffer. (8) Consciously and subconsciously the US was obsessed with Russia. The current Georgian Crisis and Cold War stems from the George Crisis-The Long Telegraph and a long Frozen War-archaic beliefs solidified in the mind that are difficult to change.


Most Dangerous Man in America

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Werther | The first crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program arose in late 1994. It was obvious there was not much the United States could do to step in unilaterally and disarm the North Korean regime. Sanctions, the normally inevitable option short of war, had no meaning – the United States had no trade with the North in the first place and the regime followed a policy of economic autarky (Juche) in any case. There was really only one feasible course of action: gather as many regional allies as possible, agree to a process of inducing North Korea to freeze its nuclear program, and tender an offer to the North Koreans on the basis of a quid pro quo.

When the Clinton administration outlined its proposed course of action to Congress there was some grumbling. Arm-waving professional patriots of the American political class do not like seeing the slightest diminution of their country’s God-given prerogative to impose its will abroad when and as it likes. But there was no rational alternative, and apart from a few obscure, back-bench House Republican members a general consensus emerged that the administration’s Agreed Framework was the best of a bad series of options.

Only one politician of any political standing dissented. His name was John Sidney McCain III. His modest proposal was that the United States should be prepared to bomb the North Korean reactor sites. Never mind that he could be condemning several thousand U.S. troops (and tens of thousands of South Korean civilians) in the vicinity of the Demilitarized Zone to a virtual death sentence. It had never occurred to this self-proclaimed military expert that the North Korean regime had amassed thousands of long-range artillery pieces and rocket launchers and concealed them in tunnels north of the DMZ. From these positions the North Korean military could unleash an avalanche of fire south of the border. The result would probably have been a repeat of the Korean war of 1950-53 but with even more murderously lethal weapons.


States throw out costly electronic voting machines

By DEBORAH HASTINGS – 16 hours ago

The demise of touch-screen voting has produced a graveyard of expensive corpses: Warehouses stacked with thousands of carefully wrapped voting machines that have been shelved because of doubts about vanishing votes and vulnerability to hackers.

What to do with this high-tech junkyard is a multimillion-dollar question. One manufacturer offered $1 a piece to take back its ATM-like machines. Some states are offering the devices for sale on eBay and craigslist. Others hope to sell their inventories to Third-World countries or salvage them for scrap.

A few more are holding out hope that the machines, some of which were purchased for as much as $5,000, could one day be resurrected.

"We store them very, very carefully in the hopes that someone, someday may decide that we can use them again," said San Diego County Registrar Deborah Seiler, whose jurisdiction spent $25 million on the devices.


McCain’s Warped Worldview

Posted on Aug 19, 2008
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Republican presidential candidate John McCain laughs as he is introduced at a rally at the Virginia Aviation Museum in Richmond, Va. on Feb. 11, 2008. Behind him is an A-4 Skyhawk fighter jet like the one he was flying when shot down over Vietnam.

By Robert Scheer

The world according to John McCain is one in which America is triumphant at home and abroad thanks to the Bush legacy, rolling to victory internationally and mastering its domestic economic problems. If daily news, like reports of the 10 French soldiers killed by a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan and the U.S. government’s imminent nationalization of much of the American mortgage-lending industry, would seem to deny such a rosy scenario, then that only shows skeptics lack the courage that sustained McCain as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

There you have it encapsulated, the McCain campaign for president, an irrational mélange of patriotic swagger and blindness to reality that is proving disturbingly successful with uninformed voters. How else to explain the many millions of Americans who tell pollsters they prefer a continuation of Republican rule when so many of them are losing their homes to foreclosure and the nation is devastated by out-of-control military spending?

The economy is in a downward spiral, the national debt is at an all-time high, the dollar is an international disgrace and inflation in July had the steepest rise in 27 years, driven by oil prices fivefold higher than when George W. Bush invaded the nation with the world’s second-largest petroleum reserves.



Attacking Iran via South Ossetia

Could the conflict between Russia and Georgia be the excuse the Bush administration has been looking for to bomb Iran?

An editor I once worked for told me that when his parents and grandparents discussed the day's news over dinner, they would inevitably finish by asking each other: "Is it good for the Jews?"

"Whether it was a war or an earthquake or men landing on the moon, it would always come down to that," he recalled. "They saw everything through that lens."

This year, I've developed a comparable pathology. I am terrified that the Bush administration is going to attack Iran sometime before it leaves office on January 20. Whenever there is a new tremor in Washington or the wider world, I ask myself: Does this make an American strike against Iran more or less likely?

So it is with the recent dustup in Georgia. I fear it has increased the chances that the United States will bomb Iran.



TSA Inspector Damages 9 Planes

ABC News

TSA Snafu Grounds Nine Planes at O'Hare Field

Pilots Furious with Misstep


August 19, 2008—

Nine American Eagle airplanes were grounded Tuesday after a TSA inspector, conducting an overnight security check, used sensitive instrument probes to climb onto the parked aircraft at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, aviation sources tell

A TSA official confirmed the incident.

At least forty regional commuter flights were delayed throughout the day, according to American Airlines. "We think it's an unfortunate situation," American airlines spokesperson Mary Frances told


In Europe, as in Asia, Nato leaves a trail of catastrophe

This outdated military alliance is playing with fire in Russia. In Pakistan and Afghanistan it is playing with dynamite

Nato is useless. It has failed to bring stability to Afghanistan, as it failed to bring it to Serbia. It just breaks crockery. Nato has proved a rotten fighting force, which in Kabul is on the brink of being sidelined by exasperated Americans. Nor is it any better at diplomacy: witness its hamfisted handling of east Europe. As the custodian of the west's postwar resistance to the Soviet Union's nuclear threat it served a purpose. Now it has become a diplomats' Olympics, irrelevant but with bursts of extravagant self-importance.

Yesterday's Nato ministerial meeting in Brussels was a fig leaf over the latest fiasco, the failure to counter the predictable Russian intervention in Georgia. Ostensibly to save Russian nationals in South Ossetia, the intervention was, in truth, to tell Georgia and Ukraine that they must not play games with the west along Russia's frontier. Nato, which Russia would (and should) have joined after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is now a running provocation along the eastern rim of Europe.

There was no strategic need for Nato to proselytise for members, and consequent security guarantees, among the Baltic republics and border states to the south. Nor is there any strategic need for the US to place missile sites in Poland or the Czech Republic. This was mere Nato self-aggrandisement reinforcing the lobbying of the Pentagon hawks.



`Imminent' Threats Should Be a Belli Laugh

Fri, 08/15/2008 - 16:00 — dlindorff

Amid all the talk about Bush/Cheney administration conspiracies to forge documents or engage in “false flag” tactics in order to “get the war on” against Iraq, and about similar current efforts to get a new war going against Iran, lost has been the fact that many of the things that the administration falsely claimed as casus belli actually don’t even qualify, whether they were true or not.

Take the infamous receipts which the administration claimed were proof that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy 400 tons of yellowcake uranium ore from the landlocked African nation of Niger—documents which were demonstrably forgeries, and which were composed on stationary that had been stolen during a suspicious break-in into the Niger Embassy in Rome during the first month of the Bush presidency in an incident which had all the markings of an intelligence agency black-bag job (the only things stolen were the stationary and some official stamps!).

Aside from the absurdity of thinking that Niger’s mining officials would have put their names and official stamps on documents proving that they were engaged in illegal activity—providing nuclear material to a nation under an international embargo—or that Hussein would have asked for a receipt—the point is that obtaining uranium ore is a long, long way from having a nuclear bomb.


Men on a mission

In a rundown suburb of Washington DC, a group of anti-Iraq war protesters has set up home. But they are no ordinary activists - they are all veterans of the conflict. Daniel Nasaw talks to them

Geoff Millard and Adam Kokesh

Adam Kokesh, on left, and Geoff Millard outside Capitol Hill in Washington after taking part in a demonstration calling for the end of the war in Iraq. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

The mock soldier's grave in the front yard, along with the bottles of urine in the refrigerator and the anti-war posters festooning the first floor, tell visitors this is not just another group house for politically minded Washington DC twentysomethings.

The bottles, says Adam Kokesh, a tattooed, muscular former US marine sergeant and prominent member of a community of virulently anti-war Iraq veterans based in the house, are to be tested for depleted uranium, a munitions component thought to be harmful to soldiers exposed to it.

The house, in a rundown neighbourhood of the US capital, is headquarters for Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), a group with more than 1,200 members across the country and on military duty in Iraq. It is also a flophouse for visiting and needy veterans, a "frat-house on steroids" in the words of one resident, and a friendly space where veterans can commune with like-minded comrades.



China Sentences Elderly Would-Be Protestors To Labor Camp

Elderly Chinese Women Sentenced to Labor Re-education

Wu Dianyuan, Wang Xiuying Had Applied for Permission to Protest at the Olympics

By Ariana Eunjung Cha

Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, August 20, 2008; 10:43 AM

BEIJING, Aug. 20 -- Two elderly women were sentenced to a year of labor re-education after they applied for permits to demonstrate during the Olympics against their 2001 eviction from their homes, according to the son of one of the would-be protesters.

Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77, went to Chinese police five times between Aug. 5 and Aug. 18 to seek approval to protest.

Officials at the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau did not approve or deny their applications during the first three visits. On the fourth visit, they were told that they would receive a year's punishment, until July 29, 2009, for "disturbing the public order."


McCain Helping Terrorist Recruitment: CATO

At the “Civil Forum” at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California this weekend, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) repeated a favorite line of his about Osama bin Laden:

If I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. . . . No one should be allowed to take thousands of American, innocent American lives. Of course evil must be defeated . . . we are facing the transcendent challenge of the 21st century–radical Islamic extremists.

What a gift to the recruiting efforts of Al Qaeda! - to have an American presidential candidate declare himself a follower of Osama bin Laden. According to McCain, Bin Laden is so powerful that he poses a “transcendent” challenge to John McCain’s United States.



The Pentagon's Most Prolific Pundit

Jed Babbin

Submitted by Daniel Haack on Tue, 08/19/2008 - 12:35.

Topics: | | | |

The morning of June 20, 2006, an email message circulated amongst U.S. Defense Department officials.

"Jed Babbin, one of our military analysts, is hosting the Michael Medved nationally syndicated radio show this afternoon. He would like to see if General [George W.] Casey would be available for a phone interview," the Pentagon staffer wrote. "This would be a softball interview and the show is 8th or 9th in the nation."

Why would the Pentagon help set up a radio interview? And how did they know that the interview would be "softball"?

From early 2002 to April 2008, the Defense Department offered talking points, organized trips to places such as Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, and gave private briefings to a legion of retired military officers working as media pundits. The Pentagon's military analyst program, a covert effort to promote a positive image of the Bush administration's wartime performance, was a multi-level campaign involving quite a few colorful characters.



Sibel Edmonds Case: Richard Perle continues criminal enterprise, MSM still silent

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

 In 1989, the Wall Street Journal reported that Richard Perle and Douglas Feith had set up a lobbying company called International Advisors Inc [IAI] to lobby for “appropriation of U.S. military and economic assistance’ to Turkey."” When news of the $600,000 per annum contract got too hot to handle, Perle and Feith folded IAI and helped establish the American Turkish Council (ATC) to accomplish the same goals, but with a more respectable veneer.

Now, nineteen years later, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Richard Perle is “exploring going into the oil business in Iraq and Kazakhstan” with a “consortium founded by Turkish company AK Group International... Potential backers include two Turkish companies as well as Kazakhstan.”

Richard Perle issued a strange-sounding denial to the Wall Street Journal that he is involved with these latest oil projects, although he also issued a similarly "bizarre" denial to the 1989 WSJ article which reported on his consulting company IAI.

The WSJ continues:


Puerto Rico Governor Indicted on Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Charges

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Puerto Rico Governor, Senior Aide and Former Campaign Director Indicted on Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Charges

WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico, today returned an indictment against Puerto Rico Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, a senior aide and a former campaign director for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced. Today’s indictment follows an earlier indictment, returned on March 24, 2008, which charged these same defendants and others with related crimes.

The five-count indictment returned today in U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico, charges Acevedo Vilá, 46, of San Juan; Luisa Inclán Bird, 47, of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; and Miguel Nazario Franco, 61, of San Juan with honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Acevedo Vilá was Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in the U.S. House of Representatives between 2001 and 2005, and has been the Governor of Puerto Rico since 2005. Inclán Bird, a lawyer, was a legal advisor for the San Juan Resident Commissioner Office when defendant Acevedo Vilá served as Resident Commissioner and a volunteer in the finance department for Acevedo Vilá’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign. Currently, Inclán Bird is a senior advisor for Governor Acevedo Vilá. Nazario Franco, a businessman in Puerto Rico, was director of the finance department for Acevedo Vilá’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign.

According to the indictment, the charges are focused on two related courses of conduct. The first, in counts one through four, alleges that the defendants deprived the citizens of Puerto Rico of the honest services of Acevedo Vilá as Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Specifically, the indictment alleges that during his campaign for governor, and continuing after he was elected and inaugurated, Acevedo Vilá and others connected with his campaign solicited and received approximately $250,000 from a local businessman, referred to as "Collaborator 18," for the benefit of Acevedo Vilá and his campaign. Furthermore, the indictment alleges that during his term as governor, Acevedo Vilá participated in official actions intended to aid the business interests of Collaborator 18, while failing to disclose the nature and extent of his financial relationship with Collaborator 18.



A new world order: The week Russia flexed its military muscle

A six-day conflict in the Caucasus mountains has transformed the international balance of power, with Russia now looking stronger than ever. But what sparked it? Diplomatic Editor Anne Penketh reveals how the Georgian government walked straight into a trap set by Moscow – and considers the consequences of the first war in Europe for a decade

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Georgian president was on vacation in Italy. The defence minister and foreign minister were away on holiday too. The world's attention was riveted on the Olympic Games in Beijing, where the preparations for the lavish opening ceremony were in full swing.

Days later, the forces of the small, mountainous republic of Georgia, trained by American and Israeli experts, were fighting for the survival of their country against Russia's army in a vicious six-day war that brought Russia and the US into direct confrontation for the first time since the Cold War and led to a threat of nuclear conflagration.

The outcome was the humiliating rout of the Georgian army, pushed back by a huge Russian land, air and sea assault, and the loss of Georgia's two breakaway territories over which the government had intended to assert central control. And Russia is back at the forefront of a new world order in the dying days of the Bush presidency.



Human Rights Watch calls on Israelis to stop demolishing Palestinian homes

18.08.08 - 22:19

ImageHuman Rights Watch / Jerusalem – The Israeli government should reject plans to resume the demolition or confiscation of the homes of alleged terrorists, Human Rights Watch said today. These measures would violate international legal prohibitions against collective punishment, as they affect the owners or inhabitants of the homes who have no involvement in terrorism.

The call follows an order issued on August 6, 2008, by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to demolish the home of Alaa Abu Dheim, a 26-year-old Palestinian who killed eight people during a gun attack on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem in March. The house concerned does not belong to Abu Dheim but is occupied and owned by his relatives. Barak's order marks the resumption of demolitions of homes after a three-year lull and comes in the wake of two separate attacks in which Palestinian men used bulldozers to attack people in July on the streets of Jerusalem.

"The assault on Mercaz Harav seminary and the more recent bulldozer attacks were appalling, but Israel shouldn't respond by trampling on basic rights," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The house demolition measures would violate international law because they punish people who are not even accused, let alone convicted, of a crime."



Monster fusion center to coordinate DNC intelligence

Questions over potential civil liberties violations raised in wake of 'super fusion' security apparatus

By Erin Rosa 8/20/08

The Democratic National Convention will serve as a catalyst for the creation of a temporary “super fusion” center that two local police officials hope will permanently expand domestic intelligence powers in Colorado.

The concept, outlined by Michael Battista, deputy chief of operations for the Denver Police Department, in little-noticed congressional testimony last summer, will culminate in security preparations for next week’s convention managed by the largest convergence of law enforcement, military and emergency personnel in the state’s history. The massive apparatus used by federal agencies like the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be deployed to gather intelligence about potential threats and “suspicious activities” during the convention.

The Colorado Independent reported last month that the state’s intelligence fusion center, known as the Colorado Intelligence Analysis Center (CAIC) will be operating 24 hours a day during the convention and will be fully staffed with up to eight intelligence analysts at any given time.


Campaigns Take Foreign Cash, Ask Questions Later

Today on the presidential campaign trail

By The Associated Press – 9 hours ago



Campaigns take cash, seek details later

WASHINGTON (AP) — Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain has consistently followed the government's instructions for keeping prohibited foreign money out of their presidential campaigns, and some of that banned money has slipped into Obama's campaign.

During interviews with 123 donors in 11 countries, The Associated Press found contributions Obama accepted from at least three foreigners. Just five of the donors checked, three for Obama and two for McCain, said the campaigns asked to see copies of their current U.S. passports — as instructed by the Federal Election Commission to avoid legal problems.

Obama's campaign said it would refund the money to the foreign donors the AP identified.



McCain's bellicose zingers provoke enemies, encourage risky action by allies, get people killed

The Risk of the Zinger

By David Ignatius

Wednesday, August 20, 2008; A15

It was February 2006 in Munich, and John McCain's eyes were flashing with the mischievous spark that comes when he's about to fire a verbal rocket. "I've got a zinger coming," he told me, referring to a speech on Russia he would give a few hours later at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy.

And McCain did indeed deliver a zinger. He blasted Vladimir Putin for "the pursuit of autocracy at home and abroad" -- and then urged that Russia be excluded from the G-8 summit of industrialized nations. For good measure, he included a call for Georgia, already a thorn in Russia's side, to join NATO.

McCain's 2006 speech made news, as he knew it would. So did an address in Munich the night before from Georgia's emotional president, Mikheil Saakashvili. He recalled how he had cried the night the Berlin Wall fell -- and then pleaded for Western support for Georgia's efforts to recover the renegade province of South Ossetia and end what he called the "cancer of separatism."


9/11 to give keynote at Republican Convention

Giuliani to give keynote at GOP convention

By LIZ SIDOTI – 55 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will give the keynote address at the Republican National Convention next month.

First lady Laura Bush, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and John McCain's former Republican rivals will speak as well.

The theme will be "Country First" with four days devoted to service, reform, prosperity and peace.


Israel extorts Palestinian students to work as collaborators

IOF extort Palestinian students to work as collaborators

[ 19/08/2008 - 11:03 PM ]

RAMALLAH,(PIC)-- At least seven Palestinian citizens were kidnapped at the hands of the IOF troops on Tuesday in the West Bank city of Tulkarem after they stormed the city and ransacked commercial stores there, Palestinian local sources confirmed.

According to the sources, large number of IOF troops backed by military vehicles and jeeps raided the town of Enebta, east of the city at dawn Tuesday before arresting the seven youths, adding that the IOF incursion was in reaction to the daily clashes between the town's residents and the Israeli occupation soldiers.

A number of agricultural materials were confiscated from the invaded stores as the IOF troops alleged that those materials were used by the Palestinians to manufacture bombs and explosives, it added.


Blood in August: On Avoiding World War III

by John Zmirak   
Students of history will always find the month of August a little ominous. In August 1920, the Red Army invading Poland (led by neoconservative hero Leon Trotsky) nearly captured Warsaw and spilled into central Europe, whence it might well have conquered a prostrate Germany, Austria, and Hungary -- just for starters. The heroic Polish defeat of the Soviet forces will always be known in that land as the "Miracle of the Vistula," since the battle raged in the octave of the Feast of the Assumption, and many Polish soldiers claimed that they saw Our Lady appear over the battlefield, which spurred them on to fight.
It was on August 25, 1939, that Adolph Hitler sealed an alliance with Joseph Stalin to jointly invade the very same Poland -- a country that had relied on empty promises of protection from faraway England and France, and defied his demands for territory.
On August 6 and August 9, 1945, our country became the only nation in history to use atomic weapons -- on cities, not on armies -- to end the war begun six Augusts before.


Video blogger Wolf now a real journalist


Justin Berton, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

(08-19) 18:27 PDT -- After Josh Wolf took a job as a general assignment reporter at the Palo Alto Daily Post last month, he had some choice words for critics who've questioned his claim of being a journalist.

"If the haters who said I wasn't a real journalist, are still lurking," Wolf wrote on his blog, "I hope you don't have too much indigestion after eating your words.' "

Wolf, 26, is the San Francisco video blogger who in 2006 began a 226-day stint in federal prison for contempt after refusing to testify before a grand jury and hand over a videotape of a protest against a G-8 summit he filmed in the Mission District in which a police officer was injured.

At the time, Wolf was harshly criticized by some mainstream journalists who suspected that the self-described "anarchist and activist" was a participant rather than an impartial news gatherer. In a court filing, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan dismissed Wolf as someone who needed "to come to grips with the fact that he was simply a person with a video camera who happened to record some public events."


Czechoslovakia on Their Minds

August 25, 2008 Issue

Copyright © 2008 The American Conservative

Neocon news flash: Hitler invades Georgia.

By Leon Hadar

Neoconservatives and their useful idiots in the American media have been on overdrive this August, rewinding to their World War II analogies and applying them to the fast-forwarding world of global politics. Exhibit A: the obvious likeness of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the 1936 Berlin Games. Hitlergram of the Month was the parallel drawn between Nazi-era filmmaker turned propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, who was invited by the Führer to film the Olympics in Berlin—the result being the technically and aesthetically impressive documentary “Olympia”—and the celebrated Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who was commissioned by his government to produce the magnificent opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. The power of analogy, there for the China-bashers’ taking.

But no neocon narrative is complete without Czechoslovakia. Imagine your average Weekly Standard subscriber taking a free-association test and being asked to state the first words that come to his mind when he hears “Czechoslovakia.” Rest assured, he would respond with “Munich,” “appeasement,” “Chamberlain,” or “umbrella.” And let’s not forget “Hitler.” Thus can anyone clamoring for U.S. military intervention in, say, the former Yugoslavia or the Persian Gulf, mount a successful media and public-relations campaign by identifying his chosen victim (the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo, or Kuwait, or the Kurds) with Czechoslovakia and associating his preferred “aggressor” (Slobodan Milosevic or Saddam Hussein) with Hitler. Those Americans who resist pressure to deploy U.S. troops abroad to save the victim from the aggressor are appeasers leading the world into another Munich.

Here we go again. “The details of who did what to precipitate Russia’s war against Georgia are not very important,” explained leading neocon foreign-policy ideologue Robert Kagan—who insists that he isn’t a neocon at all—in a column in the Washington Post three days after the eruption of hostilities between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. “Do you recall the precise details of the Sudeten Crisis that led to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia?” he asked. Kagan, one of the chief advisers to Republican presidential candidate John McCain, wants to kick “revisionist” Russia out of the G-8 and establish a League of Democracies as part of a strategy to contain the growing threat from Moscow. Kagan’s answer to his rhetorical question in his column titled “Putin Makes his Move” (wink, wink—like you-know-who made his move 70 years ago): “Of course not, because that morally ambiguous dispute is rightly remembered as a minor part of a much bigger drama.”



Bush Covered up Musharraf Ties with Qaeda, Khan

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Analysis by Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON, 19 Aug (IPS) - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's resignation Monday brings to an end an extraordinarily close relationship between Musharraf and the George W. Bush administration, in which Musharraf was lavished with political and economic benefits from the United States despite policies that were in sharp conflict with U.S. security interests.

It is well known that Bush repeatedly praised Musharraf as the most loyal ally of the United States against terrorism, even though the Pakistani military was deeply compromised by its relationship with the Taliban and Pakistani Islamic militants.

What has not been reported is that the Bush administration covered up the Musharraf regime's involvement in the activities of the A. Q. Khan nuclear technology export programme and its deals with al Qaeda's Pakistani tribal allies.

The problem faced by the Bush administration when it came into office was that the Pakistani military, over which Musharraf presided, was the real terrorist nexus with the Taliban and al Qaeda. As Bruce Riedel, National Security Council (NSC) senior director for South Asia in the Bill Clinton administration, who stayed on the NSC staff under the Bush administration, observed in an interview with this writer last September, al Qaeda 'was a creation of the jihadist culture of the Pakistani army'.


Israel Threatens to Burn All Lebanon

After Olmert, Ezra Threats to Burn All Lebanon

Hanan Awarekeh

20/08/2008 One day after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned to take measures with no military restrictions against Lebanon if the country “turns into a Hezbollah state”; Israeli Environment Minister Gideon Ezra said on Wednesday that in any new war with the resistance group Hezbollah all of Lebanon will be a target for Israel, including its civilian infrastructure.

Ezra told public radio, "The moment the Lebanese government confers legitimacy on Hezbollah; it must understand that the entire Lebanese state will be a target in the same way that all of Israel is a target for Hezbollah."

"During the Second Lebanese War we considered the possibility of attacking Lebanon's infrastructure but we never resorted to this option, because we thought at the time that all the Lebanese were not responsible for the Hezbollah attacks," added Ezra, who is close to Olmert.

Israeli bombing during the 2006 Second Lebanon War was largely confined to Beirut and the south but the military did hit civilians.


UK. gov to spend hundreds of millions on snooping silo

By Chris Williams

Published Tuesday 19th August 2008


The government is pressing ahead with plans to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on a massive central silo for all UK communications data, The Register has learned.

Home Office civil servants are working on plans for the database under the banner of the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP). The team has recently been expanded and a director-level official appointed to run the project, which is not yet official policy in public.
Click here to find out more!

Sources said secret briefings revealed the cost of the database would run to nine figures and has already been factored into government spending plans. The IMP budget was part of the intelligence agencies' undisclosed funding bid to the Comprehensive Spending Review last year. In an answer to a parliamentary question on 8 July, the Home Office refused to provide any budgetary details, citing national security concerns.


Army Whistle-blower Who Revealed Bad Conditions At Veterans Hospital Forced To Resign

Fort Sill liaison forced to quit amid mold problem

By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY

FORT SILL, Okla. — An Army social services coordinator here who told USA TODAY about poor conditions at Fort Sill's unit for wounded soldiers has been forced out of his job, the employee and base officials said Tuesday.

Soldiers meeting with Army Secretary Pete Geren here on Tuesday said Chuck Roeder, 54, was a strong advocate for their problems and should not have been forced to leave.

On Monday, USA TODAY reported that the unit's barracks were infested with mold and that soldiers had been ordered by commanders not to speak about conditions there. Maj. Gen. Peter Vangjel, Fort Sill's commander, said base officials had started to investigate and fix the problems.


The Invisible Cost


Alice Rothchild

"A small group of unarmed Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals aims to
change this global conversation."

Dogged by corruption charges and propped up by the Bush administration, Prime Minister Olmert announced his impending resignation and political talk has turned to what’s left of the “peace process” and the ongoing dispute over Jerusalem. The rapid growth of government-sanctioned Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the expanding borders of Greater Jerusalem are rapidly turning a city that is sacred to three faiths into the Jewish capital. Some view this as the fulfillment of a messianic dream while others wonder if this is the inevitable creep of history towards the death of the two-state solution. Whether the Annapolis talks between Bush, Olmert, and Abbas were ever viable or stillborn from the beginning, a consensus is emerging that peace is once again on hold.
Somewhere in this conversation, issues facing one-third of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are being buried under Israeli concerns over governmental scandals, upcoming elections, and fears about Hamas and Iran. Unfortunately, the growing economic and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the rising numbers of traumatized children, and burgeoning poverty and desperation never go on hold. Ever since the Tahdiya or “Calming” negotiated by the Egyptians between Israel and Hamas in June 2008, except for factional fighting, the conditions in Gaza are largely out of the news. In July, when Obama stood in Sderot extending his support to the tragic Jewish victims of Qassam rockets, no one noted that he was able to do this in the open because the bombing had stopped and no one credited the peacemakers with their fragile moment of success. It seems bombs and death make better headlines than political negotiations that do not reinforce our national preconceptions about Arabs and their intentions.

A small group of unarmed Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals aims to change this global conversation. Since the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the Israeli government has claimed that Gaza is no longer occupied, despite the fact that Israel maintains control over the land, sea, air, water and electricity, and all movement of people and goods in and out. When Hamas took over in 2007 in a destructive and fratricidal war, Israel responded by severely limiting all movement even further. According to the UN and the World Food Program as well as a host of local and international organizations, the tight noose around Gaza has created unprecedented levels of civilian suffering, malnutrition, disease, and hopelessness, and produced an environment where the most militant voices are sometimes the most persuasive.



Is this the way?

Aug. 19, 2008

daniel gavron , THE JERUSALEM POST

Why would a pamphlet published 60 years ago be of any interest today? This was the question I asked myself, when it arrived on my computer recently, in response to a public discussion in which I had participated in London. Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian, noted academic and peace activist Tony Klug and I had debated "Two-states for two peoples: solution or illusion?" At the end of the evening, Prof. Michael Zander approached me about his late father, Walter Zander, and subsequently e-mailed me his Web site (www, I was fascinated by both the books and essays, but particularly struck by a 45-page pamphlet he wrote in 1947.

"Is This the Way?" was published early in 1948 by Victor Gollancz, price one shilling. While much of the material relates very much to its own time, I was astounded at how relevant its insights are to our situation today. The German-born Zander was the secretary of the Friends of the Hebrew University in Britain for almost three decades. A lawyer by training, he was a prolific author, writing about everything from economics and legal matters to Soviet Jewry and the holy sites in this country.

"Is This the Way?" was composed in the dramatic period between the United Nations vote partitioning Palestine in November 1947 and the declaration of the State of Israel in May 1948. Very much in defiance of the triumphal mood in the Jewish community at that time, Zander criticizes the Zionist policy toward the Arabs.


Israel's Dog in the fight in the Georgian War

By MEL FRYKBERG (Middle East Times)

Published: August 18, 2008

A Georgian government minister has claimed that a small group of Georgian troops was able to wipe-out an entire Russian military division, thanks to their Israeli military training. The image shows Georgians looting a burnt Russian tank on the outskirts of Gory in Georgia.

JERUSALEM -- Israel was considering last weekend to suspend all further military shipments to embattled Georgia, fearing possible retaliation with Russia which is on good terms with two of the Jewish state's arch enemies in the region, Syria and Iran.

At the same time, approximately 200 Israeli-Georgians protested outside the American Embassy in Tel Aviv urging the United States to take stronger action against Russia's military intervention in Georgia and the breakaway enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

But the large Jewish-Georgian community in Israel was not the only group with a dog in the fight as the war between Georgia and Russia appeared to be intensifying, despite intensive diplomatic mediation by U.S. and European diplomats, urging both the Russian and Georgian leadership to implement a ceasefire.


How powerful is Israel’s lobby in Washington?

First Published 2008-08-19


Book argues that understanding impact of Israel Lobby on US policy is essential for Mideast peace.

WASHINGTON - Criticizing and exposing the powerful public role of American Zionism in shaping US policy in the Middle East is the biggest taboo in US politics. Politicians, academics, journalists, prelates and ordinary American citizens who publicly voice their dissent are targeted for political purges, denied academic tenure, and access to the mass media and scurrilously labeled as ‘anti-Semites’ by the Zionist power configuration.

The book Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power by James Petras challenges the claims of Zionist apologists who argue that the ‘Israel power configuration’ is just another lobby, by empirically examining several major policies. The case studies demonstrate conclusively that today issues of war and peace, trade and investment agreements by US, European and Asian oil companies and banks in the Middle East, multi-billion dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia are all subject to ZPC scrutiny and veto.

The new ‘broad definition’ of what affects Israel includes Lobby backing for Bush’s shredding of Constitutional restraints on his war powers. It is not merely regional expansion which ‘interests Israel’ but economic and military aid and sales—namely who determines what military goods the US can sell to Arab states as well as what high end military technology the US should provide to the world’s fourth biggest arms merchant—Israel (which is also the US’s arms export competitor).the Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in the US Congress has blocked trade and sales to Saudi Arabia, despite the backing of the US oil and military-industrial sectors. Thanks to its influence in the mass media, the ZPC effectively delayed, degraded and then marginalized a long-awaited report by16 US national intelligence agencies on Iran’s non-military nuclear program in favor of dubious bellicose claims issued by the state of Israel


'America's Outrageous War Economy!' : Market Watch

Why house prices could fall by 50% 
Exclusive Interview: Jim Rogers Predicts Bigger Financial Shocks Loom, Fueling a Malaise That May Last for Years

Pentagon can't find $2.3 trillion, wasting trillions on 'national defense'

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

Last update: 7:27 p.m. EDT Aug. 18, 2008

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- Yes, America's economy is a war economy. Not a "manufacturing" economy. Not an "agricultural" economy. Nor a "service" economy. Not even a "consumer" economy.

Seriously, I looked into your eyes, America, saw deep into your soul. So let's get honest and officially call it "America's Outrageous War Economy." Admit it: we secretly love our war economy. And that's the answer to Jim Grant's thought-provoking question last month in the Wall Street Journal -- "Why No Outrage?"

There really is only one answer: Deep inside we love war. We want war. Need it. Relish it. Thrive on war. War is in our genes, deep in our DNA. War excites our economic brain. War drives our entrepreneurial spirit. War thrills the American soul. Oh just admit it, we have a love affair with war. We love "America's Outrageous War Economy.


Govt mum on Haywood's departure

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 18:30 IST

NEW DELHI: Questions were being asked on Tuesday about the sudden departure of Ken Haywood, an executive of an MNC whose computer Internet connection was used to send terror e-mail minutes before Ahmedabad blasts, but the Government chose to remain mum.

Haywood left on the intervening night of August 17-18 from Indira Gandhi International Airport here, despite a lookout notice issued by the Mumbai police pending against the 48-year-old US citizen. He was accompanied by his wife and two daughters to his home via Brussels.

The sudden departure of Haywood has given rise to considerable speculation about him including whether he had links with a western intelligence agency.

There was speculation that his links with intelligence agencies had come to fore after which he felt threatened and left the country. However, no one was forthcoming to confirm.


Congresswoman dead

A report is out saying her doctors stated she remains critical.

Ohio Rep. Tubbs Jones Dies

By Catharine Richert, Jonathan Allen and Alan K. Ota, CQ Staff

Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones died Wednesday in an Ohio hospital after suffering an aneurysm a day earlier, according to a senior House Democratic aide.

Tubbs Jones, a Democrat who has represented Ohio’s 11th District since 1999 and was chairwoman of the House’s ethics committee, suffered the aneurysm Tuesday night while driving near her hometown of Cleveland.

Tubbs Jones, who would have turned 60 on Sept. 10, was scheduled to attend the Democratic National Convention next week as a superdelegate.


Syria: Time ripe for closer Russia military ties; 'Russia to deploy missiles in Syria'


Unanswered questions behind the anthrax case

Wed, 20 Aug 2008

By Yusuf Fernandez, Press TV, Madrid

A US Army scientist called Bruce Ivins is considered to be the only person responsible for the anthrax letters that terrified the United States closely after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

At that time, anthrax-filled mail turned up in the offices of two Democratic Senators, Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, as well as news media offices in Washington DC and Florida. Five people died and 17 others fell ill due to exposure to the anthrax. The events were then widely viewed as the work of "Islamic terrorists".

The FBI's investigation of these facts dragged on for years. However, according to a federal prosecutor, US authorities are going to close the case soon.


Dicing with death for Gaza: Day 19

Tue, 19 Aug 2008

By Yvonne Ridley

I have been at sea now for more than 24 hours since the Free Gaza sailed from the last of the Greek island ports en route for Cyprus.

Life on board is beginning to test us all now but morale is still very high and our bonds as a team are growing stronger. We probably all pong since there are no showers or bathing facilitates on board and I have not had a good scrub for three days at least. There are a couple of toilets, but I am feeling slightly queasy at the moment so we'll skip those details.

Living conditions as you have probably gathered are very basic and below decks is so hot and humid that most of us prefer to sleep on deck.


Georgian Crisis: Diplomatic Rubble

Abkhazia calls for Russia's recognition

By Eric Walberg

Analogies of the Ossetia fiasco and its fallout with past events are coming thick and fast. Condoleezza Rice -- bless her heart -- says, “This is no longer 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia.” James Townsend, a former Pentagon official now with the Atlantic Council, compared the situation to Hungary in 1956. In both cases, the Russians being, well, the Russians. neocon Charles Krauthammer says Georgia needs “the equivalent of the Berlin air lift.” The Baltic statelets and Poland go back further yet, arguing it is a replay of Hitler and Stalin’s invasions of their territory, prompting Poland to quickly sign on the dotted line for US missiles (against the Iranians, of course).

But the most telling analogy is with Iraq and its ill-fated invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait indeed had been a province administered from Baghdad for millennia, so Saddam Hussein understandably coveted it, as Saakashvili does Ossetia. Hussein was convinced that the US had given him the green light after he had spent 10 years fighting the US’s latest bete noire, Iran, just as Saakashvili was given a similar ambivalent go-ahead to invade Ossetia. Even Townsend admits, “I think they misunderstand our eagerness and enthusiasm and think we are going to be behind them for anything.” Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said it best: “It is hard to imagine that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili embarked on this risky venture without some sort of approval from the side of the United States.”

Taking this line of argument to its logical conclusion, perhaps the Americans encouraged the Georgian president in order to test the Russian reaction and to observe the preparedness of the Russian military.


Mercenary Chickens Will Come Home to Roost

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford


Katrina - that harbinger of what a future urban America in crisis will look like - saw hundreds of thugs from Blackwater and other mercenary outfits patrolling the streets of New Orleans - as if they were the legitimate authorities.

The day may not be far off when the New Orleans nightmare becomes a national reality. The specter of mercenary occupation of American cities is no longer farfetched - it has already happened. The logic of permanent domestic mercenary deployment is rooted in the historical fact that the rich created the modern state to protect their wealth, and to harness the nation as a whole to produce more wealth for their benefit. Mercenary armies and police forces put the lie to the pretense that the state serves to protect the general population. As the current corrupt order decays, the rulers find that due process and other niceties of law - including armies operating under codes of military justice and civil service police forces - restrict their freedom of movement. The process of dispensing with the traditional coercive organs of the state in favor of private mercenaries is well advanced in the United States, where the privatization of prisons of all kinds is in full swing.

These are conscious, methodical decisions by the nation's corporate rulers, rather than emergency measures. At some point, the privatization of coercive power becomes irreversible, as seems to have already occurred in the U.S. military.


Neoliberalism Amok In Plan For New Orleans Schools

How the education reconstruction plan for New Orleans ends up permanently "shrinking" the footprint of the city itself.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Evaluating the School Facilities Master Plan

Today, the planning partnership between Parsons and Concordia released a much-hyped facilities master plan that, if approved, will guide the recovery of New Orleans public schools. I have been following this process for some time and can say confidently that the final plan is exactly what it was expected to be: a backdoor attempt to codify the smaller city size vociferously opposed by the vast majority of native New Orleanians.

The first attempt to 'shrink the footprint' was the plan released by the Mayor Nagin's Bring New Orleans Back Commission. Their prototype map of the future New Orleans showed large green dots signifying a plan to raze culturally significant and historic neighborhoods and replace them with parks. The second attempt was the toothless Unified New Orleans Plan, or UNOP. This plan was empowered to do largely the same thing as the BNOB plan, only this time with the rubber stamp of "citizen input." The citizen participation process for UNOP was lead by Concordia, an architecture and planning firm lead by Steven Bingler. From the perspective of citizens, Concordia's public participation efforts were abysmally undemocratic. Public meetings were poorly advertised and input was largely relegated to those with access to internet or fax. The idea was to create the illusion of democratic participation in order to codify the same small footprint proposed by Bring New Orleans Back Commission.

Thus, it came as no surprise when the State Superintendent of Education, Paul Pastorek selected Steven Bingler's Concordia to lead the master plan for New Orleans schools. Teaming with Concordia to assess the state of New Orleans school facilities was Parsons Corp, recently the subject of a large scale investigation after bilking taxpayers out of millions of dollars in bogus postwar rebuilding contracts in Iraq.


US Crony Capitalism

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Default Lawrence B. Lindsey on US Crony Capitalism

Excellent video of Lawrence B. Lindsey, ex-Governor of the Federal Reserve System from 1991 to 1997, on CNBC followed by an article on Paulson and crony capitalism in which he is quoted.

Hat tip to member LargoWinch for the video!

(Note: the article is no longer available, not even in a cache on google. Maybe accusing the head of the US Treasury of crony-ism isn't good business for the Sun-Times.)Crony image dogs Paulson's rescue effort
Published: 12:00 AM Jul 17,2008
Chicago Sun-Times by ROBERT NOVAK

As financial storm signals appeared the last 18 months, some Bush officials urged drastic reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But according to internal government sources, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson objected because it would l...


McCain: Reinstitute Draft

Added: August 20, 2008

John McCain

Town Hall

Las Cruces, NM 08/20/08


AUDIENCE MEMBER: Senator McCain I truly hope you get the opportunity to chase Bin Laden right to the gates of hell and push him in as you stated on your forum. I do have a question though. Disable veterans, especially in this state have horrible conditions, their medical is substandard. They drive four hours one way to Albuquerque for a simple doctors appointment which is often canceled. Our VA hospital is dirty it is understaffed, it is running on maximum overload. The prescription medicines are ten years behind standard medical care we have seven hundred claims stacked up at the VA office in Albuquerque some of them are ten and seven years old waiting to be processed in the mean time these people are homeless. My son is an officer in the Air Force, and I am a vet and I was raised in a military family. I think it is a sad state of affairs when we have illegal aliens having a Medicaid card that can access specialist top physicians, the best of medical and our vets can't even get to a doctor. These are the people that we tied yellow ribbons for and Bush patted on the back. If we don't reenact the draft I don't think we will have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell.

JOHN MCCAIN: Ma'am let me say that I don't disagree with anything you said and thank you and I am grateful for your support of all of our veterans.

LABEL: McCain draft agreement

To download a higher-resolution version of this clip, VISIT:

How Washington’s encirclement of Russia threatens us all

The New Cold War Turns Hot

Antony Black

Special to Canadian Dimension August 18, 2008

Fairytales are wonderful things – except when they are employed by adults to supplant a complex reality. Or, indeed, to turn that reality on its head. Nevertheless, it is precisely the word ‘fairytale’ that best describes the West’s reaction to the outbreak of hostilities in Georgia as even a cursory look at these events, and at the recent historical and political context of Eurasia, make abundantly clear.

To begin with, then, the attack by Georgia on its breakaway republic of South Ossetia in the early morning hours of August 8 was a brutal, gratuitous, undiscriminating assault that targeted virtually every public and civilian building in Tskhinvali. Upwards of 2,000 Ossetians were killed and some 34,000 (out of a population of some 73,000) were driven out of the country. Moreover, both the intensity and the character of the invasion were patently designed, not simply to take over the de facto independent republic, but to ethnically cleanse it of its inhabitants.

Yet, despite the clear sequence of events which demonstrate beyond any shadow of a doubt that Georgia’s Saakashvili was the instigator of an illegal and barbaric act of war, the West chose, instead, to come down on the side of ‘plucky little Georgia’ as though it was the aggrieved party. To comprehend this apparent paradox one need only, as they say, ‘follow the money’.


Russia cancels all military cooperation with NATO

Russia, apparently stung by NATO's condemnation of its military action in Georgia, plans to cease all military exercises with Norway and other NATO members.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has claimed NATO is pursuing anti-Russian policies and supporting an aggressive Georgia. He insists Russia is not occupying Georgia and has no plans to annex the separatist Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russian authorities informed the Norwegian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday that officials in Moscow were immediately halting, cancelling or postponing all planned military cooperation with NATO's members.



NY Times: FBI Has Given Too Little Information to Convict Ivins for Anthrax Attacks

FBI Agent Linked to Anthrax Coverup also sabotaged the FISA warrant for access to 9/11 conspirator Moussaoui's computer prior to 9/11. And was promoted and awarded for it

A group of independent experts needs to look hard at the F.B.I.’s conclusion that the mailed anthrax must have come from Dr. Bruce Ivins.

The New York Times

August 20, 2008


Too Little Information

An F.B.I. briefing on Monday was supposed to bolster the agency’s conclusion that a lone, disturbed bioterrorism scientist was responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people, sickened 17 others and terrified the country. It fell short of its goal.

The F.B.I. spent years pointing a finger at a different suspect. It is not enough for the agency to brush off continuing skepticism. “There’s always going to be a spore on a grassy knoll,” Vahid Majidi, the chief of the agency’s weapons of mass destruction division told reporters.

A group of independent experts needs to look hard at the F.B.I.’s technical analysis and detective work that combined to convince investigators that the mailed anthrax must have come from Dr. Bruce Ivins, a scientist at the Army’s bioterrorism lab in Fort Detrick in Maryland.


Politics and the English Language

The Narrative Versus the News

George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.

These five passages have not been picked out because they are especially bad -- I could have quoted far worse if I had chosen -- but because they illustrate various of the mental vices from which we now suffer. They are a little below the average, but are fairly representative examples. I number them so that i can refer back to them when necessary:



John McCain Fundraiser Major Backer of Vladimir Putin

McCain's Russia Lobbyists Confuse Georgia Defense

Sam Stein

August 20, 2008

In the wake of John McCain's forceful rebuke of Russia for sending invading forces into Georgia, scrutiny has been placed on the role McCain's chief foreign policy guru, Randy Scheunemann, played lobbying on behalf of the former Soviet country.

Asked whether Scheunemann's financial ties have influenced his hard anti-Russian stance, McCain deployed a curious form of political self-defense. I am pleased, he told USA Today, to have friends "who also believe in freedom and democracy." Earlier, McCain spokeswoman Nichole Wallace took an even more grandiose approach, declaring of Scheunemann: "We're proud of anyone who has worked on the side of angels in fledgling democracies."

Then there is Charles Ryan, the CEO of Deutsche Bank Russia. A member of the Senator's London Finance Committee, Ryan co-hosted a $25,000-per-head fundraiser with Cindy McCain in late June of this year. He is also a major backer of Vladimir Putin. In July 2006, Ryan penned an International Herald Tribune op-ed assuaging concerns over the then-prime minister. Years earlier, he said the Kremlin wasn't too powerful but rather too weak. When Putin left office, Ryan called him a patriot and said only minor changes were needed for the country.


FCC chief proposes free Internet

United Press International - News. Analysis. Insight.™ - 100 Years of Journalistic Excellence

Published: Aug. 20, 2008

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- A U.S. government official says high-speed Internet access should be available to all residents even if that means providing it free of charge.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin says the government has a social obligation to make sure everybody can participate in the next generation of broadband services, USA Today reported Wednesday.

In an interview with the newspaper, Martin said he planned to turn his vision into reality by using a section of wireless airwaves set to be auctioned next year.


Pilot threatened to crash plane into mall. FBI okay with that

Blue Ridge pilot faces no immediate charges for unauthorized flight

Neither Roanoke nor the FBI plans to press charges, but the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating Monday's flight.

By Amanda Codispoti

The pilot who took off from Roanoke Regional Airport on Monday without authorization after he threatened to crash into Smith Mountain Lake will likely not face any criminal charges.

However, the Federal Aviation Administration has opened an investigation to determine whether he violated federal regulations, said Jim Peters, a spokesman for the FAA.



India, Russia sign protocol on military technical cooperation

Military and Security 8/19/2008 5:33:00 PM

NEW DELHI, Aug 19 (KUNA) -- India and Russia Tuesday signed a protocol on military technical cooperation, as part of efforts to boost bilateral military ties.

"The 8th meeting of the Indo-Russian Working Group on shipbuilding, aviation and land systems was held here on August 18-19 within the framework of the Indo-Russian inter-governmental commission on military technical cooperation. A protocol was signed by both sides at the end of the working group meeting," according to an Indian Defence Ministry statement issued after the meeting. "The talks were held in highly professional manner in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual understanding," the Ministry said. The two countries exchanged views on implementation of current projects like T-90 Tanks, Missile systems, various shipbuilding activities and aviation sector projects like the fifth generation fighter aircraft and multi-role transport aircraft. They also agreed to take steps for ensuring their successful implementation. "The working group noted the progress that have been achieved in the development of military and technical co-operation and agreed to take measures to further develop cooperation between the two countries," the Ministry stated. (end) dr.gta KUNA 191733 Aug 08NNNN



Law and order: Curfew America

War zone security has arrived in the US as cities are shut down at night by police struggling to control a deadly wave of gun crime. David Usborne reports from Hartford, Connecticut

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The police state has not arrived quite yet but it may feel like it to the residents of some American cities, where a handful of embattled mayors and police chiefs are imposing strict and sometimes sweeping curfews as a last resort to quell new waves of gun violence this summer.

"We must do this because we cannot and will not tolerate innocent people, especially children, to be victims," insists Eddie Perez, the Mayor of Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, where a night-time curfew was introduced last week and will remain in effect for a month for those under 18 years old.

Nor are there any apologies from the authorities in Helena-West Helena on the banks of the Mississippi in Arkansas, small pockets of which are under a24-hour curfew that all ages must respect. Police are enforcing it, moreover, with night-vision goggles and M16 military rifles.


Journalists and their good friends in the White House

Glenn Greenwald
Wednesday Aug. 20, 2008 08:01 EDT
(updated below)

The Washington Post's White House reporter, Michael Abramowitz, was asked yesterday during a chat to name some of his "favorite people who work at the White House but who are not in the spotlight," and Abramowitz happily and easily offered a long list:
I like your question. One of the things you find in covering the White House is that many of the staff are extremely friendly and dedicated, and it's fun to get to know some of them. The truth is reporters tend to hang out with the people in the [White House] press office, so the names I might give you tend to be lower-level press aides, like Carlton Carroll, Stuart Siciliano and Pete Seat -- and spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore. They are extremely helpful to me (and I don't mean this list to be all-inclusive.) I also enjoy talking with deputy chief of staff Joel Kaplan and deputy national security adviser Jim Jeffrey -- I wouldn't be surprised if Joel is one day a cabinet officer or a CEO somewhere. He has an interesting life story -- he joined the Marines after graduating from Harvard, then became a lawyer and is basically the top aide to Chief of Staff Josh Bolten.
Of course, Joel and others I mention are extremely discreet, so it's not like anyone is really dishing on the president! You need to look elsewhere for that.



Denver 2008: Hope Is For The Weak

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Presidential Politics 2008 - Obama
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
hope_bongby BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon
As the Democratic wing of America's permanent ruling party convenes in Denver, Democrats have dominated the Congress for almost two years. There are more US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than in 2006 but no Democratic deadline to end these useless, predatory wars. 1.1 million African Americans languish behind bars while the dispossession and exile of hundreds of thousands of blacks from the Gulf Coast begins its fourth year. The convention will be a media circus and will culminate with the co-branding of Barack Obama with Dr. King's 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech is intended to establish deep symbolic references between the two in the minds of voters, despite their diametrically opposed politics.
Hope is a powerful drug indeed.

Denver 2008:  Hope Is For The Weak

by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

You know you're addicted to a drug when you need it just to feel normal. By that standard, African Americans have been addicted to hope for a long, long time. Nothing wrong with that. As Robert Jensen of the University of Texas, from whom the title of this piece is borrowed points out, hope is seductive, it's attractive, and when times are hard, hope is absolutely necessary. We're all quite naturally attracted to those full of hope, while we pity or shun those without it. But if hope is much like a drug, it's also a lot like capital. Hope can be invested, wisely based on facts and a sober analysis of the forces in play, or it can be squandered foolishly, based on wishful thinking and outright lies. The air in Denver the last week of August will be full of hope. And full of lies.

Since hope is a limited thing, and sometimes all that we have, Jensen suggests that we ought to be realistic and tough-minded about where we invest it and how.  The nomination of the Democratic party's first black candidate is an historic occasion, to be sure.  But what is there in Denver to invest our hopes in?



US Blogger Jailed in Beijing

Brian Conley Jailed in Beijing

August 20, 2008

Brian Conley Brian Conley, video journalist and creator of Alive in Baghdad has been jailed in Beijing, China, according to sources. He was there as an activist and a citizen journalist, which is no stretch for Brian. He’s lobbed himself into hostile territory ever since I’ve known him: Iraq, Mexico, and now China.

The whole story is here. I received my notification by Josh, who also points out the need to bring this story to a much larger stage than our blogs.



McCain's Foreign Policy Judgment Is Questionable: Cato

by Ted Galen Carpenter and Malou Innocent

Ted Galen Carpenter is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington. Malou Innocent is a Cato Institute foreign policy analyst.

Added to on August 19, 2008

This article appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on August 19, 2008.

A major theme of John McCain's campaign is that he has far more experience in foreign affairs than does Barack Obama. McCain has now escalated his attacks by targeting Obama's judgment as well — especially the latter's pessimism about the effectiveness of the surge in Iraq.

There is little doubt about McCain's lengthier foreign policy experience. But it is not at all apparent that his judgment is superior to Obama's. Indeed, the record indicates that McCain's own judgment is alarmingly bad.

Even if one concedes that Obama was excessively negative about the surge's prospects for success (and the jury may be out on that point for months or even years to come), McCain's own prognostications on Iraq have repeatedly been off the mark. He was not prescient about the course of the war: As senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee prior to the invasion, McCain predicted Iraq would be a quick and easy victory, and even told MSNBC he had "no doubt" U.S. troops "will be welcomed as liberators."


Is war in air in the Gulf?


Thursday, August 14, 2008


No sooner was there an end to Operation Brimstone - a joint U.S., British and French naval megaexercise held in the Atlantic Ocean, where the allies practiced enforcing an eventual blockade on Iran - than, according to numerous reports, the armada set sail for Gulf waters and a potential showdown with Iran.

The move came shortly after the European Union issued a decree Friday authorizing the imposition of stronger sanctions against Iran, on top of existing U.N. Security Council sanctions, over its refusal to back down from its controversial nuclear program.

Leading the joint naval task force is the nuclear-powered carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt and its Carrier Strike Group 2. In addition to the 80-plus warplanes the Roosevelt normally transports, it is carrying an additional load of Rafale fighter jets from the French carrier Charles de Gaulle, currently in dry dock.


Stagflation a Weapon of Mass Wealth Destruction

Economics / Stagflation Aug 19, 2008

By: Richard C. Cook

U.S. wholesale prices in July 2008 grew at the fastest rate since 1981. The cost of materials has risen 9.8 percent in the last twelve months, according to government data. While gasoline prices fell the week of August 18 to $3.74 a gallon, they remain far higher than the $2.40 a gallon of mid-2005. Meanwhile, the price of food at the grocery store continues to climb, while consumer purchasing power remains stagnant.

According to analyst Michael Hodges, average family income adjusted for inflation declined six percent from 1999 to 2005, and the drop has continued since then. With families no longer able to borrow on their shrinking home equity for purchasing power due to the collapse of the housing bubble, they have had to tap into their savings. According to Hodges, “As of summer 2007, savings were a negative 1.3 percent, an all-time low.” ( Grandfather Economic Report , August 2008)

The government claimed that GDP grew during the 2nd quarter of 2008—hence no recession—admitting at the same time that the chief driver of growth was the economic stimulus rebates sent by the IRS to taxpayers.


Petraeus Book 'Endorsement' Draws Fire

Petraeus Book 'Endorsement' Draws Fire
August 20, 2008|by Bryant Jordan

Gen. David Petraeus is used to controversy surrounding the war in Iraq, but his publicized thoughts on an Army chaplain's book for Soldiers put him squarely in the middle of the ongoing conflict over religious proselytizing in the U.S. military.

The book is "Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel," by Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) William McCoy, and according to Petraeus' published endorsement of the work, "it should be in every rucksack for those times when soldiers need spiritual energy."

But the endorsement - which has spurred a demand by a watchdog group for Petraeus' dismissal and court martial on the grounds of establishing a religious requirement on troops - was a personal view never intended for publication, the book's author now says.



Germany outraged by data theft scandal

German politicians are being urged to tighten data protection laws after a state privacy watchdog said information on the entire German population was available and being traded online.

By Harry de Quetteville

Last Updated: 8:52PM BST 20 Aug 2008

Thilo Weichert, data commissioner from the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, also said that bank account details of up to 20 million people were also being bought and sold illegally.

His comments have added to a rapidly widening scandal that began last week in Schleswig-Holstein, when a compact disc of data arrived at the state's consumer protection agency.

On examining the disc, the agency discovered addresses and bank details on 17,000 individuals, which had been copied by a whistle-blower at a call centre where they were being used.



'Wash Post': Need for independent review of anthrax investigation

'Spore on the Grassy Knoll'

The FBI's latest anthrax case revelations highlight the need for an independent review of the investigation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008; A14

OFFICIALS AT the Federal Bureau of Investigation presented more evidence this week that they say identifies Bruce E. Ivins as the lone culprit in the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others. But even they acknowledged that the evidence is unlikely to win over skeptics. "I don't think we're ever going to be able to put the suspicions to bed," said Vahid Majidi of the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. "There's always going to be a spore on the grassy knoll."

In fact, the FBI's latest disclosure raised more questions than it answered. For example, the agency disclosed that in February 2002, Dr. Ivins provided a sample of anthrax from a flask in his lab labeled RMR-1029; the FBI destroyed the sample, though, because Dr. Ivins allegedly did not submit it using proper protocols. The FBI now says that the spores found in a duplicate sample of RMR-1029 provided by Dr. Ivins at the same time, but stored at a university in Arizona, are almost identical to the spores used in the attack. The agency again acknowledged this week that more than 100 individuals could have had access to RMR-1029; it has not yet explained how it eliminated everyone but Dr. Ivins as a suspect.

The case against Dr. Ivins will never be tested in court; Dr. Ivins committed suicide last month as the Justice Department was preparing to indict him. And while the FBI and Justice Department are right to share information with the public, the slow rollout and the selective nature of what the agency is able or willing to share are not the best way to assess the validity of its claims. To that end, an independent commission or the Justice Department inspector general should review the investigation as a whole. This examination should review the methods used by the FBI in investigating Dr. Ivins and, before him, Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, who was exonerated by the Justice Department this month. It should also examine how Dr. Ivins was able to maintain his security clearance at Fort Detrick despite apparently suffering from serious mental illness. Any review must also scrutinize the FBI's forensic evidence, especially its use of a new test that is said to identify specific strains of anthrax through genetic "fingerprinting." This review would best be done outside of the political arena by scientists with expertise in biological weapons.


Lake County sheriff putting himself in jail

Daily Herald
Daily Herald Staff Report
Published: 8/20/2008 6:52 AM

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran has been sentenced to jail - sort of.

Curran, who was elected sheriff of Lake County in 2006, has self-imposed a one week jail sentence on himself and will be incarcerated in the Lake County jail today at 11 a.m.

Curran has not said why he decided to stay in the jail for one week yet, however he said he will explain his decisions during a press conference held just prior to his incarceration.



DuPage Freedom of Speech Case Dismissed

Briefs: Protest trial set to begin: A trial is scheduled to begin today for anti-war protesters Jeff Zurawski of Downers Grove and Sarah Hartfield of Naperville, who are accused of disorderly conduct charges for their May 6, 2007, protest along I-355 near Glen Ellyn.



The trial was scheduled for August 20th, 1:30pm, 505 County Farm Rd, Room 4007, before Judge Ronald Sutter.

About 50 people took every chair in the packed courtroom. The prosecution's witness did not show up. By 2 pm the case was dismissed by Judge Sutter, at which the courtroom erupted in applause and a standing ovation.


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