Friday, November 30, 2007

A Mere Five Days

Short voting gap shapes presidential race - 30 Nov 2007 at 8:12am - NEW YORK (Reuters) - After more than a year of political campaigning and tens of millions of dollars raised and spent, some experts believe the contests to choose the Democratic and Republican nominees for U.S. president could be over in a mere five days.
Why shouldn't it be over in a single day?

Man holds hostages at Clinton campaign office - 30 Nov 2007 at 3:00pm - ROCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - A man claiming to have a bomb strapped to his chest has seized two hostages at a New Hampshire campaign office for Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton on Friday, police and witnesses said.
Quiz: Which cable or radio gasbag will be the first to publicly claim the hostage-taking was at Clinton's directive? For extra credit, how long will it take him/her to do it?

U.S. deaths in Iraq remain down - 30 Nov 2007 at 7:44am - The number of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq this month is headed toward the lowest monthly level since March 2006, reflecting a

Crackdown on Iraq Sunni leader after bombs found - 30 Nov 2007 at 8:33am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi security forces arrested dozens of people, including the son of a leading Sunni Arab politician, in a pre-dawn raid on Friday after a car rigged with explosives was found near the lawmaker's office.

Operation in volatile Afghanistan district declared a success - 30 Nov 2007 at 9:23am - Canadian commanders said Friday that troops have secured a strategically important area in the volatile Zhari district in southern Afghanistan.

Thought for the day:
There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president. -Kurt Vonnegut (1922 - 2007), "Cold Turkey", In These Times, May 10, 2004

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No Strings

Bush: Pass war bill before holidays - 29 Nov 2007 at 8:49pm - President Bush pressed Democrats to approve money to fund the Iraq war "without strings and without delay" before leaving town for the Christmas holidays.
Why shouldn't Congress press Bush to order U.S. troops out of Iraq "without strings and without delay" before leaving town for the Christmas holidays?

Australian troops to leave Iraq by mid-2008: Rudd - 29 Nov 2007 at 10:03pm - SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's prime minister-elect Kevin Rudd on Friday said that Australia's 550 combat troops in Iraq would be withdrawn by the middle of next year.

Iraqi contractors frozen out of U.S. - 29 Nov 2007 at 9:57pm - WASHINGTON -- Thousands of Iraqis whose support for the U.S. war effort in Iraq has put them and their families in grave danger at home are being excluded from a new fast-track system aimed at speeding up refugee resettlement in the United States for American allies, officials said Thursday.

Marines to cut armored vehicle orders - 29 Nov 2007 at 9:50pm - WASHINGTON -- The Marines plan to buy fewer bomb-resistant vehicles than planned despite pressure from lawmakers who are determined to spend billions of dollars on the vehicles.

In the News: Nov-29

Musharraf says to end emergency rule - 29 Nov 2007 at 10:36am - ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday he would end a state of emergency next month, bowing to domestic and international pressure to restore normal government ahead of general elections in January.

Police: Seized uranium for 'dirty bomb' - 29 Nov 2007 at 10:27am - Slovak police said Thursday they have identified as uranium the 2.2 pounds of radioactive material seized from three suspects who allegedly tried to sell it for $1 million.

Sen. Leahy: Bush not involved in firings - 29 Nov 2007 at 1:20pm - WASHINGTON -- A Senate chairman acknowledged explicitly on Thursday that President Bush was not involved in the firings of U.S. attorneys last winter and therefore ruled illegal the president's executive privilege claims protecting his chief of staff, John Bolten, and former adviser Karl Rove.

General opposes removing unit - 29 Nov 2007 at 2:11pm - WASHINGTON -- A Marine company involved in the shooting of civilians in Afghanistan last March responded appropriately to an ambush against them, and should not have been pulled out of the country, the commander of Marine Corps special forces said Thursday.

Thought for the day:
If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur. -Doug Larson

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Unacceptably High Costs

Bush shrinks federal pay raises - 28 Nov 2007 at 3:10pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush ordered Wednesday that federal workers living in more expensive regions of the country will get smaller pay raises than expected, citing what he called unacceptably high costs to the nation.
Funny how he never seems to mention the unacceptably high cost of continuing the War To Take Non-Existent Weapons Away From A Dead Man.

4th-graders losing ground on literacy - 28 Nov 2007 at 1:28pm - WASHINGTON -- U.S. fourth-graders have lost ground in reading ability compared with kids around the world, according to results of a global reading test.
Heckuva job, NCLB.

Iraq to give US$8 million to Jordan for hosting refugees - November 28, 2007 03:27:00 PM - AMMAN, 28 November 2007 (IRIN) - The Iraqi government will give Jordan US$8 million to help host the estimated 500,000 Iraqi refugees now living in the country.

U.S. general wants big cuts in Iraqi detainees - 28 Nov 2007 at 8:44am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The commander of U.S. prison camps in Iraq said he wants to cut the number of Iraqis in his custody by around two thirds by the end of 2008 as part of a wider counter-insurgency plan to bring down violence.

U.S. Military Struggles to Keep Army Captains - 28 Nov 2007 at 10:20am - Some of the Army's best captains are getting out of the war in Iraq. They are tired of long deployments and the strain on their families. But in hopes of getting captains to re-enlist for another three years, the military is offering a $35,000 bonus.

Army Captains Critique Iraq War - 28 Nov 2007 at 10:19am - A dozen former Army captains recently wrote a critical column for The Washington Post titled "The Real Iraq We Knew." They describe the war they experienced, sometimes during multiple tours. Many have questioned the officers' patriotism and political motivations.

12 states sue EPA for data on toxins - 28 Nov 2007 at 12:04pm - ALBANY, N.Y. -- Twelve states sued the Bush administration on Wednesday to force greater disclosure of data on toxic chemicals that companies store, use and release into the environment.

Thought for the day:
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. -Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In the News: Nov-27

Iraq: U.S. troops fire on bus carrying bank workers - 27 Nov 2007 at 5:19am - American troops fired on a minibus carrying bank employees to work Tuesday, killing as many as four passengers, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said two people were killed after the driver disregarded a warning shot and drove into an area limited to cars. The shooting took place in northern Baghdad's Shaab neighborhood, known as a Shiite militia stronghold, as the driver was collecting employees to go to work at Rasheed bank, police said.

Republicans threaten to cut aid to Iraq - 27 Nov 2007 at 11:04am - WASHINGTON -- Two Republican senators said that unless Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki makes more political progress by January, the U.S. should consider pulling political or financial support for his government. "If we don't see positive results by the end of the year I think you'll probably see a strong message coming out of Congress calling for a change in administration," [Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.] said in a conference call with reporters.
But no strong message calling for a reduction in U.S. troop commitment?

Top State Dept lawyer seeks U.S. clarity on torture - 27 Nov 2007 at 2:32pm - GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States, accused of using torture on terrorism suspects, should make clearer what it permits during interrogation and what it does not, the State Department's top lawyer said on Tuesday.

Thought for the day:
Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it. -Tallulah Bankhead (1903 - 1968)

Monday, November 26, 2007

In the News: Nov-26

Sen. Trent Lott to resign by end of year - 26 Nov 2007 at 8:52am - JACKSON, Miss. -- Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, plans to resign his seat before the end of the year, congressional and Bush administration officials said Monday.
We won't have Trent Lott's wig to kick around any longer. Pity.

Bush launches drive for Mideast peace - 26 Nov 2007 at 2:45pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israeli and Palestinian negotiators neared an agreement on Monday on a peace agenda as President George W. Bush launched a new drive to restart long-dormant talks to create a Palestinian state.
Somehow, the idea of Bush launching something sounds anything but peaceful.

'State secrets' doctrine draws scrutiny - 26 Nov 2007 at 9:56am - In federal courts and on Capitol Hill, challenges are brewing to a key legal strategy President Bush is using to protect a secret surveillance program that monitors phone calls and e-mails inside the United States.

Iraq forces better but not ready yet: U.S. general - 26 Nov 2007 at 9:07am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's security forces are improving but will not be ready to take control of as many provinces by the end of the year as the U.S. military had hoped, a top U.S. general said.

Putin accuses U.S. of meddling in Russia vote - 26 Nov 2007 at 12:41pm - ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin accused Washington on Monday of plotting to undermine December parliamentary elections seen widely as a demonstration of his enduring power in Russia.

Probe finds other DHS fake briefings - 26 Nov 2007 at 12:13pm - WASHINGTON -- The fake October news conference held by the Federal Emergency Management Agency was not the first time a Homeland Security public affairs official has acted like a reporter by asking questions during a briefing.

US, Iraq deal sees long-term US presence - 26 Nov 2007 at 2:14pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Monday signed a deal setting the foundation for a potential long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq, with details to be negotiated over matters that have defined the war debate at home - how many U.S. forces will stay in the country, and for how long.

Blackwater probe stifled by conflicts - 26 Nov 2007 at 2:37pm - WASHINGTON -- The State Department's acerbic top auditor wasn't happy when Justice Department officials told one of his aides to leave the room so they could discuss a criminal investigation of Blackwater Worldwide, the contractor protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

Thought for the day:
An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support. -John Buchan (1875 - 1940)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


U.S. military wary of Iranian pledges on arms flow - 21 Nov 2007 at 9:54am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Wednesday Iran must prove over time it is committed to stemming the flow of weapons into Iraq, adding a note of caution after a warming in Washington's tone towards Tehran.
Probably approximately as wary as Iran would be of any U.S. pledge to stop the flow of arms from the U.S. military to Sunni militias.

Taser reviewer had earlier concerns about stun gun usage - 21 Nov 2007 at 9:14am - Paul Kennedy, who was chosen to review the RCMP's use of Tasers says he had been previously concerned the force was "too casual" in its approach with the stun guns.

News organizations say access limited - 21 Nov 2007 at 12:43pm - WASHINGTON -- Five news organizations complained Wednesday that they are being denied access to much of the military commission proceeding against a Canadian terror suspect.

U.S. tightens screening of Canadians with visas - 21 Nov 2007 at 1:03pm - Canadians entering the United States with visas will have to scan 10 digits rather than just two under a newly expanded security program launching later in November.

Publisher: McClellan doesn't believe Bush lied - 21 Nov 2007 at 2:52pm - According to his publisher, Scott McClellan doesn't believe President Bush lied to him about the role of White House aides in the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

Thought for the day:
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. -Alvin Toffler

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Former Aide Blames Bush For Leak Deceit

Former aide blames Bush for leak deceit - 20 Nov 2007 at 4:36pm - WASHINGTON -- Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan blames President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for efforts to mislead the public about the role of White House aides in leaking the identity of a CIA operative. In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame. "There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes, according to a brief excerpt released Tuesday. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."
How does this info square with Scotty's grand jury testimony? With Cheney's leak-investigation "interview"?

In the News: Nov-20

Skin cells made to mimic stem cells - 20 Nov 2007 at 9:21am - Researchers have found recipes to give skin cells the power to turn into virtually any kind of human tissue ? a technique that could ease the ethical debate over stem cells.

Jury eyeing Blackwater in shooting of 17 - 20 Nov 2007 at 9:18am - WASHINGTON -- A federal grand jury is said to be investigating the role of Blackwater Worldwide security guards in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.

Two soldiers killed in Iraq helicopter crash - 20 Nov 2007 at 3:07pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A coalition forces helicopter crashed in Iraq on Tuesday, killing two soldiers and injuring 12, the U.S. military said.

Thought for the day:
Civilization degrades the many to exalt the few. -Amos Bronson Alcott (1799 - 1888), Table Talk (1877)

Monday, November 19, 2007

In the News: Nov-19

Bush homeland security adviser resigns - 19 Nov 2007 at 8:37am - WASHINGTON -- Fran Townsend, President Bush's top White House-based adviser on terrorism and homeland security, has resigned, it was announced Monday.

Poll: 79% of Cubans think Castro gov't can't fix problems - 19 Nov 2007 at 7:51am - The first authoritative poll of the aspirations and attitudes of Cuba's people reveals an overwhelming desire to elect the successors ...

U.S. Hopes to Use Pakistani Tribes Against Al Qaeda - 19 Nov 2007 at 8:34am - The new proposal is modeled in part on a similar effort by American forces in Iraq?s Anbar Province that has been hailed as a success in fighting foreign insurgents.

U.S. Says Attacks in Iraq Fell to the Level of Feb. 2006 - 19 Nov 2007 at 3:42am - New U.S. military data showed that attacks had declined to the lowest level since January 2006. It is the third week in a row that attacks have been at this reduced level.

Pakistan court bulldozes through rulings for Musharraf - 19 Nov 2007 at 7:29am - ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's Supreme Court, packed with government-friendly judges since the imposition of emergency rule, dismissed on Monday the main challenges to President Pervez Musharraf's re-election last month.

Ambulance carrying heart-attack patient delayed at U.S. border - 19 Nov 2007 at 12:31pm - Federal and provincial officials are calling for a review of border procedures after an ambulance rushing an Ontario heart attack patient to a U.S. hospital was held up at the border.

Iraqi forces arrest foreign security guards - 19 Nov 2007 at 2:41pm - Iraqi security forces arrested a number of foreign security guards after a shooting incident in central Baghdad, the capital's security spokesman said.

Thought for the day:
Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself. -Jean Francois Revel

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How Much Success Can the U.S. Afford?

Bush criticizes Democrats over Iraq war funds - 17 Nov 2007 at 6:38pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With Congress and the White House engaged in a long-running feud over war funds, President George W. Bush criticized Democrats on Saturday for holding up money he requested for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

According to a transcript of Bush's weekly radio address, he said, "during this time of war, our troops deserve the full support of Congress -- and that means giving our troops the funding they need to successfully carry out their mission."

Coalition 'cannot win' in Iraq or Afghanistan - 17 Nov 2007 at 8:07pm - One of Australia's top defence experts says the United States-led coalition cannot win the conflicts in either Iraq or Afghanistan.... "I think they're in the situation where the scale of resources that America has available, and the nature of the problems that it needs to deal with, simply preclude the United States achieving the kind of outcome that we all hope that we could find in Iraq - a stable government that controls the whole territory that governs more or less justly in the interests of all Iraqis, and so on."

State Dept official asks to cancel Blackwater hearing - 17 Nov 2007 at 7:35pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The lawyer for State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard asked on Saturday that he not be called to testify before Congress on discrepancies between his statements and those of his brother over the brother's ties to the Blackwater security firm.

Evidence of climate change 'unequivocal': UN report - 17 Nov 2007 at 6:52pm - Climate change could have far-reaching and irreversible consequences, a UN scientific panel warns in a report released Saturday.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Essence of Democracy

Musharraf swears in caretaker government - 16 Nov 2007 at 7:34am - President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Friday swore in a caretaker administration and declared he had "introduced the essence of democracy in Pakistan" as a a senior U.S. envoy traveled to the country to urge Musharraf to end the state of emergency.
"Essence of democracy"... nice. Bet Dick Cheney wishes he'd dreamt up that phraseology. Pakistan is a little late arriving here: the U.S. has been enjoying the "essence" of civil liberties for the last six years.

Army desertion rate highest since 1980 - 16 Nov 2007 at 11:47am - WASHINGTON -- Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

Senate Blocks Iraq War Money - 16 Nov 2007 at 11:44am - The Senate on Friday blocked a Democratic proposal that would have paid for the Iraq war but required that troops start coming home. The 53-45 vote was seven votes short of the 60 needed to advance. It came minutes after the Senate rejected a Republican proposal to pay for the Iraq war with no strings attached.

Court deals blow to wiretapping case - 16 Nov 2007 at 1:59pm - SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court dealt a near-fatal blow Friday to an Islamic charity's lawsuit alleging it was illegally wiretapped by federal investigators, saying that a key piece of evidence the charity planned to use is a protected state secret.

Thought for the day:
War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace. -Thomas Mann (1875 - 1955)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Panel Drops Immunity From Eavesdropping Bill

Panel Drops Immunity From Eavesdropping Bill - 15 Nov 2007 at 10:23pm - WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 — Reflecting the deep divisions within Congress over granting legal immunity to telephone companies for cooperating with the Bush administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a new domestic surveillance law on Thursday that sidestepped the issue. By a 10 to 9 vote, the committee approved an overhaul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that dropped a key provision for immunity for telecommunications companies that another committee had already approved. The Senate leadership will have to decide how to deal with the immunity question on the Senate floor.

In the News - Nov-15

U.K. court OKs extradition of al-Masri - 15 Nov 2007 at 9:59am - Radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri can be extradited to the United States to face trial on charges of supporting terrorism, a British court ruled Thursday.

U.S. tribal allies in Iraq angry over airstrikes - 15 Nov 2007 at 10:51am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces said they had killed 25 suspected insurgents in operations targeting al Qaeda militants near the capital, but Sunni Arab tribal leaders accused them on Thursday of killing pro-U.S. fighters.

France denies preparing new Afghanistan troop boost - 15 Nov 2007 at 10:34am - PARIS (Reuters) - France on Thursday denied a report that it is setting aside roughly 1,000 troops for possible deployment in Afghanistan, a move that would be a boon to the United States, which wants NATO countries to do more there.

Bush blasts Senate's judicial review - 15 Nov 2007 at 1:38pm - WASHINGTON -- In a blistering rebuke, President Bush on Thursday said the Senate's confirmation review of his judicial nominees has too often become a "search and destroy" mission that ruins a person's reputation.

Gates jawbones Hill on war spending - 15 Nov 2007 at 3:10pm - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that unless Congress passes funding for the Iraq war within days, he will direct the Army and Marine Corp. to begin developing plans to lay off employees and terminate contracts early next year.

Thought for the day:
An expert is a person who avoids small error as he sweeps on to the grand fallacy. -Benjamin Stolberg

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

George Bush & Republican Senators, Obstructionists

House votes Iraq troop withdrawal Bush would veto - 14 Nov 2007 at 10:44pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-led House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq, defying President George W. Bush by tying the measure to $50 billion in new war funds. By a vote of 218-203, the House sent the controversial plan to the Senate, where it faced an uphill fight as Republicans have vowed to block it. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called on Congress to send Bush a "clean" emergency funding bill, without withdrawal dates. "If legislation comes to the president in this form, he will certainly veto it," Perino said in a statement after the House vote.

In the News - Nov-14

Three U.S. troops killed in Iraq, blast in Baghdad - 14 Nov 2007 at 5:45am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Three U.S. soldiers were killed in two separate incidents in northern Iraq, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, the latest casualties in what has been the deadliest year of the war for U.S. forces.

Blackwater killed 14 Iraqis without cause: FBI report - 14 Nov 2007 at 6:06am - WASHINGTON (AFP) - FBI investigators have found that Blackwater guards shot 14 people with no justification in the controversial September 16 incident in Baghdad, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

CIA admits to recording interrogations of top al Qaida captives - 14 Nov 2007 at 7:47am - WASHINGTON — The CIA has three video and audio recordings of interrogations of senior al Qaida captives but misled federal judges about the evidence during the case against terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, federal prosecutors revealed in a Nov. 9 court filing that was made public Tuesday.

Anti-war Dems back new withdrawal effort - 14 Nov 2007 at 11:34am - WASHINGTON -- Three leading House anti-war Democrats said Wednesday they now back a $50 billion bill that funds the war but calls for most troops home by December 2008.

Bush promises to rebuild Justice Dept. - 14 Nov 2007 at 1:03pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush welcomed Michael Mukasey back into government Wednesday and promised to help the new attorney general rebuild the top leadership of the beleaguered Justice Department.
He doesn't think the farther away he stays from it, the better off it will be?

Thought for the day:
To be willing to die for an idea is to set a rather high price on conjecture. -Anatole France (1844 - 1924)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In the News - Nov-13

Domestic spying inquiry restarted at DoJ - 13 Nov 2007 at 3:23pm - WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department has reopened a long-dormant inquiry into the government's warrantless wiretapping program, a major policy shift only days into the tenure of new Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Judge orders White House to hold e-mails - 13 Nov 2007 at 4:50am - WASHINGTON -- A federal judge ordered the White House to preserve copies of all its e-mails, a move that Bush administration lawyers had argued strongly against.

'Hidden Costs' Double War Price - 13 Nov 2007 at 2:30pm - Study says wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost average U.S. family of four more than $20,000.

Iraq, Afghan war costs are $1.6 trillion - 13 Nov 2007 at 9:17am - WASHINGTON -- The economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to total $1.6 trillion - roughly double the amount the White House has requested thus far, according to a new report by Congress' Joint Economic Committee.

Teen with hairbrush shot to death by NYC cops - 13 Nov 2007 at 8:58am - A teenager in a dispute with his mother was shot and killed by police officers when he approached them with what they thought was a gun but later turned out to be a hairbrush, authorities said.

Bush vetoes health and education bill - 13 Nov 2007 at 10:44am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Tuesday signed a big increase in the Pentagon's non-war budget, and vetoed a spending measure for health and education programs prized by congressional Democrats.

Turkey sends special forces to Iraqi border - 13 Nov 2007 at 12:35pm - TUNCELI, Turkey (Reuters) - Four Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas on Tuesday and Turkey sent hundreds of anti-terrorism special forces to the troubled region bordering Iraq.

U.S. pulling 3,000 troops from Iraq's Diyala province - 13 Nov 2007 at 12:30pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military is sending 3,000 soldiers home from Diyala province, the second large unit to leave Iraq as troop levels are cut after a 30,000-strong "surge" earlier this year.

Reid threatens funds for Iraq war - 13 Nov 2007 at 12:57pm - WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that Democrats won't approve more money for the Iraq war this year unless President Bush agrees to begin bringing troops home.

U.S. Army reiterates waterboarding ban - 13 Nov 2007 at 1:23pm - WASHINGTON -- With Congress' approval of a new attorney general who refused to describe waterboarding as torture, the U.S. Army has sent out a message to its leaders repeating that the interrogation technique is prohibited in the military.

State extends time for Iraq volunteers - 13 Nov 2007 at 1:17pm - WASHINGTON -- The State Department has extended a window for diplomats to volunteer for Iraq duty in the hope the Bush administration can avoid ordering potentially unwilling candidates to serve in the combat zone, officials said Tuesday.

Reserve Bank board member calls for carbon tax - 13 Nov 2007 at 3:00pm - A member of the board of the Reserve Bank has warned that energy pricing needs to be revised if Australia is to cut its greenhouse emissions.

Thought for the day:
No matter how nice the company one might be with, however, it is never pleasant to have a rifle pointed at one's back. -Meg Cabot, (Jenny Carroll), Sanctuary, 2002

Monday, November 12, 2007

Final Victory Is Ours! (for the time being)

Iraq hopes to end Baghdad security plan soon - 12 Nov 2007 at 9:48am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's government hopes it will soon be able to declare an end to a U.S.-Iraqi security operation in Baghdad following a sharp drop in insurgent attacks in the capital, a military spokesman said on Monday. Brigadier-General Qassim Moussawi, Iraqi spokesman for the nine-month-old Baghdad security offensive, said the decline in violence would also allow the government to reopen 10 roads this month that had been closed for security reasons. "We are in the final stage of Operation Imposing Law .... Soon the prime minister will declare the final victory against terrorist groups and al Qaeda," Moussawi told Reuters.... Declaring an end to the operation would acknowledge security had improved but would be largely symbolic since tens of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops would be likely to remain in the city. The U.S. military declined to comment on Moussawi's remarks.

Iraqi Tribal Leaders Work to Improve Security - 12 Nov 2007 at 9:34am - On the outskirts of Baghdad, Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders are working to improve security. Attacks on American forces have dropped in these former insurgent strongholds largely due to U.S.-funded efforts to give temporary security jobs to young Iraqis.

Basra closes doors to displaced - November 12, 2007 05:57:00 PM - BASRA, 12 November 2007 (IRIN) - Basra province, 550km south of Baghdad, can no longer accommodate Iraqi families fleeing insecurity, according to local officials.

Refugees forced home as funds dry up - November 12, 2007 05:57:00 PM - BAGHDAD, 12 November 2007 (IRIN) - A growing wave of Iraqis are leaving Syria - not because they are confident of Iraq's future but because they have run out of money. Others are returning because the Syrian authorities have made it more difficult for them to stay as most Iraqis cannot work legally in Syria and have been surviving on savings or handouts from relatives.

Rice: Iran resolution doesn't OK war - 12 Nov 2007 at 12:18pm - WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday she does not believe a Senate resolution authorizes President Bush to take military action against Iran.

Thought for the day:
To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is Godlike. -Horace Mann (1796 - 1859)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In the News - Nov-07

Judge forces telcos to retain data in NSA spy case - November 06, 2007 11:46:00 PM - The judge overseeing the NSA surveillance case against several major telephone companies has ruled in favor of an EFF request to make the companies hold onto all relevant data.

Iraqis streaming home from abroad - 7 Nov 2007 at 8:17am - The number of Iraqis returning to their country is growing, with more than 46,000 people coming home last month, an Iraqi government spokesman said Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Army said 17 bodies were found in a mass grave northeast of Baghdad in an area troops have only recently been able to re-enter.

FBI Decries Ruling Blocking Security Letters - 7 Nov 2007 at 9:56am - FBI Director Robert Mueller speaks out against a ruling that blocks "National Security Letters." The letters are sent to companies like Internet service providers to obtain e-mail addresses and telephone numbers without approval by a judge. The ACLU sued and a New York judge agreed.

Review of spending on Bush firm sought - 7 Nov 2007 at 12:42pm - WASHINGTON -- The inspector general of the Education Department says he will review whether federal money is inappropriately being spent on education programs by a company founded by Neil Bush, the president's brother.

Graham: Border-security measure yanked from defense bill - 7 Nov 2007 at 1:29pm - WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Tuesday that Democrats had stripped from a defense spending bill a $3 billion border-security amendment that the Senate passed overwhelmingly last month.

Assembly call to sack Met chief - 7 Nov 2007 at 1:07pm - The London Assembly passes a vote of no confidence in Sir Ian Blair, the Met Police Commissioner.

US: Musharraf 'indispensable' - 7 Nov 2007 at 2:15pm - WASHINGTON -- Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told Congress on Wednesday that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is an "indispensable" ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism and that "partnership with Pakistan and its people is the only option."

State seeks $1.5 billion for Iraq - 7 Nov 2007 at 2:43pm - WASHINGTON -- The State Department's request for $1.5 billion to protect U.S. diplomats and a growing number of reconstruction teams on the ground is a pricey reminder that the war-torn country remains a dangerous place.

Thought for the day:
Mankind censure injustice fearing that they may be the victims of it, and not because they shrink from committing it. -Plato (427 BC - 347 BC), The Republic

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Open Letter To Senator Schumer

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer,
United States Senate

Dear Senator Schumer,

I'm disappointed by your vote in the Judiciary Committee on the Mukasey nomination, Senator. I think you know very well there are better potential Attorneys General out there. I believe generally in the concept of presidential prerogative where appointments are concerned, but George W. Bush hasn't earned it by virtue of his nominee choices -- and in his stubbornness in letting Alberto Gonzales go, he has proven himself especially in need of the Senate's guidance as provided through the confirmation process. I trust Mukasey isn't the nominee you thought him to be when you recommended him; I'm certain Mukasey is the nominee Bush hoped for.



14 Percent of Iraqis Now Displaced by War

GOP forces debate on Cheney impeachment - 6 Nov 2007 at 4:21pm - WASHINGTON -- House Republicans, changing course midway through a vote, tried to force Democrats into a debate on a resolution to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney on the grounds he purposely led the country into war against Iraq.

Report: 14 percent of Iraqis now displaced - 6 Nov 2007 at 4:37pm - WASHINGTON — The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction offered a generally optimistic picture of security developments in Iraq in his quarterly report to Congress on Tuesday, but noted that while violence was down, one of every seven Iraqis — 14 percent of Iraq's population — is now displaced by the war.

In the News - Nov-06

AP: Deadliest year for U.S. in Iraq - 6 Nov 2007 at 8:25am - Five more U.S. troops were killed in Iraq, the military said Tuesday — making 2007 the deadliest year for American forces in Iraq, according to an Associated Press count.

U.S. military in Iraq says to release 9 Iranians - 6 Nov 2007 at 8:50am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Tuesday it would soon release nine Iranians being held in Iraq, just days after U.S. officials noted several positive developments in Iran's role in Iraq.

Senate panel moves Mukasey nomination forward - 6 Nov 2007 at 11:25am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A divided Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved Michael Mukasey as U.S. attorney general despite concerns about the retired judge's refusal to denounce simulated drowning as unlawful torture.

$460B military bill omits war funds - 6 Nov 2007 at 11:48am - WASHINGTON -- House and Senate negotiators agreed Tuesday on a $460 billion Pentagon bill that bankrolls pricey weapons systems and bomb-resistant vehicles for troops, but has little for Iraq and Afghanistan.

20 held in Europe terror sweep - 6 Nov 2007 at 11:46am - A Europe-wide sweep disrupted an Islamic cell that was recruiting potential suicide bombers for attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, Italian police said Tuesday, announcing the arrests of 20 terror suspects.

Judges won't stop military commission - 6 Nov 2007 at 1:31pm - WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to block military commission proceedings against a Canadian detainee held at Guantanamo Bay.

Thought for the day:
If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. -Laurence J. Peter (1919 - 1988)

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Price of Imposing Martial Law

Western Nations Reconsider Pakistan Aid - 5 Nov 2007 at 11:51am - The Dutch government froze millions of dollars in environmental and educational assistance for Pakistan on Monday, as Western countries reviewed their aid to the nation in response to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's decision to impose emergency rule. Pakistan's most important ally, the United States, criticized Musharraf and said aid would be reviewed, but indicated that it was unlikely that money for the war on terrorism would be at risk.
What would Mushy have to do to risk losing the money? And exactly what part in the So Called War On Terror is Pakistan still playing (besides carrying out this martial-law trial)?

Experts: No evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons program - 5 Nov 2007 at 12:27pm - WASHINGTON — Despite President Bush's claims that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons that could trigger "World War III," experts in and out of government say there's no conclusive evidence that Tehran has an active nuclear-weapons program.

Alarmed US warns Pakistan relationship will change - 5 Nov 2007 at 12:55pm - WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States warned Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf Monday that "our relationship will not remain the same" unless he reverses course on a state of emergency and steers back to democracy.

Thought for the day:
A revolution is a struggle between the past and the future. -Fidel Castro (1927 - )

Friday, November 02, 2007

Complex Legal Question

Torture nuances stall Mukasey nomination - 2 Nov 2007 at 5:00pm - WASHINGTON -- Senate confirmation of Michael Mukasey as attorney general has snagged on a complex legal question of whether some Bush administration officials would face lawsuits or war crimes charges if, as Democrats insist, he defines waterboarding as torture.
But Bush insists the U.S. doesn't torture. Of course, Bush has demonstrated no more eagerness to define "torture" than has Mukasey.

Anbar leaders seek U.S. compensation for Qaeda fight - 2 Nov 2007 at 3:23pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sunni leaders from Iraq's Anbar province on Friday said they want billions of dollars as compensation for joining U.S. forces in the fight against al Qaeda militants.

Turks demand action, not words on Kurdish attacks - 2 Nov 2007 at 3:44pm - ANKARA, Turkey — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Friday branded the Kurdish PKK guerrilla force a "terrorist organization" and a "common enemy" of the United States, Turkey, and Iraq, but in crisis talks with Turkish officials, she stopped short of committing Washington to any form of military retaliation against the PKK.

Fiscally Irresponsible

Bush: Iraqis are 'taking back' Iraq - 2 Nov 2007 at 2:18pm - FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- President Bush said Friday that U.S. military deaths have fallen to their lowest levels in 19 months and the Iraqi people are slowly "taking back their country" in the wake of the American troop buildup there.
So the need for occupying forces should be diminishing, no?

Missile strike adds to Pakistan's complications - 2 Nov 2007 at 1:15pm - ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani villagers said a missile strike hit houses near a madrasa founded by an old friend of Osama bin Laden's on Friday, killing at least five people.

Rice to be subpoenaed in spy case - 2 Nov 2007 at 3:08pm - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and senior intelligence officials will be subpoenaed to discuss their discussions with pro-Israel lobbyists, a federal judge ruled Friday in an espionage case.

Sen. Leahy to oppose Mukasey for AG - 2 Nov 2007 at 2:45pm - MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Friday he won't support Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey, further undercutting his chances for a quick confirmation, because Mukasey hasn't taken a firm enough stand against torture.

Bush vetoes popular water projects bill - 2 Nov 2007 at 3:12pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Friday vetoed a popular bill that would authorize hundreds of water projects across the country, escalating a battle with congressional Democrats over domestic spending.... White House Press Secretary Dana Perino called the measure "fiscally irresponsible" and said Bush cast the fifth veto of his presidency before leaving for a trip to South Carolina.
Because the White House is all about fiscal responsibility.

Thought for the day:
One of the properties of music is to entertain and to -- I don't mean this lightly -- distract us from the things that pull us down. Music should be not only a source for political ideas, but also a source of hope. -Dave Matthews

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Iraqi made false WMD claim to bolster asylum bid: CBS - 1 Nov 2007 at 4:37pm - US television network CBS says it has identified a man known to intelligence agents as "curve ball," whose fake story of biological weapons drove the US argument for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Bush to Dems: Denial of war is dangerous - 1 Nov 2007 at 4:38pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush compared Congress' Democratic leaders Thursday to people who ignored the rise of Lenin and Hitler early in the last century, saying "the world paid a terrible price" then and risks similar consequences for inaction today.
I don't think Congress is ignoring the risks; on the contrary, I believe they're trying to do what they can to rein in Bush's & Cheney's power.

Gates: Contracting needs will be met - 1 Nov 2007 at 4:43pm - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the Pentagon intends to pursue a number of recommendations by a panel that said the Army needs another 2,000 military and civilian personnel to better manage contracts after years of waste, fraud and abuse.

In winning protest case, father vows to put church out of business - 1 Nov 2007 at 4:45pm - WASHINGTON — You can't falsely yell "fire" in a crowded theater. And if Albert Snyder gets his way, you won't be able to go to a military funeral and hold up a sign that says, "Thank God for dead soldiers."

Of Course He Does

Bush backs Mukasey on waterboarding - 1 Nov 2007 at 10:30am - President Bush, seeking to salvage the nomination of Michael Mukasey as attorney general, on Thursday defended the former judge?s refusal to say whether he considers waterboarding as illegal torture.

Bush: Questions to Mukasey on torture "unfair" - 1 Nov 2007 at 11:11am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday defended his attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey, who has come under fire from Senate Democrats for refusing to say if he thinks waterboarding is illegal torture.
No one who thinks that question unfair should is fit for the job of attorney general (or president).

Kurdish rebels call on Ankara for peace plan - 1 Nov 2007 at 9:33am - QANDIL, Iraq (AFP) - A top Kurdish rebel based in northern Iraq called on Ankara to present a peace plan that could end his group's two-decade armed rebellion against Turkey, in an interview with AFP on Thursday.

Turkey says sanctions to hurt only PKK militants - 1 Nov 2007 at 9:27am - ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey said on Thursday planned economic sanctions against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq would be targeted at groups providing support for the rebels.

Bomb kills 2 U.S. soldiers in northern Iraq - 1 Nov 2007 at 9:25am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two U.S. soldiers were killed and two wounded when a bomb exploded near their vehicle in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Wednesday, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

Army needs contracting personnel - 1 Nov 2007 at 6:41am - The demands of supplying soldiers in combat require an additional 1,400 military and civilian personnel with the authority to sign contracts, a new report finds.

London's Metropolitan Police convicted over de Menezes killing - 1 Nov 2007 at 10:47am - LONDON (AFP) - London's Metropolitan Police force was convicted Thursday of breaching health and safety laws after officers shot dead a Brazilian they mistook for a would-be suicide bomber in 2005.

At least 887 Iraqis killed in October - 1 Nov 2007 at 10:51am - BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least 887 Iraqis were killed in Iraq in October, ministry data showed on Thursday, slightly higher than September which saw a total of 840 people killed across the nation.

US general: Fewer roadside bombs in Iraq - 1 Nov 2007 at 12:26pm - WASHINGTON -- There has been a sharp decline in the number of the most deadly roadside bombs found in Iraq in the last three months, but it's unclear whether that's because Iranians have curtailed the flow of the weapons, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Baghdad said Thursday.

Iran-Iraq border trade heavy but no weapons found - 1 Nov 2007 at 1:42pm - BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Business is booming on the Iran-Iraq border. Despite a war in one country and Western sanctions against the other's nuclear program, trucks full of everything from fresh produce to furniture and clothes to consumer electronics trundle to the 1,400 km (900 mile) frontier every day.

Gulf Arabs offer to provide uranium to Iran: report - 1 Nov 2007 at 1:34pm - DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states are willing to set up a body to provide enriched uranium to Iran to defuse Tehran's stand-off with the West over its nuclear plan, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister told a magazine on Thursday.

Japan ends 'war on terror' mission - 1 Nov 2007 at 2:20pm - TOKYO (AFP) - Japan on Thursday ordered home ships engaged on a refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean, halting the close US ally's main role in the "war on terror" due to domestic opposition.

Thought for the day:
Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history. -George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)