Wednesday, April 30, 2008

In the News: Apr-30

Health savings accounts growing in popularity - 30 Apr 2008 at 3:04pm - WASHINGTON -- More than 6 million people are enrolled in health insurance plans that allow them to also open health savings accounts, nearly double estimates from just two years ago, according to new projections from the insurance industry.

Bin Laden's driver can send notes to detainees - 30 Apr 2008 at 2:57pm - A military judge on Wednesday ruled that Osama bin Laden's driver is permitted to sign a personal plea to alleged senior al Qaeda leaders segregated on this base, despite a U.S. government claim that it would breach national security.

US murky on judges' role in reviewing Guantanamo Bay cases - 30 Apr 2008 at 2:39pm - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration assured the Supreme Court last December that Guantanamo Bay prisoners who felt they were unfairly being detained could have their cases thoroughly reviewed by a federal appeals court. Now, it's not so clear.

Oil prices dive on healthy US crude reserves - 30 Apr 2008 at 1:39pm - LONDON (AFP) - Oil prices tumbled lower on Wednesday as traders reacted to buoyant US crude inventories and awaited an interest rate decision from the Federal Reserve, analysts said.

Pentagon officials may beef up command role in Afghanistan - 30 Apr 2008 at 1:07pm - WASHINGTON -- Pentagon officials are quietly considering a significant change in the war command in Afghanistan to extend U.S. control of forces into the country's volatile south. The idea is partly linked to an expectation of a fresh infusion of U.S. combat troops in the south next year.

US official: Iraqis to urge Iran to stop backing militias - 30 Apr 2008 at 1:04pm - MEXICO CITY -- A senior defense official says Iraqi leaders are hoping to present Iranian officials with the latest evidence that Iran is giving weapons and training support to militias in Iraq.

US report says al-Qaida gaining strength in Afghanistan - 30 Apr 2008 at 11:02am - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration reports a 16 percent increase in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2007 because of resurgent extremist activity there and in neighboring Pakistan.

U.S. group calls on Canada to list polar bears as threatened - 30 Apr 2008 at 10:50am - An American environmental activist group says it wants Canada to follow suit if the U.S. lists polar bears as a threatened species.

Can anything be done about skyrocketing oil prices? - Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - WASHINGTON — President Bush lamented Tuesday that there was no magic wand to wave to lower oil prices, but there are simple steps he could take to lower the soaring price of crude. Here are some answers to questions about making oil cheaper.

Army did not know it was firing at TV crew: Israel - 30 Apr 2008 at 9:26am - JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli troops were unable to identify Reuters News cameraman Fadel Shana as a journalist before they fired at him from a tank, the Israeli army said on Wednesday, citing the preliminary results of an investigation.

At least 925 killed in Iraq's Sadr City clashes - 30 Apr 2008 at 9:04am - BAGHDAD (AFP) - More than 900 people have been killed in clashes between militiamen and security forces in Baghdad's Sadr City that broke out last month, a senior Iraqi official told reporters on Wednesday.

Thought for the day:
To be feared is to fear: no one has been able to strike terror into others and at the same time enjoy peace of mind. -Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In the News: Apr-29

Ex Guantanamo prosecutor says terror trials were rushed - 29 Apr 2008 at 12:42pm - A former chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, testified on Monday that the Pentagon rushed to bring some of the accused terrorists to trial so that the process would be under way before President Bush leaves office.

Judge orders federal government to decide polar bear listing - 29 Apr 2008 at 10:48am - ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A federal judge has ordered the Interior Department to decide within 16 days whether polar bears should be listed as a threatened species because of global warming.

Drone attacks hit high in Iraq - 29 Apr 2008 at 10:22am - WASHINGTON — U.S. commanders in Iraq have ordered an unprecedented number of airstrikes by unmanned airplanes in April to kill insurgents in urban combat and to limit their ability to launch rockets at American forces, military records show. The 11 attacks by Predators — nearly double the previous high for one month — were conducted as the Pentagon has intensified efforts to increase the use of drones, which play an increasingly vital role for gathering intelligence and launching attacks in Iraq. Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates prodded the Air Force to do more to rush drones to the war zone.

BP, Shell profits soar on sky-high oil prices - 29 Apr 2008 at 8:29am - LONDON (AFP) - British energy giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell revealed Tuesday that their combined first-quarter net profits surged to almost 17 billion dollars (11 billion euros) thanks to record high oil prices.

Family of Canadian stranded by no-fly list to make public appeal - 29 Apr 2008 at 8:14am - The family of a Montreal man stranded in Sudan for five years because he's on a no-fly list will make a public plea to the Canadian government Tuesday to help bring him home.

Bill in Fla. Lets Schools Teach Evolution Alternatives - 29 Apr 2008 at 8:42am - Florida's legislature is working out the details of a bill that would either allow or require science teachers to present students with alternatives to the theory of evolution. It could signal a new opening in the perennial battle over evolution in public schools. Proponents say it's a matter of "academic freedom."

Thought for the day:
All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. -Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642)

Monday, April 28, 2008

In the News: Apr-28

Top N.J. federal prosecutor: Being undocumented not a crime - 28 Apr 2008 at 2:14pm - DOVER, N.J. -- New Jersey's top federal prosecutor told a Latino group that it is a civil offense - not a crime - for immigrants to live in the country without proper documentation.

Accused bin Laden driver walks out of hearing - 28 Apr 2008 at 2:19pm - GUATANAMO BAY, Cuba — Osama bin Laden's driver appeared at his war crimes trial Monday looking disheveled and threatened a boycott when a judge postponed until June a hearing on whether his confinement was affecting his mental health.

Its future uncertain, barrier on the border going up quickly - 28 Apr 2008 at 2:10pm - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. fence along the Mexican border is less a wall than a stuttering set of blockades: half barrier, half gaps.

Guantanamo prosecutor returns as defense witness - 28 Apr 2008 at 11:04am - GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - The former chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals was expected to appear as a defense witness on Monday, called in to testify that the tribunal process was too tainted to provide a fair trial for Osama bin Laden's driver.

Court rejects challenge to photo ID voting law - 28 Apr 2008 at 10:12am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to a law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, its most important voting rights ruling since Bush v. Gore settled the 2000 presidential election.

Thought for the day:
Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain. -John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

Friday, April 25, 2008

In the News: Apr-25

Sadr Tells Forces Not to Attack Iraqis - 25 Apr 2008 at 12:52pm - Moktada al-Sadr called on his followers to stop the bloodshed, unite with all Iraqis and focus their firepower on driving out the "occupation forces."

NY police cleared in 50-bullet wedding day shooting - 25 Apr 2008 at 2:23pm - NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three New York City detectives were found not guilty on Friday in the shooting death of an unarmed black man killed in a hail of 50 bullets on his wedding day, prompting angry reactions and a federal review of the case.

Ship hired by U.S. military fires warning shots in Gulf - 25 Apr 2008 at 1:28pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A cargo ship hired by the U.S. military fired warning shots at boats suspected to be Iranian, the U.S. Navy said on Friday, underscoring tension in the Gulf as the Pentagon sharpened its warnings to Tehran.

Trial recommended for Pendleton Marine in Iraq slayings - 25 Apr 2008 at 1:12pm - CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- A hearing officer recommended a court-martial for a Marine charged with murdering an Iraqi detainee captured during fierce house-to-house fighting in Fallujah, Iraq.

IAEA chief hits out at US, Israel over Syrian reactor claims - 25 Apr 2008 at 1:02pm - VIENNA (AFP) - The UN atomic watchdog Friday chided the United States for holding back intelligence that Syria was building a secret nuclear reactor with North Korea's help, but promised to investigate the claim.

Thought for the day:
The only alternative to coexistence is codestruction. -Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 - 1964)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

In the News: Apr-24

Warming shifts gardeners' maps - 24 Apr 2008 at 2:37pm - A growing number of meteorologists and horticulturists say that because of the warming climate, the 1990 map doesn't reflect a trend that home gardeners have noticed for more than a decade: a gradual shift northward of growing zones for many plants.

Terms to use and avoid when talking about terrorism - 24 Apr 2008 at 2:17pm - Some do's and don't's from the National Counterterrorism Center.

Senate bill protects government watchdogs - 24 Apr 2008 at 12:36pm - WASHINGTON -- Facing a possible White House veto, the Senate has passed a watered down version of legislation that would protect government watchdogs from political pressure.

US charges NKorea-Syria nuclear link - 24 Apr 2008 at 12:33pm - WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House and the CIA told key lawmakers in secret Thursday that North Korea helped Syria build a nuclear reactor at a site destroyed by an Israeli raid in September, officials said.

UN suspends aid to Gaza for lack of fuel - 24 Apr 2008 at 12:10pm - GAZA CITY (AFP) - The United Nations stopped distributing aid to the Gaza Strip on Thursday after running out of fuel as the Israeli terminal that supplies the besieged Palestinian territory remained shut.

Iraq's Maliki says factions agree to rejoin government - 24 Apr 2008 at 12:06pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Parties that walked out of Iraq's government last year have agreed to rejoin, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Thursday, in what could amount to a long-awaited political breakthrough.

Cuba accuses U.S. of fomenting dissent - 24 Apr 2008 at 11:53am - HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba accused the United States and local dissidents on Thursday of working together to subvert its government, the harshest warning it has issued to its opponents since a political crackdown in 2003.

House speaker calls on Bush to stop stocking oil - 24 Apr 2008 at 11:40am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday called on the White House to temporarily stop sending crude oil into the nation's emergency stockpile.

U.S. arms sales to OPEC at risk over oil: senators - 24 Apr 2008 at 11:36am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in the U.S. Senate stepped up their attacks on OPEC oil producers on Thursday, threatening to block multibillion-dollar arms sales to suppliers such as Saudi Arabia if they fail to take action to tame record oil prices.

Thought for the day:
All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed. -Sean O'Casey (1880 - 1964)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In the News: Apr-23

Carter says Secretary Rice "not telling truth" - 23 Apr 2008 at 12:57pm - ATLANTA (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of not telling the truth about warnings she said her department gave Carter not to speak to Hamas before a Middle East trip.
Dr. Mushroomcloud, lying? Who'd have guessed?

Fraud costs military health program $100 million-plus - 23 Apr 2008 at 2:41pm - MADISON, Wis. -- The U.S. military's health insurance program has been swindled out of more than $100 million over the past decade in the Philippines, where doctors, hospitals and clinics have conspired with American veterans to submit bogus claims, according to prosecutors and court records.

EPA scientists complain about political pressure. - 23 Apr 2008 at 11:54am - WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists complain they have been victims of political interference and pressure from superiors to skew their findings, according to a survey released Wednesday by an advocacy group.

Petraeus picked to lead Mideast command - 23 Apr 2008 at 10:46am - WASHINGTON -- The Associated Press has learned that Gen. David Petraeus, the four-star general who has been leading troops in Iraq, has been tapped to become the next commander of U.S. Central Command.

CIA director to give up military uniform - 23 Apr 2008 at 10:44am - WASHINGTON -- CIA Director Michael Hayden announced Wednesday he will retire from the Air Force in July after 39 years in uniform, but he will continue in his intelligence post as a civilian.

Thought for the day:
After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say "I want to see the manager." -William S. Burroughs (1914 - 1997)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In the News: Apr-22

Army veteran charged with passing secrets to Israel in '80s - 22 Apr 2008 at 12:45pm - NEW YORK -- A former U.S. Army mechanical engineer was arrested Tuesday on charges he slipped classified documents about nuclear weapons to an employee of the Israeli Consulate who also received information from convicted Pentagon spy Jonathan Pollard, authorities announced.

U.S. war costs could be under $170 billion: Pentagon - 22 Apr 2008 at 12:49pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon's budget chief on Tuesday said she expects the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal 2009 to be less than the $170 billion estimate given earlier this year by Defense Secretary Robert Gates when pressed by U.S. lawmakers.

Car bomb kills 2 U.S. Marines in Iraq - 22 Apr 2008 at 11:03am - The U.S. military says two American Marines have been killed in a suicide car bombing in Iraq.

Iraq frees detainees to help unburden prisons - 22 Apr 2008 at 10:49am - Mohammed Hussain Ghafur dabbed his watery eyes moments after his two young sons jumped into his waiting arms. In the 20 months ...

Iraq PM chides neighbors for lack of support - 22 Apr 2008 at 8:42am - KUWAIT (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki chided neighboring states on Tuesday for not beefing up ties with Baghdad or writing off Iraq's debts now that Saddam Hussein is gone and Iraq is no longer a threat to the region.

Rice: US warned Carter not to talk to Hamas - 22 Apr 2008 at 8:51am - KUWAIT CITY -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday the Bush administration explicitly warned former President Jimmy Carter against meeting with members of Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip and which is regarded by the U.S. as a terror group.

Thought for the day:
Wait until it is night before saying that it has been a fine day. -French Proverb

Monday, April 21, 2008

In the News: Apr-21

UK Surveillance Laws Raise Privacy Concerns - 21 Apr 2008 at 12:39pm - Local councils in Britain are using covert surveillance legislation designed to combat terrorism to investigate such petty offenses as under-age smoking and breaches of zoning regulations.

More convicted felons enlisting in Army, Marines - 21 Apr 2008 at 12:37pm - Under pressure to increase their numbers, the Army and Marine Corps have sharply raised the number of recruits with felony convictions they are admitting to the services.

Arab nations non-committal on Iraq debt, embassies - 21 Apr 2008 at 9:57am - MANAMA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received no firm commitments on debt relief for Iraq or greater Arab diplomatic representation in Baghdad after a meeting of Arab states on Monday.

Iraq to confront militias after Sadr threat - 21 Apr 2008 at 10:13am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's government will confront armed militias and not allow all-out war as threatened by populist Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Monday.

Pentagon chief says Air Force should do more - 21 Apr 2008 at 10:02am - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday the Air Force is not doing enough to help in the Iraq and Afghanistan war effort, complaining that some military leaders are "stuck in old ways of doing business."

Thought for the day:
Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right. -Laurens Van der Post, The Lost World of the Kalahari (1958)

Friday, April 18, 2008

In the News: Apr-18

Transportation secretary wants canceled flights explained - 18 Apr 2008 at 3:02pm - WASHINGTON -- Transportation Secretary Mary Peters is demanding that federal regulators and American Airlines explain why 250,000 U.S. air travelers endured canceled flights last week during safety inspections.

U.S. to televise Guantanamo trials to 9-11 families - 18 Apr 2008 at 8:40am - GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - The U.S. military will televise the Guantanamo trial of accused September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other suspects so relatives of those killed in the attacks can watch on the U.S. mainland.

Thought for the day:
Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy. -George Carlin (1937 - )

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In the News: Apr-17

Homeland Security employees not satisfied with their jobs - 17 Apr 2008 at 9:40pm - WASHINGTON -- Homeland Security Department employees mostly are an unhappy lot. An internal survey of about 141,000 of the department's 208,000 employees found that only 58 percent were satisfied with their jobs, the same as results from a 2006 survey that measured job satisfaction across the government. The department ranked at the bottom in the 2006 poll, which was conducted by the Office of Personnel Management.

Nearly 1 in 5 troops has mental problems after war service - 17 Apr 2008 at 9:39pm - WASHINGTON -- Roughly one in every five U.S. troops who have survived the bombs and other dangers of Iraq and Afghanistan now suffers from major depression or post-traumatic stress, an independent study said Thursday. It estimated the toll at 300,000 or more.

Bush says U.S. economy in "rough patch" - 17 Apr 2008 at 9:19pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said on Thursday the U.S. economy was in a "rough patch" but noted that steps have been taken to try to spur growth.

Pentagon institute calls Iraq war 'a major debacle' with outcome 'in doubt' - 17 Apr 2008 at 9:15pm - WASHINGTON — The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute.

Thought for the day:
Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true. -Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In the News: Apr-16

Stevens declares opposition to death penalty - 16 Apr 2008 at 3:08pm - WASHINGTON -- Justice John Paul Stevens, a key vote in upholding the death penalty 30 years ago, now says he believes capital punishment is unconstitutional.

Sole surviving son denied health benefits post-Iraq - 16 Apr 2008 at 3:00pm - Forced to leave the combat zone after his two brothers died in the Iraq war, Army Spc. Jason Hubbard faced another battle once he returned home: The military cut off his family's health care, stopped his G.I. educational subsidies and wanted him to repay his sign-up bonus. It wasn't until Hubbard, who had served in Iraq with his unit from Hawaii, petitioned his local congressman that he was able to restore some of his benefits.

Deadlocked jury forces 2nd mistrial in Miami terrorism case - 16 Apr 2008 at 12:04pm - MIAMI -- A federal judge declared another mistrial Wednesday against six men accused of plotting to spark an anti-government war by toppling Chicago's Sears Tower and bombing FBI offices.

White House vows to block add-ons to war funding bill - 16 Apr 2008 at 11:15am - WASHINGTON -- The White House promised again Wednesday it will block attempts by Democrats controlling Congress to add billions of dollars for domestic programs to a must-pass war funding bill.

Supreme court clears way for executions to resume - 16 Apr 2008 at 11:13am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a challenge to the lethal three-drug cocktail used in most U.S. executions, clearing the way for a resumption of executions halted since last September.

FBI says no new law needed for secret letters - April 15, 2008 - 5:07 PM - WASHINGTON - The FBI is resisting legislation that would put more restrictions on domestic surveillance of Americans' private records, saying the agency already has tightened its rules to crack down on wrongful use of national security letters.

U.S. military frees AP photographer - 16 Apr 2008 at 9:54am - The U.S. military has released Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein after holding him for more than two years.

FBI Lied To Support Need For PATRIOT Act Expansion - April 16, 2008 08:05:00 AM - I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "It probably won't surprise you, but in 2005, the FBI manufactured evidence to get the power to issue National Security Letters under the PATRIOT Act. Unlike normal subpoenas, NSLs do not require probable cause and you're never allowed to talk about having received one, leading to a lack of accountability that caused them to be widely abused. The EFF has discovered via FOIA requests that an FBI field agent was forced by superiors to return papers he got via a lawful subpoena, then demand them again via an NSL (which was rejected for being unlawful at the time), and re-file the original subpoena to get them back. This delay in a supposedly critical anti-terror investigation then became a talking point used by FBI Director Robert Mueller when the FBI wanted to justify their need for the power to issue National Security Letters."

Thought for the day:
It is easier to stay out than get out. -Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In the News: Apr-15

Gasoline prices surge to 3-year high - 15 Apr 2008 at 3:17pm - Gasoline prices across Canada surged to a near three-year high, according to the latest pump price survey by Calgary-based MJ Ervin & Associates.

U.S. and Britain shift the blame for high oil prices - 15 Apr 2008 at 1:47pm - LONDON (Reuters) - Britain and the United States blame OPEC for record high oil prices that have exacerbated a global economic slowdown, but some analysts believe the cause for oil's run-up may lie closer to home. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. President George W. Bush, both struggling to boost their slumping popularity, have pressed OPEC countries to open their taps to help ease oil prices. But some analysts believe oil is being driven more by a battered dollar, weakened by a U.S. housing market collapse and credit crunch.

McCain proposes consumer tax cuts to boost economy - 15 Apr 2008 at 2:54pm - PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful John McCain proposed a summer gas tax reduction and other tax cuts on Tuesday in a bid to reassure voters he would help them navigate an ailing economy.

U.S. court delays ruling on Khadr case - 15 Apr 2008 at 2:30pm - A U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington has reserved judgment on whether it will get involved in the case of Omar Khadr, the only Canadian imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

Hillier stepping down as head of Canada's military - 15 Apr 2008 at 11:29am - Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of Canada's defence staff, will step down July 1, CBC News has confirmed.

Justice Inquiry Centers on Rumors of Sexuality - 15 Apr 2008 at 10:52am - The Justice Department's inspector general has told lawmakers that he is investigating whether one of the agency's lawyers was dismissed over a rumor about her sexual orientation. The inquiry is part of a larger examination of personnel practices under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Thought for the day:
Beware of the man who won't be bothered with details. -William Feather (1908 - 1976)

Monday, April 14, 2008

In the News: Apr-14

Iraq's financial free ride may end - 14 Apr 2008 at 1:58pm - WASHINGTON -- Iraq's financial free ride may be over. After five years, Republicans and Democrats seem to have found common ground on at least one aspect of the war. From the fiercest war foes to the most steadfast Bush supporters, they are looking at Iraq's surging oil income and saying Baghdad should start picking up the tab, particularly for rebuilding hospitals, roads, power lines and the rest of the shattered country.

Iraq to seek parliamentary approval for long-term U.S. pact - 14 Apr 2008 at 12:52pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq will seek parliamentary approval for a strategic agreement being negotiated with the United States even though it expects heated debate over the deal, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said.

Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S. - Saturday, April 12, 2008 - The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation's most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea's legal authority.

Thought for the day:
The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -Lily Tomlin (1939 - )

Friday, April 11, 2008

In the News: Apr-11

Gates: Iran hikes support for militias - 11 Apr 2008 at 1:04pm - WASHINGTON -- Iranian support for militias in Iraq has grown, top U.S. defense leaders said Friday, asserting that recent battles in Basra gave the Iraqis an eye-opening view of Iran's increased negative role there.
Has the U.S. not also supported militias in Iraq? It's conceivable there are those in Iraq who see the United States' role in Iraq in a negative light. For example....

Al-Sadr Blames US for Aide's Death - 11 Apr 2008 at 1:35pm - BAGHDAD (AP) -- Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has blamed the United States and the Iraqi government for the death of a senior aide in the holy city of Najaf.

US Ambassador to Iraq says embassy ready - 11 Apr 2008 at 10:33am - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. ambassador to Iraq said Friday that American diplomats will start moving into the new embassy in Baghdad at the end of May, and should be safer in the more fortified complex inside the so-called Green Zone, which has been hit repeatedly by insurgent rocket fire.

Thought for the day:
When the rich wage war it's the poor who die. -Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 - 1980), The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Running Out the Clock

Bush embraces pause in troop cutbacks - 10 Apr 2008 at 9:08am - WASHINGTON -- Taking the advice of his top commander in Iraq, President Bush will not order additional troop drawdowns beyond July, leaving open the possibility that about 140,000 U.S. servicemen and women will still be in the war zone when the next president takes office.
Are we really so sure about who's advising whom?

So now we're back to exactly where we were before the "surge", with an intractable administration and Senate minority who can't or won't admit that every military objective in Iraq that's worth meeting has already been met. This is progress?

Another headline proclaims "Bush suspends summer troop pullouts from Iraq". I think I've mentioned this before, but I'm still puzzled: how is it possible to "suspend" that which you haven't yet begun, planned, or really, even given a moment's thought to?

Gates withdraws Iraq prediction - 10 Apr 2008 at 3:12pm - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday he has abandoned hope that troop levels in Iraq will drop to 100,000 by the end of the year.
Another indicator of the "success" of the surge.

Canadian film stars take fight against Bill C-10 to Ottawa - 10 Apr 2008 at 9:06am - Members of Canada's film and television industry will take centre stage on Parliament Hill Wednesday to voice their concerns over a proposed bill that would give the government the power to deny funding to productions it considers offensive.

Thought for the day:
If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. -Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In the News: Apr-09

Oil hits new record on sliding US inventories - 9 Apr 2008 at 3:19pm - NEW YORK (AFP) - Oil prices soared to new record highs Wednesday on news of an unexpectedly sharp drop in US energy inventories and a further decline in the value of the dollar.

Subpoena seeks EPA-White House documents - 9 Apr 2008 at 2:51pm - WASHINGTON -- A House committee chairman issued a subpoena Wednesday seeking records of contacts between the White House and Environmental Protection Agency officials concerning California's tailpipe emissions law.

Iraq judges: U.S. must free photographer - 9 Apr 2008 at 2:52pm - An Iraqi judicial committee has dismissed terrorism-related allegations against AP photographer Bilal Hussein and ordered him freed after nearly two years in U.S. military custody.

U.S. official: Egyptian Al-Qaeda chief died - 9 Apr 2008 at 1:34pm - Abu Obeida al-Masri, an Egyptian al-Qaeda chief responsible for attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan and linked to international terrorist plots, is dead, a U.S. counterterrorism official said Wednesday.
A mere coincidence, surely, that this news is announced as Petraeus & Crocker are testifying before Congress on progress being made in Iraq -- even though he actually died "within the last several months"; even though it had been thought he was already dead.

Thought for the day:
If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace. -John Lennon (1940 - 1980)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Biggest Obstacle

Iraq envoy predicts US troop reduction - 8 Apr 2008 at 2:57pm - WASHINGTON -- The Iraqi ambassador to Washington on Tuesday predicted a gradual reduction of U.S. troops there over the next few years, but says the biggest obstacle to withdrawal is the lack of a strong Iraqi security force.
Is anyone asking Petraeus what is being done by the U.S. in the way of training and equipping Iraqi security forces?

Thought for the day:
We don't know what we want, but we are ready to bite somebody to get it. -Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Abyss of Defeat

Iraq's Maliki threatens to bar Sadr from vote - 7 Apr 2008 at 8:20am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister raised the stakes in his showdown with followers of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, saying in an interview broadcast on Monday they would be barred from elections unless their militia disbands.
Is this move making political reconciliation more likely, or less?

McCain: Iraq No Longer Abyss of Defeat - 7 Apr 2008 at 8:24am - WASHINGTON (AP) -- Disregarding a serious flare-up of violence, Republican presidential candidate John McCain says the United States is "no longer staring into the abyss of defeat" in Iraq, opening a campaign week that will draw him and his Democratic opponents back to Washington to question commanding Gen. David Petraeus about the conduct of the unpopular war.
Is McCain saying that the U.S. was at some point staring into the abyss of defeat? I don't recall his ever having thus characterised the conflict.

Thought for the day:
All great truths begin as blasphemies. -George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), Annajanska (1919)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Turn the Page

Blackwater contract renewal sparks anger in Iraq - 5 Apr 2008 at 6:44pm - Iraqis have expressed anger at news the United States has renewed the contract of Blackwater, a private security firm blamed for killing up to 17 people in a shooting incident last year. "Renewing this contract means we will see this sort of thing again in the streets," Abbas Hasoun, a grocer, said. "I wish we could turn the page on this, but keeping this company here means bloodshed will continue."
Does renewing Blackwater's contract promote political reconciliation in Iraq?

Thought for the day:
After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one. -Cato the Elder (234 BC - 149 BC)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Beyond the Breaking Point

US favors more troops for Afghanistan - 4 Apr 2008 at 10:53am - ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that the U.S. intends to send many more combat forces to Afghanistan next year, regardless of whether troop levels in Iraq are cut further in the second half of this year.

Animal vets can't use execution drug - 4 Apr 2008 at 3:00pm - WASHINGTON -- Nearly all lethal injection executions have occurred in states where veterinarians are not allowed to use the same method to euthanize animals, according to a new study.

Dems signal lost hope in ending war - 4 Apr 2008 at 1:40pm - WASHINGTON -- Democrats signaled on Friday that they don't see much hope in ending the Iraq war this year so long as President Bush insists U.S. troops remain committed there in large numbers.

US defends detention of Chinese Muslim - 4 Apr 2008 at 1:42pm - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration argued Friday that when Congress authorized military action against the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists, it also gave the president the power to detain people who never took up arms against the U.S.

Dems plead with Bush on Iraq - 4 Apr 2008 at 11:24am - WASHINGTON -- Democratic leaders are pleading with President Bush not to hand the Iraq war off to the next president.

Iraqi PM freezes raids targeting militia - 4 Apr 2008 at 10:15am - BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's prime minister on Friday ordered a nationwide freeze on raids against suspected Shiite militants after the leader of the biggest militia complained that arrests were continuing even after he ordered fighters off the streets.

Massive Shiite protest planned in Iraq; more battles possible - 4 Apr 2008 at 8:48am - BAGHDAD — Firebrand Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr on Thursday called for a massive demonstration against the "occupation" of Iraq on April 9, which would coincide with the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and come just after U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker are to testify to Congress about progress in Iraq.

Iraqi PM seeks to ease tensions with militia - 4 Apr 2008 at 9:05am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Friday his security forces would stop arresting militiamen if they give up their weapons, apparently seeking to defuse tensions with Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Thought for the day:
Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable. -John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 - 2006)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

In the News: Apr-03

Iraqi PM vows to launch more assaults against militiamen - 3 Apr 2008 at 3:15pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday said he planned to launch more crackdowns on militiamen as radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a massive anti-US protest next week.

Lawmakers heavily invested in defense - 3 Apr 2008 at 2:38pm - WASHINGTON -- A new study finds that members of Congress have as much as $196 million collectively invested in companies doing business with the Defense Department, earning millions since the onset of the Iraq war.

Iraq's Sadr calls million-strong march against U.S - 3 Apr 2008 at 9:53am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on Thursday for 1 million Iraqis to march against U.S. "occupation" next week after his Mehdi Army militia battled U.S. and government troops.

Thought for the day:
He who loves the world as his body may be entrusted with the empire. -Lao-tzu (604 BC - 531 BC)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

In the News: Apr-02

Body armor questioned - 2 Apr 2008 at 2:55pm - WASHINGTON -- The Army can't be sure some of its body armor met safety standards, partly because it didn't do proper paperwork on initial testing of the protective vests, a Defense Department audit said.

U.S. troop cut in Iraq to continue - 2 Apr 2008 at 2:31pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon will keep pulling troops out of Iraq through July despite an increase in violence, but then will halt withdrawals to assess the security situation, the top U.S. military officer said on Wednesday.

Iraq violence still a problem, says U.S. envoy - 2 Apr 2008 at 2:02pm - One week before his testimony before Congress, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said Wednesday that Iraq has dramatically improved over the past year but that violence which has occurred in recent weeks still remains a problem.
The fact that the violence which has occurred in recent weeks was instigated by the government is especially problematic.

Pentagon lauds Iraq leadership - 2 Apr 2008 at 1:52pm - WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon's top military official on Wednesday praised Iraq's government for going after militiamen in the southern city of Basra.
How does going after militiamen in Basra further the goal of political reconcilation?

States sue EPA over global warning - 2 Apr 2008 at 11:40am - BOSTON -- A group of state attorneys general is taking the EPA back to court to try to force it to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that rebuked the Bush administration for inaction on global warming.

Pentagon may close post-9/11 intelligence unit - 2 Apr 2008 at 10:13am - A plan to reorganize Pentagon intelligence activities proposes closing a controversial office that was criticized for improperly storing information on peace activists and others whose actions posed no threat. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is considering a recommendation to shut down the Counterintelligence Field Activity office and put some of its operations under the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Bush sets out to salvage legacy on world stage - 2 Apr 2008 at 9:13am - BUCHAREST (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush sought to salvage his legacy on the world stage on Wednesday by defending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and appealing to Russia to drop opposition to a missile defense shield.
For purposes of salvaging his legacy, it would probably be best for him to mention Iraq as infrequently as possible.

Thought for the day:
Money doesn't always bring happiness. People with ten million dollars are no happier than people with nine million dollars. -Hobart Brown

Time of War

Torture memo released by Pentagon - 1 Apr 2008 at 8:56pm - WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon on Tuesday released a now-defunct legal memo that approved the use of harsh interrogation techniques against terror suspects, saying that President Bush's authority during wartime trumps any international ban on torture.
We'll never, never, never, never, ever torture -- unless we're at war and we have our fingers crossed? The Bush administration has used the commander-in-chief's-authority-in-time-of-war argument to justify pretty much every one of its violations of the Geneva Conventions. But if laws meant to regulate conduct during wartime don't apply during wartime, when are they thought to apply?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Iraq PM proclaims Basra assaults 'a success' - 1 Apr 2008 at 8:59am - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Tuesday that a crackdown on Shiite militiamen in Basra was a "success" and that 10,000 extra troops would be recruited to keep order in the southern oil hub.
Keep order? Things seemed relatively orderly before Maliki himself ordered the Iraq army to stir up the Mehdi Army and its supporters.

Does the fact that Maliki has assessed that he was 10,000 troops short of accomplishing whatever-it-was-he-was-trying-to-accomplish lend credibility to his claim of success?

It was such a "success" that:

Basra residents hit by surging food, fuel prices - March 31, 2008 06:27:00 PM - BAGHDAD, 31 March 2008 (IRIN) - Residents of Iraq's second-largest city of Basra are breathing a sigh of relief after Shia radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his militia to end the clashes with government forces which erupted on 25 March.
Such a "success" that:

Iraqi casualties at highest level since August - 1 Apr 2008 at 8:31am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Fighting between Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militiamen last month has driven civilian deaths in the country to their highest level in more than six months, government figures showed on Tuesday.
Such a "success" that:

Britain postpone Iraq pullout - 1 Apr 2008 at 12:21pm - Britain has announced that it will postpone plans to pull up to 1,500 troops out of Iraq, citing the recent unrest in the southern city of Basra.

Congress grills oil execs on pump prices - 1 Apr 2008 at 12:15pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Five U.S. oil company executives appeared on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to explain why they were not to blame for record-high gasoline pump prices even as they reported $123 billion in profits in 2007.

Scientist: CDC bosses ignored warning - 1 Apr 2008 at 12:27pm - WASHINGTON -- A federal scientist said Tuesday his bosses ignored pleas to alert Gulf Coast hurricane victims about formaldehyde dangers in government-issued trailers and told him last year not to write e-mails about his warnings of potentially widespread health problems.

Rules may be waived for border fence - 1 Apr 2008 at 11:58am - WASHINGTON -- Federal officials say the Bush administration will bypass more than 30 laws and regulations in an effort to complete 670 miles of fence along the southwest U.S. border by the end of this year.

NYC Lawyers Subpoena Code - April 01, 2008 07:46:00 AM - RonMcMahon writes "Lawyers for the city of New York have subpoenaed the text message records of thousands of people involved in demonstrations at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Tad Hirsch, creator of the TXTmob code that enabled convention demonstrators to transmit messages to thousands of telephones, has been instructed to release the content of messages exchanged on the service and to identify people who sent and received messages. Hirsch argues that release of such information would be a violation of users' First Amendment and privacy rights. 'I think I have a moral responsibility to the people who use my service to protect their privacy,' said Hirsch."

Thought for the day:
An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought. -Simon Cameron (1799 - 1889)