Friday, May 30, 2008

In the News: May-30

U.S. emissions bill a "first step": U.N. climate chief - 30 May 2008 at 2:16pm - OSLO (Reuters) - A bill going to the U.S. Senate next week seeking deep cuts in U.S. greenhouse gases by 2050 is a "first step" but not enough to avert damaging climate change, the head of the U.N. Climate Panel said on Friday.

Court: Voting Rights Act provision deemed constitutional - 30 May 2008 at 12:40pm - WASHINGTON -- A federal court says a key component of the Voting Rights Act is constitutional. Under the landmark law, states with a history of racial discrimination must get Justice Department approval before making any changes in the way elections are conducted. A city utility board in Austin, Texas challenged that requirement as unconstitutional. But a three-judge panel of district and appellate judges in Washington unanimously rejected that stance Friday. They said racial discrimination in voting persists and it was constitutional when lawmakers in 2006 extended the act for another 25 years. Civil rights groups opposed the challenge, saying the law was necessary to prevent voters from being denied access to the polls.

U.S. troop deaths in May near lowest level of war - 30 May 2008 at 10:36am - May has been one of the least violent months in Iraq, and the number of U.S. servicemembers killed is near its lowest level of ...

Rice denies rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay - 30 May 2008 at 9:38am - REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday rejected allegations that terror detainees held at Guantanamo Bay are being abused.

Sadr Supporters Protest Iraq-U.S. Military Alliance - 30 May 2008 at 8:31am - Supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr staged a big march in Baghdad on Friday to voice their opposition to any long-term military agreement between Iraq and the United States.

Under Fire, White House Releases Report About Global Warming - May 29, 2008 - Today, the White House finally released an overdue report on the comprehensive impact of global warming on the United States. It is the first such report from the Bush administration since it took office more than seven years ago. Starting to catch up with the understanding long agreed on by the world's climate scientists, the report says, "It is likely that there has been a substantial human contribution to surface temperature increases in North America."

Thought for the day:
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny ...' -Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

If You Believe Like I Believe

McClellan says he believed in Bush as war started - 29 May 2008 at 9:03pm - WASHINGTON -- Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan defended his bombshell book about the Bush administration on Thursday, saying he didn't speak up against the overselling of war in Iraq at the time because he, like other Americans, gave the president the benefit of the doubt.
Where there is a question of whether to support (to say nothing of asking -- as the President's spokesman -- others to support) sending your compatriots' children into war, why would you give anyone the benefit of the doubt?

In the News: May-29

Prosecutor: Marine covered up Iraqi civilian killings - 29 May 2008 at 12:32pm - A Marine intelligence officer lied to investigators to help cover up a squad's illings of 24 Iraqis, including women and children, a prosecutor said Thursday during opening statements in the officer's court-martial. First Lt. Andrew Grayson is the first of three defendants in the Haditha, Iraq, killings to go to trial.

Military confirms that a Marine gave Bible verses to Iraqi Muslims - 29 May 2008 at 12:45pm - BAGHDAD, Iraq — The U.S. military confirmed Thursday that a Marine in the Iraqi city of Fallujah was passing out coins with Gospel verses on them to Sunni Muslims, a U.S. military spokesman in Fallujah told McClatchy Thursday.

New York state agencies recognize gay marriages - 29 May 2008 at 10:03am - NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York state has instructed all state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages conducted out of state or abroad and to give the same benefits to gay married couples as to other married couples.

Army suicides reported at 2-decade high - 29 May 2008 at 10:18am - WASHINGTON -- Pentagon officials say there were fewer Army suicides last year than they had feared. But it was still the highest number in almost two decades.

Rice says Bush clear about Iraq war - 29 May 2008 at 10:04am - STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday rejected allegations from a former White House spokesman who says the Bush administration misled the American public into going to war with Iraq. Rice would not comment specifically on charges made by ex-press secretary Scott McClellan in a new book, but said President Bush was honest and forthright about the reasons for the war. She also said she remained convinced that toppling Saddam Hussein was right and necessary. "The president was very clear about the reasons for going to war," she told reporters at a news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in Stockholm where she is attending an international conference on Iraq. Chief among those reasons was the belief, shared widely before the war, that Saddam Hussein had or was developing weapons of mass destruction, Rice recalled, suggesting the international community shouldn't have backed harsh sanctions against Iraq if it doubted the threat.
What was the basis for that belief? Is Rice claiming that a basis sufficient for backing sanctions is sufficient for initiating a war? Even if she thought so at the time, it should be clear to her now that making such a leap of logic would be a monumental mistake.

Rice says Iraq war was right thing to do - 29 May 2008 at 9:32am - STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended on Thursday the Bush administration's record in Iraq after sharp criticism of the war in a new book by a former White House spokesman.
"So the story is there for everyone to see. You can't now transplant yourself into the present and say we should have known things that we in fact did not know in 2001, 2002, 2003. The record on weapons of mass destruction was one that appeared to be very clear," Rice said.
The question is why, in 2001, in 2002, and in 2003, did members of the Bush administration claim to have known things that they did not know.

U.S. Commander: Iran War Would Be 'Disastrous' - May 28, 2008 - The top U.S. Navy official in the Persian Gulf warned in an interview with ABC News that war with Iran would be "pretty disastrous," with "echoes and aftershocks" reverberating throughout the region. Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, the top U.S. Navy official in the Persian Gulf, told ABC News that war with Iran would be "disastrous," and that the ideal way to interact with the country is through diplomatic methods. "Nobody I've spoken to suggests that going to war with Iran is a good thing," Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff told ABC News. "The preferred path by far is the diplomatic path, keep working with the international community to bring the right sort of pressure to bear on the Islamic Republic of Iran."
H/T Lynn Samuels

Gas prices keep climbing even as oil prices drop - 29 May 2008 at 7:58am - NEW YORK (AP) -- The gasoline price record keeps getting broken with each passing day. AAA puts the national average for a gallon of regular at a record $3.95. It's jumped 35 cents in the past month and is 76-cents-a-gallon higher than a year ago....

Thought for the day:
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened. -Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In the News: May-28

Former press secretary's book bashes Bush - 28 May 2008 at 8:21am - WASHINGTON -- Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has written that President Bush relied on a propaganda campaign to sell the Iraq war in the place of honesty and candor.
No kidding.

McClellan memoir rankles White House - 28 May 2008 at 12:47pm - White House aides and former administration officials seemed stunned, puzzled and angry over the scathing tone of a memoir by former press secretary Scott McClellan. "Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House," said White House press secretary Dana Perino. "For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad — this is not the Scott we knew." Perino said the reports on the book, titled What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, had been described to President Bush, and that she did not expect him to comment. "He has more pressing matters than to spend time commenting on books by former staffers," she said.
OK, so he's not commenting....

Bush says country must not lose its nerve in Iraq - 28 May 2008 at 12:52pm - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- President Bush says the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan is difficult and unprecedented, and "we're learning as we go." The president looked back to the experience of World War II, the deadliest conflict in history, in again asking the country for patience as the United States fights two wars. "We've assumed this obligation before," Bush told more than 1,000 graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy at a cold, drizzly football-stadium ceremony.
Bush says his own country must not lose its nerve. He said terrorist enemies, using the media and the never-ending news cycle, attack innocent people to weaken American resolve. "We need to prevail not just in the battle of arms, but also in the battle of wills," Bush said. "And we need to recognize that the only way that America can lose the war on terror is if we defeat ourselves."
Which is worse: actual terrorist attacks, or the media coverage thereof? Bush appears focused on the media coverage.

Is the U.S. not already defeating itself by persisting in a pointless military occupation of Iraq?

Britain to scrap all cluster bombs: PM - 28 May 2008 at 1:40pm - LONDON (AFP) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Wednesday that Britain will scrap all cluster bombs in its arsenal, in a bid to break a deadlock at ongoing negotiations in Dublin towards banning the weapons.

Thought for the day:
All generalizations are dangerous, even this one. -Alexandre Dumas (1802 - 1870)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In the News: May-27

Kennedy has major cancer bill in Senate - 27 May 2008 at 2:39pm - WASHINGTON -- Sen. Edward Kennedy's battle with a malignant brain tumor is likely to put a dramatic personal stamp on a health care cause he first championed nearly 40 years ago: The nation's war on cancer.

Democrat questions US aid to Pakistan - 27 May 2008 at 2:21pm - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. should rethink its approach in Pakistan, including a multimillion dollar program aimed at training and equipping tribal militants, unless Islmabad does more to keep terrorists from crossing the Afghan border, a top Democrat said Tuesday.

Post-traumatic stress soars in U.S. troops in 2007 - 27 May 2008 at 2:15pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Newly diagnosed cases of post-traumatic stress disorder among U.S. troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan surged 46.4 percent in 2007, bringing the five-year total to more than 38,000, according to U.S. military data released on Tuesday.

At least 40,000 have post-traumatic stress - 27 May 2008 at 1:42pm - WASHINGTON -- Pentagon figures show 40,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder since 2003. But officials believe many more are keeping their illness secret.

May consumer confidence falls to near 16-year low - 27 May 2008 at 1:39pm - NEW YORK (AP) -- Soaring gas prices and weakening job prospects left shoppers gloomier about the economy in May, sending a key barometer of consumer sentiment to its lowest level in almost 16 years.

CIA planning for al-Qaida "succession crisis" - 27 May 2008 at 12:45pm - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. is making "a big and continual push" to capture or kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, but his demise won't end the organization's menace, CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden said Tuesday in an Associated Press interview.

Court OKs suits on retaliation in race cases - 27 May 2008 at 10:33am - WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that workers who face retaliation after complaining about race discrimination may sue their employers under a Civil War-era law.

Bill would pay extra for stop-loss service - May 25, 2008 12:45:39 EDT - Service members whose military careers are involuntarily extended by stop-loss orders would be compensated $1,500 a month for each additional month of service under a bill introduced Friday in the Senate.

IAEA: Iran may be withholding info in nuke probe - 27 May 2008 at 7:57am - The U.N. nuclear watchdog suggests Iran may be withholding information the agency needs to establish whether Tehran tried to ...

Investigators finds gaps in port security program - 27 May 2008 at 8:45am - A Department of Homeland Security program to strengthen port security has gaps that terrorists could exploit to smuggle weapons of mass destruction in cargo containers, congressional investigators have found.

Thought for the day:
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. -Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

Friday, May 23, 2008

In the News: May-23

No charges for 2 Marines accused in Afghan deaths - 23 May 2008 at 1:40pm - RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A Marine Corps general has decided not to bring criminal changes against two officers whose unit was accused of killing as many as 19 Afghan civilians in 2007. The Marines said Friday that Lt. General Samuel Helland, the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command, made the decision not to bring charges after reviewing the findings of a special tribunal that heard more than three weeks of testimony in January at Camp Lejuene.

Canada's top court orders partial access to Khadr transcripts - 23 May 2008 at 9:58am - The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the Canadian government must allow access to some confidential documents requested by lawyers for Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.

Iraq's ports thriving, now that the government's in charge - 23 May 2008 at 8:07am - Khor al Zubair, Iraq — Iraq's principal ports, which were plagued by corruption, theft and insecurity while under the control of militia-linked port guards, have registered a dramatic increase in trade, revenues and productivity since the government took control following its March military offensive, according port officials and a British military spokesman.

Thought for the day:
There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob. -G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936), "Heretics", 1905

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

In the News: May-22

House subpoenas Karl Rove in Justice Dept. probe - 22 May 2008 at 2:34pm - WASHINGTON -- The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed former White House adviser Karl Rove as part of its inquiry into whether the Bush administration politically meddled at the Justice Department.

Bush dealt defeat on Iraq bill - 22 May 2008 at 12:14pm - WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans have broken with President Bush to help Democrats add help for veterans and the unemployed to a bill paying for another year of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Bodman rejects releasing government oil - 22 May 2008 at 11:18am - WASHINGTON -- Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman rejected a call Thursday by some members of Congress to release oil from the government's emergency stockpile, saying that oil is needed to respond to future oil supply emergencies and not to influence prices.

APNewsBreak: Foot-and-mouth plan used flawed study - 22 May 2008 at 11:10am - WASHINGTON -- Congressional investigators have concluded that the Bush administration lacks evidence that it would be safe to research highly infectious foot-and-mouth disease on the U.S. mainland.

Petraeus terms military action in Iran "last resort" - 22 May 2008 at 11:07am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States should increase diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran to counter its rising influence, while retaining possible military action as a "last resort," a top U.S. military officer said on Thursday.

U.S. air strike in Iraq kills 8 civilians: report - 22 May 2008 at 6:22am - Eight civilians are dead following a U.S. military air strike north of Baghdad, according to a report.Thought for the day:

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important. -Eugene McCarthy (1916 - 2005)

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In the News: May-21

Oil surges near $134 on supply woes, weak dollar - 21 May 2008 at 3:12pm - NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices surged nearly $5 to a record near $134 a barrel on Wednesday after a U.S. government report showed a surprise drop in crude stockpiles, reinvigorating fears of a supply crunch.

VA opposes much of bill to improve care for women veterans - 21 May 2008 at 3:20pm - WASHINGTON — Department of Veterans Affairs officials said Wednesday that they oppose much of a Senate bill to improve care for female veterans even as the number of women seeking VA medical services is expected to double within the next five years.

Oil executives defend size, profits before Senate - 21 May 2008 at 10:43am - WASHINGTON -- Senators told oil executives Wednesday that high oil prices cannot be explained by supply and demand and the oil industry's concentration - and OPEC price collusion - is contributing to the costs facing consumers

Senate panel votes to overturn EPA on Calif. waiver - 21 May 2008 at 10:40am - WASHINGTON -- A Senate panel has narrowly voted to overturn EPA's decision to block California and more than a dozen other states from limiting greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

Thought for the day:
Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest. -Alexandre Dumas (1802 - 1870)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In the News: May-20

Efforts to close Guantanamo at standstill: Gates - 20 May 2008 at 2:53pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Efforts to explore ways of closing the military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay have reached a standstill due to legal and practical problems, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday.

House passes bill to sue OPEC over oil prices - 20 May 2008 at 1:53pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation on Tuesday allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC members for limiting oil supplies and working together to set crude prices, but the White House threatened to veto the measure.

Military officer: Iran jeopardizing peace in Iraq - 20 May 2008 at 12:38pm - WASHINGTON -- The top uniformed U.S. military officer told Congress Tuesday that Iran is directly jeopardizing peace in Iraq, prompting fresh calls from senators that the U.S. pursue diplomatic talks with Tehran.

US court: Paper money discriminates against blind - 20 May 2008 at 11:36am - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. discriminates against blind people by printing paper money that makes it impossible for them to distinguish among the bills' varying values, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Audit: FBI didn't join harsh terror interrogations - 20 May 2008 at 10:41am - WASHINGTON -- A Justice Department audit of terror interrogations at three military bases overseas concludes that the FBI refused to participate when detainees were questioned under harsh and potentially illegal methods.

White House denies story about attacking Iran - 20 May 2008 at 10:30am - WASHINGTON -- The White House on Tuesday denied a published report in Israel that said President Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term in January.

Iraqi troops welcomed in Sadr City for first time - 20 May 2008 at 2:33pm - BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces entered Baghdad's Sadr City in large numbers on Tuesday for the first time since followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed two weeks ago to allow them in..

Thought for the day:
Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock. -Ben Hecht (1893 - 1964)

Monday, May 19, 2008

In the News: May-19

Being a good neighbour, Part I:

Top U.S. diplomat ferried cash to dissident: Cuba - 19 May 2008 at 2:56pm - HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba on Monday accused the United States' top diplomat in Havana of ferrying money from a private anti-Castro exile group in Miami to a dissident in the Cuban capital.
Being a good neighbour, Part II:

US official: Navy plane may have crossed Venezuelan airspace - 19 May 2008 at 2:01pm - WASHINGTON -- A U.S. Navy plane apparently accidentally crossed into Venezuela's airspace Saturday night, triggering protests from that country, according to a U.S. defense official familiar with the report.

Report: EPA head reversed stand on greenhouse gas - 19 May 2008 at 1:29pm - WASHINGTON -- The head of the Environmental Protection Agency initially supported partly granting California's petition for a greenhouse gas emissions waiver - but reversed himself after hearing from White House officials, says a new report.

U.S. troop deployments set to keep Iraq level steady - 19 May 2008 at 11:30am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon plans to send 39,000 soldiers to Iraq to replace troops scheduled to leave the war zone and to hold the total U.S. force level steady over the next year.
So the "surge" apparently has still accomplished nothing in terms of the ability of the U.S. to reduce troop strength.

Thought for the day:
No tyranny is so irksome as petty tyranny: the officious demands of policemen, government clerks, and electromechanical gadgets. -Edward Abbey (1927 - 1989)

Friday, May 16, 2008

In the News: May-16

Paulson says financial crisis 'closer to the end' - 16 May 2008 at 2:34pm - WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Friday he believes the financial crisis is winding down, but that it would take some time to fully emerge from the malaise.
Let's guess: six to nine months?

U.S. blamed for ambush on Iranians in Iraq - 16 May 2008 at 1:50pm - BAGHDAD (AP) — Iran angrily blamed the United States on Friday after at least three of its diplomats were wounded in a Baghdad shooting, saying the Americans are encouraging attacks on Iranians in Iraq. The shooting — which may have been by Iraqi soldiers during an argument at a checkpoint — comes amid unprecedented strains between Iran and the Iraqi government, which has long been close to Tehran.

US oil shipments canceled. - 16 May 2008 at 12:57pm - WASHINGTON -- The Energy Department says it has canceled oil shipments into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve beginning in July when the current purchase contract expires.

Texas cities sue to suspend border fence construction - 16 May 2008 at 11:36am - WASHINGTON — Mayors from Texas border cities are suing the Department of Homeland Security over construction of 670 miles of fencing along the Southwest border.

U.S. Starts Parole System for Detainees in Iraq - 16 May 2008 at 9:03am - For many young recruits of al-Qaida in Iraq, it's not extremism or ideology that attracted them to the organization, but the opportunity to make money. As a result, many detainees in prisons run by the U.S. military are released because they are not that dangerous. The challenge is keeping them out of prison once they are freed.

U.S. sees need for "tangible action" on Iran: Israel - 16 May 2008 at 8:44am - JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The United States and Israel agree on the need for "tangible action" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman said after a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush.
Really? Isn't it just one day after Bush publicly ridiculed the idea of so much as entering into talks with Iran?

Oil price surges to record high above $127 - 16 May 2008 at 8:36am - LONDON (AFP) - The price of oil rocketed to a record high point of 127.43 dollars per barrel on Friday, as US President George W. Bush prepared to urge Saudi Arabia to pump more crude, analysts said.

Saudis see no reason to raise oil production now - 16 May 2008 at 11:21am - Saudi Arabian leaders made clear Friday they see no reason to increase oil production until their customers demand it, apparently rebuffing President Bush amid soaring U.S. gasoline prices.

Thought for the day:
Now is the time for all good men to come to. -Walt Kelly (1913 - 1973), "Pogo"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In the News: May-15

Congress passes farm bill with veto-proof margin - 15 May 2008 at 1:26pm - WASHINGTON -- With veto-proof margins, Congress on Thursday sent President Bush a bill boosting farm subsidies and money for food stamps to help the poor deal with rising grocery prices.

California Supreme Court says same-sex couples have right to marry - 15 May 2008 at 1:18pm - Gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry in California, the state Supreme Court said today in a historic ruling that could be repudiated by the voters in November. In a 4-3 decision, the justices said the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates the "fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship." The ruling is likely to flood county courthouses with applications from couples newly eligible to marry when the decision takes effect in 30 days.

Bush calls possible talks with Iran 'appeasement' - 15 May 2008 at 11:09am - JERUSALEM — President Bush took the occasion of Israel's 60th anniversary on Thursday to denounce calls for the United States to talk to Iran and other radical forces in the region as "appeasement" and a "foolish delusion."
But there's nothing foolishly delusional about the idea that if the U.S. ignores it for long enough, Iran will eventually do whatever it is the U.S. hopes it will do?

Gates urges more nongovernment contacts with Iran - 15 May 2008 at 1:38pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called on Wednesday for more unofficial contacts with Iran, saying this might eventually open a pathway to more substantive dialogue between the governments.

Thought for the day:
In peace, children inter their parents; war violates the order of nature and causes parents to inter their children. -Herodotus (484 BC - 430 BC), The Histories of Herodotus

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In the News: May-14

U.S. lists polar bears as 'threatened' species - 14 May 2008 at 2:33pm - The U.S. government has decided to list polar bears as a threatened species under its Endangered Species Act - a decision that could deal a severe blow to the lucrative sport hunt in Canada's North.

Congress pushes pay raise for troops - 14 May 2008 at 2:03pm - WASHINGTON -- Congress wants a 3.9 percent pay raise for troops next year - more than President Bush wants but in synch with a broader election-year effort by lawmakers to boost benefits for service members and veterans.

Russia says "Six" could guarantee Iran security - 14 May 2008 at 8:18am - YEKATERINBURG, Russia (Reuters) - The six powers negotiating with Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program could offer Tehran security guarantees, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Wednesday.

U.S. says Iran security pledge not on table - 14 May 2008 at 3:15pm - JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday six world powers had no plans to offer Iran security guarantees to encourage it to suspend nuclear activity, hours after Russia floated the idea.

Defense lawyers accuse Pentagon of delay in 9/11 cases - 14 May 2008 at 8:51am - Leading legal defense groups Tuesday accused the Pentagon of foot-dragging on security clearances that would let civilian lawyers help their military counterparts defend the alleged plotters of the Sept. 11 attacks at Guant?mo.

Thought for the day:
The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else. -Umberto Eco (1932 - ), Travels in Hyperreality

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Flawed Intel?

Bush disappointed with intel before Iraq war - 13 May 2008 at 10:51pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Tuesday he was disappointed in "flawed intelligence" before the Iraq war and was concerned that if a Democrat wins the presidency in November and withdrew troops prematurely it could "eventually lead to another attack on the United States."
I'd say he's an idiot for claiming the intelligence was flawed, but I'm afraid he's simply lying. By now, he must be as familiar as any of us are with the pre-Iraq-war NIE, which essentially said that while one could assume whatever one wished, there was insufficient evidence to draw any conclusions one way or another.

In the News: May-13

US slashes reward for al-Qaida Iraq leader - 13 May 2008 at 3:03pm - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has slashed its reward for the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq from $5 million to $100,000 because it feels he's lost effectiveness and is no longer worth such a steep price, officials said Tuesday.
Yet fighting al-Qaida in Iraq remains worth the cost of billions of dollars per month, plus the lives of U.S. servicemen & women?

Senate says halt oil shipments to gov't reserve - 13 May 2008 at 12:07pm - WASHINGTON -- The Senate is directing President Bush to temporarily halt the shipment of thousands of barrels of oil a day to the government's emergency reserve.

Gates: Reject tendency to focus on 'Next-War-itis' - 13 May 2008 at 11:54am - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Pentagon must focus on current war demands, even if it means straining the U.S. armed forces and devoting less time and money on future threats, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.

IRAQ: Government negligent in tackling human displacement - MP - May 13, 2008 05:57:04 PM - BAGHDAD, 13 May 2008 (IRIN) - The problem of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries is likely to grow into a regional and international problem because the government appears to have no clear policy to tackle it, a member of parliament (MP) said on 12 May.

Senate rejects GOP oil drilling plan - 13 May 2008 at 11:48am - WASHINGTON -- The Senate has rejected a Republican energy plan that calls for opening an Alaska wildlife refuge and some offshore waters to oil development. Supporters of the measure couldn't get the needed 60 votes to overcome a Democratic-led filibuster threat.

Shi'ite gunmen in Baghdad ignore truce - 13 May 2008 at 11:33am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An agreement aimed at ending fighting in the Baghdad bastion of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr appeared on the verge of collapse on Tuesday after gunmen launched a spate of attacks on U.S. troops.

Thought for the day:
You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. -Jeannette Rankin (1880 - 1973)

Monday, May 12, 2008

In the News: May-12

Ex-State officials allege corruption cover up - 12 May 2008 at 2:19pm - WASHINGTON -- Two ex-State Department employees say the Bush administration ignored corruption at the highest levels within the Iraqi government and kept secret potentially embarrassing information.

Taser group's chair to defend stun guns at public inquiry - 12 May 2008 at 10:39am - The chair of Taser International is expected to defend the safety record of his company's stun guns on Monday, when he appears at a public inquiry examining police use of the weapons.

Iraqi PM says crackdown shows he's not sectarian - 12 May 2008 at 10:00am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister said on Monday a crackdown on Shi'ite militias proved his government was not sectarian, in the face of persistent accusations by Sunni Arabs that he has favored Shi'ites since taking office.
Not sectarian, I guess, if one considers all Shi'ites to be of one sect. I hope that's a talking point given to him by the U.S., and not what he really thinks. In any case, his eagerness to take up arms against those with whom he would be at peace doesn't go too far toward demonstrating his commitment to a peaceful and unified Iraq.

Thought for the day:
Behind every great fortune there is a crime. -Honoré de Balzac (1799 - 1850)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

In the News: May-07

Senate Democrats seek to tax oil companies - 7 May 2008 at 2:59pm - WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats called Wednesday for a limited windfall profits tax on the largest oil companies and a rollback of $17 billion in oil industry tax breaks as part of an energy package that also would impose federal penalties on energy price gouging.

Ricardo Sanchez: 'Wiser' in Hindsight on Iraq, Politics - 7 May 2008 at 3:09pm - Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez commanded ground troops in Iraq from 2003 to 2004; it was on his watch that the Abu Ghraib prison scandal took place. Subsequently, Sanchez has vocally criticized the conduct of the Iraq war — especially the Bush administration's "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan." His new book is Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story.

Iraq urges Iran, U.S. to hold talks - 7 May 2008 at 8:36am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari urged Iran and the United States on Wednesday to stop trading accusations and sit down for a fourth round of talks to seek solutions to Iraq's security woes.
Take note, Dr. Mushroomcloud, of how a diplomat operates.

Thought for the day:
I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure I had a better one to put in its place. -Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 - 1896)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

In the News: May-06

House panel votes to pressure White House aide to testify on interrogation ta... - 6 May 2008 at 3:19pm - WASHINGTON — A House of Representatives committee voted Tuesday to compel vice presidential chief of staff David Addington to testify about controversial interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects overseas.

EPA might not act to limit rocket fuel in drinking water - 6 May 2008 at 12:12pm - WASHINGTON -- An EPA official says there's a "distinct possibility" the agency won't take action to limit a toxic rocket fuel ingredient that has contaminated drinking water supplies around the country.

House bill to restrict US reconstruction dollars - 6 May 2008 at 11:17am - WASHINGTON -- A House bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year would press Baghdad to match every dollar the US spends on major reconstruction projects, as well as training and equipping its security forces, according to Democratic aides.

'Torture memo' author, former attorney general, to testify - 6 May 2008 at 9:41am - WASHINGTON -- A former Justice Department lawyer who wrote a now-repudiated memo allowing harsh interrogations of military prisoners has agreed to testify to Congress about those practices, according to House Judiciary Committee officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the panel has not yet made the announcement.

Iraq war strains U.S. army mental health system - 6 May 2008 at 8:27am - FORT DRUM, New York (Reuters) - Fort Drum, a bleak U.S. Army base in upstate New York, is a test case for how the military is handling a looming mental health crisis.

Thought for the day:
If you talk to God, you are praying. If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. -Thomas Szasz

Monday, May 05, 2008

In the News: May-05

Top US commando: More elite forces needed for Iraq - 5 May 2008 at 2:38pm - WASHINGTON -- The nation's top commando says in an Associated Press interview that even as the overall U.S. force in Iraq shrinks, the number of elite troops known as special operations forces is likely to grow.

U.S. monitors to study West Bank roadblocks - 5 May 2008 at 1:17pm - SHANNON (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday it would send monitors to study whether the removal of Israeli roadblocks was making life easier for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Thought for the day:
On account of being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does. -Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)

Friday, May 02, 2008

In the News: May-02

Bush details $70 billion war funding request for 2009 - 2 May 2008 at 11:50am - President Bush sent lawmakers a $70 billion request Friday to fund U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into next spring, which would give the next president breathing room to make his or her own war policy.

Major powers agree on new incentives offer to Iran - 2 May 2008 at 11:26am - LONDON (Reuters) - Major powers have agreed to make a new offer of incentives to Iran to halt its sensitive nuclear work, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Friday.

Medical journal calls for review of Taser safety - 2 May 2008 at 8:41am - An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal is calling for more study of the health risks posed by stun guns.

Thought for the day:
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. -John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

In the News: May-01

Audit: Vets with brain injury still not getting proper care - 1 May 2008 at 3:05pm - WASHINGTON -- Many Iraq war veterans with traumatic brain injury are not getting adequate health care and job assistance for their long-term recovery despite years of government pledges to do so, Veterans Affairs Department investigators say.

Immigrant rights activists join protests nationwide - 1 May 2008 at 2:22pm - CHICAGO - Thousands of immigrants and activists gathered in cities across the country Thursday to demand comprehensive immigration reform, including citizenship opportunities for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.

Congress votes to ban genetic discrimination - 1 May 2008 at 1:31pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A landmark bill to forbid discrimination against people whose genetic information shows a predisposition to certain illnesses won final U.S. congressional approval on Thursday.

Terminal operators say protest halts West Coast cargo traffic - 1 May 2008 at 12:30pm - LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Terminal operators say West Coast cargo traffic has come to a halt as port workers stage daylong anti-war protests....

Ex-Guantanamo inmate in Iraq suicide bombing: TV - 1 May 2008 at 11:22am - DUBAI (Reuters) - A Kuwaiti man released from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay in 2005 has carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq, his cousin told Al Arabiya television on Thursday.

Senate panel votes to block money for Iraq reconstruction - 1 May 2008 at 11:15am - WASHINGTON -- A Senate panel has agreed to block U.S. funding for Iraq reconstruction projects worth more than $2 million and to try to force Baghdad to cover the costs of training and equipping the country's security forces.

Study: Bush administration's reading program hasn't helped - 1 May 2008 at 10:08am - WASHINGTON -- A reading program at the center of President Bush's signature education law hasn't added to children's understanding of what they read, a federal study has found.

Iraq PM sends team to Iran to discuss militias - 1 May 2008 at 9:27am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister has sent a delegation to Tehran to tell Iranian officials to stop backing Shi'ite militias, Iraqi officials said on Thursday, underscoring Baghdad's unease over the influence of its powerful neighbor.

U.S. air strike kills al Qaeda boss in Somalia - 1 May 2008 at 9:39am - MOGADISHU (Reuters) - U.S. war planes killed an Islamist rebel said to be al Qaeda's leader in Somalia and as many as 30 other people on Thursday in Washington's biggest blow against an insurgency raging since 2007.

Thought for the day:
There are some defeats more triumphant than victories. -Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592)