Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In the News: Jul-30

The Ridiculous LexisNexis Search that the Justice Department Used - July 30, 2008 11:05:00 AM - The politicization of Bush's Justice Department, which this week was officially determined to be illegal, has a funny side too. Sometime in 2005-2006, White House Liaison Jan Williams attended a seminar on LexisNexis searches, and wrote one herself. When she left, she passed it on to her successor Monica Goodling in an email. Justin Mason, author of SpamAssassin, is skeptical about its accuracy: [First name of a candidate]! and pre/2 [last name of a candidate] w/7 bush or gore or republican! or democrat! or charg! or accus! or criticiz! or blam! or defend! or iran contra or clinton or spotted owl or florida recount or sex! or controvers! or racis! or fraud! or investigat! or bankrupt! or layoff! or downsiz! or PNTR or NAFTA or outsourc! or indict! or enron or kerry or iraq or wmd! or arrest! or intox! or fired or sex! or racis! or intox! or slur! or arrest! or fired or controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or firearm! Needless to say, when asked about it, Williams first said she didn't remember ever seeing it, then said she'd used an edited version just once. LexisNexis records show she used it, as shown, 25 times. Note that 'sex!' appears twice in the query. Must be VERY important.

U.S. combat deaths in Iraq plunge in July - 30 Jul 2008 at 2:26pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat in Iraq has dropped sharply in July and the monthly total is likely to be the lowest since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.

CIA cites Pakistan spy agency's ties to militants - 30 Jul 2008 at 2:22pm - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration suspects rogue elements in Pakistan's spy agency are helping militants stage attacks from the tribal region bordering Afghanistan, a U.S. counterterrorism official said Wednesday.

Minn. officers involved in botched raid get medals - 30 Jul 2008 at 1:27pm - MINNEAPOLIS -- Eight police officers who raided an innocent family's house last year, trading fire with the terrified husband, have received medals.

Israel's Olmert to announce he's leaving office: TV - 30 Jul 2008 at 1:05pm - JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will announce on Wednesday that he will leave office in two months, Israel's Channel Two television reported.

How Successful Was The Surge? - 30 Jul 2008 at 1:00pm - The troop surge of 2007 was extremely controversial. Now that it's over, questions remain about how successful the tactic was.

GOP blocks action on tax, renewable energy package - 30 Jul 2008 at 12:20pm - WASHINGTON -- For the fourth time this summer Republicans stopped the Senate from taking up wide-ranging legislation that extends tax breaks for teachers, businesses and parents and provides tax credits to an array of renewable energy entrepreneurs.

Arctic sheds huge chunks of ice - 30 Jul 2008 at 11:45am - MONTREAL (AFP) - Two masses of ice together measuring almost 20 square kilometers (seven square miles) have broken off an Arctic ice shelf, the biggest breakup of Arctic ice in three years, Canadian officials announced.

House panel votes to cite Rove for contempt - 30 Jul 2008 at 11:17am - WASHINGTON -- A House panel Wednesday voted to cite former top White House aide Karl Rove for contempt of Congress as its Senate counterpart publicly pursued possible punishments for an array of alleged past and present Bush administration misdeeds.

Judge says EPA ignored law, failed to protect Everglades - 30 Jul 2008 at 9:01am - A federal judge struck down key parts of a controversial state Everglades cleanup law Tuesday and slapped the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to enforce the federal Clean Water Act.

China to censor Internet during Games: organisers - 30 Jul 2008 at 8:54am - BEIJING (AFP) - The Beijing Olympics were plunged into another controversy on Wednesday as China announced a backflip on Internet freedoms for the thousands of foreign reporters covering the Games.

Gitmo war crimes judge penalizes prosecutors - 29 Jul 2008 at 4:21pm - A military judge penalized U.S. prosecutors Tuesday by blocking their use of a May 2003 interrogation as they finished presenting ...

Thought for the day:
Not to know is bad. Not to wish to know is worse. -African Proverb

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In the News: Jul-29

Senate Democrats call for EPA chief to resign - 29 Jul 2008 at 3:15pm - WASHINGTON -- A trio of Senate Democrats is pressing EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to resign, saying he has repeatedly succumbed to political pressure on decisions vital to protecting health and the environment.

Amnesty blasts China for 'broken promises' on rights - 29 Jul 2008 at 2:53pm - Amnesty International is accusing China of failing to live up to the commitment it made to improve human rights seven years ago, when the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing.

World trade talks collapse: delegates - 29 Jul 2008 at 2:12pm - GENEVA (AFP) - Deadlock between the United States and India derailed a bid for a new world trade pact here Tuesday, delegates said, as speculation flared over the future of their fraught market-opening efforts.

Israel defense chief: Military option still open - 29 Jul 2008 at 12:13pm - WASHINGTON -- Israel's defense minister says he has told top U.S. officials that Israel won't rule out a military strike against Iran.
Talk of an attack is premature, no?

IRAQ: Move to prevent children being exploited by militants - July 29, 2008 5:57:06 PM - BAGHDAD, 29 July 2008 (IRIN) - Iraqi government institutions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international bodies must focus more on devising programmes for juveniles to prevent them from being co-opted by militants for criminal acts, a government spokesman said on 28 July.

Audit reveals faults with security company's contracts - 28 Jul 2008 at 3:43pm - Blackwater obtained dozens of small business contracts worth more than $110 million even though the private security company may have exceeded size limits for a small business, according to a federal audit released today.

Thought for the day:
I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it. -Dwight Eisenhower

Monday, July 28, 2008

In the News: Jul-28

5th Circuit upholds prison terms for border agents - 28 Jul 2008 at 3:02pm - NEW ORLEANS -- A federal appeals court has refused to throw out lengthy prison sentences for two U.S. Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting an unarmed illegal immigrant and lying about it.

Text of EPA e-mail - 28 Jul 2008 at 2:36pm - A text of the e-mail warning the Environmental Protection Agency's pollution enforcement officials not to talk directly to congressional investigators, reporters and even the agency's own inspector general.

Columnist Robert Novak diagnosed with brain tumor - 28 Jul 2008 at 1:15pm - BOSTON -- Syndicated columnist and former "Crossfire" host Robert Novak has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and is suspending his journalistic work.
I should feel sorry for him -- and I do, about this health issue, that is -- but when I saw this, the very first thought that popped into my head was "Bill Casey".

Canada better than U.S. for corporate taxes: KPMG - 28 Jul 2008 at 12:40pm - Canada has a more competitive tax system than the United States, according to a study released Monday.

EPA silences enforcement staff - 28 Jul 2008 at 12:39pm - WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency is telling its enforcement personnel not to talk with congressional investigators and reporters, and even the agency's own inspector general, according to an internal e-mail provided to The Associated Press.

Air Force exec resigns, cites leader changes - 28 Jul 2008 at 11:01am - WASHINGTON -- The Air Force's logistics chief has resigned, saying that the recent leadership shake up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates has hurt his ability to do his job.

DOJ: Former aide broke law in hiring scandal - 28 Jul 2008 at 10:36am - WASHINGTON -- A new Justice Department report concludes that politics illegally influenced the hiring of career prosecutors and immigration judges, and largely lays the blame on top aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

U.S. troops killed civilians in June incident: military - 28 Jul 2008 at 7:39am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military said an investigation into an incident in which American troops killed three Iraqis near Baghdad airport last month showed the victims were not criminals but innocent civilians.

Canadian troops kill 2 children after car nears convoy - 28 Jul 2008 at 7:22am - Two young children died when Canadian troops opened fire on a car they feared was about to attack their convoy in Kandahar province, the Canadian Forces said Monday.

Bush administration projects record 2009 deficit - 28 Jul 2008 at 2:35pm - WASHINGTON -- The next president will inherit a record budget deficit of $482 billion, according to a new Bush administration estimate released Monday.

Pakistan prime minister to visit White House - 28 Jul 2008 at 6:46am - WASHINGTON -- Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's White House visit Monday comes amid increased calls by senior U.S. officials for Pakistan to stop militants from staging cross-border attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Is Afghanistan not capable of defending its own border?

Suicide hot line got calls from 22,000 veterans - 28 Jul 2008 at 6:21am - WASHINGTON -- More than 22,000 veterans have sought help from a special suicide hot line in its first year, and 1,221 suicides have been averted, the government says.

Thought for the day:
A man is known by the company he avoids. -Anonymous

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Free Obama

I keep getting emails offering a "free Obama button" -- I didn't know he was in captivity.

Happy Sunday :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

In the News: Jul-25

Taliban winning propaganda battle in Afgahnistan, says think tank - 25 Jul 2008 at 2:41pm - The Brussels-based International Crisis Group says NATO, the US and the Kabul government are losing the propaganda battle in Afghanistan to a technologically sophisticated Taliban campaign.

Audit finds serious hazards from abandoned mines - 25 Jul 2008 at 1:27pm - WASHINGTON -- An audit says the government has endangered the public's health and safety by failing to clean up abandoned mines on federal land in the West.

German govt. says Obama speech sent 'positive signal' - 25 Jul 2008 at 9:26am - Barack Obama's speech to a huge Berlin crowd sent a "positive signal" to Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said Friday, praising the presidential candidate's focus on working with America's partners. Obama addressed more than 200,000 people at the capital's Victory Column on Thursday evening after meeting Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the first leg of a three-country European tour.

Iraqi PM says troop withdrawal must satisfy all - 25 Jul 2008 at 8:45am - CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Friday that any U.S. troop withdrawal would have to satisfy both parties and protect Iraq's sovereignty.

Report urges overhauling how passports are issued - 25 Jul 2008 at 7:18am - WASHINGTON -- The State Department must develop a "comprehensive, long-term strategy" to meet the public's rising demand for passports and avoid a repeat of the frustrating backlog fiasco of last summer, congressional investigators have concluded.

Angry Bloggers On Left And Right Unite Over FISA - 25 Jul 2008 at 6:32am - Democratic and Republican bloggers have joined forces to punish members of Congress who voted for a revised government surveillance bill backed by the White House. One independent online group raised roughly $350,000 to spend on anti-FISA TV and radio ads.

Thought for the day:
War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, the lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade. -Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In the News: Jul-24

Iraq banned from Beijing Olympics - 24 Jul 2008 at 2:53pm - Iraq has been banned from competing at the Beijing Games because of government interference, the International Olympic Committee announced Thursday.

Federal commission calls for 2 million poll workers - 24 Jul 2008 at 2:40pm - WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal commission is working to recruit 2 million poll workers for the November election to help handle what could be a record turnout for the presidential election. "We have seen historically high voter turnout during the primaries and continued high registration rates this year," Rosemary Rodriguez, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, said Thursday.

Few volunteering to cut greenhouse gases - 24 Jul 2008 at 2:37pm - WASHINGTON -- Voluntary pollution-reduction programs touted by the Bush administration as part of the solution to global warming have "limited potential" to reduce greenhouse gases, according to an internal government watchdog.

US envoy says Iraq insurgency has lost its clout - 24 Jul 2008 at 2:24pm - BAGHDAD -- The insurgency that bedeviled U.S. forces for years and killed thousands of Iraqis and Americans has withered to the point where it is "not even much of a challenge any more" to Iraq's future, Ambassador Ryan Crocker said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press.

White House reverses experts on Yellowstone policy - 24 Jul 2008 at 2:09pm - WASHINGTON -- The National Park Service wanted to close a section of Yellowstone Park in the wintertime because of the risk of avalanche. No way, protested businesses in Cody, Wyo., that wanted to promote more tourism.

EPA Document Squelched by White House Called for Emission Limits Now - 24 Jul 2008 at 2:06pm - WASHINGTON — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency told the Bush administration in December that high levels of man-made heat-trapping gases are causing global warming and endanger the American people, Sen. Barbara Boxer said Wednesday after she reviewed the EPA finding, which has not been made public.

Memo: 'Good faith' protects against torture charge - 24 Jul 2008 at 1:16pm - WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department in 2002 told the CIA that its interrogators would be safe from prosecution for violations of anti-torture laws if they believed "in good faith" that harsh techniques used to break the will of prisoners, including waterboarding, would not cause "prolonged mental harm."

Vast oil, natural gas reserves estimated in Arctic - 24 Jul 2008 at 10:21am - WASHINGTON -- Some 90 billion barrels of oil and a third of the world's undiscovered natural gas lie beneath an area north of the Arctic Circle, government scientists estimate in the largest-ever survey of the energy resources there.

Iran to end cooperation with IAEA investigation - 24 Jul 2008 at 9:05am - VIENNA (AP) — Iran will no longer cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency in its investigation of allegations that its government has tried to make nuclear arms, Iran's vice president said Thursday. Investigating such allegations "is outside the domain of the agency," Vice President Gholam Reza Aghazadeh told reporters. Any further queries on the issue "will be dealt with in another way," he added, without going into detail.

IRAQ: WHO returns after five-year absence - July 23, 2008 8:57:00 PM - DUBAI, 23 July 2008 (IRIN) - Doctors in Iraq have welcomed the return of World Health Organization (WHO) international staff to the country in June, after an absence of five years. Foreign WHO staff were withdrawn after the August 2003 attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad which killed 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. Over 100 others were injured.

Fatal MRAP accidents prompt warnings - 24 Jul 2008 at 8:07am - WASHINGTON -- The towering trucks that give U.S. troops the best protection against roadside bombs and enemy bullets also make them vulnerable to routine hazards like sharp turns, rutted roads and rickety bridges.

Thought for the day:
The history of our race, and each individual's experience, are sown thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal. -Mark Twain (1835 - 1910), Advice to Youth

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In the News: Jul-23

Teen dies after being stunned by Winnipeg police Taser - 23 Jul 2008 at 2:22pm - A 17-year-old boy who died after Winnipeg police officers fired a stun gun at him Tuesday refused to put down a knife when ordered, police said Wednesday.

Afghan troop surge up to 'next administration' - 23 Jul 2008 at 1:37pm - WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon press secretary says it will be left to the next administration to decide on any sizable troop increase for Afghanistan.

Justice Dept called uncooperative on voting rights - 23 Jul 2008 at 11:01am - WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says the Justice Department is stonewalling efforts to make sure this year's presidential voting operates fairly.

Iraqi president denounces law enabling provincial elections - 23 Jul 2008 at 8:37am - The Iraqi president has denounced a draft law that would pave the way for U.S.-backed provincial elections.

IRAQ: Incentives announced to encourage return of IDPs, refugees - July 23, 2008 2:57:00 PM - BAGHDAD, 20 July 2008 (IRIN) - The Iraqi government has adopted a number of measures aimed at encouraging the return of over four million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees to their homes, a government statement has said.

Thought for the day:
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure. -Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

In the News: Jul-19

Iraqi PM says US should leave as soon as possible - 19 Jul 2008 at 7:11pm - BERLIN -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says U.S. troops should leave Iraq "as soon as possible," according to a magazine report, and he called presidential candidate Barack Obama's suggestion of 16 months "the right timeframe for a withdrawal."

In shift, Sunnis join Iraqi government, raising hopes of reconciliation - 19 Jul 2008 at 4:34pm - BAGHDAD — In a shift toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism, Iraq's largest Sunni bloc ended a nearly yearlong boycott Saturday and rejoined the cabinet, retaking six ministry spots.

Thought for the day:
I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones. -John Cage (1912 - 1992)

Friday, July 18, 2008

In the News: Jul-18

UN chief calls for sharp hike in world farm output - 18 Jul 2008 at 1:55pm - UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday called for a sharp hike in world farm output, warning that high food and fuel prices threatened much of the progress made in reaching global poverty-reduction targets.

Bush, Maliki agree 'time horizon' for US drawdown - 18 Jul 2008 at 11:12am - TUCSON, Arizona (AFP) - US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki have agreed on "a general time horizon," not an "arbitrary timetable" for a drawdown of US forces, the White House said Friday.

Senate Study: Tax Shelters Cost U.S. $100 B Yearly - 18 Jul 2008 at 6:00am - Illegal tax shelters cost the U.S. government an estimated $100 billion a year. That's according to a Senate subcommittee that has been investigating the matter. Representatives of the Swiss bank UBS told lawmakers Thursday that they have taken steps to prevent illegal activity.

Thought for the day:
When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I'm beginning to believe it. -Clarence Darrow (1857 - 1938)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

In the News: Jul-17

John McCain: "Every parent should know where their children are on the internet."
So, parents should know their kids' email addresses? How about their urls?

Census won't recognize gay marriages in 2010 count - 17 Jul 2008 at 3:02pm - WASHINGTON -- Same-sex marriage is legal in two states, but not a single one will show up in the 2010 census.

GIs getting more bomb protection in Afghanistan - 17 Jul 2008 at 2:25pm - WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department says it will send close to 800 more bomb-resistant vehicles to Afghanistan where a resurgent Taliban has military leaders developing plans to send thousands of U.S. troop reinforcements.

Terror exercise contract reviewed for ethics issue - 17 Jul 2008 at 2:19pm - WASHINGTON -- Federal officials are investigating whether millions of dollars are being steered improperly toward a government contractor to run the country's largest counterterrorism exercise.

White House threatens to veto oil drilling legislation - 17 Jul 2008 at 2:14pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Thursday threatened to veto legislation being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives that would force oil companies to give up undrilled federal leases and ban the export of crude drilled in Alaska.

US judge OKs first Guantanamo Bay detainee trial - 17 Jul 2008 at 1:06pm - WASHINGTON -- The first war crimes trial at Guantanamo Bay can begin Monday, a federal judge has ruled, saying civilian courts should let the military process play out as Congress intended.

Ashcroft: 'Not hard' to reject interrogation memos - 17 Jul 2008 at 12:52pm - WASHINGTON -- Former Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday "it was not a hard decision" to withdraw Justice Department legal opinions that approved the use of harsh interrogation methods which critics say amount to torture. Ashcroft, testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee, said he did not necessarily disagree with the conclusions of the two memos that were written in 2002 and 2003 but later rescinded. But he said the legal reasoning behind both memos was flawed and needed to be corrected.

Bush warned he might send U.S. troops to Darfur: Wade - 17 Jul 2008 at 12:25pm - DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegal's president said on Thursday George W. Bush told African leaders at one stage the United States might send troops to Sudan's Darfur if they did not act to halt what he saw as genocide there.

Dems try to spur oil exploration on available land - 17 Jul 2008 at 10:42am - WASHINGTON -- Seeking to blunt GOP efforts to permit oil exploration off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, House Democrats are pushing legislation they say would spur drilling on already available lands in Alaska, the West and the western Gulf of Mexico.

Gore sets energy goal for next president to heed - 17 Jul 2008 at 10:54am - WASHINGTON -- Just as John F. Kennedy set his sights on the moon, Al Gore is challenging the nation to produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun and other Earth-friendly energy sources within 10 years, an audacious goal he hopes the next president will embrace.

Iraqis divided by U.S. troop timetable call - 17 Jul 2008 at 10:00am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqis want the U.S. military presence to end. But when that occurs -- and whether a timetable should be set for troops to leave -- is something ordinary Iraqis, security officials and politicians cannot agree on.

Pakistan disputes U.S. air strike due to database gap - 17 Jul 2008 at 10:02am - ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The Pakistan military rejected on Thursday U.S. media reports that an American air strike which killed 11 Pakistani soldiers happened because the U.S. military did not know their post on the Afghan border was there.

U.S.-led forces confirm killing Afghan civilians - 17 Jul 2008 at 6:28am - KABUL (Reuters) - U.S.-led coalition troops have killed eight Afghan civilians in an air strike in the western province of Farah during a raid against suspected militants, the U.S. military said.

Thought for the day:
Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right. -H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In the News: Jul-16

US may cut troop levels in Iraq this fall - 16 Jul 2008 at 3:21pm - WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon's top military officer said Wednesday that he is likely to recommend further troop reductions in Iraq this fall. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that on his recent trip to Iraq, he found conditions had improved more than he expected.
Just in time for November elections? But it's definitely not a political decision.

U.S. airstrike in Pakistan linked to database gap - 16 Jul 2008 at 3:02pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. air strike that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers in June was the result of an incomplete U.S. military database that did not include the location of the soldiers' post on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

U.S. looks to send more troops to Afghanistan soon - 16 Jul 2008 at 2:55pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is looking to send more troops to Afghanistan soon in the face of rising insurgent violence there, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday.

White House threatens spy bill veto over interrogation - 16 Jul 2008 at 2:52pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House threatened to veto legislation on Wednesday that would bar CIA contractors from interrogating suspected terrorists, in the latest debate over treatment of detainees in the U.S.-declared war on terrorism.

U.S. says stance on Iran same, not negotiation - 16 Jul 2008 at 1:00pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday said its stance toward Iran was the same, despite sending a State Department official to attend talks, and if Tehran does not accept an incentives package there would be more sanctions.

Dems call for State to investigate Iraq oil deals - 16 Jul 2008 at 1:21pm - WASHINGTON -- Four Democratic senators, including Sen. Carl Levin, on Wednesday called on the State Department's inspector general to investigate whether agency employees encouraged lucrative oil deals between Iraq and several Western companies.

Iraq eyes full security control by year-end - 16 Jul 2008 at 1:07pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq hopes to have security control of all its provinces by the year-end, the national security adviser said on Wednesday, underscoring the government's growing confidence in its own forces.

World Court: U.S. must delay Mexican death sentences - 16 Jul 2008 at 11:22am - THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The World Court ordered the United States on Wednesday to do all it could to halt the imminent executions of five Mexicans until the court makes a final judgment in a dispute over suspects' rights.

Call for more help for Iraqi refugees - July 16, 2008 6:27:00 PM - BAGHDAD, 16 July 2008 (IRIN) - A group of Iraqi non-governmental organisations (NGOs) appealed on 14 July for more support from the Iraqi government, the UN and the international community for Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries.

Bush claims executive privilege on CIA leak - 16 Jul 2008 at 10:42am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush has asserted executive privilege to protect information that a House panel has subpoenaed on the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

US inflation soars at 26-year high on energy prices - 16 Jul 2008 at 9:32am - WASHINGTON (AFP) - US consumer prices soared at the strongest pace in 26 years in June, rising 1.1 percent from May, due to skyrocketing energy prices, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

Top US diplomat to join Iran nuclear meeting - 16 Jul 2008 at 6:26am - WASHINGTON -- A top U.S. diplomat heading to Tehran has no plans to meet separately with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, but the mere presence of the Bush administration official at talks between the Iranian negotiator and representatives of other world powers will be a sharp break with past administration policy.

Terror suspect can challenge U.S. detention: court - 15 Jul 2008 at 3:46pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush can order the imprisonment of an al Qaeda suspect in the United States but the detainee must be able to challenge his status as an "enemy combatant," a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

Thought for the day:
An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today. -Laurence J. Peter (1919 - 1988)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In the News: Jul-15

GAO blasts Radio, TV Marti over contract award - 15 Jul 2008 at 2:25pm - The investigating branch of the U.S. Congress has accused the federal agency that oversees radio and television broadcasts to Cuba of awarding more than $1 million in contracts to two Miami broadcast outlets without following normal contract-bidding procedures.

Dems claim vets possibly shortchanged money owed - 15 Jul 2008 at 12:01pm - WASHINGTON -- Tens of thousands of veterans may not have been paid money owed them by the government because of hasty efforts to clear a massive backlog of claims, House Democrats said Tuesday.

US ambivalent on Sudan genocide charge - 15 Jul 2008 at 11:56am - WASHINGTON -- For years, the Bush administration has taken a strong stance denouncing atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region and labeling them genocide. Yet it offered only an ambivalent response when the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court filed genocide charges against Sudan's president.

US: Delay unwarranted in 1st Guantanamo trial - 15 Jul 2008 at 11:26am - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration says a civilian judge has no authority to delay the first war crimes trial at Guantanamo Bay.

Lawyers in YouTube lawsuit reach privacy deal - 15 Jul 2008 at 11:04am - SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Defendants and plaintiffs in two related copyright infringement lawsuits against YouTube have reached a deal to protect the privacy of millions of YouTube watchers during evidence discovery, a spokesman for Google Inc said on Monday.

U.S. official begins tour aimed at discouraging Iran business - 15 Jul 2008 at 10:58am - A U.S. official began a European tour on Tuesday aimed at lobbying American allies against doing business with Iran, which Washington accuses of bankrolling terrorism. The U.S. Treasury Department's Stuart Levey met with officials at Italy's central bank, foreign ministry and treasury ministry. He was scheduled to fly to Spain later in the day, then to travel to France.

Harper's office stands firm on Khadr position - 15 Jul 2008 at 9:59am - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office has weighed in on the release of videotapes showing Toronto-born Omar Khadr being interrogated by Canadian agents at Guantanamo Bay in February 2003, saying the federal government will not change its position on the case.

Thought for the day:
The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves. -William Hazlitt (1778 - 1830)

Monday, July 14, 2008

In the News: Jul-14

U.S. regulator toughens subprime mortgage rules - 14 Jul 2008 at 12:58pm - The U.S. Federal Reserve Board has approved a rule that prohibits unfair, abusive or deceptive home mortgage lending practices for subprime loans, the agency said Monday.

U.S. terrorism watch list tops 1 million - 14 Jul 2008 at 2:57pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. watch list of terrorism suspects has passed 1 million records, corresponding to about 400,000 people, and a leading civil rights group said on Monday the number was far too high to be effective.

Prosecutor turned up on US terror watch list - 14 Jul 2008 at 12:28pm - WASHINGTON -- The name of the Justice Department's former top criminal prosecutor turned up on the government's terror watch list.

Iraqis Press Harder For U.S. Withdrawal Timeline - 14 Jul 2008 at 11:23am - The debate over how long U.S. troops should stay in Iraq is heating up. Several Iraqi leaders are calling for a formal timetable on the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Iraqis are angry over what they believe is American intent to build dozens of permanent bases in the country. U.S. officials deny the claim.

Bush to lift executive ban on offshore drilling - 14 Jul 2008 at 10:33am - WASHINGTON -- In another push to deal with soaring gas prices, President Bush on Monday will lift an executive ban on offshore drilling that his stood since his father was president. But the move, by itself, will do nothing unless Congress acts as well.

2 GOP senators to travel with Obama to war zones - 14 Jul 2008 at 9:33am - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will travel to Iraq and Afghanistan with Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. — two lawmakers with military experience.
Not with John McCain, a lawmaker who would be able to teach him the important things about the region -- such as the lyrics to "Bomb Iran"?

Khadr interrogation video to be released - 14 Jul 2008 at 9:15am - Lawyers for Omar Khadr, the 21-year-old Toronto-born man detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are expected to release video footage this week of his interrogation by agents of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Iraqis: U.S. Contractors Block Refugee Applications - 14 Jul 2008 at 9:16am - A new U.S. law lets Iraqi employees who have risked their lives working for U.S. firms apply for refugee status in the United States. Some Iraqis tell NPR that U.S. contractors in Iraq reject requests for employment verification, thwarting the Iraqis' efforts to become eligible for the refugee program.

Court seeks arrest of Sudan's Beshir for 'genocide' - 14 Jul 2008 at 9:21am - THE HAGUE (AFP) - The International Criminal Court's top prosecutor called Monday for the arrest of Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

Fresh Iraq troop cuts hinge on security: Petraeus - 14 Jul 2008 at 9:41am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military commander in Iraq said on Monday that security conditions would determine whether he makes recommendations for further troop withdrawals in the coming months.

Insurgents kill 9 US troops in Afghanistan - 13 Jul 2008 at 3:19pm - Insurgents have killed nine US soldiers in an assault on an Afghan army and NATO outpost in north-eastern Afghanistan overnight, making it one of the worst days for foreign troops casualties in the country since 2001.

Karzai opposes U.S. use of Afghan soil against Iran - 14 Jul 2008 at 5:34am - KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan opposes U.S. use of its territory for launching a possible attack against neighboring Iran, President Hamid Karzai said in an interview broadcast on Monday.

Thought for the day:
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. -Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Friday, July 11, 2008

In the News: Jul-11

More seeking asylum on U.S.-Mexico border - 11 Jul 2008 at 2:48pm - EL PASO, Texas -- Dozens of Mexicans - including police officers, businessmen, at least one prosecutor and a journalist - are asking for political asylum in the U.S. in a desperate and probably hopeless bid to escape an unprecedented wave of drug-related killings and kidnappings south of the border.

ICC prosecutor to seek arrest of Sudan's Beshir - 11 Jul 2008 at 2:27pm - THE HAGUE (AFP) - International Criminal Court prosecutors will seek the arrest of Sudan President Omar al-Beshir for war crimes in Darfur, it emerged Friday, prompting Khartoum to threaten peace efforts in the region.

Budget deficit up in first 9 months of budget year - 11 Jul 2008 at 2:06pm - WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department says the federal deficit swelled to $268.7 billion in the first nine months of this budget year as record spending during the period outpaced revenues.

Oil prices top 147 dollars per barrel - 11 Jul 2008 at 2:03pm - LONDON (AFP) - Oil prices rocketed to record highs above 147 dollars on Friday as traders seized on the weak US currency, simmering tensions over crude producers Iran and Nigeria and news of a looming strike in Brazil.

Study: As gas prices go up, auto deaths decline - 11 Jul 2008 at 1:38pm - Today's high gasoline prices could cut auto deaths by nearly a third as driving decreases, paticularly among price-sensitive teenage drivers, the authors of a new study say. Professors Michael Morrisey of the University of Alabama and David Grabowski of Harvard Medical School found that for every 10% increase in gas prices there was a 2.3% decline in auto deaths. For drivers ages 15 to 17 the decline was 6% and for ages 18 to 21 it was 3.2%.

Administration rejects regulating greenhouse gases - 11 Jul 2008 at 1:22pm - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has rejected regulating greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, saying it would cause too many job losses at a time when the economy is in trouble.

Ruling a setback for White House on visitor logs - 11 Jul 2008 at 11:21am - WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court has set back the White House's efforts to keep secret the names of its visitors.

Court overturns Bush air pollution rule - 11 Jul 2008 at 11:30am - WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court has struck down an environmental rule that the Bush administration championed as crucial in protecting public health.

US-led strikes kills 64 Afghan civilians - 11 Jul 2008 at 10:57am - JALALABAD (AFP) - Official investigations have found that US-led air strikes a week ago killed 64 people, most of them women and children, the heads of separate investigation teams said Friday.

Reuters seeks U.S. army video of staff killed in Iraq - 11 Jul 2008 at 9:23am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Reuters has urged the U.S. military to hand over video footage from U.S. attack helicopters and other materials relating to the killing of two Iraqi staff in Baghdad a year ago.

Thought for the day:
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. -Rene Descartes (1596 - 1650)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In the News: Jul-10

Senate OKs promotion of Iraq generals - 10 Jul 2008 at 2:51pm - WASHINGTON -- The Senate has confirmed Gen. David Petraeus as the top commander in the Middle East and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno to replace Petraeus as the chief military officer in Iraq.

Guantanamo suspect wants classified documents - 10 Jul 2008 at 2:43pm - GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - An accused September 11 conspirator told the U.S. military war court at Guantanamo on Thursday that he should have access to classified evidence against him, arguing that if he is executed the secrets will be safer than in the hands of the FBI or CIA.

Bush to veto bill restoring Medicare doctors' pay - 10 Jul 2008 at 2:01pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush intends to block a bill protecting doctors from a cut in their Medicare pay, even though Congress has enough votes to override his veto, a White House spokesman indicated on Thursday.

Rice says US won't back down; Iran fires back - 10 Jul 2008 at 1:55pm - TBILISI, Georgia -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Iran on Thursday that the United States will not back down in the face of threats against Israel.
Won't back down from what? Iran's missile tests were in response to threats of an attack from Israel, no? Shorter Rice: "It's all about me."

Palestinian town sues Canadian builders over Israeli settlement - 10 Jul 2008 at 12:02pm - A West Bank village has sued two Quebec-based companies for $2 million, alleging they violated international law by building Israeli settlements on occupied territory.

Iraqis tortured by U.K. military settle case for $6M - 10 Jul 2008 at 11:57am - LONDON (AP) — Ten Iraqis tortured by the British military agreed Thursday to settle a civil case brought against the Ministry of Defense for $6 million, according to their lawyers. The settlement involves the family of slain hotel clerk Baha Mousa and nine others who suffered injuries while in the custody of British forces in southern Iraq, according to the firm, Leigh Day & Co.

Barak hints at readiness to strike Iran's nuclear facilities - 10 Jul 2008 at 11:41am - Israel's defense minister hinted Thursday that Israel was ready to attack Iran's nuclear program, saying it didn't balk before ...

Air Canada cuts more than 600 flight attendant jobs - 10 Jul 2008 at 11:42am - Air Canada is closing its flight attendant bases in Halifax and Winnipeg and cutting jobs in Vancouver, after blaming higher fuel costs.

Bush turns to diplomacy to deter Iran - 10 Jul 2008 at 11:42am - WASHINGTON -- While keeping the military option on the table, the Bush administration is counting heavily on diplomacy including direct talks with Tehran as the best way to wean Iran away from building nuclear weapons.
The Bush administration has always said it prefers to employ "diplomacy" in dealing with Iran over Iran's nuclear program; and it has always used the word "diplomacy" essentially to mean threats of either violence or sanctions, so what can be new here?

Rove ignores subpoena, refuses to testify - 10 Jul 2008 at 10:27am - WASHINGTON -- Former White House adviser Karl Rove has ignored a subpoena from congressional Democrats to testify about allegations of political pressure at the Justice Department.

Thought for the day:
The consequences of our actions are so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed. -J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

In the News: Jul-09

U.S. ground troops mostly done in Iraq in '09 - 9 Jul 2008 at 2:46pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraqi security forces will largely be able to fight on their own without combat help from U.S. ground forces by the middle of 2009, the senior U.S. Army officer in charge of training Iraqi forces said on Wednesday.
It's no doubt a mere coincidence that it was impossible to estimate when Iraqi troops would become self-sufficient, until just a day after the Iraqi government demanded that a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal be incorporated into the status-of-forces agreement.

GOP sides with businesses over toxic trailers - 9 Jul 2008 at 1:39pm - WASHINGTON -- Manufacturers say they are not responsible for FEMA trailers that had toxic levels of formaldehyde, despite Democrats' findings that companies knew about the dangers yet sold them to the government anyway after Hurricane Katrina.

Kucinich To Bring Single Article Of Impeachment On Thursday - July 09, 2008 9:10:40 AM -

Senate commits to shielding telecoms from suits - 9 Jul 2008 at 1:37pm - WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Wednesday affirmed its intention to protect from civil lawsuits telecom companies that helped the government wiretap Americans without court authorization after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Air Force to reopen $35 billion tanker contract - 9 Jul 2008 at 12:54pm - WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will reopen the competition for a $35 billion aerial refueling tanker contract, Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., said today after talking with Defense Department officials.

U.S. Played Vital Role In Colombia Hostage Rescue - 9 Jul 2008 at 9:38am - The U.S. Embassy in Bogota has provided details about U.S. participation in the effort to rescue three Americans along with Ingrid Betancourt and 11 other hostages held by FARC guerrillas in Colombia. The U.S. created a 100-member team of intelligence analysts and special forces to help.

Italy's Berlusconi Urges Immunity For Top Officials - 9 Jul 2008 at 9:09am - In Italy on Tuesday, opposition parties protested Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's efforts to pass legislation that would grant immunity from prosecution to the country's top four officials. That includes Berlusconi, who is being tried on corruption charges and is under investigation for bribery.

McCain discounts troop timetable - 9 Jul 2008 at 9:25am - Republican presidential candidate John McCain has discounted reports that Iraq is linking an agreement on the continued presence ...

General: Iraqi security forces still need US help - 9 Jul 2008 at 8:43am - WASHINGTON -- The Army three-star general who for a year led efforts to train Iraq's army and police units says progress is mixed and U.S. help is needed for the foreseeable future.

U.S. Marines "kill 400 Taliban" in Afghan operation - 9 Jul 2008 at 8:57am - KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Marines have killed more than 400 Taliban since they began an operation to seize a district in southern Afghanistan in May, their commander said on Wednesday.

U.S. opposes arbitrary withdrawal date for Iraq troops - 9 Jul 2008 at 8:24am - TOYAKO, Japan (Reuters) - The United States remains opposed to setting an "arbitrary" date for withdrawing troops from Iraq, the White House said on Wednesday after Iraqi officials called for a timetable as part of a security agreement being negotiated with Washington.
So much for the idea of "liberation".

Thought for the day:
War is like love; it always finds a way. -Bertolt Brecht (1898 - 1956)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

In the News: Jul-08

Monday, July 07, 2008

In the News: Jul-07

Iraq says may agree timetable for U.S. withdrawal - 7 Jul 2008 at 8:37am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki raised the prospect on Monday of setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops as part of negotiations over a new security agreement with Washington.
"May agree"? AFP puts it this way:

Iraq demands pullout timetable in US defence pact talks - 7 Jul 2008 at 2:54pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday he is negotiating a deal with Washington that will for the first time set a timetable for a withdrawal of foreign forces as part of a framework for a US troop presence into next year.

'No progress' on mass Guantanamo prisoner transfer - 7 Jul 2008 at 2:21pm - WASHINGTON -- U.S. and Yemen remain at odds over a proposal to release more than one-third of the detainees from Guantanamo Bay, officials said Monday, even as the Bush administration wrestles with the future of the military prison.

Joint Chiefs chairman: Security gains holding - 7 Jul 2008 at 11:54am - BAGHDAD -- Iraq appears on track to establishing sustainable security - a key step toward withdrawing U.S. troops - the top U.S. military officer said Monday after visiting the newly quiet Sadr City section of the capital.

Bush urges global unity against Zimbabwe elex 'sham' - 7 Jul 2008 at 8:54am - President Bush, who backs U.N. sanctions against Zimbabwe, urged the international community on Monday to come together on ways ...
Sham, yes -- but is GWB really the right person to be raising this issue?

U.S. holds navy exercise after Iran comments on Gulf - 7 Jul 2008 at 10:03am - DUBAI (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy said on Monday it was carrying out an exercise in the Gulf, days after vowing that Iran will not be allowed to block the waterway which carries crude from the world's largest oil-exporting region.

Thought for the day:
"Always" and "never" are two words you should always remember never to use. -Wendell Johnson

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

In the News: Jul-02

U.S. military wants dialogue to solve Iran tension - 2 Jul 2008 at 1:01pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. military officer said on Wednesday he favored more dialogue with Tehran to avoid a confrontation as a senior Iranian leader indicated his country was open to negotiations over its nuclear program.
It's Israel that is threatening to strike Iran; how about more dialogue with Israel?

Iraq says near agreement with US on military pact - 2 Jul 2008 at 3:04pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq said on Wednesday it was on the verge of agreeing a controversial pact with the United States to govern US troop levels and ground rules in the nation beyond 2008 when a UN mandate expires.

Mullen suggests Israeli strike would be high-risk - 2 Jul 2008 at 12:17pm - WASHINGTON -- An Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be a high-risk move that could destabilize the Middle East, the Pentagon's top military officer said Wednesday.

Pentagon's top investigator resigning - 2 Jul 2008 at 12:03pm - WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon's inspector general is resigning after just over a year in the job to take a teaching position at George Mason University and the top investigator at the Labor Department has been picked to fill the post.

Bush may send more troops to Afghanistan - 2 Jul 2008 at 11:54am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Wednesday he is weighing whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. Bush said it has been a "tough month" in Afghanistan, where more U.S. and NATO troops died during the past two months than in Iraq.

White House grants Army request for more brass - 2 Jul 2008 at 11:27am - WASHINGTON -- The White House has done an about-face and given the Army permission to add five new generals who would oversee purchasing and monitor contractor performance.

Iraqi forces arrest 3 Sadrist leaders in Amarah crackdown - 2 Jul 2008 at 10:53am - Iraqi security forces arrested three locally prominent supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday as part ...

Iran: Attack on country would provoke fierce reaction - 2 Jul 2008 at 9:31am - With Middle East tensions building, Iran's oil minister warned Wednesday that an attack on his country would provoke an unimaginably ...

U.S. Navy won't let Iran shut Gulf, will defend ships - 2 Jul 2008 at 11:59am - ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The United States will not allow Iran to block the Gulf, which carries crude from the world's largest oil exporting region, and would defend its ships in the waterway, the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet said on Wednesday.

Thought for the day:
You know, the courts may not be working any more, but as long as everyone is videotaping everyone else, justice will be done. -Matt Groening (1954 - ), The Simpsons

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

In the News: Jul-01

Federal judge temporarily blocks new Cuban travel law - 1 Jul 2008 at 2:50pm - A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a new Florida law that would have imposed a stiff bond and other restrictions ...

New Iraq report: 15 of 18 benchmarks satisfactory - 1 Jul 2008 at 1:30pm - WASHINGTON -- No matter who is elected president in November, his foreign policy team will have to deal with one of the most frustrating realities in Iraq: the slow pace with which the government in Baghdad operates.

U.S. criticizes report Israel likely to attack Iran - 1 Jul 2008 at 12:05pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Tuesday criticized reported comments by a senior U.S. defense official who said there was an increasing likelihood Israel would attack Iran over its nuclear program.

Iraq: Hospital officials say truck bomb injures 15 - 1 Jul 2008 at 11:38am - Hospital officials say a truck bomb has wounded at least 15 people near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Last U.S. "surge" brigade begins leaving Iraq - 1 Jul 2008 at 9:46am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military has begun withdrawing from Iraq the last of the five additional combat brigades that were deployed to the country in 2007, a U.S. military spokesman said on Tuesday.

Militants kill 7 in eastern Iraq - 1 Jul 2008 at 9:42am - Militants killed seven people in a series of attacks Tuesday in Iraq's eastern Diyala province, and a local official said government ...

Obama to expand Bush's faith based programs - 1 Jul 2008 at 9:29am - Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans to expand President ...

U.S. Poised To Handoff Anbar To Iraqis - 1 Jul 2008 at 8:24am - Anbar is Iraq's largest province and was considered the most dangerous until a year ago. It's the 10th province to be handed back to the Iraqi government. Maj. Gen. John Kelly, the commander of Multinational Forces-West in Iraq, talks about the handover of security operations to Iraqi control.

Iraq Sunni bloc on verge of rejoining government - 1 Jul 2008 at 7:52am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's main Sunni Arab bloc is close to rejoining the Shi'ite-led government, officials said on Tuesday, a move that would amount to a long-awaited political breakthrough.

Oil prices shoot above $142 after OPEC comments - 1 Jul 2008 at 7:15am - LONDON (AFP) - Oil prices jumped beyond 142 dollars a barrel on Tuesday after the president of OPEC said there was uncertainty surrounding future investment in facilities to boost crude output.