Citizens for Legitimate Government, a multi-partisan activist group established to expose the Bush Coup d'Etat and oppose the Bush occupation in all of its manifestations.


Citizens For Legitimate Government
is a multi-partisan activist group established to expose the Bush coup d'etat, and to oppose the Bush occupation in all of its manifestations.

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July 2008 Archives, Page Two

U.S. Headed for 'Heightened Alert' Stage --Major Events on the Horizon Prompt a Surge in Anti-Terror Efforts 28 Jul 2008 Government officials have been quietly stepping up counterterror efforts out of a growing concern that al Qaeda or similar organizations might try to capitalize on the spate of extremely high-profile events in the coming months, sources tell ABC News. Anti-terror officials in the U.S. cite this summer and fall's lineup of two major political parties' conventions, November's general 'election' and months of transition into a new presidential administration as cause for heightened awareness and action. This is what the Department of Homeland Security is quietly declaring a Period of Heightened Alert, or POHA [HAHA], a time frame when terrorists may have more incentive to attack.

7 July plot: Jury given majority direction 28 Jul 2008 The jury in the trial of three men accused of helping the 7 July suicide bombers plan their attack by carrying out a two-day reconnaissance mission in London was today told majority verdicts could be returned. The jurors began their deliberations on 14 July following a three-month trial at Kingston Crown Court. Mr Justice Gross told them at noon today that if they cannot reach verdicts on which they all agree he will accept verdicts on which 10 jurors agree.

Verizon Refuses Phone Records Query --Refuses to Address Maine Legislator's Question On Customer Records Because of "National Security" 27 Jul 2008 Now that Congress has given immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the government spy on Americans in suspected terrorism cases, a Maine legislator is asking Verizon anew if it turned over any customer records to the federal government. As it has in the past when faced with such queries, Verizon Communications Inc. says it is not commenting on matters involving national security. State Rep. Herbert Adams (D) posed the question about phone records on July 18, eight days after President [sic] Bush signed into law a bill that overhauled government eavesdropping rules and granted immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the government monitor Americans in suspected terrorism cases.

Report: Empty prison in Iraq a $40M 'failure' --As of this spring, Parsons had been paid $333 million. More than $142 million of that was for projects that were terminated or canceled. 28 Jul 2008 In the flatlands north of Baghdad sits a prison with no prisoners. It holds something else: a chronicle of U.S. government waste, misguided planning and construction shortcuts costing $40 million [to Parsons] and stretching back to the American overseers who replaced Saddam Hussein. Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, estimated up to 20 percent "waste" - or more than $4 billion - from the $21 billion spent so far in the U.S.-bankrolled Iraq Relief and Reconstruction [Bush blowjob] Fund.

'Cold-blooded murder' U.S. Military Says Soldiers Fired on Civilians 28 Jul 2008 The American military admitted Sunday night that a platoon of soldiers raked a car of innocent Iraqi civilians with hundreds of rounds of gunfire and that the military then issued a news release larded with misstatements [lies], asserting that the victims were criminals who had fired on the troops. The attack on June 25 killed three people, a man and two women, as they drove to work at a bank at Baghdad’s airport. The attack infuriated Iraqi officials and even prompted the Iraqi armed forces general command to call the shooting cold-blooded murder.

U.S. concedes Iraq victims were law-abiding, not insurgents 27 Jul 2008 The U.S. military said Sunday that the three people killed last month after U.S. soldiers shot at their car in one of the most secured areas of Iraq were civilians, not criminals as the military initially reported. The correction came more than a month after a bank manager at a branch inside the airport, Hafeth Aboud Mahdi, and two female bank employees were shot at by U.S. soldiers as they sped to work on a road within the secured airport compound.

Curfew imposed on Kirkuk 28 Jul 2008 Iraqi police have imposed a curfew on Kirkuk after scores of people were killed in a protest rally against a provincial election law. "Commander of the Kirkuk police General Jamal Taher gave the order to impose the curfew as of 5:00 p.m. today until 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday," The Voices of Iraq News Agency reported. "The curfew will include people and a ban on vehicles," he added.

Female suicide attackers kill 57 in Iraq 28 Jul 2008 Suicide bombers, including at least three women, struck Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and Kurdish protesters in the northern city of Kirkuk on Monday, killing at least 57 people.

Injured vets tell pull Dick Cheney invitation over security demands 27 Jul 2008 Vice President [sic] Cheney's invitation to address wounded combat veterans next month has been yanked because the group felt his security demands were Draconian and unreasonable. Cheney had planned to speak to the Disabled American Veterans at 8:30 a.m. at its August convention in Las Vegas. His staff insisted the sick vets be sequestered for two hours before Cheney's arrival and couldn't leave until he'd finished talking, officials confirmed.

Suicide hot line got calls from 22,000 veterans 28 Jul 2008 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. According to a recent RAND Corp. study, roughly one in five soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan displays symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, putting them at a higher risk for suicide.

Officials: US talks to Iran to legitimize attack 27 Jul 2008 Recent talks the United States held with Iran are aimed at creating legitimacy for a potential attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, defense officials speculated on Sunday as Defense Minister Ehud Barak headed to Washington for talks with senior administration officials. Barak will travel to Washington and New York and will hold talks with his counterpart Robert Gates, Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Paul: US would back Israeli strike on Iran 28 Jul 2008 Former US presidential candidate Ron Paul says should there be an Israeli strike on Iran over its nuclear work, it would not be unilateral. The Texas congressman told Press TV that there is no 'such thing as independent Israel doing anything', dismissing speculation that the world may witness unilateral Israeli bombardments of Iranian nuclear sites. "No matter what they do, it is our money, it is our weapons, and they are not going to do it without us approving it," said the Republican.

Gates: War with Iran would be 'disastrous' 28 Jul 2008 A war with Iran would be "disastrous on a number of levels," according to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. In an article appearing in the latest issue of Parameters, the U.S. Army War College quarterly, Gates wrote that with the army already bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, "another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need" - despite the fact that Iran "supports terrorism... and, in my judgment, is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons."

Iran Not Manufacturing Nuclear Bomb, Ahmadinejad Tells NBC News 28 Jul 2008 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told NBC News that Iran isn't developing nuclear weapons, the network reported. "We are not working to manufacture a bomb," NBC's Brian Williams quoted Ahmadinejad as saying following an interview with the president in Tehran. "Nuclear weapons are so 20th Century."

Egypt seizes Israeli radioactive cargo 28 Jul 2008 Egypt has refused to allow entry to an Israeli truck carrying 3.5 tone of ceramics after high radiation levels were detected in the shipment. Egyptian officials seized the goods at the Al-Oja border crossing after radiation detection equipment showed a high presence of radioactive material in the cargo, a security official told AFP. A special team from the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA) was expected to inspect the shipment immediately, he added.

Soldier Killed In Afghanistan 28 Jul 2008 A British soldier has been shot dead in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said. The serviceman from the 4th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland was killed by a single gun shot in Helmand province.

Al-Qaeda chemical expert 'killed' 28 Jul 2008 Reports from Pakistan say a leading al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] chemical weapons expert, Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, has been killed in a missile strike. Taleban officials in the tribal area of South Waziristan confirmed to the BBC that he was killed in a missile strike that left at least six people dead. The US, which has a reward of $5m on his head, said it had no information.

Brown hit by call for resignation and bad poll ratings 28 Jul 2008 Gordon Brown's standing was further undermined today as a Labour MP urged him to resign, new poll figures cast doubt on his performance. Gordon Prentice, the MP for Pendle, said that Brown ought to stand down because he did not have the skills to lead Labour to victory at the next election.

Lawyer asks Taoiseach for information on CIA flights 28 Jul 2008 The lawyer representing a British resident detained in Guantánamo Bay has written to Taoiseach Brian Cowen seeking information on CIA flights involved in his client's "extraordinary rendition" which landed in Shannon in 2002 and 2004. Clive Stafford Smith wrote to Mr Cowen on Friday on behalf of Binyam Mohamed, whom he is representing in the US military tribunals process and US habeas corpus litigation. Mr Mohamed, a janitor from Kensington in London, has been detained for the past six years, four in Guantánamo and before that for two years in Morocco and Afghanistan.

Pakistani journalist in US jail on terrorism charges 28 Jul 2008 Nayyar Zaidi, the well-known US-based Pakistani-American journalist who has been a citizen of the United States for more than 30 years, has been in US custody for the last four months on what are said to be terrorism-related charges. According to one report, Zaidi is being held on the charge of "obstruction of justice", a very serious offence. He is also said to be awaiting a trial. The Homeland Security Department or the FBI have made no announcement about his arrest or incarceration.

"What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?" Justice Officials Repeatedly Broke Law on Hiring, Report Says 28 Jul 2008 Former Justice Department counselor Monica M. Goodling and former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by conducting political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and line prosecutors, according to an inspector general's report released today. Goodling passed over hundreds of qualified applicants and squashed the promotions of others after deeming candidates insufficiently loyal to the Republican party, said investigators, who interviewed 85 people and received information from 300 other job seekers at Justice. Sampson developed a system to screen immigration judge candidates based on improper political considerations and routinely took recommendations from the White House Office of Political Affairs and Presidential Personnel, the report said. Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs, "What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?" the report said.

DOJ: Former Gonzales aide broke law --Politics influenced hiring of career prosecutors, report says 28 Jul 2008 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. Monday's report singles out the department's former White House liaison, Monica Goodling, for violating federal law and Justice Department policy by discriminating against job applicants who were not Republican or conservative loyalists.

FBI, IRS Raid County Offices, Homes, Businesses --Agents At Homes of Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, Auditor Frank Russo 28 Jul 2008 (OH) The FBI and the IRS launched a joint investigation into the Cuyahoga County government. Search warrants were being served Monday at 10 locations, including the Cuyahoga County Administration Building, homes and businesses, NewsChannel5 reported. About 200 FBI agents raided the county administration building. Agents were going through files and stopping employees showing up for work downtown Monday. The third and fourth floors of the county building were closed.

EPA tells staff: Don't talk 28 Jul 2008 The Environmental Protection Agency is telling its pollution enforcement officials not to talk with congressional investigators, reporters and even the agency's own inspector general, according to an internal e-mail provided to The Associated Press. The June 16 e-mail tells 11 managers in the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, the branch of the agency charged with making sure environmental laws are followed, to remind staff to keep quiet. ''If you are contacted directly by the IG's office or GAO requesting information of any kind...please do not respond to questions or make any statements,'' reads the e-mail sent by Robbi Farrell, the division's chief of staff.

Police: Man shot churchgoers over liberal views 28 Jul 2008 An unemployed man [Jim D. Adkisson] accused of opening fire with a shotgun and killing two people at a Unitarian Universalist church apparently targeted the congregation out of hatred for its support of liberal social policies, police said Monday.

Man Locked In Pewaukee City Hall Now In Police Custody 28 Jul 2008 An adult man is in custody after having locked himself in a public restroom in Pewaukee City Hall for about 2 1/2 hours claiming to have an explosive device, according to Pewaukee police. Police said the man had equipment with him that looked like it could have been a bomb.

Authorities testing for bird flu after two dead birds found at Olympic equestrian site 28 Jul 2008 Two dead birds were discovered at the Olympic equestrian venue in Hong Kong, and authorities were testing whether the animals were infected with the dangerous H5N1 bird flu virus. The birds were found last week, Mark Pinkstone, head of equestrian preparation operations and media services, said Monday.

Cat Infected With Bird Flu Virus 28 Jul 2008 A cat found dead in April had been infected with the virulent strain of the bird flu influenza, the government confirmed Monday. The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service (NVRQS) said tests conducted by Chungnam National University showed the cat, found in Gimje located 262 kilometers south of Seoul, died of the H5N1 virus that swept through the country from early April to mid-May.

Bush administration projects record 2009 deficit --Bush 2009 deficit will reach $482 billion, record driven by [his] sagging economy 28 Jul 2008 The next [sic] president will inherit a record budget deficit of $482 billion, according to a new Bush administration estimate released Monday. But the numbers could go even higher if the economy performs worse than the White House predicts.

N.Y Governor Warning of Worst Economy in Decades 28 Jul 2008 Governor Paterson, convinced the state faces its worst fiscal crisis since the mid-1970s, will deliver the grim news in an unprecedented special address to New Yorkers as soon as tomorrow night, The Post has learned. The governor's address will say that plunging state revenues will force painful cuts in state services, necessitate a reduction in the state work force, possibly through layoffs, and require other difficult economic measures, source said.

US senators demand tax crackdown 26 Jul 2008 US senators have demanded a crackdown on offshore tax havens after a US congressional probe found tax evasion could be costing the US $100 billion a year. On Friday, senators questioned the managing director of Westfield Group, an Australian firm, about its involvement with the LGT Bank of Liechtenstein. The Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations is looking at LGT Bank - and also the Swiss bank UBS - as part of a larger inquiry into wealthy US citizens who avoid taxes by hiding assets in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Orange Crush --A Chinese pathogen has the citrus industry talking apocalypse. 24 Jul 2008 Despite this year's posthurricane bounce-back in production, the threat of huang long bing (HLB), or citrus greening disease, is casting a rapidly deepening shadow over Florida's iconic fruit. HLB, first discovered in China, is the deadliest and least understood pathogen in the citrus world. There is no cure; infected plants must be uprooted and destroyed.

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Bush's 'Coalition of the Bribed' Morphs Into 'Coalition of the Blackmailers' Ex-insurgents Want More Money, or Else --After the bomb was finally blown up by the experts, a U.S. Soldier teased Abu Zarra, telling him: "Isn't this just like the good old days when you were the terrorist?" 25 Jul 2008 The Iraqi officer leading a U.S.-financed anti-jihadist group is in no mood for small talk -- either the military gives him more money or he will pack his bags and rejoin the ranks of al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh]. "I'll go back to al-Qaeda if you stop backing the Sahwa (Awakening) groups," Col. Satar tells U.S. Lt. Matthew McKernon, as he tries to secure more funding for his men to help battle the anti-U.S. 'insurgents.' Most members of the Awakening groups are Sunni Arab former insurgents who themselves fought American troops under the al-Qaeda banner after the fall of the regime of executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. [Someone tell McMoron that the only "surge" that worked was the "surge" in U.S. extortion payouts, to help boost his 'election' prospects! When Bush bin Laden cuts funding to the 'coalition of the bribed' before the 2008 'elections,' Iraq will explode in violence and put Barack Obama 'on the spot' regarding troop withdrawals. --Lori Price]

Ministry of Defence misled on Iraq torture, claim MPs 27 Jul 2008 MPs and peers have claimed that a senior Army general and a defence minister may have misled them over British troops' use of banned interrogation techniques in Iraq. Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, and Lieutenant General Robin Brims, Commander Field Army in 2006, had told the Joint Committee on Human Rights that hooding and sleep deprivation were forbidden. But the committee said the assurances appeared to be false, and not all troops had known these and other "conditioning techniques" were banned.

MPs cast doubt on Iraq torture denials 27 Jul 2008 Ministers and senior military officers are today challenged over discrepancies in evidence they gave to a parliamentary committee on the use of torture techniques by British troops in Iraq. Evidence given to MPs by the former armed forces minister, Adam Ingram, and Lieutenant General Robin Brims, former commander of UK forces in Iraq, failed to address concerns over whether the Ministry of Defence gave soldiers permission to abuse prisoners in Iraq. The MoD is also accused in today's report by the joint select committee on human rights of blocking their inquiries by refusing to explain why such senior figures appeared unaware that the use of torture techniques by British soldiers may have been officially sanctioned.

Justice Advised CIA in '02 About 'Legal' Waterboarding 25 Jul 2008 Lawyers for the Bush regime told the CIA in 2002 that its officers could legally use waterboarding and other harsh measures while interrogating al-Qaeda suspects, as long as they acted "in good faith" and did not deliberately seek to inflict severe pain, according to a Justice Department memo made public yesterday. The memo, apparently intended to assuage CIA concerns that its officers could someday face torture charges, said interrogators needed only to possess an "honest belief" that their actions did not cause severe suffering. And the honest belief did not have to be based on reality.

Hundreds rally for Khadr release back to Canada 26 Jul 2008 Hundreds took to the streets in Toronto and Ottawa on Saturday to press the federal government to bring Omar Khadr back to Canada from the American prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Khadr's family joined an estimated 200 demonstrators in the rain to protest in front of the U.S. consulate in Toronto.

Mayer: Top DOJ Lawyers Spoke 'In Codes' For Fear of Being Wiretapped By White House 'Lunatics' By Ben 26 Jul 2008 Last night on PBS, Bill Moyers interviewed investigative journalist Jane Mayer and mentioned that in Mayer’s new book, she notes that FBI agents refused to participate in the CIA’s interrogation of terror suspects at Guantánamo Bay because they determined it to be "borderline torture." Moyers then asked, "Who were some of the other conservative heroes, as you call them, in your book?" Mayer remembered one top Justice Department lawyer and "very conservative member of this administration" who said that after participating in White House meetings authorizing torture, he believed that "lunatics had taken over the country."

Judge tosses Savage's suit against Islamic group 26 Jul 2008 A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage against an Islamic civil rights group over its use of a portion of his show in which he called the Quran a "book of hate." Savage sued the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, for copyright infringement and racketeering lawsuit late last year, claiming the group violated his rights by using a segment of his "Savage Nation" show in a letter-writing campaign to get advertisers to boycott the program. In her ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said people who listen to a public broadcast are entitled to use excerpts for purposes of comment and criticism.

Report: Ex-Mossad chief says strike on Iran could 'affect us for 100 years' 26 Jul 2008 Former Mossad Chief Ephraim Halevy told Time magazine in an interview published Thursday that an Israeli attack on Iran "could have an impact on us for the next 100 years" and should only be considered as a last resort. Halevy, who currently heads the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, added that an Iranian attack on Israel would probably have little impact, because Iranian missiles would largely be intercepted by Israel's advanced anti-missile defense system.

Gunmen in Iraq kill 7 Shiites en route to shrine 27 Jul 2008 Seven Shiite pilgrims traveling to a shrine in Baghdad were shot to death in an ambush in a Sunni town south of the capital Sunday as authorities tightened security ahead of a major religious festival that is expected to draw tens of thousands of worshippers.

Turkish military says hit 12 PKK targets in N.Iraq 27 Jul 2008 Turkey's military said on Sunday its fighter jets hit 12 Kurdish separatist targets in northern Iraq's Qandil region in an operation that started at midnight. Turkish aircraft also attacked Kurdish separatist targets in Iraq on Wednesday, striking 13 PKK targets.

Canadian war games prepare troops for Afghanistan 27 Jul 2008 Hundreds of soldiers from the county regiment of Kent have been involved in war games in Canada ahead of being sent to Afghanistan -- and possibly Iraq. As part of Exercise Medicine Man, soldiers were forced out of their Warrior armoured vehicles into a purpose-built ‘village’, where they honed their street fighting skills.

US moves to upgrade Pakistan jets 24 Jul 2008 The US plans to use about $320 million of "counter-terrorism" aid for Pakistan to upgrade the South Asian nation's F-16 fighter jets, the White House has confirmed. The financing represents more than two-thirds of the $300 million Pakistan will receive this year in such aid, the New York Times said on Thursday. [See: US to triple aid to Pakistan 16 Jul 2008; Billions in U.S. Aid to Pakistan Wasted, Officials Assert 24 Dec 2007; US Senate approves Pakistan aid worth $785m 20 Dec 2007. See: Dozens of U.S. cities to get fewer anti-terror dollars 23 Jul 2008.]

Turkey: At least 13 killed in two explosions in Istanbul 27 Jul 2008 Two consecutive explosions in a busy shopping district in an Istanbul suburb have killed at least 13 people and injured 70, according to Istanbul's governor who said it was a "terror attack." Governor Muammer Guler says that at least 70 people have been injured in the explosions in the working class residential Gungoren district of Istanbul.

Passengers at British airports to be fingerprinted --From next year, US authorities also intend to fingerprint-scan people departing the country 27 Jul 2008 All passengers flying from British airports with departure lounges used by both domestic and international travellers face being fingerprinted from next year. The Home Office's Border and Immigration Agency has confirmed that it is considering forcing airport operators to introduce the measures to increase security. It is concerned that so-called 'common departure lounges' could allow an incoming international passenger – possibly a terrorist or a criminal – to switch tickets with an accomplice booked on a domestic flight.

All air passengers to give their fingerprints ... but is the reason security or simply to raise profits for the duty-free shops? 27 Jul 2008 Millions of passengers flying from British airports will be fingerprinted from next year under the latest controversial Government anti-terror plans. The measures, which will apply to both domestic and international passengers, are being introduced despite opposition from the Information Commissioner, Britain’s privacy watchdog. The Commissioner forced Heathrow to abandon a similar plan earlier this year after warning that it was potentially illegal under data protection laws. Critics say the main reason for the scheme is that airport operators want to maximise profits by ensuring all passengers are able to spend money in 'duty-free' shops.

Fingerprinted in the name of BAA greed (The Mail on Sunday) 26 Jul 2008 This summer, as we plod through airports with our shoes in one hand and our belts in the other, while our contraband handcream is confiscated by boot-faced jobsworths, we must now contemplate the prospect of being fingerprinted the next time we travel. ...[T]he real reason for this intrusive and demeaning procedure is the commercial greed of BAA, which wants to be sure that as many passengers as possible get as much exposure as possible to as many shops as possible.

Judge Overturns Accords in 4 Suits by 9/11 Victims 25 Jul 2008 A federal judge in Manhattan [Alvin K. Hellerstein] took the unusual step on Thursday of overturning settlements in four lawsuits filed on behalf of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, saying the firm that negotiated the deals was seeking excessive legal fees and that the settlement amounts themselves were unreasonable.

Petitions Hit Street After Police Tasing --Community speaks out against police Taser use that puts man in hospital 26 Jul 2008 Backlash from Friday's Taser incident is sweeping through Mid-Missouri, with dozens of people pointing the finger at police. Dramatic video on KMIZ.com shows Phillip McDuffey being tased, then falling off the walkway bridge over I-70 after threatening suicide. University hospital tells us he is still in critical condition. Not even a day after it happened, petitions against Tasers are making their way around town.

Ozark police used Taser on injured boy 19 times 24 Jul 2008 (MO) A family wants answers about what happened to their son that left him hospitalized. Early Saturday morning, police found Mace Hutchinson, 16, underneath the Highway F overpass over U.S. 65. Mace ended up in intensive care at a hospital. His parents believe the actions of Ozark police officers contributed to his injuries and slowed doctors’ abilities to speed his recovery. His aunt says he is undergoing major surgery for a broken back and broken heel. While he was lying on the ground, she wonders why Ozark police used an electric stun gun on him up to 19 times. "I'm not an officer, but i don't see the reason for 'Tasering' somebody laying there with a broken back. I don't consider that a threat."

Industry Gushed Money After Reversal on Drilling --Patrick C. Oxford, whose Texas-based law firm [Bracewell & Giuliani] represents several large oil companies, wrote his first check to McCain on June 27. 27 Jul 2008 Campaign contributions from oil industry executives to Sen. John McCain rose dramatically in the last half of June, after the senator from Arizona made a high-profile split with environmentalists and reversed his opposition to the federal ban on offshore drilling. Oil and gas industry executives and employees donated $1.1 million to McCain last month -- three-quarters of which came after his June 16 speech calling for an end to the ban -- compared with $116,000 in March, $283,000 in April and $208,000 in May.

Lobbyist Reports Show $181,000 for McCain 27 Jul 2008 Registered lobbyists have donated large amounts of money to Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign, even as he denounces their profession. So far, Mr. McCain has received more than $181,600 from lobbyists and trade groups, while Senator Barack Obama has received just over $6,000.

Getting to Know You By Bob Herbert 26 Jul 2008 ...[W]hat we’ve learned over the years is that Mr. McCain is one of those guys who never has to pay much of a price for his missteps and foul-ups and bad behavior. Can you imagine the firestorm of outrage and criticism that would have descended on Senator Obama if he had made the kind of factual mistakes that John McCain has repeatedly made in this campaign? (Or if Senator Obama had had the temerity to even remotely suggest that John McCain would consider being disloyal to his country for political reasons?) We have a monumental double standard here.

Gallup Daily: Obama 49%, McCain 40% --Third day with Obama holding a significant lead over McCain 27 Jul 2008 Barack Obama now leads John McCain among national registered voters by a 49% to 40% margin in Gallup Poll Daily tracking conducted July 24-26.

County approves NASA-Wallops broadband plan (VA) 26 Jul 2008 The Northampton County Board of Supervisors approved an initiative by the NASA Wallops Flight Facility to coordinate an environmental impact review for the entire 2008 Eastern Shore broadband effort. County Administrator Katie Nunez told supervisors at a Tuesday worksession that the Eastern Shore Broadband Authority had been working with NASA [!?!], one of the receiving agencies of federal funds for broadband locally.

Private firefighters' role growing in state --Increasingly, the job of fighting fires and protecting homes is being done not by the government, but by private companies. 27 Jul 2008 Across California, many of the bulldozers used to cut firebreaks are from private contractors, as are some of the aircraft used to drop retardant. Hundreds of private firefighters work alongside counterparts from government agencies, cutting fire breaks, setting backfires and mopping up. Increasingly, the job of fighting fires and protecting homes is being done not by the government, but by private companies. "We call it the fire industrial complex," said Timothy Ingalsbee, a former U.S. Forest Service firefighter and now executive director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology, a nonprofit in Eugene, Ore., dedicated to environmentally sound fire management. "It's big business, and business is booming."

Are Fannie and Freddie Screwed? Bush Hopes So By Scott Thill 21 Jul 2008 The problem is that Fannie and Freddie still carry the imprimatur of the government, offering options that no other lending institutions can offer. In other words, they talk private but walk public. Because of the implicit guarantee that the government would bail them out, which it is now going to have to do, they never had to raise enough cash to cover their asse(t)s. ...[T]he executives, hedge funders, bankers and further suits feeding at the trough make off with billions in subsidies, earnings and bonuses, leaving the public and its once-proud lending institutions for dead... Meanwhile, a bottom to the madness and loss is nowhere in sight, just in time for the election. Mission accomplished? You bet.

Controller says he won't cut workers' wages 25 Jul 2008 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) bombshell plan to slash the pay of state workers and lay off thousands of other employees faces the same obstacle that arose five years ago during a state fiscal crisis: a state controller unwilling to cooperate. While the governor is poised to order the cuts on Monday, state Controller John Chiang (D), who is responsible for disbursing state workers' paychecks, said Thursday that he will refuse to go along with the governor, setting up a political standoff and a possible legal fight.

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'Nuclear bomber base' raises fears of a new Cuban crisis 25 Jul 2008 The Russian military, furious at American plans to install a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe, is talking up the prospect of turning Cuba into a base for its long-range nuclear bombers. Defence chiefs in Moscow are said to be pressing for the Kremlin to retaliate against the missile shield by placing strategic bombers off the American coast. The move threatens a rerun of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Iraq war's total cost nearing Vietnam's price tag 25 Jul 2008 The total cost of the Iraq war is approaching the Vietnam War's expense, a congressional report estimates, while spending for military operations after 9/11 has exceeded it. The new report by the Congressional Research Service estimates the U.S. has spent $648 billion on Iraq war operations, putting it in range with the $686 billion, in 2008 dollars, spent on the Vietnam War, the second most expensive war behind World War II. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. has doled out almost $860 billion for military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the world.

KBR counts 2 more Iraq electrocution deaths: Pentagon: 16 soldiers died from electric shock --KBR holds a multibillion dollar contract to provide basic services at buildings in Iraq. 25 Jul 2008 Sixteen American troops have died from accidental electrocutions in Iraq, the Defense Department said Friday, more than the military has previously disclosed. Two died while in their living facilities, including at least one soldier who was electrocuted while he took a shower. The disclosure came after KBR Inc. Chief Executive William Utt met with Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., on Capitol Hill Friday to discuss allegations that soldiers died from electrocutions caused by faulty wiring at U.S. facilities run by KBR.

Iraq: Female suicide bomber kills at least 8 25 Jul 2008 A female suicide bomber has blown herself up as she approached US-allied Sunni fighters walking in a crowded area north of Baghdad, killing at least eight members of the group and wounding 24 other people, police say. The attack in Baqouba comes as the US-backed Iraqi military prepares to expand operations in Diyala province, of which Baqouba is the capital - the latest bid to tame the last major 'insurgent' belt north of Baghdad.

CIA harsh interrogation methods approved 26 Jul 2008 The Justice Department told the CIA in 2002 that its interrogators would be safe from torture prosecution if they believed "in good faith" that harsh techniques used to break prisoners would not cause "prolonged mental harm". That heavily censored memo, released yesterday, approved the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques method by method, but warned that if the circumstances changed, interrogators could be running foul of anti-torture laws.

NATO soldiers kill four Afghan civilians: military 26 Jul 2008 NATO-led soldiers killed four civilians Saturday after opening fire on a car that [allegedly] did not stop at a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan, the alliance's force said. Another three civilians were wounded in the shooting the Sangin district of Helmand province, the International Security Assistance Force said in a statement. There have been several such incidents in recent years with international forces in Afghanistan.

One British soldier killed, six injured in Afghanistan 26 Jul 2008 The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Friday that a British soldier was killed and six others were injured on their patrol in southern Afghanistan. The soldier, also a dog handler, was killed after being attacked during a routine patrol Thursday in the southern province of Helmand, said the MoD. Six other soldiers were also injured by small arms fire, said the ministry.

2 NATO soldiers killed in Afghanistan 25 Jul 2008 A British army dog handler was fatally shot by insurgents in southern Afghanistan, where a Danish soldier died in a separate roadside bomb attack, officials said Friday. Britain's Ministry of Defense said the soldier from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps was hit by small arms fire during a patrol in the Sangin area of Helmand province on Thursday. An explosives sniffer dog also died.

Taliban factions may be using British forces to assassinate rival commanders --The British have held secret talks with elements of the Taliban – despite official denials. 25 Jul 2008 The past 18 months had also seen the deaths of three other commanders including Mullah Dadullah, who had led 'insurgent' forces in Helmand. According to security sources, there is also evidence that factions within the Taliban are using Western forces to eliminate rivals in a new version of the "Great Game" being played out in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

US airwaves fail to win hearts and minds 26 Jul 2008 When the US Government launched an Arabic satellite station called Alhurra it was aiming to win Arab hearts and minds as a key plank of its war on [of] terrorism. Four years on, Alhurra has become something of an expensive flop in the eyes of many in the Middle East. The project was given about $US100 million ($104 million) in funding each year. The story of Alhurra, which means "the free one" in Arabic, has become another in the list of cautionary tales of troubled US attempts to bring democracy to the Middle East. "It's essentially the spokesman for the United States Government," said Mohamed El Sayed Said, a senior analyst with the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, in Egypt.

Condoleezza Rice lockdown begins 24 Jul 2008 Perth has started going into lockdown mode ahead of the visit by US Secretary of State [war criminal] Condoleezza Rice. 'Dr' Rice is due to land in the city about 6pm tonight. The tour is expected to focus on the close military ties between Australia and the United States.

Driver told FBI agents U.S. could have killed bin Laden 25 Jul 2008 In his seventh of month of U.S. captivity, Osama bin Laden's driver told a pair of FBI agents that it was America's fault that the al Qaida [al-CIAduh] leader was alive. The message was, ''You had these opportunities, America. You didn't do anything,'' FBI agent George Crouch Jr. testified Friday at Salim Hamdan's war crimes trial. The United States could have killed bin Laden in Khartoum, Sudan, before he moved to Afghanistan in 1996, Hamdan told his interrogators. They could have killed him after al Qaida's 1998 twin bombings at the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Or after the October 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole, at the port of Aden in Yemen, which left 17 U.S. sailors dead. Instead, ''Bin Laden was emboldened." [Was hired.]

US missile alert crew falls asleep on the job 25 Jul 2008 It was 9.30 in the evening. The crew of three air force members decided to rest a little and within 15 minutes they were fast asleep. They awoke several hours later. The only problem was that the room in which they were snoozing was the missile alert facility at Minot air force base in North Dakota. Directly beneath them was the underground control centre containing the keys that can launch ballistic missiles, and in their care were metal boxes containing the secret codes that allow the nuclear button to be pressed. The incident is the latest in a series of foul-ups and poor ratings for the Minot air force base. Last summer a B-52 bomber was loaded with six air-launched nuclear missiles and flown, unbeknownst to its pilots or crew, across America. [All three men fell asleep--at 9:30 PM--and slept *for hours?* See: Minot AFB Clandestine Nukes 'Oddities' 17 Sep 2007.]

Air Force says officers fell asleep with nuke code --July 12 incident was at Minot AFB, location of other incidents 24 Jul 2008 Three Air Force officers fell asleep [!] while in control of an electronic component that contained old launch codes for nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles, a violation of procedure, Air Force officials said Thursday. It is the fourth incident in the past year involving problems with secure handling of components of America's nuclear weapons. The incident occurred July 12, during the changing out of components used to facilitate secure communications between an underground missile-control facility and missile silos near Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, according to Col. Dewey Ford, a spokesman for the Air Force Space Command in Colorado.

Air Force declares lost B-52 crew dead 24 Jul 2008 In a solemn statement early Wednesday, 2nd Bomb Wing Commander Col. Robert Wheeler bore bitter news of tragedy to Barksdale Air Force Base and the surrounding community. The Air Force and Coast Guard have given up hope any of the six crew members of a Barksdale B-52 that crashed Sunday north of Guam are alive. Five of the lost airmen were assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing. The only other base in the world at which B-52s are permanently assigned is Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Its 5th Wing has been peppered for years with 2nd Bomb Wing personnel, and vice-versa, and it has not been unusual over the years for a commander or a vice commander to move from the 5th Wing to the 2nd Bomb Wing.

Qantas 747 terror could have been caused by bomb, say aviation experts 25 Jul 2008 The hole blown in the side of the Boeing 747 on flight from London to Melbourne, could have been caused by an explosive device or a damaged fuselage, according to aviation experts. Passengers on the flight have described their terror after a panel on the side of the aircraft [Qantas flight QF30] was ripped off in midair, blowing a hole in the fuselage.

Hole in Qantas plane forces emergency landing 25 Jul 2008 A Qantas plane carrying 350 people was ripped open at 30,000 feet today, sucking the pressure from the cabin and forcing a rapid plunge to an emergency landing in the Philippines. The Boeing 747-400 jet had left Hong Kong an hour earlier en route from London to Melbourne when part of its fuselage broke away, leaving a hole running four metres down the right side. Passengers described hearing a loud bang before air and debris rushed through the cabin and the plane "dropped suddenly" as the pilot made an emergency descent to Manila.

Iowa protest aimed at Karl Rove leads to arrests 25 Jul 2008 Four peace activists were arrested on Friday as they attempted to make a "citizens arrest" of Karl Rove, who was one of President [sic] George W. Bush's top aides before leaving the administration last year. "It should be Karl Rove in that van. War Criminal!" one of a dozen protestors shouted as the four were put into a police van outside a Des Moines country club where Rove spoke at a private state Republican party fundraiser.

In London, Obama says US must work with its allies 26 Jul 2008 Presidential contender Barack Obama on Saturday defended his decision to travel to Europe and the Middle East, saying that problems encountered by Americans at home are often best dealt with by working with allies overseas.

Barack Obama reassures Gordon Brown over popularity crisis 26 Jul 2008 Barack Obama has taken the opportunity to reassure Gordon Brown over his plummeting popularity after a meeting with the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street. The man who hopes to be the next US president said: "You're always more popular before you're actually in charge. Once you're responsible then you're going to make some people unhappy."

Obama Considers GOP Running Mate 25 Jul 2008 Barack Obama's vice presidential search team has floated the name of a member of President [sic] Bush's first-term Cabinet, Agriculturebusiness Secretary [corpora-terrorist] Ann Veneman, as Obama's running mate. The search committee, now led by Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder, raised Veneman's name -- among others -- in discussions with members of Congress, two Democrats familiar with the conversations said.

Two More Banks Fail --Regulators Seize First Heritage, First National Bank of Nevada 26 Jul 2008 Federal regulators shut down two national banks late Friday in the latest chapter of the credit crisis, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. successfully protected all depositors by selling the accounts to Mutual of Omaha Bank. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a division of the Treasury Department, revoked the charters of First National Bank of Nevada, based in Reno, Nev., and First Heritage Bank of Newport Beach, Calif. The FDIC was appointed receiver of both banks.

First National Bank of Arizona closes 25 Jul 2008 According to the First National Bank of Arizona's web site, the bank has closed its doors as a financial institution. The notice on their web site says that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a government agency, ordered the closure. The FDIC was named the receiver, and all deposit accounts have been transferred to Mutual of Omaha Bank, based out of Omaha, Nebraska. The site also claims that there is no notice given to customers for a financial institution's closing.

FCC poised to punish Comcast for traffic blocking 25 Jul 2008 A majority of members of the Federal Communications Commission have cast votes in favor of punishing Comcast Corp. for blocking subscribers' Internet traffic, an agency official said Friday. Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, was accused of violating agency principles that guarantee customers open access to the Internet.

Lawmaker Pledges to Block 'Secret Rule' 25 Jul 2008 A congressional leader pledged this morning to introduce legislation that would block an eleventh-hour effort by the Labor Department to make it more difficult to limit workers' exposure to chemicals on the job. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said he was determined to stop a "secret rule" that he described as a Bush administration effort to block the next president from trying to reduce worker deaths and illness caused by workplace toxins. The Labor Department has refused to discuss or release the proposal, a copy of which was obtained yesterday by the Post. The proposed rulemaking would require that the department allow a new round of challenges to the risk assessments used to determine how much exposure to certain chemicals is unsafe, adding another step to the process of setting regulations for workplace chemicals.

Documents Reveals Labor Effort to Add More Hoops to Regulating Workplace Toxins 24 Jul 2008 A copy of a eleventh-hour proposed rule that would make it harder to set new safety rules limiting workers' exposure to chemicals on the job has been obtained by the Washington Post. The Labor Department has refused to discuss or disclose the proposal, which has spurred anger and condemnation from unions, Democrats in Congress and public health scientists. They claim the rule is a "midnight regulation" that will block the next administration's efforts to reduce workers illnesses and deaths.

Democrats: White House must publish 'chilling' climate change document 25 Jul 2008 The row over US inaction on carbon emissions reached new heights yesterday after the White House allowed Congress to look at last year's government proposal to officially deem climate change a threat to public health -- a plan that aides to George Bush refused to acknowledge or read. The climate plan was finished in December by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to a supreme court ruling that required the Bush administration to state whether carbon emissions should be regulated to protect public health. The chairman of the Senate environment committee, California Democrat Barbara Boxer, released a summary of the proposal to reporters. Boxer was allowed to take notes on the plan but not given a copy.

Senate Gives Final Approval to Sweeping Housing Bill 27 Jul 2008 The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Saturday for final approval of a huge package of legislation that includes an ambitious program to save hundreds of thousands of families from losing their homes to foreclosure US corpora-terrorists. The housing legislation is the latest in a series of extraordinary interventions this year by the Bush administration, Congress and the Federal Reserve as they seek to limit the risk that shockwaves in the housing sector will ripple across the American economy and the world financial system.

N.C. tigers set to go to Iraqi zoo 25 Jul 2008 To see Riley the tiger sunk to his whiskers in a 100-gallon tub, swishing his tail like an oversized kitten, you’d never guess he’s shipping out to Iraq. No jitters show on Hope’s striped face as she lazes in a mud puddle nearby, even though she and her mate will soon be stars of the war-torn Baghdad Zoo. These big cats, raised in captivity deep in the Caswell County woods, represent 500 pounds of fur-covered progress in a war that seldom brings good news.

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Guantanamo testimony: U.S. let bin Laden's top bodyguard go 24 Jul 2008 Soon after Osama bin Laden's driver got here in 2002, he told interrogators the identity of the al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] chief's most senior bodyguard -- then a fellow prison camp prisoner. But, inexplicably, the U.S. let the bodyguard go. This startling information was revealed in the fourth day of the war crimes trial of Salim Hamdan, facing conspiracy and material support for terror charges as an alleged member of bin Laden's inner circle. Michael St. Ours, an agent with the Naval Criminal Intelligence Service, NCIS, provided the first tidbit. [Well, actually, it's not 'inexplicable,' when you ponder the evidence that CLG has presented for nearly 7 years: *9/11 was an inside job.* And make no mistake about it: Bush's bioterror team is dying to get the pandemic party started. An avian flu outbreak is the biggest wet dream this administration has ever had. The Bush regime achieves its political goals with martial law and quarantines (think Blackwater on steroids), mandatory vaccines (liability by the pharmaceutical companies has already been waived--just like Bush's spying telecoms), detention centers (already built by KBR), end of 'entitlement' programs (they'd be completely mismanaged and, ergo, 'overwhelmed'), and the privatization of every service--right down to the body bags and corpse removal. The puzzle pieces are on the table, ready for assemblage. --Lori Price]

Guantanamo prosecutor: Fight 93 'shot down' 22 Jul 2008 Osama bin Laden's driver knew the target of the fourth 'hijacked' jetliner in the September 11 attacks, a prosecutor said on Tuesday in an attempt to draw a link between Salim Hamdan and the al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] leadership in the first Guantanamo war crimes 'trial.' Prosecutor Timothy Stone told the six-member jury of U.S. military officers that Hamdan had inside knowledge of the 2001 attacks on the United States because he overheard a conversation between bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. "If they hadn't shot down the fourth plane it would've hit the dome," Stone, a Navy officer, said in his opening remarks. The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Col. Lawrence Morris, later explained that Stone was quoting Hamdan in evidence that will be presented at trial. Morris declined to say if the "dome" was a reference to the U.S. Capitol. "Virtually no one knew the intended target, but the accused knew," Stone said. United Airlines Flight 93 'crashed' in a field in rural Pennsylvania. U.S. officials have never stated it was shot down, although rumors saying that abound to this day.

ACLU Obtains Key Memos Authorizing CIA Torture Methods --Memo Instructed CIA to Document Both Torture Techniques and Agents Participating In Interrogations 24 Jul 2008 The American Civil Liberties Union today obtained three redacted documents related to the Bush administration's brutal interrogation policies, including a previously withheld Justice Department memo authorizing the CIA's use of torture. "These documents supply further evidence, if any were needed, that the Justice Department authorized the CIA to torture prisoners in its custody," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "The Justice Department twisted the law, and in some cases ignored it altogether, in order to permit interrogators to use barbaric methods that the U.S. once prosecuted as war crimes."

Documents Released by the CIA and Justice Department in Response to the ACLU's Torture FOIA 24 Jul 2008

Secret torture memo released 24 Jul 2008 The Bush regime told the CIA in 2002 that its interrogators working abroad would not violate U.S. prohibitions against torture unless they "have the specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering," according to a previously secret Justice Department memo released Thursday. The interrogator's "good faith" and "honest belief" that the interrogation will not cause such suffering protects the interrogator, the memo adds. "Because specific intent is an element of the offense, the absence of specific intent negates the charge of torture," Jay Bybee, then the assistant attorney general, wrote in the memo. The 18-page memo is heavily redacted, with 10 of its 18 pages completely blacked out and only a few paragraphs legible on the others. Another memo released Thursday advises that "the waterboard," or simulated drowning, does "not violate the Torture Statute."

2002 Justice memo OKs CIA torture tactics --'Good faith' protects U.S. from violating anti-torture laws 24 Jul 2008 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 prisoners' will would not cause "prolonged mental harm." That heavily censored memo, released Thursday, approved the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques method by method, but warned that if the circumstances changed, interrogators could be running afoul of anti-torture laws.

West to flex military muscles against Iran 22 Jul 2008 The United States is set to lead a joint military exercise in the Atlantic Ocean to show off its combat capabilities as a warning to Iran. The Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 08-4 'Operation Brimstone' [*puke*] will take place on July 21-31 in North Carolina and off the eastern US coast from Virginia to Florida, involving France, Britain and Brazil. More than a dozen ships, including the US carrier strike group Theodore Roosevelt and expeditionary strike group Iwo Jima, the French submarine Amethyste, and the British HMS Illustrious Carrier Strike Group, as well as a Brazilian frigate will take part in the 10-day exercise.

Pentagon eyes sending hundreds of troops to Afghanistan 24 Jul 2008 Top Pentagon leaders are expected to recommend soon that Defense Secretary Robert Gates order hundreds of additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan over the next month or so, according to a senior military official. Officials have not ruled out a larger, brigade-sized unit before the end of the year that could be shifted to Afghanistan from a planned deployment to Iraq or moved from another location.

Is Afghanistan a Narco-State? By Thomas Schweich 27 Jul 2008 Over the next two years I would discover how deeply the Afghan government was involved in protecting the opium trade -- by shielding it from American-designed policies. While it is true that Karzai’s Taliban enemies finance themselves from the drug trade, so do many of his supporters. At the same time, some of our NATO allies have resisted the anti-opium offensive, as has our own Defense Department, which tends to see counternarcotics as other people’s business to be settled once the war-fighting is over. The trouble is that the fighting is unlikely to end as long as the Taliban can finance themselves through drugs -- and as long as the Kabul government is dependent on opium to sustain its own hold on power.

Karzai denies Afghanistan shields drug trade 25 Jul 2008 The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has vehemently rejected allegations that he has been obstructing counter-narcotics efforts and protecting drug lords. The allegations were made by Thomas Schweich, the US government's former point man in the fight against the heroin trade in Afghanistan. Mr Schweich says the Afghan government is deeply involved in shielding the [CIA's] opium trade, and drug traffickers are buying off hundreds of police chiefs, judges and other officials.

Iraqi President Vows Veto of Election Bill --Measure Passed After Kurdish Boycott; Balloting Is Now Unlikely Until 2009 24 Jul 2008 President Jalal Talabani said Wednesday that he would veto a measure governing provincial elections scheduled for this year, making it all but certain that the balloting will be delayed until 2009. The announcement was a setback for both the Bush regime and the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which hailed a preliminary election law passed earlier this year as evidence of political progress in Iraq.

The Pentagon and Oil By Sarah Meyer 24 Jul 2008 Sohbet Karbuz has been following "Oil" and "the Pentagon" since 1999. Karbuz’ most complete article, US Military Energy Consumption- Facts and Figures, with extensive footnotes, was published in May 2007 on Energy Bulletin. From this article: ...The U.S. military is the single largest consumer of energy in the world. The American GI is the most energy-consuming soldier ever seen on the field of war. In 2005, The U.S. Navy was the largest diesel fuel user in the world.

Playstation 2 component incites African war --Console war reaches past the couch and into the Congo, claims report. 22 Jul 2008 Has the video game industry dug up its very own blood diamond? According to a report by activist site Toward Freedom, for the past decade the search for a rare metal necessary in the manufacturing of Sony's Playstation 2 game console has fueled a brutal conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the center of the conflict is the unrefined metallic ore, coltan. After processing, coltan turns into a powder called tantalum, which is used extensively in a wealth of western electronic devices including cell phones, computers and, of course, game consoles.

On tape, Hamdan claimed he worked for charity 24 Jul 2008 Pentagon prosecutors on Wednesday screened a 2001 video of Osama bin Laden's driver lying and being evasive in his first battlefield interrogation, in a bid to prove he was an Al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] terrorist. In the video, defendant Salim Hamdan says he worked for a charity called Wafa.

Panel urges anti-terrorism agency 24 Jul 2008 A Swiss-led, five-nation panel proposed Thursday that the United Nations assert itself as leader of a global fight against terrorism and establish a new agency or program to coordinate that effort. U.N. ambassadors from Costa Rica, Japan, Slovakia, Switzerland and Turkey suggested that the U.N. General Assembly create an agency for counterterrorism along the lines of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Campaigners push for Bush impeachment 25 Jul 2008 Anti-war campaigners like Cindy Sheehan are increasing pressure on the House of Representatives to impeach the US President [sic] George Bush. "I am not only want him (Bush) impeached, I want him drag out of my White House," Sheehan said in Washington on Thursday at a press conference with Republican constitutional law scholar Bruce Fein. "I want him thrown in The Hague [because] he is clearly a war criminal. It is about time an American president paid for those kinds of crimes."

Congress Hears Ringing Call for Impeachment By David Swanson 25 Jul 2008 The House Judiciary Committee today, Friday, July 25th, will put impeachment squarely back "on the table" and restored to its prominent place in our Constitution. Elliott Adams, President of Veterans for Peace, and a descendant of American revolutionary Sam Adams, will deliver this prepared testimony... Bruce Fein, Associate Deputy Attorney General, 1981-82, and Chairman of the American Freedom Agenda, will deliver this prepared testimony.

Rep. Conyers plans Bush impeachment substitute 22 Jul 2008 House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers said his panel will explore a variety of George W. Bush controversies, including manipulation of prewar Iraq intelligence. Rebuffing Dennis Kucinich's calls for impeachment hearings on George W. Bush, the House Judiciary Committee instead will hear testimony about Bush’s "imperial presidency" [sic] and several of his administration’s scandals. In a press release issued Thursday, Rep. Conyers said his panel will explore a variety of Bush controversies, including manipulation of prewar Iraq intelligence, politicization of the Justice Department, and refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations. But the Michigan Democrat also left little doubt that the committee's review was meant to fend off demands from Rep. Kucinich (D-Ohio) that Conyers initiate impeachment proceedings against Bush and Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney.

Berlin Rally Is Off-Limits for Embassy Workers 24 Jul 2008 The U.S. Embassy in Berlin has instructed Foreign Service personnel stationed there not to attend Sen. Barack Obama's public rally today, which the State Department this week labeled a "partisan political activity" prohibited under its regulations for those serving overseas. Government employees serving in the United States are permitted to attend such events under the Hatch Act, which bars other partisan activity, such as contributing money or working in behalf of a candidate. [Bush has been violating the Hatch Act six ways to Sunday, since the first GOP coup d'etat in 2000.]

Bush Bans State Department Officials From Obama Rally By Jacob Heilbrunn 24 Jul 2008 In a flagrant political act, the State Department has barred its employees from attending Sen. Barack Obama's speech in Berlin tonight... Indeed, the administration has a long and tawdry record of trying to browbeat government agencies into submission, whether it's the CIA or the Centers for Disease Control. The State Department is perhaps highest on the list of conservatives and neocons who see it as the center of disloyalty and treachery. But this latest action represents a new low.

Obama delivers soaring call for unity in Berlin 24 Jul 2008 Barack Obama Thursday challenged a new generation of Americans and Europeans to tear down walls between estranged allies, races, and faiths in a soaring call for global unity at an unprecedented mass campaign rally in Berlin. The Democratic White House candidate told tens of thousands of people near the footprint of the old Berlin Wall that humanity faced a perilous turning point, and it was time to build "a world that stands as one." "The greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another," said Obama.

Full script of Obama's speech 24 Jul 2008 Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome. I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

'That's a beautiful, beautiful bear.' 24 Jul 2008 Barack Obama met with German Chancellor Merkel, Foreign Minister Steinmeier, and the mayor of Berlin, who presented the presumptive Democratic nominee with a porcelain bear. Admiring his gift, Obama smiled and said, "That’s a beautiful, beautiful bear."

PUMAs stalking Obama 23 Jul 2008 Party Unity My A--! Not exactly the slogan you want heading into your presidential nominating convention, but one that is being repeated online and in neighborhood bars by a group of disenchanted Democrats, who have dubbed themselves PUMAs. Even though Sen. Hillary Clinton conceded the Democratic presidential nomination to Obama in early June and urged all of her supporters to vote for him, not all of her backers heeded the call. Hence, the beginning of the PUMA movement.

McCain Makes Significant Gains in Four Key Battleground States --National polling suggests Obama retains steady but statistically significant edge --Majority of voters in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin favor keeping troops in Iraq, according to Quinnipiac-washingtonpost.com-Wall Street Journal survey 24 Jul 2008 Republican John McInsane has quickly closed the gap between himself and Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama in several key battleground states even as the Arizona senator struggles to break through the wall-to-wall coverage of Obama's trip to Europe and the Middle East this week... In the most recent Washington Post/ABC News survey, Obama held a 50 percent to 42 margin over McCain; in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, released last night, Obama leads 47 percent to 41.

FEMA seeks immunity from trailer fume suits 23 Jul 2008 The Federal Emergency Management Agency asked a federal judge Wednesday for immunity from lawsuits over potentially dangerous fumes in government-issued trailers that have housed tens of thousands of Gulf Coast hurricane victims. Lawyers for victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita accuse FEMA of negligence for sheltering them in trailers with elevated levels of formaldehyde, a preservative used in construction materials that can cause health problems.

Dead Cat to Be Examined for Bird Flu 24 Jul 2008 Quarantine authorities are examining a cat to discover whether it was infected with the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza that swept South Korea in April. The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service said Thursday that a cat was found dead in April in Gimje, North Jeolla Province, right next to a farm where bird flu killed tens of thousands of chickens.

Rockeby gets orders for bird flu tests 24 Jul 2008 Rockeby Biomed Ltd has received orders for its H5N1 bird flu tests on humans from several South East Asian, European, and North African countries, worth $242,000, the company says.

California Gov. Schwarzenegger to Cut State Worker Pay to $6.55 an Hour 23 Jul 2008 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to sign an executive order next week that will temporarily reduce pay for more than 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour to preserve cash in the midst of a month-long budget standoff, according to a draft copy of the order obtained by The Bee. Administration officials said the governor expects to take the action Monday. [Stop Arnold: Sign the petition to protect 200,000 state workers --Tell Governor Schwarzenegger to halt the wage cuts and close the Yacht Tax loophole]

Home sales at 10-year low, jobless claims jump 24 Jul 2008 Jobless claims jumped last week and the pace of existing home sales tumbled to a 10-year low as slowing growth hit hiring and a glut of unsold homes weighed on the real estate market, data on Thursday showed. The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped 34,000 last week, the Labor Department said.

To be safe, swallow first, then read: Printed by gangsters, backed by terrorists By Mark Yannone 24 Jul 2008 "The entire US banking system is insolvent," said Mike "Mish" Shedlock, summing up his latest article, "Evidence of the US Banking System Teetering on the Brink of Collapse." ...What's so damn funny, you ask? The banking system is working as designed -- fraudulently -- and we've known about this money, banking, and taxing fraud for 95 years. This insolvency isn't something that just happened. Insolvency is actually a design feature.

AEP Texas outages exceed 200,000 after Dolly 24 Jul 2008 American Electric Power Co's Texas unit reported more than 200,000 customers in South Texas without power on Thursday after Hurricane Dolly rolled through the Rio Grande Valley, just north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Dolly's wind strengthened to 100 mph (160 kph) before it made landfall on Wednesday, crossing South Padre Island.

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Pentagon Pressured, Intimidated Auditors to Favor Contractors, GAO Says --7 contractors cited: Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Fluor, Parker Hannifin, Sparta, SRS Technologies and a subsidiary of L3 Communications 24 Jul 2008 Auditors at a Pentagon oversight agency were pressured by supervisors to skew their reports on major defense contractors to make them look more favorable instead of exposing wrongdoing and charges of overbilling, according to an 80-page report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office. The Defense Contract Audit Agency, which oversees contractors for the Defense Department, "improperly influenced the audit scope, conclusions and opinions" of reviews of contractor performance, the GAO said, creating a "serious independence issue." Supervisors at DCAA attempted to intimidate auditors, prevented them from speaking with GAO investigators and created a "generally abusive work environment," the report said. It cited incidents of "verbal admonishments, reassignments and threats of disciplinary action" against workers who "raised questions about management guidance."

Plan Would Use $230M In 'Antiterror Aid' for Pakistani Jets 24 Jul 2008 The Bush regime plans to shift nearly $230 million in aid to Pakistan from counterterrorism programs to upgrading that country’s F-16 attack planes. Some members of Congress have greeted the proposal with dismay and anger, and may block the move. The financing for the F-16s would represent more than two-thirds of the $300 million that Pakistan will receive this year in American military financing for equipment and training. [See: US to triple aid to Pakistan 16 Jul 2008; Billions in U.S. Aid to Pakistan Wasted, Officials Assert 24 Dec 2007; US Senate approves Pakistan aid worth $785m 20 Dec 2007. See: Dozens of cities to get fewer anti-terror dollars 23 Jul 2008; Army Times Alarm: McCain Suggests Rationing Vets Health Care 23 Jul 2008.]

Major Iraq military assault timed for early August 23 Jul 2008 A military assault in Iraq’s Diyala province, timed for August 1st, will involve around 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen. Diyala province is the bastion of al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] fighters in Iraq. Iraqi military officials have leaked the news that the soldiers and police personnel will take part in the crackdown. The officials have said the operation will be led by the Iraqi army with some support from the US. [The 'surge' is a failure.]

Iraq president rejects election law 23 Jul 2008 Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, has rejected a law that would have paved the way for provincial elections later this year, despite it being passed by parliament on Tuesday. Wednesday's move, which comes after protests by Kurdish and some Shia MPs, is likely to delay the elections, which have been encouraged by US officials. A statement from Talabani's office on Wednesday said: "The president does not accept a law like this - a law that 127 deputies voted on and which does not represent even half of the parliament."

Kurds ask for US bases to be built near Iran border 22 Jul 2008 As part of a long-term security agreement with Iraq, US forces could be stationed in Kurdistan. The Iraqi government and the head of northern Iraq's regional Kurdish administration, Massoud Barzani, have suggested to military officials that US forces be permanently based in Kurdistan. Mr Barzani has said a permanent US military presence in the Kurdistan region would defend Iraq from internal and external risks. On hearing the request, US democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama said it would be appropriate to redeploy US troops there in the future. [!?!]

Ex-US advisors: Iran attack 'disaster' 23 Jul 2008 Two former senior White House security advisors have warned that a military attack against Iran would be a catastrophe for the US. "If we get into a war with Iran, we know there would be disaster, we know there would be a disaster," said Zbigniew Brzezinski, ex-president Jimmy Carter's national security advisor on Tuesday. "The United States will become involved in a four-front war, probably for roughly two decades. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf," he said during a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the negotiations between the United States and Iran. Also, advisor to presidents Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush, Brent Scowcroft, said at the meeting, "Don't talk about 'do we bomb them now or later?"

Merkel: Only diplomacy works with Iran 24 Jul 2008 German Chancellor Angela Merkel says only diplomacy can put an end to the standoff between Iran and the West over its nuclear program. "We are clearly counting on a diplomatic solution in the dispute over Iran," she said. "The more consequent and consistent we are with sanctions if Iran does not give in - as we are hearing very diverse signals - the better are the chances for such a diplomatic solution. I am counting on that and nothing else," Merkel added.

Obama: air strike on Iran useless 24 Jul 2008 The White House hopeful Barack Obama says an air strike on Iran will not halt its nuclear program, calling for tougher Iran sanctions. "Iran is a big country. They have dispersed their nuclear capabilities in a way that you are not going to see smooth, surgical strikes solving the problem entirely the way that Israel was able to deal with Iraq's nuclear threat," he told ABC News. The Illinois senator called for "tough sanctions" coupled with "tough diplomacy that makes the calculus for the Iranians different."

Barack Obama vows to strengthen ties with Israel 23 Jul 2008 Senator Barack Obama used a visit to Israel today to reassure its people and Jewish voters at home that he would not undermine the traditionally close links between America and its key ally in the Middle East. Throughout a hectic day Mr Obama repeatedly drove home the message that a White House led by him would continue to back Israel. On the Iranian nuclear programme, Palestinian 'terrorism,' the status of Jerusalem and all other issues he stuck closely to the script of robustly supporting Israel.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, descending into chaos By Jim Miles 23 Jul 2008 ...[T]he scene is truly one of chaos, with tribal, ethnic, national, cultural, political relationships entwining around each other. Add a good harvest of opium, American CIA money... British MI6 personnel, various warlords of various leanings, the Pakistani ISI, a hesitant NATO, a reluctant UN, an aggressive al-Qaeda, ex-patriates wanting their piece of the power and money, the Pakistani army, nuclear weapons, and a mix of command structures in Afghanistan, a mix of loyalties in both countries and the entire scene is one dedicated to volatility and chaos.

Guantanamo suspect walks out --Hamdan protests showing of interrogation video 23 Jul 2008 Osama bin Laden's former driver briefly walked out of his war crimes 'trial' before a military tribunal on Wednesday as the prosecution showed videos of his interrogations. "Mr (Salim) Hamdan does not want to watch the video," one of his lawyers told the military officer presiding over the terrorism trial at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The terror suspect was then escorted out by two soldiers, but the judge, Keith Allred, said the video of Hamdan's first interrogation in 2001 would be shown in any event.

Let the war crimes trials (of Bush, not the Gitmo guinea pigs) begin 22 Jul 2008 Photo of a detainee held by the United States, with his face wired, lips sewn, red eyes and torso sacked. According to digital camera metadata the image was taken on Feb 9, 2003 03:49:25. The 6 Aug 2004 is also mentioned in relation to this photo. The facial wiring is clearly non-medical. The location of the prisoner is unknown, possibly the US Bagram Theater Internment Facility in Afghanistan. [Warning - graphic!]

U.S. rejects outside probe of Canadian sent to Syria and tortured 23 Jul 2008 U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said on Wednesday he had rejected a request from lawmakers that an outside special counsel investigate the case of a Canadian taken off a plane in New York and sent to Syria, where he says he was tortured. Mukasey said under questioning at a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing that he did not believe that a special counsel was warranted "at this time."

Dozens of cities to get fewer anti-terror dollars 23 Jul 2008 Dozens of cities will receive less federal money this year than last for anti-terror programs, The Associated Press has learned. The grant list to be released Friday by the Homeland Security Department shows that 43 cities are in line for fewer dollars in the current budget year than they got a year earlier. According to an early copy of the list obtained Wednesday by the AP, more money is heading to three large cities -- Houston, New York and San Francisco -- from the $782 million in the Urban Area Security Initiative [!] to help pay for equipment and training.

Army Times Alarm: McCain Suggests Rationing Vets Health Care 23 Jul 2008 Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain appeared Tuesday to suggest rationing of veterans' health care may be needed so combat veterans can receive the care they deserve. At a town hall meeting in Dover, N.H., McCain talked about the need to "concentrate" veterans' health care on people with injuries that "are a direct result of combat."

McCain: Make combat-disabled top VA priority 23 Jul 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s call to "concentrate" veterans’ health care on those with combat injuries is raising questions about the Arizona senator’s commitment to funding the ailing VA system. Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., said a system that treats combat veterans and non-combat veterans differently is inherently unfair... Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, said McCain "appears to want to significantly narrow the number of veterans who can use VA, and that would alarm many veterans." Sullivan said veterans "should be very concerned by any effort to restrict access to VA health care and benefits by excluding other veterans with medical conditions clearly linked with their military service, such as illnesses related to Agent Orange poisoning, injures incurred in the combat zone, injuries due to training, and the adverse side effects of vaccines and experimental drugs."

Sound waves, goo guns won't be used on DNC protesters 23 Jul 2008 Denver officials expect to spend more than $18 million on police equipment for the Democratic National Convention -- but the purchases apparently won't include high-tech weapons that use sonic waves to incapacitate protesters or goo guns to immobilize them. That information, provided by the city to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of an agreement to delay a public records lawsuit, marks one of the most detailed looks yet at the super-secret efforts to provide security for the convention, scheduled Aug. 25 to 28.

Police disrupt 13 terror networks in last year 23 Jul 2008 No networks were disrupted between April and May this year, according to the report on Scotland Yard's Counter-Terrorism Command. It says serious terrorist attacks may have been foiled as a result of some of the successes. During the last financial year police responded to 181 calls to the scene of suspected terrorist incidents - one every other day - and have already responded to 29 in April and May this year.

Teams use airport to stage bird flu drill 23 Jul 2008 Local, state and federal workers and military and civilian health care personnel worked as a team in a bird flu drill yesterday at Honolulu Airport. The drill, Lightning Rescue '08, simulated what would happen if an airliner from Asia arrived at Honolulu Airport bearing more than 300 passengers with some experiencing symptoms of avian influenza or "bird flu." The coordinated response plan included personnel from the Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team, federal Centers for Disease Control, airport paramedics, airport firefighters, medical personnel from neighbor island and Oahu hospitals, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents, Joint Task Force-Homeland Defense and others. On Friday, Lightning Rescue '08 will continue with a second simulation staged at the Naval Pacific Missile Range facility on Kauai.

HHS and DHS Announce Guidance on Pandemic Vaccination Allocation 23 Jul 2008 The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Homeland Security (DHS) released guidance on allocating and targeting pandemic influenza vaccine. The guidance's vaccination structure defines four broad target groups: people who 1) maintain homeland and national security, 2) provide health care and community support services, 3) maintain critical infrastructure and 4) are in the general population. [See: DoD to 'augment civilian law' during pandemic or bioterror attack.]

Fliers Complain About X-Rated Security Screenings --TSA Agents Forced Woman to Remove Nipple Rings, Pulled Pants Off Disabled Man 22 Jul 2008 CBS 2 reports that thousands of travelers have complained that some Transportation Security Administration screenings can become abusive and even x-rated. For arguing with a TSA agent, Robin Kassner wound up being slammed to the floor. She's filed a lawsuit. "I kept begging them over and over again get off of me... and they wouldn't stop," Kassner said. In Chicago, people like Robert Perry are subjected to exhaustive security checks. He was patted down, his wheel chair was examined and his hands were swabbed, all in public view in a see-through room at the security checkpoint. Perry, 71, is not alone.

Congressman moves to block guns at airport 21 Jul 2008 The chairman of the U.S. House's Homeland Security Committee wants the federal government to keep Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport a gun-free zone. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote Transportation Security Administration officials Monday asking them what they will do to keep guns out of the world's busiest airport in light of a new Georgia law that allows Georgians with carry permits to tote guns into restaurants that sell alcohol, onto public transportation and, supporters say, into the airport.

Witness: 'No way' Novak didn't know he hit someone; victim was 'splayed across the front' of his car. By Faiz 23 Jul 2008 Politico reports that conservative pundit Robert Novak "was cited by police after he hit a pedestrian with his black Corvette in downtown Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning." Novak initially "drove away from the scene," but turned around when "a bicyclist stopped him and said, 'You hit someone.'" Novak claimed: "I didn’t know I hit anybody." But Washington DC’s local ABC affiliate interviewed the bicyclist who saw the incident. WJLA’s Suzanne Kennedy reported live from the scene: I just spoke with the bicyclist about three minutes ago. He tells me that the pedestrian was actually splayed across the front of Novak’s convertible, and that there would be absolutely no way Novak would have not known that he had hit someone.

Novak cited after hitting pedestrian --'He's not dead, that's the main thing,' Novak said. 23 Jul 2008 Syndicated columnist [sociopath] Robert D. Novak was cited by police after he hit a pedestrian with his black Corvette in downtown Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning. A Politico reporter saw Novak in the front of a police car with a citation in his hand; a WJLA-TV crew and reporter saw Novak as well. The man was treated at George Washington University Hospital for minor injuries, according to D.C. Fire and EMS.

Radioactive leak contaminates 100 in France 24 Jul 2008 A spokeswoman for Electricite de France says radioactive particles discharged from a nuclear reactor slightly [?] contaminated 100 employees. The incident took place on Wednesday at a French nuclear reactor in Tricastin. This latest episode brings the number of leak incidents to four in the recent weeks and the second in five days, AP reported.

In time for the 2008 'elections:' Expert: Gas Prices Dropping Like a Rock Analyst Says Prices Could Go to $3.50 a Gallon By Labor Day 23 Jul 2008 Finally, there's some good news about gas prices. They've dropped nationwide by about a nickel, and as CBS 2 reports, analysts are predicting even bigger drops through the rest of the summer. "So often we hear gas prices rise like a rocket and drop like a feather, this time, they're starting to drop like a rock and that's a good thing," Flynn said. [Gee, what a surprise! They also 'dropped like a rock' before the 2006 'elections' --and everyone knew why.]

Senate Republicans preventing crackdown on oil speculators 23 Jul 2008 A partisan squabble GOP efforts in the Senate Wednesday threatened to sink a bill meant to crack down on oil speculators. On Wednesday, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), one of the main sponsors of the bill, pleaded for Republicans to help "wring excessive speculation" from the oil markets, which he says is responsible for 71 percent of the price of a barrel of oil this year. Some analysts say speculation has added between $40 to $60 dollars to a barrel of oil.

Richest Americans See Their Income Share Grow 23 Jul 2008 In a new sign of increasing inequality in the U.S., the richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation's adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929, according to Internal Revenue Service data. Meanwhile, the average tax rate of the wealthiest 1% fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years.

Weakening Dolly's heavy rains raise flood fears --Thousands without power 23 Jul 2008 Hurricane Dolly barreled into South Texas on Wednesday, lashing the coast with winds up to 100 mph and dumping heavy rain that flooded some low-lying areas, but sparing levees along the heavily populated Rio Grande Valley.

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U.S. Rushes to Change Workplace Toxin Rules 23 Jul 2008 Political appointees at the Department of Labor are moving with unusual speed to push through in the final months of the Bush regime a rule making it tougher to regulate workers' on-the-job exposure to chemicals and toxins. The agency did not disclose the proposal, as required, in public notices of regulatory plans that it filed in December and May. Instead, Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao's intention to push for the rule first surfaced on July 7, when the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted on its Web site that it was reviewing the proposal, identified only by its nine-word title.

Booming oil means record 2Q sales for Halliburton --Revenue rose to record $4.48 billion 22 Jul 2008 Halliburton's second-quarter profit fell about 67 percent from a year ago, when it recorded a nearly $1 billion gain from its split with former subsidiary KBR, but the oilfield services provider posted record revenue and said prospects look good for the remainder of 2008. Revenue rose to a record $4.48 billion from $3.73 billion a year ago, beating Wall Street's $4.25 billion average estimate.

Blackwater plans shift from security business 21 Jul 2008 Blackwater Worldwide said Monday that it planned a shift away from the security contracting business that earned it millions of dollars and made it a flash point in the debate over the use of security contractors in war zones.The company has made hundreds of millions of dollars defending U.S. diplomats killing in Iraq, one of several government contracts that earned Blackwater more than $1 billion since 2001. In 2005 and 2006, security jobs, including protecting diplomats and helping secure destroying New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, represented more than 50 percent of the company's business.

Obama Sees Growing Consensus to Withdraw Iraq Troops 22 Jul 2008 Senator Barack Obama said there is a "growing consensus" in the U.S. and Iraq for a timeline to withdraw American combat forces from the Middle East nation and increasing worldwide support for his approach to foreign policy. The Democratic presidential candidate, on a tour of the Middle East with two other senators before heading to Europe, said he wants a "steady, deliberate" pullout from Iraq.

Hamden Faces Life Behind Bars Even if Acquitted 22 Jul 2008 Opening statements got underway at Guantanamo Bay on Tuesday for the first U.S. military commissioned war crimes 'trial' since World War II. A U.S. Naval prosecutor told a military jury at the Guantanamo Bay detention center that Salim Ahmed Hamden -- Osama bin Laden's former driver -- "provided material support" for al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh], was an arms runner and a bodyguard for the terror organization. If convicted, the Yemeni national faces a life sentence. If found not guilty, he faces a lifetime behind bars along with the 260 other so-called enemy combatants being held at the U.S. Naval facility in Cuba. That's because the Bush regime has declared Hamden and the other captives "enemy combatants." According to the administration, they can be held until the end of the war on terror.

'On that show ['24'], torture always worked. It saved America on a weekly basis.' Madness and Shame By Bob Herbert 22 Jul 2008 Very few voters are aware of Mr. [David] Addington’s existence, much less what he stands for. But he was the legal linchpin of the administration’s Marquis de Sade approach to battling terrorism. In the view of Mr. Addington and his acolytes, anything and everything that the president authorized in the fight against terror -- regardless of what the Constitution or Congress or the Geneva Conventions might say -- was all right. That included torture, rendition, warrantless wiretapping, the suspension of habeas corpus, you name it. This is the mind-set that gave us Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and the C.I.A.’s secret prisons, known as "black sites..." When the constraints of the law are unlocked by the men and women in suits at the pinnacle of power, terrible things happen in the real world. You end up with detainees being physically and psychologically tormented day after day, month after month, until they beg to be allowed to commit suicide. You have prisoners beaten until they are on the verge of death, or hooked to overhead manacles like something out of the Inquisition, or forced to defecate on themselves, or sexually humiliated, or driven crazy by days on end of sleep deprivation and blinding lights and blaring noises, or water-boarded.

Plane carrying Ron Paul, congressmen makes emergency landing 22 Jul 2008 A plane carrying Texas Rep. Ron Paul and six other members of Congress was forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday due to mechanical issues. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Continental Airlines flight 458, a Boeing 737 en route to Washington, DC from Houston made a rapid decent in New Orleans when the pilot reported pressurization problems.

Congress members' flight loses cabin pressure 22 Jul 2008 A plane carrying 123 people, including seven members of Congress, was forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday due to mechanical issues, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Among the passengers were former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and six other Texas congressmen: Republicans Ted Poe and John Carter, and Democrats Nick Lampson, Henry Cuellar, Solomon P. Ortiz and Ciro Rodriguez, Lampson's office told CNN.

Training drill targets bio-terrorism --Marines to serve as mock victims; military helicopters will land at hospital and dispatch two dozen law enforcement officers dressed in full decontamination gear 22 Jul 2008 (CA) Local, state and federal agencies are participating in a four-day training drill that focuses on how the groups respond to a mock bio-terrorism attack. The goal drill – dubbed Operation Golden Phoenix - began Monday. Today, Marine Corps will be at Brown Field Airport simulating a humanitarian relief response. On Wednesday, San Diego police will practice traffic and crowd control around UCSD Medical Center and Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla as hospital personnel do emergency medical response drills.

IP Access International to Participate in Operation Golden Phoenix 2008 22 Jul 2008 IP Access International (IPA), a global commercial satellite internet provider of voice, video and data connectivity solutions, today announced their participation in Operation Golden Phoenix, a bio-terrorism training event for local, state and federal agencies scheduled for July 21-24, 2008 in San Diego, California. Operation Golden Phoenix 08 is a four-day training event that will allow local, state and federal agencies to join other partners in a simulated response to a mock bio-terrorism attack. The lead agency for Golden Phoenix 08 is U.S. Customs and Border Protection. County of San Diego, City of San Diego and Marine Aircraft Group-46 (Marine Forces Reserve) also have leading roles in this event.

NYC sees $10 million boost in anti-terror funds 22 Jul 2008 New York City will see an increase this year in homeland security grants. The city and its suburbs will get $144 million. That's about $10 million more than the area received last year from the Department of Homeland Security's Urban Area Security Initiative [!?!]. The grant money is shared by the city and surrounding areas, including Long Island and Westchester County.

'The troops' job is to 'support civilian authorities.'' National Guard troops on way 22 Jul 2008 At least 600 of the 1,200 Texas Army National Guard members Gov. Rick Perry (R) mobilized this week are poised to come to South Texas during and after Tropical Storm Dolly's strike, officials said Tuesday. Troops from Austin and Houston traveled to Camp Bullis in San Antonio on Tuesday, preparing to help with searches, evacuations, transport of supplies and shelters as needed once Dolly arrives, said Technical Sgt. Gregory Ripps of Austin.

Dolly fuels Tornado activity, will likely make landfall midday 22 Jul 2008 Hurricane Dolly is expected to continue to strengthen tonight, as the edge of the storm begins to move into the area. Latest forecast indicate Dolly, officially still a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds near 80 miles per hour, will make landfall Wednesday just before noon. Overnight, the storm's outer rain bands fueled sporadic funnel activity, prompting officials to issue a tornado watch for coastal areas effective through 10 a.m. Wednesday.

AP: Big Oil profits steered to investors 22 Jul 2008 As giant oil companies like Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips get set to report what will probably be another round of eye-popping quarterly profits, just where is all that money going? The five biggest international oil companies plowed about 55 percent of the cash they made from their businesses into stock buybacks and dividends last year, up from 30 percent in 2000 and just 1 percent in 1993, according to Rice University's James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

Cost of Bailout of Loan Giants Is Estimated at $25 Billion 23 Jul 2008 The proposed government rescue of the nation’s two mortgage finance giants will appear on the federal budget as a $25 billion cost to taxpayers, the independent Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday even though officials conceded that there was no way of really knowing what, if anything, a bailout would cost.

Bush Job Approval Drops to 21% 21 Jul 2008 George W. Bush's overall job approval has dropped to 21% as 76% of American say the national economy is getting worse according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. Among all Americans, 21% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president [sic] and 72% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 17% approve and 77% disapprove.

Kucinich Petition (kucinich.us) Whereas, in his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has committed abuses of power. Therefore, be it resolved that President [sic] George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and Commander in Chief, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and that he be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Lieberman praises pastor repudiated by McCain 22 Jul 2008 One of John McCain's most prominent supporters on Tuesday praised an evangelical leader whom the Republican presidential candidate repudiated after a string of controversial remarks were made public. Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent [R-Israel] who frequently campaigns with McCain, said pastor John Hagee's support for Israel outweighed the remarks that led McCain to reject his endorsement. "The bond that I feel with Pastor Hagee and each and every one of you is much stronger than that, and so I am proud to stand with you tonight," Lieberman told several thousand members of the group, which urges U.S. support for Israel.

Lieberman: "I Am Proud" to Speak At John Hagee Conference 22 Jul 2008 It seems Joe Lieberman just can't get enough of John Hagee. Lieberman took some time tonight to stop in and speak at Hagee's Christians United For Israel conference in Washington, even after John McCain was forced to reject Hagee's support over some rather controversial remarks.

McCain opinion article rejected by New York Times 21 Jul 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign said on Monday a McCain opinion article about Iraq offered to The New York Times as a rebuttal to Democrat Barack Obama had been rejected. The McCain camp had submitted the article to The Times as a response to a piece by Obama published by the newspaper last week. An e-mail sent to the McCain staff by a Times editor said it would be terrific to have an article from McCain [an illiterate douchebag] but that the one sent in was not acceptable as currently written and that a new draft should articulate how McCain defines victory in Iraq.

'Bird Flu Strain Can Be Transmitted to Mammals' 22 Jul 2008 Quarantine authorities said Tuesday that the virus strain of avian influenza that swept South Korea in April could be transmitted to mammals, but not necessarily to humans. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sent samples from infected birds to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention for detailed analysis. The U.S. agency concluded the virus from the sample could be transmitted to mammals but that there was no proof it could infect humans, an official from the ministry said.

Britain faces 75,000 deaths in bird flu pandemic, Lords report predicts 21 Jul 2008 Up to 75,000 Britons will in die in an "inevitable" flu pandemic that could kill as many as 50 million people worldwide, a parliamentary committee warns today. The committee report warns that surveillance of emerging disease threats around the world needs to be overhauled to provide early warning of potential pandemics.

South Africa: Small Farmers Pushed to Plant GM Seed --Many small-scale farmers are suspicious of genetically-modified seed, but may plant it anyway when it's offered for free. 21 Jul 2008 50 small-scale farmers in the Valley of a Thousand Hills in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province have been taught how to farm organically by non-governmental organisation Valley Trust... But rural farmers are often lured into planting GM seeds by the Department of Agriculture by promises of substantial bank loans and the prospect of huge earnings, says Lesley Liddell, director of Biowatch, an NGO promoting alternatives to GMO farming. "But in the end, most farmers end up in huge debt, because they can't save seeds and are obliged to buy the matching GM fertilisers and pesticides."

Selling land by the acre to be banned under new EU ruling 21 Jul 2008 People in Britain will lose the right to sell land in acres under a new Brussels ruling nodded through by the Government. In a low-key meeting, a junior minister agreed last week to abolish the ancient imperial measurement and replace it with the metric equivalent 'hectare' from 2010.

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World warned over killer flu pandemic 21 Jul 2008 The world is failing to guard against the inevitable spread of a [US generated] devastating flu pandemic which could kill 50 million people and wreak massive disruption around the globe, the Government has warned. Ministers said that more was needed to be done to improve detection and surveillance for potential pandemics and called for urgent improvement in rapid-response strategies. Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrats' health spokesman, likened the threat from a pandemic to the threat of international terrorism. [See: DoD to 'augment civilian law' during pandemic or bioterror attack. See: Rumsfeld's growing stake in Tamiflu 31 Oct 2005.]

Iraq eyes U.S. pullout by 2010 amid Obama visit [Choke on it, Bush.] 22 Jul 2008 The Iraqi government said Monday that it hopes the U.S. combat troops would leave by 2010, raising a clear vision of time line after the two countries have agreed on a vague "time horizon." Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh made the remarks as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is here on a fact-finding tour.

White House: U.S.-Iraq long-term strategic deal cannot be finalized this month --Despite Iraqi demand, the Bush administration has refused to give a timetable for the overall military withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Iraq. 22 Jul 2008 The United States is trying to conclude negotiations with Iraq on a strategic framework agreement, but the deal is not likely to complete as expected at the end of this month, the White House said Monday. The planned agreement will lay out the future security, political, economic and diplomatic ties of the two countries, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told a news briefing.

US forces kill son of top Iraqi official 20 Jul 2008 US forces have killed the 17-year-old son of the governor of northern Iraq's Salahuddin province. In a raid on Sunday, the forces shot the boy and another of the governor’s relatives. Governor Hamad al-Qaisi's family have claimed the Americans stormed the family house in the town of Beiji, where the governor's son Hussam and his cousin were staying. They say the soldiers shot dead Hussam in a "barbaric" action that was without cause.

Baghdad hit by deadly car bomb --U.S. military kills two relatives of Salaheddin governor 21 Jul 2008 A car bomb blew up in Baghdad, killing a civilian and wounding four others, an Interior Ministry official said. The Sunday attack underscored the fragility of relative calm in the Iraqi capital. Early Sunday in northern Iraq, U.S. forces killed two relatives of Salaheddin's governor Hamad al-Qaisi. A local police official said the two males -- one of them 16 years old -- were "executed" as they headed to morning prayers in Baiji, located north of Baghdad in Salaheddin province.

Obama meets top Iraqi leaders, US commanders 21 Jul 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama held talks with Iraqi leaders and senior US commanders on Monday, after vowing to pull out US troops in 16 months if he takes over the White House. Obama met Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad, following a stopover in Basra, the country's second largest city, at the start of a two-day trip.

Foreign Policy Expert McCain: "Iraq-Pakistan Border" Extremely Dangerous By SilentPatriot 21 Jul 2008 Today on "Good Morning America," John McCain was asked whether he agreed with Barack Obama when he says the situation in Afghanistan is "precarious and urgent." In predictable fashion, McCain downplays the significance of the deteriorating security situation there. In perhaps less predictable fashion, he magically redraws the borders of two Middle Eastern countries... Just another gaffe to add to the pile.

At Last, Some Truth About Iraq and Afghanistan By Eric Margolis 23 Jun 2008 ...[T]he same oil companies that used to exploit Iraq when it was a British colony are now returning... Meanwhile, according to Pakistani and Indian sources, Afghanistan just signed a major deal to launch a long-planned, 1680 km long pipeline project expected to cost $8 billion... In 1998, the Afghan anti-Communist movement Taliban and a western oil consortium led by the US firm Unocal signed a major pipeline deal. Unocal lavished money and attention on Taliban, flew a senior delegation to Texas, and also hired an minor Afghan official, one Hamid Karzai. Enter Osama bin Laden. He advised the unworldly Taliban leaders to reject the US deal and got them to accept a better offer from an Argentine consortium, Bridas. Washington was furious and, according to some accounts, threatened Taliban with war. In early 2001, six or seven months before 9/11, Washington made the decision to invade Afghanistan, overthrow Taliban, and install a client regime that would build the energy pipelines.

They're Britain's dogs of war 21 Jul 2008 Dogs will lead the way in SAS raids after being parachuted in to spy out rebels for troops, The Sun can reveal. Fearless German Shepherds are being trained to jump from aircraft at 25,000ft wearing their own oxygen masks and strapped to special forces assault teams. Once down in hostile terrain in Iraq or Afghanistan, the dogs will be sent in first to seek out 'insurgents'' hideouts with tiny cameras fixed to their heads.

At least 3 dead as B-52 crashes off Guam --2nd accident for island base this year 21 Jul 2008 An Air Force B-52 bomber crashed off Guam on Monday morning, killing at least three airmen and leading to an intensive ocean search for the remaining three crew members, the military said. The B-52 bomber was en route from Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base to conduct a flyover in a parade on another part of the island when it crashed around 9:45 a.m. Monday about 30 miles northwest of Apra Harbor, the Air Force said.

Guantanamo Judge Blocks Use of Some Statements --'Highly Coercive' Conditions Are Cited 22 Jul 2008 Prosecutors in the trial of Osama bin Laden's former driver cannot use as evidence some statements the defendant gave interrogators because they were obtained under "highly coercive" conditions torture while he was a captive in Afghanistan, a military judge ruled Monday evening. As the first U.S. military tribunal since World War II got underway, Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred threw out the statements that Salim Ahmed Hamdan made after he was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001, including detailed descriptions of bin Laden's whereabouts. [LOL! Of course--can't let that (1600 Penn. Ave.) out! ]

Guantanamo Military 'Trial' Begins 21 Jul 2008 Nearly seven years after President [sic] Bush declared an "extraordinary emergency" that empowered him to bring [alleged] terrorists before military judges, Osama bin Laden's former driver went on trial Monday in the first test of whether that system can dispense fair and impartial justice. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, accused of ferrying weapons for al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh], faces court proceedings unlike any the United States has seen in decades. They will unfold before a military tribunal -- the first since the end of World War II -- with a jury of uniformed officers and rules that give great deference to the prosecution. Evidence obtained from "cruel" and "inhuman" interrogation methods [torture] is admissible in certain circumstances, as is hearsay evidence.

Guantánamo's kangaroo court --As the trials of suspected terrorists begin, the US military commissions' questionable legal status may undermine justice By Ken Gude 21 Jul 2008 Of course, there is no doubt that [Salim Ahmed] Hamdan will be found guilty. In fact, he already has... Today's proceeding is a complete sham. But don't take my word for it. Listen to the former chief prosecutor at the commissions, Colonel Morris Davis, who resigned last October after he "concluded that full, fair and open trials were not possible under the current system." Davis said it was "absolutely critical to the legitimacy of the military commissions that they be conducted in an atmosphere of honesty and impartiality," but they were "not living up to that obligation." If the chief prosecutor thinks the commissions are unfair, dishonest and biased, imagine what the supreme court is going to make of them.

Report: Mossad helped to release Betancourt 21 Jul 2008 The Mossad secret service was involved in the operation to free hostage Ingrid Betancourt from Colombian rebels, AFP quoted a Spanish newspaper as reporting on Sunday. According to the report, American and French secret services were also involved. "Mossad, the US, and French intelligence services worked for more than a year with the Colombian authorities to develop the plan," the story run by Vanguardia claimed, citing an Israeli secret service source. [See: FARC leaders were paid millions to free hostages: Swiss radio 04 Jul 2008; Freed hostage returns to France amid claims Colombian rebels were paid a £10 million ransom 04 Jul 2008.]

Second Man Involved in Domestic Terrorism Plot Targeting Military, Jewish Facilities Sentenced to Prison 21 Jul 2008 A man [Gregory Patterson] recruited to join a domestic terrorist cell that was plotting to attack United States military facilities, "infidels," and Israeli and Jewish targets in the Los Angeles area as part of a "jihad" was sentenced today to more than 121/2 years in federal prison.

'If it is still happening to a congressman, you can only imagine what the average American suffers.' Airport screeners still hound congressman 19 Jul 2008 A longtime member of Congress known across the U.S. as a hero of the civil-rights movement says a mix-up on a terrorist-watch list is wreaking havoc on his air travel five years after the problem arose. The 11-term Democrat, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, wrote to the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee this week that he still is subjected to repeated airport searches and required to present multiple forms of identification.

Documents show Md. law enforcement spied on protesters --Documents show state police monitored peace, anti-death penalty groups 17 Jul 2008 Undercover Maryland State Police officers repeatedly spied on peace activists and anti-death penalty groups in recent years and entered the names of some in a law-enforcement database of people thought to be terrorists or drug traffickers, newly released documents show. The files, made public Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, depict a pattern of infiltration of the activists' organizations in 2005 and 2006. The spying, detailed in logs of at least 288 hours of surveillance over a 14-month period, recalls similar infiltration by FBI agents of civil rights and anti-war groups decades ago, particularly under the administration of President Richard M. Nixon.

Death of Free Internet is Imminent- Canada Will Be Test Case By Kevin Parkinson 20 Jul 2008 In the upcoming weeks watch for a report in Time Magazine that will attempt to smooth over the rough edges of a diabolical plot by Bell Canada and Telus, to begin charging per site fees on most Internet sites. The plan is to convert the Internet into a cable-like system, where customers sign up for specific web sites, and then pay to visit sites beyond a cutoff point. From my browsing (on the currently free Internet) I have discovered that the 'demise' of the free Internet is slated for 2010 in Canada, and two years later around the world.

Comcastic? Fans smell a political rat in moving MSNBC (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) 19 Jul 2008 Earlier this week, Pittsburgh cable subscribers attempted to tune in to MSNBC only to find the Golf Channel sitting where "Morning Joe" and "Hardball with Chris Matthews" used to be aired. What happened last year in Portland and other cities is now happening in Western Pennsylvania. Viewers are just as angry. More than a dozen channels were bumped, but only MSNBC, TruTV... were kicked from standard to digital premium. On local talk radio, the suspicion is that Comcast is engaging in a back-door rate increase that disproportionately affects Democrats during an important election year. Because MSNBC caters to liberal voices in ways that Fox and CNN don't, moving it to a more expensive tier is suspect.

McCain obtained marriage license while married to his first wife 11 Jul 2008 John McCain, who is about to become the GOP nominee, has made several statements about how he divorced Carol [Shepp] and married Cindy Hensley that conflict with the public record. In his 2002 memoir, "Worth the Fighting For," McCain wrote that he had separated from Carol before he began dating Hensley. An examination of court documents tells a different story... McCain obtained an Arizona marriage license on March 6, 1980, while still legally married to his first wife.

McCain gets $1,930 a month from 'broken' Social Security system 17 Jul 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain cashes his monthly Social Security checks despite calling the federal program "a disgrace," the Associated Press reports. "I'm receiving benefits," McCain told campaign reporters, but added, "the system is broken." In 2007, he received benefits of $23,157 from Social Security, approximately $1,930 a month.

It's the Economic Stupidity, Stupid By Frank Rich 20 Jul 2008 Mr. McCain’s fiscal ineptitude has received so little scrutiny in some press quarters that his chief economic adviser, the former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, got a free pass until the moment he self-immolated on video by whining about "a nation of whiners." The McCain-Gramm bond, dating back 15 years, is more scandalous than Mr. Obama’s connection with his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Mr. McCain has been so dependent on Mr. Gramm for economic policy that he sent him to newspaper editorial board meetings, no doubt to correct the candidate’s numbers much as Joe Lieberman cleans up after his confusions of Sunni and Shia... The term flip-flopping doesn’t do justice to Mr. McCain’s self-contradictory economic pronouncements because that implies there’s some rational, if hypocritical, logic at work.

Thousands with criminal records work unlicensed as loan originators 21 Jul 2008 More than half the mortgage professionals registered in Florida -- 120,563 -- entered the industry this decade without being licensed by the state, The Miami Herald found. Known as loan originators, they perform the same job as mortgage brokers but aren't bound by the same rules... In the past eight years [the Bush years], more people with criminal records jumped into the business as loan originators than as any other category of mortgage professionals.

US food groups plan hefty price rises 20 Jul 2008 US food companies are preparing another round of hefty price increases as soaring commodity costs force them to pass on rises to consumers. Sara Lee, maker of meat products such as Jimmy Dean sausages, said costs would compel it to push up prices on meat lines by up to a fifth later this year.

Protections restored for N. Rockies wolves 18 Jul 2008 A federal judge has restored endangered species protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, derailing plans by three states to hold public wolf hunts this fall. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy granted a preliminary injunction late Friday restoring the protections for the wolves in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Molloy will eventually decide whether the injunction should be permanent.

'Bush' sewage plant proposal makes ballot 18 Jul 2008 A measure seeking to commemorate President [sic] Bush's years in office by slapping his name on a San Francisco sewage plant has qualified for the November ballot. The measure certified Thursday would rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. Supporters say the idea is to commemorate the mess they claim Bush has left behind. [They should rename the sewage in the plant after him.]

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Ruling Gives South Dakota Doctors a Script to Read --Women Seeking Abortion Must Be Told About 'Unique Living Human Being' 20 Jul 2008 Doctors in South Dakota are now required to tell a woman seeking an abortion that the procedure "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being." The doctors' script that officially took effect Friday has been tied up in court since 2005, when Planned Parenthood challenged a law that instructed physicians what to tell abortion patients. Under the law, doctors must say that the woman has "an existing relationship" with the fetus [Only an another amoeba--such as Bush--would have a "relationship" with a fetus.] that is protected by the U.S. Constitution and that "her existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated." Also, the doctor is required to say that "abortion increases the risk of suicide ideation and suicide." The message must be delivered no earlier than two hours before the procedure. The woman must say in writing that she understands. [Instead, say in writing that you understand *this.*]

US to Iran: You have two weeks 19 Jul 2008 Washington says Tehran has two weeks to decide between suspending its uranium enrichment program and facing 'further isolation'. In a Saturday statement, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said time has come for Tehran to choose between confrontation and meeting Western [hypocritical] demands over its enrichment program.

US gives Iran two weeks to comply with nuclear demand 19 Jul 2008 The US has warned Iran it must decide between confrontation and co-operation in the dispute over its nuclear plans. Iran has refused to commit itself to stopping uranium enrichment as demanded by the European Union, the US and other world powers. The EU's chief diplomat Javier Solana, speaking at a news conference said: "The most important question" in the dispute with Iran remained unanswered.

US 'can't be trusted on torture' [Well, on anything.] 19 Jul 2008 The British government should no longer accept US assurances that it does not use torture, a parliamentary oversight committee said today in a wide-ranging report looking at London's human rights policy. Ministers have previously taken at face value statements from their US counterparts... that Washington does not resort to such practices. But the cross-party foreign affairs committee said that stance should be abandoned given admissions from the US director of national intelligence, Michael McConnell, that "water-boarding" had been used on terror suspects. Foreign Secretary David Miliband has told parliament on two occasions this year that the practice, which simulates drowning during interrogation, amounts to torture.

Friendly fire killed soldier: Khadr defence --Report, testimony points to U.S. grenade 19 Jul 2008 Omar Khadr's defence team says it has expert testimony indicating the U.S. soldier he is accused of killing died as a result of injuries inflicted by an American grenade. The lawyers say the evidence will be added to the results of the defence's wider investigation of the July 2002 firefight, and show the American assault was a "botched operation." The claim follows the lawyers' release of videotapes of Canadian officials interrogating Khadr that include statements he made that the prosecution in his war crimes case will have analyzed. [In other words, U.S. terrorists tortured a(nother) child for six years to cover for the fact that their own 'botched operation' killed U.S. soldiers. God, will someone please rid of us of this miserable regime?]

Canadian government says Omar Khadr must await 'trial' at Guantanamo Bay --Newly released footage of a young Guantanamo Bay prisoner sobbing for his mother and begging Canada to "protect me from the Americans" has not resulted in the boy's repatriation. 15 at the time of his capture, Omar Khadr is the sole remaining prisoner at the U.S. prison camp with western citizenship as well as its youngest prisoner. 20 Jul 2008 A spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister [sociopath] Stephen Harper said the video of Toronto-born terror suspect Omar Khadr being interrogated by Canadian officials in 2003 will not sway his government's position that Khadr must remain at the U.S. prison to face trial. "These videos were in possession of the previous government when they decided to pursue the judicial process for Mr. Khadr to have his day in court in Guantanamo," Harper's chief spokesman Kory Teneycke told The Associated Press.

Bin Laden's driver is in the dock, but America's war on terror is on trial 20 Jul 2008 Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's personal driver, will enter a specially built courtroom in Guantanamo Bay tomorrow for the first full trial of any of the hundreds of prisoners to have been sent to America's infamous prison camp since the 9/11 attacks nearly seven years ago. Even the US does not claim that the driver and sometime mechanic was a major terror figure. For many, however, it is the erosion of America's historic liberties that will be on trial tomorrow. The Bush regime created a system of detention without due process when it set up the Guantanamo prison camp in 2002, a legal limbo in which hundreds of prisoners – including Mr Hamdan, according to his lawyers – have suffered psychological and possibly physical torture.

Brown backs Obama on 2010 Iraq troop pull-out 20 Jul 2008 Gordon Brown has privately backed American presidential candidate Barack Obama’s plan for all foreign troops to be pulled out of Iraq by summer 2010. Downing Street sources say that the UK is 'working to the same end' as Mr Obama, who has said that he would remove all US troops from Iraq within 16 months if he won the presidential election in November. The disclosure came as Mr Brown paid a surprise visit to Baghdad yesterday for talks with the Iraqi government.

Brown plans to withdraw troops as he backs Obama over 'war on terror' 20 Jul 2008 Gordon Brown prepared the ground for a historic realignment in the "war on terror" yesterday by setting out a four-point plan for withdrawal of British troops from Iraq by the end of next year. Although he is refusing to set a detailed timetable for withdrawal, it is clear Mr Brown is in agreement with the US presidential candidate Barack Obama on the need for military action in Afghanistan to take priority. Both appear to be working to a 16-month timetable.

Brown sets out plan for UK pull-out from Iraq 20 Jul 2008 Gordon Brown yesterday held out the prospect of a substantial withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, possibly as early as next year, when he outlined a four-point road map paving the way for an end to Britain's involvement. On a one-day visit to Iraq - with a heavy military presence by his side at all times - Brown declared that Iraqi forces would take over Basra airport, the main British military headquarters. Critics pointed to the fact that in October last year Brown pledged to cut the number of troops to 2,500 by spring but yesterday there were still 4,100 holed up at the airport.

'As Soon As Possible' Iraq Leader Maliki Supports Obama's Withdrawal Plans 19 Jul 2008 Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki supports US presidential candidate Barack Obama's plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq within 16 months. When asked in and interview with SPIEGEL when he thinks US troops should leave Iraq, Maliki responded "as soon as possible, as far as we are concerned." He then continued: "US presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."

Iraqi PM backs Obama troop exit plan: report 19 Jul 2008 Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told a German magazine he supported prospective U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's proposal that U.S. troops should leave Iraq within 16 months. In an interview with Der Spiegel released on Saturday, Maliki said he wanted U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible. "U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."

White House Accidentally E-Mails to Reporters Story That Maliki Supports Obama Iraq Withdrawal Plan 19 Jul 2008 The White House this afternoon accidentally sent to its extensive distribution list a Reuters story headlined "Iraqi PM backs Obama troop exit plan - magazine." The story relayed how Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told the German magazine Der Spiegel that "he supported prospective U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's proposal that U.S. troops should leave Iraq within 16 months … ‘U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes,'" the prime minister said.

McCain backer's comments anger Muslims 18 Jul 2008 Riling Muslim leaders, one of John McCain's fellow Vietnam POWs defended the Iraq War Friday by saying, "The Muslims have said either we kneel or they're going to kill us. 'I don't intend to kneel and I don't advocate to anybody that we kneel. And John doesn't advocate to anybody that we kneel,'' Col. Bud Day added in a conference call with reporters arranged by the Republican Party of Florida on behalf on McCain. Muslims and Arab-American groups quickly denounced what they described as the ''bigoted'' comments from Day, a Pensacola resident, Medal of Honor recipient and member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Nazis attack machine from 2004.

Afghanistan hit by record number of U.S., allied bombs 18 Jul 2008 Air Force and allied warplanes are dropping a record number of bombs on Afghanistan targets [civilians]. For the first half of 2008, aircraft dropped 1,853 bombs -- more than they released during all of 2006 and more than half of 2007’s total -- 3,572 bombs. Information from the Air Force shows that in June warplanes released 646 bombs -- the second-highest monthly total for Afghanistan or Iraq.

NATO forces kill Afghan policemen in air strikes 20 Jul 2008 NATO officials say nine Afghan policemen have been killed and five injured in air strikes by NATO-led forces. It is believed Afghan and ISAF troops were conducting an operation in southwestern Afghanistan and mistook the police officers for rebels. ISAF requested air support and NATO jets bombed the police post where the officers were located.

Palestinians: Israel uses rats against J'lem Arabs 20 Jul 2008 The Palestinian Authority's official news agency Wafa says Israel is using rats to drive Arab families out of their homes in the Old City of Jerusalem. "Rats have become an Israeli weapon to displace and expel Arab residents of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem," Wafa reported under the title, "Settlers flood the Old City of Jerusalem with rats."

Another MoD laptop stolen 20 Jul 2008 The Ministry of Defence tonight confirmed another laptop with "sensitive information" on has been stolen while one of their officials checked out of a hotel. An MoD spokesman said the theft from the Britannia Adelphi hotel in Liverpool city centre on Thursday brought the total of laptops stolen to 659. On Friday the MoD admitted that 658 of its laptops had been stolen over the past four years - nearly double the figure previously claimed. The department also said 26 portable memory sticks containing classified information had been either stolen or misplaced since January.

President Bush lobbyist Stephen Payne in 'bribes' row quits --Cash for access at the White House is under scrutiny by Congress 20 Jul 2008 An American government adviser and lobbyist, caught offering access to top White House figures in exchange for a $250,000 (£126,000) donation towards President [sic] George W Bush’s private library, has resigned following the launch of a congressional inquiry into the scandal. Stephen Payne, who has close links to the White House, had to relinquish his seat on the advisory council to the Department of Homeland Security following an exposé in The Sunday Times last weekend. It has also since emerged that Payne had made misleading statements about his business dealings relating to another aspect of the "cash for access" scandal in which a $2m payment was allegedly made by a foreign government to secure a visit from Dick Cheney, the US vice-president [sic].

An Empty Seat and An Exotic Getaway 19 Jul 2008 House Democrats were fuming recently when Karl Rove defied a congressional subpoena and refused to show up at a House Judiciary Committee hearing into whether he meddled in Justice Department prosecutions. Instead of grilling the former White House political chief under oath, the members found themselves talking to an empty chair. What they didn't know is where Rove was that day: on a jet flying to a speaking engagement at Yalta, the historic Black Sea resort in Ukraine. Rove, who generally charges a reported $40,000 per talk, appeared on a premier panel on the upcoming U.S. 'election' at the fifth annual conference of the YES Foundation, a confab of world luminaries bankrolled by billionaire Victor Pinchuk, the Ukrainian steel magnate.

Office of Special Counsel official quits in protest --James Byrne's resignation letter tells off his boss, Scott J. Bloch, for what he calls the Bush appointee's 'political agendas and personal vendettas.' 17 Jul 2008 James M. Byrne, second in command at the embattled Office of Special Counsel, resigned his post effective Saturday after leaving his boss, Scott J. Bloch, a stinging letter suggesting that Bloch's "political agendas and personal vendettas" were preventing the agency from fulfilling its mission. The two-paragraph letter, obtained by The Times, was sent to Bloch last week at a time when the Bush appointee faces a Justice Department inquiry that includes allegations of illegally erasing information on his government computer.

Gore compares offshore drilling to invasion of Iraq [Exactly.] In a surprise appearance at Netroots Nation, former President Al Gore followed a speech by Nancy Pelosi by laying out a narrative on climate change and the energy crisis that seems ready-made for the Obama campaign to download. "If you look at the seriousness of the climate crisis, you see how it ties to the economic crisis and the national security threat that we face," he said. "200 billion dollars are being sent overseas just from oil." "The idea that we can drill our way out of this is just so absurd," he said, comparing the push for offshore oil drilling to dealing with a hangover by having another drink. "The defenders of the status quo are the ones who have dug us into this hole," he said, commenting that Americans have been "so often fooled into finding a remedy for a problem" that has nothing to do with the problem at hand -- pointing to the invasion of Iraq when America was attacked by terrorists in Afghanistan as an example.

Report links Cheney office, oil giant to global warming policy shift 18 Jul 2008 A congressional investigation has produced new details on the degree to which senior Bush administration officials favored using the Clean Air Act to limit greenhouse gas emissions -- until pressure from Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney's office, ExxonMobil and others in the oil industry led the Bush regime to change course. A report by the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, issued today, supports the disclosure by a former Environmental Protection Agency official last week that someone in Cheney's office had a hand in the shift in policy.

White House puts warming threats on back burner 12 Jul 2008 The Bush regime Friday rejected its own experts' conclusion that global warming poses a threat to the public welfare, launching a comment period that will delay action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least until the next a president takes office. The Environmental Protection Agency published a 588-page examination of the issues surrounding greenhouse gases but refused to adopt its staff's finding that such gases could cause disastrous flooding and drought and affect food and water supplies.

Field Poll: California voters' disapproval rating on Bush highest since 1961 19 Jul 2008 President [sic] Bush's disapproval rating in California has reached the highest mark for a president since the Field Poll began tracking White House numbers in 1961, according to its latest survey released Friday. Less than a quarter of California voters -- 24 percent -- said they approve of Bush's job performance, compared with 71 percent who said they disapprove. The latter mark is higher than Nixon's 70 percent disapproval rating in August 1974, the same month he resigned from office after his role in the Watergate scandal was revealed.

From shipping lobbyist to McCain adviser 20 Jul 2008 Playing a dual role as shipping lobbyist and member of a federal advisory panel, John McCain's campaign policy coordinator helped shape a controversial homeland security initiative that has taken the government 5 1/2 years to develop. The proposed program called "10+2" points out a key problem in the age of terrorism: How much can the government expect U.S. importers to pay to help ensure the country's safety? A former chief of staff to McCain, Christopher Koch in 2000 set up the World Shipping Council to lobby on behalf of some 40 foreign-based and U.S. ocean carriers. The group has spent $1.7 million seeking to influence the federal government on a range of maritime issues. In May, Koch de-registered as a lobbyist, took a leave of absence from the World Shipping Council and joined McCain's campaign. He plans to return to the shipping council after the 'election.'

Commercial bankruptcies soar, reflecting widening economic woes 18 Jul 2008 Driven by a sour economy and skittish consumers, U.S. business bankruptcies saw their sharpest quarterly rise in two years, jumping 17 percent in the second quarter of 2008, according to an analysis by McClatchy. Commercial filings for the first half of 2008 are up 45 percent from last year, as the national climate for commerce continues to deteriorate amid rising energy and food costs, mounting job losses, tighter credit and a reticence among consumers to part with discretionary income.

Link between poor eyesight and increased suicide risk 17 Jul 2008 Visual impairment affects more than a person's eyesight. It can hinder daily activities, cause social isolation and increased dependence on others, lead to increased falls and fractures, and cause depression. Now, researchers have concluded that it heightens a person's risk of suicide significantly - by as much as 18 percent... The authors of the study, published in the July issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, said the results suggest that improved treatment of visual impairment could reduce suicide risks.

CDC: Offline generators caused germ lab outage 19 Jul 2008 A critical germ lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lost power last week because the agency had taken two backup generators out of service for upgrades, CDC officials said Friday... The backup power failure -- the second in 13 months -- is the type predicted years ago by some CDC engineers. And it has heightened concerns in Congress about lab safety at the Atlanta agency, which experiments on smallpox, Ebola, anthrax and other deadly germs. Last week's incident began when a bird shorted out a Georgia Power transformer about 5:40 p.m., cutting off power to... Building 17. Building 17 houses infectious disease labs, where scientists work with the H5N1 avian flu virus and other dangerous germs. Without power, the labs can't run negative airflow systems that help contain germs in Biosafety Level 3 labs, such as those in Building 17.

Human-to-Human Transmission of Bird Flu Discovered in China 19 Jul 2008 China's National Disease Authority has confirmed that a man whose 24-year-old son died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu is also infected with the disease, raising concerns about human transmission of the virus. So far, H5N1 does not spread easily between birds and humans, but health officials fear [are hoping] that it could mutate into a form that is highly contagious from human to human. [See: Killer flu recreated in the lab 07 Oct 2004.]

E. coli linked to beef now reported in 5 states --Recall is what totals 5.3 million pounds 16 Jul 2008 An E. coli outbreak traced to recalled beef in Michigan and Ohio has spawned cases in three other states, U.S. health officials said Tuesday. New York, Kentucky and Indiana each have one lab-confirmed case of a bacterial infection that matches the 41 previously reported cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bees swarm New Jersey Turnpike cars 19 Jul 2008 Motorists driving north of Interchange 3 had a new obstacle on Saturday afternoon as thousands of honeybees swarmed around cars. Turnpike Authority spokesman Joseph Orlando said the swarms were from a man-made beehive that apparently fell beside northbound lanes in Cherry Hill at about 2 p.m. The Turnpike Authority was seeking a beekeeper to deal with the problem.

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Iraq PM: U.S. troops should leave as soon as possible 19 Jul 2008 Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri 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 an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine released Saturday, al-Maliki said he was not seeking to endorse Obama. Asked when U.S. forces would leave Iraq, he responded, "As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned."

U.S., Iraq to set "time horizon" on troop cuts 18 Jul 2008 President [sic] George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki have agreed to set a "time horizon" for reducing U.S. forces in Iraq, despite Bush's long opposition to deadlines for troop withdrawals. In the closest the Bush regime has come to acknowledging the need for a timeframe for U.S. troop cuts, the White House said on Friday that U.S. and Iraqi negotiators would seek "aspirational goals" for withdrawals. [See: Bush to hasten Iraq troop withdrawal in bid to help McCain win White House 14 Jul 2008.]

Senators seek review of wiring at Iraq bases 18 Jul 2008 Five Democratic senators called on Friday for an independent review of electrical work at U.S. bases in Iraq where more than a dozen soldiers have been electrocuted and others injured. In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the senators objected to KBR Inc, the Pentagon's largest private contractor in Iraq, reviewing its own performance. The Houston company previously has faced accusations of overbilling, providing unsafe water to soldiers and other lapses acts of terror.

Pentagon plays down KBR's electrocution of US soldiers in Iraq 18 Jul 2008 A US Senate panel has been made aware of more inferior electrical work by a private contractor on military bases in Iraq. The panel investigating the electrocutions of Americans on bases in Iraq was told last week by electricians who had been employed in Iraq, that employees of the KBR company had little electrical expertise and some could not even speak English.

Shoddy electrical work on US military bases in Iraq 'widespread and dangerous' --Pentagon didn't acknowledge number of deaths and injuries from fires and shocks --KBR and other contractors have been paid millions of dollars to repair and upgrade buildings, including their electrical systems. 18 Jul 2008 Shoddy electrical work by private contractors on United States military bases in Iraq is widespread and dangerous, causing more deaths and injuries from fires and shocks than the Pentagon has acknowledged, according to internal Army documents. During just one six-month period -- August 2006 through January 2007 -- at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged American military facilities in Iraq, including the military’s largest dining hall in the country, documents obtained by The New York Times show. Two soldiers died in an electrical fire at their base near Tikrit in 2006, the records note, while another was injured while jumping from a burning guard tower in May 2007.

McCain Says Al-Qaeda Prepares Strikes Before Iraq Election 18 Jul 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain warned that al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] will step up terrorist attacks in Iraq leading up to October provincial elections there. "Al-Qaeda is on their heels but not defeated,'' McCain said today at a town hall meeting in Warren, Michigan. "I also predict that they will make an attempt, as we get into election season, to make more of these spectacular kinds of attacks'' by suicide bombers to destabilize the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Israel makes arrests in alleged plot against Bush 18 Jul 2008 Israel accused six Arabs on Friday of trying to set up an al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] cell in Israel and said one of them had proposed attacking helicopters used during a visit by President [sic] George W. Bush. Israel's Shin Bet counter-intelligence agency said one of the suspects had used his mobile phone to film helicopters at a sports stadium in Jerusalem that was used as a landing site for Bush's delegation. The suspect then posted queries on Web sites frequented by al Qaeda operatives, asking for guidance on how to shoot down the helicopters, the agency said in a statement.

Iran says talks with US possible on outpost, air route 18 Jul 2008 Iran is open to the idea of talks with the United States on establishing a diplomatic presence in Iran and launching a direct air link, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said here Friday. He also welcomed as "positive" US participation in international talks in Geneva at the weekend on Tehran's suspect nuclear programme and said he expected progress in the negotiations.

Iran's Air Force to stage large-scale war games 15 Jul 2008 Iran's military will hold a major air exercise soon to demonstrate its military and defense capabilities, the commander of Iran's Air Force said on Tuesday. Ahmad Mighani said the war games, dubbed Protectors of Velayat Air, "will demonstrate our strength and will send the message to our enemies that if they contemplate an attack, they will meet a powerful blow."

Obama on secret trip to Afghanistan 19 Jul 2008 US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is in Afghanistan after flying out on an unannounced trip. At the start of a major international tour, Senator Obama has secretly touched down in Afghanistan to speak to US troops and government officials.

Canadian soldier killed by roadside bomb 19 Jul 2008 A Canadian soldier was killed by a roadside explosion, the military announced on a violent day that also saw a suicide bomber blow himself up just outside the gate of the main Canadian base in Kandahar. In a separate attack in Kandahar province on Saturday, a roadside blast killed four Afghan police officers.

Two French aid workers kidnapped in Afghanistan 19 Jul 2008 Two French aid workers were abducted in Afghanistan after gunmen tied up guards and broke into the guest house where they were sleeping, humanitarian organisation Action Against Hunger said on Friday. The organisation said the two were kidnapped in the early hours of Friday in the town of Nili in central Afghanistan.

Security Fears Shadow Obama Tour 18 Jul 2008 Barack Obama 's planned trip to Israel and the West Bank has raised security concerns to levels not seen since the Illinois senator began his presidential bid, officials tell the DRUDGE REPORT. Coming just weeks after shots were fired at Israel's TLV airport during a farewell ceremony for France's Sarkozy, from an apparent suicide of a security guard, Obama's trek to the region has become a serious logistical and safety challenge. [Bush's Blackwater is the biggest threat to Obama's safety.]

U.S. Army Shooting Live Pigs in Trauma Training on July 18 18 Jul 2008 PETA has received shocking information from a whistleblower in the U.S. military, who says that the Army is planning to shoot live pigs in an open range with M16A2 and M4 rifles at the U.S. Army Garrison at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii on July 18. The Army's stated purpose of this training exercise is to teach combat medics how to manage traumatic battlefield wounds and injuries--even though more effective non-animal simulators are readily available. Leading medical experts agree these simulators offer superior training. PETA is calling for an immediate end to this inhumane training exercise as well as a ban on the use of all animals for training military medics. Most medical schools long ago ended the use of animals for trauma training.

Army shoots live pigs for medical drill --Soldier said plan was to shoot pigs with M4 carbines and M16 rifles 18 Jul 2008 (Honolulu) Despite opposition by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Army proceeded to shoot live pigs and treat their gunshot wounds in a medical trauma exercise Friday at Schofield Barracks for soldiers headed to Iraq. Animal-rights activists call the training cruel and outdated. PETA said there are more advanced and humane options available, including high-tech human simulators.

Acceptance of Gay People in Military Grows Dramatically 19 Jul 2008 Seventy-five percent of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993. Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike now believe it is acceptable for openly gay people to serve in the U.S. armed forces.

Terrorism Funds to Let Brass Fly in Style --New luxury in wartime has alienated lower-ranking Air Force officers, congressional staff members; nonprofit group calls program a waste of money. 18 Jul 2008 The Air Force's top leadership sought for three years to spend counterterrorism funds on "comfort capsules" to be installed on military planes that ferry senior officers and civilian leaders around the world, with at least four top generals involved in design details such as the color of the capsules' carpet and leather chairs, according to internal e-mails and budget documents. Production of the first capsule -- consisting of two sealed rooms that can fit into the fuselage of a large military aircraft -- has already begun.

'I have been trying to get off (this list) for years.' Congressman still faces airport screening problem 18 Jul 2008 Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta says a mix up on a terrorist watch list is still wreaking havoc on his air travel five years after the problem arose. The 11-term Democratic congressman wrote to the House Homeland Security Committee this week that he's still subjected to repeated airport searches and required to present multiple forms of identification. The problem persists even though Homeland Security recently gave him a letter to show airlines that was supposed to clear things up. If it's still happening to a congressman, he wrote, "you can only imagine what the average American suffers."

Library confrontation points up privacy dilemma 19 Jul 2008 (Randolph, VT) Children's librarian Judith Flint was getting ready for the monthly book discussion group for 8- and 9-year-olds when police showed up. They weren't kidding around: Five state police detectives wanted to seize Kimball Public Library's public access computers as they frantically searched for a 12-year-old girl, acting on a tip that she sometimes used the terminals. Investigators did obtain a warrant about eight hours later, but the June 26 standoff in the 105-year-old, red brick library on Main Street frustrated police and had fellow librarians cheering Flint.

'Don't come in my ear. Just don't.' --Faux's Laura Ingraham has a bad time doing TV. 15 Jul 2008 (video) 'There's a Hispanic-looking man... in my Teleprompter.' 'So, we're not timing out our SOTs properly. Add that to the list.' 'I look shiny on my forehead.' 'This is a train wreck.'

Money War Over New Voting Machines Is 'Touch' and Go 19 Jul 2008 (NY) A war is brewing between City Hall and the Board of Elections over compliance with a federal court order to install more than 1,000 new electronic 'voting' machines in time for this year's 'elections,' The Post has learned. The board has the money for the touch-screen devices and intends to install at least one at each polling site. But the board claims it hasn't gotten a cent extra to hire thousands of poll workers required to man the machines. That could lead to complications in a presidential election year, where turnout is usually heaviest. [Destroy the GOP-owned 'voting' machines before they can be used in Coup 2008--problem solved.]

McCain Co-chairman, Under Fire, Steps Aside 19 Jul 2008 Former Senator Phil Gramm resigned late Friday as a co-chairman of Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign, capping a day filled with controversy for Mr. McCain, the presumed Republican nominee. Mr. Gramm, a multimillionaire banker, has been under fire since last week, when he dismissed concerns about the troubled economy by referring to "a mental recession." He also said the United States had become "a nation of whiners," a remark providing fodder for Democrats to portray Republicans as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans.

Disillusioned about Barack Obama By Nat Hentoff 17 Jul 2008 During my more than 60 years of covering national politics, I have never seen a candidate's principles and character so effectively tarnished -- after so extraordinarily inspiring a start -- as Barack Obama's. He has come to resemble another mellifluous orator I came to know in Boston during my first time reporting on a campaign -- James Michael Curley, the skilful prestidigitator whom Spencer Tracy masterfully played in the movie "The Last Hurrah." Obama's deflation has not been due to ruthless opposition research by John McCain's team but by the "change" candidate himself.

White House threatens to veto oil drilling legislation 17 Jul 2008 The White House [sociopaths] 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. The bill, which the House was to vote on later on Thursday, has a "use it or lose it" provision that requires oil companies to diligently develop their existing federal leases or turn them back to the government before they could obtain new acres to drill. The White House also said it opposed the bill's language banning the export [!] of crude oil produced in Alaska.

'We could end up doubling last year's power prices.' Deregulation Jolts Texas Electric Bills 17 Jul 2008 Texas had some of the cheapest power rates in the country when it zapped most of the state's electric regulations six years ago, convinced that rollicking competition would drive prices even lower. [Bullsh*t.] This summer, electricity there is some of the nation's priciest.

Felons Seeking Bush Pardon Near a Record 19 Jul 2008 Felons are asking President [sic] Bush for pardons and commutations at historic levels as he nears his final months in office, a time when many other presidents have granted a flurry of clemency requests. In addition, prominent federal inmates are asking Mr. Bush to commute their sentences. Among them are Randy Cunningham, the former Republican congressman from California and John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban.

Texas Governor: State not bound by ICJ ruling on execution of Mexican citizens 18 Jul 2008 Texas Governor Rick Perry said Thursday that Texas will go forward with the August 5 execution of a Mexican national despite an International Court of Justice (ICJ) order staying the execution. The ICJ ordered Wednesday that a mandated review be conducted to determine whether five Mexican nationals on death row in Texas were inappropriately denied the chance to speak with Mexican counselor officers in violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Bush regime plans to define several contraception methods as abortion --Clinton vows to fight "insulting" abortion plan 18 Jul 2008 A Bush administration plan to define several widely used contraception methods as abortion is a "gratuitous, unnecessary insult" to women and faces tough opposition, Sen. Hillary Clinton said on Friday. The former Democratic presidential candidate joined family planning groups to condemn the proposal that defines abortion to include contraception such as birth control pills and intrauterine devices. It would cut off federal funds to hospitals and states where medical providers are obligated to offer legal abortion and contraception to women. "We will not put up with this radical, ideological agenda to turn the clock back on women's rights," the New York senator told a joint news conference with New York Rep. Nita Lowey, also a Democrat, at Bellevue Hospital. "Women would watch their contraceptive coverage disappear overnight," said Clinton.

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Chertoff: US vulnerable to attack during election, transition to new administration 17 Jul 2008 European terrorists [?] are trying to enter the United States with European Union passports, and there is no guarantee officials will catch them every time, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday. Chertoff's comments on Capitol Hill comes as the country is entering a potentially vulnerable period with the presidential nominating conventions coming up next month; the presidential election in November; and the transition to a new administration in January -- all of which may be attractive targets for [Bush's] terrorists. Chertoff reiterated his concern that terrorists could sneak radiological material into the country on small boats or private aircraft. This material could be used to create an explosive device known as a "dirty bomb."

TOPOFF 5 terror exercise contract reviewed for ethics issue --FEMA mum on value of TOPOFF 5 contract; TOPOFF 4 cost $25 million 17 Jul 2008 Federal officials are investigating whether millions of dollars are being steered improperly toward a government contractor to run the country's largest counterterrorism exercise. At issue is a written request for companies to compete for the TOPOFF 5 exercise contract and whether an employee of Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) wrote parts of the proposal, according to officials familiar with the contract who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive procurement activity.

U.S. House passes CIA contractor ban over veto vow 17 Jul 2008 U.S. lawmakers defied a White House veto threat on Wednesday and voted to bar CIA mercenaries from interrogating suspected terrorists, in the latest clash over prisoner treatment in the U.S.-declared war on [of] terrorism. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved the provision in adopting a broad measure to authorize funding of U.S. intelligence for the 2009 fiscal year. A related bill awaits action in the Senate. Passage of the multibillion dollar bill came on a voice vote, indicating broad assent, despite the White House veto threat issued earlier in the day.

Mich. Talks Homeland Security With Israeli Police 17 Jul 2008 Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox hosted a conference Thursday that brought more than 200 law enforcement leaders together to meet with members of the Israeli National Police to discuss security issues. Homeland security issues regarding the Detroit-Windsor tunnel were expected to be discussed. The meeting was one in a series of exchanges between American and Israeli law security agencies.

Ashcroft defends waterboarding before House panel 17 Jul 2008 The controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding has served a "valuable" purpose and does not constitute torture, former Attorney General John Ashcroft told a House committee Thursday. Testifying on the Bush regime's interrogation rules before the House Judiciary Committee, Ashcroft defended the technique while answering a question from Rep. Howard Coble, R-North Carolina. "Waterboarding, as we all know, is a controversial issue. Do you think it served a beneficial purpose?" the congressman asked. "The reports that I have heard, and I have no reason to disbelieve them, indicate that they were very valuable," Ashcroft said...

Judge rejects attempt to block Guantanamo trial 17 Jul 2008 A U.S. military judge has rejected another attempt to halt the first Guantanamo war crimes [show] trial. The Navy judge's ruling comes as a civilian judge in Washington considers a separate bid to stop the trial of Salim Hamdan. Hamdan is a former driver for Osama bin Laden.

US judge backs Guantanamo trial 17 Jul 2008 A US judge has ruled that the first war crimes 'trial' at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, involving Osama Bin Laden's former driver, can go ahead. Judge James Robertson dismissed a claim from lawyers for Salim Hamdan that it should be stopped while he challenged the legality of the tribunal system. The ruling came after a military judge at Guantanamo denied a postponement.

Canada ignores calls for Guantánamo youth to come home 17 Jul 2008 The Canadian government was today under fire for refusing to seek the repatriation of a teenage national held at Guantánamo Bay, who was shown desperately pleading for his country's help in recently released footage. Liberal politicians and human rights groups criticised Canada's conservative prime minister, [sociopath] Stephen Harper, for the lack of action saying it undermined attempts to eradicate the use of child soldiers.

Senators Call for the Closing of Guantanamo 17 Jul 2008 The Guantanamo Bay detainee prison in Cuba seems to have few fans among Senate lawmakers these days. Several senators spoke out against Guantanamo at a Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, calling for the facility to be shut down and assailing the Bush administration’s policy on prisoners of war. "We cannot defeat terrorism by abandoning our basic American principles and values," said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). "With the pictures from Abu Ghraib and tales of unjustified detentions and torture, we have provided our enemies with a recruiting field day."

Bush can hold terrorist suspect indefinitely: US court 16 Jul 2008 A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that President [sic] George W. Bush has the power to keep a terrorist suspect jailed indefinitely, but that the prisoner has the right to challenge his detention as an "enemy combatant." The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, took up the case of Ali Al-Marri, the only "war on terror" suspect arrested on US soil, and reversed a June 2007 decision by a lower court denying Bush the power to keep the suspect jailed indefinitely and ordering his release.

Bush sends high-level envoy to avoid conflict with Iran 17 Jul 2008 Moving to avoid war in Iran in the final months of his administration, George Bush has approved the highest-level American diplomatic contact with its ideological enemy since the humiliating US embassy hostage crisis of 1979. Shifting from bellicose threats to diplomacy, Mr Bush is sending an envoy to talks this weekend aimed at curbing Iran's [alleged] nuclear ambitions.

Report: Total to continue projects in Iran 16 Jul 2008 A senior official of French energy giant Total said that its company is interested in continuing cooperation with Iran in its oil and gas sectors, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Tuesday. In a letter to Iranian Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari, Total Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie rejected recent reports on Total's withdrawal from South Pars gas field, describing them as political propaganda, Mehr news agency quoted an unnamed Total official as saying. "Total's stance on Iran is quite clear. We are interested in continuing our activities," the official said.

Iraq's oil wealth on the block By Greg Muttitt 09 Jul 2008 Last week saw the biggest step so far towards transferring Iraqi oil into the hands of foreign multinational companies, sparking renewed accusations that the US-UK war on Iraq was really motivated by an oil grab. The Oil Ministry announced on 30 June that foreign oil companies would be invited to bid for contracts to develop six of Iraq’s largest oilfields, which together contain around half of the country’s known oil reserves. [The move] would give away more to foreign companies than had been planned at any point since the Constitution was written in 2005, and possibly more than any major oil producer has given since the colonial era. The contracts were (with one exception) for the second stage of development of the oilfields, to come after the one- or two-year no-bid contracts that the Ministry has been privately negotiating with Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and four smaller companies.

American Airlines Testing Anti-Missile Technology 16 Jul 2008 American Airlines is flying with new defensive technology on some of its New York to Los Angeles flights. Developed in New Hampshire by defense contractor BAE Systems, the cross country passenger jets are now equipped with a laser deterrent system mounted on the plane's belly. It can identify and misdirect an incoming missile and is being tested for Homeland Security.

Vaccinated chickens in Vietnam die of bird flu 17 Jul 2008 Hundreds of chickens at a poultry farm in southern Vietnam died of avian influenza even though the owner of the farm reported the birds were vaccinated against the disease, an official said Thursday. Several hundred of the 3,000 chickens died at a farm in Tan Lan commune in the Long An province, 50 kilometres west of Ho Chi Minh City, since late June. Last week they were tested positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus, said Dinh Van The, head of the province's Animal Health Department. The owner of the farm reported to the department that all the birds in the farm had been vaccinated against bird flu, he said. [Right, the only purpose of this (and every other) vaccine is to boost corpora-terrorists' profits.]

Gore says survival of U.S. at risk 17 Jul 2008 The United States should be making all of its electricity with renewable and carbon-free energy in 10 years, former President Al Gore said Thursday. "The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk," Gore said. In a speech at Washington's Constitution Hall, Gore touched on an array of the nation's current woes, saying the economic, environmental and national security crises are all related.

U.S. Summers to Get Hotter and Deadlier Due to Climate Change 17 Jul 2008 Climate change will have a "substantial" impact on human health in the coming decades, making wildfires and hurricanes more likely, cooking up more smog, and making summer heat waves longer, hotter and deadlier, according to a new report today from the Environmental Protection Agency. The report details how rising temperatures could slowly but significantly shift the rhythms of nature that Americans are used to -- with disruptive, sometimes even deadly, consequences.

Feds: Climate change to cause 'irreversible' health risks 17 Jul 2008 An Environmental Protection Agency report released Thursday warns that global warming will increase disease and other health problems nationwide in coming decades. "Climate change poses real risks to human health," says the EPA's Joel Scheraga. Some of the environmental effects will be irreversible, he says. The report details health impacts ranging from Hantavirus to wildfires to asthma, all increased by climate change.

Interior Dept. Opens 2.6 Million Alaskan Acres for Oil Exploration 17 Jul 2008 The Interior Department on Wednesday made 2.6 million acres of potentially oil-rich territory in northern Alaska available for energy exploration. At the same time, it deferred for a decade any decision to open 600,000 acres of land north of Teshekpuk Lake that is the summer home of thousands of migrating caribou and millions of waterfowl.

Take Action for Polar Bears and Lower Gas Prices --Oil speculators are driving up the price of gas and fueling calls for destructive drilling in wildlife habitat that polar bears and other animals need to survive. 16 Jul 2008 Weak oversight and accountability in the oil markets allows wealthy investors from around the world to drive up the price we pay for gas, fueling calls for destructive drilling off our coasts and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Before the end of July, Congress is expected to consider bipartisan legislation to curb harmful speculative investment in the oil markets and provide needed relief to Americans hit by high gas prices. Please fill out this form to urge your Senators and Representative to pass legislation to address high gas prices and protect our polar bears and other wildlife from the oil speculators and Big Oil’s disastrous drilling plans.

106 Wolves Killed in 118 Days! Nearly one wolf per day has been killed since the Bush regime stripped them of their endangered species protection in March. 16 Jul 2008 And if Wyoming, Idaho and Montana have their way, at least 900 wolves -- nearly 60 percent of the population -- could be exterminated this fall, when a massive public hunt begins. Make no mistake: This will be the very last summer for many of Yellowstone's wolves -- unless immediate action is taken to stop the killing. Tell the Interior Department to do its job and protect wolves instead of allowing them to be killed.

'I am proud that CITGO invests over $100 million annually on social programs to improve the lives of those in need.' CITGO, the Embassy of Venezuela and Citizens Energy Launch Energy Efficient Lighting Program in Houston 17 Jul 2008 CITGO Petroleum Corporation Chairman, President and CEO Alejandro Granado, Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II and Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Bernardo Alvarez joined today at the home of Houston resident Delores Smith to promote a national pilot program providing low-income households with energy efficient and environmentally friendly compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). In Houston, the program will distribute an estimated 140,000 CFLs throughout the summer and early fall in 7,000 households -- approximately one third of the national total. [Thank you, CITGO, for helping the poor in the U.S. --since the terrorist occupying the white house only helps other terrorists. --LRP]

CITGO hands out energy efficient light bulbs in US 17 Jul 2008 Venezuela's CITGO Petroleum Corp. is handing out energy efficient light bulbs across the U.S., despite political tensions between the two nations. Houston-based CITGO is teaming with nonprofit Citizen's Energy Corp. of Boston to hold workshops on energy conservation. They plan to distribute nearly 500,000 small fluorescent bulbs in 11 cities.

Banks reportedly not taking IndyMac checks --Finally able to withdraw their money, customers can't open new accounts 17 Jul 2008 The frustration didn't end for some IndyMac customers when they finally were able to withdraw their funds from the failing Southern California bank seized last week by federal regulators. Some people have run into more problems when they tried to deposit IndyMac cashier checks at other banks.

Kucinich Says Unidentified Foreign Official Wants to Speak at Impeachment Talks 17 Jul 2008 An unidentified government official of a U.S. ally wants to participate if and when Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich makes his case to impeach President [sic] Bush before the House Judiciary Committee, according to the Ohio Democrat. The House voted, 238-180, on Tuesday to send Kucinich’s latest impeachment effort (H Res 1345) to the Judiciary Committee.

Protest groups have big plans for DNC 17 Jul 2008 Dozens of protest groups are planning a full schedule of classes, concerts, marches and other actions during the Democratic National Convention, hoping to capture the world's attention and recruit a new crop of activists... Denver received a $50 million federal grant for security that will be used for personnel and equipment. The city won't say what type of equipment it's buying with the money. But a local company announced last month it had sold Denver 88 guns that fire a pepper spray-like substance instead of bullets for use during the DNC. The weapons may be used to incapacitate people, stop riots or disperse crowds.

NPR's Welna said it's "unanswered" whether Lieberman will switch sides after '07 but didn't note that Lieberman would break promise if he left caucus 16 Jul 2008 On the July 15 edition of National Public Radio's (NPR) Morning Edition, reporter David Welna asked if Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT) "might switch sides to hand Republicans the Senate majority," and quoted Lieberman saying, "I don't have any intention of doing that before the end of this session of Congress." Welna added: "Which still leaves unanswered what Lieberman might do in the next session of Congress." But Welna did not note that if Lieberman joined the Republican Party, he would be breaking his promise during the 2006 campaign to caucus with the Democrats if re-elected to the Senate.

What The New York Times Won't Tell You About Joe Lieberman By Greg Sargent 14 Jul 2008 There are two facts about Joe Lieberman [R-Israel] that the big news orgs simply can't bring themselves to tell their readers and viewers. The first is that during the 2006 campaign against Ned Lamont, Lieberman and his aides vowed multiple times that he would continue caucusing with the Democrats. The second is that Lieberman also vowed to help elect a Democrat to the White House in 2008.

Obama doubles McCain, raising $52 million in June 17 Jul 2008 Democrat Barack Obama raised $52 million for his presidential campaign in June, more than twice as much as Republican John McCain. In statements released this morning, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee announced they had a combined $92.3 million in cash on hand. The campaign reported $72 million and the DNC $20.3 million, a sizable increase since Obama became the presumptive nominee.

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US plans to station diplomats in Iran for first time since 1979 --Washington move signals thaw in relations 17 Jul 2008 The US plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years as part of a remarkable turnaround in policy by President [sic] George Bush. The Guardian has learned that an announcement will be made in the next month to establish a US interests section - a halfway house to setting up a full embassy. The move will see US diplomats stationed in the country.

Pentagon Ponders Afghanistan Troop Boost --Officials Say They May Send More Forces In Wake of Major Weekend Attack 16 Jul 2008 U.S. troops have beaten a tactical retreat in Afghanistan, abandoning the remote border outpost that was almost overrun by 'insurgents' over the weekend. And Defense Secretary Robert Gates is scrambling to find reinforcements he can send - right away, CBS News reports.

US abandons Afghan outpost where 9 troops were killed 16 Jul 2008 U.S. troops abandoned a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan where militants killed nine of their comrades this week, officials said Wednesday. The violence is another indication of the growing strength of the Taliban-led 'insurgency,' especially in Afghanistan's east, where the outpost near the village of Wanat was breached by militants on Sunday. Nine Americans were killed in the deadliest incident for U.S. forces in three years.

US to triple aid to Pakistan *OMFG.* 16 Jul 2008 US non-military aid to Pakistan could be tripled to $7.5 billion over five years if the US Congress clears a bill. Joseph R. Biden (D-DE), chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, introduced the bill on Tuesday, proposing US$1.5 billion annually for five years for developmental activities like building schools, roads and health clinics. [Uh, why don't you investigate Bush's other 'lost' billions given to (fund al-CIAduh) Pakistan? Also, why are we funding Pakistani infrastructure instead of US infrastructure? See: Billions in U.S. Aid to Pakistan Wasted, Officials Assert 24 Dec 2007 After the United States has spent more than $5 billion in a largely failed effort to bolster the Pakistani military effort against 'al Qaeda' and the Taliban, some American officials now acknowledge that there were too few controls over the money. [No sh*t.] See: US Senate approves Pakistan aid worth $785m 20 Dec 2007 The US Senate has approved a $785 million assistance package for Pakistan for the fiscal year 2008.]

'It targeted nobody but civilians and people who have nothing to do with politics.' Blast kills 20 in Iraq 17 Jul 2008 A car bomb exploded in a street market in the northern city of Tal Afar on Wednesday, killing 20 people, including 9 children, said the director of the hospital where the bodies were taken. Ninety people were wounded by the bomb, which went off just after 7 p.m... though some were so badly wounded that the death toll might rise, said the hospital's director, Dr. Salih Qadou.

Cases against Iraq IG, deputy, end without charges 16 Jul 2008 The government has cleared the top U.S. watchdog of Iraq reconstruction projects and his deputy of fraud and abuse allegations lodged by former employees, officials said Wednesday. On July 3, federal prosecutors alerted the office of Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen that a grand jury declined to indict him or deputy Ginger Cruz. A complaint to the presidential council filed by anonymous former staff members in 2006 focused on a number of fraud and abuse allegations, as well as descriptions of possible workplace violations, including sexual harassment.

Greens call for Guantanamo Bay to close 17 Jul 2008 The Australian Greens have renewed calls for the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay to be shut following the release of video footage of its youngest prisoner sobbing for his mother. Canadian citizen Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 as an enemy combatant and later accused of throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and blinded another.

Canada won't seek return of Gitmo detainee 16 Jul 2008 Canada will not seek the return of a young prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, officials said Wednesday, a day after the release of a video showing the teenage prisoner sobbing for his mother and pleading for Canada's help. A spokesman for Canada's Prime Minister [sociopath] Stephen Harper said footage of Toronto-born terror suspect Omar Khadr being interrogated by Canadian officials in 2003 will not affect his government's position.

Interrogation video: teenage detainee pleaded for help 15 Jul 2008 Amnesty International on Tuesday called for the immediate release of a Canadian citizen being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after his lawyers released copies of a video in which the then-teenage captive sobs and repeatedly cries, "Help me." Omar Khadr was 16 when the video was taken as he was being questioned by Canadian intelligence agents in 2003.

Kuwait orders US Patriot missile defense system 16 Jul 2008 Kuwait has placed a $156 million-order with an American company to purchase the Patriot air and missile defense system, according to news reports Kuwait was awarded the deal through the US Foreign Military Sales program. Defense contractor Raytheon, based in Massachusetts, said it anticipated a resurgence of the Patriot program in the near future.

Star Wars-style laser technology to reach battlefield 15 Jul 2008 Star Wars-style technology is about to take to the battlefield for the first time with the launch of a laser system to shoot down enemy missiles and mortars. Laser beam technology is being rushed into service... In just 18 months the American defence firm Raytheon has turned a laser used in the car manufacturing industry into a weapon that can hit incoming rounds at the speed of light, melting the outer casing and detonating the explosive inside.

Veterans Have Medical Claims Denied to Reduce Backlog, According to House Subcommittee Report 16 Jul 2008 At least 28,283 veterans have had their medical claims denied by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service because of efforts to reduce a large backlog of claims, according to a report released on Tuesday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Domestic Policy Subcommittee, AP/Long Island Newsday reports... DFAS in mid-2006 hired Lockheed Martin to help the office respond to deny the claims and reduce the backlog. According to the report, DFAS and Lockheed eliminated the backlog this summer, several months after the initial deadline. However, the report found that the backlog was cleared only after DFAS and Lockheed eliminated quality assurance checks of their work, which resulted in the denied claims.

Colombia misused Red Cross emblem in hostage 'rescue' --State security agents posed as members of a fictitious aid group that ingratiated itself with the rebels. 16 Jul 2008 Colombia misused the symbol of the Red Cross in this month's military rescue of politician Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other rebel-held hostages, it said on Wednesday, admitting a possible violation of the rules of war. Reports that the Red Cross emblem was displayed on a jersey or T-shirt worn by a Colombian intelligence officer who took part in the rescue mission political theater based around a $20 million pay-off to FARC. Falsely portraying military personnel as Red Cross members is against the Geneva Conventions as it could put humanitarian workers at risk when they are in war zones.

Bin Laden's driver aided FBI search 17 Jul 2008 A one-time driver for Osama bin Laden helped the FBI try to track down his boss after being captured in Afghanistan, his former interrogators said. Salim Hamdan led agents to the al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] chief's compounds in Kandahar and mapped out his movements among safehouses, training camps and other remote corners of Afghanistan in the month following the September 11 attacks, FBI special agent Robert Fuller said at a pretrial hearing. The US military is now preparing to use the interrogations against Hamdan at the first American war-crimes [show] trial since World War II.

Bush won't give Congress papers in CIA leak probe 16 Jul 2008 President [sic] George W. Bush, asserting executive privilege, has rejected Congress' request for documents on FBI interviews with Bush and Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney from a probe to find who leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. The Bush administration said on Wednesday that turning over such records would violate the president's rights to counsel from his staff.

Bush claims executive privilege on CIA leak 16 Jul 2008 President [sic] Bush has asserted executive privilege to protect information that a House panel has subpoenaed on the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, the White House said Wednesday. A House committee chairman, meanwhile, held off on a contempt citation of Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who sought the privilege claim, as a courtesy [!?!] to lawmakers not present. Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, rejected Mukasey's suggestion that Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney's FBI interview on the subject should be protected by the privilege claim.

Bush Claims Privilege to Shield Cheney Interview in Leak Case 16 Jul 2008 President [sic] George W. Bush invoked executive privilege to avoid turning over records of an FBI interview of Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney and other documents subpoenaed by Congress in the CIA leak investigation. The materials demanded by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee "deal directly with internal White House deliberative communications relating to foreign policy and national security decisions,'' the Justice Department said in a letter to the panel's chairman, Representative Henry Waxman.

Mukasey Claims Executive Privilege 16 Jul 2008 Attorney General Michael Mukasey pre-empted a contempt of Congress vote by the House oversight committee this morning by claiming executive privilege. Henry A. Waxman's House oversight committee subpoenaed Mukasey to issue a ton of documents related to the Valerie Plame Wilson scandal, including the interview special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had with Dick Cheney. The oversight committee has spent a year trying to get its hands on interviews Fitzgerald had with Cheney and President [sic] George W. Bush about what Waxman calls "the despicable outing of Ms. Wilson." Waxman called the executive privilege claim "ludicrous."

Congress threatens to block rule to have airlines pay for foreign-exit system 16 Jul 2008 Congress threatened on Wednesday to block a proposed rule by the Homeland Security Department that would require airlines to pay for a system that would collect biometric data to verify the identities of foreign visitors when they leave the United States. DHS has until June 2009 to implement a system that uses biometric features such as fingerprints to verify the identities of foreign travelers who leave the United States.

Congress pushes for national emergency communications plan 15 Jul 2008 Congress criticized the Homeland Security Department on Tuesday for delaying the coordination of a national emergency communications plan for first responders, emphasizing that states have little time to take action when formulating applications for grant money. The Office of Emergency Communications, established... to improve communication among emergency responders and government officials during natural disasters and acts of terrorism, was supposed to have submitted a National Emergency Communications Plan to Congress in April. But OEC is months late in submitting the plan.

State probing bridge agency's records --Causeway contract information sought 16 Jul 2008 (LA) The state inspector general's office has begun an investigation into how the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is run, asking officials to provide records that, among other things, show how the commission overseeing the bridge spends the public's money, how it awards contracts and who gets paid for doing what. A representative from the inspector general's office paid a visit Monday to Kyle France, the commission's chairman, and gave him a list of the records she wants to see, France said Tuesday in response to an inquiry by The Times-Picayune.

FBI fraud inquiry after IndyMac collapse 17 Jul 2008 The FBI is investigating possible fraud at IndyMac, the California lender which was seized by regulators last Friday after America's biggest high street bank failure for two decades. Law enforcement sources told the Associated Press that the inquiry revolved around home loans made by IndyMac to risky borrowers and was focused on the bank itself, rather than on individuals who ran it.

U.S. 'Misery Index' Climbs to 15-Year High on Prices 16 Jul 2008 Misery hasn't had this much company in more than 15 years. The jump in consumer prices reported today by the Labor Department means the so-called Misery Index, the sum of the unemployment and inflation rates, is the highest since President Bill Clinton took office [after G.H.W.B. destroyed the country] in January 1993. The measure rose to 10.5 in June from 9.7 in the prior month.

Consumer Prices, Driven by Fuel, Surge 1.1% in June 17 Jul 2008 Almost everything that consumers spent money on last month -- from food to electricity and gasoline -- took a bigger piece of their paychecks. Inflation in June rose at the fastest rate in 17 years, the government said on Wednesday. The Consumer Price Index, which measures prices of a batch of common household products, rose 1.1 percent in June, the Labor Department said.

Super Rich Tax Cheats Outed by Bank Clerk --Technician in Liechtenstein Turns Over Names of Americans With Secret Bank Accounts 15 Jul 2008 Hundreds of super-rich American tax cheats have, in effect, turned themselves in to the IRS after a bank computer technician [Heinrich Kieber] in the tiny European country of Liechtenstein came forward with the names of US citizens who had set up secret accounts there, according to Washington lawyers investigating the scheme.

Congress overrides Bush's Medicare veto 15 Jul 2008 In what likely is the last big showdown between President [sic] George W. Bush and congressional Democrats over the popular Medicare health care program, the U.S. Congress on Tuesday voted to override his veto of a bill to keep doctors' payments from being slashed. By enacting the measure over Bush's objections, Congress rescinded an 11 percent reduction in government payments to doctors treating elderly Medicare patients. The bill now becomes law.

Obama has 7-point edge on McCain: Reuters poll 16 Jul 2008 Democrat Barack Obama has a 7-point lead on Republican John McCain in the U.S. presidential race, and holds a small edge on the crucial question of who would best manage the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

Taking a Walk in a Polar Bear's Tracks 16 Jul 2008 (CT) On Saturday, Westport- based Gault, Inc., hosted Polar Bear Empathy Day at Compo Beach. The event ran from 1 to 3 p.m. and honored the company's new strategic alliance with Polar Bears International (PBI). Gault's alliance with PBI is the first grassroots energy conservation movement in the country. PBI is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the preservation of the polar bear habitat through conservation, edification and research.

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Police to IndyMac customers: Remain calm or face arrest 15 Jul 2008 Police ordered angry customers lined up outside an IndyMac Bank branch to remain calm or face arrest Tuesday as they tried to pull their money on the second day of the failed institution's federal takeover. At least three police squad cars showed up early Tuesday as tensions rose outside the San Fernando Valley branch of Pasadena-based IndyMac. Federal regulators seized Pasadena-based IndyMac on Friday and reopened the bank Monday under the control of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

UK commander says the British will stay in Iraq 15 Jul 2008 One of Britain’s top army commanders, Major-General Barney White-Spunner, has said the UK is likely to have a long-term role in Iraq. Commander White-Spunner, who is in charge of British forces in southern Iraq, said current troop levels will only be reassessed once Iraqi soldiers are trained to ensure security in Basra.

Multiple bombings kill 40 in northern Iraq 15 Jul 2008 Bombers killed around 40 people and wounded scores in several attacks in northern Iraq on Tuesday, days after the government vowed to expand a crackdown against militants in a region where 'al Qaeda' retains influence. In the worst attacks, two suicide bombers killed 27 people and wounded 68 when they blew themselves up outside an army recruitment centre in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, an Iraqi security source said.

Al-Maliki's op-ed By Mark Yannone 15 Jul 2008 My Plan for America 'by' Nouri Kamel Mohammed Hassan al-Maliki My call for a timetable for the ejection of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of our snipers and bomb makers that I have long advocated and that is needed for reestablishing Iraq's sovereignty and security... Remaining in Iraq will not be a strategy for their success. It is a strategy that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people, and the security interests of the United States. That is why, today, I give the military a new mission: end this American occupation by any means possible. Our most talented patriots have the resources they require. They already speak English better than most Americans, and they can find Washington, DC, on a map.

150,000 troops remain in Iraq; buildup is over 16 Jul 2008 The military surge into Iraq that began more than 18 months ago has 'ended.' But 150,000 U.S. troops remain, as many as 15,000 more than before the buildup began. In recent days, the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade, the last of the five additional combat brigades sent in by President [sic] Bush last year, left the country... It starts the 45-day evaluation period that Gen. David Petraeus [Betrayus], the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told Congress he would need to assess the security situation and determine how many more troops he could send home help John McCain. See: Bush to hasten Iraq troop withdrawal in bid to help McCain win White House 14 Jul 2008.]

US soldier who deserted over Iraq is deported 16 Jul 2008 Canada yesterday deported to the US the first American army deserter fleeing the Iraq war across the US-Canadian border. Robin Long, 25, faces a possible court martial and jail, and even redeployment to Iraq. He joined the army in 2003, after the invasion of Iraq, but became troubled by the war. In 2005 he fled to Canada and applied for refugee status, because the US army wanted him to participate in what he called an "illegal war of aggression in Iraq."

American Envoy to Join Iran Talks 16 Jul 2008 The Bush regime will send a senior envoy this weekend to international talks with Iran about its nuclear program in what U.S. officials described as a "one-time deal" designed to demonstrate a serious desire to negotiate a solution to the impasse over Tehran's ambitions. In a significant departure from long-standing policy, Undersecretary of State William J. Burns will join a scheduled meeting in Geneva between European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and top Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, according to a senior State Department official.

U.S. says Iran has missile that could hit Europe 16 Jul 2008 The Pentagon said on Tuesday that Iran has the ability to launch a ballistic missile capable of hitting sections of eastern and southern Europe. Air Force Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, director of the Missile Defence Agency, told reporters he believes Iran now has a missile with a range of 2,000 km, but he declined to say whether the weapon has been test-fired.

Ex-IDF generals: Is bellicose Israeli prattle on Iran strike necessary? 14 Jul 2008. Israel and Iran's recent displays of their capabilities to strike each other have contributed to the escalating tensions between the two enemy states, centered on the Islamic Republic's [alleged] nuclear ambitions. Some former Israel Defense Forces generals have questioned the wisdom of Jerusalem's policy towards Iran, citing in particular belligerent Israeli declarations.

Blair scraps Gaza visit after Israel warns of 'assassination plans' 15 Jul 2008 Tony Blair scrapped a visit to the Gaza strip at the last minute yesterday after Israel claimed Palestinian groups were planning to assassinate him. Mr Blair, the envoy for the Middle East peace 'quartet' of the UN, EU, U.S. and Russia, was in his official convoy speeding towards a Gaza-Israel border crossing when he was phoned by Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak. Mr Barak told him the secret service had received an intelligence warning of 'a very serious' threat to assassinate him. Hamas, the Islamic militant group which was co-ordinating security for the visit, described the Israeli warning as 'a lie'. 'The Israeli occupation exerted great pressure to prevent Tony Blair from visiting the Gaza Strip because they did not want him to see the size of the disaster caused by the unjust blockade,' said Taher al-Nunu.

Russia: Medvedev's missiles hard line dismays west 16 Jul 2008 Russia's new president, Dmitry Medvedev, yesterday launched an outspoken attack on America's European missile defence plans, in the latest sign that policy towards the west is unchanged since Vladimir Putin. Medvedev denounced the Bush administration's plans to build a missile defence shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, allegedly to shoot down a rogue missile fired by Iran. He accused the US of aggravating the situation and promised that Russia would respond appropriately. "This common [security] heritage cannot survive if one of the sides selectively destroys isolated elements of the strategic construction," Medvedev said, adding: "This doesn't satisfy us."

Terrorism obsessed Bush ignored emergence of India, China: Biden 16 Jul 2008 A senior US lawmaker has accused President George Bush of ignoring larger forces shaping the world "like the emergence of China, India, Russia and a united Europe" due to an obsession with the "war on terrorism". History will judge eight years of Bush presidency "less for the mistakes he made than for the opportunities he squandered", Joseph Biden, Democratic chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, said Tuesday.

Court Backs Bush on Military Detentions 16 Jul 2008 President [sic] Bush has the legal power to order the indefinite military detentions of civilians captured in the United States, the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled on Tuesday in a fractured 5-to-4 decision. But a second, overlapping 5-to-4 majority of the court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, ruled that Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar now in military custody in Charleston, S.C., must be given an additional opportunity to challenge his detention in federal court there. The decision was a victory for the Bush regime, which had maintained that a 2001 Congressional authorization to use military force after the Sept. 11 attacks granted the president the power to detain people living in the United States.

Holding Accused Without Trial Is Upheld --Terrorism Suspect May Petition Civilian Court 16 Jul 2008 A federal appellate court issued a new setback to the Bush regime on the treatment of terrorism suspects yesterday, declaring that the only accused "enemy combatant" apprehended and held on U.S. soil can petition a civilian court to review the evidence against him. At the same time, the divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit affirmed the president's wartime power to hold accused combatants apprehended in the United States without trial, reversing a previous ruling by a panel of its own judges. Jonathan Hafetz, who represents Kahlah al-Marri, said that in ordering a new hearing on the basis for Marri's detention, the court's majority had significantly rejected the "president's most sweeping claims of unchecked and unreviewable executive detention power." But he said that victory was tempered by a ruling that "effectively allows the president to seize any person in the United States, a citizen or noncitizen, and detain them indefinitely without trial."

Watchdog asked to investigate Pakistan torture allegation 16 Jul 2008 An official complaint alleging that British intelligence officers colluded in the torture of a British medical student who was detained in Pakistan after the July 2005 suicide attacks in London has been lodged with the tribunal that conducts investigations into MI5 and MI6. Labour backbencher John McDonnell has complained to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) that the student, his constituent, was picked up by a Pakistani intelligence agency and tortured for two months in a building opposite the British deputy high commission in Karachi.

Canadian teenager cries in Guantanamo interrogation video --"Help me, help me, help me," Khadr says in the video, weeping, holding his head in his hands. 16 Jul 2008 A sobbing Canadian teenager begs for help as he is interrogated at the US "war on terror" camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the very first video glimpse of any such questioning showed on Tuesday. The video was released by attorneys for terror suspect Omar Khadr, who is shown being questioned at the prison by Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agents in February, 2003. Khadr has been held at the US facility naval since his arrest in 2002, when he was 15 years old, and faces an upcoming US military tribunal on terrorism charges.

Guantanamo video shows 16-year-old captive in distressed state --The video was filmed secretly through an air duct. 15 Jul 2008 A videotape of a prisoner being questioned at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay has been released for the first time. It shows 16-year-old Omar Khadr in a distressed state and complaining about the medical care. One of Mr Khadr's lawyers, Dennis Edney, told the BBC his client, a Canadian citizen, was seen in a distressed state because he had been "abused" by his American guards. "He was deprived of sleep by being removed from his cell and to another cell every three hours on a 24-hour basis for three weeks solid, followed by three weeks of deep solitary confinement," Mr Edney told the BBC. During the 10-minute video of his questioning in Guantanamo a year later, he can be seen crying, his face buried in his hands, pulling at his hair and repeatedly chanting.

Thousands of innocents on terrorist list 16 Jul 2008 Thousands of travellers in the US are subjected to extra security measures because of a bloated terrorist watch list, the American Civil Liberties Union said on Monday. "The list is out of control," a Civil Liberties Union director, Barry Steinhardt, told a press conference. He called the list a "Kafka-esque web of suspicion". It said 1 million individuals were covered by the list, but an FBI spokesman said about 400,000 people are on the list - 95 per cent of whom were not US citizens or residents.

Visitors locked up after revealing asylum plans 16 Jul 2008 Four African pilgrims who said they had valid visas for World Youth Day were detained at Sydney Airport and taken to Villawood Immigration Detention Centre after they told immigration officers they intended to seek asylum, said refugee advocates. However, the Department of Immigration said it had only three World Youth Day travellers in detention at Villawood.

Nothing Newt under the sun --Gingrich's 'grassroots' drilling campaign is funded by Big Oil, report says By Kate Sheppard 15 Jul 2008 "Green conservative" Newt Gingrich is scheduled to deliver his "Drill here, drill now, pay less" petition to Congress today. According to his American Solutions website, more than 1.3 million people have signed the petition. But who's funding the campaign that Gingrich is touting as a grassroots, bipartisan effort? Turns out a large portion of the money behind his organization comes from Big Oil, according to a new report from the Alaska Wilderness League. The group analyzed the donors to Gingrich's group "American Solutions for Winning the Future," the 527 that's heading up a campaign to increase domestic drilling.

Exxon opposes paying interest 15 Jul 2008 Exxon Mobil Corp. is fighting to avoid paying interest on the $507.5 million judgment the U.S. Supreme Court ordered it to pay for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Lawyers for the Texas-based energy giant on Tuesday submitted a nine-page brief to the high court opposing the application of interest, which could bring the total punitive damages Exxon owes for the 1989 spill to nearly $1 billion. Exxon argues "there is no good reason" for the court to add interest. [And, 'there is no good reason' for Exxon Mobil to exist.]

Obama Leads by 8 Points In Poll --Economy Remains the Top Concern 16 Jul 2008 Sen. Barack Obama holds his biggest advantage of the presidential campaign as the candidate best prepared to fix the nation's ailing economy, but lingering concerns about his readiness to handle international crises are keeping the race competitive, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Phil Gramm's Porn Stash By Max Blumenthal 15 Jul 2008 Before Gramm joined the Christian Coalition's Ralph Reed to call for the defunding of the NEA, before he attacked an opponent for taking money from a gay rights group, and before he was interviewed by the white supremacist Southern Partisan magazine, Gramm was an avidly active investor in soft-core pornography movies. Gramm's journey into porn began in 1973, when his brother-in-law, George Caton, rushed to tell him about an exciting low-budget soft-core production called "Truck Stop Women..." Gramm contributed at least $7500 towards the sequel, a satire of the Nixon White House called "White House Madness" that featured the crazed president wandering around the White House in the nude.

Flu scare: eight sent to hospital 16 Jul 2008 Eight Pacific Islander pilgrims were taken to Westmead Hospital yesterday after an outbreak of a flu-like illness. The pilgrims had been staying at Oakhill College in Castle Hill and were taken to the hospital by ambulance after suffering from fevers and coughing. A hospital spokeswoman was quick to rule out malaria, as had been feared, saying the visitors suffered a "flu-like illness" and were recovering.

Experts identify genes for bird flu replication 09 Jul 2008 Scientists have identified around 100 genes that the H5N1 bird flu virus needs in a host in order to replicate, and this finding may help in the hunt for ways to block foment its proliferation. In their study, the experts from Japan, Indonesia and the United States infected fruit fly cells with genetically altered H5N1 virus. The H5N1 virus needed slight modifications because fruit flies are normally not susceptible to influenza.

Plan puts food safety in peril, experts warn --Federal government would leave inspections up to packing plants 12 Jul 2008 (Ottawa) A government plan to transfer key parts of food inspection to industry so companies can police themselves will put the health of Canadians at risk, say leading food safety experts who have reviewed the confidential blueprint. The plan, drafted by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and approved by the Treasury Board, details sweeping changes coming to food inspection in Canada.

E. coli linked to beef in 5 states 15 Jul 2008 An E. coli outbreak traced to recalled beef in Michigan and Ohio has spawned cases in three other states, U.S. health officials said Tuesday. New York, Kentucky and Indiana each have one lab-confirmed case of a bacterial infection that matches the 41 previously reported cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and 'Prevention.'

A crowd favourite 15 Jul 2008 Six white lion cubs are revealed to the public at a safari park in western Germany. (Video)

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Torture: MPs call for inquiry into MI5 role --New torture claims spark inquiry call --New allegations that abuse of Britons was outsourced to Pakistani agencies 15 Jul 2008 MPs are calling for an investigation into allegations that British intelligence has "outsourced" the torture of British citizens to Pakistani security agencies after hearing accounts of people being abducted and subjected to mistreatment and, in some cases, released without charge. John McDonnell, the Labour member for Hayes and Harlington, and Andrew Tyrie, Conservative member for Chichester, say the allegations should be examined by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the Westminster body that oversees the Security Service, MI5, and the Intelligence Service, MI6. McDonnell says he wants to know whether British officials colluded in the abuse of one of his constituents.

Rape threats, beatings and racist chants: 15 Italians jailed for abuse of G8 Genoa protesters --Sentences up to five years for mistreatment in 2001 --Verdict likely to embarrass Berlusconi government 15 Jul 2008 Fifteen Italian police officers and doctors were last night sentenced to jail terms of up to five years after being found guilty of abusing protesters detained during riots at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa. The sentences... will be embarrassing for Silvio Berlusconi and his rightwing allies, in office in Italy both then and now. The court heard former detainees including Britons testify that they were insulted, beaten and sprayed with asphyxiating gas. Some were threatened with rape. Detainees were made to join in chants in praise of Italy's late fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini. Another chant, lauding Chile's Augusto Pinochet, ended: "Death to the Jews."

Detainee's Lawyers: Prisoner Deprived of Sleep for 50 Days 15 Jul 2008 Defense lawyers claimed on Monday that an accused prisoner might have been subjected to a program of systematic sleep deprivation that they said would constitute torture. The lawyers for the prisoner facing trial, Salim Hamdan, said that on Saturday prosecutors for the first time gave them information indicating Mr. Hamdan "entered Operation Sandman" on June 11, 2003, and remained in the program for 50 days. Operation Sandman has been described as an interrogation plan devised with military psychiatrists for systematically interrupting a prisoner’s sleep. "Sleep deprivation of that nature for 50 days would constitute torture," said one of Mr. Hamdan’s lawyers, Joseph M. McMillan.

Lawyers Want Detainees to Testify in Terror Trial 15 Jul 2008 Attorneys for Salim Ahmed Hamdan said Monday that they intend to call other prisoners to testify at his upcoming military trial here, entangling the landmark proceeding in yet another difficult legal issue. The lawyers representing Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver, said the eight prospective witnesses include Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-described [after waterboarding] mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who is being held at the U.S. military prison here along with Hamdan and about 265 other captives.

Grave mistake to attack Iran, warns Syria 15 Jul 2008 Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, warned yesterday that any attack on Iran's nuclear programme would have grave consequences for the US, Israel and the whole world. But Assad, Iran's most important Arab ally, also promised to discuss the issue with Tehran, suggesting that Syria, itself shunned by the US, could mediate in a crisis which has escalated, with Iranian and Israeli sabre-rattling in the last fortnight.

Obama promises 10,000 more troops for Afghanistan 15 Jul 2008 Barack Obama yesterday pledged to increase US troops in Afghanistan by a third if he becomes president, sending 10,000 more to reinforce the 33,000 already there. He was speaking after the US lost nine soldiers at the weekend in the deadliest attack on its forces in the country since 2005. Obama has promised, soon after becoming president in January, to begin scaling back the 156,000 US troops in Iraq and Kuwait, and to shift the focus to Afghanistan.

'In 2008 the monster created in this ill-conceived experiment is virtually out of control.' Bribing way out of Afghanistan still costs less than a cup of coffee 14 Jul 2008 Bribing your way out of Afghanistan through the border still costs less than a cup of coffee, even seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks made this region the centre of the international war on [of] terrorism. Rampant corruption at the Pakistani border was documented by The Canadian Press in several dozen trips through one of its few supposedly official crossings.

My Plan for Iraq By Barack Obama 14 Jul 2008 We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 -- two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces... [!] As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission [sic] there. [What, exactly, is 'the mission' in Afghanistan? Protecting Bush's opium trade routes?]

Embedded Photojournalist Accuses US Military of Censorship After Being Barred for Publishing Photo of Dead Marine (Democracy Now!) 14 Jul 2008 An American photojournalist who was embedded with the Marines in Fallujah has been barred from the Marine Corps because of graphic photographs showing Marines killed in a suicide bombing last month. A few hours after he posted some photos of the bombing on his blog, a high-ranking public affairs official ordered him to remove it. When he refused, he was told his "embed" had been terminated and he would be flown out of Iraq.

Canada to deport U.S. war deserter 14 Jul 2008 U.S. army deserter Robin Long is slated to be deported back to his army base in Fort Knox, Ky., Tuesday, which would make him the first resister to the U.S. war effort in Iraq to be sent out of Canada. Madam Justice Anne Mactavish of the Federal Court of Canada cleared the way for the deportation late Monday, dismissing a last-ditch attempt to delay the process while the 25-year-old pursued further appeals.

Report: Gov't tardy securing radioactive material 15 Jul 2008 The government is taking too long to secure radioactive materials across the country that could get into terrorists' hands, according to a government report. According to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday, new requirements to ensure that a person purchasing or carrying radioactive materials has a reason to do so is more than three years behind schedule. Further, a system to track radioactive materials as they are transported across the country has also faced multiple delays.

U.S. terrorism watch list tops 1 million 14 Jul 2008 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. The Bush regime disagreed and called the list one of the most effective tools implemented after the September 11 hijacked plane attacks -- when a federal "no-fly" list contained just 16 people considered threats to aviation.

Prosecutor flagged by US terror watch list 14 Jul 2008 The Justice Department's former top criminal prosecutor says the government's terror watch list likely has caused thousands of innocent Americans to be questioned, searched or otherwise hassled. Former Assistant Attorney General Jim Robinson would know: he's one of them. Robinson joined another mistaken-identity American and the American Civil Liberties Union on Monday to urge fixing the list that's supposed to identify suspected terrorists.

''Suspicious characters' are trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape.' Terrorist Watch List Hits One Million Names --ACLU launches online watch list complaint form --A September 2007 report by the inspector general of the Justice Department reported that it was growing by 20,000 names per month. 14 Jul 2008 The nation's terrorist watch list has hit one million names, according to a tally maintained by the American Civil Liberties Union based upon the government's own reported numbers for the size of the list. "Members of Congress, nuns, war heroes and other 'suspicious characters,' with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith, have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Congress needs to fix it, the Terrorist Screening Center needs to fix it, or the next president needs to fix it, but it has to be done soon."

Exxon Mobil moves forward disputed gas field 14 Jul 2008 Exxon Mobil Corp. has hired contractors with plans to begin work on an oil and gas field the state of Alaska wants to take back. The state's Department of Natural Resources rejected Exxon Mobil's most recent development plan for the Point Thomson field. The dispute is still in court, but the Irving, Texas, company announced Monday it's still moving forward with work. [Where are the 'insurgents' when you 'need' them?]

Exxon hires contractors to work at Point Thomson 14 Jul 2008 Exxon Mobil Corp said on Monday it awarded contracts for work needed to start its drilling program at the Point Thomson oil field in Alaska, despite attempts by the state to take away the company's leases for the field. Alaska is fighting a legal battle to take the properties from Exxon and its partners, claiming they violated the terms of the leases by not developing the field.

Bush Lifts Ban on U.S. Offshore Oil, Gas Drilling 14 Jul 2008 President [sic] George W. Bush said today he's lifting a presidential ban on drilling for oil and natural gas on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, setting up a showdown with Congress over a separate ban it put in place in the 1980s. "Today I've taken every step within my power to allow offshore exploration of the OCS,'' Bush said in a statement at the White House.

Blind Faith: How Deregulation and Enron's Influence Over Government Looted Billions from Americans --Sen. Gramm, White House Must Be Investigated for Role in Enron's Fraud of Consumers and Shareholders --Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy & Environment Program December 2001 After passage of Gramm's energy commodity deregulation bill in December 2000, Stage 3 emergencies increased from one to 38 until federal regulators helped end the crisis by imposing price controls in June 2001.

Banking Stocks Take a Lashing 15 Jul 2008 Banking stocks suffered some of their worst losses in a generation yesterday as investors' confidence in the U.S. financial system continued to erode despite the dramatic initiative by the federal government Sunday evening to bolster mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Analysts say more U.S. banks will fail 14 Jul 2008 As home prices continue to decline and loan defaults mount, U.S. regulators are bracing for dozens of American banks to fail over the next year. The troubles are growing so rapidly at some small and midsize banks that as many as 150 out of the 7,500 banks nationwide could fail over the next 12 to 18 months, analysts say. Other lenders are likely to shut branches or seek mergers.

Department Is Criticized on Disputes Over Wages 15 Jul 2008 The Government Accountability Office sharply criticizes the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department in two reports to be issued on Tuesday, saying it mishandled many overtime and minimum-wage complaints and delayed investigating hundreds of cases for a year or more. The G.A.O. also criticizes the division for greatly reducing the number of enforcement actions it takes each year and for not focusing on the low-wage industries where, one report said, it is most likely to find violations.

Abortion Proposal Sets Condition on Aid 15 Jul 2008 The Bush regime wants to require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control. Under the draft of a proposed rule, hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign "written certifications" as a prerequisite to getting money under any program run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Barack Obama campaign attacks 'offensive' New Yorker cartoon 15 Jul 2008 A satirical cartoon depicting Barack Obama in Islamic garb and his wife Michelle with an AK-47 rifle has been blasted by the Democratic candidate's campaign as "tasteless and offensive". The New Yorker magazine, which has been very supportive of Mr Obama's presidential campaign, said that its cover - entitled "The Politics of Fear" - was a composite parody of unfounded smears against the Illinois senator.

New Yorker editor defends controversial Obama cover 14 Jul 2008 It was an image meant to raise hackles and it did: a cartoon on the cover of the New Yorker showing Barack and Michelle Obama -- dressed respectively as a Muslim and a gun-toting terrorist -- performing what rightwing commentators have called a "terrorist fist jab" while merrily burning an American flag in the fireplace of an Oval Office decorated with a portrait of Osama bin Laden. The magazine arrived on newsstands today. But the editor, David Remnick, evidently anticipating a liberal backlash against a cover described today as incendiary and irresponsible, gave an interview to the Washington Post ahead of publication, saying the image was meant to be seen as humour, poking fun at the smear campaign against the Obamas.

Sorry Jesse. You're too late By Doug Thompson 11 Jul 2008 Jesse Jackson, echoing the disappointment and betrayal that a growing number are feeling towards presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, says "I wanna cut his nuts off." Too late Jesse. Barack's balls are long gone. He gave them up when he decided pandering for votes was more important than standing on principle... Barack Obama pulled off the con on the century when he convinced Democratic primary voters that he was something different, a non-politician who stood for real change... The Democrats fell for Obama's con game hook, line and sinker... While we can hope that John McCain's growing senility will tip the balance in November, Obama's performance of late makes me wonder if putting he and his party in office will make any real difference... This nation's political system is corrupt and beyond redemption. Change may not be possible. It may take a new American revolution but even that may be too little too late.

Global warning: Melting ice threatens Arctic foxes 15 Jul 2008 Polar bears may not be the only Arctic wildlife threatened by global warming. Scientists have discovered that Arctic foxes also struggle as the ice disappears because they rely on the frozen seas to survive the bleak winters. Researchers tracked the movements of 14 young foxes as they faced their first Arctic winter in northern Alaska... Only three animals survived the winter, by wandering hundreds of miles across the frozen sea ice looking for seal carcasses left by polar bears. The 11 foxes that remained on the mainland perished.

Rare white lion cubs are born in Germany 15 Jul 2008 These three rare white lion cubs were pictured getting to grips with feeding from a bottle as they made their public debut at a zoo in Germany. The trio were born last month at the zoo in the German town of Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, after both the park's white lionesses gave birth simultaneously to seven cubs.

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Bush to hasten Iraq troop withdrawal in bid to help McCain win White House 14 Jul 2008 President [sic] George Bush wants to speed up the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq, a move that could help to quell the anti-war anxieties of voters before November's presidential 'election.' Drawing down large numbers of troops would enable the Republican candidate, John McCain, to say that his forceful military strategy for Iraq was correct. American commanders want to reduce their deployment in Iraq to ease the strain on the military and free up troops for Afghanistan where they are taking a beating from the Taliban and other militants.

President George W Bush backs Israeli plan for strike on Iran --As Tehran tests new missiles, America believes only a show of force can deter President Ahmadinejad 13 Jul 2008 President [sic] George W Bush has told the Israeli government that he may be prepared to approve a future military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities if negotiations with Tehran break down, according to a senior Pentagon official. Despite the opposition of his own generals and widespread scepticism that America is ready to risk the military, political and economic consequences of an airborne strike on Iran, the president has given an "amber light" to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties, the official told The Sunday Times.

Arizona JAG officer wants Bush tried for war crimes --Joe Abodeely joins ranks with Vincent Bugliosi By Mark Yannone 13 Jul 2008 From the KPHX radio station in Phoenix, Arizona, Colonel Joe Abodeely told his worldwide radio audience on Saturday exactly how and why he expects George W. Bush to be prosecuted for the war crimes he committed as president [sic] of the United States.

US Army lawyer says his client was tortured 13 Jul 2008 A US lawyer, dealing with a case against a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, has told the press his client suffered health problems when he was subjected to two weeks of sleep deprivation. According to Air Force Major David Frakt, a Pentagon-appointed lawyer for Afghan prisoner Mohammed Jawad, the incident occurred in 2004. Major Frakt, referring to Guantanamo Bay medical records, said Mr Jawad had lost 10 per cent of his body weight and was urinating blood after being subjected to what he has described as torture. The records, Frakt said, contradict military claims that Jawad suffered no ill effects from sleep deprivation.

'No one expected the British to be worse than Saddam Hussein.' [Oh, yes we did.] British soldiers accused of sickening sex assault on Iraqi boy, 14 --Just days after the MoD has to pay out millions to the father of a man UK soldiers beat to death, fresh claims of abuse rape emerge 13 Jul 2008 British soldiers forced a boy of 14 to carry out an act of oral sex on a fellow male prisoner in Iraq, according to shocking new allegations made about the behaviour of British troops. The Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday that the Royal Military Police (RMP) have launched an investigation. The victim, now 19, whom The Independent on Sunday has agreed to identify only as Hassan, says he was rounded up with a friend while trying to steal milk cartons from a food distribution centre. He was whipped, beaten and forced to strip naked. "They made us sit on each other's laps," he said. "They were enjoying humiliating and abusing us, I wished I was dead at this moment. Then they made me sit with Tariq... where I was forced to put Tariq's penis in my mouth. The other two were made to do the same."

British army in new Iraq inquiry after boy claims sexual abuse 13 Jul 2008 The Royal Military Police are investigating a new allegation against British troops in Iraq after a 14-year-old Iraqi detained in 2003 with a group of [food] looters claimed he was sexually abused. The teenager, named only as Hassan, has made a full statement in which he alleged he was forced to indulge in oral sex with a fellow prisoner while British soldiers watched.

Nouri al-Maliki ready to oust US from Iraq green zone 13 Jul 2008 The green zone of Baghdad, a highly fortified slice of American suburbia on the banks of the Tigris river, may soon be handed over to Iraqi control if the increasingly assertive government of Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, gets its way. A senior Iraqi government official said this weekend the enclave should revert to Iraqi control by the end of the year. "We think that by the end of 2008 all the zones in Baghdad should be integrated into the city," said Ali Dabbagh, the government’s spokesman. "By the end of the year, there will be no green zone," he added. "The separation by huge walls makes people feel angry."

Iran to target '32 US bases' if attacked 12 Jul 2008 Iran will target "32 US bases and the heart of Israel" if it is attacked, the Fars news agency quoted an aide to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying on Saturday. There has been concern an attack against Iran could be imminent after it emerged Israel had carried out manoeuvres in Greece that were effectively practice runs for a potential strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Obama Wants to Deploy 10,000 More Troops to Afghanistan 14 Jul 2008 Senator Barack Obama is proposing that the United States deploy about 10,000 more troops to battle resurgent forces in Afghanistan, a plan intended to shift the American military focus from the Iraq war to the marked rise in violence from the Taliban. "As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan," Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, wrote in an Op-Ed article published on Monday in The New York Times. "We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there." [Help! Barack Obama is morphing into George W. Bush faster than the speed of light!]

Ten foreign troops killed in Afghanistan in militant attacks 13 Jul 2008 Militants killed nine NATO soldiers in an assault on a remote base in northeastern Afghanistan, officials said, in one of the deadliest attacks on foreign forces fighting the Taliban 'insurgency.' A tenth foreign soldier was also killed in a bomb blast in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, the coalition said.

9 U.S. Soldiers Killed in Attack in Afghanistan 14 Jul 2008 Taliban 'insurgents' mounted a large-scale attack on an American forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan in the early hours of Sunday, killing nine American soldiers in fierce fighting that continued through the day. Mark Laity, a spokesman for NATO, confirmed that nine soldiers had been killed and 15 more wounded, but did not give their nationality.

Pakistan: U.S. Won't Cross Our Border --Foreign Minister Says No Foreign Troops Will Be Allowed In to Hunt For 'Osama Bin Laden' 13 Jul 2008 Pakistan's top diplomat said Saturday there are no U.S. or other foreign military personnel on the hunt for Osama bin Laden in his nation, and none will be allowed in to search for the al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] leader. In an interview with The Associated Press, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his nation's new government has ruled out such military operations, covert or otherwise, to catch militants.

The Real-Life '24' of Summer 2008 By Frank Rich 13 Jul 2008 We learn... that in 2004 two conservative Republican Justice Department officials had become "so paranoid" that "they actually thought they might be in physical danger." The fear of being wiretapped by their own peers drove them to speak in code. The men were John Ashcroft’s deputy attorney general, James Comey, and an assistant attorney general, Jack Goldsmith. Their sin was to challenge the White House’s don, Dick Cheney, and his consigliere, his chief of staff David Addington, when they circumvented the Geneva Conventions to make torture the covert law of the land... So hot is the speculation that war-crimes trials will eventually follow in foreign or international courts that Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, has publicly advised Mr. Feith, Mr. Addington and Alberto Gonzales, among others, to "never travel outside the U.S., except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel."

Front of US Capitol Closed After 30 Foul Found Dead --'Strange odor' in air around same time dead fowl were discovered 12 Jul 2008 The FBI is investigating what may have caused a dozen ducks to die in a large reflecting pool in front of the U.S. Capitol. A swath of territory in front of the Capitol was closed late Friday after the findings. Tests were being run and police were keeping people and vehicles away from the West front of the Capitol. FOX News has learned there were reports of a strange odor in the air around the same time the dead fowl were discovered around 10:30 ET.

Bird flu outbreak could kill 3,000 people a week 12 Jul 2008 A [US engineered] bird flu pandemic in Wales could result in an extra 3,000 people dying a week, it was claimed yesterday. The resilience co-ordinator for the Welsh Assembly Government told a conference in Cardiff that if avian flu becomes transferable between people, the number of weekly deaths in the country could jump from 600 to 3,600.

12 Babies die during GlaxoSmithKline vaccine trials in Argentina 10 Jul 2008 At least 12 babies who were part of a clinical study to test the effectiveness of a vaccine 'against' pneumonia have died over the past year in Argentina, the local press reported Thursday. The study was sponsored by global drug giant GlaxoSmithKline and uses children from poor families, who are "pressured and forced into signing consent forms," the Argentine Federation of Health Professionals, or Fesprosa, said. The vaccine trial is still ongoing despite the denunciations.

President George W Bush lobbyist in 'cash for access' row 13 Jul 2008 A lobbyist with close ties to the White House is offering access to key figures in George W Bush’s administration in return for six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s pResidency. Stephen Payne [who sits on the US homeland security advisory council], who claims to have raised more than $1m for the president’s [sic] Republican party in recent years, said he would arrange meetings with Dick Cheney, the vice-president, Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, and other senior officials in return for a payment of $250,000 (£126,000) towards the library in Texas. Payne, who has accompanied Bush and Cheney on several foreign trips, also said he would try to secure a meeting with the president himself. Payne said the balance of the $750,000 would go to his own lobbying company, Worldwide Strategic Partners (WSP). Asked by an undercover reporter who the politician would be able to meet for that price, Payne said: "Cheney's possible, definitely the national security adviser [Stephen Hadley], definitely either Dr Rice or . . . I think a meeting with Dr Rice or the deputy secretary [John Negroponte] is possible . . ."

US spells out Fannie-Freddie backstop plan 13 Jul 2008 The Federal Reserve and the Treasury announced steps Sunday to shore up mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose shares have plunged as losses from their mortgage holdings threatened their financial survival. The Fed said it granted the Federal Reserve Bank of New York authority to lend to the two companies "should such lending prove necessary."

S.E.C. Warns Wall Street: Stop Spreading the False Rumors 14 Jul 2008 The Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Sunday that it and other regulators would begin examining rumor-spreading intended to manipulate securities prices. The timing of the announcement, made before the markets opened in Asia, was meant to warn broker-dealers, hedge funds and investment advisers to quell any spreading of rumors before trading started Monday.

Kennedy's Big Day By Paul Krugman 11 Jul 2008 It was the worst of days, it was the best of days. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats capitulated to the Bush administration on wiretapping -- with Barack Obama joining the coalition of the craven. Later that day, however, those same Senate Democrats won a huge victory on Medicare. News reports stressed the cinematic quality of the event: Ted Kennedy, who is fighting a brain tumor, made a dramatic appearance on the Senate floor, casting the decisive vote amid cheers from his colleagues. (Only one senator was absent: John McCain.)... It was the first major health care victory that Democrats have won in a long time. And it was enormously encouraging for advocates of universal health care.

Antarctic ice shelf collapse 'imminent' 13 Jul 2008 Scientists are warning that an Antarctic ice shelf the size of Northern Ireland is on the verge of disintegration, even though it is now the middle of the southern hemisphere's winter. The European Space Agency says new satellite pictures show that the Wilkins shelf – the largest to be threatened so far – is "hanging by its last thread". Extending for approximately 5,600 square miles, it has been held in place by a thin ice bridge connecting it to an island, but this is now fracturing.

White House rejects regulating greenhouse gases 12 Jul 2008 The Bush regime, dismissing the recommendations of its top experts, rejected regulating the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming Friday, saying it would cripple the U.S. economy [he already destroyed]. In a 588-page federal notice, the Environmental Protection Agency made no finding on whether global warming poses a threat to people's health or welfare, reversing an earlier conclusion at the insistence of the White House and officially kicking any decision on a solution to the next president and Congress.

Stop the Polar Bear Whitewash 10 Jul 2008 On May 15th -- after months of delays -- the Bush/Cheney Administration finally listed the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). But at the same time, federal officials issued a new rule that dramatically limits new protections for these struggling bears and the places they need to survive. The Bush/Cheney Administration has made it clear with its new rule that the ESA will not provide any additional protections from activities like oil exploration than those that already exist... Take action now -- urge federal officials to provide threatened polar bears with the protections they need to survive.

Brown calls for eight new nuclear plants --New stations to be part of 'nuclear renaissance' 14 Jul 2008 Britain must build "at least" eight new nuclear power stations during the next 15 years to replace its ageing plants and contribute to a "post-oil economy" that is cleaner and much more efficient than in the era of "cheap energy and careless pollution", [lunatic] Gordon Brown signalled last night. The prime minister called for "a renaissance of nuclear power" more than 20 years after major power station crises at Three Mile Island in the US and the Soviet plant at Chernobyl put a brake on nuclear stations as a growing energy source.

Future taxpayers face $1.1 billion new transportation debt 13 Jul 2008 Counting the $350 million now being borrowed for bridges, and money borrowed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission over the past year to hand over to PennDOT under Act 44, Gov. Ed Rendell and the Legislature have already stuck future taxpayers with $1.1 billion in new transportation debt. The number will jump again in two weeks, when the turnpike writes more IOUs to send the first of four $212.5 million quarterly checks due PennDOT for the current fiscal year.

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'We've come to this ignoble moment.' --'We have become like Serbia.' 12 Jul 2008 'I never thought I would say this, but I think it might, in fact, be time for the United States to be held internationally to a tribunal. I never thought in my lifetime I would say that, that we have become like Serbia, where an international tribunal has to come to force us to apply the rule of law... So we've come to this ignoble moment, where we could be forced into a tribunal and forced to face the rule of law that we've refused to apply to ourselves.' --Constitutional Law expert Jonathan Turley, on MSNBC's Friday 'Countdown,' discussing accountability behind US war crimes at Guantanamo.

Law School Dean Calls Conference to Plan Bush War Crimes Prosecution 17 Jun 2008 The dean of Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is planning a September conference to map out war crimes prosecutions, and the targets are President [sic] Bush and other administration officials. The dean, Lawrence Velvel, says in a statement that "plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth." Other possible defendants, he said, include federal judges and John Yoo, the former Justice Department official who wrote one of the so-called torture memos. "We must insist on appropriate punishments," he continued, "including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war criminals in the 1940s."

Review board orders AP journalist held --The arrest of Raziak was the latest in a series of arrests of journalists by U.S. forces in Iraq in recent years. 08 Jul 2008 An Associated Press television cameraman who was detained by U.S. and Iraqi forces in early June was ordered held for at least six more months Tuesday for "imperative reasons of security," [!] the U.S. military said. The decision came as a surprise to the AP, which had earlier been led to believe that the cameraman, Ahmed Nouri Raziak, was likely to be released because of lack of any evidence against him. Raziak, 38, who has worked for AP Television News since 2003, was detained by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers at his home in Tikrit on June 4. He was transferred last month to the U.S. military's detention facility at Camp Cropper near Baghdad International Airport. "We are shocked that another AP journalist is to be held for at least six months without charges, and are awaiting information that could shed light on this strange decision," said John Daniszewski, AP Managing Editor for International News. [Why hasn't anyone raided the detention facility to free him?]

Reuters seeks U.S. army video of staff killed in Iraq 11 Jul 2008 The U.S. military said on Friday it was still 'processing' a request by Reuters for video footage from U.S. helicopters and other materials relating to the killing of two Iraqi staff in Baghdad a year ago. Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, were killed in a U.S. helicopter air strike in eastern Baghdad on July 12, 2007. Reuters wants all the materials to be able to study what happened.

Iraqis tortured by UK military settle case for $6M 10 Jul 2008 A major case involving the abuse and torture of 10 Iraqi civilians at the hands of the British military was settled Thursday, with lawyers for the victims saying the Ministry of Defense agreed to pay them just under $6 million. 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, said the law firm Leigh Day & Co.

Iraq handing out [US] cash to people on the streets 12 Jul 2008 Handouts by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and a handful of other top officials are authorized -- as long as each goes no higher than about $8,000... The United States has been doling out cash itself, most effectively to former Sunni militants who switched sides to fight 'al-Qaida.' The military has also provided money and assistance to projects like fixing damaged roads in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City after battles there. Top U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus Betrayus has repeatedly called money a crucial weapon to lure neighborhoods from extremists and stabilize Iraq. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, urged the government to pass out money even faster this week on a trip to devastated Mosul in the north.[Too bad US infrastructure isn't located in Sadr City. The money to rebuild it would be there quicker than you can say bribe Iraqis to stop blowing us up so that the dumbf*cks (US citizens) believe that the 'surge' actually worked and will vote for McCain in November.]

Some Iraqis protest security deal with US 11 Jul 2008 Hundreds of followers of a radical Shiite cleric in Iraq have taken to the streets to protest a proposed security agreement between Iraq and the United States. The supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr say the proposed deal would lead to a permanent U.S. occupation of Iraq. They held their protest Friday in the southern city of Kufa and shouted slogans such as: "No to America." [Protest harder. Use al-Malaki's eight thousand dollar bribes to fund the *actual* resistance and overthrow Blackwater, Exxon Mobil, BP, KBR, and all the other corpora-terrorists illegally squatting in Iraq. --LRP]

'I am angered that the department (of defense) appears to lack the urgency and outrage that all of us in this room share today.' Former KBR electricians criticize contractors' work 11 Jul 2008 KBR Inc. used employees with little electrical expertise to supervise subcontractors in Iraq and hired foreigners who couldn't speak English, former KBR electricians told a Senate panel investigating electrocutions of 13 Americans. Experienced electricians who raised concerns about shoddy work and its possible hazards were often dismissed and told, "This is a war zone," the electricians said Friday. "Time and again we heard, 'This is not the states, OSHA doesn't apply here. If you don't like it you can go home,'" said Debbie Crawford, a journeyman electrician with 30 years experience.

Iraq blast killed 3 KBR employees 09 Jul 2008 Three KBR employees in Iraq were killed and as many as 13 others were injured early this week when an armored passenger bus traveling near Mosul struck a roadside bomb, company officials confirmed Wednesday. The bus, carrying 34 passengers, was traveling between Qayyarah Airfield West and Camp Diamondback in Mosul on Monday when it is believed to have hit a large improvised explosive device, said Heather Browne, a spokeswoman for the Houston-based military contracting giant.

AP: 'Lob bombs' biggest worry for US in Baghdad 12 Jul 2008 U.S. forces may be close to unlocking the mystery of who is behind a deadly innovation in Iraqi 'insurgents'' weapons, a "lob bomb" now being used in Baghdad to target U.S. and Iraqi combat outposts, a senior American general said Friday in an Associated Press interview. Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, called the weapon "the greatest threat right now that we face," and he likened the shadowy group behind it to the American military's elite Delta Force. "We think we might have picked up a guy that could lead us — could be a big lead in this," Hammond said. [?]

Bodies of 2 missing US soldiers are found in Iraq 11 Jul 2008 The bodies of two U.S. soldiers missing in Iraq for more than a year have been found, their families said Thursday night. The father of Army Sgt. Alex Jimenez, of Lawrence, Mass., said the remains of his son and another soldier, Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, of Waterford, Mich., had been identified in Iraq.

Army Secretary Asks for Probe of Firing 12 Jul 2008 Army Secretary Pete Geren has asked his staff for an internal review to examine the Army's firing last month of Gina Gray, the former public affairs director of Arlington National Cemetery who had worked to restore media coverage of military funerals... After assuming her director position three months ago, Gray discovered that cemetery officials were trying to impose new media restrictions on funerals of Iraq war dead, despite families of the fallen having granted permission for coverage.

Pentagon public affairs director sacked in media access dispute 10 Jul 2008 The public affairs director at Arlington national cemetery, the famed US military memorial, was sacked after protesting the Pentagon's efforts to block the media from funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. Whistleblower Gina Gray, 30, told the Washington Post today that she believes she was punished for defending an official US defence department policy allowing media coverage of military funerals with the consent of the deceased's family.

Putting Her Foot Down and Getting the Boot 10 Jul 2008 When Gina Gray took over as the public affairs director at Arlington National Cemetery about three months ago, she discovered that cemetery officials were attempting to impose new limits on media coverage of funerals of the Iraq war dead -- even after the fallen warriors' families granted permission for the coverage. She said that the new restrictions were wrong and that Army regulations didn't call for such limitations. Six weeks after The Washington Post reported her efforts to restore media coverage of funerals, Gray was demoted. Twelve days ago, the Army fired her.

U.S. Soldiers Lose Haven in Canada 13 Jul 2008 For American soldiers seeking an escape, Canada is no longer a guaranteed haven. While the current Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not backed the Iraq war, it has shown little sympathy for American deserters. Changes to immigration laws have made it far more difficult for deserters to remain in Canada.

Israel hints at pre-emptive attack on Iran 11 Jul 2008 The sabre-rattling over Iran's nuclear progamme has grown louder as a defiant Tehran claimed to have conducted missile tests for a second day running, the US warned that it would defend its interests and its allies in the region, and Israel hinted it was ready to stage a preventive attack to destroy Iranian nuclear installations.

Agreement reached on North Korea nukes --Six nations hammer out steps to verify nuclear power's disarmament 12 Jul 2008 Negotiators from six nations agreed Saturday on steps to verify North Korea's nuclear disarmament, opening the final phase in tortuous efforts to rid the North of nuclear weapons. The agreement, reached after three days of talks, requires North Korea to finish disabling its main nuclear facility by the end of October. Meanwhile the United States, China and the other three nations taking part would complete promised deliveries of fuel oil and other economic aid bribes.

Davis returns with 15,000 majority to fight for liberty 12 Jul 2008 David Cameron ruled out an early return to the Tory front bench for David Davis after the former shadow home secretary's comfortable victory in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election. Mr Davis said the voters in the East Yorkshire constituency had sent a "stunning message" to the Government over the erosion of civil liberties by returning him with a 15,355 majority, easily seeing off the challenge of minor parties and a colourful array of mavericks in the absence of Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates on a turnout of almost 35 per cent.

Bush blamed for Merkel opposition to Brandenburg date for Obama 12 Jul 2008 Despite furious denials, suspicion is growing that President [sic] George Bush has put pressure on the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to block a proposed speech by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama at the Brandenburg Gate this month. Germany is already in a swoon over Mr Obama [and *hate* Bush] and near-constant comparisons are made between him and President John F Kennedy, who is still revered, especially in Berlin.

Court tosses White House appeal on visitor logs 11 Jul 2008 A federal appeals court on Friday set back the White House's efforts to keep the names of its visitors secret. The three-member panel of judges threw out the government's appeal in a case brought by a watchdog group trying to find out how often prominent religious conservatives visited the White House and Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney's residence. The Bush administration was appealing a federal judge's decision last December that the government should gather the records the watchdog group wants. Despite the ruling against the White House, public disclosure of visitor logs is by no means assured. The Bush regime can still raise a variety of legal arguments in an attempt to keep the identities of White House visitors secret.

Cheney's heartbeat normal, doctors say --In annual checkup, doctors tell Cheney his condition is stable 12 Jul 2008 Doctors reported Saturday that Vice President [sic] Cheney's heartbeat was normal for a 67-year-old man with a history of heart problems. "All is fine," Cheney press secretary Megan Mitchell said after Cheney's annual checkup, which lasted less than two hours at George Washington University Hospital.

Tony Snow, Former White House Press Secretary, Dies 13 Jul 2008 Tony Snow, the conservative columnist and television commentator who relished sparring with reporters during a 17-month stint as President [sic] Bush’s press secretary, died Saturday of colon cancer, the White House said. He was 53. Before becoming the chief spokesman the president, Mr. Snow was a television commentator for Fox 'News.'

Feeling No Pain By Bob Herbert 12 Jul 2008 No one (not even John McCain, who tended toward the rapturous when describing Mr. Gramm’s economic bona fides) could mistake this sour-visaged investment banker for a populist... During one of the many Republican assaults on Social Security, the issue of cutting back benefits for the elderly came up in the Senate. "They are 80-year-olds," howled Mr. Gramm. "Most people don’t have the luxury of living to be 80 years old, so it’s hard for me to feel sorry for them." [Hopefully, Gramm and McCain won't have the luxury.] ...The Democrats, timid as always, should be pounding the populist pavement from one coast to another, explaining how the reckless and deliberately inequitable policies of the past several years have gotten the U.S. into this terrible fix... There should be a sense of urgency coming from the Democrats in this campaign, a clarion call compelling enough to rally the legions who have been treated unfairly and badly hurt in the nation’s other undeclared war: the class war.

IndyMac Bank seized by federal regulators --The Pasadena-based thrift's failure is the second-biggest by a U.S. bank. Doors will reopen Monday. 12 Jul 2008 The federal government took control of Pasadena-based IndyMac Bank on Friday in what regulators called the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history. The bank's 33 branches will be closed over the weekend, but the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will reopen the bank on Monday as IndyMac Federal Bank, said the Office of Thrift Supervision in Washington.

Second near collision at JFK prompts changes 12 Jul 2008 Two airborne planes -- one landing and the other taking off -- came within a half-mile of colliding at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday in the second such incident at the airport in a week, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The FAA moved quickly to change takeoff and landing procedures at JFK on perpendicular runways -- the kind of runways involved in both incidents.

F.C.C. Chief Would Bar Comcast From Imposing Web Restrictions 12 Jul 2008 Federal regulators are prepared to take action against sellers of Internet access that want to restrict what their customers can do online. Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said Friday that Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, should be sanctioned because it had interfered with the Internet connections of users who were exchanging files with other people.

Psychiatric Group Faces Scrutiny Over Drug Industry Ties 12 Jul 2008 After a series of stinging investigations of individual doctors' arrangements with drug makers, Senator Charles E. Grassley (R- IA) is demanding that the American Psychiatric Association, the field’s premier professional organization, give an accounting of its financing. The association is the voice of establishment psychiatry, publishing the field’s major journals and its standard diagnostic manual. "I have come to understand that money from the pharmaceutical industry can shape the practices of nonprofit organizations that purport to be independent in their viewpoints and actions," Mr. Grassley said Thursday in a letter to the association.

Despite court ruling, EPA won't move on greenhouse gases 11 Jul 2008 Despite a Supreme Court order telling it to act, the Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it couldn't propose any regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act because the issue was too complex and there were too many objections from other federal agencies. Critics said the EPA announcement, contained in a 588-page report that calls for 120 days of public comment, was tantamount to the Bush regime refusing to carry out a Supreme Court order. [Just as Bush refuses to carry out the Guantanamo directive.]

Schwarzenegger Blasts Bush on Global Warming 11 Jul 2008 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., spoke out against President [sic] Bush this morning attacking his administration for its failure to counter global warming emissions. "This administration did not believe in global warming," Schwarzenegger told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview that will air Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

New windows double as solar panels 11 Jul 2008 A new type of solar panel that allows light to pass through it like a pane of glass has been invented by scientists who said that it is 10 times more powerful than conventional methods of producing energy from sunlight. The discovery raises the prospect of using ordinary domestic windows to generate electricity with minimum structural alterations...

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