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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December 2008 Archives, Page Two

Israel bombs university in Gaza 28 Dec 2008 Israeli air force jets have bombed the Islamic University in the Gaza Strip, a significant cultural symbol for Hamas. Warplanes also struck Hamas government offices as air raids aimed at forcing Palestinian militants to halt rocket fire into southern Israel continued. Palestinian medics say nearly 300 people have been killed in the air raids that began on Saturday.

Israeli planes bomb tunnels on Gaza border 29 Dec 2008 Israel has widened its campaign against Hamas, pounding smuggling tunnels and a central prison in Gaza and sending more tanks and artillery toward the border as it prepared for a possible ground invasion. Jets bombed a series of tunnels on Gaza's border with Egypt _ a lifeline used by Hamas to smuggle goods and weapons into the enclave, which has been virtually sealed off by Israel since the Islamists seized power in June 2007.

Israeli troops mobilize as Gaza assault widens --More than 290 Palestinians are dead as Israel readies more tanks, artillery 28 Dec 2008 Israel widened its deadliest-ever air offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers Sunday, pounding smuggling tunnels and a central prison, sending more tanks and artillery toward the Gaza border and approving a reserves callup for a possible ground invasion.

Israel Approves Reserve Call-Up, Fueling Talk of Ground Attack 29 Dec 2008 Israel expanded its bombing campaign in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and authorized the call-up of 7,000 army reservists, raising speculation about a possible ground invasion of the coastal enclave. "This will be a long, difficult and painful operation," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told ministers in Jerusalem yesterday, Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel said before the call-up was approved by a committee of parliament.

Gaza hospitals are overwhelmed, Red Cross says 28 Dec 2008 Hospitals in the Gaza Strip are overwhelmed and unable to cope with the casualties from Israeli air strikes, the international Red Cross said on Sunday. Gaza's hospitals urgently need medical equipment and people are afraid to go into the streets, the International Committee of the Red Cross said. Nearly 290 people have been killed in two days of strikes Israel says were a response to rocket fire.

Six months of secret planning - then Israel moves against Hamas 29 Dec 2008 Even as Israel's F16s were aiming their first deadly salvoes at Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, questions were being asked at home and abroad, about what this "shock and awe" campaign was intended to achieve - and what Israel's exit strategy would be. Preparations Unlike the confused and improvised Israeli response as the war against Hizbullah in Lebanon unfolded in 2006, Operation Cast Lead appears to have been carefully prepared over a long period.

Britain and US refuse to demand end to Israeli airstrikes on Gaza 28 Dec 2008 Britain and the United States were on a collision course with their European allies last night after refusing to call for an end to Israeli airstrikes on 'Hamas targets' in Gaza. The White House put the blame squarely on Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organisation, for provoking the Israeli blitz.

US veto blocks UN anti-Israel resolution 28 Dec 2008 The UN Security Council has been unable to force an end to Israeli attacks against Gaza due to the intervention of the United States. Washington once again used its veto powers on Sunday to block a resolution calling for an end to the massive ongoing Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip.

Violent protests at Israeli Embassy in London 28 Dec 2008 Violent confrontations broke out at the Israeli Embassy in London today as up to 1,500 protesters against Israel's Gaza campaign gathered in a vociferous demonstration. Campaign supporters, Palestinians and British Muslims stood on the pavement of High Street Kensington, west London, and chanted in unison: "Five, six, seven, eight - Israel is a terror state."

Police send officers to South, brace for 'spontaneous terrorism' [Is not *all* terrorism 'spontaneous?'] 28 Dec 2008 The Israel Police sent many officers to the South as reinforcements on Saturday and braced for the possibility of Arab rioting and unplanned acts of terrorism across Israel and the West Bank. Police officials also expressed concern that Hamas would try to carry out suicide bombings or attempt to kidnap soldiers as a result of the Gaza operation.

Obama's silence on Israeli airstrikes disappoints many 29 Dec 2008 President–elect Barack Obama blew the first opportunity that had come his way to show that unlike his predecessors, he was going to adopt a more even-handed approach to the Palestine question by choosing to keep quiet after savage Israeli airstrikes across Gaza.

Pelosi: US must stand strongly with Israel 28 Dec 2008 Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi issued a statement concerning the Israeli operation in Gaza in which she wrote that "When Israel is attacked, the United States must continue to stand strongly with its friend and democratic [?!?] ally."

Crude Oil Rises After Israeli Attacks on Gaza Roil Middle East 29 Dec 2008 Crude oil rose a second day in New York after Israeli air strikes in the Gaza strip killed more than 285 people, heightening geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and prompting some investors to buy commodities as a haven.

Suicide car bombing kills two people in W Iraq 28 Dec 2008 A suicide car bomber struck a police patrol in the city of Fallujah in Iraq's western Anbar province on Sunday, killing two people and wounding seven others, a provincial police source said. The attack took place in the morning on the eastern entrance of Fallujah, killing a policeman and a civilian and wounding four policemen and three civilians, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Baghdad bombs kill 28 people: police 28 Dec 2008 Two bombs killed at least 28 people and wounded 55 in Baghdad on Saturday, police said. The explosions on a long holiday weekend shook the city, where car bombs, roadside blasts and other attacks still strike routinely despite a sharp drop in violence in the last year.

Army surgeon killed Christmas Day in Iraq 27 Dec 2008 A Pennsylvania trauma surgeon who was attached to a Queens-based Army medical unit, and who had written achingly of having to tell families of crime victims that their loved ones had died, was killed Christmas Day in Iraq, the Department of Defense said. Dr. John P. Pryor, of Moorestown, N.J., died when a mortar round struck near his living quarters in Mosul, according to published reports.

Internment and Interrogation of 13-Year-Old Canadian Teen At Guantanamo Raises Ethical Issues 27 Dec 2008 The internment and severe interrogation of 13-year-old Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay raises serious ethical issues. His interrogators at the notorious camp have used snarling dogs against him. He was also placed in "stress positions," upended and used as a human mop to clean the floor. The U.S. forces were convinced he had thrown a grenade that killed an American soldier. Omar Khadr, originally hailing from Canada, is one of the 19 Guantanamo prisoners charged with war crimes. The tribunal has refused permission for the defence counsel to introduce as evidence photographs taken at the scene of the July 27, 2002, firefight near Khowst, Afghanistan – it was there Khadr is supposed to have thrown the grenade that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. The photographs taken by U.S. soldiers as they stormed the bombed-out compound show Khadr lying facedown in the dirt under the blasted remnants of a roof. Navy Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler, Khadr's lead defense lawyer argued Khadr could hardly have thrown the grenade that killed Speer if he was buried and unconscious when the Delta Force soldier entered.

The Noose Tightens [Well, pull!] Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and other top Bush officials could soon face legal jeopardy. The United States has a bad habit of committing wartime excesses [war crimes] and an even worse record of accounting for them afterward. But a remarkable string of recent events suggests that may finally be changing--and that top Bush administration officials could soon face legal jeopardy for prisoner abuse torture committed under their watch in the war on of terror.

Suicide car bomb in Afghanistan kills 14 primary school children 28 Dec 2008 A suicide car bomb in Afghanistan today killed 14 primary school children in what officials said was a failed attempt to blow up a meeting of tribal elders. The blast, in the country's eastern Khost province, also killed an Afghan army soldier and a security guard, and injured 58, including at least 40 civilians, the US army said.

India alerts air force along Line of Control 27 Dec 2008 As India continued transporting heavy guns and war machines to strategic areas along Line of Control, Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor Thursday rushed to Siachen Glacier and forward areas of occupied Jammu and Kashmir "to check the operational preparedness of the troops." Intelligence reports confirmed Thursday extra-ordinary moves at India’s Western Air Command with headquarters in Delhi which is responsible for air operations from occupied Kashmir to Rajasthan including Punjab.

Pakistan cautions India against "non-state actors" 27 Dec 2008 Pakistan's president promised on Saturday to rid the country of terrorism and his prime minister said the military would not take action first in any face-off with India. Relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours have deteriorated after India blamed Islamist militants based in Pakistan for the last month's attacks on Mumbai that killed 179 people. Pakistan has condemned the Mumbai attacks and has denied any state role, blaming "non-state [Langley, VA] actors."

Georgia, US to sign strategic accord Jan 4: Tbilisi 25 Dec 2008 Georgia and the United States will on January 4 sign a strategic partnership treaty, the Georgian foreign ministry said on Thursday, in a move that risks again provoking Russian wrath against Tbilisi.

Bring more ID when crossing the borders 28 Dec 2008 If you’re planning a driving trip to Canada or Mexico, you’ll need to pack more identification in the New Year, thanks to a new U.S. law. Starting Jan. 31, 2009, U.S. citizens -- both adults and children -- returning to the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean must carry a document that shows their citizenship. Those who don’t have a passport must carry a birth certificate plus government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or school ID for young students, to show at border inspection stations.

CBS newsman's $70m lawsuit likely to deal Bush legacy a new blow 28 Dec 2008 As George W Bush prepares to leave the White House, at least one unpleasant episode from his unpopular presidency [sic] is threatening to follow him into retirement. A $70m lawsuit filed by Dan Rather, the veteran former newsreader for CBS Evening News, against his old network is reopening the debate over alleged favourable treatment that Bush received when he served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam war.

Bush Data Threatens to Overload Archives 27 Dec 2008 The National Archives has put into effect an emergency plan to handle electronic records from the Bush White House amid growing doubts about whether its new $144 million computer system can cope with the vast quantities of digital data it will receive when President [sic] Bush leaves office on Jan. 20.

Photo surfaces of President Bush with father of housing scammer Isaac Toussie 27 Dec 2008 A stunning photo of President [sic] Bush shaking hands with the father of pardoned - then unpardoned - housing scammer Isaac Toussie emerged Friday as the White House reeled from the embarrassing scandal. The full-color picture - obtained exclusively by the Daily News - was taken early this year.

Mega barf alert! Jeb Bush poised for Florida Senate run 26 Dec 2008 Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been working the phones since Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) announced earlier this month that he won’t seek reelection in 2010. Sources say Bush hasn’t made up his mind about running for Martinez’ seat, but that he’s getting green lights from would-be contributors and blessings from Republican Party leaders.

GOP chair 'appalled' by 'Magic Negro' CD 27 Dec 2008 Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan issued a statement Saturday distancing the party’s leadership from one of the GOP’s best-known operatives, Chip Saltsman, who distributed a CD containing "Barack the Magic Negro" as part of his campaign to be elected chairman of the Republican National Committee next month.

Thanks to Bush: Cash-strapped states weigh selling roads, parks 27 Dec 2008 Minnesota is deep in the hole financially, but the state still owns a premier golf resort, a sprawling amateur sports complex, a big airport, a major zoo and land holdings the size of the Central American country of Belize. Valuables like these are in for a closer look as 44 states cope with deficits. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R - Whore) has hinted that his January budget proposal will include proposals to privatize some of what the state owns or does.

Monday Is Payday for Chrysler, GM --Industry Trackers Predict Eventual Bailout Total Will Top $100 Billion 28 Dec 2008 Monday is payday for two of Detroit's Big Three automakers, due to receive over $13 billion in taxpayer funds to keep the American auto industry running, and analysts say the bailout is likely to be just the beginning.


Pakistan sends 20,000 troops to Indian frontier 27 Dec 2008 Pakistan moved thousands of troops away from its border with Afghanistan towards its Indian frontier yesterday, marking a big increase in tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours after the Mumbai terror attacks. The move of 20,000 troops – the army’s 14th Division was being redeployed to Kasur and Sialkot, close to the Indian border – struck a blow against attempts to thwart 'al-Qaeda' and Taleban extremists along the Afghan border.

Pakistan military officers on leave recalled after tensions rise 26 Dec 2008 Pakistan cancelled leave for members of its armed forces on Friday, beefing up its military strength in case of conflict with India over the deadly Mumbai attacks, a senior military official said. The military remains on alert, but it has not moved additional troops to the Indian border, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pakistan Warns India Against Attack 26 Dec 2008 Pakistan warned India on Thursday not to launch a strike against it and vowed to respond to an attack, yet another indication that the relationship between the nations remained strained in the wake of the attacks last month in Mumbai, India.

'Take one of these. You'll love it,' the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam. CIA Supplying Viagra to Afghan Warlords 26 Dec 2008 The Afghan chieftain, of 60-odd years, has duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift. Four blue pills. Viagra. "Take one of these. You'll love it," the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception... In their efforts to win over [Yeah, right!] notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, U.S. intelligence officials say, the CIA's operatives have used a variety of personal services. These include pocketknives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas, and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said. [Bush's pharma-terrorists ensure the US doesn't nationalize healthcare - but US taxpayers pay for Afghan druglords' surgeries, 'pharmaceutical enhancements' and dental bills?!?]

States Driven to Reduce Health Coverage for Poor [Yeah, too bad states can't be Afghan druglords.] 26 Dec 2008 States from Rhode Island to California are being forced to curtail Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, as they struggle to cope with the deteriorating economy. With revenue falling at the same time that more people are losing their jobs and private health coverage, states already have pared their programs and many are looking at deeper cuts for the coming year. Already, 19 states -- and the District of Columbia -- have lowered payments to hospitals and nursing homes, eliminated coverage for some treatments, and forced some recipients out of the insurance program completely.

Roadside bomb kills Canadian soldier in Afghanistan 26 Dec 2008 A Canadian soldier was killed and three others wounded in Afghanistan's Kandahar region, bringing to 104 Canada's death toll since its military mission began there in 2002, the Defense Ministry said Friday. The soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device blew up close to their vehicle in the Zhari district, 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of Kandahar city in southern Afghanistan.

Royal Marine killed on Christmas Eve in Afghanistan --A Royal Marine was killed on Christmas Eve in Afghanistan, taking the British death toll in the country to 136. 25 Dec 2008 The serviceman, from 42 Commando, died from enemy fire while on a mission in the Nad-e-Ali district near Lashkar Gah in Helmand province. He was the eleventh Royal Marine to die in Afghanistan in the past two months.

Three Suspected Insurgents Flee Jail in W. Iraq 27 Dec 2008 Three suspected 'insurgents' fled a jail in the western city of Ramadi on Friday morning after overpowering guards, Iraqi officials said. The jailbreak led to a gunfight in which six policemen and seven suspected insurgents were killed, authorities said. Iraqi security forces launched a manhunt for the three escapees.

Northcom Chief Vows to Address Worries About New Homeland Unit 17 Dec 2008 A senior military official pledged Wednesday to address congressional concerns about a new homeland emergency response task force that is designed to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear attack. Air Force Gen. Victor E Renuart Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command (Northcom), also told reporters that the new force, which will eventually total 20,000 personnel, will not require new funding right now and is not meant to [!?!] authorize the federal government to enforce martial law.

Homeland Security Forecasts 5-Year Terror Threats --Terrorism Threat to U.S. Driven By 'Internet Savvy' 25 Dec 2008 The terrorism threat to the United States over the next five years will be driven by instability in the Middle East and Africa, persistent challenges to border security and increasing Internet savvy, says a new intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press.

USA needs nuclear explosion to turn the world into dictatorship (Pravda) 23 Dec 2008 Is the United States going to put dictatorship into effect under the guise of the anti-terrorist struggle? What may trigger another major transformation in 2009? The answer is obvious: another 9/11 in the USA. Terrible and bloody events are in store for the world in the beginning of 2009. Most likely, the world will witness a reality show with a nuclear blast, which will be used as a reason for the US administration to change the world order again and leave the new Great Depression behind.

Uproar in Australia over plan to block Web sites 26 Dec 2008 A proposed Internet filter dubbed the "Great Aussie Firewall" is promising to make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among democratic countries. Consumers, civil-rights activists, engineers, Internet providers and politicians from opposition parties are among the critics of a mandatory Internet filter that would block at least 1,300 Web sites prohibited by the government - mostly child pornography, excessive violence, instructions in crime or drug use and advocacy of terrorism. Hundreds protested in state capitals earlier this month.

In 'pre-insurrectionary' mood, riots have begun --Civil protest is breaking out in cities across Russia, China, and beyond. 22 Dec 2008 Greece has been in turmoil for 11 days. The mood seems to have turned "pre-insurrectionary" in parts of Athens - to borrow from the Marxist handbook. This is a foretaste of what the world may face as the "crisis of capitalism" - another Marxist phase -- is making a comeback.

Russia to supply missiles to Syria 27 Dec 2008 Russia plans to supply air-defense missile systems valued at $250 million to seven countries including Syria, Libya and Venezuela, Vedomosti reported, citing an unidentified Russian Technologies Corp official.

Israel 'poised for large-scale assault on Gaza' unless rocket attacks stop 26 Dec 2008 Militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip were warned yesterday they would pay a "heavy price" if they continued to target Israel. As the Israeli army reportedly pressed on with preparations for a possible large-scale assault on the coastal territory, Ehud Barak, the defence minister, and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, both insisted Israel would respond to protect its citizens.

US gov't a lying sack of warmongering sh*t, even in 1915: Secret of the Lusitania: Arms find challenges Allied claims it was solely a passenger ship 20 Dec 2008 Her sinking with the loss of almost 1,200 lives caused such outrage that it propelled the U.S. into the First World War. But now divers have revealed a dark secret about the cargo carried by the Lusitania on its final journey in May 1915. Munitions they found in the hold suggest that the Germans had been right all along in claiming the ship was carrying war materials and was a legitimate military target. Winston Churchill, who was first Lord of the Admiralty and has long been suspected of knowing more about the circumstances of the attack than he let on in public, wrote in a confidential letter shortly before the sinking that some German submarine attacks were to be welcomed. [Sound familiar?]

Blagojevich Impeachment Panel Split on Subpoena for Obama Aides 26 Dec 2008 An Illinois panel considering the impeachment of Governor Rod Blagojevich is divided over whether to subpoena aides of President-elect Barack Obama and a U.S. congressman. The committee is looking into the Democratic governor’s alleged attempt to auction Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Blagojevich Lawyer Seeks to Subpoena Obama Aides 25 Dec 2008 An attorney for Gov. Rod Blagojevich has asked the Illinois House committee considering whether to impeach the governor to subpoena more than a dozen witnesses, including President-elect Barack Obama's incoming chief of staff and a senior adviser. State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie said Thursday that the House committee received a letter from Blagojevich attorney Ed Genson asking it to subpoena Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and more than a dozen others, including Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Mega barf alert! Retailers Want In on Stimulus Plan 24 Dec 2008 The country's largest retail trade association asked President-elect Barack Obama Tuesday to add a series of sales tax-exempt shopping days to a coming economic stimulus package in an effort to revive consumer confidence and spur spending. The National Retail Federation called for three periods of sales tax-free shopping that would last 10 days each in March, July and October 2009.

U.S. retailers' holiday sales plummet: Spending Pulse 25 Dec 2008 U.S. retailers' sales fell as much as 4 percent during the holiday season, as the weak economy and bad weather created one of the worst holiday shopping climates in modern times, according to data released on Thursday by SpendingPulse.

The World Economic Crisis: A Marxist Analysis Part 5 By Nick Beams 24 Dec 2008 To return to the ABCs of Marxism: the material productive forces have once again come into conflict with the social relations of production, giving rise to a new period of social revolution, in which the fate of the working class, and humanity as a whole, will be decided. It is for precisely such a period that we must now prepare. Above all, this requires the development of a program and perspective—the program of international socialism—on which the working class must advance its own independent interests. It can only be established and, most importantly, fought for, through a clear differentiation from the policies advanced by the various "left" reformers and radical tendencies.

Bird flu spreads to more areas in Assam 27 Dec 2008 Bird flu has spread to new areas in Assam, where culling of poultry has been going on since November 27. Sources in the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department said new cases were reported at Manahkuchi of the Hajo and Chayani Barduar block in Kamrup (rural) district, where the disease was first detected.

Tennessee Community Grapples With Possible Toxic Sludge --Environmentalist Dubs Sludge 'Witch's Brew' of Toxic Heavy Metals 26 Dec 2008 It looks like the surface of the moon. The black sludge that poured out of a Tennessee coal burning plant now covers entire neighborhoods. The worry now among environmentalists and homeowners is over what is in the sludge and whether it contains mercury and arsenic that could potentially contaminate the water supply and dry into harmful dust particles in the air.

Tennessee sludge spill estimate grows to 1 billion gallons 26 Dec 2008 Estimates for the amount of thick sludge that gushed from a Tennessee coal plant this week have tripled to more than a billion gallons, as cleanup crews try to remove the goop from homes and railroads and halt its oozing into an adjacent river. The sludge, a byproduct of the ash from coal combustion, was contained at a retention site at the Tennessee Valley Authority's power plant in Kingston, about 40 miles east of Knoxville.

Save the Polar Bear 22 Dec 2008 Polar bears are dying and will soon be wiped out entirely if we don't take immediate action to curb global warming. Please sign the petition and pass it on to a friend. With your help we’ll reach our goal to get 50,000 signatures below and send a strong message to President-elect Obama before he is sworn into office. Global warming is rapidly melting the sea ice polar bears depend on... If current trends continue, two thirds of all polar bears -- including all bears in Alaska -- will be extinct by 2050, and the rest of the species will be gone forever by the end of the century.


Obama wants Bush war team to stay [Yeah, that's so the wars can stay, too.] 23 Dec 2008 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has asked most Bush administration political appointees except those targeted for dismissal to stay on in the Pentagon until replaced by the Obama administration in the coming months. Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary, confirmed that Mr. Gates wants to retain most political appointees. He said the policy of keeping so many holdover officials is unusual for a transition from a Republican to Democratic administration.

Doomsday: U.S. report warns of 'strategic shock' leading to massive unrest 24 Dec 2008 The United States could be sleep-walking into its next crisis, a military report said. The report by the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Institute, said that a defense community paralyzed by conventional thinking could be unprepared to help the United States cope with a series of unexpected crises that would rival the Al Qaida Bush strikes in 2001, termed a "strategic shock." The report cited the prospect of the collapse of a nuclear state leading to massive unrest in the United States, Middle East Newsline reported.

US Army Ready If the Downturn Gets Out of Hand By John Crudele 23 Dec 2008 In a report published Nov. 4 - just in time for the holiday season - the War College's Strategic Studies Institute posited a number of shocks that the country should be prepared for, including unrest caused by the economy's failure. The report has a snappy title, "Known Unknowns: Unconventional 'Strategic Shocks' in Defense Strategy Development," and was written by Nathan Freier, a visiting professor at the college... The War College says "widespread civil violence inside the US would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security."

Terrorism drill to be part of passing torch 23 Dec 2008 What would happen if terrorists attacked the United States at the start of Barack Obama's presidency? The Bush dictatorship doesn't want to wait to find out. It's planning to test the incoming government's readiness next month in a series of tabletop exercises involving top Bush and Obama officials. [The 9/11 terror attacks took place during a series of drills. Such drills were used as a cover. Ditto the other inside job, the 7/7 attacks in the UK.]

Feds consider searches of 'terrorism' blogs --Homeland Security officials looking for companies to search Internet for postings "in near to real-time which precede" attack 24 Dec 2008 The Homeland Security Department may soon start scouring the Internet to find blogs and message boards that terrorists use to plan attacks in the USA. The effort comes as researchers are seeing terrorists increasingly use the Internet to plan bombings, recruit members and spread propaganda.

DHS considers searching for blogs, message boards with 'terrorism clues' 24 Dec 2008 The Homeland Security Department might soon start searching the Internet for blogs and message boards that terrorists are using to plan attacks in the United States, USA Today reports. Researchers say terrorists are increasingly using the Internet to plan operations and spread propaganda, according to a DHS statement.

US police could get 'pain beam' weapons 24 Dec 2008 The research arm of the US Department of Justice is working on two portable non-lethal weapons that inflict pain from a distance using beams of laser light or microwaves, with the intention of putting them into the hands of police to subdue suspects. The two devices under development by the civilian National Institute of Justice both build on knowledge gained from the Pentagon's controversial Active Denial System (ADS), which uses a 2-metre beam of short microwaves to heat up the outer layer of a person's skin and cause pain.

Security Council Extends Protection of Iraq's Assets 23 Dec 2008 The Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on Monday extending United Nations protection over Iraq’s assets through 2009, effectively shielding its oil and other revenues from billions of dollars in international claims stemming from the era of Saddam Hussein. The resolution was introduced by the United States and Britain.

Iraq to start 2nd bidding round for oil, gas contracts 23 Dec 2008 Iraqi Ministry of Oil has announced it will open its second licensing round for international companies to develop the country's oil and gas fields at the end of the year, according to a ministry statement received by Xinhua on Tuesday. The statement said that Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani will announce the petroleum fields that his ministry intends to develop in cooperation with the pre-qualified international oil companies on Dec. 31.

Three U.S. soldiers killed in accident in Iraq 24 Dec 2008 Three U.S. soldiers were killed in a vehicle accident in central Iraq on Wednesday, the U.S. military said in a statement. The statement did not provide further details about the incident.

2nd Troop Accord Passes In Iraq 24 Dec 2008 Iraq's parliament on Tuesday night signed off on a security agreement that would allow thousands of British troops and a few hundred soldiers from a handful of other countries to stay in Iraq until next summer. The approval, which was delayed by recent fights in parliament, paves the way for the Iraqi government to sign a security agreement with Britain that covers small contingents from Australia, Estonia and Romania.

Iraqi ex-speaker praises shoe-thrower as 'brave' 24 Dec 2008 The newly resigned Iraqi parliament speaker on Wednesday praised the journalist who threw shoes at President [sic] George W. Bush and said the legislature should have supported him. Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's comments came a day after he resigned under heavy pressure from Shiite and Kurdish lawmakers, breaking an impasse that would allow foreign troops, including British forces, to stay in Iraq past Dec. 31.

Russia to raise nuclear missile output fourfold --70 ICBMs intended to pressure US in treaty talks --£95bn package includes tanks, ships and planes 24 Dec 2008 Russia has thrown down a new gauntlet to Barack Obama with an announcement that it will sharply increase production of strategic nuclear missiles. A senior government official in Moscow said the Russian military would commission 70 strategic missiles over the next three years, as part of a massive rearmament programme which will also include short-range missiles, 300 tanks, 14 warships and 50 planes.

US Warns Russia Against Selling Missiles to Iran 22 Dec 2008 U.S. officials said Monday that they want answers from Russia on whether it is selling advanced surface-to-air missiles to Iran, a move the U.S. insists could threaten American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. [My instincts and historical sense tell me that the US may seek to engage Russia as a way out of this economic crisis. History tells us that capitalism has "solved" its severest downturns with massive war. Any such war will likely accepted by liberals because it will be waged by Obama. --MDR]

Nato soldier dies in Afghanistan 24 Dec 2008 The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (Isaf) says one of its soldiers has been killed in the east of the country. Isaf said the soldier had been killed by enemy fire.

Truck bomb explodes in eastern Pakistan; 1 dead 24 Dec 2008 A bomb-rigged truck with government plates exploded in Lahore on Wednesday, killing one person in a heavily guarded neighborhood home to many government officials in the eastern Pakistani city. The target of the Lahore blast was likely a police officer who headed an operation that led to the death of a leader of the al-Qaida linked militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in 2002, said Umer Virk, the head of the Crime Investigation Department.

Unemployment Filings Reach 26-Year High 24 Dec 2008 The number of people filing for unemployment benefits hit a 26-year high last week, as the deepening recession forced more employers to cut jobs. First-time claims for unemployment rose 5.4 percent, to 586,000 for the week ending Dec. 20, the Labor Department reported this morning.

Japan Should Scrap U.S. Debt; Dollar May Plummet, Mikuni Says 24 Dec 2008 Japan should write-off its holdings of Treasuries because the U.S. government will struggle to finance increasing debt levels needed to dig the economy out of recession, said Akio Mikuni, president of credit ratings agency Mikuni & Co. The dollar may lose as much as 40 percent of its value to 50 yen or 60 yen from the current spot rate of 90.40 today in Tokyo unless Japan takes "drastic measures" to help bail out the U.S. economy, Mikuni said.

New York University sues fund executive over Madoff 24 Dec 2008 Hedge fund executive Ezra Merkin has been sued again for entrusting investments with confessed swindler Bernard Madoff, this time by New York University, which said it lost about $24 million. The complaint was filed on Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court by NYU, which describes itself as the largest private university in the United States.

Madoff investor kills himself at his desk --Financier found with both wrists slashed after losing $1.4bn in Ponzi scheme 24 Dec 2008 A hedge fund manager facing $1.4bn in losses from Bernard Madoff's record-breaking Wall Street fraud has been found dead in his Manhattan office, his wrists slit and a bottle of sleeping pills by his side. The apparent suicide of René-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, who set up his own company after rising to become one of the most powerful Frenchmen on Wall Street, was discovered early yesterday morning.

Obama, Two Aides Questioned in Probe --Prosecutors have said no one on the Obama transition team is a suspect. 24 Dec 2008 Federal prosecutors investigating alleged corruption by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich interviewed President-elect Barack Obama and two of his top advisers last week in connection with the case, according to a memo released Tuesday by the Obama transition team. The five-page memo denies any wrongdoing or improper communication between the transition team and Mr. Blagojevich, who prosecutors allege sought to fill Mr. Obama's vacant Senate seat in exchange for money or a better job.

Health, Emergency Staff Get Drugs First in Pandemic Health care and emergency services workers who might help sick people during an influenza pandemic should take [Rumsfeld's] antiviral drugs throughout the [US Army created] epidemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in new guidance released on Tuesday. Employers such as hospitals should be responsible for stockpiling the drugs and designating who gets them, HHS said in its latest guidance.

De-Icer Fumes Inside Plane Delay Sea-Tac Flight 24 Dec 2008 Multiple emergency crews responded at Sea-Tac Airport after people were exposed to fumes from a de-icing solution inside an airplane Wednesday morning, airport spokesman Perry Cooper said. Paul McElroy from Alaska Airlines said crews were de-icing the plane for flight 528 to Burbank, Calif. when passengers on board reported smelling fumes and having eye irritation.

Zoo hosts belated birthday bash for polar bears Dec. 26 Global warming, and the resultant disappearance of Arctic ice, is the biggest threat to polar bears today. 23 Dec 2008 The Oregon Zoo is treating its polar bears to a belated birthday party Dec. 26 at 10:30 a.m. Throughout 2008, the zoo has participated in Polar Bear International's Year of the Polar Bear with activities designed to bring attention to the plight of polar bears as they continue to face shrinking habitat in the Arctic.


Britain gets ready for urgent Iraq pullout --Baghdad fails to extend December 31 deadline 23 Dec 2008 British commanders have been forced to plan for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq after the country’s parliament failed to vote on a resolution that would allow British troops to stay beyond the end of the year. The Speaker of the Iraqi parliament suspended moves to approve the resolution after a group of MPs called for his resignation. The resolution failed to pass for a second time on Sunday and its passage after a third reading is now in doubt.

Troop pull-out vote delayed in Iraq 22 Dec 2008 Approval of a measure that would allow foreign troops to stay in Iraq has been delayed after a row in Iraq's parliament. Parliament was suspended on Monday after deputies demanded the parliamentary speaker stand down. More than 50 MPs called for a special session to replace Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker, after claims that he had insulted them last week.

Did KBR Expose Troops to Toxin? CBS News: American Soldiers Are Dying of Lung Cancer - And May Have Been Knowingly Exposed 22 Dec 2008 The military contractor Kellogg Brown and Root, known as KBR, has won more than $28 billion in U.S. military contracts since the beginning of the Iraq war. KBR may be facing a new scandal. First, accusations its then-parent company [Cheney's] Halliburton was given the lucrative contract. And later, allegations of shoddy construction oversight that resulted in Americans getting electrocuted. Now, some other American soldiers say the company knowingly put their lives at risk, CBS News reports.

Iraqi Journalist Who Threw Shoes at Bush Was Tortured in Jail, His Brother Says 22 Dec 2008 The television reporter who threw his shoes at President [sic] Bush was burned by a cigarette in the hours after his arrest on Dec. 14 and was beaten so badly by Iraqi security personnel that one of his teeth was knocked out, the reporter’s brother said Sunday after a visit to the jail. The reporter, Muntader al-Zaidi has been jailed since hurling his shoes at Mr. Bush during a news conference here last week.

"If I had the same opportunity again, I would throw my shoes [at President Bush]." Bush shoe-thrower tells of ordeal 23 Dec 2008 Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President [sic] George W. Bush of the US during a Baghdad press conference last week, spent his first days behind bars believing his family and colleagues would shun him, the man's brother said yesterday. Al Baghdadia TV, his employer, his relatives and people across the Middle East have praised him. Oday al-Zaidi said his brother was gaunt, devastated and bruised - but unrepentant. His brother had told him: "If I had the same opportunity again, I would throw my shoes [at President Bush]." Oday al-Zaidi said his brother claimed the guards had beaten him with a metal pipe after the incident. He had a bruised eye, was missing an upper canine tooth and had cigarette burn marks on the back of his ears.

Stampede for 'Bush shoe' creates 100 new jobs 22 Dec 2008 Their deployment as a makeshift missile robbed President [sic] George Bush of his dignity and landed their owner in jail. But the world's most notorious pair of shoes have yielded an unexpected bonanza for a Turkish shoemaker. Ramazan Baydan, owner of the Istanbul-based Baydan Shoe Company, has been swamped with orders from across the world, after insisting that his company produced the black leather shoes which the Iraqi journalist Muntazar al-Zaidi threw at Bush during a press conference in Baghdad last Sunday. Baydan has recruited an extra 100 staff to meet orders for 300,000 pairs of Model 271 - more than four times the shoe's normal annual sale - following an outpouring of support for Zaidi's act, which was intended as a protest, but led to his arrest by Iraqi security forces.

Arabs Lavish Jewels on Secretary of State Rice 22 Dec 2008 President [sic] George W. Bush's foreign policies may be unpopular in the Middle East, but Arab leaders showered his top diplomat with jewelry worth far more than a quarter of a million dollars last year. While Bush himself didn't fare nearly as well, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice raked in at least $316,000 in gem-encrusted baubles from the kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia alone, making her one of top recipients among U.S. officials of gifts from foreign heads of state and government and their aides in 2007.

Pakistan military on 'red alert' 23 Dec 2008 Pakistan's media is reporting that the country's military is on high alert over a possible strike by India. Monday's reports come after a ratcheting up of tension between the two countries following attacks in Mumbai last month which killed 163 people.

U.S. to Fund Afghan Militias 23 Dec 2008 The Afghan government will formally start a U.S.-funded effort to recruit armed local militias in the battle against the Taliban in remote parts of the country, exporting the tactic to Afghanistan from Iraq. The first militias will be established in Wardak Province, in eastern Afghanistan, in coming weeks, officials said.

Coalition forces slammed for 'abusive' raids, lethal air strikes in Afghanistan 23 Dec 2008 A new report says lethal air strikes and abusive nighttime raids by occupation forces in Afghanistan threaten to turn the local population against foreign troops. [*Duh.*] The report, released Tuesday in Kabul by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, questions NATO and U.S.-led occupation forces' lethal air strikes and nighttime searches of civilian houses. The report says the night raids frequently involve "abusive behaviour and violent breaking and entry," which it says stoke almost as much anger toward occupation forces as the air strikes. It also found the air strikes, which have occasionally frequently killed high numbers of civilians and have been harshly condemned by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, may have been symptomatic of excessive use of force.

Suspected US drones kill 7 [civilians] in Pakistan - agents 22 Dec 2008 Suspected U.S. drones fired two missiles into Pakistan's South Waziristan region on the Afghan border on Monday, killing seven people [revised to eight], intelligence agency officials and residents said. One missile hit a vehicle in a village near Wana, the main town in the region, killing four people, while three people were killed in another strike in a nearby village, two Pakistani intelligence agency officials said. "Tribesmen opened fire on the drones after the attacks," a resident of Wana told Reuters by telephone. [That was dumb. Why didn't they open fire *before* the attacks? --LRP]

Fifth AF Unit Fails Nuke Inspection 17 Dec 2008 ABC News: For the fifth time this year an Air Force unit has failed an inspection of its operational readiness to handle its nuclear weapons stockpile, but Air Force officials say the failure spotlights a beefed up inspection process reinvigorated this year in the wake of a series of Air Force missteps that have refocused the service's attention on its nuclear mission. According to a statement from Air Force Space Command, the 90th Missile Wing from F.E.Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming underwent a two-week inspection that identified " deficiencies in several areas," but "the wing remains certified to perform its strategic mission."

Obama, the military and the threat of dictatorship By Bill Van Auken 23 Dec 2008 With his choice of Admiral Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence, President-elect Barack Obama has now named three recently retired four-star military officers to serve in his cabinet. This unprecedented representation of the senior officer corps within the incoming Democratic administration is indicative of a growth in the political power of the US military that poses a serious threat to basic democratic rights.

Groups want Obama to investigate Bush for war crimes 21 Dec 2008 Emboldened by a Democratic win of the White House, civil libertarians and human-rights groups want the incoming Obama administration to investigate whether the Bush regime committed war crimes. They don't just want low-level CIA interrogators, either. They want President [sic] George W. Bush on down. In the past eight years, administration critics have demanded that top officials be held accountable for a host of expansive assertions of executive powers, from eavesdropping without warrants to detaining suspected enemy combatants indefinitely at the Guantánamo Bay military prison.

Bailiffs get power to use force on debtors 21 Dec 2008 (UK) The government has been accused of trampling on individual liberties by proposing wide-ranging new powers for bailiffs to break into homes and to use "reasonable force" against householders who try to protect their valuables. Under the regulations, bailiffs for private firms would for the first time be given permission to restrain or pin down householders. They would also be able to force their way into homes to seize property to pay off debts, such as unpaid credit card bills and loans.

5 Men Are Convicted in Plot on Fort Dix 22 Dec 2008 A federal jury on Monday convicted five men of conspiracy to kill American soldiers at the Fort Dix military base in New Jersey last year, but acquitted them of attempted murder, according to the Associated Press. The jury deliberated for six days before returning its verdict against three brothers -- Shain, Eljvir and Dritan Duka -- and two other defendants, Mohamad Shnewer and Serdar Tatar.

Connell Crash 'Oddities' --Recently subpoenaed Bush/Rove IT expert is Wellstoned. By Lori Price 22 Dec 2008 Michael Connell's ill-fated flight originated from airport only 50 people can use. College Park Airport users are vetted -- including fingerprinting -- in an 'extensive process,' and there are 'significant limitations' as to how the airport can be used. New 'oddity' added: ...'Connell was apparently told not to fly his plane, because it might have been sabotaged.' (19 Action News Video) 21 Dec 2008

Federal Regulator Allowed Backdating of Capital Infusion at IndyMac, Other Institutions 23 Dec 2008 Two months before IndyMac Bancorp collapsed in July, at a cost of $8.9 billion to taxpayers, a top federal banking regulator allowed the bank to backdate a capital infusion and gloss over its deepening problems, the Treasury Department’s independent investigator said Monday. In what industry analysts said was an example of the excessively cozy relations between high-flying subprime lenders and federal bank regulators, the Office of Thrift Supervision’s West Coast director allowed IndyMac’s parent company to backdate an $18 million contribution to preserve its status as a "well-capitalized" institution. Investigators reported that similar officially approved backdating appears to have occurred at other financial institutions, though they did not name them.

More Companies Lining up for Piece of Bailout Fund --More dismal housing, economic data expected as companies line up for bailout funds 23 Dec 2008 A trio of reports due Tuesday are expected to paint a bleak picture of the nation's housing market and the broader economy, as the deepening recession sends more companies lining up for a piece of the government's $700 billion bailout fund.

$1.6 billion went to bailed-out bank executives --Records show bonuses, chauffeurs, health club benefits, financial planning 21 Dec 2008 Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals. The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

AP: Wall Street still flying corporate jets 21 Dec 2008 Crisscrossing the country in corporate jets may no longer fly in Detroit after car executives got a dressing down from Congress. But on Wall Street, the coveted executive perk has hardly been grounded. Six financial firms that received billions in bailout dollars still own and operate fleets of jets to carry executives to company events and sometimes personal trips, according to an Associated Press review.

Where'd bailout money go? Shhhh, it's a secret 22 Dec 2008 The nation's largest banks are refusing to say how they're spending billions of dollars in taxpayer money. The Treasury Department has been dolling out cash to banks as part of the unprecedented financial bailout. But there's no system in place for monitoring what the banks are doing with the money. The Associated Press contacted 21 banks that have received at least $1 billion in taxpayer money and asked four questions: How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings, and what's the plan for the rest? None of the banks provided specific answers.

World faces "total" financial meltdown: Bank of Spain chief 21 Dec 2008 The governor of the Bank of Spain on Sunday issued a bleak assessment of the economic crisis, warning that the world faced a "total" financial meltdown unseen since the Great Depression. "The lack of confidence is total," Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez said in an interview with Spain's El Pais daily.

Pay cuts, layoffs mount in US By Tom Eley 23 Dec 2008 The US government loans to the auto industry, conditioned on a massive attack on the wages and jobs of auto workers, are being used as a spearhead for broader attacks on the working class throughout the country. This attack has already begun, with numerous companies recently announcing pay cuts and layoffs for the coming year in response to the deepening economic crisis.

The Huffington Post Slammed for Content Theft 19 Dec 2008 The Huffington Post, a venture-capital-backed new media site that mixes links to other sites content with hundreds of celebrity and volunteer blogger posts, is being accused of slimy business practices by a handful of smaller publications who say the site is unfairly copying and publishing their content. Whet Moser, an editor at alternative weekly Chicago Reader wants to know why The Huffington Post's newly formed Chicago-focused venture is stealing their copyrighted concert reviews and reprinting them in whole in order to get search engine traffic. [Someone finally noticed, awesome!]

Fake bidder could face federal charges 19 Dec 2008 He registered for the auction, he had a number, and he made winning bids. But Tim DeChristopher doesn’t have the money, and never intended to pay up. Now, the 27 year old environmentalist may face federal charges. DeChristopher’s actions on Friday occurred at the Utah Bureau of Land Management Office, which sold controversial oil and gas leases. Bundled protesters took up pickets outside the building in downtown Salt Lake, opposing the sales. Some say the leases represent one more environmental injustice from the Bush administration.


'We no longer have a civilian-led government.' The Pentagon is muscling in everywhere. It's time to stop the mission creep. By Thomas A. Schweich 21 Dec 2008 We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government. Our Constitution is at risk. President-elect Barack Obama's selections of James L. Jones, a retired four-star Marine general, to be his national security adviser and, it appears, retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair to be his director of national intelligence... could pave the way for these respected military officers to reverse the current trend of Pentagon encroachment upon civilian government functions, or they could complete the silent military coup d'etat that has been steadily gaining ground below the radar screen of most Americans and the media. While serving the State Department in several senior capacities over the past four years, I witnessed firsthand the quiet, de facto military takeover of much of the U.S. government.

Secret nuclear sell-off storm --Aldermaston bomb factory is sold to American company in bid to boost Treasury coffers provoking fury as Parliament is bypassed 20 Dec 2008 Britain no longer has any stake in the production of its nuclear warheads after the Government secretly sold off its shares in the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston. Ministers agreed to sell the remaining one-third ownership to a Californian engineering company [Jacobs Engineering Group]. The announcement, which means that Americans will now produce and maintain Britain's independent nuclear deterrent, was slipped out on the eve of the parliamentary Christmas holiday. Officials refused to say how much the deal raised.

Three Undersea Cables Cuts Cause Significant Disruption in Europe and Asia 19 Dec 2008 France Telecom has reported today that 3 major underwater cables were cut: "Sea Me We 4" at 7:28am, "Sea Me We3" at 7:33am and FLAG at 8:06am. The causes of the cut, which is located in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia, on sections linking Sicily to Egypt, remain unclear.

Severed cable disrupts web access 19 Dec 2008 Internet and phone communications between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia have been seriously disrupted after submarine cables were severed. It is thought the FLAG FEA, SMW4, and SMW3 lines, near the Alexandria cable station in Egypt, have all been cut. A fault was also reported on the GO submarine cable 130km off Sicily. Experts warned that it may be days before the fault is fixed.

Iraq shoe thrower to sue for damages: lawyer 21 Dec 2008 Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi man who threw his shoes at US President [sic] George W. Bush, is to sue security guards who he alleges beat him up after the incident, his lawyer said on Sunday. "Muntazer has filed a complaint today (Sunday) against those who assaulted him," lawyer Dhiya al-Saadi told AFP, saying those responsible worked for the security forces of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's media office.

CLG Action: Send Bush Your Shoes! 17 Dec 2008 America: We were unable to give President [sic] Bush the boot, but we *can* give him the shoe! Please spread this action far and wide.
Send virtual shoes, too! A CLG reader wrote, 'I urge everyone around the world who thinks it appropriate to email George Bush at a picture of a shoe.'

Judge Orders Exam for Detainee --Guantanamo Prisoner Sought Independent Health Evaluation 20 Dec 2008 A federal judge has ordered an independent medical evaluation of a detainee [Ahmed Zaid Salem Zuhair] at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, saying he is concerned about the man's deteriorating health. It is the first time a federal judge has taken such a step in a fight between detainees' attorneys and the Justice Department over the mental and physical health of a handful of prisoners at the facility in Cuba.

UAE enters weapons deal with US 20 Dec 2008 The Government has signed a US$3.3 billion (Dh12.11bn) contract for American-made Patriot missiles, sealing months of negotiations and deepening military ties between the US and the UAE. The agreement, signed with the US defence contractor Raytheon, includes technology, training and supply of the medium-range missile system, which is part of a multi-tiered defensive shield the UAE Armed Forces is building to protect the nation from perceived threats in the region.

No amount of troops will determine success in Afghanistan, says Mullen 21 Dec 2008 While security is important in Afghanistan, "no amount of troops in any amount of time is going to make this successful in the long run," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters Saturday. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was participating in a press conference at Camp Eggers in Afghanistan. He stressed the emphasis must be on the economic and developmental aspects of the country, and the political and governance initiatives.

Military: Up to 30,000 new troops to be sent to Afghanistan 20 Dec 2008 Up to 30,000 additional U.S. troops could be sent to Afghanistan next year, military officials said Saturday. Of those, 20,000 will be comprised of four ground/maneuvering brigades, said Col. Gregory Julian, spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The additional 10,000 likely refers to support personnel, Julian said.

Government to provide $5m to support Afghanistan elections 20 Dec 2008 The Federal Government will provide $5 million to support Afghanistan elections in 2009/10. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made the announcement after returning from Afghanistan where he met with Australian troops deployed in the region.

Taleban blow up British Christmas turkeys [LOL! Is this the 'jump the shark' moment for the writers in Langley?] 19 Dec 2008 The Taleban have scored a festive blow against British troops in Afghanistan by blowing up a supply lorry packed with Christmas turkeys. In the latest in a string of attacks on convoys heading for troops through Pakistani tribal areas, a consignment of frozen birds weighing 325kg was destroyed by a roadside explosion. The turkey breasts were intended for troops stationed at Camp Bastion, Britain's main base in Helmand, where up to 3,000 soldiers will spend the festive season. However, the Christmas dinner will still be going ahead after the Ministry of Defence flew out replacement birds.

Plot to kill Pervez Musharraf unearthed 19 Dec 2008 Authorities have claimed busting a clandestine terror network set up by jailed killer of Daniel Pearl inside the Hyderabad Jail and the Sindh government has suspended senior police and jail officials after a large number of cell phones, SIMs and other equipment were recovered.

U.S. Homeland Security seeks to arm commercial airliners with anti-missile lasers 19 Dec 2008 The persistent concern of when and where terrorists will strike next -- heightened by the Mumbai attacks -- [just check Bush's calendar] has led to a number of tech innovations over the past several years. One of the most intriguing of these inventions is a laser system developed to keep terrorist-fired infrared, "heat-seeking" missiles from striking unsuspecting aircraft (both military and civilian). The Jeteye infrared beam, developed by London-based BAE Systems, blinds a heat-seeking missile's navigation capabilities, giving an airliner a better chance of getting away unscathed.

New terror squad for Scotland 21 Dec 2008 Police have secretly created Scotland's first dedicated anti-terrorist force in a bid to prevent a repeat of the horror of the Glasgow Airport attack. The 200-strong elite squad, which has not been publicly acknowledged until now, has brought together experts from covert surveillance and units tackling serious, computer and economic crime to combat the threat of 'Islamic extremists' north of the border.

Obama Said to Pick Blair as Intelligence Director 19 Dec 2008 President-elect Barack Obama plans to name retired Navy Admiral Dennis Blair to be director of national intelligence, said a former intelligence official in contact with the transition team. The timing on the announcement hasn’t been set. If confirmed by the Senate, Blair would oversee the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, which have a combined budget of at least $47.5 billion.

Top execs got $1.6B of taxpayer bank bailout, report shows 21 Dec 2008 Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals. The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire 21 Dec 2008 The president [sic] did push rules aimed at forcing lenders to more clearly explain loan terms. But the White House shelved them in 2004, after industry-friendly members of Congress threatened to block confirmation of his new housing secretary. In the 2004 election cycle, mortgage bankers and brokers poured nearly $847,000 into Mr. Bush’s re-[s]election campaign, more than triple their contributions in 2000, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

SEC Report: Employees Browsed Porn, Ran Private Businesses 19 Dec 2008 ...Thanks to little-noticed report from the agency’s inspector general, we have a detailed glimpse into other bad behavior by some Securities and Exchange Commission employees. The report, released the day after Thanksgiving, reveals that some employees at the agency were clearly preoccupied with matters other than their mission... The semi-annual report to Congress, which covers the period from this past April to September, details among other things a handful of employees circumventing internal controls to download porn... Investigators found employees in separate offices operated private photography businesses out of the commission.

9/11 fund troll is candidate for Bush's "car czar" Auto bill: Administrator would 'oversee' aid 08 Dec 2008 Congress' Democratic leaders plan to establish a "car czar" with sweeping powers to oversee the U.S. automakers' restructuring efforts. The president 9/11 co-conspirator, Bush, would appoint the car czar or have the czar head a board of officials with financial expertise to supervise both short-term lending to Detroit's struggling automakers as well as their long-term efforts to become viable businesses. Congressional officials say Kenneth R. Feinberg, who oversaw the 9/11 victims’ compensation fund, has emerged as a candidate to be the "car czar" in charge of an auto industry bailout.

General Motors Opens Eighth Assembly Factory in China 17 Dec 2008 General Motors Corp., seeking a U.S. government bailout to avoid bankruptcy, opened its eighth vehicle plant in China because of rising demand in the world's most populous country. The factory, in the northeastern city of Shenyang, will be able to make as many as 150,000 vehicles a year, using a two- shift system, the automaker said in an e-mailed statement today. The 2.67 billion yuan ($390 million) plant is an equal venture between GM and SAIC Motor Corp., said Henry Wong, a Shanghai- based GM spokesman.

New Buick Regal launched in the PRC (China Car Times) 04 Dec 2008 The new Buick Regal has finally been launched in the PRC, and the prices are anything but expensive. The first generation Buick Regal had the luxury sedan market cornered when it first arrived in China, its pricing was unbeatable and the car was very good too. The Insignia pretty much became the backbone of business, and governments across China.

Capitalism and the auto crisis By Joe Kishore 20 Dec 2008 The US government intervened directly into the crisis of the American auto industry on Friday, pledging temporary loans to General Motors and Chrysler in exchange for massive concessions from auto workers and the destruction of tens of thousands more jobs. The $17.4 billion in loans announced by the Bush administration amounts essentially to a three-month lifeline, providing the companies time to impose new concessions on their workers, make plans to become "viable," or else make preparations for an "orderly" bankruptcy. In his public announcement Friday morning, Bush made clear that in providing loans, the government was insisting on certain conditions: above all, that workers would have to accept a drastic decline in living standards.

Franken Campaign Predicts Senate Win by 35-50 Votes --Al Franken's campaign attorney Marc Elias says he will lead Sen. Norm Coleman by dozens of votes at the end of the Senate recount. 21 Dec 2008 Al Franken's campaign says it expects the reconciliation of withdrawn challenges next week to result in a 35-50 vote lead for Franken in the Minnesota Senate race.

Mother of Palin daughter's boyfriend arrested 20 Dec 2008 Alaska State Troopers have arrested the mother of Bristol Palin's boyfriend on drug charges. Sherry L. Johnston was arrested Thursday after troopers served a search warrant on a Wasilla home. The 42-year-old Johnston has been charged with six felony drug counts.

US refuses to sign UN gay rights declaration 19 Dec 2008 The United States Thursday became the lone major western nation to refuse to sign a United Nations statement affirming that human rights protections include sexual orientation and gender identity. In all, 66 of the U.N.’s 192 member countries signed the nonbinding declaration.

Top Lawyer Urges Voiding California Proposition 20 Dec 2008 In a sharp rebuke to supporters of a contested state ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage, the California attorney general said Friday that the measure was constitutionally indefensible and should be overturned. The attorney general, Jerry Brown, had previously hinted of his opposition to the measure, Proposition 8, but made his legal opinion concrete on Friday in a brief to the California Supreme Court, which is reviewing the measure.

Ken Psycho Starr trying to void marriages with Prop H8: Ken Starr Is Coming After Your Marriage By Robert in Monterey 19 Dec 2008 The Yes on 8 campaign wants to invalidate 18,000 same sex marriages - they've filed a brief with the California Supreme Court to that effect today. With Ken [Psycho] Starr - yes, that Ken Starr - as their lead counsel: The sponsors of Proposition 8 asked the California Supreme Court on Friday to nullify the marriages of the estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who exchanged vows before voters approved the ballot initiative that outlawed gay unions. [Can I be blunt? Take a look at the hideous visage (and evil temperament) of Ken Starr. No woman - or man, or animal, or other earth life form - would want to sleep with him. So, wants to void other people's marriage happiness. --LRP]

Insurance Company Says Fire Victims Died of 'Pollution' 18 Dec 2008 A family is still in the healing process after one of their loved ones was killed in an office building that was set on fire last March, and they said they feel like an insurance company is trying to victimize them again, KPRC Local 2 reports. For Jerome Ellis, the difficult part is dealing with all of the unfulfilled promises... Ellis said he believes the decision makers at Great American Insurance are not upholding their end of the deal. According to a recent legal request filed in a Houston federal court, the insurance company claims the smoke that killed Marvin Wells, Jeanette Hargrove and Shana Ellis was pollution. The company said it does not believe the victims' families should be compensated.


The Patrick Henry Democratic Club: 2008 Online News Service of the Year Citizens for Legitimate Government 17 Dec 2008 Much of the credit for bringing down Bush and the Republicans belongs to Lori Price and Michael Rectenwald of "Citizens for Legitimate Government," an online news service that has educated Americans from the time Gore won Florida through the present. [See: 2008 Annual Awards Press Release 16 Dec 2008.]

'Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis.' Ariz. police say they are prepared as War College warns military must prep for unrest --IMF warns of economic riots 17 Dec 2008 A new report by the U.S. Army War College talks about the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used should the economic crisis lead to civil unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks. "Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security," said the War College report. The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S. U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., both said U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson brought up a worst-case scenario as he pushed for the Wall Street bailout in September. Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, said that might even require a declaration of martial law, the two noted.

Northcom Chief Vows to Address Worries About New Homeland Unit 17 Dec 2008 A senior military official pledged Wednesday to address congressional concerns about a new homeland emergency response task force that is designed to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear attack. Air Force Gen. Victor E Renuart Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command (Northcom), also told reporters that the new force, which will eventually total 20,000 personnel, will not require new funding right now and is not meant to authorize the federal government to enforce martial law. The new task force has come under fire from groups... Critics also say the move could violate the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which aims to prohibit the federal government from using the armed forces in a domestic law enforcement capacity without congressional approval.

25,000 More Troops for Afghanistan 19 Dec 2008 The latest Pentagon estimate for the number of additional troops needed to fight foment the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan has risen to 25,000, ABC News has learned.

'ISI killing US troops in Afghanistan' 19 Dec 2008 Pakistan's powerful spy agency is working with groups that support the Taliban and are killing American troops in Afghanistan, a US report says. "All of this suggests that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is no longer certain the coalition forces will prevail in Afghanistan and that it is using militants groups in an attempt to expand its own influence," the report said.

Iraq ministry says employees killed in US raid 18 Dec 2008 The Iraqi government has accused U.S. forces of killing at least three Trade Ministry employees in a pre-dawn raid on ministry property in Baghdad, officials said on Thursday. The cabinet's National Media Centre and the Trade Ministry issued statements alleging that U.S. forces raided a facility belonging to the Iraqi Grain Board, part of the Trade Ministry, early on Wednesday morning. They said the troops killed several security guards, burnt the guards' offices and searched files and computers. [How much more 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' can they endure?]

U.S. troops kill three sleeping Iraqi guards as they storm state-run flour mill 18 Dec 2008 U.S. troops have killed three Iraqis guarding a state-run flour mill, the trade ministry said. The killing of the three guards, assigned to protect the mill, has fuelled further anger at the U.S. occupation troops in the country. Trade Minister Abdulfalah al-Soodani has asked the troops for a formal apology and compensation.

FBI Managers Encouraged Workers in Iraq to Bill for Time Off --Practice violated federal law and regulations 19 Dec 2008 For nearly five years, FBI leaders encouraged employees on temporary assignment in Iraq to bill an average of $45,000 in overtime and extra pay by routinely claiming to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, even when some of that time was spent eating, exercising, watching movies or attending cocktail parties, the Justice Department inspector general reported yesterday. FBI counterterrorism division managers condoned a time-billing practice under which 1,150 employees between 2003 and 2007 earned about $71,000 during a typical 90-day tour -- nearly triple the typical worker's salary, Inspector General Glenn Fine reported.

Bush shoe protester has been beaten, Iraqi judge says 19 Dec 2008 The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush was beaten afterwards and had bruises on his face, the investigating judge in the case said today. The reporter, Muntazer al-Zaidi, had bruises on his face and around his eyes, said the judge, Dhia al-Kinani said. Kinani said a complaint about Zaidi's treatment had been filed on his behalf and court officials "will watch the footage to identify those who have beaten him ... He was beaten and we filed a case for that. Zaidi did not raise a complaint and he can drop this case if he wants to."

Iraqi prisons' conditions appalling, says minister 17 Dec 2008 Human rights abuses and violations are a commonplace in Iraqi prisons, says Women Affairs Minister Nawal al-Samarrai. The minister accused prison authorities of most of these violations. Samarrai said conditions were grave in some prisons and she was aware of shortages of food and other essentials.

Robert Gates orders plan for closing Guantanamo 19 Dec 2008 US defence secretary Robert Gates has ordered aides to draw up plans for closing the "war on terror" prison at Guantanamo, a declared priority for President-elect Barack Obama, a spokesman has said.

The Torture Report (The New York Times) 18 Dec 2008 Most Americans have long known that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the work of a few low-ranking sociopaths. All but President [sic] Bush’s most unquestioning supporters recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services. Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff. The report shows how actions by these men "led directly" to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

'US not worried about India's nuclear plants post Mumbai attacks' 19 Dec 2008 The US has said that it was "not really worried" about the security and protection of India's nuclear power plants in the wake of the Mumbai attacks that India has blamed on a Pakistan-based terrorist group. "A nuclear power plant is not a hotel. You protect it differently," [LOL!] Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher said in Beijing last week after talks with Chinese officials in the wake of the Nov 26 terror attacks.

Shin Bet vetoed Arab Israeli's job as mosque imam 08 Dec 2008 Israel's secret police blocked a Muslim Arab citizen [Sheikh Ahmed Abu Awaja] from being appointed to a publicly funded job, in its latest attempt to assert authority over public political debate in Israel, a case in Tel Aviv's labour court has revealed.

Is the internet going down? Undersea sub-cables have just broken... 19 Dec 2008 Interoute, the internet networks company, reports that three of the four internet sub-cables that run from Asia to North America have been damaged. These carry more than 75 per cent of traffic between the Middle East, Europe and America. It's hard to gather what this actually means - is it that the internet is down or (more likely) significantly slower than usual between the Middle East and America?

Secret Service Sanctioned in Race Bias Suit 19 Dec 2008 A federal magistrate judge has ruled that the U.S. Secret Service "made a mockery" of long-standing rules by failing to preserve, concealing and even destroying evidence sought by 10 African American current and former employees in a racial discrimination case.

With economy in shambles, Congress gets a raise 17 Dec 2008 A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay. Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries.

Franken posts newfound lead over Coleman --The state Canvassing Board's ballot rulings today in the U.S. Senate race has unofficially put challenger Al Franken in the lead by about 250. 19 Dec 2008 The intense scrutiny of "voter intent" resumed today by the five-member board charged with directing Minnesota's recount in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic rival Al Franken, and the day's rulings turned the challenger's slight deficit into a triple-digit lead.

Blagojevich declares innocence, won't resign 19 Dec 2008 Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said on Friday he had done nothing wrong and would not resign in the wake of charges he tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. "I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing," Blagojevich told reporters in his first comment on the charges since his arrest last week. "I intend to stay on the job. I will fight, I will fight, I will fight."

Blagojevich: I Have Done Nothing Wrong 19 Dec 2008 Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said today that he had done nothing wrong and vowed to fight the federal corruption charges against him "until my last breath." "I have done nothing wrong," Blagojevich said in his first substantial public comments since his arrest last week. "I will fight, I will fight, I will fight until my last breath." [Instead of Blagojevich on trial for comments in his living room, why isn't Bush on trial for treason?]

More Palin family trouble: Levi's mom's been arrested 19 Dec 2008 A 42-year-old Wasilla woman was arrested Thursday at her home by Alaska State Troopers with a search warrant in an undercover drug investigation. Sherry L. Johnston was charged with six felony counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance. Johnston is the mother of Levi Johnston, the Wasilla 18-year-old who received international attention in September when Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, announced their teenage daughter was pregnant and he was the father.

E.P.A. Ruling Could Speed Up Approval of Coal Plants 19 Dec 2008 Officials weighing federal applications by utilities to build new coal-fired power plants cannot consider their greenhouse gas output, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency ruled late Thursday. Some environmentalists fear the decision will clear the way for the approval of several such plants in the last days of the Bush regime.

Exxon Mobil hit with $6 million pollution fine 19 Dec 2008 Exxon Mobil Corp. will pay a $6.1 million fine for violating a three-year-old agreement to reduce pollution at six refineries, including one in Baytown, federal regulators announced Wednesday.

Pelosi: New Bush Administration Rule an Assault on Women's Health Care 18 Dec 2008 Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on the Bush Administration's "refusal clause" rule. "In issuing this midnight regulation, the Bush Administration has once again rejected medical and sound science in favor of misguided ideology that has no place in our government... Make no mistake: this is a direct assault on women's health care and may jeopardize patients' rights to receive quality, comprehensive health care services. Congress will work with President-elect Obama to reverse this rule." [Good luck with that.]

'Right of conscience' rule issued for health workers --Conservatives lobbied Bush on safeguard 19 Dec 2008 The Bush dictatorship yesterday issued a sweeping new regulation that protects a broad range of healthcare workers - from doctors to janitors - who refuse to participate in providing services that they believe violate their personal, moral, or religious beliefs.

Obama Announces Final Cabinet Picks 19 Dec 2008 President-elect Barack Obama announced the final selections for his Cabinet today, naming Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-Calif.) as labor secretary, former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk as U.S. trade representative and Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) as transportation secretary.

Fox Business Network Suing Treasury Dept. 18 Dec 2008 Fox Business Network has filed suit in Federal Court in New York against the United States Treasury Department. The suit is over the Treasury's failure to respond to requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA requests were seeking information on the details of the allocations of bailout funds to Citigroup, AIG and Bank of New York Mellon.

GM and Chrysler Will Get $13.4 Billion in U.S. Loans 19 Dec 2008 General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC will get $13.4 billion in emergency government loans in exchange for substantially restructuring their businesses f*cking the workers, President [sic] George W. Bush announced. Another $4 billion will be available to GM in February provided Congress releases the second half of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program fund originally set up to bail out financial institutions.

The Madoff Economy By Paul Krugman 19 Dec 2008 How different, really, is Mr. Madoff’s tale from the story of the investment industry as a whole? ...At the crudest level, Wall Street’s ill-gotten gains corrupted and continue to corrupt politics, in a nicely bipartisan way. From Bush administration officials like Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who looked the other way as evidence of financial fraud mounted, to Democrats who still haven’t closed the outrageous tax loophole that benefits executives at hedge funds and private equity firms (hello, Senator Schumer), politicians have walked when money talked.


Yesterday's New Deal is today's Raw Deal. Things Are Not as They Seem --The Rec Report By Michael Rectenwald 18 Dec 2008 Liberalism will now do the workers a favor by offering concessions in their name. Thanks. Thanks for keeping afloat the system that oppresses us. Thanks for bailing out a system, using our tax money, our public funds, our wages, to screw us over further in the future. Thanks for "saving" a system that will serve to cut our wages, destroy whatever savings we may have by chance accrued, gut our retirement packages, and decimate our health care systems. Thanks. Yesterday's New Deal is today's Raw Deal.

Holy fascist police state, Batman! US military mobilizes troops for inauguration --7,500 active duty troops and 4,000 national guard troops will take part in operations 17 Dec 2008 The US military plans to mobilize thousands of troops to protect Washington against potential terrorist attack during the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama, a senior US military commander said Wednesday. They will fly combat air patrols and man air defenses, organize large scale medical support, and help local law enforcement provide security in the capital, said General Gene Renuart, head of the US Northern Command. [Bye-bye, Posse Comitatus!]

Military to be on high alert for inauguration --About 11,500 troops, including chemical attack experts, will join the security detail as Obama takes the oath of office. 18 Dec 2008 The U.S. military will be on high alert during Barack Obama's inauguration, increasing air defenses and deploying chemical attack experts and medical units, a general said Wednesday. Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., who heads the military command that oversees security for North America, said the Defense Department had not been told of specific Inauguration Day threats. Nonetheless, he said, the armed services must be ready.

35 Iraq Officials Held in Raids on Key Ministry --Critics of Maliki say he has been using arrests to consolidate power. 18 Dec 2008 Up to 35 officials in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior ranking as high as general have been arrested over the past three days with some of them accused of quietly working to reconstitute Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, according to senior security officials in Baghdad. The arrests, confirmed by officials from the Ministries of the Interior and National Security as well as the prime minister’s office, included four generals, one of whom, Gen. Ahmed Abu Raqeef, is the ministry’s director of internal affairs.

Over 20 Iraq officials detained over conspiracy 18 Dec 2008 At least 23 officers from Iraq's interior and defence ministries have been arrested on suspicion of trying to rebuild former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party, spokesmen said on Thursday. Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf said the officers were arrested under suspicion of being part of the al-Awda ("Return") party, seen as a new incarnation of the Baath party that was outlawed after the [illegal] 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Blackwater might lose license to work in Iraq 18 Dec 2008 The State Department faces serious challenges protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq and may no longer be able to rely on Blackwater Worldwide to do the job, according to an internal report. A report from the department's inspector general says the agency must deal with the prospect that Blackwater -- its main private security contractor in Iraq -- could lose its license to work in Iraq. [As long as the f*ckers aren't used here. See, I'm cynical. I think Blackwater is getting booted from Iraq so Bush can work them like a rented mule during the next false flag. --LRP]

Kerry And Casey Want Blackwater Out Of Iraq 17 Dec 2008 Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania reiterated their call for the State Department to follow the recommendation of its own inspector general and stop using Blackwater Worldwide for private security services in Iraq.

Total Defeat for U.S. in Iraq --It's All Spelled Out in Unpublicized Agreement By Patrick Cockburn 11 Dec 2008 On November 27 the Iraqi parliament voted by a large majority in favor of a security agreement with the US under which the 150,000 American troops in Iraq will withdraw from cities, towns and villages by June 30, 2009 and from all of Iraq by December 31, 2011. The Iraqi government will take over military responsibility for the Green Zone in Baghdad, the heart of American power in Iraq, in a few weeks time... The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), signed after eight months of rancorous negotiations, is categorical and unconditional. America’s bid to act as the world’s only super-power and to establish quasi-colonial control of Iraq, an attempt which began with the invasion of 2003, has ended in failure.

Iraqi Shoe-Hurling Journalist Said to Ask for Pardon 19 Dec 2008 The Iraqi television journalist [Muntader al-Zaidi] who threw his shoes at President [sic] Bush during a news conference this week has apologized to the Iraqi government and asked for a pardon, an Iraqi government official said today. The government did not release the letter, and one of the reporter’s lawyers said he had not told her about it during a conversation Wednesday.

Palestinians ask for release of Iraqi shoe tosser 18 Dec 2008 Several dozen Palestinian journalists have taken off their shoes in a protest in Bethlehem's Manger Square. Thursday's demonstration was a show of support for an Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at U.S. President [sic] George W. Bush this week. The journalist remains in Iraqi custody and could face two years in prison for insulting a foreign leader.

Iraqi speaker resigns over shoe incident 17 Dec 2008 Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani resigned Wednesday as lawmakers argued the fate of the journalist who threw shoes at U.S. President George Bush. Lawmakers were meeting Wednesday to discuss the U.S. Status of Forces Agreement but instead erupted in arguments over whether Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi should be released from custody.

Student rally for Zaidi draws attention of U.S. forces 17 Dec 2008 Iraqis on the street continue to show support for Zaidi, who disrupted a news conference Sunday in Baghdad by Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. University students rallied for Zaidi in Fallujah on Wednesday, drawing the attention of U.S. forces. Students raised their shoes and threw rocks at American soldiers, who reportedly opened fire 'above' the crowd. Protesters said that indirect fire wounded one student, Zaid Salih. "We demonstrated to express our support for Muntathar al Zaidi, but we were surprised with the entrance of the U.S. military," said Ahmed Ismail, one of the protesters. "Unconsciously, we raised our shoes expressing our support for al Zaidi, but they attacked us."

Brown rejects calls for Iraq probe 19 Dec 2008 The British Government on Thursday came under renewed pressure to set up an independent inquiry into the Iraq invasion and to apologise to the people for taking part in an “illegal” war. But Prime Minister Gordon Brown repeated the old line that this was not the right time for an inquiry as British troops were still in Iraq. The “matter”, he said, could be considered after the troops returned home.

Nato commander: Britain's extra troops will not do the trick 18 Dec 2008 Nato's senior general has warned that the extra reinforcements Britain is sending to Afghanistan is not enough, increasing pressure on Gordon Brown to dedicate even more troops to the campaign. General John Craddock, the supreme commander of the alliance, said that unless European allies like Britain send much larger additional forces, the US will be left to provide the bulk of international troops in Afghanistan. Barack Obama, the US president-elect, has backed a [an insane] "surge" of troops to Afghanistan and the Pentagon is preparing to send another 20,000 troops to the country...

U.S-led military operation against militants kills 3 civilians in E Afghanistan 17 Dec 2008 An operation carried out by the U.S.-led Coalition forces in Khost province of eastern Afghanistan claimed the lives of three civilians including a woman and injured another, provincial police chief Abdul Qayum Baqizai said Wednesday. "The Coalition forces in conjunction with Afghan forces carried out operation against a suspected person Dr. Bilal in Kandio village outside the provincial capital Khost city Tuesday night during which three persons were killed and another was injured," Baqizai told Xinhua but did not give more details.

Afghan leader sends demands to US on troop conduct 18 Dec 2008 The Afghan president has sent a list of demands to the United States government about troop conduct ahead of the arrival of more U.S. forces, pressing for cooperation with his government. President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly called for foreign troops to do more to prevent civilian deaths during [US] strikes and raids. He also wants them to show more respect for the country's traditional Muslim culture, in which men can cause great affront by entering a house with women inside.

'We will no longer let arms and ammunition pass through.' 10,000 urge Pakistan to cut US-NATO supply line 18 Dec 2008 Thousands of anti-government protesters demanded Thursday that Pakistan shut the route along which supplies are ferried to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, adding to the growing pressure on Islamabad's beleaguered leadership. Leaders of the demonstration drew links between the [US] missile attacks and the supply line, saying the equipment was being used for attacks on Pakistani soil and vowing to shut down the convoys. "We will no longer let arms and ammunition pass through ... and reach the hands of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan," Sirajul Haq, the provincial head of hardline Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, told the crowd. "They are using the same against our innocent brothers, sisters and children."

Sounds like Blackwater will soon get a new gig: American commandos get UN go-ahead to hunt down Somali pirates 18 Dec 2008 Pirates operating from safe havens along the Somali coast could become the target of hot-pursuit missions by American commandos for the first time, after approval was given by the United Nations Security Council to launch land and air attacks on pirate bases. The Americans had sought a new robust mandate to attack the pirates at source to ensure that there was legal backing for chasing those who escaped confrontations at sea...

Russia 'sells Iran air defence kit' 18 Dec 2008 Russia is currently selling S-300 air defence systems to Iran, a Russian news agency claims. In October, Russia's foreign ministry denied media speculation that Moscow would sell the S-300 system, which could help the Islamic republic to fend off air strikes by its arch foes, Israel and the United States, on its nuclear sites.

'Most wanted' terror prisoner disappears from custody 18 Dec 2008 Pakistan's top diplomat in India has said that the leader of a prominent Pakistan-based militant group is not being held in Pakistan. Pakistan's high commissioner to India, Shahid Malik, has told the Indian government that Pakistan has no knowledge of the whereabouts of Masood Azhar, founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group.

Gag me with a chainsaw! General Motors opens new plant in China --New opening comes after GM said on Friday it was idling 30 percent of its North American production 17 Dec 2008 Beleaguered US automaker General Motors opened up a new joint venture manufacturing plant in northeast China on Wednesday which will begin churning out up to 150,000 vehicles annually beginning 2009. The joint venture plant in Shenyang city will mass produce the compact Chevrolet Cruze from the second quarter of 2009. "The opening of this plant is part of GM's ongoing pledge to grow our operations in China," said Kevin Wale, president of the GM China Group, in a statement.

Madoff Misled SEC in '06, Got Off 18 Dec 2008 Securities and Exchange Commission investigators discovered in 2006 that Bernard Madoff had misled the agency about how he managed customer money, according to documents, yet the SEC missed an opportunity to uncover an alleged Ponzi scheme. The documents indicate the agency had Mr. Madoff in its sights amid multiple violations that, if pursued, could have blown open his alleged multibillion-dollar scam. Instead, his firm registered as an investment adviser, at the agency's request, and the public got no word of the violations.

Bush considering "orderly" auto bankruptcy 18 Dec 2008 The Bush administration is seriously considering "orderly" bankruptcy as a way of dealing with the desperately ailing U.S. auto industry. White House press secretary Dana Perino said Thursday, "There's an orderly way to do bankruptcies that provides for more of a soft landing. I think that's what we would be talking about." [No. What we *should* be talking about it your treason trial -- with all possible penalties for treason on the plate. --LRP]

Regulators adopt new credit card rules 18 Dec 2008 Federal regulators on Thursday adopted sweeping new rules for the credit card industry that will shield consumers from increases in interest rates on existing account balances among other changes. The rules, which take effect in July 2010, will allow credit card companies to raise interest rates only on new credit cards and future purchases or advances, rather than on current balances.

Obama names more cabinet secretaries--a continued march to the right By Bill Van Auken 18 Dec2008 President-elect Barack Obama used a press conference in Chicago Wednesday to name two more members of his cabinet—Colorado Democratic Senator Ken Salazar for secretary of interior and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to be agriculture secretary. Following the naming the day before of Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan as secretary of education, the latest appointments have only underscored the right-wing character of the incoming administration.

Clinton reveals foundation donors 18 Dec 2008 Former US President Bill Clinton has released the names of the donors to his charitable foundation and library. Donors on the list include the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the governments of Norway, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Italy and Jamaica. The list has been released as part of a deal with President-elect Barack Obama to allow Mr Clinton's wife Hillary to become Secretary of State.

New Low For Lieberman In Quinnipiac Poll 17 Dec 2008 Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's approval rating dropped to 38 percent in today's new Quinnipiac poll, the second worst for any senator in the history of the university's polling. Fifty-four percent disapprove. Only Robert Torricelli of New Jersey did worse -- and that was just before he was forced to resign in 2002.

Illinois Panel Hears Testimony on Blagojevich's Conduct 18 Dec 2008 A special investigative committee of the Illinois House of Representatives heard testimony Thursday about alleged misconduct by Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) unrelated to federal corruption charges unveiled last week.

Bird flu hits urban areas 18 Dec 2008 With the deadly bird flu hitting urban areas of the country, for the first time a visibly worried Union health ministry has stepped up surveillance on human beings in the affected districts. Officials told TOI that about 17 lakh people in Assam alone have already been checked for symptoms of Avian Influenza. The ministry plans to check 95% of the population living within a 0-3 km radius of the outbreak.


White powder mailed to 16 U.S. embassies in Europe 17 Dec 2008 Envelopes containing white powder that later tested negative for toxins were mailed to 16 U.S. embassies in Europe this month, the State Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Wednesday. "Tests conducted to date have all met with negative results," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said a statement that cautioned some embassies' test results had not been completed.

Suspicious White Powder Letters Sent to 40 U.S. Governors 17 Dec 2008 Since Monday, December 8, letters containing a note and suspicious white powder have been received by the offices of more than 40 governors across the country. Additional letters have been received at several U.S. Embassies overseas, said Robert E. Casey, Jr., Special Agent in Charge, Dallas FBI. To date, all letters have been postmarked from Texas.

Letter with white powder opened in governor's mailroom 17 Dec 2008 (PA) A letter containing white powder was opened in the mailroom of the governor's office today, a spokesman for Gov. Ed Rendell (D) said. The FBI was called in to investigate. Offices, including those in the House on the side of the Capitol near the governor's office, were locked down.

Feds: Suspicious packages sent to Guard, Reserve 17 Dec 2008 Federal authorities are reporting that suspicious packages have been sent to National Guard bureaus and reserve facilities in 36 states. A Dec. 16 report from the Department of Homeland Security says the 51 packages include anti-war compact discs, and one package also had a suspicious powder. It said the powder, sent in a package to Utah's National Guard headquarters in Draper, was tested and found not to be toxic, the report said.

Brown Says U.K. Forces Will Leave Iraq in 2009 17 Dec 2008 Prime Minister Gordon Brown said British forces will leave Iraq in the first half of 2009 after a six-year war that ejected Saddam Hussein from power and helped bring down Tony Blair. Brown and his Iraqi counterpart, Nuri al-Maliki, said the government in Baghdad approved a draft law providing for the withdrawal of troops from the U.K., Australia, Romania, Estonia, and El Salvador no later than July 31, 2009.

Baghdad bombs kills 10 on day of Brown visit 17 Dec 2008 At least nine people were killed and dozens wounded when a car bomb exploded in the centre of Baghdad on Wednesday as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was visiting, the US military said. Seven civilians were among the dead and 25 among the 43 wounded, the Americans said.

Iraq: Bomb attack targets minister in Baghdad 16 Dec 2008 Three civilians were wounded on Tuesday in a car bomb attack that targeted the motorcade of Iraq's Science and Technology Minister Raed Fahmy in southern Baghdad, a police source said. "A car crammed with explosives went off near the Babel Hotel in southern Baghdad, targeting the motorcade of the Science and Technology Minister Raed Fahmy, injuring three persons, including one of the minister’s bodyguards," a source told Iraqi news agency, Voices of Iraq.

Blackwater 'could lose Iraq role' 18 Dec 2008 Blackwater could be denied a licence to operate in Iraq, rendering it unable to provide security for US diplomats [commit war crimes], a US State Department internal report says. The report, commissioned by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said the department should look for other ways to protect diplomats, US media said.

Report: State Dept., Blackwater cooperated to neutralize killings 16 Dec 2008 State Department officials worked closely with the private security contractor Blackwater USA to play down incidents in which company operatives killed innocent Iraqis, according to Blackwater and State Department documents obtained by a congressional committee. When a drunken Blackwater contractor killed a bodyguard of Iraq's vice president last Christmas Eve, the State Department helped spirit the contractor mercenary out of the country within 36 hours [oh, just like the bin Laden family after 9/11], according to the report, released Monday by Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

General Electric wins three bln dlr Iraqi power deal 16 Dec 2008 US conglomerate General Electric Co. said Tuesday it has been awarded a three billion dollar power generation contract by war-wracked Iraq. General Electric has been a major player in Iraq since 2003, when the United States [illegally] invaded the country to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Protests rise over alleged beating of 'shoe man' Muntadhar al-Zeidi 18 Dec 2008 The furore over President [sic] Bush’s shoe-throwing assailant spread through Iraq and across international borders yesterday, claiming its first political casualty as protests grew over his continued detention and alleged ill-treatment. The brother of Muntazar al-Zaidi, who secured his place in infamy with his outburst against Mr Bush at a press conference in Baghdad, claimed that the journalist had been so badly beaten in custody that police were unable to produce him in court.

Bush shoe thrower Muntazer al-Zaidi 'too injured' for court 18 Dec 2008 The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at United States President [sic] George W. Bush has appeared before a judge in his jail cell because he is too injured to appear in a courtroom, his brother says. The al-Zaidi family went to Baghdad's Central Criminal Court expecting to attend a hearing, his brother, Dhargham, said. He said the family was told that the investigative judge went to see al-Zaidi in jail, and to return in eight days, Associated Press has reported. "That means my brother was severely beaten and they fear that his appearance could trigger anger at the court,'' Dhargham said.

Berkeley Code Pink activists support Iraq shoe-throwing reporter 17 Dec 2008 Anti-war activists from the group Code Pink gathered at a Marine recruiting station in Berkeley this morning to show solidarity with an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President [sic] Bush on Sunday. Members of the group and others marched around the recruiting station holding shoes in the air to show support for Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who hurled two shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.

Guantanamo 'worst place on Earth' 17 Dec 2008 An Algerian-born man who has just been freed from Guantanamo Bay has described the US "war on terror" camp as the worst place on Earth, in an interview published in a Bosnian newspaper. "For almost seven years, I was at the end of the world, at the worst place in the world,'' Mustafa Ait Idir told the Dnevni Avaz a day after arriving back in his adopted homeland of Bosnia. Mr Idir, along with two other prisoners released from Guantanamo, Mohamed Nechla and Hadji Boudella, arrived in Bosnia yesterday.

Sixth British soldier in a week killed in Afghanistan 17 Dec 2008 A British soldier was killed in fighting in troubled southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, the sixth fatality among British forces in the past week, the defence ministry said in a statement. The soldier from 1st Battalion The Rifles was killed by enemy fire in an area north west of Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand province while fighting in the district of Nad-e-Ali, the ministry in London said.

F.E. Warren missile wing fails nuke inspection --Failure to be fifth nuclear unit known to fail inspection this year 16 Dec 2008 The 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., will fail its Nuclear Surety Inspection that is set to end Wednesday because its maintenance group did not properly document tests on its missiles, an Air Force official said. The 90th will be the second nuclear missile wing and at least the fifth nuclear unit known to fail its NSI this year. Inspectors failed the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., last month. The Air Force’s third and only other nuclear missile wing, the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., received failing grades on its NSI this year from Defense Threat Reduction Agency inspectors, but passed after the Space Command Inspector General overruled DTRA, said an official inside the nuclear community.

Air Guard squadron to dispatch its members into missile field 17 Dec 2008 Minot Air Force Base: The North Dakota Air National Guard's 219th Security Forces Squadron will send its members into the Minot missile field for the first time Thursday. The N.D. Air Guard unit was established to supplement security forces with Minot AFB's 91st Missile Wing in the missile field.

Pakistan demands India provide Mumbai evidence 17 Dec 2008 Pakistan sought to put some of the pressure over the Mumbai bloodshed on India, demanding Wednesday that its neighbor hand over "concrete evidence" against Pakistani citizens and groups allegedly involved in the terror attack. Officials have been saying for days that they need evidence to try suspects, but there has no sign India would provide any of its findings soon.

Indian police to question possible Mumbai "scouts" 17 Dec 2008 Indian police will question two jailed members of an Islamist militant group over whether they scouted Mumbai landmarks before last month's deadly attacks on the financial hub, a senior police officer said on Wednesday.

Behind the legal fight over NSA's "Stellar Wind" surveillance By Julian Sanchez 16 Dec 2008 The most recent edition of Newsweek confirms a few long-held suspicions about the National Security Agency's controversial post-9/11 surveillance activities--such as the identity of the Justice Department lawyer who first tipped off The New York Times about the administration's warrantless wiretapping and the basis for the internal showdown that led to a now-infamous face-off at the attorney general's hospital bed. It also provides a few new revelations--including the classified name of the program: "Stellar Wind."

U.S. audit questions security of Justice Dept. computers 16 Dec 2008 An audit of information security at the Department of Justice says that though the agency got an A-plus rating under federal standards, those measure only processes on paper and that, in reality, no one knows how secure computers in the department -- and, by extension, the rest of the federal government -- are. The audit, by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, also noted that the department "lacks effective methodologies … for maintaining an inventory of devices connected to the department's various (information technology) networks."

Illinois court rejects calls to remove Blagojevich --Governor speaks as his attorney fights impeachment panel in Springfield 17 Dec 2008 The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to hear a claim that Gov. Rod Blagojevich is unfit to serve, erasing what could have been the quickest path to forcing him out of office as he faces federal charges.

Minn. court weighs rejected absentee ballots --Coleman's lawyer warns of repeating 2000's Bush-Gore impasse GOP coup d'etat 17 Dec 2008 Republican Sen. Norm Coleman went before the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to block improperly rejected absentee ballots from Minnesota's U.S. Senate recount, with his lawyer warning that justices must act to prevent a repeat of the tortured 2000 Bush-Gore impasse stolen election. The 'argument' drew stern words from Justice Paul Anderson.

Mega barf alert! Obama picks Republican For Transportation Secretary Job 17 Dec 2008 Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) last night accepted an offer to become President-elect Barack Obama's transportation secretary and the nomination will be made official in coming days, two senior Democratic officials said. LaHood, who is retiring after representing a rural downstate district in Congress since 1995, becomes the second Republican tapped for Obama's Cabinet.

Environmentalists Wary of Obama's Interior Pick [Well, we're weary of nearly *all* of his picks.] 17 Dec 2008 President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Interior Department, Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado, will inherit an agency demoralized by years of [Bush] scandal, political interference and mismanagement... Senator Salazar was not the first choice of environmental advocates for the Interior Department.

Gay activists furious with Obama --Rick Warren, Obama's pick to give the inaugural invocation, backed the California ban on same-sex marriage. 17 Dec 2008 Barack Obama’s choice of a prominent evangelical minister to perform the invocation at his inauguration is a conciliatory gesture toward social conservatives who opposed him in November, but it is drawing fierce challenges from the gay rights movement. Rick Warren's support for the California constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that drew the most heated criticism from Democrats Wednesday.

Obama to Announce S.E.C. Chairwoman 17 Dec 2008 President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday will announce Mary Schapiro to be the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Democrats familiar with the decision, elevating Ms. Schapiro from her current position as the head of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority.

Chrysler shuts down all production --Close of business Friday will be the start of a monthlong closure of 30 U.S. plants. 17 Dec 2008 Chrysler LLC announced late Wednesday that it is stopping all vehicle production in the United States for at least a month. All 30 of the carmaker's plants will close after the last shift on Friday, and employees will not be asked to return to work before Jan. 19. Chrysler blamed the "continued lack of consumer credit for the American car buyer" for the slow-down in sales that forced the move.

Obama team considers $1 trillion stimulus --Option being considered would rival efforts to fight the Great Depression 17 Dec 2008 Anxious to jolt the economy back to life, President-elect Barack Obama is considering a federal stimulus package that could reach a whopping $1 trillion, dwarfing last spring's tax rebates and rivaling drastic government actions to fight the Great Depression.

Congress to probe SEC role in Madoff affair 17 Dec 2008 A U.S. House of Representatives panel plans to convene an inquiry in January into the failure of regulators to unearth an alleged $50 billion securities fraud by financier Bernard Madoff, a key lawmaker said on Wednesday. Madoff, a former Nasdaq Stock Market chairman, was arrested last week and charged with running a massive Ponzi scheme. He is accused of defrauding banks, investment funds, charities and wealthy individuals who invested in funds he controlled.

'Computer glitch' shuts down Toronto Stock Exchange 17 Dec 2008 Technical woes on Wednesday halted trading at the Toronto Stock Exchange, North America's third largest stock market, and no timeline has been announced for its reopening. [!] All trading was suspended "due to technical issues with data feeds," said a statement on the exchange's website.

Thanks to Bush bin Laden and Cheney's Energy Task Force: One in Five Households Fell Behind on Utility Bills Last Winter 17 Dec 2008 One in five U.S. households was behind on its utility bills coming out of last winter, a new survey concludes, raising fears that the current heating season could be even worse. One in 20 households had its utility service terminated in 2007. Electric customers who were overdue owed an average of $157 in May 2008, when prohibitions on most wintertime service shutoffs ended, while overdue natural-gas customers owed an average of $360.

Congress should expand Yucca Mountain capacity: DOE 09 Dec 2008 Congress should expand the capacity of the planned U.S. nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada and delay a decision on whether to commission an additional dump site, the U.S. Energy Department said in a report released on Tuesday. "Unless Congress raises or eliminates the current statutory capacity limit of 70,000 metric tons of heavy metal, a second repository will be needed," Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said in a statement.

Arctic melt passes the point of no return 16 Dec 2008 Scientists have found the first unequivocal evidence that the Arctic region is warming at a faster rate than the rest of the world at least a decade before it was predicted to happen. Climate-change researchers have found that air temperatures in the region are higher than would be normally expected during the autumn because the increased melting of the summer Arctic sea ice is accumulating heat in the ocean. The phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, was not expected to be seen for at least another 10 or 15 years and the findings will further raise concerns that the Arctic has already passed the climatic tipping-point towards ice-free summers, beyond which it may not recover.

Eggs key to polar bear survival: study 16 Dec 2008 Canada's vulnerable polar bear population could survive the effects of climate change by switching a significant part of their diet from seal meat to scrambled eggs, according to a new U.S. study that suggests snow geese nests along the Hudson Bay shore may become a key feeding site for the iconic Arctic mammal.


Justices Restore Suit Brought by Ex-Prisoners Citing Torture 16 Dec 2008 The Supreme Court on Monday revived a lawsuit brought by four former prisoners at Guantánamo Bay against Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, and other officials. The former prisoners, all British citizens, say they were tortured and subjected to religious persecution. In a brief order, the justices instructed a federal appeals court to take a second look at the case in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in June in Boumediene v. Bush granting Guantánamo prisoners the right to challenge their detention in federal court.

'Very valuable' Guantanamo Bay should stay open, says Dick Cheney 15 Vice President [sic] Cheney said Tuesday that the Guantanamo Bay prison camp should stay open until the war on terror ends, and he defended interrogation by "waterboarding," which critics call torture. He also stood by his attempts to expand presidential power, suggesting Barack Obama will see the value of a muscular view of White House authority.

Iraqi prisoner dies in US custody in Iraq 16 Dec 2008 An Iraqi prisoner has died after apparently suffering a heart attack inside a US detention facility near the Baghdad International Airport. "A 25-year-old Iraqi man died late Sunday from a heart attack after being moved to a special hospital for detainees inside the Cropper jail," the advisor of the public affairs office on detainees affairs, Kriek al-Sayab, told Voices of Iraq.

Bush shoe-thrower in hospital after beating: brother 16 Dec 2008 The Iraqi journalist who hurled shoes at US President [sic] George W. Bush is in hospital after being beaten up by security guards, his brother charged on Tuesday, as judicial authorities launched a probe into the incident. "He has been taken to Ibn Sina hospital because he has a broken arm and ribs and is also suffering injuries to his eye and leg," Durgham al-Zaidi said of his brother Muntazer.

Shoe thrower 'beaten in custody' 16 Dec 2008 The brother of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at US President [sic] George W Bush has said that the reporter has been beaten in custody. Muntadar al-Zaidi has allegedly suffered a broken arm, broken ribs and internal bleeding, his older brother, Dargham, told the BBC. Mr Zaidi threw his shoes at Mr Bush at a news conference, calling him "a dog".

Official: Shoe-thrower in Iraqi military custody 16 Dec 2008 The journalist who threw his shoes at U.S. President [sic] George W. Bush was handed over to the Iraqi military, an Iraqi official said, as hundreds thousands took to the streets Tuesday for a second day demanding his release. Muntadhar al-Zeidi was turned over by the prime minister's security guards to face further investigation by the military command in charge of enforcing security in Baghdad, the official told The Associated Press.

George W Bush fends off shoes in new viral computer game 15 Dec 2008 An Iraqi journalist's shoe-throwing attack on US President [sic] George W Bush has been immortalised in an online video game. Players of Bush's Boot Camp take on the role of a gun-toting security agent, and must shoot shoes out of the air before they can hit the hapless president. Television reporter Muntadar al-Zaidi was tackled to the ground by Secret Service personnel yesterday after he started to throw his shoes at Geroge W Bush during a press conference in Iraq.

Iraqi restaurant blast kills 50 11 Dec 2008 A suicide bomber has killed at least 50 people at a restaurant near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a regional official has told the BBC. Around 100 people were also injured in the blast at the Kurdish restaurant, some 5km (three miles) north of the ethnically mixed city, police say. Kurdish officials were in the restaurant having lunch with Arab tribal leaders at the time.

Bush predicts long US war in Afghanistan 16 Dec 2008 Outgoing US President [sic] George W. Bush says Washington would not walk away from the conflict in Afghanistan despite rising violence and instability. The US president arrived in violence-wracked Afghanistan on a surprise trip after making a farewell visit to war-torn Iraq. Bush's plane landed in the dark at the Bagram air base outside the capital Kabul on early Monday.

'The fight against terrorism has turned into a debacle.' Afghan media: Bush visits Afghanistan amid failure in 'war on terror' 16 Dec 2008 Afghanistan newspapers have described the Washington-led 'war on terror' as failure and said that the outgoing White House chief George W. Bush toured the post-Taliban state Monday amid surge in Taliban activities in the war-battered country. "Violent insurgency and all other frustrating incidents in Afghanistan caused many observers to say that the fight against terrorism has turned into a debacle and prognostications that Afghanistan may slip back into the hands of extremists raged in media and press," daily Outlook writes in its editorial.

Israeli UAVs to fly in Afghanistan 16 Dec 2008 It plays a vital role in IDF operations in the Gaza Strip and in southern Lebanon, and in February the Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will make its debut in Afghanistan as the main surveillance drone for the Canadian Armed Forces, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

World court inquiry sought in Afghan rapes 15 Dec 2008 The International Criminal Court should probe allegations some Canadian officers serving in Afghanistan told subordinates to look the other way when Afghan soldiers and local interpreters sodomized young boys, says one of Canada's leading human-rights lawyers. University of British Columbia international law and politics expert Michael Byers, who was among a group of academics who sought to have former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet detained as a war criminal, said he plans to ask the ICC to begin its own inquiry into the charges.

Pakistani lorry drivers supplying Nato troops in Afghanistan go on strike 16 Dec 2008 An association of Pakistani lorry owners and drivers refused yesterday to resume delivering supplies to foreign troops in Afghanistan after a series of militant attacks on convoys plying the main supply route via the Khyber Pass. An international shipping company that handles US military supplies through Pakistan also said that there was now "a large backlog of military freight" [<g>] across the country from Karachi, where the cargo arrives by ship, to the Afghan border, "Clearly the security situation is very difficult," Kevin Speers, a spokesman for Maersk Lines Ltd, told The Times.

Terrorists in Pakistan planning over 20 attacks on Britain, says Gordon Brown 16 Dec 2008 More than twenty serious terrorist plots to stage attacks in Britain are being planned in Pakistan, Gordon Brown said. The Prime Minister named Pakistan as a haven for terrorists planning attacks in Britain, revealing that around three quarters of the most advanced plots monitored by MI5 are have Pakistani links. Officials say that the Security Service is aware of around 30 serious plots at any given moment, suggesting that at least 21 of them are tied to Pakistani groups.

Pakistan tells UK to stay out of terror investigation 16 Dec 2008 A request to Pakistan that UK police be allowed to question Pakistani suspects in the Mumbai attack has been rejected. Prime Minister Gordon Brown had asked for UK detectives to be given access to Pakistan’s investigations over the likely involvement of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group. But Mr Brown's Pakistani counterpart, Yousaf Raza Gilani, said: "It is our country and our laws will be implemented. We'll follow our laws."

Mumbai attacks a diversion tactic: analyst --Goal: Relieve military pressure on Afghan border 17 Dec 2008 The Mumbai terror attacks are directly linked to the military situation along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, says Ahmed Rashid, Pakistani writer and security analyst . In an interview with The Hindu, Mr. Rashid said groups behind the attacks wanted to relieve the pressure that was being mounted on them by the Pakistani Army along the western border with Afghanistan.

95 journalists killed doing their job in 2008 16 Dec 2008 Nearly 100 journalists were killed doing their job during 2008, a slight fall from the previous year due to security improvements in Iraq, a press rights group said on Monday. The Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) said in its annual report that 95 journalists were killed in 32 different countries in the past twelve months, down from a record 110 in 2007.

Should ground troops hunt pirates in Somalia? 16 Dec 2008 A Bush regime proposal to allow foreign forces to go ashore into Somalia to hunt the country's pirates is getting a cool reception from U.S. military leaders, regional analysts and some Somali officials. The proposal -- which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to put forward Tuesday at the United Nations Security Council -- is the boldest yet aimed at 'stopping' the pirates.

Explosives Found in Paris Department Store 16 Dec 2008 Police found five sticks of dynamite in a landmark Paris department store Tuesday, after an unknown group warned that bombs were hidden there and threatened more attacks unless France withdraws its military forces from Afghanistan. The scare dramatized the risks inherent in President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision last April to increase the number of French troops in Afghanistan to about 3,000 and expand their role to include combat operations.

Father of suspect arrested in Oregon bombing 16 Dec 2008 Police on Tuesday arrested the father of a suspect in an Oregon bank bombing that killed two police officers and wounded another last week. Bruce Turnidge of rural Salem, Oregon, was arrested on Tuesday morning on charges of conspiracy to manufacture and to possess an explosive device, the Marion County District Attorney's office said in a statement.

Second Circuit Rules Against National Security Letter Gag Orders 16 Dec 2008 Today, the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals gave another setback to the Bush Administration's claims for sweeping new Executive powers. The court found the National Security Letter (NSL) statute's gag provision unconstitutional in Doe v. Mukasey. The NSL law allows the government to seek your electronic communications transactional records from your ISP without obtaining a court order. The gag provisions required the recipient of a NSL to stay quiet as long as the government desired, with only a fig leaf of judicial review. The fig leaf was not good enough to satisfy the First Amendment.

Report: Endangered species decisions tainted --Department employees reported that they used her name as a verb – encountering political interference from senior managers was called "getting MacDonalded." 15 Dec 2008 A high-ranking Interior Department official tainted nearly every decision made on the protection of endangered species over five years, a new inspector general report finds, concluding she exerted improper political interference on many more rulings than previously thought. Julie MacDonald, a former deputy assistant secretary overseeing the Fish and Wildlife Service, did pervasive harm to the department's morale and integrity and may have risked the well-being of species with her agenda, Interior Inspector General Earl Devaney said in his report out Monday.

Obama to Choose Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary 16 Dec 2008 6:29 Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack will be President-elect Obama's choice for Agriculture Secretary, a Democratic official tells ABC News. The announcement will come at a press conference Wednesday in Chicago.

Blagojevich's arrest cost Illinois $20 million 16 Dec 2008 The legal problems surrounding Gov. Rod Blagojevich Reichwing attempts to install a GOP senator have cost the state more than $20 million, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias said Tuesday. The state was forced to delay its plan to borrow $1.4 billion last Thursday as a result of the governor’s arrest and missed the chance to sell short-term bonds at reduced interest rates.

Blagojevich Impeachment Inquiry Stalls 17 Dec 2008 A committee of the Illinois House considering evidence and testimony in an impeachment inquiry against Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich adjourned its first day of hearings after about an hour on Tuesday, after the governor’s lawyer and the federal prosecutor seeking to indict him both expressed concerns... Edward Genson, a noted Chicago-based criminal defense attorney who confirmed Monday that he had been retained by Mr. Blagojevich, said: "He’s not guilty, so we’re going to go to court. We’re not agreeing to impeachment. If you read these transcripts closely, you’ll find that nobody did anything. People are just talking, and that's not against the law."

Blago Attorney Says He's Not Guilty, Not Resigning 15 Dec 2008 Minutes after the end of his meeting this evening with embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Chicago defense attorney Ed Genson proclaimed that the governor is not guilty, will not resign, and instead will fight the charges against him. "He's not stepping aside," Genson told reporters outside his Chicago office building. "He hasn't done anything wrong. We're going to fight this case."

Former Blagojevich adviser Christopher Kelly to plead guilty 16 Dec 2008 Christopher Kelly - one of Gov. Blagojevich's closest advisers, fund-raisers and friends - is set to plead guilty in his federal criminal case, according to a court filing. Kelly was charged last year with failing to report gambling proceeds. He was not charged with conduct related to state deals but is widely known to be under scrutiny for fund-raising schemes under Blagojevich. Court records show Kelly is scheduled to plead guilty Jan. 16.

SEC Official Married into Madoff Family --Madoff Boasted of Close SEC Relationship, "My Niece Even Married One" 16 Dec 2008 A top Securities and Exchange Commission compliance official who worked for the SEC when it found no problems at Bernard Madoff's firm in 2005, later began to date and married Madoff's niece, who was a compliance lawyer for the company. The failure of the SEC to detect the alleged fraud carried out by Madoff, estimated by Madoff himself at $50 billion, has raised questions about the SEC's performance.

Fed Cuts Rate to as Low as Zero, Shifts Policy Focus 16 Dec 2008 The Federal Reserve cut the main U.S. interest rate to as low as zero for the first time and shifted its focus to the amount and type of debt it buys, seeking to revive credit and end the longest slump in a quarter- century.

US auto problems bleeding into other countries 16 Dec 2008 The breakdown of a planned bailout for US automakers has started to hit car manufacturers in other countries. US-based General Motors said Friday three plants in Mexico and three plants in Canada would close temporarily.


Rights group says filed 200 lawsuits against Rumsfeld, US security firms for torture --Group head: Around 30 lawsuits have been accepted; others still under consideration 16 Dec 2008 A Jordan-based Iraqi rights group said on Monday it has filed 200 lawsuits against US former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and American security firms for their alleged role in torturing Iraqis. Ali Qeisi, head of the group the "Society of Victims of the US Occupation in Iraq," said the cases, relating to torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners, have been recently filed in federal courts in Virginia, Michigan and Maryland. "The torture was systemic, and those responsible for it should be punished and the victims should be compensated," he said. Qeisi said he himself was tortured by US troops in Iraq during a six-month detention, though he refused to elaborate.

200 lawyers offer to defend Bush shoe attacker --Detained journalist's employer calls for his 'immediate release' 16 Dec 2008 Saddam Hussein’s former lawyer said on Monday he was forming a team to defend the Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at US President [sic] George W Bush during his farewell visit to Baghdad. "So far around 200 Iraqi and other lawyers, including Americans, have expressed willingness to defend the journalist for free," the Amman-based Khalil al-Dulaimi told AFP. "I took the decision on Sunday night to defend the man after the incident. I am currently contacting Arab bar associations to form a defence committee."

'He [George Bush] deserves to be hit with 100, not just one or two shoes. Who wants him to come here?' --A Baghdad resident [speaking for the whole world] Iraq rally for Bush shoe attacker 15 Dec 2008 Thousands of Iraqis have demanded the release of a local TV reporter who threw his shoes at US President [sic] George W Bush at a Baghdad news conference. Crowds gathered in Baghdad's Sadr City district, calling for "hero" Muntadar al-Zaidi to be freed from custody. The Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya TV channel said Mr Zaidi should be freed because he had been exercising freedom of expression - something which the Americans had promised to Iraqis on the ousting of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. "Any measures against Muntadar will be considered the acts of a dictatorial regime," the firm said in a statement. He said he was afraid for Mr Zaidi's safety, adding that the reporter had been arrested by US officials twice before. "We fear that our correspondents in Iraq will be arrested. We have 200 correspondents there," he added.

Iraq TV demands release of Bush shoe attacker 15 Dec 2008 An Iraqi television station on Monday demanded the immediate release of one of its journalists who caused a furore when he hurled shoes at visiting US President [sic] George W. Bush. Muntazer al-Zaidi jumped up as Bush was holding a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday, shouted "It is the farewell kiss, you dog" and threw two shoes at the US leader. Bush ducked and the first shoe hit the American and Iraqi flags behind the two leaders, while the second was off target.

Iraqi reporter throws shoes at Bush, calls him dog 15 Dec 2008 An Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at visiting U.S. President [sic] George W. Bush and called him a "dog" in Arabic during a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad on Sunday. Muntadhar al-Zaidi, reporter of Baghdadiya television jumped and threw his two shoes one by one at the president, who ducked and thus narrowly missed being struck, raising chaos in the hall in Baghdad's heavily fortified green Zone. "This is a farewell kiss, dog," said Zaidi. Several security members wrestled the man to the floor and then dragged him out of the hall as he was screaming.

Iraqi who threw shoes covered U.S. bombing of Shiite area 14 Dec 2008 George W. Bush made his last visit to Iraq as president [sic] on Sunday. But instead of highlighting progress from the "surge," it became a reminder that many Iraqis see him not as a liberator who freed them from Saddam Hussein but as an occupier who pushed their country into chaos. As Bush finished remarks... an Iraqi television journalist leapt from his seat, pulled off his shoes and threw them at the pResident. Striking someone with a shoe is a grave insult in Islam. "This is a goodbye kiss, you dog," the journalist, Muntathar al Zaidi, 29, shouted.

Satire: Iraq Did Have Weapon of Mass Destruction As Shoe Barely Misses President Bush By R J Shulman 15 Dec 2008 It took his farewell tour of Iraq to find the weapons of mass destruction he always suspected were there, but today, President [sic] Bush personally discovered the dangerous missiles in Iraq. "They were size 10 and they were coming straight at me," said President Bush, speaking of the two shoes thrown at him by Iraqi television journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi. Zaidi tossed his shoes, saying they were a good-bye kiss from the Iraqi people. "They say that Zaire guy called me a dog," said Bush who ducked just in time, "but everyone else must have dyslexia, because I heard him call me a god." (Satire)

Britain faces humiliating Iraq withdrawal [<g>] 15 Dec 2008 British Forces will leave Iraq by the end of next July under a humiliating proposal that lumps the once-valued deployment with five smaller contingents, including those of Romania, El Salvador and Estonia. Even as President [sic] Bush paid a surprise farewell visit to Baghdad yesterday to celebrate the passage of a bilateral accord with Iraq, Britain faced being only a part of a shared military pact after negotiators ran out of time to seal country-specific deals.

Japan starts withdrawing ASDF unit from Iraqi airlift mission 15 Dec 2008 Japan on Monday began pulling its Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) transport unit out of Kuwait as the four-year-and-nine-month Iraqi airlift mission of the ASDF ended last week, the defense ministry said.

America's foes would be 'sorely mistaken' to test Obama, warns Gates 14 Dec 2008 US Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned the United States' enemies yesterday against trying to test the nation's resolve during the early months of the new administration in Washington. Gates said the US would stay deeply involved in the Middle East and the Gulf under Barack Obama. "I can assure you that a change in administration does not alter our fundamental interests, especially in the Middle East," he told a security conference in Bahrain.

Chertoff: Obama shouldn't rush on Guantanamo Bay [Don't worry - he won't.] 14 Dec 2008 U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Sunday that President-elect Barack Obama shouldn't rush to close Guantanamo Bay before he has a plan to deal with all the prisoners. In an interview with BBC television, Chertoff said Obama must work out how to prosecute detainees, particularly those who can't be sent back to their own countries for trial, before he closes down the facility.

Iran says has proof U.S., UK back police killer group --U.S.-UK backed terror group is part of al Qaeda network [No surprises here.] 13 Dec 2008 Iran has documents to prove the United States and Britain back a group that killed 16 abducted Iranian police officers, state [as opposed to corporate] radio reported on Saturday. Shi'ite-dominated Iran said this month the Sunni group Jundollah (God's Soldiers) had killed 16 police hostages who were abducted from a checkpoint in the southeastern Sistan- Baluchestan province in June. Tehran has said Jundollah's head, Abdolmalek Rigi, is part of the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda network. "There are documents that show that Britain and America are supporting Rigi's terrorist group with arms and information," the radio quoted Ebrahim Raisi, first deputy to Iran's judiciary chief, as saying. [See also: West funding insurgency in Afghanistan with Taleban payoff system 12 Dec 2008.]

In July, Pakistan's former Army Chief, Retired General Mirza Aslam Baig, said Washington had been providing Jundullah with financial aid and training facilities to create unrest and strain Tehran-Islamabad relations. UK, U.S. aided Jundullah kidnapping: Iranian official 14 Dec 2008 A senior Iranian says British and U.S. forces were involved in the [June 12] abduction of 16 police officers by Jundullah militants. "Abdolmalek Rigi's terrorist ring (Jundullah) did not carry out the abduction and murder of 15 Iranian police officers alone. We have obtained information, which shows that British forces helped them by providing critical intelligence," First Deputy Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday. "According to the available information the Americans also gave some assistance to the group," he added. In 2007, ABC News aired a report, which suggested, that the group responsible 'for the deaths and kidnappings of Iranian soldiers and officials… has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials.' July reports also indicate that in 2007, the U.S. Congress secretly passed a bill proposed by President [sic] George W. Bush, requesting $400-million to fund covert operations in Iran. According to the legislation, the U.S. government is permitted to provide financial assistance to recognized terrorist groups such as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) and Jundullah.

Lashkar-e-Taiba group denies terror plot 15 Dec 2008 The Lashkar-e-Taiba has denied British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's charge that it was responsible for the Mumbai terror attack and said the lone terrorist captured alive was not a member of its outfit. A press release issued by its spokesperson Dr. Abdullah Ghaznavi said the British Prime Minister has levelled an allegation against the group without any proof.

Pakistan says Indian warplanes violated airspace 14 Dec 2008 Pakistan said on Saturday that Indian warplanes had violated its airspace but said this was "inadvertent" and there was no cause for alarm about an escalation of tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours. In New Delhi, an Indian Defence Ministry spokesman said he had no information on the reported incursion.

Gaza families eat grass as Israel locks border 14 Dec 2008 As a convoy of blue-and-white United Nations trucks loaded with food waited last night for Israeli permission to enter Gaza, Jindiya Abu Amra and her 12-year-old daughter went scrounging for the wild grass their family now lives on. "We had one meal today - khobbeizeh," said Abu Amra, showing the leaves of a plant that grows along the streets of Gaza. "Every day, I wake up and start looking for wood and plastic to burn for fuel and I beg. When I find nothing, we eat this grass."

Suspicious Powder In Letter to Gov. Gregoire 15 Dec 2008 A suspicious white powder was found overnight in a letter addressed to Gov. Chris Gregoire (D), reports the Associated Press. State Patrol Sgt. Ted DeHart says the letter has been sent to the Health Department for testing. The letter was received at about 2 a.m. Monday in the state's mail processing hub in Olympia.

Mega barf alert! Hayden-Obama briefing stirs speculation 13 Dec 2008 CIA Director Michael V. Hayden flew to Chicago on Tuesday to give a full intelligence briefing to President-elect Barack Obama, The Washington Times has learned. It was not clear whether Mr. Obama discussed Mr. Hayden's future as director of the agency in the new administration, but the focus of the private meeting, which also included Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, centered on the state of national security and was considered classified. Speculation is growing among intelligence experts and officials that Mr. Obama will ask Mr. Hayden to stay on.

Report: Justice Lawyer Leaked Surveillance Program 14 Dec 2008 A former Justice Department lawyer says he tipped off the news media about the Bush regime's warrantless eavesdropping program because it ''didn't smell right,'' Newsweek magazine reported Sunday. Thomas Tamm, whose suburban Washington home was searched by federal agents last year, told the magazine he leaked the existence of the secret program to The New York Times 18 months before the newspaper broke the story. [Right, the Whore York Times didn't want to hurt Bush in the 'election,' so they sat on the story until the 2004 coup had passed.]

McCain unsure if he'd support Palin for president 14 Dec 2008 Sen. John McCain said Sunday he would not necessarily support his former running mate if she chose to run for president. Speaking to ABC's "This Week," McCain was asked whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin could count on his support. "I can't say something like that. We've got some great other young governors. I think you're going to see the governors assume a greater leadership role in our Republican Party," he said, citing Governors Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Jon Huntsman of Utah. [In other words, McInsane was going to stick us with a dim-witted Nazi if he croaked - and he didn't care. McCain: Country LAST.]

Kennedy to Seek Clinton Senate Seat --Robert F. Kennedy Once Held Seat 15 Dec 2008 A person close to the discussions said Caroline Kennedy will seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Kennedy has told Democratic Gov. David Paterson she wants the job should Clinton be confirmed as secretary of state for President-elect Barack Obama. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Monday because neither Kennedy nor Paterson has acknowledged she is seeking the position.

Bush sneaks through host of laws to undermine Obama --The lame-duck Republican team is rushing through radical measures, from coal waste dumping to power stations in national parks, that will take months to overturn By Paul Harris 14 Dec 2008 After spending eight years at the helm of one of the most ideologically driven administrations in American history, George W. Bush is ending his presidency [sic] in characteristically aggressive fashion, with a swath of controversial measures designed to reward supporters and enrage opponents. By the time he vacates the White House, he will have issued a record number of so-called 'midnight regulations' - so called because of the stealthy way they appear on the rule books - to undermine the administration of Barack Obama, many of which could take years to undo.

Obama left with little time to curb global warming 14 Dec 2008 When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, global warming was a slow-moving environmental problem that was easy to ignore. Now it is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can't avoid. Since Clinton's inauguration, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas. The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since Clinton's second inauguration. Global warming is accelerating. Time is close to running out, and Obama knows it.

Ecuador: President Orders Debt Default 13 Dec 2008 President Rafael Correa has declared his country in default on foreign debt as his government grapples with falling oil income and a decline in remittances from Ecuadoreans living abroad. Calling the debt "immoral and illegitimate," Mr. Correa said his government would not make a $31 million interest payment, a move heightening concern in global markets over Ecuador’s $10 billion in foreign debt.

Bush loophole guts bailout restrictions on executive pay 15 Dec 2008 Congress wanted to guarantee that the $700 billion financial bailout would limit the eye-popping pay of Wall Street executives, so lawmakers included a mechanism for reviewing executive compensation and penalizing firms that break the rules. But at the last minute, the Bush regime insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision, congressional aides said. This small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts.

Goldman faces $2bn loss – its first since 1929 --As the banking giant prepares to unveil shock figures, Morgan Stanley braces itself to add its own bad news 14 Dec 2008 Goldman Sachs, the US investment bank, is this week expected to post its first loss since the Wall Street crash of 1929 when it unveils full-year results on Tuesday. In the week when many Square Mile bank staff find out if they have scooped a bonus this year, Morgan Stanley is expected to complete a miserable Christmas picture when it also reports a loss, one day later.

States' Funds for Jobless Are Drying Up 15 Dec 2008 With unemployment claims reaching their highest levels in decades, states are running out of money to pay benefits, and some are turning to the federal government for loans or increasing taxes on businesses to make the payments. Thirty states are at risk of having the funds that pay out unemployment benefits become insolvent over the next few months, according to the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Funds in two states, Indiana and Michigan, have already dried up, and both states are borrowing from the federal government to make payments to the unemployed.

Gov. Paterson to Propose $4 Billion in Taxes and Fees to Close Deficit 15 Dec 2008 (NY) Gov. David A. Paterson will propose a $4 billion package of taxes and fees on a range of items, from sugary soft drinks to luxury items like furs and boats, when he unveils his plan to close a deficit that has ballooned to $15 billion, people with knowledge of the plan said on Sunday.

Fed to rule soon on sweeping credit card changes 14 Dec 2008 Credit card companies could no longer boost interest rates on existing account balances if the Federal Reserve adopts new rules as written at a meeting set for Thursday. But as proposed, the changes also could make it more difficult for millions of people with bad credit to get what's referred to as a subprime card.

Obamas, Bidens to arrive in Washington by train 15 Dec 2008 The 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Monday that President-elect Barack Obama will travel by train to the nation’s capitol on January 17 from Philadelphia, but will stop along the way to host events in Baltimore, Maryland and Wilmington, Delaware – home of Vice President-elect Joe Biden. The Obama and Biden families will arrive in D.C. on Saturday.

Mystery illness paralyses girl given cervical cancer jab 14 Dec 2008 A 12-year-old schoolgirl has been left paralysed from the waist down by a mystery illness that came on 30 minutes after she was given the new anticervical cancer jab. Ashleigh Cave suffered dizziness and headaches soon after the vaccination at her school and then deteriorated rapidly, collapsing several times over the following days... In America, where an immunisation programme using a similar product, Gardasil [Gardakill], began more than a year earlier, there have been dozens of serious "adverse events" reported in which a link to the vaccinations is suspected.


Report: U.S. reconstruction in Iraq '$100 billion failure' --Pentagon 'put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures' 14 Dec 2008 An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure. The history, the first official account of its kind, also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag... the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.

'You will use my contractor or the work will not get done.' Iraq's reconstruction a 100-billion failure: report 14 Dec 2008 An unpublished US government report says US-led efforts to rebuild Iraq were crippled by bureaucratic turf wars, violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society, resulting in a 100-billion-dollar failure, The New York Times reported on its website. By mid-2008, according to the history, 117 billion dollars had been spent on the reconstruction of Iraq, including about 50 billion in US taxpayer money, the paper noted. "Our district council chairman has become the Tony Soprano of Rasheed, in terms of controlling resources," the paper quotes one US Embassy official in Baghdad as saying. "You will use my contractor or the work will not get done.'"

ASY my A$$: Pentagon Pro-Troop Group Misspent Millions, Report Says By Noah Shachtman 12 Dec 2008 A Defense Department project, supposedly designed to support U.S. troops, was used instead to channel millions of dollars to personal friends and allies of its chief. The "America Supports You," or ASY, program was led in a "questionable and unregulated manner," according to a Department of Defense Inspector General report, obtained by Danger Room. At least $9.2 million was "inappropriately transferred" by the project's managers. Much of that money served only to further promote ASY, instead of assisting servicemembers.

Some U.S. troops to stay in Iraqi cities 13 Dec 2008 Some American troops will remain in Iraqi cities after a June 30 deadline for combat soldiers to leave urban areas, the top U.S. commander said Saturday. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of occupation forces in Iraq, told reporters that troops who serve in training and mentoring teams would not be included in the mandate to pull combat troops from the cities.

Iraq: Troop withdrawal comment raises Iraqi ire 13 Dec 2008 At a Pentagon news briefing Dec. 11, Iraq's official government spokesman, Ali Dabbagh, commented that "it might be 10 years" before Iraqi security forces are ready to go it alone without U.S. help. This contradicts the Status of Forces Agreement passed by Iraq's parliament Nov. 27, which calls for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011. Iraq's government, cognizant of the ire Dabbagh's comments could raise among opponents of SOFA, who say it will be manipulated by the United States and Iraq to extend the Americans' stay, hastily distanced itself from Dabbagh's remarks.

Iraq spokesman says U.S. troops might be needed for another decade 12 Dec 2008 Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki last month sold the Iraqi people on a security pact with the U.S. He called it a "withdrawal agreement" to end the presence of American forces in his country by the beginning of 2012. However, his top government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, undercut that claim this week when he said in Washington that the U.S. might be needed in Iraq for another 10 years.

Former U.S. Contractor Alleges 9-Month Detention in Iraq --Translator Says He Was Denied Attorney, Phone Calls While Held For Months 11 Dec 2008 When this 52-year-old translator and veteran of the U.S. Army headed for his annual leave as a contractor in Iraq, he claims he was wrongfully imprisoned for nine months by American forces, with no access to a lawyer and no contact with his family for months. The allegations are laid out in a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, recently filed in federal court in Washington where the former contractor for Titan, and a naturalized U.S. citizen, alleges that his due process rights were violated when he was detained and held in "torturous conditions."

Militants torch over 20 supplies trucks for Afghanistan-based coalition forces in NW Pakistan 13 Dec 2008 Militants torched 25 supplies trucks for Afghanistan-based coalition forces in northwestern Pakistan early Saturday morning. The News Network International news agency quoted police as saying that the militants used patrol bombs to torch the supplies trucks and oil containers in Peshawar, capital city of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) early Saturday morning.

'12-year-old' Afghan suicide bomber kills three marines 13 Dec 2008 A suicide bomber who was believed to be just 12 years old killed three Royal Marines in a bloody 24 hours for British forces in which five servicemen died in Afghanistan and Iraq. The bomb in Helmand, detonated by the youngest known suicide attacker against Western forces in the country, was followed by a mine blast that killed another marine. In Basra, a soldier was shot dead. [See: West funding insurgency in Afghanistan with Taleban payoff system 12 Dec 2008.]

4 British soldiers killed in S Afghanistan 13 Dec 2008 Four British soldiers were killed in two separate explosions Friday morning in southern Afghanistan, said a statement of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Saturday. Britain's Defense Ministry, according to media reports, confirmed on Friday that four British soldiers have been killed int wo separate blasts in southern Afghan province of Helmand.

New Rapid-Response Forces to Bolster Homeland Defense Mission --In the event of civil disturbances and some other types of national emergencies other designated U.S. military units could be ordered by the president to help civil authorities establish order as part of the Garden Plot domestic security plan. 12 Dec 2008 Pentagon officials have established a new rapid-response joint task force and plan to create two more in coming years to bolster assistance to civil authorities following potential chemical, biological or nuclear attacks or 'natural' disasters, a senior U.S. official said here yesterday. The new units will team with other federal agencies in support of local responders... Paul McHale, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and Americas’ security affairs, told American Forces Press Service and Pentagon Channel reporters. The first new 4,700-member task force was assigned to a component of U.S. Northern Command on Oct. 1, McHale said. Plans are to stand up the other two new joint task forces in 2010 and 2011, respectively, McHale said. [Bye-bye, Posse Comitatus]

U.S. troops' new mission: America's 'special events' 13 Dec 2008 New rules published in the Federal Register would allow certain civilians to call American soldiers into action inside the U.S. to prevent environmental damage or respond to "special events" and "other domestic activities." The alarming warning is contained in proposed rules published last week for the Department of Defense's "Defense Support of Civil Authorities" plan.

'The time that it took was enormous, it was 120 minutes, a very long time in which to act - was the U.S. Air Force sleeping and if it was sleeping which heads were rolled?' Ex ISI Chief Gul Exposes 911 Inside Job 12 Dec 2008 Former Pakistani ISI chief Hamid Gul appeared on the Alex Jones Show yesterday and shared his contention that the 9/11 attack was an inside job. Gul questioned why standard operating procedure was not followed. "In the past within minutes the U.S. aircraft has been on the wing of the hijacked aircraft, in this case it did not happen, the U.S. alert system is so high and it is so sophisticated that if a missile was to take off from Moscow and was to head towards New York, the U.S. Air Force and the missile system is supposed to intercept it within nine minutes….the system is in place but it did not work and nobody tried to question this."

Police: Mumbai gunman asks Pakistan for legal help 12 Dec 2008 Indian police say the surviving gunman in last month's deadly attack on Mumbai has written to Pakistani officials to ask for legal help. Rakesh Maria, Mumbai's chief investigator, says Mohammed Ajmal Kasab wrote a letter to the Pakistani consulate on Thursday to request "legal aid."

U.S. says lacks intelligence to fight pirates in Somalia [Well, the U.S. lacks intelligence, period.] 13 Dec 2008 The United States lacks the intelligence needed to pursue the fight against pirates on Somali soil, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Saturday. His comments came days after the U.S. delegation at the United Nations circulated a draft resolution that would give countries the right to pursue pirates on land as well as at sea.

'We have put the patients in isolation, although the symptoms do not indicate influenza-like illness.' 300,000 people in bird flu-hit Assam under surveillance 12 Dec 2008 Health authorities in Assam have placed under surveillance about 300,000 people in bird flu affected areas with reports of some 150 people suffering from fever and upper respiratory infections, fuelling fears of the deadly virus spreading to humans, officials said Friday. "Isolation facilities have been strengthened to admit and treat suspect cases although no cases of influenza-like illness with history of contact with infected poultry have been detected so far," Parthajyoti Gogoi, regional director (northeast) of the central health and family welfare department, told IANS.

Officer killed, police chief injured in Oregon bank explosion 13 Dec 2008 A bomb exploded at a Woodburn, Oregon, bank branch early Friday evening, killing a police officer and injuring the town's police chief and a state bomb technician, Oregon State Police said. The three were investigating a suspicious device at a West Coast Bank branch when the bomb went off, police said.

'Credit-crunch' riots: Are the Greek riots a taste of things to come? Greece's riots are a sign of the economic times. Other countries should beware By Peter Popham 13 Dec 2008 After firing 4,600 tear-gas canisters in the past week, the Greek police have nearly exhausted their stock. As they seek emergency supplies from Israel and Germany, still the petrol bombs and stones of the protesters rain down, with clashes again outside parliament yesterday. Ostensibly, the trigger for the Greek violence was the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, Alexis Grigoropoulos. A forensic report leaked to Greek newspapers indicated he was killed by a direct shot, not a ricochet as the policeman's lawyer had claimed... And there was no let-up yesterday, as angry youths shrugged off torrential rain to pelt police with firebombs and stones, block major roads and occupy a private radio station.

Menezes jury rejects police claim of lawful killing 12 Dec 2008 A jury rejected the police account of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes as the Brazilian's family branded his inquest a "whitewash". After returning an open verdict today, the 10 jurors rejected a string of claims made by officers about the events leading up to Mr de Menezes being killed. In a damning indictment, they dismissed claims by firearms officer C12 that he shouted "armed police" before opening fire. The jury also disputed that 27-year-old Mr de Menezes had walked towards officers before he was killed.

White House Ready to Aid Auto Industry 13 Dec 2008 The Bush administration said on Friday that it was prepared to intervene to prevent the collapse of General Motors and Chrysler after Republican senators blocked a compromise proposal to rescue the automakers. The decision came after a tense standoff this week in which senior White House officials pleaded with Senate Republicans not to block the measure, including a warning by Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney that they would be remembered for decades as the party of Herbert Hoover if the industry collapsed.

Senate roll call on $14B auto bailout 12 Dec 2008 The 52-35 roll call by which opponents on Thursday prevented the Senate from considering a $14 billion emergency bailout passed by the House for U.S. automakers. On this vote, a "yes" vote was a vote to formally consider the House bill and a "no" vote was a vote to stop its progress. Supporters of the bailout needed 60 votes to advance it.

Auto bailout's death seen as a Republican blow at unions --For some Senate Republicans, a vote against the bailout was a vote against the United Auto Workers, and against organized labor in general. 13 Dec 2008 The congressional push to help U.S. automakers was generally cast in terms of protecting the reeling national economy from another body blow -- the collapse of one or more of Detroit's Big Three. But in killing the stopgap rescue plan worked out by President Bush and congressional Democrats, conservative Republicans -- many from right-to-work states across the South -- struck at an old enemy: organized labor.

GOP: 'Action Alert - Auto Bailout' 12 Dec 2008 'Countdown' has obtained a memo entitled "Action Alert - Auto Bailout," and sent Wednesday at 9:12am, to Senate Republicans. The names of the sender(s) and recipient(s) have been redacted in the copy 'Countdown' obtained. The Los Angeles Times reported that it was circulated among Senate Republicans. The brief memo outlines internal political strategy on the bailout, including the view that defeating the bailout represents a "first shot against organized labor." Senate Republicans blocked passage of the bailout late Thursday night, over its insistence on an immediate union pay cut.

Madoff Victims' 'Tragedy' Said to Have Escaped Scrutiny by SEC 14 Dec 2008 Bernard Madoff’s investment advisory business, alleged to be a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $50 billion, was never inspected by U.S. regulators after he subjected it to oversight two years ago, people familiar with the case said. The Securities and Exchange Commission hasn’t examined Madoff’s books since he registered the unit with the agency in September 2006, two people said, declining to be identified because the reviews aren’t public.

Shays' manager ordered to court --Gambling is possible focus in missing funds inquiry --Investigation could include at least one withdrawal from an automated teller machine in one of Connecticut's Indian casinos 13 Dec 2008 A federal grand jury investigating the disappearance of up to $300,000 from U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays' (R) re-election campaign has subpoenaed the veteran congressman's former campaign manager, Michael Sohn, of Fairfield, the Connecticut Post has learned. Sources with knowledge of the probe said the investigation is centering on Sohn's control of campaign funds used to pay vendors and campaign staff. The campaign scandal has prompted several state Republicans, none of whom wanted to be identified by name, to believe that Sohn may have used Shays' re-election funds to gamble.

Weighing His Options, Illinois Governor Meets With Criminal Lawyer 14 Dec 2008 Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) met with a renowned Chicago criminal lawyer Saturday as he weighed his legal options on how to fight a scandal that has left his career in tatters and disrupted President-elect Barack Obama's White House transition. The Democratic governor held a four-hour meeting with Ed Genson in the lawyer's downtown office.

Obama Aide Discussed Senate Vacancy With Governor 14 Dec 2008 President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, spoke several times with Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich (D) of Illinois about possible candidates for Mr. Obama’s Senate seat, aides close to the presidential transition team said Saturday. Mr. Emanuel has not been accused of wrongdoing by federal prosecutors.

Obamas can't move into Blair House early 12 Dec 2008 President-elect Barack Obama asked the White House if his family could move to Washington earlier, but aides say the White House couldn't wouldn't give them the official guest house as his family wanted. The Obamas had asked White House officials to move into Blair House about two weeks before the traditional date so their two daughters could start their new school when classes resume Jan. 5. Obama aides say the White House told them that the request cannot be met because the current dictatorship still has 'plans' for the historic government home across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

New York Housing Chief Is Chosen for Cabinet 13 Dec 2008 President-elect Barack Obama has picked the widely respected housing commissioner for New York City, Shaun Donovan, to be the secretary of housing in his cabinet. Assuming that Mr. Donovan is confirmed by the Senate to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he would be returning to the agency where he worked in the Clinton administration as acting federal housing commissioner and, earlier, as deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing, overseeing subsidies and properties for about two million families.

Second polar bear twin dies in Germany 13 Dec 2008 A polar bear twin born last month at a German zoo has died less than a week after its sibling, zoo officials announced Saturday. The young bear died Friday at the Nuremberg Zoo, three weeks after the twins were born to the zoo's 6-year-old bear, Vera. The first twin died Monday, the zoo said.


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