Monday, July 24, 2006

ATTN: Armchair Activists, Call Now

Comments: 202-456-1111 Switchboard: 202-456-1414

Email the Dubya! Email the Dick!

Tell them to for once do the right thing for America-resign!

Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.--John Adams

Hot Links

Unite Press International Analysis: Chronology of a war

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she would tour the Middle East this week, talking with various leaders. Except the secretary will not be talking with either Syria or Iran, two countries that hold part of the key to a lasting solution in the area. Nor is she about to talk with Hamas or Hezbollah, the two parties directly concerned by the conflict, and who hold other pieces of the key.

U.S. policy is not to engage any of the above-mentioned parties in any political discourse. The Bush administration's policy -- or lack thereof -- is to talk only to its friends while ignoring its foes. Yet if one is to make peace it is with one's enemies, not one's friends, and that dialogue needs to be started. Is the lack of progress in trying to bring about stability in the Middle East anything to be surprised about?

Hey Israeli government-just how is it you decide friend or foe?

Jurist US commanders authorized widespread abuse of Iraqi detainees: HRW report

[JURIST] US military commanders in Iraq regularly authorized torture and abusive interrogation practices even in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal [JURIST news archive], and military lawyers brought in to brief interrogators erroneously told them that the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials] did not apply to their detainees, according to a new Human Rights Watch report released Sunday. The report, based partly on interviews with US soldiers, also says that soldiers who objected to the harsh interrogation methods were regularly discouraged from making or pursuing complaints. Two US detention facilities in Iraq - an off-limits site at Baghdad airport called Camp Nama [JURIST report] whose inmates were never registered with the Red Cross, contrary to international law, and another site in Mosul - were singled out as being particularly abuse-prone.

John Sifton, who authored the HRW report, said '“These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional - on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used.'” While several enlisted soldiers were court-martialed in connection with Abu Ghraib, not one intelligence officer or commander has yet been prosecuted for detainee abuses. Responding to the report, a US military spokesman said that "The standard of treatment is and always has been humane treatment of detainees in DOD's custody."

USA Today ABA blasts Bush for law interpretations

The ABA group, which includes a one-time FBI director and former federal appeals court judge, said the president has overstepped his authority in attaching challenges to hundreds of new laws.

The attachments, known as bill-signing statements, say Bush reserves a right to revise, interpret or disregard measures on national security and constitutional grounds.

"This report raises serious concerns crucial to the survival of our democracy," said the ABA's president, Michael Greco. "If left unchecked, the president's practice does grave harm to the separation of powers doctrine, and the system of checks and balances that have sustained our democracy for more than two centuries."

Some congressional leaders had questioned the practice. The task force's recommendations, being released Monday in Washington, will be presented to the 410,000-member group next month at its annual meeting in Hawaii. ABA policymakers will decide whether to denounce the statements and encourage a legal fight over them.

The task force said the statements suggest the president will decline to enforce some laws. Bush has had more than 800 signing statement challenges, compared with about 600 signing statements combined for all other presidents, the group said.

Think Progress Bush Refuses To Estimate Future Costs of Iraq War, Violating Federal Law

Congress passed a law requiring the Bush administration to estimate the future costs of the war in Iraq. HereÂ’s an excerpt:

The President shall "provide to the Congress a report detailing the estimated costs over the period from fiscal year 2006 to 2011 of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, or any related military operations in and around Iraq and Afghanistan, and the estimated costs of reconstruction, internal security, and related economic support to Iraq and Afghanistan" the report referenced above shall be submitted no later than January 1, 2005.

There is an exemption if the administration certifies that estimates '“cannot be provided for purposes of national security.'” But the President hasn'’t done that. From Bloomberg:

Instead of a presidential waiver, Joshua Bolton, director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote congressional leaders in May 2005 that the Pentagon couldn'’t compile the estimates because 'there are too many variables to predict accurately.'

Especially when the books are cooked, aye Josh?

All Headline Use Bush Remains Adamant To Immediate Mideast Cease-fire

Washington DC (AHN) - President George W. Bush on Monday held onto his initial position, against immediate cease-fire, as a solution to stop the violence that has struck the Middle East lately, White House officials have said.

Saudi King Abdullah has pleaded for Bush to intervene in Israel's military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon. The AP quotes the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal telling reporters, "We requested a cease-fire to allow for a cessation of hostilities."

Saud added that, "I have brought a letter from the Saudi king to stop the bleeding in Lebanon, and there has been an agreement to save Lebanese lives, Lebanese properties and what the Lebanese have built, and to save this country from the ordeal it is facing,"

Christian Science Monitor John Murtha

On what would change if the Democrats retook control of the House: "Accountability is going to be the key. Corruption, talk about corruption ... there [are] billions of dollars that disappeared and we don't know where it is. We have all kinds of stories which haven't been followed up.... The biggest deficiency among all the other mistakes is no accountability in this administration ... I think checks and balances have gotten out of kilter."

On why he is running for House majority leader: "I think I can help because I am more conservative.... There is an idea that [the Democrats'] leadership is very liberal and I think I bring some balance to that leadership."

On whether the press has been an active enough watchdog during the war in Iraq: "I blame some of you guys, too. You guys knew this wasn't going well. You didn't say a damn word, either. You just sat back and were afraid to speak out. I don't know whether it was access or what. But you sat back and did nothing either. So I blame us all. The public, man, they were ahead of us."

Ansa Italy Lawyers follow cabbies' lead

The lawyers are up in arms over a deregulation decree presented in a surprise move by the new, centre-left government at the end of June .

The decree, which has already come into effect but will lapse unless it is approved by parliament over the next two months, abolishes the minimum-fee regime used by lawyers. Part of the effect would be to allow no-win, no-fee practices to be introduced into Italy .

Lawyers would also be allowed to advertise their services, set up partnership firms and claim a percentage of settlements in civil cases . The government says the reforms, which have been championed by consumer rights' groups, will introduce greater competition and bring the profession into line with practices prevalent in many European Union countries .

But lawyers say the changes will only benefit big companies and drive those operating individually, who are the majority, out of business .

Ohio ElectsStrickland far ahead, early poll indicates

Democrat Ted Strickland has surged to a surprising lead of 20 percentage points in the first Dispatch Poll on Ohio's Nov. 7 race for governor.

Meanwhile, Democrat Sherrod Brown holds an 8-point edge in his bid to unseat two-term Republican Sen. Mike DeWine.

StricklandÂ’s 47-to-27 advantage over GOP rival J. Kenneth Blackwell is fueled by a more than 3-to-1 lead among independent voters, combined with BlackwellÂ’s inability to sell himself to Ohio Republicans.

"I kind of feel like the Republican Party has run the state government like an old boys club for a long time" and it is time for a change, said poll participant Stuart Hinnefeld, 53, a federal worker from the Cincinnati area who backs De-Wine but not Blackwell.

That federal worker must work for NSA if he still has love for DeWine.

DeWine, as you may recall, made attempts to legalize Dubya's illegal wiretapping...his draft was laughed out of the senate it was sooo unconstitutional!Congress expresses their outrage, after being given PrissyBalls

WaPo Rice Makes Unannounced Visit to Beirut

Because the Israeli raids have damaged Beirut's airport, Rice's official plane landed in Cyprus and she helicoptered with aides and reporters from there to Beirut, reversing the journey made by thousands of Americans who have fled Lebanon during the past 10 days.

The visit, which Rice said was requested personally by President Bush, is designed in part to show support for Lebanon's government, the first anti-Syrian regime in years, and also to determine what Lebanon needs to support itself and possibly get control over its southern region, now used by Hezbollah to fire rockets into Israel.

"If they could control the country, we would not be in this situation. The status quo has never been stable," said a senior official accompanying Rice.

North County Times, CA Military families speak out against the Iraq war

Lessin said her group is not against the military."Our loved ones all volunteered. They all signed a contract to protect and defend the United States of America," she said. "But there's a betrayal that has happened here. Our loved ones should not have been sent off to a war that is based on lies. The most important thing we can be doing is speaking out against a war that should never have happened."

Lessin said Operation House Call will not end when Congress recesses in early August and representatives and senators head home to their districts. MFSO now has 26 chapters across the county. The closest to Temecula is in Orange County, but Tim Kahlor hopes to start one soon in Southwest County. "Each of those chapters is planning activities and exhibits outside the (local) offices of Congress members," Lessin said. "We want them to know this war doesn't end for (military families). There should be no rest for them either."

A letter home


The world keeps turning and so does the war in Iraq. Yesterday my soldier and friend was shot and killed. A sniper with an armor piercing round shot PFC Potocki. He was 21 years old. He bled out during surgery. He is the first in our platoon to be killed. His death has started an uproar of emotion in the platoon. Two people since have said they quit and will no longer fight. This is adding to those who have already said they are done fighting this war. No one understands why we are here and what our mission is. Potocki was a soldier who could not be replaced. He hated the army but never quit or bitched. The army did nothing but s--- on him and he still geared up every day. He wanted to go back to school when he got out but now his Mom will have to bury him before his time.

"Dad, keep up your fight to send the troops home. This war is lost. We aren't helping these people we are just dying and getting injured. I can't imagine what his mother is going through right now. He was all she had. He never knew his father so they worked together to keep their house going, now he is gone.

"Love, Ryan."

NYT Hospital Giant HCA Announces a Record Buyout

The group of buyers is led by the family of Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader. His father, Thomas Frist Sr., and his brother, Thomas F. Frist Jr., founded HCA.

After merging with Columbia Hospital Corporation in 1994, HCA became the subject of a sweeping federal Medicare fraud investigation; it agreed to pay $1.7 billion to settle the matter. Thomas Frist Jr., who had left HCA's management before the fraud charges arose, eventually returned as chief executive in 1997. He stepped down as chairman in 2002, but he remains on the company's board of directors.

Senator FristÂ’s ties to the company have drawn criticism over the years, as he has been active in the Senate on a variety of health-care initiatives that have the potential to affect the large hospital company. Last fall, the Securities and Exchange Commission began an investigation into his decision to sell stock, once estimated to be worth more than $10 million, which was held in a trust.

Mr. Frist sold the stock in June 2005, just as the price of HCA stock peaked and shortly before it fell the following month; the sale was disclosed in September. He has said that the timing of the sale was a coincidence, the result of a decision to divest his holdings in the company, and that he is cooperating with the investigation.

More about HCA, Frist, Dubya and Enron...from the New Criminologist

The Frist family put George Bush on the map by buying the Texas Rangers. Then, in payback, Bush made Frist the Senate majority leader and the heir to the Republican nomination. Bush is protecting Frist everyway possible, and the US press are lapdogs.

Enron paid for Bush's lawyers before the supreme court. HCA paid for the Rangers. HCA and Enron are the kingmakers of the last decade of presidential politics. If unchecked, mobsters at HCA will literally place their favorite son as the leader of the free world.

Chicago Tribune Bush's power-grab 'dangerous'

The ABA report notes: "From the inception of the republic until 2000, presidents produced fewer than 600 signing statements taking issue with the bills they signed. According to the most recent update, in his one-and-a-half terms so far, President George Walker Bush . . . has produced more than 800."

The numbers do not represent separate signing statements, the ABA notes, but rather the specific number of challenges to laws contained within many signing statements. As of July 11, the ABA found that Bush has issued a total of 807 challenges.

While the White House has asserted that it only expresses reservations, the ABA has cited examples in which Bush has indicated his intentions not to follow provisions

And look at what else the ABA tells us:

The recent history: Objections to legislation have been raised by recent presidents in their signing statements:

71: Ronald Reagan

232: George H.W. Bush

105: Bill Clinton

807: George W. Bush

Gonzo is one of their most famous graduates...see his graduation picture below:

Hindustan Times, PakistanPak refuses remark on US media report

Refusing to confirm whether a new reactor was being built in Khushab, Aslam, however, said the reactor site was not under the International Atomic Energy Association's (IAEA) safeguards.

Citing independent analysts, the Washington Post on Monday reported, "Satellite photos of Pakistan's Khushab nuclear site have shown what appears to be a partially completed heavy-water reactor capable-- a 20-fold increase from Pakistan's current capabilities."

Village Voice Rabbis Against Torture Invoking centuries of Jewish law, hundreds of American rabbis confront Bush by Nat Hentoff July 16th, 2006

"The Geneva Conventions" which ban torture as a war crime, —were drafted and adapted by the nations of the world in response to the atrocities of Nazi Germany. As Jews, we have a special sensitivity to the immorality and costs of torture."

And now, on June 29, the Supreme Court, led by Justice John Paul Stevens, instructed the president and his chief adviser on the Constitution, Dick Cheney, that they were dead wrong in ordering that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the prisoners in Guantinamo.

However, this administration and the Republican-controlled Congress may find a way to significantly undermine this Supreme Court decision.

al-Ahram Point of convergence Hamas and Fatah seem close to hammering out their differences, with an agreement likely to be reached within days, reports Khaled Amayreh from the West Bank

This week's deaths brought the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli occupation army since the beginning of June to more than 40.

The Israeli army claimed, predictably, that the deaths of the children were unintentional. It is an excuse that beggars belief. You do not have to be a military expert to know that firing missiles into congested streets will result in carnage among civilians, or that bombs do not distinguish the age of their victims. Yet the Israeli policy of killing first, and then asking questions, continues apace. And when questions are asked they tend to revolve not around the deaths of innocent children, but about how to minimise any harm to Israel's image.

Against a backdrop of daily atrocities Palestinian political factions, including Fatah and Hamas, are close to reaching agreement on the so-called Prisoners' Document which implicitly calls for the recognition of Israel's existence in return for the creation of a viable state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with Jerusalem as its capital.

According to officials close to the talks, representatives of the various factions have already reached agreement on 15 out of the 18 items contained in the Prisoner's Document, which also calls for the repatriation of, and indemnification for, more than five million Palestinian refugees expelled from their homes in 1948.

The Independent Sectarian break-up of Iraq is now inevitable, admit officials

"Iraq as a political project is finished," a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: "The parties have moved to plan B." He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. "There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west," he said.

Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, told The Independent in an interview, before joining Mr Maliki to fly to London and then Washington, that in theory the government should be able to solve the crisis because Shia, Kurd and Sunni were elected members of it.

But he painted a picture of a deeply divided administration in which senior Sunni members praised anti-government insurgents as "the heroic resistance".

In the past two weeks, at a time when Lebanon has dominated the international news, the sectarian civil war in central Iraq has taken a decisive turn for the worse. There have been regular tit-for-tat massacres and the death toll for July is likely to far exceed the 3,149 civilians killed in June.

This is already looking like it won't be a good week for the Bush administration and it's only Monday...

The freaky "Freerepublic"A Window of Opportunity (Michael Ledeen)

It now lies to President Bush to decide. We must hope that he is not charmed. If he can now recall what he said after 9/11, that the world must make the stark choice of being with us or against us, and that those who support the terrorists will be treated as terrorists themselves, then the deadly logic of their failed attack will close around the throats of the terror masters. The battle against Hezbollah is part of the broader war, as the mullahs well understood when they unleashed Nasrallah and Mughniyah against the Israelis. Israel is now conducting that battle; it is up to us to prosecute the rest of the war.

Now is the time to tell our soldiers in Iraq that 'hot pursuit' is okay, that the terrorist training camps on both sides of Iraq are legitimate targets, to be attacked in self-defense. Now is the time to tell the Iraqi government to come forward with the abundant evidence of Iranian evil-doing, and that we will support a fight against the mullahs'’ foot soldiers in Iraq. These actions will signal the next stage of the war against the terror masters, which is the vigorous support of the pro-democracy forces in Syria and Iran.

It is a wondrous window of opportunity. As so often in our history, it was opened by our enemies. LetÂ’s go for it.

Now, please. It may not open again for quite a while

"Mr. Ledeen, please wipe the blood off your chin and take your pill", the kind nurse said.

A new jacket for Ledeen, the self-proclaimed "patriot"-might need several more of these for those other "patriots"

Downsize DC No Warrant? No Search.

The recent revolution in technology and communications coincides with the rise of a new tactic in warfare: terrorism. With electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists, government may be able to prevent terrorist attacks. But that power, left unchecked, also permits the government to spy on everyone else. From harassing people for "suspicious" behavior, to outright blackmail of political opponents, government power is easily abused. That's why in 1978 Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). With FISA, Congress created a special court that would preserve national security secrets as it weighed the government's request for search warrants of suspected terrorists. Government could protect us from terror while at the same time the court guarded the Fourth Amendment rights of ordinary Americans.

Concerns were raised last December when it was discovered that the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on Americans without FISA court search warrants. Instead of correcting this and restoring the FISA protections, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and Vice President Dick Cheney have been negotiating a bill that would undo the Fourth Amendment. It would authorize warrants for generally suspicious activity and generally suspicious people, instead of particular individuals suspected of specific illegal activity. Worse, the FISA court procedures may be disregarded altogether by the President and Attorney General for one year if the Attorney General claims the Presidents actions are directed only at foreigners. In other words, if you call or do business with someone overseas, the government may be watching you.

This Specter-Cheney bill is a bad deal for Americans. The FISA system gives the President all he needs to protect us from terrorism. The Specter-Cheney bill gives Americans no protection against the Presidential abuse of power. Please use the form below to tell your Senator that you oppose the Specter-Cheney deal.

Please visit the site for form to tell Spector.

Online controversy over graffiti by Israeli kids

In the public relations battle brewing on-line, there is a new eye to the center of the storm surrounding the war with Hizbullah - a series of photos showing Israeli children writing messages on shells meant for targets in Lebanon.

Questions over the photos' authenticity have been put to rest by authorities that were present during the incident, which occurred on July 17 near the northern border. The mostly local children had been brought to see the shells by their parents. Although it remains unclear who encouraged them to write the messages, their colorful scribbles, including a Star of David, hearts, and "From Israel, with Love," have appeared in dozens of blogs, or on-line journals, and on-line photo hosting sites.

Although the IDF has failed to issue a response to the incident, a spokesman from the IDF said it "appeared as though the situation occurred unofficially." Although an officer was present during the incident, the soldiers, and the IDF as a whole, did not condone or condemn the incident.

Gee, most people teach their children not to delight in the misery of others...the site has a picture of the little brats writing words on the bombs.

Quotes of the Day

Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.--John Adams

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.--Aesop

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.--Samuel Adams

The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.--Samuel Adams

We stand today at a crossroads: One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other leads to total extinction. Let us hope we have the wisdom to make the right choice.--Woody Allen