.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

 

HW: Halliburton overcharges Navy for cleanup labor

WASHINGTON, March 11 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- Halliburton's KBR subsidiary may have over-billed the Navy for labor costs during clean-up work in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, the Pentagon's inspector general reported March 3rd. The report said KBR's subcontractors had been billing for labor at rates "significantly higher" than the prevailing market rate. Hurricane Ivan came ashore near Gulf Shores, Alabama, on September 16, 2004 as a Category 3 storm.

"The rates paid to some KBR subcontractors for labor were significantly higher than the prevailing Bureau of Labor Statistics rates for the area impacted by the hurricane (Pensacola, Florida)," the report said, adding that "additional review" is needed to make a final conclusion. The inspector general is conducting a follow-on audit.

Full Halliburton Watch story.

 

ChiTrib: CIA secrets available on the web

Chicago Tribune, reprinted in U.K. Guardian, Saturday, 11:01 PM

CHICAGO (AP) - The identities of 2,600 CIA employees and the locations of two dozen of the agency's covert workplaces in the United States can be found easily through Internet searches, according to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune.

The newspaper obtained the information from data providers who charge fees for access to public records and reported on its findings in Sunday editions. It did not publish the identities or other details on its searches, citing concern it could endanger the CIA employees.

Not all of the 2,653 people the newspaper said it could identify as CIA employees were supposed to be covert, an issue raised in the Justice Department investigation of whether someone in the Bush administration leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to reporters in 2003.

Some in fact were non-covert analysts or senior executives, such as former CIA Director George Tenet. But the newspaper said it shared some of its findings with the CIA, and that the agency acknowledged the partial list of names included covert employees.

``Cover is an issue we look at all the time, and we are always looking to improve it,'' CIA spokesman Tom Crispell told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Through the data providers, the newspaper said it identified people by telephone listings, real estate transactions, voting records, property tax records and other financial and legal documents. The investigation also uncovered internal office phone numbers of the agency and covert mailing addresses used by undercover operatives.

``Cover is a complex issue that is more complex in the Internet age,'' the CIA's chief spokeswoman, Jennifer Dyck, told the Tribune. ``There are things that worked previously that no longer work.''

Full U.K. Guardian story.


 

AP: Study shows port-security lapses

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer -- Saturday, 2 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Lapses by private port operators, shipping lines or truck drivers could allow terrorists to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the United States, according to a government review of security at American seaports.

A container ship  passes the New York skyline Friday, March, 10, 2006. President Bush today expressed concern that a scuttled deal for a state-owned Arab firm to manage some U.S. port facilities would send the wrong message to Middle Eastern allies in the global war on terror. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)A container ship  passes the New York skyline, right. President Bush today expressed concern that a scuttled deal for a state-owned Arab firm to manage some U.S. port facilities would send the wrong message to Middle Eastern allies in the global war on terror. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The $75 million, three-year study by the Homeland Security Department included inspections at a New Jersey cargo terminal involved in the dispute over a Dubai company's now-abandoned bid to take over significant operations at six major U.S. ports.

The previously undisclosed results from the study found that cargo containers can be opened secretly during shipment to add or remove items without alerting U.S. authorities, according to government documents marked "sensitive security information" and obtained by The Associated Press.

The study found serious lapses by private companies at foreign and American ports, aboard ships, and on trucks and trains "that would enable unmanifested materials or weapons of mass destruction to be introduced into the supply chain."

The study, expected to be completed this fall, used satellites and experimental monitors to trace roughly 20,000 cargo containers out of the millions arriving each year from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Most containers are sealed with mechanical bolts that can be cut and replaced or have doors that can be removed by dismantling hinges.

The risks from smuggled weapons are especially worrisome because U.S. authorities largely decide which cargo containers to inspect based on shipping records of what is thought to be inside.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: Massive immigration protest in Chicago

By KAREN HAWKINS, Associated Press Writer -- Saturday, 1 hour, 59 minutes ago

CHICAGO - Hoisting American flags into the air, tens of thousands of immigrants from the Chicago area marched downtown in a display of support for immigrant rights as a bill to stiffen border enforcement awaits action in the U.S. Senate.

Protesters holds signs during a rally that drew thousands Friday, March 10, 2006, in downtown Chicago to protest against HR 4437, the Border Security bill. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)Protesters holds signs, left, during a rally that drew thousands in downtown Chicago to protest against HR 4437, the Border Security bill. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Many took up enthusiastic chants like "Si, se puede (Yes, it can be done)" and "La raza unida nunca sera vencida (A people united will never be defeated)."

The mostly Latino marchers Friday descended upon the plaza across from the federal courthouse, where they listened to speeches backing pro-immigrant legislation.

"Raise those American flags!" shouted U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (news, bio, voting record), a Democrat. "This is our country, and this is where we will stay."

Police estimated that more than 100,000 marchers came from all over the Chicago area, many carrying -- or wearing -- Mexican and American flags. The protest was spirited, but peaceful, and there were no reported arrests or incidents.

The legislation being protested, already passed by the U.S. House, is billed as a border protection, anti-terrorism and illegal immigration control act. It includes such measures as enlisting military and local law enforcement help in stopping illegal entrants and authorizes the building of a fence along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich addressed the crowd in Spanish, telling them he is the son of immigrant parents and understands their issues.  The Democrat's proclamation that "ustedes no son criminales. Ustedes son trabajadores" ("You are not criminals. You are workers") brought loud cheers.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
 
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.  Pardon me for noting that for the second time in recent days, DemLog has blogged Molly Ivins' latest article a day ahead of the Abilene Reporter News.  Molly's "Progress Myth in Iraq" was available on DemLog yesterday by 8 a.m., and it appears in the ARN today. 

 

AP: Quakers remember killed hostage's mission - March 11

By DENA POTTER, Associated Press Writer -- Saturday, 1 hour, 21 minutes ago

RICHMOND, Va. - Word spread quickly through the Quaker congregation that one of their own would not be coming home. Tom Fox's body was found Thursday evening, three days after he didn't appear in a video of Christian activists who had been taken hostage in Iraq. But members of the Hopewell Centre Quaker congregation in Clear Brook said they would not let their sadness overshadow the importance of what Fox was trying to accomplish.

In this undated photo provided by Christian Peacemaker Teams, Tom Fox, seated right, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., is shown.  Fox was grabbed at gunpoint in Nov. 2005 with three others off a Baghdad street by the previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigades. The FBI verified that a body found in Iraq Friday morning, March 10, 2006 was that of Fox, spokesman Noel Clay said.   (AP Photo/Christian Peacemaker Teams Iraq, File)In this undated photo provided by Christian Peacemaker Teams, Tom Fox, seated right, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., is shown. Fox was grabbed at gunpoint in Nov. 2005, the only American with three other peace workers off a Baghdad street by the previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigades. The FBI verified that a body found in Iraq Friday morning, March 10, 2006 was that of Fox, spokesman Noel Clay said. (AP Photo/Christian Peacemaker Teams Iraq, File)

"The important thing is the legacy lives and Tom lives with us," said Paul Slattery, a member of his support group of Langley Hill Friends Meeting.

A video showing the other three hostages -- James Loney, 41, of Toronto; Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, a Canadian electrical engineer; and Norman Kember, a 74-year-old retired British professor -- was shown Tuesday on Al-Jazeera television.

Fox was found near a west Baghdad railway line with gunshot wounds to his head and chest, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said Saturday. A U.S. military official in Baghdad confirmed that American forces picked up Fox's remains Thursday evening. Falah al-Mohammedawi, an official with the Interior Ministry, which oversees police, said Fox was found with his hands tied and gunshots to his head and chest.

Those who knew him say Fox had prepared himself for the possibility he would not return from Iraq. He even wrote about it on his Web log when he first arrived in Baghdad in October 2004.

"I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm against the soldier," he wrote. "Does that mean I walk into a raging battle to confront the soldiers? Does that mean I walk the streets of Baghdad with a sign saying 'American for the Taking'? No to both counts. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am asked to risk my life and if I lose it to be as forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan."

Fox worked with incarcerated Iraqis, often serving as the only link between them and their families on the outside, said Slattery.

Fox also escorted shipments of medicine to clinics and hospitals and worked to form an Islamic Peacemaker Team.

"This guy was not after martyrdom by any means," Slattery said. "He actually believed in his heart that he would better them by his conviction and his beliefs and his skills, and I think largely succeeded. What he leaves behind is a tremendous challenge for the rest of us and a guiding force."

In an appeal for her father's life issued through Christian Peacemaker Teams after his capture, Fox's daughter Katherine described him as a wanderer, an outdoorsman and a listener. He also was a gifted musician, a former clarinetist with the Marine Corps Band in Washington, she said.

"My dad wasn't a Marine, he was a musician," Fox wrote.

Fox had traded in his fatigues for a life of pacifism.

He moved to Clear Brook, an hour outside of Washington, D.C., in August. He liked the calm of the Shenandoah Valley between his visits to Iraq.

"Tom's work was very important, and the way that we will honor him is to try to continue that work, maybe not for each of us going to Iraq, but we all have the opportunity to create peace in our own community," said Anne Bacon, clerk of the Quaker meeting.

Tom Fox blog: http://waitinginthelight.blogspot.com

Source: AP-Yahoo News.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Friday, March 10, 2006

 

IOL: Prison chaplain suspended for accusing White House of terrorism

Ireland On Line -- March 10 - 17:58:36

The head chaplain for the New York’s jails has been suspended while the city investigates incendiary statements he allegedly made last year, including a comment that the “greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House".

The New York Post reported the remarks were captured on an audiotape last April by the Investigative Project, a counterterrorism group, as the chaplain, Umar Abdul-Jalil, addressed a conference sponsored by the Muslim Students Association in Tucson, Arizona.

In the speech, Abdul-Jalil also allegedly said that Muslims jailed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were “tortured” in the Manhattan Correctional Centre.

Abdul-Jalil, a prominent imam from the Harlem neighbourhood of Manhattan, was put on paid administrative leave yesterday while officials review the remarks.

“We’ll take a look at what he said and what the laws are in terms of what he is allowed to say. He is a civil service employee, and we can’t prejudge, but we are going to look at it this afternoon,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Source: Ireland On Line. D.H.: The Emperor has no clothes.

 

MMfA: O'Reilly goes nuts

by Dave Haigler
 
Bill O'LiarlyMedia Matters for America has two stories out today indicating Bill O'Reilly, left, of FOX News has really gone bonkers:
 
1. He threatened criminal prosecution against one caller to his show merely for the mention of progressive radio personality Keith Olbermann's name on a call-in.  Click here for the full story. 
 
2. In this second story, O'Reilly said the sane thing to do would be to blow Iran off the face of the earth for threatening sanctions against being taken to the U.N. for developing its nuclear energy program.  Click here for that full story.
 
Amazing!
 
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Ivins: Progress Myth in Iraq

Ivinsby Molly Ivins, right

It was such a relief to me to learn we are making "very, very good progress" in Iraq. As the third anniversary of our invasion approaches, I could not have been more thrilled by the news reported by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on a Sunday chat show. Vice President Dick Cheney's take was equally reassuring: Things are "improving steadily" in Iraq.

I was thrilled -- very, very good progress and steady improvement, isn't that grand? Wake me if anything starts to go wrong. Like someone bombing the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra and touching off a lot of sectarian violence.

I was also relieved to learn -- via Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, so noted for his consistently accurate assessment of this war -- that the whole picture is hunky-dory to tickety-boo. Since the bombing of the mosque, lots of alarmists have reported that Iraq is devolving or might be collapsing into civil war. They're sort of jumping over the civil war line and back again -- yep, it's started; nope, it hasn't -- like a bunch of false starts at the beginning of a football play.

I'm sure glad to get the straight skinny from Ol' Rumsfeld, who has been in Iraq many times himself for the typical in-country experience. Like many foreign correspondents, Rumsfeld roams the streets alone, talking to any chance-met Iraqi in his fluent Arabic, so of course he knows best.

"From what I've seen thus far, much of the reporting in the U.S. and abroad has exaggerated the situation," Rumsfeld said. "We do know, of course, that al-Qaida has media committees. We do know they teach people exactly how to try to manipulate the media. They do this regularly. We see the intelligence that reports on their meetings. Now I can't take a string and tie it to a news report and then trace it back to an al-Qaida media committee meeting. I am not able to do that at all."

No horsepoop? Then can I ask a question: If you're able to monitor these media committee meetings, how come you can't find Osama bin Ladin?

But, Brother Rumsfeld warns us, "We do know that their goal is to try to break the will; that they consider the center of gravity of this -- not to be in Iraq, because they know they can't win a battle out there; they consider it to be in Washington, D.C., and in London and in the capitals of the Western world."

I'm sorry, I know we are not allowed to use the V-word in relation to Iraq, because so many brilliant neo-cons have assured us this war is nothing like Vietnam (Vietnam, lotsa jungle; Iraq lotsa sand -- big differences). But you must admit that press conferences with Donny Rum are wonderfully reminiscent of the Five O'Clock Follies, those wacky but endearing daily press briefings on Southeast Asia by military officers who made Baghdad Bob sound like a pessimist.

Rumsfeld's performance was so reminiscent of all the times the military in Vietnam blamed the media for reporting "bad news" -- when there was nothing else to report. A briefing officer once memorably asked the press, "Who's side are you on?" The answer is what it's always been: We root for America, but our job is to report as accurately as we can what the situation is.

You could rely on other sources. For example, the Pentagon is still investigating itself to find out why it is paying American soldiers to make up good news about the war, which it then passes on to a Republican public relations firm, which in turn pays people in the Iraqi media to print the stuff -- thus fooling the Iraqis or somebody. When last heard from, the general in charge of investigating this federally funded Baghdad Bobism said he hadn't found anything about it to be illegal yet, so it apparently continues.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told the Los Angeles Times Iraq is "really vulnerable" to civil war if there is another attack like the al-Askari bombing. By invading, said Khalilzad, the United States has "opened the Pandora's box" of sectarian strife in Iraq.

Could I suggest something kind of grown-up? Despite Rumsfeld's rationalizing, we are in a deep pile of poop here, and we're best likely to come out of it OK by pulling together. So could we stop this cheap old McCarthyite trick of pretending that correspondents who are in fact risking their lives and doing their best to bring the rest of us accurate information are somehow disloyal or connected to al-Qaida?

Wrong, yes, of course they could be wrong. But there is now a three-year record of who has been right about what is happening in Iraq, Rumsfeld or the media. And the score is: Press - 1,095, Rumsfeld - zero.

Molly Ivins is the former editor of the liberal monthly The Texas Observer. She is the bestselling author of several books including Who Let the Dogs In?

© 2006 Creators Syndicate

Sources: Common Dreams Newsletter, and TruthDig.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Carter: Colonization of Palestine Precludes Peace

Jimmy Carterby Jimmy Carter, left 

For more than a quarter century, Israeli policy has been in conflict with that of the United States and the international community. Israel’s occupation of Palestine has obstructed a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land, regardless of whether Palestinians had no formalized government, one headed by Yasir Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas, or with Abbas as president and Hamas controlling the parliament and cabinet.

The unwavering U.S. position since Dwight Eisenhower’s administration has been that Israel’s borders coincide with those established in 1949, and, since 1967, the universally adopted U.N. Resolution 242 has mandated Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories. This policy was reconfirmed even by Israel in 1978 and 1993, and emphasized by all American presidents, including George W. Bush. As part of the Quartet, including Russia, the U.N. and the European Union, he has endorsed a “Road Map” for peace. But Israel has officially rejected its basic premises with patently unacceptable caveats and prerequisites.

With Israel’s approval, The Carter Center has monitored all three Palestinian elections. Supervised by a blue-ribbon commission of college presidents and distinguished jurists, they have all been honest, fair and peaceful, with the results accepted by winners and losers.

Hamas will control the cabinet and prime minister’s office, but Mahmoud Abbas retains all authority and power exercised by Yasir Arafat. He still heads the PLO, the only Palestinian entity recognized by Israel, and could deal with Israeli leaders under this umbrella, independent of Hamas control. He has unequivocally endorsed the Quartet’s Road Map. Post-election polls show that 80 percent of Palestinians still want a peace agreement with Israel and nearly 70 percent support Abbas as president.

Israel has announced a policy of isolating and destabilizing the new government (perhaps joined by the United States). The elected officials will be denied travel permits, workers from isolated Gaza barred from entering Israel and every effort is being made to block funds to Palestinians. The Quartet’s special envoy, James Wolfensohn, has proposed that donors assist the Palestinian people without violating anti-terrorism laws that prohibit funds from being sent directly to Hamas.

In the short run, the best approach is to follow Wolfensohn’s advice, give the dust a chance to settle in Palestine and await the outcome of Israel’s election later this month. Hamas wishes now to consolidate its political gains, maintain domestic order and stability and refrain from any contacts with Israel. It will be a tragedy—especially for the Palestinians—if they promote or condone terrorism.

The preeminent obstacle to peace is Israel’s colonization of Palestine. There were just a few hundred settlers in the West Bank and Gaza when I became president, but the Likud government expanded settlement activity after I left office. President Ronald Reagan condemned this policy, and reaffirmed that Resolution 242 remained “the foundation stone of America’s Middle East peace effort.” President George H.W. Bush even threatened to reduce American aid to Israel.

Although President Bill Clinton made strong efforts to promote peace, a massive increase of settlers occurred during his administration, to 225,000, mostly while Ehud Barak was prime minister. Their best official offer to the Palestinians was to withdraw 20 percent of them, leaving 180,000 in 209 settlements, covering about five percent of the occupied land.

The five percent figure is grossly misleading, with surrounding areas taken or earmarked for expansion, roadways joining settlements with each other and to Jerusalem and wide arterial swaths providing water, sewage, electricity and communications. This intricate honeycomb divides the entire West Bank into multiple fragments, often uninhabitable or even unreachable.

Recently, Israeli leaders have decided on unilateral actions without involving either the United States or the Palestinians, with withdrawal from Gaza as the first step. As presently circumscribed and isolated, without access to the air, sea or the West Bank, Gaza is a nonviable economic and political entity.

The future of the West Bank is equally dismal. Especially troublesome is Israel’s construction of huge concrete dividing walls in populated areas and high fences in rural areas—located entirely on Palestinian territory and often with deep intrusions to encompass more land and settlements. The wall is designed to surround a truncated Palestine completely, and a network of exclusive highways will cut across what is left of Palestine to connect Israel with the Jordan River Valley.

This will never be acceptable either to Palestinians or to the international community, and will inevitably precipitate increased tension and violence within Palestine and stronger resentment and animosity from the Arab world against America, which will be held accountable for the plight of the Palestinians.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and others pointed out years ago that Israel’s permanent occupation will be increasingly difficult as the relative number of Jewish citizens decreases demographically both within Israel and in Palestine. This is obvious to most Israelis, who also view this dominant role as a distortion of their ancient moral and religious values. Over the years, opinion polls have consistently shown that about 60 percent of Israelis favor withdrawing from the West Bank in exchange for permanent peace. Similarly, an overwhelming number of both Israelis and Palestinians want a durable two-state solution.

Casualties have increased during the past few years as the occupying forces imposed tighter controls. From September 2000 until March 2006, 3982 Palestinians and 1084 Israelis were killed in the conflict, and this includes many children: 708 Palestinians and 123 Israelis.

There is little doubt that accommodation with Palestinians can bring full Arab recognition of Israel and its right to live in peace. Any rejectionist policies of Hamas or any terrorist group will be overcome by an overall Arab commitment to restrain further violence and to promote the well-being of the Palestinian people.

Down through the years, I have seen despair and frustration evolve into optimism and progress and, even now, we need not give up hope for permanent peace for Israelis and freedom and justice for Palestinians if three basic premises are honored:

1. Israel’s right to exist—and to live in peace—must be recognized and accepted by Palestinians and all other neighbors;

2. The killing of innocent people by suicide bombs or other acts of violence cannot be condoned; and

3. Palestinians must live in peace and dignity, and permanent Israeli settlements on their land are a major obstacle to this goal.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter led The Carter Center/National Democratic Institute observation of the Palestinian elections in January.

© 2006 Project Syndicate and The Council on Foreign Relations

Sources:  Common Dreams Newsletter, and TomPaine.com.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info

 

If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

 

ChiTrib: CIA secrets available on the web

Published in the U.K. Guardian, Saturday March 11 -- 11:01 PM

CHICAGO (AP) - The identities of 2,600 CIA employees and the locations of two dozen of the agency's covert workplaces in the United States can be found easily through Internet searches, according to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune.

The newspaper obtained the information from data providers who charge fees for access to public records and reported on its findings in Sunday editions. It did not publish the identities or other details on its searches, citing concern it could endanger the CIA employees.

Not all of the 2,653 people the newspaper said it could identify as CIA employees were supposed to be covert, an issue raised in the Justice Department investigation of whether someone in the Bush administration leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to reporters in 2003.

Some in fact were non-covert analysts or senior executives, such as former CIA Director George Tenet. But the newspaper said it shared some of its findings with the CIA, and that the agency acknowledged the partial list of names included covert employees.

Full UK Guardian story.


Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


 

AP: Hillary slams GOP police-state immigration bill

Hillary Clinton, getting off Air Force OneWASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, a potential White House candidate in 2008, said Wednesday some Republicans are trying to create a "police state" to round up illegal immigrants.

Clinton, D-N.Y., spoke out on the U.S. immigration policy after largely staying away from an issue that has roiled Congress in recent months and spurred a number of conflicting proposals.

Speaking at a rally of Irish immigrants, Clinton criticized a bill the House passed in December that would impose harsher penalties for undocumented workers.

"Don't turn your backs on what made this country great," she said, calling the measure "a rebuke to what America stands for."

The House measure would make unlawful presence in the United States, which is currently a civil offense, a felony.

Clinton said it would be "an unworkable scheme to try to deport 11 million people, which you have to have a police state to try to do."

She called instead for immigration changes "based on strengthening our borders in order to make us safer from the threat of terrorism."

The senator also sent a four-page public letter to constituents outlining her views on immigration. In the letter, she shied away from specifics but said she does support allowing at least some of the estimated 11 million undocumented workers to earn citizenship.

Full AP-Boston Globe story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

CNN: U.N. tackles Iran nuclear crisis

Thursday, 0948 GMT (0448 CDT)
 
UNITED NATIONS -- The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have begun talks over Iran's nuclear program following a formal report by the head of the agency's atomic watchdog.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, left, presented his report to the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog Wednesday.

Diplomats from the veto-wielding powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- met briefly in New York on Wednesday before the full council tackles the issue next week.

The 15-nation council is expected to issue a statement urging Iran to comply with resolutions by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

But there are differences among the permanent council members over what the statement should say, and diplomats from the five nations are expected to meet again on Friday, Reuters reported.

Full CNN story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
 
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

 

AP: Carter cites lies on Iraq & wants troop drawdown

By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 11:42 PM ET

SEATTLE - Former President Jimmy Carter criticized the war in Iraq on Wednesday, urging a troop drawdown as the United States enters its fourth year of conflict in Iraq.

"It was a completely unnecessary war. It was an unjust war," said Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner. "It was initiated on the basis of false pretenses. All of those are true, but we can't just pre-emptively withdraw."

He urged the Bush administration to bring home as many troops as possible within the next 12 months. "The violence is increasing monthly," Carter said. "My prayer is we'll see some kind of democracy eventually evolve."

His comments came at a news conference before a building dedication at the University of Washington. Carter was the keynote speaker at the dedication of the university's new Genome Sciences and Bioengineering Building in honor of William H. Foege. Foege directed the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during Carter's presidency and later headed The Carter Center, which promotes peace and health programs around the world.

Carter credited Foege with saving the lives of millions of people through his efforts to eradicate smallpox, Guinea worm and river blindness, and by encouraging childhood immunization. Foege works with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which contributed $50 million for the building.

Source: AP-Yahoo News.


Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


 

AP: House panel defies Bush on port security

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday,1 hour, 34 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - In a congressional election-year repudiation of President Bush, a House panel dominated by Republicans voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to block a Dubai-owned firm from taking control of some U.S port operations. Democrats clamored for a vote in the Senate, too.

Lewis Speaks"This is a national security issue," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, right (news, bio, voting record), the chairman of the House panel, adding that the legislation would "keep America's ports in American hands."

By 62-2, the House Appropriations Committee voted to bar DP World, run by the government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from holding leases or contracts at U.S. ports. The landslide vote was the strongest signal yet that more than three weeks of White House efforts to stunt congressional opposition to the deal have not been successful.

Bush has promised to veto any such measure passed by Congress. But there is widespread public opposition to the deal and the GOP fears losing its advantage on the issue of national security in this fall's elections.  The White House said the president's position was unchanged.

As the committee acted, Democrats on the other side of the Capitol maneuvered for a vote in the GOP-led Senate.

Republican leaders are trying to block a vote on the ports deal through a procedural vote that could occur as early as Thursday. That tactic is likely to fail, which could prompt Republicans to pull a lobbying reform bill from the floor in order to avoid defeat on the ports measure.

"We believe an overwhelming majority will vote to end the deal," said Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, whose attempt to force the issue to the floor brought the Senate to a late-afternoon standstill.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Reuters: Moussaoui planned to bomb the White House

MoussaouiZacarias Moussaoui, left, the only person charged in the United States in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks, talked of his dream to fly an airplane into the White House more than a year before the hijacked plane attacks, a witness linked to al Qaeda testified in federal court on Wednesday. REUTERS/Sherburne County Sheriffs Office/Handout -- Reuters - 36 minutes ago.
 
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Burnett: Searching for the Democrats - Show Me the Values

Bob Burnettby Bob Burnett, right -- http://www.opednews.com

Americans don't believe that the Bush Administration is taking the US in the right direction, but they aren't convinced that the Democratic Party would do any better. This is the fourth of six articles exploring why Dems are having such a tough time taking advantage of Bush Administration ineptitude. This focuses on the issue of values.

Although most of us might not express it so starkly, in the world of American politics it is most certainly better to be feared than loved. Taking their lead directly from Niccolo Machiavelli, Republicans have become the Party to fear, the Party that will say and do anything to maintain their power. Sadly, the Democrats have not become the Party to be loved, but rather the Party to be pitied.

It's emblematic of how far the Dems have fallen that they have turned off a large segment of their base. Loyalists, who once supported FDR's Party through thick and thin, now regard their national leadership as weenies, because of their failure to stand up to the Bush Administration's policies -- particularly the war in Iraq. Democrats have fallen so low that even New York Times columnist, David Brooks, gives them advice.
In his column of January 26th, Brooks noted, "Smart Democratic analysts are also taking another look at values issues. There has been a tendency in Democratic circles to regard values as a sideshow that Republicans use to fool the working class into voting against its self-interest. But over the past year [Democratic pollsters] noted that voters don't separate values issues from economic issues. They use values issues as stand-ins and figure the candidates they associate with traditional morality are also the ones with sensible economic policies." The Neo-Con lapdog concludes, "Middle-class Americans feel social anxiety more acutely than economic anxiety because they understand that values matter most. Democrats are beginning to understand this, too."

Brooks moves in the same New York-Washington DC circles frequented by what passes for the Democratic "intelligentsia." Therefore, he may be correct stating that in this rarefied environment, where over-priced consultants monitor every move that politicians make and smother them with ill-considered advice, Democrats are just now turning to values.

Nonetheless, out here in the boonies, where we actually talk to real people, we've been concerned about values for a long time. We actually worry about things like the morality of the war in Iraq, the ethics of a government that would leave poor black folks behind in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and the mores of an Administration that worries more about the profits of big oil companies that it does about the prospects of global warming. Maybe David Brooks should get out more, talk to Democratic loyalists rather than desiccated DC pols. Because rank-and-file Dems care a lot about values.

In 2005 two prominent liberal Democrats wrote major books about values. Early in the year, progressive evangelical preacher Jim Wallis hit the best-seller list with God's Politics. Late in the year, Jimmy Carter scored with Our Endangered Values. Given the popularity of these two books, it's clear that rank-and-file Democrats are reading them. But not David Brooks.

This month saw the publication of yet another book about liberal values, Rabbi Michael Lerner's, The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right. Lerner argues that the social organization of the United States, dominated as it is by materialism, has sucked meaning out of the daily lives of most people. He deplores, "a bottom-line mentality that judges every activity, every institution, every social practices as rational, productive, or efficient only to the extent that it produces money or power." He argues that this produces a spiritual vacuum that has been exploited by the Religious Right, "many very decent Americans get attracted to the Religious Right because it is the only voice that they encounter that is willing to challenge the despiritualization of daily life." Most rank-and-file Dems would agree with Lerner's analysis, if not his prescription for what to do about it. Of course, the DC Democratic elite probably won't read Lerner's book; they're too busy taking polls.

Paraphrasing Bob Dylan, "Something's happening, but you don't know what it is, do you Mr. [Brooks]?" The N.Y. Times conservative pundit has unwittingly wandered into the middle of a fight for the heart of the Democratic Party. A battle between tactics-based apparatchiks and values-based loyalists. Between the DC-based Dem "intelligentsia" and those of us who inhabit the real world.

This is a fight that has great bearing on what should be the Democrats' signature issues -- national security. Unbeknownst to most voters, the Dems have actually prepared a sensible plan for protecting America. Only the public can't see it because they don't trust the Dems anymore than the trust the GOP.
The latest Gallup poll, "On dealing with corruption in Government,"
found that only twelve percent of Americans saw the Democratic Party as more trustworthy than Republicans.

Ironically, the fight for the heart of the Democratic Party will not be decided by the issue of Iraq or the Economy or the other issues vying for media attention. This fight will be about values. What set of values will the Democrats embrace?

More about this in my next article.

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and Quaker actvist. He is particularly interested in progressive morality and writes frequently on the ethical aspects of political and social issues.

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Source: Op-Ed News. Related article published at Huffington Post.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog:
http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AAS: Former Gov. Ann Richards diagnosed with cancer

Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, left, says she has cancer of the esophagus.

The 72-year-old Democrat will undergo treatment at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

An aide says Richards went in for tests Monday and got the results yesterday.

Spokesman Bill Maddox says Richards is waiting to learn from officials at M.D. Anderson as to when she can check in.

Maddox also says the former governor is, quote: "facing this challenge."

Richards was the 45th Texas governor, serving from 1991 to 1995.

Source: Austin American-Statesman.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: Republicans divided on port security

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 11:55 AM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush stands by his support of a Dubai-owned company's entry into U.S port operations, the White House said Wednesday as House Republicans ignored a veto threat and moved to stop the plan. "The president's position is unchanged," said Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary.

House Armed Services chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. holds a press conference on a bill he is submitting in reaction to the  Dubai ports deal on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, March 7, 2006. The bill, called the National Defense Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2006, would allow only American companies to run U.S. ports and would block the Dubai Ports World's deal to take over operations at U.S. ports. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)House Armed Services chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter, right, R-Calif., holds a press conference on a bill he is submitting in reaction to the Dubai ports deal on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, March 7, 2006. The bill, called the National Defense Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2006, would allow only American companies to run U.S. ports and would block the Dubai Ports World's deal to take over operations at U.S. ports. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

"We're continuing to work closely with Congress. We recognize that some members have concerns. The lines of communication are open," McClellan told reporters on Air Force One while traveling with the president to New Orleans. "There are a lot of conversations going on between the company and Congress and the administration."

Back in Washington, House Republicans prepared legislation that would block DP World from taking over significant management of terminals at six U.S. ports. Senate GOP leaders signaled that they may be open to the effort as well.

While many senators oppose the DP World takeover, even the staunchest critics have said Congress should wait to vote on legislation until after the administration completes its 45-day investigation into potential security risks.

Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and several Republican committee chairmen met Wednesday with Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose department oversees the multi-agency committee that approved the DP World takeover.

A Frist aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was private, said the majority leader emphasized that "the president's position will be overrun by Congress" if the administration fails to aggressively and clearly communicate with lawmakers during that period.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: Iran threatens U.S. with harm & pain

By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer Wednesday -- 39 minutes ago

VIENNA, Austria - Iran threatened the United States with "harm and pain" Wednesday for its role in hauling Tehran before the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program.

Iran's presidentIran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left, waves to supporters in western of Iran, Wednesday, March. 8, 2006. Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Iran has made its decision to pursue a peaceful nuclear program and the world has to give in to Iran's right for uranium enrichment. Ahmadienjad was apparently referring to the United States which has rejected a Russian proposal to allow Iran carry out research-scale uranium enrichment in return for suspension of large-scale enrichment. (AP Photo/ISNA)

But the United States and its European allies said Iran's nuclear intransigence left the world no choice but to ask for Security Council action. The council could impose economic and political sanctions on Iran.

The statements were delivered to the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is meeting to focus on Tehran's refusal to freeze uranium enrichment.

The meeting is in effect the last step before the Security Council begins considering Iran's nuclear activities and international fears they could be misused to make weapons. It began with both Iran and nations which oppose its enrichment plans sticking to their positions, reflecting the deadlock that prompted the IAEA board to seek Security Council intervention.

"The United States has the power to cause harm and pain," said a statement delivered by the Iranian delegation. "But the United States is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if that is the path that the U.S. wishes to choose, let the ball roll."

The statement did not elaborate on what Iran meant by "harm and pain," and Iranian officials were not immediately available to comment.

But diplomats accredited to the meeting and in contact with the Iranians said the statement could be a veiled threat to use oil as an economic weapon.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
 
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

 

WP: CIA fights Libby documents request - March 8

By R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post Staff Writer -- Wednesday; Page A10

I. Lewis Libby wants copies of the President's Daily Brief.The CIA said in an affidavit released yesterday that meeting the demand of former White House official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, right, for copies of highly classified intelligence documents he saw before he was indicted would "impose an enormous burden" and divert its analysts from more important tasks.

Attorneys for Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, responded that the CIA was exaggerating the difficulty of finding and turning over the documents. But they also scaled back their request for information in the hope of persuading a federal judge to order the agency to produce the documents.

At issue are documents that include the President's Daily Brief, the CIA's most sensitive intelligence report. Written in slightly different form for the president, the vice president and a handful of other senior officials, PDBs contain raw data clearly attributed to what the CIA considers its most reliable sources.

Full Washington Post story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

 

AP: Israel might kill Hamas P.M. - March 7

By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer -- Tuesday, 47 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - Israel's defense minister warned Tuesday that Hamas leaders, including the incoming Palestinian prime minister, will not be immune from pinpointed Israeli killings if the Islamic militant group were to resume its attacks.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, center, walks ahead to his meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, not seen, in Jerusalem Sunday Feb. 26 2006. The United States will continue sending humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people even after a Hamas government is formed, Welch told Palestinian leaders during the first high-level meeting between the two sides since Hamas' election victory.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)The minister, Shaul Mofaz, center left, spoke a day after an Israeli airstrike against an ice cream truck killed two Islamic Jihad militants and three bystanders, including two children, in Gaza City.

Hamas, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, swept January parliamentary elections and is in the process of forming a Cabinet. It has rejected international calls to renounce its violent, anti-Israel ideology, but has maintained a year-old moratorium on suicide bombings.

Mofaz told Israel's Army Radio that Israel's policy of targeted killings has proven to be effective, and will continue. "There is no question about its efficacy," Mofaz said. "Look what happened to Hamas in the years it conducted an untrammeled suicide bombing war against us. When we started the targeted killings, the situation changed, he said. "We will continue the targeted killings at this pace," Mofaz added. "No one will be immune."

Asked if incoming Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would be a target if Hamas were to resume attacks, Mofaz replied: "If Hamas, a terror organization that doesn't recognize agreements with us and isn't willing to renounce violence, presents us with the challenge of having to confront a terror organization, then no one there will be immune. Not just Ismail Haniyeh. No one will be immune."

Salah al-Bardawil, a Hamas spokesman, denounced Mofaz's comments. "This statement and Israeli practices on the ground reflect the bloody, inhumane and inflammatory character of the Zionist enemy," al-Bardawil said. "We are not seeking immunity or mercy from Israel. We are in a confrontation. The side that is most steadfast is the side that will survive."

Full AP-Yahoo News story. D.H.: God help us; what an idiot!

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Monday, March 06, 2006

 

AP: S.D. law challenges Roe v. Wade

By CHET BROKAW, Associated Press Writer -- Monday, 51 minutes ago

Gov. Mike Rounds looks up as he prepares to sign a bill March 6, 2006, in Pierre, S.D., that bans nearly all abortions in South Dakota Monday,  The measure is designed to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion. Under the new law, to take effect July 1, doctors in South Dakota will face up to five years in prison if they perform an abortion unless they can show the procedure is necessary to save the woman's life. (AP Photo/Joe Kafka)PIERRE, S.D. - Gov. Mike Rounds, left, signed legislation Monday banning nearly all abortions in South Dakota, setting up a court fight aimed at challenging the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

The bill would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless the procedure was necessary to save the woman's life. It would make no exception for cases of rape or incest.  Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion clinic, in Sioux Falls, has pledged to challenge the measure.

Rounds issued a written statement saying he expects the law will be tied up in court for years and will not take effect unless the U.S. Supreme Court upholds it.  "In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society. The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them," Rounds said in the statement.  The governor declined all media requests for interviews Monday.

The Legislature passed the bill last month after supporters argued that the recent appointment of conservative justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito have made the U.S. Supreme Court more likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Abortion opponents already are offering money to help the state pay legal bills for the anticipated court challenge, Rounds has said. Lawmakers said an anonymous donor has pledged $1 million to defend the ban, and the Legislature set up a special account to accept donations for legal fees.

Under the new law, to go into effect July 1, doctors could get up to five years in prison for performing an illegal abortion.

Rounds noted that it was written to make sure existing restrictions would still be enforced during the legal battle. Current state law sets increasingly stringent restrictions on abortions as pregnancy progresses; after the 24th week, the procedure is allowed only to protect the woman's health and safety.

Kate Looby, state director of Planned Parenthood, said the organization has not yet decided whether to challenge the measure in court or to seek a statewide public vote in November. A referendum would either repeal the abortion ban or delay a court challenge to the legislation.  "Obviously, we're very disappointed that Governor Rounds has sided on the side of politics rather than on the side of the women of South Dakota to protect their health and safety," Looby said.  She said Planned Parenthood would continue providing services that include family planning, emergency contraception and safe and legal abortions.

About 800 abortions are performed each year in the state.

Source:  AP-Yahoo News.

D.H.: If this doesn't kick the sleeping dog of Democratic Party pro-choice supporters, I don't know what will.  The power elites of the Repuglicans have dreaded a confrontation like this for over a decade (since the Gingrich hijacking in 1994, in my view).  Their plan has been to keep opposition to abortion in their platform to retain the loyalty of the religious right, but do nothing about it, so they keep their "moderates" in line too.  In the 33 years since Roe v. Wade, the religious righters have never noticed the line they're standing is in not moving. 

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
 
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

 

AP: Ex-guards blow whistle on security at Homeland Security office - March 6

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer -- Monday, 1 hour, 8 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The agency entrusted with protecting the U.S. homeland is having difficulty safeguarding its own headquarters, say private security guards at the complex.

Video image, taken Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006 showing former security guard Derrick Daniels outside the Department of Homeland Security in Washington. Last fall, when an envelope with suspicious powder was opened at Homeland Security Department headquarters, security guards said they watched in amazement as superiors carried it right by the office of agency chief Michael Chertoff, took it outside and then moved it around outside Chertoff's window. The scare, caused by white powder that proved to be harmless, 'stands as one glaring example' of the agency's security problems, said Daniels, one of the first two guards to respond to the incident.  (AP Photo/Bill Gorman, AP Television)

Former security guard Derrick Daniels, right, is seen outside the Department of Homeland Security in Washington. Last fall, when an envelope with suspicious powder was opened at Homeland Security Department headquarters, security guards said they watched in amazement as superiors carried it right by the office of agency chief Michael Chertoff, took it outside and then moved it around outside Chertoff's window. The scare, caused by white powder that proved to be harmless, 'stands as one glaring example' of the agency's security problems, said Daniels, one of the first two guards to respond to the incident. (AP Photo/Bill Gorman, AP Television)

"I had never previously been given training ... describing how to respond to a possible chemical attack," Daniels told The Associated Press. "I wouldn't feel safe nowhere on this compound as an officer."

Daniels was employed until last fall by Wackenhut Services Inc., the private security firm that guards Homeland's headquarters in a residential area of Washington. The company has been criticized previously for its work at nuclear facilities and transporting nuclear weapons.

Daniels left Wackenhut and now works security for another company at another federal building. He is among 14 current and former Wackenhut employees -- mostly guards -- who were interviewed by The Associated Press or submitted written statements to Congress that were obtained by AP.

The guards have taken their concerns to Congress, describing inadequate training, failed security tests and slow or confused reactions to bomb and biological threats.

Homeland Security officials say they have little control over Wackenhut's training of guards but plan to improve that with a new contract. The company defends its performance, saying the suspicious powder incident was overblown because the mail had already been irradiated.

Two senators who fielded complaints from several Wackenhut employees are asking Homeland's internal watchdog, the inspector general, to investigate.

"If the allegations brought forward by the whistleblowers are correct, they represent both a security threat and a waste of taxpayer dollars," Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon wrote. "It would be ironic, to say the least, if DHS were unable to secure its own headquarters."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

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