.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

 

AP: Worldwide protests of Iraq war - March 18

By ED JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer -- Saturday, 4 minutes ago

SYDNEY, Australia - Thousands of anti-war protesters marched in Australia, Turkey and Asian countries at the start of global demonstrations Saturday, as campaigners marked the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with a demand that coalition troops pull out.

Pakistani protestors burn a U.S. flag during a rally in Multan, Pakistan on Saturday, March 18, 2006. Chanting slogans 'Down with America', around 300 Muslim protesters, including several women, marched through Multan on the anti-war rally, marking the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with a demand that coalition troops pull out. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)Pakistani protestors burn a U.S. flag, left, during a rally in Multan, Pakistan on Saturday, March 18, 2006. Chanting slogans 'Down with America', around 300 Muslim protesters, including several women, marched through Multan on the anti-war rally, marking the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with a demand that coalition troops pull out. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)

Demonstrations were planned for cities across Europe later in the day. Police in London shut down streets in the heart of the capital's shopping and theater district ahead of a demonstration which organizers said they hoped would be attended by up to 100,000 people.

Around 500 protesters marched through central Sydney, chanting "End the war now and "Troops out of Iraq." Many campaigners waved placards branding President Bush the "World's No. 1 Terrorist" or expressing concerns that Iran could be the next country to face invasion.

"Iraq is a quagmire and has been a humanitarian disaster for the Iraqis," said Jean Parker, a member of the Australian branch of the Stop the War Coalition, which organized the march. "There is no way forward without ending the occupation."

Opposition to the war is still evident in Australia, which has some 1,300 troops in and around Iraq. Visiting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was heckled by campaigners in Sydney this week, who said she had "blood on her hands."

But Saturday's protest was small, compared to the mass demonstrations that swept across the country in the buildup to the invasion — the largest Australia had seen since joining U.S. forces in the Vietnam War.

In Tokyo, about 2,000 people rallied in a downtown park, carrying signs saying "Stop the Occupation" as they listened to a series of anti-war speeches, said Takeshiko Tsukushi, a member of World Peace Now, which helped plan the rally. Tokyo police were unable to immediately confirm the number in attendance.

"The war is illegal under international law," Tsukushi said. "We want the immediate withdrawal of the Self Defense Forces and from Iraq along with all foreign troops."

Japanese Prime Minister Junchiro Koizumi is a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led coalition in Japan and dispatched 600 troops to the southern city of Samawah in 2004 to purify water and carry out other humanitarian tasks. The Cabinet approved an extension of that mission in December, authorizing soldiers to stay in Iraq through the end of the year.

But public opinion polls show the majority of Japanese oppose the mission, which has been criticized as a violation of the country's pacifist constitution. Many say the deployment has made Japan a target for terrorism.

In Turkey, thousands gathered in Istanbul for protests Other anti-war protests were planned in the cities of Izmir, Trabzon and the capital, Ankara.

Opposition to the war is nearly universal in Turkey and cuts across all political stripes.

"Murderer USA," read a sign unfurled by a communist in Taksim Square in Istanbul.

"USA, go home!" said red and black signs carried by hundreds of the some 5,000 protesters gathered in Kadikoy on the city's Asian coast.

Turkey is Iraq's northern neighbor and the only Muslim-majority member of the NATO military alliance. Historically close relations with the U.S. were severely strained after the Turkish parliament refused to allow U.S. troops to launch operations into Iraq from Turkish territory.

U.S. military planners said the move complicated operations by shutting down the U.S. option of opening a northern front in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Since the war, support for the United States has plummeted in Turkey.

Demonstrations were also expected across Europe.

"We will continue until we see the last general running for a helicopter on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad," read a statement from Stop the War Alliance, which is organizing a rally outside the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece.

In London, Scotland Yard police headquarters said streets around Piccadilly Circus in the heart of the shopping and theater district would be closed as up to 100,000 people planned to march through the capital. Britain has about 8,000 troops in Iraq.

Demonstrations "Against the Occupation of Iraq" were planned Saturday in several Spanish cities, including Madrid and Barcelona.

Source: AP-Yahoo News.

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

Friday, March 17, 2006

 

AP: Bush advisor says Iran bluffing on Iraq

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President Bush's top foreign policy adviser said Friday that Iran's new willingness to talk about Iraq with the United States is probably a ploy designed to "divert pressure and divert attention" from international concern that Tehran wants a nuclear bomb.

The United States has accused Iran of using a civilian nuclear program as a cover to build atomic weapons, an allegation Tehran denies. The U.N. Security Council is expected to discuss Iran's nuclear program this month, with Washington pressing for penalties.

Full AP-Yahoo News story. D.H.: Bush has a lot of nerve accusing someone else of bluffing to divert attention from his misdeeds.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

 

Day of Reckoning for the Current Occupant

By Garrison Keillor (right)
The Chicago Tribune


Spring arrived in New York last week for previews, a sunny day with chill in the air, but you could smell mud, and with a little imagination you could sort of smell grass. I put on a gray jacket, instead of black, and went to the opera and saw Verdi's "Luisa Miller," a Republican opera in which love is crushed by the perfidiousness of government. A helpful lesson for these times. I am referring to the Current Occupant.


The Republican Revolution has gone the way of all flesh. It took over Congress and the White House, horns blew, church bells rang, sailors kissed each other, and what happened? The Republicans led us into a reckless foreign war and steered the economy toward receivership and wielded power as if there were no rules. Democrats are accused of having no new ideas, but Republicans are making some of the old ideas look awfully good, such as constitutional checks and balances, fiscal responsibility, and the notion of realism in foreign affairs and taking actions that serve the national interest. What one might call "conservatism."


The head of the National Security Agency under President Ronald Reagan, Lt. Gen. William Odom, writes on the Web site NiemanWatchdog.org that he sees clear parallels between Vietnam and Iraq: "The difference lies in the consequences. Vietnam did not have the devastating effects on US power that Iraq is already having." He draws the parallels in three stages and says that staying the course will only make the damage to US power greater. It's a chilling analysis, and one that isn't going to come from the Democratic Party. It's starting to come from Republicans, and they are the ones who must rescue the country from themselves.


I ran into a gray eminence from the Bush I era the other day in an airport, and he said that what most offended him about Bush II is the naked incompetence. "You may disagree with Republicans, but you always had to recognize that they knew what they were doing," he said. "I keep going back to that intelligence memo of August 2001, that said that terrorists had plans to hijack planes and crash them into buildings. The president read it, and he didn't even call a staff meeting to discuss it. That is lack of attention of a high order."


Over the course of time, the Chief Occupant has been cruelly exposed over and over. He sat and was briefed on the danger of a hurricane wiping out a major American city, and without asking a single question, he got up from the table and walked away and resumed his vacation. He played guitar as New Orleans was flooded. It took him four days to realize his responsibility to do something. When the tsunami killed 100,000 people in Southeast Asia, he was on vacation and it took him 72 hours to issue a statement of sympathy.


The Republicans tied their wagon to him and, as a result, their revolution is bankrupt. He has played the terrorism card for all it is worth and campaigned successfully against Adam and Steve and co-opted whole vast flocks of Christians, but he is done now, kaput, out of gas, for one simple reason. He doesn't represent the best that is our country. Not even close.


He openly, brazenly, countenanced crimes of torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. He engaged in illegal surveillance, authorized the arrest of people without charge and "disappeared" them to foreign jails. And he finagled this war, which, after three years of violence, does not look to be heading toward a happy ending. And now it's up to Republicans to put their country first and call the gentleman to account.


The Current Occupant is smart about handling a political mess. The best strategy is to cut and run and change the subject. You defend the Dubai ports deal in manly terms until you lose a vote in a House committee and then you retreat - actually, you get the Dubai people to do it for you - and that's it, End of Story.


Harriet Miers was fully qualified one day and gone the next. Social Security was going to be overhauled to give us the Ownership Society, and then the stock market went in the toilet and Republicans got nervous, and suddenly it was Never Mind and on to the next new thing.


Let's bring the boys home. Otherwise, let's send this man back to Texas and see what sort of work he is capable of and let him start making a contribution to the world.

Garrison Keillor is an author and the radio host of "A Prairie Home Companion


Other links:

Media Matters for America.

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

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

 

DH: Ricketts speaks to Club, Executive Committee to meet

Abilene, March 15 -- The Taylor County Democratic Club will feature U.S. Congressional Candidate Robert Ricketts Thursday night at the T&P Visitor Center at 7 p.m., Club President Roger Spier said, followed by a County Party Executive Committee meeting called by County Chair Dave Haigler.
 
"We are proud to attract quality candidates like Robert," Dr. Spier said.  "He signals the comeback of our party."
 
"I agree," Haigler said.  "I am sorry to miss hearing him."
 
Haigler and his wife Becky are in S.C. visiting his mother in assisted living.
 
"County Elections Administrator Kristi Allyn called me today and advised me our party needs to take care of some business this week," Haigler said.  "And Roger has agreed to let the party piggy back onto the club meeting."
 
"We in the club are always happy to accommodate the party," Roger said.  "We work together well."
 
The business at hand is to approve the budget for the primary runoff, Haigler said, and to draw straws on ballot position for the Commissioner District 2 runoff in Merkel.
 
"I am recommending Roger chair the party meeting in my absence," Haigler said, "because he understands what needs to be done.  Of course, it is up to the CEC to approve its temporary chair, and they can choose anyone they want."
 
Party vice chair Erasmo Martinez resigned last week to devote more time to LULAC, Haigler said, making the vice chair position vacant.
 
"I have recommended Lara Carlin as the new vice chair," Haigler said, "but she said she is not ready."
 
"Just let me get through the county convention first," Carlin said.
 
"She's done a wonderful job as Convention Arrangements Chair," Haigler said, "and I have every confidence in her as the new vice chair.  Our theme has been 'raise up new leaders,' and Lara is a great example of that."
 
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

 

AP: Prosecutor misconduct stalls terrorist case - March 14

By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer Tue Mar 14, 3:28 AM ET

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Prosecutors are struggling to save their bid to execute al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui after the judge said a government lawyer's misconduct makes it very difficult for the case to go forward.

Eddie Bracken, whose sister was a victim of the 9/11 attacks in New York, speaks after the fifth day of Zacarius Moussaoui's sentencing trial at U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. during Monday, March 9, 2006. An angry federal judge unexpectedly recessed the death penalty trial of confessed al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to consider whether government violations of her rules against coaching witnesses should remove the death penalty as an option. The stunning development came at the opening of the fifth day of the trial as the government had informed the judge and the defense over the weekend that a lawyer for the Federal Aviation Administration had coached four government FAA witnesses in violation of the rule set by U.S. District Judge Brinkema. The rule was that no witness should hear trial testimony in advance. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)Eddie Bracken, right, whose sister was a victim of the 9/11 attacks in New York, speaks after the fifth day of Zacarius Moussaoui's sentencing trial at U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

Visibly angry, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema summoned the offending lawyer, Carla J. Martin of the Transportation Security Administration, to a hearing Tuesday to assess what damage she may have done by coaching seven witnesses.

The seven present or former federal aviation officials -- three prosecution and four defense witnesses -- also were to be questioned. Brinkema said she wanted to "find out if I can satisfy myself that their testimony is not going to be slanted or otherwise inaccurate" as a result of Martin's coaching.

Meanwhile, Brinkema suspended the sentencing trial on Monday and sent the jury home while she decides on a remedy for the government misconduct.

Defense attorney Edward MacMahon has moved to bar the government from pursuing the death penalty. If Brinkema does that, the trial would end. Moussaoui would automatically be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of release. And the government would likely appeal.

The trial's second week began Monday with a bombshell: "In all the years I have been on the bench, I have never seen such an egregious violation of a court's rule on witnesses," Brinkema told the court before the jury was brought in.

Brinkema had ordered that trial witnesses were not to see trial transcripts or to follow the case, to guard against their being coached or altering their testimony to conform with what others said.

Prosecutor David Novak, who had disclosed Martin's actions over the weekend, agreed they were "horrendously wrong."

In moving to exclude the death penalty, MacMahon said, "This is not going to be a fair trial."

At the very least, he said, the government's witnesses from the Federal Aviation Administration should be excluded. But Novak protested they represented "half the government's case." He offered to reduce the number of government FAA witnesses and allow some defense FAA testimony without cross-examination.

In a court filing, prosecutors said there is no need to exclude the FAA witnesses from testifying, saying the violation of the court's order, "while egregious," can be remedied when the witnesses are questioned in front of the jury.

The defense said in court papers, "There is no way to un-ring the bell. The FAA witnesses have been tainted."

Martin e-mailed the upcoming witnesses a transcript of the trial's first day and her analysis of the government's opening statement and of vulnerabilities exposed in the government's case by questioning of the first witness. Until recently, Martin had been the government lawyer representing the FAA witnesses.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.  D.H.: The "war on terra" cannot even fish out of a bucket.

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

Monday, March 13, 2006

 

Edwards: Ulcers Over Abortion Legislation - March 13

Lauren EdwardsBy Lauren Edwards,* right

My stomach has hurt a lot lately -- and not from the normal fast food that I eat. The pain began while I was listening to NPR's Morning Edition. I knew that the whole nonsense surrounding Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court was over, but now a new nominee was named, Judge Samuel Alito. Immediately I began getting updates from feminist groups. I would have liked to write off their concerns as biased, maybe just because Bush recommended him -- that seems to be enough for some these days. Then I began hearing more alarming information and the pain intensified. Again on NPR there were reports that Alito had written thank-you notes to several groups, including Focus on the Family, for their support (included in that note was a reference to his doing the right thing as a Justice).

Then an interesting case appeared before the Supreme Court, Sheidler et al, v. NOW. On February 28 the Supreme Court voted 8-0, in which they undid the applicability of the ever-important Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) law to abortion protestors. RICO had resulted in dramatically reducing violence and violent threats against abortion clinics. With this new decision, I felt a new pull on my stomach -- Are women going to be afraid to go to clinics once again?

And now South Dakota has gone and made abortion illegal, except in the case in which the woman's life in endangered. Mississippi's similar law is expected to pass in the legislature this week, not to mention the restrictions on teenagers' access to abortion in Kansas. In my search I came across another state law gone awry I was not aware of. In Missouri, a law took effect in September that allows lawsuits against anyone who helps a teen get an abortion, even when they go to another state like Illinois. I think at this point I may have an ulcer -- women's private health and reproductive decisions are being criminalized again.

South Dakota is enough, though -- one test case that might bring the end of Roe. It might not -- but it might -- and that is enough for me to be concerned. Abortion is claimed by conservatives to be a state issue, but only because that is where they think they would have the most control. I don't even want to think about what might happen in Texas, where abortion would likely become illegal again. Then again, I can't really see how "pro-lifers" want to criminalize abortion again, if they truly take life so seriously.

The picture before the legalization of abortion was life threatening, because illegal abortion does not mean NO abortion. Instead, the consequences are far greater. Illegal abortion really means unregulated, dangerous abortions. Without the option for safe abortion, women are likely to choose the dangerous sort, a choice I do not wish for anybody. Everyone grimaces when there are reports of babies left right after birth in bathroom stalls in malls and garbage containers. This would be the sort of thing that would become more common, though, along with attempts at abortion with coat hangers and other unhygienic situations.

But maybe there is hope in this era of the right wing basically undoing themselves -- shooting themselves in the foot, which is the best outcome for us pro-choicers, as it takes very little effort and energy on our part. Newsweek and U.S. New & World Report have reported on national groups like the Family Research Council which on their website (that's an eye-opening website -- www.frc.org) backed South Dakota. But in a March 13 article by Dan Gilgoff in U.S. News & World Report, the president of FRC says, "This isn't part of a greater strategy. It's a spontaneous response by legislators to the courts." That greater strategy, FRC claims, was to chip away abortion rights, not go all out so quickly. The chief sponsor of the bill would not even talk to the National Right To Life Committee, according to a Newsweek's March 6 article. So excited by a more conservative court, the religious right just might continue to unravel themselves.

But alas, this possible self-destruction by the religious right does not take away the pains in my belly. Activism is always needed -- always warranted -- and always takes more time. I wasn't born yet to see the enactment of Roe, but maybe I will be alive to see the private choices of women continually protected. At least that's what I am working toward.

*Lauren Edwards is working toward a Masters in Public Administration at the University of North Texas in Denton. She receive a B.A. in Church Ministry and Sociology from Hardin-Simmon University in Abilene in 2003. Lauren is married to Brian, a Baptist youth minister.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

 

AP: Frist is GOP frontrunner for 2008

By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer -- Sunday, 2 hours, 6 minutes ago

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., speaks in the afternoon session of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis, Tenn. on Saturday, March 11, 2006. (AP Photo/Greg Campbell)MEMPHIS, Tenn. - With home-field advantage, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, left, placed first in an informal poll of 2008 presidential hopefuls at a Republican conference Saturday night.

The two-term Tennessee senator received 526 first-place votes, or 36.9 percent, in the Southern Republican Leadership Conference's "straw poll" sponsored by Hotline, a political digest. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finished second with 14.4 percent and Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record) of Virginia finished third, tied with President Bush -- who cannot seek a third term.

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

Full AP-Yahoo News story.



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

Note: Dave & Becky will be on vacation this coming week, so DemLog posts may be sporadic.

 

SMH: Judge orders redacted secret reports to Libby's defense - March 12

Scooter LibbyA US judge yesterday ordered the CIA to turn over summaries of top-secret intelligence briefs to lawyers representing indicted ex-White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, left, setting up a possible constitutional showdown.

Libby, who denies obstruction of justice, perjury and other charges over the outing of a CIA spy in the run-up to war with Iraq, had demanded presidential daily briefs detailing threats to the United States, to bolster his defence.

US District Court judge Reggie Walton delivered the ruling despite claims by prosecutors that the release of such documents could imperil US national security.

In a partial victory for Libby, the judge ordered summaries of the documents, rather than the raw intelligence, in a case arising from tense political debate in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Full Sydney Morning Herald story.

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

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