Subscribe

Search
Thursday
May222008

Senate deals Bush a defeat on Iraq war spending

In a stunning vote that illustrated President Bush's diminished standing, the Senate on Thursday ignored his veto threat and added tens of billions of dollars for veterans and the unemployed to his Iraq war spending bill.

A majority of Republicans broke ranks with Bush on a veto-proof 75-22 vote while adding more than $10 billion for various other domestic programs, including heating subsidies for the poor, wildfire fighting, roads and bridge repair, and health research.

Democrats crowed about their victory. But the developments meant more confusion about when the must-pass measure might actually become law and what the final version will contain.

Senators voted 70-26 to approve $165 billion to fulfill Bush's request for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into next spring, when Bush's successor will set war policy. Overall, the measure contains $212 billion over the coming two years — $28 billion more than the administration sought — plus about $50 billion more through 2017 for veterans' education benefits.

Bush has promised to veto the Iraq spending if it exceeds his request. He has enough GOP support in the House to sustain a veto.

But the spectacle of 25 Senate Republicans abandoning the White House and voting to extend jobless benefits by 13 weeks and boost the GI Bill to provide veterans enough money to pay for a four-year education at a public institution made it plain that Bush's influence is waning.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May222008

House panel subpoenas Rove for Justice inquiry

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday subpoenaed President Bush's former chief political adviser, Karl Rove, to testify about whether the White House improperly meddled with the Justice Department.

Accusations of politics influencing decisions at the department led to the resignation last year of Bush's attorney general, Alberto Gonzales.

It's unclear whether Rove will ever be forced to testify. The White House refuses to let him or other top aides testify about private conversations with Bush, citing executive privilege to block Congress' demands.

The subpoena orders Rove to appear before the House panel on July 10. Lawmakers want to ask him about the White House's role in firing nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, a Democrat.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers had negotiated with Rove's attorneys for more than a year over whether he would testify voluntarily.

"It is unfortunate that Mr. Rove has failed to cooperate with our requests," Conyers, D-Mich., said in a statement. "Although he does not seem the least bit hesitant to discuss these very issues weekly on cable television and in the print news media, Mr. Rove and his attorney have apparently concluded that a public hearing room would not be appropriate."

Conyers added: "Unfortunately, I have no choice today but to compel his testimony on these very important matters."

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May222008

FTC Wants to Know What Big Brother Knows About You

By Peter Whoriskey / Washington Post

How do you find a bride these days?

One of the nation's leading online tracking companies knows.

Monitoring consumers at roughly 3,000 Web sites, Revenue Science identified brides by picking out bridal behavior it had seen: anyone who'd gone online to read about weddings in the news, entered "bridesmaid dresses" into a search engine or surfed fashion pages for wedding styles.

The company found 40,000 such people, whom it knows by random number, not name, and sent them a tailored online ad.

"A successful campaign," according to company president Jeff Hirsch.

The growing practice of "behavioral targeting," or sending ads to online users based on their Internet habits, is now under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission, whose review could shape not only Web advertising rules but the character of the Web itself.

For while public interest groups argue that compiling profiles of largely unsuspecting Internet users ought to be illegal, online advertisers and publishers respond that their ad targeting tactics protect privacy and may be essential to support the free content on the Web.

Click to read more...

Thursday
May222008

The Invisible War

By Timothy Egan / NY Times

Landing in Seattle after a long flight from Texas, I was about to join the exit scrum when the pilot informed us there were five soldiers on board, ending a three-day odyssey home from Iraq. Could we let them pass?

What followed was prolonged applause by all, and a startling reminder to some – oh, are we still at war?

Not only still at war, but deeper than ever. It was one thing for the Iraq war to pass an inglorious five-year landmark in March, longer than any other American conflict except the Vietnam War. But the cost now looks like it will exceed all wars except World War II — with a price tag that could near $3 trillion.

The Iraq war has already cost twice as much, in inflation-adjusted dollars, as World War I, and 10 times as much as the Persian Gulf war, according to a new book by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes. This is in addition, of course, to the more than 4,000 American lives lost, 30,000 wounded and the psychic blows that will ripple through every town that sent a young person off to fight.

Yet, for its prolonged clutch on our treasury and blood, no war as been so out-of-sight, so stage-managed to be painless and invisible. We’re supposed to shop, to spend our stimulus checks, to carry on as if nothing has happened — or is happening. Every now and then

Click to read more...

Thursday
May222008

DHS Will Face Questions on Care of Detained Immigrants

Top lawmakers in Congress criticized the Department of Homeland Security yesterday for failing to provide adequate medical care to detained immigrants, and said they plan to demand explanations today from Secretary Michael Chertoff and Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcemen.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) announced that Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and others will question Chertoff and Myers in a meeting today about reports of medical negligence and deaths of immigrants in ICE detention, as well as improper detentions of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), head of the panel's immigration subcommittee, said they have asked for relevant Homeland Security records and plan a hearing after Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess.

"We intend to press them on these issues. We cannot accept the nature of what is going on," Menendez said at a news conference with family members of illegal immigrants who died in U.S. custody, as well as representatives of immigrant advocacy groups and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The Constitution is what makes this country unique in the world, and its presumption of fundamental rights for all people at the end of the day makes us the beacon of light for the rest of the world. I am not willing to have it eroded," Menendez said.

Click to read more...

Thursday
May222008

Jesse Ventura Exposes the Official Lie on Howard Stern

"The buildings should have easily withstood the thermal stress caused by pools of burning jet fuel." - Kevin Ryan, former executive at Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the company that certified the steel used in the construction of the World Trade Center

According to Kevin Ryan, former executive at Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the company that certified the steel used in the construction of the World Trade Center,the steel components were certified to ASTM E119. The time temperature curves for this standard require the samples to be exposed to temperatures around 2000F for several hours.

And as we all agree, the steel applied met those specifications. Additionally, even un-fireproofed steel will not melt until reaching red-hot temperatures of nearly 3000F. Why anyone would imply that 2000F would melt the high-grade steel used in those buildings makes no sense at all.

Source: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0411/S00177.htm

Thursday
May222008

Where Are Those Iranian Weapons in Iraq?

The US military command in Iraq continues to talk about an alleged pipeline of Iranian weapons to Iraqi Shiites opposing the US occupation, implying that they have become dependent on Iran for indirect-fire weapons and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).

But US officials have failed thus far to provide evidence that would support that claim, and a long-delayed US military report on Iranian arms is unlikely to offer any data on what proportion of the weapons in the hands of Shiite fighters are from Iran and what proportion comes from purchases on the open market.

When Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner was asked that question at a briefing May 8, he did not answer it directly. Instead Bergner reverted to a standard US military line that these groups "could not do what they're doing without the support of foreign support [sic]." Then he defined "foreign support" to include training and funding as well as weapons, implicitly conceding that he did not have much of a case based on weapons alone.

Bergner's refusal to address that question reflects a fundamental problem with the US claims about Iranian weapons in Iraq: if there are indeed any Iranian rockets and mortars, and RPGs in the Mahdi Army's arsenal of stand-off weapons, they represent an insignificant part of it.

Reports by the US command in Iraq over the past 15 months cited only a handful of Iranian weapons out of hundreds counted in caches found in Shiite areas. Nearly 700 mortars and rockets were reported by specific caliber size, along with a handful of RPGs, in nearly two dozen caches.

Click to read more...

Thursday
May222008

Report: U.S. Soldiers Did 'Dirty Work' for Chinese Interrogators

U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo Bay allegedly softened up detainees at the request of Chinese intelligence officials who had come to the island facility to interrogate the men -- or they allowed the Chinese to dole out the treatment themselves, according to claims in a new government report.

Buried in a Department of Justice report released Tuesday are new allegations about a 2002 arrangement between the United States and China, which allowed Chinese intelligence to visit Guantanamo and interrogate Chinese Uighurs held there.

According to the report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, an FBI agent reported a detainee belonging to China's ethnic Uighur minority and a Uighur translator told him Uighur detainees were kept awake for long periods, deprived of food and forced to endure cold for hours on end, just prior to questioning by Chinese interrogators.

Susan Manning, a lawyer who represents several Uighurs still held at Guantanamo, said Tuesday the allegations are all too familiar.

U.S. personnel "are engaging in abusive tactics on behalf of the Chinese," she said Tuesday. When Uighur detainees refused to talk to Chinese interrogators in 2002, U.S. military personnel put them in solitary confinement as punishment, she said.

Click to read more...

Wednesday
May212008

9-11 Ripple Effect


If you haven't seen 9/11 Ripple Effect yet, you need to watch it now! Take 87 minutes and study every inch of this movie! Or better yet, buy it and share it with everyone you know!

Click here to order 9-11 Ripple Effect!

Wednesday
May212008

Recruiters Accused of Skirting Law

Two new studies into the problem of child soldiers turn their ire on the United States, charging that the Pentagon is so hungry for enlistments that it is allowing officials to violate U.S. and international laws prohibiting the recruitment of minors for military service.

The surveys say recruiters are putting undue pressure on underage boys and girls, sometimes misrepresenting the terms of military service, inflating compensation, or falsifying applicants' health or criminal records to avoid their rejection.

In addition, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union say in separate reports that the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act gives unprecedented access to the records of high school juniors and seniors, allowing recruiters to contact them directly without parental consent.

"Public schools serve as prime recruiting grounds for the military, and the U.S. military's generally accepted procedures for recruitment of high school students plainly violate" internationally negotiated norms, according to the ACLU's "Soldiers of Misfortune" report released last week.

U.S. law permits recruiting at 17 and front-line deployment at 18. A key international treaty sets the same standards.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington, in an e-mailed reply to questions from The Washington Times, defended the practice of recruiting at schools.

Click to read more...

Wednesday
May212008

Glenn Greenwald: Growing Responsibility for the Bush Torture Regime

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com

Recent ACLU-compelled disclosures of previously concealed DOJ documents reveal many of the details of what has been long known: that the highest levels of the Bush administration secretly implemented an illegal torture regime. But while those torture programs began in secret, we have gradually learned more and more about them. The more time that goes by and the more we learn — particularly if we do nothing meaningful to stop it — the more the responsibility for these policies shifts from the administration to all of us collectively.

While there is much rhetorical protest over these torture programs in the halls of Congress and in our elite media institutions, there has been little real action in response. Indeed, it has long been known that we are torturing, holding detainees in secret prisons beyond the reach of law and civilization, sending detainees to the worst human rights abusers to be tortured, and subjecting them ourselves to all sorts of treatment which both our own laws and the treaties to which we are a party plainly prohibit. None of this is new.

But our elite political institutions have decided, collectively, to do nothing about that. Quite the contrary, with regard to many of the revelations of abuse, our elected representatives — with some noble exceptions — have chosen to remain largely in the dark about what was done. When forced by court rulings or media revelations to act at all, they have endorsed and legalized this behavior — not investigated, outlawed or punished it.

Click to read more...

Wednesday
May212008

Big Brother’ database for phones and e-mails

A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.

The information would be held for at least 12 months and the police and security services would be able to access it if given permission from the courts.

The proposal will raise further alarm about a “Big Brother” society, as it follows plans for vast databases for the ID cards scheme and NHS patients. There will also be concern about the ability of the Government to manage a system holding billions of records. About 57 billion text messages were sent in Britain last year, while an estimated 3 billion e-mails are sent every day.

Home Office officials have discussed the option of the national database with telecommunications companies and ISPs as part of preparations for a data communications Bill to be in November’s Queen’s Speech. But the plan has not been sent to ministers yet.

Industry sources gave warning that a single database would be at greater risk of attack and abuse.

Jonathan Bamford, the assistant Information Commissioner, said: “This would give us serious concerns and may well be a step too far. We are not aware of any justification for the State to hold every UK citizen’s phone and internet records. We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable."

Click to read more...

Wednesday
May212008

Bush's Endless Hypocrisy on Terror

By Robert Parry

Is a government guilty of terrorism if it harbors known terrorists? What should one say about a country that permits open fund-raising on behalf of a terrorist implicated in the mass killing of civilians?

What about a government that secretly arms a guerrilla army that wantonly kills and abuses civilians while seeking to overthrow an elected government?

If your answer to those questions is to recite George W. Bush’s dictum that a government that harbors or helps terrorists should be punished just like the terrorists, then you must turn your wrath on the U.S. government and the Bush family -- guilty on all the above points.

But the U.S. political/media system continues to view the world through a cracked lens that focuses outrage on “enemy” regimes while refracting away a comparable fury from similar actions by U.S. officials.

So, while President Bush ponders whether to add Venezuela to the terrorist list – because of a captured Colombian guerrilla computer that appears to implicate Hugo Chavez’s government in weapons smuggling – Bush would broach no criticism of Ronald Reagan who armed Nicaraguan contra guerrillas in the 1980s.

Click to read more...