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Sunday
May042008

9/11 Researcher Not Curtailing His Research

Sixteen months ago, Brigham Young University and Steven Jones parted ways, but he said this week he isn't bitter about the academic divorce.

He certainly hasn't curtailed his volatile research on the collapse of the three World Trade Center towers after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

(Yes, three towers fell, not just two. If you didn't know that, Jones is particularly interested in reaching you with his message that some other group, in addition to al-Qaida, likely contributed to the collapses.)

In fact, Jones is the lead author of a paper on the collapses published April 18 in a civil engineering journal.

The journal article does not list his past tie to BYU, and that's a big Mission Accomplished for university leaders, who felt they acted to protect BYU's reputation when they worked out a retirement package with Jones and he left at the end of 2006.

But Jones is sharing a cramped BYU office with some professors. He also does research in a BYU lab as an outside user with a student who works with him.

Most importantly, he is preparing several more papers that, if they pass peer review and are published, will give him the peace of mind that his case reached the public.

Jones was energized in November when he and others received a response from the national lab charged by Congress to determine why and how the towers collapsed. The letter contained the following phrase:

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Saturday
May032008

Government Itself Won't Swear To Official Theory of 9/11

George Washington's Blog

While many people question the government's conclusions about 9/11, rest assured that the government agencies tasked with investigating 9/11 are confident that the government's answer to the following questions is correct:

(1) How could a rag-tag bunch of hijackers penetrate the strongest military in history and disable normal defensive procedures?

(2) How could 3 super-strong, over-engineered buildings collapse due to fire, falling at virtually free-fall speed, and exhibiting many other indications normally associated with controlled demolition?

At least the government itself is confident about the answers to these questions, right?

Well, actually:

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Saturday
May032008

GLOBAL ELITE GATHERED IN D.C.

By James P. Tucker Jr. / American Free Press

Luminaries at the Trilateral Commission meeting in Washington(April 25 to 28) expressed confidence that they own all three major presidential candidates, who, despite political posturing, will support sovereignty-surrendering measures such as NAFTA and the “North American Union.”

“John has always supported free trade, even while campaigning before union leaders,” said one. “Hil and Barack are pretending to be unhappy about some things, but that’s merely political posturing. They’re solidly in support.”

He was referring to Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Mrs. Clinton, they noted, held strategy sessions as first lady on how to get Congress to approve NAFTA “without changes.” As president, they agreed, she would do no more than “dot an i or cross a t.”

Candidate Obama has not denied news reports in Canada that his top economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, assured Canadian diplomats that the senator would keep NAFTA intact and his anti-trade talk is just “campaign rhetoric.”

While they are confident they can deal with any “potential president,” the Trilateralists paid huge tribute to Ron Paul in an equally large twist of irony, by expressing alarm that he is causing “significant future damage.”

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Saturday
May032008

Baghdad Hospital Damaged by U.S. Missile, Dozens Injured

A major hospital in Baghdad's Sadr City slum was damaged Saturday when an American military strike targeted a militia command center just a few yards away, the U.S. military said.

American troops also killed 14 people in separate incidents in and around Sadr City as bloody street battles continued to mark the U.S. effort to rid the area of suspected Shiite Muslim militants, military officials said.

The rocket strike near Sadr Hospital injured 30 people, shattered the windows of ambulances and sent doctors and hospital staff fleeing the scene, hospital officials said.

That hospital and another major facility in Sadr City had already taken in 25 dead bodies between Friday afternoon and 10 a.m. Saturday, when the strike occurred, hospital officials said. None of the injuries was life threatening.

The U.S. military is facing growing criticism over what residents describe as mounting civilian casualties in Sadr City, a densely populated slum of some 2.5 million people, which has seen heavy clashes over the past six weeks between U.S. and Iraqi forces and militiamen loyal to the hard-line Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr.

A senior Iranian official accused the U.S. military of attacking Iraqi civilians, telling the official Fars News Agency that Iran would pull out of talks with the United States on Iraqi security unless the attacks stop. The countries held three rounds of talks last year on Iraq — the highest level bilateral talks since 1980 — and are due to meet again this year.

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Saturday
May032008

Retired general: Bush administration committed "gross incompetence and dereliction of duty" in Iraq

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was relieved as the top U.S. commander in Iraq by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal became public in 2004, is blasting back in a new memoir, Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story.

   In an excerpt published in the latest edition of Time, Sanchez recounts what he contends was an attempt by Rumsfeld to involve him in rewriting the history of the invasion of Iraq by shifting to the ground commanders the blame for the failure to deploy a sufficient number of occupation troops.

   Sanchez writes that Rumsfeld insisted that he was never told about an order issued by former Gen. Tommy Franks, then head of CENTCOM, for a drawdown of U.S. troops that countermanded the original plan for a 12-18 month occupation. The order directed that all but 30,000 U.S. troops should be out of Iraq by September 2003, only five months after the fall of Baghdad. Sanchez rejects Rumsfeld's version of what happened, which is indeed hard to believe given Rumsfeld's notorious micro-managing of the invasion.

    "That decision set up the United States for a failed first year in Iraq. There is no question about it," writes Sanchez. "And I was supposed to believe that neither the secretary of defense or anybody above him knew anything about it? Impossible! Everybody on the NSC knew about it, including Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet and Colin Powell. Vice President Cheney knew about it. And President Bush knew about it."

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Saturday
May032008

Fed 'Rogue Operation' Spurs Further Bailout Calls

A month after the Federal Reserve rescued Bear Stearns Cos. from bankruptcy, Chairman Ben S. Bernanke got an S.O.S. from Congress.

There is "a potential crisis in the student-loan market" requiring "similar bold action," Chairman Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and six other Democrats wrote Bernanke. They want the Fed to swap Treasury notes for bonds backed by student loans. In a separate letter, Pennsylvania Democratic Representative Paul Kanjorski and 31 House members said they want Bernanke to channel money directly to education-finance firms.

Student loans are just the start. Former Fed officials and other Fed-watchers say that Bernanke's actions in saving Bear Stearns will expose the central bank to continuing pressure to use its $889 billion balance sheet to prop up companies or entire industries deemed important by politicians. The Fed satisfied Dodd's request today, expanding the swaps to include securities backed by student debt.

"It is appalling where we are right now," former St. Louis Fed President William Poole, who retired in March, said in an interview. The Fed has introduced ``a backstop for the entire financial system."

Critics argue that the result will be to foster greater risk-taking among investors emboldened by the belief that the government will bail them out of bad decisions.

The Fed's loans to Bear Stearns were "a rogue operation," said Anna Schwartz, who co-wrote ``A Monetary History of the United States'' with the late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman.

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Saturday
May032008

Pentagon's Biggest Private Contractor in Iraq Reports 1Q Profit More Than Tripled

KBR, the military contractor and engineering outfit, said Friday that its first-quarter profit more than tripled, helped by a gain from an arbitration award.

The company's top executive, chairman and chief executive Bill Utt, touted prospects for broad growth and said KBR hopes to finish a costly U.S. Embassy project in Macedonia by year's end.

While the former Halliburton subsidiary remains the Pentagon's biggest private contractor in Iraq, the company has focused in the past couple of years on expanding its engineering and industrial-construction operations, where its roots lie.

KBR said earnings for the quarter ended March 31 rose to $98 million, or 58 cents per share, from $28 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 24.3 percent, to $2.52 billion, from $2.03 billion in the comparable period last year.

"I'm pleased with this quarter's operating results, in terms of profitability, project execution and growth over the last year," Utt said in a statement. He added: "Looking forward, I continue to be optimistic on the attractive growth opportunities we see across all of KBR's end markets."

KBR, which was split off from Halliburton last April, recorded a $51 million gain from a favorable arbitration award related to a project with Pemex, Mexico's state-owned oil company.

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Saturday
May032008

Secret Bush "Finding" Widens War on Iran

Six weeks ago, President Bush signed a secret finding authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, is "unprecedented in its scope."

Bush’s secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area – from Lebanon to Afghanistan – but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines – up to and including the assassination of targeted officials.  This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.

Similarly, covert funds can now flow without restriction to Jundullah, or "army of god," the militant Sunni group in Iranian Baluchistan – just across the Afghan border -- whose leader was featured not long ago on Dan Rather Reports cutting his brother in law's throat.

Other elements that will benefit from U.S. advice include Iranian Kurdish nationalists, as well the Ahwazi arabs of south west Iran.  Further afield, operations against Iran's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon will be stepped up, along with efforts to destabilize the Syrian regime.

All this costs money, which in turn must be authorized by Congress, or at least a by few witting members of the intelligence committees. 

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Friday
May022008

Bush Signs Bill To Take All Newborns' DNA

President Bush last week signed into law a bill which will see the federal government begin to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. within six months, a move critics have described as the first step towards the establishment of a national DNA database.

Described as a "national contingency plan" the justification for the new law S. 1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, is that it represents preparation for any sort of "public health emergency."

The bill states that the federal government should "continue to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening" and "maintain a central clearinghouse of current information on newborn screening... ensuring that the clearinghouse is available on the Internet and is updated at least quarterly".

Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic experiments and tests.

Read the full bill here.

One health care expert and prominent critic of DNA screening is Twila Brase, president of the Citizens' Council on Health Care who has written a detailed analysis (PDF) of the new law in which she warns that it represents the first program of populationwide genetic testing.

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Friday
May022008

5 Years, 2 Words, No Let Up

By Dana Milbank / Washington Post

By tradition, the proper gift for a fifth anniversary is something made of wood. Jack Murtha must know this, for in observing the fifth anniversary yesterday of President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech, he gave the president a rhetorical two-by-four to the head.

"Five years ago today, President Bush addressed our nation and the world from the USS Abraham Lincoln only 42 days after he ordered the invasion of Iraq; he declared 'Mission Accomplished,' " the Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania declared at the liberal Center for American Progress. "One thousand, eight hundred and twenty-seven days later, the U.S. occupation of Iraq continues and our mission remains undefined."

Murtha -- ticking off statistics about doom and misery in Iraq -- couldn't help adding in a sly reference to the flight suit Bush wore that day for his aircraft-carrier- landing stunt. "I was going to wear my field uniform today, but I decided it didn't fit," the bulky Vietnam veteran said. "It shrunk."

For the Bush White House, May Day has become one of the least favorite spots on the calendar -- a time to remember when the president appeared in 2003 aboard the carrier, his flight suit hugging all the right places, to proclaim victory in "the battle of Iraq" underneath a huge "Mission Accomplished" banner.

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