Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 23, 2005

Open Again

News, views and visions ...

Posted by b on April 23, 2005 at 22:46 UTC | Permalink


Frank Rich on "Justice Sunday":
A High-Tech Lynching in Prime Time

Like the wizard himself, "Justice Sunday" is a humbug, albeit one with real potential consequences. It brings mass-media firepower to a campaign against so-called activist judges whose virulence increasingly echoes the rhetoric of George Wallace and other segregationists in the 1960's. Back then, Wallace called for the impeachment of Frank M. Johnson Jr., the federal judge in Alabama whose activism extended to upholding the Montgomery bus boycott and voting rights march. Despite stepped-up security, a cross was burned on Johnson's lawn and his mother's house was bombed.
As Bill Maher summed it up for Jay Leno on the "Tonight" show last week: " 'Activist judges' is a code word for gay." The judges being verbally tarred and feathered are those who have decriminalized gay sex (in a Supreme Court decision written by Justice Kennedy) as they once did abortion and who countenance marriage rights for same-sex couples. This is the animus that dares not speak its name tonight. To paraphrase the "Justice Sunday" flier, now it's the anti-filibuster campaign that is being abused to protect bias, this time against gay people.

Anyone who doesn't get with this program, starting with all Democrats, is damned as a bigoted enemy of "people of faith."

Posted by: b | Apr 23 2005 22:53 utc | 1


Sometimes a code is just a code.

And sometimes it's not.

Posted by: RossK | Apr 24 2005 3:48 utc | 2

What has CIA asset Allawi been smoking?

'The prize is enormous - we must not let it slip'

Iraq has come a long way in the past two years and Iraqis have every reason to be proud. We are no longer the pariah of the international community. We are no longer a threat to our neighbours, to the region or the world. Our elections in January were an inspiration to millions of fellow Arabs and Muslims, who watched the wall-to-wall TV coverage with a mixture of fascination and jealousy.

Predictions that we would never make it, that we would sink into lawlessness and civil war, have proved unfounded. Iraqis have emerged from a world of repression, fear and hopelessness. The future now has hope and opportunity. But we need to seize that opportunity now. Unless we keep moving forward, we risk proving the naysayers right.

Posted by: b | Apr 24 2005 9:09 utc | 3

Proof Blair was told war could be ruled illegal

The Iraq war has erupted as a major Election issue after legal advice warning Tony Blair that the conflict breached international law was sensationally leaked.

The Government's refusal to disclose the advice has been one of the most controversial issues since the war ended, but The Mail on Sunday can now reveal for the first time exactly what counsel Mr Blair received.

The full document shows categorically the Prime Minister's claim that the advice was identical to a brief published 'summary' which declared the war was legal is completely untrue.

In fact, the full 13 pages of advice drawn up by Attorney General Lord Goldsmith stated the war was likely to be challenged under international law on a number of counts.
At a press conference on February 23 this year, Mr Blair was challenged whether the Attorney General's 'summary' on the issue was a fair representation of his legal advice. He snapped: "That is what he said and that is what I say."

One senior figure who has a copy of the Attorney General's legal advice said last night: "The Government sexed it up in the same way that it sexed up claims of missiles capable of being launched in 45 minutes."

Another source said: "When you clear away the legalese the picture is clear: the Attorney General believed the legality of the war was highly dodgy, and in all likelihood, it was illegal."

Leading international lawyer Phillipe Sands, who has led the campaign to show that the Iraq war was illegal, added: "These new disclosures confirm that the 'summary' produced by Lord Goldsmith in the Lords can in no way be described as a fair summary of the legal advice he gave the Prime Minister. It is utterly misleading of Mr Blair to pretend otherwise."

Posted by: b | Apr 24 2005 9:36 utc | 4

Colombia vs. Venezuela: Big Oil turns up heat in border region

Longtime U.S. involvement in Colombia may be transforming and expanding from a "war on drugs" into a Washington-led, oil-company fueled destabilization campaign against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

"Oilmen are like cats; you can never tell from the sound of them whether they are fighting or making love," said the famous Armenian entrepreneur Calouste Gulbenkian, as oil companies and Western governments at a post-World War I summit in Ostend, Belgium, carved up oil rights in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

Now, even as world attention is riveted on Iraq, military and oil company agendas seem to be converging in South America's Orinoco Basin, which holds the greatest proven reserves outside the Persian Gulf. The region is split by the border between Colombia, Washington's closest South American ally, and Venezuela, ruled by a left-populist government sharply at odds with the White House....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 24 2005 11:06 utc | 5

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi leaders will announce a government within days and no one from caretaker Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's party will be in the cabinet, lawmakers and people involved in the negotiations said on Sunday.

Allawi will take no part, his party will have no ministries," a senior official involved in the talks told Reuters, saying the decision had been taken after another round of negotiations on Saturday that lasted more than 10 hours.

"There are still some details to be worked out, but the announcement of the cabinet should be made by Monday," he said.

......As talks ended on Saturday, Allawi issued a statement urging all parties to speed up the formation of the government "for the good of the country."

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 24 2005 11:56 utc | 6

Ooops! Correct link to Allawi-less Iraqi government article

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 24 2005 11:58 utc | 7

Allawi not in government - expect a bomb for Jaafari soon.

Posted by: b | Apr 24 2005 12:56 utc | 8

Frist defends effort to end filibusters

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 24 2005 13:39 utc | 9

Killing lessons

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 24 2005 14:16 utc | 10

Thanks Nugget. Dresden and Heroshima indeed.

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 24 2005 19:19 utc | 11


Is that before or after the CIA kill Allawi for not delivering the goods?

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 24 2005 19:30 utc | 12

forgot to link b's earlier article:

change the HTML tags

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 24 2005 19:31 utc | 13

From Nugget's link above, xDem. party calls capitulation "compromise".

Sen. Joseph Biden D-Del., raised the possibility of a deal. "I think we should compromise and say to them that ... we'll let a number" of the seven judges "go through, the two most extreme not go through and put off this vote and compromise," he said on ABC's "This Week."

So, out of what ~215 nominees, all of which should have been filibustered if they belong to the Federalist Society or share their philosophy, xDems. call compromise approving a mere ~99.5% of them?

Posted by: jj | Apr 24 2005 20:07 utc | 14

On the Fundie/Theocracy Beat, which for some reason is dominating my mind today...

For East Coasters who can possibly make it, there's an important conference in NYC (@CUNY) next weekend.
It's called "Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right".
Presentations include: "Fundamentalism: The Fear and the Rage" Karen Armstrong"An Unholy American Theocracy Here"? -Katherine Yurica
"Learning about the Christian Right, and What in the World to Do" - Frederick Clarkson

More info

Wonder if they'll arrange to stream it over the net??

Posted by: jj | Apr 24 2005 21:45 utc | 15

Business as usual - from the Independent:

UN investigator who exposed US army abuse forced out of his job

The UN's top human rights investigator in Afghanistan has been forced out under American pressure just days after he presented a report criticising the US military for detaining suspects without trial and holding them in secret prisons.

Cherif Bassiouni had needled the US military since his appointment a year ago, repeatedly trying, without success, to interview alleged Taliban and al-Qa'ida prisoners at the two biggest US bases in Afghanistan, Kandahar and Bagram.

Mr Bassiouni's report had highlighted America's policy of detaining prisoners without trial and lambasted coalition officials for barring independent human rights monitors from its bases.

Prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region are held at US bases, often before being shipped to Guantanamo Bay. Human Rights Watch called on Saturday for a US special prosecutor to investigate the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and Charles Tenet, the former-CIA director, for torture and abuse of detainees in jails around the world, including Abu Ghraib in Iraq. They should be held responsible under the doctrine of "command responsibility," it said.

Posted by: Fran | Apr 25 2005 4:49 utc | 16

Monday morning, the following poem memorised. May all your thoughts be fresh, and great gouts of joy splatter you with pleasure in all your most intimate intimacies.

Shatter Me, Music, by Rainer Maria Rilke

Shatter me, music, with rhythmical fury!
Lofty reproach, lifted against the heart
That feard such surge of perception, sparing itself. My heart,
- there:
behold your glory! Can you remain contented
with less expanded beats, when the uppermost arches
are waiting for you to fill them with organing impulse?
Why do you long for the face withheld, for the far beloved?
For, oh, if your longing lacks breath to extort resounding
from the trumpet an angel blows on high at the end of the world,
she also does not exist, nowhere, will never be born,
She whom you parchingly miss...


Posted by: U Rang? | Apr 25 2005 9:10 utc | 17

This is driving the pro-Israel wingnuts mad.

MBE for Orla Guerin

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Apr 25 2005 9:11 utc | 18

Could that article have squeezed in another use of "anti-Semitism"?

I just love the equivalence drawn between "not 100% in support of Israeli actions" and "anti-Semitism".

Posted by: Colman | Apr 25 2005 9:42 utc | 19

Damn it!!!!!!!!!!!! When is this BS going to be stopped?

GM industry puts human gene into rice

Scientists have begun putting genes from human beings into food crops in a dramatic extension of genetic modification. The move, which is causing disgust and revulsion among critics, is bound to strengthen accusations that GM technology is creating "Frankenstein foods" and drive the controversy surrounding it to new heights.

In the first modification of its kind, Japanese researchers have inserted a gene from the human liver into rice to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals. The gene makes an enzyme, code-named CPY2B6, which is particularly good at breaking down harmful chemicals in the body.

Well, stop using harmful chemicals! Then no liver genes are needed in rice.

Posted by: Fran | Apr 25 2005 9:46 utc | 20

The neverending story: Iraq new cabinet on hold

BAGHDAD - The unveiling of Iraq's new government was again delayed Monday because of last-minute negotiations between political factions, a senior Shiite politician said.

"In principle we were to have announced the new government today, but last minutes details are preventing this," said Jawad Maliki, the number two in Shiite Dawa party led by prime minister-designate Ibrahim Jaafari.

"Maybe the government will be announced tomorrow," he told reporters.

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 25 2005 10:30 utc | 21

This is sick:
U.S. Prison Population Soars in 2003, '04

While the U.S. crime rate has fallen over the past decade, the number of people in prison and jail is outpacing the number of inmates released, the government reports.

The population of the nation's prisons and jails has grown by about 900 inmates each week between mid-2003 and mid-2004, according to figures released Sunday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. By last June 30 the system held 2.1 million people, or one in every 138 U.S. residents.
According to the Justice Policy Institute, which advocates a more lenient system of punishment, the United States has a higher rate of incarceration than any other country, followed by Britain, China, France, Japan and Nigeria.

There were 726 inmates for every 100,000 U.S. residents by June 30, 2004, compared with 716 a year earlier, according to the report by the Justice Department agency. In 2004, one in every 138 U.S. residents was in prison or jail; the previous year it was one in every 140.

In 2004, 61 percent of prison and jail inmates were of racial or ethnic minorities, the government said. An estimated 12.6 percent of all black men in their late 20s were in jails or prisons, as were 3.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.7 percent of white men in that age group, the report said.

Posted by: b | Apr 25 2005 10:47 utc | 22

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament was expected to hear the names of nominations for a new government on Monday but instead impassioned speeches on flour, quoting the Koran correctly and forming new committees dominated the chamber.

Prime minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari was meant to present parliament with his choices for a new cabinet, raising hopes that Iraq would move closer to a government three months after elections.

But when parliamentarians met on Monday, discussions focused instead on contaminated flour imports, misquoting the Koran and calls to form new committees as Iraq appeared to sink deeper into a political and security vacuum.

"This is bad flour with a high metal content that is being used for human consumption in Iraq. Some birds who ate it died hours later," said an assembly member.

...Politicians seemed preoccupied with delivering long speeches, not presenting a security plan, prompting one MP to complain that his colleagues should stop bogging down the 275- seat assembly.

"This has become a forum for people to just take up the same topics from the day before and repeat the same thing over 10 and 12 times. This is a waste of our time," he said.....

A change from flowery speeches I suppose....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 25 2005 13:20 utc | 23

....Al-Jaafari had decided, some members of his political bloc said, to shun further attempts to include members of the party headed by Allawi, the secular Shiite politician who was prime minister as the country prepared for elections Jan. 30.

Members of Allawi's Iraqi List, which controls 40 seats in the National Assembly, said his party had not been officially informed of the development. Allawi loyalists were bidding for at least four ministries, including a senior government post and a deputy premiership.

"Whoever says the Iraqi List has withdrawn from the negotiations about the Cabinet is not right. We haven't done that," Iraqi List legislator Hussein al-Fadr said Monday....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 25 2005 13:58 utc | 24

Fran- gee, that GM rice could be called "Uncle Hannible Lector's" The directions should say, "Serve with fava beans and a nice chianti. ffffffffffffffffff."

America recently got busted for exporting GM maize to Europe with an antibiotic inserted, right?

I hate it when I wake up in the morning and read about yet another way the world is going to hell.

I have to go take off my shoes and stick my toes in the mud for sanity. except that it's 30 degrees F. around here, after a week of 80 degree weather.

Posted by: fauxreal | Apr 25 2005 14:04 utc | 25

Fauxreal - according to Kneipp sticking your toes into 30°f mud, is not only good for your sanity, but also for your health in general. Well, at least a little good news to start the morning. :-)

Posted by: Fran | Apr 25 2005 14:18 utc | 26

GM recalls 2 million vehicles, most sold in U.S.

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp. on Monday said it was recalling more than 2 million vehicles to fix a variety of potential safety defects, most of them on cars and trucks sold in the United States.

GM, which led the auto industry in U.S. recalls last year, said the largest of the latest safety actions included nearly 1.5 million full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles from the 2003-2005 model years with second-row seat belts that may be difficult to properly position across passengers' hips....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 25 2005 14:41 utc | 27

Chavez says Americans detained for taking pictures of Venezuelan military facility, refinery

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that a woman linked to the U.S. military had been arrested while photographing a military installation, and several U.S. citizens were also arrested for taking pictures of a refinery, signs that the Washington may be plotting an invasion of his country.

Chavez's announcement, made during his weekly radio and television show, was thin on details and did not specify the woman's nationality or supposed role in the military. But it came just two days after the U.S. embassy announced that Venezuela had abruptly suspended a 35-year-old military exchange program between the two countries....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 25 2005 15:46 utc | 28

For those who have followed the Guckert/Gannon story two links:

Becoming Jeff Gannon with a detailed description of his development and a missing year in his life and

Secret Service records raise new questions about discredited conservative reporter with the records of Guckert/Gannon entering and leaving the White House and some open questions.

Guckert made more than two dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings. On many of these days, the Press Office held press gaggles aboard Air Force One—which raises questions about what Guckert was doing at the White House.

So who was his lover in the White House?

Posted by: b | Apr 25 2005 18:01 utc | 29

Well, stop using harmful chemicals! Then no liver genes are needed in rice.

but that is common sense, Fran -- how silly of you -- which has no place in a system wired for maximum profitability (aka accumulation, aka rip-off).

another illustration of>Why it's more profitable to do things wrong

It might have been Paul Hawken who suggested that the "economic hero" of our time is a thrice-divorced man with a heavy alcohol habit and terminal cancer :-) His sorry life history has "contributed" more to what economists call national success than that of a healthy, nonaddicted, non-litigious individual leading a quiet and contented life. He has certainly "contributed" more, in economists' eyes, than his ex-wives ever did by maintaining home and family, doing more than their share of unpaid domestic labour, minding and comforting kids, etc.

why should industry clean up after itself, or stop making messes in the first place, if instead they can sell us expensive band-aids to "fix" the mess? cleaning up is a cost item, expensive band-aids are a profit item. and if they don't work -- well, medical supplies are a profit item, pharmaceuticals are a profit item, and who knows, if the gene-vandals contaminate the vegetable gene pool sufficiently, they will eventually be able to charge wealthy people sky-high prices for uncontaminated (organic/nonGMO) foods (in other words, what we all used to eat).>Bitter Greens is the blog of a foodie with conscience -- some thoughts there on how the above is already happening ("organic" becoming a profitable market niche catering to yuppies while lower income people live on processed drek).

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 25 2005 20:52 utc | 30

U.S. clears soldiers in Italian agent's Iraq death

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 25 2005 21:39 utc | 31

Blinded By The Light

by Romour Control

Lasers used by terrorist to blind pilots? No, the US testing a "defense system".

Posted by: b | Apr 25 2005 22:34 utc | 32

CIA’s final report: No WMD found in Iraq

WASHINGTON - In his final report, the CIA’s top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has gone “as far as feasible” and has found nothing, closing an 18-month investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion.

“As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible,” wrote Charles Duelfer, who led the Iraq Survey Group. “After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted.”

In 92 pages posted online Monday evening, Duelfer provided a final supplement to a roughly 1,000-page report released last fall.

He said there is no purpose in keeping detainees who are in custody because of their knowledge of Iraq’s weapons, but he did not provide any details about the current number. A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ultimate decision on their release will be made by the Iraqi authorities....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 25 2005 23:56 utc | 33

British Labour Party MP defects to Liberal Democrats over Iraq

A prominent Labour politician will announce today that he is defecting to the Liberal Democrats in protest at Tony Blair's "lies" over Iraq.

The defection of Brian Sedgemore, who is standing down after 27 years as a Labour MP, threatens to upset Mr Blair's apparently unstoppable campaign for a historic third term....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 26 2005 0:18 utc | 34

U.S. says Iraq insurgent threat grows again

Looks like the spin campaign has fizzled out.

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 26 2005 0:44 utc | 35

Unless Pat (or someone with her background) can convince me otherwise, I remain convinced that we have a system of commands going out to individual fighting units (patrols, fighter planes and such) from a remote commander in CENTCOM, or some other such center receiving hot tips from spy sattelites. Many, if not most, of our "friendly fire" episodes could be explained by the operation of such a loop, working independently of the land-nets on the actual terrain (as of Calipari's car talking to Americans on Iraqi soil).

Posted by: alabama | Apr 26 2005 1:13 utc | 36

A Pipeline to Peace

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 26 2005 11:52 utc | 38

Unready for combat

After deaths of 13 trained for support roles in Iraq, others say they lack the skills to protect themselves

WASHINGTON -- When Dustin W. Peters, an Air Force supply technician, arrived in Kuwait in January 2004, all he and his fellow airmen knew was that they would be supporting US troops in Iraq. But when their unit received its assignment, they recalled, they were stunned: They would be protecting supply convoys traveling along Iraq's violent roadways.

Peters, 25, was killed last summer when his Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb near the town of Bayji, placing him among at least 13 Air Force and Navy members to die in Iraq while on assignments that were different from what they signed up for -- and with far less training than military personnel who usually performed those missions, according to a Globe analysis of Pentagon statistics.

At least 3,000 Navy and Air Force personnel such as Peters -- trained mainly in noncombat specialties such as mechanics and construction -- are serving on the front lines of the Iraqi insurgency. The Iraq war is the first military engagement in which such large numbers of air and naval personnel are serving in combat roles on the ground, facing imminent threat of attack....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 26 2005 12:34 utc | 39

Andre Gunder Frank R.I.P.

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 26 2005 12:39 utc | 40

Received this link from a friend. Didn't know there was a project 'Deep Impact' in process. The whole story is a little weird, but interesting. I am not even sure if this is to be taken serious, maybe someone else here has heard of this project.

Russian Astrologist Plans to Crash NASA’s Independence Day

Well, we’re not in the direct trajectory of a comet (not yet anyway), but a Deep Impact mission is underway, with a NASA spacecraft scheduled to collide with the Tempel-1 comet on July 4, perhaps blasting it to smithereens. That’s right, it’s Independence Day.

Posted by: Fran | Apr 26 2005 12:47 utc | 41

Wall Street trader-turned-U.S. Marine faces prosecution on Iraq murder charges

...After weeks of ambushes, mortar attacks and enemy fire in the "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad, Pantano's platoon was, to say the least, in the thick of things.

On April 15, his unit was closing in on a house suspected of sheltering insurgents. A white sedan pulled out and Pantano stopped the two men in the car with the help of a Navy corpsman and a radio operator.

He detained the men and had their car searched. Then word came over the radio that Marines in the house had found a stash of weapons. Convinced the car might be booby-trapped, Pantano ordered the Iraqis to search it themselves.

According to written charges, Pantano ordered his men to remove the suspects' handcuffs and to assume a defensive position with their backs turned to the car.

He then allegedly shot the Iraqis in the back, emptying not one but two magazines — 45 rounds — and vandalized their vehicle, the military charges said. Witness accounts and the official charges differed in the number of rounds Pantano fired.

Pantano then hung a sign on the dashboard bearing a Marine slogan: "No better friend, no worse enemy" — a phrase meaning the Marines can be good friends to the Iraqis but, if attacked, can be a formidable foe....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 26 2005 13:17 utc | 42

Juan Cole has a write up about blogging: Worth a read.

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 26 2005 14:08 utc | 43

Towards a Bright Horizon

Since visions are explicitly allowable on this thread, Stirling Newberry has put up an overview of a proposed far-reaching legislative program that includes such goals as sustainability, single payer health insurance, election overhaul, and others. b, I wonder if this wouldn't be worth a comment thread by itself.

Posted by: liz | Apr 26 2005 14:47 utc | 44

for those who are still following the Guckert/Gannon scandal, it appears that a couple of wobblycrats are growing a bit of spine.

from Media Matters

Posted by: Dan of Steele | Apr 26 2005 15:42 utc | 45

Italy prosecutors want Berlusconi charged

ROME - Italian prosecutors asked a judge Tuesday to charge Premier Silvio Berlusconi and 12 others with tax fraud and embezzlement stemming from a deal by his broadcast company to purchase television rights for U.S. movies, a prosecutor said.

Prosecutors in Milan allege that Berlusconi-owned Mediaset purchased the TV rights for U.S. movies before 1999 through two offshore companies and falsely declared the purchase costs to Italian tax authorities to lower the company's taxes.

A prosecutor involved in the case told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that authorities want to try Berlusconi on charges of false accounting, tax fraud and embezzlement....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 26 2005 17:01 utc | 46

Goddamn xDems. gotta quit holdin' up that Bolton nomination. He's needed @UN Now - there's another war to be started.

The United States may soon seek a UN Security Council resolution to impose a virtual international quarantine on North Korea to pressure its regime to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Frustration with North Korea's refusal to return to six-nation talks and growing alarm at signs that the country may be preparing to conduct an underground test is giving momentum to hawkish members of the US administration who want the issue taken to the council as soon as possible.

There was a bellicose reaction last night from North Korea. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said: "If the United States wants so much to drag the nuclear issue to the UN Security Council, it may do so. But we want to make clear we will regard sanctions as a declaration of war."

The New York Times says Washington is considering a resolution to permit foreign countries to intercept shipments of goods to North Korea that may include nuclear materials. This could entail boarding ships in international waters and the forcing down of aircraft bound for the country.


Posted by: jj | Apr 26 2005 18:49 utc | 47

US Jewish lobbyist funded settler gangs with swindled Indian tribe money

GAZA, April 26, 2005 (IPC + Newsweek) - - A US magazine revealed today that a pro-Israeli lobbyist in close contacts with US Congressman Tom DeLay defrauded his Indian tribe clients and funneled large amounts of money in the form of paramilitary gear to Israeli settler gangs in the West Bank.

The US-based magazine Newsweek reported that super lobbyist Jack Abramoff has used the name of a charity foundation he had established with his wife to fund sports and youth leadership programs in impoverished inner city neighborhoods in the United States to send money and military gear to a friend in the illegal Israeli settlement 'Beitar Illit' as well as to another Jewish religious school in the West Bank that has no listing whatsoever...

...The Indian tribes were also interested in a pitched project by Abramoff; a charity foundation he had started up. The charity, called the Capital Athletic Foundation, was supposed to provide sports programs and teach "leadership skills" to city youth. Donating to it also had a side benefit, Abramoff told his clients: it was a favored cause of Republican Congressman Tom DeLay.

However, Newsweek reported, investigators probing Abramoff's charity tax records found that a large sums of money were funneled to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, in the form of paramilitary gear, including camouflage suits, sniper scopes, night-vision binoculars, a thermal imager and other material described in foundation records as "security" equipment....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 26 2005 19:41 utc | 48

Iraqi labor leader : We will defend our oil

An Iraqi union leader may be the biggest obstacle blocking U.S. efforts to privatize oil and other industries in Iraq.

LONDON--As U.S. and British forces entered Baghdad on April 9, 2003, and the Saddam Hussein regime crumbled, those who had been driven underground by Hussein's rule began to breathe again. From Syria, Britain, Scandinavia and elsewhere, exiled trade union radicals began to make the long journey home.

The first post-Saddam days saw a ferment of labor organizing. A general strike broke out in Basra, after the British troops tried to install a notorious ex-Baath Party leader as mayor. Within a month, the city already had a labor council bringing together many new unions.

Among those who had resisted Hussein's brutal dictatorship within Iraq was an oilfield technician, Hassan Juma'a Awad. A veteran of the Shiite uprising in southern Iraq of 1991, Juma'a had begun to speak openly about the bad conditions in the fields and refinery of the Southern Oil Company, where he'd worked for three decades. Following Hussein's downfall he quickly became the most important labor leader in southern Iraq, and today is the biggest single obstacle to the Bush administration's main goal for the occupation -- the privatization of the country's oil.

Oil is Iraq's lifeblood, and the southern fields produce 80 percent of it. That puts the hands of this workforce on the spigot controlling the country's wealth. Like the oil workers in Iran who brought down the Shah in 1978, Iraq's oil workers know their power, and have already used it to deal important defeats to the occupation regime.

"Without organizing ourselves, we would have been unable to protect our industry, which we had been looking after for generations," Juma'a Awad says. "It was our duty as Iraqi workers to protect the oil installations since they are the property of the Iraqi people, and we are sure that the U.S. and the international companies have come here to put their hands on the country's oil reserves."

In fact, within just a few short months of Hussein's fall, Southern Oil Company workers found themselves up against the best-connected U.S. corporation in Iraq -- Halliburton -- whose former CEO, Dick Cheney, is now U.S. vice president. As the occupation began its grinding course, KBR, the Halliburton construction subsidiary, showed up at the SOC facilities. Its no-bid contract with the U.S. Defense Department gave it a mandate to begin reconstruction and get the oil flowing again to tankers off the coast in the Persian Gulf. KBR hired a Kuwaiti subcontractor, Al Khoorafy, which stood ready to bring in hundreds of foreign employees to do the work.

Faced with replacement of their jobs, in a city where unemployment soared to 70 percent, Juma'a Awad and his coworkers stood firm. They told KBR that if they brought in a single person, they would stop the oil installations completely. "Iraq will be reconstructed by Iraqis, we don't need any foreign interference," Jum'a said. At first KBR tried to cut a deal to split the jobs with Iraqis. But the oil workers refused to accept any outside help. Eventually, KBR brought in the reconstruction supplies on trucks, unloaded them, and left.

The next challenge came in September 2003. The occupation administration issued Order 30, lowering the base wages for Iraq's public sector workforce, including oil workers, from $60 to $35 per month. It also cut subsidies for food and housing.

"We asked ourselves, how can it be that the workers in our industry would get $35 a month?" Juma'a Awad recalls. "The American administration wasn't willing to cooperate with us, so we had a short strike. We managed to get the minimum salary up to 150,000 Iraqi dinars, or about $100. This was the beginning of our struggle to improve the income of oil workers."

The union effectively doubled the wages of many. Today, a laborer with 20 years experience earns about 420,000 Iraqi dinars, or about $300, a month. A chicken in the market costs about 1,500 dinars, or $1.

The strike had other repercussions. In Basra's power generation plants, workers threatened similar action and won increases as well. Not surprisingly, they asked Juma'a Awad to negotiate for them.

"Now we have workers' councils in 23 areas of southern Iraq, and represent over 23,000 workers," Juma'a Awad says. "The occupying forces tried their best to stop us, because they saw this as a danger. They were aware that organized workers would have power."

Juma'a Awad says the occupying forces told the unions they had no legal right to represent oil workers. "We were elected by the workers. That's the only kind of legitimacy we need," he says.

Like all Iraqi unions, the General Union of Oil Workers opposes the occupation. "We want the occupation to end immediately, and the immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces," he explains.

While there might be security problems if the troops depart suddenly, Juma'a Awad says he's not worried. "We are able to look after ourselves and our own security."

But privatization, he believes, is the largest threat. "This coming fight is more important even than the struggle against the occupation, since the U.S. is seeking to privatize all sectors of the Iraqi economy," he says. In that fight, Juma'a Awad sees the current government, created as a result of the January elections, as an uncertain ally.

"The next government should not only ensure the security of the Iraqi people, but also stop the privatization of industry. We oppose that very strongly, especially in oil. It is our industry. We don't want a new colonization under the guise of privatization, with international companies taking control."

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 26 2005 21:40 utc | 49

The War on Terra:
World Terror Attacks Tripled in 2004 by U.S. Count

The number of "significant" international terrorist attacks rose to about 650 last year from about 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides briefed on the numbers by State Department and intelligence officials on Monday
The State Department last year initially released erroneous figures that understated the attacks and casualties in 2003 and used the figures to argue that the Bush administration was prevailing in the war on terrorism.

It later said the number of people killed and injured in 2003 was more than double its original count and said "significant" terrorist attacks -- those that kill or seriously injure someone, cause more than $10,000 in damage or attempt to do either of those things -- rose to a 20-year high of 175.
Former intelligence official Larry Johnson last week first disclosed the 2004 increase in his Web log, saying the 2004 numbers would rise at least 655 from about 172 in 2003.

Posted by: b | Apr 26 2005 21:41 utc | 50

In the 1930s the Spanish city of Guernica became a symbol of wanton murder and destruction. In the 1990s Grozny was cruelly flattened by the Russians; it still lies in ruins. This decade's unforgettable monument to brutality and overkill is Falluja, a text-book case of how not to handle an insurgency, and a reminder that unpopular occupations will always degenerate into desperation and atrocity.

This is our Guernica

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Apr 27 2005 8:51 utc | 51

Good rant by Ed Naha (via Peter Hansen)

Murkans? Can you say Librul?

The Works Progress Administration produced everything from books and murals to roads and dams and led to the re-building and re-imagining of America. It was branded by Republicans as being nothing more than "socialism." And the funny thing is, they are STILL PISSED OFF ABOUT IT. Why?

It worked.

Posted by: beq | Apr 27 2005 14:57 utc | 52

(its....) terry jones' quick interview on between the lines

Posted by: b real | Apr 27 2005 14:58 utc | 53

Osha Davidson at Rolling Stone warns us about a plan to threaten our federal bureaucracy with an 8 person commission.


If you've got something to hide in Washington, the best place to bury it is in the federal budget. The spending plan that President Bush submitted to Congress this year contains 2,000 pages that outline funding to safeguard the environment, protect workers from injury and death, crack down on securities fraud and ensure the safety of prescription drugs. But almost unnoticed in the budget, tucked away in a single paragraph, is a provision that could make every one of those protections a thing of the past.

The proposal, spelled out in three short sentences, would give the president the power to appoint an eight-member panel called the "Sunset Commission," which would systematically review federal programs every ten years and decide whether they should be eliminated. Any programs that are not "producing results," in the eyes of the commission, would "automatically terminate unless the Congress took action to continue them."

The administration portrays the commission as a well-intentioned effort to make sure that federal agencies are actually doing their job. "We just think it makes sense," says Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, which crafted the provision. "The goal isn't to get rid of a program -- it's to make it work better."

In practice, however, the commission would enable the Bush administration to achieve what Ronald Reagan only dreamed of: the end of government regulation as we know it. With a simple vote of five commissioners -- many of them likely to be lobbyists and executives from major corporations currently subject to federal oversight -- the president could terminate any program or agency he dislikes. No more Environmental Protection Agency. No more Food and Drug Administration. No more Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Ronald Reagan once observed, 'The closest thing to immortality on this earth is a federal government program,' " says Rep. Kevin Brady, a Republican from Texas who has been working for the past nine years to establish a sunset commission. "We need it to clear out the deadwood."

Want to bet that anything that doesn't produce revenue for the donor class counts as deadwood?

Apparently the Repubs are anticipating the Constitutional critique that a Presidential commission cannot legally overturn legislative work. So Republican congressmen are looking to create a Congressional version of this committee. This is an attack on the sovereignty of the citizenry. They want to be our rulers, and make us their slaves. By debt laws, by bank deregulation, by attacking the structures through which we combine to educate and enrich each other, they are working to put is in bondage and make themselves the masters. They are trading in slavery, and we are failing to notice.

Posted by: citizen | Apr 27 2005 17:27 utc | 54

"Sunset Commission". Sounds lovely. Let's all sit on our porch swings and watch the nation go down.

Posted by: beq | Apr 27 2005 17:42 utc | 55

LOL. Is this what Kafka felt like reading his pieces to friends?

Posted by: citizen | Apr 27 2005 18:19 utc | 56

FAFBLOG: But so much has changed in the last two hundred years Constitution. Isn't there stuff in the original Constitution that doesn't apply to our crazy world a flyin cars an internet babies? CONSTITUTION: There's one thing the Founding Fathers couldn't have anticipated, Fafnir - and that's the threat of terrorism. The men who drafted me could never have guessed that the United States would be imperiled by a foreign threat! A foreign white threat, maybe... but a foreign brown threat? The mind reels! FAFBLOG: It's true - 9/11 changed everything, even math and Jesus.

fafblog scratches where it itches

Posted by: citizen | Apr 27 2005 19:47 utc | 57

Britain isn't worth an old shoe

Posted by: DM | May 4 2005 0:00 utc | 58

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