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By Dave Lindorff
Okay, I have to vent here. We all get a little crazy sitting alone at our keyboards in this business, and it's finally gotten to me.
I know there are serious signs of a complete mental breakdown in the US, with polls reporting that millions of people are actually excited at having a low-rent religious fanatic who consistently mispronounces pundit as "pundint" (shades of Dubya!), pilfers state funds for her family's personal use, lies about her alleged opposition to Washington pork, claims the bloody war in Iraq is "God's will," forces her 17-year-old daughter to make a momentary mistake into a lifetime one by marrying the kid who got her pregnant, and refers to blacks as "sambo" and to Alaska's indigenous people as "arctic arabs," running for vice president on the ticket with a man who is a walking medical disaster waiting to happen.
The National Intelligence Council, the U.S. intelligence community's focal point for estimating future developments, warned the George W. Bush administration last month that a decision to launch commando raids by U.S. troops against al Qaeda-related targets in Pakistan's North-West Frontier region would carry a high risk of further destabilising the Pakistani military and government, according to sources familiar with the intelligence community's response to the issue.
That blunt warning was conveyed to the White House in an oral briefing by a top official of the NIC two or three weeks ago, according to Philip Giraldi, former operations officer and counter-terrorist specialist in the CIA Directorate of Operations, who maintains contacts with the intelligence community.
The bodies of at least 10 children and many more adults covered in blankets and white shrouds appear in videos obtained by The Associated Press on Monday, lending weight to Afghan and U.N. allegations that a U.S.-led raid last month killed more civilians than the U.S. reported.
The sounds of wailing women mixed with the voices of men shouting inside a white-walled mosque in the western village of Azizabad, where an Afghan government commission and U.N. report said some 90 civilians - including 60 children and 15 women - were killed.
The two grainy videos, apparently taken by cell phones, showed bodies lying side-by-side on the mosque floor, covered by floral-patterned blankets and black-and-white checkered shawls. One young boy lay curled in a fetal position; others looked as though they were asleep. One child had half its head blown off.
Turbaned men walked around, gently lifting the blankets covering the faces of the dead. At least two elderly men were among the dead. There appeared to be several dozen bodies lying on the mosque floor, though a precise count was difficult because of the poor quality of the images.
For more than two decades, current Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was a practicing Pentecostal.
She belonged to the Wasilla Assembly of God church in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. But though she attended the church from her teenage years through to 2002, she hasn't talked much about her religion since joining the Republican ticket.
Palin's former pastor, Tim McGraw, says that like many Pentecostal churches, some members speak in tongues, although he says he's never seen Palin do so. Church member Caroline Spangler told CNN, "When the spirit comes on you, you utter things that nobody else can understand ... only God can understand what is coming out of our mouths."
“We Need to Remind People that You Cannot Trample the Bill of Rights” – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Calls for Impeachment
A day after Ted Kennedy addressed the Democratic convention in Denver, the Kennedys gathered at the historic Brown Palace Hotel in Denver to remember another Kennedy, Ted’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy. He was assassinated forty years ago, the night he won the Los Angeles Democratic primary. After the event, I sat down with Robert F. Kennedy’s son, environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. He spoke about torture, impeachment and the most poignant memories of his father.
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Trickle-Down Preemption: Baghdad on the Mississippi
By Ray McGovern
Ten days ago, as the nation focused attention on the hurricane nearing the Mississippi delta, another storm was brewing far upstream in St. Paul, Minnesota—a storm far more dangerous, it turned out, but one by and large overlooked by the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM).
When I flew into St. Paul on Saturday evening, August 30, I encountered a din in local media about “preemptive strikes” on those already congregating there to demonstrate against the Iraq war and injustice against the poor in our country. St. Paul’s Pioneer Press expressed surprise that “despite preemptive police searches” and arrests, a group calling itself “the RNC Welcoming Committee” was still intent on “disrupting the convention.”
BAQUBA, Aug 29 (IPS) - Residents of Baquba deny police claims that kidnappings are now a matter of the past.
"There are fewer people disappearing, but it continues," a trader who asked to be referred to as Abu Ali told IPS. "All of us know that several people are still being kidnapped every week."
A local sheikh, speaking to IPS on condition of anonymity, said that many from his tribe have been kidnapped in just the last three weeks.
"This sectarian security operation is targeting Sunnis," the sheikh said. "At least ten people from my tribe alone, all of them Sunnis, have been kidnapped, and we suspect it is by people with the government."
Talk about naive. The Union of Concerned Scientists apparently thought the Democratic and Republican national conventions would be appropriate events at which to bring up the awkwardly substantive topic of U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles (6,000 or so) and policy (insane).
Lawsuit to Ask That Cheney's Papers Be Made Public
By Christopher Lee | WashingtonPost.com
Months before the Bush administration ends, historians and open-government advocates are concerned that Vice President Cheney, who has long bristled at requirements to disclose his records, will destroy or withhold key documents that illustrate his role in forming U.S. policy for the past 7 1/2 years.
In a preemptive move, several of them have agreed to join the advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in asking a federal judge to declare that Cheney's records are covered by the Presidential Records Act of 1978 and cannot be destroyed, taken or withheld without proper review.
A senior Russian human rights official has spoken out against attempts by Western NGOs to downplay the number of casualties in the 5-day battle for Tskhinval. Public Chamber member and Director of the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, Alexander Brod, says groups such as Human Rights Watch were in no position to make an objective assessment of war casualties.
In this interview conducted by Ossetia Info, a media body set up to publish information on the region, Alexander Brod explains how most Western NGOs report events from a Georgian perspective.
What is your reaction to claims by international human rights groups that just 40 bodies were found in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinval?
A.B.: The international observers have been very passive in their investigation of the South Ossetian crisis. Most of them took a position of non-interference while the others showed a one-sided approach, convenient only to the Georgian side. They ignored facts like mass killings, war crimes, the devastation of Tskhinval, the attempt to rub the whole republic from the face of Earth. I don’t know how they calculated that 40 people had been killed.
By Dave Lindorff
Back in the early days of the seemingly interminable Afghan conflict, a young American, trapped in Afghanistan by the US invasion of that country, was captured along with Taliban fighters and, after a bit of captivity and “enhanced interrogation” at the tender mercies of US troops, was transported back for trial in the US, where then Attorney General John Ashcroft excitedly labeled him the “American Taliban.”
But John Walker Lindh, railroaded into a 20-year jail sentence and slapped with a gag order that bars him from talking about how he was tortured for the entire length of his incarceration in Afghanistan, is not the real American Taliban. That title surely belongs to our new Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.
MSNBC said Sunday it is replacing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as co-anchors of political night coverage with David Gregory, and will use the two newsmen as commentators.
The change reflects tensions between the freewheeling, opinionated MSNBC and the impartial newsgatherers at NBC News. Throughout the primaries and summer, MSNBC argued that Olbermann and Matthews could serve as dispassionate anchors on political news nights and that viewers would accept them in that role, but things fell apart during the conventions.
Gregory, the veteran Washington hand, will anchor MSNBC's coverage of the presidential and vice presidential debates and election night, said Jeremy Gaines, network spokesman. The change was first reported by The New York Times.
The tipping point appears to have come during the Republican convention when Olbermann, after the network aired a Sept. 11-themed video prepared by the Republicans, said that MSNBC should not have shown it.
Justice Department Moves Toward Charges Against Contractors in Iraq Shooting
By Del Quentin Wilber and Karen DeYoung | WashingtonPost.com
Federal prosecutors have sent target letters to six Blackwater Worldwide security guards involved in a September shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, indicating a high likelihood the Justice Department will seek to indict at least some of the men, according to three sources close to the case.
The guards, all former US military personnel, were working as security contractors for the State Department, assigned to protect US diplomats and other non-military officials in Iraq. The shooting occurred when their convoy arrived at a busy square in central Baghdad and guards tried to stop traffic.
One of America's biggest military contractors is being sued by a Nepali labourer and the families of a dozen other employees who say they were taken against their will to work in Iraq. All but one of the Nepalese workers were subsequently kidnapped and murdered.
According to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the Nepalese workers were recruited in 2004 in their home country by KBR and its Jordanian contractors, Daoud & Partners, to work as kitchen staff in a luxury hotel in Amman. Once they reached the Jordanian capital, however, their passports were taken from them and they were sent to Iraq. While travelling in an unprotected convoy, the Nepalis were kidnapped and later executed.
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Join us in giving Cheney an UNWELCOMING reception when he visits Rome!
Monday, September 8, 5-7pm
Piazza di San Marco (Piazza Venezia)
One of the primary architects of Bush administration policy, Richard B. Cheney has approved and supported:
- unlawful detention and torture
- the illegal occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan
- crimes against humanity
- war-privatization and war-profiteering
- threats of aggression against Iran
- the dissemination of propaganda
- violations of the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution
- violations of the Nuremberg Principles and Geneva Conventions
- indefinite and discretionary detention of US and non-US citizens
- ...just to name a few.
Please join us on Monday and stand with us against war crimes and war criminals!!
U.S. Citizens for Peace and Justice - Rome
10 Reasons Why We Need a New (Cold?) War
By Gary Corseri
1. Russia is too damned uppity. After Georgian "peacekeepers" turned their guns on genuine Russian peace-keepers in South Ossetia, after Georgia bombed and killed 1500 South Ossetians, Russia had the nerve to counter-attack!
The US is negotiating with Georgia and Turkey to establish a naval base at one of the two key Georgian ports of Batumi or Poti, reports say.
Turkey, in an attempt to avoid political tension with Russia, has not officially revealed its position regarding the plan, said Gruzya Online, a Russian-language internet site.
Russia had previously announced its intention to station its own special forces at the Georgian ports.
One of the responsibilities of US Special Forces in the region is to ensure the security of an oil pipeline passing through Georgia.
Peace Island in a Police State--When in Doubt, Hold a Picnic!
By Coleen Rowley | HuffingtonPost.com
Just across the Mississippi from the RNC-created Police State in St. Paul, some brave picnickers turned out to form a message and enjoy a day of art and music at our Peace Island Picnic. But it wasn't without its surreal moments.
by Linda Milazzo
During Sarah Palin's acceptance speech when nominated by John McCain for Vice President, McCain wouldn't leave Palin alone on stage. Rather than give her the momentary limelight, McCain peered over her shoulder and read her speech alongside her. He was visibly nervous and has remained so ever since. Other than Wednesday at the RNC when Palin finally appeared solo, the image of McCain hovering authoritatively over her is the constant at every appearance. McCain's public subjugation of Palin, and her public acceptance of it, set male-female advancement back decades. Were Palin truly a trusted and powerful woman she'd request and be granted autonomy on stage, and reject McCain's Taliban-like presence. All that's missing is her burka. Honestly, what strong woman tolerates a man hovering over her in the presence of thousands? If she's really VP worthy, McCain should leave her alone.
Here are 3 short videos evidencing McCain's "tight-leash" on Palin. The first is Palin's acceptance of the nomination for VP:
This video is a classic example of the 8th characteristic of fascism, that Religion and Government are Intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
Years ago, many public schools abandoned the subjects of civics and geography for their students, and that paved the way for what we see today, the morphing of authentic American values into a fascist theocracy that benefits the corporate interests and undermines the bedrock of American democracy, the middle-class.
The Old American Century does an excellent, however, partial job of exposing and categorizing modern events as examples of American fascism.
Still fighting and defending our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic!
By Robert C. Koehler | Tribune Media Services
Peace is no more — and no less — than the audacity of sanity, reaching past the dubious geopolitics of national self-interest and standing, as Hank Brusselback did, underneath the ancient bridge in Esfahan, Iran, listening to the men who had gathered to sing.
It’s called civilian diplomacy, and it is one way we will create the peace our leaders don’t believe we’re ready for.
“If the government isn’t willing to talk to people, then the people need to be willing to (talk to each other),” Brusselback said. “It comes from a belief in the nature of security — it’s not about weapons, fear and posturing on the world stage. It’s about communication, talking to people, everyone having their basic needs met. If you understood security that way, you’d see that security is about dialogue.”
IRAQ: U.S. Blamed for Increasing Iranian Influence
By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail | Inter Press Service
Haider returned from Iran recently, with enough money to pay for his wedding and a new car. He was trained to join Badr, the armed wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.
Many more come where he recently came from.
Badr is being trained ostensibly to defend Shia leaders, under increased attacks from militant groups. Dawa is a Shia dominated party, and inevitably looks to Shia Iran for support.
The Badr militia has itself been blamed for carrying out several attacks against Sahwa forces in some areas of Iraq. Many anti-occupation militants are now members of the primarily Sunni Sahwa forces – also backed by the U.S.
Pentagon Admits Underreporting US Casualties; "We Don't Do Webster's" But Aim for "Average Newspaper Reader"
Michael Munk reports:
US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered at least 23 combat casualties in the week ending August 12, 2008, as the official casualty total climbed to at least 67,804. It includes 33,875 dead and wounded by what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 33,929 dead and medically evacuated (as of July 5, 2008) because of "non-hostile" causes. The number of wounded is updated weekly (usually Tuesdays) by the Pentagon.
The actual total is over 87,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the approximately 20,000 casualties reported only after they returned from Iraq - mainly brain trauma from explosions, according to a USA Today, Nov. 23, 2007 article.
Frederick Douglass said it best. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Stated another way, Experience is the best teacher. To understand the political mechanics of this country, a person must have been involved in political struggle. Dr. Leonard Jeffries says it requires knowledge of systems analysis. A political system ensures the maintenance of the status quo. Similarly, this is also the objective of economic and legal systems.