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by Linda Milazzo
The above video, courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and videographer, Jeffrey Thompson, is one of the first behind-the-scenes views of the extreme dedication and depth of organization of CODEPINK, which like most PEACE and social justice groups, is comprised mainly of volunteers who work ceaselessly and selflessly to restore this nation to the rule of law and principles of freedom upon which it was built.
Tucked deep into a recent proposal from the Bush administration is a provision that has received almost no public attention, yet in many ways captures one of President Bush’s defining legacies: an affirmation that the United States is still at war with Al Qaeda.
Seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bush’s advisers assert that many Americans may have forgotten that. So they want Congress to say so and “acknowledge again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us and who are dedicated to the slaughter of Americans.”
No One Should Have to Stand in Line for 10 Hours to Vote
By ADAM COHEN | NYTimes.com
Everyone complains that young people don’t vote, but consider the experience of students at Kenyon College in Ohio in the 2004 election. Officials in Knox County, Ohio, provided just two voting machines for the school’s 1,300 voters. Some students waited in line for 10 hours, and the last bleary-eyed voter did not cast a ballot until nearly 4 a.m.
Appearing with other member of the Congressional Black Caucus at the Democratic National Convention tonight for a moving tribute to their recently deceased colleague Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers brings the issue of fair elections and election integrity to the convention.
IndependentMovement.Org - Building a Movement to Revitalize American Democracy
We're building a movement of voters to take on the partisan and special interest politics in America. We want this movement to be more than just "angry outsiders". We want to use our political leverage wherever possible to make a real difference in the country.
That's why we’re working both inside and outside the political parties (who still dominate American politics) with a view towards opening up the political process to all Americans.
By Dave Lindorff
There are many reasons why most Americans should be turned off by Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s last-minute choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate.
She’s an evangelical Christian who believes in creationism and thinks this fantasy belongs in the school science curriculum alongside evolution. She’s opposed to the right to abortion. She thinks global warming is not a proven phenomenon. She favors drilling for oil in the Arctic Refuge and damn the environmental consequences. This supposedly family-centered “hockey mom “is happy about sending her 18-year-old son off to war in Iraq, even as Iraq is trying to shoo us out of the country and even as the president is tacitly admitting that the whole thing is a bust by agreeing to a timetable for withdrawal.
Tomgram: Ann Jones, Afghan Women Behind Closed Doors
[Note for TomDispatch readers: This is the third and last post in a pre-Labor-Day "best of TomDispatch" series -- and a good reminder that yesterday's story at this site may turn out to be tomorrow's headlines. Back in February 2007, I wrote of our "forgotten war" in Afghanistan. There, civilians were dying in startling numbers, as they are today, and the Taliban was proving resurgent, as it also is today. I listed a set of grim then-recent headlines about those civilian deaths and added: "So goes the repetitive, if ever deepening, tragedy of our other war -- and under such headlines lie massive tragedies that seldom make the headlines anywhere. Ann Jones, who has spent much time as a humanitarian aid worker in Afghanistan these last years and wrote a moving book, Kabul in Winter, on her experiences, turns to one of those tragedies: the fate of Afghan women."
A year and a half later, with the U.S. reportedly planning to ship 12,000-15,000 extra troops to Afghanistan early next year, that tragedy only deepens and, far from turning into ancient history, Jones's piece might as well have been written yesterday. Or tomorrow -- for no matter who becomes president in January 2009, those extra troops are likely to be but an American downpayment on further grim headlines and more suffering for Afghan women.
The world’s 190-plus states now co-exist with a larger number of powerful non-sovereign and at least partly (and often largely) independent actors, ranging from corporations to non-government organisations (NGOs), from terrorist groups to drug cartels, from regional and global institutions to banks and private equity funds. The sovereign state is influenced by them (for better and for worse) as much as it is able to influence them. The near monopoly of power once enjoyed by sovereign entities is being eroded.
By Dave Lindorff
Sen. Barack Obama scored big in the Invesco Stadium last night with an acceptance speech that managed to do everything that the political operatives, pundits and critics had argued he’d have to do: It was at once impassioned, full of actual policy plans, and aggressive in its attack on John McCain, his Republican opponent for the presidency.
But the speech also raises some important questions. Biggest among these was Obama’s continued insistence that he will expand the military and, instead of bringing the troops home from Iraq, will shift at least some of them to Afghanistan where he’s calling for an escalation of a war that seems doomed to failure. The expansion of the military that he is proposing, furthermore, would be unrelated to the Afghanistan conflict, and is of a more long-term nature, suggesting that Obama is envisioning even more future conflicts.
An Appeal to Presidential Nominee Barack Obama
Nick Egnatz | NW Indiana Veterans For Peace
While I am certainly not looking forward to a John McCain Administration, I have serious reservations that a Barack Obama Administration will offer the fundamental change necessary to end the concept of American Empire and Exceptionalism. Said concept is rooted in the belief that God somehow has showered the United States with additional blessings that other nations have not received and that U.S., as the savior of the world, has the duty and right to project our military and economic might across the globe as we see fit, without regard to international law or common morality.
Obama has recently said that we need to redeploy our troops from Iraq so that we can send more of them to Afghanistan and better concentrate on the 'War on Terror.'
By Dave Lindorff
One of the sorrier legacies of eight years of Bush and Cheney in the White House has been the conflation of the terms “National Security” and “Foreign Policy” by both Republicans and Democrats.
Granted that the history of US foreign policy in the world has been heavily larded with wars, many of them at America’s instigation. It is nonetheless true that foreign policy is much bigger and more far reaching than just what has come to be known as “national security” issues.
In Bush-speak, national security come to mean having big guns, lots of heavily armed troops, cruise missiles, nuclear weapons, naval armadas and a bully’s willingness to use these weapons on a whim, with no thought of consequences.
Torture As Official Israeli Policy
by Stephen Lendman
The UN Convention against Torture defines the practice as:
"any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain and suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity...."
The US and Israel are the only two modern states that legally sanction torture. An earlier article covered America. This one deals with the Jewish state, but let there be no doubt:
Denver Cages Americans Exercising 1st Amendment Rights; Disobeys Court Order to Provide Water & PortaPotties
The vast unused Freedom Cage for protesters at the Pepsi Center has no water or toilets in apparent violation of a federal judge’s order.
The Secret Service and other government officials also had assured the judge that most delegates would be walking past the protest area on their way to the convention, but none do, said Mark Silverstein, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union.
In fact, the protest area, now known as the Freedom Cage, is so remote and disengaged from the convention that few protesters are using it.
But those who do have to leave in search of water or toilets.
The Bush administration is raising the stakes in a court fight that could change the balance of power between the White House and the U.S. Congress.
Justice Department lawyers said Wednesday that they will soon ask a federal appeals court not to force the president's top advisers to comply with congressional subpoenas next month. President George W. Bush argues Congress does not have the authority to demand information from his aides.
U.S. District Judge John Bates strongly rejected that stance last month, ordering former White House counsel Harriet Miers to testify and White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten to turn over documents related to the firing of federal prosecutors.
"Shallow Throat": McCain Is a "Catastrophe Waiting to Happen"
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
The race between McCain and Obama is tighter than one would think should be the case. I needed some help in figuring out why, so I got a coded message to "Shallow Throat "-- the high-ranking GOP mole in the Bush Administration with whom I've consulted often.** We met under some shade trees at a public park in Alexandria.
"I'm confused by what's going on," I said to Shallow Throat, who was wearing a new wig and wraparounds. "Obama should be wiping the floor with McSame, but the race reminds me too much of 2000 and 2004: so close that Rove and his minions could once again steal it."
We have been asserting for years that Diebold (now Premier Elections Systems) makes voting machines that don’t work, are unreliable and that have flipped elections. Just last week, Diebold was forced to admit that software in its machines has for a decade been dropping votes. These machines are being used in 34 states in the upcoming election.
Two years ago, The Brad Blog broke the Pentagon Papers of E-Voting stories about the SAIC report on the vast problems with Diebold vote machines. In short, Diebold had issued a 40 page redacted version of the SAIC report which whitewashed the problems. Computer cyber security expert Stephen Spoonamore got a copy of the 197-page unredacted report which listed hundreds of serious problems, and he released that report to us.
Is Obama’s “New Energy for America” Plan Change We Can Believe in?
By Ted Glick
On August 4th the Barack Obama Presidential campaign released a comprehensive program for reform of the U.S. energy system. In the words of Obama supporter and climate blogger and author Joe Romm, it was “easily the best energy plan ever put forward by a nominee of either party.” The critical question, however, is this: is it an energy plan that will actually do the job of giving U.S. leadership to the world in a way which gives us a decent chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change?
I see a parallel here in the United States to what has recently happened in Pakistan.
President Pervaz Musharaff of Pakistan on August 18 tendered his resignation in an announcement released just hours before the Pakistani Parliament was to have launched impeachment proceedings against him. Thus, a military dictator removed himself from power. One might observe: How simple – if the goods are there, just the threat of exposure and trial is a sufficient motivator to resign.
By Dave Lindorff
I was a speaker last night at an anti-war event sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, Progressive Democrats of America and Democrats For America in Lincroft, NJ, near the shore. It was a great group of activist Americans who want to see this country end the Iraq War, turn away from war as a primary instrument of policy, and start dealing with the pressing human needs of the country and the world.
Yet even in this group of committed people, one woman stood up during the question-and-answer session and said, “I want to get involved in writing emails to members of Congress urging them to cut off funding for the war and other things, but if I do that won’t I end up getting put on a `watch list’” or something?”
House Democratic leaders and protesters waving McCain signs had a war of words Tuesday at a press event outside an old train station. The demonstrators interrupted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with chants of “Drill here! Drill now!”
Pelosi paused and asked the group, “Right here?”
Seeming to enjoy the back and forth, she followed with another question: “Can we drill your brains?”
She went on to refer to the protesters, who continued to chant sporadically, as “handmaidens of Big Oil.” Arguing that increased offshore drilling would reduce gas prices by only a couple of pennies a decade from now, she referred to the demonstrators as the “2-cents-in-10-years-crowd.”
A federal judge denied the White House's last-ditch attempt to block a former aide from testifying before Congress as part of the investigation into the U.S. Attorney scandal.
Today's ruling by Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is expected to pave the way for former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, who returned to her old law firm in Texas, to testify before Congress in the coming months. It also urges the White House to turn over documents subpoenaed from former chief of staff Joshua Bolten.
"If the government is trying to run out the clock on the 110th Congress, today's decision suggests that Judge Bates won't let them," said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University.
Rep. John Conyers, Jr., D-Mich., chair of the House Judiciary Committee, praised the decision and pledged to schedule a hearing for Miers shortly.
"I am heartened that Judge Bates recognized that the public interest in this matter is best served by the furtherance of the Committee's investigation," he said in a statement.
by Linda Milazzo
IS THIS REALLY WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE?!
Text of Rep. Dennis Kucinich's (D-OH-10) Speech Today at the Democratic National Convention:
It’s Election Day 2008. We Democrats are giving America a wake-up call. Wake up, America. In 2001, the oil companies, the war contractors and the neo-con artists seized the economy and have added 4 trillion dollars of unproductive spending to the national debt. We now pay four times more for defense, three times more for gasoline and home heating oil and twice what we paid for health care.
Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, their health care, their pensions. Trillions of dollars for an unnecessary war paid with borrowed money. Tens of billions of dollars in cash and weapons disappeared into thin air, at the cost of the lives of our troops and innocent Iraqis, while all the president’s oilmen are maneuvering to grab Iraq’s oil.
Borrowed money to bomb bridges in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. No money to rebuild bridges in America. Money to start a hot war with Iran. Now we have another cold war with Russia, while the American economy has become a game of Russian roulette.
If there was an Olympics for misleading, mismanaging and misappropriating, this administration would take the gold. World records for violations of national and international laws. They want another four-year term to continue to alienate our allies, spend our children’s inheritance and hollow out our economy.
U.S. officials say the 11-year-old American son of a suspected Pakistani militant is being held by authorities in Afghanistan.
Assfia Siddiqui's son, Ahmed, is a U.S. citizen by birth and has been in Afghan custody since July when his mother was arrested after a shootout with Afghan police in Ghanzi, the Washington Post (NYSE:WPO) said Tuesday.
Siddiqui, a neuroscientist who had been sought as a suspected al-Qaida operative since 2003, is currently lodged in a U.S. federal prison.
Her disappearance five years ago sparked accusations that she had been kidnapped in Pakistan by the CIA.
[Note for TomDispatch Readers This is the second post in a pre-Labor Day "best of TomDispatch" series. The first was Chalmers Johnson's 2005 "Smash of Civilizations." Now, we backpeddle another year to 2004 and reconsider the Pentagon's ceaseless efforts to dream up and build ever more effective, ever more invasive and destructive weaponry not just for 2010, but for 2020, 2030, 2040, and beyond. The new model car or the next version of the iPhone has nothing on the Pentagon, which fully expects to roll out the next version of destruction until Hell freezes over. This makes TomDispatch Associate Editor Nick Turse's 2004 piece -- in those distant days he still signed his posts "Nicholas" -- on ways the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was planning to weaponize the wild kingdom as shiny new as tomorrow's HDTVs.
The Future That Never Comes; The Past That Never Was; The Present Inscrutable
By Gary Corseri
Why am I not surprised by Obama’s choice of Joe Biden as his running mate? Because I learned as a child: in America, the future never comes!
Should we shake our heads, wondering, when the candidate for “change we can believe in” chooses a consummate Washington “insider” as his co-agent for that change? Not if we understand that we have lived for decades in a military-industrial, media-fashioned, academia-certified, legally sanctioned Disney World/Murdoch World in which the future never comes.
Expecting the promised future is like expecting to find Weapons of Mass Destruction. Eventually, it becomes a vicious joke: like Bush looking under a table in the White House, then smirking at the camera, “Nope, not here, either.”