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IRAQ. For the first time in 25 years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued an economic assessment on Iraq, advising the government to increase the pace of reconstruction and investment, mainly in the oil sector.
"Directors commended the Iraqi authorities for keeping their economic programme on track by strengthening economic policies and making progress in structural reforms, despite an unsettled political situation and a very difficult security environment," said the IMF in a statement on Thursday summarising its Executive Board assessment on Iraq's economic performance.
Extending Iraq Buildup Would Be Tough
by Lolita C. Baldor
Sapped by nearly six years of war, the Army has nearly exhausted its fighting force and its options if the Bush administration decides to extend the Iraq buildup beyond next spring.
The Army's 38 available combat units are deployed, just returning home or already tapped to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, leaving no fresh troops to replace five extra brigades that President Bush sent to Baghdad this year, according to interviews and military documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
Why Teamsters President Hoffa worries Iran's mullahs
by Mahtaub Hojjati
Iran's despotic mullahs are worried more about Teamsters union President James Hoffa than Iran's Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. Why? They are frightened by the prospect that Hoffa's escalating voice may give birth to an Iranian version of Solidarity's Lech Walesa, whose courageous and charismatic leadership transformed Poland's workers into an invincible political force.
Why Iraqis oppose U.S.-backed oil law
Workers think foreign firms will take over
By David Bacon
Across the political spectrum in Washington, members of Congress are now demanding that the Iraqi government meet certain benchmarks, which presumably would show that it's really in charge. But there's a big problem with the most important benchmark: the oil law. It is extremely unpopular in Iraq.
BY MIKAL HUTTO
All politicians mean when they claim to be "Centrists" or claim that most Americans are, is that they want all the votes, therefore will be paralyzed and never commit to any real issue for fear of offending the other side. It is pure nonsense. We all make concessions on certain issues when we vote for a particular candidate, according to what we think is the most important issue or issues. No candidate can be all things to all people, but someone forgot to tell them that. Of course, the real problem is they are all owned before they ever get on a ballot, and it is not by us.
By John Borland
08.14.07 | 2:00 AM
CalTech graduate student Virgil Griffith built a search tool that traces IP addresses of those who make Wikipedia changes.
On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company's machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits.
In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself. And it is far from an isolated case. A new data-mining service launched Monday traces millions of Wikipedia entries to their corporate sources, and for the first time puts comprehensive data behind longstanding suspicions of manipulation, which until now have surfaced only piecemeal in investigations of specific allegations.
By Paul J. Nyden
The West Virginia Gazette
Sunday 12 August 2007
Iraq and Afghanistan dominated our news headlines. But our media continue to overlook the growing privatization of military operations - a major historical development.
George W. Bush vigorously backs privatization and frequently awards huge contracts to companies owned by political contributors, such as Halliburton and Blackwater.
During his years in the Oval Office, Bill Clinton also embraced the emerging military privatization.
Today, our government pays mercenaries billions of dollars to fight and kill "enemies," protect government officials and deliver food.
American taxpayers pay the bill. But few know much about the growth of private military companies, or PMCs.
By Dave Lindorff
The idea that the US could be considering classifying the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist” organization, based upon some dubious evidence that the organization is supplying some weapons—in particular those shaped charges that have been so effective in roadside bombs against US military vehicles—is pretty preposterous when you consider the source.
Whatever the truth about the activities of the Iranians, certainly when it comes to terror, the US is unrivalled in the world today.
By Deborah Hastings
The Associated Press
Saturday 11 August 2007
There are now nearly as many private contractors in Iraq as there are U.S. soldiers - and a large percentage of them are private security guards equipped with automatic weapons, body armor, helicopters and bullet-proof trucks.
They operate with little or no supervision, accountable only to the firms employing them. And as the country has plummeted toward anarchy and civil war, this private army has been accused of indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys.
It is becoming increasingly clear that we are a nation of infantile adults; small minds, little hearts, in big – very big - people’s pants. We bicker and scream and backbite and fight, pushing the peas of politics around on our plates, throwing tantrums on TV, kicking and screaming on the floor of the House. It is time to grow up. The social and environmental problems of the 21st Century, most of which we have knowingly, purposefully, created, demand that we put away childish things.
Gen. Clark: Pat Tillman's Manner of Death is Still Wide Open; "Truth is Not Out There Yet"- Lawyers Jubiliant No Criminal Probe
Note: Transcript changes from "CLARK" to "WOLFFE" but these are all General Clark's responses.
MSNBC analyst General Wesley Clark served for 38 years in the Army, including time as supreme allied commander of NATO.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), MSNBC ANALYST: Thanks. Good to be with you, Keith.
By Dave Lindorff
The looming collapse of the US military in Iraq, of which a number of generals and former generals, including former Chief of Staff Colin Powell, have warned, is happening none too soon, as it may be the best hope for preventing military rule here at home.
From the looks of things, the Bush/Cheney regime has been working assiduously to pave the way for a declaration of military rule, such that at this point it really lacks only the pretext to trigger a suspension of Constitutional government. They have done this with the active support of Democrats in Congress, though most of the heavy lifting was done by the last, Republican-led Congress.
July 25, 2007
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
New York Times
FORT LEWIS, Wash. — Twenty soldiers deployed to Iraq from this Army base were killed in May, a monthly high. That same month, the base announced a change in how it would honor its dead: instead of units holding services after each death, they would be held collectively once a month.
The anger and hurt were immediate. Soldiers’ families and veterans protested the change as cold and logistics-driven. Critics online said the military was trying to repress bad news about deaths. By mid-June, the base had delayed the plan.
As his Iraq adventure disintegrates before his eyes, and as more and more Americans are unwilling to give him any benefit of the doubt, George W. Bush is once again pulling out the let’s scare’em with terrorism card.
And while there is no doubt that this despicable ploy is just that, we should not fall into the trap of only accusing him of crying wolf. Because, putting aside the lies that our government dishes out everyday, there is no question that at this point, there are indeed terrorists who would love nothing more than to launch an attack in The United States.
Published in JAMS Magazine:
For the United States of America, the only westernized nation (other than Belarus) where the execution of humans is sanctioned by law, the quality of their mercy is decided by their peers. In this death penalty nation, the burden on those citizens who determine life or death can be a heavy weight to bear.
Time and again, capital punishment has painful consequences for the juror, as well as the condemned. For the condemned, the consequences are obvious, although the degrees of the horrors may vary. There is the anguished anticipation of the death, and the flawed methods of the execution, which in far too many cases produce painful inhumane results. Just studying the details of botched executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977, leaves a history of error too grotesque to ignore. (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=8&did=478)
For the decider, or juror, in cases where evidence is circumstantial and/or principally reliant on witness recall, there is always the possibility of murdering an innocent. Though the defendant's guilt must be proven beyond a doubt, ominous shadows of doubt have emerged after executions - when it was already too late.
Funny eyebrows, clean bullet...
THE DECISION of President Bush to keep Dick Cheney on as his vice presidential running mate in 2004 may have been the worst thing he has done to America.
I say this not on the basis of whatever policy impact Mr. Cheney may have had on the Bush Administration - the Iraq war, torture, obsessive secrecy, plumping up the executive branch, or whatever. The problem is the phenomenon of having in the vice presidency a person who will not be running for president in the next election. (Mr. Cheney cannot and never could have run on the basis of his heart illness.)
Jeffrey Feldman of Frameshop writes:
The one photo the GOP does not want anyone to see was snapped at yesterday's NAACP GOP Presidential Candidate Forum. The NAACP invited all 9 Republican candidates to the forum, but only one showed up: Tom Tancredo. All the Democratic Presidential hopefuls showed up for their forum.
The excuses given by the Republican campaigns mostly had to do with scheduling conflicts--just too busy to make it.
The resulting photo of Tancredo--standing on a stage of empty podiums--sums up the Republican party's commitment to civil rights in America: the only Republican interested is the guy running to deny immigrant workers their rights.
One has to wonder why this photo was not the lead on every morning show and on the front pages of every morning newspaper in America.
The reason, most likely, is a coordinated effort by Republicans to pressure news agencies to downplay the obvious implications of having 8 out of 9 of their Presidential candidates as "no shows" for a debate at the NAACP.
What is keeping the obvious story about Republicans and racism out of today's headlines? David Beckham's arrival in Hollywood.
Last year Johns Hopkins researchers produced a study estimating that 650,000 Iraqis had died as of July, 2006 as a result of the U.S. invasion. The organization Just Foreign Policy has now created a new estimate, based on the original study, of deaths to the present day. The number they came up with is just under one million.
For more information on the new estimate, including an explana
Today I received an in-depth blog (http://www.newsdissector.org/blog/) from Danny Schechter (The News Dissector), reporting from Durbin, South Africa where he's screening his film, "In Debt We Trust." This was the second blog Danny has sent from South Africa in a little over a week. The blog was typical Danny. Not a superficial account of the customs and terrain. Not a self-indulged travelogue on the effects of the environs on "me." You don't get that from Danny. He's not about sensory conjecture. He's about facts. He's a journalist. He doesn't write. He reports.
Better yet, he informs.
Danny's blogs from South Africa are energized, rich and learned accounts of the people, history, politics and economics of a burgeoning land. They're so well written they're intimidating for this writer to read. I marvel at how he gathers such detailed information on the road and delivers it with originality and ease. I'm impressed by his intense desire to share facts that enlighten and inform. And I'm amazed that he's been doing this for such a long time, before anyone ever heard of a "blog."
Press TV has 26 correspondents in various international locations; Iran's state broadcaster has launched a 24-hour English-language news channel.
Press TV, based in Tehran but with 26 correspondents around the world, says it aims to break a "stranglehold" it says the West has over world media.
With Great Britain under extreme alert after three car bomb attempts over the past two days, George W. Bush and his high level White House cohorts are doing their utmost to goad the terrorists to try harder next time. To be more "PROFESSIONAL" in their planning. To detonate bombs that are certain to cause harm.
By all accounts, the failed detonations of the two cars in London and the blazing SUV in Scotland weren't huge or impressive enough for Bush and his buddies. They didn't do enough damage. They didn't produce real harm. They weren't "PROFESSIONAL" enough to get America's attention.
The underlying message: to be worth your salt as terrorists, you'll have to do better next time! Another case of: "Bring it on!"
The big question right now among Republicans is how to remove Vice President Cheney from office. Even before this week's blockbuster series in The Post, discontent in Republican ranks was rising.
As the reputed architect of the war in Iraq, Cheney is viewed as toxic, and as the administration's leading proponent of an attack on Iran, he is seen as dangerous. As long as he remains vice president, according to this thinking, he has the potential to drag down every member of the party -- including the presidential nominee -- in next year's elections.
Democrats in Congress, this message is for YOU! There's a reason Republicans call Democrats weak. IT'S BECAUSE YOU DAMN FREAKING ARE!!
When Democrats took the majorities of the Senate and the House in November of 2006, your promise to America, YOUR PRIORITY (although NOT why you were elected), was to make Washington a more civil place. You pledged to take the high road and not do to the Republicans what the Republicans did to you. Your goal was to show America just how freaking nice you were, and to change the tone in Washington from bellicose to genteel. What you failed to realize is that America doesn't need you to be nice. America needs you to be strong. You've succeeded at being nice. But not at being strong.